A more fitting and detailed Stone Henge for a fantastic setting where the distant past isn't quite as distant as it is now. This could be used in a number of ways.
Major omens and portents could be done at the location, perhaps as a misuse of the site, but still playing into the semi-divine celestial nature of the location. This could also be a site for coronations, or other major events for the host kingdom.
It could also be a symbol of national pride and identity, the sort of thing that the enemies of the kingdom, be they subversive nobles or bellowing orcs would like to trash.
The Asrolith could also be a potent tool for the casting of celestial magics, summonings that reach distant planes or other such thingies. The PCs could protect a good summoner or work to thwart an evil.
The asrolith could even become a focal point in a matter of history and faith ala the Rose Line, and Roslyn Chapel from The DaVinci Code. Go to Comment
Some might say that the Orcen love their horses more than they love their own women.
Being a nomadic people. the Orcen are going to have very good horses. It is easy to mistake good looking with good working, as the Orcen horse is probably not going to be a flashy breed like the hot-tempered Arabian, or the loudly colored mustangs. They would be in all likelyhood brown horses, perhaps with a few markings such as white blazes on the face, and white socks, or feet. On the other hand, they are hardy animals, able to carry on when most other 'civilized' horse breeds would collapse from exhaustion and sheer effort. They are also going to be more resilient to disease, and less prone to lesser ailments such as weak hooves, or bad backs. Animals with these characteristics are not allowed to breed into the next generation of horses.
Terms of Ownership
Breeding of horses is probably one of the largest occupations among the Orcen, occupying half of their 'working class' with the other half be devoted to the making of arms, tending to the preperation of meat, and the like. This may seem like a large number, but in former Soviet countries, especially Uzbekistan contain large numbers of still nomadic peoples who prime mode of life is still based around the horse.
An Orcen would determine his station among the tribe by the number and quality of the horses he claims. This is used in exclusion of own, as the horses are the property of the clan chief. Fines and taxes are paid to the chief in terms of horseflesh as war prizes, and heroic warriors are rewarded in turn. An Orcen with three fine horses might be the equivalent to the modern upper class, while the lowest of the orcen are forced to share a single horse between several riders. The chief of the clan obviously has dozens, if not a hundred or more head of horse, making him extravagantly wealthy.
Horse Braids and Horse Brass
The chief of the clan will have a particular color pattern that is woven into the mane of his horses, and others attempting to copy the pattern, or unrightfully removing the braid could be severely punished. Some might suffer ritual branding or mutilation but severe offences, or examples could be made with the offender being drawn and quartered, or otherwise executed in a public fashion. When the chief makes a gift of a horse, he allows that warrior to place his braid next to the chief's braid. This shows the string of ownership. The above warrior with three horses could allow two others to add their braids to his animals in exchange for a cut of their war loot. Thus a single horse could have easily half a dozen braids before reaching its rider.
Clans can also mark ownership by distinctive cutting of the ears. This is a rather barbaric practice that continues even today. Thus a horse with two half circles and a triangle cut out of its right ear obviously belongs to the Sabutai clan of Orcen, as that has been their mark for generations. This would make stealing horses from another orcen clan a difficult bet, but not an impossible one.
thus, the more horses an orcen has, the more warbooty he can theoratically earn, offset by the fact that some horses and riders may not return. A fraction of his loot is owed to the next tier horse owner, who again owes a fraction to the next, until the chief, who owns all of the horses gains the most from a raid. The profit of the raid can then be passed on to the members of the clan who do not make their livelyhood by the spear and the arrow. The stonecutters, and the meat cutters, and the gatherers of herbs, and the women and children would owe their daily bread to either a supporting warrior, or to the generosity of the clan chief.
Gambling is common, though I think that 'to the death' bets are very rare. Life is difficult for nomads, and the death of an able-bodied warrior doesnt benefit the clan. It is more likely the war booty, or more impressively wives, would be the wager on such events. Betting a horse on a game might be the same as racing ofr pink slips, often spoke of but seldom actually done.
Now for the matter of the free woman. The key attributes of the warrior are strength and agility. Men are generally stronger and faster than women, and thus tend to make better warriors. Among the orcen, the females are not as likely to go raiding as the men, but I see no reason that the the Orcen would not allow a couragous woman who was able to hold her own with the spear and the bow to be an owner of horses. Discrimination based on gender seems to me, to be a product of an agrarian civilization. In this mindset, it is the men who work and war, while the women are expected to stay home and tend to the home. Lacking a permanent home, the orcen female is just as hardy and tough as her male counterpart, and not tied to a single location. Go to Comment
The First One
There was once a time when the Duerga were as fleshy and soft as the other races who trod upon the face of the earth. Their crafts and skills were guided by the Great Architect. Their skill with metal, and the construction of automata, and machines grew many times beyond the ken of man or elf. It was the golden time of the race.
