Organizations:   Posted by Spirit.Group: 0
 GM, 8 posts
Mon 5 Aug 2019
at 18:31
The Conclave: The “governing” body of magic-users. Any major city will have a Conclave Hall or library. They tend to be dominated by those who prepare spells (wizards). They are rigorously multiracial. Even hobgoblins have been accepted into their ranks.
 GM, 9 posts
Mon 5 Aug 2019
at 18:33
No one gets how magic works. Whenever people say they know, they are full of shit.

There are five schools of thought, though.

1) The gods
The gods are far away things. If they exist, they are a particularly taciturn group. Some have encountered what they claim are the gods, but in a multiverse filled with powerful beings, who’s to say what counts as a god? Regardless, the common wisdom is that the gods who took physical form are now called Devils, so, do you want to meet a god in the flesh?

People typically don’t worship “a god”. Worshiping one god would be like eating one food. There are temples devoted to single deities, but even their most ardent priests don’t assume that existence could be maintained by one god alone.
(Typically, public temples are devoted to groups of gods. While rulers may personally identify with some aspect of Lord Justice1, they won’t want to risk offending the Prince of Secrets.1

No one gets on a boat without acknowledging the power of one of the rulers of the Deep.)

Those who trace their magical power to the divine ones, likewise, don’t typically focus on just one. This means they are more devoted to their domains, an aspect of creation frequently related to more than one god. It is their understanding of and ability to function as a conduit for the divine structure of the multiverse that powers their prayers.

A chaotic good cleric might feel particularly devoted to The Farmer1, but when she casts Animate Dead, she’s relying on her understanding of the way that The Lich Queen1 is connected to the larger world.

The ability to cast spells is the result of faith and understanding. But that’s just what some (typically clerics and paladins) believe.

When a cleric prepares spells, it is analogous to calling on several different entities and asking for a favor. Every cleric has some entities with whom they have a developed relationship (i.e. their domain) and those spells are generally prepared automatically; others spells take more effort and finesse (i.e prepared spells), but typically a skilled cleric can always find a way to get access to the power he or he wants.

Clerics read the patterns, the orders, the eternal “addresses” in patterns within both structured and random evens: the stars, flights of birds, tea leaves, etc.

They routinely study these things as means of gaining further understandings. Additionally, they can use this to back-trace messages back to addresses, adding to the number of “entries” in their rolodexes.

2) The words
But others believe that gods have nothing to do with it. Yes, there is a complex relationship of forces and energies in the multiverse, but the gods (if they are real) are not the masters, but merely among the most knowledgeable manipulators of those forces.

Understanding the ways those forces work is like a puzzle; one must work long and hard to understand how the words and gestures gestures of power open or twist the fabric of reality and make accessible its underlying power, allowing the mage to interact with and control it.

3) The blood
Or maybe it is just having the force of mind to impose your will on the universe. Words and gestures, yes, but it isn’t a puzzle; it’s a mental wrestling match. Sometimes, you can have a leg-up in this match by having an ancestor that was able to use magic more effectively.

4) The bond
Or, that’s bullshit. Yes, magic informs and underlies and fills this universe, much like water fills and adds bulk to a sponge. But while some are busy looking inside the sponge, there’s a whole tub full of water out there being ignored.

The problem is that we are shut off from that world. There are, though, beings that function almost like doorways, and those who are able form relationships with those beings, can use them as gateways to the magical tides.

Those who practice this sort of magic often believe these beings to be the former masters of this universe, ruling before the wars of good and evil, law and chaos ravaged and reformed it in their distorted image.

They can also be powerful magical beings, archfey, or dragons.

5) It is just a facet of nature.
Finally, there at group that believes none of these things. They belief in life. That’s it. Magic is Life. It is the same intangible thing that separates living flesh from dead meat. It is finite. It changes form all the time, but each time it loses some of its force to entropy.

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:18, Wed 07 Aug 2019.

 GM, 10 posts
Wed 7 Aug 2019
at 20:54
The first four of these groups don’t agree, but they basically get along. Their arguments are largely intellectual, and it isn’t unknown for people to see the validity of more than one approach (multiclassing, yeah!).

The Conclave is an organization of magicians, one that seeks to encourage magical training and foster greater understanding. They also look to regulate magic to some degree. Magic is dangerous, and while a sword is, too, swords don’t have quite the same dramatic impact. Reckless mages unleashing demons on peaceful cities make things more difficult for everybody.

