Thursday, March 26, 2020

Carthagos, Jewel of Naxas

Population: 800,000
Government: The Assembly, the Council of the Wise
Military: Polemarch Archaeus Neledos
Law: Archon of the Court Olymfa Philaidos

The city is ruled by the Council of the Wise, which oversees the Library Assembly. The Assembly acts as a deliberative body and the Council as an executive one. Beneath these two organizations stand the Archons and the Polemarch.

The Polemarch, Archaeus Neledos, is in command of the city defenses and all necessary preparations for war. Technically Archaeus is also in charge of the Carthagan fleet, but practically this job falls under the Council of the Wise and the Archon of the Market.

The Archons have the following tasks:

The Archon of the Market, Philemon Execedos, is tasked with maintaining order in the Agora, enforcing the trade laws, and keeping the trade routes to Carthagos and Naxas open. In this capacity, the Archon of the Market has broad authority to issue detentions, command the Carthagan fleet, and serve as the head of the Sworn of Carthagos Agorikon.

The Archon of the Court, Olymfia Philaidos, is the chief magistrate of the city. She oversees the court system and prepares court trials. All lawsuits are handled by means of court trial.

The Archon of the Temples, Taireseus Philaidos, is the head priest of Carthagos. This is an official position, not a mystical one. He arranges the sacrifices in each temple, ensures there are sufficient burnt offerings, and interprets the will of the gods before the Assembly. He also commands the ranks of the Sworn of Carthagos Naulikon.

The Council of the Wise is composed of Wise dating back 150-200 years to the death of Phantigor of Carthagos and the establishment of the Library. Although each could easily have founded their own powerful lineage, the Councilors have instead foresworn heirs and rule Carthagos through its library. These men and women are Nessos, Orpheos, Polikrates, Pythagoras, Antikos, Melite, Hypatia, Aspasia, and Nikarete.

There are five major lineages in Carthagos and countless minor ones. The five larges and most important are the Alchmaeonidae, the Execedai, the Megacloi, Neledes, and the Philaidae.

The Gates of Carthagos
Carthagos boasts six gates. Clockwise from the north, they are the Eliagic Gate leading to Elia and its olive groves, the Diogene Gate, leading to Diogares and its stone quarries, the Piraeon Gate and Port Gates, both leading down to the port of Piraeos, the Nekropolis Gate, which leads directly to the Nekropolitan Hill, and the Diplyon Gate, leading to the town of Diplyon.

These gates make the line of the five main streets of Carthagos, which each run toward the Agora.

The city of Carthagos is the chief city of Naxas and rules the other minor cities on that island. It sits in a commanding height in the valley of Koilos at the head of the Bay of Limnos.

The Acraeus is the tallest hill in Koilos. Once the site of the Temple of Nyx, it was then converted to the shrine of Lysos Acraeus. It was joined by the Palace of Phantigor, which was converted to the Temple of Bel-Amon when that Divinity descended on the city with his winged helm. Atop the old Acraen Temple there now stands the Great Library of Carthagos. Together with the Temple of Bel-Amon these two monuments can be seen for cords and cords in all directions. Even out at sea, the first that a ship can see of the city is the statue of Bel-Amon atop his Acraen temple.

Carthagos stands between the rivers Eridamnon and Menandrion, both of which provide water to the city. The Eridamnon was dammed (legendarily by Bel-Amon, but potentially by the first Lawgiver, Ptolos) and redirected beneath the city walls to provide water pressure, public fountains, and sewer drainage to the city.

The city proper is girdled by a white wall said to have been originally built by the Old Gods in the days when this was a fortress of Nyx. They are impervious to magical assault and wide enough across to mount onagers and other siege machinery. They follow the line of the nearest hills.

A flat black volcanic rock stands near the Acraeus, just to east. This is the Cyclon Stone, sacred to Nyx. It is also where public festivals that require the expenditure of holy myrrh take place. A depression in the heart of the stone is said to be a bowl carved by Nyx to spill the smoking blood of her children.

The craftsman's district is somewhat tighter and more compact than the rest of the city. The buildings are smaller here, and the alleyways that run between them are often unpaved. The Street of Forges is the largest road within the district not counting the main Nekropolitan Way. All smelting activities in the city are required to place at the City Smelters on the Street of Forges.

Perakletes Ironjaw. This smith is famous throughout the city for forging bronze. He is a master weapon smith, and Carthagan bronze blades, spears, and polearms that come from Perakletes' shop are well-known throughout the Circle Sea. He is a gruff, middle-aged, black-haired, man who lost three of his teeth in the last Khian War and thus has a deep hatred for people of that race. He earned his name from his thick and brooding jawline.

