Monday, January 14, 2019

Camalynn 1666 - Anunaki

More on my Camalynn setting - and now more on lizardmen and anunaki. In 1534 BE (Before Elysia), the Eridan sorcerer-queen Beletseri, ruler of the city of Urun, desired tough, disciplined amphibious troops. She dreamed of conquering entire Erida and the neighboring lands. Since three rivers lie at Erida's heart, the Eridan heartland is swampy - where such troops will grant a significant advantage. Thus she cross-bred lizardmen with men to create lesser anunaki - reptilian soldiers combining lizardman resilience with human cunning and discipline. As their elite shock-troops, she cross-bred lesser anunaki with drakes (sub-sentient relatives of dragons) to create the winged greater anunaki capable of flight.

As things like this usually go, the anunaki soon rebelled, killed Beletseri, and embarked on their own campaign of conquest. They conquered Erida's heartland and extended their empire as far as Qedem. There they ruled with an iron fist for a millennium, until a successful slave rebellion in 470 BE returned Erida into human hands and slew most anunaki.

The remaining anunaki scattered; centuries of inbreeding between themselves, as well as breeding with swamp lizardmen, diluted their blood. Many degenerated into Chaotic lizardmen - twice as tough as ordinary lizardmen, cannibalistic, but lacking the cunning of a true anunaki. A few remained in secluded colonies. Chaotic lizardmen will see a lesser anunaki as a born king and a greater anunaki as a god. Ordinary lizardmen will view both as demons.

In ACKS terms, lesser anunaki use ordinary thrassian stats, with 2 thrassian build points; greater anunaki use 4 thrassian build points.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Camalynn, EY 1666 - Historical Overview

More on my Camalynn setting mentioned in my previous post.

The main question - how do you go from the dying Elysian Empire of EY516 (EY = Elysian Year) to the large city-states of EY1666 Camalynn?

Camalynn, inspired by England and with some inspiration from Russia and the Scandinavian countries as well, at least culturally and in terms of naming conventions, was united in EY534 by the former Elysian soldier, turned popular general Aeron Dragonshield, who became King Aeron I.

Aeron I and his immediate descendants fought against the Wolf Horde - the Chaotic berserker armies of Outer Kvenland and their lycanthrope and beastman allies.

Aeron III struck the killing blow against Chaotic Kvenland in EY 591, slaying the dread Werewolf King, Rolf Redtooth and routing the Wolf Horde. This led to an uprising of the Kvenlander population, which was Neutral for the most part, against their Chaotic overlords.

Camalynn was always a bastion of the austere, zealous Grey Church, as the power behind Aeron Dragonshield's rise to power was the Grey Church's Matriarch Vindicta (nothing makes a 9th level fighter's life easier than alliance with a politically savvy, highly popular 13th level priestess). The older Bright Church was, and is, always present but always as a secondary power.

Fast forward several centuries, and Camalynn began developing as an imperial power of its own, eclipsing its neighbors Leoneis and Rayanes. Around EY1200, it even began conquering offshore lands to the far west, and at its height, it reigned over Leoneis as well.

But all fell apart in the Bastard War.

King Alfred II of Camalynn died in EY1388 without legitimate issue. He had, however, two illegitimate sons - Gunnar the Bastard, born from his unlawful relationship with a kitchen maid, and Albert the Hunchback, born from incest between the King and his sister.

Albert the Hunchback was the eldest, and with better pedigree (born from the union of a King and a Princess, no less), but incest is considered an abomination by the Grey Church, so Matriarch Gloria III refused to anoint him and instead blessed his half-brother, Gunnar the Bastard.

Albert, with his eyes set on the throne, traveled all the way to far Elysia to be blessed by the Bright Church's Pontifex.

Each claimant to the throne had several prominent noble houses behind him, as well as the blessing of a Church.

Thus began the fratricidal Bastard War. It combined religious strife with personal and family ambitions, a deadly combination for the kingdom and many of its residents.

This also spilled over into a religious conflict in neighboring kingdoms.

Both Gunnar the Bastard and Albert the Hunchback fell in the Battle of Darkford in EY1399. Legend has it that they struck each other in an epic duel, but in reality, Gunnar the Bastard was killed by a cannonball - a recent innovation - while Albert was slain by an errant arrow. Both died without issue.