Those who trust in the gods are part of the White Faction. In conclave, they wear white robes, obviously, and even outside, its members favor the color. It is unusual for a member to not have a white cloak at least. Clerics and many paladins make up this faction.

In meetings, they sit across from the Black Robes – the warlocks. From a rules perspective, there are pacts and boons, but these are not relevant in-game.

The concept of the doorway is what unites warlocks; what door they use, the special benefits, and the price are all highly personal and individual. It would be inappropriate to ask those questions of a warlock.2

The Blue Circles are (mostly) wizards, but some eldritch knights and arcane tricksters are here as well. This group is subdivided into “circles” for each of the eight schools of magic. They distinguish themselves by wearing a particular shade: Abjuration (cerulean), Conjuration (cobalt), Divination (cyan), Enchantment (sapphire), Evocation (azure), Illusion (indigo), Necromancy (midnight), Transmutation (sapphire).

The sorcerers and many bards make up the Red Bloc. They, too, like to distinguish themselves from others in their group, but their systems are far less formalized. Highly individualistic, many merely try to distinguish themselves.

Those with affiliations in more than one group often show this by wearing two colors, so a multi-class cleric/warlock might wear a grey robe or if a cleric with just a couple levels of warlock, a white robe with black trim.2

The Conclave has several towers, which function as libraries, meeting halls, and schools. While the towers are open to members of each of the Factions, some are more contentious than others. There are often charges of poaching students or stealing secrets. Publically, the White Faction is seen as the “face” of the Conclave because theirs is an easier to understand approach for the ignorant. The reality is that the ones typically “in charge” come from the Blue Circles, which tends to not only be much more organized, but also requires much more collaboration and hence demands greater involvement in the Conclave.

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:16, Wed 07 Aug 2019.

 GM, 11 posts
Wed 7 Aug 2019
at 21:15
Lord Justice might be called The Protector in another location. Or the Smiter by a tribe of orcs.

He might carry an ax for Dwarves and a sword for some elves. He might be a she.

Or, they might all be totally unrelated.

The names of gods and forms of worship vary wildly by place. A small farming village might likely have a small temple with shrines to Vir, a fertility goddess, and her consort Streg, a protector. Each house in the village would have a small ancestor shrine. Out in the wilds surrounding the village, there could be an alter to Playa, the healer.

A hundred leagues away, another village might have the same fertility and protector gods, with the same rituals, but call them Enya and Yani instead. In this place, the focus of ancestor worship is communal, and there is a second, larger temple devoted to the dead.

It all varies. Asking a new acquaintance what gods they worship and how, finding common ground like, “You call him Zeus?  It sounds like our Thor, sorta” is part of the way people relate to each other.


Remember in this world, class is largely a metagame or “non-world” concept.
There are magic-users, but that describes anyone who uses magic: clerics, wizards, etc, but also those with innate spells like drow or tiefling.

While the work “cleric” might be accurately applied to a member of the White Faction, the speaker could be describing a person with ranks in the actual cleric class or they could be talking about a paladin, possibly even a wizard who’s specialized in necromancy.

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:24, Wed 07 Aug 2019.

 GM, 12 posts
Fri 9 Aug 2019
at 19:29
The elves, once the dominant race on the planet, saw their kingdoms fall during the Dragon Wars. Now, with the rise of humans and others, they are separated into three distinct groups.

Between the wilds of the central continent and the northern hobgoblin realm of Galrotha, lies the Omenwood. Much of the area is heavily forested, hence the name, but there are also areas of small, but rugged mountains and along the western shore of the River Eloi, jungle.

The elves of the Omenwood have to deal with incursions of goblins from the north, and the unpredictability of the Wild that lies between them and the civilized lands closer to the southern coast. This puts them on a highly defensive posture.

Within the Omenwood, the elves have grouped themselves into small, scattered villages, all hidden from outsiders. In fact, very few elves know the locations of more than a handful of other villages, the better to keep the whole safe from discovery by hobgoblins or worse.

Elven villages often use the environment and terrain to remain hidden. One small group might locate itself in the treetops, while another may cling to the walls of a hidden canyon.

The elves also use magic to protect their people and resources. If you’re wandering through a dense bramble, and suddenly find yourself in a well maintained orchard, turn back the way you came and get out as fast as you can. Though elves aren’t inclined to kill members of “civilized” races without cause, they aren’t likely to let the locations of one of their secret hideaways get out either.

