Friday, October 5, 2012

Asosa vs. Goebleen 101

So Asosa and the Goebleen have been at war for some time. They've fought and killed and some atrocities have been committed on both sides of the conflict. I may play the Goebleen as the underdog, but no conflict in Hekinoe is black and white. I love the gray area between black and white where there are no good or bad guys, just people trying to do their thing and get by. For instance, Kusseth takes slaves and their entire government is centered around the concepts of bribery and favors. Basically, their lords and officials are mobsters. They kill, cheat, and anything else you can think of to keep themselves in power. Additionally, pretty much everything is legal in Kusseth, drugs, slavery, prostitution, etc. It is all taxed and fined and if you can't pay the fine/tax, you go to a labor camp for a ridiculously long sentence that likely kills you. So, sounds like a rough and lawless place. However, no citizen of Kusseth has to worry about a witch hunter breaking down their door to purify them with fire, or a Vyanth war party storming the city streets to take slaves back to die in blood and pain in their arenas. Nor do they have to worry about coastal raids from Haven slitting throats and taking plunder. As rough as Kusseth is, the army is literally everywhere acting as a shield of bodies, bombs, and rifles protecting the citizens from the country's enemies. The witch hunters are a strong military force, and they actively hunt the sorcerous monstrosities that live in The Fallen Empire of Man, but hoping there is a party of witch hunters hanging around when a party of Soulless storms your little feudal city is a little bit different than having a garrison of Brasscoats and Greycoats constantly hanging around drinking the town's liquor and slapping its daughter's asses. Like I said, it is all a lovely muddled gray color that is neither bright nor shiny in any way shape or form.

Alright, so the Asosans and the Goebleen Nation. They've been at war for generations. I don't have exact dates for all this because I don't have a calender designed for Orcunraytrel the way I do for The Known World so we are unfortunately going to speak in vague terms. So a long long time ago in Orcunraytrel there was this disaster that broke up the massive kingdom of humanity. One chunk of the nation pledged fealty to a demon prince of some kind and then tried to renege on their deal. The demon prince thing's response was to sink the nation into the earth and drown it with the waters of a nearby swamp. The backlash from this disaster disrupted a lot of stuff about Orcunraytrel that the guys have no idea about, but one of the main repercussions was that the strongest nation of Orcunraytrel, the human kingdom, kind of split up into four smaller ones. One of which is Asosa. Now the human nation was fairly benevolent and wide and lots of trade and resource support existed to keep the entire kingdom supplied and happy and fat. Asosa had a lot of bodies and a lot of metals and a lot of dried out, rocky soil. So when the kingdom broke up, they were left with bodies, metal, and dried out, rocky soil. Things got dark and destitute pretty quickly. Civilians themselves became a resource, rather than a population, their sole purpose to work their fingers to bloody nubs yanking metals out of the dirt and trying to put seeds back in the holes. The purpose of this resource was to support the military of Asosa. The military of Asosa is pretty good for Orcunraytrel, very organized and well supplied and armed. However, because the country is so resource poor, they have difficulty maintaining supply lines very far from their borders (one of the main reasons they haven't ridden out and trampled the pirates).

Alright, so the Goebleen. The Goebleen have existed for as long as the Asosans have, but they typically live underground, but not so far underground that demons nap under their beds or anything like that. The Goebleen are Hekinoe's, actually, just Orcunraytrel's version of Goblins. I conceived of them as Goblins if they managed to get over their fear/hatred of fire, writing, dogs, and horses. So they occupy the same land that they always have, but underground farming mushrooms and cave fish and doing a little bit of surface world hunting as well. They're small and don't need much space and have very large litters of children (which explains why Gob has enough cousins to fill out the ranks every scenario despite that Asosan sterilization of the Goebleen woman). The territory now called Asosa was basically split more or less in half between the Asosans and Goebleen back before the Asosans called themselves Asosans. The north chunk of the land was nearer to the central area of the ancient human kingdom Asosa is a fragment of and the Goebleen just kind of kept to themselves in the south. The Goebleen actually hail originally from the land the giants occupy now. They were just sick of fighting with the giants all the time and they found demons were much more common in mountains than in plains and hills for some reason, so a bunch of them up and left, though there are still a few clans and warrens there. This was all hundreds and hundreds  and hundres of years ago, maybe a thousand.

So we reach this point where the Asosans have been expanding and expanding because their soil is shit and what they can plant for farming doesn't grow very well, so they need quantity if they can't have quality. So they expand and expand and expand, and the Goebleen don't really have a problem with it because the Goebleen live underground and as long as the Asosans don't dig up their warrens, there won't be a problem. About five hundred years ago we reach a point where the Asosans are trying to scrape every little thing they can from their territory and are expanding and expanding on their farmlands and digging everywhere they can put a shovel into the dirt to find iron or copper or gold or something to use to trade to supplement their lackluster food supplies. Well push comes to shove and the Goebleen reach a point where they would really prefer it if the Asosans backed off just a hair and stopped digging holes in the ground. The Asosans, being human and desperate laughed it off because the Goebleen are small and use bows and arrows and wear hides and the Asosans have knights and whatnot. Push shove push shove push shove etc. About four hundred and fifty years ago, the Goebleen decide to push back. Hard. The Asosans don't take them seriously because they have plate armor and the Goebleen have arrows and tiny arms. Well, fifty arrows per knight alters the equation and the Goebleen are winning epically and the Asosans are freaking the fuck out because these tiny little dudes with arrows the size of pinkies are killing them in droves and stopping their cavalry charges before they even get their momentum up.