Then, inexplicably, the Great Architect and his guiding essence, vanished. The Duerga were bereft of purpose, of leadership. It became a terrible time as tribes and clans were born of the event. Each sought an answer to what had occured, others pointed fingers and made accusations. Civil war loomed as arguements escalated into fistfights and bloodshed.
It was during this time that the First rose up from the masses of Duerga. Seemingly guided by divine power, he assumed the mantle of the King of the Duerga to save his race from a potentially devastating civil war. His kind, having never been incredibly fertile, could be wiped out by a civil war, leaving a few to linger on until death finally took them.
The King laid out the great Reason. They had strayed away from the Greater Good of the Grand Architect, and as punishment, he had turned away from them. Was this in anger, or for shame? No matter the answer, the tribes and clans must unite, and the people be made a whole again. Then, perhaps through the perfection of the arts of the Great Architect, and meditation and inner enlightenment could the Duerga be redeemed and again be seen as worthy of the Great Architect's attention.
The Demon of Silence
The King's proclamation brought many of the clans and tribes into unity and harmony, but many remained dissident. On those fell a great and terrible scourge, the Demon of Silence. It's form is unknown, but it's avenue and invitation is silence. It would come into a hold, quiet in the evening, and slaughter every Duerga it could find. Many tried to fight but were defeated, their bodies rent and their metal defiled.
The King, distraught with the death of so many of his kin, sought out the beast to do battle with it, to defeat it or die in trying. The King was brought face to face with the terrible beast, and defeated it with little effort. He sang the Lay of the Duerga a deep and reverberating lament for the suffering of his people. He swung his hammer to keep the beat of the song alive in his heart. The steady ring of steel against steel and the sonorus voice of the king banished the Demon of Silence.
The King would later admonish those who were dissident, and propigated the use of sound to hold the beast at bay. Soon, the Deurga holds, fortified with great armoring rang with constant sound. Machines were devised to reduce the amount of manual labor required. Great steam driven pistons and wheel drove giant iron bells and hammers, creating the cacaphony of the Duerga.
The King eventually perished as is the way of mortal things. Amazingly, his essence was passed on through the great suit of boilerplate armor he wore. Did the King still live, or was he something else? Soon, the faces of the Duerga faded from memory, replaced with the intricately carved helmets and faceplates of their armor and the deep reverberation of their slow voices.
Some Duerga claim that the change was yet another punishment from the Great Architect, that they had thwarted their first pennance, and had been afflicted with another until they learned the nature of their folly. Others claimed that this was the will of the Architect, to become more like him, more metal and mind rather than flesh and impulse.
The Wisest of All reminded the Duerga, clan and tribe, that such answers could be found in contemplation of the Great Architect, and in the perfection of mind, body, and skill. Industry and progress, innovation and creation were the ways of the Architect, and thus each of his children must seek that perfection in all things. Perhaps some day, the truth will be made known to the Duerga, to the fate of their lone deity, and to their fate as well.
Applications of Time
Ancient methods of time would very likely resemble that of surface dwellers, but would be hopelessly, and uselessly antique to the Duerga.
The rhythems of the city, such as the steam driven hammers constantly ringing could be used to tell time. Perhaps within every so many strokes, an alternate stroke is added. The hamer rings once per second, the second, bronze hammer, with a deeper tone, rings every hundreth strike of the lead hammer. A third hammer rings once after every hundreth stroke of the bronze hammer. Two words come to mind, metric time.
1. Reptiles have internal genetalia, seeing as the Urwhor would fall into the range of Protomammals (Reptilian Mammals) would they share this trait? If so, they would not need clothing, as they have nothing to hide, unless...
2. What sort of metabolism do they have? A cold blooded Urwhor would be very active in the summer, and lethargic, or hibernating in the winter. They would have use for clothes, but only as insulators during the fall months when the temperature starts to drop off. If they are warm blooded, they will still have more defined clothing, but for full year insulation. As the cold increases Urwhor activity to procure food for the tribe would increase as local game depletes during the winter.
3. No one has said anything about the sense of smell. Since they lack a large snout, and associated olfactory nerves, perhaps they use an organ similar to that of snakes, an olfactory sensor in the roof of the mouth, letting them 'taste' smells as snakes do. Smell is going to be important if males and females aren't immediately obvious.
