View Full Version : Penumbra (setting, PEACH)

Requiem Star
2009-09-10, 02:24 PM
Josef couldn't believe his luck. This had gone way past bad. In fact, he was inclined to believe that the Black Jester must have swapped his dice for this streak of bad luck. The three of them were going to die. The question was, of course, would it be at the hands of the witch hunter mob behind them or the vampire in the church ahead?

"They're close." Growled one of his companions, figuratively. He was glad for that. Very glad. Izzel was fearsome enough when she wasn't transformed into a six foot tall killing machine of fur and fangs. The diminuative woodcutter had all ready proved she could rip a man in two with little difficulty. True, Josef wasn't as soft as most of the enemies they had faced... but he really really didn't want to put it to the test.

"Close as in about to see us or close as in about to kill us?" Asked Renault in a bored voice as they continued to slog through the snow. The pale figure had little difficulty in this chill weather. Josef figured it didn't hurt that he was kin to the monster they were about to face.

"Close as in..." there was a rifle shot and a frozen pine tree thudded a foot from Josef's head. "That." Izzel finished. All ready she was changing. He hated to watch her go from a diminutive girl to that great hulking monster. "I'll buy you time."

"Izzel. They have silver." Renault said in a slightly less bored tone. "Blessed silver at that."

"Then I'll just have to kill them first." And with a roar she dropped to all fours and raced through the snowy underbrush towards the mob advancing behind them. Somewhere in the back the bishop was urging the men forward and trying to counter the fear inspired by the savage beast. More worrisome was the witch hunter... where the hell was she?

Still, she was admittedly an effective stalling tactic. One that Josef didn't mean to let pass up. The burly man clutched his huge shotgun to his chest with one hand while the other gripped the axe that battered aside obsticles. Behind him Renault glided behind as silent as death. One graceful hand holding the butt of his esquisite (and vastly overpriced) pistol. The other was empty... and it was the far more disturbing hand.

The church had been long ago transformed into an abattoir for the cardinal. Bring me your poor... your lost... your weak in need of strength. And the people here had bought it. Even Josef had for a while. At least until his daughter fell ill and he took her here for a miracle. All he got in return was a corpse... a corpse drained of all its blood. Then Renault had come and told him about the world of shadow and how the cardinal was one such monster. That must have been the time his dice were swapped.

"There's a side door..." Josef began. Renault looked insulted; of course that was the default expression for most Thembrians. The vampire blooded man walked casually towards the main entrance of the church. Josef gave a hiss of annoyance but followed. Who knew, maybe they could pull this off? Renault stood before the large front doors of the church and extended his empty hand. He began chanting words of power. Words that were heresy. Blasphemy. And not just a little bit intimidating. Josef's hairs stood up on the back of his neck... and that was quite a bit of hair... as black hands of shadow shot out and gripped the edifice. Stone, ice, and wood all popped and groaned as the dozen hands began to pull. Then there was a resounding pop and crash as the doors were not just pulled wide but were ripped off their hinges.

For one inkling of a second Josef had a hope that he might have his revenge and live to enjoy it too. Then the pistol shot rang out. Renault jerked once, his pale blue eyes wide as blood spurted out his mouth and nose. He fell to his knees as the wound in his back smoked and hissed and he hissed through clenched teeth, "Blessed... silver..."

Behind the two of them stood the witch hunter. Why in the name of the dark gods did she have to look so beautiful? In one hand she held the revolver, its barrel traced in dozens of prayers to the God of Light. In the other a sword, equally blessed. Was it his imagination or were both glowing faintly in the chill moonlight. "You abominations have spilled enough innocent blood and desecrated a house of God."

Yes! She was talking instead of finishing them off. "We told you in the village and you didn't listen. The cardinal... your man of mercy and kindness... he's the monster." The woman had also knocked out two of Josef's teeth for saying that. Back in the village he'd had only his word... here with the doors torn open to reveal the dark interior of the church he thought he saw a shiver of doubt across her fair features.

"You lie. I know the taint of death and evil. I've been in the presence of the cardinal. I've saved his life!" She retorted. He wished she moved the gun off Renault... but that would only mean that she would be pointing it at him.

Renault laughed softly, "Oh creatures of the night know all kinds of ways to hide ourselves. Shapeshifting. Glammours. And having some rogue 'feral' vampire attack him while there's a witch hunter in the room. After all, if she sensed anything, it could all be blamed on the patsy." He seemed to be recovering his strength. He was also looking a lot less human with his fangs showing like that and his eyes glowing yellow. "You never questioned the curious circumstance of your 'rescue'?"

She was hesitating. In the village it had been easy for her to rebuff Josef. "We're here to stop him. Different reasons... but we're here to stop him just the same." For a second he was sure that they were both death. Just a second though. His dice must have been spinning on points just then because she took the gun off of Renault and on to Josef. Her eyes narrowed. He started to dive for cover when she fired... and the slug passed by so close he could hear it buzz... right before it impacted with the ghoul's skull. The monster had no mortality to protect it from her blessing. It's rotting skull exploded like a melon and showered Josef with rotten brain matter. The gaunt headless body continued to claw randomly about it as it staggered away while more ghouls emerged from the door.

"Good choice." Renault said dryly as he aimed for the next monster racing towards the three of them. His spell didn't carry the blessing of the witch hunter. His was much more insideous. The bullet struck the closest ghoul, who immediately turned and tackled one of its undead breatheren. Josef raised his shotgun, aimed, and fired. The alchemist shot did its work beautifully, not just knocking them away but also turning them into burning pyres that should finish the job.

