Phaemorea is a classic High Fantasy genre game world designed for the classic BEMCI Dungeons & Dragons rules, however it can easily be ported into any version of Dungeons & Dragons , or with a little more tinkering, any system that supports high fantasy. It is designed as a new entry level world for beginning players, as well as an alternative world for older players who want to experience D&D in a new way, without losing any of the charm of the old way. References will be made to 1991 edition of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.
Why BECMI Dungeons & Dragons?
There is a misconception that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is the advanced version of Dungeons & Dragons. However, D&D does have an easy-going loose system that is very easy for a new player to pick up. There are less numbers to worry about, less jargon and less confusing options. Basically, you can take a new player though level 1 character development in five minutes and have them ready to play. Once playing, the rules are amazingly easy to pick up.
BECMI D&D still has all the depth of AD&D and D&D3.0+, it's just that that depth is introduced more gradually. This allows a new player time to learn each new option as they advance their character. In short, AD&D and D&D3.0+ gives an information dump at level 1, while D&D is designed to level up the complexity as the character levels up.
Weapon Mastery os one of the best ways of representing weapon skills in a D&D style of game. Weapon Mastery doesn't just give a modest bonus to hit and damage; Weapon Mastery gives every weapon a unique identity. In AD&D and D&D3.0+, a thief will usually use a sword for that little extra damage. In BECMI D&D, weapon mastery grants a dagger an increased chance of causing double damage and the ability to throw it further. AD&D and D&D3.0+ has tried to give weapons more interest through the use of Feats and special moves, but they are all fairly generic. Some weapons like staff, spear and warhammer have remained comparatively useless weapons in AD&D no matter what the edition.
AD&D and D&D3.0+ has only recently given fighters any love. They were always just the boring characters you gave to new players because they were easy to play. Even when 3rd edition came out and gave them Feats, they still never really found a way to shine over a decently leveled mage. In D&D, not only can fighters harness the weapon mastery system better than any other class, they also have some amazing options that can turn them into powerhouses. In BECMI Fighters are interesting characters - they have more class options than other classes when they reach 9th level. They can be a politically motivated land owner, or they can choose one of three detailed traveling fighter types, including the Paladin, Avenger or Knight.
BECMI D&D has a certain lightness about it. It's made to have some fun, as is clearly evident by book releases like 'The Book of Wonderous Inventions' or even the module 'Earthshaker'. These works take the high fantasy world to a strange new place, where Black Puddings are put into dishwashers, or Fire Elementals are bound into steam boilers. Many games try for a High Magic genre, but D&D completely embraces magic as a fully integral part of the world. It doesn’t take itself seriously unless you want to play it that way. The default setting is 'fun', while most other systems have a default setting of 'real'. In this regard I believe classic D&D is all about the classic RPG experience, where people are playing to unwind and just have a good laugh with friends.
Having a system that doesn’t keep forcing you to look up things in the rulebook allows for a more immersive play experience. It is very much story focused, and every piece of source material supports the concept of being creative and making your own world. Most purchased adventures introduce entirely new monsters created just for that adventure, which you can then use elsewhere of course. The Gazetteers introduce aspiring GMs to the idea of creating their own player races and character classes. Forgotten Realms has been out for so long now, and has had so much source material produced, that I now find the world constrained, not expanded.
What better way to retire a character than to have them basically win the game? In D&D players are invited to strive to reach immortality and become a god. Let’s face it, the amount of heroic stuff you would have done to reach level 36 should have gained you some notice among the gods, right? The quest for immortality allows for truly epic story telling on a grand scale, as the only way to reach immortality is to do the impossible. But let’s say you make it, you become one of the gods. What then? Well, D&D has rules for that. Now, as an Immortal, you start over as a lesser deity striving for power. What makes this concept really exciting is that if your group has played for long enough, your characters can truly become a part of the world.
BECMI D&D does not have multi-classing. Also, any race other than human is represented as a class of its own. So there are no dwarven wizards and not every halfling is a rogue. In BECMI D&D, there are over 40 skills to choose from, and while you might only start with 4 or so, you will get more as you level. Like the new 5th edition, these skills are simply areas of competence, and are not burdened by complex point allocation or indepth record keeping like they were in 3rd edition.
Understanding Good and Evil
BECMI D&D only has three alignments; Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic. While the rules indicate that lawful characters tended to be good, it is not automatic. AD&D and D&D3.0+ on the other hand breaks alignment into two parts, their disposition towards law and chaos, and their morality in regard to good and evil. On the surface, the AD&D and D&D3.0+ system appears to be the more detailed and superior system.
We like to think that morality is a constant, that what we believe to be morally right and wrong is patently obvious. The concept of good or evil is generally defined by morality. A person of good morals is a good person, while those who act in a manner counter to decency is evil. Yet, this perception is heavily coloured by the concept of Law and Chaos. Laws are usually based on what a society considers morally sound.
Prior to 5th edition, AD&D and D&D3.0+ required Paladins to be Lawful Good. This made the Paladin a righteous knight in shining armour who always held to the letter of the law while doing nothing but good and noble deeds for the people. Paladins are holy warriors of the church, so it’s important that they be Lawful in order to adhere to the strict tenants of their religion. However, by attaching Good to the alignment requirement, it made the holy church knights completely inappropriate for a great many of the religions.
BECMI D&D only requires that a Paladin be Lawful. While most Paladins are also Good, what is more important is that they obey the church. Chaotic Paladins are instead called Avengers and, while similar to the Lawful Paladin, they are a different type of character. This distinction allows for holy warriors from entirely chaotic religions to still be represented.
The key thing to understand about good and evil, is that good is mostly a matter of perspective, and that perspective is generally based on culture. Most people who act within the law of the land tend to consider themselves good people. Only truly aberrant people would identify as being evil, and they would consider themselves evil because of their complete disregard of cultural law. So what if the law of a culture demands acts such as murder, sacrifice, slavery and other base acts? Does it make the culture evil? The answer is both complex and simple. Good and evil are a matter of perspective, and its definition changes depending on the company you keep.
In Phaemorea the Empire of Getica is a classic evil empire based on undeath, fear and dark sorcery. Yet Getica is a Lawful empire, perfectly entitled to field Paladins. Failure to follow the Law can get you killed, or worse. Therefore, in order to be a lawful person, and by cultural definition a good person, then you would commit harm against others if you are required to. Even the cold blooded murder of an entire family might be considered a good act in Getica, even though most other cultures would claim it was entirely evil.
So how would you record your Alignment as a good citizen of Getica? In AD&D and D&D3.0+ you might say you are Lawful Evil, but does that accurately account for people who genuinely love and support their community when that love and support might mean killing a child in its sleep? Lawful Evil fails to encapsulate the scope and breadth of morality, and how each culture contains a myriad of complex moral nuances. However, the Classic D&D system would simply label any good citizen as Lawful, fully understanding the complexities of morality and its relation to the interpretation of good and evil. In fact, any good citizen in any land is simply Lawful, while those who care nothing for the laws of the land, or those who think everything in life is happen-stance, are Chaotic.
Take the humble Protection from Evil spell. In BECMI D&D the spell description clearly indicates that evil is not a function of Alignment, but of moral stance. Someone of opposing moral views would be considered evil. Therefore, a Protection from Evil spell cast by a cleric of Getica should work fine to ward off a noble Paladin of Solmani, and vice versa. When the water becomes muddied by similar but differing moral values, the measure of good or evil is based more on intent.
A more simplified approach would be to look at things defined as evil by the system as things of an entropic nature, while things which preserve life are good. So, level draining undead are always evil, while those devoted to healing and caring for others are good. This however often Many games try for a High Magi someone so they can withstand more torture is actually evil, while using a Cause Wounds spells for a merciful death is actually a good act most of the time.
In the end it comes down to the GM making a judgement call. Often it’s very clear cut, but when in doubt compare the intent of both individuals and decide if someone is good or evil based not on a spell description or your personal moral code, but on the difference in moral codes between the characters involved. It's entirely possible that two people can effect each other with the same version of Protection from Evil, simply because from their individual perspective, their opponent is evil.
BECMI D&D grants all peoples of the land an alignment language. It further goes on to describe that if for any reason you change your alignment, you forget the previous alignment language and acquire the new one. Other than saying "it's all magic", one cannot find any way to justify how alignment languages are meant to work sensibly. Therefore, in Phaemorea alignment languages have been replaced with regional languages.
Guide to Phaemorea
Phaemorea is a fairly typical high fantasy world. The world is designed principally for use with the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, however Phaemorea and adventures set within can easily be adapted for use with any edition of Dungeons & Dragons or any high fantasy setting. Likewise, modules designed for classic D&D, especially those for the Mystara or Blackmoor world settings, could easily be slotted into the Phaemorea setting with little to no alteration.
Magic is in regular use, though not so common as to not be special. Technology is roughly equal to that in the later middle ages, with steel armaments and complex stonework. Mechanisation is gaining in popularity with cogs, winches and pulleys coming into regular use among industry. Alchemy is generally used in conjunction with magic, but the use of alcohol, acids and toxins are all well understood by practitioners. Gunpowder and other forms of explosives might exist, but such things are exceedingly rare and not in use, and with magic being common there is little drive to develop the technology.
Magic is often used in conjunction with technology, as a simpler and cheaper method to achieve things. So rather than develop devices like the steam engines of the industrial age, wizards might use magical horses to draw a carriage. Monsters and their unique effects are often employed, such as using a Black Pudding in the sewers of Manakata, or Salamanders being used for home heating. Such extravagances are purely the domain of the wealthy and powerful.
Thanks to the establishment of organised guilds, ‘Adventurer’ is an accepted full time occupation, with adventurers seen by many to be heroes. Not everyone welcomes adventurers though, with some people seeing them as a necessary evil while despising the arrogance and concentration of wealth and power that adventurers represent. So while the common folk generally admire the adventurers because they provide living examples of the common person rising to positions of power, those with power sometimes see adventurers as political tools and threats to their power base.
Humans are the most common race, with four distinct human races known in this part of the world. In most cases there is peace between the humans, elves and dwarves, though that peace is often strained to breaking point. Other sentient races such as orcs, goblins and gnolls are generally seen as beasts and outlaws, rarely accepted within towns.
There are four main human variants native to the local area. The first and by far the most plentiful are so widespread they are not known by any cultural identifiers. They are pale skinned Caucasian, of smallish build, averaging a height of around 170-175cm tall.
The Bungara, known more commonly as the Painted People, seem to be a distant variant of the common human. Their skin is darker, most likely because they live in a harsh region where a more ruddy complexion increases the chance of survival. They also have a slightly different eye shape not entirely dissimilar to the elven eye. The similarities indicate a shared racial heritage with the common human, but with strong indications their genetics are moulded by some other shared ancestor as well.
