Monday, October 24, 2016

Books of Arunia: On Alth'is and the Wild

This book was found by Fenrus' Very Best in the rooms of the Red Lances after their slaughter at Stock. It was first written in X.439 under the reign of King Lucas by the scholar Theodosius of Elborg.

IN THE SIXTH AGE the northern reaches of Craftsman's Reach were the location of a new revival of half-elven ancestry; the kingdom of Al'this, in response to the formation of Calantheas and Teraspis in the central Reach. The Althissan state encompassed the southern portions of what are now the Untamed Lands and the northern portions of the Reach, particularly around the Aelfwater. Rulership was confined to a number of families that grew up in and around the borders of the elven kingdom—many of the Althissan rulers were trained magicians and sorcerers who learned their craft in the haunts of Tailimisiä. This, of course, set the stage for the later antagonisms between the Thessalian lords and chiefs of the Reach and the elves of Talimisiä.

The Althissan capitol was built south of the Low Plain, straddling a number of small hills. It is, today, a windswept moor. Unlike other great cities of the past such as Temeros and Cathadria, the old city of Altem has no treasures, no secret caches of hidden gold, and no mysterious vaults. The rain and acidic soils have reclaimed most of the stone, leaving only a few great plazas of mosaic stone exposed to the bleaching sun. Perhaps it's because the kingdom was tenuous, small, and only lasted for a brief time. Perhaps it's because old Altem was never a city of any great size.

For a few brief centuries, Al'this clung to the north and its roots as a heritor of Ys. Part of that connection rested in the Al'thissan requirement that, like the later-to-follow Protectorate of Dorlinum, its supreme leaders and highest levels of functionary must all be magic-users. Wizards were the order of the day in Al'this, and a number of sites were chosen to serve as magistracies throughout the north of the land.

Contest with the dwarves of Mount Sirune and the foemen of Hard Heath and the Untamed Lands further north was inevitable. Battle rocked Al'this almost from its very first days, and Calanthea and Teraspis gave the Al'thissans no quarter along their southern border. It was with great perspicacity, then, that the Al'thissan rulers, who were known as Altharchs, made bargains with the remaining populations of stone giants throughout the Reach, drawing them inexorably northward, and awarding individual giants with generalship of the Al'thissan armies.

Even within Al'this, there was an intrinsically dangerous tension: the subjected Thessalians of the Reach, who thought of themselves as a noble people descended from the Spear-bearer, and resented the presence of Al'thissan sorcerers, who considered themselves to be descendants of the half-elves of Ys. The Thessalian retaliation that emerged in the centuries after the fall of Al'this was, of course, a concerted hatred of the Elvish powers, which ended with the war between Tholnia and Tailimisiä.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Books of Arunia: On Tyreth and Its Foundations

This book was first discovered by Fenrus' Very Best in the inn rooms of the Red Lances. It was first written in X.501 by the scholar Ambrosius of Kjellos as a gift for King Magnus. This is a summary of its contents, eliding a great many chapters.

TYRETH CASTLE is constructed upon a rise overlooking the Aelfwater, one of the few fortified natural formations in that region that was not built upon in some past age. In the time of Tholnia, the very northern stretches of the Reach were not fortified at all. The Tholnian seat was located in old Ambar, and the Reach was known as a land of barbarians, unfit for habitation save by the tribesmen, the gnomes, and the halflings. The most powerful force during the early Xth Age was the dwarf-prince at Aella's Hall, also known as Mount Sirune.

After the war of the Elven League in the 3rd century, the White Harts of Tyrnen Wood, fearing an elvish invasion of the Reach from Talimisiä, surveyed their land and decided to move their hall to the shores of the Aelfwater upon a hillside. This began the dynasty that, in X.285, captured the Kjellan peninsula under the leadership of Lord Valyn Karhart.

King Valyn was the first of the Kjellan kings, made so by fire and sword, after conquering the war-torn peninsula and its nobility. King Valyn left his daughter Alina behind to care for the manor and the lands from whence they came. This, my king, is where the first Lady Protector of the Reach came from, and by the 5th century this position was solidified as the place from whence the heir should come.