"The greater evil then." She replied as she advanced fearlessly through the doors. Her saber bit deep into the hide of the undead monsters, aided by her blessings that continued to chew at their bodies.

"I've been insulted." Renault replied as he finally stood on his shaky legs and followed her in. Black bolts of energy streaked from his hand and struck the ghouls in the rear, feeding off their undead power and turning it against them. Josef followed, reloading the shotgun with alchemist shot as he kept an eye out for monsters on their flanks. By the time they were halfway down the nave the witch hunter and renault had pushed their enemies into a tight knot. Josef laughed as he reached down to a brass canister on his belt, pulled the pin out, and threw the can into the midst of the monsters. A second later all of them were awash in fire.

In less than a minute the remainder were dead. Or redead. Josef was never quite sure the proper term. Then from the altar came a slow clapping. The Cardinal stood in his robes, the white cloth stained red and black with the frozen blood of dozens. He wasn't hiding himself now. He made Renault look positively human with the icy pallor of his skin. "Well done, my dear Beora. You've done the mother church proud."

She was shocked and enraged and horrified all at once. "Monster." She hissed in rage and fired two rounds at the monster. Both deflected off a shadowy disk of force in front of him. He arched a brow above his red eye as he grinned. "Monster? Monster! You dare!" He said as he pointed back at her. "Thousands of my subjects murdered in the name of your God. Thousands more forced to bend knee away from the lord they swore fealty to. My wife. My daughters! Murdered in questioning for refusing to betray me!"

He swept his hand over the pews where the dozens of corpses sat in a mockery of worship. His features disappeared behind the facade of a kindly old man as he gave a leer at Beora. "But I'm hardly bitter. If you can't beat them... join them. Isn't that the phrase?"

Beora started to charge when Renault stepped infront of her. For a moment Josef was sure that she would cut him down to get at the Cardinal. Renault only had eyes for the vampire before them. "Just what I'd expect of you, uncle. An eye for ten thousand eyes."

The Cardinal looked curious for a moment. "Renault? My word... it is you! I would have thought the crows would have been at you ages ago." He looked at the pair with mirth. "Please tell me you two aren't breeding. Such a scandal..."

"No uncle. You should rest assured that she shot me firmly in the back while I was planning how to rip her soul from her mortal shell." Beora took her eyes off the Cardinal for a moment, looking at the thin man with a touch of shock. Josef meanwhile moved to the side, trying to keep one eye on the corpses and another on the Cardinal and a third on the slippery ice patches filling the church.

"I see. Well a pity you didn't come under more civil circumstances. I would have made you an excellent offer. Power more true than your own little magics." The Cardinal sighed, shaking his head in disappointment.

"Flattering, uncle, but I like my little magics. I earned them." He said as he reached into his shirt and pulled out the strange little clay statue Josef had seen when they'd met. There was just a moment. One moment before everything exploded into battle and murder. But on that moment the Cardinal wore a mask of pure and utter terror. And that was good enough for Josef.

The blast of black energy was enough to shatter the nave of the church, but it crashed off a shield of darkness identical to the one being wielded by the Cardinal. From the corpse congregation rose a small army of undead. Josef could imagine the dice tumbling from the cup as he fired again and again into the dead throng.

"Beora. If you would be so kind." Renault said as he tossed the ugly little clay doll at her. She caught it, looking at it questioningly. Renault sighed, "Break it with your lovely blessed sword, if you would?" With that launched himself into battle with the Cardinal. His fingers grew to points to counter the Cardinal's slashing and rending talons. Then the dice came up skulls. A ghoul leapt past Renault and slammed into her, knocking the little doll out of her grip. Then she had her own undead horde to deal with.

"You dare? You dare! You bring that thing here and then have her destroy it?" the Cardinal screamed as he ripped at Renault with his bone white talons.

"Yes uncle. I do dare. Next time, when you barrow some magic from the Dark gods, store the power in something a little more durable than your daughter's keepsake."

Josef spotted the little doll at the base of a pew. Well... it wasn't perfect but the game wasn't over yet. He fired the shotgun and blasted the little doll towards Beora. He'd hoped it would shatter, but the clay held some sort of magical resilience. Unfortunately the undead took advantage of his shift in attention and lept for him. Josef was a strong man, but the press of undead drove him to his knees.

Beora took her glowing blade and brought it down on the clay figure. Josef had no idea if he imagined the little doll raising its hands and giving out a child's scream before the sword shattered the doll in two. A dark wind rushed out of the building, and for a moment everything turned black. When it passed, the Cardinal appeared... tired. He sagged and seemed a bit shrunken and withered. "Nephew... how could you? You'd destroy your own on behalf of them and their worthless diety?"

"No uncle. But I'm afraid you've quite let yourself go. You're a disgrace to what you once were. To what our family means." He lunged forward, drawing from his other sleave the sleek tapered black wood stake. No shield appeared to block him as Renault drove the wood into the Cardinal's chest.

Josef wasn't sure what he expected to happen. The Cardnial threw back his head and vomited forth a bloody ichor. And then he appeared to undergo a century of rot in seconds. His skin blackened, slumped, and burst in gore. All the while he continued to scream until his chest cavity dropped rotting organs upon the floor. Finally a slimy skeleton fell to the ground, and that too liquified into something the consistency of steaming tar. Finally the scream trailed off with the gory mass... and nothing was left behind but a charred and broken stake. The corpses gave a final shutter and laid still.