Deep in the south are the Salurians. They are a much larger, heavy set people. Caucasian, but with a more tanned natural skin tone. Their faces, with strong jaw lines and broader features, have a more masculine look than the waiflike thin faces of the common men. They average 185-190cm tall and have a wide variation in hair and eye colour.
In the south west of the main continent are the people of Manakata. They are a tall people, similar in height to the Salurians, but they have dark skin, hair and eyes. They have pronounced features, such as high cheek bones and an aquiline nose. They have long limbs and dextrous hands. Muscular development tends to be lean but healthy.
The Elves, Dwarves and Jhan (Halflings) are all as described in the core rules for appearance and basic physiology. Their cultures do vary from the classic rules as described later in this document.
All Demi-humans have an inherit distrust of humans, a distrust learnt from past events, but they are of a mind to work with humanity rather than against it, preferring the path of peace over a war they cannot hope to win. The breeding rate of humans is simply too great, which has forced the Demi-humans to cut out a niche for themselves to hold. What they do have, they guard most vehemently.
The Beast Races
Among themselves they call themselves the First Races, claiming they were among the first people of the world. The title applies to a wide range of races who choose to defy most forms of civilisation in preference to their natural savage roots. The races include orcs, goblins, ogres, gnolls, kobolds, lizardmen and many more sentient peoples who now hide away in lairs or live day to day raiding each other or the human nations.
Only in the Garter States do these misfit people find any welcome, and even then only in places. Some took part in the Age of Jackals as invited bandits.
Brief History of the World
In times now largely forgotten, the world was ruled by an ancient race of beings known as the Phaemoreans. Little is known about these people today, other than that left in shattered ruins which indicate a once thriving civilisation. Scholars believe the original Phaemoreans tore the world apart in some form of cataclysm, reshaping it into the world known today. In the wake of that great cataclysm, the current races began to repopulate the world.
While the humans of the south remained fractured, those who went to the north had fewer opponents. A great warlord rose among them, a man called Getica. Getica unified the fractured states and established the Getica Empire. Driven by a lust to rule over everything, Getica called upon unknown powers to raise the dead, adding to his troops both with his own dead, and the dead of his enemies.
Getica was mostly interested in the lands already claimed by human folk, but it didn’t take him long to recognise the potential threat posed by other races, as well as the rich resources they held. The Dwarves suffered most of all; Getica lusted after the metal of the dwarven mines, wanting it for arms and armour for his massive war engine. Directing tireless zombies and incorporeal undead, Getica tunnelled down to the lower halls of the dwarves. Getica displayed the true depth of his evil, and disease proliferated in the stale dead air. As people died of disease, they would rise again as undead to fight their own kin. The dwarves turned to their gods and asked for help but they did not answer. In disgust, the dwarves turned from the gods forever and did the only thing they could do; they fought a breakout action and fled at a massive cost of life.
The spread of the Getica Empire had reached the borders of the Kingdom of Solmani, already beset by refugees. However, many armies had fought a retreating action. Those warriors left were all fierce fighters, veterans of many battles and filled with a rage and desperate need for revenge. The two armies met, one each side of a fortified river. Under a veil of magic, Getica concealed an army of undead beneath the water. Getica himself rode across the bridge, leading an elite force of his most devout warriors. The Solmani retreated to the walls of the Solmani capital. Yet the armies of Getica never came. Rumours later say the battle was the crowning achievement that opened the way for his rise as a true immortal. Years passed and the river remained the border between Getica and the rest of the world. The River was renamed World’s Edge, because to most of the world, there was nothing of worth on the other side of that river.
Thundercliff remained the heart of the southern half of the Getica Empire, an unassailable fortress perched atop a rise at the edge of the sea. Seventeen captains took ships to those walls, plus one more ship filled with freed slaves calling themselves Freemen. Each captain had the same mission; enter the city and open the gates. Thundercliff fell in a single night and whilst the number of captains still left alive had been reduced to nine, and they divided the city up among themselves, each taking a section as their own, renaming Thundercliff to Forecastle. Slavery was abolished, partly because it was anathema to the free thinking brigands and partly because ex-slaves freed from Getica were willing to fight to keep the freedom they had regained. Eventually the last few holdings of southern Getica fell. The Garter States were born, and a new age of peace returned.
With the Getica Empire in an apparent state of decline, new rulers want to ensure they can maintain their power by not letting another empire rise. This makes issues of borders of utmost importance, and any actual war is always watched with keen interest by the other nations. There have been attempts at birthing new empires. Zangov himself attempted to rule Forecastle only to be overthrown by Liliana Thriceborn. Getica nobles have tried to raise armies to strike back, only to be crushed by combined resistance. Other leaders have arisen, but while they might combine a nation or two under their banner, they find nervous neighbours are swift to bolster their forces and guard their borders.
House Rules for Phaemorea
As with all House Rules, these are entirely optional, and the inclusion or exclusion of these rules will have little impact on the usability of Phaemorea or any adventures set within it. It is the role of any GM to work out for themselves how they want their game to run.
The system for General Skills was a simplistic set of rules tacked onto the system to add a little spice and background to characters. However, skill systems are now a much larger stable of RPGs, and the system presented in the Rule Cyclodedia is highly dependent on having high attributes, rather than allowing characters to develop in a more organic manner. Also, becoming more competent in a skill was fairly pointless, as each skill slot only allowed +1 to the roll.
The GM sets a target number based on the difficulty of the task. For an average skill test, the target would be 10. This difficulty can be set anywhere from 5 for a simple task, through to 20+ for a highly complex task.
A player looking to make a skill roll rolls 1d20. Halve this number if the character does not have the proficiency. Add the applicable attribute bonus for the skill being used. If the total is equal to or greater than the target, the action succeeds.
For every five points the target number is beaten by, the skill might be allowed to produce additional results. This wouldn’t apply to things like Wrestling or Quickdraw, but it could be an excellent way to reward players for focusing on knowledge and craft skills. Any additional information is entirely subject to the whim of the GM.
General Skills are now calculated using the same bonuses as Weapon Mastery, and are recorded in the same manner. Use the following table to calculate the bonuses based on the number of slots used:
Slots Proficiency Bonus
0 Unskilled Halve Roll
1 Basic 0
2 Skilled +2
3 Expert +4
4 Master +6
5 Grand Master +8
Example 1 Kendra tracks some orcs
Kendra is Skilled in Tracking and has an Intelligence of 14 (+1). She has come upon the scene of a recent attack on a wagon and she uses her tracking skill to determine what has taken place. The ground is soft enough and the tracks are fresh so the GM applies a difficulty of 10. Kendra rolls the die getting a 13. She adds +2 to the roll for being Skilled, and +1 for her Intelligence, for a total result of 16. The GM tells her that it looks like the wagon was attacked by a band of a half dozen humanoids within the last few hours, and that they headed east after the attack. Because Kendra made the target by five or more the GM also gives her some additional information to reflect her skill at reading the tracks. He adds that judging by the types of boots, the stride and the weight of the attackers, there is a very good chance they were orcs. One of the orcs also seems like he was carrying a heavier burden than the rest of them.
Example 2 The orcs get clever (or not)
Kendra is hot on the trail of the orcs now. However, before the orcs turned onto the trail that leads to their lair, one of the orcs also proficient in tracking attempts to hide the trail. The GM rolls for the orc who has a -1 Intelligence penalty and only basic knowledge of tracking. The GM rolls an 8 for the orc, minus one for his stupidity for a net result of 7. When Kendra reaches that point she rolls again to find which way the orcs have gone. Her target number has been set by the orc at 7. Kendra easily beats the difficulty and can plainly see the orc’s rough attempts to brush the trail clear only on a side path, clearly indicating which direction they travelled.
Critical Success and Failure
On a natural roll of 1 a skill test is considered a critical failure. A natural roll of 20 is a critical Success. The degree of success or failure is ultimately up to the GM to adjudicate, but it should reflect the level of mastery the character has in the skill.
A critical success for someone unskilled might indicate a simple success against the odds, such as dumb luck or a sudden insight. However, a critical success rolled by a Grand Master should represent a feat of legendary standards. Likewise, a critical failure for a Grand Master might indicate a simple failure due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a broken tool. For an unskilled person, a critical failure would result in an action of unfathomable stupidity.
There is some crossover between thief skills and General Skills. For example, Stealth (Urban) could be used in many situations Move Silent and Hide in Shadows can also be used. In all such cases Thief skills are considered special knowledge beyond the ability of General Skills. A thief doesn’t just know how to pick a lock as a locksmith might, he also knows how to bypass locks using specialised cracking methods such as the use of acids and knowledge of weaknesses in certain designs. These special tools are available in a set of Thieves Tools.
A successful roll for a Thief skill automatically produces results superior to a General Skill. On a failed roll, the thief may make an additional roll on a General Skill in order to try to gain a level of success typical to a normal skill result. She is only entitled to this secondary roll if she has the applicable General Skill.
For example, a thief is moving in for a backstab. She makes a Move Silent roll and fails, however she also has Stealth (urban). The GM gives her a second chance with the Stealth (urban) roll setting the DC at 20. She makes the roll and is still allowed to gain the benefit of the Backstab attack.
This change should give low level thieves a greater chance of performing the key skills of the class, as well as preventing other characters from outshining them by using common General Skills. Thieves already suffer from terrible HP, so this change should give a low level thief some additional value in a low level party, where traditionally, they need to be carried more than a Magic User. Like a Magic User, at higher levels the combination of thief-like General skills with their Class skills should make them more than just a trap detector and lock picker.
“Your character’s hit point score represents his ability to survive injury.” (pg 7 Rules Cyclopedia). The concept of HP is foundational, not just to D&D, but to many games. The logic behind why a Magic User gets less HP than a Fighter isn’t just a question of game balance, there is also a certain logic to it. A Fighter learns to roll with the hits and to deflect the worse of the damage. It will take more than a good stab with a dagger to end the life of a Fighter because he’s experienced enough in the art of combat that you’ll never land a clean blow. All good logical sense and it provides a simple system to track character damage.
However, why is a Fighter is harder to heal than a Cleric? Certainly the cleric should have faith enough in the healing powers of his god? Yet if the fighter is on 1 HP, and the cleric is on 1 HP, it will take more healing spells to get the Fighter to full health then it will take for the Cleric. Why? There is no logic to it, and it leads to a lot of downtime in games as the Fighter generally takes a lot of damage, yet healing spells are technically less effective against him than they are for a Magic User. It’s silly.
