Saturday, December 31, 2016

Flame of Rebellion - A Brief History of Dorn

Attend me my children, for I, Chanter Anon the Galdr, first scribe of the Library Tower, shall share with you the secret history of our people….
In ages past, beyond the veil of memory, the People of Dorn took to their longships and set out across the cruel sea in search of new lands to conquer and new treasures to plunder.  The voyage was fraught with peril and many ships were lost, but in time they arrived upon the emerald shores of a pristine, virgin land, Eredane.
In Eredane, the People of Dorn found civilizations soft and ripe for plunder.  The Elves they routed and drove deep into their forests.  The Dwarves, a hearty folk but unprepared for the brutality of the Dornish attack, were also routed and took refuge in their mountain fastness.  The lesser races, the gnomish people and the elf-kin Dunni, were enslaved and made to serve the Dorn.  The Dorn were unstoppable, conquering and settling all lands between the Elvish forest and the Dwarven mountains, from the icy peaks in the North all the way south to the Sea of Pelluria.
For many lifetimes the Elves and Dwarves resisted, but finally, bloodied and desperate, they sued for peace.  The Dorn settled the lands and began to build a new civilization and there was peace for many generations.
Then, without warning, a shadow rose in the North.  A being of immense power and corruption led its forces south, slaughtering and desecrating everything and everyone in its path.  The Elves and Dwarves cried out for aid for they said that this shadow had risen before and was a threat to all life on Eredane.  The People of Dorn rallied to their aid.  Led by the Bloodborn heroes of Dorn, Dayne, Dale, Redgard, and the rest of the heroes, the Dorn smashed the invading humanoid army and sent them scurrying back to the North.  The queen of the Elves, Aradil, honored the Dornish heroes with the creation of mighty, enchanted swords.  For Dayne, the greatest among them, was forged by the Dwarves a crown of unmatched beauty and majesty.  Dayne and his fellow Bloodborn founded Great Houses and ruled their respective regions of Eredane.  The mighty Dayne was crowned High King and was loved and honored by his people.
The Dorn, in their wisdom, consulted with the Elves of Erethor and the Dwarves of the Kaladruns and built a great wall, the Fortress Wall, which ran across the breadth of the continent.  Surely, the Shadow would not penetrate such a mighty structure.  
For two centuries the Dorn kept a wary and watchful eye on the North, but the Shadow was dormant, perhaps never to return.  They were caught unaware, however, by an invading force from the South.  The dreaded and feared hordes of the Sarcosan, who had driven the Dorn from Pelluria in the distant past, had arrived to conquer a new continent.  With their great hordes of mounted warriors and their dark magics and vile alchemy, the Sarcosans struck like a spear into the heart of the Dornish kingdom.  The Dornish resistance was fierce and they drove the Sarcosans back toward the sea.  The Elves, ever protective of their forest domain, drove the Sarcosan from their groves.  At last, unable to defeat the combined might of the three Eredane races, the Sarcosans sued for peace.  They were granted by Queen Esmir Dayne all the lands south of the Ardune, a small inland sea, in exchange for a permanent end of hostilities.
A long period of relative peace followed in which the Sarcosans, ever the raiders and would-be conquerors, clashed with the People of Dorn to their North, but nothing much ever came of it.  The people had forgotten the threat of the Shadow and turned their eyes from the North and abandoned the Fortress Wall.  Perhaps it was for this distraction that the Shadow had awaited, none can say, for the forces of darkness once again surged south from the broken and twisted lands of the far North.  The Fortress Wall was pierced in multiple locations and the swarm of corrupt humanoids again ravaged the country of the Dorn as well as the forests and deep holds of the Elves and Dwarves.  Even with the aid of the Sarcosans, the South was losing.  The loss of life was staggering and the Fell ravaged among the survivors.  Cities were burned and the land was made arid.  If not for the intervention of dragons, the war would surely have been lost.  When the smoke cleared and the ashes had settled to the charred ground, the survivors were few, but the hordes had been repelled and the Shadow was once again safely imprisoned in the North.
Peace, however, was hard to come by.  Though ten generations had passed since the Shadow had been vanquished, the foul orcs still harried and assaulted the stalwart Dwarves, causing them to dig ever deeper into their mountain tunnels.  Soon, they were cut off from the world and the doors to their great underground halls were closed and sealed.  The Elves, too, were under constant assault as orcs from beyond the Fortress Wall constantly tested their defenses and ambushed any unwary Elf who strayed too far north beyond the boundaries of their forest.  The Elves grew hard and bitter and turned their backs on the world of Man.  
There would be no peace for the Dorn either.  High King Valik Dayne, the last of his line, was betrayed and murdered by his closest friend, Duke Ivass Torbault.  The Torbaults slaughtered every living Dayne in a massacre we now call The Night of the Black Knife.  Backed by the Sarcosan Kalif, the Torbaults took the Crown of Dayne and surrendered the capital, Erenhead, to the Sarcosan Kalif without a struggle.  The Great Houses fought, to be sure.  Led by Houses Dale and Redgard, the Dorns mustered an army to take back the capital, but the Sarcosans were too powerful and claimed victory after victory against the Dornish footmen.  Soon, reluctantly, the Great Houses were forced to surrender and accept Sarcosan rule.  One by one the Great Houses bent the knee and swore fealty to Kalif, now High King, Omar ibn Akani.  
The era of Dornish independence had come to an end.
The campaign begins 25 years after the Night of the Black Knife.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Star Trek Adventures Alpha Playtest

