Wednesday, May 12, 2021

I Steal Pathfinder's Asura Ranas

We're talking about Fiends. They tend to lead to some dark shit. CW for mentions of self-mutilation and gore. It should be pretty obvious when they come up.


Pathfinder! 

D&D's sister series. Where all the good writers went after 3.5 was over. That game system I know but have never played. Darker and Edgier D&D. That setting that's really cool because the Great Old Ones are more active participants in the world. Fiends 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Pathfinder's "Book of the Damned is great. Hell, it manages to rival Planescape's "Faces of Evil". Partly this is because I love Kitchen Sink Cosmologies, and I love curveballs, and I love new extraplanar factions to fuck about with, and the Book has all of those. Of particular interest to me, the Book goes out of its way to list a bunch of beings just below proper Fiendish Divinities in power level, and as far as I know, virtually none of them have received the slightest attention. 

This leaves the perfect opportunity for me, a Rascal, Rogue, and Rapscallion, to swoop in and talk aimlessly about them while also kind of giving my thoughts on the Fiendish Races themselves at the same time.

Iunno I wanted to talk about these guys because I think they're Cool and New, and I'm going in alphabetical order, so we start with the Asura Ranas.

For those unfamiliar with Pathfinder cosmology: Asuras are Lawful Evil Fiends created from the mistakes of the gods. Deity gives its pet serpents sapience and then they sneak off and eat all the high priests? That's an Asura. Deity throws a ball of bandits with such force that it hits a planet and causes a mass extinction? That's an Asura.
Cool idea. We immediately run into a problem with applying them to Egharl, because Egharl doesn't have gods. That being said, Asuras in general are way too cool for me to just leave out. I'll talk about that problem more when I do a master-post on Fiends sometime. On to the Asura Ranas!


Andak the Disembered

This is exactly what you'd expect from a guy named "The Dismembered". He's a guy whose "limbs have been hewn into multiple pieces and reattached awkwardly and randomly". In a bit of a strange twist, they're associated with axes (implying dismemberment on a battlefield), torture, and self-mutilation. Makes sense, but it's a bit weird that his priests focus entirely on bloody self-augmentation, with no mention made of cutting off other people's limbs. I'd probably play him as a patron of corrupted self-improvement, kind of like The Meat from TMA. Determination to be strong, even if that means contorting your body into an unrecognizably hideous form. Overall: Pretty cool.

Bohga the Treasurer

Bohga! Second Rana in, and we may already have hit my favorite. Bohga is a creature of corrupted asceticism, who attained perfection after meditating over a horde of stolen goods for millennia. That premise alone stuck in my mind more than basically anything else in the Book. The image of an evil ascetic meditating over the horde of gold she's stolen but will never use? Instant classic. 

Chugarra the Guru of Butchers

We literally just had a guy named "The Dismembered" two entries ago. Chugarra is just an evil butcher. He butchers people. I will admit that the image of a massive, skinless butcher is fun, but overall? Pass. 

Chupurvagasti, Lady of Poison Mist

The name tells you everything you need to know. I don't understand what poison mist has to do with a deity's mistake. This is a portfolio that's been covered before. I'd prefer to use some sort of Prince Elemental Smog instead of this woman. Nothing here is uniquely Asura, and nothing here is overtly interesting enough for me to ignore that. Pass.

Gavidya the Numberless

The Book describes him as a "Cloaked figure who has no fewer than six faces at all time, each forming from folds on his scalp before gravitating towards the center of his head and competing to be eaten by his smiling mouth.", and that is a bloody amazing description. He's a patron of false prophets who delights in causing inter-religious strife, which is easy for me to adapt for use in Egharl. There's very little for me not to love about this guy.

Hydim of the Eternal Fast

An Asura Rana created by a god who accidentally condemned a nation to famine, I would immediately dismiss this guy if it wasn't for his name. Harbingers of Famine aren't hard to come by - Pathfinder alone features a bloody Horseman of it. That being said, the title is unique enough to set him apart from the crowd and make me think there's a place for him as a sort of Tantalus-like figure, constantly hunger but physically unable to break fast. Also, his obedience requires you to "Eat 13 pages from a sacred text", and anything that makes players eat paper is okay in my book. Pretty cool dude.

