Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tales from the Watchers of the Sullen Vigil – Gazetteer and Redux

Zaravande at its Height

Tales from the Watchers of the Sullen Vigil

This is my first attempt at a revision of the material I have so far produced for the Sarvaelen campaign. It effectively redacts non-human races of conventional type and replaces them with the hint of more exotic human cultures instead; exotic nonhumans (like the ghuls) remain, fitting with the now decidedly non-Tolkien take that is the aim of this revision. After the new gazetteer material I include a revision of the first article on the Watchers, showcasing the town of Aelghast and its curious folk.

Under this revision, we now have the following distinct cultural groups:

The Survivors of Camrinal: The ancient empire of Camrinal was a vast, dominant power that subjugated the old kingdoms to its rule. Camrinal not only rules by force of arms but by force of magic as well, for it indulged the aristocracy of its era with a culture of free experimentation and arcane dabbling that eventually led to a deep magiocracy in which only those who demonstrated sorcerous talent were allowed to hold the reigns of power, ownership of property or positions of strength. Magic had, in this now lost era two centuries gone, become ubiquitous.

When the fires of destruction rained down upon Camrinal in the Final Conflict, the vast majority of the old empire was wiped out, but many of its lesser citizens and a few elites survived. Today these survivors are mostly found as changed beings among the population known as the ghuls, but in some odd corners of the world there still exist untainted purebloods, though they often do not realize their own lineage.

The People of Emon: Also known as the Emoniae, the people of this distant land exist far in the west, beyond the ruined expanse of the wastelands of Camrinal. Emon was the greatest independent threat to Camrinal in its era of rule, and the Emoniae were a culture of sorcerers much like the Empire. When the Final War erupted, their lands were devastated, and the Empire sought to exterminate their greatest rivals as quickly as possible. When the conflict ended with the destruction of Camrinal, most of Emon’s warriors were caught in the destruction, and destroyed. Still, there were plenty of survivors back home, now mostly dwelling in ancient, deep enclaves within the vast Adasatrak Mountains where they stood guard against the outside world.

Today the Emoniae are still driven by magic as a way of life and such arts find a greater acceptance within their mountain fortresses than anywhere else. The Emoniae remain isolated and tend to mistrust the young eastern kingdoms that have arisen from the ashes of the Final War. It is also the only land where the study and worship of the Old Gods is still permitted.

The Dour Atlenar: When the southern kingdom of Atlenar, with is brilliantly-scaled dragons and their riders assaulted the Zaravande, the capitol of the Empire, most of the dragon riders of this fallen kingdom perished. When the unholy energies of the burning spell bathed the world in fire, it slew the entire army and its dragonflights of Atlenar, and laid waste to the lands south, leaving cities and villages burning as the unholy wrath of the Emperor was channeled through the maddening power of the Old Gods he called upon. No one can say for sure what might have happened to this kingdom had they not comprised the single largest contingent of forces allied against Camrinal, but for this reason the wrath of that terrible spell burned Old Atlenar almost as badly as it scoured the earth of Camrinal itself.

The Atlenar are the people who survived that scourage two centuries ago, mostly folk who were deep in the south and far from the center of the conflict, or who dwelt in smaller villages and townships in the wilds, escaping the purging fires that razed nearly two dozen strong cities and fortresses to the ground. The nature of the Atlenar today was shaped forever by this catastrophe, leaving them a brooding, dour folk who look with a great pessimism on daily life but at the same time embrace each day as if it were their last. Atlenar are known to be shrewd risk takers who regard all others with suspicion, especially anyone who might have a trace of Imperial blood in their veins.

Atlenar has not recovered from its fiery doom, though its people have returned to a more clan-based way of life. The lands of Atlenar are dominated by the politics and rivalries of these twenty-odd clans that stem from the dominat families of their surviving ancestors. They treat their northern neighbors in Aeronost as allies, for they remember that after the devastation many in Aeronost traveled south to aid them in their time of need. Today the Atlenar also worship the monotheistic faith of Nevereth, the All-Mother as a result of this influence from Aeronost.

The Aeronost: Much like the other lands devastated by the final doom of Camrinal, Aeronost has had a time of recovery and growth to restore itself to a semblance of civilization. Unlike Emon and Atlenar, Aeronost was not nearly as affected as those kingdoms for by the time of the last conflict in which the forces of old rallied into a great force to siege the capitol of Zaravande, only pockets of resistance still existed in Aeronost to try and aid in the conflict; most of the old kingdom had been devastated after twenty years of continuous conflict with Camrinal, its people subjugated by occupying imperial forces. As a result, when the unholy fires and terrors of the Empire were unleashed to destroy their attackers, Aeronost experienced little of the devastation, and its people soon rose to overthrow and drive out the surviving forces of Camrinal that escaped the doom of the Empire by virtue of their station on Aeronost’s lands.

