Monday, July 8, 2013

Valley of the Masters - Introduction

The Slith were an old civilization who were capable of creating wonders without the aid of magic. Tall, thin and emaciated, they didn't look much like conquerors but all of the races were under their control. Some were possibly even of their creation. The stories of the Slith vary widely from people to people. To some they were benevolent masters who tired to elevate their subjects and take good care of them. To others they were emotionless monsters who tried to crush any sense of dignity that their slaves might have. Either way they ceased to be a blessing or blight when they abruptly disappeared one day.

Early on the works of the Slith were almost completely lost during a a great purge by a religiously fanatical warlord. Ages passed and the stories of the ancient Masters drifted into that of fairy tale.

Recently on a large, barely populated island there was an amazing discovery. Hanging in the air above a secluded valley was what seemed to be a floating city. In the valley below were numerous Slith ruins, many of them still intact. The locals have avoided the place out of fear and superstition but some brave few are now choosing to try and unearth the lost secrets of the old Masters.

Due to a lack of access to my notebooks I thought that I'd flesh out the post apocalypse thing from earlier. While I'll be focusing on systems generic descriptions for this I have a few "larger picture" ideas in mind.

The original inspiration for this comes from a setting I was working on to use with the Radiance RPG. The PCs would be coming from the main civilized continent that somewhat resembled Europe in the 1500's (or perhaps later of I wanted to add some steam capability so that Slith tech wouldn't be quite as alien). The main external conflict in this version of the campaign would come from the warring factions back home and their interference in the PCs exploration. Does their home countries demand new weaponry? Are their rival explorers looking for secrets? Is there an external danger that could unite everyone? Or perhaps secrets that need to be destroyed for the good of the world.

Another option would be to dial the tech knob back and run it as straight up fantasy D&D. The edition would likely determine the overall feel. First edition would just be good old fashioned "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" type of pulp. Third edition would probably be best doing something similar only less pulpy. Fourth edition could use a good antagonist who is also trying to get their hands on the secrets of the Slith, perhaps with an overall goal of trying to prevent the Slith from returning.

Finally this is where I'd use the Slith Script that I had developed for various alien instructions on ancient machinery. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Abanar Snippet 2

True Greetings, traveler, though you may not yet understand the meaning of such things.  However if you wish to learn of Abanar then these things will become clear.

Let me begin by introducing myself.  Just as a budding mage learns the basics of the Word by learning his name you may begin your learning of Abanar by understanding me as I am a part of that whole.  My name is Tunara Rechēn, and I am a Bashaat of the Church of the True Form.  That is, I am a priest.  My full name, as given by the Monks at the Monastery of the Word, is over twenty syllables long and I will not trouble you with it now.  However, abbreviated it is Abcænobāēf.  Sounds strange to one’s ears, doesn’t it?

I see that I’ve already confused you with two unfamiliar concepts.  I’ll begin with the Word as that is where all things begin.

The Word was spoken at the beginning and within its meaning were all True things.  These things came to be and are the pure forms of things we know today.  Trees, rocks, animals and of course Man.  Exactly how many of them and what they all look like is unknown however everything else we see is just endless variation, change and imperfection upon those True Forms.

Of course when I speak of the True Form I speak of the True Form of Man for that is the perfect reflection of what we are.  Or rather, what we could be.  Hence, the other things which confused you is just as it sounds; the Church of the True Form.  A religion dedicated to the perfect form of Man.

You see, the True Form was once a race of people.  They were wise and strong, perfect in mind and body.  They took humanity, which was ever changing and imperfect, and tried to elevate us to their level.  They gathered us, taught us, and helped us grow and prosper peacefully.

Unfortunately there were men who would want the True Form's dominion.  They did not appreciate what was being done for them and desired power for themselves.  They misled many and began a revolt that swept over the human lands like a tidal wave during Vasālōna.  The True Forms, while perfect and possessing great secrets, were badly outnumbered and eventually destroyed.  In this war we also lost most of the works that had elevated us for the True Forms had powerful servants who smashed the cities and set many afire.  Much knowledge was lost.

We entered an age of darkness where these tyrants ruled in the place of the True Form.  They warred with each other, taking the goods produced by the workers of the land and provided for their own soldiers and households alone.  The cities which had by custom been supplied with food and other materials by the True Form tēlo were left to fend for themselves and often forced to supply the warlords with whatever goods they demanded.

The workers of the land were the first to rebel and they were eventually led by Abashær, one of the first mages and founder of the Church.  He reminded the oppressed people of the goodness of the True Form and taught many of them in the ways of magic.  (They were eventually to become the first Bashaat.)  Slowly they began to overthrow overlord by overlord, gaining momentum all the way as the tide turned.  Eventually they reached as far east and north as the Carinton River and as far south and west as the Lesting Wood.

When the overlords were thrown down, we looked around us and wondered how we were to organize.  Who would see to the distribution of resources?  Who would see to our defense?  Many suggested the newly forming Church should lead but Abashær came forth with a vision that made our choice clear.  He had a vision of the True Form.

Abashær had determined that if humanity was always changing that it could change into the True Form.  However no one could determine what the True Form looked like… until Abashær had a vision while meditating on the Word.  Not being an artist, he meticulously described the True Form with words.  With this revelation it was decided that the leaders would be those closest to the True Form.  The first Reckoning was held and the tēyol were distributed.  Ever since then Reckonings have been held every other Vasālōna {ed. Every eight years).  There, learned priests analyze petitioners and determine who is closer to the True Form and who is farther.  The various tēyol, great and small, are then distributed.

This method  of determining leadership has taught us much about breeding and the passing of traits from parents to child – and the effects of the parents before.  We have learned some traits dominate over others and that some can lie hidden for generations.  Through this knowledge it has become every person’s duty to try and breed true.  Those lines most successful are the Bloodlines, five families that have learned to breed truer than all others.  While we do not practice the foolish hereditary nobility of other lands, these families come close for the sheer number tēyol they control.  Even if you are not born close to the True Form, relation to these Bloodlines can bring great advantages.

Of course we are no mere collective of farmers under the Church!  We have cities, too, for during the Dark Years they were often neglected and grew at their own pace.  There are several large towns attached to the wealthiest tēyol, and the grand city of Abanar where our purest Bloodline come from is a tēol unto itself.  While the tēlo must still maintain the transfer of resources between village and farmer the large towns and cities have developed economies influenced by Urasti merchants.  The tēlo who rule here also provide coinage and tend to be wealthier as they buy and sell from point to point instead of simply giving and taking.  Additionally, Urasti influence has given rise to merchants who buy and sell, bypassing the Tēlo and making great wealth for themselves.

As for our defenses we are among the mightiest of lands.  In village tēyol, the tēlo gather extra food and goods for both their own welfare and the basic defense of the land.  In large tēyol the lords collect a tax and pay their way.  However the true might of Abanar comes from the Church itself.  Tithes pay for a knighthood who keep order and maintain justice throughout the tēyol.  In times of need they provide for a national defense.  And while under the support of the Church they are under the command of the Tēloshoatom who is a good and loyal follower of the Church and maintains order throughout the realm.

Of course, you must have many, many more questions.  We have magic, but I’ll not tell of those secrets now.  And what are the details of the Church’s beliefs?  All in good time.

What?  You have your own gods and refuse the divinity of the True Form?  Then you are a fool and an infidel, and you don’t look to be good for breeding anyways.  However, you do look to be fairly intelligent.  These are actually desirable traits, in a way.  Have you ever considered a life in medicine?