This sort of thing is rare. Elves, through both their magic and their close relationship with other forest creatures and fey, are rarely taken by surprise. They are more likely to find you than the other way around. When they do, best heed their warnings and turn back. They don’t ask twice.

The scattered villages are autonomous and highly democratic, but they keep in contact with each other through various, largely magical means. Though anyone can be elected to leadership, typically those chosen are older, wiser members of their communities.

Though the elders are primarily defensive, there is an aggressive element among the younger elves. Calling themselves the Wildrunners and known for their camouflage clothing and featureless masks, these young elves group themselves into small, loosely organized packs that actively seek out and kill invaders or potential threats. They have in the past been willing to leave the Omenwood and attack goblinoid communities to the north and “undesirables” to the south.

Though they have no formal leadership, the recognized head of the Wildrunners is Sasha Bitterleaf, a dark-skinned warrior reputed to be both beautiful and ruthless. (She is, in truth, only half elven, a fact known to very few of the Wildrunners. Her efforts to hide her heritage is actually the origin Wildrunners’ famous masks.)

The southern coast of the continent is dominated by the Seven Sisters, predominately Human, but still multicultural cities.

To the east of them, on a large island separated from the mainland by a narrow straight, lies Avalon, the Last True Kingdom of the Elves.

While Avalon does boast some ruins from the Golden Age before the Dragon Wars, there are also glittering castles that dominate the area for miles around. The greatest of these is Evenspire, the castle of the King and Queen of the Temporal Fey.

The land is a parody of the fairy tales about knights and chivalry. Elven warriors pledge themselves in oaths of fealty to their lords, go on errant wanderings in search of noble foes, and compose odes to elfmaids who swoon over tales of their daring deeds. Jousts, feasts, dancing, fashion – it is small wonder most others on this plane consider them borderline ridiculous.

Fey Folk
The Fey Realms, or the Feywild as humans call it, are not a singular location, but rather a collection of demiplanes accessible from this one. Some are connected with each other, but that is a rare and usually a temporary situation.

Each demiplane is ruled by a powerful archfey, often an eladrin (an immortal elf) but sometimes there are others. These fey were among the most powerful beings in the world before the dragons and giants came. Some say they rivaled the archdevils and demon lords in power.

Now, they are a millennia older and some have gotten that much more powerful. Others have simply gone insane. For them, the centuries have both flown by and dragged on interminably. Though the world to which they once belonged has changed, they have not. This is most evident in their interactions with “lesser” races. Eladrin are haughty, condescending, and casually contemptuous of humans. They think even less of the rest. Even temporal elves are considered low caste cousins, at best.

While none of the Archfey would be considered capital E evil, they are often cavalier about the lives of beings who existence is, to them, merely the blink of an eye.

Time does not pass in the Feywild as it does on this plane. Each day passes, but the calendars never advance. Whatever the season it was when the plane was created, it is always that season. Likewise, nothing ever ages or decays. Disease does not advance. Larders emptied in great feasts in the evening are filled again at dawn.

The consequence of this is a great malaise and stagnation among the Archfey. For this reason, they are rumored to seek out new and exciting individuals and entice them into joining the Eternal Courts. They particularly enjoy musicians and artists. They lure mortals with promises of power or wealth. When seduction doesn’t work, the fey have been known to resort to less voluntary methods. There are stories of children disappearing, only to reappear decades or even centuries later, with no memory of where they were and without having physically aged a day.

Several places in the world connect to the Feywild. These are often places of natural beauty, high meadows, shady pools. Occasionally, great ruins provide gateways to the Timeless Realms. Often the areas near gateways have magical effects that even the most ignorant can’t fail to notice. Areas leading to the Summer Kingdom are often sunlit, with flowers in full bloom, regardless of the surrounding weather.

The Fey Folk are not particularly welcoming to those who enter their realms uninvited, but they have no problem entering this one. Some are visitors, here to exercise their wanderlust or to seek out the new and interesting experiences.  Others are exiles, either banished by the archfey or hiding from them.

When the archfey created their timeless realms, many other creatures were brought along with them. There were natural animals and other beasts as well. Some humans were taken along, too. Under the influence of the magic of the Fey, they have changed.

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:35, Fri 09 Aug 2019.

