Friday, December 31, 2010

Wulf of the House of Ranmel 101

I'll be brief, Wulf of the House of Ranmel is the leader of the witch hunters of The New Empire. His main goals are ensuring that all the non-Eldumans stay the Hell out of his country, and also get killed if they do wander into his borders.

Wulf is a powerfully built man from the ancient and honorable house of Ranmel of The New Empire. For the longest time, the house of Ranmel has ruled both The New Empire and the witch hunter organization. The monarchy of The New Empire and the witch hunters have a somewhat strained relationship, the witch hunters believe that the government does not pay enough attention to the threats the witch hunters see in every dark corner, and the government thinks the witch hunters serve it.

This point of contention has come to a head recently, at the urging of Wulf. Wulf and his witch hunters, with the aid of member of Rudolph's own council of advisors, have violently deposed Rudolph II and have attained mastery over The New Empire with little to no blood loss. Wulf even imprisoned his brother, rather than kill him outright as a weak willed heretic.

Wulf rules The New Empire with an iron fist, if he had an alignment, it would be Lawful Neutral. There is no mercy or remorse in his heart. Only a burning and fanatical need to adhere to the letter of the laws of the witch hunters and The New Empire. His vision of justice and law is the only vision of justice and law that exists in The New Empire, and it is by sheer force of will and personality that he keeps the many factions of the witch hunters in line and on task.

So Wulf is a tough guy, with an ironclad code of ethics that will not he will not bend or alter in any way. He's a fairly uncomplicated individual, if it isn't Elduman in origin, he doesn't like it and would like it to be gone from his sight. If is sorcerous in nature, he wants to light it on fire and piss on the ashes. As previously stated, there is no mercy in his heart, and nor is their joy or compassion for the suffering of others. The world is black and white in his eyes, if you are not helping the witch hunters to cleanse The Known World, you are hindering their efforts and should be put in a dark hole somewhere, like Rudolph II.

Wulf is a nomad, he roams across The New Empire from witch hunter outpost to witch hunter outpost, writing and issuing warrants for arrest and murder and sending various dispatches to various parts of the country demanding weapons, recruits, and other resources be allotted to the witch hunters. These resources that fuel the war of the witch hunters often come at the expense of education and medicine, or the upkeep of towns and cities on the countries borders.

These border towns are often weakened and ripe for the plucking by brigands or the rare raider from another country, leaving the citizenry desperate for aid, which leaves a convenient witch hunter outpost shaped hole for Wulf to fill with his endless supply of recruits and arms and armor. Wulf is an extremely cunning individual and without him, the witch hunters would be rudderless, and this would leave this new version of The New Empire far more weakened than it has ever been.

I guess that is enough to say about Wulf.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I have been working towards this (Saturday) for the past sixteen years (on and off), why am I not more prepared!?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays! 101

Here are a few holidays (a list that is in no way complete) of The Known World, feel free to come up with your own to be added to the record via the comments section. I'm looking at the two individuals that are co-authors of this blog.

-Firstmonth 1st (All): This holiday, The Day of Renewal, celebrates the opening of the new year.
-Firstmonth 1st (The New Empire, The Old Empire): This holiday, Remembrance Day, reminds citizens of the downfall of Kaleshmar and the dangerousness of sorcery and hubris.
-Secondmonth 3rd (Vyanthnem): This exuberant holiday, The Day of The King Undying, is the day the Silver King of the Vyanth elects to self immolate and reincarnate to symbolize his undying rule over his people.
-Fourthmonth 16th (Kusseth): This holiday, Loyalist Day, commemorates Kusseth's independence from The New Empire.
-Fourthmonth 16th (The New Empire): This holiday, The Day of Grievances, reminds citizens of the day the criminals, heretics, and mutants of the northwest colony slew their jailers and commited further crimes against The New Empire.
-Eighthmonth 27th (Kusseth): This holiday, The Day of Deep Darkness, reminds citizens of the opening of The Great Trench, and honors those that have died in the darkness over the years.
-Ninthmonth 11th-20th (Volungshemle): This holiday, The Week of Feasting, is the one week each year that all of Volung's Children return to their homeland and spend a week drinking, feasting, and bloodying each other's noses.
-Tenthmonth 3rd (Hell): This holiday, The Day of Unrelenting Vengeance, reminds citizens of Hell of the day that Cenn the Reaver conquered their city in the name of Kusseth.
-Eleventhmonth 11th (The Fallen Empire of Man): This holiday, The Day of Sorcerous Recognition, is a day of deep thought and respect where the Fallen take stock of themselves and the work they do and reflect upon the demands their arts place on them and the danger inherent in their practice.
-Twelfthmonth29th (All): This holiday, New Year's Eve, celebrates the ending of one year and the beginning of the next.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Burn The Mother Down!

We gamed, yo, and it was cool. Immediately following the scenario, John decided that he wanted to create a new character. Which is fine, except that we have two scenarios (maybe one) left, heh. I asked him to delay his character change till after this campaign finishes, and he was ok with that.