Ioramvol with the Mouth Full of Boulders

This poor guy. I don't even know how he became an Asura Rana - The Book just says he "Suffered countless deaths via falls, premature burial, and rockslides". I have no idea how being crushed by falling rocks a lot leads to achieving Enlightenment, but to each their own. This guy gets a pass in my book because of his name alone, without even having to take into account how cool a "tattoed colossus pierced with shards of rock" who spits boulders out of his mouth would be to use in an encounter. Also, he has the Undead and Murder subdomains, and that's honestly the premise for an adventure in and of itself. Competes with Bogha for my #1 spot.

Maeha, the Father of False Words

I'm torn on this guy. On one hand, he kind of treads of Gavidya's toes, being another Rana whose worshippers pretend to be priests of a different religion. On the other hand, his Areas of Concern include Propaganda and Isolation, which speaks to a totally different sort of Rana - A false shepherd of the lost, presenting a kind demeanor but working to lead vulnerable people even deeper into isolation. I like that angle. It's dark, and it'd be hard to pull off in a game, but I think it's a very solid concept. Reminds me of The Lonely from TMA. This guy is pretty cool.

Onamahli, the Twice Pure

I have no idea what to do with Onamahli. She's just got too much stuff going on. On one hand, she has an obvious connection to beauty and self-image, being created after a celestial being tore itself in half in an attempt to become beautiful. It's topic you'd have to be careful around, but one that could produce some really emotionally intense adventures. On another hand, she's said to be "Contemplating the paradox of competing divine truths". That seems a bit silly. Of course, different gods believe different things! I don't spend my day contemplating the paradox of multiple rats wanting the same piece of cheese. Then there's the fact that one of her areas of concern is "Double-Standards". That deserves a whole Rana to itself, not just a single line in an already overstuffed one. Finally, there's the whole thing about two minds, one body. That bit is just kind of weird, and if used poorly, it'll just end up vilifying plural people. I don't like her.

Rahu, the Sun Eater

Rahu is a giant, flying, disembodied snake head that is said to cause eclipses by eating the Sun and Moon. He also has a thing for executions, and both are seen as manifestations of gluttony for light and life. Quite frankly, you had me at "Giant, flying, disembodied snake head".

Rytara, Serpent of the Eastern Eye

Rytara is a four-headed snake with three eyes on each face, and she uses her third eye to see your worst fear so she can cause you to reliv- Wait a second, this is just a goddamn Sakhil! A Sakhil snuck into the Asura section! 0/10!

Taraksun, Awakener of Wrath

If Taraksun was just a being associated with wrath, I'd pass him off as generic and be done with it. That being said, Taraksun is associated with specifically the wrath of impotent people - Captives, slaves, people like this. It's an interesting situation. Liberation is a pretty consistently good thing, but that doesn't mean Taraksun is without a niche. I could see him as someone who tempts people into rage first for a beneficial cause, to set themselves free and strike back at the people who hurt them, but then continue to stoke the fires of that rage long after they're necessary. Or he could be an agent of the cycle of revenge, always making sure one member of the bloodline escapes in order to extend the vendetta down another generation. All in all? Pretty cool guy.

Zurapadyn, the Best Who Waits in Smoke

Zurapdyn is said to "Revel in any act of fiery purification performed for misguided reasons.", which more or less makes him the patron of witch burnings. That's great. That's a great niche I don't think anyone has tapped before, and also fire is cool. I'll need to use him sometime.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Midnight Madness

About a month ago, I started spitballing random ideas on Discord. It was around 12, but the ideas were all inexplicably good, so I'm throwing them all out here, with a bit more development than they had when I first made them.


None of the races have stats yet, and won't gets stats until someone wants to play one. I'm hoping to rework 5e's weird race system into something that has less horrible implications and more class variety. 

None of the non-races have stats either. They will probably all end up being bears.


SWINEFOLK

Swinefolks are humanoid constructs made out of the flesh of pigs. They vary in sapience between unusually stupid monkeys and fully sapient individuals. They are a playable race. In the New World, aka the As-Of-Yet-Unnamed-Eastern-Continent, they've formed full settlements. Making one of these would might be a good College Thesis for Flesh Wizard College. Flesh Wizard College doesn't exist, but that's the comparison I'm going to make.