 GM, 13 posts
Fri 9 Aug 2019
at 19:38
Hobgoblins don’t often die of old age. Theirs is a violent society where power is king.

They trace their system back to the early days of their creation. Though they acknowledge that they were creatures of the demons, they claim that they were enslaved and corrupted – victims as much or even more so than the other races. Furthermore, their legends tell of an uprising against the demon masters, one that was instrumental in the defeat of the forces of darkness.

They claim that the elves know this; that in fact hobgoblins sought aid from and allegiance with the elves, but the elves rejected their pleas. The final outcome of the Divine War was far bloodier as a result, and the enmity between elves and goblinoids has never abated.

Four Factions lead the empire. The leaders of each form a Council that oversees the realm. In addition to the four Quadarks, as the Faction leaders are called, Council positions are fluid, and getting a seat is a complicated political game, with Faction allegiance and numerous other factors constantly at play.

The resulting Councils also include tribal elders and those from outside the Factions who have power or influence; for example, those who either know or are able to influence popular opinion (like religious leaders or even story tellers) can find a place on the Council.

Dar – soldiers, straight up. Their value is loyalty above all.  A Dar who breaks their word or fails in ther duty is expected to submit to ritualized execution: the Death of a Thousand Cuts. Tha stand, weapon drawn, surrounded by those closest to ther, each of whom in turn strikes a blow. The intent is to make the process last as long as possible. By holding the weapon, the hobgoblin demonstrates that tha could defend therselves or retaliate, but have chosen not to.

Dar also select their leaders through trial by combat. It isn’t necessarily lethal, but at higher levels, it is more honorable to die.

Dar NPCs use the Champion, Warlord, Gladiator, Knight, and Veteran templates. They can also use PC classes, typically Fighter, but also Paladin.

Sndal – Production. They oversee the building of engines of war, the armories, and the factories. Though it is not to their liking, hobgoblins demand self-sufficiency of themselves, so they have some food-producing capability, much of it first developed during their time underground (an insect- and fungus-rich diet.)

Sndal also oversee slaves, which is a considerable amount of power as they define who and what a slave is. This allows them de facto judicial power. Though Dar and Ghain do not grant this authority over their faction members, the Vehi have colluded with the Sndal to their mutual benefit, and that power has been extended to cover those outside the Factions.

Though nowhere near as militaristic as the Dar, they do have guards and thugs to keep control over their slaves, and they have prisons, infamous for their black-pit torture chambers.

Vehi – (Administration) The Vehi are the most powerful of factions because they control the purse strings. They oversee the collection of revenue and the distribution of resources. They are mostly bean counters, interested in credits and debits, but they do have “agents” who investigate and enforce their rules for resource management. This leads to an interesting interpretation of their role: the goblin people are our greatest resource. The Vehi have expanded their power to include many law-enforcement activities unrelated to finance. This wouldn’t have been successful had not the Sndal supported them, allowing for the Vehi to function as a police force and the Sndal as a judiciary, at least for the larger part of goblin society.

Finally, the Vehi work to oversee training and education. This makes them an ubiquitous part of hobgoblin society, as all youths are trained for war. The Vehi have also taken it upon themselves to evaluate young hobgoblins for faction placement, a role that the other factions are loath to cede them.

Both the Vehi and the Sndal pride themselves on their competence. Leaders are chosen from among the most able. Flawless service leads to promotion; failures to demotion. At least, that’s the ideal. In reality “ability” is often defined politically, and there are complex relationships and alliances behind all that they do.

Ghain – The spies. Hated a reviled by the rest of the factions, the Ghain are the spies and assassins of the hobgoblin machine. This often brings them into conflict with the Vehi, who have their own “secret police.” They are also the foreign relations arm of the Quadarky, and their interactions with the outside world, negotiating for resources and providing payment, make them enemies of Sndal as well.

While the Dar hold the Ghain in contempt, the Ghain are also the faction most versed in Arcane magic. The Ghain train warmages (Devastators) who are then attached to the Dar. The Dar of course, recognize the value of these troops, even if they resent the source. The Ghain also provide the Dar with vital intelligence and strategic assistance. Finally, the Ghain keep the Dar from being controlled by the Vehi-Sndal alliance.

One reason for the hatred of the Ghain is their rumored infiltration of all the other factions. There is a saying among the Sndal, “If you are in a conspiracy with one other, and they are not Ghain, you are Ghain.”

