Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Human Race & Physiology

The most wide-spread and dominant humanoid race on Earth, humans are also the oldest race, with a history reaching back millions of years. The spread of the large and increasing population of humans threatens other species control of their lands, so that in most quarters of the world humans are seen as a threat. Conversely, humans tend to see the lands of other peoples as ripe for conquest and expansion, so that the fears held by others is largely justified.

Appearance

Humans are fairly dissimilar in precise features, with ranges in pigmentation, eye colour and hair that far surpass other humanoid races. This page does not seek to examine the particulars involved, though the matter is covered in the character background generator.

In general the human male averages between 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 2 inches in height, with the female averaging about 4 in. shorter. They average between 140 and 200 lbs. in weight.

Advantage

Apart from their number and size, humans have no advantages over other races. They are, in game terms, very average with regards to their ability stats, with no special defences against magic or other attacks. Being larger, they do then to have more hit points.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters

Half-orc Race & Physiology

Born of an orc father and either a human or a dwarvish mother, the appellation “half-orc” is that of an outsider. Orc women cannot be impregnated in like fashion, and no other race is sexually compatible with orcs. The resultant offspring retain a mutation that causes the half-orc variant to become dominant, so that if a half-orc that breeds with either a human, dwarf or orc, the half-orc strain will remain dominant and emerge in the progeny.

Among themselves, they are known more commonly as “Cumani” (human-orc) or “Dworkin” (dwarvish-orc). These peoples live side by side in a region called Cumana, located north of the Black Sea.

The Cumani are related directly to the human Pechenegs, who were annihilated and ceased cohesion as a people in the 12th century, the Cumans originated somewhere in the lands north of of Lake Balkhash in Turkestan. They began to move westward after the 800s CE, displacing the Khazars, Pechenegs and Oghuz Turks along the valleys of the Volga and the Don rivers. They raided the Kiyevans, Hungary and the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century. For a time, the Cumans occupied a vast realm stretching from the lower Dnieper to the Urals, but with the arrival of the Mongols this power was obliterated and the Cumans briefly scattered. They lived as a conquered people under the Mongols for two centuries, when they successfully regained control of their present-day lands, the Kingdom of Cumana, between 1420 and 1441. Thereafter the Cumani have fought often with Russians, Ottomans and Kiyevans to retain their homeland, with considerable success.

The Dworkin originated in the south lands of modern Mugodstan, where they still exist in some numbers. In height and physique they resemble other half-orcs, but they do have many dwarvish habits and physical characteristics, in the shape of their hands and facial features, without the typical orcish nose that is common among Cumani. The Dworkin were driven westward by the Mongols, in a series of short-lived migrations between the 1190s until 1230. They joined with the Cumani at that time, and were likewise conquered and forced to submit under the Mongol Batu Khan in 1238-39. Most Dworkin today dwell in the Het of Donbass in eastern Cumana.

Appearance

Cumani half-orcs have a strong muscular appearance with loose skin that creates a series of folds on their necks, upper arms and bellies, a feature that many will keep hidden when not among their own people, as other civilized humans often find the appearance to be disconcerting, even ugly. Cumani have raised gorilla-like nostrils and jutting lower jaws, usually with lower incisors that can be seen when the half-orc’s mouth is closed.

Dworkin half-orcs are deep set eyes and flat, wide noses, and stiff-haired beards that grow like spines. They lack the loose skin around their necks but it is still pronounced upon their upper arms, bellies and upper thighs.

All half-orcs males average between 5 ft. 3 in. and 8 in. in height, much shorter than their orc forebears. Females tend to be 3 to 4 inches shorter than the males. They possess considerable musculature, however, and are usually stronger and healthier than humans. They weigh between 140 and 180 lbs.

Most have straight, oily hair that ranges from sooty and jet black to bluish black. Common eye colors are turquoise and hazel … but considered most attractive among their people are pink eyes with either green or grey flecks, or pale pink, sometimes verging on nearly white.

Advantages

The most benefit to player characters is the bonus received from a +1 strength and +1 constitution, though a -2 charisma is also applied. They also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity.

Half-orc have a limited range of classes available to them, with training as assassins, clerics, fighters, and thieves.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters
Tribes of Cumana

Halfling Race & Physiology

Spontaneously descended from human peoples in pre-Celtic Britain as many as 14,000 years ago, when Britain was still part of mainland Europe, the halflings scattered in small tribal groups throughout the west coastlands facing the Atlantic. Over the next three millennia, with the development of agricultural techniques, these people shifted and migrated progressively eastward following rivers into what became known as Doggerland. However, the halfling culture that formed there in what is now the North Sea was flooded between 6500 and 6200 BCE.

Halfling peoples continued to move east, making alliances with the gnomes of Scandinavia and acting as friends. Today, halfling settlements ~ notably Dalshire overlooking Skagerrak, Oxshire overlooking the Gulf of Bothnia, Breen on the Greenland Sea and Archangel on the White Sea.  Each of these lands have been made pleasant and peaceful, as halfling lands will be.

Appearance

Half as tall as a human, halfling have an average height between 2 ft. 8 in. and 3 ft. tall. Not as stocky as dwarves, they still tend to be stout, with delicate ears. They do not grow but a wisp of beard, and almost wholly on their cheeks, but their lower legs and feet are considerably more hairy than that of a human. Their feet are unusually leathery, so that they are comfortable walking along a roadway or in fields in their bare feet ~ but this is not thick enough for adventuring in a true wilderness.