TROGLODYES

Maybe playable? I don't know. I love them and this specific variety of troglodyte are some of the very first canon inhabitants of my underworld. 
Underworld meaning caves, not the afterlife. I would probably have a second heart attack if I learned that these things were angels.

BRACKEN

Humanoid patches of ivy which spontaneously manifest around civilization. Often quite urban. If Egharl was a different sort of world, I'd say that they're born in the place where civilization and the natural world meet, but those are metaphysical ideas, and we don't do metaphysics here.
They can probably be any plant, ivy just came to mind first.

WARFORGED

I struggled to fit Warforged into the world for a while, but they've finally got a place! 
Warforged are born when a blacksmith dies with their work unfinished. They spontaneously assemble themselves from strewn about materials, and begin their lives. 
They aren't a reincarnation of the blacksmith, they're independent beings in their own right.
I also guess they don't have anything to do with war now, so they should probably just be called "Forged".



Those are the fancy ones. The rest will be unadulterated, direct-from-source madness.

TEETH MONSTERS

They have no teeth, but they eat teeth. Just fucking swallow them down whole. Either they break the teeth down for the magical energy contained within, or they use the teeth as bladder stones. I don't fucking know which.

WEIRD WAYS PEOPLE ARE BORN

Shifters are just children born under a full moon.

Bullywugs are Grung come into existence when a tribe of existing Bullywug or Grung gather up a bunch of frogs into a pit and then educate them. 

Sometimes, turtles lay one really big egg instead of a clutch. These really big eggs hatch into Tortles.

THESE ONES GO TOGETHER

A strange mutation found in the heart of cities - Children are born with gleaming silver eyes, and silver ichor in place of blood - They are the Yine.

Those who are badly burnt while pregnant may give birth to the hot-blooded Adrunt, whose skin is black as soot.

They say that if you stay too long in the mines, your children will have stone-grey skin and dine on rocks - These people are known as the Baniver.

In the wilderness, children born under the full moon sometimes show unusual, animalistic traits. In academic circles, they are called Biinae. Most people know them by their colloquial title: Shifters.

OTHER ASSORTED BULLSHIT

Worm People, who live underground. They're somewhat agoraphobic.

The Pale Ones, a race of cyclopean beings who live underground.

When you carve a Treant into little pieces, you can make people out of it. These people are sapient, and they're called Treelings.

All Dragonborn are born colorless, and dye themselves in a show of loyalty, and to display clan affiliation.

One of the primary elemental heresies is the idea that Gold is the Fifth Element.



NEWT MEN. MEN WHO ARE NEWTS. I DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY COME FROM BUT HERE THEY ARE.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Before-Things

 Before we begin, it is important to note that the Before-Things do not exist. They aren't imaginary, because something imagined is something that can be conceived of, can be described to others, can even be given a physical form, if you're a decent artist. Before-Things aren't like that. They are real, in the sense that they can physically alter the world around them, but regardless of that fact, they do not exist.


Maybe it'll make more sense if I explain exactly what Before-Things are.


Before-Things are the remnants of everything that has ever been retroactively removed from reality. Obviously, no one knows what the things which have been removed are, because if anyone knew what had been removed, than it clearly hasn't been properly removed. More than likely, even the beings which caused the removal aren't even aware that they did it. All that they'd remember is performing a ritual in order to destroy something that already does not, never has, and cannot possibly ever exist. This is, for obvious reasons, impossible. 


So, then, what are Before-Things? If a concept really is so utterly erased, how is it possible that remnants are left behind?

It's probably best if I explain with an example. Imagine for a moment that the color orange is retroactively annihilated. This doesn't mean that everything orange disappears, or that people start seeing different colors where orange once was, or that everyone stops considering orange to be a color distinct from red, it's just that orange, as a physical thing and as an idea, just stops. It stops ever having existed in the first place.  It stops having ever not existed, because the non-existence of something necessarily implies that opposite is possible as well. Orange stops being  conceivable. Not individuals, not by a cultural zeitgeist, not by the zapping of neurons, not even in the inexpressible way by which reality perceives itself. It is just fucking gone.

