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 Post subject: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:04 pm 
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Just some background material for a setting I am building for my son's TroS campaign. He likes Elves and Dwarves so they get a spot in the write-up.

Anyway, I hope he doesn't mind too much that I wiped them all out...


A Brief History of the Onderland

The Elder Days

The Elder-folk, or the Fey, have been here for as long as anyone knows. Long before there were tribes of Man.

Where they came from no one knows. Perhaps they simply appeared here.

It doesn't matter.

The Dvergar and the Alvar sparsely settled the entire region. Their numbers were never very great and they had no interest in creating cities. The Dvergar dug their delves in the hills and mountains; the Alvar their castles in the forests and meadows.

The First Invasion

When the tribes of Man arose is unknown: there was no one there able to record it. They began somewhere to the southwest of the Onderland and likely had a long, squalid history there.

This cradle of Man is occasionally referred to in the oldest tales; it is usually called "Tyle" in these stories. In any case, Man eventually began to migrate towards the Onderland from the south.

The first men to arrive were the Peche. They were a Stone Age culture of hunter-gatherers who probably migrated following an unusually harsh climactic period in their original homelands. The Peche were a small-bodied people of dark complexion; and their hirsuteness is often commented upon by others.

Although there were violent individual meetings between the Elder-folk and the Peche, there was no large-scale violence. The Peche population was even smaller than that of the Fey and they sought only areas to hunt and practice their rudimentary agriculture. As this seldom included the scattered settlements of Alvar and Dvergar, there was no need to fight.

It is certain that the Peche held the Elder-folk in awe, considering them semi-divine.

The Second Invasion

Much later, a new tribe of Man came down from the Moon Gates to the northeast. These were the folk who would later be called the Wisse (“the wise folk”; alternately, "the witch-men") by the Ondermen. The Wisse-folk had a more complex society than the Peche, who seem to have been mutually ignorant of each other prior to the migration. The Wisse possessed iron-working skills and had a typical three-fold division of labor between warriors, priests, and farmers.

They were a taller people than the Peche, though not so tall as the Elder-folk; lighter than the Peche, but much darker than the Fey. They do not seem to have had any consistent beliefs, with clans practicing ancestor worship and pantheism, as well as veneration of both Law and Chaos.

These Second Men entered into the Onderland during a particularly fortuitous time. After a long noontime, the Elder-folk were entering an unpleasant twilight. For obscure reasons, many of the Fey had turned from their philosophy of balanced dualism to veneration of the Lords of Disorder only.

It may have been that in their supreme self-confidence, they were made vulnerable to suggestions of actual deification whispered by the Chaos Lords. In any case, proving the axiom that "he who embraces Chaos will by Chaos be embraced", the society of the Elder-folk began to fall apart in internecine struggles, civil wars, and all manner of miseries followed.

Into the situation strode the Wisse. Unlike the Peche, the Second Men had dense populations and either would not or could not exist in harmony with the Elder-folk or the Peche for long. In the early days of the Second Men, war-bands were frequently hired by Elder-folk to serve as mercenary warriors in their kin-wars.

Very soon, the Wisse acquired the two great secrets of the Elders: the forging of steel and the crafting of magic. With sword and spell, the Wisse became very successful at slaying Elder-folk; initially as mercenaries in their employ, but soon enough as their conquerors.

The conquest of Onderland may not have been for entirely acquisitive reasons. Although many enclaves of Fey-folk maintained the old ways, the Wisse were most familiar with those who had given themselves to the Chaos gods who were considered demons by Man. It is certain that many Elder-folk received the destruction that they deserved.

Rulers

The conquest of Onderland took some time. But eventually, the Second Men established domain over the area. The Peche retreated into the wild places.

The few remaining Elder-folk were either closeted in their halls and castles, idling until their end, or else were caitiff wanderers upon the earth, feared and distrusted by all.

The Second Men united themselves into one polity, remembered now only as the Old Kingdom. They applied the secrets of the Elders in ways never conceived of by those pre-human peoples and created great cities across Onderland. They had learned another lesson from their predecessors and soon adopted a religion based upon the exclusive worship of Law.

This religion was formalized into the Holy Church of the Six-Fold Archons of Law, more commonly known as the Hexadic Church.

New tribes of Man came calling over the years. These folk are largely forgotten now as anything but names: the Horse Lords, the Ship-Builders, and the Spear Kings. They are forgotten because the Wisse were easily able to repel all incursions. None of these movements are classified as “invasions” since none were successful. The Moon Gates remained dormant and the Old Kingdom secure. The Old Kingdom was thus rich, largely peaceful, clever, and, overall, quite civilized.

So, it didn't last.

The Third Invasion

The folk who have come to call themselves the Ondermen (“peoples from beyond”) were, at first sight, just another of the barbaric tribes of Man.

They were a proud Iron Age folk, tall-bodied and fair. They were frequently represented as clean-shaven but for elaborate mustaches. Like so many before them, they came down from the northeast, having passed through the Moon Gates, in search of a better life. Unlike previous folk, the Ondermen succeeded.

This success was partially due to the Ondermen’s horsemanship. Although barbaric by Wissen standards, the Ondermen had invented (or borrowed) the one innovation unknown to the Wissen: the stirrup. This small device allowed the more effective use of cavalry. Ondish horsemen seemed invulnerable to contemporary observers. More important than the stirrup, however, was a fatal weakening of the Wissen polity.

It has been suggested that the Old Kingdom had become too successful and a decline was inevitable. There is some evidence that the Old Kings fell away from the Hexadic Church and began to worship the Lords of Entropy.

And so the cyclical pattern of history repeated itself and the Ondermen found themselves invading at just the right time.

As with the Second Invasion, the Ondermen initially worked with the Wissen, fighting their battles and guarding their keeps. And, as before, they soon thereafter turned to conquest. The prospect of the rich yet dysfunctional Old Kingdom, dangling just within their grasp, was too tempting a target.

The Old Kingdom swiftly collapsed. The great cities were sacked or abandoned as trade disappeared. Many disappeared into the wilderness which returned as cultivated land was left fallow. There are still mostly intact cities of Old Kingdom to be found in those places. But even as the Old Kingdom collapsed, the Ondermen were learning from it. They were a practical people. They acquired the secrets of steel-working and magic-making. They adopted the Hexadic Church as their own as well as the ideal of an ordered society. They became so acculturated that they soon forgot the Old Kingdom had not been theirs and that they had played a vital role in its destruction.

Centuries passed and the Ondermen salvaged what scraps of Wissen society they could, rejected what they could not salvage, and began to forge a new culture. They were in no position to establish a unified state; instead, a feudal culture developed, with House Ornstaadt the current ruling family. Many of House Ornstaadt’s Ondish rivals plot for supremacy and to restore the glory of the Old Kingdom. With the coming of the Tsurani, they may now have their chance.

The Tsurani

Some 60 years ago men of the Tsurani Empire arrived on great ships from the far east and began laying claim to the Onderland. They quickly began work on the now sprawling city of Jonril, and reached out to the tribes of adjacent wild men (see below), first trading with them, and then later recruiting them as allies in a war against the Ondermen.

The Wild Men

Tribes of men still come through the Moon Gates. The Ondermen do not have the strength to resist these incursions while entangled with the Tsurani; indeed, few even recall the Moon Gates. The new barbarians seem to generate spontaneously from the wilds and thus acquired the name Wild Men. The movements of the Wild Men have been slight so far: they are far too few and too disordered to represent any serious threat to the Ondermen or Tsurani.

So far, anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:43 am 
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Religion in the Onderland

ImageThe Three Worlds

The Onderland is part of the Middle World (the most important part from an Ondish perspective).

Far above is the Overworld, the realm of Law and the abode of the gods. The Overworld is inaccessible to the tribes of Man, although some legends suggest that one who knows the trick may ride the rainbow to that divine place.

Beneath lies the Underworld, realm of Chaos. The Underworld is, by contrast, all too accessible to mortals. Indeed, the Underworld is like a cauldron of boiling water, constantly bubbling upwards. It is entirely too easy for Demons to enter the Middle World and beings of the Middle World to wander off into the Nether Realm.

It is frequently accessed through caves and the misty meres of the land. This may account for the lack of interest shown by most Ondermen in exploration--any trip into the Wilds can easily become a journey into the Underworld.

Order and Chaos

The Ondermen recognize two principle forces of existence: Order and Chaos. These forces create, sustain, alter, and otherwise impel the Middle World. They are coeval and evenly matched. These powers have been imagined in different ways by different peoples, but their essence is undeniable.

During the Elder Days, the Fey-folk subscribed to a belief in the balanced dualism between Order and Chaos. However, by the end of that time, many Elder-folk had developed a preference for Chaos and had been led down a dark path thereby. The Wisse, in reaction, threw themselves behind the Lords of Order. After their victory and dominion, the Wissen faith in Law was justified and formalized as a pillar of the Old Kingdom. This institution still survives, albeit in a much lesser form, as the Holy Hexadic Church.

The Hexadic Church

The Hexadic Church is usually just referred to as the Church, but is more properly called "The Holy Church of the Six-Fold Archons of Law". It is dedicated to the six greater Gods of Order who are believed to have direct charge of the world and its symbol is a six-armed sunburst.

Image

The Hexadic Church is not a state-religion in the modern sense, as no state has the power to enforce such a thing. However, the Church is seen as one of the foundations of Ondish society.

Anyone who professes an alternate religion will be viewed most negatively and failure to respect the Church, its offices, and persons, is a crime. Moreover, anyone who publicly venerates the Lords of Disorder in any way is automatically considered a "wolf's-head", that is, an outlaw.

The Ondermen do not tolerate demon-worship and "freedom of religion" is a concept several centuries away.

Despite their reverence for the Hexarchs, Ondermen do not deny the existence of other gods. Indeed, they recognize a whole slew of god-lings, demi-gods, and spirits, from both the Over- and Underworlds.

The Six-fold Archons, however, are considered the supreme divinities and the only deserving of Ondish worship. Outright worship of other Overworld entities is considered eccentric and embarrassing at best.

Priests of the Church are referred to as "Father". Their duties are to perform the divine offices, giving proper worship to the Hexarchs; instructing others in the proper ways; and keeping the forces of Disorder from their communities.

Although there are many devout folk in the Onderland, there are others who see the priests as essentially technicians of the divine--granting blessings and rebukes as required--and no different from any other artisan.

There is no formal education system in the Onderland with the exception of the holy city of Mertron, although pedagogy is a duty of the clergy.

Prospective priests are apprenticed to full priests as in any other profession and ordained by their master when they have proved their readiness, with the best (or as critics say – the wealthiest) being invited for advanced study in Mertron.

It should be noted that there is no tradition of clerical celibacy in the Hexadic Church; although certain zealots fear the temptations of Chaos, such as succubi, in sexual desire, such persons are most generally regarded as extremists and cranks. Hexadic priests are expected to marry and support families like anyone else and their sons are expected to be apprenticed to them.

Because their office requires at least minimal literacy, priests are the most likely Ondermen to learn magic. The practice of magic is not considered wrong as such, however, the stench of the Wisse still clings to sorcery in many folk's minds. Nevertheless, there is nothing heretical or criminal about the practice of magic.

The Hexarchs

According to Hexadic Doctrine, the six-fold Archons are more akin to natural forces than people, each having governance over certain aspects of the Middle World. However, most common folk ignore this teaching and believe the Hexarchs to be much like ultra-powerful people, with distinct personalities, quirks, emotions, etc.

ImageThe Hexarchs are:

•Geatar, whose domain includes Leadership, Governance, Lords,
•Diu, the Supreme Warrior, whose domain includes warfare, bravery,
•Wielent, the Divine Smith, whose domain includes crafting of all kinds and perfection.
•Huldra, often called "Mother Huldra". She is the Mistress of the Crossroads and oversees magic and mysteries. She also governs the Moon and is especially devoted to women. She is frequently invoked during childbirth and naming.
•Silban, the Lady of Flowers, whose domain includes the fertile Earth and who succors those who fight to defend their lands (as opposed to the aggressive warfare of Diu)
•Neorth, whose domain includes commerce and its attendant elements such as coinage, horses, and rivers (frequently called "water-horses" by the equestrian Ondermen).