"Well. That's that." Renault said, turning to find Beora's revolver pointed right at his face. She smiled that smile that made Josef's legs go weak as her eyes narrowed.

"Not quite." She said. Her mistake. Josef could have shouted out a warning. Perhaps he might have been allowed to live if he had. But before she could fire a bloody furred mass launched itself from the door and crashed into her from behind, knocking her weapons away. She screamed as one hand imbedded itself in her spine, another gripped her neck, and a huge wolven maw tore out her spine. Josef forced himself to look away as she gave a gurgle and expired.

Josef stood and saw Renault looking at him, stroking his chin in contemplation. "Me next?" He asked, hearing the final clatter of the dice being rolled.

"I'm shocked. Positively shocked you would think such a thing of me, my friend." He said in feigned injury as he examined Beora's revolver with approval. "Haven't we proved ourselves to each other? Are we not comrades equally damned?"

Josef just looked away as Renault went about scrubbing away the prayers on the barrel with his claws as Izzel reverted to her human appearance. She wrapped her naked body with Beora's bloodstained cloak as she walked over to him and smiled, her face smeared with blood and flecks of organ. "Don't worry, Josef. You are way too good for some one like her. And with that she joined Renault as the two of them headed for the crushed door.

Renault looked over his shoulder at him, his lips curling in amusement. "Coming?" He asked.

Josef would have liked to know how the dice had come up, but the Dark Jester wasn't letting him. If this was how his fate was going to end up, he certainly wasn't sure he liked it.

Requiem Star
2009-09-10, 05:22 PM

It all started with light. The one God of Light. The one true God. He of inflated ego. There's plenty of titles out there and I'm not going to dig them all up. Just realize that the God the ministers harp on and on about was the one who created our world. I do hope you'll excuse me. A little bit of liquor and all kinds of blasphemies jump on to my tongue. But you asked for the truth and I'll give it to you. At least the best that I know.

So, our universe was created. It was stable. Predictable. Boring. The God of light is a stickler for tradition and repitition. For instance, the sun has always risen in the east. Since time immortal it's risen in the east. Heck, 'east' was invented for the sun to rise in. That's what kind of world we lived in.

So. I'm sure you thought it. The God of Light isn't exactly a nice guy. Oh sure... protector from dark things and warmer of the world and he that makes all things grow... all great things that I respect him for. After all I wouldn't have whiskey if he didn't let the wheat grow. But he's not known for his whims of generosity. Anywho, after eons and eons of going around the world and making sure that nothing naughty was happening under his unblinking eye he decided to show off the world to other Gods.

So imagine if the universe was a manor house and our world was a bright and shiny bauble covered up by a cloth. The first one he invites shows up and its none other than Queen Night. And she arrives with her face as pale as the moon and her cloak blackest of black and strewn with stars. And they greet each other courteously as Gods must. And next comes in Lord Beast, growling and snarling as politely as he may and taking great care not to soil the carpet while stalking the mice in the walls. And on the heels of Lord Beast is the Duke of Blood, all decked out in vermillion and scarlet and crimson and all other sorts of sanguine colors.

Well you can imagine what happens next. Soon the God of Light is having more visitors than he invited. Oh but one does not say to the Silent Maid that she is not allowed nor snub the King of Flies and his buzzing entourage. Having the Doctor stop by is an honor in and of itself if you can forgive his poking and prodding and questions. And having the Mistress around is definitely an eye opener if you can keep your jaw off the floor. But surely the guest of guests had to of been the Masked Jester, a guest that no one wants but none would dare say he was unwelcome for fear of how he would crash the party regardless.

And so we have this meeting of Gods to see this world that the One God of Light has created. And so they all gather in his study and have their wines and brandy and blood... and with no further adiue he sweeps the cloth aside and lets all see what he has made!

"It's very... shiny." Said Queen Night.
"It has forests." Growled Lord Beast.
"And people." Observed the Duke of Blood.
The Silent Maid said nothing but simply shrugged.
"It smells nice." Offered the King of Flies.
"I can tell how it works." commented the Doctor.
"It's pretty." Offered the Mistress.
"It is glorious in its banality! A testament to all that is predictable and routine! Look here at these woods... why the predators eat the prey... how novel! And so many people living their lives that are just as the lives of those who come before and after. No secrets to whisper to each other. And so spotlessly clean and tidy! And not a bit of naughtiness to distract from its mundane progression!" Of course the Masked Jester had far more to say and much of what he said was far less polite than the normal discourse between gods.

So, needless to say, the God of Light did not find such critiques to his liking. And as frequently occurs at these parties, proceeded to tell each of them how he felt about their observations and concluded that if they had such wonderful ideas for how the world should be then they could just go and do it themselves. And thus he stomped off in a huff.

Ah... but though angrily given it was still an invitation. And so, Queen night cast her hand over half the world and shielded it from the harsh rays of Light. The people below wailed in fear and shivered in cold, but gazed up in wonder at the soft glow of the moon and the twinkle of stars.

And Lord Beast took the predators and made them all the fiercer and hungrier and removed their fear of men. And so they stalked the wild and deep places of the world and men feared them, but also took up weapons to protect themselves and to hunt and kill their enemy.

Meanwhile the Duke of Blood wandered the streets of the cities and spoke. And when he spoke, hearts beat faster and bolder. Knives murdered rivals and swords were forged to wage war against their neighbors. Slaves fashioned tools to slay their masters while masters wielded clubs to keep them in line.