In this situation, what happens to foxes?
Foxes are orange, but they aren't only orange.  There is more to fox-dom than just the fact that they are orange. Foxes have other colors on them. They have claws, and fur, and eyes, and many things within them that are not the color orange.  

To be clear, when I say that foxes have things that aren't orange, I don't mean that they have things that aren't colored orange. They do, but that's beside the point. When I say that foxes have things that aren't orange, I mean they have things that aren't orange in the same way that a flag, even a flag that is entirely colored orange, is still a flag, and not a color. Back to foxes.

As I was saying, orange may be gone, but there's still plenty of fox left over. The problem is that foxes don't just changes colors, once orange disappears. Foxes do not suddenly become blue. Instead, the color of a fox is now something that doesn't exist, and that causes... Problems. 


This, in essence, is what the Before-Things are. They're objects with traits that no longer exist. They're stuck in a paradoxical state of simultaneous existence and non-existence, and non-existence is winning. Reality doesn't recognize them anymore, and so they're being erased. That's where it ends, for most of them. They quietly wink out of ever-having-been. Some of them, though, figure out the only way they can extend their lifespan - Being recognized. 

Sure, they can't get the universe to remember them, but they can get people to, and that's the next-best thing. How do they accomplish this? Doesn't matter! Most often, it's almost murdering someone. There are few times you're more focused on perceiving something than when you're fighting for your life, and trauma flashbacks will provide some sustenance for years to come.

It doesn't matter, though. They're fighting a losing battle. The question isn't whether or not they'll cease to exist, it's how long until they do. 


How do you use any of this shit?

Fuck if I know.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Atlanteans

Depending on how things go, this may be the first post I'll be writing about an entirely new setting. There's also a chance I'll cannibalize it and reuse ideas on Egharl. Maybe it'll grow in the telling and end up becoming its own goddamn setting. Maybe I'll get bored and never write about this again. There is literally no way for anyone to predict what is about to happen. Fuck you, I'm horrid at this.


The Ocean is not a happy place. To be fair, most places in the world are not happy. The Oceans aren't an exception.

The Atlanteans, as they will be called until I get a better name for them than "Atlanteans", are one of the causes of this unhappiness. Scholars broadly divide them into four groups, who I will now vaguely gesture my way through. Hopefully, it'll make more sense once I'm out of the introduction.

They aren't humans. They're humanoid, but they look more like the Sahaugin than anything else I can easily describe.


The first group are generally known as "People of Basalt". They take their name from their place of origin, unsurprisingly known as the "Basalt City", which itself is built around, you fucking guessed it, the "Basalt Crystal".

Poor naming scheme aside, it isn't inaccurate. To those with enough time to pursue magic, the Basalt Crystal is everything. To everyone else, the city that depends on those people is. Magical power is derived from the Basalt Crystal, mystical visions are divined from the Basalt Crystal, and perhaps most importantly, the Basalt Crystal allows for a sort of mass production that would otherwise be impossible underwater. There are real, working forges in the Basalt City - Hell, they work better than most forges on the surface do. They can't really be used to make metal weapons, but they can be combined with an obscure magical process to create, you guessed it, basalt weapons.

For whatever reason, this power has not been used to create an empire. Instead, the Basalt City was created, and then expanded, and eventually it became a hellish network of identical tubes for anyone who isn't a native. In general, the People of the Basalt are remarkably isolationist. Still engaged in an eternal war with the rest of the world, but who isn't?


The "People of  Waves" are the most widespread of the bunch. I struggle to describe specifics because I don't have any especially distinctive traits to build around, so I'll talk about hierarchy for a minute.
Atlanteans never stop growing. By the time they're considered adults, they're slightly shorter than the average man. Hundred years after that, and they're about the size of an ogre. Should they manage to survive to somewhere around their 250s, they'll rival most giants for size. They're also organized into a very strict age-based hierarchy. In effect, the bigger you are, the higher up on the ladder you are.
That being said, very few make it to their 250s. As a Person of the Waves, your life is going to go one of four ways. Either you show the aptitude to become either a mage or a priest, and are probably killed in line of duty and/or murdered by rivals, you become skilled enough at your chosen trade that you're allowed to hang around as a teacher, or you don't manage to do any of that and you're shipped off to war once you hit middle-age. Besides the very real need for troops to fuel an unending, omni-directional war in the sea, this also helps make sure that no one gets powerful enough to threaten the order of things. This system exists to some degree in every group of Atlanteans, but it's most obvious and most strict among the People of the Waves.
Above the seas, they do a brisk trade in coal, mostly with the Vampire Barons, in exchange for the mass-produced products that coal makes possible. It's a mutually beneficial agreement, all things considered.
The Vampire Barons will definitely get their own post, later down the line. They're the thing that inspired this whole as-yet-unnamed setting.