The Cult of the Holy Men

The Hexarchs are not the only benevolent powers in Hexadic practice. Certain men are beloved by the Archons for inscrutable reasons (although devotion is the usual explanation).

These Holy Men are granted some small share of archontic power in life and afterwards. Relics of Holy Men are prized as retaining measures of their benevolent influence.

They are typically referred to in Wisse terms and thus are generally called "Saint" from the Wisse Sanctus ("holy").

One of the most popular saints in Onderland during the Age of Lords was Saint Getorix. Getorix was a general in the Old Kingdom, who refused to bow down to the Lords of Disorder and persevered in his Hexadic faith, even after the Kings fell into sin. He maintained his position for a time due to his outstanding martial prowess, continually driving off hordes of Wild Men.

Eventually, the King plots to have Getorix murdered. There is a rich tradition of "the Trials of Getorix" in which the King hatches plot after plot to kill the faithful general, only to have his victim foil the plan.

At last, however, the King sends an entire legion after his opponent, a legion led by Getorix's faithless lieutenant. Despite inflicting great losses, Getorix is eventually killed and his corpse brought before the wicked King. But as the King gloats, the corpse of the general rises and strangles the monarch with his bare hands. It is asserted that the holy corpse was secreted away by faithful soldiers and his relics preserved.

As can be seen, Ondish hagiography often reads more like romance than sober religious reflection. The two were not seen as incompatible by the Ondermen. However, not all saints embodied the warrior-tradition of the Ondermen. Saint Marcinus, for example, was a man of humble origin who wandered Onderland helping the farmers when crops failed and livestock took ill.

Saints Desidera and Euphania, two sisters, were princesses who were killed while still children as part of some palace intrigue; their cult is focused upon caring for the sick and destitute, particularly children.

Such humble saints were not the rule, though. More exemplary might be Saint Onorius, a nobleman of the Old Kingdom. He was an active participant in court-life, an advisor to Kings during the days when the Hexadic faith was new. He was also a scholar who wrote many of the important early Hexadic texts; he is particularly famed for his elegant yet emotional prayers to the various Archons.

Demons

Demon is the usual Ondish name for the Lords of Disorder and their minions. The Wisse eventually worshipped them as gods and, in the Elder Days, the Fey thought of them as impersonal forces equal and opposite to the forces of Order. Have their powers changed to meet the expectations of mortals? Who knows?

Although there are countless beings of Chaos, the Hexadic Church traditionally counts six, great Arch-Demons as the counter-parts to the Hexarchs. The names of these Arch-Demons, sometimes called "the Princes of Chaos,” come from the Wisse-penned Book of the Majestic Sapphire, a mystical text. The names are therefore not Ondish (which probably adds to their uncanniness).

The Arch-Demons are:

•Aaman, the Destroyer, master of violence and battle.
•Astorath, the Imprisoner, master of oppression and bondage.
•Baal, the Fury, master of storms, floods, droughts, and natural disaster.
•Moloche, the Whisperer, master of arcane secrets, alien sorceries, and things men were not meant to know.
•Nergal, the Torturer, master of cruelty, pain, and the slow death.
•Shax, the Deceiver, master of illusions, lies, and dreams.

Although this is the most common version of the hierarchs of Entropy, it is not universally accepted. Some scholars suggest that this is too great a simplification and that Chaos would never be bound to six, immortal lords. Certain texts indicate a vast series of Chaos Lords, ranging from princes to dukes to counts, in a bewildering array. Others have suggested that these may all be simply manifestations of the great Arch-Demons who, being of Chaos can appear howsoever they will.

All of the above speculation is a little interest to the average Onderman.

There are demons, great and small, that seek to inflict chaos on the Middle World and its inhabitants and tempt Man into service after death.

That's really all that matters.

After Death

Death is ever-present in Onderland and few take their lives for granted. On the other hand, death is expected and is a part of life, making Ondermen seem somewhat fatalistic.

The natural course of death is for a person's soul to descend into the Underworld, there to pass an indeterminate period as a plaything of the demons, perhaps occasionally bubbling up into the Middle World again, until his ghost finally fades away.

However, if a person has been devoted to the Church (even minimally) he is expected to be lifted up into the Overworld upon death, there to serve proudly at the sides of the Hexarchs.


Last edited by pbj44 on Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:12 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:46 am 
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You have been busy...!

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:16 am 
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LOL! It has been fun!

Here's some more:

Races of the Onderland

The Onderland has been subject to repeated invasions over its known history. It is, in a real sense, a land of invaders. Thus, it is home to several different peoples during the Age of Lords. In the entries below, the notation "EO" refers to "Early Ondish". The Middle Ondish of the Age of Lords had absorbed enough elements of Wissen to have changed considerably.

It was not quite a separate language in that speakers of Early Ondish would be mostly intelligible to those fluent only in Middle Ondish, but it would have sounded distinctly odd, archaic, and rustic. Few Ondermen were familiar with Early Ondish, although it was apparently the common tongue among the Peche and there were some extremely isolated communities still speaking it at the end of the period.

A note about the term "Ondermen": during the Age of Lords, it was used it two different ways. It still retained its original meaning, describing a specific ethnic group, otherwise known as the Third Men. However, as memory of the First and Second Men faded, that distinction was increasingly moot. Further, having renamed the entire region "Onderland", the name "Ondermen" was more and more often used to refer to any inhabitant of the realm.

Elder-Folk (Fey-folk)

As far as is known, the Elder- or Fey-folk were the original inhabitants of the area which would eventually be called the Onderland. Whether they too invaded at some impossibly antique date or were actually autochthonous cannot be ascertained. It is however certain that the Fey existed in the Onderland centuries, perhaps millennia, before the arrival of the tribes of Man. The nature of these prehistoric Fey is essentially lost to history.

The Peche, the first Men to arrive, had the majority of their contact with the Alvar and the Dvergar, although other tribes of Elders existed as well, such as the Oakmen and the River-folk.

The Elder-folk are very human in appearance, although they have somewhat etiolated features and very little body hair. The males lack facial hair and even their head hair is very thin. They are quite fair-complexioned; the Wisse found them to be deathly pale. It may be that this was the origin behind the euphemistic name "The Fair Folk", although alternate theories have been espoused. They are also quite tall; only the Ondermen match them for height.

Finally, the Fey are noted for their long life-spans; during the Age of Lords, many Elder-folk exceeded a century of years and it is clear that this was a span much reduced from that of the Elder Days. The Peche thought them immortal.

The Fey population was always quite small. Their low birth rate during the Age of Lords has been noted, but it is unknown whether or not that pertained during the Elder Days. It may have simply resulted from their preferred mode of living--in small, scattered groups.

ImageThe Alvar

The Alvar are an inherently magical people and created the Art of Sorcery, the first secret which was appropriated by the Second Men. They were a people originally dedicated to quiet isolation, philosophical contemplation, and rather abstract artistic endeavors.

During the Elder Days, they resided amongst extended family groups in isolated castles scattered across the forests and meadows of the realm. These dwellings were so cunningly created as to seem a part of the landscape.
Many an unusual rock formation was, in fact, an Alvar castle in earlier times. It was not unusual for decades to go by in these homes without any contact from others of their kind.

During the Age of Lords, very few of the Alvar castles remain standing. Those still inhabiting them have turned their faces from the world and pass their long lives in idleness, awaiting their deaths. Occasionally, a Man stumbles upon such a dwelling, thinking it something else. Therein, they may find themselves welcomed amid seemingly timeless delights or subject to nightmarish horrors.

The majority of those Alvar encountered at this time were the caitiff, the outcast, and the wanderers. Having lost their family dwellings in the Kin Wars or the Wissen Conquest, they are rootless and wander the world seeking something that even they can hardly describe.

ImageThe Dvergar

The Dvergar people were much like their Alvar cousins in the Elder Days.

They were vehemently uninterested in the Art of Sorcery, but quite dedicated to the manual arts. The crafts produced by them were of astonishing quality and many were, in fact, magical.

The Craft of Making was the second secret taken by the Wisse, notably that of forging steel.

The Dvergar of old lived in spacious Halls carved within hills and mountains.
These Halls generally housed several extended families so as to form a clan. The Dvergar were thus somewhat more sociable than their Alvar cousins, though still quite isolated from a human perspective.

As far as is known, with the exception of the Stelthrane, the Dvergar Halls are all vacant in the Age of Lords. The Dvergar seem to have been harder hit by the Kin Wars than the Alvar and those Halls not destroyed were abandoned.

It has frequently been remarked that contemporary Dvergar are almost fanatical in their opposition to the Chaos Lords and they seem to have preferred to abandon their Halls rather than live anywhere with the taint of their apostasy. Thus the few surviving Dvergar are all caitiff. They will sometimes establish small villages in out of the way hill country.

ImageGoblins

"Goblin" refers to a broad category of beings, namely the descendants of those Fey who gave themselves so deeply to Chaos that their children have been literally transformed. There are thus Alvar goblins and Dvergar goblins, among others. Moreover, there is little in the way of uniform physical characteristics among them; although frequently much diminished in stature and of a deformed appearance to human eyes, there are other goblins who appear much as their Elders did.

These are the most insidious of the Goblins, for they can move among Ondish society as they please. However, there is always some physical mark on even these goblins to give away their true nature to those who know what to look for. Typical goblin-marks include differently colored eyes, a disturbing odor, birthmarks in the shape of demonic sigils, and the inability to speak any of the Holy Words of the Archons. Goblins not infrequently possess weird, eldritch abilities given to their forbearers by the Lords of Disorder.

Acute intelligence is not often one of those gifts.

By and large, goblins skulk at the fringes of the Underworld, in caves and meres, and in the Wilds.
ImageThe Peche - the First Men

The Peche were the First Men to enter the Onderland. The Peche were quite small-bodied, often no larger than the children of Ondermen, with very dark features and quite a lot of hair. From surviving folk tales, it is clear that they found the land both wondrous and terrible. Why they emigrated remains a mystery for they had no art of writing at the time. But it is certain that they were awestruck by the Elder-folk, whom they regarded as gods on earth.

When the Second Men invaded, the Peche were easily pushed aside, lacking the military technology, the will to conquest, and the population of the Wisse. Those who survived vanished into the lonely places. They reside in the wilds, hunting and living a mostly subsistence lifestyle.

They dig earthen homes in the ground. After a few years, these homes become so grown-over with vegetation that they appear to be natural hills.

Thus, humans have learned to be respectful of small hills that they find in the wild, for the Little People may dwell within.

In the cities, "The Little People" are considered nearly-mythical and more akin to the Faerie than with the tribes of Man. But in the small villages of the wilds, they have come to an accord with Ondish farmers. Most households make regular offerings of milk, cheese, and butter, by placing them outside the doors at night.

Peche love dairy products, as they never developed that type of farming. In return, the Little People keep the wilderness around the villages clear of troublesome creatures and sometimes even bring in wild game.

It is worth noting, however, that not all Peche have come to accord with their Ondish neighbors. There are some very aggressive communities left in the world; their bellicosity perhaps exacerbated by the generations of in-breeding to which the dwindling population is subject. Regions inhabited by these sorts of Peche--euphemistically called "the Good Folk" to avoid attacks--are often uninhabited wilderness.

Any human village so unfortunate as to be located near them, soon finds themselves cut off from trade routes (caravans frequently disappear into the woods), with cattle that disappear into the night, and crops that are destroyed. This has lead to one of the darkest secrets of the age: some human settlers have learned to offer up sacrifices, generally young girls, to the Good Folk. They try not to think too much about what happens to them…

ImageWisse - the Second Men

During their heyday, the Wisse were a medium-statured folk, less dark than the Peche but much more so than the Fey.

However, the Wisse have all but disappeared, either killed off in the Third Invasion or intermarried into the Ondish population.

There are, though, a few, very isolated communities of Wisse who remain. These are mostly found in remote villages where the Ondermen never cared to venture. These Wisse, sometimes known as "the witch-Men", are sadly declined, numbering no more than several hundred in all.

The Wisse are essentially forgotten in the Age of Lords. The Ondermen believe themselves to be the literal heirs of the Old Kingdom and only recall the Wisse as evil men.