Now the Asosans have always had their war priests and battle wizards, the Armiger has been a protector of Asosa for as long at it has existed, so his priesthood has always been prominent. Ok, so this is what I hate about Pathfinder/3.5/whatever Cleric type classes. So this country has food problems and a government monitored priesthood. Why the fuck don't they have their priests making food all the fucking time? Uh...uh...uh.... Yeah. How can plague or sickness or any sort of disease exist in a country with more than a dozen priests with the ability to cast cure wound and disease spells and do things like create food and water. Oh that's right, uh, there are magical diseases and stuff because magic. That isn't a sentence I forgot to finish. Because magic. Pretend I said it like the Ancient Aliens guy says aliens. This is why I hate divine classes, they break my fucking game and shatter any semblance of logic to the campaign world.

So there is this priesthood dedicated to the Asosan cause because the Armiger is the protector of Asosa. So the priesthood initially stayed out of the fight, and the number of actual wizards and sorcerers is a very small amount compared to the number of cleric types. Plus, the Goebleen have their witches to handle that threat. The priesthood initially stayed out of the fight because the Armiger is a protector, a defender. He is not one to pick fights, he is a defender, which is why Asosa is focused so much on defending their borders instead of tearing on out beyond them to fuck up pirates. However, when the Goebleen tore out the throats of the Asosans in the initial attacks, they became concerned. The Armiger is a defender as I said, however when it was shown that the Goebleen had teeth and would not just be rode down, matters changed and the priesthood became involved.

As I've said before, the Asosans sterilized a large chunk of the Goebleen female population. Now, there isn't a spell for sterility, but if you can cast cure disease, you can reverse it to cast cause disease. So we'll hand wave it and say they figured it out from there and did the deed. After that, the Goebleen freaked out. Another thing. Clerics break sieges. Oh, you have a castle? Say hello to contagion, which a 5th level Cleric can cast. They started basically building these warrens into tombs with layers and layers of arcane and physical defenses and hiding their women and children in them. It was very cramped and boring in these armored warrens, but they were well supplied and mothers and children were together while warriors and witches went off and killed Asosans. The priesthood figured out the location of these warrens through trial and error and set to preforming their spells and rituals and suddenly piles and piles of females found themselves with miscarriages and later found they couldn't get pregnant. 

This is when the Goebleen started to become a very clannish society. Warriors started congregating in clubs or lodges composed of brothers and sisters and cousins. Interesting note, females among the Goebleen did not act as warriors till the sterilization occurred. Originally it was just sterile females trying to find a purpose to their life, but in modern times when the sterile lines are rarer and rarer the tradition has just continued with anyone who wants to pick up a blade or bow just doing so. This period of time is when the Goebleen get very clannish as I said. Warrens start consisting of one family line and its cousin lines, rather than several different family groups and Goebleen start to wage war in family groups as warriors. This is also when the Goebleen get very very vengeance minded. This is not an implication of incest, the Goebleen breed so quickly that any sort of inbreeding would very quickly show its results.

The Goebleen didn't just mourn for their damaged females, they also mourned for the children that would not exist. Goebleen like kids and their litters typically consist of 3-5 per pregnancy. Goebleen find a lot of comfort in a noisy, rambunctious warren, it shows them the warren is full of life and light. When things are quiet and still is when they get agitated or scared. Anyway, there was a lot of grief and anger in the Goebleen when the sterilization happened.

The Goebleen are small, live in caves, and see perfectly well in pitch blackness. They're pretty competent in night fighting and guerrilla warfare. They had enough numbers to field whole armies though, so their guerrilla tactics consisted of scouts and skirmishers rather than a nation wide means or prosecuting war. When the Asosans attacked their females, they decided to go with their strengths. They started refusing to meet the Asosans in battle. The Asosans would roll out to fight, and the Goebleen would be nowhere. They couldn't find them. The Goebleen would bypass enemy lines and start burning villages to the ground, killing anything they could find that was taller than them, this included civilians, women, and children. They started taking scalps and ears, disfiguring the dead so their families could never identify them. They didn't just kill though, they'd lame or wound warriors to make them unfit for war but still a burden on society. They'd burn fields and farming communities to make civilians homeless and deny the army food. They'd sneak into mines and kill everything living and just throw the bodies in the shafts, forcing Asosans to dig through piles of their dead to reopen the mine. The Goebleen went from a tough, horde-like force, to invisible ghosts that struck without warning and left horror in their wake. The Asosans had their own scouts and guerrillas, but as small detachments, this was an army of warriors striving to break the opposing army's nerve and destroy their support infrastructure.