Iron Shadows and Rogues are typical Ghain NPCs.

One of the disturbing qualities about the Ghain is their method of advancement: assassination.

The current Ghain Quadark is themself an able administrator, not nearly as bloodthirsty as some of their immediate predecessors; although, they earned a reputation for ruthlessness when the day after taking power, they poisoned an entire Ghain core of sub-lieutenants, twenty-five dead in one afternoon.

Since then, their reign has been calm and quiet, for Ghain. One reason is that they are a master of the arts of information and, purportedly, blackmail. Some argue that the current stability is also the due to their Quadark’s carefully cultivated group of henchmen which they have surrounded themself, a group whose power is bound up in their relationships to their Quadark.

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:40, Fri 09 Aug 2019.

 GM, 14 posts
Fri 9 Aug 2019
at 20:18
Though dwarves are found all over the world, Nibelungholm, their homeland is in the north-west, beyond the desert and the Cracked Land.

They also maintain strong presences in the hills south of the desert, close to the coast (the central parts of this range being under the influence of powerful dragons).

Ostensibly, the Dwarven Empire is ruled by an emperor, currently Shadam IX Blackstone. The reality is far more complicated.

It is better to think of the Empire as a large corporation. There are ten-thousand “shares” in this body, each representing a vote on “The Stone Table.”

Each of these shares is represented by a physical token, the value of which is incalculable. Each Token means one vote at the Stone Table.

The Emperor is simply the Tokenholder voted to lead the Stone Table. He is also the nominal leader of leader of the “Cовет” which functions like a  board of directors.

The Cовет controls all contracts in the Empire. These include who is responsible for mining what minerals and ores where; the production quotas for the extraction; the transportation of raw materials; the manufacture of finished goods; etc. They also regulate domestic and foreign trade.


Lord Bofin, Duke of Griby.

Lord Bofin directly controls only 100 shares or Tokens, and his demesne is a network of tunnels devoted to fungus production, a primary foodstuff for the Empire.

Bofin holds a Charter for this, approved by the Cовет. This also makes Bofin liege lord over four earls, each of which has some responsibility for fungus production and preparation. These minor Clans control, directly or indirectly, another 48 Tokens.

The Empire pays Lord Bofin a negotiated rate for all his mushrooms. The Cовет also regulates the distribution of Bofin's foodstuffs throughout the Empire. (A Duke overseeing diamond mines 100 leagues away is getting part of his remuneration in the form of mushroom flour and casks of pickled fungus.) The rates of exchange are set by the Cовет.

Lord Bofin also has a minimum production level he’s to meet quarterly. Failure to meet this could result of him being stripped of his Contract and his Duchy.

At the end of each quarter, Lord Bofin draws on the profits of the Empire based on a per-Token amount set by the board. He draws for 148 Tokens, and is responsible for distributing the 48 shares to his vassals, but he can withhold some percentage based on need, for example of improving infrastructure, or as a penalty for poor performance.

Bofin also has three Counts serving him.

Biffur VIII died saving Bofin’s grandfather in a battle with hobgoblins, and as a result, his son was advanced to the rank of count (with the consent of the Cовет) and given two Earls as vassals. One of these was reorganized as two Shires, so now he rules three.

Count Biffur is also part of the fungus business, but his earls work in preservation and storage. They dry the fungus into a sort of jerky or preserve it in oil. One of Biffur’s Earls is in charge of the mill for making a sort of flour; the other makes a potent liquor.

As a count, Bofin also exercises control over the 98 shares of Biffur’s County, and indirectly, the 58 shares belonging to Biffur's own knights and Earls.

Bofin has two other Counties. Both were won in battle against a rival. Both are “surface clans,” which is a low caste among the dwarves.

One also works in food production: meat, both pigs and goats. The values of these products are quite high in a subterranean culture. (They also produce manure, which is currently unregulated. Some think this is why Bofin warred with their old duke in the first place.)

The second works in timber, which for dwarves is considered even lower than fungus, but again, wood is incredibly valuable, while at the same time almost ignored by the Cовет.

All told, Lord Bofin controls 394 Tokens. This means that Lord Bofin controls almost 4% of the Empire’s Tokens.

He also has some influence over a strategic resource (food) and some undervalued resources: manure and timber.