Thus the stereotype of the "witch" in Ondish tales--a small, dark man or woman who worships demons.

ImageOndermen - the Third Men

Ondermen are the majority population of Onderland. So much so that they have named it for themselves; which has some irony since the origin of their name means "people from beyond".

They are tall-statured, of fairer complexion than Wisse, but ruddier than the Fey.

They are noted for being clean-shaven, but the wearing of extravagant moustaches or goatees is considered a sign of nobility.

During the Age of Lords, they created a feudal culture, based upon the allegiance of peasants to local lords. Ondish lords are commonly titled as barons, counts, or dukes. Many, however, covet the idea of reestablishing the Old Kingdom and a few have attempted to claim the title "Jarl".

ImageThe Tsurani

When the Empire expanded to the Onderland it brought its complex culture with it.

Social classes within the Empire exist in a very linear state with the Emperor and his immediate family in the lofty, detached top position.

This is followed by a “second circle” which includes noble families that are blood related to the emperor to no lesser degree than second cousin.

Other more distant relations and newly appointed nobles and their families, fall into the category of “third circle”. Below that last rung, to greater or lesser degrees, live all others.

Citizens of the Empire are for the most part swarthy in complexion with men sporting mustaches and ladies wearing modest scarves around their hair. As dyes are very expensive within the Empire, most folk of modest means will wear clothes of simple earth tones. Wealthy individuals wear garments in a rainbow of colors with the exception of the color purple which is reserved for Tsurani royalty.

ImageWild Men

The Wild Men are the various tribes of Man who most recently passed through the Moon Gates and entered Onderland. They are not a single people. Numbered among the Wild Men are the Lion Men, the Crane Folk, and others.

However, such delineations are not of interest to most Ondermen, who considered them all to be savage barbarians.

That view is not infrequently correct, although there are many more sophisticated tribes than usually thought.

It is not unheard of for Wild Men to become acculturated enough to serve as mercenary captains for the Ondish lords (although they always adopted Ondish names).


Last edited by pbj44 on Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:29 am, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:44 am 
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My son wants a Bard type character in his campaign...

Image

Skald-Sänger

Among the wild men of the Onderland there are some who have learned the ancient Alvar ability to draw power from the living forest itself. These folk are considered Shaman among the wild men, and are keepers of their tribe’s oral history. The Skald-Sänger, or Skald, chants and sings to both gain and use his magic. Each song takes one combat round (or a few minutes if out of combat) to sing and the magic takes effect in the next round.

Obviously the Skald needs to be able to sing to work his magic. If anything impedes his ability to sing, he is effectively powerless. For a Skald to have their tongue cut out is tantamount to a death sentence. Skald magic is a major gift chosen during character creation.

At their disposal Skalds have three forms of magic: Shape shifting, Songs of the Forest, and the power of the Glamour. Each is a separate skill taken during character creation and initially may only be taken at skill level 9.

Spell Casting

The Skald’s spell pool is calculated as follows:

(TO + HT + WP + WT + PER)/2 (rounding up)

To cast a Skald spell, the player simply deducts the point cost of the spell from his pool. This reflects the simple nature of this magic and its limited effect.

Shape shifting

To learn the secrets of Shape shifting, Skalds use their songs to coax an animal to come to them and teach them its secrets. Whilst in this animal form the Skald has all the attributes of the animal he shifted to, but retains his own intellect, memories, etc.

Real animals can sense the unnatural nature of a Shape shifter and react in fear to them. So, although a Skald in the form of a field mouse need not fear cats, the cat’s fear of him may betray his true nature.

For each skill level acquired (including the initial skill level), the Skald may select one new animal form he will attempt to Shape shift into. On successfully making an initial Shape Shifting skill check for a particular animal type, no further checks are needed.

Minor form - May Shape shift into a field mouse, hare, or sparrow for one hour. However many animal forms are known, the Skald may only shift once per day. Cost: 2 spell points

Greater form - May select another Minor form or choose from an otter, fox, or raven and hold this animal form for 2 hours. However many animal forms are known, they may only shift twice per day. Cost: 4 spell points

Major form - May select either another Minor or Greater form or choose from either a wolf, stag, or eagle and hold this animal form for three hours. However many animal forms are known, they may only shift three times per day. Cost: 6 spell points

Songs of the Forest

Skalds learn the songs of the forest in a manner similar to the way they learn different animal forms, by singing to the forest and coaxing its secrets from it. In game terms these powers work best in a forest or wood, but at the GM’s discretion some of them may work if there is a nearby tree, or even other vegetation.

For each skill level acquired (including the initial skill level) the Skald may attempt to learn a new forest song. Once successfully making an initial “songs of the forest” skill check for a given song type, no further checks are needed. Each song may be sung only once per day.

The forest is fickle and the Skald has no choice over the song it teaches him. Instead, the GM rolls 1d10 for each level acquired to determine what new spell is learned. If the GM rolls the same spell twice then the Skald may sing that Forest song twice per day instead of once.

1) Song of Memories: The Skald whispers a message to the trees which they will remember then whisper it back to whomever the Skald asked them to. Cost: 2 spell points

2) Whisper of the Woods: Listening to the rustle of the trees the forest tells the Skald all that has happened within the forest over the last few days. Cost: 3 spell points

3) Forest of Fear: Select enemies {10 - skill level = max enemies} within line of sight of the Skald who fail a WP/TN 8 check must flee the forest. The fear only abates when they are clear of the forest. Cost: 6 spell points

4) Wall of the Wood: The forest forms an impenetrable wall of branches, impassable unless fire, axe, or magic are used, even then it will take one hour per skill level {10 - skill level = total hours} of the Skald to clear, and risks angering any spirits of the wood. Cost: 5 spell points

5) Walk the Woods: The trees part to make previously impassable forest clear. Cost 4 spell points

6) The Hanging Tree: Vines or branches of a nearby tree snake down and fasten around the neck of one enemy (Successful Reflex/TN7 check avoids) per {10 - skill level = max opponents} skill level of the Skald and yanks them up into the tree. If they aren’t freed within 3 rounds and they fail their TO/TN 7 test they die. If they make their TO they merely black out and the tree lets them drop. Cost: 8 spell points

7) Wood Whip: The Skald calls on the trees (CP = 30, ATN5) and their branches to grow into whips he controls with his mind to attack his enemies ({10 - skill level = max opponents}, doing 1 wound level at skill level 9, 2 wound levels at skill level 6 and 3 wound levels at skill level 4. These attacks ignore AV and TO. Cost: 6 spell points

8) Cloak of Leaves: The forest hides the Skald plus one other person per skill level {10 - skill level = max additional persons}, making them virtually invisible. Cost: 4 spell points

9) Forest Guard: At the bidding of the Skald, a tree grabs (Successful Reflex/TN8 avoids) and holds one enemy until bidden to release the prisoner. Cost 4 spell points

10) Trial of the Tree: The Skald subjects one enemy to the trial of the forest. Tree roots grab the target if a Reflex/TN 8 check fails.

If the victim then fails a ST/TN 7 test, the roots of the tree drag the victim underground and hold him there for as many years as he missed the test by. Example: The victim, Erik, has Strength of 4 and thus rolls a 4D10 ability test, but the best number rolled out of the four is a 5. TN7 – 5 = two years that Erik will be held by the tree. The forest keeps this person alive until time for release. The victim’s HT is permanently reduced by the number of years they were held for. If this reduces their HT to zero they die upon release. Cost: 9 spell points

Glamour

A Skald uses the power of Glamour to manipulate people. In this case rather than singing, to use a Glamour, the Skald whispers a rhythmic chant that their victim finds strangely compelling. The SP cost of this spell equals the Skald’s skill level, thus a Skald with a Glamour 7 skill level pays 7 spell points to cast his Glamour.

To resist a Glamour the target must make a WP/TN8 ability check with 3 or more successes.

A successful Glamour can make the victim believe, see, or remember something that isn’t true, not really there, or never really happened. For example a Glamour could make someone just met believe the Skald was their best friend, or implant a false memory of a life long friendship between them. More dramatically, the target could believe they could jump from a cliff and survive, see a dragon, remember killing the king, ect,. The only limit is that of the player’s imagination.

At skill level 9 a Skald can Glamour one person for one hour.

At skill level 8 a Skald can Glamour one person for three hours.

At skill level 7 a Skald can Glamour one person for six hours.

At skill level 6 he can Glamour two people at once for one hour or one person for one day.

At skill level 5 he can Glamour two people at once for one day or one person for two days.

At skill level 4 he can Glamour three people for a day, two people for two days, or one person for three days.


Once the effects of a Glamour wears off the victim is allowed a WP/TN7 ability check. If they make it, they remember what was done to them. If they fail they have no knowledge of being manipulated.


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:27 am 
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What shall I say? I like it very, very much. Real cool stuff! :D

Thanks for going to the trouble of sharing it with the community.

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My real name is Michael; use it, if you like.


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:34 am 
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Lets not forget the Atlas! :lol: Seriously, if someone ever wants the enormous color map companion to this atlas, just let me know. It is quite large (43MB) so I would have to upload it to a public server for convenient downloading. I found a cool site called Zazzle which is printing an actual 36"x48" poster of the map that I will then have shipped to Anton, my son. I am posting the Atlas just to share adventure ideas, as I consider area descriptions to be little idea kernels for adventures.

Enjoy!

Phil

Geography of the Onderland


The Onderland is the only land known to most of its peoples. They know that there is another place to the Northeast and beyond the mountain pass, called the Moon Gate, from whence come the Wild Men. But the inhabitants of the Onderland aren't much interested. As mentioned above, they aren't a folk overly given to exploration. The Onderland is their home and what else could a man expect in life?

No one knows how large the Onderland is for no one has thought to try to map it all. During the Age of Lords, the Onderland is a patchwork of feudal states set amidst great swathes of wilderness only fragilely connected by the ancient Wissen road network. Maybe the Old King knew how large his realm was; the Ondermen don't.

The climate is fierce, given to heavy snowfall in winter and only moderate heat in the summer. Large areas of the land are covered in deciduous forests, such as oak, black alder, ash, and rowan, as well as some evergreens, such as pine and yew. Few of these woodlands have been cleared for farming except those areas immediately surrounding the cities of the region. The northerly forests give way to moorlands and eventually frozen tundra.

The Old Kingdom built great cities across the face of the Onderland and connected them with a network of sophisticated roadways. The King's Highways were a wonder of the time, allowing for movement of people and goods so swift and efficient as to seem magical during the Age of Lords. But the fall of the Old Kingdom brought about an end to all that.

The Ondermen were neither city-builders nor great travelers. When the Ondermen began to settle down and build new towns and hamlets, they often used pieces of the Highways for their expertly crafted stone. Many a fortress now bears the old stones of the King's Highway. Yet the old roads still remain in some form or another across the land. In some places the Highway shave been stripped bare leaving only a path.

Adam's Foot - This peninsula extends down along the Widow’s Bay and is characterized by treacherous mountains and large stands of forest. Several towns and hamlets lie on the old coastal road leading to the city of Port Nargoth, located at the heel of the “foot”.

Allanelle - Surrounded by mountain ranges and home of the largest fresh water lake north of the Frostreach forest, the Allanelle is a wild and beautiful place. Along the lake shore the eerie silence is broken only by the sound of the wind upon the lake. While the fish are quite edible, they have a strange sweetness which while not disagreeable, can be discomfiting to those not used to it.

On the northern shore of the lake lies the most distant outpost of Carse; the heavily fortified trading town of Fort Defiance. As of late many Wild Men have been drifting into the region from the east. With small grievances growing between the barbars and the Ondish, most feel that it’s only a matter of time before the region explodes into mayhem.

A notable landmark of the area is the great circle of standing basalt stones twenty miles southeast of the lake. Magic functions strangely at this location; during the day, spells dwindle in potency, finally dying out altogether around noon. Yet on clear nights, spells discharge with spectacular effect and sorcerers report elemental and spiritual powers wildly expanded.

Ashantra – Ashantra was once a booming metropolis fringing the area now known as “The Sea of Dust”. Specializing in salt production, the town collapsed when the region’s rains tapered off and a thousand square miles of land were reduced to a dust bowl.

