Wednesday, November 25, 2020

TwK: Gambler

 

                                                   from Gravity Falls

Some ideas borrowed from here.

I am reworking the list of playable classes for Those who Know, my urban fantasy/modern occult setting.  I have decided to limit the list to the five slasher movie archetypes described in The Cabin in the Woods, namely the Harlot, Fool, Athlete, Scholar and Virgin.  I will also be including the Problem, but they are a separate beast, a fifth, or sixth, column.   

Some of these are obvious: The John Doe is the Virgin, the Allure is the Harlot and the Investigator is the Scholar.  There are others though, that are less obvious.  So for the Fool, I dug up a class I wrote but never published: The Gambler.  

Gambler
Starting HP: 1/3 Con  
Fighting spirit: +2 per Gambler Level, up to Cognition
Starting Equipment: Starting Melee Weapon, Cigarettes, Playing Cards, Sturdy Boots, Lucky Charm
 

Abilities:

1:

Wheel of Fortune: At the start of any combat, as a free action, you may roll 4*[your level] d20s and write down all the numbers you roll, then arrange them in a vertical list in the order you rolled them.  Instead or rolling your dice, when you need to roll a d20, just cross off the next number.  When you run out of numbers, roll like everyone else. 

2:

Underhanded Tactics: You can take an action to interfere with an enemy's action, if physically possible, reducing any 1d20 roll they make by rolling your weapon di(c)e and subtracting the result.

3:

Counting Cards: On your turn, as an action, you can re-arrange your list of d20s as per 'Wheel of Fortune' as you see fit.

4:

I'll cover you: If an enemy still manages to hit an ally or target you would prefer they do not hit, you may, if physically possible, interfere with the attack to reduce the damage done by your damage dice.  You may only do this once per round.

5:

Deal 'em Out: You may give an enemy one of your d20s from 'Wheel of Fortune' so that when they would next roll a d20, they would instead use that one instead

6:

Pay it Forward: Once per round, if physically possible, you may boost an ally's damage from a successful attack by your weapon dice.

7:

Roulette: On your turn, as an action, you may reroll your list of d20s as per 'Wheel of Fortune'.  You may also use this to replenish your list of d20s.

8:

On my Tab: As a free action on your turn, you may give any of your allies one of your d20s off your list, so that next time they would roll 1d20, they would use that d20 roll instead.

9:

All In: On your turn, you may roll 1d6.  For that many turns, your d20 rolls are converted to coin flips or rolling a d2.  A success on these rolls means a critical success and a failure means a critical failure.  Critical successes succeed at anything that is feasibly possible in this situation (Referee's Discretion) and critical failures also incur additional penalties on top of failing to do what you tried to accomplish. 

For the purposes of making attack rolls, all critical successes count as a roll of "20" on a d20, plus your damage roll and attack bonus.  Similarly, critical failures count as a roll of "1" on a d20.

For the purposes of damage on a critical success, roll the damage dice twice and add them together.          

                                               from Gravity Falls

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

OSR: Yugoloths: Bluster Platoon

 

                                                                by Jacob Probelski

Find basic information on the Yugoloths here.
Shiver Squad: Shock Troops.
Gelid Squad: Silk-workers, seductresses, spies and assassins.

Bluster Platoon:

Bluster Platoon is a group of Yugoloths who specialize in negotiation, resource management and other support roles.  They are talkers, not fighters, hence the name of their Platoon.  The other Yugoloths sometimes refer to them as "Blusterers", as they tend to talk big but rarely try to prove their strength, as unlike other Yugoloths, they are not a proud bunch and will flee from danger with no hesitation. 

Bluster Platoon is composed of Arcanoloths, the batch of Yugoloths who seemed to have a unique talent for mortal sorcery, as well as some of the natural magicks of their peculiar race. 

Arcanoloths look like Foxes and this is for good reason- they were taught and raised by a Green Hag named Lola Sugarplum, but she did not give birth to them- the Hag instead used a surrogate in the form of a Kitsune, a Spirit and servant to the Gods.  As such, they inherited the natural talent for magic that kitsunes have, along with their fox cleverness.

However, while using a Kitsune's womb enabled Sugarplum to produce a group of powerful servants, but it rapidly caught up to her, as the Kitsune was also a concubine of the West Wind.  When he found out what his woman had been used for, he turned the Hag into a goat and had her given to an orphanage, where she was butchered and eaten. 

The Arcanoloths did not shed any tears over their "Mother's" passing and instead focused on what to do with the Book that had their secret names in it.  Their first thought was to destroy it, but as creatures raised by Hags, they all had been groomed to desire power over others and dominate them.  As such, most of them had some desire to reign over their brethren.  So they could not bring themselves to destroy the book.  Instead, they concealed it, in the home base of the meanest creature they could find, ie in some kind of horrible dungeon.

They don't trust each other though- so they take shifts monitoring the Book's location while trying to come up with a plot to take the Book for themselves.  When they are not on duty there, they spend their time traveling the world, gathering knowledge and power for themselves or their employers.  And they are not picky on who they work for- with their extensive amounts of knowledge and magical abilities, they can perform many tasks.  As such, the members of Bluster Platoon find work as negotiators, lawyers, orators, spies and magical power-house.

And thanks to their ability to shape-shift, they are very good at hiding in plain sight.  So that might just be a sharp-eyed new scribe the King hired, or it might be something far more powerful than a well-read man.

Bluster Platoon's members prefer to be paid in magical items or power (spells, chunks or whole souls) but they will also accept gold and jewels.


                                                              by dicecast

Base Arcanoloth Statblock:
HD 3
AR none
Atk Claws (1d4 + 2d6 poison on a hit, save for half) or Spell
Mor 9
Saves 10 or less is a success
Immune to Poison and Poison Damage

Shapeshifter: Arcanoloths can, as an action, alter their appearance to take on any humanoid form, either one they have seen or imagined.  This transformation does not affect the stats or ability scores of the Arcanoloth.

Spellcaster: Arcanoloths have 7 Mana Dice.  Their MD burn out on a 5 or 6 and trigger Chaos on a roll of doubles or triples.  They ordinarily have the spells Anti-Gravity, Chromatic Orb, Dimension Door, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Mirror Image, Polymorph and Wall of Force prepared. 

Chaos of the Arcanoloth:
1d6

1- One random creature starts coughing.  He loses his next action as he pukes up 1d6 snails, 1d4 snakes and 1d3 dog tails.
2- A skull suddenly appears and starts whispering.  Only one of the player characters can hear it.
3- A random animal nearby swells like a balloon, before exploding into a shower of gore.
4- The ground for 30' around the Arcanoloth transforms into a patch of peat bog.
5- A dense, foul-smelling fog rolls in and fills the area around the Arcanoloth for 100'.  Visibility drops to nothing, you can see 10' in front of you and no more.
6- Everyone within 50' of the Arcanoloth must save, including the Arcanoloth.  Those that fail their save lose their action and spend it cackling, howling with laughter at an unsaid joke.

Reinforcements: All Yugoloths know at least one of the True Names of their kinsmen, usually a member of the same squad.  However, because they will not compel their kinsmen to respond, and because most Yugoloths are selfish by nature, their kinsmen will not always respond.  As an action, the Yugoloth can attempt summon that other Yugoloth to aid them in whatever the first Yugoloth was doing. 

Any member of Bluster Platoon has a 20% of being able to summon back-up from their own squad, or a 50% of summoning a Yugoloth from another unit.  The Commanders of Bluster Platoon have a 30% of summoning a Yugoloth from Bluster Platoon and a 60% of summoning a Yugoloth from another unit.      

Tactics:
- Use your magic to protect yourself
- Let others take the risks   
- Only fight if you have to

                                                                source unknown

Notable Members:

Simitz Silvertongue

True Name: Eszavi

Bluster Platoon has no real leadership, the whole group is fractured into many small cliques, duos and trios that do not usually interact.  None of the members trust each other much, and so they do not work together usually, and certainly they do not have any sort of formalized chain of command. 

However, that's not to say that they are all equals.  Among their numbers, the one who is most suited to lead is probably Simitz Silvertongue.  Simitz is a charming fellow, with the ability to talk his way out of almost any situation.  Unlike other Arcanoloths, he does not use his shape-shifting abilities except when he is hiding, constantly taking on his true, fox-like form.  He does this to prove his honesty.  He also does not lie, as he will tell you.  This does not mean he doesn't deceive, far from it.  But he will not tell bold-faced lies.

That being said, Simitz is a manipulator in the extreme.  He is a skilled and talented negotiator, skilled in twisting his opponents word's and turning the tables on them.  Simitz is not a trustworthy fellow, despite all his efforts to appear otherwise.  And many who have gone against him say the same- do not trust Simitz Silvertongue.  But Simitz is also aware of this, and so structures and frames any discuss into being one that he can benefit from.  He does not fight a battle he does not believe he can win, nor does he take the losing side in any situation.  And he always has leverage.  So even if you know he's manipulating you, it won't matter.  It's his game, and he's very good at it.  The house always wins, after all.

Weakness: Simitz is clever and smart, but he's not much for improvising.  He only acts when he holds all the cards and avoids any situation where he doesn't.  So if you manage to pull a fast one on him or radically alter the current situation, he will either retreat or be thrown off his game until he manages to regroup. 

Statblock Changes:

Simitz Silvertongue has the spells April Showers, Flesh to Stone, Force Cage, Mage Armor, Polymorph, Reverse Gravity, Spell Collapse and Steel Intangibility prepared.

Note: Simitz uses a variant of Flesh to Stone that turns his enemies into tin instead. 

Laxu

True Name: Botu

While Simitz does his best to present himself as transparent as a display of confidence, to intimidate the weak and be underestimated by the strong, his method is the rarer.  The more common tactic by members of Bluster Platoon is to lie selectively, but to stick close to the truth as much as possible. 
  
One who takes this action to its extreme is Laxu.  Laxu believes that the best method of negotiation and deception is that of the lycanthrope- to change forms depending on the situation but keep your core intact.  What Laxu does is he adopts the role of an actor and projects an image of himself.  Depending on how he wishes to be seen, he will adopt that persona and pretend to be it in person.  Then, when his enemies spend their time chasing shadows, he will take what he reeally desires.

Laxu is the closest thing that Bluster Platoon has to a leader, although only for about a third of the platoon.  Some of the others feel he is too stuck-up and arrogant, or that he is clownish and brash.  This, of course, is not how he actually acts, but simply how he wants them to think he acts.

Weakness: Laxu is used to running circles around his opponents, who rarely understand what he is trying to do.  Even after he has tricked them, they rarely get it.  So he's surprisingly easy to trick, if you don't play his game.  But if you do, good luck beating him. 

Statblock Changes:
  
Laxu has the spells Fireball, Guards and Wards, Hunger of Hadar, Invisibility, Misty Step, Mislead, Perfect Image and Weird prepared.

Jolo the Hellkite

True Name: Akori

Jolo the Hellkite is a radical member of the Platoon.  Rather than follow the lead of his peers and study law, history and religion to become a skilled negotiator or administrator, he sought a more direct use of his talents.  Jolo doesn't want to help others achieve power and be the power behind the throne.  He doesn't even want power.  Or at least, not the type that would have him sitting on a high-backed chair listening to people complain.