They have thick hair that ranges from ginger and russet brown, to jet black, wheaten and flat white ~ even platinum blonde. A white color is considered more attractive among their people, where as ginger and brown are most common. Eye color is various shades of brown, with cases of chartreuse green and silver grey occurring. Skin colors are bronze or honey coloured browns, with a very slight tinge of yellow.

Advantages

Halflings are limited to only three classes, druid, fighter or thief. Their height greatly limits their choice of weapons, so that most of their race prefer short swords, daggers, slings and spears. They are very effective with a sling, receiving a +3 to hit with this weapon.

Their hardiness permits a +1 saving throw against poison, wands, staves, rods and magic spells for every 3½ points of constitution. A halfling with a constitution of 12 would have a +3 saving throw against these attacks.

Halflings also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters

Half-elf Race & Physiology

Born of either a human mother and elvish father, or the reverse, these offspring are most likely to dwell in the culture possessed by their mother (as determined by their place of birth). Elves are not able to breed with other humanoids beyond humans. Contrary to popular belief, there are no sustained half-elven cultures; this is because the mother’s race will prove to be dominant after the first generation, so that the offspring of a half-elf will be either human or elf, with mere peripheral characteristics of the human or elven grandfather.

In the case of two half-elves, where one has an elven mother and the other a human mother, the offspring’s grandmother’s race, through the matrilineal line, will establish itself as the child’s birth race. For example, half-elf Gareth (human father, elven mother) has offspring with half-elf Miri (elven father, human mother); in such a case, the offspring would be human.

Both humans and elves will almost always embrace the offspring as a member of their own natural race. As well, racist abuse of half-elves is rare, since both humans and elves know the consequences will ultimately restore a true-blood offspring in due course. This is true even if the half-elf breeds with yet another race (which is possible). The mother of that race, or the half-elf’s mother (if the half-elf is the female), will always prove to be the dominant race of the offspring.

Appearance

A half-elf combines characteristics from both races, with a lean build, while being somewhat thicker around the shoulders and waist. Males have an average height of 5 ft. 3 in. to 5 ft. 9 in., with females being about four inches shorter overall. Males typically weigh about 120 to 140 lbs., while females weigh between 90 and 110. They possess very slightly pointed ears and a face that’s a bit sharp for a human.

Other characteristics tend to be elvish, with fine hair that varies from ginger to black, platinum blonde to wheaten blond, and silver grey. Their beards tend to approximate humans. Their eye color is usually a wide range of the color blue, but the most charismatic may have eyes that are ultramarine and even violet in colour. Their skin color is pale nordic.

Advantages

Half-elves have a wide range of classes available to them, including assassins, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, mages, rangers and thieves. Their presence of mind permits a +1 saving throw against charm spells for every 4 points of intelligence. A half-elf with an intelligence of 15 would have a +3 saving throw.

Half-elves should specify if their character would prefer to be usually capable with either a bow or a sword. Whichever the player chooses, the half-elf character will have a +1 bonus to hit with that weapon (but not both).

Half-elves also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lookout (sage ability)

Provides skills to a character acting as a person who distracts outsiders during a burglary or other criminal activity, while also giving subtle warning to the perpetrator of the crime.

The lookout may employ a number of strategies to ensure that they are not themselves noticed loitering around on a street, such as dressing up as watchmen, a beggar, a woman in distress (who will then ask for help of any passers-by, ensuring they are distracted) a waiting cabbie or as an injured person. The lookout will be very convincing, like an actor in a theatrical troupe, ready even to knock on the door of a residence that’s being robbed, if the inhabitants should awaken while the burglar is inside ~ whatever it takes to protect the burglar and help him or her get away.

Signals of varying kinds will be set up as warnings: a bird call, a bright flag or flash of light, a lighted cigar, speaking in a voice a little louder than normal, calling out a fictional person’s name, as though the lookout were trying to find someone, the releasing of a trained animal and of course a host of possible spells that could be used by a multi-classed thief. The chance of the “inside man” identifying the signal is an intelligence check, which receives a bonus modifier of +1 per level of the active burglar.

It should be noted that the lookout should absolutely be able to buy 2-8 rounds of attention from up to four persons with some contrived story or distraction. Thereafter, each successive charisma check thereafter will buy another 2-8 rounds. A fifth person, however, is apt to wander off and seek their own answers; there is only so much a lookout can do.

There is no bonus to charisma for level.

See Burglary

Detect Concealed Door (sage ability)

Concealed doors are those that are hidden or kept out of sight, to make them inconspicuous and therefore more private. Doors may be screened by trees, the shape of the terrain; they may be small and difficult to see; or located down a hole that passes unnoticed. Inside a house, they may be hidden by a curtain or covered by a rug.

It is harder, however, to conceal evidence of traffic in and out of a concealed door. Footprints, a set of branches bent back in a particular way, loose rocks at the edge of a well, even the manner in which the corner of a curtain or rug may appear frayed or not quite straight. Additionally, there may be very slight tracks, or places where the floor or ground has been worn smooth, that will give the presence of a concealed door away.

The ability gives the character reason to believe a concealed door is present. If there is a concealed door, the character will find it given enough time. Indoors, this will require merely 2-5 rounds. Outdoors, this will take longer ~ a total of 5-20 rounds.

