Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. I

Centuries before the common era, a community of djinn lived in the Great Caldera’s southeast. A handful had come from the outer planes, attracted by the magic of Calidar’s world soul. Though their elders left or died out, their progeny remained, as they were creatures of this world. They dwelled there peacefully, honored by the fellfolk as spirits of nature whom they called the “hidden ones.” From them, native tribes learned their language, one as harsh as sand-laden winds grinding against the desert’s naked rocks. During the next centuries, fire-loving efreet became the most prevalent of the djinn while the jann scattered with the winds, the marid took to the sea, and the arad wandered into faraway mountains. Slowly, lands that were already warm and dry became even more so under the influence of the efreet, and a desert grew at its heart.

All was fine until Munaani settlers made landfall on the coasts in 796 CE. It is said that divine inspiration led followers of Teos to choose these unkind, sun-drenched parts as their hallowed land. They established Eastern Ellyrion, the oriental half of Munaan’s early colony on Calidar. Resenting the empire’s heavy-handed laws, Tanethian followers of Arun-Te came along and, over time, outnumbered ethnic Nicareans in this region. Meanwhile, the native fellfolk suffered from the massive influx of off-world migrants—something the djinn resented increasingly. Swept aside or facing forced labor, the tribes’ exodus began in 848 CE, leaving behind the djinn and those who could no longer flee. As Munaani settlers pushed inland, they ran afoul of the efreet, and a long struggle began.

Colonists seemed puny at first, but they proved far more resilient than the djinn thought, Nicarean veteran troops helping. With migration waves feeding their ranks, devout newcomers could replace their losses more quickly than the hidden ones. A stalemate was reached when Calderan djinn resorted to living among the settlers, concealing their true nature with their innate magical abilities. Meanwhile, it became fashionable for Calderan-born colonists to speak the language of the desert and adopt local ways, which could be learned from fellfolk servants. Quietly, skillfully, the hidden ones also introduced their script as an alternative to the Nicarean alphabet. Soon, people unwittingly referred to the arid hinterland by its efreeti name: Narwan.

To be continued...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fluttersquee: Terror of the Great Vault

About the size of a melon, this sweet little critter looks like a puffy ball of fur or feathers ranging from neon green to hot pink, with two large eyes, a long prehensile tail ending with three soft feathery protrusions, and butterfly-like wings and antennae. Two short velvety limbs enable the creature to stand, hang from a perch, or hold a small object. It typically feeds on the nectar of very large flowers found high up on certain tropical trees of the Dread Lands, using a retractable proboscis coil about three feet long. Fluttersquees are about as intelligent as house cats, and often behave like them, though they are unable to hunt or fight in any way. When satisfied, they purr. They communicate with squeaks and warbles. Native fellfolk sometimes keep one as a tribal mascot, and say that it can produce a soothing melodious hum.

Fluttersquees can feed on magical objects, which causes them to reproduce. They detect a small enchantment as far as a 100 yards away. Large ones, such as a skyship’s, are sensed from a mile away. To feed on magic, one must be able to touch the source with its proboscis. Without magic, reproduction is comparable to other small critters.

These creatures can drain an item’s minor magic (one hour per +1 magical bonus, or individual magical effects if more than one are present). They can drain a skyship’s enchantments in one hour per point of hull rating. When a flying vessel’s magic has sustained more than 10% loss, it tends to “flicker” at random. Magical detection can easily reveal this symptom. Reduced ship performance and “holes” (drained areas) in a ship’s enchantment start to develop with 20% loss or higher.

Fluttersquees are hermaphroditic. While continually exposed to magic, one lays 1d4 eggs every twelve hours. An egg typically hatches twelve hours later. These creatures hate the scent of a greedlegrim, a small woodland predator. A few drops of their musk, which is odorless to humans and demi-humans, repels Fluttersquees. One application covers about a foot-square and can last 1d4 days when it dries up and loses its potency.

Most military have banned these critters from their fleets, although Calderan smugglers sometimes attempt to trade fluttersquees kept in cages. They can provide wizards with valuable spell components. These creatures do not survive more than a few months in captivity, however, unless cages allow them to fly, such as a large aviary for example. Mongoose-like greedlegrims are hard to keep as they are fast, vicious, venomous, and have a limited teleport ability.


