Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Monday, September 30, 2019

Age of Iron Update

Hello all! Sorry for no AoI update in a while. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on it!

Basically, I realized doing these blog posts put me back at square one production wise. I was basically re-writing the whole supplement/setting again, which I didn't want to do considering all the work I've already put into it.

I have gone back to editing my main Google Docs document, and I'm getting to a good point. I've also included two new entries - an entry for Lygos, elevating its importance and basically turning it into AoI Marienburg, and most likely an entry for the as-of-yet unnamed southern continent that is my not-Southern Wastes/Terra Australis.

In addition to finishing the broad descriptions of the regions, I need to go back and punch them up to make them more dark fantasy. They aren't exactly high fantasy right now, just more historical fantasy. Just want to put a slightly grim sheen on everything if I can.

So that's that, and hopefully I'll have more updates soon. Thanks for sticking around!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Age of Iron: Al-Hilal

Inspiration: Morocco post-Reconquista, transitioning from the Almohad to the Marinid dynasty, but also a general 'Arabia'

Stretching from the shimmering southern shores of the Middle Sea into the deadly majesty of the Great Desert, Al-Hilal is a land rife with mystery and conflict. Originally founded by desert tribesmen led by the man who would later be called Mazdah, Al-Hilal grew to such heights and riches that for a time it held Hespia under its sway. This all ended with the Great Crusade, which not only weakened the country but planted sedition within it. Though the nation is still powerful and rich, rebellion and hubris has slowly been eating away at it internally - threatening to consume the empire in a civil war or perhaps something worse.

Lay of the Land

Al-Hilal overall is a dry, arid and blisteringly hot country. Most settlements lie either on the coasts of the Middle Sea or the Great Ocean where the land is fertile and trade routes are plentiful. Past the sprawling Atla Mountains, the country quickly turns into the untracked and golden Great Desert - where water is a dream outside of a few rare oasis. Many nomadic tribes live in the desert, making their living as guides and merchants, but countless beasts and bandits also hide among the dunes. Al-Hilal shares a border with Khmet, but so far the Caliph's forces have been able to pick off the few undead sent beyond the cenotaphs.

Politics and Government

Al-Hilal is a theocracy that strictly follows the faith of Mazdah, interpreting most secular and religious matters from the holy text The Word of Law. Caliph Abu Dabbus serves as both the head of state and head of the faith, administering all the land that Mazdah once conquered centuries ago. In reality he only directly rules his imperial holdings - the rest of Al-Hilal is divided between sultans, emirs and sheikhs who have varying alliances and loyalties to the Caliph. Many in the north still pledge allegiance to the Caliph and Al-Hilal, but more and more southern settlements are rebelling or declaring outright independence from the nation.

People and Culture

Many in Europa, especially in Hespia, view Al-Hilal as aggressive, war-mongering fanatics, but the opposite is more true. Al-Hilal's booming trade and centers of learning have made its peoples rich, educated, proud, determined and spiritual - in fact, in very few places will you find better hospitality than a Sultan's household, a Mazdahan temple or one of the country's universities. Unfortunately, not everything is so progressive - inequality is rampant thanks to a fairly strict class system, not to mention much of Al-Hilal's economy is built upon a massive chattel slavery trade across the Great Desert that has flourished over the centuries.

Locations


The cities of Al-Hilal are large and grand, built out of sandstone, granite and marble and replete with gardens, baths, domed palaces, resplendent archways and beautiful temples. They are built to keep the buildings cool during the blazing days and warm during the frigid nights. Many settlements within the Great Desert are just sprawling nomadic camps, able to be struck down and picked up with relative ease.

Anfa is known as a city of thieves, trade and danger. Almost anything you desire can be found for sale in the markets of Anfa, from the most innocent kettle to dark artifacts of Corruptive power. Much of the city is indirectly controlled by a large network of thieves, assassins and bandits, so illicit trade is often under constant watch by those who would prefer to keep the upper hand in all the transactions that enter Anfa.

Murrkus is the capital of Al-Hilal, located near the coast of the Great Ocean. Murrkus is full of sprawling bazaars, esteemed universities of scholastic and magickal study, beautiful temples, and of course the royal palace of the Caliph. Murrkus is also considered the most holy city in the Mazdahn faith, meaning thousands of supplicants across Tellus make pilgrimages here yearly to best honor the great prophet of their creed.

Salli is oftentimes known as the 'pirate city.' Located on the Middle Sea coast, the corsairs of Salli sail throughout the sea performing razzias (raids) on coastal Europan towns - capturing their residents to eventually sell back in the slave markets of Salli. The navies of Europa have tried to prevent these raids as best as they can, but the corsairs are too well armed and too efficient to slow down very significantly.

Ubar is a lost city supposedly deep within the Great Desert. Once grand and opulent, it's said Corruption consumed the city in fire and violence. Now Ubar shifts in and out of the Material Plane, occasionally unleashing demons or dark warriors into Al-Hilal's wilds. It's believed Ubar holds many treasures, but those explorers who have tried to approach the 'Mirage City' are either slain or disappear without a trace.

Conclusion

Sorry for the delay on this one. I've noticed the hardest part of these entries is writing the locations. They aren't difficult, just kind of more research and time consuming than general research/development on the region as a whole. As for what's next I'm not sure - might go eastward into Aswai, might do dwarves, or I might just do one or two smaller posts about the setting in general. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Age of Iron: Elven Ecology

For a little departure from the nation descriptions, I thought I'd dive into doing some ancestry/race descriptions. These are going to be much more brief than the nation descriptions, probably more akin to how I did the 'continent' listings.

Today, I'm going to be covering the elves - or Aelfar in their native language.

All elves used to be united as one people, but the War of the Ancestors and the War of Brothers splintered them into three different peoples. All Aelfar are still biologically the same and can interbreed, but their cultures are so different and the bile so hot inbetween them that they have very little desire to.