But, between his wealth and reputation, which includes military prowess, he has the unofficial support of about ten other Clans. Together, they hold over 800 Tokens, so, at Table votes, they are able to put Lord Bofin on the Cовет. There, he can advance his own interests, but also needs to look after his supporters, lest they abandon him for another.

Military Service:

Every Tokenholder owes the Stone Table a fighting man. He serves until he is replaced or dies. And if he dies, a replacement is expected, immediately.

This core serves the Empire directly, meaning that the levies don’t pass though liege lords. This serves to make the recruits directly loyal to their own cohorts and officers. To further this, most recruits are separated from those coming from the same regions or from allied clans.

While these Ten Legions serve the Council, the Commander in Chief is the Emperor himself, and Legion commanders are appointed by him as well, making this body devoted to the Emperor more than to the Stone Table.

Additionally, each Tokenholder owes a fighting man to his liege. These stay in units officered by the nobility, which makes them loyal to clans and lieges more than to the Emperor. However, Lords are also responsible for coming to the aid of their vassals, so it goes both ways.

For example, Revgir is a rich sheriff with three Tokens. He sends three men to the Stone Table. They have 10-year writs. In ten years, he’ll send a replacement.

He also has two men-at-arms and a sergeant he sent to his Lord, Earl Hrodot. Hrodot added two other men-at-arms from nearby shires to that squad, and sent them, with two other squads of five drawn from his own clan to Count Krague.

Krague has another, similar squad form some other vassals. He gives them one of his own clansmen as an officer.

This unit is part of a larger force of just over eighty dwarves maintained by Krague. He could send these all to Lord Bofin, but Bofin would rather they were garrisoned there.

When Revgir’s loggers start getting harassed by a tribe of goblins, he calls on Earl Hrodot. Hrodot in turn petitions Count Krague, who quickly dispatches the Hrodot company and two others to drive off the goblins.

If that force, numbering about 70, were inadequate, Krague would probably petition his Duke before committing his final company to the conflict.

The Triumvirate: Emperor, Cовет, Guild

The Stone Table, composed of every Token-holder, selects the Cовет, which affirms the Emperor.

The Emperor himself is not directly in control of more than, say, Lord Bofin, having a mere 7% of the Tokens in his hands.

However, he has the alliance of many other powerful clans. Some could take seats for themselves, but choose to vote at the Table for the Emperor instead.

Others do take seats for themselves, but staunchly support him.

The Imperial Block makes up about 47% of the votes in the Cовет.

There is a small faction that seems to consistently oppose him, but it is not too hard to find a majority when he needs one.

(Lord Bofin is part of a small faction that will vote with the Emperor, but typically seeks concessions of some sort first.)

As the “Voice of the Stone,” the Emperor claims to represent the Dwarven people. But this is mere rhetoric, and  even Shadam himself rarely bothers with it.

Still, the CoBet is seen as the instrument of the elite, the Lords of Nibelungholm, not its people.

The Guild claims to represent those people.

All over the world, guilds have a strong hold on the economy. How strong depends on the local government, but the guild can call for work stoppages or slowdowns.

For example, all a sheriff’s loggers might fail to meet their daily quotas until he provides some concession, like better working conditions or improved pay/rations.

The guild can call general strikes, where all the workers in a manor or larger territory cease working. Such actions can make it impossible for a lord to meet his quotas, and that could result of his being stripped of lands and contracts.

While some lords might use violence to get their workers moving again, this can result in larger strikes, so, if Sheriff Revgir responds to striking loggers by flogging their leaders, they might go back to work.

But, it is also likely that Earl Hrodot will find that work slowdowns or stoppages have broken out all over this lands, and the Earl might find it easier to replace a foolish sheriff than discipline an entire labor force.

The Guild though is aware of just how costly a protracted conflict with a powerful lord can be. They are quick to sanction members who act in haste, and almost always look for a compromise when conflicts do arise.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:41, Fri 09 Aug 2019.

 GM, 15 posts
Fri 9 Aug 2019
at 20:55
The Cracked Land
The Great Desert is a triangle bound on one side but the Salt Sea and on two others by mountains. One range is controlled by the Silver Dragon, whose Aarakocra wage constant war with the gnoll tribes  of the lower foothills.

Human tribes, the three cultures of horse, camel, and goat, vie with the gnolls and each other for control of the scrubby plains that lie between the foothills and the desert proper along both ranges.