The town's slow decline caused most of its inhabitants to migrate elsewhere. The few stubborn remaining denizens descended into chaos, unable to endure the loss of their birthplace. Ashantra is now a ghost town, with whispered stories of weary travelers who unwittingly stumble upon the town, never to be seen again. Though many wink and assure that these are just ghost stories meant to frighten children, still, none willingly come near Ashantra.

Bernewood Forest - Full of horrors including cannibalistic Peche, this place is feared by all forced to journey near its dark reaches. The trees here have a foul odor and fog, mists, strange sounds, and whispers permeate this dark place. A single road leading to distant mountain mines wends through the heart of the wood, with only large well armed caravans winning free of the forest.

Borfen River - Cascading down from the White Knuckle Mountains, this river feeds a number of communities including fast growing Tulan. Known as the Wyndemeer near Tulan, the river is a gateway to the region, to distant villages, and to the all important trade road over the mountain range.

Carse - The Crown of the Onderland. Ruled by Jarl Bogardis IV, Carse is a major metropolis and hosts merchants, travelers, and traders from all the known lands. Massive, ugly fortifications ring the city, but a beautification program has been instituted by the Jarl, and Carse boasts over forty percent of its streets are now paved. The court of the Jarl is a hotbed of intrigue as the wily ruler plays a dangerous game that pits one House against another; desperate to both strengthen his hand and hold the Ondish together against the Tsurani threat.

Chalm - Chalm is a conservative fortified border town under the rule of city-state Mertron. Laws are strict and the Plaza of Grand Judgments is active every other week when criminals are exiled into the nearby hills or hung. Most buildings are made of dressed stone and the streets are very dusty. Heavy fortifications exist, but the town aggressively patrols with light cavalry to keep brigands far away from the town’s walls.

Comorreste River - Drifting down from the White Knuckle Mountains, the Comorreste River passes through the Wellgriss Highlands, home to many clans of Wild Men. The river is the chief source for crop irrigation in the region and is famous for its unusual clarity and crispness. The primary source of drinking water for Carse, it is the gateway from Carse to Wellan’s Keep and beyond.

Darkwater River - Flowing through the eastern reaches of the Khellamora Forest, the Darkwater flows placidly through magnificent stands of Black Oak trees. Light has difficulty piercing the top branches of the Khellamora here, giving the forest a sense of perpetual twilight. Recent reports from trappers in the area describe unnerving encounters with spiders of astounding size. Quite ferocious, they display an unnerving intelligence and will stalk men for miles through the wild.

Dorfingle Marsh – The marshes are a perilous place for inexperienced travelers. There is only one completely dry path all the way through the marshes, known only by a few. The fog and the drooping moss makes everything look the same and it is easy to get lost, go crazy, and circle for weeks before the end comes…usually a grisly one. One who does know the way is a loner named Olaf Garton, known in the village of Upstanton for his furtive and sometimes peculiar behavior. Secretive Olaf, who often acts violently around the time of the full moon, once broke a man’s neck in a brawl at the local pub. He is very willing to hire out as a marsh guide.

Eslatarr – Eslatarr, once a very pleasant port, has become rife with lower class elements. The people in the countryside are farmers and fishermen and are usually more hospitable than those in the port (See Gartsdottar Isle entry).

Estrakk – Estrakk is a busy city-state port ruled by Lord Kandal Hafrung. Kandal Hafrung’s forefathers earned these lands by right of steel and blood. The current master of the castle is a worthy successor– he was a mercenary captain, a slave, a hired murderer and a merchant before he retired to actively rule the city. He will listen to wild, almost insane plans and join improbable struggles, no longer for wealth but fame and entertainment.

Fort Defiance - Ruled by House Sturla, this fortified town serves as an Ondish trading post for the region’s trappers and hunters. It also does a brisk business essaying ore brought down from the Maganoth Range.

Frostreach Forest - A massive stand of evergreens and oak, the Frostreach covers hundreds of square miles. While the trade road linking Gisli to Nythoria is well travelled, few enter the forest itself. Druids within the southern reaches have of late been assisting trade road travelers against attack by creatures drifting in from the nearby hills.

Gartsdottar Isle – With a total population of 4080, Gartsdottar Isle is ruled by Lord Hugo Klomft of House Ozurr. Lord Klomft keeps two small pirate ships in a well hidden cove, gathering information about likely targets by requiring an inspection of the manifest of every ship which docks at Eslatarr. He blames these attacks on the Tsurani, and initiates many “sweeps” for those hated foes.

The island is a common stopping point for ships which ply the waters between the Isle and Seddamorra. A cobble road built in a time beyond memory climbs into the heights that dominate the island. At its end, towering over a great ravine, is an ancient, abandoned stone tower. Reputedly, the tower was built by the Wissen as an outpost against the Alvar in one of their long forgotten wars.

Long years passed and the watchtower fell to ruin. Today, the ravine is overgrown with vegetation. The ground slopes upward from the base of the ravine at a 25° angle and a fast moving stream cuts across the floor during the rainy season. The top of the ravine is choked with impassable rubble.

The ruined watchtower overlooks the top of the ravine. It is octagonal and stands 30 feet wide and 60 feet tall. Fashioned from large blocks of grayish blue stone, it is a shade of its former self. A single battered door provides entrance to the place, while numerous arrow loops and dim windows stare from above. No one knows what fate befell it.

Inside, narrow spiral stairs connect the floors. The timbers of the topmost 4th level are rotten and its roof opens to the sky. The stairs ascending to this area are rubble-choked and neigh impassible. The stairs descending below ground level are obstructed by an impenetrable gloom, with no torch staying lit while upon them. Island wisdom has it that they lead to a vast tomb of the Wissen sorcerers who ruled this isle long ago,

Gife Forest - This forest contains the ruins of many ancient Alvar structures; most were temples where the Elder Folk paid homage to their gods. Today, the wood is full of hostile humanoid tribes, poisonous reptiles, and the malevolent magic of the ancient Alvar, still lurking in the depths of their crumbling, overgrown temples.

Goats Gate - A solitary route that leads through the mountains to the lands beyond. The pass cuts across the mountains at their narrowest point, between two impossibly huge peaks. Known as the Fangs of Yilthak, these sharp peaks cast a long shadow over the pass.

Those traveling this route would do well to take care, for the going is both treacherous and steep. Travelers will be under constant threat of attack, as there is a seemingly endless supply of savage Wild Men and wolves in these lonesome peaks. Accordingly, a series of fortified watch towers has been constructed along the route to protect the vital caravans that travel to and from Seddamorra.

Garrisoned by stalwart soldiers, these towers provide some recompense from the savagery of the region. Alas, not all towers are manned year round, especially during the long winter months. Worse still, it is during these times that the pass frequently becomes impassable due to heavy snowfall. At the head of the pass is the great Ondish mint controlled by House Osk.

Gulf of Adagarr – Tales of Mermaids, Kraken, Sea Serpents and Water Harpies are common from ship captains passing through these waters. A great castle and fortified town once stood upon an island which provided protection for weary sea merchants and travelers. It was sunk by a gargantuan Kraken ages ago...

The Isles located at the mouth of the gulf are infested with pirates. Noted also for frequent water spouts, treacherous shoals and whales.

Hartmund – This fortress town hosts the southern battle of House Dagr’s famed Border Legion.

Hrothgar’s Razor – A forbidding range of mountains ranging in elevation from 10,000 to 25,000 feet. Many Wild Men clans live in the range. A source of coal and iron ore, these mountains are frequented by prospectors from many regions. Rocs and Giant Eagles are rumored to nest on the highest peaks and are best granted a wide berth. Overgrown ruins at the base of the mountain next to the river were once a citadel destroyed by a landslide centuries ago and travelers often use it as temporary shelter. A hermit with a vow of silence lives in the peaks at the site of one of the ancient Moon Gates. Some claim he is as old as the mountain itself. He is simply known as the Holy Hermit.

Inworld Sea - Spanning across thousands of miles, the Inworld Sea is a sailor’s delight with its pleasant sailing habits. It connects the city of Jonril to its motherland, the Tsurani Empire.

Jonril - The Jewel of Northern Empire. The Empire lays claim to all of the Onderland and Jonril is its gateway city to the north. In fierce competition with Ondermen for the raw materials of the north, Jonril (Ruled by his magnificence, the Bey of Jonril) has had some minor successes with pacifying bands of Wild Men near the city. With Jonril in a state of undeclared war with other cities of the Onderland, warships of the empire prowl the waters off the coast alert for either Ondish ships or the dread Pirates of the Yellow Sail.

Kage – This trading town is well known for the tastiness of the variety of crops raised ranging from corn, wheat, and orchards full of apples. Local ranchers also raise livestock for the isolated farmsteads in the surrounding areas. Kage’s market was once the grand hall of a Wissen villa – as evident from the colorful terracotta tiles and ruined columns. The mill is often filled with students as the well travelled Miller Athelstan loves to share his lore and relate his adventures. A cobble-paved road nearby leads to an ancient Wissen fortress.

Kern - This fortress town hosts the northern battle of House Dagr’s famed Border Legion.

Khellamora Forest - Spanning hundreds of miles, the Khellamora is one of the larger forests of the Onderland. Home to many groups of Wild Men, the Khellamora is rich in natural resources. Rare woods, herbs, hides, and extracts are among the many prizes that send traders and trappers back to the forest year after year. Here, Ondermen contend with Wild Men, monsters, Ogres and other such beasts.

Korrigan – This dwindling mining town colonized by Snadlund weathers attacks from the Ogres of the nearby hills. Talk has arisen about abandoning the area and moving back to the coast. Korrigan’s Lord Galan wants his people to stay, but it will take a great victory against the Ogres to get them to listen. The citadel of the town was built by the Alvar over 1,000 years ago, as a gift to the Peche of the region.

Lake Abernoche – The lake has a diameter of approximately 30 miles and is easily 2000 ft deep in some areas. The lake teems with all sorts of wildlife mostly of the normal variety, but often visited by strange creatures drifting in from the forest. Fishermen and merchants ply the waters of the vast lake in various craft from long boats to merchant ships.

On the largest island in the center of the lake is the ancient Wissen city of Damkfir. The approach is littered with obelisks decorated with reliefs and inscriptions in ancient Wissen. The reliefs depict strange scenes of reptilian sex and death. The inscriptions recount the conquests and glories of a fallen empire of these reptilians. The place gives off an air of great antiquity, and at the same time, one of dread.

Broad avenues of steps ascend to platforms where yawning black portals lead to the city’s great temple. Within lies a seemingly endless array of unlit vaults and passageways. Deep within the cryptic gloom lay vast underground vaults. According to the Tablets of Urutau, the place is haunted by the degenerate remnants of a once great race know as therapsidians. The tablets also speak of a nexus of gateways located deep within that lead to the manifold dimensions.

Lake Kestrell - This lake is an important highway for river trade to and from the fortress town of Kern. The lake’s largest island is a nesting ground for many water fowl as well as a favored fishing area, said to contain huge clam beds. A standing stone carved with ancient letters of the Wissen language says Meridian Stone of the Leys. Though studied by many scholars, no one has yet determined what this means. The most common theory is that this is the final resting place of the famous Lady Lyn of the House of Leys.

Lake Runden – The lake is a dangerous area; heavily armed merchant ships are found in large groups, protecting the silver they transport to trade. Thieves and brigands roam the southeastern
banks and areas south along the river while pirates skulk in hidden coves waiting for their next victim.

Landscop Hills – The hills are noted for the mad Wild Men tribes living within. Occasionally, travelers can spot the reddish rocks of small, ruined and overgrown amphitheatres, built by the ancestors of the tribesmen.

A day’s ride north of Chalm is the site of an ancient ring of 32 stones. Each of the massive granite stones are covered in runes of religious and magical nature. Strange lights dance above the stones when seen from far away. An ancient cave and carved passage leads beneath the ancient monoliths.

Some 60 meters from the stones, the blackened cave mouth yawns against the backdrop of the windswept southern escarpment. Just outside, a trio of grotesque statues perch upon a rocky terrace, casting their baleful gaze across the approach. The statues appear to be demons of some sort, but it is hard to say, for they have been disfigured by the winds of countless years. The vaults concealed within are said to cause madness to those foolish enough to venture within. It is just a rumor, though, as none who have ventured forth have ever returned.

