Monday, October 31, 2011

Magic Is "Scary" and Showing vs. Telling 101

...with a side of alternate rules. 

Heads up, this is kind of going to be a meandering ride through my skull. I'm only functioning on three hours of sleep at the moment. A lot of this post is stuff I hashed out with Fred last night at like four in the morning while also watching Vampire Hunter D and imbibing copious amounts of caffeine, red vines, and also quietly talking about DnD as a method of lulling Martel to sleep. Other chunks are things that have been on my mind for some time.

Hekinoe is changing. With the intermittent work on the campaign book I find myself altering and tweaking rules that have been writ in stone for an entire campaign now. As I see how the game operates and how my players interact with the characters and NPCs, I see spots where I need to tone down or upgrade or just eliminate. One example of this is stats, currently we build stats with the twenty-five point point-buy method, called epic fantasy in the book, and we use the ability score increase system from 4th Edition. This leads to heavily overblown stats. Looking at some of the NPCs I've posted, you can see this. They have no deficiencies. Kethranmeer's twenty-two in strength is on par with an ogre or flesh golem in DnD, which is not totally unrealistic for a Soulless, as they are golems of sorts. Looking at Traith, you see he has a twenty-two in Dexterity. Traith Harris, a cop and gunslinger and fairly mundane race is more agile than creatures like wraiths, blink dogs, angels and some air elementals. Air elementals. Traith Harris is quicker and more acrobatic than creatures composed of air. What this boils down to is that it creates generally strong characters that never ever have to make any hard choices about stats and deficiencies, they don't have any deficiencies. Supermen, not Batmen. Blech.

To continue, sorcery is the main point of this post. I have spoken many times about the unreliable and flesh warping nature of sorcery in Hekinoe. It is unreliable and occasionally disastrous and generally mistrusted in the pitchfork and torches sense. I keep telling the guys that, but I don't show them. They haven't seen it. When a spell misfires, they are curious and excited. When sorcery warps their flesh, they gain a bonus. The few times that sorcery has misfired, it has been to the detriment of their enemies. Case and point, Nakmander knocked himself out in the final battle of last campaign. I don't feel like they have a healthy respect or fear of sorcery, and they should, because their characters are denizens of Hekinoe. Xein literally uses sorcerous rituals to bleed the magical energy that allows him to live out of his blood and imbue it into chemical concoctions. D'alton, with his freezing blood and shadow powers, has never been warm in all his years of life. Granted, he is resistant to cold, so it doesn't harm him per se, but he has spent his life perpetually chilled, his breath forever misting even as the sun beats down on his flesh and sweat runs from his pores. No blanket or fire can truly warm him, he is cold and can never escape that. That shit is fucking terrifying, or at the very least discomforting to think too hard about. Even as creatures only of Fell Human descent and not true scaled and tailed hell-kin, they are perpetually confronted on a daily basis with their own unnatural natures.

The nature of sorcery is spoken of, but not displayed in a way that has meaning. I have made the classic writer's mistake, I've told and not shown. The few times I have shown them the warped nature of sorcery, it hasn't hit them hard. Nakmander's spell misfired, to their benefit. Xein's healing potion misfired, but nothing drastic happened, just some damage. There are all those warped flesh feats, but how much mutation do they really show? Xein has these big fat bulbous eyes and has a bonus on Perception checks. So, foul sorcery has warped his flesh and infused it with mutant traits...that benefit him. The logic there is that the game is a game and mutations convey the mutating power of sorcery, but I can't just penalize them constantly, so the horrible mutations provide strange and bizarre bonuses. 

I feel like the players don't respect/fear sorcery enough. I feel like it is still just magic to them, just with weird colors. Fireballs are purplish and yellow and green fire with smoke that smells of rot, rather than being more typical red orange burny fire. So that conveys a flavor of sorts, but it is like a picture of the setting's flavor, it isn't actually interacting with them beyond the fancy description. Another part of the problem is the sorcery misfire chart itself. Some of the effects are simple, you or your target gain the Sickened condition. Some are a pain in the ass, you grow another tongue that makes spellcasting much more difficult till it fades. Others are devastating, like being bent and broken and transmuted into a three foot cube of iron over the course of six rounds, save negates. The majority of them though are nonsense, butterflies stream from your mouth, you grow leaves, or you grow leaves that heal you when in direct sunlight. So again, it boils down to me telling them that sorcery is dark and evil and unnatural, not showing them through the  misfires and the nature of other sorcerers.

So I guess what I need to do is truly show the grimdark nature of sorcery in this world, the misfire tables get fucking dark, permanent or lingering effects, no more funny nonsense like turning blue. So I am going to revamp the misfire tables prior to our next session. I'm going to depart from the sorcery talk for a moment, but still keep with the showing vs. telling thing, and then I'll head back around to talk more about some alternate rules and goals for sorcery in the setting.. 

Showing vs. telling in the campaign becomes more and more of a problem for me. The world is heavily industrialized, I've said that many a time. I don't think steampunk is entirely accurate, but there is definite industrialization, at least to the point that we use the Guns Everywhere firearms rule (firearms are simple weapons, not martial or exotic). I envision the world as being grubby and dirty, greasy and stained by smoke. There aren't white collar workers, aside from bankers and lawyers and such. The workforce of Kusseth is a collection of rough and tumble workers with calloused hands and busted noses and thick arms built to hoist heavy tools and heft welding torches to repair house sized analytical engines. Again, I feel like I paint the picture of industrialization well, but again, I feel it is like a picture that the guys don't interact with. Aside from a few nods to industrialization, such as plate armor being more expensive than normal because Kusseth is hot and guns somewhat make plate mail of limited use so it isn't as commonly produced, and therefore more expensive. 

What do I need to do to interactively show them that the world is industrialized, to make it real to them? (And just as an aside, this isn't necessarily me complaining about them not paying attention, it is more of a complaint about feeling like I need to be true to my vision of the setting.) I need to bite the bullet and arm gangs and thugs with pistols instead of knives and short swords, I need to make cover as important as dodging and wearing armor. I can talk about smokestacks and steam wagons and Brasscoats with lightning guns and massive steampowered armor suits, I can even shoot them with a lightning bolt from a lightning gun (which likely just felt like magic), and it doesn't seem to faze them at all. The first time one of them gets dropped by a revolver that does 4d8 on a critical hit, I think it will alter their perceptions of firearms and combat. They still fight like we are in Krynn or Faerun, no one seeks cover and just charges forward to do melee combat. Xein and D'alton stand out in the open slinging bombs and bullets waiting for melee guys to walk up to them and hit them and don't seek to take cover or flip a table to make obstacles to get at them. 

Bouncing back to sorcery. For a while I have been considering adding a component to the casting of spells that add lingering effects to the casting of spells that negatively impact the caster. For instance, when a spell misfires, I roll on a fairly simple table: spell operates normally, spell misfires, operates normally but affects the caster with a lingering effect, spell misfires and affects the caster with a lingering effect, etc, and then move on to another appropriate table of misfires, lingering effects, and so on. Now, this is a lot of tables and accounting work, but it is all accounting work on my part. The players never get to see the misfire tables, it preserves the mystery of the unreliable nature of sorcery and also keeps them from having to learn a new subsystem. Additionally, because the misfires represent a humanoid's inability to truly control the wild chaotic power of sorcery, a spellcaster could opt to willingly accept the lingering effect of a spell to bleed off some of the power of a spell and allow it to be cast without risking the randomness of what will end up being a truly excessive amount of randomness. 

