childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
The following are physical and cultural descriptions of humanoids and their major communities in Elsir Vale. Once you have selected whether your character is a goblin, hobgoblin, bugbear, dwarf, orc, human, or kithkin, stop by the mechanical bonuses post to get a more quantitative idea of how that affects their "stats".

Goblinoids

Goblinoids are three intricately related subspecies who coexist because life is easier and better with diversity. Goblinoid characters speak Goblin, can see infrared light, and can see details in low visible light.

Goblins

Goblins are small people with gaits similar to chimpanzees. They have weak but dexterous fingers and are natural leapers and sprinters. Goblins are born in litters of 1-9 children - most often a goblin will have one or two fraternal twins. Goblins are furtive and deferent; they tend not to take leadership positions in bands, but see some degree of respect in nations.
Goblin characters can dart out of melee combat to skirmish, can see exceptionally well in infrared, and are adept at dodging traps and sneaking.

Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins are tall people - adolescents are easily six feet - with gaits and postures identical to humans. They appear to have short necks, but really that's just so they can pivot their heads like relatively inflexible owls. Hobgoblins are born as singlets or twins from other hobgoblins, or in litters of about 4 from bugbears. They are proud and commanding, most likely of the goblinoids to be trained in tactics and wear metal armor, and comprising about 98% of chiefs in all of goblinoid history.
Hobgoblin characters benefit from fighting side-by-side with allies, are good at rallying spirits against demoralization, and are naturals when it comes to wearing armor.

Bugbears

Bugbears are towering hulks of people, usually 8-9 feet tall, with wide hips and erect postures similar to hobgoblins. Their proportionally small heads have roughly the range of motion of owls', and their massive four-fingered hands are surprisingly dexterous. They are born as singlets, but often have a mishmash of pigmentation and bone structure due to absorbing siblings in utero. Bugbears do a great deal of childrearing and gross physical labor, and are the gentle giants of the goblinoids.
Bugbear characters have skin thick enough to act as armor, can wield enormous weapons with ease, and can strike with almost the range of an ogre.

Goblinoid culture is fairly diverse because their short lifespans make for a great degree of cultural divergence. They group together in mercurial, nomadic bands of 9-40 people, or nations that tend to be more sedentary and stable. Three things consistent about goblinoid culture:
  • All goblinoids are descendants of the continent-spanning Dhakaani Empire that fell 3000 years ago - whether they are the 300x-great-grandchildren of the Dhakaanr Dar themselves or of the many client peoples and slaves. The culture of any band or nation of goblinoids today is either a reaction against or claim to the culture of Dhakaan.
  • Pronoun sets are based on role - "mage" and "chief" are the big ones, but most people just go with "donor", "bearer", or "abstainer" based on reproductive role. As goblinoids do not share human concepts of gender, players are free to use any English pronouns they wish when referring to their characters.
  • Oral history is extremely important, and anyone who grew up in a nation has a fairly intimate knowledge of up to 2000 years of their history plus the names of everyone in their immediate family out to about fourth cousins. Goblinoids in the same band or nation will often use references to shared stories to communicate things, instead of bothering to phrase the whole thought.

Kulkor Temtem

The "Hammering Hand" nation is a permanent settlement of the most prolific smiths in the Vale, and the people who protect them and keep the forges running. The Kulkor Temtem are located far east in the Witchwood, on the east bank of where the Rhes meets the Elsir. They are a hobgoblin-dominated society, but deal freely with all sorts of nations and bands. Temtemr relations with orcs are very strong (because that's who transports trade goods); they tend to give a cold shoulder to dwarves (because that's the main competition); they are uncertain about humans (because of novelty and recent human withdrawal from trade).
Temtemr people tend to be industrious, diplomatic, and status-conscious.

Dar Majyk

The "Magic Folk" nation is an isolated magocracy that contains the best enchanters within weeks of travel. The Dar Majyk live a bit northeast of the abandoned Varathr Draal, at the foothills of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Majyk relations with other goblinoids are fickle, though they have the most frequent communication with Wyrmsmoke nations out of any of the Valefolk; they are generally happy to trade with dwarves (who bring khybershards) and whatever kithkin caravans that travel far enough off the paths (and bring eberronshards); claimants to Dhakaan and foreigners without trade goods are absolutely forbidden quarter.
The Dar Majyk are reverent, often airy if mages, often fearful if mundane folk, and withdrawn.