Therefore, I use a simple system of Healing that is based on the Hit Die type of the creature receiving the healing. Instead of a Cure Light Wounds healing 1d6+1, it heals 1 Hit Die +1. So for a Magic User it heals 1d4+1, while for a Fighter it will heal 1d10+1. While this is less favourable for Magic Users and Thieves, it’s equal too or better for all other classes. Better still, it means everyone recovers roughly the same amount percentage wise. This method reduces down time and creates greater balance. It also means that a party with enough Potions of Healing does not require a Cleric to learn only healing magic. This leaves the Cleric to perform in a role other than just healer, giving them the ability to use their other superb support spells.
Here’s a breakdown of the effected healing effects:
Cure Light Wounds – 1HD+1
Cure Serious Wound – 2HD+2
Cure Critical Wound – 3HD+3
Cureall – As per normal rules
Potions, Staves and Rods of healing take their healing rates from the equivalent spells.
The reverse versions of the spells also work the same way, by being connected to the HD type of the target. For monster types this usually means a D8.
Optional Constitution Mod
If you want to further reduce downtime and give a bonus for characters with a high Constitution then you may allow positive constitution modifiers to be added to the amount healed. Treat any negative modifiers as zero, as a reduction for a low constitution can be devastating to a character who already has a low HD type.
The Healing General Skill
The General skill called Healing normally heals 1D3. Under these house rules the Healing skill can be used in one of two optional ways:
Option 1 – A difficulty 10 check will heal a 1/2HD using the same guidelines as listed in the book i.e. usable once per set of wounds. The amount healed cannot exceed the damage taken prior to the last healing test.
Option 2 – The skill can be used on each person only once per day and the amount of healing gained is dependent on the result of the skill check. At a difficulty 10 a full HD is healed. An additional HD is healed for each additional 5 points made on the skill roll. That’s 1HD for 10, 2HD for 15, 3HD for 20 etc.
Option 1 creates a more smoothed out result but more book keeping, as the wounds taken between each heal check must be tracked. Option 2 makes for easy book keeping, but as with curing spells it also requires resource management to choose the right time to have your injuries tended.
Whichever option is chosen, once a set of wounds is tended by someone they cannot be redone, unless the base DC of 10 is failed. On a failed roll it is obvious that the wounds have not been treated correctly, and another character can attempt a Healing test instead.
Few abilities are as fearsome as energy drain, and that’s exactly as it should be. However, energy drain can be more devastating to a party than effects that Save vs Death. At least when you simply die, a Raise Dead or similar spell can restore you. However, there is no way to recover from extensive energy drain other than re-earning the XP. This can lead to serious level division in a party, effectively retiring a character because they are no longer able to journey with their companions and hope to survive. I want Energy Drain to be a devastating effect, but I want there to be an expensive yet viable way to recover.
This alteration looks to the 7th level Restore spell for guidance on the issue. First of all, I recommend removing the limit of only one level being able to be restored, changing it to one level per use of the Restore spell. Therefore, multiple castings of Restore can repair multiple level losses. However, Restore can only return you to your highest level prior to the level loss. XP earned after the level loss up to the Restore point is effectively lost. Second change to the Restore spell is that the Cleric no longer suffers the temporary level loss.
The other change to energy drain is that the loss can recover on its own. Again, borrowing from the Restore spell, untreated Energy Drain will recover naturally at a rate of one level every 2-20 days. Unless of course you were reduced to zero levels, where you still end up dead and usually as a minion to the creature who slew you.
These changes still make Energy Drain devastating, as recovery is a very long process and a party might be forced to withdraw from a dungeon for months to recover from an encounter with a Wraith. However, it doesn’t mean a character must be retired. It also means those with the financial means can have their levels restored faster with magic, but multiple level 7 spells are a heavy resource load. It also doesn’t take away from the fact that level drain does not allow a save and can kill a character outright. I also like the idea of a vampire stalking some poor wretch, trying to complete their conversion into a vampire before they can recover.
In addition, it’s worth clarifying that Protection From Evil will protect characters from most creatures that cause Energy Drain. For example, even though Wraiths and Wights can be hurt by both silvered and magic weapons, they should still qualify as Enchanted creatures and thus be warded away by a Protection from Evil spell. Just remember that if the person under the protection spells attacks the undead, then the undead can attack back using their energy drain attacks. If you want to get soft on players then allow Protection from Evil to prevent all energy drain, but I personally think that’s going too easy. However, I like the imagery of a party using a Protection from Evil 10’ radius to avoid an encounter to a pack of wraiths. It makes for good story telling and rewards players for spell choices that are not just Healing and Combat related.
The Metric System
I’m a traditionalist and I have no problem personally with playing D&D using the old imperial measures. However, the metric system is now the international standard of measure, with very little exception. Metric is no longer the sole providence of the scientific community, it is taught as the only system of measure in the vast majority of the modern world. The old D&D rules are in imperial measure, which might make it difficult for the younger generation to visualise. Therefore, Phaemorea is written using the Metric System.
For ease of calculation the following are used for general conversion:
3 feet = 1 meter
2 lbs = 1 kg
1 mile = 1.5km
These measures are rounded simply for ease of calculation. So a spell range of 60’ is easily converted to 20m, and a 160lb statue can be easily calculated as 80kg. It is recommended that if for some reason a measure must be more precise, that the GM use an actual conversion table, however most play can easily be resolved with these approximate values.
When using any of the normal D&D maps each Hex is usually 8 or 24 miles. Daily movement rates for long distance travel are calculated to work easily with these hexes. For ease of calculation while maintaining reasonable accuracy, interpret the base travel rate of 24 miles a day as 40km. This value is easy to halve and quarter without requiring a calculator, so it should be easy to calculate the travel time for large overland journeys.
Cultures of Phaemorea
Dwarves are a serious, hard working people with a long memory and respect for tradition. Dwarves maintain a use name and a clan name. The clan name is usually a traditional one that reflects some deed or trade. There is always a history to a clan name and it most often reflects a past glory. Near extinction or prolonged war can be such times where, in dwarven terms, "Names are made". First names tend to be early Germanic in nature, with harsh consonant sounds prevailing. Names like Okter, Gerald, Drogo and Grimald for men. Female names follow the same tradition, such as Gisela and Hildegarde.
Contrary to some rumour, dwarven women do not have beards. The rumour stems from the fact that most dwarves seen outside the halls are male, and those women who do venture out tend to wear a Berkin and full helm. The Berkin is a fake beard, used to hide the gender.
Dwarves live in communities called 'Halls'. Each Hall is a self-sustaining community consisting of multiple clans who live by hunting, underground agriculture and trade. Dwarves are frugal people that prefer to buy quality. The one other indulgence dwarves allow for is revelry. This involves a lot of good food and drink, as well as song, tales and on rare occasion, dance. While they have a reputation as drunks, they don’t tend to drink to excess a great deal.
Since the dwarves abandoned the gods the birth rate of females has dropped to only one in five. As a result, women are less likely to leave the Halls than males. They often form a well-trained Homeguard and are usually the last line of defence if the Halls are invaded.
Dwarves are short on trust but high on honour. Trust within the Halls is paramount, and violating your word to another dwarf is a serious offence. This carries into the work lives of dwarves, who maintain that everyone within the community must work hard towards any common goals; laziness is considered vile.
Every dwarf is expected to study the martial arts in order to aid in the defence of the Halls. Other trades are learnt through the family or under apprenticeships. The eldest child is usually expected to carry on the family business. Women have always been the equal to men in the society, however, they are encouraged to stay within the Halls.
Dwarves operate under an elective monarchy. Each Hall is led by a King or Queen who is elected by a council of elders. Once elected, the monarch maintains power until killed or overthrown. Most often, the elders will elect a predecessor from the family of the previous monarch, thus allowing the eldest to maintain the tradition of upholding the family business, in this case the business of rulership. In massive communities consisting of multiple Halls, a High King or Queen will be elected out of the individual Hall Kings.
Dwarves do maintain a system of law which is focused primarily on the safety and maintenance of the Hall. Theft and murder within the Halls are very rare, but are usually punishable by heavy debt. No family, no matter how wealthy, can bear many transgressions before becoming bankrupt. Once bankrupt the dwarf either becomes an indentured servant of those they owe, or they are cast out of the community. Dwarves do not maintain a police force, however family elders and the crown periodically deputise people to maintain the law as required. Most cases are sorted out by individual elders, however especially serious crimes that effect many families might be brought before the entire council and/or the monarch. As well as theft and murder, lies and matters of honour are also matters of law. Execution is extremely rare, and only ever carried out to end something that might pose a continued threat to the Halls.
As devout miners, dwarves are skilled with all forms of working stone and metal. Their practical dedication to craftsmanship means dwarven arms are often favoured by warriors across the world. They also export raw minerals, though these practical people tend to prefer to work the materials into finished products in order to maximise profits. Dwarves are also known as key suppliers of oil, tar and alcohol. Dwarven distilleries produce some of the purest alcohol in the known world. Dwarves import fruit, sugar and wood.
Dwarves maintain a continual roster of martial training and military service. As such, the entire population is ready to mobilise for war if needed. Dwarves once provided some of the most fearsome mercenaries in the world, however lower numbers of births has forced that trade to drop off.
Only a few centuries ago the dwarves were devout worshippers of the Immortals. However, as a part of the advance of the Empire of Getica, powerful undead forces erupted from beneath the great Halls. Dwarves felt that the trust they put in their gods was violated; a serious crime to the dwarves. As a result the dwarves decided that the only people worthy of trust were themselves. They abandoned their gods and dismantled all shrines. While they do not oppose the Immortals or their servants, they remain respectfully detached from them.
Into this void left by the abolishment of religion the dwarves poured more thought into other philosophies, with two principle divisions referred to as the Rock and the Cog. Followers of the Rock believe that firm traditions help maintain a stable and structured society. Followers of the Cog believe that mechanisation allows the work output of each dwarf to be multiplied through the development of technical machinery. Followers of the Rock suggest that such advancements lead to the loss of quality work and the proliferation of laziness, while the Followers of the Cog counter, that with fading populations, it’s vital that each person is equipped for maximum efficiency.
Elves are deeply mysterious people who hide their communities in the most remote environs in the world. While primarily tree dwellers, they can be found anywhere the natural surroundings provides them with a way to keep their society isolated and protected. Elves strive to meld their life and their society as seamlessly as possible into the natural surroundings. When in forests their houses are built high in tree branches, where each tree is gently coaxed to grow in a way that supports the house, while the elves in turn care for the tree. So it is that wherever the elves are, be it in the depths of a swamp or upon the icy peak of a high mountain, the housing is as unique as the environment.
Elves have little concept of ownership among each other, so if an elf admires the work of another, the item is often gifted as the work itself is purely done for the art of it. This isn’t to say the work isn’t also practical, as good craftsmanship is an art all of its own. This lax sense of ownership does not extend to other people, or when outside the community.