Imperial Elves: Imperial elves are very much like High Elves in WH - aloof, intelligent and standoffish to anyone who isn't their own kind. They are generally found either on the isle of Avalon or one of Avalon's handful of imperial colonies. Imperial elves are generally more well-educated and refined than other elves, but they have drawn a lot of scorn from all across Tellus. Those imperial elves who journey outside of Avalon as traders, diplomats and seamen are often called 'marine elves.' They are generally more grounded and worldly than imperial elves, and they can be found in nearly any major port that has relations with Avalon.

Sylvan Elves: Sylvan elves are my wood elves - survivors of abandoned elven settlements after the majority of elves retreated to Avalon following the War of Ancestors. Pockets of sylvan elves can be found in nearly any major forest across Tellus, but the largest concentration is in the magickal forest of Tirannwn (formerly called Eire) - located between Couronne and Aquilla and bearing the kingdom of the same name. Sylvan elves are tough, spiritual and determined, but they tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. They rarely leave their forest homes, and those that do are either outcasts, rebels or something altogether strange.

Siabra: The siabra are of course the dark elves - rebellious elves who warred against Avalon, eventually separating and forming their own dread empire of Dinetah far in the western continent of Anahuac. Siabra ply the seas in search of ports to raid and people to enslave and exploit, mooring their massive city-sized galleons wherever they please. Imperial and sylvan elves distrust each other, but they both despise the siabra. Siabra are mainly cruel and vile, but history shows a few of them have come to their senses and rebelled. If they somehow manage to escape imprisonment and execution, they only have a hard life ahead of them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Age of Iron: Avalon

Inspiration: British Empire ruled by elves, albeit going through an isolationist phase

The isle of Avalon sits far off the coast of Europa, obscured to outsiders by a heavy, near-blinding mist. The ancestral homeland of all elves, it is now the sole home of the haughty and noble imperial elves. The fortunes of the elves and Avalon tend to ebb and flow with time, but their presence can always be felt around Tellus thanks to their impressive navy and culture. Since the War of Corruption, however, Avalon has become more insular by abandoning many of their colonies and overseas holdings. Combined with internal strife and a declining birth rate of unknown origin, many feel the sun may be finally setting on this once grand empire.

Lay of the Land

Avalon is a singular large island, surrounded by countless smaller barrier islands and protected from the rest of the world by a magickal mist created by the elves' most powerful mages. Though the waters approaching Avalon are rough, the island itself is ruggedly beautiful - rising highlands plunge down to sweeping moors and broad, dark forests. The island is utterly suffused with ambient magick and its effects, but Avalon's elite military has ensured the most monstrous creatures have long been eliminated. In the more remote parts of the island, creatures like dragons, unicorns and rocs thrive while they remain rare legends in the rest of Tellus.

Politics and Government

High Queen Marya and High King Charion rule over the whole of Avalon and its many imperial holdings, serving as dual leaders advised by a trusted monarch's council. They have ruled for nearly two centuries and have slowly turned the nation inward in order to best protect their people. Underneath them, the empire is divided into multiple realms each ruled by a High Lord - generals, mages and nobles who all report to the High Monarchs via the House of Lords. The High Lords often have intense rivalries with one another, but proper imperial decorum and a struggling empire prevents them from coming to blows beyond political ones.

People and Culture

Imperial elves like to think of themselves as educated, cultured, worldly and disciplined, and in essence this is true. However, this often results in Avalonians coming off as aloof, superior, privileged, arrogant and dismissive towards non-elves. While not overtly hostile, Avalon's imperial nature has gained them both rivals and enemies abroad - something the current High Monarchs are trying to repair after centuries of strife. Few imperial elves even ever have a desire to journey beyond Avalon or its colonies, but those that do tend to be more grounded, friendly and tolerant than their brethren who prefer to stay in the comfort of the island.

Locations

Avalon's cities and colonies are large and beautiful. The soaring marble architecture, wide ports and protected roadways have all been carefully tended with magick and constructed by the best engineers on Tellus. The towns are modest and humble, but even here lie beautiful churches and castles that date back centuries. Imperial elven architecture is distinct, impressive and can stand up to the very worst sieges.

Caer Lud is the capital of Avalon, as well as the empire's largest city. The port is the largest known port in all of Tellus, and goods are ferried in-and-out every day to Avalon's many colonies and trade partners. Many non-elves have immigrated to Caer Lud in hopes of improving their lives, but unfortunately most of them are treated as second-class citizens, given the most menial jobs and forced to live in the worst of the city's slums.

Caer Dine lies in Avalon's west and is strictly off-limits to nearly all residents. Once the homeland of the siabra, Caer Dine was rendered a smoking ruin after the War of Brothers. Avalon has the ruins under constant guard by soldiers and arcanists as the siabra have tried to retake their old capital multiple times. Much of the land has soured and withered thanks to the many conflicts and magickal taint of the siabra.

Caledon is situated far in the highlands of north Avalon. Inhabited by an ancient kith of sylvan elves, Caledon has managed to resist Avalon's suzerainty for centuries. The land surrounding the small settlement is much more untamed than the rest of the island, and its said the Caledi druids have pacts with local nephilim and bogbeasts to protect their ancient and insular way of life from being intruded upon by the imperials.

Eire is not a city, but rather a large island that supposedly warps around all of Tellus - anchoring near Avalon consistently once every century or so for a season. Those who have journeyed to Eire have never returned, but rumors abound that is the capital of the fomorians. The only proof of this is fomorian raids tend to increase when Eire is present, but this could just be conjecture from delusional and frightened fishermen.

Conclusion: Sorry for the delay, but here is Avalon - and I think it came out pretty well! I'm still kind of in the air about Caledon (aka WFRP Albion), but I'm really not sure if it NEEDS a full write-up. I just think a Celtic human faction and a Celtic elven faction just covers too much similar ground, and I'd rather just give Albion a wink and a nod rather than a whole region to itself. Not sure what's up next description wise, but I was feeling Al-Hilal.