If a character enters a room or moves in the outdoors in a state of alertness ~ that is to say, the DM is describing what they see in detail ~ then the character with this ability should never have to ask if there is a concealed door in the room. This information should be given freely, followed by an ask if the player wishes to find the concealed door. If so, then the time necessary, as stated above, should be rolled and the door revealed.

However, if the character is merely travelling from place to place, or lounging at a tavern, where every detail is not being given by the DM, then the player should have to say, “I am alert now,” meaning a full description of the area is requested, or the player may ask if there are any concealed doors present. If there is one, the player should be told about it immediately.

There should never be a die roll to determine whether or not a character with this ability finds a concealed door. That is not in question.

See Burglary

Case Building (sage ability)


Provides the character with a unique eye regarding the design and layout not only of singular buildings, but of town and city blocks, street fronts and layout. Thus, the would-be thief may feel a particular property calls out to be entered, with conveniently placed balconies, ledges or rooftops easily accessible by rope and ladder.

While the probably location of kitchen, workshop, bedroom and internal stairwells will be obvious, regardless of the size of the building (treat fortifications and the like as several buildings) the character should want to spend a week observing every detail of the building’s daily schedule. It is possible therefore to learn who lives there, who visits, who delivers, the usual time of departure and arrival, even what room persons are likely to be in at a given time of the day. Likewise, the passing of the sun will reveal the street itself, who is present, the lines of sight, hiding places, how shadows are cast at different times of day, and routes in and out of the neighbourhood.

Further examination is up to the player. They may slip into the building in broad daylight, or determine a way in at night, verifying the interior of the house, locating probable valuables while actually stealing nothing. This depends on the character’s stealth skill and what is actually learned by watching the building’s exterior (information provided by the DM). After spending a week, it should be noted that the character with this skill ought to be able to spend 3-12 rounds inside the building without effort or the need to roll die, provided they do not actually attempt any theft. They must be free of armour, however, and will only be able to move up to 3 hexes per round as they listen for and avoid anyone moving about.

Additionally, the character will have the ability to create a momentary persona that has a chance of encouraging one of the residents (the player’s choice of person and moment in time) to actually show the character the house. In game terms, the character should have a possible persona actually provided for them by the DM, based on who has been seen visiting or delivering to the residence. The player should then make a charisma check, with a +1 bonus in favour of success. For example, a 5th level thief with a 12 charisma would effectively roll against a 17 charisma with regards to the check. If successful, the character should be shown the entire house to which the resident would normally have access.

All information thus gathered should tell the player where locks would be located, the placement of furniture, what furniture is locked, who sleeps where, what time they sleep, even how well they sleep, as the character may have taken some time to hang outside the window one evening and listen in. Additional information may be provided by other sage abilities.

See Burglary

Break & Enter (sage ability)

Provides the character with some acumen regarding the destruction of doors and windows so that they might be passed through without creating excessive noise or attention. Glass may be cut, bolts in doors removed, stones and bits of plaster excavated, frames separated from the building itself and even boards and rivets removed from the doors themselves.

The difficulty is not success, but the time it will take. A window may be damaged and cleared out in 5 to 8 rounds, if it is on the ground floor and if it is small enough to climb through. Windows on the ground were often only 8 inches square for this reason. Any window larger than 4 sq.ft., even those with struts, on the other hand, does require a dexterity check to succeed in removing silently, as the pressure on the window will often result in the window spontaneously cracking and falling out, once the integrity of the window is challenged. Tools include a small hammer, a diamond “saw” and a square foot of muslin or damask.

Doors take longer. The bolts of a standard door can be dragged out in about 5-20 rounds, the die determining how “stuck” they are. A strong reinforced door may take anywhere from 60 to 90 rounds (10d4+50), to remove the rivets and bands of iron so that its bolts can then be dragged out. A dungeon door, six inches thick and with bolts that are effectively cemented in place without using a sledge hammer, will take three times as long (10d12+150 rounds) to loosen the rivets so that one of the wooden boards making the door can be wedged out so that the door may then be taken apart piece by piece. Tools include two sizes of chisel, three wedges, a small hammer and a pair of iron tongs.

Removing frames, plaster or stone from around doors or windows depends upon the age and upkeep of the building. The building must be at least ten years old and with an owner who has no military, engineering, mining or architecture experience. When frames, etc., can be done, it will usually take about half as long as the time to remove a reinforced door. It is always easiest to draw out the bolt on an ordinary door. The tools are the same as those for doors, though the tongs are used much more often.

To determine how silently the operation can be done, roll against stealth, with a base of 2d4 (full dark), -2 for an exterior urban environment, discounting appearance adjustments and adding character/observer adjustments. If anyone on either side of the door moves within that area, they will hear the character at work.

See Burglary

Appraisal I (sage ability)

A skill that enables the character to correctly identify the approximate value of items according to their workmanship and innate worth. The skill does not actually assign a monetary value to the item ~ but it does suggest an approximate comparative value of the item in relation to other similar objects.

The skill includes distinguishing the approximate value of virtually anything that is made, as manufactured goods are inherently ordinary, superior, worthy, excellent, magnificent or genius in quality. The upper five qualities, beginning with superior, are progressively 2.3, 5.29, 12.17, 27.98 or 64.36 times as valuable (thereafter adjusted randomly; see valuables).

On sight, a common book can be distinguished from those that are uncommon, rare or arcane. A gemstone may be recognized as ornamental, fancy, semi-precious or precious, provided the appraiser can either physically touch the object or apply a light behind it. Seeing the gemstone in open daylight is sufficient.