Enjoyment is central to elven society, with any pursuit being done not for the welfare of others, but for the simple pleasure of it. Fortunately, supporting the community at large falls under the general heading of enjoyable pursuits.
This lack of focus means elves are wonderful creators, but not great empire builders. Settlements generally consist of many small villages spread over a large area, with each household trying to find the most picturesque place they can to live.
The family structure is never really held much past adulthood, with younger elves usually leaving home early to find their own place to express themselves. So while family connections are valued, they are not binding in the same way most other races interpret such connections. Likewise marriages do not last long and the marriage ceremony is simply a declaration of companionship which can be dissolved at will. Marriages might be between multiple partners, and any such arrangement is usually open, allowing sexual relationships to be held outside the marriage without any hurt feelings; though tales of deeper passions fuel many elven songs and tales.
Within their own community an elf will freely trade knowledge with their own kind. Their natural curiosity will mean that even without structured schooling, the elf child will soon pick up many languages and skills just by following their desires. Having such a long natural lifespan helps this process as it gives time to flit from trade to trade and learn all they want. Fighting and magic skills are a staple among the elven arts. Their combat styles tend to be fluid and graceful, while their spells often have little flourishes that display personal tweaks and styles.
Each larger community is led by a king and queen. Despite the title, it is in fact a Meritocracy, with the role of King and Queen taken by whoever seems to be best qualified for it at the time. There may be little to no relationship between the king and queen, they are simply political positions which allow for important decisions to be arbitrated.
The Elven community itself is largely ungoverned. No taxes are charged and there are no demands for special services. Elven Courts are really nothing more than open discussion forums, where people work out any issues that arise. They also serve as pomp and ceremony for outsiders. Courts are held on the new and the full moon, and are usually attended by the monarchs and anyone else from the community who wants to attend.
Elven law is as loose and unstructured as their society, with few established taboos. Law is enforced by individuals, who band together as needed if an offender might pose special danger. It is very much a 'natural' law, with the penalty usually matching the crime.
Elves are skilled in many things, and with little attachment to anything they will often trade away their possessions for a new interest. Most common among their products are artistic creations, such as carvings, music and clothing. Elven silk is highly prized, and made from spider silk. They also produce a wide range of dyes and scents. They also produce clothing, leather goods, armour, weapons, almost anything. Elves most often demand raw resources in trade, such as ore and exotic foods, while precious and semi-precious stones and metal are often in demand for a variety of purposes.
The elven nations do not have a consistent military force, however they do maintain many individual orders of knights. These orders are usually created from some history or need, such as the defence of the valley or for a charismatic leader. The Orders train warriors and serve as a repository of martial and magical knowledge.
As with all other aspects of life, religion is a fairly laid back affair with the elves. Many elves follow one immortal or another for a time, often inviting their influence at key life events, but any such practices are rarely maintained. As such, there are no lasting priesthoods. Elves do tend to believe in the Immortals, and they do believe they are beings worthy of respect. Yet the long life of the elven people means they are not as concerned about matters of life after death in the same way other races are.
Human, Bungara aka The Painted People
Among the striated plateaus of Bungara, live tribes of noble horsemen. The land is harsh, but these people have made survival an art. Despite initial appearances though, they are far from being savages. With weather tanned skin and slightly almond shaped eyes, they tend towards darker shades of hair with a full variety of normal human eye colours. Many races know them as the Painted People, due to the tendency for the warriors to paint their skin with coloured clays. The painting serves not only as a form of artistic expression and as a way of identification, but also as sunscreen against the harsh plains sunlight. Horses are also decorated in like manner. Clothing tends to be light and simple, made with softened hides and reinforced with bone. They decorate clothing, with feathers, fangs, furs and claws serving to display the prowess or wealth of the person.
Living in self-sustaining tribal societies, the Bungara shelter from the harsh climate by digging into the softer layers of sedimentary rock to create low flat caves. In the shadow of the cliff faces, canopies are constructed and the people gather and work on the valley floors. The Bungara live the simple life of hunters, living on the herds that graze the tough saltbushes and wiry grasses of the plains. They share this life with their tough little plains ponies, which they treat as members of their own family.
Each member of the tribe contributes to the education of the young, imparting what wisdoms they have gained over time. The young learn discernment when listening to the wisdom of those older, but they are also taught to be respectful and value any wisdom. There is a strong oral tradition among the Bungara, with fact and fiction becoming blurred for the sake of education. This adds a mythic element to the tales, where heroes are granted powers beyond the norm to meet equally inflated threats.
Each tribe is led by a Chieftain. The Chieftain can be of either gender, receiving the role usually through election by the elders. The actual balance of power is shared fairly equally among the tribe, with fireside discussions being the way the direction of the tribe is usually determined. As such, the Chieftain’s role is most often that of arbitrator or chairman. In times of war the chieftain’s role changes; he takes direct command of the tribe and is expected to make snap decisions, often with little to no consultation with others. Law and government are one and the same. Acts which threaten the stability of the tribe are judged and punished by the tribe. Acts of physical ordeal are usually carried out in addition to the payment of restitution, the willingness to perform the ordeal indicating that the accused is truly sorry for their misdeed.
Trade is uncommon, usually only taking place between tribes during set times in the year, where one tribe will meet another on neutral ground in order to share news, trade goods and tell stories. It is also a time when potential mates outside the tribe are sought. Those outside the Bungara who trade with the Painted People usually trade for clay pigments and simple handcrafts. Bungara make high quality leather and bone goods and their beading is highly sought by some, particularly the elves who like to include elements of Bungara beading into their masks. The Bungara prefer weapons of wood, stone and bone. While they see the value of metal weaponry, lacking forges of their own they find the maintenance difficult and impractical.
All members of a tribe are expected to contribute what they can to defence, though only hunters and warriors tend to engage in actual battle. With no standing army, and the desperate need for hunters to return to the hunt, any battles are usually resolved as swiftly as possible. Bungara are taught to shoot from horseback and are counted among the best archers in the world. They also use long spears as lances, and an array of axes, spears, stone maces and flint or obsidian knives. They can always count on the magical support of their shaman who tend to be clerics, though arcane magic is practiced by some.
The Bungara respect all life and all Immortals. Even Immortals considered to be evil or anti-life are respected as valid aspects of the cycle of life and thus worthy of respect. However, the Bungara are most strongly drawn to nature gods, such as the Lady of Seasons and Sharm, the Master of Flowers. They view all of life as aspects of a great whole, so their religious practices also involve giving thanks to the spirits of their prey and the many animals they share their lands with.
Human, Garter States
The Garter States are a loose band of minor political divisions. They are confederated by a mutual protection pact against the Empire of Getica. This thin pact is actually where the Garter States gain the name, because like a garter, it’s a small thing upon which are pinned the hopes of many. They were established first in Forecastle when it was overthrown as the first act of the Age of Jackals. Since that initial foothold, pieces of the old empire have been carved out and individual states have sprung up in the wake.
As the Garter States are a random collection of people there is no set appearance. In fact, the Garter States are perhaps the most diverse peoples of the known world. Even orcs and goblins have found cracks within the Garter States to call home.
Every state has its own laws and rules which means that the lifestyle and living conditions also varies by state. However, as a country founded by rogues, there is a strong drive to maintain personal freedom and expression. Given the ease of hopping borders, most realms offer incentives to stay, rather than binding laws to hold people.
Different realms have different levels of education, however in the desire to create infrastructure, many realms offer a variety of organised schools. Whatever formal education is on offer, almost every member of the Garter States will pick up a certain degree of streetwise as an essential survival skill.
The Garter States are bound only by the mutual defence pact, helping each other defend the realm from any incursion from the old Empire of Getica. Other than that one binding principal, it’s every realm for themselves. Machiavellian politics abound, but prolonged political issues that threaten to undermine the confederacy are discouraged. Rumour has it that there are political roots still buried in Forecastle which were established and maintained by the initial captains and heroes of the Pirate War.
Laws are highly varied with each realm entitled to maintain their own laws and law enforcement. Due to the expense of such a structure, many realms elect to use the Adventurer Guilds to troubleshoot problematic issues. In fact, this tendency for open mindedness and frontier attitude has led to a proliferation of Adventurer Guilds among the Garter States.
Many realms have different demands and supplies, dependant on natural resources and trades. The most common exports are adventurers and mercenaries, both of which are in ready supply having honed their skills along the frontier of the Garter States.
Each realm maintains whatever army they see fit. The only required responsibility is for each state to have something to support defence should the old empire attack. One responsibility shared by all is the defence of the Black Corridor, a narrow mountain pass that is the only realistic access point for an invasion from the old empire. Most realms simply pay a tax to fund mercenaries, the rates for which are set down in the original charter based solely upon the land value of the realm.
While most realms have their patron deities, the range of choice is legion. The only religion universally condemned is any worship of Getica, as the Garter States do not recognise him as a true Immortal. A holy order of knights known as the Briar Rose have taken this realm as their base of operations. Initially beginning as an Adventurer Guild, the Order became a fully-fledged order of knights under the paladin Aenor, who established the order in the name of the goddesses he calls the three sisters, consisting of Liliana Thrice-born, Chitenae, and Shae. To honour Shae, the knights often take solo tours where they act alone or with other adventurers to right wrongs and protect the innocent; all the usual hero stuff.
To the hot southern side of the realm is a dark swamp filled with insects, prehistoric beasts and hydra. It was once the home of a native people, but the land was hunted to extinction by the old empire who converted the population into slaves. The land is still filled with the dark taint of ancient suffering.
Human, Getica Empire
Once an empire that spanned the bulk of the continent, the Getica Empire has fallen into decline. Emperor Getica has sat the throne for centuries and by all reports he is undying. In fact, eternal life is the gift offered for devout worship of the Undying God. To outside eyes it is not immortality that is granted, but undeath.
Natives of the empire are Caucasian, with an average height of around 5’6” with dark hair and green or brown eyes. However, many other cultures have been absorbed into the empire mixing their blood into the gene pool. Clothing tends to be very conservative, with high collars, lace and ruffles for the wealthy, and simple coarse cloth and leather for the commoners.
The empire is sustained by slavery and crushing feudalism. Common folk are either legal slaves or live as slaves, forced to pay high taxes for their meagre lands. Commoners live in fear of the authorities, knowing full well that a bad season can land them in slave collars, or worse. The nobles enjoy all the opulence that exploitation of a lesser class can provide. The great spires of the City of Getica form a dark citadel into which only the favoured of the emperor are allowed. Rumour suggests that within those walls are the true horrors of Getica; the hordes of undead which were created as favour for their service to the crown. Women are second class citizens and are never put into trusted positions nor allowed as members of the clergy. Noble women maintain their position of opulence only while they have a husband. While their husbands live, they may rule on his behalf, but may never contradict his choices.
