Tuesday, July 7, 2020
So I just had an interesting idea about the Border Princes, and I think this is how I'm going to pursue them.
I'm going to basically do an older version that I had considered in the past, previously titled the Marcher Baronies but now called the Borderlands. The Borderlands will, in fact, be very similar to the Border Princes but with a few caveats. For example, there are established kingdoms in the Borderlands - not many, but they are there. Further, the Borderlands will basically combined the Border Princes and the Badlands into one thing - parts of the Borderlands will also be inhabited by goblinoids come over from the Land of Darkness (a new area I'm going to detail), but I'm not going to delineate it into south v. north.
Where does that leave Osmanli? In relatively the same place, but I'm going to move it west to where Warhammer has Araby. This will also fill out my desire to kind of do the whole Mediterranean region. My not-Egypt isn't going to get a region, as I do not really want a Tomb Kings analogue - they will instead be one of the many kingdoms that has risen and fallen in the Borderlands. Basically, the Borderlands will be more SE Europe than purely the Balkans
What It Is
Norsca is fairly clearly supposed to be Viking Age Scandinavia. Much like the rest of the Old World, it's kind of in the wrong time period - the Viking Age was almost half a millennium before the Early Modern Period. Norsca is very much displayed as being ruled by barbarism and barely functional at all, basically home to Chaos Warriors and not much else. The game doesn't even really mention too many heroic Norscans - except, as normal, in WFRP 1e. In early Warhammer, Norscans were definitely heroes - though still painted as barbarians, the WFRP 1e World Guide explicitly states they helped the Old World during the last chaos incursion and not the other way around. Much more Conan the Barbarian instead of wildmen of the north.
The Real World
Early Modern Scandinavia is weird because they aren't really much of a major player, at least on the surface. The end of the High Middle Ages saw Sweden, Denmark and Norway forming the Kalmar Union which lasted a little more than 150 years. After that, they split into Denmark-Norway (which was pretty stable) and Sweden. Early Modern Sweden was insane - Gustavus Adolphus basically modernized the whole country, won countless wars for the Protestants, and was by some accounts a murderous madman. Before Adolphus, Scandinavia was widely considered a backwater.
Drakenlanda (aka my not-Scandinavia) is hard to divorce from the whole viking thing because honestly vikings are interesting from an RPG perspective. However, Drakenlanda is going to be much like the Kalmar Union than something like Sweden - jarls and princes led by an elected king, similar to how Iceland had. They will basically be coming out of the viking age, partially Christianized but not unified and still mysteriously pagan. Basically imagine the Vesten from 7th Sea
This is just a small update post, but I was thinking about my last post regarding the Border Princes and Khazaria, and I had a very small revelation.
Basically, I'm not sure I like Khazaria too much. I don't know too much about Scythia or the Huns, plus they are also in the wrong time period as well. Hungary, which I cited, was basically at the time a fully Westernized empire with little left of the steppe nomad influence. Steppe nomads did exist however, and most of them lived in parts of Russia as cossacks. Plus like I said, the Balkans were possessed by the Ottomans at this time too so there wasn't really a Border Prince analogue
So I'm going to roll Khazaria into my not-Russia, known as Ruthen. Kind of similar to Kislev in all honesty, plus the Border Princes are so non-cultural it's not a huge loss. To keep with the number of nations though, I plan on doing something fun basically involving a not-Caribbean or not-Sartosa of tropical pirate isles off the coast of Europe.
Monday, July 6, 2020
The Border Princes is Warhammer's analogue to the Balkans - but with really near zero relation to Earth's Balkans. Warhammer doesn't have a Byzantine Empire expy, so the Border Princes is basically just a borderland to separate 'civilization' from the Badlands. The Balkan analogy is really found in the Prince's beginning as crusader states, a kind-of Constantinople in Barak Varr, and just the concept of balkanization. Really, it's just an excuse to give a region for players to establish a little kingdom should they get to such a high level.
The Real World
During the Early Modern period, the Balkans were going through a really rough time. The Balkans were the seat of the Byzantine Empire for literal centuries, but with the sacking of Constantinople most of it fell under the suzerainty of the Ottomans. You just need to do a glance at history to see what a terrible time this was, especially with the oppression of Greeks and Jews. What wasn't controlled by the Turks was basically controlled by Venice. The only thing kind of going for the Balkans was Hungary, who was actually pretty powerful at the time (until they got eaten up by the HRE).
I'm going to make my Border Princes something less violent and oppressive, and it fills a niche that Warhammer lacks to an extent. Khazaria (working name) is going back to the earlier Balkan history of nomadic steppe cultures such as the Huns, Bulgars, Yakuts, Magyars, Cimmerans, and Scythians - a nation of horse lords lead by khans/khagans. I was mostly inspired by this by games like Mount & Blade, the Ninth Age's Makhar Steppe, and settings like Artesia. A similar region exists in Warhammer in the Eastern Steppe, but I'm going to strip out all the Hobgoblin Khanate stupidity and make it purely human.