The Silent Maid said nothing but merely walked. Those who saw her were intrigued. They spoke to her and asked questions she would not answer. And so, secure, they told her all the secrets that lurked in their hearts. From those that had she took and to those who did not have she gave.

The King of flies sought out other subjects of the winged and multilegged kind and in their guts cultivated plagues and sickness that would test humanity and cull the weak from the strong.

The Doctor, however, was no wallflower. He sought out the boldest, smartest, and most audatious people in the world. Questions he asked of them and of the world and sent them out to find its secrets, learn its rules, and break them to learn deeper rules.

And the Mistress... well... it's best to say she sewed her seeds among the populace as well. And after touching her, they left wanting ever more.

And the Masked Jester... the Eternal Fool... simply laughed and laughed and called out to the One God of Light how the others were improving his world. And so the God returned and found the other God's busy at work in the world he created. And so, enraged, he used his power to trap the other gods within his world... but not before, to his great chagrin, the Masked Jester entered as well.

And so we have the God of Light and the Gods of Dark. I know that it's practically blasphemy to not call them the 'evil gods' but the fact is that they're not evil. Some may be inspired to commit evil on their behalf, but others can be inspired to commit good in response to what they have done. The God of Light stands for all that is predictable and regular. The Gods of Darkness are unknown. They are unpredictable and irregular. They hide and cheat and seduce and explore.

Is it any wonder then that the mortal worshipers of the God of Light are so intolerant and rigid in their thinking? Against his intentions, the God of Light found his creation marred by the inclusion of beings that he is now unable to fully stamp out. And so we are to where we are today... people born of light, facing off the monsters of the unknown.

There. I think I've finished my brandy. Now be a dear and let them know I'm ready for the headsman.

-Doctor Octaviar Blassk, prior to his execution for blasphemy.


Penumbra isn't about good and evil. Good and evil are just words we attach to actions we like or dislike. Killing a demon is every bit as evil to a demon as it is good to the person saved from being killed by the demon. Morality is subjective and temporary, and those who follow moral codes take on a greater onus than those who employ ruthless means.

First Premise: there is no good or evil, order or chaos. Alignment, such as it is, is defined by a person's "Passion." Passion is a attribute that ranges from 1-20. In some circumstances you may wish to deny engaging in your passion against your will. In others you might attempt to dive into your passion and push yourself harder than you have before. Thus characters will have to decide their level of discipline and self control and adhere to it.

Second premise: Ambiguity. Ambiguity is uncertainty. Is the king really trying to protect his domain or is he attempting to cover up butchery he committed on the road to his crown. Is that werewolf a slavering monster or an innocent, albeit cursed, individual? Does a vampire deserve to die simply for being a vampire? There should never be a clear cut good or evil choice for players to follow.

Third premise: Magic is restricted. Those who take up the study of magic are heretics, blasphemers, or terrorists. Society at large has been indoctrinated to view magic as dangerous and corruptible. Those who wield arcane power without care will at best be viewed with fear and will at worst be hunted and persecuted.

Fourth Premise: Gods are not good. The Church of the Immaculate Light seeks to erradicate all 'contaminants of darkness' from the earth. Their inquisition systematically located witches, blasphemers, and heretics and destroys them. However, other elements in the church employ such individuals with the promise of pardons in exchange for questionable and dubious work.

Fifth Premise: Humans are predominant. There are no elven kingdoms or dwarven domains. Non-human beings are treated largely as mythology. The majority of humans believe that a dwarf is merely a short, burly human. A dwarf trying to convince humans that they are in fact not human would be viewed as insane at best and deadly at worst.

Sixth Premise: technology is late Victorian / early industrial revolution. Characters may ride from destination to destination or take a chugging steam train. Most technology is mundane or alchemical, but some rare inventions are amalgams of science and magic. Frequently supernatural events are covered up as 'mad science' by inventors who don't know any better. Rural areas are backwards and superstitious. Urban areas are crowded, filthy, and prone to outbreaks of fire and disease. Rifles, shotguns, cannons, and pistols are common weapons, along with more medieval weaponry.

Admiral Squish
2009-09-11, 07:37 PM
Yeah, I subscribed to this. Cannot wait for more!

Requiem Star
2009-09-17, 01:14 AM


A faerie tail

Once upon a time there was a young man who lived on the edge of the wood. He was a singular man, and lonely, for while he was handsome and kind he refused to leave his farm and move into the village. The village elders harrumphed and wagged their beards but did little more. The women's circle, however, decided enough was enough and sent every available girl out to the man's farm on the pretense of picking flowers for midsummer fair. And so the women went out in their finest dresses and petticoats and hats out to the man's farm on the edge of the wood.

What a fine man he was. Strong as a bull in body and gentle as a dove in heart. But while the man was a good host to his guests, and brought them cider from his cellar and cheese from his cupboard none caught his interest. For while the women were all very fine and pretty none cared for the stillness on the edge of the wood. And one by one the women grew bored and returned to the village, until only one remained.

She was not fine, as most may have believed. Her dress was ratty and patched and looked more like something left in a briar. Her hair was disheveled and her skin scratched and tanned. But the man was a kind man the sort of which most women may hope upon and he neither thought ill of her nor that he might take advantage of her. Rather, he invited her in for supper.

And so, once a month, the woman would return and the man grew fonder and fonder of her. Finally one day he went to the village to ask the elder's permission to marry this strange woman. But the elders were confused for there was no woman matching his description. He went to the women's circle, but recieved only scandalous looks that he would want to marry a stranger than one of the fine women of the village. And so he waited for her to arrive with the new moon and asked if she would be his wife.