Nobles are trained by the finest of tutors, carefully conditioned to carry on the tyrannical rule of their parents. They are taught that undeath is eternal life, and that Getica is a god. For the common folk, there is nothing but that which they can learn from those around them. Those lucky enough to be born into a functional family might be able to continue the family trade, and hopefully learn to avoid the notice of the upper class.
There was once a time when Emperor Getica led at the very forefront of battle. These days he remains upon his throne where it is said by the nobles that he tends court daily. The Emperor conducts business outside the capital through one of his six Senses; The Hand, The Eyes, The Nose, The Ears, The Voice and The Spirit. Each sense is represented by a cowled figure who has had all other sense destroyed so they can focus only upon the one sense from which they take their name. Each Sense is responsible for a different aspect of governing. The Hand directs the military, the Ears controls the network of spies and informants, The Eyes scout etc.
Magic is illegal, including clerical magic of any type other than that used by the official clerics of Getica. There is an active and brutal Inquisition which upholds the laws. The punishment for unsanctioned magic use is death, often without trial. Lesser crimes are largely ignored unless the crime is against the nobles or the functioning of the empire. Most crimes against the crown are punishable by death. Very minor crimes are sometimes punished by forced slavery. Not uncommonly, the offender for a simple crime might be put to death and his entire family, even his entire village, might be put into slavery. All law is carried out either by the nobles, their military, or by the Inquisitors.
The Empire looks after its own, mostly because no other political bodies will trade with them. There is however a thriving market in slaves brought in from outside the realm. The only export is in coin and at times dark magic. The nobles are sustained by the people, and the people starve. It is not a healthy economy. Life is cheap and death cheaper, so for the common person, real value is found only in practical needs like food and safety.
The Empire still maintains a strong standing military. Not only does every realm have its own standing army to keep the peace, the emperor himself has legions of ‘Immortals’ under his command. These immortals are hordes of undead, led by even more powerful undead such as Lich and Vampires. While the military might of the Empire is still strong, the most potent weapon it has always wielded is fear and corruption.
There is only one accepted religion, that of Getica the Undying. Having an actual Immortal sitting upon the throne tends to breed a certain devotion among the people that serve him. Many common folk try to find favour with the temples of Getica in the hope that one of their children might be accepted for training, thus offering the child a better life. With so many willing applicants to the temples, the religion is rich in manpower.
The dark skinned Manakata are masters of magic. The history of many spells in popular use today can be traced to the these ancient learned people. They are tall and dark skinned with aquiline features. Beards are popular among men who maintain themselves with perfumed oils. Women are small breasted with long shapely legs. Hair is universally black and greys with age. Preferred clothing is light, flowing and often revealing for both men and women. Tattoos are common, usually depicting decorative shapes and patterns.
There are two classes of people in Manakata; those with magic and those without. Clerical magic is acceptable enough to be included among those with magic, but it is the arcane mages who run the country. If you do not have magic then you either serve one of the mage households or you don’t work. If you are a spell caster, you are a part of one of the mage households, or serving there for a time as a student. Mages are essentially the noble caste, and their word is always worth more than the word of someone who is not ‘gifted’. This prejudice against those without magic is not concealed in any way.
Every major household maintains their own school, though attendance is strictly for the gifted and only on approval. Fees tend to be high, and the prestige of each school is regularly in the spotlight, especially during many of the inter-school magical competitions held throughout the year. Most of the best trained wizards in the world have spent at least some time in the hallowed towers of Manakata training houses. For the common folk without magic, or for the hedge wizards without coin enough for training, there is public schooling available. There is a handful of barracks and attached fighter schools available. These schools primarily train the standing military in the art of Wyvern handling, lancing, horsemanship and of course many styles of combat.
Manakata is a Mageocracy, ruled by a council of eleven from the Great Houses. This number has changed over time as houses have risen and fallen. In order to be included (or excluded) it takes the vote of all the established members. Some Houses have purchased their way in, some have earned it through deed and merit, but all standing members must agree for the House to be included. There are also many minor Houses which rule their own little demesnes. They are expected to lend aid if asked to by the Great Houses, and in turn can expect aid should they be under threat. The Great Houses tend to be slow to respond though, preferring to stay out of contentious disputes between minor Houses.
There is a standing police force known as Ravens. Ravens wear distinctive long cotton coats and act as judge, jury and executioner throughout the realm. Each acts independently but can count on the full resources of the local ‘Nest’ (the local police station) if they need support. Ravens are almost always mages or clerics, however they have access to other commoner men-at-arms from the Nest. Ravens must show considerable caution when dealing with other mages, who are always entitled to a full trial. The law is harder on the common folk, especially if they transgress against a mage. An instant death sentence is not uncommon, and as the sentence can be enacted on the spot, a criminal had better be ready to either flee or to plead a quick case as to what skills of value they can offer in exchange.
Manakata is relatively rich in natural resources, and the use of magic makes the extraction of many of those resources relatively easy. They also have a well-educated population with a wide range of skills, meaning manufacture of goods is easy to arrange within the realm. The focus on magical studies and innovative use of creatures does put a high demand on unusual herbs and monsters. Manakata is exactly the place you might take something like a Dragon egg, or venom from the Medusa.
As well as their formidable magical might, Manakata also maintains a highly trained military force. Each House maintains their own army which is hired from one of the fighter barracks. While usually just a training and mustering ground, each barrack also functions as an unaligned standing army which the Great Houses can call upon at any time.
Religion is largely viewed as the poor man’s path to magic. There is no law against the practice of any religion, so long as your practices do not violate other laws. It’s just that religion is considered a peasant’s pursuit. There is no denying the power of the Immortals though, so the mages of Manakata give them their space and their due, and it is considered poor form to take actions that might draw the ire of the gods.
Deep within the rain forest and swamp lands of Saluria resides a proud warrior people. Once valued for their strength as slaves by Getica, they are now a free people brought out of barbarity by the empire and are trying to find their place in the larger world. They are a proud and noble people, but still prone to bouts of savagery. They are large built Caucasians who usually decorate their bodies with tattoos. Most are muscular and healthy folk with hair that ranges from brown to blonde and eyes in the usual human spectrum. Men often shave their heads but rarely ever their beards. Hair is usually braided and then sealed with coloured clay which serves to ward of lice and keep the hair in place. They often have an acrid smell which comes from a native herbal blend used to ward off biting insects.
Traditionally the Salurian people are hunters and fishers, living off the land in simple tribal societies. These days contact with the other cultures has led to the growth of larger share settlements which are forming trade hubs for the outlying villages.
Not only are the fauna and flora of the lands a hazard, there is a fair degree of predation among the Salurians themselves. There are also long running feuds between the Salurians and the other forest and swamp people, such as the Lizardmen, Troglodytes and even Elves. The regular threat of battle means most Salurians follow a warrior path.
There is no formal system of education, with each family taking care of the instruction of their members. The closest thing to formal schooling occurs when parents take turns in sharing the care and education of children. Natural lore is taught from an early age. Children are told which plants and animals pose the greatest risk, and how to mitigate those risks. Most are trained in how to look after themselves in a fight, learning not just weapon skills, but the arts of stealth and how to flee a fight. Many villages have witches and shaman who maintain a family tradition as magic users or clerics.
Each village governs itself, traditionally following the wishes of the elders. During times of special difficulty, those with applicable skills are respected for their knowledge and usually take command until the threat has passed.
Some tribes prefer to have a single chief lead the tribe. This shift in power usually takes place when a particularly charismatic leader arises and pushes the people toward a set purpose. When such leaders die, leadership tends to return to the elders.
There are no formal laws, nor any formal police force, and those who threaten that peace will usually face the whole village. Acts such as murder, rape and theft are all universally considered punishable offences. One common way to deal with serious transgressors is to wound them and leave them near the lair of an apex predator. If they survive, then the gods have deemed them forgiven. This also has a tendency to give local apex predators a taste for human flesh and an unrealistic evaluation of the human place on the food chain.
Being food rich but product poor, the Salurians only really have one major export; manpower. They regularly trade away their services as mercenaries or labourers, hoping to return home rich enough to raise a family. Salurians are well accustomed to living with few tools and resources other people take for granted, so they are not prone to trade high for such ‘luxuries’.
One thing all Salurians have in common is a love for a good fight. They believe that death in battle, especially in defence of their people, grants a person favour in the afterlife. They also love the simple competition, relishing the physical struggle as the purest form of personal expression. This attitude makes the Salurians tough fighters who are constantly looking for ways to improve their skills.
Salurian religion is a complex affair, with villages maintaining their own small gods which are seen as representations of the local Spirits; however, many of the Immortals have found followings in the lands of Saluria. The most popular established religion is Sharm, which appeals to the competitive nature of the Salurians and their belief in natural law. Sharm boasts at least one shrine in each of the larger towns. Salurians are well accustomed to every village having its own small god, proving they are a very tolerate people towards all religions. This has led to a flourishing growth of missionaries and representatives from many faiths setting up shines in hopes of gaining new followers. This universal respect for all religions has waned in places where followers and gods alike have indicated intolerance of others.
The Shae are named after their goddess Shae, Lady of the Roads. They are a gypsy-like people who are almost constantly on the move, taking in other travellers and providing assistance to those in need. There is no native appearance to the Shae, they will take in anyone, even demi-humans, providing they are willing to live by the teachings of Shae. The Shae live on the road, travelling from place to place, trading their services for land to camp, and for food and other supplies. Under the teachings of Shae, they may not remain in any one place for longer than a moon, no matter how severe the weather.
As they are constantly travelling, life is difficult at times, but it is also a life the Shae work hard at filling with joy and excitement. Evenings are filled with dance, song and all manner of performance, both for their own enjoyment and as practice for performances when they reach the next settlement. They are a very free spirited people with a genuine love of life. As people who value life, the Shae are happy to lend aid to those in need. They will tend the sick and protect the harried. Many people join the Shae by first having been the recipient of their aid. This tendency to welcome strangers, many of whom might have shady pasts, has led to many Shae taking to wearing veils. The Shae will work hard to protect people from the authorities, but never if the person is of unrepentant questionable morals. Once you join the Shae you are asked to find a talent you can offer the troupe. No matter how ardent the applicant, newcomers are generally not accepted as full members until they have been with a troupe for at least a full year.
The most notable factions are the Seers of Shae, and the Dervishes of Shae. They represent Clerics and Mystics respectively, receiving appropriate training in those classes. Those born on the road, and therefore Shae from birth, tend to follow one of these two paths. The Shae are a theocracy, ruled by the Seers. Chief among the Seers is the Grandmother, a female cleric of venerable age. It is her wisdom that guides the course of the caravans and chooses which trails are taken. Actual decisions are made as a whole people, gathering around the fire and discussing what needs attention. Ultimately, the Grandmother is the final arbitrator. The Grandmother will make a successor known before her death and the Shae will respect her choice.
