At first I was worried that this was going to be another knock=off of the desert dwelling Fremen of Dune, or worse, Tuskan Raiders. Instead I find myself both amused by their unusual yet effective appearance and by the biological aspects of male versus female in their society. Nicely done. Go to Comment
Two thought came to mind while reading this thread, one was the basic law Conservation of Mass, and the second was the concept of inertia. Conservation of mass would go along nicely with Ria's comments on conjuring and summoning, it all has to come from somewhere. The prime example might be the summoning of an elemental where at least some amount of the elemental being summoned must be provided. Taken to one extreme, this might require a raging bonfire as opposed to a candle to summon a fire elemental. On the other, following with Luke's mention of the magical theory of contagion, the candle is merely a symbolic link of fire and the elemental is able to draw enough ephemera/elsewhere fire to create its mass. Summoning food, or mundane monsters becomes more problematic. Summon a warhorse, somewhere else, the spell has effectively stolen a warhorse. This could be circumvented with the assertation that all conjuring and summoning spells summon 'celestial' or 'infernal' beasts that just mimic normal creature and thus are not included in the conservation of mass.
Inertia is another concept that might bear explaining. Thus goes with the assumption that the concepts of fate and destiny are very real, something quite common in most accepted fantasy. Things are intended to happen, for whatever reason, ranging from maintaining the cosmic balance of mischance and good luck to the games of divinity. Perhaps it was designed that a person should break their arm for X reason, be it humilty, or the continuing of a mundane healers experience. When magic is used to effectivly unbreak the arm, inertia seeks to correct its course. Perhaps the character suffers another broken arm in short order (though this might seem heavy handed to players who avoided the first broken arm) or someone in the general vicinity becomes the recipient of the injury.
My two cents.
Conservation of mass - matter can be neither created or destroyed, only altered in physical form. In practical terms, a fire doesnt destroy a piece of wood, it turns it back into en equal amount of smoke, heat, and gas. Go to Comment
Rambles some, but certainly has some good ideas. I like the concept of the sword technique being used in an RPG, the Final Fantasy: Tactics game has a similar skill for the samurai job, with the effect of the sword draw dependant on the sword being drawn, one sword emited a healing spirit, while another called the wails of the dead. I think it would be interesting for in an game school of such skill-magic. I dont know if I would consider them magi, since I doubt very much there will be any spellbooks, though the sword and the action of drawing, or mimicking the draw could be verbal and somantic components. Go to Comment
Busy, yet somehow the place always seems dusty, and smells of old paper and nervous students. More distant from the Quadrangles would have to be the dormitory ward, where the students would lodge when they were not at lecture. Go to Comment
While it may be to setting specific, it does have a great deal of value. I like the entire concept of a civilian area being dedicated to veterans followed by the slow and inevitable decline of the area into vice, corruption and sin. In the end a possible theme could emerge that nothing good comes from war. Well done. Go to Comment
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
Quite honestly I am surprised and ashamed that I have not commented and voted on this submission because at times it does bubble up in the back of my mind, if for nothing else, it's amusing name. Most of my coworkers use tobacco in sort sort, and the mixing of tobacco and other botanicals just makes sense. The other parts in the mix, like the volcanic oils, and such, make this more than just a background piece.
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.