Jolo loves war- the smell of fear, the stench of blood and mud and death is an intoxicating musk.  The sound of clashing metal, splinter bone and agonized screams is music to his ears.  As such, Jolo has taken on the role of a free-booting mercenary, traveling to wherever there is an ongoing conflict and joining whatever side stands to give him the most.  Sometimes he joins openly, but normally he assumes the identity of a common soldier, fighting with spear and bow.  He only unleashes his full and terrible powers when he feels it necessary.  These sights can be terrible, as unlike his brothers, Jolo is almost exclusively trainined in combat magic. 

But after unleashing his powers like that, Jolo usually has to move fast.  Sometimes his allies turn on him, thinking him some kind of demon that crept into their ranks.  Other times, allied command takes notice and starts trying to use him.  Jolo might play along for a bit, but the second he thinks that his leash is getting too short, he will vanish into the night.  Still other times, enemy command will be alerted to his presence and they will dispatch either elite troops or hire foreign mercenaries of their own to do battle against him.  None of these situations are ideal, and so usually they are the sign to Jolo that he should be leaving.

Weakness: Jolo is no coward, but he is not brave.  Bold, yes, but not brave.  He does not want to die.  He loves to fight but when confronted with a dangerous situation that he feels is too risky, he will avoid it.  Discretion is the better part of valor, and Jolo has not survived this long by being reckless.  If it seems like a trap, or just a bad idea, he won't go.

Statblock Changes:

+1 HD

Atk: Bow (1d6/1d6 + 2d6 poison, save for half)

Jolo has the spells Expeditious Retreat, Fly, Flaming Sphere, Finger of Death, Moonbeam, Repel Stone, Sunburst and Thunderwave prepared.
 

                                                    by Final-Fanart

Saturday, November 7, 2020

OSR: Greater Embodied Undead

 

                                                        by Anthony Devine

Wight
HD 1d3+1
AR Fish Leather and Shield [8 Armor]
Atk Bow and Arrow (1d6/1d6) or Sword (1d6+1) or Spell or Life Drain
Mor 12
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Poison, Cold and Necrotic damage

Undead: Undead do not feel pain or get tired.  They are immune to poison and disease.  They do not need to eat, sleep or breathe.  Any spell that says "Undead" in its title or description is talking about something like this.

Sunlight Vulnerability: Undead take 1d6 radiant damage for every round they spend in sunlight.

Already Dead: Unless decapitated, cut to pieces, burnt to ashes by sunlight or reduced to zero HP by a magical attack or weapon, the Undead has an X-in-6 chance of their body knitting itself back together and recovering from the damage they took, where X is equal to the number of HD they have.

Innate Spellcasting: Wights have 4 Mana Dice.  They can cast the following spells as an action.  These spells do not trigger Chaos or Corruption, but their MD do burn out as normal.  Note that "At-Will" spells can be cast for free as Level 1 spells, or can have their power enhanced by spending more MD.  However, in the latter case, such MD will burn out as normal on a 5 or 6.
At Will: Bloody Feast, Create Servant
3/Day: Break the Chains, Enslave Undead
1/Day: Explode Undead

Life Drain: If a Wraith touches a living creature, it can force that creature to save.  On a successful save, that creature takes 1d6 Necrotic damage.  On a failed save, that creature takes 1d6 CON damage.  This can also reduce a creature's total HP.  If this reduces a creature's CON to 0, that creature immediately dies.  Note that once a creature makes or fails one save, each subsequent use of Life Drain on it does that kind of damage.

CON damage done by Life Drain is permanent until removed by a spell such as Greater Restoration or the target is blessed by a person granted divine power, such as a Priest, Prophet (Paladin) or King.  After such a blessing is bestowed on the creature, CON returns at a rate of 1 point per day.  

Undead Slaves: Wights can control a number of Undead with HD equal to their HD+MD.  These Undead are considered bonded to the Wight permanently and the Wight does not need to spend additional magic to keep control of them, barring outside interference.  Any other Undead the Wight creates are already unbound.

Tactics:
- Send your Undead in as cannon fodder, keep your distance
- Attack from range
- Only enter melee combat if a creature is vulnerable
- Use Life Drain to disempower and dissuade those who come after you
- Save 'Circle of Death' and 'Explode Undead' in case you need to escape or finish off a tough opponent

Wights are Greater Undead, created from a corpse by summoning a particularly vicious and powerful soul from Sheol, or a lesser Demon.  It makes little difference.  This spirit is allowed to infest a corpse and allowed to torment the lower souls that remain in the body after the higher souls have departed for the afterlife. 

This is a surprisingly attractive offer, as it guarantees the right to inflict suffering and a potential to relieve the summoned soul's suffering.  This potential never pans out, but the summoned soul would never admit this fact.  However, this state of affairs does grant a Wight one thing: it cures it of the Undead's traditional suicidal despair and homicidal misery.

By giving it someone(?) to abuse whenever it feels like, the Wight's action and existence is imbued with a certain quality that other Undead lack.  Rather than feel like it's existence is empty and hollow, causing the Undead to seek its own destruction, the Wight understands that by subjugating these souls to it, it is special.  This allows the Wight to stave off the desire to walk into the sunlight or an adventurer's sword. 

Instead, a Wight's attention turns outward, to the world.  For even though its appetite for cruelty has been whetted, it still has the Undead desire to enslave and destroy.  However, instead of being a means toward self-destruction, these impulses are now exalted and glorified for their own sake.  Wights create Undead, slay the living and torment their enemies under various pretexts, but these are all in service of the Wight's rapacious, sadistic appetites.

Wights are, of course, aware of this fact.  They are not deluded.  They may pretend to be seeking some other goal, but this is their true desire.  The various pretexts they work under may be believable, such as when a Wight is serving under some greater evil that allows it to carry out its agenda, such as a Necromancer, Wraith or Hag, or or they may be transparent and hollow.  The Wight may discard them as needed, or it may keep them around as a cruel form of mockery.  For example, the Wight claims it is only doing this to get the justice it was denied in life as it carries out atrocities on unsuspecting civilians. 

                                              by Spitfyaa

Boneyard Hydra 
(body)
HD 1d8+1
AR [8 Armor]
Atk Slam (1d8)
Mor 12
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to Poison, Cold and Necrotic damage   

Undead: Undead do not feel pain or get tired.  They are immune to poison and disease.  They do not need to eat, sleep or breathe.  Any spell that says "Undead" in its title or description is talking about something like this.

Sunlight Vulnerability: Undead take 1d6 radiant damage for every round they spend in sunlight.

Already Dead: Unless decapitated, cut to pieces, burnt to ashes by sunlight or reduced to zero HP by a magical attack or weapon, the Undead has an X-in-8 chance of their body knitting itself back together and recovering from the damage they took, where X is equal to the number of HD they have.

Variable Attacks: The Boneyard Hydra makes 1 attack per head.  If any of these heads are destroyed, then the Boneyard Hydra may also make 1 Slam attack on its turn.   

(head and neck)
HD 2
AR See Below
Atk Bite (1d6)
Mor 12
Saves As Body
Immune to Poison, Cold and Necrotic damage 

Shared Abilities: The Heads and Necks of Boneyard Hydra share all abilities that the body does, but the body does not share all the abilities the heads and necks have. 

Separate HD: The Heads and Necks of the Boneyard Hydra have their own HD.  Destroying or damaging them does not damage the main body.  However, area of effects abilities or spells can affect both heads and body at the same time. 

Tactics:
- Leverage the heads effectively
- Work together to exploit the different abilities each head has
- Gang up on one or two enemies
- Retreat if you lose half or more of your heads

To customize a Boneyard Hydra, roll on the tables below:

How many heads does it have?

1d4

1- 3.
2- 4.
3- 5.
4- 6.

How well protected are the necks?

1d4

1- Well, the necks are armored.  They have [7 Armor].
2- Okay, the necks are reinforced with extra bone.  They have [6 Armor].
3- Badly, the necks are armored but the armor is damaged.  The necks have [10 Armor] but if you could damage the armor, it would fall apart or have its effectiveness greatly reduced.
4- Unarmored, but the Boneyard Hydra's necks are not made of exclusively bone, but flesh and muscle preserved with necromantic energy. This makes them faster and more agile.  The necks count as having a +2 bonus to any Defense roll. 

Boneyard Hydras are often the apex of any Necromancer's creative process, as well as their mightiest defenders.  As such, they are often loaded down with extra abilities.  As such, roll X times on the following table, where X is the number of heads.

What other powers does this Boneyard Hydra have? 

1d20

1- This head can spew out a swarm of flesh-eating beetles onto someone.  This only happens once.
2- This head can exhale clouds of freezing arcane fire.  The fire strikes everyone in a 10' line from the head, doing 2d6 cold damage, save for half.
3- This head can exhale a foul-smelling cloud of gas.  This gas 1d3 [1= Does 1d6 damage per round spent inside it; 2= Forces you to save or lose your turn as you choke; 3= Does CON damage per round in the cloud, if this reduces you to 0 you die.]  The head can only produce this cloud once.
4- This head has venomous fangs.  Upon a hit, it injects venom into them.  This venom 1d4 [1= Inflicts a -1d4 penalty to attacks; 2= Causes agonizing pain, save to do anything but spasm and scream on your turn; 3= Take 3d6 damage over the course of 3 rounds, 1d6 per round, you can save each turn to prevent additional damage; 4= Save or die.]
5- This head can detach itself from the neck on a successful bite attack and clamp onto someone.  This halves their DEX and Atk bonus until the head is removed.  Once the head does that the neck becomes a tentacle that makes 1d8 slam attacks.
6- This head has a neck long enough to encircle someone and grapple them.  This takes a successful STR check.
7- This head has hypnotic eyes that cause enemies to freeze up when they see it.  Enemies who look at the Boneyard Hydra while this head is alive must save or freeze.  Predator-type Humanoids (Crocodiles, Wolfmen, Coyoons, Morcai, etc) make this save with advantage.
8- This head can fire a cloud of 1d4 [1= Teeth; 2= Needles; 3= Shards of stone and metal; 4= Arrowheads] that does 3d6 damage on to everyone in a 15' cone, save for half.  If you have a shield, save to take no damage.  The head can do this once. 
9- This head carries a sword between its teeth that it uses to parry attacks against the other necks or itself, reducing damage by 1d8.  It can only parry one attack a round.
10- This head can communicate telepathically and it is constantly blasting everyone around it with constant screaming, pleading and maniacal laughter.  Anyone who can hear must save.  On a failure, they are frightened and take 1d6 COG damage a round.  If this reduces someone to 0 COG, they will flee for their lives or hide from the creature. 
11- This head is larger than the others.  It has +2 HD.
12- This head has +4 armor.
13- This head is full of fluid sacks.  Anyone who injuries or destroys this head is splattered in 1d3 [1= Festering blood and guts, save vs disease; 2= Acid, this destroys the head but does 2d6 damage, save for half.  The acid also destroys non-magical armor and shields; 3= Glowing paint, -4 to stealth until you wash it off.]
14- This head is magnetic.  All attacks made with metal weapon get +4 to hit it but get stuck to it, you must succeed a STR check to pull them loose. 
15- This head has a long, flexible tongue that can grab things.  The Boneyard Hydra will use this to snatch items or weapons from your hand.  Succeed a STR save to resist.
16- This head has suckers in its mouth that can drain life force through.  The mouth automatically grapples anyone it bites.  That creatures takes an additional 1d6 necrotic damage and the Boneyard Hydra recovers that much HP.
17- This head can vomit up flammable goo to cover 1 creature.  Creatures with shields or incredible speed may save to avoid being splattered, otherwise none is permitted.  The creature can vomit flammable goo every 1d4 rounds.  The goo cannot be washed off by small amounts of water, and is sticky.   
18- This head can electrocute people it bites.  The mouth automatically grapples anyone it bites.  That creatures takes an additional 1d6 lightning damage a round and is paralyzed until they succeed a STR save to break free.
19- This head has horrible bacteria growing in its mouth.  Anyone bitten by this must make a save vs disease with disadvantage.
20- This head has eyes all over it.  It doesn't attack, but instead watches 360 degrees around the Boneyard Hydra.  This gives it +4 to spot creatures sneaking up on it and +2 armor as long as this head is alive.  While this head is attached, the Boneyard Hydra makes all saves vs blindness at disadvantage. 