Edit: Changed a few minor things regarding government, but nothing major.

Edit 2: A few more changes. Made Caledon into a cadre of sylvan elves rather than humans - I think the 'sylvan elves as Celts' approach is really the way to go.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Age of Iron: Elsewhere

The last stop on our tour of Tellus is going to be basically the places that aren't part of any of the four major continents of the setting. This is by far the 'smallest' region, as it really only involves two broad locations.

The Wasteland: My Chaos Wastes/Arctic/Terra Australis, this one is pretty similar to other Warhammer-esque settings - violent wasteland of demons, chaos worshipers, grendel and so on. The Southern Wasteland is based on the idea of Terra Australis, which is the late medieval thought that a southern landmass existed but its nature wasn't truly known. Basically, Australia and the Antarctic were thought to be one landmass. Nothing very special here.

The Great Warren: The home of the skrzzak, this is kind of a dark fantasy spin on the Underdark of traditional D&D. I like the 'underworld' being this weird warren of technology, disease and biohorror mutants rather than spider-infested caves. Like in the Old World, the Great Warren winds under most of the world and has many entrances and exits.

So that wraps up the broad overview of areas. There are still some things to consider - such as recombining Ntotila and Vanhu to keep the regions at an even 30, but that can wait as the setting develops. I'm going to now try and focus in on each region once again, as previously displayed in my Marcher Baronies post. I'll write whatever region moves me at the time, so I'm not restricting myself to a set order

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Age of Iron: Anahuac Pt.2

So after some long thinking, I believe I have figured out what Anahuac is going to be, and it's mostly going to be an area of necessity.

In all honesty, I don't have the time or energy to fully flesh out every Native American nation, and this project is long overdue as it is. However, I'm going to try my best to do where Warhammer kind of skimped out.

The nations of Anahuac are, as stands:

Dinetah: My North America/Naggaroth. While the siabra do dwell here, they don't control nearly all of the continent. Much of it is still inhabited by native Anahuacans, but they are often either in hiding or fighting losing battles. The siabra so far haven't expanded past the Grandfather River (Mississippi-expy) in a nod to post-revolutionary America, and much of that remains wild though the siabra inch ever closer.

Aztlan: My South America/Lustria, this one is pretty close to the Warhammer source material. The aztlan are going to be a bit more explicitly alien and not outright hostile to humanity, but very few people want to venture into the jungles regardless. Like Dinetah there will be native tribes, but they tend to have a more neutral relationship with the lizardfolk rather than the hostile relationship Dinetahns have.

The Wracked Sea: My Caribbean analogue, this one is a bit new to the setting. This is not only going to feature pirates and Europan colonials, but also my version of the Vortex - making the Wracked Sea a convenient place to have Pirates of the Caribbean-type pseudo-fantasy adventures. Undead pirate crews, voodoo cults, etc.

At least until I change my mind, that's how Anahuac stands at the moment. By far the 'smallest' of the continents, but the vast stretch of it is supposed to be unexplored and mysterious to easterners who are journeying west for fame or fortune. These areas are gonna come about heavily in the descriptions, but I think they'll work out well

Next time is the last stop on the tour, which are regions that don't really fit into a single continent, but it should be a pretty small entry.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Age of Iron: Anahuac Pt. 1

So the final continent of Age of Iron that will be covered is the far western (or far eastern depending on how you look at it) landmass of Anahuac. Anahuac is supposed to represent the Americas, and despite two distinct landmasses they are considered one continent.

Now Anahuac I have probably had the most trouble with in regards to what do with the setting. Not very much is known about America during the medieval times - partly because there were very few concrete 'nations' in America then and partly because colonialism and imperialism probably destroyed what records did exist. Many Native American cultures had oral records rather than written records, and of course those change and disappear as time goes on. So for a fantasy game, it's hard to pin down more than generalities.

I also encounter the same issue faced with Ifri, which is one of privilege as a white male writing about marginalized cultures. But once again unlike Ifri, pre-Columbian history is often shrouded behind a fog making it hard to just base areas on literal historic analogues.

I've thought of a few approaches on how to handle Anahuac, which I'll detail now.

Approach 1:  This is kind of a more 'simplistic' approach and most in line with what WFRP had. The regions would basically be siabra in the north, aztlan in the south, a Caribbean-analogue and a Native American refugee region somewhere in between.

The main issue with this is the Native American region, tentatively titled Hah'nu'nah. There are literally hundreds of Native American tribes that still exist today, and that number only increases as you go back in time. Hah'nu'nah would be very hard to generalize without the broadest of broad strokes. Obviously I wouldn't be offensive, but I'd risk being uninclusive.

Approach 2: This is similar to Approach 1, but I break the Native American nation up into multiple regions. These would be based on major cultural areas and not specific tribes, so there would be a Plains Native area and a SW Native area.

This would provide a more detailed approach, but it would also increase the chances of me getting something 'wrong' unintentionally, which is also something I don't want.

Approach 3:  Similar to 2, but it would focus exclusively on pre-Columbian agricultural civilizations - mainly the Pueblo, the Mound Builders, the Inca, etc. This would probably be easier to do justice to than Approach 2 and more detailed than Approach 1, but it'd still be a significant project.

Approach 4: The final approach, Approach 4 would be to just not cover Anahuac. Instead Tellus would be restricted to the "Old World", i.e. just Ifri, Europa and Aswai. Anahuac would exist, but as a myth or a scientific possibility rather than an adventuring area. I'd then transfer the siabra, aztlan and pirates to nations in the east.

This solves the problem of not doing the Americas justice by just eliminating the problem, but it would reduce the WFRP-ish nature of Age of Iron and kind of make it something more like Conan. Not entirely a bad thing, but it'd just be different.