4. Since female are rare, they might instead of being smaller, be larger than the males. These could be the broodmothers that the tribes protect, and could be equal in rank to any ghuly. Just an idea.
Now for points.
1. The Urwhor have a strongly repressed libido as there is not a population of breeding females, just the main clutch that only the alpha males may access. The libido is the constructive side of the psyche, and as it is not expressed, there would be no urwhor cities, or monuments, or other trappings of civilization.
2. The destrudo or destructive masculine side of the psyche is well, perhaps overly expressed. This would create a power based pecking order among the males, as well as possessing innate ability to use weapons, combat tactics, and being general scourges in battle.
3. As a created race, as opposed to a 'true' race, the id and ego could be very suppressed. Without a genetic predisposition to individuality, the urwhor would be ferocious in battle but utterly lacking in ambition, or desire to usurp the power of the creators. Their greatest turmoil comes from the fact that instead of being chosen by the master for their roles in the tribe, they must accept those roles themselves. It would be a conflict of the survival instinct versus their predisposition to being sevants.
4. The collective consciousness of the Urwhor would be a turbulent thing, Their dreams could be fragments of their animalistic halves, solitary urges of reptiles, long periods of time basking in the sun, sleeping through the cold. They could also have the fevered dreams of mammals, breeding in the dark, the suckling comfort of the mother, the joy of birth siblings. Waking from such an state could leave the urwhor inwardly angry and violent.
The Urwhor are definately outside of the old orky box Go to Comment
There has been conjecture that the dinosaurs had a variable metabolism, being warm-blooded at birth, with their metabolism cooling as they grew. Small dino's stayed hot while the bigguns were cold-blooded.
The Urwhors could have a similar mechanism. Instead of being based on mass, since they would all really classify as small, it would vary with the weather. When it was hot, their metabolism would cool. Generating body heat wouldn't be such a pressing concern, and the critters would be able to devote hunting/foraging time instead to other activities, perhaps breeding. It is interesting to imagine that almost all Urwhors are born near the same time of year, or at the same intervals during the year.
During the winter, thier metabolism would heat up and require more fuel to keep the urwhor active. The primary activity would be hunting/raiding/foraging to keep the metabolic furnace going.
I really didn't expect you to pick the tongue thing up, i thought it was just a fun idea. Perhaps they could be more subtle than a snake, not flicking a forked tongue out every few steps. That might be the same as someone making a oud sniffing sound. Go to Comment
Ivory Men Society/ Organizations (Ethnic/Cultural)
Spotted Plague is a highly communicable disease the occurs in the vicinity of the Deepwood, and other deciduous regions of the Midlands. It is spread by ticks, especially those born by deer and other prey animals. The victim begins to exhibit odd signs for two or three days, headaches, bouts of dizzyness, and mild nausea. At this point, administration of curative magics and alchemical healing and cure potions will eliminate the disease. The victim is not yet spreading the disease.
After three to five days of being infected by the tick, the victim will begin to break out in small skin lesions. These pustules will be painful and swollen, often itching as well. The pus is highly infectious, and will transmit plague to those who come in contact with it. Vomiting, intense body pain, and fever can only be reduced by the strongest healing magics, and cannot be counter acted by commonly available curative potions. A special curative potion designed to specifically counter this plague could work, but must be made for the most current strain of the illness.
After 7 days, the victim will either enter the final stage of the disease, or they will begin to get better. The final stage is marked by bloody discharge, hallucination and muscle spasms, ending in death. The corpses of the victims are virulent for two to three days after death.
In the Deepwood, an outbreak of the plague can decimate small communities, but as the plague has a slower period of incubation, and limited transmission, it can be contained, and the Midlands has only had two epidemics of Spotted Fever.
In RY 1135, 22,000 people in the area of Lynwall and Jericho perished as result of the plague. Another 15,000 wore the small scars of spotted plague for the rest of their lives. Only the action of the Imperial Wizardry and the containment by the Queen's Guard prevented the plague from spreading further than it did.
In RY 1207, an unknown number of people died as Spotted Fever broke out in six seperate locations, including two areas that are known to be outside of the general area of the disease. Zhalan, in Angbad suffered losses in excess of 50% of the population, and the independent province of Caldwell, long isolated from the Midlands lost 4 out of 5 of the populace. These were the worst hit as neither area had any experience with the Spotted Plaugue. The Deepwood province, most often effected by the illness suffered minimal losses, and is was later discovered that the Deepwood outbreak was secondary, caused by cityfolk escaping to the countryside. The instigator of the outbreak was never discovered. Go to Comment
Nice, I like the colorful nature of the Ylfharn, and the jet black priestesses with third dragon eyes... that is just an impressive visual. I can see their clay armor being effective against thrusting weapons and arrows, but being less effective against things like clubs, hammers, and maces. Another downside is how do you fix pottery armor? Break it and you have to make a new set from scratch. Still, i get a great primitive tribal vibe from these folk. Go to Comment
One of the funny things about horses is when you find one of the hard to handle horses, they are generally some of the better horses you can find, being stronger, more dynamic, and self confident. An easy riding horse isn't the sort you want to take into battle, or any other strenuous activity say beyond a casual trail ride, or for the kids to play with.