To show an example of what I mean by lingering effects, each school of magic or type of spell has a type of lingering effect that affects the caster. For instance, fire spells might draw heat away from the caster's body and send him into hypothermia, electricity based spells might affect the bioelectric output of a humanoid's body, shadow spells such as darkness or shadow conjuration might dim light in the area or remove the caster's ability to see light, and transmutation spells might weaken the bonds that hold flesh and bone into their appropriate shape. These effects would be lingering, not permanent, their severity and duration dependent upon the level of the spell. 

Fred raised a point that the game is a game and some people might feel penalized by this subsystem, a fair point, an entirely reasonable point. However, I have always, from the get go, spoken of how fucked up sorcery is in Hekinoe, and no one chose to play a caster and then I just surprised them with these rules. I am merely intensifying the in game representation of sorcery's nature, and this isn't something I'm planning for the next scenario. The normal misfire table will be altered to be less "haha" and more "oh shit fuck" but the lingering effects (and other modifications to the rules that I want to implement) will be entered into the campaign book and will not be utilized until the next campaign in The Known World, should one occur and this current campaign not trail off or end due to TPKs or people having other commitments that trump gaming.

The argument could be made that this subsystem I want to use is entirely unfair, as it specifically penalizes spellcasters, but non-spellcasters and psionic characters are left untouched. A fair assessment of the situation. Fighters will always possess their muscles and agility and be able to swing their weapons, there is no misfire chance for hitting a dude with an axe or manifesting metaphysical claw. To be honest, I do not care. This is my vision or arcane casters in The Known World, if this vision is incompatible with your vision of an arcane spellcaster, it is my advice to not play an arcane spellcaster and instead play a psychic or martial style class. Additionally, even if a sorcerer goes into hypothermia induced shock or a coma due to casting meteor swarm, he was still able to cast meteor swarm, which can easily obliterate a platoon of soldiers or a small town (if not with direct damage output, at least with the after effects of explosive blasts of blame and stone). If a rogue or fighter were to attempt to do the same, it would take many many swings of his sword or axe and many many attempts to sunder the walls of a city. There is a reason it is hella expensive and time consuming to be a wizard, you get to alter the fabric of reality. Fighters can get fancy and creative and have a lot of interesting options, but meteor swarm deals four instances of 8d6 damage. 8d6 bludgeoning and 24d6 of fire, and you can direct each of the four explosive meteors to different targets and overlap their fields of explosion. That is serious output. I love the Fighter class, but even with four attacks a round and using a 2d6 greatsword with feats to appropriately complement that weapon, it is still hard to compete with the output, especially considering that it is nigh impossible to get your hands on a +5 vorpal fiery burst keen greatsword in Hekinoe. 

Anyway, that is a pile of stuff about my vision of The Known World as we move forward. As I said, the rules will be changing, should we ever start a new campaign in The Known World. Guns are going to be more present, as is right for the world, and the misfire tables are going to become nastier and scarier with less silliness and zaniness. The lingering effects will be explored and added to the campaign book. If anyone has any thoughts or opinions on these topics I would love to hear them, preferably via email or text if they are lengthy or there is heavy disagreement with my vision of the world. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Psychogenic Fugue Arc 04: Leaving On A Jet Zeppelin

8th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The group started the day in an apartment they had rented to stay in during the night. They were roused from early morning rituals by a knocking at their door. A Rankethlek known as Kethralneer and an Elduman named Galven Jharrak were at their door. Kethralneer introduced himself as the king's aid and advisor, and Kethralzahn was able to confirm this by showing deference to Kethralneer. Kethralneer explained that Mokethneer is rash and abrupt, and had not given thought to how the group would venture to The Bottom of the World to confirm Kethralzahn's nature. Kathralneer took an interest in the matter and was able to arrange transport via zeppelin through Galven Jharrak. Galven Jharrak introduced himself as a member of the Organization, a group run by Savage Doc Managan. To earn the right to use the zeppelin the two individuals explained that the group would need to first help capture traitors within Steeltown's walls and then agree to meet with Savage Doc Managan some time in the future. Galven stressed that it was not a promise to perform an unknown service at a later date, merely a promise to meet with Managan and speak with him. The group agreed that this would all be agreeable.

Kethralneer and Galven lead the group to their zeppelin while Kethralneer explained that the freedom of self determination allowed by the First Five to all Rankethlek and Soulless that joined them was a noble goal, but made it difficult to ensure loyalty. Some Soulless that wished to join the Rankethlek elected to abstain from receiving the lightning heart that converted them from Soulless to Rankethlek, though they did take on the faceless metal face that is so iconic to the race and their fallen father, Kethranmeer. This freedom of choice made it at times easy for the Fallen to install sleeper cells within the walls. The First Five and their agents had found such a cell of Soulless in the city and requested that the Robust Five destroy it in as payment for arranging transport to The Bottom of the World. They were told the location of the barracks, and an estimate on the number of Soulless involved in it and instructed to destroy them, save for one, which would be disabled and brought to the First Five to be interrogated in the hopes of finding other such cells, or at least understanding the motives of the Fallen. The group agreed that this was reasonable, it was also mentioned that Galven Jharrak would accompany them. 

Once their equipment had been dropped off the group journeyed to the barracks and spent some time observing it. The noted the patrols in the area and the ebb and flow of traffic and then made to assault it. Krieg was hesitant, as it was broad daylight out and there was a large amount of traffic in the streets outside the barracks and the group frequently engaged in the use of firearms and explosives, which might draw undue attention, especially considering that Xein and D'alton were not terribly well liked in the city and bystanders watching them assault Soulless living in the city might look bad and get them all killed by an angry mob of metal warriors. The group agreed that this was a reasonable point and Kethralzahn and Galven staked out the barracks while the rest of the group went sight seeing around the city and purchased cold weather supplies for their impending journey to The Bottom of the World. 

When night fell and the city streets thinned of traffic, the group performed a two pronged assault on the barracks, half storming the front door and half dropping down into the main room from the roof. The Soulless were surprised and immediately realized they had been compromised and began bellowing in battle about the glory of The Bleak Tyrant and bringing death to the rebels of Steeltown. The group assaulted them, and were somewhat surprised when in addition to attacking them with weapons, the Soulless also seemed to be casting spells with no incantations or hand gestures. Several times during battle, Xein unleashed his explosives on the Soulless and found that after the detonations, the Soulless appeared to be on fire, as if containing something combustible. When there was but one Soulless left, Kethralzahn engaged him in a contest of grappling with their mighty metal thews and succeeded in holding the Soulless helpless with the aid of other members of the group while Xein used his technical expertise to paralyze the limbs of the Soulless. Further investigation revealed that beneath the metal exterior of the Soulless was the twisted corpse body of a Fallen. The Fallen ignored their attempts at communication and the group brought it to Kethralneer, and the Rankethlek was very disturbed by this method of infilitration. 

Instead of leaving for The Bottom of the World, Krieg asked that they go to the Necropolis, as Kethralzahn had promised they would, and the group agreed that that would be ok.

9th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The group, aside from Galvan,  walked to The Necropolis, Krieg was tense during travel and Xein noticed this and asked why. Krieg explained that he was concerned about the aberrant creatures native to The Fallen Empire of Man, specifically the argut. 

