Monday, June 30, 2014

Careers of the North: Weaponthane


Weaponthane (Hothar Career)     

Standard Skills
Athletics, Brawn, Combat Style (Hothar Slaughter), Combat Style (Hothar Shield Wall), Endurance, Evade, Unarmed    

Combat Style: Hothar Shield Wall
Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield. However, every Hothar carries a broadknife for close in fighting. Also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow.

Shield Wall (Benefit)
Allows a group of three or more shield users to combine their protection, adding one to hte number of locations which can be protected with passive blocking, and resisting Knockback, Leaping attacks and Bash as if using the Brace action.   

Professional Skills 
Craft (esp. Farmsteading, Animal Husbandry), Lore (Heroes, Legends, Deeds, and Battles), Lore (Strategy and Tactics), Navigation, Oratory, Seamanship, Survival   

Weaponthanes are the warrior elites of the Hothar. They form up the shield wall to hold back the enemies of the people. They are the fierce warbands, the hearthguard, the companions of Thanes, Earls, and Kings. They fight in the heart of the shield wall, they are the warriors that win the battle. Their chieftains give them rings of silver, mail, swords, and other gifts gained as spoils of war. For their part, they are the lords of their own large farmsteads as well.

Careers of the North: Huskarl

Huskarl (Iotar Career)      

Standard Skills
Athletics, Boating, Brawn, Combat Style (Iotar Shield Wall), Endurance, Evade, Unarmed   

Combat Style: Iotar Shield Wall
Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield; also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Great Axe, Short Bow.

Shield Wall (Benefit)
Allows a group of three or more shield users to combine their protection, adding one to hte number of locations which can be protected with passive blocking, and resisting Knockback, Leaping attacks and Bash as if using the Brace action.   

Professional Skills
Craft (esp. Farmsteading, Animal Husbandry), Lore (Heroes, Legends, Deeds, and Battles), Lore (Strategy and Tactics), Navigation, Oratory, Seamanship, Survival   

The Huskarl is the elite warrior of the Iotar. They are the companions, the fellowship, the warband, the elite hearthguard of Chieftains, Jarls, and Kings. They are the heart of the shield wall, the warriors that matter in the battle. Their chieftains give them rings of silver, mail, swords, and other gifts gained as spoils of war. For their part, they are the lords of their own large farmsteads as well.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Cults of the Iotar: The Gullet

The Gullet (Iotar)
The Gullet is the Hungry Wolf, the Buried Wolf, the Devourer, Iron-Tooth, the World-Eater, the Sun-Eater, the Maw, Long Tongue, the Lapper. The Gullet gapes so wide that his lower jaw scrapes the earth while his upper jaw scrapes the the sky. He is ravenous. Nothing escapes his hunger. The Maw will devour the world.


Cultists of the Gullet are the teeth and fangs of his Maw. They chew up the world. One day they will have chewed up enough to free him from his bondage beneath the stone that the gods press down upon him to keep him imprisoned.

The cult is spread throughout the north among the Iotar. It is particularly popular in communities that are under threat from the Empire to the south. In these communities, cultists foment rebellion and act as organizers of anti-imperial activities. Cultists also serve communities by tending to the poisoned, the diseased, and the haunted: initiates of the Gullet can devour the evil spirits that cause these maladies. In many communities, followers of the Gullet are called to carry out funerary rites to those who died with unfinished business, in feuds, or in the name of vengeance. In some communities, they conduct the funerary rites for the entire community and care for the sick and wounded.

Common Members

Standard Skills: Endurance, Willpower

Professional Skills: Devotion, Exhort, Folk Magic

Folk Magic: Beastcall (Wolf), Find Haunts and Possessing Spirits, Find Disease Spirits, Mobility, Pathway, Witchsight

Initiates, Acolytes, Heroes and Priests

Initiate Miracles: Berserk, The Guts (Cure Malady, often exhorted while the initiate consumes dangerous foods; cultists also use this to devour disease spirits), Ghost Eater (Lay to Rest, with the spirit wholly destroyed as a result), Howl of the Sun Eater (Fear)

Acolyte Miracles: Beast Form (Dire Wolf), Howl of the Ghost Eater (Exorcism)

Hero/Priest Miracles: Awaken the Gullet (Awaken)

Gifts: Acolytes of the Gullet have consumed so many disease and poison spirits that they gain invulnerability to the effects of disease and poison. They no longer need use their Cure Malady miracle on themselves.