Wikkewödr Dar

The "Witchwood Folk" are a nomadic nation that follow meat sources through the Witchwood from season to season. Over the last 50 years, a series of illnesses and both internal and external struggles led to a massive population restructuring - they have very few hobgoblins, and bugbears have taken over the chiefdom and advisory. There is also an order of bugbear berserkers who follow the example of the late chief Blood Ghost. Wikkewödr relations with the Guerrilla Union of Witchwood Orcs are extremely hostile; the small amounts of deer and rabbit pelts that they have to export mean that few outsiders are interested in trade.
Wikkewödr people are proud, quick to anger, extremely close with relatives, and unfamiliar with other cultures.

Dakhuthr Dar

The "People of Dakhuth" are a bugbear-only nation that make their home at the crossroads in the heart of Dakhuth Wood. They are closer than any other goblinoids to the recently arrived humans, having formed a comfortable coexistence with the villages of Dauth and Prosser. Dakhuthr relations are frigid with goblinoid bands, as they charge steep taxes for hunting and transit privileges and don't allow goblins or hobgoblins to join them. Other than dwarves, who gladly pay the steep prices in order to get fine building lumber, Dakhuthr haDar don't really interact with anyone else.
Dakhuthr bugbears are welcoming to travelers, not open to cultural exchange, and zealous about their ownership of the forest.

Henrik Nugalopuun

The "Nuggalope Herders" are a nation nestled in the "Plain Herald" hills that long ago domesticated a species of dire lapines from the Wyvernwatch Mountains. For millennia, they have tended several breeds of nuggalopes, occasionally trading for crafted goods but mostly staying to themselves and subsisting on plant and animal agriculture. Henrikr relations are most cordial with dwarves; they tend to subsume or drive off bands that pass so far west in the Vale; their contact with humans has been minimal and probably would have ended in bloodshed had there been any natural resources of value between Nugalopr Balay and Dennovar.
Henriken have a long sense of history without many specific stories to back it up, have a very close relationship with the nuggalopes they raise, and may seem to operate on a different plane from other goblinoids.

Lesser Bands

Plenty of smaller bands pepper the Vale, with a combined population of about 8000. Most are one or two nuclear families of each subspecies, and only last for a generation or two before drastically changing membership or location.
Any personality, relation to Dhakaan, and relationship with neighboring parties that you can imagine is probably reflected in one of the bands.

Dwarves

Dwarves are short and stocky bipeds whose height and stance allows for the best balance one can have without a tail. They have a broad variety of facial hair patterns and body shapes totally independent of reproductive capability, and are born as single or twin children usually several decades into their parents' puberties. Dwarven gender roles are extremely prescriptive and rigid, but their system of gender is so both complex and decoupled from biology as to be inscrutable to the casual observer. They convey gender through dress and braiding of head xor facial hair, so formally changing one's gender is as easy as changing one's appearance and behavior. Dwarves have a strong sense of family, which is good because most of them live in underground complexes with one of their biological parents' clans for at least two hundred years barring violent or accidental deaths. Dwarves native to the Vale were exiled from the far north around the time of the fall of Dhakaan, with their power and population waxing and waning a great deal over the last thirty generations but eternally centered on the southern edge of the Wyvernwatch Mountains. The six clans have existed in roughly their current form since two generations after their arrival in Elsir Vale, with a great deal of cooperation and cultural interdependence. Their long lifespans allow them to take a similar chill and cooperative approach to non-dwarves - war leads to premature dwarven deaths, and if you're going to interact peacefully with people and their great-great-great-grandchildren, you might as well make something cool together in all that time. Dwarves have the strongest hand in administration of Red Rock, and have a strong and intimate relationship with the druids of Witchcross. They heartily welcome kithkin caravans as those come through every decade or so, but have strained relationships with goblinoid bands because those are so numerous and ephemeral. Relationships with humans, who have only been here half of a generation, vary wildly from clan to clan and person to person.
Dwarven characters speak Dwarf and Goblin, can see infrared light, have extremely hardy stomachs and immune systems, and have excellent balance.

Clan Maelanak

The clan of chiefs also produces the choicest of brews. No records record the crimes that caused the exile of the six clans, but clans Maelanak and Feranak were at the center of the drama and Maelanak has held the clans together for the intervening millennia.
Maelanak dwarves tend to be haughty, imperious, and convincing.

Clan Feranak

The clan of mysteries is the center of learning for the Holds. Clan Feranak has driven research into seiðr - magical writing that appears at the epicenter of natural and historical phenomena - since before the exile began.
Feranak dwarves tend to be patient, learnèd, and secretive.