That's kind of where I am right now with Anahuac, and any ideas or suggestions you all could make would be much appreciated. Obviously I'll make a decision eventually, but what that exactly is yet remains to be fully seen.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Age of Iron: Aswai

Now we head from the deep south of Tellus to the far east of our Asia analogue - Aswai! Aside from the Old World, the Far East is probably the 'best' detailed region of the Warhammer setting. Even then, that distinction has diminishing returns. Either way, medieval Asia is a pretty exciting and distinctive time period, so I of course had to include it.

The Great Steppe (name potentially changing) is my Eastern Steppe analogue, based partially around the Golden Horde Mongols. This is more Scythian than Mongolian, plus there will be hobgoblins a plenty.

Gurkani is my India/Ind region. Much of Gurkani was once under the control of Avalon but they've shaken off most of the shackles - now it's divided between a not-Delhi Sultanate and the southern not-Hindu kingdoms.

Kombuja is my Khuresh/SE Asia analogue. Khuresh is inhabited mainly by serpent people, and while those do exist in Kombuja they are not the main focus. Kombuja basically exists after the fall of the Khmer Empire, with many small successor states being led by god-kings trying to recover from disaster.

The Land of Darkness (name potentially changing) is my Darklands/Persia. Instead of basing it on Mesopotamian/Assyrian Persia, the Land of Darkness will be more like the Timurid Empire or Ihl-Khanate - where foreign invaders suppressed the native Persians and had basically a reign of terror over the region for around two centuries.

The Ogre Khans is my Ogre Kingdoms/Chagatai Khanate region. Ogres once ruled over all of Aswai much like Mongolia did, but the death of the Great Khan shattered the empire and drove the Ogres to inhabit the Mountains of Heaven, aka the Himalayas.

Yashimi is my Nippon/Japan analogue, and is fairly firmly entrenched in the Warring States/Shogunate era. Yashimi is also extremely isolationist, and mainly only Aquilla is able to trade with them in a reference to the Nanban trade (though that fudges the timeline a bit, which to me is fine).

Zhongguo is my China/Cathay region. I don't know if Cathay was ever based on a specific era of China, but Zhongguo is mainly influenced by the fairly short-lived Yuan dynasty (which immediately followed the dissolution of the Mongol Empire). Yuan China was probably the largest China has ever been, having conquered Mongolia, large parts of Tibet and even Korea. They even attempted to invade Japan once or twice, but subsequently failed.

Now for the maybes: I definitely want a region based on Austronesia, but I'm divided on whether it should be the location of the Fomorians, another human nation, or perhaps the realm of the 'sea elves', spun off from the high elves and given their own civilization.

I've also considered divorcing Korea from China but I think its kind of too minor of a country at this point in history to get highlighted as such. Korea really comes into its own when Sejong ascends to power, but that's not for a few 'real world' centuries. 

I've also considered doing Australia as kind of a southern Chaos Wastes, but I think that can be lumped into my regular Chaos Wastes analogue.

But anyway, there's Aswai. Next time we'll head west to Anahuac (aka the Americas) and get into a lot of debate on what to include. It's probably the 'roughest' continent content wise by far.

Age of Iron: Marcher Baronies

Inspirations: Frankokratia Balkans/Turkey after the Fourth Crusade but before the rise of the Ottomans

After the Vermin War and the fall of the Skrzzak Empire, the land that was once the center of Aurelian civilization was in near utter ruins. It wasn't long until settlers, crusaders and forgotten Aurelian nobility began flocking to the region, hoping to settle the long-forbidden lands and rebuild. Thus the Marcher Baronies were formed - a loose collection of states who are only unified in their desire to reignite and carry on the Aurelian culture that had nearly been forgotten. Unfortunately, conflict is still rife among the Baronies, both between the new nascent nations and the terrible things that stalk the many ruins of old Aurelia.

Lay of the Land 

The Baronies straddle Europa and Aswai, located on two relatively dry and rugged peninsulas separated by the small Umbral Gulf. The peninsulas are bordered by the Middle Sea to the south and the Umbral Sea to the north, meaning farmland and fishing is relatively plentiful. The settlements of the region are heavily fortified, and outside of them much of the wilderness remains dark and dangerous - untouched by civilized hands for centuries and replete with terrible creatures and crumbling ruins. The only heavily fortified path in the region is the Silk Road, and even that isn't fully immune from raids from bandits and worse things.

Politics and Government 

There is little political unification in the Baronies - each barony stands alone, and many barely rule more than a fortified town and a few surrounding acres of farmland. The 'barons' come from all walks of life - some claim they are from Aurelian royalty, others are crusader kingdoms created after the Vermin War, and still others are adventurers or exiled nobles looking to establish their own nascent states for themselves. Lygos technically has suzerainty over all the Baronies, but its more a fealty bound by tradition - King Bylbos does not have an army big enough or lands sprawling enough to enforce his will outside of the city's walls.

People and Culture 

People from the Baronies are often strong, independent and determined. During the height of the Skrzzak Empire, the few non-ratmen residents of the region were subject to cruel tortures, slavery, exploitation and violence, but they kept the flame of hope burning throughout the years. Even the Baronies' modern instability has not stopped the blood of old Aurelia from flowing strong. The Baronies have also attracted both human and demihuman settlers from across Europa, Aswai and Ifri, though some 'natives' view these settlers as outsiders wishing to exploit both the generosity and weakened nature of the Aurelian successors.

Locations

Many Baronies are small, often built upon the ruins of Aurelian cities or in old crusader strongholds. The only large city in the region is Lygos, and it is there that one can catch a minor glimpse of the awe-inspiring architecture that dominated all of old Aurelia.

Lygos is one of the largest and most populace cities on all of Tellus. Though much of the city is in disrepair and has seen better days, it still remains a center of trade, knowledge and culture. Nearly every nation and ancestry possesses its own city district, meaning Lygos can also become a hotbed of intrigue and political upheaval. All of Tellus has a stake in Lygos and its future, and it shows no matter the city's condition.

