Sunday, November 18, 2018

Wilderpeople of the City State of the Invincible Overlord

This is kind of a rehash of this post but that one was made with some notable gaps for the current campaign because it was written for a different region of the Wilderlands.  Some of the information from that post is restated here and some of the information is omitted because of the lack of influence of those peoples on the CSIO.

Note that any PHB option from 5e is available in the Wilderlands, these just cover the more unique options of the CSIO.

There are several different types of funny colored humans in the Wilderlands.

Alryans are the dominant ethnicity of the City State of the Invincible Overlord and the nearby settlements.  Like their sister race the Altanians (see below), they are descended from the ancient Orichalcans, though their bloodline is much diminished.  Their skin is often ruddy or pale pink and their material culture is similar to the later days of the Western Roman Empire.  They exert little control on the regions outside of their cities.

Altanians are red skinned (ranging from rusty clay to coke can) barbarians from the jungles of Altanis, though they are common in the lands directly south of the City State of the Invincible Overlord.  Like their sister race the Alryans, they are descended from the Orichalcans who ruled the Pazidun Peninsula before the kingdom of Kelnore.  Now they live in tribal groups and hunt the ruins of their glorious  past.  Alryans, Antilians and Viridians often use them as slaves, and they may also be found throughout the Wilderlands of Swords and Devilry serving as mercenaries and body guards.  Women and men are, unusually for the Wilderlands, more or less equal among these people, but women more often fill spiritual roles while men fill martial ones.

Antilians are the inhabitants of the city of Antil, though their merchant ships may be found slaving or selling slaves in nearly every part of the Wilderlands.  Men typically shave their heads and wear outrageous sword & sorcery badguy armor rather than anything practical.  Women are typically not allowed to venture into broader society, being confined to sections of their father, husband, or master's house.  They are known for their highly sexist society and their hatred of Amazons.

The Dunael Woodfolk are long-lived humans that originated in the area around Tarsh.  However, most living members reside in the Dearthwood thanks to an oath to patrol it made long ago to an Orichalcan King or previous Overlord.  Some claim they have elvish blood, but other than their affinity for the forest and centuries long lives, they have very few physical features in common.  They are dusky of skin and dark of hair, and their material culture is... look they're just the Dunedain, ok?

Reavers and pirates originally from the Great Glacier north of Valon, the Skandiks semi-recently moved south and conquered the area east of the City State.  In even more recent times a Skandik warrior named Bjorn was elevated to demigod status through unknown means and became Overlord after the destruction of the city by an unknown agent.  Because of his campaigns, the Skandik kingdoms of Croy and Ossry were united and are now client states of the City State.

These barbarian people originally hailed from somewhere north of the Valley of the Ancients.  They were invited several generations ago by the Viridian Emperor to serve as mercenaries against the peoples that would one day found the City State.  Since then they have settled land now known as the Tharabian Coast, and for many generations a member of their race held the title of Invincible Overlord; however, with the ascension of the Skandik Kingdoms the Tharabians have largely moved into Viridistan and returned to the service of the Viridian Emperor.  They are swarthy and their material culture is a mixture of Celtic and Scythian.

Common Viridians
These are the descendants of the inhuman True Viridians and their Ghinorian subjects in the City State's rival empire of Viridistan.  Since only a few True Viridians exist in the world, the "common" Viridians have taken over most of the administration of the empire and the temples of their terrible fish god, Armadod-bog.  They resemble the Persians of our world, particularly the Sassanians, but their greenish skin and fantastical weaponry would immediately show them as being not from Earth.

Non-human PC Races
These races function as their D&D counterparts except where noted below.

Most Dwarves in the North hail from either Thunderhold or the recently reconquered Majestic Mountains.  As the picture implies, they are more or less like the dwarves from the Hobbit cartoon.  The stats for Hill Dwarves represent those from Thunderhold while the stats for Mountain Dwarves represent those Dwarves from the Majestic Fastness.

All Northern Elves possess blue skin, though the "high" variety tends to be more of a deep blue while the "wood" variety is kind of a blue green.  High Elves are likely from Valon or from some other bastion of the old elven kingdom in the Elphand lands.  "Dark Elves" of the Wilderlands are albino.

First Men
The First Men were created by a long dead reptilian empire in order to fulfill a prophecy that the world would be dominated by "Man, who stands up like an ape and has the heart of a dragon." The result looks rather like a mandrill or baboon crossed with an alligator, but the use of dragon parts allows them both access to breath weapons and to powerful sorcery.  Statistically they are the same as Dragonborn in 5e.

Gnomes in the City State are most commonly from Lightelf, a nearby settlement under the yoke of the Skandiks.  These gnomes are similar to the Tinker variety, and have shunned magical prowess in exchange for arms training.