Aeronost remained a peaceful land after the end of the war, recovering and rebuilding, driven by the new young church of the goddess Nevereth which espoused a monotheistic faith that eschewed the Old Gods, blaming the corruption of those gods for the fall of the Empire and the ruin it left upon the lands. These same missionaries recruited many folk who traveled abroad to aid in helping those devastated by the war’s end. This helped greatly to expand the following of Nevereth, who was rapidly adopted as the savior goddess of most of Sarvaelen’s kin.

About one hundred years ago the first wars of succession began in Aeronost as various nobles and warlords began to aspire to restoring their lost kingdom’s might. It was forty years ago that the first true king was recognized, to whom most current nobles swear fealty to today. Since then Aeronost has grown and developed into a strong, young kingdom and a policy of open overland trade has made it a lucrative cooridor for such between the young kingdoms of Sarvaelen.

Iandei: The iandei are a curious lot. The stories of the iandei, who stand on average shorter than most men, averaging only five feet in height, is that they were actually men taken centuries ago as prisoners and slaves from the kingdom of Sammar (though back then it was known only as the mysterious lands of Shul as Sammar had not yet risen to power), turned into servants of the empire. During the Final War many iandei escaped and took up arms against the Empire, serving as foot soldiers in the armies of Emon and Atlenspar. When the terrible energies of the last conflict in the war bathed the world in fire, some of the iandei somehow escaped doom, and as a people found themselves without their cruel masters, free at last.

Today the iandei have vibrant communities within the borders of other kingdoms, but they tend to remain insular as a community and as such tend to hold to their own. They have, like so many others, embraced the worship of Nevereth but they never truly let go of their old ways during the centuries of subjugation as slaves of the empire and worship a curious form of animistic spirit worship that harkens back to their homeland of Shul. The spirit worship of the iandei is a deeply kept cultural secret, and they build all temples beneath the ground, usually hidden away, known only to the other iandei of the community.

The iandei do not get along with any descendent of Camrinal which takes pride in their ancestry, but they do have a curious respect and pity for the ghuls of the wastelands, seeing them as having suffered greatly for the error of the Empire’s ways. As such, iandei such as can be found in Aelghast are known to take pity on ghuls who seek refuge or aid and so allow them into the community, albeit as second class citizens.

There are more kingdoms and cultures to be revealed in time (such as in the northlands, and across the sea in Sammar), but those shall be saved for another time. What is outlined above comprise the interlocked groups which can be found adjacent to the wastelands of Camrinal and the Stormsinger Coast.

A Gazetter of Aelghast - Redux

Note: I’ve kept the BRP stats in place for now, which are easy enough to use with Legend, but going forward I shall either make all future entries specifically for Legend or keep them dual-statted.The text below is largely the same, with specific changes in culture/race as indicated…and a big change in the section on what I am now calling the feyril, making them decidedly more creepy and malevolent….and Skipner all the more tragic and interesting as a result.


The Watchers of the Sullen Vigil are an order of knights who patrol the desert expanse west of Aeronost, ever watchful of the ancient evil that once boiled like a dark plague from the westerlands of Camrinal. None have tried to venture deeply into the deserts of that forsaken land in decades, fearful of the plagues, monsters and worse that are said to now inhabit that derelict kingdom. Still, the watchers do occasionally encounter a fell beast which has found its way out of the wastes to threaten the caravans that skirt the desert’s edge, and once in a while they spot an ominous looking ruin, sometimes a simple structure, other times something more sinister, lurking at the edge of the horizon. When they notice these things, the watch will sometimes send the boldest among them to investigate, to put down any threat that may lurk within. Sometimes, however, they like to contract out…

Recently in the crossroads town of Aelghast the watchers posted notification that they sought out any daring adventurers or mercenaries willing to investigate a mysterious complex which had been spotted not twenty miles in to the ever-blowing sand dunes of Camrinal. The notice says little, other than that such adventurers would be provided food and lodging at the Watch Tower of the Sullen Vigil, and a sum of 500 gold pieces for the proper survey and clearing of the structure, with suitable proof of the deed.