Cult Rites
Typically, awakening the gullet is reserved for major cult festivals or for major insurgent actions deep within Imperial Asturian territory. During major cult festivals, a wolf is brought forth and held down by two strong thralls, typically prisoners of war. If the prisoners can hold down the wolf throughout the ritual, then they will be freed. The miracle of awakening is exhorted, and when the gullet awakens within the wolf, he breaks free, devouring first those who would hold him down and then running amok devouring offerings left by the cultists. A more military use of the ritual of awakening involves the exhortation of the miracle deep within imperial territory. A cultist of the gullet first takes the shape of the wolf. The miracle is then called down and the hungry wolf released upon the imperials, to their great suffering.

Encounters with the Cult of the Gullet
  1. Cultists capturing a wolf for a great ritual
  2. Cultists preparing for a raid on Imperial soldiers
  3. Cultists serving as ghost eaters, laying to rest the haunts in a town
  4. Cultists curing people of a homestead of disease spirits
  5. Characters captured by the cult are chosen to hold down the gullet during the ritual of awakening, or NPC approaches PCs with request to save his/her son who has been taken in war by a cult and is doomed to be devoured by the gullet
  6. Missionaries of the Unconquered Sun are in conflict with a local cult of the Gullet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Magic in the North

The magical traditions of the north are diverse. Most northern magic is theistic: a wide range of gods, elves, and giants populate northern religions. Folk Magic in the north is tied directly to cults, sects, organizations, and sometimes social class. It is a reflection of the religious and social obligations of the the people.

Membership in Cults and Magical Traditions
In general, characters can be common members of many different cults and magical traditions. Common membership has a number of benefits. It provides access to additional choices for standard and professional skills. It also provides the common member with access to the folk magic charms and prayers of the cult. Any character can begin play as a common member of one or more cults. Membership generally entails taking part in community rituals that venerate (or propitiate) the cult’s gods and spirits or otherwise show respect for the cult’s traditions.

Dedicated devotion to a particular god or giant is something more. Characters can typically only begin as Initiates of a cult if they have selected a dedicated magical Career, meaning one that provides the relevant professional skills to its members (Devotion and Exhort for Theists, Binding and Trance for Animists, Invocation and Shaping for Sorcerers). For most Cultures this will mean selecting the Priest, Shaman, or Sorcerer career, depending on what type of magic is available to the culture and appropriate for the character.

For Iotar, who have no true priestly class, cult initiation is much more widespread. Unlike other peoples, Iotar can begin play as an Initiate of a cult even if their career is not one of the specifically magical ones.


Cultures of Magic

Iotar
Iotar culture is a pagan theistic culture, and one without a priesthood. For the Iotar, it is the head of household who leads household rites and the head of the community who leads community rites. A chieftain leads the rites for the chiefdom or riding, a  Jarl for the jarldom, a King for the whole of the kingdom. In a warband, the leader of the band will lead the rites. On a merchant vessel, the head of merchant or ship’s captain will do so. Cult membership is common. Simply being a part of Iotar community means that you are at least a common member of the Cult of the Nine Winds, which includes the most popular gods and giants of the Iotar pantheon. Still others are particularly dedicated to gods such as Eagle Head, Old Hoary Beard, Spear Breaker, the Bock, Mother Bear, and others.

Hothar
The Hothar were once pagans like the Iotar, sharing many of their gods and cults. Now, like most other peoples of the north, they have largely been converted to Sol worship. Churches and monasteries dedicated to the Unconquered Sun can be found throughout the north, wherever the Hothar make their homes. Many still hold services to Sol, even in Iotar-controlled regions, for Iotar religious traditions are not at heart evangelistic. For their part, many Hothar in these regions still propitiate the old gods and may even still be common members in one or more of the old cults. Sol may be the most powerful of gods, but he is not the only god. No one claims otherwise. Hothar magic, whether it be Sol worship or worship of the old pagan gods, is theistic. Hothar Sol worship is strongly influenced by the Ivarian Church, which is the most common organized theological doctrine throughout the north.

Avenian
South of the Bulwark, Avenians adopted Sol worship many hundreds of years ago during the time when Vanor ruled their lands. Many venerate Sol in his aspect as the Lightbringer, the Dawn, the Reborn Sun. When Vanor first came to these lands, the native pagan sun god was a Bringer of Light and of the Dawn. The Vanoran church taught that Sol was another name for this god, and that Sol, who is worshipped everywhere in the world, is the greatest of the gods. Since those days, even with the decline of Vanor, the worship of Sol has spread to other Avenian communities beyond the Bulwark. Indeed, a strong church of the Lightbringer can be found in the Avenian bog kingdom, though it is a church with many sects that also propitiate the chthonic gods of the bog and moor and venerate the saints and protectors who hold the monsters back. Avenian magic is theistic. Avenians focus their devotion on the Dawning Sun, but they consider their church to be in line with Ivarian church doctrines.