Anyway. Xein and D'alton bickered back and forth for some time regarding the whole heist/leadership thing, and Derf perplexed everyone by being helpful. Frankly, I'm getting sick of the whole heist/leadership argument. Not because I want them to stop it, but because it isn't role-playing. If Xein takes issue with D'alton's leadership, he should take issue with it when D'alton comes up with a plan and perhaps try to undermine him a bit by pointing out flaws in his plan. Stuff like "We never voted! You're dumb for thinking we voted!" or "I'm the leader I'm the leader I'm the leader." is not role-playing. Arguing about the heist and D'alton taking more than his share of the money is pointless bickering as well. Partly because Xein only takes issue with D'alton, rather than D'alton and Spineplate, the two that took a shit ton of money from the coffers.

I don't say this to pick on Eric and Jeremy, and I certainly don't want them to stop doing it if they think it is something their characters would do. If Eric truly believes Xein would harass D'alton like this, do it for an hour or more each session, do it till we all yell at you to shut up, and more power to you as you keep doing it. Fred constantly does things that only narrowly miss completely devastating the group and he does so without asking or caring, because that is Derf's nature. Everyone should feel free to be as unflinchingly true to their character if they so desire.

No, the bickering annoys me because it feels more like Eric and Jeremy are bickering, rather than Xein and D'alton. D'alton is a thief and assassin basically. If he is as apathetic and unethical as Jeremy claims, he should just come at Xein in the night and slay him with a bullet to the brain pan. Then he can take Xein's money and ownership of Tesla's Boil to accrue further monies. Xein, I am not entirely sure what Xein is. A businessman? I feel like I don't have a good impression of who Xein is morally speaking and I find it hard to guess at his motives and what he might do in a given situation, I suspect it would involve a bomb or a savage blade though.

Like I said, my only issue with the bickering is that it feels more like Jeremy and Eric, rather than Xein and D'alton.

Overall, the twelfth scenario went quite well and we had a lot of fun. Derf knocked rather loudly and emphatically on death's door, but he made it back from the threshold thanks to Xein's efforts. Spineplate did a shit ton of damage over the course of the battle, which always makes me happy. The battle. Man, that was a rough fight for the guys. Everyone (except Spineplate) was at about 25% hit points by the end of it and they were all pretty fresh to begin with. It was tough but fun and it felt like the battle was completely up in the air, like no side was guaranteed to win. I liked it, and I think the guys liked it. I flat out told them that since we're doing short sessions with one true battle per session, all fights are going to be challenging, there is no reason to hold their hands or tone down the violence. Everything is savagely balanced in such a fashion as to be difficult, but not impossible or unfair. There is a reason I haven't used Brasscoats until now, and I'm glad I waited.

I want to take a moment to also talk about Xein and Spineplate. Eric often brings up the fact that he and Spineplate were in the same gang in Beltan and that should make them friends like D'alton and Spineplate are friends, because they were all in the same gang. Now, Spineplate doesn't dislike Xein and calls him "friend Xein" when he speaks and not "ally Xein" like he says "ally Derf" or "ally John". He calls D'alton "brother D'alton" in private because of the things they've shared. Anyway, Spineplate was in the mines of Beltan as a miner and Eric believes that he was too so they should be friends. The problem is that Spineplate had an Intelligence and Charisma of about 3 when he was in Beltan. He was the Thing chained to the bottom of the mine digging out great handfuls of ore. He was not allowed to rest or cease his labors for one second. Prisoners tormented him with pickaxes and welding torches, and guards cut slabs of his body away when they needed a piece of wolf-iron for whatever reason. He was a broken, tormented thing born of a dark nightmare of blood and torture and ceaseless toil. Spineplate was in the same "gang" as Xein, and he knew Xein, but only as one of the meatbags that didn't cut him and weld stuff to him, and that is why Xein didn't end up being a spot of dried gore stuck to the chains welded to Spineplate's body.

As the campaign has progressed, Spineplate has increased his Intelligence and Charisma to the point where he could function as more than a clawed beast, finally truly becoming what he once was when A'lst refurbished him (granting him an Intelligence of 11 and a Charisma of 10) and he had Xein and D'alton construct fingers for him. The Spineplate D'alton and Xein were in a "gang" with is not the same Spineplate they adventure with now. If he was, they would lock him in the basement and never let him out. If they did let him out, it would be as a last act of vengeance against whoever had them so fucked up and desperate that their backs were at that wolf-iron door.

D'alton only knows Spineplate as well as he does because he was the first to try and talk to the thing of metal as an ally and not as a slow witted killer, and because he stumbled onto some of Spineplate's extracurricular activities. I understand that it is really hard to know Spineplate, he is cryptic, private, and quiet, and no one really talks to him about much of what he does. So hopefully I have illuminated the why and how of him a bit here.

Maybe it is time I talk about the Rankethlek...

Final thought, scenario went really well and I had a lot of on the edge of my seat nail biting fun fighting that tough battle with them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Story About DnD

So Eric wants to play this game called Warmachine. To explain why this idea even remotely slightly interests me after The 40k Debacle, I have to tell you a story.

Three or four years ago, I was working on a DnD campaign with Tony. Now, I have discussed this before and how it fell apart and never happened. Following these events, I was all engorged with creativity and such and needed an outlet or I was just going to ooze all over everyone and everything.