Next up, "People of Ice". It's speculated that they were originally a group of one of the other types, who were forced into Arctic regions by the Pelagics, another group of fish-people who may eventually get their own post. Whatever the case, they've managed to endure the cold weather and, through whatever means, stumbled upon the rare art of Ice-Crafting. Occasionally, they send trading expeditions South. These expeditions are huge, sailing on broken-off chunks of glacier, maintained by hundreds of Atlanteans and at least two mages - One to steer the ship and one to keep it frozen. They aren't afraid of the ship sinking, but they're pretty damn easy to board. These voyages are incredibly hectic.
They're also necromancers. Not the kind where you go through elaborate rituals to reanimate a corpse under some external power, because that kind of extremely expensive and generally inefficient. The kind where you make a corpse really easy for a spirit to inhabit, set up a few wards, and then pray to whatever deities you hold that it does what you want it to and doesn't go fucking berserk. 


Finally, we have the "People of Coral". They live in coral. They make their tools out of coral. Generally, they're thought to be a bunch of disconnected and uncivilized tribes who mostly occupy themselves with raiding passers-by, both under and above the water.

Rumors of a singular Ur-Coral which links every reef in the world are, as of yet, unsubstantiated.

OCEANS

 OCEANS.


THEY'RE FUCKING STUPID. I'M GOING TO FIGHT THE WAVES.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Major Powers, Summarized

So, I can't actually give you a summary.

Egharl isn't a finished world. By this point, that much should be clear. It's also an unfinished world in a lot of obvious ways. 

I cannot accurately outline for you the governmental structures of most civilizations. What I can do is give you a few details, a general vibe, and talk about where I'm drawing my inspiration from.

So, for the benefit of my players, untoth we go.


The Church of Harithke

Full honesty: Virtually everything to do with the Church has been stolen from Goblin Punch, because they're a far better writer than I am, and their ideas are great, and so I stole them all. In the future, I'm going to do the best to make the Church of Harithke more distinct from the Church of Heseya, but at the moment there's hardly anything.

The biggest change I've made is the Church's prominence, and this itself was just inspired by a different one of Arnold K's posts. Centerra's Church is a monolith. It has the power to make the literal Winds behave. But in the words of the man himself, "What does an evil empire look like before it's ripe?"

That's not to say the Church is evil. I try my best to keep the idea of "Evil" away from my worldbuilding. In the real world, morality tends to be pretty clear-cut. Landlords are bad. Charity is good. Imperialism is bad. Multi-culturalism is good. This can certainly make for good stories, but it also doesn't make for interesting choices. 

Also, I don't want to talk about politics. I know full well that any political conversation I'm involved in ends horribly, because even other leftists struggle to tolerate my views. If I start worrying about morality, my DMing will turn into an pacifistic screed, and that'll be really fucking dull for everyone involved. 

This is a whole tangent, and I know that I'm writing it largely because I know my players read this blog, but to summarize:
Please keep modern politics out of my game, at the very least for my sake as a DM. I can't run that shit. I can't distance myself from my sense of morality just enough so that I can run a fantasy early-Renaissance game where a group of seven people can establish a leftist society by beating Feudalism to death with a large stick. Give your characters political viewpoints. Give them radical political viewpoints. Have them rebel. Just please, don't give them your political viewpoints.

This is what happens when a post is fueled by ADHD medication and hypomania. I'm going to try and get back on track.


The Church of Harithke, but For Real.


They aren't a nation, they're a religion. Coramont is a city-state, comparable to the Vatican. The Patriarch of the Church is also the Lord of Coramont. The city has a standing army, albeit a small one. The Church doesn't technically have a standing army, but they do employ a whole lot of paladins, and when you assemble a few legions of paladins together, they start to look a hell of a lot like an army.