The Watch Tower is located ten miles west of Aelghast, directly against the edge of the great dunelands beyond which mark the territory of Camrinal. The eldest watcher and commander of the order is Sir Dalin Tanare, a man in his mid sixties with an injured knee who remains remarkably healthy for his age and condition.

Dalin will brief any interested souls as to the problem. Apparently, the curious ruin, a long, ruinous temple entrance to what appears to be a vast building completely buried beneath the sands was exposed during a recent sandstorm. No record of a building from old maps of Camrinal during the time when it was a living land suggests such a building existed. He wants to know what it is, and he wants any monstrous infestation purged. Two weeks ago he sent eight young agents of the watch to do the deed. None returned, though a subsequent scouting party found evidence of the expedition horses and squires devoured and strewn about the desert sands in front of the complex. The scouts returned, shaken to the core by the inhumanity of what they had witnessed. The scouts reported that a strange, unnerving whispering sound like many inhuman voices arose from the entrance to the temple, and they feared for their lives at the sound of it.

Dalin explains that whatever loot in the old temple lies within is theirs for the taking, but his coffers offer 500 gold to the troupe in payment for surveying and clearing out the ruin. If they can’t complete the deed, he will still pay them 200 gold for word on what lies within….if they survive the encounter!

With that, the adventurers are offered bunks in the commons area of the tower, fresh meals, and access to what resources as can be provided (up to 150 gold pieces worth of gear, weapons and armor taken from the tower’s stores and armory as needed; no magical items are available).

Dalin Tanare, Commander of the Sullen Watch
Human knight
STR 18, CON 21, SIZ 14, DEX 10, INT 15, APP 17, POW 12 EDU 14; DB +1D4 HP 17 MW 8
Sanity 41 (Max 60) Madness Threshold 8
Notable Skills: Insight 45%, Listen 50%, Spot 60%, Track 45%, Climb 50%, Dodge 64%, Ride 80%, Sword 90%, Axe 85%, Bow 45%, 1H Spear 80%, Shield 65%
Weapons: Scimitar (1D8+1+1D4), 4 javelins (1D6+1D2)
Armor: Scale (6 AP) plus Target Shield (15 AP/HP)
Wealth: about 50 gold pieces on his person, but the watch coffers contain 6,800 gold in funds.
Special: Dalin keeps a holy relic around his neck, a Reliquary of Saint Trimerene which holds a vial of her sacred blood. Supposedly placing a drop on the lips of a dead man will return him to life. This is true (and there are about 50 drops’ worth in the vial) but such a man must immediately make a Sanity Check or return with 3ED6 sanity loss, maddened (roll on the longer temporary insanity table), acting like a psychotic lunatic. Success means he or she returns, but with a blank memory of his or her past, and no memory of what transpired in death (does not affect skills, only memories of life events).

Typical Knight of the Sullen Watch
Human knight
STR 16, CON 15, SIZ 12, DEX 13, INT 11, APP 14, POW 10 EDU 10; DB +1D4 HP 13 MW 6
Sanity 50 (Max 50) Madness Threshold 10
Notable Skills: Listen 45%, Spot 50%, Track 40%, Climb 60%, Dodge 50%, Ride 65%, Sword 50%, Axe 45%, Bow 50%, 1H Spear 60%, Shield 60%
Weapons: Scimitar (1D8+1+1D4), 4 javelins (1D6+1D2)
Armor: Scale (6 AP) plus Target Shield (15 AP/HP)
Wealth: 3D6X5 SP and 2D6 GP each

Gazetteer of the Region:

This town is located ten miles from the edge of the desert wastes. It is a free town, belonging to no principality or king, answering instead to the local governor, the elected iandei Charaden Grimes. Grimes is a scrupulous banker and he insures the town does not suffer for want, taking advantage of the confluence of roads at the town to encourage traders to stop and sell wares before moving on. In so doing, they tend to bring a fair amount of currency in from the caravaneers, their guards and servants. All told, Aelghast has a population of about 1,500 individuals, of which more than a third are iandei, as the original township was founded near the local hillside enclave of Burgester, which remains now as a burrough of the town.

Aside from the iandei, the town has two other notable populations: there is a small but distinct population of ghuls, the haunted once-human folk of Camrinal who survived the devastation of their land two centuries ago when the Great Old War of Mages took place, and the naga of Sydaris, the exiled clan of serpentfolk who were forced inland centuries ago by the Empire of Kadatha when chieftain Yazzad Sydaris stood up against the Living Goddess during that same war.

