Monday, April 22, 2019

Tales from the Cutthroat Inn: Snakes!

Session Date
April 21 (21st Day of the Month of Portly Pomp)

Characters Present
Annapurna, Altanian Ranger
Grafari, Skandik Rogue
Father Thorne, Human Wizard
Green Sonya, Half-Orc Barbarian

Events

  • The session began with the party performing their various downtime activities. Notably Green Sonya became a member of the cult of the Spider God in order to gain access to the spiders so she could use their silk to make "pretty dresses" with the sewing equipment gained last time.
  • The party also scrounged up the money to get Annapurna a restoration spell from the Temple of Odin. She had been preternaturally aged last time and was restored to her original age of 22, though she kept a shock of white hair.
  • The goal for this session was to return to the Halls of the Black Spider and finally finish off their quarry.  Grafari was selected to be the party's guide, but he failed his roll by a couple of points. If they had continued on over the next few days, they would've ended up slightly off target as he thought they were about a hex north of where they actually were.
  • However, just before trying to make camp for their first night, they were attacked by a great number of flying snakes.  Father Thorne noted in his mind that he had heard these creatures pester the Overlord's Light Cavalry, but he would not live long enough to relay this information.
  • Father Thorne was taken out in the first round by the creatures' potent poison. 
  • Annapurna decided to attack the snakes with bow and spell, but overestimated the efficacy of her magic and soon fell herself.
  • Grafari, deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, jumped into the Conqueror's River and began to swim towards the City State.  Some snakes followed him but he was able to avoid their bites by remaining mostly submerged.
  • Green Sonya tried for a time to fight the snakes, but soon realized Grafari had the right of it and joined him in the river.
  • That night the two remaining party members made camp, but then stole away to go retrieve their comrades bodies for burial. This occurred without incident, though they did notice that the snakes dangle rather precariously in their trees when they sleep.
Monsters Defeated
2 Flying Snakes

Treasure Gained
A fear of flying snakes and their potent venom

XP Per Surviving Player
25

Friday, April 19, 2019

Politics in the Wilderlands

Click to Embiggen

Dark Green - Viridistan
Pink - The City State
Yellow - Thunderhold
Grey - Warwick
Purple - Orcs of the Purple Claw
Orange - Kingdom of Lightelf
Light Blue - Kingdom of Ossary
Brown - Kingdom of Croy

Unlike Rob Conley's vision of the Wilderlands, I do not view the politics of the City State as fundamentally feudal. Instead I think the name implies that it is a city state in the Greco-Roman or Mesopotamian mode and instead of having subordinate fiefdoms it has a "sphere of influence."

Within that sphere of influence the power in question has de facto power but not necessarily de jure power.  The de facto power comes mostly from the fact that they are more heavily militarized than the small villages they effectively bully.  You'll note on the map that many of the spheres of influence overlap, and these are the places in which battles happen.

Viridistan is slightly different.  On this map it shows a sphere of influence like the others, but on its home map it has provinces with governors who are more or less left to their own devices because of the incompetence of the inbred fish emperor. Most governors use their position to line their own pockets despite, or maybe because of, the fact that many have secretly been replaced with demons.

I should note that the kingdom of Lightelf is technically a client state of the Skandiks at Ossary, and that both Ossary and Croy are client states of the CSIO.  Pity the villages that lie where their spheres of influence overlap, because they get bullied twice.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Map of the Karslish Isles

Click to Embiggen

This is a map of Karse and its neighboring islands.  The the North lie the Northern Isles, to the northeast is the largest northern isle known as Dogger Isle, to the southeast is Yseleg Mon, to the south is the Isle of Wights, and to the west is Brasil.

The southeast quadrant was meant to be the bit that contained the hex descriptions I wrote, as well as the capital of Nindol; however, the process of making the map made me realize I probably can't chunk the campaign into different quadrants and so those hexes are going to be spread around the main island.