She smiled, for the man was very kind and she truly was very fond of him. And so she asked, 'Will you promise never to ask what dinner I serve, for I fear my cooking leaves much to be desired...' and he swore that he would rather eat earth than trouble her about meals. '...And will you promise to never see me unclad, for I fear I am homely and not fair to the eyes...' And he protested and assured her he would not mind, but in the end he promised to never see her undressed. '...and will you promise, when I go awalking, to leave me to my peace for even this farm is noisome and I must clear my thoughts from time to time.' And he promised that she could have all the time in the world and that he would sooner die than trouble her. And she gave a smile, though it was a sad smile, and so that night they were wed.

And for a time, as it must be, their union was good. For he loved her and she loved him, and both were quiet and humble folk. Though the men thought she was homely and the women thought she was queer, eventually the village was content to ignore the strange couple. And every night, before she would undress, he would blow out the candle and close the drapes so she could crawl into bed with him. He never questioned what meals she cooked him, though he found them all to his liking, and he never followed her when she went awalking in the woods.

But time passes as it must past and the promises of years back faded with time. The man and his wife had two lovely daughters and she was a dutiful and loving wife. One day, on a trip to the village, he was treated to fine and salty bear meat. The man, being a humble farmer, found himself amazed to learn the taste matched that of his wife's dinner. And so he returned home, 'Dearest wife, how is it that you could afford to buy meat such as this for our supper?' And though he meant it in all praise, her answer was cold and stony silence. And that week his dinner tasted little better than the soil outside their home.

At the end of the week he returned to the village, seeking a decent meal, when he heard the women gossiping about his strange wife. She bathed, they said, in a springs near the farm in the evening after sunset. The man thought it fine to gather flowers and sneak to the spring to surprise her. However, when he saw his wife unclad and uncovered in the dusk and was spellbound by her beauty which had been hidden away behind dresses and clothes. But most curious of all was a strange and supple tail she possessed.

But when she saw him her calm turned to hissing fury and haughty contempt. He returned to their house with a much scratched face and was made to sleep before the fireplace on the floor. And so, that night, when she left to go walking in the woods, he put on his cloak and cap and followed her as silent as a ghost. Into the woods she walked, and cast aside her clothes. For a moment, he thought she was seeking a new lover and he was cuckolded. But finally he reached a ring and standing stone and there he saw the truth.

As a veil lifted he learned that she was of the faerie, of the creatures beyond all mortal ken. She was as savage as the wild hunt and as primal as the fiercest beasts. Her fingers were claws, her mouth fangs, and tawny fur coated her nude body. And so his last promise was broken. When the elders of the village heard the children crying, the bravest of them searched the wood and found a broken trail racing towards the man's farm and a bloody streak returning to its depths. And so they took the children back to the village, and both were curious and bright and modest... but all who were wise in the village made the warding sign at the sight of the two girl's tails.


"Settle down. Settle down. Honestly, why can't I have you all this interested when it's time to study mathematics? Now you asked for a story and I'm going to give you one. Berrim, sit down and put that inkwell back. Yes, I saw you. Thank you. Now for the story, it's a special one. I know you want to read stories like Malgrant of Kant slaying the dire dragon of the Mistburrows but today I thought you'd like a history of something a little more unexpected.

"Once upon a time the Holy City of Radiance was very full and very crowded. They asked the supreme god of light permission to go out into the world and find more land to settle. The supreme god was reluctant to let any of his children leave his safe land, but he relented with the promise that they should go out and have nothing to do with the children of shadow. The men and women promised and so they went east into the low grass lands and forests along the Rushes. The land was fertile and soon the people built villages and farms.

"But the settlers noticed that strange things happened during the night. Trinkets would be found misplaced. Food would be spoilt and even animals would be found with throats slit. At first the settlers blamed each other, and almost came to violence. Then, a child came forward and said that he spotted a strange man in a red coat creeping into the barn late one night.

"The settlers considered and so they laid a trap. In a barn they put all their valuable treasures and chained all the doors and windows open save one tiny hatch. For three nights they waited and watched and felt more and more foolish. Finally, on the fourth night, the men gave up and went home. However, the boy who saw the little man continued to watch and sure enough in the early hours he saw the little man creep through the hatch. The boy sprang forward and closed the hatch and locked it with iron.

"The little man raged and beat on the doors and windows, but could not pass through a portal shut with iron. He threatened the boy with death and destruction, but the boy refused to open the door. He promised the boy gold and silver and precious gems, but the boy had no avarice and refused to let him out. Finally the little man sobbed and wept and begged the boy to let him out. The boy relented but made the little man promise on his life to never ever steal again and to take only what he earned and what was owed him. Finally the little man agreed and the boy opened the hatch. Out came a bright red snake that hissed sullenly and disappeared. After that there was no more mischief at night.

"But the boy had broken his agreement with the supreme God of Light. The god was enraged and refused to let the people trade with the great city of Radiance. The farmers were left on their own. The boy told others of the promise the little man had made and so the farmers would occasionally go out into the fields or the wood to look for strange standing rocks or circles of toadstools to offer presents in exchange for favors from the faerie.

"Many generations later, we were still a land of farmers and small towns cut off and alone from the rest of the world. There was a King of sorts, and a Queen, and curiously enough the former was the great grand child of that very same boy. But he was a kindly King and had a humble Queen and the people respected him enough to listen to what he had to say. But our land faced troubles from the mountains... monsters of the Bloody One who desired only death and destruction. He saw their number and knew his land was doomed.

