Wednesday, June 21, 2017

House Rules: Death and Dying In the Desert

So one of the things I’ve always been irritated with DnD about is the abstract and completely divorced from reality nature of hit points and dying. In the current edition, you drop unconscious at 0 hit points and then have to make death saves. Which are DC 10 d20 rolls  where you either stabilize or die. Three failed death saves in a day and you die. There are other rules for rolling bad on death saves, being attacked while at 0 hit points, rolling a natural 20, and so on and so forth. But here’s the thing that really bugs me, the thing that has always bugged me. Regardless of what your current hit point total is, how many death saves you’ve failed today, and how many hit dice you have left, you are as fine as you are when you’ve just finished a long rest. You operate at peak efficiency regardless of how numerically rough your health is at a given moment. I understand it, but it aggravates me. There should be a cost to getting into combat repeatedly and throwing yourself into the meat grinder with wild abandon, and there isn’t.

On a side note, would you like to know the name of a system that abstracts health and wellness and death and dying but has statistical penalties for having low hit points and low reserves of energy and treats combat like it is always a dangerous thing to engage in? Fucking GURPS.

GURPS treats combat like it is deadly and risky and you can get pretty fucked up in any fight because fights are chaotic and deadly and you’re never a giant sack of hit points. You can always die by being stabbed once or twice and a super high HT only serves to make it slightly easier for you to survive being grievously injured. GURPS was designed to make combat difficult and dangerous. DnD has a different design goal. DnD rules are designed to have X amount of encounters each scenario with the assumption that each encounter will consume Y of the party’s resources with only combat encounters that are specifically designed with a certain level of difficulty in mind having the risk of player death. Basically, DnD is weak sauce easy mode. Which has been the case for the past few editions. In 2nd Edition do you know what happened when you hit 0 hit points? You died. No death saves, no you can still be healed and pop back up, etc. You died. You ran out of hit points and you died and the group's Cleric had like six spell slots total. You still operated at peak efficiency whether you were at 1 hit point or 90, but still. Anyway. 

So my goal for The Seasonal Arc has been to portray Hasta as a deadly world of harsh deserts and murderously hungry desert creatures. Part of the way I want to portray that is to make the creatures tougher and nastier, the combats more difficult, and the death and dying rules a little more aggressive. I also want to slightly increase the player’s capabilities to show that the races of this world have evolved to be tougher just like the beasts have. 

The way I’ve decided to show that being at low hit points is bad is by leveraging levels of exhaustion. There are six levels of exhaustion and at level one your ability checks (skills) have disadvantage. The negative effects scale up until level six, which is death. So I’ve instituted a house rule that says when you’re at half your max hit point total, you gain one level of exhaustion. This level of exhaustion is removed when your hit points rise above half your hit points. This makes it risky to remain at low hit points in battle. But it’s not something that will completely cripple a character and mark him for death immediately. 

The other aspect of health and wellness in DnD is death saves. There’s no real mechanic for showing that you’re in rough shape if you’ve failed two death saves. A character with max hit points, max hit dice, and no failed death saves should be in better shape than a character that’s used a bunch of hit dice and and has failed two death saves. This is all abstract, but it should feel like that second character is closer to death, shouldn’t it? I feel like it should. But that’s just me. 

There are two ways I’ve thought of going about this. The first, and this is the one I currently have listed in my house rules for The Seasonal Arc, is to say that every failed death save you have imparts one level of exhaustion. This means that a character at 0 hit points with two failed death saves will have disadvantage on ability checks, their speed reduced by half, and will have disadvantage on saving throws and attack rolls. The second way I’ve thought of doing this is that each failed death save you have reduces your maximum hit point total. So one failed death save reduces your maximum hit points to ¾ normal and two failed death saves reduces your maximum hit points to ½ normal. 

Part of me, the sadistic part I suppose, is screaming to do both. I feel like both is too much though. With access to unlimited healing, the reducing of hit points isn’t that much of a penalty. It just ties up the characters with cure wounds and healing word studs more, which has value I suppose. I think we’ll just stick with the levels of exhaustion for failed death saves. It’s the quickest and easiest and doesn’t bog down combat with a bunch of “how many hit points do I have right now and how many can I have total” questions and math. 

The main point of this post is to figure out what I want to do with hit dice. I have instituted a house rule that says long rests restore all your hit points, but only restore hit dice equal to your Constitution modifier, minimum of 1. But that’s not really a penalty. If characters have access to unlimited healing magic, they won’t really need to spend many hit dice. So the rule is effectively pointless. But hit dice are tied to health and wellness and recovery and stuff. They represent reserves of energy, I think. So I need to represent that in some way. 

The easiest way to do that is to say when your hit dice are low, you gain a level of exhaustion. Just like with hit points. But again, we run into the issue of hit dice aren’t going to be used as much because of unlimited healing magic. We could go the 4th Edition route and say that healing is done by curative magic allowing you to spend hit dice and boosting the effect of spending them. But that’s silly to me and fuck 4th Edition. It does tie in with what we see in a lot of fantasy novels where healing exhausts the person being healed. But that’s not really the way magic works in my universe. 

Another option is to take a note from GURPS where prolonged periods of exertion like combat and stuff drain your hit dice. But this runs into the problem where in a group of characters, the Wizard with a Constitution of 8 has the same amount of energy reserves (hit dice) as a Barbarian with a Constitution of 16. Fourth level characters will all have four hit dice, regardless of hit points and Constitution and whether or not they are a physically tough class or a physically fragile class. I like the idea that hit dice represent a reserve of physical energy. I like the idea that if they run low or out, maybe just out, it would impact your overall physical capabilities. When you’re exhausted, you don’t run or fight as well as you would you’re well rested and full of vitality. 

Hit dice are a restorative mechanic in 5th Edition. They’re useful because the game isn’t designed for characters to have unlimited access to healing from magic. So it’s pretty safe and easy to completely change how you gain them and what they’re used for. 

So let’s do a little spitballing here. They’re not really dice anymore, but let’s keep calling them that because I feel like it. How about each character has hit “dice” equal to the highest number on their hit dice. So Barbarians have 12 hit "dice" and Rogues have 8 and so on. Let’s also say that you increase/decrease your hit “dice” by your Constitution modifier. So the Barbarian with a 16 Constitution has a total of 15 hit “dice” and the Wizard with a 8 Constitution has a total of 5 hit “dice.” Let’s also say that when you run out of hit “dice” you gain a level of exhaustion. Because you are exhausted.  

Ok, hold up, I’m being stupid. 