18th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The group arrived at the Necropolis, Kethralzahn elected to remain outside the city and hide behind a tree. However, a flock of night fowls decided he was too shiny to ignore. The rest of the group accompanied Krieg to The Great Library. Once inside, Krieg showed his library card and journeyed to the section of the library on the genealogies of The Old Empire, asking to be left alone while he engaged in research of such a personal nature. The rest of the group decided to wander aimlessley. The group puttered around the library for a moment, finding great difficulty navigating the decimal based system of organization. Xein could not locate any how to books on how to create the Fallen's main advantage in warfare: the Soulless. When the group approached the information desk a Fallen spoke to them about the library for a bit and the procedures of using their materials, then a small gemstone began glowing in their presence and the Fallen explained that the room they had rented had been left as they left it and if they wished, he could escort them there to continue their research. The group went along with this and followed the Fallen to a study. 

The group found the room to be a room they had rented some time ago. In it, they found several items of interest, including a satchel and many books. Most of the books were related to sorcerous research, specifically how to increase the potency of sorcery while maintaining its stability and resisting sorcerous mental control. In addition to some papers by a Vyanth named Belgerelel, there was also a journal by a Vyanth sorcerer whose name rune was a sort of triangle shape with a lot of philosophical discussion on the power of sorcery and maintaining control of it, along with some research he had done regarding a foreign land called Fregulenelesel, which translate into Land of Death Air to the west and a sorcerous artifact left there long ago by the Immortals. No one knew of such a place or who or what they Immortals might be. There was also a map of The Known World with a southeast section of Vyanthnem circled. 

The papers on resisting sorcerous mental control had a few bits and pieces about an ancient clan of Solwighta that threw off the mental shackles of the Fell Humans, the Vyanth being naturally resistant to sorcery, and the fact that the fighting schools of The Old and New Empires incorporate discipline training that leads to strong minds, and finally that psychics often possess extremely resilient minds. It was also noted that the best protection from sorcerous mental control was stronger sorcery. 

In a satchel beneath the table, the group found several tattered pieces of paper with pictures and writing in a shaky hand on them. One stated that "He is in our heads." another was a crude picture of their iconic weapons, the word "Gaz", and a crescent shape with a sword in it with arrows pointing from each of the drawings to the others. Another was a picture of the naming rune of a Vyanth sorcerer, a sort of triangle shape. The final piece of paper was a crude drawing of Nakmander and Derf, with a plus sign between them. 

When the group left their former study room after much discussion they realized that Krieg was nowhere in the library. They tracked down his gear, but could not find anything other than a small bloodstain. Concerned, they immediately investigated this issue and hired a sorcerer in the city to cast a divination. The discovered that in the six hours they had been in the library Krieg had been beaten, stripped of his weapons and armor, and hogtied in a basement beneath a business in Meroteth. Xein was adamant that they go rescue him immediately, D'alton stated that he didn't care, Krieg wasn't his bosom buddy, and Kethralzahn stated that the mission to see A'lst was far more important, his kind and eldest brother had given him an order to present himself to his grandfather and he would not be swayed from this mission. It was also agreed that transporting across the face of The Known World indiciated a use of extremely potent sorceries, and whoever did so might be beyond the power of the group to defeat. Grumbling, Xein conceded that there was nothing they could do and they set out to return to Steeltown.

28th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The group returned to Steeltown.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Robust Five - Chapter 1

Chapter 01 - 14th of Thirdmonth, 9995 DK 
The mines were dark and lightless, illuminated only by the glowing eyes of the Fell Humans on shift that evening. Their collected eyes flickered like a flock of fireflies as they all blinked periodically while the prisoners gathered. They milled around in the depths, waiting, and allowing the other denizens of the mine to use their eyes as lights in the darkness. When the explosions ripped through the shafts, it threw men about like rag dolls, blinded them, and turned their insides to gory paste. Those that had been forewarned had taken cover and when the fires burned out and they could see, they passed through the choking clouds of rock dust walking about a carpet of bodies. A shrill cry rang out in the darkness, four words only, and they turned the well organized exit into a mad rush of flailing limbs and screaming men.

"The Beast is free!"

The explosion had torn through the deep mines and drawn wardens with great speed, they knew their job certainly. Small arms could be heard, along with the crack of truncheons as they struck unarmored bodies and skulls. What turned the bowels of the hopeful escapees to water was a sound they knew all too well. The clank of rusty chains as they clattered and snapped against wolf-iron walls. The heavy loping gait of rusted steel limbs filled with lead and wolf-iron. The bellowing snarl that was a horrific amalgamation of tearing metal and a hammer striking an anvil. The noise grew closer to the escapees and soon it was joined by the wet noise of split flesh and the sharp snap of shattered bones. When the screams began, they would not stop and they echoed strongly, following the escapees out of the dozen or so tunnels blown into the deep rock of Beltan. 

After the Beast stormed through the section of tunnels slaying as he made his way to freedom, two figures crept through the dark and dusty tunnels. The first was Smiling Jack, master of Kusseth's bardic colleges and mastermind of the escape, the second was Laram of Volungshemle. Jack was slight of build and fairly normal looking for a full blooded hell-kin, dark-haired, pale skinned, with raven black hair and an equally black goatee, well groomed despite the lack of proper razors to be found in Beltan. Laram was a Child of Volung and he hunched forward painfully, his seven foot frame fitting only uncomfortably in the tunnels. He gnashed his pointed teeth and wiped itchy grit from his leather brown skin. 

"The Beast was the linchpin of your ploy, Jack. A bold move." growled the Child of Volung.

Jack nodded absentmindedly in the dark, "Indeed. Not as bold as you'd think. At one time he owed me fealty and he has suffered in these mines for over two decades. Freeing him from his chains could result in only one thing though, bloodshed and death for the fodder clustered here in this intersection. That said, I believe he took the eastern escape route, we shall take a more westerly one, unless you object." 

In the dark of the shattered mine, Laram grew pensive, his black eyes visualizing a battle with the Soulless known as the Beast. His lips split into a hungry grin and his fists clenched in anticipation. 

Jack coughed politely to draw Laram's attention and said, "I would remind you that we are unarmed and unarmored, malnourished and weary from an extra shift in the mines that allowed us to be here when the detonations occurred. The Beast has none of these weaknesses, if you find yourself so bored, find another second, I will not wander into the halls of Volungshemle to speak of your death in pointless battle to your father."

Laram came back to himself and said, "I cannot fault your reluctance, to the west then." 

The Child of Volung and his Fell Human companion found their way through the dark and left through a western heading tunnel. They were not the only men leaving the mines though. A few dozen stragglers passed through the many holes blown in the earth hoping to steal their freedom. Screams and yells and small arms fire continued to echo in the depths of the mines as the wardens sought to restore order through violence, but many prisoners escaped their grasp in the confusion, for the Beast had cut a swathe of destruction through guards and inmates alike.

The last group of stragglers was a motley collection of four individuals, a scarred Elduman with his head wrapped in bandages, a Fell Human with eye like glowing chips of ice, a fairly nondescript looking Uncout, and an equally plain looking Fell Human. They were dressed in ratty white linen shirts and cast offs they'd looted from guards and prisoners that had fallen to the Beast. The Uncout bore a battered rifle and the rest bore clubs stolen from guards, save for the ruby eyed Elduman. His blade was curved, almost like a cavalry saber from The New Empire, but more elegant and graceful. It was rusted and crude looking, grey hued like it had been forged of wolf-iron, but so battered and abused it looked like a fragile antique left too long on the shelves. He cradled the blade in his arms, one hand holding the hilt and the other sort of slowly running back and forth across the side of the blade. His fingers and palm bled from tiny cuts and his lips moving silently. 