Boneyard Hydras are unique creations among some Necromancers- terrible bodyguards and horrible roadblocks to prevent those who would prefer them to be resting in the dirt instead of on silk sheets.  Boneyard Hydras resemble humanoid skeletons or zombies, but instead of arms and a single head, sprouting from where their necks and arm sockets are forests of spinal cords, each one topped with a laughing skull or rotting face, eyes burning with unholy fire.  

They are created in the following way:

First, you'll need a large body.  An Ogre is preferable, but a large man will sometimes work.  Then, take off the head and the arms.  Replace the arms with spinal cords and install heads on the end.  Do the same with where the singular head remains.  Then, bind some souls to each of the heads.  Sometimes lesser souls are capable of filling this role, but summoning weaker souls from the netherworld is also said to be effective, especially if you want a more powerful Hydra. 

Then, summon a soul stronger than all the others from Sheol, place it within the body and give it dominion over the other souls in the various heads.  This soul must be sadistic and rapacious, possessing an iron will and a limitless desire to see its enemies ground beneath its heel.  Such a soul is necessary because it must be able to dominate all the other souls in the body.

If you have done everything right, you will have a terrifying bodyguard.  If you have not, you will likely not survive as the Hydra will rip you apart, or the souls within it will be so busy struggling against each other that they will tear each apart, leaving you with a bunch of broken bones and a bunch of wasted effort.  

Monday, November 2, 2020

OSR: Playable Races of Nukaria (part 2)

You can find Part 1 of this series here.  This post details the races of the hot, humid North.  This post covers the races of the Temperate Lands that extend from Maven's belt to the Cold Gates.  

If your Referee allows it, you can also play as a Half-Dragon (here) or a Spirit-Touched (Tiefling, Aasimir or Genasi) which can be found here.  

                                                   source unknown

Orzane (Pigmen)

The Orzane are the rulers of the midlands, a warrior-people, once enslaved, now liberated through bloodshed.  According to their own tales, they liberated themselves through heroic war, then set out to save the rest of us through the same.  According to other people, they are adventurers and tyrants, unrelenting in their savagery and brutality.  Neither of these portrayals is truly accurate, for the Orzane are neither saints nor a crushing, Imperial army.  In truth, they are just people.  Another hard truth that is often hard to swallow is that while the Orzanian Empire is ruthless and blood-thirsty, most of the Orzane have little to nothing to do with it, and even less power over it.    

Reroll Stat: STR

Ability: An Orzane can, as a free action, fly into a rage.  While raging, they add double their damage bonus to melee attacks for 1d4+1 rounds.  After this, their rage ends.  They can also end their rage as a full action.  While raging, an Orzane cannot cast spells that do not do damage and make all ranged attacks with a -4 penalty.    

Weakness: Orzane are widely disliked, with enemies foreign and domestic.  Orzane have a 1d10% equal to their HD or class level of attracting some form of trouble, whether that is insults in public, a challenge to duel, criminal mischief, some attempt to embarrass them, or even a murder attempt.  This trouble comes from enemies foreign and domestic.  It can come from one's own countrymen, from Imperial subjects or from the subjects or servants of other Empires.  


                                                                       by kim sehoon

Human

Humans, if you believe their myths, were once a race of apes that bathed in the shed tears of an ancient God.  These tears washed away their animal nature, giving birth to a new, semi-divine species.  The Humans also claim to be the original inventors of arithmetic, the writing of history and the discovery of the human soul.  Most of these claims are not regarded as credible by non-Human scholars, and the Humans themselves debate which sub-group within their species invented them.  What is regarded as true about Humans is that they are hairless, ape-like things with hardy constitutions and the ability to adapt to most environmental conditions.  They are excellent sailors and hardy survivors.  In their past, they spread from the rocky atolls they called home and spread themselves along the coastal midlands and up into the river baronies, going so far inland and South as to reach the foothills of the Spine of Tarraq.  These days they refrain from such activities, with most of their former colonies having largely been incorporated into the Orzanian Empire.     

Reroll Stat: CON

Ability: 1/Day, you can recover 1d6+CON modifier FS as an action. 

Weakness: Humans have poor senses.  They cannot hear or smell very well, and get a -2 penalty  to any checks or saving throw made to perceive something with those senses.  The same goes for sight, if the area they're in is dark.

                                                           by Russell Tuller

Deerling  

It's said that you should never hire a Deerling prostitute, as they'll steal from you.  Instead, if you find yourself afflicted with "forest fever", find yourself lover of that species.  However, make sure they're the ones who break your heart, as that's the only way to prevent them from stealing from you.  Deerlings are known as the shopkeepers of the Civilized Lands, a race dedicated to peaceful conduct with their neighbors.  Unlike almost all the other Lawful races, Deerlings go out of their way to avoid violence.  Do not take their congeniality as weakness, however.  Deerling are an incorrigibly self-interested species.  They are a ruthless bunch, especially in terms of money.  If you leave something valuable around a Deerling, there is a good chance they will steal it.  They will overcharge and will loan you money at inflated rates.  They regard such actions not as unjust, but rather necessary for survival.  If you didn't want to be scammed, you should have been more perceptive.  As far as they are concerned, they've taught you a lesson that hopefully you will learn from.  They have a reputation for criminality, but this is often exaggerated.  Their ruthlessness rarely is.      

Reroll Stat: CHA

Ability: Deerlings are obligate herbivores.  However, they also can eat almost any type of non-poisonous flora, unlike other herbivorious races.  As such, unless in a desert or some other climate where plant life is extremely rare, a Deerling can find enough food to eat.  Foraging like this takes 1d3 to 1d8 hours, depending on the abundance or lack of vegetation. 

Weakness:
Deerlings are weak, with little in the way of muscular strength.  Even strong Deerlings are still rather weak when compared to other medium-sized races.  Deerlings have a -4 penalty to grappling checks or STR contests.    

                                                            by Folda

Hoba

Hoba are technically Folk, but like the Handsome Men, they sold out.  They were infected by symbolic thought and rather then resist, decided that agriculture and wearing clothes wasn't so bad, actually.  As such, they lost their connection to the Forest and much of their innate magical abilities.  They are still partially Folkish, possessing many features associated with the forest; Long, curled ears tipped with fur tufts; clawed paws instead of feet; long, twitching tails covered in soft fur and slit-pupil eyes.  Hoba are small creatures, half the size of most species.  Hoba are tricky and clever beings, possessing a great talent for acrobatics and stealth.  They have a reputation for criminality and mischief, which is only occasionally true.  Still, if a baby goes missing or something weird happens in a rural town, if there are no Witches around to blame, a Hoba will do just fine.  To protect themselves, Hoba men adopt a masculine code called Rontay that involves being assertive, not taking "No" for an answer and never taking any insult.  At best, Rontay means being protective of friends and family and sheltering your tribe, at worst it means being a chauvinist towards outsiders and dismissive towards women.  Another thing Hoba are famous for is their concealed villages- which can only be found with a guide who knows the way, or by the lost or drunk.
                       
Reroll Stat: DEX

Ability:
Hoba can turn invisible as a full action.  They can do this as long as they hold their breath.  They become visible once more if they take a breath or do something strenuous, like make an attack. 

Weakness:
Hoba cannot lie.  They can deceive through a lie of omission, downplay or spin a piece of information, or answer evasively.  But they cannot lie directly.  This is a fact that is known to all who have any experience with Hoba or are well-read.    

                                               by CSuk-1T

Lakazu [La-kah-zoo] or Grey

What can be said about these creatures.  Lakes of ink have already been squandered on this small, insignificant people who seem to constantly cause trouble wherever they go.  The Greys are a small race, with diminiative builds and delicate frames.  They have large, luminous eyes of jet black and bulbous heads, and are usually bald, any hair they possess being delicate and transparent.  They usually cover themselves in robes and loose garments that conceal their sensitive skin, and hide their similar faces behind masks of varying colors.  The type of mask varies from tribe, social position and a variety of other things, but these regulations are largely unknown to non-Lakazu.  They usually only take their masks off around those they are very close to.  Up until they had no homeland, having been largely expelled from their old land and been scattered throughout the lands of the Empire.  There they self-segregated, living in small island communities amid broader societies.  Their religion is secretive and mystic, and teaching it to a non-Lakazu carries a death sentence.  The primary tenets of that religion are brotherhood among the Lakazu and the racial superiority of the Lakazu over all other races.  Proof of the latter fact can be found in their natural telepathic abilities, which they conceal.  Lakazu consider telepathic contact an extremely intimate thing, so normal members of their culture will only use it to talk to their spouse, children or other close family members.        

Reroll Stat: COG

Ability: Lakazu are naturally telepathic, able to communicate with any living creature with a mind within a mile.  They can send images, words or sensations and as long as they keep the channel open, the other creature can reply, even if it is not telepathic.     

Weakness:
Greys are Small creatures, but they are weak even by the standards of those races.  They have disadvantage on checks and saves against poison and disease.    

                                                           by Aymeric Thevenot

Elephantman or Loxodon

Elephantmen are absolute giants, the undisputed rulers of the plains and Savannah.  They roam far and wide in close-knit tribes and families, telling stories and singing deep, rumbling songs.  Elephantmen are an unlettered people, they have excellent memories and thus are well suited to an oral culture.  They memorize vast sums of knowledge and carry it out around with them, until they can pass it down to someone else.  Elephantmen are a peace-loving people, avoiding conflict whenever they can.  However, when they do go to war, they are terrors on the battlefield, splintering enemies like rotten twigs before them.  Elephantmen are widely called "The Strongest Race" for the terror their warriors inflict.  However, because of their small population and genial nature, they are slow to anger and slower to fight.  They do not desire to struggle against anyone, but instead seek only to live in peace, singing their songs and composing their poetry.      

Reroll Stat: STR

Ability:
Your damage die increases by 1 size.  For example, if the weapon you use is a d6, in your hands it becomes a d8 weapon. 

Weakness:
Elephantmen must consume twice the amount of food a Medium creature would or begin suffering the effects of exhaustion, malnutrition and eventually, starvation.  Additionally, they cannot enter many small structures, as they are much too large.  

                                                        source unknown

Badgerfolk

The Badgerfolk are a race of semi-subterranean burrowers who build elaborate underground towns and villages, with entrances to the surface concealed in hills and the hollows of dead trees.  They farm mushrooms and raise their families in the low light of their burrows, while traveling up the surface to farm.  They grow wheat, barley and potatoes, but they are most famous for their orchards, which sprawl over their villages, the roots helping to reinforce the dirt roofs of their homes.  They produce many varieties of ciders and strong liquor, which are prized throughout the Four-color lands.  The Badgerfolk themselves are much less welcome in many places, in part due to their reputation for being stubborn and exclusionary.  This reputation is often overwrought, as most Badgerfolk are perfectly hospitable and lovely people.  Their life style is rather different when compared to other races however, so they tend to be considered strange whenever not among their own people. 