Likewise, white gold can be distinguished from silver or platinum, and 14 karat gold can be distinguished from 18 karat or 24 karat gold, based upon the lustre of these metals. Brass, bronze, pewter and copper can be likewise recognized for what they are.

Forms of cloth can also be so identified: cambric from damask and linen, muslin from cotton, serge from worsted or plush, etc.

Regarding food goods, the bottling of wine, the end results of making tobacco or opium, the odorous quality of perfume and similar like qualities can also be recognized through the skill.

Further examples may be included as they are ruled upon.

The skill offers no insight on the potential liquidity of the item (whether or not it can be easily sold), the item’s halo effect (who owned it, raising its value) or any knowledge relating to the item’s scale, intensity or medium, enabling the art’s valuation.  The skill cannot tell if an item is magical or not.

See Burglary

Gnome Race & Physiology

Originating from the much older svirfneblin, a race of subterranean creatures dwelling in Scandinavia, the gnomes are a cooperative, industrious race. During the late Bronze and Iron Ages, the gnomes were the dominant race of much of northern Europe. Their empire, the Vepsian, declined due to the gnomes’ lack of aggression and interest in war craft, giving way to occupation by the elves, humans and gnolls before Rome became an empire.

Today, there are five gnomish kingdoms: Lenglin, Nanbrun, Vepses, Vastenjaur and Harn. Of these, Harn is the most powerful. All are scattered remnants of the old empire, but at present they have little interaction between one another beyond an honorary visit. Each depends upon its neighbours for trade and protection ~ and none have anything but friendly relations with their neighbours, as it is unlike gnomes to be either ambitious or reticent in their generosity.

Appearance

Small compared with most other races, with an average height between 3 ft. and 3 ft. 6 in., and anywhere between 55 and 105 lbs. Gnomes are slight in appearance, with none of the paunch associated with halflings or dwarves. They possess somewhat pointed ears and high cheekbones, and often grow beards for warmth. They hair turns grey early in life, usually in the mid-40s.

The gnome’s fine hair may vary from grey to brown, black, bronze or flaming red in colour. Eye color may be brown, black, grey, hazel or even jade green. Silver grey, ultramarine and violet occur very rarely, and only among gnomes of the highest charisma. Their skin color is tawny brown.

Advantages

Gnomes are skilled assassins, clerics, fighters, illusionists and thieves. They are highly magic resistant and tough, even more so than dwarves, gaining a bonus of +1 to saving throws against paralysation, polymorph, magic and magic items and breath weapons for every 3 points of constitution. A gnome with a 16 constitution would have a +5 saving throw against these attacks.

Gnomes are well trained against old enemies of their people, receiving a +1 to hit when in battle with bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins and norkers. Gnomes also improve their armour class by four points when confronting bugbears, ettin, gnolls, ogres, ogre magi, trolls and giants of every kind.

Gnomes also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity. This comes from their ancestors, who dwelt below ground, and from a hundred generations of gnomes who have dwelt in the dark coniferous forests of northern Europe.

A great many gnomes living amongst their own kind possess skills in foraging, hunting, metallurgy and prospecting, these abilities having much influence on gnomish life.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bronze Age Anatolia

Also known as Asia Minor, a peninsula bounded by the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and in small part by the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. At the start of the 3rd millennium BCE, the most important centers of culture were the cities of Troy and Alishar Huyuk.

Troy was a city in the far northwest, just south of the mouth of the Dardanelles strait and northwest of Mount Ida. The walls of the city were erected after 3000 BCE, defending a flourishing mercantile city that lasted until circa 1300. The famous destruction of the city was detailed by the poet Homer, and followed by a centuries long period where the former city declined until its occupants were farmers and herders living among the ruins.

Alishar Huyuk is the modern site of a Neolithic culture that flourished during the Chalcolithic period and rose as the Hattian civilization at some point prior to 2300 BCE. The Hattians had developed a written language and a polytheistic pantheon of gods related to earth, water and storms. After 2000, the Hattians came into contact with Assyrian traders from Mesopotamia, who provided them with the tin needed to make bronze. They lived in relative peace with the Hurrians, a people dwelling in the southeast of Anatolia and in northern Mesopotamia.


The Hittites, most likely a people moving south out from the steppes north of the Black Sea, began to occupy Anatolia sometime around 1900. These people settled in peaceful villages scattered throughout Anatolia, as separate Hittite groups. Strong rulers, however, began to unite these settlements. In 1700, Hittites destroyed the Hattian city, Hattush. Thereafter, the Hittite culture would exist as two branches for a time. The northern branch would refound Hattush as Hattusa and made it their capital. The southern branch occupied the great cities of Kussara and Kanesh. The groups would clash until they were at last united under Labarna I, traditional founder of the Hittite Old Kingdom, circa 1600. He took Hattusa as his capital.

By this time, the Hittites had developed the manufacture of iron artefacts, enabling them to make stronger and less costly weapons. Using these weapons, the Hittites would become a powerful state during the Iron Age.

During the period, much havoc was caused at Troy by the intervention of the gods, initiating a withdrawal of gods from the Earth’s surface by 1200 BC. During the Hittite age, however, the aggression of the culture was greatly fed by the presence of Tilipinu, whose anger was unrestrained. Living in the time of Labarna, Tilipinu was first a mortal fighter that rose to the strength of a demi-god through deeds. However, to restrain his anger, two women goddesses, Hannahannah and Kamrusepa, to calm him by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the world. Kamrusepa was the goddess of healing, medicine and magic; through her guidance, humanoid priests were taught rituals of magic that began the spread of clericism as a character class.