Regions of the main island include the Tamesa Mountains, the Darkmoor, the Tulgey Wood, the Northern Marshes, and the Black Cliffs of Vore.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Comitatus



The Comitatus is the name given to the mini-pantheon of the Invincible Overlord and his companions who went through apotheosis after destroying a giant, metal "insect" from the era of the Uttermost War that nearly destroyed the City State.  The exact mechanism for this is lost to time.  Today the demigods are worshiped usually as avatars or subcults of another god (Bjorn the Mighty being worshiped at the Temple of Odin, for example). They have been represented below with the crude idols that represented them around the time of the destruction of the strange creature.



Bjorn the Mighty - Strength
Bjorn is the most prominent of the members of the Comitatus, since he currently acts as the Invincible Overlord. Bjorn is worshiped by small number of Skandiks as a unifying figure, and by warriors and hedonists within the sphere of influence of the City State.


Alanna - Forge
Alanna is believed to be the member of the Comitatus whose understanding of the magical devices of the past allowed them to slay the creature.  In addition to contraptions and crafts of all sorts, she is generally associated with luck; however, despite being perhaps the most important figure in the apotheosis she is seldom worshiped outside Thunderhold and its colonies.

Mannas - Nature
Mannas was a dwarven druid who was one of the reasons the magician Salassim bought the members of the Comitatus from the slaver on the Plaza of Pleasures in the first place. He was able to correctly identify the Druid Stone, and once he apotheosized he visited his dwarven wrath on the dragon who dwelled in the Majestic Fastness.

Sarpedon - Death
This Ghinoran necromancer was an expert at raising the dead and his skeletons fought many battles in the unification of the Skandiks.  However, due to the prominence of Hamarkhis and the Hellbridge Temple in the City State, his cult is unpopular.  Even the Overlord seems to favor Hamarkhis, though perhaps Sarpedon is viewed by him as a sub-cult.


Slithering Fang Shi - Trickery
Fang Shi was from distant Wulin which lies somewhere east of Kharak, though it is perhaps part of that empire. He was magician whose type of magic is now lost to the people of the Wilderlands, but perhaps the tiny sect dedicated to him could once again uncover it.  He is associated with snakes and serpents, especially black racers and other small garden snakes.

D'Gok - War
D'Gok is the most obscure of the Comitatus, being primarily worshiped in conjunction with either Tosthaggus or the Toad; however, his cult is firmly lawful and believes their patron to have been of true knightly virtue. The origins of D'Gok are obscure, but it is known that he wore a magical shield emblazoned with an owlbear.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Karslish Hexes

I wrote some hex descriptions for if I ever run a game in Karse (specifically the area around Nindol). I have rendered the stats as if I was writing it for Swords and Wizardry because that provides an easier starting point. I can come up with an easy effect in S&W and then if I want to run it later in 5e I have some idea what I need to convert.


XXXX A Dragon of Gluttony (9HD, Aged) lairs on top of a hill where a castle once stood in the days of Rutha or Brutus. The Lady Worm, as she is called, has both the phallic qualities typical of a dragon of lust and exaggerated feminine characteristics - breast, lips, eyelashes - not normally found in reptiles. She will claim that a kiss from a handsome man will save her from a terrible curse, but in reality it causes a Save vs Death effect to any who try. In a great chamber under the castle ruins she has trapped a number of young knights whose combined ransom is equal to 2500sp.


XXXX In this lonely part of the Tulgey Wood is Guyborne the Slayer’s Camp. Guyborne is a bounty killer (4HD, Leather Armor) of some renown and dresses in the front part of a tandem horse costume. It is said that he once worked as part of a duo, but that his back half committed a crime and he slew him for the bounty. Currently he has 50gp buried in a shallow pit covered with leaves, poached rabbits over a fire, and a sword that is +1/+3 vs bandits Named Robber Ripper, and an elixir of greater invisibility.


XXXX This ruined castle is called Hobgoblin Hall. It was built by a warlock long ago and there are said to be twisting passages beneath filled with undead and demons. More importantly to the locals, a group of goblins have set up here, though it is unclear whether they lair here because of the name or if it’s named that for their lair. They are 41 in number, 30 regular goblins (15 with max hitpoints and horns), 10 hobgoblins, and one great goblin (as bugbear). They have 50sp, a suit of plate they cannot wear, and a cabochon crown worth 250sp.