Khazaria is made of steppe people, but it's NOT Mongolia. Mongolia is not really the focus of the setting, but you can assume it's 'over beyond the mountains'.
Sunday, July 5, 2020
What It Is
Bretonnia is fairly obviously Early Modern France - kind of. Bretonnia is if France and Arthurian Legend had a child, which is honestly not too far off from reality. Early Bretonnia, as in WFRP 1e Bretonnia, was far more explicitly JUST France without much of the knightly attitude or even the Lady of the Grail. In fact, the Lady of the Grail isn't even mentioned in the early days of Warhammer - it only came about when they became a fully fleshed-out army.
The Real World
Funnily enough, the France/England crossover has basis in real history - just look up the Angevian Empire and the Norman invasion of England. Again, like Araby in the last post, that kind of thing was roughly 300 years before the height of the Early Modern period. In real life, France was doing fairly well for itself despite them being one of the only nations in Europe still practicing extensive feudalism. Good ol' Louis XIV would fix this and help usher in the Ancien Regime, which was the height of France's imperial power until that little 'revolution' happened.
Couronne, as my not-France is called, would hew a little closer to what original WFRP had - explicitly Early Modern France without the mysticism/fairy-tale angle. They are keeping their rivalry with Aquilla (my not-HRE) and their decadent nobles and knights and feudal fiefdoms, but no 'fantasy Space Marines' here. Religiously, I'd keep France not-Catholic instead of forcing in a weird local hero cult type thing.
Well, I couldn't stay away from Age of Iron, turns out. Good thing is however that I think I have an interesting way to do it/look at it. My goal is to go back to the very EARLY days of the setting when it was called the 300 Years War and keep the setting focused on Early Modern Europe.
However, I have a different approach. I'm going to take the dozen regions I consider in the Old World in the Warhammer setting, discuss their origins, and then discuss what their REAL WORLD counterpart was like during the 15th-17th century - and make the region closer to that in the Age of Iron setting.
The first place I wanted to focus on was The Badlands.
What It Is
The Badlands are ostensibly the 'goblinoid' area of the Old World. Though there are more goblinoids running around in the Dark Lands, that region has really been overshadowed by the Chaos Dwarves. Geographically, the Badlands is roughly analogous to the Middle East, though not really in a cultural sense. The Marshes of Madness and Morgheim don't have a real direct analogue as far as I know aside from something resembling a Romani homeland, but they could be considered similar to Judea or the Kingdom of Israel at a stretch. Again, that's mostly historical rather than cultural.
The Real World
By the Early Modern Period, the Ottoman Empire had basically conquered all of the Near East aside from Persia - even claiming ownership over Arabia. The Ottoman Empire does exist in the Old World, but 'Araby' is in the region the Almohad Caliphate was roughly 300 years prior (being northwest Africa). It's also reduced to a minor player, when in reality the Ottoman Empire was the most powerful empire in Europe.
My Badlands would thus be replaced with Osmanli - a fairly straightforward Ottoman Empire perhaps mixed with some Arabic and Persian elements to resemble caliphates of old. The goblinoids in the Badlands would basically disappear. I like the idea of goblinoids being a spread out, unconcentrated force of nature rather than a force of 'othered' barbarian invaders. When greenskins appear, it should be less like an invasion and more like a plague.
Friday, July 3, 2020
The Borderlands is kind of system agnostic, but I am kind of leaning towards it being playable in most Old School-type games. Obviously Zweihander has a lot of qualities for this already, but I also wanted to flex some design muscles with other systems. I am going to be using the great Old School Essentials as a mechanical base, but these should work with most OSR (eugh) games with little issue.
Thanks to TheChaosGrenade for some good names for some of these!
The Borderlands is a disgusting, disease-filled place. The streets are full of half-rotten food and midden heaps, the Witchweed Swamp is full of disease and bile carrying vermin, and one wrong step in a sewer slough can end up with you losing a foot.
When exposed to a disease of any sort, the character should make a Save vs. Death or Poison (modified by the disease's virulence) or else contract the disease. The disease effects take place after the listed incubation period passes and they last for the listed duration.
A parasite inflicted by spores inhaled from some breeds of giant fungi. Highly dangerous if untreated
Remedy: Drinking a pint of vinegar a day for 2d4 days
Effect: -1 to all ability scores/day. If a score reaches 0, you die and become fully consumed by fungus
Better known as gangrene. Doesn't always happen in the foot, but its common enough to get the name.
Remedy: Applying maggots to the area for 1d4 hours
Effect: -1d6 DEX. Prevents natural healing until remedied or its course is run
A venereal disease that turns genitals purple and distended. Disgusting and painful.