The Shae do have a set of laws, most of which only apply among their own people. Crimes against their own are punished by paying restitution equal to thrice the loss caused by the crime. For serious crimes like rape and murder, the person is cast out of the troupe. If the crime is especially vile, they will have their cheek branded so they can never be accepted into another troupe. There is no personal ownership among the Shae, as all things are technically owned by the troupe. However, taking from another is still a crime.
The Shae must trade for almost everything. Being constantly on the move, they rarely have enough time to gather and produce resources. While many own waggons, storage is limited, so tools like a forge or loom are unlikely. Performance is their main form of trade, earning them enough coin to pay for essentials before moving on. They also trade smaller handcrafts and surplus resources from hunting and gathering on the road.
The Shae have no army. They are defended by their members who come from many backgrounds and professions. The Seers and the Dervishes are especially valued in matters of defence, though a ragtag collection of thugs and thieves are scattered through every troupe.
There is only one religion among the Shae, that is Shae herself, the Lady of the Road. Her practices form the very basis of the society. Shae teaches respect to all unless that respect is not returned. Therefore the Shae often give thanks if they see the workings of other Immortals in their life. There is a great respect between the followers of Shae and the followers of Liliana the Thrice-born
Human, The Kingdom of Solmani
During the expansion of Getica, the Kingdom of Solmani became a rally point for those fleeing the advance of the empire. The Solmani are of the same racial stock as Getica, being small of stature and pale skinned. The influx of other races has generated many variations from the standard.
Solmani principles hold that each individual should strive to live a good and honourable life. The current monarchy strive to be paragons of virtue, and as such the people of Solmani enjoy firm but fair taxes, which pay for firm but fair laws and protection. Common folk are also invited to air any grievances at court, where even the actions of the nobles can be called into question without prejudice. For those unwilling or unable to work, there are welfare opportunities available at the various temples. Even the criminal organisations have a certain honour, and tend to only commit crimes against those who can afford it. In fact the vilest crimes like rape and murder rarely make it to the courts because the Thieves guilds quickly take matters into their own hands to protect the common folk. Children can expect formal schooling of a decent quality. From there they can enter into arranged apprenticeships to learn a full trade.
Solmani is an Hereditary Monarchy. The king and queen rule over the normal array of counts, viscounts, barons, dukes etc. The nobles are responsible for the management of their lands, the collection of taxes and the defence of the citizens and the crown. Nobles who act contrary to what is considered right and proper can be stripped of titles and have their land repossessed by the crown. This land will then be redistributed, sometimes being granted to a newly created noble in exchange for good service to the crown.
As a branch of the military, Solmani maintain a police force, complete with trained investigators. The cases are brought before the royal courts, where nobles are expected to reside over their people and pass sentence. For lesser crimes a magistrate can be appointed to preside in the place of the noble. Crimes are usually punished by the payment of a fine or in severe cases, imprisonment. While nobles are entitled to order a death sentence, it is a last resort used for especially callous and vile acts.
Solmani enjoys a wealth of natural resources and skilled labour. They maintain fertile fields and good herds, providing food and hides for trade. They import a range of goods, mostly luxury goods like spices and rare herbs. Being a larger realm, there is always a need for additional raw resources, such as timber, ore and new stock.
The Solmani maintain a well trained and equipped conventional military, including pikes, cavalry, and magical support. The barracks are also home to a multi-denominational temple servicing the military and offering additional magical healing and support. Solmani also maintain an elite order of knights who embody all of the key principles of Solmani morality and chivalry. The Knights of Solmani are renowned both for their fighting prowess, as well as their gracious manner.
Providing the practice of your religion does not violate the laws of the land, it is deemed permitted. Even Immortals who encourage otherwise illegal acts are allowed, providing those illegal practices are excluded from the rituals and observances. The only outlawed religion is Getica. Getica is considered a rot without cure, and allowing it to fester in any way within Solmani is not permitted.
Jhan aka Halflings
Jhan are highly family oriented, with each clan consisting of three to six distinct family linages. While commonly called Halflings by humans, the term is at least mildly derogatory to the Jhan who don’t consider themselves 'half' of anything. Jhan have a first name and a family name. The family name will be one held by tradition and usually describes their point of origin in some way. Names like Onetree and Willowbottom might describe a physical location, while family names like Cherrybloom and Ramsworthy could reference professions. First names tend to have French, or Anglo-Saxon sound, such Clarence, Theodore or Cherise. Some Jhan will become better known by nicknames, particularly heroes who might be named after a notable deed.
Each clan consists of anywhere from two to eight distinct family linages. Devotion to family is absolute and most of the day is spent working hard to support the family units. Taking pleasure in life is equally important to hard work, so celebrations and feasts are common. Jhan will use almost anything as an excuse to hold a festival, celebrating with food, song, dance and play. Elders are respected for their wisdom and their toil generally involves smoking pipe-weed and making themselves available for advice. Jhan are regularly schooled, both in organised classes as well as by working side by side with their parents. Upon reaching adulthood, every Jhan is required to take part in an event called Yewmer, where young adults are expected to travel out into the world and experience what life is like outside the community. Housing is spacious, and usually dug into the side of a hill. Outsiders are treated with the utmost suspicion, generally being viewed as trouble makers.
The community is led by common consensus, with deference given to the elders and anyone with specialist knowledge. In military matters the local sheriff, or sheriffs are first to evaluate the threat. If there is a call to action they will order the deployment of the community. It's common for each community to have one head sheriff, with secondary sheriffs for each family. The Sheriff and anyone they call into service are responsible for bringing people to justice. Given the strong ties within the community, crimes among community members are extremely rare, with serious trouble almost exclusively coming from outsiders. The ultimate punishment in most places is banishment from the community.
Despite having healthy appetites and a love for homely pleasures, Jhan communities tend to produce a surplus. This surplus is usually traded outside the community through outsider traders who make regular rounds. Jhan mostly export fresh produce and handcrafts, such as rugs, cloth, packs and other sundries. The most highly prized are luxury items such as pipe-weed and sweet mead. Due to the complimentary requirements of both people, there often exists a very good relationship between dwarven and Jhan communities.
Jhan communities rarely ever maintain any form of standing army. However, all members are trained in combat techniques and can be called upon in times of need. The only real standing force of any sort are the sheriffs, who spend most of their time simply patrolling the land and checking in on families.
Jhan have little time for religion, there’s simply too much work to be done to take time out for gods. However, they are also a people who believe in respect, so they often give a token nod to the Immortals before engaging in something that the Immortal might favour. As lovers of a good celebration many Jhan will also have a few festivals each year that celebrate the Immortals in some way.
Ascending into the realms of the Immortals, Liliana gained her following in the Age of Jackals. When the invasion of Forecastle kicked off the Age of Jackals, Liliana was a common harlot who joined the fighting among the Freemen ships. In that battle she distinguished herself as a powerful leader as she rallied slaves and servants to perform exceptional deeds. When the city was taken, some pirate fleets sought to bring the slaves back under their command. Liliana had no desire to fight for a free life only to return to a life of servitude under a different dictator. The people who shed blood at her side agreed with her sentiments. They rose up against the pirates, with Liliana slaying the Dread Pirate Lord Zangov Ninetail with her own hands. The Freemen, under the continued leadership of Liliana, took a large portion of the city as their own, defying the other pirates’ claims. Liliana continued to rule her people, making them instrumental in rolling back the Getica Empire. Having fought on the very front lines and been involved in many small unit missions, her name became legend. One day she simply disappeared, and in so doing her legend placed her in the company of the Immortals.
Portfolio: Rebirth and regeneration, endings and beginnings.
Liliana teaches that if you are willing to make the choice, you can change your life entirely. Do not sit idle and let others lead you or save you. If you want change, it is your responsibility to make that change happen. Liliana is often called upon whenever new ventures are about to be embarked upon, then thanked again at the conclusion. She also helps people make a change in their lives, allowing them to step out of one life into a new one in a Rebirth ceremony. Her temples aid in the changing of name, appearance and every detail of a person’s life. Fees are charged for those who can afford it, but the service is usually free for anyone in need.
Clerics also help people make big life choices by counselling and advising them on how to manage their lives. In fact, they will usually refuse to do a Rebirth ceremony until the person has first of all attended a few life coaching appointments.
Holy Symbol: Two leaves, upright like an emerging seedling, one copper, the other gold. An alternative version has only a single leaf, each side of which is a different colour.
Primary Followings: Liliana has a very devout following in Forecastle and throughout most of the Garter States. She has even found favour among some elven courts who already have a long tradition of transitioning between different ways of living.
Key Factions: The temples of Liliana are often supported by the labour of lay worshippers, who help out as a way of repaying the aid they too have received. The clergy are referred to as Fathers or Mothers, and it is their responsibility to oversee the Rebirth process. The Knights of Liliana are an elite group of heroes from many professions who tend to be very practical and down to earth trouble shooters.
Practices and Rituals: Despite the low financial demands placed on their followers, the temple is relatively wealthy.
Recipients of their aid often pay regular tithes to the temple in thanks for the new life they are living.
The Rebirth is the most commonly demanded ritual, usually taking place in the main temple called The House of Many Doors. The House of Many Doors is a round building with a central garden. Within the House of Many Doors is a network of rooms which house people during the process of Rebirth. People learn new skills and construct their new identity under the advice of the clergy or their assigned representatives. The process of Rebirth has no set time and can be overnight or take years, depending on the requirements of the individual.
Temples of Liliana are bastions of sanctuary, and the members will go a long way to ensure that once someone has entered those doors, providing they do not act against the temple, they will be safe.
Holy Days: Both summer and winter solstice are sacred days to Liliana, representing that even the sun, moon and world undergo major transformations.
Thaghera the Black Flame
Thaghera is a vengeful god of rage and retribution. Sheathed in black flames he hunts down those who commit crimes against the innocent and punishes them. Thaghera’s story says that he and his family were victims of brigands. His family were abused and killed while he was forced to look on, bound and helpless. Rather than killing him outright, the brigands left him tied, taking time to cover his flesh in cuts. As the brigands predicted, it didn’t take long for a local pack of wolves to find Thaghera bound, bleeding and helpless. Thaghera’s rage possessed the wolf pack, and over the following days, they hunted the brigands tirelessly, until every one of them was torn to shreds, visiting upon each the fate they had intended for Thaghera. With his vengeance complete, Thaghera’s soul left the world to join the Immortals. His personal vengeance might have been complete, but the cries of all those others who suffered in similar ways echoed through the aether, keeping the black flame of Thaghera’s heart burning brightly.