XXXX A small barrow acts as the home of 24 elves. They are gaunt, lank, and swollen of head.  They wield blunted bronze greatswords as though they were sharp as steel. They have a locked chest with 2500cp.  They can fish coins out with their spindle fingers but have lost the key. They will attempt to chase off any who come near, and will moan and howl like ghosts.


XXXX Deep at the bottom of the Salt Salt Sea is the City of the Orknies. 500 Orknies swim with the bodies of dead children while their ghosts cry for their parents.


XXXX The Outlandish Knight keeps his drowned brides in a sea cave here.


XXXX A great stone container (perhaps from the time of the Star Lords) lies just off the coast, too submerged to see without the light of the moon - for the sun never shines undimmed on Karse.  The container vomits forth a great number of boneless things (3 HD, AC as Chain but from mush, immune to normal weapons unless first slashed with Holy Water). And these wash ashore occasionally to bother the residents.  During the day they can only survive 2d6 hours before they dry out in the sun. Should the container be closed or destroyed, the boneless things will send no more.


XXXX This village of 200 people is strangely absent from both maps and politics of the surrounding country.  Whenever outsiders enter, the villagers pretend to be mad to drive away interlopers. It has kept the kings and the sheriff’s men from collecting taxes. If a man should observe them without being observed, they will act as normal people.


XXXX A group of Ram-Men Raiders live in an longship they have upturned to serve as a house.  It seems to have contaminated the water, making about 100’ of the water into a pool that turns men into beastmen. In the part of the boat that is submerged in the water there is a red gem worth 1000sp, but deeply cursed if placed in water. The raiders are led by a 4 HD beast-ogre.


XXXX A foolish monk chained himself up in a boat and cast it into the sea from the monastery in Hex XXXX. He believes he has landed in the Land of Milk and Honey and nothing will disabuse him of this notion. He will remark on how similar the Land of Milk and Honey is to his home and claim it is miraculous.  If taken to the monastery, he will merely be aghast at how similar it is and at no point recognize it is the one he left from. The brothers there, for their part, will express astonishment at how the God of Law would wash up another brother identical to the one who cast himself into the sea, upon the shore.


XXXX This river is blocked up by the Guzzlin Worm, a dragon of gluttony (8 HD, Old), who drinks it down and kills anyone from the nearby village who tries to stop him.  Inside his stomach are 200 golden fish, each worth 1gp.


XXXX In a great sinkhole “lives” an undead giant (As Stone Giant but with the immunities and life drain of a Wight)  who was cast in here by Brutus himself. His face is an awful rictus and his skull splintered when he crashed giving him the appearance of a crown. In his hole he has 500sp in cattle, and the plate of 2 knights who have tried to defeat him.


XXXX A set of standing stones are very close together, with barely enough space for a man to pass between them.  Locals call them “the Wanking Stones” for they appear uncannily like men in a circle jerk. They are, in fact, old imperial knights who attempted to jerk off in front of a witch and she turned them to stone.


XXXX An elfish knight (4HD) in shinning +1 plate and with a +1 lance and sword, guards a bridge atop a unicorn. He challenges any who would cross to a duel.  An enchantment lies upon him that any who has accepted his challenge cannot strike him. However if one tries to cross without accepting he will not oppose them. If he should be attacked without the challenge being formally accepted, he will fight viciously but be able to be struck.


XXXX A ruined coach house serves as the home of the dread giant Headless Jack (stats as Frost Giant). Jack once had two heads, but Rutha the Conqueror took off one with the Sword in the Serf.* Now he has one great and mournful head and one neck stump. He wears iron chains which burn his skin (though do no damage) due to some curse laid upon him by Rutha’s witch of a wife. Any who hear Headless Jack’s Mournful wailing must make a saving throw or “get the shits” as the locals say.  Any who have this have disadvantage on all rolls until they have a full day of rest. A save must be made only once per encounter. Headless Jack has no treasure of his own but his remaining head is worth 5000sp if brought to an official of the king.


XXXX A strange, fox-headed man (4 HD, armor as leather) sets snares for small animals.  The snares only ever catch babes, which he shoves in a sack, presumably to eat later.  The babes come from the village in hex XXXX, and they are trapped in the snares by magic.  Returning the babes home would gain a reward of 1000sp.