So we’ve established that, at least in my opinion, hit dice exist as a form of more limited healing for characters to recover from fights because healing is not infinite. They’re not used for anything else as far as I can tell. So in the first place, limiting their recovery and having negative effects for using them is kind of pointless. They’re not something that’s going to be used often enough to really have an impact except in that one irritating instance where the group splits the party in the middle of the desert and can’t safely take a long rest or walk into a clinic in one of the towns or cities. In talking about this all with some other DMs, Lance also made the point that hit dice and the healing they provide are a mechanic designed to help prevent the 15 minute adventuring day where healers would expend all their spells on healing and then everyone would rest and reset all of their abilities after adventuring for an hour or two.

So if hit dice are essentially useless in a campaign setting where the PCs have access to unlimited healing and spell slots, why bog down the game with additional mechanics tied to hit dice and how they affect you when you run low on them? A more sensible solution would be to just remove the hit dice as a mechanic of the game. This also serves to make those extraordinarily rare situations where the players do not have access to unlimited healing more difficult and a little tense because the players and their characters know that they can’t spend an hour resting and restore all their hit points with their hit dice. 

I like it.

This has been productive. I’m glad we were able to do this. Usually I spend so much time adding rules to games and modifying existing rules. It’s kind of a strange experience to be removing a major mechanic like hit dice from the game. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Rudimentary Bestiary of Yofga

This bestiary is meant to describe some of the more well known creatures of Yofga and should not be viewed as a comprehensive guide. Strange beasts are found in the deep desert, and travelers should always be wary of engaging the creatures found within it, even if they appear benign or similar in shape and form to more well known creatures.

Atcheth (Aw-chet)
CR 20
The mighty atcheth, the deadliest known predator of the silt oceans of Hasta. These creatures are almost entirely responsible for the absence of water travel and trade on Hasta’s silt oceans. The atcheth are vaguely crocodilian creatures that are usually reported as being at least sixty feet in length. Despite its size, the atcheth is considered to be the fastest known predator the oceans of Hasta. This is due to the six flexible flipper limbs that it possesses on the sides of its body. Each of these flippers is made of a large, flexible bone blade that is capable of propelling the atcheth through the water with incredible speed, or slashing apart prey with the same speed. These bone blades are capable of slicing through even the sturdiest of keels. These blades are surely the most deadly physical attribute of the atcheth, but the bite force of its crocodilian jaws is capable of crushing nearly anything they are able to fit around. Atcheth, supposedly, are also able to emit electricity from their body. The supposed power of this ability differs from story to story and can range from mildly stunning human sized prey, to killing and nearly incinerating it.

Desert Raptor
CR 1
Aside from the extremely rare varieties of dragon that are capable of true flight, the skies of of Yofga are ruled by one creature and one creature only, the mighty desert raptor, sometimes called the ammelger (am-ell-gear). These mighty predators are usually about four feet long with a ten foot wingspan when fully grown. The desert raptor has light grey feathers and a primarily bald head with a small red crest atop its head. It also, of course, possesses a savagely sharp and curved beak and immense talons.

Dragon
CR Varies By Age and Subspecies
There is not more varied and adaptable species of creature on Yofga than dragons. There exist many dozens of subspecies with unique abilities and different behaviors. As a species, they are almost universally apex predators of their various environments. Physically, they follow the pattern of long bodies with tails at least as long as their body and limbs on the sides of its torso. Their teeth and claws are of course razor sharp. They are all poisonous to some degree, though the precise strength and effect of their venom varies. Most are capable of regurgitating their extremely corrosive stomach acid into a stream or arc of caustic liquid they can drench their prey in, though they typically only engage in this behavior when prey is more difficult to take down than they had anticipated. All dragons are physically strong beasts of great endurance, as well as possessing scales that are much harder and durable than one might think. Older dragons possess scales capable of turning blows that would crack iron plate mail. One thing should be noted when dealing with dragons of all varieties. While these beasts are just that, they are quite intelligent and this intelligence and cunning seem to grow as they age. They are obviously still beasts and nowhere near as intelligent as humans and goliath, but they should not be underestimated as cunning hunters.

Hungry Cactus
CR Varies By Size
Hungry cacti are one of the only forms of plant life found in the deep desert. They are fairly small, with most being round green needle studded balls roughly the size of a goliath fist, though their size varies with how much water they can find to store and consume. Unlike most forms of plant life, hungry cacti are mobile creatures. When a hungry cactus’ root structures no longer find plentiful water deep below the hard sun baked ground, they immediately begin to wither and weaken. Once they have sufficiently weakened that they are easily torn away, the cacti fires several of its hollow needles, which remain connected to the cactus by retractable root structures. This allows the round cactus to roll itself to regions where it detects more water. The cactus’ needles and roots only have a range of ten feet or so, so its rolling progress is extremely slow, but it allows these cacti to survive and thrive when no other plant life could. It should be noted that whatever sense the cactus uses to find water is able to detect fluid within living things, making them a danger to travelers that draw too close. The needles of these cacti are hollow and secrete a caustic, slightly paralytic substance as well, similar to the venom of certain spiders. This allows these cacti to kill a living creature, liquify its insides, and draw its fluids back to the main body of the cactus through the connected root structures. A healthy human or goliath suffers no ill effects from the substance secreted by the cactus’ needles, however, there are reports of hungry cacti measuring five feet or more in diameter that have been able to use the secretions of their needles to paralyze a full grown goliath and feed on them for days before moving on.

Husk
CR 1
Husks are the strange humanoids that exist around The Font of Shadows. Some say they are the dead killed by the volcanic region around The Font of Shadows, others say that they are living creatures made savage and insensible by the strange emanations of The Font of Shadows and the trials and tribulations they have suffered living in close proximity to The Font of Shadows. Husks are dangerous to most travelers, but not all. Some they attack on sight, while others are able to walk into their field of vision without being hindered in any way unless the non-husks initiate contact with the husks. Husks are dangerous because they are very resilient creatures that simply do not show restraint or retreat in the face of superior odds. Once they begin attacking or hunting prey, they do not cease until they have been dismembered or otherwise rendered unable to continue the conflict. In addition to this, they are able to enter short periods of intangibility, which makes destroying them difficult.

Jester Hounds
CR 1
Jester hounds are a peculiar type of canine found primarily in the more fertile lands around the cities of Yofga. Jester hounds are grey canines that are typically about two feet tall at the shoulder and four feet long from nose to tail. Jester hounds are omnivores and are not above scavenging. This makes them fairly benign creatures in terms of how they relate to humans and goliath. The small canines often run in mated pairs and despite their fairly benign nature, they can become dangerous opponents when they are back into corners or when their young are threatened. Outside of those situations, they are more likely to flee an opponent than stand and fight. Jester hounds have two unique characteristics, the first is that their barks and yips sound disturbingly similar to the cackles and laughter of humans. They also possess a bizarre illusionary displacement ability that leaves the jester hounds never quite where they seem to be.