But rather than give into despair he went alone to the Great Wood, where none had gone before and returned. And in he went and faced many trials and temptations and perils. But he was kind, and brave, and determined and so he was permitted to meet with the King and Queen of the fae. After long talks he convinced them to aid him, but in return his son would wed the daughter of the faerie court. The King agreed.

But the Prince refused the bride, refusing to wed any woman. The King and queen begged him to accept but the prince denied her. And so the King mustered what army he could and rode out to meet the horde.

On the banks of the Rushes the King and his army faced the Blood Horde. There were ogres and trolls and beasts driven mad with hunger and hate. The army was outnumbered not ten to one or a hundred to one but a thousand to one. And so the horde charged across the river and were cut down by humble woodmen and their arrows and reached the far side and were cut down by simple farmers and their scythes and pitchforks.

It was then, when hope seemed lost, that the prince relented and went to his bride. They were married beneath the full moon, for morning would not wait. And when their vows were exchanged a great ringing of silver trumpets was heard over the battlefield. Fog arose from the Rushes and in that fog were things stranger and more fierce than the horde. And when the first rays of light broke the horizon and the fog receeded the horde lay slain to a man. On the stone above the river where the vows were traded lay a rune. On that rune the Prince and his Queen erected a city. The first city of the land.

Time passes as it will, ten generations at the least, and by now we were not so alone with the Rusk to the north and the Bissan to the south and more and more people in the land. And from the West came a man. He was not kind, nor humble, nor wise. He felt his wealth more than made up for these lackings. And worse, he was a fool, for he felt his coin made him clever and he thought of a way he could have more gold. He befriended the least son of the king and queen with many presents and gifts and flattery. And when the son was most taken in they went to the Deep Wood with many men of sword and magic.

And trials they faced, but had men to die when they failed them. And perils too, but sacrificed their followers to escape them. They tried to bribe with worthless gold and flatter with hollow words. The found their way to the faerie court and the wealthy man made his deal for gold and magic and gifts that there was no need for the asking. In exchange, the royal son swore that one child from each family would be given in the next year.

The king and queen of the fae accepted and returned the pair with gold in wagons and carts. Swords of magic and armor marked with runes of power were in both their possession, and so they returned to the castle in finery unimagined. But when the king asked how they obtained such gifts, they said nothing. And so the coin spread far and wide in the realm, and only a few refused to have anything to do with it. And for the fool and the royal son there was only praise and talks that he should wear the crown next.

And when the year was up, a messenger from the fae came to the castle and listed their payment. The king was outraged by the demand, and sent the messenger away. Soon all those who carried the faerie gold found it turned to mud in their pockets. Merchants of far away lands were outraged, and took their goods elsewhere. The messenger returned, and was turned away again. The magic gifts turned awry, and the land was stricken with floods and droughts and plagues of insects and rats. And the messenger returned, and was turned away again. And the King's children were killed by the magical gifts that cleaved innocent flesh and blood, all save the least son.

And so the messenger returned, and he was a little man in a red coat with a clever beard and a mouth full of teeth and he said "We are to take only what we have earned and what we are owed." And so that night one child of every family was spirited away, including the king's final son. What became of them no one knows. The great rune split asunder.

And the rich man? The stories differ, for some say that the faerie hunted him all the days of his life and even after; chasing his spectre with hounds and arrows. And others say he donned a black mask and boarded and black ship and sailed away under the new moon with only his laughter to be heard for miles around.

Since then, we have had no king to speak for us. The castle remains empty and the rune split. None can mend it, and no one of that bloodline remains. Of course it is said that some day the child of that least son may return and reclaim the throne and mend that which was broken. But until then, the faerie remain apart and hostile and every now and then they spirit another child away. They take what they are owed and only what they have earned."

-Maris Goldenhand, schoolteacher of Rushes.


"So you want to know about Olderuners? Well I'm guessing you're from Radiance or Gyre or some other big and fancy place, and if I'm right you're going to have a hard time understanding the Folk. You see Olderuners aren't big city Folk. We're mostly farmers and live in small towns of a few hundred at the moment. Here and there you'll find a manor or an estate but by and large we're not big on wealth and titles here.

"So first thing to know. Humility. Olderuners don't like arrogant folks who think a fancy title or loads of money makes a person special. You come in calling yourself lord this or flashing around buckets of gold and you'll find yourself ignored in quick order. You want to make a good impression? Pick up an axe and split some firewood. Help plow a row. Make yourself useful. And yeah, killing monsters is plenty useful, but don't expect everyone to make a fuss bowing and cheering if you do."

"Second thing. Honor your deals. There is nothing that will get you kicked out of town or strung up if you break your word. Heck, even trying to find a loop hole is going to get yourself in hot water really fast. And if you can't uphold your end then admit to it and do what you can to make amends. But you lie or cheat or steal and you'll be facing the town magistrate. Or if you think you're too big for that... well there are other ways of dealing with that."

"Third thing. Don't joke about faeries. Lots of outsiders do. Sure, there's plenty of folks that don't think they're real, or that they've gone away, but there's none that finds that talk funny. Also, more than a few folks got strange superstitions, like they might ask you to stand at meals or they might ask you to eat a pinch of salt or hold an iron rod. Do it. Folks with superstitions think people who don't might be a faerie in disguise."

"Fourth thing. Avoid the fields at night and for the love of the light never go into the woods. That's their land. You trespass and you're fair game. There's also all kinds of other nasty things out at night so its best to find some place to cozy down till sunrise."