Halflings are Hobbits, though both stout and lightfoot varieties are found in the Wilderlands.  They are common in the immediate areas around the City State, where they often serve as peasants on the holdings of Alryan Knights given appanage by the Overlord. They are more common in the area east of the Winedark sea such as Tarsh and on the Ebony Coast.

The ancient Markrabs, a long extinct race, bred many of their servitor demons with human stock.  The descendents of these mating experiments still exist throughout the urban areas of the Wilderlands, and new parings are still made in the distant Demon Empires of the South.  

Non-human(?) NPC Races

Amazons are a strange race which sages believe was created many years ago by a strange wizard named Lurr.  He supposedly saw a vision from a distant world depicting a savage warrior woman, and decided to construct his own for reasons I'd rather not get into.  Amazons produce with gynogenesis and thus are all identical in appearance, resembling the woman of Lurr's strange dream. They are all female and almost all powerful warriors. One is said to rule the Orcs of the Purple Claw in Dearthwood, and a large group of them serve the Skandiks in Shield Rune.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wilderlands: Down and Out at the Tanglebones Tavern

After much shifting around with my home group, I'm running a Wilderlands campaign for them set in and around the City State of the Invincible Overlord using 5e.  Here's a recap of the first two sessions.

The party consists of...
James as Tancred the Half Giant (stats as Goliath, Fighter 1 though not present for the first session)
KC as Namira (Altanian Celistial Warlock 1 and disciple of Mycr)
JP as Paelias Diamonddew (Northern Elf Ranger 1)
and Chris as Cyrus (Viridian Fighter 1)

During the second session Chris named the group the Fumbling Four, but that won't make sense until Tancred shows up.

Paelias, Cyrus, and Namira had spent the last days of the Month of the Silent Scream in the Tanglebones Tavern listening for rumors that might lead to adventure.  After dismissing a few as too base (they party's overall alignment tends towards Good), they elected to help out the Overlord's Light Cavalry.  It seems that patrols in the Dearthwood were being attacked by strange, flying snakes whose venom was especially potent.  This had crippled many of the cavalrymen and meant that long stretches of the southern road were patrolled.  Paelias thought he could lead the party to the most likely source of these creatures, and together they would destroy the nest.

Once they exited the tavern they were accosted by a pair of buskers in corpse paint.  These street musicians were armed and seemed unhappy with the obvious goody-two-shoes aspect of the party.  Namira was able to talk them down before a fight ensued, but the buskers promised violence if ever they were seen on slash street again.  After detouring around a procession dedicated to the god of Gargoyles, which featured the enormous god himself, they found themselves forced to pay a small tax and declare their loyalty to the Overlord before they could exit the city.

Once in the Dearthwood Paelias decided to lead the group towards a ridgeline that is some miles into the forest.  It was here he believed the flying snakes would have their home.  On the way they passed by a large cenote with some sort of strange activity.  Scouting ahead, Paelias found it was a flock of pegasi who fled at his arrival.  Travelling onward they were able to avoid an ambush by orcs and were able to set up camp without attracting any more of the vicious savages.  In the cold light of dusk the Cyrus spied some small shapes flying over a nearby hill, confirming Paelias's suspicions.

The next morning Paelias made for the hill to scout it alone.  As he approached he narrowly avoided a number of arrows from an unknown source.  He returned to the group confirming both the presence of flying snakes and informing them of intelligent opposition.  The three of them decided to investigate from another angle, with Cyrus this time a little ahead of the party.  He noted that the structure on top of the hill, though apparently natural, was made by some intelligent hand and included a number of arrow slits.  It also had a door set in the side that could be approached from an angle that would leave someone looking out of the arrow slits blind to the oncoming assailant.

Cautiously passing beyond the door, they found a hallway ending in a T section.  Here they heard a subtle hissing from below and deduced the location of a pit trap filled with (conventional) snakes.  Jumping over they made there way to what seemed to be a catacomb shelf.  Testing it with a handaxe, Cyrus discovered a blade trap.  This they avoided but soon they found themselves in a room filled with flying snakes (and their nests).  As warned, these creatures had very potent venom and Paelias suffered ill-wounds and was only saved by Namira's magical healing.  Having been beaten back, Cyrus decided to cut an arrowslit of his own in the door.  Unfortunately, the noise attracted a number of (conventional) snakes whose posion, while less potent, again caused Paelias to collapse.  Deciding the task of killing the snakes was a bit too difficult, they fled.