XXXX A small island lies where this river enters the Tulgey Wood. During the day or under the light of the full moon, the shining image of a grail may be seen in a small set of ruins from the shore. About the shore are what appear to be 6 Coracles, but they are actually giant turtles (2 HD, AC as Chain), with deceptively shaped shells.  They will wait for men to climb and appear to swim out to the lake only to dump their passengers into the swift flowing river to drown them.  They will also attack any potential victims with their wicked beaks. The grail in the ruins has been painted on with some golden paint, but it cannot be removed while retaining its value; however, a drowned victim of the turtles has a more or less fresh suit of plate that could be fished up with some difficulty.


XXXX A 10th level sorceress in the guise of a pheasant is attempting to evade a 12th level sorcerer who is currently in the guise of a man, but may change to follow her.  The sorcerer will ask if the characters have seen a pheasant passing nearby. If they confirm they have, the pheasant will take flight from bushes nearby, turning into a nightingale in the process. The sorcerer will change into a bird too and the twain will be lost in a great flock of songbirds. Should they say they haven’t seen the pheasant, the sorcerer will pass by and the sorceress will return to her form as a lady and offer to enchant one item they have to have a +1 bonus.


XXXX A parrot, rarely seen outside the warmer climes of the Desert Lands or the Land of a Thousand Idols, is flying about a copse of trees.  It tells a tale of a woman who murdered her lover when he said he must part. The woman’s description matches a dame who lives in a nearby village.


XXXX The ghost of a lost knight hovers about his harness - nothing else of his body or belongings remain.  He asks that the harness be taken to his lady love in Hex XXXX. If presented with the harness, the woman will begin to weep. The ghost will then appear.  She will rush to greet him, tears in here eyes. The ghost will indicate not to touch him, but she will kiss him anyway and in that moment die. Should the characters witness this they will automatically succeed their next three saves against death effects.

XXXX A knight, who calls himself Le Chevalier Etrange, stands among a group of standing stones.  He wears a comical suit of plate with a carved mustache and glasses. He offers his magic sword to any who can perform a list of impossible tasks (drink the ocean, tame a questing beast, lift a castle on your shoulders, etc.).  If he is asked to do it to prove it can be done, he will hand over the +1 sword without a fuss. If attacked he will reveal his true form as a Knight of Ozgin.


XXXX A set of two stone giants on enormous horses are jousting with trees for lances and a set of standing stones for lists. Their enormous horses could be sold ad breeding stock for 2250sp.


XXXX Three giant vultures (3HD, armor as leather and shield) peck at the body of a dead knight.  They occasionally lift their head to talk about the sorrow of his failed quest, and one even weeps for the knight’s lonely lady love. The knight’s plate armor is in good condition, if you could chase the vultures off.


XXXX A small hut serves as the home of a witch known as the Mother of Toads (9th level magician).  She seeks companionship, despite her bloated, hideous form. She will cast Charm Person on the character with the highest charisma. The spell, as cast by her, also makes the victim perceive her many hideous deformities as perversely sexually exciting. Her hut also contains her spellbook and a 8 potions (randomly determined by the referee).


XXXX In the ruins of a great hall, larger than any built by man, the old King of the Giants (Stone Giant, max HP) is trapped.  The roof has collapsed upon him, and the great beams have formed a right angled cross, which keeps him from rising. He will offer eternal servitude if he is freed, but he is a liar and a cheat and will be a terror upon the country if loosed. His treasure was stolen out from under him long ago.


XXXX A group of 12 reavers from the Northern Islands (1 HD chain armor, small shields, spears, bows, 12 arrows) ride gaunt ponies.  They are lead by a lord (4 HD) and are looking for a village that lies on a different island. They are too proud to ask for directions, and soon they will starve.


XXXX A group of peasants have lit candles around the body of this knight who perished while questing.  Trauma on the knight clearly show where bits have been cut off (apparently both pre and posthumously) for relics. His belongings are too rusted to be useful, though some of his bits have clearly been stolen and replaced with fakes.


