Friday, August 4, 2017

The God of Death, reimagined

I've been thinking a lot about magic and gods and things you need for a home-brewed setting. I've got the big things in place, actually for many years, but it's the smaller bits that connect, or give flesh to those ideas that give a world life. Or at least make it internally consistent.

Image result for D&D death godOne of the key Gods is the God of Death. Guardian of the veil between life and that that is beyond. Key themes or powers are welcoming souls at the end of their natural life, providing healing for those whose time has not come, hating the undead with vengeance, and comforting those who are near to the end of life.

Image result for D&D death godThe usual trope for an RPG Death God is one seeking souls, domination and looking to turn the world into an Undead Paradise. Or at least Lawful Neutral. My concept is more like a gatekeeper, easing the passage of souls in one direction and fighting against any attempt to cross back again. And it was human once, but a very long time ago.

Now the Gods deal in metaphysical conflicts beyond the keen of mankind, so it's up to the worshippers of each God to do their bit. The Death Worshippers tend to set up hospitals in poorer areas and root out any rumours of necromancy. But as they are the only sect that has powers to heal and cure diseases, ailments, injuries and other misfortunes, they are rather popular amongst the common folk. Most of this healing is a good understanding of hygiene and disease and infection vectors, and herbcraft, administered by the general clergy. But even these worshippers, at least the devout and experienced ones, can tell when a life is near its end, and where it is likely to be cut short. It's more like the infection is too advanced or the immune system is too weak than a limit on one's days.

So the Death Church (don't have a catchy name yet) mainly organises what passes for medieval hospitals, focussing on poorer areas but present in all towns and cities, but also provides healing and care to important folks as well for political support and extra funding and favours.  Either way, they are rather popular amongst the common folk and ruling class.

Those worshippers that have talents of the magical type are both valued and thrust into the most dangerous situations - subtlety is not the Churches style. Most will learn true magical healing, which is beyond the simple wound healing and brewing of healing potions that mages and alchemists can perform. This can remove infectious diseases from a body, cure PTSD, knit bones and muscles in an instant, and cure other serious injuries. However, they draw some of the injury or disease into themselves, and must overcome that through their own strength. Also, the centre of epidemics or battles is not a safe place to set up a triage centre.

Others of a different magical bent are trained as Agents to take the fight to root out the Undead, They pretty much have all the spells and powers of your RPG necromancer but use it to resist, destroy and banish those creatures created by necromancy. It's curious, as either demons, buried evils, or necromancers are the ones that create mindless undead, and they are using the same magical powers to create the undead as the Agents are to destroy them.

These Agents are trained in at least the basics of combat, and supported in their efforts by a larger number of Initiate Warriors, trained to use silver weapons and well versed in tactics and weaknesses of the Undead. Grouped in strike teams, they usually guard those temples or hospitals that may be threatened, but can strike known or suspected necromantic targets.

Those that have appeared in play have been focussed and scarily efficient, but also somewhat fatalistic ("When it is my time to die, I will die then...") and a great boon to players taking on Undead forces.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Rotogawa Part III

Been a while.

Anyway, been working on the Free City of Rotogawa, City of the Seven Lakes, Eastern outpost of the Empire (in name if not in practice), and the centre of alchemical and herbal research in the known lands.

There is a small block of buildings between the Firewater Stream that drains into the Lake the city borders and the main street, near the Jetties, but not close enough to be bothered by the morning or evening markets at the plaza near the water's edge.

Five shops and overhead (or underneath) residences populate the buildings.

The most normal, and southernmost, is a fruit and vegetable store run by a young family from the Tattooed Lands, far to the South-East. Kam and Keeal both have smooth and dark skin and slanted grey eyes, and are slim for their reasonably normal height. They take deliveries of both common and rare fruit and vegetables from various farms and greenhouses on the edges of the city, and split their takings with the growers. They also raise several herbs of their people inside the shop, heated by the geothermal water taken from the Firewater Stream. Some of these are used in the mystical tattooing arts of their people, and on rare occasions Kam can be convinced to perform the ritual magical tattooing rites required by many schools of magic, if given appropriate levels of coin and flattery. Keeal mans the shop and tames a small flock of children they have raised - in the Tattooed Lands, only those who have achieved certain levels of craft are permitted to raise children, so they are technically rebelling. They are honest and friendly, but will go into siege mode if another of their Countrymen wander into town.

Next, northwards and towards the lapping water of the Lake, is the two-storied pagoda-like residence and shop of Thalias Jewelstaff, mage, explorer and unofficial magical advisor to the Alchemist's Guild. Again, an immigrant to the Free City, Thalias shifted from the heart of the Empire far to the West around 8 years ago after a disagreement of a political nature. On the ground floor of his shop he brews and sells potions, usually minor health, disease prevention or poison cures to local citizens. More complex potions can be ordered, but obtaining the ingredients and securing the time required may make them rather expensive and the Alchemist's Guild usually deals with those requests. On the second floor, rumoured to be guarded by an elemental, he spends evenings crafting silver and setting gemstones in rings and other jewellery pieces. Aside from some simple practice pieces, these are all for orders from nobles and other mages.

Thalias is also one of the experts (such as they are), along with Blenhous, on the Los Mehno ruins in the forests to the east of the City, and will, for a price, advise, or lead, those wishing to explore certain ruins.

A few normal residences then Blenhous's Cartographic Emporium, as the brightly written sign says. It's on an upper floor, reached by a dubious walkway. Inside, it is a wondrous collection of  maps, parchments, relics and items collected from the Los Mehno ruins. Despite the untidiness, Blenhous, an aging ranger and archer who spent several decades roaming the wilderness surrounding the City, knows where all items are, and can provide maps and guidance to most areas and landmarks. He also collates information from caravan guards and travellers about changes to areas and tracks.

The basement floor houses Plagius and Serophon, a married couple (so one assumes) from the north-western coastline of the Empire, where rumours of ghosts and wights keep all indoors at night. They are tall, pale skinned and rather humourless, and organise the majority of caravan guards for the various convoys that set out daily to the north, west and south with great efficiency. There's a few prospective guards hanging around on the street most afternoons in case a late opportunity the next morning comes up, who usually also drop into the upstairs shop to discuss travel conditions, and the potion shop for protection from certain diseases.

The last shop in this block is Gallian's Blades, an open roofed area where Gallian's sons sharpen blades, repair leatherwork and rethread chainmail - all quieter smithing work. The louder forging, armour repair and anvil work takes place at the main forge at the mouth of the Firewater Stream, opposite the morning markets, which finish before the forges fire up most mornings.

Opposite Gallian's Blades, across a footbridge over the Firewater, is the main building of the Alchemist's Guild. Slightly vulgar and oversized, and surrounded by comatose goblins, it's one of the main industries and points of interest in the City.