Clan Firkoranon

The clan of fireheaded yodelers keeps the histories of the Holds. While each clanhold has murals that tell of lineages and major histories, Firkoranon has bards to capture history through song. The Clanspeaker, currently a woman named Uldri, is a hereditary bard who educates all others in the bardic tradition.
Firkoranon dwarves tend to break into song at the slightest provocation, and are generally detail-oriented and friendly.

Clan Uldranon

The hill clan is the closest to the land. Clan Uldranon lives in the foothills of the Wyvernwatches, relying on agriculture more than the fungus- and insect-heavy diets of the other clans. They spend the most time aboveground, interact the most with the other people of the Vale, and comprise all of the dwarven druids at Witchcross.
Uldranon dwarves tend to be free-spirited, fond of colors, and adventurous.

Clan Cupranath

The clan of the forges drives trade in the Vale. While all clans engage in some degree of metalwork and mining, Clan Cupranath takes about 3.5 tons of copper and iron ore annually from Red Rock and makes arms, armor, and art from that and occasional small quantities of specialty metals like mithril. These products are then exchanged with goblinoids, kithkin, and orcs for shares of ore production and other goods. Clan Cupranath is responsible for a significant amount of the pure gold and silver coins in circulation, though ancient Dhakaani alloyed coins tend to see the most use because they can't be easily smelted down for pure coinage metals.
Cupranath dwarves tend to be industrious, skilled, and artistic.

Clan Capanath

The mountain clan stands watch against the unknown. Sitting right on top of the most well-known portal to Khyber, and nestled farthest north into the Wyvernwatch Mountains, Capanath Hold is the center of defense for the Doluthin Holds. With centuries having passed since the last big wars or blights from Khyber, enterprising Capanaths looking for something to defend against have formed mercenary companies that now offer their services to humans, goblinoids, and private individuals.
Capanath dwarves tend to be loyal, athletic, and rowdy.

Orcs

Orcs are tall, well-muscled bipeds with similar posture to humans except in the head and neck region - their heads sit in front of the spine, and they have mostly vestigial tusks that don't stop growing starting in their late twenties. They are nearly sexually monomorphic and are born as single or twin children. The languages spoken by orcs do not use any method of gendering, though cultural practices tend to treat people a little differently based on parenthood or reproductive capability. Orcs are laconic but wise people who live close to the land and generally only live about 45 years before dying from tusk-related complications - or in battle. Just as everyone in the Vale has an opinion about the Dhakaani Empire, everyone is at least vaguely aware that orcs saved the world during the fall of Dhakaan. Orcs and humans have had problems ever since the latter showed up 40 years ago, but everyone else generally treats orcs with a great deal of respect. Orcish characters speak Orc and Goblin, can see perfectly in very low light, can fight well even with impaired vision, and can get a second wind when wounded in combat.

Wikken-hai

The most civilized of the orcs - that is to say, the ones who have defined civilization in Elsir Vale for the last two or three millennia - are the Wikken-hai, who live in or immediately around Witchcross. More information on Witchcross can be found by scrolling down to the "Witchcross Druids" section. Wikken-hai receive tattoos when they come of age - cerulean for those who join the Gatekeepers and display magical talent, and black or white for everyone else. The Wikken-hai, and the general population of Witchcross, are very close to everyone in the Vale except the humans, who they see as a blight on the land.
Wikken-hai tend to be well-traveled, diplomatic, law-abiding, pacifistic, and very proper.

Guerrilla Union of Witchwood Orcs

The GUWO is a loose confederacy of many different clans, all living at least a kilometer into the Witchwood. They are often in nonlethal conflict, but the constant danger from monsters keeps them cooperating. Witchcross and the Kulkor Temtem provide GUWO clans with sustenance and armaments in exchange for defense from rampant monsters. The GUWO also ferries shipments northeast on, and southwest along, the Elsir River and the Witchstream(s), collecting small taxes from merchants and nations.
GUWO orcs tend to be athletic, hotheaded, and about as good at self-preservation as Immortan Joe's warboys.

Mart-hai

The people of the far-west Marath Forest are a nebulous nation of interrelated clans with poorly documented history. While they lack the organization of the GUWO and the diplomatic power of the Wikken-hai, the Mart-hai need neither. They live off the land, and are at far lower risk of being eaten in the Marath Forest than in the Witchwood. Mart-hai share some cultural practices, like facial tattoos, with Wikken-hai, but mostly keep to themselves. Recent human incursions into the forest have shaken this isolation up, though.
Mart adventurers are exceptional, and should have a significant reason to leave home - perhaps related to problems with humans?.