Osman is a quickly growing barony on the Aswain side of the Marcher Baronies. Osman was originally a nomadic tribe from the Land of Darkness, but increased pressure from the dvergar caused them to flee west. Led by Osman the Great, this group of nomadic warriors has slowly been building up its strength over the years, with some believing they hold the intention of assaulting Lygos to take as their own.

Rodos is a large island off the coast of the Baronies currently held by the Knights of Mithra - a legendary group of crusaders who have managed to hold the island since the height of the Vermin War. The Knights have served as vigilant defenders against potential attacks from the sea, and despite their relatively small size some Knights have even journeyed west to Anahuac in hopes of expanding their reach into the new world.

Nymphaion is one of the most well-defended baronies in the whole region. Led by Baron John Karameikos III, Nymphaion lies on the edge of the Baronies and serves as the last line of defense against orx, dvergar, bandits and other foul elements who spill westward from the Barrens and Land of Darkness. Despite near constant assault, Nymphaion and its famed soldiers have always managed to stand these tests of endurance.

Conclusion

So here is the first post in the revised gazetteer for Age of Iron. I was hoping to get one of these done a day, but my schedule is just too hectic for that. Every few days is more likely, I feel. I also plan on doing more Age of Iron posts than just gazetteers - religion, timeline, calendars, etc. Hope you enjoy it, because this was pretty fun to write and I look forward to doing more.

Edit: I updated a few things with the Baronies as I wasn't fully happy with them. This is a little bit better representation of what I was going for.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Age of Iron: Return to Form

So after some more brief considerations, I've decided to once again use Blogger to better elaborate out the whole of the Age of Iron setting. Remember the old 300 Years War posts? Well I plan to reignite those in a pretty similar format. I think I'm going to go about a similar layout to the previous entries, but I might strike the Current Events entry - kind of puts too much metaplot in the setting so I don't see the point.

Hopefully I'll start doing those again tonight or over the weekend - meaning yet another revision of Couronne. Regardless, I think it will be fun, and I hope you stick around for it

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Age of Iron: Quick Thoughts on Ifri & Europa

I've just had some considerations about Ifri and Europa, and I thought I'd illustrate them here.

So I'm something of a 'numbers' person - I'm trying to balance a good variety of nations in the game without blowing the number of them out of proportion. However, I also like good round numbers or groupings that 'make sense' in my head.

So I've done a little shuffling around as well as idea expansions that make the 'numbers' for Europa and Ifri fit.

For Europa, I've pretty much decided the British Isles will be the domain of the high elves - I think it just makes more sense for them to be an international, 'benevolent imperialist' force rather than the weird isolationists they are in Warhammer.

This brings the 'nation count' in Europa up to 11, but to make it a nice round number I will 'transfer' The Barrens to Europa. The Wasteland will indeed be rolled into Aquilla, and Troll Country will just be part of Ruthen.

That makes Ifri have only five nations, which I will 'fix' by adding Ntotila - indeed splitting up Central and Southern Africa into two different places. Ntotila is going to be pretty Darkest Africa and mainly focused on the Kingdom of Kongo, while the Ivory Kingdoms will be renamed Vanhu and mainly focus on the Mutapa Empire.

Most of these ideas are ones I've sequestered away so they aren't new, but writing for sure has helped me materialize them better. Hopefully my ramblings make some sort of sense.

Next time we'll get back to normal programming, and we will be covering Age of Iron's Asia: Aswai!

Age of Iron: Ifri

We go from the northern climes of Europa to the slightly balmier southern reaches of Ifri: Age of Iron's version of a fantasy Africa!

Africa has very rarely gotten its fair shake in fantasy settings. Some good examples stand out - Nyambe, Midgard's Southlands, Spears of the Dawn, Ki Khanga - but most of Africa is often described as dark jungle inhabited by primitive tribes, when that is patently not the case either geographically and historically.

But also I understand where some designers are coming from - as a white American male, I have little first-hand knowledge of even modern Africa and its problems, let alone a medieval Africa. I realize I am writing from a place of privilege, and I am going to try my absolute best to treat these regions of the world as more than just the mysterious jungle lands. I don't promise I'll be perfect, but I'll try to be better than my fore-bearers.

Anyway, on to the nations!

Al-Hilal is my Araby/North Africa/Arabia analogue. I initially thought it was ridiculous for Araby to be positioned as such, but after doing research into Al-Andalus and the Almohad Caliphate I realized it wasn't so far fetched. Al-Hilal is pretty standard Arabian-style fantasy, though its currently fractured with no ruling caliph. I did move some more classic Arabian locations here (aka a Mecca analogue), but I feel its a minor change.

The Barrens is my version of the Badlands, orcs and all. It was previously inhabited by the Dumari Empire, which draws some parallels with early Arabic caliphates, though the Barrens occupies the spot after the region was sacked by the Mongols. Humans still exist here to an extent, but orx and kobolds dominate. Most 'Arabic' culture has been ported over to Al-Hilal.

Habesh is new and is based on Ethiopia/E Africa. I had struggled with this one for a while, between making it 'stone dwarves' to a very religious place. I've come to the conclusion of basically making Habesh take over the Wasteland's role as a trading powerhouse. Ethiopia was extremely important to international trade due to their location on both the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. They brought goods from China and India to Europe, plus Ethiopia was never conquered by invaders until WW1 I believe. I'm pretty satisfied with where this has gone.

Khmet is my Egypt/Nehekara and basically functions in the same manner - undead hellscape, though some human outposts exist (including a Courronne crusader state). Not much new here, though I did tint it with some Mamluks.

The Ivory Kingdoms are new and they represent south and central Africa, mainly states that formed out of the Bantu migration. This is probably the closest you'll get to a 'Darkest Africa' since the Spirit Rainforest (aka the Congo) is located here, but I'm really trying to keep away from the lost world thing at least in Africa. The Zulu are a bit too advanced for the timeline, but things like Kongo, Mutapa and even the Swahili Coast are present. Also going to add a slight colonial influence, but that's not the main crutch of the area.