Krosank (Crow-sank)
CR 1
Krosank are large lizards of burden and food source used by many towns and the cities of Yofga. Adult krosank are typically eight feet long and approximately six feet tall at the shoulder. Their bodies are heavy and muscular with thick bones. They are not capable of great speeds, but their plodding gait and unflagging endurance allows them to cover many more miles than their smaller and fleeter cousins. Krosank are primarily herbivorous, but will eat pretty much anything that their blocky teeth can break up enough to swallow. Their tough hide is nowhere near as durable as that of dragons, but it is somewhat resistant to minor blows, which makes it hard for smaller predators to prey upon them. Krosank have a long, flexible neck that terminates in crocodilian head and atop the very end of their snout is a short, thick horn. Due to the mild temperament of these beasts, they very rarely use their horns in defense, but there are cases of krosank that have been tormented by their handlers impaling their tormentors and using their muscular neck to fling them up into the air.

Mega Scorpion
CR 4
The deserts of Yofga are full of many variations of what might be called regular scorpions. They vary by size and color and the toxicity of their venom. Standing above these arachnids as their god or king is the mega scorpion. These large creatures are often about the size of a krosank, but the stories of desert tribes claim that they have been seen to reach as much as fifteen feet in length. They are an ugly creature with a urine yellow carapace with black splotches of color scattered randomly on their thoraxes. Mega scorpions behave in a manner very similar to their smaller brethren, though their size and the toxicity of their venom allow them to hunt much larger and dangerous prey than their normal brethren. One oddity of the mega scorpion is that its pincers are more agile and have a larger range of motion than typical scorpions, as well as appearing more like hinged clamps or spades than blades. Very little is known about the life cycle of mega scorpions, as they are typically well equipped to slay any researchers studying them, but the odd configurations of their pincers has led many naturalists to conclude that they are great burrowers.

Neko Snake (Knee-ko snake)
CR 4
Most of the serpents found on Yofga tend to be small poisonous creatures typically found in the areas where the fertile lands surrounding the cities meets the rocky terrain of the deep desert. The neko snake, long considered the symbol of modern medicine on Yofga, is strange in that it is the only constrictor snake known to inhabit the deep desert, though that is the most minor oddity of the creature. The neko snake is typically ten to fifteen feet in length and possesses a thick, muscular body capable of crushing prey that might be considered far deadlier and stronger than it is. Neko snakes are bizarre serpents in that at about the midpoint of their body, they split into two, and sometimes three, heads. One head is considered male, and the other female, as neko snakes are apparently solitary creatures and are capable of impregnating themselves in a way that biologists and naturalists are not able to understand. Hunters and beast harvesters have found that neko snakes are incredibly hard to kill due to incredible properties of regeneration that they possess. Stories persist of grievously wounded neko snakes having one or more heads severed and returning to life while hunters are in the process of cleaning their kills and harvesting the organs of the serpent. There are also unconfirmed stories of the severed heads of neko snakes growing into new neko snakes. There is a thought process among certain naturalists that this is the means of reproduction for neko snakes, but it has not been confirmed. Because of its strange regenerative properties, many physicians will pay well for access to a neko snake’s liver, spleen, and a good amount of its uncontaminated blood.

Night Fowl
CR ⅛
Night fowl are small black birds found in and around the cities and most towns of Yofga. These small birds are typically about 10 inches tall with a wingspan of about 14 inches. They are capable of flight, but prefer to run along the ground. They are primarily carnivorous scavengers and possess a robust serrated beak. They are rarely seen during the day, as they are primarily nocturnal, but have been known to hunt and travel during the day when necessary. The feathers of night fowl are strange in nature. Rather than possessing normal feathers like other avians, night fowl possess very lightweight and flexible blades of chitin that allow them to fly and give them an almost iridescent black coloring. Night fowl also possess insectile compound eyes that give them an amazing range of vision and impeccable night vision. Despite their size, night fowl are amazing hunters and hiders and most cities and towns have massive hidden populations of these small birds within their borders. Despite their predatory nature and small size, these birds exhibit very little hostility to or fear of humans and goliath and many families within the cities and towns of Yofga keep a night fowl or two as pets.

Norvesk (Nor-vesk)
CR 3
Norvesk are a spider-like creature about five feet in length when fully grown. Like most spiders, they have a bulbous body, eight eyes, and eight legs, and are capable of utilizing webbing. Norveks are subterranean creatures that live within complex burrows that often intersect with old ruins beneath the deserts of Yofga. Their entrances to these burrows often double as an ambush site due to their skill at camouflaging the entrances to their burrows to be no different than the surrounding desert. Most spiders have spinnerets on the end of their abdomens to release webbing. Similar to scorpions, norvesk have three tails that come up over their abdomen and allow them to spray webbing in almost any direction the norvesk wishes. The poison of the norvesk is mediocre in terms of toxicity to healthy humans and goliath, however, it should be noted that the webbing of norvesk is corrosive to almost everything except the chitin of the norvesk.

Riding Krosank
CR ½
Ok, I’m going to be straight with you. I’m feeling lazy. Riding krosank are warhorses. They have the exact same statistics as a warhorse (Monster Manual page 340). They look like the krosank described above, but they’re smaller and faster.

Silt Shark
CR 5
The silt shark is a mighty amphibious beast that lurks along the shores of Yofga. Most silt sharks are approximately ten feet long with a kind of egg shaped body with powerful tails, short stubby legs, a fin jutting up from their back like a blade, and huge cavernous mouths full of row upon row of shredding teeth. The silt shark’s feet end in three clawed toes. These thick talons are sharp, but they are built like large scoops, allowing the silt shark to propel itself easily through water or dig its way through soil. The silt shark is a ravenous beast and their fins have been seen poking up aboveground as far as ten miles inland as the creatures hunt for prey. Though not nearly as destructive or deadly as the atcheth, the silt shark is capable of destroying most sea vessels and turning small towns into wide swatches of disturbed earth.