Leodegrund – The townsfolk here are cheerful despite the deadly disease that has stricken many in the region. Healers and clerics may cure the disease, but it strikes again soon after they leave. The mountain fed stream and local mill are essential to the popular ales brewed. The Top Knot Tavern is a lively stopover for travelers journeying on to Nevitarrin, but all must pass inspection at the fortified gate to enter.

Maganoth Range - This massive span of mountains has only been but poorly explored. A few scattered areas of the northern expanses have been crudely mapped, while the central reaches are slightly better known. Winters are particularly harsh, and the mountains are well known for the fierce Giants and Trolls that make these peaks their home.

Meldin – This fortress town is home to the northern branch of the Order of Artegris, the military arm of the Hexadic Church. The Order has held the town for over 50 years, keeping Wild Men, bandits, monsters, and most recently the Tsurani, at bay.

Mertron - This large theocratic city-state divided by the river Isen is the center of clerical studies devoted to the Hexadic Church. To supplement income for the school, the church operates an open air market where it rents stalls to local farmers and merchants selling their wares. A paved road follows the river into the sea, and can be seen meandering down into the murky depths. A local legend (claimed false by the church) states that one day, an army of the dead will march forth from its watery grave to attack the city.

Novice scholars wear white robes and seniors wear red.

Mistalle River – Rushing down from the mountains, the Mistalle’s swift currents make for spectacular rafting experiences. Sand Bars, snags, extraordinary twists and turns, make this wild river difficult to use as a trading highway with the constant danger of capsizing. However, the swift, powerful currents do reduce attacks by aquatic creatures on Ondish rivermen traders. Polling up river is a long arduous task, again, only made feasible by the safety from attack that the river’s current affords.

Mistspire Mountains – Unusually chilly year-round, these peaks are always covered with snow. Mountain sheep of the peaks provide the warmest wool available. It is quite valuable. They are hard to catch and shear and impossible to tame. Sapamas and alpacas, easier to catch and tame, are more numerous and their wool is light and soft. Mountain men trade these products in Chalm for staples.

Mount Yemsha - Extremely rough country of brambles, ravines, clefts and caves of rock, loose rubble, and towering peaks, Mount Yemsha is the ancient home of Balor demons. There are many here still, it is said, though one is more likely to encounter demonic activity in the mountains further southeast which are said to be the home of many evil temples. The Black Seer’s of Yemsha also call this mountain home. Other reported denizens are strange half-man, half-yak creatures, but no firm evidence of their existence has yet been obtained.

Noraska Wastes – A harsh land of frozen tundra, not much is known of the Wastes, except for the fierce creatures it breeds. It is said that somewhere in these vast reaches lie the ruins of an ancient city built by a race unknown to man. According to legend, these ruins are guarded by fierce multi-limbed white apes.

Nevitarrin - Located on the fringes of the Noraska Wastes, Nevitarrin (“Life rock”) was so named because of the hard mineral laden waters in this part of the land. Over the years large deposits of mineral salts have formed from evaporating pockets of water. The salts are supposed to have curative properties and brave travelers from near and far come here for the greatly prized salt baths. Small bags of mineral salt may be purchased at any Inn of the town. This old Wissen town is surrounded by a massive stone wall since Ape-Man attacks are common.

Nythoria – Located on a bluff on the western edge of the Frostreach forest, Nythoria was founded some 100 years ago on the ruins
of what is believed to be the ancient capital of the long gone
western empire of the Wissen. Nythoria is one of the great cities of the Ondish and its importance is perhaps exceeded only by Tulan the city of gold, or the great trading city Seddamorra. Much of the resources wrested from northern Onderland pass through Nythoria destined for sale in the cities of the south.

Independently ruled by “Jarl” Osmutt Ornstaadt, the city maintains a strong army and navy. There is a loose alliance maintained with Fort Defiance and Gisli, with each sharing responsibility in keeping the trade roads clear of bandits and monster-kind.

Port Kabir – The Ondish are hard-pressed to keep peace in this port due to blood feuds which have arisen among the island’s leading families. The source of the feuds is the assassination of various members of the families, with evidence incriminating other families at the scene of each murder. The tension arising from these murders has caused great unrest amongst the population, and production of salt and weapons, the island’s primary exports, are far below average. All strangers are highly suspect and subject to mob action. The lands of the island are dotted with villas and small, fortified manor houses, each the home of a family and its slaves.

Port Nargoth – Largely reduced to a backwater by the rise of mighty Jonril, Port Nargoth is now considering an alliance with Carse. Some 60 miles upriver is the Monastery of Ishap, which is notable for the wonderful flavor of its winter wines.

Quidden – Quidden (“Black Gold”) is appropriately named, for it is home to large iron deposits that miners bring from mines deep within the nearby mountains to smelters, where it is forged into large bars of iron. Indifferently ruled by House Ozurr, at various times of the year wagon trains and ships arrive with merchants bringing in goods needed for the coming season, and hauling out large loads of iron. With House Ozurr’s indulgence, all retired miners vote on day-to-day city affairs – each owns a seal which are pressed into the clay tablets for important decisions.

Rhiems – This bustling caravan town ruled by House Kollr is well known throughout the area for its horses raised on the surrounding plains. People from around the region come to see the races each spring and the large auction the following two days. Needless to say, one has to be careful as the annual events are notorious for graft and corruption. A few local hedge-witches sell potions for exorbitant prices. Gamblers short of funds (beware of pickpockets!) are sold as slaves. The town’s seediest section is the “Drop,” a shantytown built around (and inside) a deep sinkhole.

Runden – Ruled by Lord Granbrita of House Dagr, this town on the banks of Lake Runden is home to a small number of pirate ships that attack shipping in this region. If the unfortunate prey are unwilling to pay tribute, their ship and cargo are confiscated. The crew is sold as slaves at the market and the captain is held for ransom. The pirates often fill vacancies in their crews with bludgeoned patrons of Otho’s Alehouse. The town is the only source of Pyrmantic Granite, granite-hard reddish clay used to fashion earthenware jugs, pitchers and cups. The open air mine is guarded day and night by Wild Men mercenaries. Lord Granbrita forces the pirates to carry the output from his kilns to distant markets for providing them a safe haven. He constantly holds one of the pirate captains hostage, rotating them each month.

Runden River – This narrow, deep river flows from Lake Kestrell to the Inworld Sea. Periodically, gold is found in the shallows, triggering gold rushes every few years.

Sea of Dust - None still live who can call this region by its ancient name: Mittelleben, which translates roughly to “The Sea of Sustenance”. Though in a region that would normally be temperate, the terrain of the Sea of Dust is unbearably cold, dry and uninviting, ravaged by bitter winds and foul weather year round. Only especially tough humans and creatures can survive here. The reason for this anomaly is not yet known, though theories range from magical curses to aberrant weather patterns. The rest of the surrounding regions are temperate, with normal climates in the surrounding lands.

Deep within the Sea of Dust, far beyond where any caravans dare, broods a demon-haunted ruin. Crowded with obelisks, broken and askew, the place radiates an unwholesome sense of despair. From the side it has the look of a giant skeletal hand, upturned and clenching as dust eternal runs through its bony digits. Long shadows fall as the lonesomeness of day gives way to the chill of night and strange creatures stalk the broken wastes.

It is said that the monuments are all that remain of ancient Llar, a trading city from millennia past. Legends relate that the Wissen destroyed it during one of their many incursions. As the citadel convulsed in its death throes, the fabled sorcerers of Llar unleashed their final fury: the opening a gateway to the Nullity. The ensuing chaos saw everyone—the Wissen and the sorcerers—destroyed by the demonic host. The citadel and its fate faded from memory, swallowed by the elements…

The obelisks that remain standing are covered in ancient glyphs, their edges worn smooth by the relentless pummeling of dusty grit. The glyphs are of no known or recognizable language and all efforts at translation have been met with futility. As if the impenetrable nature of the glyphs weren't warning enough, the place bristles with unseen energy, causing the hairs on one's nape to prickle.

At the center of the ruin, just beneath the surface of the shifting silt, is a huge slab of stone, measuring over 50 feet from end to end. Every square inch of the slab’s surface is covered in yet more incomprehensible glyphs. The titanic slab radiates strongly with primeval magic and resists opening by normal means. It is unknown what is imprisoned beneath its unyielding bulk.

The King’s Millpond – Named after a jest about the ancient Wissen King, this is a natural stopping area for ships traveling to the Onderland. Carse is one of the busiest ports in the region, and a large naval force makes sure no pirates disrupt its trade.

Seddamorra – Throughout the Onderland, no city is half so notorious. Blackened by fire, soiled by pestilence, and scarred by war, its collection of spider-webbed tenements and rat-ridden bazaars have birthed some of the worst rogues and villains to ever stalk the storied thrones of the north.

But Seddamorra is also a city of chance and adventure, where fortunes are won in a night and lost before dawn. Where gems glint and flare in the lamplight, and a warrior's quick blade and shirt of mail are his best defense.

The great southern trading city of the Ondish, Seddamorra flourished for 100 years. Nine years ago the current Jarl's Reeve, Boscomb Leopold, used the threat of a citywide labor strike as an opportunity to consolidate all power to himself by dissolving the city council and declaring martial law. This was a disaster for the city. With the powerful merchants withdrawing their contributions to the city's payroll, city services began to be neglected. And after many months of irregular pay, the city guard disbanded in protest. Out of desperation, Leopold put out a call for mercenaries to restore order in the now lawless city.

With their intervention for a time a measure of order did return. Paying out of pocket, Leopold quickly cobbled together an ad-hoc group of street toughs and swore them in as city guardsmen. Thus strengthened he then ordered the mercenaries out of the city. But by then the die had been cast. The unemployed mercenaries were not inclined to leave such easy pickings and soon the streets ran red as guardsmen battled the many gangs now sprouting up all about the city.

At last a truce was called and the fighting ended. The current state of affairs is a stand-off. Leopold does not have the personal finance and manpower to expel the gangs but will not countenance restoring the council of merchants and sharing power once more.

Nor do the gangs have the power or unity to overthrow the Jarl's Reeve and his guardsman.

Silver Bay - Famous for the immense variety of fish that inhabit it, Silver Bay has enormous potential as a port area that could expand Ondish influence north of the Frostreach forest. But for the present, Silver Bay’s Potential is enjoyed only by smugglers hoping to avoid Ondermen tariffs. Several campaigns have been launched to eliminate this nuisance, but the canny smugglers have proven too wily to completely wipe out.

Snadlund - A prosperous town of House Ornstaadt built up around their renowned gems and jewelry and reliable fish market. Snadlund has recently become a target for pirate raids. Jarl Bogardis has assigned Lord Guntar Banton to hunt down the pirates. It is rumored that a vampire stalks the streets of Snadlund during moonless nights. Overlord Leodons’s wife, Dryerda, is a former slave girl from Jonril.

Sortella Nivall - This is a two hundred-mile-wide swath of grassy steppes sparsely interrupted by small copses of wind-stunted trees. It is ideal country for cavalry and horsed nomads, and is widely renowned for the availability of expert horsemen as light cavalry mercenaries. Many battles have been fought on these plains, as hordes of nomads periodically sweep down from the northeast to challenge Ondish rule. At its eastern end are several sites of row upon row of skulls, human and otherwise, all facing east. It is said that they form a part of some religious ritual.

The Black Oaks – Dark twisting trees and vines with a life of their own gave this place its name.

The Cold Marshes - Disease infested wetland, these bone-chilling bogs are home to the wicked Swilon trolls. Legend has it that within the marshes are cached the famous magical Windrider Bronze Horse, statues of gold, and other ancient art of the Wissen King Dellar. The region is treacherous and its terrain constantly changes. Many a once-living beast and human are perfectly preserved in the tricky, shifting peat. A single lonely road links the cities of Gisli and Tulan.

The Fastness of Emirikol – The home of the ancient Wissen sorcerer Emirikol. Emirikol’s fanatical warrior-priest worshipers inhabit the fortified monastery below the great citadel. Every day, they engage in mock combat to show devotion to Emirikol, and every week, a special duel is staged between the two most skilled combatants. Lower levels exist under the citadel, the remnants of old fortifications, but they are mostly flooded with sea water and perilous.