Portfolio: Revenge and justice.
Holy Symbol: Wolf face formed of onyx flame.
Primary Followings: Temples of Thaghera can be found in most places in the world, as there will always be those who wrong others, and those who wish that harm returned. While the brutal practices of Thaghera are often frowned upon, the Getica Empire is the only land in which his following is illegal.
Key Factions: Shrines are usually small and discreet, often hidden in remote places where the aggrieved can pray safely. The clergy guard their shrines and ensure safety is maintained. The Wolves of Thaghera are a network of 'Equalisers', who respond to the prayers of the faithful by tracking down the wrongdoers and exacting brutal justice upon them.
Practices and Rituals: Thaghera is patient, and can take years to ensure only the guilty are punished. As such, the clergy of Thaghera are often employed by local governments as a police force of sorts. Usually, they are happy enough with the justice provided by the laws of the land, but it is well known that not all criminals make it to trial.
To the followers of Thaghera, justice knows few bounds. Criminals are usually brutally beaten, often killed and often tortured for some time before death. The brutal practices regularly brings into question whether or not the church attracts the sort of people who take joy in violence.
Holy Days: Thaghera has no set holy days.
Chimera the Ever-changing
The followers of Chimera teach that the only constant in life is change, and that the only true death is stasis. As such, they bring life and growth to the world by bringing change. The origins of Chimera are a mystery to all except perhaps the clergy. What is known is that many composite creatures call upon Chimera as their patron protector and guide. How such a deity has developed a following among monsters all over the world is a mystery.
To the outsider, Chimera can seem like an insane god with insane worshippers. However, this is very far from the truth. Chimera teaches that creativity and new thought is achieved first through breaking with tradition. Therefore they are not contrary due to insanity, but though carefully planned reasons. It’s a paradox to most people, but is filled with clear reasoning to the followers of Chimera.
Portfolio: Discord and composite beasts.
Holy Symbol: A Chimera (the monster) made out of whatever materials are available. At its most simplistic, Chimera is represented by a circle with three upward strokes at the top.
Primary Followings: While there is evidence of many monsters paying tribute to Chimera, the followers of Chimera are also numerous among human and demi-human peoples. Chimera is often called upon in times of political upheaval, and many shrines today owe their roots to the casting down of the Getica Empire. As such, the Garter States hold Chimera in high regard. The Kingdom of Solmani discourages worship of Chimera and has no shrines openly established in the cities, but only Getica outright bans its practice.
Key Factions: Chimera is represented in many ways, and is by its very nature a highly disorganised religion. Worshipers can often come into conflict with each other. Even shrines often have no attendant guardian, and clergy roam almost aimlessly.
Practices and Rituals: Chimera can be very unpredictable, with few real set practices or methods of worship. Followers tend towards light hearted fatalism, and enjoy pranks and off-centre humour.
Holy Days: Nil. Worshipers may hold their own holy days.
The Lady of Seasons
The Lady of Seasons is one of the oldest goddesses, with her influence found throughout the world in a great many guises. Some say she is a single person, who ages a lifetime in a year. Others say she is actually four sisters, each representing one of the seasons.
Portfolio: The changing of the seasons, agriculture.
Her primary focus changes with each season, as does her iconography. In spring she is represented by a young girl, full of promise and potential. It is a time for planning, planting and regrowth. In summer she is a fierce maiden who guards the crops and the home. In autumn she is middle aged, and represents the reaping of crops and the planting of learned wisdom.
Finally in winter, she is the old woman, wise and reserved.
Holy Symbol: Changes with the season. Wooden with painted green foliage in spring. Gold in summer. Plain wood with partial foliage in autumn. Silver with no foliage in winter.
Primary Followings: She is highly favoured among farming communities. She is also venerated on the oceans where she is called upon to provide fair winds and ward off fierce storms. She is also strongly favoured by most women, who see in her aspects of themselves as progenitors and protectors of the hearth. In fact, most of her clerics are female. Jhan tend to love the Lady of Seasons and joyfully celebrate all her holy days. She is also highly favoured in the Kingdom of Solmani and in many of the Garter States. She is even finding a firm hold in the distant lands of Saluria.
Key Factions: Her clergy are often simple people, such as the local village wise woman. A simple house might have a little field-side shrine where people come to leave offerings or to pray. As she is the goddess of natural cycles, her clerics are responsible for predicting how harsh the seasons will be and must ration food accordingly.
The Hearthguard are the Lady’s military, affectionately called Ratcatchers by the people, as protecting the storehouses from vermin are among the most common duties of the guard. The Lady also maintains a handful of knights, either paladins or wandering priests who visit outlying areas to bless fields and aid in the management of villages. They are almost always solo, but will sometimes muster a force to help drive out creatures that threaten a community. The Knights of the Lady tend to live a humble life and they never have trouble finding a roof and a warm meal in any village of the land.
Practices and Rituals: The Lady is evoked at many key times in the year. Planting and harvest are the most popular, where she is called upon to bless the fields and to protect the crop until the next year.
Holy Days: Planting and harvest are the biggest times of the year, with each holy period lasting until the job is done. In places with a diverse range of planting times and crops, at least one day is given to each crop to properly honour the goddess. In the heart of winter there is a special observance called 'The Last Candle'. It is a time where those who died throughout the year are remembered in stories told around the fire.
Chitanea the Radiant
Hero among heroes, stories of Chitanea abound throughout all civilised people. She is a wily hero who has wrestled giants, riddled with dragons and turned back kobold invasions. Her name seems to be proxy for any good tale in which a noble hero has stood against the forces of darkness and prevailed through might and wit. She is usually depicted as being honourable with a clever wit and sense of humour, often outsmarting her foes and tricking them into their own defeat. Tales of Chitanea tend to transcend reality, but whatever the truth of her deeds in life, she is certainly among the Immortals now.
Portfolio: Glory and heroism.
Holy Symbol: Golden effulgent sun in a blue circle.
Primary Followings: Many knighthoods claim Chitanea as their patron. She is also called upon by adventurers, with many of her clerics living as professional adventurers. She has well established temples in any place bordering wild and untamed lands. The temple often provides special services for adventurers, such as spells and raising the dead. In order to maintain their extravagant temples they demand high fees for their services.
Key Factions: Many orders claim Chitanea as their patron, however there are several organisations with strong direct ties to the established temples. The Order of the Scarab are primarily paladins resplendent in iridescent enamelled blue plate. They are funded directly by the temple and also self-funded through independent adventuring.
The Order of the Radiant Light are undead hunters who either work with adventurer groups or fund expeditions to root out and slay the undead. They are well trained in the nature of undead and how to best defeat them. Most members of the order are clerics, though people who prove sufficiently devoted may be invited to join.
The Blackguard are an elite force that maintains a keep just inside the Black Corridor. They are a small order but they are highly devoted to maintaining the corridor, preventing Getica from ever entering the southern lands. They are fierce opponents of Getica and most of their members have at least one horror story of real world experience with the Getica
Empire and its minions.
Practices and Rituals: The followers of Chitanea make no excuses for their love of glory and wealth. They openly display their wealth in magical arms and armour which they use to seek further glory.
Holy Days: The biggest day on the Chitanea calendar is the Festival of the Bard. Once per year the temple holds a festival, providing food and drink for all, in order to attract large crowds. They invite the best bards and ask them to share songs and tales of heroism to inspire the people.
Shae, Lady of the Road
The brightly coloured waggons of the Shae are a common sight in many lands. Constantly on the move, the followers of the Lady of the Road lead a gypsy lifestyle, but it is a lifestyle filled with adventure and free of binding ties.
Shae herself is said to have been a dancer from a distant land. A dark sorcerer demanded she dance for him and she refused. In response to this insolence the Sorcerer cursed Shae to wander the earth forever, never finding a home or a family. Shae took to the road, the dark magic forcing her to commit to an endless journey. Rather than suffer the curse, Shae made the road her home, the people she met her family, and instead of misery and loneliness she found joy and freedom. The dark curse was thwarted, but the followers of Shae still travel ever onward.
Portfolio: Travellers, freedom and dance.
Holy Symbol: A scarf crossed with a feather.
Primary Followings: The gypsy folk named for Shae are the most devout of her worshippers, spending their life on the road and never staying in one place for long. Throughout most of the lands, Shae is evoked by traders and other travellers before they embark upon a journey. The relationship between dance and other entertainments make Shae especially favoured in the Garter States, and any realm where people have the time and money for revelry.
Key Factions: While there are a few roadside shrines, the only real clerics and full time worshippers of Shae are found among the people who bear her name. Among those people can be found the Seers of Shae and the Dervishes of Shae. The Seers are full clerics who serve the caravan as guides, diviners and wise elders. The Dervishes are mystics, trained in martial arts and movement. They perform wild dance routines beyond the ability of most traditional dancers. They also maintain the defence of the caravan, often taking the initiative and using their skills to be proactive in avoiding troubles for their troupe.
Practices and Rituals: Read the listing for the people known as the Shae for their most common practices. Notably, the clerics of Shae cannot remain in one area for longer than a full cycle of the moon.
Holy Days: The hardships of travel mean that organised days are not always convenient. Lay worshippers tend to only call upon Shae at the start and end of travel. Those who spend a lot of time on the road will often donate to travelling Shae caravans when they meet, hoping to earn the favour of the goddess by supporting her people.
The Grey Man
The roots of the Grey Man legend are lost in time, he simply always was, and likely always will be. There is some evidence of the Grey Man being known even among the orcs, goblins and other dark races. The Grey Man is in many respects a non-entity. He moves through the world unseen, and his presence is only known by the tendency for things to disappear around him. When things are lost, it is said the Grey Man took them.
Portfolio: Thieves and lost things.
Holy Symbol: Ashen hand print
Primary Followings: The Grey Man will be given tributes in any place where thieves can be found. Of course, this means anywhere in the world. Only a few clerics dedicate themselves to the Grey Man. They operate almost exclusively as part of a thieves guild, or in the back of taverns and other seedy gathering places. There they act as ‘fixers’, arranging employment for shadowy activities and at times fencing goods. Such individuals are rarely thieves themselves, but the servants of thieves.
Key Factions: Little is known about the inner workings of the followers of the Grey Man. The Clerics are known to be the ones to see if you need a thief. Legends speak of master thieves who the Grey Man tasks with special crimes committed in his name. There are stories of tribes of orcs and goblins who venerate the Grey Man as a master brigand and champion of the raider.
Practices and Rituals: Offerings should be things of value, no matter the actual price of the item. Clerics can sometimes make unusual requests when asking for payment. Followers also accept that all things are transient, and that ownership is a privilege, not a right.
Holy Days: There are no universally accepted holy days for the Grey Man.