Ivarian
Ivarians have the most vibrant church of Sol in the north, albeit a heretical church from the classical Vanoran perspective, with its own richly held doctrines and orthodoxies. Ivarian monks and priests worship Sol the Dead and Reborn. Sol dies each dusk and is reborn each dawn, much as we too die and are reborn. This focus of the Ivarian church on Sol as a god both of darkness and light, death and life, is reflected in the ability of its theologians to incorporate in their doctrines both the Sol Invictus of old Vanor and the newly risen Black Sun cult of Asturia. The Reborn Sun rules by day. The Black Sun by night.

Ivarian magic is theistic. While the Ivarian church is strong, deep in the hill chiefdoms of Ivaria, some older traditions too still hold sway, and small cults to old Ivarian gods and heroes can still be found. The old Ivarian gods resemble the old gods of the Avenians.

Heathen
Although the Heathen Knights live on the border of the western heartlands of lost Vanor and even speak a West Vanoran tongue, still they hold true to aspects of the old religion that came with them when their tribes first left the forest for the heath. Above all they esteem the Heathen Riders, nine gods and heroes who ride free on the heath beneath sun and sky. The Heathen Riders are the Sun Eagle, Big Sky, the Slaughter Guard, Spearhead, the Far Rider, the Shining Star, the Harrier, the Firekeeper, and Sentinel. Since the increase in border skirmishes with the Asturian Empire, cults to the Shining Star have grown in influence. Heathen magic is theistic.

Thiudar
The Thiudar hold to eldest gods of the forest, and their cults worship these old gods in the old ways. Thiudar magic is mostly animist, though their rituals and cults are structured in ways that resemble some of the theistic cults of the Iotar and Hothar.


Kemi
The Kemi have a rich and diverse magical tradition. They propitiate the north wind, venerate wizard heroes, deal with the spirits of the cold tundra, and call up old northern magics. Kemi magic is blends the animistic, theistic, and the sorcerous in eclectic ways. A custom career is available for Kemi magicians, whose traditions are organized into lodges.

Varangian
Most Varangians are Iotar, and their cults and gods are the cults and gods of the Iotar. Some have also adopted Sol worship in some form, often picked up in Old Vanor. Varangian magic is theistic.

Imperial (Asturian)
Asturians worship the Black Sun. Asturian magic is theistic.

Atlantean
Atlanteans worship the god within. This devotion is expressed either as mastery of the self over the world (this being the famed Atlantean sorcery) or mastery of the self over the self (a form of mysticism).

Vandal
The cult of Old Hoary Beard remains strong among the Vandals—for they have not turned their backs on their ancient northern heritage. Many Vandals worship him under the aspect of the Lost Man, the Far Walker, the Far Wanderer. Vandal merchants worship him in the aspect of the Sail Filler. Vandal warriors venerate him in his aspect as Tree Breaker. In all cases, his worship remains theistic.

Dwarfish
Dwarfs are gifted as natural sorcerers, albeit of a specialized kind. Every dwarf has access to the professional skills of Invocation and Shaping, and every dwarf knows the spell Enchant (Object). Dwarfs may know other spells as well. Dwarfish spellcraft is truly a craft, however – a dwarf can only cast spells into objects in combination with Enchant (Object). As to their religion, dwarfs respectfully venerate their ancestor Maggot-born, first of the dwarfs (a theistic cult without priests but only folk practice). Similarly, they worship Maggot-born’s brothers: the orms, the serpents, the world maggots… the dragons. Cults to living dragons teach theistic folk magic. Their deepest secrets are those that allow the devotee to commune with the spirits of the orms directly.

Thulean
The Thule people maintain a shamanic (animist) tradition centered on ancestor spirits.

Cultures of the North: The Hothar

The Hothar (Barbarian Culture)     
 

Standard Skills
Athletics, Brawn, Endurance, First Aid, Locale, Perception, Ride   
 
Combat Style: Hothar Slaughter
Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield. However, every Hothar carries a broadknife for close in fighting. Also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Short Bow.
 
Ready Blade (Benefit)
The character can ready a dagger, knife, or broadknife as part of a Change Range (Close or Open) or Outmaneuvre action.   
 