Mande is brand new, and takes up the role of the West African empires - mainly Ghana and Mali, though a bit of Songhai, Yoruba and Dahomey made it in too. These empires were hyper-modern and even had a governmental structure more similar to a representative government than a feudal society, plus they are exceedingly wealth. Overall a very cool place I think

So that's Ifri. I really don't have too many 'maybe' ideas about this one - the only one being maybe separate Central and South Africa into two different places, but I think that's splitting hairs.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Age of Iron: Europa

So recently I've been puttering away at Age of Iron, aka my Zweihander setting I've been working on forever. I'm really tired of it staring me in the face, so I'm going to do my best to really buckle down and try to get the setting in a final form. One way to help push that along is through Blogger - I think writing and getting my ideas out will help me meld the setting correctly.

So I'm going to do a much smaller setting series for Age of Iron, where in each post I will cover one of the setting's four main continents. I'll provide basic descriptions of the nations, how they differ from Warhammer, and a few ideas to kick around and consider.

Today we are starting with an easy one: Europa. Europa is the 'Old World' of Tellus, and you'll find 90% Warhammer analogues here, albeit with a few spins.

Aquilla is the Holy Roman Empire/Empire analogue, and runs pretty similarly to it - aside from the fact its not a monolithic entity like in Warhammer. I added a bit more political strife, putting the country more to the actual political realities of late medieval Germany than the Empire is. "The Moot" will also be in Aquilla.

Couronne is my France/Bretonnia, and much more reminiscent of actual feudal France than Bretonnia's France/England fusion. Decadent nobles and ruddy peasants rather than Questing Knights and a national cult.

Drakenlanda is my Nordic/Norsca analogue, but a little more tame - not all Drakenlanders are screaming barbarians, but the northern reaches closest to the Wasteland (covered later) are.

Eire (name to probably change) is the realm of the Wood Elves, aka Athel Loren. Placed in the same region, but I envision them more as Celtic remnants than just generic fantasy elves. Woad tattoos, ogham stones, etc.

Erdelyi is my Hungary/Sylvania, and is an independent country rather than a vassal of Aquilla. Erdelyi has warred with and invaded Aquilla in the past, but they've been driven off.

Hespia is Spain/Portugal/Estalia, but I'm vaguely split on whether it should be Reconqusita-era Spain or more imperial Spain. The timeline of the game is more set around what would be the 1300s in the real world, so I'm leaning more towards Reconquista with hopes of joining together.

Khazagul Dum is the domain of the dwarves, which runs through the mountain range called the Spine of the World - an analogue to the Alps. Yes, I got rid of the World's Edge Mountains, but the Spine serves a similar purpose. The Dwarves are vaguely more Swiss than normal along with a light Polish influence, but they are pretty broad.

Marcher Baronies are my Balkans/Border Princes, but they play a much more significant role. In Age of Iron, the empire of Aurelia (expy of the Roman Empire) was based in the Marcher Baronies before all sorts of wars basically destroyed it. Now the Baronies are small, feuding nations, with the exception of Lygos - a Constantinople expy and the largest city on the planet.

Ruthen is Slavs/Kislev, but dialed back to more WFRP 1e era stuff - the Tsar/Tsarina rules over all the lands, but each city-state is effectively their own country. Less Tsarist Russia and more Kievan Rus'.

Viteli is Italy/Tilea, and is pretty similar to it. Mercenaries, traders, pirates, etc. I did put the pope of the God-Emperor faith here instead of concentrating it all in not-Germany, but this one didn't see many changes. Also includes an analogue of the Sartosa pirates

So those are the certainties, but I have a few things up in the air

Albion becomes kind of obsolete if the elves are made more Celtic. I have a few options for this: either make Albion more Britonic than Celtic; make Albion the sole territory of the Fomorians; or make the High Elves inhabit Albion and go a whole 'imperial' route and eventually scrap Ulthuan. I'm leaning more towards the third option.

The Wasteland is honestly a bit boring - Marienburg is cool, but that's really the only thing there. I feel the Wasteland may just be better suited as a city within Aquilla rather than its own full nation. Plus, in the 1300s the Dutch Republic didn't exist yet and was part of the HRE. Would also give Aquilla access to a navy and trade vessels.

Troll Country is something I've bandied about, but I think it would be cool to be a Baltic/Teutonic Knight analogue - I just don't want to drown the setting in locations that could be considered parts of other locations

That's about it for Europa for the time being. If you have any questions or insights, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Old School Essentials: Monk

So I recently backed the awesome Old School Essentials, and initial draft PDFs of the game have been sent out - including the Advanced Fantasy Genre Rules to enable using OSE to play in AD&D 1e-type campaigns.

The classes are great, but there is one glaring omission: the monk! Well, it's not glaring, as Gavin has explicitly stated he is saving the Monk for an Oriental Adventures-esque book in the future. But I don't want to wait, so I stated up my own!

The Monk below mainly borrows from the BECMI Mystic, as well as the Monk from Labyrinth Lord. I'm assuming the progression stops at Level 14 like every other class in the game.

MONK

Requirements: Minimum WIS 9, minimum DEX 9
Prime Requisite: STR
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 14
Armor: None
Weapons: Any
Languages: Alignment, Common


LevelXPHDTHAC0DWPBS
101d619 [0]1213141516
22,0002d619 [0]1213141516
34,0003d619 [0]1213141516
48,0004d619 [0]1011121314
516,0005d617 [+2]1011121314
632,0006d617 [+2]1011121314
764,0007d617 [+2]89101012
8120,0008d617 [+2]89101012
9240,0009d614 [+5]89101012
10360,0009d6+214 [+5]678810
11480,0009d6+414 [+5]678810
12600,0009d6+614 [+5]678810
13720,0009d6+812 [+7]45658
14840,0009d6+1012 [+7]45658

Monks are monastic humans who follow a strict discipline of meditation, denial, seclusion, exercise and philosophy in order to obtain a mastery of both body and spirit.