They are the few brave enough to risk the open desert, and they know the way to the Oasis, which those seeking the land of the Tieflings, the Cracked City or the Inverted Tower, must seek first, or die in the open desert.

While the Desert does have large expanses of drifting sand, it also has rocky areas where cacti grow and little “water stealers” (as the humans call them) thrive.  These consist largely of small rodents, some carrion birds, and insects, including giant centipedes and scorpions.

The secret of navigating the desert is to use the stars as a guide, moving at night from one rocky safe area to the next. The nomads refresh themselves on cactus and roast scorpion while they rest through the day’s heat. Then move on the next evening. A few stretches require camping in the desert; the longest is two nights on the safe route, but the most dangerous path is six nights of open desert.

The Oasis –

Is an area were springs bubble up to the surface. It is connected to the Elemental Plane of Water though an aquifer running all the way to the caverns below the Cracked City itself.

The human tribes consider the Oasis sacred, neutral territory, but it is nevertheless their territory, and they will react with hostility to anyone appearing to set up a permanent encampment there.

The area is protected by a rocky ring of hills called the Shield Wall by the nomads.  Within this ring  there are multiple pools of water, springs, lush palm trees, and date palms. It is also home to a wide variety of snakes and a troop of baboons.

The humans regard the baboons with an odd mock reverence. The monkeys will howl and posture when travelers arrive, but the nomads will offer them gifts – usually sweets and shiny baubles.

This nearly always appeases the baboons, who take the gifts, cede the pools, and hide in their caves to wait out the intruders.

If a group tries to drive off the baboons instead, the cynocephali will flee at the first sign of bloodshed, but they will harry and harass caravanners until they leave: stealing food and supplies; befouling the water during the night; throwing rotten fruit and feces from the trees.

The Cracked City –

The area is hard, flat rock under a thin layer of sand, often just a few feet, sometimes inches, deep.

Legend has it that some Divine, or Demon, smashed a hammer into the ground here, creating a three-hundred-foot cylindrical hole almost a thousand feet deep into the desert.

From that hole, cracks radiated outwards, splintering and ramifying for, in some cases, hundreds of miles.

This is the home of the Tieflings.

The history of the Tieflings is uncertain. Some consider them willing allies of the demons, brought from their realms to fight in the wars with the gods.

Some consider them to be the descendants of humans who early on gave fealty to the demons. Most Tieflings ascribe to the theory that they are descendants of enslaved humans, abandoned by both their fellow humans and the gods and the elves alike.

All children of a Tiefling parent are Tiefling. Some human offspring are spontaneously Tiefling.

A vast majority of the residents of the Cracked City are Tiefling.

The city is also infested with mephits. They are, basically pigeons. Horrible pigeons. They live in clefts on the walls high above the city. They harass those living below, stealing food and making a nuisance of themselves. When they grow too irksome, the council will pay to have them exterminated, which does cut their number considerably.

But they come back.

The Four Points –

The hub of the city is a cylinder nearly three hundred feet in diameter and a thousand feet deep. Sheer rocky walls rise into the sky.

A large fountain lies at the center of the hub. This is decorated with statues, some old and beautiful, others new and profane. (The statues and spigots are routinely changed as the political winds of the City shift, but it remains the cultural center of city.) The different spouts of the fountain direct water into different pools.

It has areas for filling drinking and cooking vessels, but also areas for children (and adults) to splash, play, bathe, and mitigate the effects of the heat.

Four large main splinters, or cracks break off from this center. The points of these are crucial real estate.

Point 1) First is the government building.

Here, the ruling body of the City is located.
This consists of a Mayor chosen by the “vested interests” of Cracked City.
So, basically, the powerful pick a figurehead.
The figurehead, in turn, picks a council. Some members represent; others vote; still others are in charge of specific duties, like customs collection.

Point 2) The military
The council picks a Warlord.
The Warlord doesn’t have an army, but they have the authority to raise one, and the means to do so – weapons, armors, funding.
They also control the Sand Gate, which is how caravans enter the city, and the soft control over the Urchin Gate, regulating the poor quarter.
They also have the prison, and they protect the treasury.

They maintain a force of about 35 guards/soldiers who watch the gates and occasionally patrol the cracks.

They also have to go on “mephit duty” when the pests get out of control.

Point 3) The Inverted Tower
Is the school of magic.
It is an alliance between the Red and Blue Factions, but in a “Tiefling Twisted” way.