I didn't know what to do though. I needed inspiration. I couldn't run with what Tony and I did, because that was ours, not just mine, and I didn't feel like I had the right to do what I wanted with it. I also didn't want to do anything like what I'd done before. I searched high and low, Deadlands d20, Mutants and Masterminds, basically anything and everything that was comfortably d20 compatible but interesting or different from what we'd played before. One day I stumbled upon something called the Iron Kingdoms.

It was amazing and awesome and different. It really struck something inside me and I poured over the books for hours on end figuring out what I liked and what was stupid. I sent countless emails back and forth with Shawn discussing what I was trying to do and trying to get ideas on how to avoid the whole "A wizard did it!" issue with some of the stuff. I even lamented the fact that warjack and workjack were awesome names and I couldn't rip them off and instead had to use steam titan and steam strider in my world. Eventually I scrapped the steam driven mech idea (for now! ::wink::) and moved on to stuff like sodium/water cannons and grenades, and eventually I returned to the mech idea on a smaller, more sorcerous scale via the Soulless of my campaign world. For the most part, I was able to avoid direct copying and instead looked at the books as inspiration and put my own flavor on the Heck If I Know campaign.

So yeah, there is a shit ton of Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine love in my heart. I have thought about buying miniatures from Privateer Press before, the warjacks are awesome, at least the Khador and Cygnar ones are. It would be super easy to drop a 100 bucks on models and books and go nuts exactly like we (mostly Tony and I) did during The 40k Debacle, which would have been less of a debacle if Shawn didn't live two and a half hours away like a Dogdamn heathen.

Anyway, to prevent another Debacle from being added to the roster, I have come up with The Plan, and it is as follows:

-Sell off excess 40k stuff (Space Hulk, my Ork stuff, my Defiler pieces, and probably my Chaos Space Marine Raptors and Raptor Chaos Lord, along with whatever other Chaos bits and pieces I feel I can part with).
-Gauge the group's interest, obviously Shawn and Tony will find this ridiculous (Edit After The Fact: They did).
-Read and comprehend the Warmachine quick-start rules, then use proxies to play several games with multiple armies against multiple armies, i.e. experience the variety of the game. The goal is to be able to play the game at this level of complexity without having to refer to the pdf every few seconds.
-Purchase the main game's rulebook in hard copy and continue using proxy armies (possibly upgrade from 11 points to 15) to play various factions multiple times against one another in great variety. The goal here is to get a concrete understanding of the game and also to find a faction we like the look and play style of.
-Purchase models and faction books as appropriate for our interests and level of play.
-Paint the models and play the game.
Side Goal Alpha: Set aside small amounts of money here and there to finance this bullshit.

So that's that. A bit about the past and a plan for the future.

Pertinent Info: I type this from my parent's house and am wearing my fucking gloves as an additional layer of sock to protect my toes from the rampant frostbite in this glacial Hellhole. My coat is on too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Skill Use

I tend to not create new skills. It used to be the case that I was creating all kinds of new skills for this or that and the other. There were skills for fanning the hammer, pistol duels, using Gifts to create fire or whatever. Most of the time, you don't need new skills for stuff. You don't need a Demolitions or Craft (Explosive) skill with new rules. There are already rules for Craft skills. That said, I decided to create a new skill. Or rather, a new use for a skill.

The creation of this skill stems from the last time we gamed. Derf cast the spell Feeblemind twice during combat, narrowly missing afflicting himself with it. Now the problem is that there is a very real chance that the spell could misfire and affect Derf, or Derf and the target, or it could become a circle of sorcerous rain that affects everyone within 60 ft. The only cures for Feeblemind are Heal, Limited Wish, Miracle, or Wish. Problem is, Wish and Limited Wish have double the normal chance to misfire (did I ever tell anyone that?), and Miracle and Heal are divine spells and there are no divine classes (although, I think Eric can "cast" Heal via his potions. I don't know why I am italicizing all these spell names, it is time consuming).

Have you heard of Trepanning?

Here's how it works. A Heal check may be used to create a hole in someone's head to remove the long term effects of an Enchantment [mind-affecting] spell. There are a couple of issues though, trepanning takes at least an hour to perform and you cannot take ten or twenty on it (so it is useless against instantaneous spells like Power Word: Kill that have no lingering effects). You must also have the appropriate tools for the trade (a hammer, chisel, and drill). You must also have at least 5 ranks in Heal to use trepanning. Using inferior tools (a maul, a knife, and jury-rigged drill) inflicts a -5 penalty to the heal check.

The DC for the check is as follows: 10 + the spell's level + the caster's level. Let's say for instance that Derf misfires and ends up casting Feeblemind on himself. Derf is 12th level, so his caster level is twelve, let us say he rolls a six on his random caster level bonus thing. So Derf has a caster level of eighteen for the purposes of this example, and Feeblemind is a 5th level spell for sorcerers. So we have 10 + 18 + 5, for a Heal DC of 33 to put a hole in Derf's skull and un-Feeblemind him. The recovery time from trepanning is whatever I say it is, but it is probably real short on a critical success.