The Glimmerdarke – Haunted woodlands, full of many magical plants and animals that can be used by as spell components. Normally avoided by all except Wild Men who travel to Lake Kestrell. As All Hallows’ Eve draws near, many witches traveling to the annual ritual in the Witches’ Court stop for several weeks in this wood to harvest the plentiful mandrake root and other herbs and creatures that are usable as potion ingredients. The leaves of plants in the deepest regions of the forest fetch high prices for their
hallucinogenic nature.

The Grogenfelle - The home of the Archdruid, the Grogenfelle is an almost sentient forest. Extremely dense, creatures move through its growth all but invisible to non-natives. Rainbow flowers, renowned for their great beauty and life giving nectar, grow in secluded glades. A savage group of Hags have been plaguing travelers along the road to the lake. It is said that the Lord of Estrakk would pay very well for their heads.

The Rimsfell - This black tangled forest on the eastern shore of Widow’s Bay is home to many undead. Wights and Specters are quite common here. The upper canopy of foliage does not allow light to illuminate the paths of the forest. It is said that in certain portions of the woods if anyone sleeps they are subject to confusion when they wake lasting a full day. Many small lakelets are found in the woods, some rumored to have magical properties of healing, possession, mesmerism, petrification, etc.

The Ruined City of Ostlund – Nurenthane is a frontier town built on the ruins of the fallen Dvergar city of Ostlund. Townsfolk excavate the gigantic marble blocks and statues with primitive tools, ship them to Estrakk and sell them to foreign merchants. Nurenthane is home to outcasts and exiles, and all are welcome who can do something worthwhile, none need suffer for want of food.

Nurenthane’s success is viewed with horror and revulsion from the Dvergar of the Stelthrane (see below entry) who consider the ruins a tomb. There are stories of some “Gnawing Evil” hidden in the ruins, but no clues have been found yet.

The Stelthrane - The Dvergar of fortress Stelthrane delve deeply beneath the mountain, using the fortress as a trading post with the upper world. They are content to ignore the forests and marshes to the west, but incursions of malignant creatures, many of which are clearly fiendish in nature, make the fortress a vulnerable target. Travelers of interest may be invited to stay overnight in the great hall of the citadel.

The Woldfir – Dark, dank forest region, the Woldfir is home to many humanoids. Dire and Winter Wolves prowl the banks of the river. It is known to contain a number of trees of giant size, as well as exceptionally large Wolves and other mundane creatures grown to gigantic stature.

Tulan of the Isles - Tulan is the rising jewel of the Onderland. Established on the eastern banks of the Borfen and on one of several isles in the river, Tulan has exploded in size with the discovery of gold in the nearby mountains. As cosmopolitan as its mother city Carse, Tulan benefits from brisk trade from the Khellamora to beyond the mountains to Seddamorra.

Van Lasa Isle - This isle is the ritual graveyard of a long dead race. What now appear to be rolling hills are actually unopened burial mounds with unexposed entrances. This island is overrun by Ghouls and other undead who have managed to defeat every attempt to clear them out. They build small rafts, using them to swarm over ships that pass too close.

A strange chapel at the center of the island is the source of the infestation. The chapel acts to permanently desecrate the area of the island and concentrations and numbers of Ghouls and their strange kin double in the vicinity of it. An unbearable stench hangs over the chapel ruins and its nights are pierced by wild, inhuman screams.

Brooding megaliths guard the approach to the chapel. Standing askew, they lend an otherworldly air to the place. Among the stones are a number of cairns. At their center is a large statue. Ostensibly a man praying to the heavens, the statue has been worn down and pitted by harsh island winds.

The walls of the ruin are windswept and riddled with holes, and the roof has collapsed. The great statue that stood next to the porch is now a jumble of rock. Narrow slits peer out from the remains of the chapel’s singular tower. Only the lower level still stands, the upper floors having collapsed long ago. Choked with rubble, the place hides a secret trapdoor beneath the paving stones of its ancient floor.

Within the chapel, broken statues line the nave, defaced by countless claw marks. Of the altar, there is no trace, but amidst the rubble of the chancel is a yawning black pit. Deeply gouged steps descend into the darkness. Who or what dwells in the depths beneath this accursed place?

Wellgriss Highlands - Home to many Wild Men and divided by the Comorreste River, the Wellgriss does well agriculturally with hardy winter grains. Communities here are fortified with sturdy log walls and homes tend to be of the longhouse variety. Raiders make routine forays for tools, grain, slaves and other plunder.

Wellan’s Keep - Built by the famed trader Brosco Wellan, the keep is actually a trading village surrounding a fortified manor house. Directly straddling the river route from Tulan to Carse, the keep is well situated to prosper from the mountain trade. Attacks on homes in the area are common and only the stoutness of the village defense prevents disaster.

White Knuckle Mountains - Home to ferocious mountain Wild Men, the White Knuckles span across over seven hundred miles of territory, making it the largest mountain range of the Onderland. A breeding ground to many horrors, the range lies under perpetual mist along its western reaches above the Khellamora.

Widows' Bay - This body of water connects House Ozurr’s city of Quidden to the rest of the world and has been the site of several recent naval battles between the Ondish and the Empire. These waters are rife with pirates and privateers who have joined in the undeclared war between the two powers.


Last edited by pbj44 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:25 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:08 am 
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Thanks Michael, you are very kind!

Coming soon:

A sampling of the major and minor Houses of the Ondermen

Rune Magic!


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:20 am 
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I have established Rune Magic as a cadet branch of Spiritual Magic (as per my posted homebrew magic rules), but these rules for Rune Magic could easily be adapted to work with other mechanics.

Rune Magic

“I saw that he was clothed in the same white robes. There was a broad belt either of black metal or ancient wood around his middle. There was a similar cincture around his breast. They were inlaid with symbolings of silver ... but who ever saw silver shift and change outline ... melt from this rune into another ... as these did? ...

The servants had quenched their torches, for now the corposants had begun to glimmer over the standing stones. The witch lights, the lamps of the dead ... Glimmering, shifting orbs of gray phosphorescence of the grayness of the dead ... Now the buzzing began within the Cairn, rising higher and higher until it became a faint, sustained whispering.”

Creep, Shadow, Creep - Abraham Merritt


Rune Lore

Unlike gypsies or mountebanks, who use runes for petty divination or bilking rubes, the sorcerer contemplates the true meaning of each rune and uses this understanding to weave fate, to literally change reality. It is the meaning, the interpretation, and understanding of the runes from which they draw their power, not the mere symbols.

However, this understanding is ephemeral and often uncertain. A sorcerer may fail to bring his understanding and power to bear on fate and, successful or not, the sun must set and rise again before he can contemplate the meaning of the same rune twice.

There are twenty-four runes are divided in to the three Aetts, or families. Only a sorcerer who has been trained in Spiritual magic (see Book Three – Spiritual Magic - in my homebrew magic system hosted on this site) may cast runes of power. With this in mind, a qualified sorcerer may purchase ranks in Rune Casting like any other skill. A sorcerer may be familiar with any rune, but initially begins with mastery of only the first Aett.

Rune Casting

Each rune has a sphere of influence. For example: the rune "Feoh" literally means Cattle, but refers to wealth in general and could be used to influence anything connected to monetary matters. Some runes can be reversed or if they can not be reversed can be used in opposition. For example: Feoh the cattle/wealth rune would normally be used to gain wealth, or influence transactions in favor of someone, but reversed it could be used to ruinous effect against an enemy.

Each of the 24 runes are governed by one of the four humor types within the sorcerer himself. A cast rune is powered by its associated humor.

Example: A sorcerer desires to cast the rune "Feoh" which is governed by the Choleric Humor. Checking his character sheet, the player notes that his character’s Choleric Humor, while nominally rated at power level 10, is currently at power level 7 as it recharges from previous use back to full strength.

The player had hoped to cast a greater rune (8 power levels), but as this is not possible, opts to cast a minor rune (4 power levels). The player casts the minor rune and the power level of his Choleric Humor is now temporarily reduced to 3.

Sorcerers start with only with mastery of the first Aett (all eight Runes), but gain mastery of the others as they progress in skill, gaining the second Aett at skill level 6 and the third Aett at skill level 4. To determine the maximum number of runes a sorcerer may use in combination, subtract the sorcerer’s skill level from 10.

The Rune Casting Skill Roll

To use a rune the player must successfully pass a Rune Casting Skill/MA check.

If the player succeeds with his Rune Casting Roll/MA roll, his magic works as described and the consumed power levels are deducted from the humor used to activate the spell.

If he fails nothing happens and the power levels are lost, fate is after all fickle. Either way, an individual rune can only be used once per day. It is up to the player to decide how he wants to use each rune and to what effect. It is up to the referee to decide if the player's desired use is possible and if so to set the Difficulty Level. There are three basic levels of difficulty when using runes:

Minor
The sorcerer uses his power to achieve goals that could just as easily be explained by natural phenomena or coincidence. For example: causing a bow string to snap, causing it to rain on a cloudy overcast day, or making someone lose their footing on rocky ground. The basic cost of a minor rune is 4 power levels.

Greater
The sorcerer uses his power in an obviously supernatural way such as causing a bow to burst into flames, sudden rain on a cloudless sunny day, or causing the ground to open beneath someone and swallow them. The basic cost of a greater rune is 8 power levels.

Major
The sorcerer uses his power in way that is not only obviously supernatural, but powerful and reality warping as well. For example: causing a bow to come to life and throttle its wielder, making thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour of rain in the king's mead hall, or causing the earth to rise up in the form a great beast and devour a war band. The basic cost of a major rune is 12 power levels.

There are three ways to use runes which all require a successful Rune Casting Skill/MA check:

Casting

This is the primary usage. The sorcerer selects a rune and contemplates upon its meaning before using the insight gained to change reality and weave fate. Before performing a casting the character must contemplate the rune (Meditation skill check) for an hour before the actual casting. Less than an hour or even no contemplation may be taken but at a TN penalty of +3.

As sorcerers improve in skill level they may use more than one rune at once in combination, but incur a penalty of +1 TN penalty per additional rune, with each rune used requiring a separate successful Rune Casting/MA check.

Runic Warding & Binding

The caster places, carves, or inscribes the rune somewhere or on something and dictates the circumstances that will activate it in the future. For example: the rune "Thorn" is inscribed on a bridge as a raiding group crosses into enemy territory, so that when they later flee back across the bridge, a wall of impassable thorns spring up after them to impede their pursuers.

Preparation for runic warding must be made in advance and cannot be done quickly as it takes at least four hours time.

Once used the rune cannot be used again until the ward has been set off and the sun has set and risen again. A normal Rune Casting/MA check is made, but only when the ward is actually activated.

A rune may also be bound to an item, weapon, or person for a purposed single use. For example: binding the "Death" rune to a spear so when it next hits it activates, killing instantly (saving throw applies!).

As with warding, the Rune Casting/MA check is only made when the object bound rune is actually activated, and until the rune has been used and the sun has set and risen, it cannot be used again.

Runic Inscription

A rune may be permanently inscribed, carved, or attached to something, someplace, or even someone for a permanent effect. However, the use of that rune is lost to the caster. This is done with a normal Rune Casting/MA roll and requires the sorcerer spend a day contemplating the rune and another day performing the ritual of inscription. Note, that if the Rune Casting/MA roll fails the rune is lost, and another inscription (of any rune) cannot be attempted for at least a week of in game time.
Runes permanently inscribed or lost through a failed Rune Casting Skill Roll can only be regained for the sorcerer if the item is dedicated to the gods and destroyed by means using one of the eight elements.

For example, a sorcerer inscribes his finger with the rune "Yew", a rune of protection, to add a permanent AV1 of armored protection to his person, but his lord demands he use his powers to protect him. To regain the rune our sorcerer must cut of his finger and can either cremate it, place it in a sacred pool as an offering, or tie in the branches of a tree for excarnation, ect,.

Runes and Their Meaning

Each rune has its own sphere of influence that forms the basis of the magic it can be created with it. This relates to its literal name and the more esoteric connections to that rune.