Steluj (Stell-luge) Beasts
CR Varies

Steluj are a particularly rare class of desert creature. Sometimes humans and goliath are killed and eaten by desert beasts. Sometimes those humans and goliath have studs. It is well known that studs respond to the desires of those that bear them. Very very rarely, a desert beast will consume a human or goliath and after digesting it, the studs implanted into the corpse will be freed and wind up implanting themselves in the stomach of the beast. Beasts are unable to think and direct their will the way humans and goliath are, but they are able to hunt and hunger and fear and flee. These basic desires are enough to direct studs that a desert beast has consumed and implanted in its belly. Such creatures are understandably rare and can be extremely dangerous at times, assuming the studs that they have consumed have a practical benefit and one that can be directed by the simple desires of a beast.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hekinoe Navere

So here's the thing, I'm writing about Navere. Or at least trying to. This Navere is a Greenskin Abraxen from The Beast Lands, not a wild elf from The Spine of the World. I'm trying to sort of write a Hekinoe version of Curse of Strahd. Writing is fucking hard though, so I'm sputtering and spinning my wheels, even when I can force myself to sit and stare at the blinking cursor of an open text document (my age old Favored Enemy and the general bane of my existence).

So I'm writing about writing. Because that's easier and maybe it'll knock a bit of rust off the interior of my brain hole. The point of this post is going to be trying to hammer out a few details about Hekinoe Navere and the story in general. Normally I just kind of write things as they come to me, but that's not happening easily. So we're going to try and get a more concrete concept of the story in my head before we vomit it into a text document. Maybe it'll help, maybe it won't.

The first thing I think I need to establish is Navere's power level and abilities. Normally I write about accomplished supernatural creatures and pseudo-deities. Things that can't be stopped unless they allow themselves to be stopped. Navere is different. Navere is mortal, he's not even immortal with caveats like many things in Hekinoe. He doesn't have access to Gifts or psionics either, so his DnD Druid abilities are pure sorcery. Which means they're unreliable and fallible and I'll need to represent that in the story when he uses them and when he thinks about them. I have in the past relied upon a conflict resolution methodology that might be properly referred to as "smash it to bits with magic" with magic being a catch all term for sorcery, Gifts, or psionics. I can't do that with Navere. Yes, he's a sorcerer, yes, he'll use sorcery, but he's not going to be as willy nilly about it as a Nel would use Gifts or an Elduman would use psionics. Unless he's bat shit crazy, and I don't really think he is. 

Ok, so Hekinoe Navere isn't all powerful. He's not a rookie either. He's seen some shit. So he's competent, but can be defeated. I should really just stat him out in GURPS before I really get into writing. That might be fun and would give me a more concrete idea about his capabilities and keep me honest so to speak, so he doesn't end up defeating challenges because of abilities I think up in the moment. Giving him stats would be fun and it would give me a frame of reference when writing about him and stuff. He'd be like maybe 200 points or so. Maybe. I dunno. Thereabouts.

Alright, so let's think and talk more about this story or whatever. It starts out with Navere on a ship and two pirates discussing him within his hearing. The gist is that Navere has booked passage on a ship to return home to The Beast Lands. This presents us with a few questions we need to answer for the sake of the narrative or whatever. The first is, where was he before booking passage? The second is, why was he there? The third is, why is he returning to The Beast Lands? Oh. Just came up with a fourth question. Do I want to include DnD Navere's companions from Curse of Strahd? Bjorn, Sven, Slarty, Neo, and Thedes.

We're going to start with the third question here. Why is Navere returning to The Beast Lands? After thinking about this, it's a stupid idea. Let's look at the Curse of Strahd module. DnD Navere and compatriots end up in a foreign land via supernatural mist. In the metagame, we known that the PCs have traversed the planes and came from Faerun/Abeir-Toril/Forgotten Realms and are now in Barovia in The Demiplane of Dread, which is in the Shadowfell in 5th Edition. For a variety of reasons, a vampire type entity making its home in The Beast Lands doesn't make much sense. I mean, yes, there are great blood midges and stuff, but that's not really the point. To fit with the Curse of Strahd idea, we are looking for a place that's strange and unnatural to Hekinoe Navere. A place where a supernatural vampire-esque creature that can control the minds of some animals and manipulate nature and such can setup shop. That's one of the things that infuriates DnD Navere about Barovia. The undead leech controlling and fucking with nature. So what we need is a place where nature exists, but can be manipulated by supernatural means where a vampire type creature would fit into nicely.

I'm an idiot.

The Fallen Empire of Man fits that perfectly. With the Hekinoe 2.0 changes I'm making, The Fallen Empire exists as a separate continent from the continent that The Beast Lands is on, so it would fit the idea that Navere comes to a strange and foreign place. It's also a very fertile region full of natural elements that is very sparsely populated, which leaves a lot of room for a Strahd-like figure to wander in and do whatever the fuck he wants. We still need to figure out why Hekinoe Navere is going there. The current beginning of the story starts out with Navere booking passage on a ship to somewhere and the pirates discussing what the morning will bring when they forcibly boot Navere from the ship a little earlier than he'd anticipated. So maybe we run with that a little bit?

Oh. Fifth question. What should we make Strahd be in Hekinoe?

Moving along. We're running with the idea that Hekinoe Navere is being taken to The Fallen Empire against his will. I think that his original goal was to get back to The Beast Lands after being away in like Kusseth or some shit. Everybody goes to Kusseth at some point in their life. So in attempting to answer our third question, we've answered our first question. So Navere had booked passage from Kusseth to The Beast Lands on a Haven ship. Why would the captain of the ship drop Navere in The Fallen Empire of Man instead? In the Hekinoe 2.0 map system we have Kusseth in the northwest, The Beast Lands on a continent south of Kusseth and The Fallen Empire on a continent east of Kusseth.

The most obvious option is that the captain of our Haven ship is in league with our Faux-Strahd. I don't much care for it, but it neatly ties it up in a bow and explains it. Faux-Strahd has a deal with this captain to strand travelers near his settlement for entertainment and feeding purposes. This ship and its captain kind of act as the Mists and the Vistani do in Curse of Strahd/Ravenloft. I'm not sure I like that though. It resolves everything, but it's also a real easy explanation. What if the captain of this Haven ship is Vanden or one of his cronies? Meaning that Hekinoe Navere gets dropped off in The Fallen Empire of Man for inscrutable reasons that involve a plot that won't come to fruition for thirty-five years. I kinda dig that, but I also kinda don't. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh. I fucking hate writing. Let's move on. We have two workable ideas, don't really need to worry too much about which one we're going with at this time.

To kind of finish up our third question, we need to establish why Navere was heading to The Beast Lands. It's not super mega relevant, but we need to have a reason for it because the goal of returning to The Beast Lands kicks off this whole story. So maybe it is super mega relevant. Alright, think. Why was he heading back to The Beast Lands? Family reasons? No. Doesn't fit. He was raised by wolves and the ones he considers family would be dead by now and he never knew his greenskin abraxen family.