In theory, the Church can call those loyal to it to war, and they will respond. In practice, it's a bit of a tossup. Not everyone is eager to go marching off to war, especially the ones further away from Coramont. 

The Patriarch is in charge of worldly concerns. He can call holy wars, issue bans on commerce, excommunicate people who fuck around. The Archpriest of Coramont is his successor, appointed by the Patriarch and charged with the spiritual needs of the city, until such a time in which he ascends to become the new Patriarch.

The Prophetess is kept isolated from the world, so that she might not be stained by corruption. She is expected to know the answer to every theological question by heart, and spend her time thinking up more of them. Really, she lives more like a hermit than any religious authority.

The City of Coramont itself is a city on a lake. It is said to be impenetrable, but in practice, no one has actually put it to the test for three hundred-odd years.


The Bronze Cliffs

Their homeland is a group of islands, off the West coast. Home to Dwarves, Tabaxi, Bullywugs, and Grung. Run by a pair of Twin Kings - One to govern the Isles, one to govern everything outside. They need to agree on foreign policy. Almost everyone is part of a Clan, and most local governments are set up by individual Clans. If you break the rules in another Clan's territory, they'll beat you up and cart you off back home, where you'll either be congratulated on a good fight, shamed for your disorderly conduct, or belittled for getting caught. Laws are lax, but punishments are harsh. 

Have a general pantheon, but the specifics differ from place to place, especially in colonies. The only thing everyone can agree upon is Mora-Adin, Twin Gods of Home and Horizon. The Twin Kings are made in their image.

Despite the name, the Twin Kings have no gender requirement. The only thing required is that they contrast - One male and one female, or one Dwarf and one Tabaxi, or one beareded and one bald. 

Much of their leadership is genuinely good-meaning, but the nation as a whole is hopelessly caught up colonial fever. Ports that owe their loyalty to the Bronze Cliffs are everywhere, and they've even got a few proper colonies.

Politically, they've no relation to the Dueregar of the Near-Deadlands. The similarity between Dwarf and Dueregar seems to be mere coincidence.



The Empire of Iudra

The Empire is divided up into provinces, each of which is given relative autonomy. An old kingdom, though no one is quite sure exactly how old. Their history is muddled by more than a few collapses, revolutions, and resuscitations. This isn't the most powerful they've ever been, but at the moment, it seems stable. 

Provinces of note include Chalea, generally considered to be the birthplace of modern Rangers, which produces some of the best hunters in the world, and Sine, a pioneer in technology and the arts. 

In Iudra, the bureaucracy and the military are the same thing. Rank-and-file soldiers are also trained as clerks, while generals pull double duty as politicians and legislators. In times of conflict, politicians are expected to prove themselves in open warfare. In times of peace, this means that everyone gets really into board games. 

If you don't like a politician, you can pretend to assassinate them. Faux-assassinations are common, most often preformed with wooden knives, or occasionally pointless arrows. Getting assasinated is shameful - If that's the kind of care you take for your own security, how can you be trusted with the security of an empire? To be fair, it's less shameful the cleverer the assassination is. To be fair again, the cleverer the assassination, the better your opponents, which can make people hesitant to align with you. It's a whole thing.

Those outside the city of Iudra are often confused by the needless complexity of their political system, while the inhabitants of the city pride themselves on it. The oldest Iudran provinces have learned to quietly sigh, shake their heads, and carry on with whatever they were doing before the capital's latest scheme came to fruition.


The Dominion of Nehtar


Ostensibly, Nehtar is a monarchy. In practice, the kings of Nehtar serve almost entirely as religious leaders. 

They are ruled by a Council of Eight, staffed by representatives of various organizations. 

I'm skipping over them for now, because it's late, I want to get this post out by tonight, and I'm trying to get a decent sleep schedule. 

Maybe I'll update it tomorrow. Maybe I'll give Nehtar its own fucking post. 

Dunno.

The Map is Back

 Oh God, it's so hideous and blank.



I Steal Pathfinder's Asura Ranas

We're talking about Fiends. They tend to lead to some dark shit. CW for mentions of self-mutilation and gore. It should be pretty obviou...