For example, the first rune of the first Aett (family) is Feoh, Cattle. This rune can obviously be used for any type of magic that relates directly to cattle. But Cattle also represent wealth in all its forms and the rune Feoh can be used in magic relating to wealth.

Each rune is read and used in the way depicted, but while many can be used in reverse (upside down), some however can't because they are the same when reversed. They may though be used in opposition or in the opposite of their normal meaning.

Most times using a rune in reverse or opposition is simply a case of reversing its normal usage. For example, the rune Ur (Strength) can be reversed to cause weakness. However, many reversed runes, or runes in opposition, are not exactly the opposite of their normal meaning, but have subtle or even wildly different meanings when used this way.

The keywords listed for each rune gives you a few examples of what the rune relates to, and also what it relates to when reversed or used in opposition.

THE FIRST AETT

ImageF – Feoh, Cattle

Relates to: Wealth, cattle, chattel, herds, property, winning land, possessions, luck, abundance, energy, protecting wealth.
Reversed: Greed, cowardice, stupidity, poverty, avarice, enmity over money. This rune is governed by the Choleric Humor.

ImageU –Ur Aurochs, Strength

Relates to: Strength, tenacity, potential, power, imposing your will on the world.
Reversed: weakness, brutality, cruel domination. This rune is governed by the Choleric Humor.

ImageTH – Thorn, Sharp

Relates to: Thorns. Evil, gateways, giants, destruction, sharp attack, difficult powers to control once unleashed.
Reversed: Danger, defenselessness, betrayal, lies. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

ImageO – Os, Mouth

Relates to: Speech, magic, power, prophecy, gods, sounds, signals, revealing messages, insight, communication, divine oracle.
Reversed: Vanity, misunderstanding, manipulation, delusion. This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageR-Rad, Road

Relates to: Travel, rewards, riding, spiritual journey, change, soul,
Reversed: Delay, crisis, setbacks, and necromancy. This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageC – Ken, Torch

Relates to: Light, beacon, leadership, protection against burning, guiding light.
Reversed: Darkness, disease, breaking of fellowships, false hope. This rune is governed by the Phlegmatic Humor.

Image G – Gyfu, Gift

Relates to: Offering, sacrifice, generosity, food, balance.
In Opposition: Greed, dependence, over-sacrifices, crooked, bribes. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

ImageW –Wynn, Joy

Relates to: Glory, air, associated with wands, foresight, wisdom, making magic, temporary happiness.
Reversed: Delirium, possession, berserker fury. This rune is governed by the Choleric Humor.

THE SECOND AETT

ImageH – Hagl, Hail

Relates to: Adverse weather, snow, sleet, hail, disruption, uncontrolled forces, trial.
In opposition: Stagnation, loss of power, a calm worse than the storm, inactivity. This rune is governed by the Choleric Humor.

ImageN – Nyd, Need
Relates to: Hardship, want, lack, famine.
Reversed: Surviving or overcoming need. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

Image I – IS, Ice

Relates to: Ice, cold, extreme cold.
In opposition: Plots, deceit, blindness, pride. This rune is governed by the Phlegmatic Humor.

ImageJ – Ger, Spear

Relates to: Victory in battle, breaking through, careful planning, plenty (as in harvest).
In Opposition: Sudden setbacks, reversals, bad timing. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

Image Eo – Eoh, Yew

Relates to: Death, the underworld, the dead.
Reversed: Confusion, weakness, destruction. This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageP – Peorth, Hearth

Relates to: Hospitality, laughter, entertainment, the braking or making of bonds (physical and metaphysical), also refers to the home and female mysteries.
Reversed: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise. This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageX – Eolh, Elk

Relates to: Protection, wards against spells and evil, guardian.
Reversed: Taboo, warning. This rune is governed by the Phlegmatic Humor.


ImageS – Sigel, Sun

Relates to: The sun, warmth, good fortune, sunlight, sky, victory.
In opposition: False council, wrath of gods. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

THE THIRD AETT

Image T –Tir, Tiw (god of war)

Relates to: Warrior, courage, glory, order, law, honor, leadership, swords.
Reversed: blocked communication or energy, mental paralysis. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

Image B – Beorc, Birch

Relates to: Fertility, healing, magic, love, earth, growth.
Reversed: Family problems, infertility. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.


Image E – Eh, Horse

Relates to: Horses, pride, adventure, increased speed, raw power
Reversed: Reckless, haste, restlessness, confinement. This rune is governed by the Choleric Humor.

ImageM – Monn, Man

Relates to: Humanity, friendship, the self, people, the body
Reversed: Cunning, craftiness, slyness. This rune is governed by the Sanguine Humor.

ImageL – Lagu, Water

Relates to: The sea, Lakes, Rivers, dreams, fantasies,
Reversed: Madness, obsession - This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageNG – Ing, Ing

Relates to: Jarls, peace, plenty.
In opposition: Movement without change, labor, work. This rune is governed by the Phlegmatic Humor.


ImageD –Deag, Day

Relates to: Reason, understanding, white magic, dispersing evil spirits, awakening.
In opposition: Completion, coming full circle, night, darkness, and evil magic. This rune is governed by the Melancholic Humor.

ImageOE – Ethel, Homeland

Relates to: Freedom, security, prosperity, stability, law, inherited property, spiritual heritage.
Reversed: Clannishness, lack of custom, prejudice. This rune is governed by the Phlegmatic Humor.


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:45 am 
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Major Houses of the Ondish - Part 1

House Gisli



Image

Coat of Arms: A leaping trout, silver, on a field of blue and mud red

Motto: Family, Duty, Honor

Location: The family seat of House Gísli is Castle Nepspel, a coastal fortress located within the city of Gísli.

Sphere of Influence: House Gísli's control extends in a 60 mile diameter from the city of Gísli.

Vassalage: House Gísli has sworn fealty to House Ornstaadt.

History: Long established in the Silver Bay area to protect against smugglers, House Gísli grew so adept at crushing those pirates that eventually they took over the entire trade as their own. These days no cargo lands in Silver Bay without House Gísli getting its percentage. The House deals with a select group of organized freebooters that operate under the House's strict guidelines. With all of the old freelance smugglers having been systematically hunted down, the Jarl's court in Carse has turned a blind eye to the family’s activities largely because of the aggressive naval war House Gísli has been waging against the Empire of Tsuran.

Current Events: With the coming of each new spring, the naval offensive against the Empire renews with each side inflicting horrific damage on the other. Though at a production disadvantage to mighty Tsuran, wily Lozo is able to construct vessels year round through the worst of weather with his innovative creation of collapsible boat-building hangers. To the dismay of the Tsurani, with each thaw they find a new Ondish fleet waiting for them.

Notable Family Members:

Image

Lozo Gísli
- Earl Gísli - Head of House Gísli - A laughing, roaring, drinking, mountain of a man, Lozo is obsessed with giving back the Tsurani a ten-fold measure of the pain that they inflicted on him the day they sank the ship captained by his sister's betrothed. Having bribed, wheedled, and cajoled handsome Captain Raff Olavson to marry the demoness, he was devastated with the news that he was still stuck with her. On numerous occasions he has offered command of a ship and a chest of Gold to the man who will marry her and take the blushing bride to a new home...far away. No one has stepped forward. These days the only peace that the Gods grant him is when he takes to sea for vengeance against the hated Tsurani.

Image

Lenorda Gísli
- Sister of Lozo - Corpulent, foul mouthed, wasp tongued Lenorda has despaired in ever getting a husband and punishes her brother every day for her misery. So ferocious are her screaming fits of temper that even battle hardened warriors have blanched and fled her presence.

Financials: Smuggling, taxes, tolls, trade


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:31 am 
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Major Houses of the Ondish - Part 2

House: House Özurr

Image

Coat of Arms: A golden kraken on black

Motto: We Do Not Sow

Location: The family seat of House Özurr is Castle Amholdt located within the city of Quidden.

Sphere of Influence: House Özurr rules the great city of Quidden and all within a sixty mile radius of Castle Amholdt.

Vassalage: House Özurr has sworn fealty to House Ornstaadt.

History: Proud House Özurr spurned farming from the very beginning of its founding and instead has made its fortune on the lucrative sea and river trading of the Onderland.

A bitter rival of the Ornstaadt family, House Özurr has long contended that less control was needed from Carse. They have chaffed at being restricted to the area surrounding Quidden and principally with the use of mercenary troops, have pursued a policy of quiet expansion.

An indifferent land manager at best, House Özurr leaves the city and surrounding villages to their own devices but will not tolerate any shortfalls in tax revenue.

They despise the stubborn devotion of House's Sturla, Dagr, and Gisli to the Jarl and have privately advocated a foreign policy based on coming to an "understanding" with the Empire of Tsuran. House Özurr shipping has been virtually unaffected by the undeclared naval war with the Tsurani Empire.

Current Events: Two months past a mutual assistance pact was agreed upon with House Hjallkárr and plans are now in motion for both sides to combine their forces as needed for any future military operations.

Notable Family Members:

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Stenda Özurr – Earl Özurr – The head of House Özurr, Stenda came to power when his father Gotlr died in a hunting accident some twenty years past. He is out of favor with the Jarl's court in Carse since the occasion of his public disagreement with the Jarl over the Jarl’s son Wilfric's appointment as Earl of Tulan. His slowness of speech has caused many to feel that he is a stupid man. This has worked to his favor on many an occasion and is an affect that he has practiced to perfection.

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Gran Özurr – Nephew of Stenda – Gran is the commander of the forces of House Özurr. Seven winters past he lost an eye in an ill-advised duel with Halder Sturla and cannot abide any mention of that name nor reference to his disfigurement. He is quite fond of hunting and has a well-known pack of hunting dogs that is a source of pride.

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Len Özurr – Brother of Stenda – Cool and reserved, Len serves as seneschal of Castle Amholdt and handles most of the family day-to-day affairs in his brother's name. He is renowned as a deadly bladesman and has been victorious in nine public duels. He will tolerate no aspersions cast upon the Özurr name and has a respected reputation as a scholar who pays well for obscure texts.

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Ren Özurr – Son of Gran – Wild Ren has caused his family embarrassment on more than one occasion. He typically travels with a group of House Özurr youths wherever he goes. Fighting, hunting, drinking and wenching seem to be his only interests, although he does have a code of sorts and will not tolerate abuse to women or children.

Financials: Herbs, spices, rare hides, rare hardwoods, taxes, tariffs, Imports


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:42 am 
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From time to time it is a goal of mine to highlight some of the signature monsters of the Onderland to add a little color to the setting. Enjoy!


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Hags

Like the Skald-Sänger, Wicce females are valuable members of Wild Men tribes, while Hags (also known as Witches) are women who have become tainted and deranged by the Hierarchs of Entropy.

Seeking out others like themselves, they have grown to become a menace to all who travel the wilds of the Onderland.

Hags have ferocious appetites for the flesh of Man, with children especially prized. With hides hardened to the toughness of thick leather, Hags have an overall AV3 armor value from head to toe. Notoriously strong, Hags are generally found to be ST8 with talons like iron.

Hags rely on MA to learn, memorize, and utilize their cures, curses, potions, charms and spells. They gain a bonus to the potency of their magic represented as MA/2.

Items of their spellcraft include a bowl and a knife, small bronze cauldron and tripod, a nine herb charm, pouches of dried henbane, fly agric, and belladonna, a brace of mandrake roots, a bag of dead things, a wax Mommet and thorns.

The Hags Craft

Traditionally Wicce women learn their craft slowly and carefully under the tutelage of their tribe's wise crone, but having been driven out from their tribes, Hags must take the dangerous shortcut of furthering their craft aided by teachings from a foul-spawn familiar.


Familiars

Familiars always assume a twisted version of a small animal, normally animals associated with death, the night, or carrion; such as crows, ravens, rats, black cats, owls, lizards, and snakes.

Familiar's are not of our world, and no one knows where they hail from, or what they want. What is known is that they come and go as they please, often appearing as if from out of thin air. Their animal form can be destroyed, but they always reappear the very next nightfall. Those that are foolish enough to destroy a Hag's familiar tend die soon afterwards, often grisly, horrible deaths.

Familiars communicate with their Hag’s using imagery projected directly into Hag's mind’s eye, but only seem interested in doing so when teaching the Hag Elements of the Craft.