Hmm. How about he was returning to The Beast Lands as part of a challenge to himself? Like he's been in civilized lands doing civilized things for a while. He felt out of touch with his nature as a predator, out of touch with the beasts and forces of nature. So he decided to return to the crucible of his birth that is The Beast Lands. A place where flora and fauna grow huge and savage and mad. Where flora and fauna are so fierce and potent that they resist the manipulation that comes so easily to DnD Druids. Yeah. I dig that.

Let's hop back to our second question. Why was Navere in Kusseth? This question isn't necessarily a big deal or something I intend on referencing extensively, but it's something I'd like to know. After leaving his family (of wolves) DnD Navere wandered into civilization and kind of worked as a hunter and healer and that sort of thing. In Hekinoe 2.0, Kusseth shares its continent with The Fell Peaks and Whurent, so there's still some strife along that country's borders. So maybe Hekinoe Navere and whatever bros he may or may not have had were doing some mercenary work in Kusseth and they finished a job and Navere got sick of all the civilization and industrialization and whatnot.

One, two, three, ok now we're on four. Sorry. I'm way tipsy right now. We're on question four, should I incorporate DnD Navere's bros in Hekinoe Navere's story? It's a difficult question. I have permission from Kevin and Jacob to include Bjorn and Sven in this story if I choose to. I can't really include Sir Neo of Sporin because he's a Paladin and that doesn't fit with Hekinoe. Nor can I include Slarty Bartfast (I'm not entirely sure of the spelling) because he's an elf Monk. Also, they have dumb as shit names. I think I will tentatively include Bjorn and Sven. When writing The Last Blade I found it very useful to have a secondary character, the Herald, for Keroen to talk to, to bounce ideas off of and that sort of thing. It made Keroen a little more...human and easier to relate to I guess? Maybe. I'm not sure. I liked the experience though, so like I said, we'll include Bjorn and Sven tentatively and see how it goes.

Alright, question five. What is Faux-Strahd? In Curse of Strahd he is a vampire ruler of Barovia. In the Ravenloft setting he is a vampire ruler of a domain in the Demiplane of Dread. He's been brought there by the Dark Powers to suffer for his various crimes and horrible transgressions. He's a bad dude that eats people. 

So the core aspects of Strahd are that he is an undead supernatural creature that rules a region and feeds on and torments others for his own purposes. There's really only one type of sentient undead supernatural creature on Hekinoe. The Fallen. The Fallen are undead, and while they do not require blood to survive, some of them can drain if from victims and use it to repair damage to their dead grey crystalline flesh. That seems like a fairly obvious solution to figuring out what Faux-Strahd should be. I have another idea that could work as well, and it's slightly less obvious. I might go that route instead. Perhaps. We'll keep it quiet for now.

Alright, I think we've answered everything, let's go over it all. We've established that Hekinoe Navere and his bros (maybe) Bjorn and Sven were in Kusseth doing unspecified mercenary work. They completed their last job and Hekinoe Navere decided he was sick of civilization and industrialization and wanted to return to The Beast Lands to reconnect with the strength and savagery of his homeland. After hiring a ship, he ends up getting stranded in The Fallen Empire of Man due to a deal the captain of the ship has with Faux-Strahd the Fallen to bring him living beings to feast upon and torment for entertainment.

I like it. We'll see how this develops. This has been a somewhat productive exercise and I'm glad I did it. I have a little bit of a better hold on the story now. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hiatus

Got married this week. Going on my honeymoon. Taking two weeks off. Next post will be on June 7th. Try not to burn down the Internet(s) while I'm gone.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wallosp, City of Arts

On the continent of Yofga there are four walled cities. These cities were constructed by the Lujggao, or at least by their giant slaves. These cities are massive urban sprawls with high walls and structures of black stone. Each of these four cities contains a furnace of creation and a purifier, and from these four cities flow the nearly limitless resources that allow humanoids to flourish on Yofga.

So we're going to  talk about the third of these four cities, Wallosp, City of Arts.

History
The history of Wallops might be considered somewhat boring. Stories say that when the original inhabitants found the city, they entered it and explored it fully. They immediately found the furnace of creation, purifier, and descendants of the Lujggao. Unlike the other cities, the furnace, purifier, and descendants were not hidden behind heavy doors. The doors were wide and the descendants of the Lujggao were prowling the city doing their tasks. The early inhabitants also found massive stores of raw materials that the furnace of creation had obviously been producing for years. Why the furnace of creation and purifier were already in operation, unlike the other three cities of Yofga, is unknown and has been speculated on to great degree by historians.

Unlike the other three cities of Yofga, Wallosp never experienced problems with poor nutrition and dehydration that led to plagues and illnesses. The population of Wallosp had little difficulty expanding into the surrounding area and using the excess of seeds produced by the furnace of creation to being early efforts at agriculture. Early settlers were even able to use the fresh water supplies stored in the city's reservoir to begin the process of digging trenches that served as early aqueducts, which are the backbone of the agricultural efforts of the towns surrounding the other cities.

Wallosp's history might be considered almost boring by readers expecting exciting events and stories of tragedy. The city has little experience with tragedy. It's history is a story of unlikely coincidence and things working out to the benefit of its citizens. Food has always been plentiful, populations have been high, health has always been good. Almost no citizen of the city has every truly wanted for anything in the way that citizens of the other cities or the people of the desert tribes have.

This tale of luck and abundance has given the people of Wallosp something that few in the other cities have ever been able to devote their lives to: art. Almost since it was first settled, Wallosp has been the center of art on Yofga. While other cities worried about scraping together enough lumber to make hafts for tools, the citizens of Wallosp were taking up the arts of woodcarving and scrimshaw. When other cities were trying to scrape together enough iron or copper and tin to forge tools, Wallosp was putting up statues of bronze and brass and studding them with inlays of precious stones and metals.

Dozens of schools have sprung up in Wallosp, schools of poetry and philosophy and all manner or things that may be classified as art. These schools and studios have sprung up in the heart of the city of Wallosp, sort of organically growing up around the Great Gallery of Wallosp. The Great Gallery is a large series of interconnected buildings that incorporate pre-existing structures and mortal additions as well. This large structure contains various wings where art is displayed and at the times the building itself act as art. The Great Gallery was founded by an early king of Wallosp named King Grannomel.