Now, trepanning is fairly dangerous, you are using tools to take a chunk out of someone's skull to alleviate sorcerous mental conditions. A failure on the check merely results in damage equal to a critical hit from a light hammer (2d4 plus 2x your Strength modifier), or maul, or club, or whatever hammer-like tool you have decided to use. Failure by ten or more results in one point of permanent Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma damage to the patient. Critical failure inflicts the target with the effects of the Feeblemind spell.

So there, you can run and tell that homeboy. Preferably to Xein, because I believe he is the only one with ranks in Heal.

Next Up: Phrenology. Heh.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crazy Man's Anxiety

I have lost my shit. In this instance, my shit means my mind. I am getting obsessive and compulsive and blind to my surroundings. It is a Dogdamn hoot and a half.

I am really proud of what I'm trying to do here. I've been real, not pushy, but inquisitive about my players and their characters of late. I've been bugging Eric a lot about this and that as they relate to Tesla's Boil. I've been asking the players about how their personalities interact and how they dress and move around town. I'm basically trying to get as clear of a picture as I can of the group, their lifestyles, and the places they hang out. I'm not proud of that, that is all stuff I should have been trying to figure out twelve months ago, or they should have offered up from the start.

What I'm proud of is where I'm going once the Rebellion Arc is finished. I've got an idea (THUNDERCLAP/FIST ARC is the code name), and I really like it and I'm having fun working on it. Now, granted, it may fall flat on its face and bore the players into a comatose state, but I am having a riot working on it. A lot of my free time is spent running my mind around in circles at like a hundred miles an hour pumping out stuff. Once I finally got myself into the groove and finished up the Rebellion Arc, I just started going nuts with the next arc.

I'm pumping out material constantly, new feats and traits and upgrades and weapons. Ideas constantly come bubbling up out of nowhere and get put down for next campaign. Anyway, it is pretty cool to be this dedicated and productive. What makes it difficult is not being able to really talk about it to anyone. I like to run my ideas by people to see what they think. Usually Eric or Tony. Tony has been unresponsive to my recent attempts to discuss the campaign, which is ok, he's got his own shit going on and doesn't game anymore. I can't talk to Eric or Jeremy about my ideas because that ruins the fun and surprise of next campaign for them.

I have spoken to Fred a bit about a concept related to the campaign, and Eric a little bit as well now that I think of it. What I've spoken to Fred about is just about the first thing that will come up next campaign, and what I spoke to Eric about was about six or seven times removed from what I was really talking about. Kind of. This is fun.

Anyway, I'm really excited about what I'm doing. I'm not breaking any molds or reinventing the wheel here, but it seems like it is all pretty solid. This is the hard part, I am working in a vacuum and have no oversight and no one to talk to about what I'm doing. I suppose I could discuss it with Shawn, and Heather is open to listening to my talk of the campaign. I dunno. I'll figure it out.

I guess I just have some nervous anxiety associated with all of this because I really care about this campaign and I want to make sure that it measures up to the guy's expectations and doesn't fall flat on it's face. I'll do my best and hope that is enough.

Friday, December 10, 2010


We gamed Sunday, it went rather well all things considered. My last hour of work was terrifying and tense, but we got out on time and I was able to meet up with the guys to game. I really enjoyed the session, and the guys say they did as well, which is always a plus. We were able to complete the full scenario, which I had thought might not happen. We just went an hour over our planned out time and got kind of rushed. Sorry guys. Heh.

I really thought the final encounter was very very neat. I kind of made Spineplate obsolete for it unintentionally, heh. Oh well, the guys did super fine without him. The whole gate thing holding up the islands worked quite neatly, the guys were terrified of the sorcerous devices though and it took a long time for them to even touch them and they almost ended up taking on all twenty-eight "soldiers", heh. The stealthy, incorporeal, shadowdancer dude worked out kind of well, I wish I would have opted for another one of those instead of the three warriors that spent the battle hacking ineffectually at black tendrils. Which is a nice lead into the next topic.

So, I don't know a lot about my players and what the mechanics of their characters are. I used to be very hands on with the leveling because everyone used to without fail fuck up something or give themselves extra feats of thirty bonus skill points from nowhere (Jeremy), or just make up numbers on the sheets (Tony and Jeremy). Nowadays, I figure we're all adults and if you can't follow the rules to properly make a character, that's on you. Micromanaging four new characters in addition to the gazillion I'm already working on, is not something enticing to me anymore. Anyway, for the most part I try to keep my knowledge of the players limited to what they do in the sessions. Obviously, that is a lot harder with John and Jeremy because I built both those characters from the ground up and neither of them has really tweaked them in the way the Eric and Fred have tweaked their characters. It is a lot easier for Fred and Eric to surprise me, and I like that. Keeping Derf and Xein to themselves allows me to ensure that I am not tailoring my scenarios to the group's capabilities. I generally try to keep the players as far from my mind, at least their abilities, while writing. I try to think in terms of the enemies and dangers and put in what seems reasonable for the situation. If the players can't get past an encounter or hazard, it is up to them to find a way around, and I usually try to give them plenty of opportunities to do so.

Does it makes sense that a pile of young sorcerers out for a lark in the caves beneath their parent's fortress have some spell resistance? Yeah. Should everyone Derf casts spells on have spell resistance? No. But that is the way I used to make scenarios. Everything above a certain level or hit dice had psionic resistance or spell resistance or high saves vs. whatever the group was using to inflict murder upon my NPCs at the time. It is the wrong way to GM. If you built an appropriately difficult scenario, and the players find ways to side step your challenges through cunning (and not rules lawyering or min/maxing), reward them for their efforts.