Another likely mortal hero who rose to the status of demi-god was Teshub, who twice fought the dragon Illuyanka. This early confrontation shows the growing influence of humanoid culture in driving back the great monsters of the world into the wilderness. The story bears great similarity to a battle fought between Zeus (Odin) and the great serpent Typhon, though the latter expresses an event that likely took place during the Mesolithic period.

See Also,
Campaign
World History

Bronze Age Europe

By the late Neolithic period in Europe, six dominant cultural regions had formed: a) Danubian cultures, from the Rhine to the Black Sea; b) Mediterranean cultures, from the Adriatic to eastern Iberia, including large portions of the Alps; c) Thessaly and Macedonia; d) the Dneiper and Don valleys; e) a mosaic of local cultures, including halflings, from Iberia to Sweden; and f) the pre-Vepsian culture extending across northern Europe from the Volga to the Greenland Sea.

The construction of megaliths took place mainly in the Neolithic period, continuing into the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age. Prominent examples include the sites of Brú na Bóinne and Carrowmore in Ireland, Maes Howe in Orkney, and Gavrinis in France, Carnac in Brittany, Stonehenge, Avebury, Ring of Brodgar and Beltany.

The smelting of copper begins along the Danube from 3500 BCE. After 2800 BCE, various peoples, displaced by the Vepsian gnomes, move south and occupy all the lands between the Dneiper and the north shore of the Caspian Sea. The polished battle axe proliferates in these steppe cultures after 2500, possibly due to influence by gnomish metallurgy. Beaker pottery spreads throughout Europe from 2200 to 1900, influencing the manufacture of kilns and ultimately of metallurgy.

The Vepsian Bronze Age begins around 1950 BCE, marking the beginning of that culture’s consolidation into the Vepsian civilization. The arrival of seafaring elves (sometimes called the seafaring peoples) results in settlement along the north shore of Ulthua (circa 1800). These bring a crude Bronze Age culture with them and an advance technology in woodworking.

By 1600, other Bronze Age cultures have taken hold in south-western Iberia, central Europe and initiating the start of Mycenaean Greece.

The Cretan Neolithic culture advances in many ways after 2700 BCE, forming the complex Minoan Civilization. Yet despite many technological feats, the Minoans do not develop arsenical bronze until after 1450; this allows them to be overrun by the Mycenaeans by the next century.

By this time, after 1500 BCE, numerous central European cultures have developed Bronze Age societies. The Celts, Italics and Illyrians expand into Italy, the Rhone, Seine and Rhine Valleys, Iberia, the Balkans and Asia Minor, where they destroy the Hittite Empire, which by this time had developed the secret of founding iron. This knowledge would afterwards spread through Europe, initiating the region’s Iron Age.

The use of bronze tools and weapons greatly empowered the cultures able to use the technology. Bronze Age swords appeared in the 17th century BCE. These, along with spears, shields and maces, supported by slings and javelins, allowed these cultures to claim lands inhabited since time immemorial by monsters and immense creatures of dreadful form. The Bronze Age initiated an age of heroes, in which warriors who were godlike in stature were able to slaughter these beasts and make the lands clear for settlement. Hydra, Stygian beasts, enormous lions, lesser and greater cyclops, chimera and minotaurs were eradicated or driven back. The Nuragic civilization of Sardinia was built upon the bodies of giants and still has monumental Giant’s graves. The effect of this was to give humanoids untold accumulations of experience that had never been available, providing them with prowess and knowledge that was hitherto unheard of in Earth’s history. These heroes became so powerful that some became demi-gods, possessing names that are instantly familiar to this day.

This led to an expansion of the fighter class, in which training in certain kinds of weapons produced a newer, different breed of combatant, with greater hit points and a greater potential in battle. Not merely limited to three or four experience levels, fighters could accumulate as many as 15 to 20 levels, making certain of their number powerful beyond the comprehension of the time.

Priests of the Bronze Age were able, in certain parts of the world, to communicate and interact directly with Gods, who had grown interested in Earth through tales told to them by Odin. God settled upon Olympus for a time, showing an interest in the Mycenaeans and Minoans, and in Elphyne, sometimes called “Fairyland.”

[take note, the humanoid “elf, elven” is distinct from the faerie “elfin,” which does not refer to a single race but to the collection of all fae-folk].

This association led to the earliest use of clerical magic, expressed as crude spells much reduced in power from the present period. These spells were largely portentous in nature ~ augury, for example, possessed an earlier form than the more familiar spell. Other early spells include create water, purify food & drink, chant and enthrall.

Rumblings of other classes that gave some promise of appearance after the Bronze Age include the druid, ranger and thief. But these would not flower until the Iron Age that followed.

See Also,
Campaign
World History

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Chalcolithic Period

A thousand year period between 4500 and 3500 BCE, during which copper predominated in metalworking technology. Culturally, the period should be considered part of the broader Neolithic period. The Chalcolithic transitions into the Bronze Age as various groups discover that adding tin to copper hardens and strengthens the metal, enabling the making of durable tools.