"Fifth thing. Ya probably notice there's not a whole lot of churches and temples around here. Yeah, the One True Brightness is still ticked off with us even after who knows how many generations. We don't have much truck with Gods of the light or the dark. Ya might occasionally find a temple of the Lady around but for the most part we don't have time to bother with it.

"Last bit. Magic. Some folks believe in it. Some folks don't. If ya know a trick we probably won't be fussed. If ya show off... well... remember rule number one. And there are folks that if ya do something unnatural will do all they can to poison ya and cut off your head with an iron blade. And remember that just because we're not talking to the God of Light doesn't mean he doesn't have eyes and ears in the land. You bring a witch hunter down on your head then don't expect too much help from us. Unless of course Mr. Witch Hunter is Lord Brightness of Evilslaydom. In THAT case... well... we might just help ya ta spite em."

"Now get out of here. I got to get the cows in before nightfall."

2009-09-27, 10:19 AM
bump to avoid thread necrosis!

and also, thank oyu for more great fluff:smallsmile:

2009-09-27, 01:15 PM
I like and I subscribe. Moar!!

Admiral Squish
2009-09-30, 07:23 PM
please deliver more of this awesomeness!

2009-10-14, 03:21 PM
Bump for interest

Requiem Star
2009-10-15, 09:15 AM
Okay. Should I do this 3.5e or 4e? I can't make up my mind.

Edit: Ugh... okay. 3.5 then. Just understand that I am horrible with the concept of 'balance'. IMO dwarves should be ECL +2... but the PHB says otherwise.

2009-10-15, 11:02 AM
Definitely 3.5; I'd love to see the crunch for your wonderful world.

But my opinion's rather jaded; use whichever edition you like best :smallsmile:

2009-10-15, 02:58 PM
Go 3.5. I really want to see some more of this!

2009-10-18, 01:14 PM
The decision is yours, but personally, 3.5.:smalltongue:

Requiem Star
2009-10-19, 06:01 PM
Races of Penumbra


"Don't run away, please? I promise I won't hurt you! Please? Don't run from me!"

To be a caliban is not to be of a race. It is to be the bearer of a curse. Caliban resemble humans that have been twisted in form. The origins of such deformities varies greatly. Some attest dark magics or the gods of shadow much create such monstrosities. Others cite reckless and inhumane experiments that produce such creatures. One disturbing trait is that caliban are able to reproduce with humans, though the offspring are always caliban; usually with completely different traits.

As an individualistic race of outcasts, Caliban do not have a culture in and of themselves. When two Caliban meet the result is always awkwardness as there are no societal rules to follow. The closest that Caliban have to a community of other Caliban is the shire of Odd in Olderune. Here there are more than a hundred Caliban living amid five hundred humans. While the humans are cautious of their cousins, they generally do not persecute them as heavily as in other lands.

Caliban as individuals are no more nor less prone to be abusive or kind, villainous or noble. Some take their rejection to heart, becoming monsters every bit that the stories portray. Others seek the company of friends and strive to do good deeds, if only for personal acknowledgment. Caliban in society are frequently singled out as scapegoats for poor crops, miscarriages, or missing items. While the church of light does admit that Caliban are not inherently evil, many members are easily content to stand by and allow a Caliban to be lynched.

Calibans can be found in all lands. They are extremely rare in Radiance, but can still be found in the holy city's sewers.

Caliban Racial Traits
Medium Humanoid.
+2 to strength. +2 to Constitution. -2 to Dexterity. -4 to Charisma. Calibans are powerful, despite their twisted appearance. However, their frequent asymmetrical build makes them unbalanced and their appearance and social rejection makes it difficult for them to interact with others.
Move: 20'. This is regardless of whatever armor they happen to be wearing.
Unusual equipment: Increase the cost of all armor by 50% to reflect the difficulty of sizing it to the Caliban's body.
Anathema: 6. All Caliban suffer a -6 to any skill with a charisma modifier except intimidation. In addition, a caliban can only get a total score of 20 on any skill check involving charisma, except intimidation.
Automatic language: Etull, Luminis, or Runish depending on origin.
Favored class: Barbarian.

Caliban have three other racial traits. They should be rolled randomly or else selected with GM's permission.

(1-5) Hairless and webbed hands and feet: +4 to swim checks.

(6-10) Scaly skin or patchy, mangy hide: +2 to natural armor class.

(11-15) Long arm: One arm is eighteen inches longer than the other. The caliban may treat any one handed weapon as having reach. If rolled twice, then the caliban is treated as having reach 1 for all weapons.

(16-20)Electrified: Has damage resistance 5/- for electricity. In addition, when the Caliban takes electrical damage he inflicts 1d6 electrical damage on all attacks until the end of his next turn.

(21-25) Pelt: The caliban has a thick lair of oily hair covering his body. He recieves a +6 survival check for cold weather. However, he suffers a -3 survival check for hot weather.

(26-30) Reek: The caliban stinks to high heaven. No perfume can conceal it. Monsters with Scent suffer a -4 to attacks against the Caliban. However, such monsters have a +10 to track the caliban by scent.

(31-35) Horns: The Caliban has thick knobby growths coming out of his skull, metalic bolts, or actual animal horns. The caliban can inflict a slam attack as a secondary attack for 1d6+ str. Secondary attacks suffer a -5 penalty to hit. A caliban can only make one secondary attack.

(36-40) Huge bones: The caliban's bones are so large they strain the skin in places. The caliban recieves damage resistance 3/-- against bludgeoning damage.