That said, Feeblemind on a spellcaster and Black Tentacles on a group of enemies, aren't cunning. They're just good sense.

One of my concerns and irritations is that the guys get sent out to kill Fell Human soldiers, they find Fell Humans that do not act in a militaristic fashion. This fact is not only observed, it is brought up by a member of the group, and then not addressed in any fashion whatsoever. Not a "Meh" from the self-proclaimed leader and apathetic member of the group, not by the good guy that claimed he is not a murderer, despite the fact that he has one of the most bloody and destructive melee weapons in Kusseth as his toy. I dunno, minor issue, but still, it sticks with me for some reason. I guess I always have a nit to pick. Meh.

One thing I decided following the scenario, if Derf is going to keep casting Feeblemind without worrying about misfires and the consequences, I'll be creating a Craft (Trepanning) skill.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cosmology (Or Something Like It) 101

This is going to be tricky and goofy, but we'll see how it goes.

Cosmology is kind of a big deal in DnD. There are all kinds of planes and weird places to go, with bat-shit crazy mechanics and demons and devils and angels and so on. Planescape is a wondrous setting with majestic maps of gloriousness. Unfortunately, I have sort of stepped away from the traditional (by traditional, I mean the best, i.e. 2nd Edition) cosmology because I am obsessed with doing my own thing. It would be so ridiculously easy for me to just say Hekinoe is a prime material plane and be done with it. I would willingly sacrifice my "uniqueness" to be able to say "Let's go to Sigil!" I restrain myself though, because I think concepts like aliens and extraterrestrial entities are far more interesting than demons and gods and MAGIC!!1! Now, the cosmology (I'm trying to use that word as much as possible) of Hekinoe is basically its solar system. The planes are planets or planetoids or large asteroids or whatever you want to call them. The demons, devils, ysgardians, and so on dwelling on them, are alien civilizations that the common man of Hekinoe has no knowledge of.

The reason this 101 is tricky is because I literally know nothing about astronomy or space (other than the fact that its wondrous, unguessable variety and majesty terrify me down to my very bones). Also, like I said, no one on Hekinoe has any knowledge that there are other civilizations and races on these worlds. I mean, there are telescopes and astronomers and such, but shit, Hekinoe is a long way off from space travel and moon rovers. Maybe once they get a handle on revolver technology we can send a fleet of giant bullets out of a cannon to the moon in true steampunk tradition.

I think we'd have to use Gamma World for that scenario though. Heh.

For the sake of simplicity, I have modelled this solar system after our own. I'm not recreating the wheel here, just trying to give you all a better picture of this place.

Errolauk, the Sun of Hekinoe: Errolauk is the sun, it is hot and sun-like. I'm not going to get into its solar radiation output or this or that. It is a sun, and it does its job keeping the planets of the system rotating around it and not freezing over in the empty void of space. In it dwell the Saevoi of the system, and a few other civilizations of energy based, heat and radiation devouring, lifeforms whose whims and motives are likely completely alien to The Robust Five. Encircling Errolauk are rings of fire and energy, and it is in these swirling bands of energy that the Saevoi dwell.
DnD Analog: The Elemental Plane of Fire, the Saevoi are the Saevoi, the energy-based lifeforms work quite well as Fire Elementals and Efreeti.

Erromenle, 1st Planet From The Sun: I'm not going to play the "this planet is xAU from the sun and this one is this many" and so on game. The first planet is far enough from the sun that it didn't burn to a cinder. Erromenle is a small planet, maybe a quarter of the size of Hekinoe (which I have decided is maybe slightly larger than Earth). It is a barren thing with only the thinnest of atmospheres, and nothing that is breathable on the surface. The planet is a shattered dead thing, full of craters and the dead remains of volcanic channels and reservoirs. If there is water on it, it cannot be seen. The atmosphere is thin, but full of dirty grey windstorms buffeted by solar radiation that scour the surface of the planet and are forced down all the volcanic channels of the place, howling as they whirl through the innards of the planet. Within the very core of the planet is a corona of ever shifting nebulous energy that resembles the bands of fire and energy that ring the sun of the system. The only place that living things (as we recognize them) can dwell safely is within the screaming windstorms near this orb of pulsating chaos at the core of the planet. The light of the core generates everything from oxygen to plant life, to massive chunks of minerals, and just as quickly devours it back into its mass to reconstitute something else. Suffice it to say that if something lives there, it is alien to you an I and should be shunned.
DnD Analog: The Windswept Depths of Pandemonium with a dash of The Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo, sans the giant frog demons (Slaadi) and planar monks (Githzerai).