They did not speak to one another, grunts and gestures decided which tunnel they would take, an eastern one. They were not living men to one another yet, still not free, still not men, just prisoners beaten down and abused by Beltan

The tunnels were silent and still, save for the faint echoes of battle. They passed quickly, picking through the rubble strewn passage to freedom. They encountered shattered rocks and great rents in the walls, signs of recent violence. Sometimes silver glinted in the dirt around their feet, illuminated by the cold radiance of the Fell Human's eyes. It was the strange whitish silver of refined beltanizine, a metal that was horrendously explosive when exposed to sorcery. It was a revelation of sorts, and illuminated how this escape had been achieved. The guards monitored the beltanizine ore recovery far closer than any other section of the mine, but someone had been able to secret enough away to cause this devastation, more than that, they'd been able to hide a smelter somewhere within the prison to refine the ore. 

They continued their silent journey, not marking the time, they'd each been in the mine for over eight years and had long ago learned to ignore the passage of an hour or two without ticking away the seconds. Sunlight loomed ahead of them, causing them to squint. The Elduman pulled the rags wrapping half his face tighter to shield the gemstones that he saw the world through. Their pace quickened despite their weariness, freedom, at least the freedom to breathe air not perpetually stained by the smells of cold rock and blood, was so close at hand. By the time they reached the surface they were jogging.

The sunlight turned the Fell Human's eyes to discs of silver and the Elduman's to glittering rubies. Then they all cringed and squinted as the light of Kusseth's noonday sun bleached everything white while their eyes grew accustomed to its radiance. Even the Elduman paused from stroking his blade to drink in the sun an the freedom. They had escaped Beltan, a hole they'd been chained to breaking rocks and pushing ore carts, a hole that had stained their fingers with red grit from beltanizine and had scarred their bodies with a permanent reminder of their crimes. Then they heard the noises.

It was the squelch of bloodied meat crushed underfoot. The snap of a bone breaking under a heavy metal boot. It was the rusty, squealing whine of  a half ton metal creature shifting its weight. It was a bellow that was akin to a block of wolf-iron being torn in twain by a sheet. When their eyes fully cleared, they were face to face with the Beast. It was crouched over a corpse that had once been a Fell Human.

It began pacing back and forth, using all four limbs to walk. It was mostly wolf-iron, its body scarred by weld marks and the mark of pickaxes. It was wide, half again as wide as any of them. Every time it shifted its weight, rust ground away in its joints and fell like dust from it. It was studded with crude spikes, some looked like they came from within its body, while others were crudely welded or bolted onto its metal carapace. Chains still clattered at its legs. It had no fingers on its hands, only wolf-iron talons easily the length of a soldier's blade. It's head was a crude oval of wolf-iron atop a thick neck like a knight's gorget, and its eyes were shadowed dents that looked like they'd been created by a dozen blows from a ball peen hammer. A plate of steel was welded to its forehead with the number 5990852151 etched across the steel, likely the Beasts Kussethian identification tattoo, each of the prisoners had a similar number somewhere on their bodies. It had a mouth of sorts, just a crude steel-fanged mandible. It growled with a noise like metal being twisted by great force and the metal mandible of its mouth shrieked open in a savage grin. The escaped prisoners froze. 

The Beast banged a clenched claw against its chest and the other escapees readied their weapons. The Fell Human with the frost colored irises held up his hands, palms toward the Beast. 

"Beast, we've no time for battle, we must flee, even now wardens are marshaling and following the tunnels, likely calling in Greycoats to aid with the chase."

The Beast howled, angry and tortured sounding, its mandibles sparked and its blade talons carved furrows in the earth and the ruined remains beneath its feat. 

"Not, Beast," it roared.  "Not Beast," it bellowed once more.  It seemed confused, as if it didn't know what else to say.

The Soulless paced and for the first time they noticed that it had but one voice, whereas Soulless always spoke in echoes, six voices overlapping. The Beast had one voice that spoke clearly, despite sounding tinny and hollow sounding. It paced, seeming confused, its talons clenching and unclenching, its shoulders rolling and its head swinging back and forth and the spikes on its body retracting and springing back out with shrieks of metal on metal. 

D'alton, the Fell Human, stepped closer with his hands still outstretched, "Beast is not your name, I understand, then who, who are you?"

It roared and stood on two legs, now almost seven feet tall. It charged towards a scraggly tree nearby and swung its taloned fists at the trunk, splintering the wood with a crash. 

"Not know," it roared as it obliterated two more trees, "hazy, foggy, everything loose." 

When it said loose it clenched a clawed fist and smashed it against the side of its head. 

D'alton eyed the creature, once it had been well built, but the mines of Beltan had been unkind to it. The talon fingers were crude blades bolted and welded to its fists with screws and torch marks. Most of its body was rusted steel and iron welded to a wolf-iron frame, under the dirt and rust and grease D'alton could see that the Beast's body had once mimicked ornate plate mail still worn by the backward knights of The New Empire in the southeast. 

The Beast gripped its head with its talons dragging them down the sides of its face, almost as if it was pulling on hair in turmoil. The screech of metal on metal drew D'alton's attention.

"Beast is the name given to you as a slave by the wardens of Beltan and our fellow inmates. If not Beast, then for now we call you Spineplate."

The Soulless paused in its turmoil and cocked its head to the side, the dark dents of its eyes riveting on the chips of ice that were D'alton's.


Its talons absently tapped against the wolf-iron faux gorget that was its neck while it clicked the spikes across its body in and out. It nodded. 

"Spineplate. Spineplate...accurate. Spineplate for now until Spineplate remembers lost bits."

D'alton exhaled, feeling his pulse slow and his chilled blood cease its pounding in his ears. 

The other Fell Human, called Xein spoke, "Great, let's move. If we're splitting up, we should do so now."

Spineplate shook his head, "Wardens in the area, can take us alone, strength in numbers, strength in brotherhood. Spineplate think we should stay together, find town and stay low till heat dies down."

More or less collectively, the group shrugged. They were poorly armed and dressed like convicts, it might be prudent to stick together. Spineplate was fully armed and armored and even armed guards had been hesitant to reprimand it in the mines, he might be enough deterrent to keep them out of the mines for at least a little while. As a group they combed the area and found their way to a road, roads inevitably leading to border towns where they could hang low for a while. Kusseth was a dry and flat country, mostly devoid of forests and any sort of cover, so they wandered near the road. 

As they walked, Spineplate slowed his untiring gait to match D'alton's.

"Spineplate named Spineplate, name?"

"D'alton, D'alton Braun," spoke the Fell Human.

Spineplate nodded and said, "Friend D'alton. Spineplate owe friend D'alton, Spineplate feel chaos ebbing. Spineplate remember, eventually. Spineplate repay friend D'alton."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crafting 101

Crafting can be a fairly useful skill, especially if you have a lot of time on your character's hands and want to cut costs or get a day job instead of adventuring or traveling. Crafting is kind of a complicated skill. I mean, you read the rules enough and it is easy to follow, but at first glance it is complicated and borderline nonsensical. You can use it to score some marks working for a week at a time in a business related to your Craft skill, Craft (Leatherworking) for instance works for working at a leather shop or a tanner. That is only really useful if you have eight or twelve or whatever hours a day to spend working in a shop for a week, and most adventurers lack that kind of time spent sitting still. 