Reroll Stat:
CON

Ability: Badgerfolk long ago were blessed by the Spirits of the Earth, which gave them a unique kinship with them.  As such, they have the ability to burrow through the earth at a rate of half as fast as they can move, (15' per round).

Weakness: Badgerfolk are slow.  With their stumpy legs and heavy frames, they find it difficult to keep up with others.  Badgerfolk have disadvantage on any checks made to pursue or catch something that is running away that is faster or more agile than them.  

                                                                    by edcomics

Coyoon or Coyote-man

The Coyoon are the unwanted juniors of the Wolfmen, favored by neither their elder brothers nor welcomed by the many who have been harmed by the ruthless raids and barbarism of the Wolfmen.  As such, the Coyoons set out to build for themselves a new identity.  Coyoons are assertive and independent- clothing themselves in bright colors and bold styles, while giving themselves bold streaks of color on their furred faces, arms and chests.  They do not take any insult, but love to joke and carouse.  This behavior is unbecoming in the South, so few Coyoons live there.  Instead they left the lands of their forebears and roam across the Civilized Lands along the rivers, some even wandering up into the humid North.  They travel in great caravans, colorful banners flapping.  They are known to be a materialistic and superstitious people, and every caravan or settlement has a Wise Woman or Cunning Man who preserves the mystic knowledge of their ancestors and performs rituals to help them.  Many of them are also known to believe in Fortuna, a mystical force that controls the random outcomes in life.  Some of them believe that one can determine your personal fortune by tracking and consulting the movement of the stars or by casting lots, while others instead believe Fortuna is an entity and worship her like a God.   
 
Reroll Stat: DEX

Ability:
You have a bite attack that does 1d6 damage on a hit and automatically grapples anyone it damages.  If you successfully make such an attack against a creature that is smaller than you and you grapple them, you can spend your action shaking your head back and forth.  This does 1d6 damage to the grappled creature.  If it kills them, the cause is usually because your wild jerking broke the creature's neck.   

Weakness: While Coyoons are medium creatures, they are slightly weaker than other races in that size category.  As such, Coyoons are cowardly creatures.  When faced with any situation where fighting seems unwise, such as against superior numbers, a stronger foe(s) or any situation where their side possesses a clear disadvantage, Coyoons must save or feel compelled to make a hasty retreat.  On a failed save, the Coyoon takes 1d6 COG damage.  If this damage reduces to the Coyoon's COG to 0, the Coyoon flees in a mad panic.  COG damage lost like this comes back at a rate of 1d6 points per hour, as long as the Coyoon believes itself to be in a (relatively) safe place.   

                                                        from here

Saturday, October 31, 2020

OSR: The Night of the Hunt

Every year, on one specific day, the boundaries between the Spirit World, the Land of the Dead and the World of the Living reach their thinnest point.  On this day, the souls of the dead are permitted to leave their dwellings in the Otherworld to return to the Living World, or to explore other realms temporarily.  Other creatures, such as Folk and Outsiders are granted similar permissions, able to walk freely and depart from their places of origin to wander freely.  

For mortals, this day carries a very specific meaning.  It is a holiday, a most important one. 

                                                        by sumina

In the Temperate Lands, this festival is known as Goblinwatch.  It is said that on this night, the Folk are permitted to go out and play pranks on people, loosing animals, pretending to be people and turning those people into animals.  The best way to avoid this fate is to bribe the Folk with gifts of baked sweets, strong liquor and salted meats.  The most popular treat that is left out are fruit and cheese tarts, which are left on platters of wood, silver or gold and only prepared with utensils made of anything but iron.

If the Folk appreciate your gifts, then they are supposed to leave your house alone, and may even reward you for your excellent hospitality.

What Gift have the Folk left the house that provided an excellent gift?

1d6

1- They have left a bottle of wine.  The wine appears magical, but is actually perfectly normal.
2- They have left a bottle of brandy in a bottle made of ice.  The brandy, if drunk, slows down time to make a night or day stretch out longer for the drinker.  It still gets you drunk.
3- They left an enormous pie.  Cutting into the pie will cause it to explode, revealing that there is a live foal in it.  The pie is still perfectly edible, though now it has hoof prints on it and is probably partially smashed.  The foal is non-magical.
4- They seemingly left no gift, but this is misleading.  A small group of Brownies are now living in the house and will clean it whenever everyone is asleep, away or not looking.  But if they tell anyone about this, the Brownies will make a mess of their house and leave. 
5- They leave a baby on their stoop.  This child is clearly abnormal, growing at an accelerated rate.  For the first seven days, the child will age one year a day.  Once they reach the age of 9, they will begin growing and aging at a normal rate.  The child will be a diligent helper and very talented at whatever it is taught.  For seven years, the child will stay to help his adoptive parents.  But once he reaches the age of 16, the child will say good-bye, run off into the forest and never be seen or heard from again.
6- They leave a single seed.  If eaten, nothing happens, but the seed is tasty.  But if planted, the seed grows into a 1d3 [1= Faerie Tree that will bring good luck and protect the household from casual misfortune (but not curses); 2= A fruit tree that produces fruit that is magical or extremely valuable (50%); 3= A giant stalk that grows up into the Upper Air, climbing it will lead you to a 1d4 (1= Cloud Giant's Palace; 2= Djinn's Manse; 3= A Sphinx's Nest; 4= The floating monastery of the legendary Order of the Flying Fist.]

What have the Folk left for the house that failed to provide a gift, or the gift was lousy?

1d6

1- They leave a farm animal tied to the fence.  The animal is actually a horrific shape-shifter though, and whenever it sees an opportunity, it will transform back and raid the vegetable garden, steal eggs and chickens from the henhouse and generally make trouble. 
2- A flute carved of a single piece of wood.  The flute is cursed in that whatever song is played causes extreme reactions (songs about war drive people to homicidal rage, love songs charm people into being obsessed with the musician, sad songs make people contemplate suicide, etc).  This also affects whoever is playing the tune 
3- A bottle of wine that when the wine is exposed to the air, it explodes and splatters everything around it in low-quality alcohol.
4- A delicious pie that makes whoever eats it shrink down to three inches in height.
5- One important member of the household has been transformed into a 1d4 [1= Water Buffalo; 2= Pig; 3= Tiger; 4= Crocodile.]
6- A huge diamond.  The diamond is actually a rock that has been covered by an illusion.  The enchantment will wear off after 1d6+1 days and the diamond will be revealed to be a worthless stone. 

                                                by rossa martin

In the lands of the Handsome Men, there is no Goblinwatch, as the Folk and Handsome Men despise each other.  Instead you have Hunt's Day, a day of inversion.  The normal social norms are overturned and people are free to engage in all the gross, degenerate or unclean behavior that they are normally forbidden.  This includes such things as eating in public, holding hands and kissing in the front yard, not sneaking your trash out under a layer of trash and other more mundane things.  The day also has such events as the Ugly Contest, where contestants compete to make themselves the most hideous, the vegetable fights, where neighbors pelt each other with overripe or bruised fruits and vegetables to the Naked Love Confession, where people get naked and try to approach their beloved to give them a tearful confession, or a smooch, while other participants chase them with ribbons to try and restrain them and cover their shame. 

Then, once all the good fun has been done, the people return to their homes, lock their doors and hide.  Then the jails are opened, the condemned are set free and the Handsome Men are unleashed.  Thus begins the Night of the Hunter's Moon.  The Handsome Men transform into their War-Faces, assuming monstrous strength and visage and stalk the empty streets, pursuing the condemned and any others who happen to be unfortunate enough to fall to their claws. 

In the morning, clean-up begins, the Handsome Men don their beautiful faces once more and any condemned criminals who survived are officially pardoned.  

                                             from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In the Orzanian Empire, they celebrate Goblinwatch, but also have a separate tradition.  For the day, the royalty and the Emperor don the hues of Colors not their own, cover their faces with masks and wander the streets anonymously.  Meanwhile, the Clowns are let out.

Anyone can be a Clown, all they have to do is paint their face white with spots indicating their Color or wear a mask that does the same.  These Clowns participate in a great game, a mock-war to crown the Clown-King.  Whoever wins the war can crown their own Clown-King, who is the ruler of all clowns and festival-goers, and is permitted to make any decrees he wishes, as long as they are not immoral, shameful or not in the spirit of good fun. 

The Imperial Capital of Au-Mar is known to have an extremely elaborate festivities each year, with the construction of an elaborate mock fortress just outside of the city gates.  This building hosts a wild party each year.

Then, the next morning is the Festival of the Glorious Departed, the day meant to honor those who died in service of the Empire.  This is primarily warriors, but it also includes mothers who died in child-birth, those who worked themselves to death or showed courage in the face of the Empire's enemies and certain death.

This day includes such traditions as apologizing for any acts of rudeness committed during the last year, making sacrifices to the Gods and to your fallen kin, and in Au-Mar, giving gifts of wood or oil to the Emperor.  His Imperium then uses these gifts to burn down the mock-fortress that hosted a lavish party the other day- then all who are present smear themselves with the ashes to remind themselves of the dangers of indulgence and the necessity of sacrifice.   

                                                             from here

In the Cold South, where Ancestor worship is much more common, this occasional is also called All Soul's Eve or Night of the Thin Veil.  On this night, people don masks and throw parties with music and dancing.  They burn incense and rejoice to draw the souls of the dead home. 

Then, slowly and subtly, the crowd of celebrants grows and grows, until you are amidst a great, teeming host.  It is extremely taboo to ask someone if they are alive or not, so simply dance and enjoy the evening.  This is an occasion for joy, with dancing and stolen kisses and delicious foods.  Today is also a day to indulge forbidden pleasures and taboos.  For some, kisses are not enough.  A romantic rendezvous with a stranger is always an option, especially since you're both wearing masks and your one-night lover might be gone come the first feelers of dawn. 

Sometimes children result from these exchanges, and depending on the whims of fate, they either die prematurely or live rude, vigorous lives that put the normal living to shame.  They are almost always great, whether because they are heroic or wicked can vary.  But they are never normal.

Other times, an ancestor might lure a descendant away to whisper a message in their ear about something the living have forgotten, or some piece of information about the future overheard in the Courts of the Underworld.

Credit to Joseph Manola for the idea 

                                                                    by norapotwora

The other Party-goers:

Of course, the Folk aren't the only ones out tonight.  The Night of the Thin Veil is also a night where the other denizens of the other world enter the Living World to cause mischief and destruction.  One of the primary ways this is done is through the various Hunts that take place on this night. 

To see what party of hunters that are heading your way, roll on the tables below:

What's that sound I hear?

1d4

1- The thunder of hooves
2- Distant screaming and wailing
3- The clang of metal armor and weapons
4- The screech of eagles and trained birds

Then you see...

1d6

1- A great host of spectral warriors, galloping on the shades of horses through the air.
2- A pack of dogs with bodies made of smoke and the faces of men.
3- A parade of Demons, Spooks and lesser Spirits from beyond
4- A horde of Folk, armed to the teeth and riding wild beasts
5- A swarm of hungry ghosts, incorporeal and shapeless
6- A silent procession of men in dark robes.  Closer inspection reveals them to be skeletal forms carrying rusty farm implements.  They are draped in holy symbols and prayer beads, their empty eye-sockets filled with coins.