Hoplemel, 2nd Planet From The Sun: Hoplemel is a Hekinoe sized planet, glowing with a crayon yellow color with a hint of greens and whites in some spots. Nothing is known about the surface of the world because its atmosphere is thick with yellow and green clouds of gases. Unlike Erromenle, this thick atmosphere of cloudy, toxic gases doesn't whirl around in storms, it just kind of hangs there occasionally creeping across the surface. There are breathable aspects of the air there, but the majority of it would be toxic to us and the denizens of Hekinoe. Floating through the atmosphere of this yellow planet are gaseous creatures that are formless and silent, but live nonetheless, as they float through the deadly gases of their homeworld.
DnD Analog: Elemental Plane of Air, and Air Elementals and similar creatures (although, they should probably generate clouds of cloudkill if they are brought to Hekinoe and perhaps do acid damage).

Hekinoe, 3rd Planet From The Sun: Hekinoe is Hekinoe, perhaps you've heard of it. It is Earth-like and has civilizations in great abundance and variety. It is a swell place.
DnD Analog: The Prime Material Plane.

Hekinoe's Moon: I'm being silly here. Hehe. The moon of Hekinoe is like a moon, it hangs in the sky illuminating the night with the reflected light of the sun. Hekinoe's moon is actually a massive concave disk of wolf-iron encrusted on its Hekinoe facing side with space debris. On the other side of it, filling the concave portion of the disk is a roiling sea of that energy that rings the sun and lies within the heart of Erremenle. Riding the waves of that Cosmic Sea is a silver city of strange metals and archaic architecture built upon a broken block of stone from a larger world. I've spoken of this place before. Trailing through space as the moon orbits Hekinoe, dangerously close to that planet, is a tail of asteroids and debris that often impact Hekinoe. These asteroids and debris are usually fragments of the moon's wolf-iron, but sometimes they are bits and pieces of the other side's city of stone and silver that occasionally break off due to unrest or disaster.
DnD Analog: The Prime Material Plane, most prime materials have planets with moons.

Moreenke, 4th Planet From the Sun: Moreenke is slightly smaller than Hekinoe, and is a planet of burning craters and volcanic destruction. The planet is dark, with most of its surface composed of scorched rock, and where it is not blackened by fire, it is usually a pit or river of superheated lava. The planet is a broken thing that has been impacted for thousands of years by debris from the nearby asteroid belt, and many of the volcanic craters and lava filled pits are the result of those repeated impacts. The atmosphere of the planet is mostly sulfurous smog that would choke the life out of anything living on Hekinoe. There are three civilizations on this world, and they are hardy creatures that live and prosper on this death world. The first is an ancient race called the Molengel, the original inhabitants of Moreenke. They once ruled the surface of the world and dwelled in huge monolithic cities built of Morrenke's equivalent of obsidian, a nearly indestructible substance that kept the worst of the lava flows of the planet from burning down the empire of the Molengel. At some time long ago, the Molengel were attacked by two other civilizations, the Mon-ed and Vil-ed. Both of these two civilizations were resistant to the harsh atmosphere and heat of Moreenke and this allowed them to freely wage war on the Molengel. When they had razed enough of the Molengel's fortresses, they quickly made camp in the ruins of the planet and decided to wage war on each other. Massive armies wage war between the two races in the lava-lit craters of the planet. Meanwhile, far beneath the surface of the planet lurk the Molengel in dark pit-like cities of obsidian, waiting for the chance to bring death to the two other races. The Mon-ed are a crude, war-like race of a tremendous population, possessing a society that is little more than might makes right, combined with an industrious ability to create weapons from any material. The Vil-ed are just as violent, but they are far more concerned about longevity, and the ruins they occupy often show evidence of repair and fortification so that the Vil-ed have a large network of interdependent of fortresses scattered across the planet's surface. Often times, these fortresses are connected by lava tubes that the Vil-ed have walled off or widened to accommodate the movement of their armies. The Molengel population is nearly extinct, and they are forced to remain underground biding their time, only ever striking against their oppressors when the odds favor them tremendously.
DnD Analog: The Blood War, Baatezu, Tanar'ri, and Yugoloths, sort of.

Dikorpseken, 5th Planet From The Sun: Dikorpseken is only slightly further from the sun than Moreenke. This planet has one feature, it no longer rotates as it orbits the sun. This leaves one side in perpetual night, and the other in never ending scorching daylight. On the dark side of this planet, there is only the cold dark, and on the light, there is only scorching desert and humid jungle. There are native civilizations on the light side, ranging from primitive hunters up to those that dwell in silver cities of glass that harness the unrelenting energy of the sun. The shadowed side of the planet is cold and dead, a mirror of the light side. The civilizations on the dark side are pale, colorless, mirror of the other as well. Primitive hunter societies are brutish cannibals that eat anything within reach, and the silver cities of glass are ruined and cobwebbed, covered in the hardy root-like plants that are all that can grow beyond the light of the sun.
DnD Analog: Plane of Shadow, Plane of Radiance, Negative Material Plane, and Positive Material Plane.

Asteroid Belt: Beyond Moreenke and Dikorpseken is a large, circular field of rocks that orbit the five inner planets and the sun. Most of this belt is just dead rocks and space debris. Among the rocks though, are huge square or rectangular blocks of wolf-iron. Much like Hekinoe's "moon", they are encrusted with dust and craters and space debris, so much though that some have lost their blocky shape and resemble something more mundane. Some of these massive cubes sport the insane machinery of some ancient interstellar war on their surface, others are hollow. Many of these cubes are so massive that they possess gravity of their own and retain an atmosphere, and across their surface, various races of the system wage war with scavenged weapons in the hopes of looting their enemies and escaping their own block of wolf-iron for one that is larger and and bears more spoils to be looted.
DnD Analog: The Infernal Battlefield of Acheron.