The main use for Craft is building your own crud to cut costs or when there isn't a shop handy to buy stuff at. There is a lot of nonsense about using ironwood or fabricate and other spells to supplement various things involved with the crafting process, but who does that? The first step of the crafting process is to have tools to use. Now, any crafty minded gentleman can improvise a hammer out of a rock and a anvil out of a bigger one. However, improvised tools impose a -2 penalty to the Craft check made while using them. No human being can carry an entire workshop with them, so basically this means that anything more complicated than making arrows or tightening screws done in the wilderness is done with improvised tools. Proper tools impose no penalty or bonus to checks, while masterwork tools grant a +2 bonus to the checks made when using them. 

The next step is to convert the cost of the item into bits (an object that costs 15 marks converts into 150 bits, obviously). This conversion of cost is going to determine how much time it will end up taking to craft the item. The next step is to determine the DC of the item, mainly that is DM fiat. There is a chart in the core book, but it is kind of thin as far as examples, though it does cover all the basics. 

The next step is to buy raw materials for a third of the item's base cost (so 5 marks for the object I spoke of above). Now, these are raw materials. You aren't buying an unsharpened blade, a tang, a strip of leather, and a hilt and just putting some screws into it to hold everything together and then using a whetstone on it. You are buying ingots and bars of metal, pieces of leather that need to be stitched and cut into the appropriate shapes, wood that needs to be carved and such. If you are making something even more complicated than a sword, you might need wiring, glass, gears that needed to be ground and shaped to properly fit together, and so on. The materials are raw and crude and the cheap cost associated with purchasing them is offset by the time you'll need to get them into the appropriate shape. 

The next step is to make a Craft check with all your penalties or bonuses and whatnot. This check represents a week of work. In my mind, that week of work represents six to eight hours of work a day. Dispute it if you like, but rule 0. The result of the check is multiplied by the DC of the check. If the result is greater than the converted bit value of the object, you finish the object successfully. If your result is less than the bit cost of the object, you partially complete it and continue making one check per week until your results add up to the bit value of the object. If you desire, you can make the check on a daily basis, the conversion is simple, you just divide the check result by the number of days in a week

If you don't do well with your checks and fail the DC of the craft check by four or less, you make no progress this week. If you fail by five or more, you waste some of your raw materials and have to pay half the initial raw materials cost again to get more raw materials. 

There are a few other options you have, such as making the object masterwork and the option of increasing the DC by ten to hurry the creation process, but ultimately that is the long and short of the craft skill.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Traith Harris From The Campaign Book

More character stats from the campaign book. I won't be spamming them here. Some of them, like Nakmander, will only ever appear in the campaign book, if only because I don't want to give away the whole cow, or something. I dunno, here is Traith Harris at his current level of power. 

Traith Harris was a somewhat renowned senior warden in the city of Kusseth. Traith is well known in the southern districts of Kusseth City, primarily as a door breaker and shootist. His guns are of Abraxen manufacture, and have been known to blow limbs off of Soulless with little trouble.

Traith Harris started life on the streets of Kusseth City, in a youth gang, like many of his age. He was originally associated with a youth gang that served a brothel, one supposedly run by one of his relatives. This brothel existed under the auspices of the bardic colleges and many of its employees and patrons were bards, including the Fell Human madam that ran it. This initial association with brothels and the bardic colleges did cause some difficulty for Traith Harris's ascension into the ranks of the wardens of Kusseth, but by the time he was in his early twenties, he was a fully fledged warden.

During his early career, Traith Harris had a knack for biting off far more than any young warden had a right to attempt chewing, but he survived, often by the skin of his teeth. Case and point, he halted a terrorist action by The Fallen Empire of Man in its tracks, though he was wounded and brought near to death during that case. He exhibited an unusual tolerance for other races, but was typically brutal in his dealings with Fell Humans, or those of Fell Human descent. He was known to have little tolerance for bards, but understood their place in Kussethian society and how that limited the actions wardens could take against them.

After a long career of being known for his marksmanship and his ability to bust heads and kick in doors with great efficiency, Traith eventually attained the rank of Senior Warden, though he was not given his own wardens to oversee and remained the warden of the 37th district of Kusseth. Ostensibly, his career was halted due to health concerns. Traith was plagued by health problems as a lasting weakness from his altercation with agents of the Fallen Empire of Man. This condition, though its details are unknown to anyone but Traith, was carefully managed by a Greyskin Abraxen ally that the warden had made early in his career.

Traith Harris remained on active duty until his early seventies, and aside from his medical condition, he remained almost as healthy as he was in the prime of his life. One day, in the spring of 10001 DK, Traith Harris disappeared. He did not check in with his superiors and not even his Greyskin Abraxen ally knew where he went.

Traith supposedly left the wardens when his grandmother went missing in Kusseth. This disappearance was one of many that occurred following Nakmander Zuber’konig’s terrorist attack on Kusseth. Traith could find no support among his fellow wardens to investigate the disappearance of an aging madam know to be a bard of some repute, so he took to the streets on his own. A string of rumors followed this investigation, mostly involving informants going missing or winding up in sick houses as a result of Traith’s investigations, and even a few wardens and brasscoats supposedly met the business end of Traith’s great brass revolver and wolf-iron fire axe.

Eventually, the rumors of Traith’s actions stopped circulation and Traith just disappeared with no word whatsoever. A small investigation was launched by the wardens of districts close to Traith’s 37th, and when it was decided that he did not appear to have been taken by force from his apartment or the cit, it was closed and determined that he had resigned from his post and left the city of his own volition.

Traith Harris                                         Level 20
Male Fell Soulless Gunslinger (Pistolero) 20
Init: +10; Senses: None; Perception +27
Languages: Citytongue, Guttertongue, 2
AC 28, touch 22, flat-footed 16; (+4 armor, +5 Dex, +2 natural, +6 dodge)
CMD 39
HP  164 (20 HD)
Fort +14, Ref +18, Will +10
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +28/+23/+18/+13 (1d6+8/20x4)
Ranged +32/+28/+23/+18 (1d10+11/19-20/x4)
Base Attack +20, CMB +23
Abilities Str 16, Dex 22, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 18, Cha 10
SQ Boiler Belly (Fire Resistance 5), Metal Bones (DR 1/-), Leather Lungs (immune to inhaled poisons, suffocation, don’t need to breathe), Light Fortification, Partly Metal, Nimble +5, Deeds, Gun Training 4 (Revolver, Shotgun, Holdout Pistol, Long Rifle), Grit 4, True Grit (Up Close And Deadly, Dead Shot)
Favored Class Gunslinger (+20 skill points)
Traits: Canter (Basic), Longevity (Racial), Everybody’s On The Take (Cultural)
Feats Additional Component (Metal Bones), Additional Component (Leather Lungs), Light Fortification, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Quick Draw, Rapid Reload (Pistols), Clustered Shots, Hammer The Gap, Dodge, Mobility, Sidestep, Improved Sidestep, Improved Critical (Revolver), Weapon Focus (Revolver), Deadly Aim, Improved Initiative
Skills Acrobatics +19, Bluff +13, Craft (Gunsmithing) +25, Disable Device +16, Heal +15, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (Local) +20, Perception +27 Sense Motive +11, Sleight of Hand +19, Survival +22
Possessions Armored Duster (Custom Fit, Springsteel), Wolf-Iron Hand Axe (+5/+5, Hardened, Mercury Filled), Abraxen Eight Chamber Revolver (+5/+5, Sights), Hardened Wolf-Iron Bullets (ignore damage reduction)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kethranmeer From The Campaign Book

For a while I've been on and off working on a campaign book for The Known World. There are going to be all kinds of sections on races, nations, feats, traits, flaws, equipment, plot hooks, and so on. One of the sections is going to be on NPCs. Not only will this section give background information on the characters, it will be where I include actual rules based information and stats like class and hit points and ability score and will be where I put versions of NPCs like Cenn, Traith Harris, A'lst, Nakmander and such. It will also be where I put my versions of PCs and former PCs like John Johnson, Derf, and Kethranmeer. So, here is Kethranmeer one last time.