They are lead by...

1d6

1- A man on a black horse with skin that is translucent at the right angle, wearing a diadem of eerie, silver-white fire.
2- A golden-haired woman with eyes like stars who wears shining white and rides in a chariot pulled by pegasi.
3- A screaming horror with no skin and cruel brass horns.  It is covered in 1d6 additional mouths which spout prayers, blasphemies or prophecies.
4- An old woman in a hooded cloak carrying a rod made of holly wood.
5- Oberon, the October King, Sovereign of the Folk and Ruler of Autumn.  He resembles an impossibly masculine naked man with  muscles like a marble statue, flowing locks and a beard that holds all the colors of the changing leaves, with eyes of piercing blue.  Draped in a raiment of cobwebs and crowned in dead branches, he is more regal than anything you've ever seen.
6- A dog the size of a carriage, coal black with eyes of flame, wreathed in smoke.  The dog breathes fire and can speak, though it is loathe to do so.   

They are hunting...
  
1d6

1- A ghost(s) who have escaped the Underworld or never departed for there in the first place.
2- An Outsider(s) who are illegally in this world.
3- A powerful creature such as a 1d8 [1= Genie; 2= Giant; 3= Dragon; 4= Sphinx; 5= Mind Flayer; 6= An Orc; 7= A Kua Toa Godling; 8= A Psychomaster.]
4- The members of a particular group.  Specifically, a particular 1dX [1= Ethnic group; 2= political faction; 3= Religious minority; 4= Organization.]
5- No one in particular, but if they encounter anyone on their travels, the Huntmaster/Huntmistress will challenge that creature to a Test of 1d3 [1= Courage; 2= Character; 3= Cunning.]  Those who fail the test are free game to be targeted.  Those who pass are rewarded with 1d6 [1= A fragment of the Huntmaster's power; 2= Treasure; 3= Something seemingly worthless that later transforms into treasure; 4= A magic item; 5= A consumable item that grants the gift of flight; 6= The ability to call the Hunt again.]
6- No one in particular, but any creature they encounter is fair game. 

Plot Hooks:
1d6

1- A household is awoken to find where the eldest daughter was, there is now a hungry tiger.  The Folk were evidentially displeased with the family's offerings.  Please, find some way to restore the daughter back to her normal form. 
2- A ghost comes to you and tells you, "Don't let Frieda dig up your Grandfather's bones, it'll happen again, just like in the Summer of the Ascension."  You have no idea what the ghost is referring to, and you don't know any Frieda. 
3- A wealthy man hires you to go pick one of his kinsmen who was arrested many months ago in the lands of the Handsome Men.  The rich man has heard that the Handsome Men release criminals on Goblinwatch, so he wants you to be there to escort his brother home and keep him safe on the way there.
4- You encounter a young woman clutching a bundle to her chest, streaked in mud with welts on her arms and legs, running for her life.  As she flees away from you, you hear the distant sounds of an approaching hunting party.  Will you help her?  And what is so precious that she would risk the wrath of these otherworldly hunters rather than hand it over? 
5- A stranger comes to you the night before Goblinwatch and presents you with an invitation to join a special hunt, for special prey.  The messenger informs you that refusing the offer will open you up to being hunted yourself.  Will you join the hunt- even though what they are pursuing is likely just as dangerous?  And will you be able to escape from the hunt before morning, or will you end up riding with them forever? 
6- There is a story of a woman who rides a chariot through the air each year.  One year though, her chariot was damaged and she disguised herself, then asked a local tradesman for help repairing it.  That tradesman was given a pile of horse dung as a reward, but the next morning he found it had turned to gold.  A local merchant wants you to try and damage the sky-woman's chariot, in the hopes that he can help her and receive a similar reward.  He will share it with you, of course, assuming he receives one.          

                                                          by celeng

Friday, October 30, 2020

OSR: Sphinxes

                                                           by mltc

The rivalry between Giants and Dragons is famous, immortalized in myth and legend.  The Dragons through the sky, unleashing a rainbow of death upon their foes, a flood of acid and fire and everything else, while the Giants stand in ordered ranks, their colors regimented and organized, proud and resolute in the face of Chaos.

And it is true that there is a deep animus between those two races.  But the true mirror of the Dragon has always been the Sphinx.

Dragons are the exemplars of Chaos, respecting no laws and doing as they wish, with similarly little regard for custom, tradition or even the feelings of others.  They do as they wish and trample everyone else in their way. 

Sphinxes, on the other hand, are paragons of law.  They dwell in cities, placing urban areas under their protection, building their nests on the roofs of tall buildings or in the lofts of airy palace.  Many Law Gods respect the Sphinxes greatly, and allow them to roost atop their pyramids or in special rooms constructed for exactly that purpose.

From there, the Sphinx dedicates itself to the welfare of the city, and depending on the Sphinx, this will mean different things.

What is the the Sphinxes’ primary concern?

1d6

1- Protecting the city from foreign enemies and keeping the peace.  The Sphinx will punish anyone guilty of disorder.  No riot or revolt will endure it’s terrible roar and razor claws.
2- Policing the city.  The Sphinx works with citizen-investigators to track down criminals and punishes them, either by forcing them to confess or by simply rendering summary judgement itself.
3- Maintaining the moral standards.  The Sphinx seeks out those it feels are or could corrupt the morals of the youth and deals with them in whatever way that seems fit.
4- Hunting the servants of Chaos.  The Sphinx is constantly vigilant for signs of Chaotic incursion, and seeks to prevent them from gaining any purchase in the city.
5- Protecting an important resource.  The Sphinx has either been charged or has simply appointed itself as the guardian of some rare or dangerous resource.  The Sphinx wishes to keep this resource safe and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. 
6- Tracking down and destroying beasts, magical or otherwise, that live near or in the city and could threaten the citizens.

The Sphinxes described above are known as the free Sphinxes.  Other Sphinxes, known as the Bonded Sphinxes, dwell in more isolated places or on the steps of Heaven, guarding holy cities sacred to the Gods of Law.  There these Sphinxes protect holy treasures and areas hiding divine artifacts, keeping them secure for the day they will eventually be used. 

Bonded Sphinxes are sometimes also known to be Agents of the Law Gods, dispatched to hunt down criminals, Servants of Chaos and rogue deities.    

                                                       by SirenD

Sphinx
HD X
AR Magically Hardened Fur and Feathers [15 Armor]
Atk Pounce (1d10/1d10 magical bludgeoning)
Mor 14
Saves (7+HD) or less
Immune to being Charmed or Frightened

Inscrutable: Sphinxes are protected by powerful innate magics.  Their thoughts cannot be read and no ability or spell that detects feelings or mentality works against them.  Additionally, a Sphinx cannot be detected through a divination spell unless it wishes to be found. 

Flight: The Sphinx can fly.  A Sphinx gains +4 to its armor and initiative while flying.

Spellcasting: Sphinxes have X Mana Dice.  These burn out on a 5 or 6.  Doubles or Triples trigger Chaos.  Sphinxes have the spells Banishment, Call to Heroic Death, Divine Retribution, Flame Strike, Greater Invisibility, I expect you to Dine, Shield and Zone of Truth prepared.

Chaos of the Sphinx: Roll 1d6 on the lower table to see what happens when a Sphinx's spells trigger Chaos.

1d6
1- Lightning bolts rain down on a circular area 50' in diameter, centered on the Sphinx.  All within must save or take 2d6 lightning damage
2- A thick fog that cuts visibility to 10' rolls in, covering a circular area 100' in diameter, centered on where the Sphinx is right now.
3- The Sphinx loses a Mana Die.
4- A glowing pattern of lights and patterns appears in front of the Sphinx.  All who were looking at the Sphinx must save.  Those who fail their save fall into a hypnotic trance for 1 minute, or until shaken out of it.  The Sphinx must also save.
5- The Sphinx is teleported 50' in a random direction, appearing in the nearest unoccupied space.
6- The Sphinx experiences a moment of divine revelation, losing its action and falling into a pseudo-trance.  The Sphinx will contemplate the mysteries of Heaven for 1 hour or until distracted from it by something worldly, such as being attacked, a loud noise or a bunch of irritating adventurers.      

Roar: All Sphinxes can roar three times a day.  These roars are audible for anyone within a square mile and faintly audible for 3 miles around it.  Anyone who is within 500' of a Sphinx when it roars must save if the roar calls for it. 

The first roar is incredibly loud.  All within 500' must save or be frightened.  Those who are frightened take 1d6 COG damage upon hearing the roar and each time they see the Sphinx do something impressive or scary.  This includes roaring again.  If a creature's COG is reduced to 0 by the Sphinx, that creature will flee, hide or beg for mercy. 

The second roar is even louder.  All within 500' must save or be frightened and deafened.  If a creature is already frightened, they only need to save vs deafness and take 1d6 COG damage immediately.    

The third roar is loud enough to shake the pillars of Heaven.  All within 500 take 4d6 thunder damage, save for half.  Any frightened creatures take 1d6 COG damage upon seeing this. 

Tactics:
- Open with the first roar
- Take to the skies, use your spells to keep your distance
- Use roars as needed, depending on the amount of frightened creatures
- Punish the unjust, but let the worthy or righteous escape from you

To Customize a Sphinx, roll on the tables below:

This Sphinx is a...

1d6

1- Androsphinx.  It has the head of a handsome human male.
2- Gynosphinx.  It has the countenance of a regal female human.
3- Criosphinx.  This Sphinx has a Sheep's head and majestic horns.
4- Hieracosphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a falcon.
5- Canisphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a dog.
6- Taurosphinx.  This Sphinx has the head of a bull.

How strong is this Sphinx?

1d4

1- 6 HD. 
2- 7 HD.
3- 8 HD.
4- 9 HD.

A Sphinxes' MD is equal to their HD. 

Sphinx Plot Hooks:
1d4

1- The Demon Seloza has returned to take his revenge on Az-Hari, the City which he ruled in ancient times before he was banished by a Prophet.  Now he has returned to retake what was once his.  The Sphinx who now guards Az-Hari has a problem with this.  Their clash is likely to destroy much of the city.  Will you aid one side in the hopes that it benefits you, or will you merely use the chaos as an opportunity to enrich yourself?
2- A Sphinx approaches you with a request for aid.  The Sphinx has become aware that an ancient artifact of Law has fallen into the hands of a Dragon who hoards war-booty.  The Sphinx wants to steal the artifact back.  The Sphinx will distract the Dragon, all you need to do is wait for it to leave it's cave, then go and steal it.
3- Cleo Quickstrike, an adventurer, attempted to rob a Sphinx and was captured for his trouble.  Fortunately for Cleo, his brother-in-law happened to be the Governor of an Imperial Province.  The Governor wishes you to go rescue his brother-in-law, and will reward you handsomely. 
4- King Taro of Elshain, ruler of the city of Yu, is currently being besieged by an enemy army.  It is only a matter of time before his walls are taken or they run out of food.  Either way, the city will be destroyed and he will likely die.  He has been trying to convince the Sphinx that lives in the city to intervene on his behalf, but the Sphinx has sworn only to fight Chaos and its' servants.  He wants you to fabricate evidence that there are Chaos cultists among the enemies and present it to the Sphinx, in the hopes of stirring it to action.      