Chalcolithic Europe lagged behind the Fertile Crescent. Copper making from firing malachite and azurite begins from 3500 BCE, spontaneously appearing in cultures of Europe and Asia. Arsenic was used as an alloy to harden copper. Weapons of arsenical bronze, in particular knives and axes, began to appear roughly about 2500 BCE.

Copper making from firing malachite and azurite begins from 5500 BCE, spontaneously appearing in cultures of Europe and Asia. Arsenic was used as an alloy to harden copper. Weapons of arsenical bronze, in particular knives and axes, began to appear in roughly 3800 BCE.

Different parts of the world would experience the Chalcolithic transition at different times. The Altslok dwarves, over the same period, entered the Bronze Age with their use of tin as early as 4200 BCE. Most of Europe would experience a Chalcolithic period that lased from 3000 to 1700 BCE. The elves of Beleriand would still be in their Chalcolithic period as late as 1000 BCE.

Many cultures would not pass through the Chalcolithic stage at all, or very briefly, before developing bronze. This would certainly attest the movement of peoples and the sharing of knowledge.

The expansion of Bronze Age cultures in AnatoliaEurope, Mesopotamia, Palestine & Syria, Armenia & Transcaucasia, Persia & Turan, India, Siberia & Manchuria, Turkestan, China, Japan & Korea, Southeast Asia and Beleriand are addressed independently.

See Also,
Campaign
World History

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Neolithic Period

Although signs of the Neolithic revolution occur earlier than 8000 BCE (the arbitrary and soft cut-off of the earlier Mesolithic period), the development of farming in most parts of the world can be dated later. The period lasts until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic, about 4500 BCE. In many parts of the world, the Neolithic effectively lasts up to the present day (see Dev Level 6 and Dev Level 7).

The Early Neolithic, or pre-pottery period, sees the development of true farming, following a period in which wild cereals were harvested. Seed selection and re-seeding are established. The grain is ground into flour. Animals are herded and domesticated, followed by animal husbandry and selective breeding. Settlements are established around mud-brick or wooden structures, where families live in single or multiple rooms, depending upon the climate. Primitive animism deepens into an ancestor cult, with formal burials and preserved skulls of the dead. Villages did not include walls.

The Later Neolithic, or pottery period, is marked by the storage of grains, figurines, baked clay and stone seals indicating personal property and tools make of stone and clay. Placer mining gathered copper but did not use it as yet for the making of tools or utensils, but rather as art and jewellery. Sickles were made of hard-fired clay.

Notable Neolithic cultures emerged in the Levant, and in particular Jericho. The Halaf culture developed through Turkey, Syria and northern Mesopotamia. The Ubaid culture occupied southern Mesopotamia. Egypt became a center for the domestication of sheep and goats. Agrarian societies formed in Albania and Thessaly. Scattered settlements flourished throughout Moldova, Bucovina and western, central and southern Ukraine.

In the Indian subcontinent, Neolithic cultures formed in Haryana, along the Cochin coast, and on the Kachi Plain of Baluchistan. Cultures formed in China surrounding the area of Hubei immediately west of the Hwang Ho delta, in the Yi-Luo basin of Henan province and along the Yangtze valley in Hunan.

Dwarf culture established intensive cultivation of the Khath basin, rapidly increasing their numbers after 5000 BCE. Crude copper-and-tin bronze cultures around this period began to flourish in the Sayan Mountains, initiating an intensive search for rich veins of silver and gold that would propel the dwarves to great riches over the next millennium.

Beginning in 6000 BCE, the gnomish pre-Vepsian culture produced an ever-growing fascination with river placer deposits, leading to a vast expansion of gnome tribes that settled across northern Europe, from Norway as far east as the Zhiguli Mountains above the Volga river. This gnomish culture would remain remarkably homogenous. Competition for territory between gnomes and gnolls (the Gunda-Gaa culture) were minimal until after 4000 BCE. The pre-Vepsian make great leaps forward in grain production and in the domestication of numerous inedible or poisonous fruits and berries.

In the forest lands of the New World, far to the west of the seaboard colonies of America, lies the unknown elvish land of Beleriand. These “wood elves” regained full knowledge of the bow and expanded upon it. During the period before 4500 BCE, the elves occupied only the lowlands west of the river they called Sirion. The culture made small use of farming techniques, but learned to husband vast herds of deer in the forest, domesticating their seasonal movements to ensure sustenance. Elvish population was carefully controlled, but pressures late in the Neolithic would lead to occupation of the east bank of the Sirion.

In the time between 12000 and 11000 BCE, a Mesolithic tribal peoples, descended from human stock, began to make an appearance in northern lakes region of Eire, when that island was yet connected to Britain. Shorter and more nimble than their human forebears, these people migrated east as the land joining Britain and Eire sank. They would eventually settle in the fen country of Doggerland, where by 8000 BCE they had begun to establish themselves into permanent villages, some of which were continuously inhabited for 1,500 years. However, as Doggerland was flooded by rising sea levels around 6500 to 6200 BCE, the “halfling” culture that formed there was submerged. A scant number of halfling tribes would migrate further east into Jutland and Terra Scania, remaining hunter-gatherers until 4000 BCE.

Various other non-human Neolithic cultures would form on Lake Balkhash (orc), east Lake Baykal (ogre) and along the middle Yenisey Basin (hobgoblin). An ogre culture, more likely Mesolithic in form, did occupy the western slope of the Urals during this period.