Prices at Perakletes are usually half again as much as the open agora, but Perakletan weapons of bronze crit on a 19 and a 20.

Lysa the Shieldworker. Lysa makes shields from yew, bronzewood, and ash. She uses bronze to plate them, and her workshop (which employs twenty slaves) produces the distinctive hoplon of Carthagos. Her painters are always working to paint Carthagan blue and silver on armor.






Friday, February 21, 2020

Skalag's Secret Sight

Level: 3
School/sphere: Divination
Range: Caster
Components: V, S
Duration: Inst.
Casting Time: 1 minute
Area of Effect: 10 foot radius
Saving Throw: Yes (see below)
Reverseable? No

This spell permits the caster to describe a ten-foot area and specify a single day (sunrise to sunset or sunset to sunrise) during its casting. The selected day may be up to 2 weeks prior for every experience level acquired by the wizard, for a maximum of 40 weeks in the past for a level 20 caster.

When the incantation is complete, the caster receives complete visual and auditory knowledge of the 10' region specified during that period of time; he sees every object from every angle that enters the space, hears all sounds, experiences all sources of heat, etc. It is as though the caster were present to examine each individual moment in its entirety, to move about through frozen time and get every possible view, etc. The caster may not interact with the recreation in any way.

As the spell pours this information into the caster's mind in the space of a few seconds, the caster must save vs. spell or else be rendered catatonic by the experience. This catatonia lasts for 1d4 hours.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

News of Arunia: The Betrayal at Loshil's Hollow

King Vagyr of Ambar, brother to King Aegus of Kjellos and client of that kingdom, was ambushed by his subject boyars at Loshil's Hollow on Heimerus the 14th of Yearning of this year last. King Vagyr was informed the boyars intended to broker a peace between Ambar and Opria; he and his picked guard under their captain, Sieur Cadwallon Gorr, travelled to Loshil's Hollow believing they would meet agents of that kingdom and begin secret plans to end the hostilities and turn on the Tetrarchy of Golnia.

According to rumor, the squires were the first to arrive at the hollow. They found the ten boyars there and dismounted to meet them. King Vagyr and his knights came some hours later, but by then the trap had already been sprung. Hobgoblin knights, mounted on their heavy lizards and bearing their lances, supported by bugbear archers with man-high longbows, moved to surround the grove. The slaughter began at a signal from the treacherous boyars, who fled at once. Cadwallon Gorr cut down three of the cowards before they escaped, but the grove was soon abuzz with wood and fletching.

The initial volley cut down many of the squires and stunned the knights. Hobgoblin heavy cavalry on their shoulder-high minotaur lizards swarmed into the fold. Bugbear shock-infantry in their Oprian armor attacked in wave after wave. Cadwallon piled the dead in a great swathe. Vagyr fought like a lion, but he was struck in the crown of his helmet by a hobgoblin spear. He fell, still alive, and Sieur Gorr stood astride his prince to cut down the foe.

At last, the Oprian assassins cut through the knights of Ambar and, cutting the tendons of his legs, dropped him to his knees. The plot was carried out.

Three days later, at Dorostchev, King Vagyr appeared at the gates. His own funeral procession was already ongoing as the Oprian armies swarmed over the border and the Swords of Night were at their head. Sieur Malvenus of Rol, longtime friend of the king and chapter-master of the Fortress at Rol, at once rallied the Forge Divine to carry Vagyr to safety.

As the countryside burned, the Order spirited their king out of Ambar, following the river. Weeks later, they arrived at Elborg where King Aegus received his brother and began summoning a new springtide army.

Before they set out, Ellarant Pellan, the High Lawkeeper, arrived at Elborg with his train of Schola wizards and Milean knights. Aegus received his crown on the fields before Elborg in his full armor and preparing to travel south to confront the Oprians and Golnians. Pellan pledged the full support of the Church of the Law to Kjellos in its war.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Heimiran Heresies: the Order of the Blessed Poor

In the year X.488 the heir to the Dragonfall, a man named Bede, stripped his fine silken tunic off and sold it in the marketplace. His brother, Penda Longsword, was horrified and his father disowned him. Bede claimed he'd had a vision from Heimir himself, and left Rickton to found a monastery in the wild. For three years he was fed only by the grace of the birds and the badgers, and he preached a radical, new, heretical branch of Heimiran doctrine. Thus began the Order of the Blessed Poor.