                                                           by Kid-Eternity

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

OSR: The Orzane

The world belongs to them.  Of all the races in Nukaria, they have claimed the top spot.  They are united beneath their Emperor, who rules them and their client races with an iron fist.  They maintain their top spot through an iron rod and crush any who oppose their dominion with terrible violence.  

The Orzane have no rival within their own lands.  They dominate all from the edge of the steaming jungles of the North to the Cold Gates of the South, and from the Mountains of Eve and the Sea of Beasts in the West to the rugged Steppe in the East.  Within these lands, the Orzanian Empire controls all.  All the Kings within owe fealty to the Emperor, and all Gods pledge their friendship and loyalty to Anuman, current King of Heaven and chief of the Orzanian Pantheon.

To be obedient to the Orzanian Empire is to know peace, prosperity, and safety.  

To resist is to condemn yourself to humiliation and pain, followed by a hideous death.  Whole cities, tribes and cultures have been condemned by the Emperor of the Orzane, and when the Emperor condemns someone, the judgement is always the same: death on a scale you can't even imagine.

                                                             by NuMioH

Appearance:

The Orzane are hogfolk, with pink skin covered in fur of brown, black or tan, occasionally with splotches or stripes of white.  They have long muzzles with flat snouts, and tusks poking out of the corner of their mouths.  They have hooves and do not wear shoes.  They are generally muscular and stocky in form, being taller than Dwarves and most Quarrians but shorter than Humans, Oxmen, Crocolings and anything taller than that.

In cooler climates, the Orzane are known to grow out their hair and style the longer parts of it.  Mohawks are very common, along with braids and dreadlocks, for those who can get their hair to grow that long.  In hotter climates, the opposite is true, as the Orzane shave parts of their body to expose their pink flesh.  However, this can expose their sensitive skin to the sun, so many who have to work out in the sun will paint their exposed flesh with zinc paste.  Sometimes this paste is made so that it approximates the usual skin tone of the Orzane, but others prefer to smear themselves in brilliant hues and lurid colors.  Additionally, Orzane in all parts of the Empire are known to dye their hair, especially their mohawk, if they have one.  Every Orzane is very particular about what color of paste they apply to themselves or what color they dye their hair.  But more on that later.   

Racial Archetype:
The Orzane generally are:
- Passionate
- Domineering
- Consummately Polite
- Prone to rapid mood swings
- Have fiery, explosive tempers
- Quick to anger but slow to forgive
- Thin-skinned

The Orzane are known most strongly for their violence and their rages.  When in danger, Orzane are even known to enter a state called the "Battle Rage", where all feelings and emotions are temporarily drowned in a sea of rage.  All Orzane have slightly different Battle Rages, but they all usually result in the same thing.  And while the Orzane's Battle Rage can leave them vulnerable once they are finished, usually few survive the initial attack.

That being said, the Orzane are more than just the violent, brutal rulers of the world.  They are also known for their elaborate Imperial rituals, their great love of tea and etiquette, their martial pride and honor, as well as their seemingly superhuman ability to make noodle dishes.  Noodles are considered a staple food among the Orzane, each one being paired with different vegetables, sauces and occasionally, meats.     

Family ways:


The Orzane used to have a strong family structure underpinning their society, with families bonding together to form clans, which were the basis of all political organization.  However, the common belief among many Urban Orzane is that this family-centric structure undermined the stability of the government by ensuring there was always something interfering with total allegiance to the Gods and to the Emperor.  As such, families are highly passe for the Urban Orzane.

Instead, children are taken from their Mothers at a young age and raised in large, collective groups.  Here agents of His Imperium watch over and monitor the children, with workers recruited from the local population helping to care for the children.  Once the children have reached a certain age, they are removed from their Children's Collective and sent to work in a trade as befitting their class.

Many Rural Orzane dislike this practice, and keep the old ways of maintaining iron-clad family structures, where the oldest responsible male relative takes the mantle of Patriarch and works to guide his family to live good lives.  The Patriarch of the Family is considered to be its head and has almost absolute authority when it comes to deciding what the family should do.  

Marriage ways:

Rural Orzane practice the traditional form of marriage, as conducted by their ancestors in the pre-Imperial and early Imperial centuries.  These marriages are arranged, often without consulting the people to be married, by representatives of the two families.  Prices are arranged and then the engagement is announced.  Engagements are serious business to the Rural Orzane, if one is broken off, the party that broke the agreement must pay the other double the dowry or bride-price paid for the engagement to go forth.

Then, a feast is arranged.  This feast will be a large party, with much drinking and merriment.  Finally, at the end of the night, the whole feast reaches its climax in a game of Bride-Snatch, where the Bride and her female companions go and hide throughout a pre-agreed upon area and the Bridegroom goes in search of her.  The Bridegroom's male relatives and companions are also allowed to go and search for the Bride, while the Bride's male relatives are expected to try and stop the the Bridegroom and his male helpers through such tactics as riddles, stalling, taking the Bride from one hiding spot and putting her in another, or just guarding her.  There is much wrestling and mock-combat during a game of Bride-Snatch, usually done with wooden swords or sticks.  The game ends when the Bridegroom finds the Bride or a certain amount of time has passed.  The person who wins the game is usually the one who is allowed to decide where they will first make love. 

After the marriage has been consummated the feasts ends and everyone goes home, unless it is late, at which point you will likely be asked to stay.  And you could stay because you know the roads are dangerous and you're tired and hungover, but you also know that if you stay, you're going to have to listen to the newlyweds giggling in moaning in the garden right outside the guest suites and frankly, that was an experience you only needed to have once.

Finally, a man may have as many wives as he can afford, though there are several conditions.  Firstly, he must go through all the steps above described.  Secondly, his other wives, or concubines, will be considered lesser to his first wife, who will retain a position of superiority over them and will help manage them.  It goes without saying that the first wife must be consulted when a husband wishes to take a new wife.

Urban Orzane, on the other hand, do things a bit differently.  No one is exactly sure who came up with it, some say it originated when a provincial governor suffered from an abundance of daughters in his population and there were insufficient men from his own cities, or maybe it was from a bureaucrat who traveled into Dwarven lands and was astonished at their customs and brought something home with him, but regardless, here's how it works. 

It is called a Night Marriage.  Instead of a private negotiation, on a certain date, all the unwed women of the city are gathered in one place and all the men in search of brides gather there as well.  The men then bid on the women, the auction beginning with the most beautiful and working down to the most homely.  There is a ceremony then conducted and the Brides and Bridegrooms are married.  There is then a feast thrown for each of them.  Since all these marriages are conducted on one night, whole cities can grind to a screeching halt as dozens or hundreds of simultaneous parties are thrown across the city. Due to the more communal nature of Urban Orzane, it sometimes occurs where partygoers will wander from party to party, starting the night celebrating with friends and waking up with a splitting hangover on the couch of some Orzanian couple he's never met.  Drink responsibly, kids.

And despite the unorthodox way they are conducted, Night Marriages are indistinguishable to normal Orzanian marriages, with one exception.  If the Bride and Bridegroom do not want to be together, as long as they agree to separate before the sun comes up, the marriage is considered null and void.

This is a huge asset for the indecisive, as divorce is a major hassle in all other circumstances.  Either party can initiate divorce proceedings and if a women leaves her husband, whatever property she owned before her marriage is to be returned to her.  The main problem with marriage is not legal though, but social.  To divorce one's husband or wife is considered to be deeply shameful and tends to stir up rumors, duels and occasionally, blood oaths.    

Gender ways:

The Urban Orzane, particularly their women, will tell you how their society is most beneficient, because it grants them the most freedom.  They crow about how women don't need to shackle themselves to families or to children anymore and are instead allowed to serve the Emperor in whatever way they serve.  These same Urban Orzane also studiously ignore the fact Night Marriages give males all the power and enable exploitation and Child Collectives can leave women childless and alone.  This is an inconsistent position, but it is one reinforced by almost all of the institutions, including the Emperor and the Imperial Ministries, albeit subtly.

In the rural, less developed parts of the Empire, among the Rural Orzane, almost the direct opposite is true.  Here traditional gender roles are maintained.  A wife is expected to take up her husband's trade and become his helper, assisting him in all things, except for those things that are solely the domain of men.  Similarly, he is expected to do the same, aiding his wife in all things, except those which are reserved for the fairer sex.  This applies to married Orzane obviously, but even unmarried women are expected to obey the orders of men, especially if those men are older than them, and men are expected to be the guides and protectors of women, even if they don't personally know or have any attachment to them.          

Sex ways:

While children are the primary purpose of sex and marriage to the Orzane, sex is considered to be a noble and normal part of life.  There is no shame attached to it and it is considered to be an important part of life.  Compared to some peoples, the Orzane are almost sexual deviants- doing it outside, on their roofs, in every room but the bedroom, etc.  It is considered rude to stare, but there is no shame in simply seeing it.  Don't watch though- that's how you end up fighting an incredibly awkward duel with someone's brother.  

That being said, the Orzane do not tolerate pre-marital sex or adultery.  The punishments for the former vary from place to place, but usually are a family matter and kept within the family.  There are some marriages that result from this, a so called Daggerpoint wedding, and many Fathers agree to such unions to avoid a potential blood oath.    

For adultery, the punishments are much worse.  Someone can be put to death for adultery, but both participants in the act are judged together.  For example, if a adultress is sentenced to death, her lover is as well.  But if her husband wishes to take her back and thus asks the Justice of His Imperium to spare her, her lover will be pardoned along with her.          


 

                                                             source unknown

Child-rearing ways:

Many of the children of the Urban Orzane are put into Child Collectives, often with the parent's consent.  Here is what that is often like.     

For younger children in a Child Collective, the experience is largely identical to daycare, except the children have small rooms and never go home.  To them, this is home.  But as the children grow and mature, they are given more and more independence.  Once they reach adolescence, they are moved to special so-called "Adult Plantations" where few guardians ever visit, instead allowing the children to organize themselves as they see fit.  Sometimes these Adult Plantations teach the children how to be strong, intelligent, the difficulties of building a new society and wisdom beyond their years.  Other times it leads to petty strongmen, bully-kings and teen pregnancy. 

Regardless of how the actual raising process goes, the result is usually the same, with violent, tribal young men with no idea how to conduct themselves as men, highly sexual young women with no understanding of what a decent, healthy relationship looks like, and both with no loyalty to their parents or city, both instead only giving fealty to His Imperium and his agents.

Naming ways:

In the past, the Orzane were conquered and subjugated by many people, and often their oppressors would insist that it was not proper for those of lower status to possess ornate names.  This, coupled with the need to keep track of the Orzane led to the tradition of Orzane identifying themselves by what city they were born in or lived for a long time.  For example, an Orzanian name would be something like this: John of New York.  If an Orzane is not from a city directly or does not wish to identify with the closest city, the Orzane will pick some recognizable or well-known landmark instead.  An example of this would be "Susan of [the] Shenandoah [Valley]."  

Death ways:


The Orzane take their history as a warrior people very seriously, a fact that can be seen most clearly in their funerary rites.  Firstly, the corpses of the dead are washed and annointed with oils or sprinkled with flowers, depending on how wealthy the family is.  Then the corpse will be fitted with a death mask, which will be painted or carved to look like the deceased.  Depending on the class and wealth of the deceased's kinsmen, this mask can be made of anything from fired clay to carved, lacquered wood and for the wealthiest, forged gold or iron.  After the corpse has been laid to rest, but before it is buried, the mask will then be removed from the corpse and offered to the deceased's heir.  However, it is traditional that others who are attending the funeral may duel the heir, or the heir's champion, for the mask.  The winner receives the mask.  Sometimes these duels are merely for show and tradition, but other times they are serious competitions that draw real blood.