As for flopping around, the best way to see a horse do that is to spend a few hours washing them, shampooing their mane and tail, and generally working your butt off to make the animal smell good and look great (assuming you have a good looking horse to begin with) The first thing they will do, when given a chance is to go roll in either mud, or dirt.
If you have a white horse, this is where it gets fun, they can get grass stains on their white spots / or body. My, what a green horse you have sir knight...where did you rest last? the pasture? Plus, as Murphy's Law dictates, your glistening white steed is going to get as dirty as possible, in as little as time possible. This comes mostly from listening to my wife talk about getting her horses ready to go to competition.
I really like the idea of giving horses attributes, but I wouldn't go into great detail myself. I might stick with a giving them a few attribute points, and maybe some flaws if they need them.
Example: Fritz, a large black warhorse
Adv. - Endurance
Adv. - Doesn't Spook
Flaw - Likes to bite
Flaw - Aggressive
I gues one thing I would have to point out is that horses are first and foremost social animals, they hate to be alone. This comes from the fact that they are prey animals, instead of predators. With this in mind, their instictive reaction to stimulus is to seek out other horses, and run away. Go to Comment
Or when your valiant steed takes a nosedive through a fence.
Being a horse is a dangerous business, if you stay around horses long enough they will let you know just how scary the world really is. As a large grazing animal that relies on flight to avoid predators, horse tend to be on the flighty side. Some of their favorite games include the long time favorite 'Shy at Familiar Objects' which involves a horse being spooked by a very ordinary object, often even an object that they have seen time and time again. In a game this can translate into the horse giving a start and squeal when something about the gate out of the barn seems very scary. It can also be good, albeit safe, way to remind the characters that their mounts are indeed living animals that all to often develop a mind of their own.
Another fun horse game is "Stick My Nose Where It Doesnt Belong." This game is characterized by scuff marks and cuts and scrapes generally on the horse's head and face. They are very curious animals and are capable of removing simple gates, operating simple mechanical levers and the like. While I don't intend for anyone to try to get their horse the Pick Locks skill, a smart horse can take a gate off of its hinges without breaking anything. This is assuming that the gate is sitting freely in an attached hinge, which isnt all that uncommon today.
Its all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Horses generally tend to have thick skin and are fairly tough when it comes to getting bruised up and scraped. but when they get hurt enough to tear through the skin and into the muscle, that's when things get iffy. Such injuries swell and become feverish to the touch, and a horse with a swollen knee or hock is going to make for a slow and uncomfortable ride. Riding an injured horse can easily make certain injuries even worse to the point of laming the horse where it can no longer bear a burden on its back. These wounds are the most severe when they are on the the legs or joints of the horse.
Basic first aid, along with letting the animal walk without a heavy burden, like a rider, is the best course of action. Blood flow is vital in the health of the animal so tightly binding a wound can be as much of a problem as the injury itself. Horses are resilient and can come back from signifigant injury. The racehorse Cigar was caught in a wire fence as a yearling and flayed his shoulder muscle off of his shoulder and down into the chest. He had several pounds of hanging bloody meat and a useless leg. After some excellent veterinary care the leg and shoulder were restored and the thoroughbred went on to win over 1 million dollars racing.