A resurgence of elvish culture in Anduin, along the Kolyma River, remains a mystery regarding its origin. There has been so little contact with this culture that it is unknown if it was founded by the lost ninth tribe of elves or a small cluster of elves left on the west shore of the Bering Sea after the sinking of the Beringia land bridge.

See Also,
Campaign
World History

World History

History in Alexis’ game world is a mix of real world history and details pertaining to the existence of magic, monsters, the alternate social histories of mythical and non-human kingdoms, framed so that human culture as it appeared in the 17th century is recognizable and therefore familiar. Some suspension of belief is required. The links included below should be seen as a general effort to effect this relationship and game utility.

Early History


Palaeolithic Period (3.3 million years ago to 12000 BCE)
Mesolithic Period (12000 to 8000 BCE)
Neolithic Period (8000 to 4500 BCE)
Chalcolithic (4500 to 3500 BCE)

Bronze Age

Anatolia (3500 to 1600 BCE)
Europe (3500 to 1450 BCE)

See Campaign

Mesolithic Period

A period intervening between the upper (or late) Palaeolithic and the Neolithic periods of the stone age. It varies somewhat in dates from one part of the world to another, but roughly spans the period between 14 to 10 thousand years ago. Some parts of the world are still effectively living in the Mesolithic age (see Dev Level 5)

The period is associated with the decline in the group hunting of large animals in favour of a broader hunter-gatherer way of life, focused on fishing, hunting and mysticism. Agriculture is generally seen as the transition out of the Mesolithic period and into the Neolithic.

Following the last ice age, the big animals of the Pleistocene, on which the Palaeolithic hunters had largely depended for their food, disappeared everywhere except in parts of Africa. Their place was taken by present day fauna and the concordant rise of monsters that were gated into Earth’s environment from the outer planes ~ though very slim numbers of these appeared in the Mesolithic. The retreat of the ice left vast new areas open to settlement. Growing tribes were able to live well on rich food supplies from marshlands.

Stone implements were still produced by chipping, but a preference was shown for extremely small and precise forms, called microliths. These were made and traded throughout the occupied world.

Around 9500 BCE, svirfneblin began to emerge from the Dovrefjell in Scandinavia to live in villages on the surface. This began the development of the Vomsa culture. The change in diet and exposure to sunlight brought rapid changes in their appearance; they grew slighter and less rough hewn. Calling themselves “gnomes,” these people interacted with the Maglemosian humans spreading north into present day Scandinavia, sharing techniques in fishing and tool making that produced rapid technological advancement for both groups.

In the Barents and Kara forest zone of present day Bjarmaland saw the appearance of a gnollish Mesolithic culture known as the Gunda. With hyena-like heads and large, powerful humanoid bodies, presumably these had their origin central Asia. It has been suggested that they are somehow descended from the giantish race. Though smaller, they have many characteristics of giants, are largely unaffected by brutally cold weather and have a warm and friendly relationship with frost giants. The Gunda culture occupied much of the forest land from present day Samoyadia to the White Sea, where gnolls today still predominate.

In similar manner, goblins established themselves along the Ob river, while orcs clustered along water courses and marsh areas in the steppe lands to the south. Larger orcs, haruchai, occupied parts of modern day Mongolia. Bugbears, hobgoblins and ogres created lasting cultures in the forests surrounding Lake Baykal, reaching as far north as the Arctic Ocean. Further east, another goblin race, the norkers, proliferated along the banks of the Lena river. Xvarts reached still farther east, into northern Kamchatka and the Gulf of Okhotsk. To the south, along the banks of the Amur, a distant relation of the gnolls, the flinds, became the dominant culture. Dwarvish culture spread and produced strong, consolidated hunting villages from Croftsheim into modern day Tuva, as well as the Khath basin. All of these existed as islands in a great undisturbed land, living largely in isolation from one another.

Other notable Mesolithic cultures grew in North Africa, Japan, Korea and South Asia.

See Also,
Campaign
World History

Family Relations

Like many things about the setting in which the player character adventures, the character has no control over the family he or she is born into, how many members it has, how successful it is or even if the character has a family at all. This reflects real life. Naturally, everyone would like to be born rich and be possessed of influence … but of course most of us will be born the children of farmers, miners, artisans and other common people.

The character background generator is used to determine the nature and extent of a character’s family. The calculation is linked to the character’s strength, arguing (right or wrong) that “virility” relates to “fertility.” Stronger characters are more likely to be a part of a large extended family, with many brothers and sisters, a living father and mother, and probably more than one living grandparent. There is a fair chance that one or both parents will already be dead and that the character was raised by an older sibling, a grandparent or even an uncle and aunt. There is a fairly high chance that a character will be an orphan, particularly if the character’s strength is 10 or less. The generator determines the gender of each sibling and enables the DM to determine randomly the order in which all the children of the family were born. This can be very important if the character is in line for an inheritance which would go to the eldest son.

Family relations are also affected by the character’s wisdom. Those player characters with a low wisdom are more likely to be disliked or even disowned by their families. A high wisdom, on the other hand, will likely win over the character’s family, so that the character may be especially welcome at home, allowing them to maintain a relationship with their family.

The character’s family relationship is also affected by the profession of the father, the mother or both. It is presumed that the character was given a chance to learn a secondary skill related to that profession. In the case of an orphan, this would be something that was learned before the last member of the character’s family passed away. The profession also determines the character’s starting wealth (which may also be affected by the character’s wisdom), credit and the possibility of the character being of noble birth and perhaps having other responsibilities.