Remedy: Draining through painful incision
Effect: -1d6 CHA while indisposed. Extreme difficulty urinating, can often lead to bladder infections
A type of blood infection, usually brought about through improper use of Scratch.
Remedy: Application of hot tar on wound site
Effect: Lose -1 CON per day. Recovers at a rate of 1 per day once recovered.
Usually obtained from working in coal mines or spending too much time in the Badlands.
Remedy: Eating a pound of sawdust
Effect: -1 from CON scores/day. While afflicted, can not move faster than a walking pace.
The Holy Church and Order of the Divine Faith of the Illluminated, or more commonly the Illuminated Church, is the majority religion in the Borderlands. The faith was founded by a group of monks who were said to be given divine visions and guidance by celestial beings called the Illuminated. What the Illuminated are, where they are from, or what they want with humanity is only guessed at, but those monks were able to derive an oppressive doctrine from their visits that would form the foundation of the Church today.
The Illuminated Church doctrine revolves around the holiness of suffering, obedience, purity and the fact that all humans are sinners who must spend their existence atoning for their curse of birth. Most large settlements possess at least one church, while rural villages either have small shrines or are visited by wandering Mendicants. Plenty of commoners - actually the majority of them - don't favor the Church's teachings, but criticism or disobedience is deemed heresy worthy of at least imprisonment. Thus, most people observe the rituals and holidays of the Church, attending sermons and kowtowing to priests out of fear.
The Church doesn't directly worship the Illuminated, as they are seen as nebulous and almighty beings who are too far beyond the comprehension of mortals to understand. Instead, a variety of hero saints receive most of the devotion. There are literally hundreds of saints who are patrons of things from mothers to carpenters to gravediggers. Most people or churches will focus their worship on one saint or a small collection of them, and some may even possess a holy relic such as a severed finger or a defleshed skull.
In addition to ruling over the Empire, the Emperor is also the head of the Church and is seen as a living saint (saints are usually only granted sainthood after their deaths). Emperor Magnus is not exactly the most pious Emperor, as he'd rather spend time drinking and philandering than at the altar. The Church leaders in the Orthodoxy don't particularly mind this however, as it allows them to do what they please with little backlash. Thus in recent years, the Church has become especially militant and fanatical.
Templars: The militant wing of the Illuminated Church, Templars are fanatical knights given divine authority to murder by the Orthodoxy. Trained in combat and liturgy, Templars follow a strict code of backwards 'ethics' and rote, and a member straying from them could suffer lashes, expulsion or even execution. Most Templars are loaned out to the Houses to serve as generals or guard captains, but the Church can at any time call them up for duty or to join a Crusade - an event that could spell disaster for the whole Borderlands.
Associated Sub-Sects: Brothers of the Bleeding Wolf, Brothers of the Crimson Flame, Brothers of the Eternal Word
Inquisition: Inquisitors and their large array of agents are dedicated solely to the imprisonment, torture or eradication of heretics, mutants, demons and fell sorcerers. They are little more than religious law enforcers, tracking down perceived 'criminals' and dragging them from their houses screaming in the night. Inquisitors use torture, threats, pyre burning and drowning to extract confessions from the accused - even if the confession is not true. Inquisitors don't particularly care, as everyone is a sinner within their eyes.
Associated Sub-Sects: Order of the Sin Eaters, Order of the Executioners, Order of the Pyre Builders
Ecstatics: The Ecstatics are a sect of mystics, scholars and theurgists who spend most of them their time in their libraries and workshops working to divine the nature of the Illuminated. Most of their work comes from alchemical concoctions, demon summoning, and painful and debased experiments on living subjects. The Ecstatics border on heretical most of the time, but their work on binding warlocks and reanimating fallen Templars to serve as undead juggernauts has let the Inquisition turn a blind eye to their methods.
Associated Sub-Sects: Monks of the Crypt, Monks of the Tome, Monks of the Iron Gear
Orthodoxy: The Orthodoxy are the leaders and preachers of the Illuminated Church, and are thus the most powerful sect by far. Orthodox priests can be found whispering in the ears of many lords and ladies, directing them in the desires of the Illuminated less they want to be branded heretics - ensuring that the Church remains the true power behind the throne in the Borderlands. The Orthodoxy is most prevalent in the cities, and their firebrand sermons regularly incite religious riots against pagans and non-believers.
Associated Sub-Sects: Cult of the First Emperor, Cult of St. Johann, Cult of the Three Sisters
Mendicants: The Mendicants are travelling pilgrims and doomsayers, trudging across the Borderlands to deliver liturgies and provide healing and benisons to the commoners. While on the surface the Mendicants seem to be the most beneficent sect, their main mission is to endear the smallfolk to the oppressive Church doctrine and make them docile. Mendicants also serve as satellite informers to the Inquistion, communicating through secret signs and drawn symbols the wandering priests leave on the houses of the heretical.