Today I had the opportunity to run a playtest of the new Modiphius game, Star Trek Adventures.  I gathered players from around the world on Roll20 and we set out to test these new and exotic rules.

As with any new rule system, the majority of the session was comprised of rules explanations and interpretations.  In our three hour session, we managed to get through about 3 pages of the actual scenario.  That was fine, though, as we covered most of the basic rules and were able to get a pretty good grasp on the fine points of the system.

Though there was some dispute, most players felt that the system played like an episode of Star Trek. The initial confusion about the rather complex rules gave way to admiration as we learned just how flexible the system can be.  Though it has a rigid rules structure, there are methods by which a player or GM can gain narrative control, which allows for a very personal and interactive experience.  The Momentum/Determination/Threat economy was quickly mastered by the players and they used it to great effect.  

I'm looking forward to the next update so that we can explore ship-based adventures and maybe a bit of space combat.  I'm also hoping to see some much-needed rules clarifications and character creation rules.

Well done, Modiphius.  So far, so good.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Flames of Rebellion - Luke's Questions

What's the Big Picture? What's going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure. What's changing, evolving, declining?

The Dornish society, long dominated and ruled by their southern neighbors, the Sarcosans, are inching toward rebellion.  A few Northern Houses, like House Dale and House Redgard, are vocal proponents of rebellion.  House Torbault, the current Dornish ruling House, opposes rebellion and will go so far as to take up arms against their brothers.

Unbeknownst to the the two kingdoms, the great evil, Izrador the Fallen, is stirring to the north after a 1000-year dormancy.  He has sent spies and infiltrators into the kingdoms of Man to search for those he can manipulate to his ends.  His hand stokes the wrath of the Dorns and drives them toward rebellion.

Little is known of what transpires within the Elven and Dwarven kingdoms as they’ve had little to no contact with the Humans for hundreds of years.

What's the world's culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.

The Dornish people are analogous to Vikings and Scottish Highlanders.  They are large, boisterous, and prone to violence.  They have suffered greatly under Sarcosan rule and they are a broken and desperate people now.

The Sarcosans are analogous to the Mongols and Arabians.  They are masters of horse and science, both of which they make use of to conquer their foes and dominate the continent of Eredane.  Sarcosan cavalry is greatly feared and with good reason.  Sarcosan science has allowed them to master the alchemical arts, creating weird mixtures that can be used in a variety of ways, from a simple light source to the scourge of the battlefield, White Fire.

What's the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What's wrong?

The players may choose to side with the Dornish houses in their bid to overthrow their Sarcosan masters.  They may choose to fight against the rising tide of darkness in the north, taking the fight to Izrador and his dark hordes.  They may choose to side with the Sarcosans, attempting to keep peace in troubled times and quell the ridiculous Dornish rebellion.  They may choose to play as agents of Izrador, looking to foment rebellion and soften the Human kingdoms for the coming invasion.

 What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, place?

This campaign takes place on the continent of Eredane in the Midnight RPG setting.

What's the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital or any dumb shit like that, but THE PLACE where all the action goes down?