In addition to its dedication to what might be called the of arts of the mind, Wallosp has also supported physical arts in the form of games and sporting events. These eventually culminated in the creation of the Arena of Wallosp and the formation of the week long festival known as the Great Games. The Great Games are an incredibly popular event in Wallosp that fills the city to its brim with spectators from the other cities and town and even the tribes of the deep desert. Contestants participate in trials of the body and the mind in competition for cash purses of thousands of gold. This event is overseen by a group of secretive stud wielders known as Architects. Their identities remain unknown, but during the Great Games that can be identified by their voluminous red robes that shroud their features in shadow. These mysterious figures are sometimes called sadists for the difficult trials they inflict on individuals, but despite their cunning, few participants in the games have ever been truly slain during their trials.


Ruler
The ruler of Wallosp is King Metlesken Hargrave (57 H M). He has ruled the city for approximately 20 years now and is considered to be a fairly benign if unimportant ruler. He became king approximately twenty years ago with little fanfare after the natural death of his father. King Hargrave is not very involved in the running of Wallosp and relies heavily on his mother and advisors to keep the city running day to day while he enjoys the fruits of his position and their labors.


Government
The government of Wallosp is primarily a monarchy ruled by King Hargrave, and he wields essentially limitless power in the city, though he rarely does so. The city is more closely overseen by the Council of Curators, though anything they do or enact can be overridden by King Hargrave. There is a fair amount of corruption within the city's government, but it is relatively benign and does not prevent the system as a whole from functioning. The monarchy is traditionally a hereditary monarchy, while positions on the Council are typically purchased by artistic contributions to the Great Gallery of Wallosp. There are essentially an unlimited number of seats on the Council, but the current number of council members is roughly 120.

Laws
The laws of Wallosp are fairly benign in nature, with nothing too overly authoritarian being enacted. Crimes such as murder are treated more harshly than minor crimes such as theft, as is the case across most of Yofga. Law is enacted on the street level by contracted investigators who wield little power in the city when they are not actively investigating a case. Those investigators are hired and overseen by judges that are put int position by politicians on the Council.


Economy
The economy of Wallosp is almost certainly unassailable. The city has effectively unlimited resources and it is not stingy in sharing those resources with the towns that owe it fealty. Because it basically needs nothing from the other cities, the city has a strong position in terms of bargaining and trading. It may not have quite as much iron as Mennum, or as much copper and tin as Crannom, but it has more than sufficient amounts for its basic needs. The only thing that Wallosp truly lacks is tradesmen. They have artists and resources, but because of the somewhat unfocused and relaxed lifestyle of most citizens in the city, they lack tradesmen committed to a specific trade. They have goldsmiths and silversmiths and gemcutters and carpenters, but they focus on artistry. The city only really needs skilled tradesmen with practical skills that can forge and shape raw materials for practical uses. This gives the other cities bargaining power, but not nearly as much as having unlimited resources.


Armed Forces
The armed forces of Wallosp are many and varied. This is due to the fact that the entirety of what might be called Wallosp's armed forces are mercenary in nature. Wallosp does not keep a standing army of any kind. Instead, they use the city uses its reserves of coin to buy the unquestioning loyalty of a hodgepodge of career mercenaries and participants in the Great Games the city holds every five years. This method makes the forces of Wallosp very varied and versatile and makes it rather difficulty for the other cities to gauge the precise nature and strength of Wallosp's forces.


Current Affairs
Wallosp is currently celebrating its Great Games. The celebration has been going on for two days now. On the fourth day, the Arena opens up and daring individuals can begin competing for acclaim and prize money. The influx of people wishing to see the Games of course brings in a great deal of commerce and chaos to the city. This naturally leads to increased crime for those natives and visitors living outside that law, as well as better job opportunities for those seeking gainful employment. Many merchants and nobles seek to hire participants and victors from the Games as guardians for their goods and persons. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Artifacts of Yofga

Like most DnD worlds, Hasta is home to several artifacts of great magical power. There are even a few that can be found on Yofga. The information presented here is factual in the sense that it is what people on Yofga believe about these objects. Whether or not it is factual in the sense that it is true information remains to be seen. Teehee.

The Adamant Armor
The Adamant Armor is a strange looking suit of black plate and chain. The suit of armor appears to be made of lightweight black material that is slightly reflective. Most of the armor is made of incredibly small rings that form a suit of chain mail. Over this chain mail are rounded, segmented plates of slightly reflective black material. The plates and chain are much more durable than the strongest iron or bronze found on Yofga, and much lighter than any material known to man or goliath.

The most obvious ability of The Adamant Armor is its durability. Blows that would shatter iron and slice through bronze with ease rebound off of The Adamant Armor with a dull thunk. The armor is also highly resistant to the elements, making long periods of desert travel almost easy. The Adamant Armor is also capable of shifting its size to accommodate wearer's of any size. This makes it much easier for wearer's to utilize their natural agility than more conventional suits of heavy armor.


The Blades of Bone and Flame
The Blades of Bone and Flame are four strange weapons that appear to be made of frozen fire and blackened bone. The weapons are poorly designed, with the charred black hafts and hilts having knobs and curves in them like bones leading to poor or unstable grips. The blades themselves are no better. One is reminiscent of a halberd, another an axe, the third as sort of scimitar, and the fourth a short stabbing blade. The blades do not conform to typical blade formations. They curve like fire leaping up from a bonfire and generate a minor amount of light and do not appear to be sharpened in any meaningful way. Ultimately, the weapons are heavy and poorly designed and take great skill to wield effectively, and even then, their poor balance and clumsy construction would work against their wielder.

What is known about The Blades of Bone and Flame is that they are hot. So hot that icy blasts of magic inflict minimal discomfort on their wielders. That same heat is deadly to most living things, and is capable of burning through most non-living things. Even creatures and objects supposedly immune to heat and fire cannot stand the touch of the flames of these weapons. It is known that even the wielder is not immune to the inferno these weapons possess. There are many stories of foolish or unskilled wielders attempting to take up one of these blades, only to inadvertently press the blades against themselves and be left as nothing more than smoking ash.


The Blood of Everlasting Spring
The Blood of Everlasting Spring is a very unremarkable looking item. Legends say that it is a simple glass flask or vial with a gemstone cap holding it closed. Within the glass container is a thick green fluid known as The Blood of Everlasting Spring.