Lord of Masks
The Lord of Masks takes no name as his own, though he has used many aliases. His clerics say he was once king of a vast realm. The kingdom had known such peace and prosperity that no one had to struggle, nor work for a living. The Lord of Masks often moved among his people in disguise, living among them as an equal and indulging in all life had to offer.
There are no boundaries for the Lord of Masks or his followers, except that acts which violate the pleasure of others are forbidden. However, among consensual adults, any depth of depravity and personal fulfilment is perfectly valid.
The Lord of Masks is said to be able to take any form, and still attends many celebrations among his followers, in the flesh.
Portfolio: Beauty and hedonism
Holy Symbol: Androgynous mask plated with gold and studded with jewels.
Primary Followings: The Lord of Masks is most popular in the Garter States and among the Elven courts. In fact, the elves claim his origins are actually elven, a practice still represented in the proliferation of mask use among the elves.
He is also popular with a great many nobles, who are among the few people able to surrender to hedonism on a regular basis.
Key Factions: The glorious temples spare little expense and each offers a multitude of delights. From drugs to prostitutes, the temples of the Lord of Masks are a den of depravity. However, while there is some degree of dark rumour surrounding the temples, it generally stems from the jealousy of people unable to afford the services on offer. The militant branch of each temple is home to warriors who trade their martial skill in exchange for the delights of the temple. The Order of the Jewelled Mask are an elite order of knights who find balance between hedonism and performance. Their glittering cavalry are a beacon upon the battlefield, and the knights can often be found wandering the world alone in search of new pleasures. There are rumours of a faction who call themselves the Velvet Mask. They believe the rule that one shouldn't violate the pleasure of others is a rule made to be intentionally broken. The Velvet Mask knows better than to operate openly, and if even half of the rumours are true they exhibit a vile depravity beyond the laws of any land.
Practices and Rituals: A mask carved from white wood depicting an androgynous face is the standard issued to all clerics, however most clerics commission their own individual version of the mask. The masks are properly consecrated and serve as the Holy Symbol for the clerics.
Holy Days: While every day is a celebration within the temples, on one day of Spring each year the celebration pours into the streets in the Festival of the Forbidden. On this day masks are handed out to those who don’t have one, and the city stops as people all over the town either lock their doors and stay in, or become part of the hedonistic celebrations.
Zwitarn, The Bearded Lady
Zwitarn is an ancient deity and is claimed by many to be the original creator of everything. Being both male and female, Zwitarn impregnated himself to create the first people. Not wanting to put the full responsibility of creation into the hands of any one being, he split the genders, creating man and woman. As such an old god, his origin is a mystery as it comes from before recorded time.
Portfolio: Love, fertility and hermaphrodites.
Holy Symbol: Wooden idol of a big breasted woman with a full beard.
Primary Followings: Idols to Zwitarn can be found all over the world, many dating back to before recorded time. Sometimes he is represented just as a pregnant woman without a beard, and at other times as a muscular virile looking man, yet the practices can all be brought back to the one god. Followers of Zwitarn can even be found among primitive folk, and the various beast peoples such as orcs, ogres and gnolls. The shrines to Zwitarn tend to be simple and usually placed outside of city walls, although some can be found within walls where the city has expanded to enclose it. The shrines are often guarded by a handful of worshippers, who tend to be either Clerics or Druids. Zwitarn is popular among smaller villages where the simple unassuming religion represents everything most people want from a god. Zwitarn is often the god of choice for marriage ceremonies and birth blessings.
Key Factions: There are no notable factions among the followers of Zwitarn.
Practices and Rituals: There is a lack of strict requirements and practices.
Holy Days: The anniversary of any marriage or birth within the family is usually celebrated as a holy day by followers of Zwitarn. So while the religion itself has no set days for worship, each follower will have their own special days.
Sharm, Master of Flowers
No one who lives in or near the wilderness can believe it is natural to live in perfect peace and harmony. Nature is about struggle and balance, and sometimes balance can only be achieved by pushing something off the scales forever. Sharm is the god of natural balance, and he is as much a god of tooth and fang as he is of butterflies and flowers. Flowers are his chosen symbol, because they are delicate and subject to regular changes, yet they are a beauty that keeps returning every year, proving that even things of beauty can find a place among the savagery of nature. Sharm is a fairly old god, though not as old as The Lady of Seasons or Zwitarn. Ancient stories say Sharm was originally a hermit who retreated into the wilds on a quest to find the true meaning of life. It is not known how long it took for Sharm to join the Immortals, but it is believed he lived many centuries of physical life, and perhaps is still alive today.
Portfolio: Competition and guardian of nature.
Holy Symbol: A daisy in a ring of thorns
Primary Followings: Sharm can be found throughout most lands, finding firm roots as far south as Saluria, and as far north as the edge of the Garter States. As a nature religion it usually has shrines in the wilds, and only rarely within city walls.
Key Factions: Sharm seems to have inspired different religions as different pockets of followers found their own interpretations of his teachings. The Thorn Druids believe the role of the predator offers the greatest of life lessons, as they compete with predators and prey equally, learning the ways of both. Each Thorn Druid takes a section of land as their own territory, then they defend that territory as any predator might. The Mystics of the Flower Circle are almost the opposite, claiming that life flourishes when in abundance and in a state of quiet servitude, much as a field of flowers spreads and offers its pollen to be shared. Brotherhood of the Briar believe that humans are creating an imbalance by not respecting nature and the delicate balance. They are primarily fighters, druids and clerics devoted to the defence of the wilds, especially the preservation of untouched sanctuaries. The Deepwood Hunters started as an Adventurer Guild in Manakata, but are now a premier monster hunting guild devoted to Sharm. They believe that hunting is a natural cycle, and thus they are celebrating Sharm’s teachings by becoming adept at their art.
Practices and Rituals: Practices vary a great deal. Competition is at the heart of most celebrations, and the request for help from a cleric of Sharm might first involve winning some sort of competitive test.
Holy Days: The temples of Sharm promote many holy days throughout the year. In cities, they set up a faire outside the town and host games and other competitive events. In more remote areas they host hunts and other forms of friendly competition.
Arlette, The Twilight Mistress
Twilight brings a peace to the land, a moment of transition between the activity of the day and the softer activities of the night. Arlette offers the same peace, a quiet time of rest which brings people together in a moment of transition. Arlette herself is a fairly new Immortal, her stories of life dating back only a few centuries to the now extinct Kingdom of Chaldea. She was a commoner, the simple daughter of a merchant. Though well defended, the Kingdom of Chaldea stood no chance against the might of the Empire of Getica at its height. The Kingdom fell, and Arlette and her family became subjects under the shadow of an oppressive overlord. To prevent any form of organised uprising, Chaldean families were torn apart, villages divided and strict curfews imposed. The only people with any freedom of movement were those whose trade required it. Arlette, as daughter to a tinker, was one such person. Arlette used her freedom to smuggle messages between houses and outlying villages, allowing families to maintain contact and to friendships to continue. She risked her life, but through her humble deeds she kept people together in one of the darkest times in history. When the Age of Jackals began to peel back the Empire’s hold, Empire officials began to pay special attention to the movements of their subjects. Empire Inquisitors discovered the activities of Arlette, and setting a trap, they cornered her. As they moved in, Arlette simply smiled, turned, and walked up into the stars.
Portfolio: Astronomy, navigation and friendship.
Holy Symbol: Cartouche.
Primary Followings: Though the people of Chaldea are scattered among the Garter States, they still remember Arlette and hold her in special veneration as one of their own. Her following can also be found in any place traders and travellers frequent.
Key Factions: There are no special factions among the followers of Arlette.
Practices and Rituals: Part of the role of clerics is the creation, reproduction and maintenance of maps and records. They study the movement of the stars, and for a fee their highly detailed star charts and almanacs can be purchased. This work is beginning to create an international standard for cartography and navigation.
Holy Days: Some people celebrate the liberation of the lands of Chaldea as a day sacred to Arlette. While dates might vary, the celebration can be found in many places in the Garter States.
Yolan aka Old Bones
Yolan is technically a god of luck and good fortune, but he teaches that luck is most often made, thus making him patron of cheats and merchants. He appears to be a fairly new Immortal, but his history seems to be obscured, perhaps intentionally. His proliferation has come out of the Age of Jackals, but he’s well known to pre-date that time by an unknown amount. Over time the various versions of a deity of luck found a common ground, and that common ground is now known as Yolan.
Portfolio: Cheats, merchants, gambling and luck.
Holy Symbol: Two bone dice.
Primary Followings: Popular in any place where games are played. Yolan is most well-known are the Garter States, particularly in Forecastle. Yolan’s name can be heard being evoked all over the world, especially the taverns and gambling houses where traders frequent.
Key Factions: There are no key factions in service to Yolan. The religion does not have a militant arm nor do they have any real temples. However, taverns and gambling houses often double as temples, quite often run by clerics of Yolan.
Practices and Rituals: Yolan is a fairly laid back god who places few demands on his worshippers.
Holy Days: There are no set holy days for the followers of Yolan.
Fiori the Drunk
Fiori is a loud mouthed lush with a wicked sense of humour and the ability to fight like a devil. Her fame comes from being the subject of many old pirate tales, where she is an anti-hero who constantly bucks authority in acts of daring only the drunk or the foolish might attempt. Her origins appear ancient, with representations among many cultures, even the Painted People, who see her more like a trickster spirit. In Saluria they see her as a fox spirit, leading honest men off their path and into danger where their wits might bring them great fortune, but where failure brings death.
Portfolio: Goddess of drunks and fools
Holy Symbol: Wine Cup (Garter States) or the fox (Saluria)
Primary Followings: For some reason, Fiori has remained a distinctly human deity. She is very popular among humans, with the Garter States given their roguish nature becoming her spiritual home. However, her following tends to be very informal, with little structure to the religion. Fiori is especially popular with adventurers.
Key Factions: The closest Fiori has to a temple are the many taverns that offer her tribute. She is also the official patron of a number of adventurer guilds, given the very act of adventuring tends to be a foolhardy idea. The only real organised faction is the League of Fiori based in the Kingdom of Solmani. The League is essentially a merchant league with a focus on wine. They propose methods of properly rating wine, maintaining standards of production, and are advocates for banning the watering down of wine. While many argue their main purpose is the use of Fiori’s name for personal profit, the League does has a number of genuine clerics of Fiori among their number.
Practices and Rituals: As a fairly informal religion Fiori is evoked by many, but has few truly sacred rituals. Alcohol is seen as a cleanser, and clerics bless wine and ale for use as holy water. Fiori’s Fire is a potent cocktail of blessed high concentration holy alcohol which is utterly devastating when lobbed into a wave of undead, then set alight.
Holy Days: Though there is no official holy day, many towns offer a special day dedicated to Fiori.