Rekpornen, 6th Planet From The Sun: Rekpornen is a ball of blue half the size of Hekinoe. It is believed that the planet was once a small planetoid with an extremely dense core that magnified its gravitational pull and allowed it to draw other elements to it. Surrounding this dense core of metals is a layer of thick ice, but above the ice is the deepest ocean within the system. In the ocean is an abundance of aquatic life, ranging from kelp to sea serpents the size of, well, big sea serpents.
DnD Analog: Elemental Plane of Water, Water Elementals, and other aquatic lifeforms.

Cardinep, 7th Planet From The Sun: Cardinep is a large planet, bigger than Hekinoe. The inner portions of the planet are rife with volcanic activity, the planet's core is actually a molten ball of iron. Most of the planet is solid rock with caverns and volcanic channels spread out below the surface. The planet has no atmosphere to speak of, but there is no surface life, so that is irrelevant. Within the earth and caverns of the planet are hordes of mineral based lifeforms, along with a robust assortment of stone, minerals, and ores that would shame Kusseth and Whurent.
DnD Analog: Elemental Plane of Earth, Earth Elementals, some dragons, various oozes, Stone Giants, etc.

Gorelon, 8th Planet From The Sun: Gorelon is a semi-radiant planet that looks like a large star when seen from Hekinoe. The bright atmosphere of the planet completely shields the surface of it from watchers (although the sights beneath the atmosphere can be viewed by those using sorcery to aid their endeavors), not via yellow clouds or fire, but from a golden radiance that suffuses the atmosphere. Beneath this radiance, is a seething chaos of madness. Gorelon is not a true planet, it is actually the remnants of three wrecked spacecraft that have fused together and had the shielding surrounding their Cosmic Engines crack open. The unmanaged energies of the Engines have resulted in a planetoid that is awash with the unpredictable fires of creation. Beyond the golden radiance is a limitlessly huge planet that exists in between the laws of physics where creatures of flesh exist in horrific variety. Seething maws of venom and fangs the size of dragons seethe and howl, while smaller creatures skitter around on their tongues. Cities of flesh sprout walls of living teeth and fingernails and sit atop giant, pale grey, brain matter. Gorelon is a twisted place and many an astronomer has gone mad pondering its mysteries.
DnD Analog: The Far Realm and everything that plane entails.

Jhrehylem, 9th Planet From The Sun: Jhrehylem is a grey planet, warmed by the insane energies of Gorelon and shielded from the chaotic effects of those energies by the thick, grey, atmosphere of the planet. Everything within the planet is cold and grey. The planet is warmed by the radiance of Gorelon, and this keeps if from becoming a place of frozen water and gases, but it is by no means a warm place. The atmosphere of the planet is composed of huge clouds of ash and dust. The volcanic core of the planet has almost gone out and the thermal channels belch only ash now. The gravity of the planet is immense, pulling all manner of space debris to the planet's surface, filling it with huge craters. There is no true light in Jhrehylem, only the dusky twilight that is a byproduct of Gorelon and the feeble (relatively speaking) rays of the sun. Jhrehylem is a grey place, there is no color here and the inhabitants of this planet must constantly struggle against a despair and ennui that are seemingly encoded into their very DNA.
DnD Analog: Gray Wastes of Hades.

So there is a bit about the solar system. It isn't complete, and there are plenty of random celestial bodies that I will flesh out as needed. I'm sure none of this will ever come into play in our current campaign or later ones centered around Hekinoe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hell 101

Hell. It is kind of a big deal in The Known World.

The place used to be called Meroteth, before Kusseth conquered it and burned the history books, and it used to be the capital of The Fell Peaks. Once it was conquered, Kusseth renamed it Heke'lohl'err. They gave it that name in an attempt to grind down the populace of the city while they attempted to institute their own regime and policies. In Blacktongue, the word is a combination of three words for shit, poverty, and slaves. Cenn the Reaver, being pragmatic and straight forward thought that that was a stupid idea. He based this thought on the fact that Heke'lohl'err had far too many letters, so he removed the majority of them and called the city Hell. A word that had no meaning and amounted to gibberish in Blacktongue and was also a lot easier to say. Cenn also decided that he would run shit, at least partially, in Hell now that the gates were down.

Hell is something of an odd place culturally speaking. Kusseth did their level best to tear down the evidence of the city's native history and they have definitely force fed the citizens Kusseth culture. In the city you will finds wards of governance, Abraxens, Brasscoats, wardens, govermental liasons, and districts. Taxes too. Lots and lots of taxes. However, unlike other Kussethian cities, a lot of the people in power making decisions will have a bit of sorcery to them. This is a side effects of Fell Human nature and society, most Fell Humans have a certain amount of innate respect for those that have successfully harnessed the sorcerous power in their blood.