Essentially, you can be a Blue or a Red and then still have a racial, alternate and rarely (directly)-conflicting alliance to the Inverted Tower.

At street-level, the organization is a magical school and resource agency.

But, it is really just the entry point for the Inverted Tower, a hollowed-out stalactite that extends below the corner office into an cavern of elemental chaos below.

This large cavern below the city is home to a large body of water (supplying the fountain above and the Oasis); several chaotic streams of molten fire move through rifts in the rock, and often the very air on fire. The air itself is in constant motion, and the variations of cold and heat occasionally produce small-scale weather events.

On occasion, an elemental will find its way from one of the planes. Typically, the Tower Masters notice and deal with it, but they have been known to find their way up a crack to the surface and cause trouble there.

Additionally, the area is infested with mephits, whose populations can be controlled but never wiped out. By means of their own, the mephits move freely back and forth to the city above.

Because of its connection to the Elemental Planes, Demons and Devils can, rarely, find their ways here.

Hence, the constant watch of the Tower.

4) The Bank
They have very large reserves of gold, gems, and other valuables.
They offer protective services to those who want a secure place to keep their valuables.

The Dracolich’s phylactery is here. But, Vecna’s was taken from here.

They provide secure vaults. They also provide financing.

To do so, they offer notes – special documents the promise payment in a network they maintain across the continent.

To protect their interests, they famously maintain a stable of assassins, who ruthlessly maintain their employer’s brand.

East Crack (The Sand Gate) –
Is the shortest and least fragmented.
It runs over four miles, and has an artificial slope of packed sand over an aggregate base.

About halfway down, inns and stables are carved into the rock walls. Many caravanners don’t wish to go further, but the prices here are nothing like below.

At the base, there is a further mile before the actual gate. Here, visitors navigate a number of barriers and obstacles, all of which are currently unstaffed, but illustrate just how defensible the city could be if necessary.

The gate itself has two towers built into the wall, but nevertheless overlooking the entry point. A wooden gate allows access.

Here, guards and inspectors assess the value of goods coming in and going out. Typically, the city encourages the import of foodstuffs and iron and encourages the export of whitesmithed goods and gems.

Visitors are also given passes designating where they are allowed.

Typically, it is the central fountain area and the Sanctioned Visitor Accommodations in the North Crack, an area of taverns and inns alongside a space for traders.

North Crack –

Gets the most sunlight, so after a small initial area of Sanctioned Visitor Accommodations, it becomes a series of canyons that get the bulk of sunlight. So, vines, adapted fruit trees, and herb gardens line every area exposed to the sun.  Lines strung across the gaps have fruit-bearing vines coiled about them.

Further up the line, there are pens built into the rock for fowl and swine, but most of the protein for the city comes from specially bred arachnids and insects.

The other splinter is devoted to manufacturing and includes smithies and jewelers. Fuel is very expensive. Typically, the human nomads all bring in a bundle of the hard desert branches, rich in creosote, knowing they can get opals in return.

The smiths have three large communal forges around which space is rented. These are powered by captured elementals, maintained by magic users.

The Urchin Splinter –

This runs roughly southeast. While access from the splinter to the fountain is technically free, there is a gate, it is staffed, and those moving back and forth are watched.

The first few hundred yards are small businesses and shops, some, “locals” taverns, a number of chic residences. Beyond that, the crack fragments rapidly. Many of the points between cracks are cut with alleyways

In this labyrinth, the poor and the disposed find homes.

Additionally, this serves as a location for goods not considered kosher in the rest of the city – drugs, poisons, decadences and deviances are all here.

Though most visitors don’t have a pass to come here, the bribes to the guards are relatively low.

The Workers Splinter –

The western crack is the longest. Some of its branches go for a hundred miles or more. For the first mile or so, the area is devoted to small family dwellings. There are also shops, meeting halls, schools.

These are located in large open areas carved from the rocky sides of the crack.

After this, there is a checkpoint.  Those “going Beyond” are not restricted, but they are recorded.

The “Beyond” is a region of wealth and risk. The crack splits in to long, wide branches, each of which splits again and again. Sometimes they connect to each other.

Sometimes they dead-end.

Sometimes they plunge deep into the earth.

Explorers here typically look for diamonds, opals, or amber.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:10, Fri 09 Aug 2019.