Humans

Humans are too short to be considered large and far too tall to be considered small, but are bipeds with an exceedingly erect posture either way. Physical characteristics for humans have a much wider range than for other Vale people, since they are only three-to-six generations removed from populations that spanned Sarlona prior to the Great Exit West. Humans also have higher sexual dimorphism than any other species native to the Vale; on the one hand, this strongly informs the genders that humans have created, on the other hand, a significant minority of humans in the Great Exit West were in part escaping gender- and sexuality-based persecution, so magics and clothing to change appearance are common. Humans are born as singlets or twins after about three seasons of gestation, and have longer childhoods than goblinoids or orcs to allow for more specialized brain development and compensate for less resource-intensive pregnancies. Just like with height, human lifespans are mediocre - they usually perish after 5-8 decades from one or more of a horrifyingly unpredictable array of natural causes. About 5 years after human arrival on the western edge of Elsir Vale, the Treaty of Witchcross codified some of the formal relationships with other peoples. Humans are banned from within 5 miles of Witchcross and from settlement anywhere along the Yellow Witchstream due to contentions with the Gatekeepers over respect for the environment. They participate heartily in populating and supplying Red Rock, though this zeal makes the average Vale resident uneasy due to changing culture and increased mining. Humans get reactions all over the board from dwarves, in part due to spreading their religion to the Holds over the last few decades. Traditionalists hate them, those who appreciate the Sovereign Host have a range of opinions mostly related to how they feel about changes in interstate commerce, and the vast majority are over sixty miles from the nearest human settlement so they don't care much either way. Relationships with kithkin have been mostly positive. Goblinoids and orcs tend to get classified by humans as sentient monsters, so interactions have been either neutral - because locals don't rate high enough to interact with - or somewhere between actively hostile and genocidal, with few exceptions. Humans have constructed two major towns along the Dawn Way that tend to cooperate with only a little political tension, as well as several villages that stretch all the way to where the Elsir meets the Rhes.
Humans speak Goblin, Human, and sometimes one or two ethnically important languages. They tend to have special aptitude in terms of skills and abilities, and have a preternatural and frankly creepy ability to outlast competitors in tests of endurance and concentration.

Dennovar

The town of Dennovar has begun to sprawl carelessly around the life-giving Denno Lake. Its haphazard streets are lined with colorful linens and religious trinkets. Dennovar's role is cultural steward for the humans - its Temple Council guides worship of the twelve gods of their Sovereign Host, and has recently been sending priests to villages to ensure that pioneers keep the faith of their grandparents. Dennovar has been extraordinarily zealous about conquering local territory, alienating and radicalizing surviving non-humans in the Giantshields and Marath Forest. There are even rumors that these descendants of slaves use captured goblinoids as chattel.
Dennovrians tend to be deeply religious, human-supremacist, and very stratified by class.

Brindol

The great dark stone walls of Brindol rise twenty feet above the west bank of the Upper Elsir and the impressive plain of brindolite from which said walls were seamlessly fashioned three decades ago. Brindol's role is a base of operations for eastern human settlement - most villages send their products here, the Cougars solve crimes across Elsir Vale that villages can't handle themselves, and those who feel cramped living in a glorified stone bowl might strike out north or east to find their fortune. Brindol chooses less of an aggressive policy toward its non-human neighbors than Dennovar, but that might just be a side-effect of everyone having moved away or, qv Witchcross, having banned human settlement.
Brindolfolk tend to be adventurous, feel very safe on home turf, and have extremely odd and narrow palates.