Associated Sub-Sects: Children of the Bleeding Feet, Children of the Blinded Eyes, Children of the Pox Ridden
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Note: None of these Houses are descriptive of the people their names are derived from
House Danzig: House Danzig is the richest of the houses, having aligned themselves with the many guilds of the Borderlands. This has allowed them to obtain great tracts of arable land and to fill the roads and rivers with their many trade caravans carrying exotic goods imported from beyond the Empire. House Danzig mostly stays outside of inter-House conflict - mainly because they know if they rallied the guilds they have a stranglehold over they could wipe out the remaining houses with a snap of their fingers.
Associated Minor Houses: House Cisneros, House Homme, House Fallon
House Kilmeister: House Kilmeister fields the largest military force among all the major Houses. Raised from birth to be ruthless soldiers, they constantly itch for combat even when the houses are at relative peace. House Kilmeister often press-gangs their serfs into serving in their forces, arming them with little more than a spear and a week of drilling. House Kilmeister also sponsors many smiths and alchemists, meaning their warmachine is replete with advanced technology freshly churned out from their workshops.
Associated Minor Houses: House Pike, House Hinds, House Faris
House Ford: House Ford is the most decadent of all the major Houses. They portray themselves as enlightened, witty and cordial, but they are extremely ruthless and cunning. House Ford employs assassins and spies to kill any who dare get in their way, and use their massive network of illegal drug and poison trade to either incapacitate or kill anyone they please. House Ford is also crueler to their populace than most of the other Houses, putting them in something more akin to slavery than serfdom.
Associated Minor Houses: House Dio, House Malmsteen, House Vialon
House Osbourne: House Osbourne is the oldest extant major House, and strangely the most loved. House Osbourne nobles are narcissistic and carry an undeserved air of superiority, but they are somehow very benevolent to their fiefdoms - feeding the poor, aiding the sick, and educating them. This is all for show, as this has allowed them to create a sense of blind loyalty among their followers that will let them get away with anything - a prime example being the popular imperial election of their scion, Emperor Magnus.
Associated Minor Houses: House Iommi, House Cronise, House Giles
House Halford: House Halford was once replete with pagans and heretics, but after a major conversion effort by the Illuminated Church they have become the most penitent of all the Houses. The Law of the Church is the law in Halford lands, and any who oppose it will quickly find an Inquisitorial force knocking on the door of their hovel. Halfords are brutal and fanatical, so much so that they see other less devoted Houses as heretics that need to be purged - but that, of course, is really just a matter of time.
Associated Minor Houses: House Wishart, House Barge, House Mascis
Each house is extremely wealthy, holding large tracts of lands, indentured servants, guards, entourages and covert agents. While their many laborers break their backs in farms and mines and lumberyards, the landed gentry live in opulent luxury in their grand palatial estates. They travel to each other's holdings in heavily-guarded carriages, whereupon they feast, hold masquerades, drink themselves into a stupor and consume mind-altering drugs.
Nobles live in an entirely different world than most of those in the Borderlands - they wear elaborate, gaudy jewelry and clothes, cover themselves in powders and perfumes, and walk with elaborately bejeweled canes. All this is a front though - the clothes cover scratch marks from drug use, the powders hide syphilitic sores, and the canes hold hidden daggers to use against any rabble who deign to get too close.
At the foundation of the Empire, a dozen Noble Houses composed the electorate. However, after years of backstabbing, intrigue and outright genocide, only five remain: House Ford, House Danzig, House Osbourne, House Halford, and House Kilmeister.
I come to you with hat in hand with unfortunate news. For the foreseeable future, I am going to be putting the Age of Iron setting on developmental hiatus.
I know some of you are fans of it for sure, but my drive and creativity for it is almost non-existent right now. It was hewing too close to the Old World, and not in a way I found entertaining or overly productive, honestly.
I'm not deleting any posts or throwing out what I have, but it is going to go on the backburner for a while.
Not coincidentally, I am going to start doing blog posts for another setting I HAVE been inspired by. It's one inspired by more recent entries in dark fantasy - things like From Software games, Darkest Dungeon, Gloomhaven, Blasphemous, Dungeon Degenerates, or even the new editions of WFRP. A smaller, more concentrated and detailed setting rather than a sprawling continent. It's also inspired by swords & sorcery settings, Ralph Bakshi, that Adult Swim pilot Korgoth of Barbaria, and heavy metal music
The name for this setting is up in the air, but I'm torn between either Todreich or The Borderlands - probably Borderlands just for ease of use. The blog entries will be more like what you'd find in a blog like From the Sorcerer's Skull - quick snippets of a world and what interests me at that time.
Hopefully you'll stick around, because I think it's gonna be really fun, not overly serious, and pretty grimdark.