XXXX The island of Yesleg Mon was once the home of the dread sorcerer Nilrem.  Now his hollowed out cave is home only to 3 rawheads who occasionally go to the mainland to eat naughty children, when the wind blows their lies the right way. They have about them 3 scrolls of 5th level spells (randomly determined by the referee) and a golden rod, 6 feet in length, worth 1000sp.


XXXX This rocky island is the home of Eucastes (9 level Fighter who can cast 1st level spells), King of the Pirates. He has a crew of 50 men for his small warship, and acts like a lord over the hundred peasants he tries to make make food on this rocky hellhole.  He often raids with his men inland. He has a spellbook (Written in Crowleyan) with every 1st level spell in it, as well as a hoard worth 2000sp, and a +2 Longsword. One of his companions, sometimes called the Old Man, is actually a demonic lieutenant of Armadeus who will gate themselves away if trouble should occur.


XXXX The ruins of a tower, all crumbled and fallen, show both evidence of fire and of great pressure, as though a fiery serpent squeezed it until it collapsed.


XXXX An elf in the guise of a handsome monk hunts in the woods with his 3 blinkdogs (who appear as bloodhounds).  He will challenge characters to games of chance involving catching game and then use his blink dogs to cheat.  If killed, he will have no treasure on him (even treasure the characters gave him while betting).


XXXX A woman lives in a lone manorhouse - the fields about are empty of peasants and her servants are missing.  In her cellar she has trapped 12 knights that she is starving. She believes them responsible for her husband’s death because a knight of Armadeus in the guise of her husband’s wraith has convinced her of this.


XXXX A small peat bog is home to 3 Boggy-men.


XXXX A village of about 100 men and women is ignored by those who live around it and is on no maps.  Everyone in the village is flush red and covered with boils, signs of the Red Death. However they function fine and seem perfectly healthy otherwise.  Interacting with them or any of their possessions will prompt a save as though one had come into contact with the Red Death’s miasma.


XXXX A small stockade serves as the home for One-Eyed Dwardie (4 HD, Plate) and his band of 133 men. Each of his men is blind (and suffers penalties associated) and Dwardie is their king.  To join his band one must give up both eyes. He is also known to take the eyes of captives, which he keeps in a great cauldron. This cauldron is used by a witch (level 3 magician) to cast divination spells. He has amassed 1000sp in goods.


XXXX This “abandoned” manor house now serves as the hideout of the Fallton Boys (each level 4 Fighting Men who can also use thieves’ skills).  They are all of noble blood but are butchers and sociopaths without compare. There is a 30% chance when encountered they have 30 men with them, but they may have alienated these men so that they have fled to nearby parts to rat them out. They have 1000sp in a chest smothered in contact poison (save or die).


XXXX A group of 30 forlorn ex-serfs hides in the woods.  They were tired of serfdom and have fled here to avoid the toils and punishments associated.  They originally wanted to act as bandits, but 10 dead serfs later they realized they aren’t cut out for it.  Now they pray to Old Gods whose names they long ago forgot that death will come to them swiftly.


XXXX A giant cross serves to mark an area of sanctuary in this otherwise uninhabited countryside.  A rogue (level 4) will not take his arm hands off the cross for fear of knights that hang around within sight and await to kill him during the day.  At night he climbs up the cross to avoid wolves and other beasts that come to eat him. He has not eaten in several days. The knights will pay 500sp for his capture and delivery to them, but both parties refuse to say the man’s crimes.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tales from the Cutthroat Inn: In Pursuit of the Black Spider

Session Date
March 24th (picking up from the 4th day of the Month of the Crocodile)

Characters Present
Annapurna, Altanian Ranger
Grafari, Skandik Rogue
Father Thorne, Human Wizard
Ion Skamos, Tiefling Cleric of Ssset
Waq Awaqa, Viridian Warlock
Einarr, Skandik Paladin of Thor