Villages

Village life is frontier life - no village has existed for longer than 45 years. Each village is structured around an industry that will serve the towns, but is also largely self-sufficient. Villagers tend to be more xenophobic but less stratified by class than townsfolk.
  • Marthton is the oldest village, providing lumber to Dennovar, and recently uncovered ancient druidic burial grounds. It was founded on the wholesale slaughter of goblinoids at the edge of Marath Forest. Marthmen tend to have a strong sense of manifest destiny.
  • Elsircross is at the eastern edge of Marath Forest, providing wild rice and various crops to Brindol. All human shipments to and from Red Rock pass through Elsircross, too. Crossers tend to love nature.
  • Prosser is a livestock village northwest of Brindol that also transports lumber shipments from Dauth. It straddles miles of plains and Dakhuth Forest. Prosserfolk tend to feel very secure.
  • Dauth is a logging hamlet built in Dhakaani ruins on the east end of Dakhuth Wood. Residents cut trees with the blessing, and sometimes aid of, the Dakhuthr Dar, a nation of bugbears living on the west end of the forest. Dauthers tend to be welcoming to strangers.
  • Talar is a toll hamlet at the crossing of the Dawn Way and the West Rhesr Road (known to humans as the Witches' Highway). Most residents are farmers, though some keep the inn and guard the roads. Talarites tend to have hospitable façades.
  • Nimon Gap is a small orchard town that has recently taken up wet tanning to keep up with demand in Brindol. Nestled in hills around the Nimon River, it has the third largest population of humans. Nimoners tend to be proud.
  • Terrelton is a dusty thorp responsible for procuring krenshar hides for Nimon Gap. This is an industry taken forcibly from local goblinoid bands with help from Nimoners. Terrelmen tend to be hard-headed.
  • Drellin's Ferry straddles the Elsir River right before Elsir Vale ends to the east and Marguul Pass becomes a wilder place. The village is a hub for eastern trade, and also serves as home for mage Sertieren the Wise and her wife. Ferryfolk tend to be guarded but free-spirited.

Kithkin

Kithkin are small, erect bipeds with impressive flexibility bodywide. They are hairless everywhere except their feet, heads, and, for men, their faces; they have a broad variety of facial hair patterns and body shapes, but extremely high sexual dimorphism. Kithkin are born as single children after about half a year of gestation, and have very long childhoods to allow for proper ex-utero brain development. Puberty comes around age 18, and true adulthood at least 7 years later, but gross physical development is mostly complete by age 10 so it is difficult for outsiders to tell children apart from middle-aged kithkin. Gender roles are fairly prescriptive and very static, driven mainly by the insular culture that serves the need to maintain caravan unity on trade missions that cover thousands of miles (see "Caravans" below for more). There are no kithkin native to the Vale, though over the last three thousand years there have been occasional pariahs who were drawn to the Witchcross Keepers. Kithkin live a nomadic life on the Talenta Plains, on average over a thousand miles' travel from Marguul Pass and Elsir Vale within it, so all kithkin found in the Vale are passing through with caravans or are individuals, long-since shunned by other kithkin. Kithkin get along extremely well with valefolk - they bring goods from distant lands and exchange them for local goods, so every one wins. Most kithkin caravans are greeted enthusiastically, though individual kithkin may be met with disrespect because of the reputation of their children for mischief and thievery. Even when met with hostility, as is sometimes the case with newer goblinoid bands that have hit on hard times, kithkin are able to defend themselves handily. The scariest thing to a kithkin caravan is a warlord combining bands into nations looking for plunder, and an unimaginable horror would be a horde - thousands of displaced and conquered goblinoids - directly along trade routes.
Kithkin characters speak a clan-specific dialect of Talentese and a pidgin based on various goblinoid languages from across eastern Khorvaire. Characters who have been on castabout for at least 6 weeks also speak the common language (Goblin). Kithkin can see perfectly in low light, are good at striking when enemies are distracted by allies, and are skilled with stealth.

Caravans

While traveling on foot and dinosaurback across the Talenta Plains is a fine life, about one in every ten clans decides to send some or all of the clan through foreign lands to trade. Usually they start with an aurochs herd and assorted dinosaurs, but by the time they reach Elsir Vale the kithkin caravans are composed of trinket-and-spice-laden wagons drawn by aurochsen, with dinosaurs underfoot. The face that they show to outsiders is as culturally neutral and nondescript as possible, but every kithkin who has hit adolescence has a self-made "huntmask" that they bring out for formal occasions or when scouting around the caravan on dinosaurback, and intracaravan interaction tends to be a lot more hearty and genuine. Speaking of dinosaurs and coming of age, kithkin have three options as they pass from adolescence into adulthood:
  • The most common in caravan life is "fostering", in which the person in question leaves their clan to travel a full circuit with another clan's caravan. Fostering usually, but not always, ends with a marriage proposal, either staying with the foster clan if a man or marrying into a prestigious family, or coming back to one's clan with a husband or, for men from prestigious families, a bride.
  • The most common in plains life, though rare in caravan life, is taming a dinosaur. This is an intense and deeply spiritual solo process that requires finding a proper dinosaur companion, taming it over the course of months, and then convincing it to come back to the clan. Dinosaur riders are accorded a great deal of respect and are extremely useful as scouts and warriors for the clan. Since kithkin live for decades longer than most dinosaurs, riders will tend to either breed their companions or repeat the bonding process multiple times in life.
  • The rarest option for coming of age requires a very particular kind of kithkin, who can stand going from constant, intense family connection to having no support network whatsoever for years on end. The "castabout" is when a person decides to leave the caravan and live with locals until they have found a trade, body of knowledge, or artifact that they think will be of use to the clan. Someone on castabout returns to their clan by hitching a ride with the next caravan they see, being marked with a curse by the fostering clan in the Rite of Avowal, and having that curse removed by their own clan in the Rite of Return. Going on castabout is so rare partly because kithkin are ill-adapted to isolation with strangers, and partly because about three out of five who do choose it either die or go feral.
Because of the length of caravan trips and the importance of both family and plains life to kithkin, there are extreme taboos against assimilation into local populations. Individual kithkin encountered by caravans are treated as nonexistent unless they have already been through the Rite of Avowal with that clan, or are currently asking for it to be applied to them.
Caravan kithkin tend to be highly social, good with animals, superficial around strangers, and fond of constant digital stimming.