Combat
Monks can use all types of weapons, but can not wear armor or use shields. They can also never use magical protective devices (such as rings or bracers) that act as armor.

Martial Arts
Monks have trained their bodies to become deadly weapons, learning martial arts abilities that improve as they increase in level:
Acrobatics: A monk's natural AC improves by -1 and their movement speed increases by 30’ at 3rd, 7th and 11th level.
Multiple attacks: Monks gain an extra melee attack at 5th, 9th and 13th level. These attacks can either be made unarmed or with melee weapons.
Unarmed strikes: A monk deals 1d6 damage with an unarmed strike and adds half their level to the damage. Their unarmed strikes can damage monsters as if they were magical weapons (though they do not gain the bonus to hit and damage). The effective level of the ‘bonus’ is equal to a fourth of the monk’s level.

Monk Skills
Monks can use the following skills with the chance of success shown opposite:
Climb sheer surfaces (CS): A roll is required for each 100’ to be climbed. If the roll fails, the monk falls at the halfway point, suffering falling damage.
Find or remove treasure traps (TR): A roll is required to find a treasure trap and then another to remove it. This may be attempted only once per trap
Hide in shadows (HS): Requires the monk to be motionless—attacking or moving while hiding is not possible.
Move silently (MS): A monk may attempt to sneak past enemies unnoticed.


LevelCSTRHSMS
187101020
288151525
389202030
490252535
591303040
692333343
793363646
894404050
995434353
1096464656
1197505060
1298535363
1399565666
1499606070

Awareness
A monk is only surprised on a roll of 1 when checking for surprise.

Self Healing
A monk of 2nd level or higher may, once per day, cure themselves of 1 point of damage for each experience level they have. They do this by concentrating for 1 round.

Speak with Animals
A monk of 4th level or higher may speak with any normal or giant animal as often as they desire; animals understand their speech and they understand the animal’s, though no animal is forced to talk to them.

Resistance
A monk of 6th level or higher only takes half damage (rounded down) from all spells and breath weapons that inflict damage, or one-quarter damage (rounded down) if the saving throw is successful

Speak with Anyone
A monk of 8th level or higher may speak with any living creature that has a language of any sort, as often as desired. The creature being spoken to does not have to converse with the monk.

Mind Blank
A monk of 10th level or higher is immune to ESP, hold and slow spells, magical charms, quests and geas spells.

Fade
By concentrating for 1 round, a monk of 12th level or higher causes their presence to ‘disappear’. No living or undead creature can see them; there is no saving throw. This effect lasts for 1 round per level of the monk; it is dispelled automatically if they attack. A monk can only do this once per day.

Dim Mak
A monk of 14th level or higher is able to touch an opponent with the terrible Dim Mak ability once per day.

The Dim Mak touch can have one of the following effects on the target, who gets no saving throw against the effect but must have no more hit dice or levels than the mystic:

▶ Charm Person (as the spell of the same name, except lasting only 24 hours)
▶ Cure Major Wounds (as the spell of the same name)
▶ Death
▶ Quest (as the spell of the same name except lasting only 24 hours)
▶ Paralysis (lasting 24 hours)

The Dim Mak ability can only be used once per day, and the desired effect must be announced before the attack is made. However, if the attack misses then the Dim Mak is not used up and can be attempted again against the same target or a different target.

Oaths
A monk has many oaths that define their way of life. They must never lie, break a promise or vow, own any possession they can not carry on their person, or doubt their own abilities. They must also donate 10% of all their income back to their cloister. If a monk ever breaks one of these oaths, they are kicked from their cloister.They may not gain any new experience levels, they lose one level per year away from the cloister, and they may not join any other similar cloister. The DM may allow the monk to go on a grand quest to regain their honor and restore their standing in the cloister.

After Reaching 9th Level
If the grand abbot of the monk’s cloister agrees, a monk may build a new branch of his old cloister, attracting 1d6 apprentices of levels 1-3 to train under them. At 12th level, a monk is able to declare their cloister as independent and remove themselves from the oversight of their former grand abbot.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mohawks & Mirrorshades: Classes Thoughts

So originally I was going to post an entry about classes and that I thought I had my selected classes down, but after going back and forth I've kind of encountered a dilemma.

I think I am going to go the four class route, and I like the old-school design of a combat focused person, a stealth/skill focused person, a support person, and a utility/magic person. Combat is going to be relegated to the Mercenary and magic to Netrunners.

However, the support and skill groups are still up in the air. I have two different approaches: the first is the current idea, which is having the Professional and the Technician. The Technician as of right now is kind of a cleric, with their turn undead being drone control and their powers being devices.

The issue I currently have is while this doesn't limit the Technician, it does limit the Netrunner. Since I'm going to be scrapping some Wizard spells that don't make sense in a Netrunning aspect (like Fly or Water Breathing), it'll leave the Netrunner less versatile when the Technician could do all those things through devices. Basically the Technician becomes a better 'spellcaster' than the Netrunner would be.

That's why I'm inclined to scrap the Technician and treat it as a background, and instead replace the Technician with a Face-type character - still support oriented, but not a healer and with no access to spells (aka programs). I'd transfer the rigging ability over to the Netrunner, and basically separate the Professional into a thief-focused role and another in a more social-focused role. That way Netrunners are the only 'casters' in the game and thus have a nicer suite of powers to select.

Any thoughts or opinions on this would be much appreciated!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Mohawks & Mirrorshades: Neurolinks

I thought I'd write down some musings about how I want to handle virtual reality/the net/whatever I plan to call it in this game. Encapsulating VR or computer networks are a staple of the game in the genre, and so it needs development.