In deciding their background, a player can “make up” a family relationship of their own ~ but this would be an invention, or lie, as the character’s actual relationship is not determined in any way by the player.

See Player Character

Friday, April 5, 2019

Palaeolithic Period

From a period of about 3.3 million years ago, the only humanoid species on earth were hominins, consisting of varying proto-human races. At the beginning of the period, these dwelt primarily in East Africa, grouping together in bands, subsisting by gathering plants and fishing, hunting or scavenging wild animals.

Between 2 and 1½ million years ago, hominins began leaving Africa and settling in southern Europe and Asia. By the end of this period, hominins were living in what is now China, Sumatra and Java, and around the Mediterranean. A very slow, paced technological development followed, marked by ice ages. A group of early humans, the Neanderthals, emerged out of Africa around 500 thousand years ago, competing successfully against other hominids, who would become extinct before the end of the Palaeolithic. Some 400 and 300 thousand years ago, humans mastered fire. A greater mastery over flint tools developed, with the development of stone hand axes and faceted flake tools.

Circa 200 thousand years ago, modern humans, presumably descended from earlier hominids, emerged in East Africa, where they thrived for about 150,000 years. Between 60 and 50 thousands years ago, humans expanded outwards, occupying Eurasia. Encounters with the Neanderthals were varied and sometimes violent. It is not fully understood the relationship between humans and these earlier hominids.

The appearance of elves in Anduin, at the far extreme of what is now Siberia, occurred near the end of the human expansion. The origin of these primitive elves was extra-planar, traditionally the land of Silvanie in Outer Earth, a great flat disc adrift in the Astral Sea. Legend has it that four great grey elves led the Anduin people to find shelter on Earth from their enemies, the drow and other hostile races. For a time the elven race thrived; human-elf relations were friendly and considerable technological expansion occurred with the spread of archery (introduced to humans by the elves) and shamanism, as taught by the gray elves.

Humans began to expand into Polynesia after 40 thousand year ago. Cultures deepened, artistry and aesthetics thrived, fetishism (a pre-cursor to animism) became widespread. Between this time and 30,000 years ago, the Neanderthals would disappear. It is believed, but not known for certain, that some of their number settled in deep caves, spawning the first svirfneblin between 30 and 25 thousand years ago, that race that became the progenitor of the gnomes.

However, the steady cooling of the Earth after 35 thousand years ago brought considerable changes. Ice sheets expanded out of the north, changing the world’s climate and threatening every humanoid race by then in existence. The population of humans dipped to as low as 30,000 individuals.

Elven populations were fewer, perhaps no more than 4,000. Glaciation eradicated the land of Anduin, destroying the civilization there. Humans lost knowledge of the bow for a time, and elven culture fell into a dark age. Of nine elven tribes in existence at that time, eight tribes would occupy Beringia between 25 and 21 thousand years ago. The ninth tribe, the “grey,” was lost; believed to be corrupt, their shamans sought to return to Outer Earth and instead opened a gate that lasted for one hundred years.

Scattered cave peoples expanded outwards from Kodar Mountains in central Siberia, brought from Outer Earth ~ bugbears, ogres, orcs, hobgoblins, goblins and xvarts. Emerging in scattered groups, these humanoids would fight one another as they established territories.

One of those creatures that emerged from the Kodar Gate before it closed was Ymir, ancestor of all jotnar, or giants. Ymir dwelt in the world for three millennia, during which time he mastered the ice and birthed many giants from it. He used the ice to reshape the mountains. Ymir was killed by the brothers Odin, Vili and Ve. Ymir’s death ended the last ice age; as it is said in the Edda, Ymir’s blood caused an immense flood. This was the melting of the ice that created a great lake in central Asia.

At that time, near to 18 thousand years ago, the dwarves took shape and acquired life from the flesh of Ymir, through the unknown influence of wild magic. Odin, who had great power but was by no means at that time a god, was able to teach the dwarves culture and self-awareness. The dwarves settled in Altslok and rapidly expanded their culture, being adroit with their hands and inventiveness.

With the retreat of the ice sheets, the elves vanished into the American continents. Very few grey elves remained. Some remained in the north; others settled in deciduous forests and became the wood elves that humans would encounter in the 15th century. The elves were followed by human tribes between 15 and 11 thousand years ago, who would settle throughout the western American cordillera.

By the end of the Palaeolithic period, hundreds of large tribal groups had settled in various places. The Kodar Gate would provide an impetus for other planes of existence to investigate Earth as a destination, while the tribes already implanted would expand into complex social structures. Tribes were ruled by chiefs selected by communal consensus; food was distributed equally throughout the tribe. Sculpture and painting grew sophisticated and it is likely that rhythmic music had emerged.

Belief systems had elaborated still further into totemism and animal worship. Svirfneblin worshipped a bear god. Elves adopted a relatively animistic framework, that would steadily expand in later periods to include a pantheon of ancestor gods. The presence of Odin on Earth inspired numerous religious conceptions (reaching full conception thousands of years later) of a single adult male leader, variously known as Enlil, Anu, Ra and Zeus, all of which can be identified as Odin. This would compete with eventual human conceptions of a single mother goddess, which would in turn also find her way into human and other pantheons. No deity, not even Odin, who was little more than a great hero who had achieved immortality, enjoyed any earthly power at the end of the period.

The Palaeolithic period was followed by the Mesolithic.

See Also,
Campaign
World History