There are perhaps 100 naga in the region, all adapted to desert survival but dwelling in the subterranean hotsprings just a mile south of Aelghast proper. The naga have maintained friendly relations with the humans and iandei of old Burgester, and tolerated the influx of caravans and traders after the new routes sprang up for overland trade with the rise of the young kingdom of Aerenost rose to power several decades ago, uniting the torn land for the first time since the war.

In contrast, there are perhaps 200 or more ghuls in Aelghast, and they are forced to dwell in a shanty on the outskirts of town, as the little folk distrust them. The ghuls migrated here from the desert three decades ago, following their leader, a tall, gaunt and deathly man of their kind named Galios. Galios convinced the leader of the Watch at that time to permit his people passage out of the deserts, and that they were harmless kin. The watch has kept a close eye on them ever since, and the iandei have tolerated them, but they remain second class citizens and are not allowed to own property in the area. Still, the ghuls seem content to dwell in Aelghast’s shantytown, a place still far superior to their old domain in the desert, apparently. There are rumors, of course, that they have constructed a network of catacombs beneath the north hill graveyard on the outskirts of town and occasional accusations of tomb robbing are cast about, but usually nothing comes of it. The ghuls, for their part, provide cheap labor and work hard to earn their keep.

Ghul Stats
STR 3D6, CON 3D6+3, SIZ 2D6+6, DEX 2D6+6, INT 2D6+6, APP 2D6, POW 3D6 EDU 3D6
Attacks: Claws (1D4+DB) or Bite (1D3+DB); Ghul bites can cause a Potency 60 vs. Resillience sickness in those bitten, as they develop debilitating nausea within 1D6 minutes of receiving such a bite. The effect last 1d6X20 minutes. This nausea cuts all skill checks by one half while in effect.
Cannibals: Ghuls are known cannibals. The ghuls of Aelghast restrain themselves, and feed only on their own (so far as anyone knows) and the dead (suspected but not proven; they are very careful to avoid being caught). Any ghul that feeds off of living kindred flesh recovers 1D6 HPs for the meal. This can be done once per day (i.e. once every 24 hours). Ghuls recover 1D3 HPs in this fashion from animals.
Half-Dead Immortals: Ghuls don’t age. They look like zombies, with rotting skin and bones visible, clearly not being quite “alive” yet not dead, either. They are immune to the effects of disease.
Seen Too Much: Ghuls have already experienced some amazing horrors in their time. When a ghul suffers sanity loss, if the loss is not equal to or greater than his madness threshold, then he loses no sanity at all. Conversely, if it meets or exceeds his madness threshold then he loses all of the sanity points rolled, not the difference. Ghuls also start with one permanent mental disorder (roll randomly or choose).
Note: Regular ghouls prowl the wastelands, too. They are truly undead beings, however, driven utterly mad by their state of existence. The civilized ghuls that are descended from the survivors of Camrinal regard the more conventional ghouls as “ferals.” Most humans can't tell the difference if they don't give the ghuls time to talk and prove their sanity, first. It is also unknown of the undead ghouls are simply normal ghuls who have at last succumbed to madness, or if they are more distantly related.

Only in Aelghast are ghuls tolerated to walk among the truly living...

The Lucky Starling

One of Aelghast’s most famous establishments is the Lucky Starling, a tavern and wayfarer’s inn run by the deformed dwarf Skipner Faust. Skipner likes to show off the cage with his “lucky starling” in the aviary-like interior of the tavern, as he claims the starling is actually a manifestation of the pagan deity Wishara, the goddess of luck, which has let him capture her due to his entrancingly good looks (so he says). The tavern itself remains a popular spot for merchants and adventurers to reside at while passing through.

Skipner Faust
half human, half feyril Innkeeper and Wizard
STR 6, CON 16, SIZ 5, DEX 22, INT 20, APP 16, POW 18, MPs 18; DB -1D6 HP 10 MW 5
Sanity 87 (Max 90) Madness Threshold 17
Notable Skills: Bargain 95%, Etiquette 75%, Fast Talk 75%, Perform 65%, Persuade 75%, Craft (Brewing) 85%, Sleight of Hand 50%, Appraise 75%, Gaming 70%, Knowledge (birds) 100%, Insight 75%, Listen 85%, Sense 50%, Spot 75%, Dodge 95%, Stealth 90%, Daggers 50%
Weapons: Ice Pick (dagger, 1D4-1D6)
Armor: Soft Leather (1 AP)
Mage Spells: Blast 75%, Change 50%, Control 75%, Diminish 50%, Dispel 50%, Enhance 60%, Heal 75%, Illusion 80%, Invisibility (racial ability) 100%, Teleport 50%
Wealth: 32,500 gold pieces carefully hidden away beneath the inn, at the rear of an ancient tomb-catacomb he discovered years ago, guarded by traps.