Learning the Craft

There is always a price to be paid for knowledge of the craft. For each Element of the Craft a Hag is taught by their Familiar, they must sacrifice a part of their spirit. This is represented by a permanent loss of Attributes given to the Familiar who takes it by feeding from the Hag, in many weird and repugnant ways, and by instantly aging by one year. Each time a Hag chooses to learn an Element of the Craft, it permanently deducts 1 point from their SOC attribute as well as aging the Hag a year. After a Hag’s SOC is exhausted, further learning must be paid for with minor flaws, beginning with “Ugly” (minor), (progressing to “Ugly” as a major flaw before other minor flaws are considered).

Elements of the Craft

1: Nine Herb Charm

The Nine Herb Charm can heal any and all ills. It can heal wounds, cure disease, break charms, or spells placed upon the victim, negate the effects of poison. It can cure any illness natural or unnatural, but each Hag can only use its power nine times.

2: The Green Candle

The familiar teaches the Hag to heal mundane wounds with the use of a green candle and an incantation. The Hag must light a green candle and chant the charm.

The number of Wound Levels healed are equal to the number of hours the Hag chants with the candle burning.

3: Curses

By air, by stone, by water, and by fire the Hag calls a curse down upon her foe. There are three types of curse and each must be learnt in order, from weak to strongest, and the price paid each time. The victim of a curse is allowed a WP check at TN9 to resist its affects, if that fails they will have to find a Wicce to break the Hag’s curse.

The Wearisome Curse
This is the mildest form of curse and is designed to confound, humiliate and frustrate an enemy. For example the curse might cause someone to ‘Always speak his mind, and never mind what he speaks’ as a way to get an enemy in trouble, or perhaps to curse an arrogant warrior to ‘bleat like a lamb’ every time he tries to boast of his prowess, or curse a vain queen to grow a beard.

The Destructive Curse
This is a much more direct and dangerous curse designed to destroy the victim’s status, power, and wealth. For example curses that cause cattle to die, or crops to fail will have dire consequences causing material loss for their owners and possibly famine for the communities that rely on them.

Cursing a Graf or Lord’s luck may mean he loses battles until his men abandon him. A poet could be cursed to become tongue tied and thus his reputation and livelihood would be destroyed. A noble woman could be cursed to wantonness and thus her status would suffer.

The Malign Curse
The most potent and evil of the curses, these curses cause enemies to suffer slow and wasting deaths, cause victims, even entire households or communities, to suffer infertility, or warriors to slay loved ones in a murderous rage.

Curses are not instant, but run their course over a period of time. How long a curse lasts or takes to work depends on the Hag and the type of curse. Wearisome curses last one day plus the Hag’s MA bonus. Destructive curses last for, or take affect after, 1d10 days.

The Hags MA bonus in days may be added or deducted depending on whether they want their victim to suffer, or the curse to take affect quickly. Malign Curses work the same way, but in weeks.

4: Scrying

The Hag fills her bowl with water, preferably water from a sacred source such as a shrine, and uses it to see visions. There are two types of scrying, both are separate skills and require the price be paid to learn them.

Seer Scrying
This is a type of divination and allows the Hag to see visions of what may be, and what may come to pass. This may only be attempted once per week of game time.

The player informs the GM what they’re trying to find out. This should be in relation to a particular task or problem within the current adventure and any action they were planning to take. The Hag then describes to the character three possible three possible futures: one good, one neutral, one bad.

These visions should contain enough clues to allow the players to pursue the positive outcome, try and avoid the negative one, and take the chance to settle for the neutral outcome when they see it.


Fetch Scrying
This allows the Hag to spy on someone from afar. She stares into the scrying bowl and sends her “fetch”, her spirit double, into the otherworld reflected in the waters of the bowl. The fetch is then free to travel the mirror world and see what is happening somewhere else and the Hag sees and hears everything her fetch does. There is no limit on distance, but the Hag must have been to the place or know the person she wishes to spy on.

5: Potions

The familiar teaches the Hag to brew potions in her cauldron. Each application of a potion takes one full day of preparation. Potion craft is similar to poison and venom craft, but not quite as potent. Each potion type is a separate skill for which the price must be paid. There is no order in which they must be learned but some of the potions require the price be paid for each level of potency. Potions must be drunk, but they can also be applied to arrows and one application will coat three arrows. If the recipient is an unwilling one (i.e. forced to drink, struck by an arrow, then they are allowed either a TO/TN8 OR WP/TN8 check (whatever is most applicable).

Sleeping Draft
This potion will put anyone who drinks it into a deathlike, dreamless slumber from which only an application of the nine herb charm can wake the victim before it runs its natural course. While they sleep the victim is magically sustained and requires no sustenance and does not age.

There are different strengths of sleeping draft and the Hag must pay the price to learn each of them, and like poisons and venoms, they must be learnt in order of potency. The order of potency is: rounds, turns, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries.

The Mead of Beli-Mawr
Beli-Mawr is a Wild Men god of war and his mead sends anyone who drinks it into a fighting rage that lasts 1d10+MA bonus in combat rounds. During this time they attack at +2 CP to hit and Damage and ignore all pain, allowing them to fight on even if they are horribly wounded.
Whilst in the fighting rage the victim will attack anyone and everyone indiscriminately and will not even recognize his loved ones and friends.

The Coward’s Cup
Anyone who drinks this potion will be overcome with debilitating fear and will run from battle, or cower in a corner, unable to fight unable to face anyone, or anything. They will be literally scared of everything. The effects last until either the combat is over, or if taken in a non combat situation, for 1d10+MA bonus minutes. This potion can destroy a warrior’s reputation and status.

Hag Sight
This potion causes blindness for 1d10+MA bonus minutes. Anyone affected is at +4 TN to any roll they might make.

Hag Brew
This concoction causes the victim to suffer wild and confusing hallucinations that renders them all but incapable of performing any action other than raving incoherently and trying to catch hold of the strange things they are seeing. The affects last for 1d10+MA bonus hours.

Branwen’s Brew
Branwen is the Wild Men goddess of love and anyone who drinks one of these potions will fall madly, passionately, and very often tragically in love with the next person they see.

Rhiannon’s Blessing, Rhiannon’s Curse
So called because whoever drinks this potion forgets everything they know, which is a magic associated with the Wild Men goddess Rhiannon and forgetfulness can be a blessing or a curse. This potion can be made in three potencies, each of which must be learned in order and the price paid. The three potencies are 1d10+MA bonus of forgetfulness that lasts; hours, days, or years.

6: Poisons

The creation of poisons is the simplest of the Hag’s craft, but no less deadly. There are three types of poison a Hag can brew. These must be learnt in order and a price paid for each. They must be ingested to take affect and the victim is allowed a TO check at TN6, but this is modified by the Hag’s MA bonus.

Spider’s Spite
A non-lethal poison that paralyses the victim for 1d3 hours, but otherwise causes no harm.

Hag’s Kiss
A noxious brew that lays the victim low with a violent flux for 1d3 days and causes 1d3+MA bonus in Health damage. If this reduces the victim to 0 Health or less, they don’t die. Instead they are merely permanently weakened and lose 1 point of ST and TO.

Dragon’s Blood
A lethal poison. If the Victim fails a TO check they die a slow and agonizing death.

7: Venoms

Venoms use the same principles as poisons, but they are brewed in a concoction that takes effect when the toxins enter the bloodstream via a blade, arrowhead, spear point, etc. Once applied to the weapon the venom is stable for 1d3 hours plus the Hag’s MA bonus.

Once combat begins they will be stable for 1d3 rounds plus the Hag’s MA bonus. These venoms can only affect each victim once. Whoever is using the envenomed weapon must score a hit on their enemy, as well as the weapon’s damage, each venom has its own effect. Like the poisons these crafts must be learnt in order and the price paid for each. As with poisons, the victim is allowed a TO check at TN6, but this is modified by the Hag’s MA bonus.


Spider’s Bite
Causes paralysis; if the victim fails their TO check they are paralyzed for 1d3 combat rounds.

Hag’s Wound
Doubles the amount of damage caused by a weapon.

Dragon’s Fire
Will kill the victim in 1d3 combat rounds if they fail their TO check.

8: The Mommet and Thorn

This craft involves using a Mommet (a wax effigy), and a thorn so the Hag can torment and harm her enemies from a safe distance. To use this magic the Hag must have a personal item or keepsake of the intended victim attached to her Mommet. There are four levels of Thorn harm and each is a separate craft. They must be learnt in order and the price paid for each. The victim is allowed a WP check at TN6, but this is modified by the Hag’s MA bonus.


Stings of the Thorn
The Hag pricks the Mommet with the thorn, using light shallow jabs. These normally make the victim scream out loud, jump, drop things, spasm and the like. The effect is instant and if the target fails thier initial WP check, the Hag can then toy with her victim for as long as she wishes, though without causing any real harm.

Pinned by the Thorn
The Hag drives the Thorn into a particular body part and leaves it there. If the victim fails their WP check, the body part pierced is wracked with pain and the area effected is useless.

For example a Thorn in the mouth stops the victim from talking, in the spine will pin them to the ground, put a thorn in the Mommet’s hand and the victim loses the use of that hand. At the initial level of learning, the duration is in combat rounds, at the next level, turns, and at the final level, hours. All durations are determined by a roll of 1d3+MA bonus.

Wounds of the Thorn
The Hag drives the thorn into the Mommet's stomach and wounds the victim. If the target's WP check fails, the damage is 1 wound level plus the Hag’s MA bonus per stab. One stab may be made each day.

The Murderous Thorn
The Hag drives the Thorn into the Mommet's heart; if the victim fails their WP check, they die.

Amulet Craft
The Wicce of any Wild Men tribe can make amulets to protect herself, her allies, or her patrons from the harmful aspects of a Hag’s craft. Amulets can be made that protect against the three types of Curse, Fetch Scrying, the seven potions, the three poisons and three venoms, and the four types of Thorn Magic.


Last edited by pbj44 on Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:55 am 
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Great work PJ.

Regards,

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Ian Plumb
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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:40 am 
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Thanks Ian! Glad you enjoyed it!


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 Post subject: Re: The Onderland Campaign
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:46 am 
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Hi All,

I have a couple of questions about this section

pbj44 wrote:
8: The Mommet and Thorn

This craft involves using a Mommet (a wax effigy), and a thorn so the Hag can torment and harm her enemies from a safe distance. To use this magic the Hag must have a personal item or keepsake of the intended victim attached to her Mommet. There are four levels of Thorn harm and each is a separate craft. They must be learnt in order and the price paid for each. The victim is allowed a WP check at TN6, but this is modified by the Hag’s MA bonus.


Stings of the Thorn
The Hag pricks the Mommet with the thorn, using light shallow jabs. These normally make the victim scream out loud, jump, drop things, spasm and the like. The effect is instant and if the target fails thier initial WP check, the Hag can then toy with her victim for as long as she wishes, though without causing any real harm.

Pinned by the Thorn
The Hag drives the Thorn into a particular body part and leaves it there. If the victim fails their WP check, the body part pierced is wracked with pain and the area effected is useless.

For example a Thorn in the mouth stops the victim from talking, in the spine will pin them to the ground, put a thorn in the Mommet’s hand and the victim loses the use of that hand. At the initial level of learning, the duration is in combat rounds, at the next level, turns, and at the final level, hours. All durations are determined by a roll of 1d3+MA bonus.

Wounds of the Thorn
The Hag drives the thorn into the Mommet's stomach and wounds the victim. If the target's WP check fails, the damage is 1 wound level plus the Hag’s MA bonus per stab. One stab may be made each day.

The Murderous Thorn
The Hag drives the Thorn into the Mommet's heart; if the victim fails their HT or TO/TN check (player’s choice), they die.

Amulet Craft
The Wicce of any Wild Men tribe can make amulets to protect herself, her allies, or her patrons from the harmful aspects of a Hag’s craft. Amulets can be made that protect against the three types of Curse, Fetch Scrying, the seven potions, the three poisons and three venoms, and the four types of Thorn Magic.


This is how does the MA/2 Modifier modify WP rolls, especially when you have a specified different save.

But apart from this, this section is brillant.

Simon Burling


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