The creature known as Kethranmeer was one of the twelve original Soulless created by the artisans of The Fallen Empire of Man and the Okwighta Aleknostas. Trained and raised for a lifetime of battle by Omne-4, for forty years he served the nation of undead as a blood-slick metal warrior, reaching a moderately high rank and gaining control over a small force of his kind. He and his unit were sent on a mission to the country of Kusseth to investigate underground ruins and he was wounded beyond repair and left to rust and go mad from his isolation. He was discovered by a creature named A'lst that found his sorcerous nature repugnant but his machine nature intriguing, A'lst altered Spineplate and negated the sorcerous energies of his creation. This stripped Spineplate of his allegiance to the Fallen Empire and his somewhat homicidal nature and replaced his psyche with that of an unthinking metal beast. Over time A'lst grew affectionate towards his metal hound and taught him the language of his people (Thoeleknair) and gave him a name befitting his developing personality (Kethranmeer, meaning warrior of steel mind and steel flesh). A'lst had ties to the bardic colleges and Kethranmeer was inducted into the colleges as a warrior and during one of his missions with the bards he was caught by the wardens of Kusseth. Because his kind were thought to be sorcerous constructs of war and due to his clearly deadly nature he was to be destroyed, but A'lst had connections to a senior warden of some repute in Kusseth (Traith Harris of the 37th). The warden vouched for the construct and he was instead imprisoned in the Beltan prison camp where he was modified by smiths and miners to become an ideal and untiring mining device. Over the next twenty years he succumbed to the rigors of isolation and abuse and devolved once more into the animalistic state A'lst's interventions had first left him in. At the end of that twenty years he was able to escape from Beltan by being involved in a prison break masterminded by Smiling Jack and Laram of Volungshemle. He met up with a collection of malcontents that were later dubbed The Robust Five (More or Less) and became fast friends with a Fell Human Descendant called D'alton Braun.

During their adventures, the bond of friendship between Kethranmeer and D'alton grew to one of brotherhood, eventually growing as strong as the Soulless' flesh when the two creatures bought their freedom from the rebel leader Nakmander. Despite his freedom, and his pressing need to watch over his sons, Kethranmeer stayed with The Robust Five out of loyalty to D'alton. Remaining in Hell was not as detrimental to the cause of Kethranmeer's rebellion as it might seem. Once his sons were free of the sorcery of The Fallen Empire of Man, Kethranmeer dispatched them to the east and traversing The length of The Known World via steam engine made the task less time consuming than it might otherwise be. When Kethranmeer's direct input was needed, messenger night fowls could be sent with great reliability to have an answer from him in a relatively timely fashion. When matters at hand demanded quick action, it fell to Mokethneer to determine the fate of the Soulless rebellion.

Despite the insistent demands of his sons, that now called themselves Rankethlek, Kethranmeer could not leave his brother D'alton and come to Steeltown with them. He felt that if he left D'alton and The Robust Five (More Or Less), they would surely fall in battle, or be betrayed by the unpredictable machinations of Derf. So he stayed in Hell and worked for Nakmander and his rebels in order to remain close to his brother of flesh and their friends. In that time, they opposed reavers and wardens and bards, and conquered all foes that they were directed against. Kethranmeer was a warrior, and testing his hammer against these foes thrilled him, though it kept him from his sons and his true calling. His actions in Hell did allow him to learn of the Fremwightan and their leader Konaleknostas, who Kethranmeer remembered from his time in The Fallen Empire of Man. This knowledge allowed Kethranmeer's son Mokethneer to later seek out and forge an alliance with the Fremwightan.

When Cenn the Reaver died, it was a great blow to Kusseth and its control of Hell and Kethranmeer realized that the rebellion of Hell was far closer to freeing itself than he had thought. He sent messenger night fowls to his sons and A'lst, telling them that his work was almost done and that he would soon rejoin them. His sons were to journey west and meet him in Kusseth, there they would recover A'lst and he would journey with them to Steeltown where they could finally come together as a family and fight for the freedom of their race. Hopefully with the aid of D'alton Braun, and perhaps the rest of The Robust Five (More Or Less).

It was not to be though. For as the rebllion moved ahead, it dawned on Kethranmeer and his ally Xein, that Nakmander and his sorcerers intended to destroy Kusseth City. Kethranmeer realized then that his entire family, save for D'alton, was at risk of meeting their death in the destruction that Nakmander desired to bring against Kusseth. Furious, Kethranmeer met Nakmander on the field of battle at the ritual site and sought first to halt his actions, and then to murder the sorcerers before they could complete their task when Nakmander called A'lst and Traith martyrs for the cause of Nakmander's rebellion.

The air at the ritual site hummed with sorcerous energy as Xein and Kethranmeer made to murder the sorcerers, but Nakmander did not allow it and levelled spell after spell at the Soulless. Eventually, Kethranmeer's rusted body could not withstand the destructive energies of Nakmander's sorcery, and he fell, he chest a ruin of slag and huge gaping holes from destructive beams of sorcery. The warrior fell, but fell knowing that his allies would stand against Nakmander in his stead. When the battle ended and Nakmander disappeared, The Robust Five headed to Kusseth City in hopes of finding A'lst, but he was gone. So they returned to the Braun mansion and laid Kethranmeer's battered body to rest in his part of the mansion.

Kethranmeer                                       Level 15
Male Rankethlek Fighter 15
Init: +5; Senses: None; Perception +12
Languages: Thoeleknair, Citytongue, Guttertongue
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 19; (+8 armor, +1 Dex, +1 natural)
CMD 32
HP 179 (15 HD)
Fort +13, Ref +6, Will +10
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee Blackstone Hammer +28/+25/+20 (1d10+18/19-20x3) or
Melee Power Attack w/Blackstone Hammer +25/+20/+15 (1d10+27/19-20x3)
Ranged 40% Wolf-Iron Throwing Hammer +21 (1d4+11/20x2)
Base Attack +15, CMB +21
Abilities Str 22, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 12
SQ DR 2/-, Bravery +4, Armor Training 4, Weapon Training (hammers, axes, heavy swords), Fleshless, Lifeless, Made of Metal, Undying, Lack of Nourishment
Favored Class Fighter (+10 hit points, +5 skill points)
Traits: Armor Expert (Basic), Wolf-Iron Son (Racial), Will of Iron (Cultural)
Flaws Rusty
Feats Flesh of Wolf Iron, Iron Will, Weapon Focus (Maul), Weapon Specialization (Maul), Ironhide, Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Power Attack, Cleave, Greater Weapon Focus (Maul), Greater Weapon Specialization (Maul), Great Cleave, Toughness, Leadership,  Improved Critical, Improved Bull Rush, Skill Focus (Craft Electrical)
Skills Climb +10, Craft (Armorsmithing) +8, Craft (Electrical) +25, Diplomacy +6, Intimidate +19, Perception +12
Possessions Blackstone hammer (+2/+2, grants +4 bonus to saving throws vs. sorcery, halves bonuses to AC that are provided by sorcery, grants SR 18 ), 40% Wolf-Iron throwing hammer (+2/+2), ash grease (grants Soulless and Rankethlek +8 to Stealth checks in dark conditions)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alternate Rules: Called Shot Hit Points