Clan Ghallanda

The largest clan across the Plains for the last several generations, Clan Ghallanda surprisingly sends no caravans to foreign lands. Instead, they contribute professional mediators and foragers (and their spouses and children) to other clans for use in caravans. For the last two hundred years, a fraction of the members of Clan Ghallanda have been developing a blue mark somewhere on their bodies, like a glowing, living tattoo. These kithkin, mostly from the same two prominent families within the clan, are capable of magical feats of hospitality. Vale dwarves have identified these marks as seiðr, but this means little to the kithkin, who view seiðr as natural parts of the landscape useful mostly as landmarks.
Ghallanda kithkin tend to be diplomatic to a fault, and are focused on nuclear family more than most other kithkin. Characters with the Mark of Hospitality can do small feats of convenience, food preparation, and prestidigitation, and might be able to create food or shelter from thin air.

Clan Jorasco

A clan of moderate size that sends about half of its population on caravan at once, Clan Jorasco has traditionally traded in rare medicines from across the continent, and offered palliative care to the sick and dying both out of caravans and to other clans. Over the last twenty years, a small number of clan members have developed a purple mark somewhere on their bodies, like a glowing, living tattoo. This handful of kithkin has been able to do more than just palliative care, providing secular healing to the sick and the wounded day after day in a manner consistent with the efforts of exceptional religious visionaries.
Jorasco kithkin tend to be highly empathetic and more interested in foreign cultures than other clans. Characters with the Mark of Healing can cure wounds and remove fatigue, and might be able to remove disease and poison wholesale.

Witchcross Druids

The Gatekeepers defeated the ancient horrors that brought ruin to Dhakaan, and they stand guard against whatever contemporary horrors might threaten the people of Elsir Vale. At the far west end of the Witchwood, the modern inheritors of the Gatekeeper tradition straddle the Yellow Witchstream at the trading hub and holy destination of Witchcross.
Orcs were the original druids, codified many of the bylaws of the Gatekeepers, and have the largest non-druid population at Witchcross, but historical residents of the town have included members of every sentient species native to the continent. Human participation in the Gatekeepers is forbidden by the Treaty of Witchcross, though, and they are not allowed to stay longer than two nights in Witchcross. Those who live in Witchcross see themselves as part of an unbroken holy tradition 4 millennia long more than they see themselves as members of a nation or clan, and they often develop very orcish demeanors even if they are not orcs themselves.
Characters of any species except human are welcome to choose Witchcross as part of their background.

Red Rock Miners

9 metric tons of copper, tin, and iron ore is extracted from the Red Rock Mountains annually, by workers who volunteer from all populations in the Vale. In return for their labor and supplies sent by those settlements and bands, Red Rock portions out shares of the annual production. Most places trade their shares with the Kulkor Temtem or one of the dwarven clans in exchange for finished products.
Red Rock, like Witchcross, is a cultural melting pot. Every resident feels allegiance to the people they came from, but also sees themself as a citizen of Red Rock. Dwarves and goblins fill out most of the census rolls, but hobgoblins, bugbears, orcs, and even ogres all coexist more-or-less peacefully. Humans are a very recent addition - only allowed into Red Rock in a contentious decision during the Treaty of Witchcross 35 years ago - and over the last couple years, many humans sent from Brindol and Dennovar to work in the mines are unmarried men who don't speak the local languages.
Due to the deleterious health effects of mining, the non-service population of Red Rock tends to only last two or three years before being rotated out.
Characters of any species except kithkin are welcome to choose Red Rock as part of their background.
childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
These mechanical bonuses WOULD apply if we were playing a slightly homebrew version of 3.5e D&D; use them as a suggestion when making your character and considering what they can do in and out of combat