Bede the Beneficent was roundly condemned by the nobles of Agstowe. Even his own brother, Penda, when he became Erl, ordered him arrested. But the common folk spirited him out of Agstowe after the "Night of Embers" when he led them to burn the grand Metropolitan Temple in Longlaird. He was given shelter in the abbey of Heimirsted in Cymballar before the Convocation of the Abbots Major condemned his sect.

It was too late. Bede was put to death by the Hierians for grave crimes against the Faiths, but the Blessed Poor had taken hold.

Heimirsted was the center of this contagion, producing many mendicant monks who spoke against the unequal ways of the world. By fire and sword, they sought to introduce universal equality, universal justice, and universal poverty. There are still Bands of Peace out there, fighting for Heimir, allied from time to time with Eleians and Hashtemites. Local abbots of Heimir may be more or less tolerant of the Blessed Poor, depending on their own temperaments.

Other kits in this order: Poor Poets, Champions

REQUIREMENTS: Wisdom 12, Charisma 10
WEAPONS: Staff, club, sling, knife, spear, hand axe, arming sword, short bow
MAJOR SPHERES: All, Chaos, Creation, Healing, Travelers, Combat, Charm, War
MINOR SPHERES: Animal, Guardian, Plant, Protection, Wards
REQ. PROFS: Religion
BONUS PROFS: Brewing, Herbalism
VOW OF POVERTY: The priests of the blessed poor are forbidden from owning productive property, however they may purchase property in order to communalize it. The priest must dispose of all liquid wealth every 6 months for the good of the poor, keeping no more than 10gp for food. A Priest of the Blessed Poor is permitted a small number of magical items as per a Paladin. The priest may not own any armor heavier than hide. The priest may otherwise own personal arms, armor, and equipment. Priests of the Blessed Poor may select any proficiency at normal cost, as though they belonged to the appropriate class. In addition, Priests of the Blessed Poor gain thief skills as though they were bards, following the bardic progression table. They also have the ability to persuade crowds of common folk as though they were bards.

At 1st level, a Priest of the Blessed Poor may purify food or drink one time per day in addition to any other spells prayed for. Food purified this way will taste hearty and be quite filling, while drinks become a thick mead or stout ale. In this way, a small amount of trail rations or food can be made to last twice as long as normally would if this spell is cast every day upon it.

At 3rd level, the Priest gains supernatural protection. Heimir will grant Priests of the Blessed Poor barkskin 1/week in addition to any other spells prayed for.

At 5th level, a Priest of the Blessed Poor may brew semi-magical brews as per a Mystic of equivalent level (refer to Faiths and Avatars).

At 7th level, Priests of the blessed Poor may exude courage, happiness, friendship, hate, or hope (as per the 4th level wizard spell Emotion) while speaking. These continue to remain in effect as long as the Brother does nothing other than speak.

At 10th level, a Priest of the Blessed Poor may affect anyone who has eaten a piece of food or drink of liquor given to them by that brother with a suggestion spell. The target must have eaten or drunk something granted to him by the Brother within the last round for him to be a susceptible target.

At 15th level, Priests of the Blessed Poor become immune to any ingested poison. Likewise, they can subsist on mere crumbs of bread and sips of dew, though such a life is not very pleasant. Finally, a Brother of this level may create a sanctuary by spending one hour defining its borders. Within a sanctuary, all rolls to recover HP naturally are made at maximum (ie, 4hp/night) and all proficiency checks receive a +1 bonus. All saves also receive a +2 bonus while the characters remain in the sanctuary. A sanctuary may not cover more ground than 10 sq feet/level, and a Brother may only define one sanctuary at a time. Upon defining a new sanctuary, the old one is lost.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Valastainen, the City of Shipwrights

Valastainen (val-ah-STY-nen) is an ancient elvish city situated upon the Lake of Lamps in Tailimisia. It serves as the central hub of the administration of the Murhestinal family and, as of the death of Tywyn Leofrosin in the matter known as the Expulsion of the Night Prince (X.512) of Aita Valmindene, the house has been ruled by the Tywynne Myrialandina, daughter of Leofrosin and strong supporter of the new elvish Queen, the Gwyderia Ilisia the Historian. The city controls all tolls on the southerly branch of the rivers Lyrissen and Idabrell. Though its name translates as "Place of Lamps," in Varan the city is often called Watchway, for its massive lighted tower that guards the mouth of the River Idabrell.