Though the game will be kind of more old-school in style, I find a lot of cyberpunk has a lot of what TVTropes calls "Zeerust" - almost laughable visions of what people 20 to 30 years ago though the future would look like. For example, in Cyberpunk 2020 there are a few augments that record information onto multiple megabyte microcasettes - it just doesn't work anymore.

One staple of newer cyberpunk and transhuman fiction I like is the universal computer, installed at birth. This allows humanity to experience mixed reality - a strange melding of reality, augmented reality, augmented virtuality and virtual reality. I'm leaning towards calling mine a Neurolink or something similar.

Neurolinks are going to just be very advanced wetware computers, but they will allow people to both experience run-of-the-mill AR and the all-consuming alternate realms of virtual reality. This kind of eliminates the gap of some players not being able to go into virtual realms while the netrunner screws around in cyberspace.

Netrunners will be those who have 'jailbroke' their Neurolinks, and are thus able to run hacks on it which will be spell-like abilities that can both affect mechanical things (drones, robots, weapons, vehicles, etc) and other peoples Neurolinks.

I'm also throwing around the idea of Neurolinks having an onboard AI, which seems like a fun thing to do. But again, I'm trying to keep this game simple for the most part.

Thoughts on the Neurolink? Too cool? Too dumb? Let me know!

Mohawks & Mirrorshades: Skills v2

After some careful consideration, I have decided to update the skill list slightly. Most of them are there, but I trashed some ones that weren't useful or folded them into others. Currently, the skill list is now:

Academics
Athletics
Acrobatics
Bureaucracy
Computers
Deception
Drive
Engineering
Insight
Intimidation
Investigation
Larceny
Medicine
Perception
Performance
Persuasion
Science
Stealth
Streetwise
Survival

Of note I broke out the Knowledge skill, scrapped the Profession and Demolitions skills and added the D&D-like Insight for discerning honesty and intention and so on. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Mohawks & Mirrorshades: Skills

Welcome back to the design diary of Mohawks & Mirrorshades, where today we are going to cover skills!

So skills have always been important in cyberpunk games, and I wanted to add a very basic skill system to S&W Whitebox to help push that along. Any class can attempt any skill, but each class will gain a bonus to certain skills that increases as they level up.

I'm also considering adding some options of getting training in outside skills as well as training in weapons and armor, based mostly on rules from White Lies.

I looked at a lot of games for these skill lists, but I mainly took from White Lies, Eldritch Tales, Interface Zero d20, Savage Worlds, Modern d20, D&D 5e and some of its derivatives.

The skills are:

Acrobatics - Tumbling, balancing, escaping bonds and so on
Athletics - Bend bars, lift gates, jump far, break chairs
Computers - Very important in VR/diving, which I'll get to later. Doesn't cover hacking, but does cover programming and other computer use
Deception - Includes bluffing, forgery, gambling and disguise
Demolition - Knowing how to handle explosives, where to set them, and how to set them
Engineering - Repairing technology, knowing how it works, and handling explosives
Intimidate - Whether it be physical or just verbal threats
Knowledge - Background knowledge for any type of study you could think of
Language - Knowledge of languages and deciphering unknown ones
Larceny - Picking pockets, picking locks and disabling mechanical traps
Medicine - For both basic first aid and more advanced diagnosis and surgery
Perception - Investigation, sensing motive and honesty, listening at doors
Persuasion - Charming people in all levels of society
Perform - For any kind of artistic or oratory skill, from painting to music to poetry
Profession - Skills related to professions not covered here and how to navigate them. Things like Accounting, Construction, Cooking, etc
Research- Deciphering clues, knowing where to find info and how to use it properly
Stealth - Sneaking around, even if you're dummy thicc
Streetwise - Being able to talk to commoners, dig up rumors and navigate the underground Survival - Surviving and navigating in the wilderness. Also encapsulates handling wild animals (regular animals would fall under Profession)
Vehicles - Everything from grav cars to spacecraft to boats to even the few horses that aren't yet extinct

Some of these skills - mainly Knowledge, Vehicles, Perform and Profession - require a character to choose a focus for the skill, such as Knowledge (History) or Vehicles (VTOL). These skills can be taken multiple times.

I think it's a pretty clean and concentrated list - didn't want to go too overboard with number of skills because it kind of thins out what each character can do.

Like the skills? Think I have too many? Not enough? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Mohawks & Mirrorshades: I'm Back with a New Thing


Hello all! It's been, christ, nearly a full year since my last entry. I've been very busy with job and real life stuff, much like last time, but I notice as I continually embark on creative RPG endeavors it might behoove me to dust off this blog and actually write them down here to make me more accountable - I guess.

So the new thing is the tentative Mohawks and Mirrorshades - an OSR cyberpunk game













My first attempt was via Microlite20, which I kind of quickly raged against as I ran into a lot of the problems inherent in 3.5 era D&D. However, I've found a new darling: Swords & Wizardry Whitebox. It's simple, classes are easy to build, and its a fan favorite.

My first hurdle is kind of deciding what kind of cyberpunk to do: either pure or something along the lines of Shadowrun's fusion of magic and machine. On a quick thought, it might be better to do the pure approach first, and then approach the fantasy part in either an appendix or a supplement.

Next one is classes, which are kind of blasphemous for cyberpunk games but not for OSR. I have two options here as well: four very concentrated classes, or a wide variety of classes.

Four Option

For the four, I will for sure have a Mercenary and a Netrunner. I will then either have a Professional and a Technician OR a Face and an Operative - this depends on how I want to handle the Netrunner.

Four Plus Option

Expanding beyond that gets a bit tricky, as I have a variable number of classes. The kind of common through-lines are: Mercenary, Martial Artist, Operative, Ganger, Netrunner, Technician, Face, Psyker, Icon, Cop, Corporate, Fixer, Nomad, Medic and Media. Doing research on other cyberpunk games and media, these ones seem to be the most common. I have variable arrays of which to include, so lots of options here.

So let me know what you think: which class option seems better to you?