The procession of Kjellan kings went thusly: King Valyn, who ruled until X.319; Queen Alina, who ruled until X.355; King Baldur, who ruled until X.398 and who brought the Order of the Forge Divine to Kjellos; King Solyce, who ruled until X.415, and who moved the seat of power to Elborg and its ancient castle, resulting in being poisoned by his own high advisors; his younger brother, King Lucas, who ruled until X.459, after slaughtering those who plotted against his brother and committed the regicide; and lastly you, my lord, King Magnus, third son of King Lucas, and lord of Elborg, Kjellos, and the Reach until this very day.

THE HEIRS of the great kings improved the fortified manor at Tyreth little by little. Queen Alina built a motte upon the hilltop and surrounded it with a palisade of wood. In her day, there was no such silver trade along the Silverlode, and the elves were considered to be an enemy of the Reach. The town of Stock did not exist, and the empty elvish temple of Nunianor was filled with darkness and shadow—in the days of King Valyn, a powerful sorcerer inhabited it and made it his home. Thus, there was no threat of elvish armies approaching along the fords, but merely from across the lake.

When King Valyn died and his daughter was called from the exile of the Reach, she placed her own son in charge of the manor house. This was Baldur Dwarf-friend, who often abandoned Tyreth to reside for long stretches at Mount Sirune, in the shadow of Aella's Hall. To his credit, he reinforced the manor and established the first houses of Tyreth town upon the slopes of the hillside. He, too, extended an offer to the dwarves of Effningas to take up residence at his castle, and for a time a small band of such mercenaries did.

Baldur ascended to the throne and signed a lasting treaty of peace with the elves of Tailimisiä. He was known as a bridge-builder, throwing new constructions across the many rivers of Kjellos and the Reach, as well as a diplomat and peacemaker. When the Ambarites threw the Order of the Forge Divine out of the Bay of Ahrain, it was Baldur who gave them a permanent home in the Five Hamlets of Kjellos.

Prince Solyce fortified the manor further, erecting its outwalls and building up the town. It was during Baldur's reign that the position entitled Lord Protector was created, precisely for Solyce himself. The modern structures that we know on Tyreth hill are courtesy of Prince Solyce, who was later killed in a plot surrounding his reclamation of the ancient imperial castle at Elborg and identification of himself with the imperial pretender Thesus Spear-bearer.

You, my lord, increased the might of the Reach, and made it a true colony of Kjellos.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Swearing in Aruniä

I have put this together as something of a play-aid for those playing in the current Craftsman's Reach campaign (Fenrus' Very Best, as they are currently known). For that reason, it will focus on the kinds of PCs that are actually in that game, but some of the general concepts can be applied across the board in the 10th Age.

The Big Difference: Intensifiers and the all-purpose Fuck
The intensifier and exclamatory FUCK does not exist in the 10th Age, because swearing is modeled after a classical/medieval mashup. Obscenity is a part of life, and there are no blushing violets who will turn away from engaging in the swearing language. Fuck is used as an obscenity, but only as a verb -- "The gods fuck me," for example.

What, then, are the swearing conventions, if you can't just pile up fucks on things?

A lot of them are explicitly sexual in nature, even more so than the now-denuded "fuck" and "fucking." Being fucked by other things in nature, including the gods, is a common complaint. Being pissed on is as well—"Fortune pisses on me," for example. Rather than exclaiming "fuck", someone in the 10th Age is much more likely to exclaim, "I am fucked!"

A swear that does carry over from the modern world is "Fuck me!" though it is often embellished a great deal ("Fuck my ass").

Hell and damnation is a very different set of terms in the 10th Age. For one thing, "hell" is not a unitary place, but rather a realm with seven layers. One does not tell people to go to hell, but one might exclaim "Seven hells!" as an exclamatory curse.