I dislike called shots. For the most part, I think they are unnecessary and incompatible with Pathfinder's abstract combat system. Hit points and attacks per round are abstract methods of resolving combat, the whole system is abstract. If you want a very realistic and complex and non-abstract system of combat, play GURPS. I've spoken before about hit points and how they represent far more than just your physical toughness, that they incorporate luck, endurance, skill wearing armor and using it to absorb blows, etc. I've also spoken before about how attacks per round are another abstract concept that do not represent how many attacks you actually take in a six second round. Critical hits are another abstraction of combat in Pathfinder and DnD, they represent luck, getting in a blow at someone's head or face, a particularly well timed/aimed blow that slips through a chink in armor to hit vitals and so on. The critical hit modifying feats such as Blinding Critical, Stunning Critical, and Bleeding Critical represent hits to the eyes, a hard head blow, and getting a deep cut into meat or crushing/cutting an artery. Increased Critical vaguely represents increased skill at striking vitals. To integrate a called shot system into Pathfinder's combat, you have to cut out stuff like critical hits and everything associated with them. I'll condense my thoughts here: combat is abstract, called shots are not, saying a game needs called shots also implies that your character is actively making sub par attack choices during combat, that he is actively making an effort to strike weak blows, rattle his sword against armor too thick to penetrate, and generally just not trying very hard to kill an opponent. 

Ok, rant aside, I do think it is cool to specifically target limbs and vitals to weaken and subdue opponents, I just think Pathfinder's system of critical hits and such is incompatible with that concept, as it already incorporates a version of it. I am not specifically saying called shots per say. What I am talking about is something like an alternate methodology of hit points and targeting. It is something I came up with many years ago that I never really found a place for, still haven't I guess. 

The gist is, take fifty percent of your character's hit points (rounded up), that is how many hit points your torso has. Your head, arms, and legs have ten percent or your total hit points each. Each section of the body has specific effects tied to it that occur at fifty percent, twenty-five percent, and zero hit points, and what occurs on critical hits. This system would replace the various critical feats of the game. Each section of the body would have an alternate AC, with the torso having the normal AC for the character, and the legs and arms, the very mobile extremities, have a dodge bonus to their specific AC, the head would have a natural armor bonus, as skulls are hard. 

Is the system any better than called shots? Not really, it is still just a targeting system with special effects based on it. It was just something I came up with a while ago, a different take on called shots and critical hits and that sort of thing. Looking at the called shot rules that recently debuted in Ultimate Combat, I feel that I can be comfortable with using those, though no one has asked that they be included in the game. 

So there is some nonsense. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Standard Accouterments 101

So, the following post was inspired by some questions Fred was asking me about the various races of The Known World. I feel like I've gone on at length fleshing their physical appearances out, the sizes and quirky physical attributes like the sensory spines of the Dwenoren or the plated rib cage of the Children of Volung. What I haven't really described is how a typical member of the race would look as far as attire and weapons and that sort of thing. So here goes.

Children of Volung
The Children of Volung are warriors and pragmatists first and foremost. They have no use for anything not designed to be of use in war or survival. It they wear rings, they are lead and designed to better enable a Child to break the jaw of a an opponent with a blow from their fist. Because of the heat of The Known World, they usually wear leather or hide armors, something heavy enough to be of use in warding off blows, but light enough that they don't suffer heat exhaustion just walking around. They are a hardy race, so lighter armors like chain and scale mail are not uncommon. They always go armed for war, as they are a warrior race. Their weapons and armor are well cared for, as they are career soldiers and competent smiths that live or die by the steel they bear. The race favors a bastard sword and buckler, as that is what their father Volung wields in battle, but any melee weapon would be appropriate to be found on their person. The eschew the use of long range weapons like rifles and longbows, except in very specific situations, but they do employ the use of small arms like revolvers and shotguns or even semi-archaic weapons like the crossbow, it just depends on the personal tastes of the Child in question. The Children do not have a good relationship with equine creatures, so they typically march everywhere and usually wear heavy armored boots well suited to battle or hiking around the mountains of Volungshemle, kind of a medieval version of a mountain boot or steel-toed work boot. They keep their black hair long, but bind it into a leather thing to keep it tied behind their heads. Though they do not favor jewelry, they do pierce their ears with bits and pieces of metal, typically shattered remains taken from the weapons and armor of fallen foes. Anything else that the Children would have with them, supplies for travel, money pouches, camp supplies, etc would be well cared for, but rugged and durable.

Because the pal, moist skin of the Dwenoren is slick with an oily secretion that insulates them, they do not need much in the way of clothing. They most often wear a kilt, shirt, and sandals of some kind in their homes. What they wear in public would be determined by their place in society or in the country they are dwelling in. A scholar would carry a satchel for papers or books, a smith or artisan would potentially wear a leather work apron with pouches and pockets for tools, etc. The clothing they wear is simple, often grey or white, but high quality. The Dwenoren do not perceive color, so they have no need of colorful designs or expensive dyes for their clothing. Each Dwenoren wears an intricate scar upon his face that acts as an identifier for who they are, a sort of tattoo of their name across their face. As a nation of elitists and rich white collar workers, they do wear a lot of jewelry, however, fancy jewelry to them is not necessarily something with a giant gemstone or crafted of rare precious metals. More likely their expensive jewelry would be something like a large ring or bracelet in the form of a particularly complex Celtic knot style design, something with depth and intricacy that appeals to the nature of their vision, rather than just being shiny. Dwenoren are just as vulnerable to heat as other races, so they would favor leather and hides and such, though in the depths of Whurent, heavier metal armors might be more common among warriors. Warriors are blue collar workers and their weapons and armor are typically well cared for, but not of extravagant quality or made of fine metals like wolf-iron and they would seldom have any sort of expensive jewelry or riches found on them. Almost all Dwenoren utilize firearms of some kind, typically the shotgun, which is of great use in the cramped tunnels of Whurent. Similarly, they would favor smaller scale melee weapons suck as long knives or short swords, weapons easily swung in the tunnels. Alternately, they may use hammers or picks, weapons that can be used to mine in addition to breaking bones.

In The Old Empire, the lifestyle of the ascetic is considered to be the most laudable, and most Eldumans adhere to this philosophy. Most Eldumans do not prize wealth and are able to sustain themselves purely on the psionic power of their minds, so they have and need little in the way of possessions. Elduman warriors usually practice fighting style that eschew the use of weapons, so again, most of their warriors would have little in the way of possessions. Those that do use weapons would likely care for them in a diligent and respectful manner to keep them in the best shape for battle. Most diplomats and politicians would wear nondescript robes and under them, light and loose clothing that would not encumber them in the windswept desert of The Old Empire. Eldumans, and their descendants, that venture out in to the world might perhaps fall prey to avarice and hedonism of other races and would wear fine clothing, jewelry, and that sort of thing, but for the most part, they are a race of ascetics that have no need of food and water, let alone worldly possessions.