The city is famed for its canals and the closeness of its manors, for the elves of Valastainen built along the canalways to permit ships to reach the very doors of their houses. The city is lit at all hours of the day or night by many thousands of silver lamps, and a longstanding custom has it that every house must take responsibility to light the canals, or pay toward a general fund to lighting the woods about the city. Long ago, enchantments were laid on the forests all about to give light through will-o'-the-wisps that can prove both helpful and jocular.

The entire region surrounding the Lake of Lamps feeds Valastainen, the free elves of the farms bringing their goods by raft to the Mede of the Springmaiden for distribution. The entire region pays homage to Senia, Meri, and Tulia above the worship of Anunia, thanking Senia and Tulia for the fruits of the earth, and Meri for the bounty of the rivers and the lake.

One of the oldest elvish settlements in Tailimisia, it was built around the same time as the first towers were lain in Aita Valmindene. The oldest towers are situated on the small archipelago of islands that dot the Lake of Lamps, which are known as the Seven Sorrows. These seven ruins belonged to powerful elvish families now long extinct, and for centuries have served as magnets for adventurers.

During the War of High Sorcery Valastainen was often used as a staging ground for Harnholme dwarves moving further west. In that age, a compact was made between the then-ruling house of Deepriver and four clans of Blue Dwarves to construct a series of locks and canals to help control the flow of the lake and the river. These same dwarves assisted the elvish high sorcerer Tulimestya in the construction of the fabulous lock-and-canal works at Mount Aurisia, and they still dwell in Valastainen to this day.

Because of its situation on a large, deep, calm lake, Valastainen is the premier location of shipwrights in Tailimisia, and one of the only places within the Greatwood were deep-draft ships can be prepared and launched to the sea. For that purposes, Valastainen magicians, aided by Tulimestya the Waterwright, long ago deepened the Idabrell to permit the transit of ocean-going ships southward from Lake Valoina. This has earned Valastainen the nickname "City of the Shipwrights."

House Murhestinal and the Weeping Palace
House Murhestinal takes its arms (a weeping elf's head with long flowing hair) from the grant of the Weeping Palace to the original Murhestinai in the last age. This ancient stone structure sits at the heart of the city, and is fed and shot through with many private canals. Most of the wings of the Weeping Palace have been abandoned, as the house is not as large as the old Princes of the Lake, but they can be put to good use housing adventurers, levies, and free elf companies arriving from other regions.

The Weeping Palace boasts a large temple to Talifer, the Wounded God, and the elves who patrol the Daleadau under the Gwyderia's orders often set out from the Square of the Wounded Warrior at its gates. Murhestinal can marshal some of the largest and most powerful levies in the central forest.

The Grand Temple of Talifer is the largest of its kind in Tailimisia and one of the largest in the entire elvish culture-zone. It is tended by Curhemelian the Blade, the High Priestess of Talifer, and by a platoon of twenty Stormsword bachelors.

The Central Canals
The most densely populated region of the city is the central section, surrounding the Weeping Palace. Here, there are narrow lanes for foot traffic, but many networks of canals for ships. All mounted and wheeled traffic is forbidden from entering this region of the city, as it would clog the streets. Instead, goods are brought in through ships and barges to each of the grand homes. As a result, only the wealthiest merchants, mages, and elvish nobility in service to the Murhestinal Princess can afford homes here. The Illuminated Ones (the Valoi) also maintain their scriptorium, laboratory, and clave manor in this part of the city.

The Mede of the Springmaiden. This mere or mede is an island all its own, reached by high, slender bridges. It is here that the farmers of the Lake of Lamps come to sell their wares to the city each morning. The outlying towns each have their own days to come and bring their rafts, ensuring that the city receives a continuous supply of goods.

House of Illumination. This manorhouse, located on a side canal, behind hall walls with many tall garrets and glazed windows, is home to the Order of the Valoi, the Illuminated Ones, a powerful clave of central-Tailimisia wizards.

The House of the Silver Tree Guildhall. The House of the Silver Tree maintains its largest, most central, and most opulent guildhall in the central part of the city, opposite the mede of the Springmaiden.

Tuliameren's Arms. This inn is the largest in the city and used by elvish nobility from all over Tailimisia. When elves from the south must journey to Aita Valmindene, many make Tuliameren's Arms one of their stops on the route, for it is famed throughout the Greatwood. The inn is four stories tall, with wide-flung wings, and both owned and operated by Tuliameren Highwater, the elvish adventurer who ran the coffers for three successive adventuring parties, the last and largest being the Company of the Burning Horn, known for its jaunts into Elnuril.