Professional Skills 
Craft (any), Healing, Lore (any), Musicianship, Navigate, Seamanship, Survival, Track   

The Hothar migrated into the north hundreds of years ago, emerging from the Old Forest during the decline and fall of ancient Vanor. They inhabited and conquered much of the land, pushing the native Avenians into the cold bogs and moorlands of the northeast. Indeed, the Hothar tongue is the now the most widely spoken language of all the north. Over the last century, however, they have lost much territory to the sea-borne Iotar. They had all but lost control of the north when the snow elves first appeared with their orcish hosts. Now a new high king of the Hothar has arisen, refortifying his ancestral homeland and casting the Iotar conquerors down from their thrones in his kingdom. Hothar earls are gathering once more into a host in this new Hothar kingdom of Midloth. Whether they gather to battle the snow elves or the Iotar remains yet to be seen.

Weapon             DMG     SZ  REACH  COMBAT EFFECTS  ENC AP/HP   
Hothar Broadknife  1d4+1    M    S    Bleed, Impale   1    6/8     

Cost: 100 SP


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Arnrigg, the Last Free Jarldom

Arnrigg and the Oldwark Riding



Arnrigg (also known as Arncliff or Eagle Cliff) sits at the heart of Oldwark Riding, the last free Riding in the Kingdom of the Seven Lakes. The King in Garmsby has acquiesced to the snow elves, quenching his hearth and inviting a snow elf advisor into his hall. His hill fort of Garmgata is now under snow elf rule. Orcish warbands have begun rebuilding the old ruined Vanoran keep at Carlin Howe, most northerly fort of the ancient Vanoran empire. Some say that Oldwark Riding is the last free Iotar Jarldom in all the north. To the east, some free Avenians still live in their traditional kingdom on the moors, and to the southwest, the hills of Ivarland are as yet unvisited by elvish hosts. To the far south, Heathen Knights have their own problems, warring along their southern border with the undead hordes of the rising Asturian legion.

You know all this because refugees from many lands have begun arriving in the port at Arnrigg, where the strongest Jarl of Oldwark Riding, Saemundr Konnalson, maintains his hall.

The snow elves have stopped their advance at the old Vanoran wall, the Bulwark, and have not ventured north of it into the riding. Some say it is because they dare not approach the Oldwark, a Tower of Old Hyperborea that haunts the heathen highlands. Others say they will have it and wait only for their hosts.

And some even whisper that the elves are afraid. For a man has opened the Oldwark.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Cultures of the North: the Iotar

The Iotar (Barbarian Culture)

Standard Skills
Athletics, Boating, Brawn, Endurance, First Aid, Locale, Perception

Combat Style: Iotar Shield Wall
Primarily fights with Shortspear and Viking Shield or Longsword and Viking Shield; also trained with Longspear, Javelin, Dagger, Hatchet, Battle Axe, Great Axe, Short Bow.

Shield Wall (Benefit)
Allows a group of three or more shield users to combine their protection, adding one to hte number of locations which can be protected with passive blocking, and resisting Knockback, Leaping attacks and Bash as if using the Brace action.

Professional Skills
Commerce, Craft (any, esp. Farming, Animal Husbandry), Healing, Lore (any), Navigate, Seamanship, Survival, Track




The first Iotar raiders came to these shores over one hundred years ago, crashing upon these lands in waves, conquering and making the lands their own. They are the chieftains of most of the north, but now they face a new challenge. The snow elves have driven them from the island of Hyperborea, back to the coastal North. The Ashen Throne sits empty. Those Iotar who still rule their chiefdoms do so under the thumb of the snow elves. For now.



Another Good Year

It has been another good year at Superhero Necromancer HQ. Last I posted, I was running the Rainy City Parliament campaign using The Fantasy Trip. Some of my previous posts give a bit of the flavor of the campaign, which was the second campaign run in that homebrew setting (the original Rainy City game was more heist oriented and used Rules Cyclopedia D&D). A lot of the real meat of the Rainy City Parliament campaign occurred when I wasn't updating the blog. That campaign continued through the end of 2013. If the mood strikes me, I may go back and post some of the prep and post-game materials that came out of the campaign. As for this year, I have switched over to running a RuneQuest 6 campaign.

We play every Friday night, switching off GMing duties. Over the past year, our main games have been The Fantasy Trip, ACKS, and RuneQuest 6, with multi-session runs of Night's Black Agents and Stars Without Number and a session or two each of Spycraft, Dungeon World, Torchbearer, and Changeling: The Dreaming.

The RuneQuest 6 campaign I am running right now is set in a corner of the same homebrew setting as a friend's ACKS game. We have a shared blog (Tales of Hrimgate) about it that I haven't contributed to (yet?). I will probably never be a very good blogger. It has always been a thing that happens on the occasions when it happens, and I don't expect that will change. But I feel like posting about RuneQuest 6 today, so I thought I'd lead in with this short transitional post.