Little is known about precisely how The Blood is used, but most tales speak of its wielders ingesting it or dripping it onto open wounds. Using The Blood offers extended life to those that are able to use it, though the precise extent of this ability varies in legends. The Blood also offers immunity to most of the toxins found among the beasts of the deep desert as well as offering near immunity to most diseases found in Yofga. One peculiarity of The Blood is that when those that use it draw near to the mighty lizards of the deep desert, dragons, the dragons are driven into an insatiable rage and will hunt the possessor of The Blood for weeks. The Blood seems to call to the dragons as well, drawing them from miles away. It should also be noted that if several dragons are drawn to The Blood and are unable to vent their rage and bloodlust on the possessor, they will pass the time rutting with one another until they are able to reach the wielder. There is one tale of a possessor of The Blood remaining safe from the dragons in a man-sized cave complex and hiding out there for so long that the dragons were able to send their hatchlings into the caves to devour him.


The Chalice of Balance
The Chalice of balance is a large silver goblet. The engravings and ornamentation on it are not particularly well done and do not exhibit much skill. The cup itself is very poorly shaped with an extremely large cup portion that appears to be larger in diameter than a goliath skull. This overly large portion is balanced by a very wide base. The rim of the cup portion of the chalice is also uneven with a portion protruding up from the front of the chalice almost like buck teeth. To the left and right of this protruding ridge on the cup portion of the goblet are two large, poorly cut, sapphires. The overall appearance of the goblet is that it is a big, heavy object of incredibly poor construction.

Little is known about the capabilities of the Chalice of Balance, but it is believed to be a defensive item. Stories say that poisons poured into it lose their potency, water poured in it gains restorative properties, and liquor poured within it inspires passion and poetry. It is believed that it can absorb energy attack such as bolts of lightning and blasts of fire, to generate a shield of energy that the holder can wield like a shield while he holds the chalice.

The Knucklebones of Summer
The Knucklebones of Summer are a pair of black knucklebones. The bones appear to be scorched and a much larger than those typically found on livestock or humans, perhaps of a size comparable to what might be found on a large goliath. The bones appear scorched and rub ash onto anything they come into contact with. Each of the Knucklebones is rough in shape, but it can be seen that they are vaguely tetrahedral and someone has at one point in the past carved numbers into the sides.

The individual that did the carving is likely dead at this point, due to his own idiocy due to the fact that The Knucklebones are not ideal for games of chance. Whenever they impact a surface with some degree of force, they emit an angry cracking noise and erupt into a violent explosion of flame and swirling ash.

The Rotting Teeth of Autumn
The Rotting Teeth of Autumn are a collection of ten objects that appear to be ten badly made arrowheads. These arrowheads range from three to five inches in length and look more like black talons or fangs than metal or stone arrowheads. The tips and edges curve, there are cracks and splits in them, and they all appear to have been broken off at the spot where they would be attached to the arrow shaft. Regardless of their innate power, the Teeth are perhaps the most poorly designed arrowheads ever discovered. They wobble in flight like drunken birds of prey and their range is abysmal when compared to traditional arrowheads, more often than not the arrowheads aren't even the part of the arrow that ends up striking the target, and the bindings used to attach them to arrow shafts and arrow shafts themselves both have a tendency to rot into ruin after prolonged exposure to the arrowheads.

For all their flaws, The Rotting Teeth of Autumn are undeniably powerful. They have a tendency to destroy any armor that prevents them from finding flesh. Metal armors begin rusting almost immediately, while leather rots and cloth crumbles into stringy trash. Living creatures struck by the arrowheads tend to die immediately, or lose limbs from a fast moving rot that stems from the wounds inflicted by the Teeth.

The Shadowblade
The Shadowblade is a sword that can be wielded easily in one or two hands. The blade is double edged and the whole of the weapon appears to be made from a solid piece of material with no fancy ornamentation on the hilt or blade. The weapon as a whole is a faded unreflective black color and appears semi-insubstantial.

The Shadowblade is supposedly capable of enveloping its wielder in a shadowy aura that makes its wielder resistant to the unrelenting glare of the sun as well as aiding in attempts at stealth. The Shadowblade's insubstantial nature makes it ideal for penetrating armor and physical defenses, but it also makes it an act of will to maintain a grip on the weapon. It also makes it impossible for the weapon to deal conventional damage to targets. The Shadowblade is capable of killing and damaging opponents, but the exact mechanics of these injuries are unknown. Those struck by the blade feel no real discomfort and they show no obvious wounds. They simply die after repeated blows from the weapon.

The Shield of Spring
The Shield of Spring is a buckler. Unlike more mundane bucklers, the Shield of Spring is not merely hardened leather over a wooden frame. Its construction is similar to regular bucklers, but over the hardened leather are a pattern of interlocking scales and a rim made of what is thought to be silver. The scales are smaller than an adult dragon's, but are larger than those of a healer. These scales are green in color, but the color has faded and the scales themselves appear cracked and worn in places.

The main ability that The Shield of Spring is know for is offering more physical protection from blows than even the toughest of heavy shields. Despite their cracked and worn appearance, the scales on the face of the shield turn blows quite well. It is also believed that it offers some protection from acidic substances like that found among the many predators of the deep desert, as well as some protection from heat.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Millen, City of Slaves

On the continent of Yofga there are four walled cities. These cities were constructed by the Lujggao, or at least by their giant slaves. These cities are massive urban sprawls with high walls and structures of black stone. Each of these four cities contains a furnace of creation and a purifier, and from these four cities flow the nearly limitless resources that allow humanoids to flourish on Yofga.

So we're going to  talk about the third of these four cities, Millen, City of Slaves.

History
The history of Millen might be described as somewhat tragic in nature. For reasons unknown, the majority of the lower portions of the city and its main thoroughfares were filled with rubble. As with the other three cities, the structures and walls of Millen were entirely intact, but the main thoroughfares and below ground portions of the city were filled with rubble and debris. Mostly broken stone. When the city was originally discovered by early humans and goliath, this debris naturally prevented them from finding the furnace of creation and purifier deep within the city.

It took over three decades for the early settlers of Millen to clear all of the debris filling their city. In a history spanning several centuries, these decades do not seem like such a delay when compared to the other three cities. However, it exposed the early people of Millen to decades of plague and starvation that the other cities did not experience. This naturally led to a significantly reduced population and a much more predatory society than that found in the other three cities. Unfortunately, when the furnace of creation and purifier were finally discovered, it was not as much of a boon for the people of Millen as it was for the other three cities.

The furnace of creation within the depths of Millen produced a great deal of seeds and other plant material, but Millen lacked the population to fully utilize those resources to begin widespread agricultural efforts. Additionally, the furnace of creation within Millen produced significantly less of every other resource. Millen had supplies for food to be grown, but not enough people to tend to crops. It had materials, but not enough raw material to make enough of any tools to do anything with them and not enough people to use them if they could.