The Great Light
The Tower of the Lamp, which stands at the mouth of the R. Idabrell, dominates this part of the city.

The Glazing Pits. This section of the city is constantly smoking and blazing with heat; here the great elvish furnaces produce glass from the lakesand of the Lake of Lamps. This is the largest single glassworks in Arunia, and Valastainen glass (also called lakeglass) can be found throughout Atva-Arunia.

The Hall of Ashes. Rumor insists that the Ashblade Assassins maintain a large enclave in the city. This semi-mythical foundation is known as the "Hall of Ashes," where death may be had for high prices in gold.

The Shipwright's Canals
This district is the poorest and most ramshackle section of Valastainen. Here are the many ships of elvish beechwood, highwood, and others, imported from across the elvish world, wrought, designed, and made. Sailmakers, rope-makers, weavers, and others live in close confines here to support the work of the shipwrights. Drydocks are all owned by companies of free elves, who whip together and work them; arrangements for construction of a ship must be made with these companies, which are often busy many years in advance.

The Dwarftown
Although the dwarves live all throughout the city, Dwarftown is where the four great clan-halls are located. These are the Irnval, Himril, Thangrin, and Istov clans of blue dwarves. Many dwarf sea-halls, with canals that pass beneath them and through them, entering the very walls of the home to provide hydraulic cooling or access directly to gathering rooms, stand amongst the elvish manors here.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Silver Elves: The Silver Sparrows

The great Lorehouses of Oronia use many means to keep track of the world abroad. From their diplomats and emissaries, who represent the collective Council of Lorekeepers, to the mighty astrologers and diviners, it is known that they see much of what transpires outside the Islands of Oronia and their eternal, shroud-wrapped girdle.

What is not known abroad is the presence of the Silver Sparrows, agents of the Lorehouses who have been magically prepared to serve as their eyes and ears in the world, always hunting for the artifacts of old Sylvasil and news of the evil dragons that drove the elves from their home. Silver Sparrows are not an order or a secret society, but rather a position maintained by each of the Lorehouses.

Custom dictates that the magi trained to become Silver Sparrows have their truenames recorded in the Lorehouse records, but they themselves have the memory that name magically erased from their past. Indeed, Sparrows are prepared by means many outsiders would consider dangerous or mad: polymorphed repeatedly into different races and animals, they learn to blend in with the outside world, to dull the silver sheen of their skin with custom-blended pigments, and to watch and observe quietly abroad.

Many Sparrows have the elven Infiltrator or Collector kits; all serve a Lorehouse devoutly, disguised as other elves, half-elves, humans, or, in rare instances, as beasts of the wild. Their lives are extended by use of palliative magics to purge and alter their memories but keep their skills in tact, and their bodies are tested against the most powerful alterative arts.

Silver Sparrows often wear a Sidabrinian elf-silver ring wrought in the shape of a sparrow that provides them a passive capacity to retain their personality when polymorphed, even for many years, into an animal form. This is known as the Sparrow-Ring, and Sparrows often identify each other by means of this jewelry.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Craftsman's Reach: News of Brynhome

The Swords of Stock (in some places being called the Brythbrigr, which can be roughly translated as Reclaimers in Orthr) have hammered home their claim to old Rothrshal, which has been refounded and christened Brynhome in honor of the dwarven armorer-god who gave his blessing to the forces making the assault.

A combined army of men of the Order of the Forge Divine, dwarves marching out of Aella's Hall, and the Swords of Stock's personal company led a three-pronged assault on the captured dwarven hold, ending with a general route of the goblins dwelling within and a slaughter of the Eye Tyrant that occupied its highest level.

Urist of Brynjar, the leader of this ragtag assemblage of dwarves and men, has declared Bryjnhome a haven for all dwarves and smallfolk who would settle there. In the following weeks, those dwarves descended from the former colonists, led by Tavaldar of Oldhome, have flocked to the Bryjnhome banner and begun a thorough cleansing of the old hall.

Rumors persist of Prince Rognvald's involvement in the capture of the fortress: some say he extracted a pledge of fealty from Urist and the Brynjarites before the conquest, others that he has a dire oath that will be broken unless the Brythbrigri venture forth to complete it, and still others that he hopes they will open the Dwarf-Road running beneath the Silverlode Mountains and permit trade to flow directly to Tailimisia as it did in days of old.

There have been some sightings of dvergrinn on the old Deep Roads again, and whispers that they have heard of Rothrshal's recapture, and seek alliance at their deep citadel of Last Hall on the road to Waysend.

Only time will confirm which of these whispers out of the Reach is true.