Events
  • Anex must have headed home alone after being trapped in the invisible-spider-verse, since she wasn't present. Seems a sensible decision for a person to make.
  • After waiting for the smoke to clear from their burning of the invisible webs, the party moved into the massive tunnels where they had previously encountered the Son of the Spider-God.
  • In a chamber attached to the tunnels the party encountered a ghostly figure wrapped in translucent webs. After a brief bit of combat the creature disappeared.
  • The party waited for several minutes, and once they attempted to take some treasure out of the room the thing reappeared.  This time it used some hideous power inherent in its unwholesome visage, aging Ion Skamos a few years but aging Annapurna to the equivalent of her mid-60s.
  • Beyond this chamber the party found where the tunnel split north and south.  They headed south and began to realize that they were looping around to already discovered areas.  Ion wished to more properly map the connections, but the party outvoted him and decided to continue on the trail of the Son of the Spider-God.
  • They headed to the northern section and found a room where someone had made a crude barricaded with pieces of earthenware.  There was a large amphora filled with copper pieces.
  • While there were chambers beyond this barricade and broken pots, the party decided that the Son of the Spider-God was not likely to be beyond, or at least that they should check the rest of the large tunnel first.
  • Backtracking, they found another set of chambers - three in number.  The first contained a false door that was an obvious trap.  The second and third seemed to be used to turn giant spider-silk into garments. 
  • These chambers were inhabited by a pair of specters, which the party destroyed.
  • At this point the party decided to leave and perhaps return later to finally slay their quarry.  They took the spinning material with them as well as various treasure caches they had found in this rather long expedition.
Monsters Defeated1 Ghost and 2 Specters

Treasure Gained
1 Jade Spider (250gp), Jade “Mummy” (250gp), 500ep, 2500sp, Spider-leg Wand, Red Potion, Amber Potion, Spinning Equipment (250gp), amd the 500ep and 25000cp from the chest from the last session.

XP per player in both sessions
390

XP per player just in this session
291


Let me know if y'all have a preference between the narrative form or the bullet points.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Nightwick: Fumbling in the Dark


Session Date
March 31st (Primus 31st, 1395)

Characters Present
Uein, Nordo Vulgarian Fighter 5
Fredrick Bull, Frogling Fighter 5
Abraham Nermal, Karslish Rogue 7
Stavros Chrysophylax Balsamon/"St Deodat", Zenopolitan Fighter 6
Captain Brown, Karslish Paladin 1
Mother, Human of Unknown Origin Wizard 1

Events
  • The players decided to make their way down to level 3 and explore off of the seals they discovered last time, presumably in hopes of finding another undead Hochmeister of the Sword Brothers in hopes of finding a set of... well a different type of seal... in hopes of gaining access to an area on level 2.
  • While still on level one, they overheard a trio of devil-men having a conversation in Crowleyan. The party rudely interrupted and slew the trio and took the change from their pockets.
  • Once on level 3, the party decided to explore map-east of the floor-seals hoping to find a way to the bowling game and seeming gambling parlor from the reverse side. 
  • Unfortunately, they instead found a large crypt, like the one described by the cultist-pervert they interrogated last time.  As he had stated, it was the lair of one of the undead Hochmeister's... and a great number of Blind Bruders bound to him in service.
  • The Blind Dead fight in dense formations, which makes them quite susceptible to Kozel's spells from Saint Santa Claus, but without him the party of mostly front-line fighter types was at a significant disadvantage. They attempted to use the geometry of the doorway to limit the possible amount of hits they could take, but underestimated the reach of their pikes.
  • Also we learned that the way we had been doing attacks of opportunity was some 3e brain worms, and it is much easier for a large group to pile into somebody in 5e.
  • While they took no casualties, it was clear they weren't getting anywhere despite the resources they were pouring into the fight, so they retreated.  The Blind Bruders seemed willing to let them do so, themselves retreating back into the crypt.
  • They made their way to the second level, where their is a strange section of dungeon that they felt they may be able to take a short rest in.  They found this was true, but decided after the break that it was better to take the loss and retreat from the dungeon entirely for now and spend some time in the coming weeks dealing with the political situation.
Monsters Defeated
3 Devil-men

Treasure Gained
36gp

XP Per Player (including xp from treasure)
56

Normally I prefer a more narrative style of write up, but I think the bullet point versions are more likely to get written.  I still need to do one for the last Wilderlands session we did (and I plan to do at least a couple of more so they can kill the Son of the Spider-God). I had this one planned long in advance as a farewell to G+.