Horses fall down. It can be because of mud, bad footing or the like. When a horse encounters treacherous footing feel free to make a balance check for the horse, modified for the weight of the rider and all of his munchkin crap as well. All of these make the animal more top heavy. Getting pinned under a fallen horse is a heart-stopping event that can frighten even the most accomplished rider. (which I am not) The potential for horse and rider to be injured in such a fall is quite real. Take into account the horse's speed when doing the check, a fully barded warhorse, bearing a valiant knight in armor while trying to cut a turn from a full gallop while running across mud splattered cobblestone can result in a thrown rider and alot of beat up armor, and possible an animal with a broken leg. Keep this in mind during those gritty fight and flight scenes Go to Comment
The Followers of the Book and the Word had a signifigant advantage when they entered the Northern lands and the 100 Tribes. With the animistic totems and little gods gone, the Tribes could not deny the power of the Followers, unlike such real world conversions as the Christianization of Skandanavia and Lithuania. A little on the sparse side as it says that the Followers came, the Tribes assimilated haphazardly, and that was that. I would have liked to have seen some NPC figures to give a face to this, or some descritpion of the north lands and the 100 tribes to make this come alive. Go to Comment
To me, it seems too much like the cosmology of the Werewolf game where the supernal Weaver entity went nuts and tried to weave all of chaos into stasis. As an organization it seems very bare-bones and lacking in character. Why does the Weaver work so hard against chaos? Does he/it expect the same drone like obedience from his followers and priests? Go to Comment
Not bad, but I have to disagree with Kendra. It has a central monotheism, an insistance on good works, angels/avatars like saints, and does witch hunting. Pretty much a version of the Christian church, this isnt bad, everyone does it, and this is better than some. Go to Comment
Once, I tried to run a Wild West game. Quite to my shock, my gaming group made fun of me and my idea. Yeah, they said, we'll get us a posse and go shoot us some injuns. With that most of the gamers adjurned for a cigarette while I surrended the field and returned to survey the Vampire books. Go to Comment
There have been a number of threads about reinventing many of the popular fantasy races. On one hand, we want to change them because everyone knows these basic races inside and out, and there is no wonder or mystery left to them. So we come up with new, innovative and really interesting new races. Except that no one is going to use them. Why not? Aren't they better than the old races?
In a word, no. The four traditional fantasy races, the elf, dwarf, human, and orc all have associations that transcend racial bonuses and abilities. More often that not, one of the first things that is changed is that certain thig, that certain element that links them to the human psyche.
To anyone who has toiled at hard, and seemingly insurmountable work, can you not find a common link to the dwarves? They burrow deep into the mountains, and hew out great works, and they are beset by trolls and giants and dragons. How is this so different that one of us going away to a menial job where the weight of work and responcibility seems like the mass of a great mountain itself. We are beset by challenges from coworkers who want our promotion, or our position, and by outside rivals who want to topple our company to make room for their own. In the end, we labor alone, why alone? Are there dwarven women? Logic says yes, but fantasy says no. There are no comely dwarven lasses, they only have the works of their hands as their prize and comfort.
The elves, is there a race more despized? Immortal, ever young and capable beyond our simple reckoning. They are unmoved by death, untouch by frailty, and illness. Tolkiens elves had a strong religious tone, akin to Angels, even to the point of a great fraction of them revolting against the gods in the name of pride and hubris. We fear sickness, and death, and even fear to defy that which we are not even sure exists, but they do not. They are unbound and unfettered to the material world in which we meager humans are shackled.
The orcs/goblins whatever you want to call them are the great and terrible enemy. They are the shadow of our psyche. They are free from the tillage of the soil, free to rape and pillage and plunder and burn and in this they are the dark reflection of who we really are as a people. Yet all to often they fall under dark sway, and are bent to evil purposes. How often have we been led astray, from fear or cowardice, nationalism or blind simple greed?
And last but not least are the humans. No matter the skin color, they get along, they speak the same language. They hold the gates against the enemy while the elves play and the dwarves delve ever deeper into their mines. Who could we be? We could be these humans, who stand a little taller, and are unbiased by creed and nationality. These mutable creatures able to adapt to any class and set of skills.
Enough of that.
The Common Language
The universal language is mathematics, the common language is money. Everyone understands gold. Right now, the US is the predominant economic and military super power. The world speaks our language, in some countries children are required to learn English. Some countries actively deny anything of our western culture in the same manner that some satanists would invert any and every symbol of Christianity to deny God. In thirty of fifty years, China could very well take our place at the top of the heap, and then the common language is going to be Chinese. Or a garbled mix of english and chinese, like English is a garbled mix of Gaelic, French, and Saxon.
now for the last battle. TSR, and Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, it has lost its roots in the soil of it's birth, now consumed by the megalithic corporations. Yet, despite its many flaws, and its many shortcomings, there is one thing that cannot be denied. It was the first. For many of we gamers, it was what drew us into the world of gaming. Sure, some of us had read the Hobbit, and seen some keen movies, but it was that book that drew us in. Mine was the glossy black 2nd ed. While she (D&D) has fallen on worse days, it seems both moraly wrong and an affront to the hobby in general to make such sport of bashing such a grand old lady who brought so much entertainment and frustration to two generations of gamers, and compared to the cost of movies, cable television, and prostitution...asked so little in return. Go to Comment