True Fallen are all over fifteen hundred years old and are typically victims of rot and ruin. They are almost all universally wizards and sorcerers of some kind, and because they know that everything physical fails, they usually put little stock in physical possessions. If they wear jewelry, it is because it in some way aids their sorcerous power, not because they like nice things or have riches to spend on it. Their bodies are often stitched and stapled and bound into shape with leather straps or stitched up tears, they use materials of the highest quality in these endeavors for the simple reason that without these repairs, they fall apart quicker. They know their flesh will fail eventually, but they do not seek to rush that inevitable fate. Being immune to mundane heat and cold, Fallen that are warriors usually armor themselves in the heaviest and most durable armors possible, as this shell protects their frail flesh from being sundered by the weapons of their foes. Even Fallen traveling long distances travel light, as they have no need of food or water, the supplies they usually do carry are akin to that of a taxidermist, as their main concern is preserving their physical body.

Fell Humans
Fell human clothing and appearance and such is completely dependent upon their place in society and country of origin. Sorcerer kings of The Fell Peaks might go about clad in robes of cloth of gold with a ring on every finger studded with grape sized gems. A back alley sorcerer of Kusseth might wear rags and have rotted teeth. As is the theme with Fell Humans, there is no normal for them, not even in what they wear. The poor wear rags and wield shivs of broken glass, the rich might bear sorcerous blades. So in short, rich Fell Humans probably wear and wield fancy things based on whether they are a warrior, merchant, politician, or whatever. Poor Fell Humans probably have whatever they can scrape together or steal from others.

Most Glenwighta are enslaved to the Fell Humans of the Fell Peaks, they are given simple, functional clothing and equipment that allows them to survive underground and fulfill their obligations to their masters. Typically, they are not allowed much in the way of weapons, though some tools and such can be easily turned to bloodshed. Fremwightan often wear heavy clothing to keep them warm in the depths while they strive to excavate their ancient homeland. Solwighta, already huge and ill suited to caves, wear heavy armor and carry whatever weapons they can fit into the tunnels. Conwighta and Okwighta opt for lighter weapons and armor that can be more easily used. Okwighta usually load themselves down with packs full of surveying and ore sampling equipment, chisels, hammers, pitons, etc. All Fremwightan make use of firearms, with shotguns being especially useful in the cramped tunnels. Some Solwighta carry actual cannons into the depths which they help brace with heavy armor, though these usually only accompany Fremwightan expeditions into territory where cave wights are known to dwell.

Greenskin Abraxens
Since most Greenskin Abraxens live in primitive clans and villages in The Beast and Wild Lands, they appear as such. Metal armor is almost unknown among them, and even then it is made of bronze. Firearms are unknown, so hunters and warriors go to battle with longbows and the axe is of far more use than the sword in the forests, and most weaponry used by the Greenskins favors functionality over sheer bloodletting power. Most non-warrior Greenskins typically wear clothing festooned with feathers and bright dyes and the like and all clothing is made of animal hides. Since Greenskins are generally a hairy race, and the forests are warm throughout the year, they do not need much in the way of clothing, a vest and pants to preserve modesty for the most part, warriors and hunters obviously wear armor over this. Hunters dye their armor green or brown to help them blend in in the forests while hunting beasts, and some warriors do this as well to aid in ambushing other tribes. Warriors, hunters, and cenns usually ornament themselves with trophies of bone or fur taken from the great beasts or other clans. Shamans and the like usually wield staffs bound in vines and leaves and hang bone fetishes everywhere about their person. Since Greenskin flesh is exceedingly tough, most Greenskin Abraxens go barefoot in the forests.

Greyskin Abraxens
Very nearly all Greyskins found in The Known World are machinist or workmen of some type in some sort of technology based field. Their attire will generally be dependent upon their profession, but they generally tend to wear grey or black clothing with ample space for any tools of their trade. Greyskins tend to favor having tools and gadgets of their professions about their person at all times. Tobacco is not native to the Ashlands, where the Greyskins hail from, and almost all Greyskin Abraxens found in The Known World smoke some form of tobacco via pipe, cigar, or cigarette. Like Greenskin Abraxens, the skin of Greyskins is tough, and they rarely wear shoes. 

Rankethlek are typically built to look fairly humanoid in appearance, only rarely do they stud their bodies with spikes and sharp ridges that Soulless are built with. Their limbs are built to mimic the form and smoothness of humanoid musculature. Their faces are always smooth oval of metal roughly the size of a humanoid head, but lacking any features. The Rankethlek can be made of any metal, but only rarely are they built of crude iron like many Soulless. The only real clothing that Rankethlek wear is typically a leather harness for weapons and pouches and that sort of thing. Often times they will also etch or paint numeric symbols onto their body signifying their rank and what brotherhood they are members of in Steeltown's hierarchy of soldiers. A rare few attach battle trophies to their weapon harnesses. Rankethlek value strength and durability, so expensive metals such as gold and silver, those with little practical use in battle, are seen as weak and pointless, so Rankethlek only rarely ornament themselves with such materials. 

Sereth tend to wear subdued colors in their homeland, as they are typically guerrilla warriors. The typical Sereth clansman wears sandy brown colored clothing with a heavy belt that holds ample waterskins and pouches of dried meats. Nearly all Sereth are expected to bear arms in defense of the clans and the nation, so almost all Sereth have a rifle on their person at all times. The grayish skin tone of the Sereth does protect them from the harsh sun to a certain extent, but it it not uncommon for Sereth to wear wide brimmed hats and clothing with little skin exposed, though the clothing they do wear must be light or they risk dangers from the heat. Because of the heat of Serethnem, most Sereth do not wear any sort of armor, relying on camouflage and engaging their foes at range to avoid the dangers of being injured in battle. Because Sereth travel through the deserts with an extensive wagon train, they rarely carry extensive supplies other than food and water, though most Sereth are deft hands at the survivalist skills necessary to survive alone in the desert. While Sereth wear only subdued colors, their wagons are usually painted and colorfully decorated in the hopes of being visible to lost clan members during sandstorms in the desert. 

Soulless can be built from any metal and can take any form, those that are slave warriors of The Fallen Empire are typically crude things built only vaguely to resemble men and focus on being terrifying constructs of sorcery and spikes and blades. Like the Rankethlek, Soulless often wear weapon harnesses made of leather or chain. Some Soulless have horrific scenes of monstrous faces etched into their metal bodies, or are built to have a horrific jawed head in the hopes that they will strike fear into the hearts of living warriors they fight. Soulless slave warriors are not allowed to have possessions, so they do not wear or own much more than their weapons and their weapon harnesses. 

Because their clans and tribes and such often intermingle and occupy the same territory, Uncout typically appear much like the Greenskin Abraxens. Obviously, since their flesh is not nearly as tough as that of the Abraxens, they wear boots or hunting slippers or that sort of thing. 

The Vyanth as a race are hedonists, they wear only the most expensive clothing and eat only the most expensive foods. Their clothing is bright and decorated and at times impractical, though those Vyanth that are warriors would not risk their lives simply to be seen as stylish. The wear and own extensive piles of jewelry and their weapons and armor are heavily stylized and decorated, though still capable of being used appropriately. As a race, they favor jewelry and decorations made of silver, in honor of the Silver King, their ruler. All Vyanth are aristocrats and have relied on slave labor for their entire lives, so they rarely have any use for tools or trade skills beyond a belt knife or belt pouch to hold their spending money. 

Edit After The Fact: Anyone have any input on how I can expand this topic? Or is the information presented sufficient?