Body parts
Common curses refer to the sacral and genital parts of various deities and even regular folk. Male gods, for example, are commonly referred to by their testicles and penis ("Heimir's hairy balls!", "By Haeron's cock!") and goddesses are referred to by their own generative organs ("Vaela's cunt!"). More proper or uptight folk might refer to other identifying marks of the gods ("By Heimir's barrel!" "By Haeron's hammer!", "Star and stone!", etc.)

Bodily functions
"Piss", "pissing", and "shit" are all common swears in the 10th Age.

The Dead
Since there is such a taboo on interacting with dead bodies in the cultures of men, the most obscene combination one could utter would be a sexual or bodily act involving the dead. This would be highly insulting to dwarves, who revere their dead as ancestral spirits.

Certainly raunchy priesthoods might very well indicate that, when things go bad, their gods are fucking them. Heimir, Raya, etc., are gods wherein their priesthoods would have no issue with exclaiming, "Ah, Heimir fucks me!"

Dwarven swearing is inventive and frequently sexual, graphic, and violent. For male dwarves, this often focuses on their pride and joy: their beard. "Shit on my beard," is a particularly vile phrase. Dwarven humor can focus around performing sexual acts with the family members of the other person engaged in the joke. Dwarven threats sometimes involve acts of violence, beards, and family members ("I'll dip my beard in your boy's blood", "I'll tear your father's beard out by the roots", etc.).

Female dwarves focus more on the violent aspect, often referring to the hands and generative organs of male dwarves. ("I'll flatten your prick", "Draw that blade and I'll break your hands", etc.).

Wind elven swearing is generally inventive and referential. They often refer to past elvish histories with gruesome content, making allusions to characters in the elvish story-cycles. This can lead to a complex tapestry of content.

Wood elves swear in a much more straight-forward way, complaining about the various qualities of trees in relation to body parts.

Gnomes and Halflings
These races generally take on the swearing conventions of whoever they are near.

The D6 tracker

Man, I hope other people do this. I dunno if you do, if I just missed the memo and rediscovered this great fucking tip myself, or what, but if not, if this is not something that everyone does, listen up:

When your PCs are in a dungeon, get yourself a starkly different colored die. Match it to the period of random encounters (a d6 will do just fine for every hour) and turn it to represent ten-minute segments. GOD, IT'S GOOD.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


u es amoribunda et tu tristissima, curae
tuus levigo. Scribere de tibi laedit.
Tuum etiam dolorem est meum etiam.
Tu optimus amicas et sociae.
Posso non vale dicere, dulce amica.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Character Journals: Einar Hallrson

Einar Hallrson, was born some sixteen years ago to a large farming family on the banks of the Icewater River near the border between Craftsman’s Reach and the Untamed Regions. Working as freeholders to provide the Tyreth Castle and the town of Stock with a steady supply of meats and tubers, the Hallrson family did everything they could to live frugally, setting aside a small amount of savings each season.  When the Hallrson family finally did indulge in minor luxuries, it drew the envy and attention of the ungoverned men who lived beyond the river.

Early one morning, while Einar and his older brother Kinaan were working in one of the fields, smoke rose from their homestead. Before them they found their possessions, home, and family- burning. A raiding party of bandits carried off anything of value, while Einar and Kinaan fled to Tyreth Castle and then shortly after, Stock.

For months the brothers begged for food, money, or work all the while living in filth and straddling the edge of starvation. The shock of this awful event changed Kinaan more dramatically than Einar. Over time, Kinaan became bent on finding his way to the capital in Kjellos. There they would look for relatives of the Hallrson family. Kinaan believed that in Kjellos they would find that their relatives, not only existed, but surely were wealthy merchants who would take them in to their lavish life without hesitation or question. Einar believed Kinaan had gone mad. 

One busy market day, Einar waited on the steps of the Temple of Law in Stock for Kinaan to return from attempting to sell what little they could find. Kinaan never returned, and Einar stayed on the steps for three days watching the street.  As the sun set, an Acolyte of Haeron brought Einar within the temple, and provided him with food, shelter, clothing, and his first chance to bathe in many months. There Einar received the teachings of Haeron and pledged himself to service of the god of forge and law.  