Goblin:
-+2 Dex, -2 Str
-Small
-Base spd 30ft; overland travel spd 20ft
-Darkvision 120ft and low-light vision
-Withdraw 10ft as a move action
-+4 racial bonus to Sneak and Ride
-+4 racial bonus vs disease
-+4 dodge bonus to AC and Ref vs traps

Hobgoblin:
--2 Wis, +2 Cha
-Base spd 30ft
-Darkvision 60ft and low-light vision
-Ignore 2 points of armor check penalty
-+2 racial bonus to initiative
-+2 racial bonus to Sneak and Knowledge[history]
-+1 to atk when adjacent to an ally
-Allies get a +1 dodge bonus to AC when adjacent

Bugbear:
-+2 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Int, -2 Wis, -2 Cha
-Base spd 30ft
-Darkvision 60ft and low-light vision
-Proficiency with one martial melee weapon
-+2 racial bonus to Sneak
-+2 natural armor
-Reach is 10ft when wielding a two-handed weapon
-Wielding a weapon for Large creatures does not grant a -2 penalty

Dwarf:
-+2 Con, -2 Cha
-Base spd 20ft; no penalty for wearing armor or carrying a heavy load
-Darkvision 60ft
-Dwarven waraxes and dwarven urgroshes count as martial weapons
-Automatic Perception check when within 10ft of unusual stonework
-+2 racial bonus to Perception against unusual stonework
-+2 racial bonus on Appraise and Craft checks related to stone/metal
-+2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like effects
-+4 dodge bonus to AC against giants
-+4 bonus on checks against being bull-rushed or tripped, while standing on the ground

Orc:
-+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Cha
-Base spd 30ft
-Low-light vision
-Immune to BLINDNESS/DEAFNESS
-Proficiency with simple weapons and medium armor
-Blind-Fight as racial feat
-Warrior's surge 1/day: Full-round to make an attack and
regain HP = Con * HD (minimum 1/HD)
-Spell and ability DCs are 2 pts higher for aberrations
-+4 to Will saves vs aberrations

Human:
-+2 to one stat
-Base spd 30ft
-+2 racial bonus to Athletics and Concentration
-1 extra feat at 1st level
-4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level
-Just kinda...look around and notice that humans are the only ones that can't see in the dark. Noobs.

Kithkin:
--2 Str, +2 Dex
-Small
-Base spd 20ft
-Low-light vision
-+2 racial bonus to Athletics, Perception, Ride, and Sneak
-+1 racial bonus to all saving throws
-+2 morale bonus on saving throws against fear
-+1 racial bonus to attack rolls with thrown weapons and slings
-Considered flanking a target if a non-adjacent ally is adjacent to the target
childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
Different types of people age very differently and have different memes about adulthood and end of life. The following are a table of age categories for the species of the Vale - more information on age categories can be found here - and a table of starting ages for beginning adventurers

Age Categories - All quantities in years
SpeciesPuberty1Middle AgeOldVenerableMax Age
Goblin5+d4172635+2d6
Hobgoblin8+d4223345+2d20
Bugbear4+4d218N/A2N/AN/A
Orc8+d625503100+5d20
Dwarf20+2d8125188250+2d%
Kithkin16+d45075100+5d20
Human11+d6355370+2d20
  1. For the purposes of this table, puberty is the beginning of the phase of development that leads to intellectual maturity, not necessarily the onset of sexual maturity. For instance, dwarves can give birth as early as age 17, but do not start growing beards (if applicable) or reducing impulsivity until "puberty".
  2. Bugbears' unique physiology means a more gentle aging process; reapply the middle-age adjustments every 9 years forever
  3. While orcs do have a surprisingly long late-adulthood, most die from tooth-related problems at age 41+d6 and never see old age. Like, almost everyone. Those who remove their tusks are exiled.


Random Starting Ages
childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
We were talking last Sunday about how the spell control water would affect crossing running water. The spell description talks about raising or lowering a "volume" of water, which makes a ton of sense in an area of deep standing water like a lake or an ocean, but is a lot harder to grok when it comes to shallow water flowing down a gravity potential.