The remaining noble houses tried to claim the empty throne but none had a strong legitimate claim to it. Thus, they continued the war for half a century. This war engulfed Camalynn, Kvenland, Leoneis, and Rayanes and had, in addition to the machinations of nobles hungry for thrones, a strong sectarian religious element.

The war ended with the exhaustion of all belligerents, and wide devastation of the lands, with the Peace of Mont Rayenn in EY1444, signed by the remaining noble houses and both Churches.

Each House retained its holdings, but none gained the throne. All parties agreed not to crown a king over Camalynn except by agreement of a majority of the noble houses. The other kingdoms, where there were legitimate heirs to the thrones, were restored. Both churches recognized each other's legitimacy and were allowed to operate without restriction across Camalynn and its neighbors.

Recovery, fueled by recent technological advances, focused on Camalynn's major cities, each a seat of a Great House.

Thus, contemporary (EY1666) Camalynn is a land of city-states, most ruled by Princes, and one by a Senate after overthrowing its Prince.

And the Throne sits empty. None has a strong enough legitimate claim to it to convince the noble houses to enthrone him.

But "someone" (read: power-hungry PCs) could, "theoretically", force the noble houses to elect him/her as a Monarch by force of arms!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

ACKS - Camalynn (tentative map)

I've started working on my setting for ACKS, in which I intend to run various modules from Barrowmaze to Stonehell (and my own Dark Inheritance mini-campaign). The basic concept is an Early Modern-ish former kingdom now broken into several warring city-states following a nasty succession struggle.

As this is a strictly non-commercial setting, I can borrow from any source I want, with attribution, of course. So the setting has a Barrowmoor and a Stonehell Dungeon on its map, where I intend to run these respective dungeons.

So, without further ado, is the first work-in-progress of the Camalynn map.

You can find its full-res version HERE.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Announcing Sword of Cepheus!

I am working now on a new project: Sword of Cepheus. This will be an all-out, no holds barred, sword & sorcery role-playing game based on Stellagama Publishing's Cepheus Light ruleset. Built as a toolkit, it will allow the Referee to build her own badass sword & sorcery setting!

Skyship-riding lizardfolk pillaging villages. A sorcerer in a flying saucer blasting his enemies with the power of his mind. A muscled barbarian wields a star-sword against the local tyrant’s thugs. A secret cabal of psions plotting to control the minds and souls of kings. A modern-day Earthman finding himself on a savage alien planet. A gladiator who freed himself from slavery wanders the land, righting wrongs and smashing villains. Big muscles, big swords, eldritch sorcery, powers of the mind, alien beasts, and remnant super-technology. From Burroughs to Howard to Moorcock to Italian Peplum films to those dreaming of outlandish post-apocalyptic worlds, heroes raise swords against corrupt nobles, inexplicable sorcerers, and alien monstrosities.

Mechanics, as in Cepheus Light, will be traditional 2D6 skill-based, with procedural character generation, straightforward task resolution, and personal and chase-based naval (and skyship!) combat. It will also contain rules for eldritch sorcery, psionics, a collection of fantastic alien beasts with a Lovecraftian flare, detailed low-tech and supertech equipment, and rules for what happens when your savage barbarian encounters magic or technology beyond anything he has ever imagined.

There are three main themes to Sword of Cepheus: Gritty Heroism, Dark Sorcery, and an Open World.

Gritty Heroism means that a skilled character is well above a normal man in power and ability. An expert swordsman (Melee-3) in good armor can best and defeat many lesser warriors in armed confrontation. He will parry their weapons and strike true at their bodies. With a good Tactics skill, he will also act well before them. However, he is still mortal. An ambush, a sneak attack, poison, or other underhanded tactics will put him in grave peril. A lucky arrow can still strike him, though good armor will mitigate part of the impact. Tactics and strategy matter. Even a so-called "high level" character must think before he acts, and lesser foes can still fell him if they play their cards right.