But assuming the heir ends up with the deceased's death mask, it will then be taken back to the deceased's home, or their family's home and placed in a shrine.  The deceased's weapons will then be placed in the shrine as well.  The shrine will then be decorated with things the deceased loved in life and other things about them, such as medals, art depicting what they did, trophies from battle and etc. 

It is considered common courtesy to visit the shrines in an Orzane's house and offer prayers there.

For Urban Orzane or those raised in Child Collectives who do not have family homes, their death masks are displayed in two different ways.  Sometimes the Orzane's house will be left unused and unoccupied, transformed into a shrine to the deceased.  In other cases, especially after large battles, monuments with communal shrines will be built and the death masks of all the deceased will be displayed there.

Religious ways:

The Orzanian Religion is based on three central principles; firstly, that Law is Good and the work of the Gods, secondly that Law must be preserved for the safety of all and thirdly, that this will require constant struggle, within and without, because all mortals have a corrupt nature, being naturally selfish and weak-willed, giving in to evil impulses.

The Gods are seen as just and perfect, for they restrain us from commiting all the evil deeds we would like to, by giving us Law so we might see the error of our ways and then by setting governors over us and blessing those governors with justice, so that the mighty might not devour the lowly and the strong might not trample upon the meek.

Furthermore, because of the lowliness and wickedness of mortals, a hierarchy of spirits and divinities has been constructed within the Imperial religion to prevent the Gods from becoming angered by the wretched attempting to speak to them directly.
This hierarchy also coincidentally happens to correspond perfectly with the Imperial caste system. 

Notable Gods:

Anuman, is the God of Law, Kings, Art, Music and Magic.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Authority.  He is the current King of Heaven, the master of all Law Gods, at least in theory.  He is credited as the one who invented writing, the concept of a legal system, written laws and monarchy.  He is also said to have crowned the first Emperor, the Emperor of Shining Glory.  He is also believed to administer the whole world and keeps it turning, so to speak.  Unlike the other Gods, anyone may pray to him, however you are expected to be in good standing at the moment of making your prayer.  The requirements for what constitute 'good standing' are quite strict though, so with the exception of the especially pious or the righteous, few pray to him.  The only people who do pray to him regularly the Priests of his Cult, Kings, those of Royal Blood and other Gods, as Anuman will also hear those prayers, while he doesn't always hear the prayers of those beneath him.  This is also why it is considered beneficial to send your prayers up through the hierarchy, instead of directly to Anuman.

Iel is the Goddess of Pregnancy, Merchants, Shepherds, Motherhood and Dogs.  Her Church is the Imperial Cult of Peace.  She is the Consort of Anuman and mother of the Queen-Killer.  She is said to protect mothers who are with child, shelter innocent, young girls and advise old, wise women.  She is credited with being the foster mother to the first Orzane, who promised to honor her forever as well as being the soft hand the Empire often needs.  It is said that she often intervenes from behind the scenes to prevent wars and rebellions from ever beginning.  For this reason, despite the fact that her Cult is quite female-centric, many men still come to her temples to pray.  Mothers, those wishing to become Mothers, those with child, diplomats and peacemakers are those who usually pray to Iel.  However, if you are offering a prayer for peace or for the safety of a child in the womb, or your Mother, your prayer will not be ignored.

Marzan is the God of War, Soldiers, Carpenters, the Suicidal and the Insane.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Glory.  He is the firstborn of Anuman and Iel and the heir to Anuman, should the former fall.  He is the one who slew the Queen of Chaos at the beginning of this age and built the world from her corpse.  He is also said to be the Guardian of the Imperial Household and Shadow of the Emperor.  If the Emperor ever becomes corrupt, wicked or incompetent, it is said that Marzan will step in and kill him, then appoint a new Emperor or take the throne himself, though the latter outcome would only occur in the most dire of circumstances.  The only people whose prayers Marzan is said to hear are those involved in a martial conflict, soldiers or those surrounded by war.  He very occasionally answers other prayers, but these occasions are so few to be almost mythic in and of themselves.

Unta is the God of Lies, Traitors, Desserts, Slaves, Prostitutes and Sailors.  His Church is the Imperial Cult of Bondage.  He is a former attendant to the Consort of the Queen of Chaos, the God Quino. After Marzan slew the Queen of Chaos and Quino was punished for his crimes, Unta was spared, on the condition that he swore eternal obedience to Anuman, which he did.  Unta is credited with causing much of the suffering in the world, that which is not caused by the corruption of mortals and the stains left on the world by the Queen of Chaos.  He is said to be the source of tooth aches and crop failures, of conspiracies and adulterers, of slave revolts and provincial rebellions.  However, because the other Gods are mostly righteous, they attempt to restrain and monitor Unta, so he cannot do these things.  However, Unta is clever in the extreme and somehow always manages to slip away, at least for a time, before being recaptured. Unta is an evil spirit and the only people who are supposed to pray to him are slaves and captives, but many others also pray to him in secret, asking him to inflict suffering on their enemies, or to spare him the next time he escapes, or to grant them a boon the other Gods would refuse to do.  Unta is said to hear all these prayers, but he rarely chooses to answer them.     

Angels:

Angel of Obedience

Angels are Obedience are composed of dozens of interlocking metal cubes, constantly shifting and moving in perfect harmony. They are fascinating and spell-binding to watch, as they continuously shift into newer, more exotic patterns.  Angels of Obedience come to preach on the merits of law and why all should obey it.  They come to dissuade criminals, rebels and traitors through their well-polished arguments and simple logic.  They are also known to occasionally step in and attempt to destroy those groups.  Many an obedient servant of His Imperium have been spared by the timely arrival of a kill-team of Angels sent from on high.  As for that killing, Angels of Obedience can fire lasers and bolts of electricity out of their cube faces, use parts of their bodies to construct cubes of force and freely maneuver each of their cubes independently, even dissassembling themselves and then putting themselves back together.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Oppression, Demons of Subjugation or Conqueror's Angels.

Angel of Service

Angels of Service come dressed like your ancestors, wearing garments of ancient origin and symbols of authority from long antiquity.  They wear crowns of flowers in perpetual bloom and resemble youths, perpetually in the spring of their lives. They come to tell mortals that they owe their superiors their due.  To pay the piper and honor the Angels.  This is the message these Angels come to bring us.  They speak to those harboring thoughts of corruption, insubordination or of shirking their duties.  They despise slackers.  When forced to fight, they do so with the Fist Art of 49 Empty Palms, a style they invented and taught to certain mortals.  They are still the indisputed masters of the style, with skills that exceed any mortal.  They can project the force of their strikes over distances greater than 20 paces, parry dozens of attacks with bare hands and blast someone's soul out of their body with a solid hit.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Taxation, Demons of Submission and Demons of Boot-Licking.  The last one is never used when the Angel is in the room, of course.

Angel of Temperance


The Orzane are a passionate people, taken to fits of passion, especially when it comes to rage.  The Orzanian battle rage is famous the world over for transforming decent soldiers into homicidal killing machines from which there is no escape.  But this rage lurks behind all Orzane, stalking them, seeking any chance it can to overtake them.  As such, the Orzanian Gods send these Angels down to aid them, to council them and remind them how to control their wild impulses.  Angels of Temperance resemble tall, muscular Orzane with shimmering hair of glowing wire.  They are also covered in other, flat faces all over their bodies, which whisper quietly to anyone near them.  They come to give advice and bring absolution, as well as to teach and encourage all Orzane to pursue virtue.  When called upon to fight they can fire blasts of magic that freeze people in place, strip away someone's impulse control and charm the humorless and self-righteous into doing their bidding.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Demons of Denial, Demons of Masochism and Demons of the Crucifixion of the Self.

Demons:

Demon of Rebellion


The Orzanian Empire is infamous for its brutality.  The Orzane themselves are legendary for their tempers and as the state is just the soul, magnified, so the State is worse than any man and an Empire is worse than any State.  The Orzanian Empire's list of atrocities is as long as their list of conquests and in many cases, the lists overlap.  As such, it is no surprise that the Demons of Rebellion have found easy purchase among many Provincial Governors, Folk Heroes and Adventurers.  These creatures resemble fluttering banners wrapped around someone's body like an improvised robe, but lifting up the banner will reveal there is no one inside, and all you have is some frayed, stained fabric.  Demons of Rebellion have the power to turn themselves flat as a sheet of papyrus, allowing them to slip under doors or into tight spaces.  They have the power to control the wind and fire bolts or spheres of lightning at their enemies. 

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Liberation.  

Demon of Disfavor

Demons of Disfavor are creatures of hideous countenances, possessing skeletal faces with skin stretched tight over bunching muscles and twisted bones, wings of tattered flesh potruding from their backs.  They come to incite panic in the populace, to terrify and brutalize.  But they also come to encourage vice and the breaking of taboos.  They find those they believe to be vulnerable and whisper devious ideas into their ears.  When challenged or threatened, these Demons have the power to animate corpses as their servants, sing songs that induce pain, fear or madness and conjure balls of acid. 

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Holy Terror or Angels of Chastisement. 

Demon of Excess

Demons of Excess are fat and jolly, with elegant, curling horns and booming voices.  They clothe themselves in impossible garments surpassing all mortal tailors and carry torches or candles that rain sparks of light.  They bless certain creatures with great boons, bumper crops or massive earnings and encourage them to celebrate.  Whether they are deliberately trying to get people to overindulge or just fail to understand the motives of mankind is an issue often debated, though only in secret. In public, they are demons and are to be hunted down and destroyed or exorcised and anyone who questions that fact is guilty of sedition.  Demons of Excess have the powers to multiply mundane items, create glowing constructs of light such as ropes, cages or walls and charm animals and people.

Cultures who do not share the values of the Orzane call these creatures Angels of Plenty or Angels of Prosperity.  

                                                             from here

Magic ways:

The Orzane are suspicious of magic, but they do not actively scorn it.  They consider it a dangerous tool, comparable to using warriors that are up to their eyeballs on combat drugs.  Yes, it is an option, but it ultimately is simply too dangerous.  Wizards are not included in the Orzanian Army and those who can learn magic are excluded from conscription.  This has lent many Wizards an unprecedented status they never received before the Empire.  Not only do they have certain legal privileges, such as above, but they also have a strange relationship with other Orzane.

This is a cultural divide that is not divided Rural vs. Urban, but Young vs. Old.  The Young Orzane love Wizards and Magic-Users as a form of "moderate radical".  Wizards are rebels against the ideals of the old, but they are still accepted by society.  They are a middle way between totally rejection or conformity with society.  They are rebels, but they are rebelling within a structured system.    

Learning ways:


The Urban Orzane, who tend to be wealthier than the Rural Orzane, prize education.  Joining the bureaucracy is one of the goals of many wealthy Orzane, but especially of the city-dwellers.  For this reason, the pressure to succeed and excel academically is extremely high.  This does apply to the Low Color Urban Orzane, but it especially applies to the High Color  Urban Orzane, who mostly still raise their children in the traditional fashion.  Child Collectives are for the Low Color Orzane.  High Colors seem to support Child Collectives, but keep their own children out of them.  They know that most of the children who come out of Child Collectives are not well educated, as the children within have little direction and minimal adult guidance. 