We attempted to use Roll20, which I think in general we liked but it has lots of problems with people's headsets or sound or something so it's likely we'll switch to discord for sound, Roll20 instead of a more generic whiteboard app.  People kept coming in and out of the session, but I don't think that will happen in the future (or at least not for that reason). We had discussed changing because of general worries about what will happen with Google Hangouts in the post-G+ world.

Finally I should note that I don't number the Nightwick Play Reports because keeping track of them on the blog, on G+ in my general feed, and in two different G+ communities made me lose count a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Terrible Worm in an Iron Cocoon

I've been writing this post for a long while, attempting to do an Abraxas or Straits of Anian style post. The change to 5e has made this easier because instead of having to create my own equivalent to warrior societies, I can just use the already extant subclasses and say what goes with what.

A note on gender: I use "man" and "men" throughout this post for stylistic reasons.  Men refers to the race of man, i.e. humans, in the World of Nightwick. There are more women knights in the World of Nightwick than there were historically, though there is nothing close to gender parity.  The Realm of Man and the other kingdoms of the West use the same sorts of "well men means everybody except when it means just males" doublethink common in our world, but the presence of heroic prowess or supernatural agency means that some women are undeniably "worthy" of the title of knighthood even to the sexist societies of the World of Nightwick. If a woman can Lay on Hands who are you to say the God of Law is false? It will generally be true that NPC knights, with some notable exceptions, are male but this should in no way inhibit the ability of a female PC. A full study of gender in the Dark Country is forthcoming.


It is a well known lie that the race of men is divided into three categories: those who work, those who fight, and those who pray. Unfortunately for proponents of this view, there are vast arrays of human experience that lie outside these three categories, and men who were born workers may become fighters or clerics and men who were once fighters may be enslaved to work in the fields. Perhaps the three orders are what life would be like under the total influence of the Law, though the Book of the Law proposes several classes and subclasses of men.

Despite the existence of nuances which belie the entire system, it is certainly true that there are classes of men who are born, raised, and live to fight. Not mere mercenaries or reavers, these men are, of course, knights. In the West, these knights are placed in charge of land and the serfs which belong to that land in the hopes that the surplus generated will allow them the ability to equip themselves (and a perhaps a number of followers) for war. The relationship is similar in the Dark Country, but due to efforts to attract migrants the peasants of that benighted country are not tied to the land.  Instead, knights must create incentives for peasants to come work their fields or do task in their cities.

Most of these secular knights are fighters and the vast majority of them are of the cavalier archetype.  Some few are champions, particularly in Karse, where horsemanship is not so well esteemed. Battlemasters, those brave leaders of men, are seldom knights, for knights are more interested in their own personal prowess than the leading of others.


These men running protection rackets are not the only ones called knights. There are men, born into the same class, who instead join holy orders so that they might serve the Law.  They are called paladins, but knights they are still.  A few of the most famous orders in the World of Nightwick are described below, along with the oaths that they take.

The Sword Brothers were once such an order, but they fell into darkness as discussed elsewhere.  When they lived they took the Oath of Conquest.

The Knights in White Satin dedicate themselves to protecting the weak.  This most often takes the form of protecting noble women of great beauty for psychosexual reasons ill-suited for discussion in this post. Tradition dictates that they must adorn their armor with a bit of their chosen lady's garment, preferably something white. Stories tell of how these garments never stain with blood nor dirt no matter how much fighting the knight in question does, but stories are often wrong.  Their main chapterhouse is located on the island of Cuccagna, from which many strange things issue.  Members of this order take the Oath of Redemption.

The Holy Order of the Sphere sets itself no lower goal than to follow the Law completely.  This task is nigh impossible for the flawed beings that live and breath in the World, and as such their numbers are quite few. Its chief chapterhouse is in the capital of the Realm of Man, and all lesser sons of the Emperor of Man are forced to take their oath.  That oath is the Oath of Devotion.