For the Asosans, the Goebleen basically became the thing that goes bump in the night. The monster  tapping its claws on the window just outside the candlelight. Many many many Asosans died after with the barely heard chittering voices and the soft patter of leather clad feet just reaching their ears. Once again, the Asosans freaked the fuck out. They had a good military, and the Goebleen did not get by unscathed in this time, but once again these tiny little warriors with knives and bows and leather armor and no cavalry were killing them, beating them. Once again, they responded with an extreme.

The way things work in Orcunraytrel is that the underground is terrifying. You get below like a hundred or a hundred and fifty feet underground and things get weird. Light stops working right, heat doesn't work right. A blazing bonfire starts shedding light like a match and being as warm as a exhaled breath. The laws of nature start bending and wrapping around one another. The deeper you go the weirder things get. There are whole kingdoms run by liches and vampires with hordes of ghouls and zombies and wights and such serving them. Beneath that is the realm of the demons, creatures of nature warped and twisted. Things of living flame or earth. Pools of acid that scream and howl and hunger for the life of the living. Kingdoms of immortal beast men seeking only to kill and rule over the living above as gods. These rules are by no means hard and fast, sometimes demons and undead pop up where they shouldn't and sometimes you wander into a cave after making camp outside and find a hole in the ground that leads to the center of Hekinoe.  Sometimes you find that your root cellar rots or rusts anything left in it for more than a minute. Long ago, Lotharian the God King, once the ruler of that ancient utopian human empire Asosa was part of made a deal with the Nock and the Mork, the two main races of this Underhel. If they would dedicate their lives to war against these creatures, the surface world would tithe them anything they needed. Metals, coin, magic, anything. The agreement was struck and since time immemorial, the Nock and Mork of the Underhel are treated as heroes when they journey to the surface and are granted riches and gifts that would make greedy Kusseth and greedy Haven shit, piss, and come in their pants all at the same time.

So the Asosans made a deal with the nations of the Underhel. They would withhold their tithe for the year, then pay a double tithe on the next, with interest on the missed year if the Nock and Mork would just fail to sally forth from their fortresses to fight the undead and demons beneath Asosa. The Nock and Mork cared nothing for the Goebleen, or the Asosans for that matter, but a year of pay plus interest for sitting in their fortresses not dying sounded good to them. So the demons and undead obliged and wreaked havoc among the Goebleen. So lots and lots of the Goebleen that weren't engaged in war died and this pulled the Goebleen off the field to fight the new invaders from underground. This was quite a blow, as a large portion of their females were sterile and now most of their non-combatant population was dead, and a lot of them died ousting the demons.

So now we've dropped from the Goebleen outnumbering the Asosans to the Asosan military outnumbering the Goebleen military maybe 1.5 to 1. We started at the height of this process with the Goebleen outnumbering the Asosans about 20 or 25 to 1. The Goebleen have suffered and died and been knocked around and the Asosans have done the same. Finally outnumbered with half their warrens now smoking craters in the ground, the Goebleen truly become guerrillas. They have no choice but to hide and attack from stealth, so they do. This time though, they are cautious. Instead of attacking everything in sight, they strike only when they have to or when there is too juicy of a target. They still scalp and disfigure and in general try to engage in psychological warfare, but their body count is much lower. Meanwhile, the Asosans start spreading out their army attempting to canvas their entire country in armored bodies. They set up their towers and toll booths in what is essentially a grid canvasing their territory. As this all happens, the two groups skirmish here and there but the frequency of the engagements and their intensity declines. Additionally, the Goebleen begin expanding their warrens to head out into empty territory kind of to the south (i.e. where the pirates have set up shop nowadays). 

On the Goebleen side of things, they've found war too wearying and too costly, and backing off from it gives them a chance to repopulate and expand the territory where they live and give themselves more room to grow without running into Asosans digging holes in the earth. On the Asosan side of things, the priesthood of the Armiger basically orders the Pale King to quit wasting lives and resources in a fight that has cost the country too much. They reassert that this is a defensive country devoted to survival, not warmongering. The Goebleen have been kicked out of their way, so call it a win and get back to the process of not dying and keeping a firm hold on the territory they do control. Besides, the demons and undead did some damage to the Asosans too and that all needed to be thoroughly cleaned up.

This puts us more or less in the current timeline. The pirates start setting up shop in New Haven five years ago and make connections with the Goebleen. The Goebleen think guns and explosives are swell, especially the way they just punch through the heavy armor of the Asosans. The Goebleen have no interest in waging war on the behalf of the pirates and the pirates mostly just think the Goebleen are an amusing and runty little race. Captain Vaux and the Goebleen King meet, agree that neither has an interest in the other's fights, but the Goebleen like guns and the pirates want to know about Orcunraytrel and where all the shit to steal is. So they agree, guns and bombs for information and we'll try to keep out of each other's hair for the most part. 

So that is a quick and dirty run down of the whole Asosan and Goebleen conflict. I hope it was illuminating. 

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