Tuesday, June 10, 2014

From the Ice Age

The World of Othanas

Othanas is the Mematavtan word for the world; it has its roots in the word oth'ti, an agentive form of othem which means "to struggle." Oth'ti therefore means "the one(s) who struggle," that is, men. Othanas is the place of struggle, or perhaps the place where men live. This world was once the domain of a populous race of lizard-like creatures that we now know only as the Tyrnostias (Those Who Crawl). They had dominion of a great and powerful science of sorcery which could convert, through rarified paths and strange ways, the heat-energy of the world directly into usable force. This sorcery was pure and unadulterated, almost without limits in its power. There were several Tyrnostine empires in competition with one another. Alas, we know almost nothing about them. What we do know is that the misuse of sorcery sapped the heat-energy of the planet to such a degree that it entered a small Ice Age, prematurely and without warning. Everything the Tyrnostias did to try to drive the Ice Age off only accelerated it as they drained the mantle and the atmosphere of heat. Massive upheavals rocked the world, and sheets of ice froze it. Only a few of the sorcerous cities managed to survive the devastation.

After countless generations, the ice receded, revealing a world much changed outside the walls of those cities. In the time of the crawling ice, many of the Tyrnostine creations (magically engineered lizard servants, house pets, ploughbeasts, and even great leviathans for plying the seas) died off save for the sheltered warmth of the magically-protected cities. When the ice drew back, the Tyrnostias began to reconquer their old lands and there discovered a new beast they could chain and bring home to do labors: man.

But they are a dying breed. A new ice age has come, a true and lasting one that will finally grind their petty bickering city-states into the earth. They have had their day in the sun, and it is passed. Their slave-stations on the atolls stand empty and the human slaves have mostly run free.

The Tyrnostine servants, the leviathans and house-pets, the moulded beasts of burden, even the lizard-vermin, also ran free. They have taken up niches in the Othanic ecology that would otherwise be filled by certain mammals; but their masters are dying off in the distant corners of the world. It is the tribes of men that concern us now, particularly those along the rapidly cooling equator in the region known as Calréos, "the land."

Rules of the Land

Using the GURPs rules for most of the game, there is nevertheless currently a meta-system in place for determining the various attributes of the tribes as a whole. There are two PC tribes currently in the game. The stats of the tribes are as follows:

Cohesion. This represents the maximum number of people who will stay in your tribe for an extended period of time. Cohesion begins at 30 and is added to by powerful leaders and by culture rating. If a tribe acquires more members than its cohesion, a certain percentage of those extra members will drain away each month as they go off to start their own tribes or join lesser ones.

Population. The core stat of a tribe; this determines how many women, children, and men are in the tribe. Tribes generally are composed of 2/3rds healthy adults and 1/3rd children and those few old folk who have yet to die off.

Culture. This stat represents the accumulated amount of culture in a tribe—things such as symbolic language (cave paintings and scrawls of that nature), religious traditions, and the like add to culture. 1/2 of all culture is added to the tribe's cohesion. The difference in tribal culture levels is subtracted (or added) to reaction rolls when two tribes meet to see how they get along.

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