During the early years of Millen's history, life was brutal. It was cheap and it was a trial. Almost as brutal as the life of the tribes in the deep desert. The city spread slowly and even to this day controls less overall territory than the other three cities. For most of the early decades of the city's history, it was a society of might makes right, with the strongest and most brutal individuals rising to power. Where Mennum developed a strong warrior culture, Millen developed a strong culture of anarchy and bloodshed. There were times when the desire for resources grew so violent that blood soaked the streets and the population was reduced to less than a hundred family groups within the walls.

After what is estimated to be two and a half to three centuries of pointless violence and scavenging, an individual name Kashmar Indocen rose to power in Millen. He was an outsider from one of the local desert tribes, likely from the Sequon Shardens or the Toothy Ghosts. Kashmar came into the city with a wagon full of supplies and a group of hardened desert raiders. They fought their way through the malnourished brutes and citizens of Millen till they found the antechamber of the furnace of creation and the purifier of the city, and there they made camp. Surrounded by twenty well fed hardened warriors in a fairly defensible position, Kashmar informed the populace of the city that he was now king and he would manage the resources of the city.

King Kashmar instituted a policy of slavery. You could buy seeds and sapling from his furnace of creation for five years of your life. He and his warriors branded citizens and gave them seeds and told them to go out and farm them one way or another and bring him the results. This was a crude and ineffective system. There were no plans or guidelines, Kashmar was not a planner, he just bought people and told them to do things and killed those that didn't do it.  It was crude and ineffective and clumsy, but it stopped the majority of Millen's senseless bloodshed. It forced people out into the areas surrounding the city and got them doing something instead of scavenging off of each other. Kashmar  then turned his attention to the skilled tradesmen. There weren't many, so he looked elsewhere.

Supposedly, Kashmar ordered his thugs and other individuals in the city to kidnap skilled tradesmen from other cities and desert tribes. Records from other cities do not offer any concrete evidence that this actually happened, but historical accounts from so long ago are unreliable at best. Regardless of how it came about, suddenly Millen had tradesmen able to make things. Which were then sold by Kashmar for years of servitude.

Kashmar ruled for almost four years before he was murdered by individuals that historians assume were members of his crew of thugs. The city of Millen naturally descended into complete anarchy once again. His tradition of servitude in exchange for resources did not stop though. With each new ruler the system of slavery grew more organized and more productive. As brighter and brighter minds ascended to power, the efforts of the slaves became more clearly directed and the city didn't quite flourish, but it was finally able to expand in an organized manner.

After the development of the institution of slavery, Millen's progression began to match that of the other cities, albeit at a much slower pace. Because of the fragility of the city in terms of access to resources, the city experienced many periods of fluctuating prosperity. Because of the frequent changes in leadership, lawlessness and anarchy were experienced frequently in the city's history. There were competent rulers, and foolish rulers, and insurrections, and leaders among the slaves that sought to end slavery.

The level of anarchy experienced by Millen has made it extremely difficult for historians to pin down the various periods of  its history and who did what and how and when. The few important details that we do know are that at one point early on, cannibalism was very prevalent within the city walls. It is also known that during several periods of unrest and more than a few of order, the people of the city believed that the descendants of the Lujggao were the cause of all the city's ills. These idiotic attacks were of course of no inconvenience to the descendants of the Lujggao. It is also known that during a lengthy period of unrest, several desert tribes attempted to assault the city to prey on the disorganized citizens. This assault was rebuffed by the breakers living within the city. The fragmented accounts of this incident share only one detail: at one point the army of desert raiders was approaching the city walls, then the breakers climbed atop the walls, and the entire army of desert raiders ceased to be.

Millen's history and early years are surely as interesting as that of the other three cities. Unfortunately, the frequent chaos in the city forces historians to rely on personal accounts of questionable value and the few records kept by the various rulers of the city, few of which have been overly concerned with the truth of events that transpire.


Ruler
The current ruler of the city is Overlord Torgal Gralstaf (47 G M) and he has ruled the city for seven years now. His rise to power was rapid and involved some of the most savage and skilled political wheeling and dealing the city has ever seen in its history. He started out as a slave merchant and used that role to establish a strong financial power base as well as to make ties among other merchants and politicians. He is widely regarded as a harsh and dispassionate ruler, but he maintains order and his justice is fair, if unhindered by mercy, and his reign has been the most peaceful in Millen's history.


Government
The government of Millen has almost always been one where might makes right, a monarchy at best, and a dictatorship in reality. This tradition continues in modern times. The current Overlord, Torgal Gralstaf, rules the city due to his immense wealth and the unflinching savagery with which he responds to threats to his power base and the stability of the city.


Laws
There is only one law in Millen: the word of the Overlord. Torgal Gralstaf is more evenhanded in that he does not appear to issue new laws on a whim and he appoints judges and lawmen who tend to adjudicate offenses in a similarly stable manner. That said, there is obvious corruption in the law of Millen, but the Overlord has been known to be ruthless in cutting out obvious or outright stupid manipulations of the system. The laws of the city have been designed to augment the system of slavery, with most offenses carrying what might be considered exorbitant fines that may be waived by the guilty agreeing to submit willingly to a term of slavery.


Economy
The economy of Millen is incredibly fragile. The city is almost completely reliant upon the resources of other cities to sustain its population, even with slaves taking a smaller portion of food and water supplies than regular citizens. The only resource that is of true value in Millen is its slave population, and even then only in certain circumstances. The other three cities and most towns have a reluctance to participate in the trade of slavery, with the practice being more or less outlawed in the other three cities. However, when deadlines approach and normal workers are too costly to employ, many towns turn to Millen and engage in trading resources to the city in exchange for brute labor. This is especially useful during planting seasons, which Millen is of course aware of.


Armed Forces
There is no official army or militia within the walls of Millen. Instead, most leaders of the city surround themselves with thugs and warriors that are competent and capable of taking orders. When the Overlord of the city deems it necessary, these individuals act as officers and generals (assuming fighting over who is in charge doesn't end with them all dead) and elite troops. They then make withdrawals from the slave population of the city to use as mobs of infantry.


Current Affairs
Even though the laws of Millen, like the other three cities, have outlawed cannibalism for centuries, rumors persist among slave and citizen alike that some still engage in the taboo act that was once commonplace in the city's early days. Those that speak of these rumors imply that ancient cults and secret societies that have existed since the early days of the settling of Millen are the practitioners of this dark act. Recently, new rumors have been circulating among the slaves of the city. They say that it is not secret societies that consume the dead, but instead it is members of the official government of the city.