Is there a governor of Hell? A minister of defenses? A warden liaison? Most assuredly. Kusseth is a top heavy bureaucracy of red tape and fees and fines, so there is a governmental official for everything from, well, fuck examples. There is an official and a department for everything. Enough said. There's no real reason a one mile square portion of the city needs a mini-governor, but Kusseth has mandated that it happen, so it does, and someone gets paid to do it. Kusseth is just like that I guess.

I'll be honest, I named the place Hell because I like the word Hell and telling people to go to Hell. Go to the Abyss doesn't have the same ring to it, and the Abyss isn't a plane in my cosmology. Anyway, people say go to Hell in The Known World for the same reasons we would. Hell is a bad place. The danger of robbery isn't the main fear in the streets like it is in Kusseth City. The bards don't operate out of the place, so there aren't gangs of them running around singing, dancing, and murdering folks for money. The youth gangs are a very Kusseth thing and they never really caught on in Hell. There are thugs and ruffians and brigands and such, but Hell is a place of sorcery and it is hard to tell who can shove a lightning bolt down your throat and who can't, so there is a certain amount of wariness when you decide to rob someone. It is certainly far easier to get a job in a factory than it is to recover from the point blank discharge of a lightning bolt into your sternum.

No, Hell isn't a shithole because of crime or a lazy government that doesn't repair the city or hire lawmen. Hell is a shithole because sorcery keeps leveling the place. There are forges and factories where sorcery and industry are combined into some unwholesome union that has caused whole districts to become craters. People living within the walls of the place are subjected to constant exposure to sorcery, and that has two results: becoming a Fell Human or becoming something halfway between the Vyanth and the Eldumans. Sorcery is like radiation in that place, it is everywhere and on everything, soaking right up into your cells and making them go bat-shit crazy with the unnaturalness of it.

The walls are huge and black and soaked with the ambient sorcery of the city. There is a whole drug and sorcerous object trade based on the walls. Kusseth uses convicts to shatter and collect pieces of the wall while they prevent the walls from growing over the gate of the city. Kusseth grinds down the fragments of the wall into a powder that they sell to Fell Humans and sorcerers. This trade and sale is highly militarized and controlled, and is quite popular. The ground up powder has the ability augment the capabilities of sorcerers and Fell Humans, granting them more sorcerous power than they would normally have. There is also a huge underground trafficking ring associated with the ground up walls and Kusseth has to go to great lengths to keep the walls from being torn down by the very citizens that they (the walls) protect.

Hell has no real exports, it can't grow its own food, and it lacks the manufacturing facilities of Kusseth. There are no ores to be found beneath the black edifice of the city, the catacombs and tunnels through the black glassy stone of the city are seemingly endless and just get darker and deadlier the deeper you go, and I can assure you that it would be unwise to dig too deep or too greedily. How does Kusseth keep this hole running then? They can't grow anything outside the walls, the potatoes end up growing actual eyes and pigs that forage near the city end up looking as scaled and tailed as the majority of the residents. Hell's only exports are the ground up powder made from the walls, and sorcerous objects. All those forges with sorcerous fires used to smelt ores and those electrical lines powered by lightning bolts are used to produce the largest amount of magical items seen in The Known World. They're still unreliable as all Hell, but they can be bought for cheap and in certain markets, that is more relevant than the fact that a blade or ring might explode when least expect it.

Law and order are tenuous things in Hell. Kusseth lacks the manpower to properly police this powder keg of a city, so they're forced to rely more heavily than they should on Cenn's muscle. I'll be straight with you, they've taken the reavers for granted and just assume those deadly warriors are going to act as muscle till the end of time. Instead of properly funding the policing of the streets, Kusseth siphons money somewhere else and passes the buck on to the reavers. The reavers are violent shits that mostly hate Hell and being away from their master, so they're usually happy to bust heads and shed blood for Kusseth. Some, however, are attached to the place, they've put down roots and a fair number have developed friends and family here in Hell. These reavers are reluctant to return to their master and would probably fight like death on two legs to remain in their adopted city.

Oh yeah, the rebellion. There is a rebellion in Hell, run by a guy named Nakmander, the Last Knight of Meroteth. The guys once described themselves as working for the mob when they first got involved with Nakmander and the rebellion, and they're pretty close to the truth. Nakmander told them that he provides for his people and supports families that have lost loved ones in service to the rebellion, and that is true. Like many true patriots, Nakmander is also a terrorist. He and his rebellion finance many things, one way or another, that strike a blow against Kusseth and lead to bloodshed and destruction. Factory accidents, robberies that go "wrong" and result in dead Kusseth officials, letters and telegraph messages that never get received or reported to the proper people, armory stockpiles that accidentally detonate or go missing. Nakmander is responsible for a wide variety of shenanigans, and most of the time, the parties doing his will don't even know that they're working for the rebellion. It is all usually nine or ten steps separated from anyone directly working for the rebellion. These jobs and missions are usually filtered through a lot of gangs or crime rings, so it is pretty easy to lose track of what the rebellion is actually responsible for. Regardless, Nakmander is a fucker and his single burning desire is to bring down Kusseth and get them the fuck out of Hell so he can rename it Meroteth. Nothing else matters to him, not even his own life. He is a fanatic and is dangerous as fuck.

So there is a bit about Hell. Not complete by any means, but enough to give you an idea about what the place is about.