Low Color and Rural Orzane tend to think of education as just another tool the High Colors use to gloat and show off their status.  They prize practical wisdom and knowledge of things like botany, animal husbandry and trade skills such as carpentry or masonry, but other things seem pointless to them.  This is usually because of sour grapes, as most Low Colors and Rural Orzane could not attend one of the expensive schools the Temples have or hire private tutors for their children.       

Sport ways:

The Orzane's favorite sport is dueling.  Most Orzane love fighting duels and even more love watching them.  And because most Orzane possess a hair-trigger temper, you will have plenty of chances to duel someone.  The rules vary from place to place, but generally they are that you can challenge anyone who is wearing a weapon and that the other person must accept.  You must also have at least four witnesses that aren't all associated with one person.  This last requirement is usually assumed if the duel takes place in public, unless it happens at night or in a thick fog.  Someone else can also fight on your behalf, though this is generally considered a sign of cowardice or ineptitude, though that mostly only applies to men.  In some situations, the greater shame is not stepping in.  

For example, if a married woman is challenged, her husband is expected to fight for her, unless she insists otherwise.  The same applies to the old, crippled, lame or otherwise disabled.  Additionally, certain government officials have bodies that are sacred- they are imbued with Prerogative, which means that to touch them without permission is usually a crime.  These officials usually do not duel themselves, but they have champions that duel on their behalf.  This is one of the privileges of rank.     

Finally, in regards to honor, class also plays a certain role.  Generally, one is not supposed to challenge someone two or more colors, or castes, above you.  Or course, if someone from a higher color challenges you, you are generally supposed to accept, no matter what.    

Additionally, fighting with a "greater" weapon than the one your opponent drew is considered highly dishonorable and grounds for ending the duel on the spot.  There is a hierarchy of weapons that exists in the Orzanian mind and for a duel to be valid, the person challenged must fight the challenger with a weapon that is equal or lesser than the one the challenger uses. 

There are other games that the Orzane like to, such as Netstrike, which is a game based around using small scoops, knees, elbows and chests to maneuver a hard, leather ball into the the enemy teams goals.  This is the second most popular communal sport and is usually played by groups of four to 12 on small fields, but larger games are often organized for festival days that can involve hundreds of players and take place over dozens of square miles.  This game is an incredible affair to witness and participate in, as while scoring goals is how you win the game, the most common way this is done is by fighting the other players and disabling them.  This is especially prevalent in the larger games, which often more resemble battlefields than sporting events.

The favorite spectator sport of the Orzane is Wizardball, but as this one requires players to be able to cast magic, it is generally only played by Wizards and Magic-Users.  

Work ways:


To the Orzane, work is something based on class.  The High Colors are not expected to work and do menial labor, but to save their energy for important political and religious activities.  This is such a common belief that it surpasses all sub-cultural boundaries among the Orzane.  Thus, if a High Color is seen working, it usually indicates a dire situation, as if it was not, they would be far away, watching on the Low Colors.

The one exception to this is the battlefield.  On the battlefield, all Colors must work together for the glory of the Empire. In ancient times the High Colors actually lead their armies into battle and fought on the front-lines, but this is much less common these days, though it does still happen.   

Wealth ways:

Wealth has one purpose in Orzanian society, to care for those beneath you.  Or at least, that is what the Orzane will tell you.  That is how it has always been, even in the pre-Imperial days, when the Orzane were divided into hundreds of small kingdoms, principalities, free cities and independent regions. 

However, during the reign of the divinely appointed Emperors, the Orzane achieved such unimaginable prosperity and material wealth that the Emperors were left with bulging coffers and no need to fill their people's mouths.  So, beginning with the Emperor of Continued Blessings, the Second (divinely appointed and numerically) began filling the Imperial Capital, Urya, with incredible public works, along with building the Cathedral of the Empyrean.  This began a trend of High Colors in a positions of authority to build expensive public works and later on, to spend lavishly on themselves.  They began to wear fine silks that would be shredded if used to do anything besides standing regally, or hanging jewels and ornaments off their bodies.  This is supposedly to show how good things are, that the High Colors have done such a good job taking care of the Low Colors beneath them that they have tons of money to spend on themselves.

In truth though, the High Colors, especially those that are also Urban, tend to spend much of their money on ridiculous fancies and trying to out-do their social rivals.  This often leads to resentment in the urban Low Colors, who see how their High Colors traipse around in brilliant silks and glittering jewels, while neglecting those they are supposed to be taking care of.  This is something the rural High Colors have noticed, so they generally do a better job of caring for the low Colors, even shunning the elaborate dress of court, in favor of more grounded styles.  Still, appearances must be maintained, and even these more humble High Colors still wear jewels and finery.   

Furthermore, even if some Low Colors do resent the High Colors, most of them blame other castes, besides the Purples for their troubles.  Additionally, most Low Colors are actually comforted by the High Color's extravagence.  Even if they are struggling, if they see their High Colors walking by in coats interwoven with silver threads or diamond earrings, they tend to breathe a sigh of relief.  If the High Colors are wearing silks and satin, then things are fine.  It's when they're wearing linen or armor that you know things have gone terribly wrong.

                                               by eastmonkey

Rank ways:

Orzanian Society is divided roughly into seven castes, or Colors.  Each caste has certain privileges and certain responsibilities, some legal, some social.

The top Color, or caste, is Purple.  Purples are all either Royalty, as defined as those related to or inheritors of a Kingdom, Principality or other hereditary position of authority over a certain area or number of people, or those who belong to The Blood, that is the biological or adopted members of the Emperor's household.  They are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies Purple.  They do not have to pay taxes and are the only class permitted to carry swords off of the battlefield.  However, Purples are not without responsibilities.  They are expected to participate in certain religious and civic rituals and depending on their rank, will have to make the journey to the capital to the Imperial Court to see the Emperor.  For truly important Royals, this occurs annually, but for less important ones they might be required only to visit every other year or every three years. 

Also, note that higher castes generally have the rights, privileges and immunities of all the castes below them, unless specified otherwise. 

Indigo is the next Color.  This is the caste for high ranking government officials, military commanders and the priesthood.  Indigos are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies that color.  Indigos and above are the only ones permutted to carry bows off of the battlefield.  Indigos have the right to hold any important position that is not reserved for a Purple and cannot be charged by any non-Imperial Court or any Court not headed by an Indigo or greater.  They are effectively above provincial law.

Blue is the next caste.  Blue is the caste for the servants of His Imperium, the fingers of his great hands.  It is a caste for soldiers and bureaucrats.  They are the only ones permitted to wear blue, dye their hair blue or paint themselves blue.  Blues and above all the only ones permitted to carry spears off of the battlefield.  Blues have the right to legal council and to a barrister when at trial.   

Green is the caste for those who produce the necessities of life, such as farmers and herdsmen.  These are the only people permitted to wear Green, dye their hair green or pain their bodies green.  Greens and above are the only ones permitted to carry axes off of the battlefield.  Greens are exempt from conscription and cannot have their lands or property taken from them without a trial or a legal process.   

Yellow is the caste for those who only work with raw materials produced by others.  It is the class for artisans and merchants.  This class are the only ones permitted to wear yellow, paint their faces faces or dye their hair the same color.  Yellows and above are the only ones permitted to carry daggers off of the battlefield.  Yellows have the right to appeal any case judged by a local Magistrate to the Provincial Governor or to a servant of His Imperium if they feel the Governor is also compromised.  

Orange is the class for laborers, farmhands and the other members of what we would call "The working class".  Oranges are the only ones permitted to wear, dye or paint their faces that color.  They and above are permitted to carry clubs, batons or bludgeons that can be held in one hand.  Oranges have the right to be treated fairly if detained, to be well cared for by their employers, overseers and overlords and the right to paid to paid for their labor.  They usually will not be paid in money, as the Orzanian economy is not cash-based and will usually be paid in other things, such as being allowed to use certain public services their employer provides, or by living on his land, or something else.

Red is the slave class.  Reds are the only ones permitted to wear, dye their hair or paint their bodies red.  They are not permitted to carry weapons except when the law or their masters permit such.  Reds have the right to be protected and cared for by their masters, the right to be protected by His Imperium's servants and the right to be released once they have served their time and made restitution. 

Additionally, one last note.  Just because you belong to one Caste doesn't mean you have to wear that color all the time legally, with the exception of Reds.  Most Orzane do wear outfits dominated by their Color, or wear some token to show what Color they belong to.  Dying your mohawk is the easiest way of doing this.  Not doing this will be seen as rude or in some areas, illegal.

Altering your colors or outfit to convince people you belong to a different Color is very, very illegal.  The punishments can be very severe, but only if you pretend to be someone of a High Color.  If you are pretending to be someone of a Low Color, the punishments are generally mild, unless you did so to cause mischief or commit some other crime.  

Social ways:

The Orzane, especially in more recent times, view themselves as a nation besieged.  Whether in their homeland or in a foreign nation, they view themselves as islands in a sea of Chaos.  Generally, the only people you can trust are other Orzane.  Those of other races can be recruited, used and even befriended, but at the end of the day, your own kind are the only ones you can trust.

But the divide can go deeper than that.  Some Orzane are distrustful of other Colors, thinking that they either can't understand the struggles of another Color or worse, are spies working to undermine the position of the thinker's own class.

In some cases, this paranoia can even trespass Color boundaries, with Colors divided against each other.  Among the Purples, those of the Blood and the so-called old Royals actively feud and compete with each other, though both of these factions take care to make sure their subordinate Colors are unaware of this schism as much as possible.  They have been largely unsuccessful at this measure. 

This is not the only intra-class struggle, but it is the most obvious.  Most Colors are fairly united in their belief that their enemies are the other races in the Empire and those belonging to the other Colors. 

So in short, the Orzane prefer to form groups that are composed not only of themselves, but also of members of their own race who belong to the same Color as them and often to the same persuasion or sub-culture within that Culture.      

Order ways:

The Orzane are a people of rampaging passions.  The battle-rage of the Orzane is terrifying to behold, where a warrior loses all sense and rushes headlong into battle, crushing their foes down before them in a wild frenzy.  As such, the Orzanian aristocracy always tried in the past to teach discipline and self-government to the lower classes, so that they would not spread chaos and madness.

In more recent times, however, the ruling classes have focused on the opposite, inciting the passions of the Low Colors by promoting vice and doing away with old customs in favor of new ones that do not stress virtue as much.  This is their new method for keeping control, as it allows them to neglect their old duties and focus on enriching and empowering themselves, instead of focusing on the common welfare.   

Power ways:

The Orzane believe power and authority come from Heaven.  The Emperor is divinely appointed and all beneath him are ordered as they see fit.  This is a belief that all largely hold, even down to the lowliest slave.  They all believe they are where they are because of the will of Heaven. 

One thing that is less often taught, but is still present in many traditions, is the belief that those above should use their power to bring about order, peace and justice.  This is a more neglected part of the official history, because it raises inconvenient facts and makes the Low Colors and other subjects much less agreeable when it comes to the antics of their rulers.   

Freedom ways:

The Orzane have always believed it is their duty to do as Heaven wishes them to and not to as they would personally like.  One must accept their lot and do their best, no matter they be a king or a farmer.  The idea of being free to do as one wishes is regarded as a dangerous sentiment that could lead to chaos and disorder.  And even should the High Colors and the Emperor be tyrannical, even tyranny is preferrable to the abyss of Chaos.       

                                                             by jsmarantz