Life Force (%)
Size (feet)
Very small
Movement:       hopping
40’ (20)
120’ (40’)
90’ (30’)
180’ (60’)
Armor Rating (%)
Physical Attacks
Physical Damage
Special Abilities
Purr:  acts as a magical charm within a 30’ hearing radius.
If happy: (mature only) melodious hum heals a small amount of damage (VL+1 once/hour) within 30’ hearing radius.
If threatened:  can turn invisible.
If hungry:  can provoke magical lethargy within 30’ radius once per day (negated with a defense roll).
Magic drain:  one +1 magical bonus or HR point per hour.
Defense Rolls
As warrior with comparable LF
Basic Immunities
Magic Immunity (%)
Min. Int. & Wis. (%)
As a house cat
Morale Rating (%)

Monday, September 7, 2015

An Angle on Osriel Pt. III

1067 CE:  More trouble would strike again, this time in Linnefarn’s grand valley, when waves of Frostholm raiders came. Much of what lay north of the Lake of Tears was plundered and destroyed, pushing elven forces back to Windmere and Tourneuve, though Elëan troops flew eastward over the mountains. Worse, the Alorean garrison in Oosterdam fled as well, abandoning to the approaching raiders its erstwhile human allies, great throngs of fellfolk farmhands, and indentured gnomes. The hapless Rijklanders and their workers fled into nearby forests and up into the mountains while Frostholmers looted the newcomers’ towns. With word of Alorean and Gandarian forces mustering in the north, the raiders withdrew north to the grand valley and settled there for the winter. To help his followers hold on to their recent gains, Odin wisely sent them newcomers of their own, a rough and rugged people not unlike the Frostholmers. From them came the province’s name: Das Wichtelland—otherwise known as a land of imps and magical beings.

Soon afterward, the Rijklanders returned to their devastated homes. Neighboring Monfalconesi wisely offered them weapons to keep both elves and Frostholmers from returning. Fellfolk and gnomes, now culturally akin to Rijklanders themselves, earned their freedom in exchange for swearing to defend the land at the sides of resident newcomers. In so doing, they helped establish their faiths as the prevailing ones in this region.

1203 CE:  Peace remained ever so elusive for the next century and a half. Border clashes were frequent in the Dawn Wilds until the whole of the Great Caldera became engulfed in the wars of independence. The Kragdûras felt cheated out of lands they’d claimed. So were the Aloreans, bitter at the dismantling of Greater Linnefarn. Seizing the opportunity, the elves marched forth, seeking to regain lost grounds and gain control of Lorical which had grown into an open city. The dwarves attempted to stop them, and the conflict came to a stalemate in 1220 CE when drafted settlers on both sides refused to prosecute a proxy war on behalf of their lunar masters. By the end of the insurrection, all three off-world empires stood defeated and licking their wounds, while the old colonies of the Great Caldera became sovereign realms. The Dawn Wilds remained but a chaotic backwater until another catastrophe came about, with the second coming of Ghüle.

1237 CE:  Much was destroyed and Lorical was razed during the invasion. The orcs, the goblins, and the trolls left as quickly as they’d appeared. Stranded, some scattered into the mountains or found entry to the underground. Towns and settlements of the Dawn Wilds were rebuilt and wounded lands reclaimed anew. Fortunes of war led followers of some cults to depart and others to arrive. In the wake of the Ghülean horrors, a monk by the name of Fra Rocco, a Monfalconese native of great wisdom and charisma, endeavored to convince the provinces to join, so that their lands could be better defended from outsiders who coveted them. He succeeded. In 1250 CE, diplomats of surrounding realms met in Lorical and agreed to leave the affairs of the Dawn Wilds to its people. Local leaders came together in Lorical from all corners of the Dawn Wilds and founded the Republic of Osriel. Thus did citizens become free to honor their spiritual patrons, to speak whatever language they wished, and to pursue their quests for wealth and happiness, whatever their races and origins. This declaration became a cornerstone of the Calderan Faiths.

Teos/Soltan: In his infinite wisdom, the Calderan pantheon’s honorary chairman adopted an attitude of liberal laissez-faire. He felt a singular distaste for being personally involved with lesser entities whom he considered bargain-basement upstarts and godly wannabes encroaching “his” divine backyard. He neither earned nor wished to earn any arcane benefit from heading the rag-tag plethora of idols, in his hallowed point of view an unscrupulous and puffed-up gaggle of rabble-rousers and also-ran. None of the members would indulge him with dues normally demanded by pantheon rulers anyway, other than a distant and polite celestial nod. The opportunity to expand his own following among mortals, however, led the mighty sun god to hold his eternal nose and stake his own share of Osriel’s business. The cults of Teos/Soltan fared slightly above average compared with individual deities. As a whole, however, competing pantheons gained the upper hand over the sun god, as his cult only prevailed in four towns of Osriel, in part as the result of Narwani immigration in the south of the Costa Brava . Though squabbles abound, many godlings have proven reasonably successful in Osriel.