With luck, the action will range up and down the continent, from the Icy crags of the far north, beyond the Fortress Wall, to the Kasmael Sea in the south where Sarcosan traders cut the waves on their way to sell their products in the exotic ports of far off Pelluria

What's the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?

The Scar, an area far to the north of the Fortress Wall, is said to be the place that Izrador landed after he was Sundered from the realm of the Gods.  From the Scar, in an area known as the Veil of Tears, His shadow spreads across the land and corrupts all it touches.

Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?

TBD after character burning.

Imagine all of the characters are standing a room/ruin/field with the antagonists or their minions. What do the antagonists want from that meeting? What do the character want from that meeting? That's where your game begins.

TBD after character burning.

Alternately, imagine the characters standing at the scene of some great disaster or calamity clearly caused by one of the antagonists. What's the disaster? How did it happen? What are the characters going to do about it right now?

TBD after character burning.

What type of magic exists in this world? Pick one or two of the magic systems: Faith (and Blasphemous Hatred), Sorcery (and Abstraction), Natural Magic, Spirit Binding, Summoning, Enchanting.

Magic in Eredane is rare among the Humans (though quite common among the Elves).  The ability to practice magic is trait that is determined at birth.  It appears to be a completely random trait, never passed down from parent to child.  Those among the Dorn born with the gift are known as Galdr, or Chanters.  The Sarcosan gifted, known for having blue eyes, are called Starborn.  They are feared yet respected in both societies. 

There is no Faith on Eredane as the world has been cut off from the Gods by Izrador’s Sundering.  Faith is available, however, to those who choose to worship the Fallen One.

If Sorcery is used, what's it's idiom? Does it require speech? Gestures?

TBD after character burning.

If Sorcery is used, what spells are available? Which spells are inappropriate to the game world?

TBD after character burning.

If is Faith used, what is the Faith idiom? What are the religions? Is Faith universal or does it only affect believers?

Faith is universal but the touch of Izrador cannot be disguised.  Non-believer affected by Faith know they have been touched by Izrador.

What character stocks are in play in this world? Which are restricted and why?

Players may choose to play Human, Elf, or Dwarven stock as long as they can justify it in the fiction.

Will you allow only character burns or will you allow monster-burned characters as well?

No monster-burned characters will be allowed.

What cultural traits apply to the characters of this game world? Pick three character traits for each culture.

Dorn Cultural Traits:

Born of Steel (Dt)
The Dorns have always been a people of strong stature and great build. Their physical prowess and fitness is renown amongst the lands of Eredane and is one of the chief factors which have allowed them to combat their occupation and survive under the iron heel of the Sarcosans.
Due to the Dorn’s physical prowess, a starting character receives the Robust Die Trait for free.

Stern Demeanor (Char)
Dorns receive this character trait for free due to their inherent visage of hardness. Even a calm and merry Dorn will appear quite imposing and unsettling.

Sarcosan Cultural Traits:

Stargazer (Dt)
The common belief in the influence of the stars is widespread among those of Sarcosan descent. As a result, deference to the favor of the stars is given whenever possible; crops are harvested, marriages are sealed, and even raids are planned by the alignment of constellations.
Because of this natural affinity those of Sarcosan descent begin play with Astrology available on the character’s Master Skill List whether he would have taken a Life-path with Astrology available or not. The skill may be raised as normal with regular or general skill points.

Horsefriend (Char)
Above all else, the Sarcosans are a people of the horse. Their long history is one intertwined with and dependent on horses and it is they who first brought them to Eredane. It was from horseback that the Sarcosans built their great empire, it was from horseback that they rule Erenland.
Due to this ingrained element of society, Sarcosans begin play with the Horsefriend Character Trait.

Child of the South (Char)

The Sarcosan race is a people in stark contrast to their Northern neighbors. Rather than the milky white flesh of the Dorns, the Sarcosans bear an olive tone to their demeanor which tells of their ancestry of Pelluria. This allows a character of Sarcosan descent to be readily recognizable by any of the races of Erenland with even the most miniscule intelligence.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Flames of Rebellion

Coming Soon
 The Flames of Rebellion
A Burning Wheel Campaign

A Campaign set in Eredane, the world of Midnight

GM:  David Benson (Dork Rage)
Players:  Redring, JoesToes, Roee AV