The Order of the Elk, led by the infamous Paladin Lord Fitzgerald,* is considered heretical by many but is as yet still endorsed by Pope Palpatinius. They believe that knights of the Law must protect both Lawful men and pagans against the forces of darkness.  Those who claim they are heretical say that their powers come not from the God of Law but from the Old Gods.  Indeed, no one knows who grants them the power they gain through the Oath of the Ancients.

The Knights of the Dragon are paladins who seek to engage in redemptive violence on behalf of the Law. In some ways they serve as an (as yet) untainted successor to the Sword Brothers, and they are the most common sort found in the Dark Country. Their main chapterhouse is in the land of Vulgary, once known as the Iron Kingdoms. The dragon in their name refers both to the physical embodiment of sin in the World that are described below and to the Dragon of Hell, for they are equally found fighting demons and their ilk. They take the Oath of Vengeance.


No discussion of knights would be complete without a discussion of their mortal enemy: Dragons. Dragons in the World of Nightwick are physical manifestations of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man. Dragons so embody these sins that knights of both the secular and religious sort seek them out to slay them in order to overcome personal failings. If a paladin should lose their powers as a result of committing a grave sin, they may regain their powers if they participate in the slaying of the appropriate dragon.

Dragons of lust a disturbingly phallic and turgid - purple veined and large of head. They breath fire upon their enemies and captured fair maidens to keep locked in dark towers. Varieties with and without wings exist but seemingly both varieties may fly.

Bloated, fleshy, and lacking in scales, dragons of gluttony eerily resemble a cross between a human child and a large salamander. They gulp up streams and hoard cattle and attack bread carts. Their breath is foul and can kill a man with its reeking miasma.

Dragons of greed are the very ideal of a dragon - green or red, scaly, winged, breathing fire, and hoarding gold.

Dragons of sloth are sorrowful creatures with huge, unblinking eyes.  The bury themselves deep within the earth for fear that they will be found and mutter and meep to themselves about the goings on in the world above and how it is better to rest in the earth. If such a dragon can be bothered with a hoard, it is usually made of fine silks, feather beds, and soft pillows; however, items which have a preternatural association with fear may also be found in their collections. Despite their pathetic demeanor, they are formidable in combat, breathing both fire and sleeping gas.

If one were to see a dragon of wrath asleep, one might think it was an enormous statue or blasphemous art instillation. Their claws and fangs appear literally as swords, their scales seemingly ancient shields fused together by unknown agency.  They heap about themselves weapons of great puissance and when sleeping on their hoard they are effectively indistinguishable from it. Dragons of wrath breath fire.

Great serpents with gleaming green eyes, dragons of envy were believed to be sacred to the pagan tribes that existed before the Lady revealed the Law to the First Emperor. They have the most eclectic hoards, preferring to take the possessions of other dragons when they can or, more commonly, from the richest person in the nearby area.  When taking from a person, the wealth will be subject to cultural context (cattle for pastoralist tribes, gold from merchants, etc).  They spit acid and stalk their prey for days or even weeks.  They may fly on diminutive wings, and will often retreat only to stalk again and wait for a better time to strike.

Dragons of pride are wonderful to behold - great gleaming red-gold scales and breasts of glittering diamonds. Lonely are they, for they drive out other dragons as a matter of course, but in the absence of their kin they have no one to gloat over. While their hoards very, those that have lived for many years tend to collect symbols of authority - crowns, orbs, scepters, etc. They have a fondness also for sleeping on the bones of men who have tried to slay them. When attacked, dragons of pride spit lightning from their mouth or shoot it from strange, crown like horns on the top of their head.


Some campaigns may wish to eschew having player character knights, hoping instead to frame the feudal system of the West as a villain akin to, if not on par with, the Demons of the Pit. These campaigns may focus on pagans fighting for their right to worship, Merrie Men attempting to do good by the poor and downtrodden, or even the normal rakes, rascals, and murderhobos who happen to be on the wrong side of the Law.  The standard stats for a 5e knight npc should work for knights as enemies, but one might wish to make them a large creature in order to draw a starker contrast between normal people and the sinister military elites. I would recommend adjusting their hit-points to reflect this larger size.


*Paladin Lord Fitzgerald was created such that his initials matched the initials of the Pagan Liberation Front, making Yim Yimsley's allegiance more muddled.