Feyril are short, dwarf-like men who have developed a superstitious reputation thanks to the folklore which precedes them. The stories speak of how feyril are not really men at all, but a curious sort of creature born from the turbulent, bubbling dreams of the mad goddess Matrigias, said to have been the first of the Old Gods, and that she was accosted in terrible ways by the male gods who were unable to control themselves. From this horrific union she became pregnant, bloated from one horizon to the next with the spawn of the world, and when she at last broke water she was destined to give birth to all of the animals of the world. The stories say that Matrigias was driven mad by the endless spawn of animals which crawled from her womb to populate the world, and that she shed unbearable tears of blood and water at the endless pain. From these tears grew the feyril, squat and toad-like little men that were described by some as almost like infants in appearance, but horribly wise to the world due to the suffering of their mother. The feyril crawled forth, to extinguish any joy or revelry where they found it. Such was it that when mankind was at last born into the world he could know joy, for the feyril had stolen all of the pain and suffering of their mother by then. It was only later than humanity came to fear the feyril, for they found the joy and merriment of men to be offensive, and sought to extinguish it by means of murder and fright.

Skipner Faust is half-feyril, though he is commonly believed to be a deformed dwarf, marked by an accident of birth. His affinity for magic comes from his twisted father’s side, who was a feyril that fell in love with a poor common woman some years ago, whom he found helpless and near death in a forest, having been cruelly savaged by men of the nearby village who had their way with her. Something deep within his father’s ancenstral heritage stirred, and his father took the woman into his care, nurturing the wounded soul and caring for her. He then proceeded to murder all of the men who had done her wrong, and to terrorize the village for many more years until at last it was abandoned, regarded as haunted.

Skipner was sent away by his mother, a sad soul who hoped for better of her son than the life of misery and murder that was the lot of the feyril, hoping that his mixed heritage would allow him a chance to live normally. She sent him the Aelghast, where he studied various trades under his mother’s uncle Ballistar, who ultimately taught him the art of brewing. Skipner also studied magic under the tutelage of the ghul sorcerer Malastran, who was impressed at the dwarf’s talents. Ultimately Skipner became a talented mage and excellent businessman, and when Ballistar passed away he willed his property and brewery to Skipner. Skipner then founded The Lucky Starling some years later after capturing his lucky bird during a trade expedition to the coast.

The Whisperman Mine

Aelghast’s most popular local product is from the Whisperman Mine just nine miles northwest of the town, a mining colony which has operated for years. Dalton Whisperman is a short, burly Atlenari known for his penchant for smelling out precious metals in the earth, and he’s been mining this area for decades now. Some suspect his mines have gone deep enough to tunnel into the subterranean caverns that are said to riddle the ground beneath the deserts, for as the story goes when the mages of Camrinal released their ultimate war magic, it not only destroyed their enemies and their own kingdom, but it cracked the very earth, leaving it a hollowed expanse. No one knows the truth of this, though, but there is thought to be some truth to such statements every time Whisperman and his crew come into town with a fresh haul of iron ore, silver or better….despite their wealth, the haunted looks of his men suggest that they have seen much beneath the sands that they would rather not.

Dalton Whisperman
Atlenari Explorer and Miner
STR 19, CON 20, SIZ 8, DEX 13, INT 13, APP 15, POW 15 EDU 13; DB +1D4 HP 14 MW 7
Sanity 64 (Max 75) Madness Threshold 12
Notable Skills: Bargain 75%, Command 50%, Craft (Mining) 85%, Demolition 75%, Repair 50%, Listen 45%, Spot 60%, Track 50%, Climb 75%, Dodge 35%, Ride 35%, Sword 50%, Axe 75%, Shield 65%
Spells: Blast 75%, Command 50%
Weapons: Great Pickaxe (2D6+2+1D4); flintlock pistol (1D6+1)
Armor: cuirboille hard leather (2 AP)
Wealth: depends on whether he’s struck a motherload or not, but he usually carries 2,500 gold around to do upkeep and pay his men.

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