Dark Sorcery implies that magic is unreliable, and so are "magic items" and supertech. Psionics are safer but much weaker in most cases. Any spell can fail, and any ritual has a certain risk of dire consequences. Using black magic - such as necromancy - corrupts the sorcerer. There are no teleporting supermen throwing fireballs around in Sword of Cepheus. Rather, there are sorcerers weaving subtler spells and conducting risky arcane rituals. The same goes to monsters - while often easier (on paper) to slay than those of traditional D20 games, they pose a serious danger to those who try to confront them - even skilled heroes.

The worlds of adventure Sword of Cepheus envisions are Open Worlds. The world does not scale with the characters; a moderately skilled character can try and tackle horrible monsters, at a serious risk, while an expert adventurer can still face a challenge against "weaker" foes. The players chose the risk level; there are no scaling "challenge ratings" here. This also means that lightly or moderately skilled characters can adventure, shoulder to shoulder, with highly experienced veterans, and still make a difference both in combat and outside it without being totally overshadowed by their expert peers.

So a world of barbaric adventures awaits!

Tentatively - coming late 2019 or early 2020.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Dark Nebula - full astrography and map

I have more or less completed the Dark Nebula astrography and map after re-reading the Aslan and Droyne alien modules. In addition to completing the starports and bases for all worlds, Aslan and Dryone included, I have also added trade routes.

Note that Mizah is the only Rich world in the Dark Nebula - I have downgraded its population to 8 so that there will be one Rich world on the map. It also fits my view of Mizah as an aristocratic "Casablanca" and neutral player better than an industrial world.

Also note that the trade routes are mostly within the two main polities. These are from Industrial worlds to Asteroid, Desert, Ice-Capped, and Non-Industrial worlds within 4 parsecs from them; and from the Rich world (Mizah) to the nearby agricultural world (Gazzain). I have also connected Mizah and Gazzain to the main Solomani trade network.

You can find the high-res map HERE and the world data HERE.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Dark Nebula 2900 - Astrography work-in-progress

I have made some progress in developing the astrography of my Dark Nebula OTU variant. I rolled UWPs for most worlds, except for the Aslan worlds and a potential Droyne world (I want to re-read both alien modules before I roll these worlds). You can find them HERE. You can find the full-res map HERE. It appears that the Dark Nebula setting has a lot of hellholes and marginally habitable worlds - perfect for frontier adventuring. There are also several habitable worlds, of course, but most of space is alien and not necessarily hospitable. I also jotted down a few notes from the UWP generation process, which you can see in the linked spreadsheet.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dark Nebula 2900 AD - The Last Ship from Terra

The last ship from Terra arrived in 2780. A battered merchantman, bearing the telltale marks of laser fire and missile impacts, haphazardly held together by crude frontier repairs. Its hardy crew embarked from Terra in 2762 and slowly traded their way to the Spinward. There they hoped to reach stars less affected by the general collapse of the Rule of Man. Indeed, they found Maadin - with its still-functional economy, cut off from the collapsing 2nd Imperium.

They brought tales of untold horrors closer to the core. Interdependence between well-developed worlds caused mass famine once trade relations broke down. Entire worlds, inhospitable to maintain human life without external shipment of spare parts and supplies died even faster. In the absence of government, pirates and raiders ruled space. Slavery reared its ugly head. World turned upon world in a scramble for dwindling resources. Worlds blamed each other for piracy - in some cases with good reason - and waged wars, destroying their already meager fleets and making way to piracy even further.

The Rule of Man was gone, replaced by Chaos. The merchantman's crew spoke of a dark Night descending upon once-prosperous space. How long will this Night be? Probably very long - as the wounds suffered by Known Space economies will take many decades, or even centuries, to heal. Will anyone ever replace the fallen Imperium with a government of Law and commerce? From the crew's description of dying Imperial-Terran space, this sounded improbably in the foreseeable future.

Regular communications with New Libdis, the titular Dark Nebula Sector Capital, have been intermittent as well, through free traders and the occasional Scout craft. Courier services had collapsed decades ago. Despite the growing Aslan threat, New Libdis has no ships to spare. Neither does it have resources or funds to send to Maadin.

The Rule of Man was dead.

We were on our own.

But it took that battered Terran freighter for us to understand this.

- Klara Semonova (2887). History of the Maadin Confederation, p.12. Confederation Historical Society: Maadin.