Does the spell affect a "volume" of water like a specific collection of water molecules, or like a region of space? Does the spell lift/lower the water, or change a physical property, or summon/banish water? If the raising or lowering of water causes a new gravity potential, will the water flow along that potential or along the original one?

The third question is pretty definitively answered in the spell itself. Lowering water will trap ships in the depression for the duration of the spell, and raising it will even cause water itself to "spill over onto dry land". The implication this has for crossing streams is that you definitely can't just lift the water above everyone's heads and peace it across - this will just result in everyone getting wet. Lowering the level of the water still could work though!

Addressing the first question, what would it look like to raise a specific collection of water molecules? Since we've established that the fluid follows the new potential, either the "raising" would have to be a rapid recycling of the same water, or the spell would last significantly less time than 70 minutes minimum as everything just kinda falls back down immediately. Both options seem counterintuitive? Conceivably the rapid recycling could work if the spell summons water at the height of the spell and banishes it at the bottom, but a) this would actually be a "region of space" interpretation, and b) we should prefer explanations that preserve the physical composition of the water, which this explanation either does NOT do or requires teleportation magic with significantly greater volume and duration than the similarly leveled spell dimension door. So, let's assume that the spell affects a region of space rather than a specific collection of water molecules. The implication for crossing rivers is very positive, because instead of an ephemeral displacement of the river we see a duration and stasis that could allow easy travel on foot.

This leaves the question of the mechanism for displacement. The conjuration interpretation has already been rejected, which I should point out is commensurate with control water's classification as a transmutation spell. If the water were merely moved around, as talked about before, it would either not work as described (water would immediately fall down or fill in) or it would take a lot of energy to keep the water cycling with itself. What I like most, and what frankly jives best with the classification of the spell as transmutation, is for the spell to locally change some law of physics. The thing that I threw out while we were discussing it during play time was reducing the forces that keep water from compressing, and while I have a B.A. in chemistry it has...been a while...so I'm just gonna handwave and say that would totally work without horrible repercussions. So! If the spell either compresses or forces the expansion of some volume in space of water, what does that imply for crossing a river? It means that you can clear nearly the entire riverbed of water without damming up the flow, because the water will just flow slightly faster and certainly denser through the affected region. You'd have to take care not to come into contact with that "third rail" of water, because I'm pretty sure something that dense but still fluid and moving at river speeds would basically be like a belt sander, but you could cross the river without drowning! The spell would also have environmental externalities (or intended effects, if you're trying to move a river à la mode de Machiavelli et da Vinci) by increasing erosion temporarily.

This explanation for how control water works does leave some things to be desired - if the compression/expansion is uniform, doesn't that totally mess with the buoyancy of ships in the affected area? - but it seems like the coolest and most magical explanation to my sensibilities. Feel free to comment with your thoughts!
childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
The eastern Witchwood houses some of the most skilled craftsmen in the entire Vale, and is where the Rhes River joins the Elsir. The leyline of the Vale hooks through several old druidic sites hereabouts.
An important note: The Dawn Way actually goes from the lower-left of (10,14) to the lower-right of (10,17), passing to the west of Cinder Hill. It is drawn incorrectly on this map.
If image is not displaying: Click here for a non-interactive map.

Click the triangle to expand map )

Locations

Dec. 27th, 2015 06:37 pm
childrenofthewyrms: (Default)
Elsir Vale is a partially forested river valley in the middle of Marguul Pass. It is bounded on the southwest by the Giantshield Mountains and on the southeast by the Wyrmsmoke Mountains, which meet up south of Rhes Lake to become the Seawall Mountains and extend south nearly to the ocean. It is bounded on the northeast by a wasteland and on the northwest by the Wyvernwatch Mountains, which extend a ways northeast. The Elsir River starts in the Giantshields and is joined by Witchstreams, the Nimon, and the Rhes to become a mighty flow that has carved out Marguul Pass since time immemorial.

The ample mountain water and decently frequent rainfall support two forests on the south side of the vale: the quiet Marath Forest that looms in the southwest, and the dangerous Witchwood that sprawls across the southeast. The southern end of the Witchwood is ill-mapped, but word of mouth and occasional explorations inform those-in-the-know that the Rheswash feeds a lake and swamp, and great beasts like the wyverns of legend darken the skies of nearly obliterated Dhakaani ruins there.

Click the triangle to expand a map of Elsir Vale )
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