On the way back they fell in with a small troop of the Overlord's Light Cavalry and were escorted back to the city.  They made friends with one of them (who was on his last patrol ever, since he was leaving the Overlord's service) and spent a week in the city with him participating in pit fights and gambling at the Tanglebones Tavern.  Cyrus acquitted himself well in the pit fights, as did Namira who fought masked so as to hide her identity.  Paelias, perhaps still sick from the venom, contented himself to bet on the matches but lost his money.

Tancred the Half-Giant, for that was the former soldier's name, was initially interested in ridding the Dearthwood of the flying snakes, but upon hearing of the potency of the snakes' venom, the Fumbling Four elected instead to seek new rumors.  They heard the angry sermon of a priest of Tsathoggus outside the tavern.  The priest, it seems, had gone into the Mermist Marsh but had been chased out by "degenerates" and "inbreds" who worshiped the Toad, a rival to Tsathoggus in batrachian mastery.  He offered a blessing from Tsathoggus for any who would go into the swamp and murder the "bumpkins."  Namira was uneasy about working for a false god, but admitted that killing the followers of another false god was perhaps a net good.

They left the Tanglebones Tavern in the first week of the Month of the Sky Woman, but despite the cold of that season they were beset by a group of giant wasps.  These they slew, but Tancred was bemused and wondered aloud at the source of such creatures.  Namira insisted that the City State was filled with strange wonders, but Tancred had never heard of giant wasps in his days of soldiering.  Paelias believed he remembered hearing there was a bounty on destroying a wasps nests on a nearby street.  Deciding adventure in the city was better than paying the tax to leave, they set about climbing nearby buildings.

Well, Tancred, Cyrus, and Paelias climbed nearby buildings.  Namira made her way to a street near the Temple of the Gargoyle where she could find a small shop selling candles and oil.  She purchased oil for the potential burning of the nest while the other three tried to locate it.  Tancred saw it aways off on the same building complex that housed the chandler.  As he approached, the wasps that were near the nest (Paelias guessed most were out hunting and wouldn't return until dusk) became agitated.  Tancred felled one with a thrown handaxe and its corpse landed in front of Namira as she was exiting the shop.  Realizing battle was in progress, she began to climb up to aid her comrades.

This combat was easier since there were a smaller number of wasps around the nest, and soon the party had hacked the nest out from under the joined roofs where the wasps had built it.  Tancred kicked it down but unfortunately he happened to hit an apprentice of the Thieves' Guild who was exiting a tavern below.  Ignoring the apprentice's curses, the party took the nest to try to find someone who would pay the bounty they had heard about.

Tancred guessed it would be a nearby tax collector (who happened to be a troll), and the troll seemed very happy to have a giant wasps nests but he and his guards informed the party there had been no bounty.  Paelias, it was revealed, had misremembered.

They decided to take the rest of the day easy and leave at dawn the next day.  Unfortunately, this meant they were crushed by incoming traffic on Regal Street when they meant to leave because of those who lived outside the city coming in for work.  Eventually they made their way to a ferry station that could take them into Mermist Marsh.

Their trip into the marsh was slow going, and only on the second day were they far enough away that the City State had disappeared into the green line of the Dearthwood on the horizon.  Soon after its disappearance they saw a large, black pyramid sticking out of the marsh grass.  It seemed that the base of the pyramid was made out of a shiny, black stone while the upper bit was a dull basalt.  The basalt section also seemed to have collapsed inwardly, giving the pyramid a strange shape.

Once again Paelias acted as a scout, though this time he was more successful than previous attempts.  He noted both a large, double-doored main entrance and a smaller side entrance.  Deciding it was usually a bad plan to go through the main entrance, Paelias snuck aways into the side entrance to see what they might find.  He soon found himself surrounded by bullywugs, but thanks to his aptitude for stealth did not alert them.  He returned and informed the party.

Tancred kicked the side door entrance in and the Fumbling Four began killing the bullywugs.  The bullywugs, it seems, had been preparing for an outing out of the pyramid and had been interrupted such that they could not take advantage of the armor they were attempting to put on.  When only one bullywug was left, it attempted to jump away and flee but Tancred was able to pin him to the door using his throwing axe.  Exploring in the direction he was going to flee to, the party found that they were in a kitchen/dining complex.  They soon found that bullywugs shit where they eat.

Beyond this complex they found what appeared to be a large tomb chamber.  On the wall was a stone panel with an inscription in ancient Orichalcan.  Namira was able to puzzle out its rough meaning - which one player rendered in the groups session log as "Two Mummies Suck Forever."  Cyrus chiseled the panel off the wall, hoping to find an Orichalcan antiques collector back in the City State.  We agreed to pick up here next time (which should be today) rather than have a week of downtime because we got started late during the last session.