Now armed with the doctrines of law and order, and the desire to see his justice be done, Einar sets forth as a paladin adventurer in Haeron’s golden company.

Einar Hallrson- 1st of Greening X.511
The unmitigated failure of my first mission from the order has left me rattled still. As it stands, I am not certain of how I will rescue those still enslaved in the depths of the Stockmine or return the mine to the Silver Mining Guild from Orc control.  But I gave my word that I would complete this task, and my word is my bond. I must find new, more righteous, adventurers to aid me if I am to succeed.
It has been nearly four weeks since the poisoned body of my once companion was found on the streets of Stock outside the temple of the Winter Queen. In my mind I cannot help but imagine Alfred’s final moments, limply being dragged, looted, and left to succumb to his wounds in the dirt. I wish I had been there, to help him in return for him having helped me so many times before.

If the town folk’s rumors are true, it seems as though my party member was involved in some minor nefarious endeavor to defraud our local trickster of some trinkets. Was it worth it Alfred? Despite his attempted crimes, he did not deserve to die like that. To worsen the matter, our rather flighty wizard Eldarian still has yet to return from her most recent disappearance. Part of me hopes that she turns up sometime in the indeterminate future at the bottom of a bottle surrounded by a pack of nearly wild animals. I feel as though I am once more waiting for someone who is long gone.  Reliable people are hard to find in these trying times. Though dwelling on that thought now, I’m sure Lucan feels the same.

News has reached me that the men at arms Stallir Andrus had gathered at my request were dispatched to deal with this awful business in the lowlands with the knolls. I can’t help but feel responsible for whatever fate befell them. It is best to attempt to manage only one crisis at a time however, and there are more pressing concerns.

 I am no longer brought to anger at the thought of being used to take arrows and blades by those who only sought to steal and deceive, as anger has never served me well in the past. I hold on to the notion that despite being aligned with such adventurers, I stayed true to my mission and purpose. This failure is a cheap lesson.  Even now, I am far from my lowest point. There are still those trapped beneath the mines that suffer every day because of my inability to complete my mission. My suffering is nothing in comparison to the horrors they certainly endure.  I will find a way to free them, even if it means I must do it myself.  

18th of Sowing X.511
Against all odds the Stockmines are cleared thanks in large part to the group of adventures I met by chance in Stock. Most of the orcs that once held the mines are dead, while many fled out in to the hills after seeing Thimble’s magic decimate their ranks. Likely half of those that fled were killed at the hands of the other surviving orcs. The guild hall now can reclaim its land and revive the flow of silver through the town of Stock.

15 lives saved, but 10 lost. The dwarf, elf, and eight humans that perished lost their lives because I was incapable of completing my task almost a month ago. When I am able, I will seek out their families to pay them some form of reparations for my failings. In addition to the citizens of the greater region of Stock and Tyreth Castle, we found the bodies of nearly 20 orc slaves. I wonder if Haeron’s justice is owed to them as well?

This group of adventurers- Fenris in particular- have surprised me. He stood out and engaged the Bone Biter alone while I retreated into a doorway. He has shown far more honor and courage than expected based off the rumors the old wives told me back in Stock. For all of his summersaulting quirks he has proven himself someone I would be happy to align myself with. Still, I must not forget the lesson that Alfred had taught me; trust must not be easily given. Now that these adventurers have been paid and our contract completed, I imagine they will have little interest in risking their lives to help the realm unless they are paid handsomely for it.

For now, my attention turns to Tyreth Castle, my second home. News has reached me that the order there is in dire need of support after attempting to stand against the knolls on the low plains. I wonder if the knolls encamped in the old elven wind temple have anything to do with the attacks on the low plains. It may be worth taking a long way around and doing some more investigation at the temple. Certainly, traveling over the low plains to get to Tyreth Castle is out of the question. I will ask Lucan what news he has heard from the castle.