(41-45) Third eye: The Caliban has a third eye in his forehead, or else one eye is twice the size of the other. The Caliban gains lowlight vision and a +2 to spot.

(46-50) Aberrant anatomy: The caliban's insides are unpredictably organized. He receives damage reduction: Piercing 3/--. However, anyone targeting the caliban with a heal check suffers a -10 penalty.

(51-55) Albino: The Caliban's skin and hair are bone white. The caliban suffers light blindness (-1 to attack rolls) when in light brighter than a torch. The Caliban gains dark-vision 60'.

(56-60) Maw: The Caliban's mouth is much wider than normal and filled with large broken teeth. The Caliban can inflict a bite as a secondary attack, inflicting 1d6+ str piercing damage. Secondary attacks suffer a -5 to hit and a caliban can execute only one secondary attack per round.

(61-65) Powerful leg: One of the Caliban's limbs is twisted with powerful muscles. Increase speed by 5' per round. In addition the Caliban has a +5 to jump checks. If rolled twice, increase speed by 5' for a total of 10 and increase the bonus to +10 for jump checks.

(66-70) Pustules: The caliban's skin is covered in sores and boils that secrete an acid pus. Any creature grappling the caliban suffers a 1d4 acid damage per round for as long as the grapple in maintained. A swallowed Caliban does not inflict this damage.

(71-75) Tail: The caliban possesses an inhuman tail. If mammalian, +2 to balance and tumble checks. If reptilian, +2 to swim and climb checks.

(76-80) Claw: One of the caliban's hands end in thick jagged nails, spurs of bone or metal, or animalistic claws. The caliban can attack and not be counted as unarmed. The claws inflict 1d4+str and are treated as small slashing weapons. If rolled twice, the caliban has claws on both hands.

(81-85) Hunchback: The Caliban's shoulders are hugely overdeveloped and his arms can assist him with moving. +10 to climb checks. +5' to movement speed. Being topheavy imposes a -5 to balance checks.

(86-90) Mute: The caliban can not speak. He can not cast spells with a verbal component. He receives +3 to all move silently and listen checks.

(91-95) Brimstone: The Caliban smells of sulfur and has damage reduction: Fire 5/--, In addition, when the caliban recieves fire damage he gains a +5' move bonus until the end of his next turn.

(96-00) Tremendous size: The Caliban's size increases to large with all appropriate bonuses and penalties.


"Ok. It's not as bad as it looks. I can fix that boiler with one hand chained behind my back. Question is, what is it worth to ya?"

Dwarves have been found in the world since the arrival of the Gods of Shadow. Many believe them to be human midgets or some shrivelled form of Caliban. In truth, many dwarves don't know their own origins themselves. They often cite 'The Doctor' as their creator, who made them to help open up the secrets of the depths of the earth and then, once his curiosity was sated, they were abandoned to their own devices. As such, dwarves have difficulty feeling attachment to people or places and place far more value in things.

Dwarves are short and stocky humanoids. Their shorter limbs and torso belie a strong and formidable frame. Dwarves are typically hairy and wear both hair and beards long. They rarely give being dirty a second thought and can be found in all sorts of filthy occupations such as farming, mining, and industry. Dwarves have an innate knack for technology, and many of the devices of Gyre have been possible only with dwarven fabrication.

The people of most lands give dwarves a wide berth. While most do not recognize them as non-human there are plenty of superstitions and old wives tales that say the carry away children in the night to work in deep pits till the children turn into dwarves themselves. There is a nugget of truth to this, in that dwarves are able to reproduce with humans. The offspring is always either purely a dwarf or purely human. There are no 'half dwarves'.

While there is only one dwarf race, dwarven abilities are largely shaped by their occupation. Dwarves that work extensively in mining are typically named stonebones. The long hours underground have given then an extensive understanding of the rock around them. Greasemonkey dwarves rarely venture underground. Instead they frequently work in the great factories where their smaller size and constitution helps them survive the sweat shops and machinery. Years of exposure to sweltering conditions has allowed them to shrug off normal heat.

Stonebone culture is very stoic and taciturn. They take safety and survival much more seriously than most humans, knowing that at any moment there could be a cave in or explosion... or worse. Some say a Stonebone's trust is impossible to obtain. More likely the trust is given, but a Stonebone would never want them to take their trust for granted. Stonebones dress in severe grays and browns and are almost always dusty or muddy. They favor potent liquors that they drink with almost prayer like reverence.

Greasemonkey culture is much more social, but not much warmer than Stonebones. If a greasemonkey doesn't have something to complain about then just wait five minutes. Greasemonkeys get their name from the frequent oil, grease, and tar that sticks to their clothes and equipment. Almost every grease monkey carries around their own sets of specially made tools, and many like to compaire them over beer fueled discussions. Such discussions usually end in a heady brawl that leaves all participants stunned. Greasemonkeys are far more likely to have open friendships with humans, but the recipients of that friendship frequently find themselves battered and bruised.

There is no true dwarven land or kingdom. The closest dwarves come to a land of their own is the Down Below of Gyre, the largest concentration of dwarves in the world. This doesn't mean that attempts haven't been made. In the mountains of Rusk and under the forests of Kythel dwarves have attempted to create kingdoms of their own, but each one was destroyed by unknown forces. They are now ruins spanning much deeper into the earth than any other.

Dwarf: Racial attributes
+2 to Con, +2 to Int, -2 Dex, -2 to Cha.
Medium sized humanoid.
Movement: 20'. This moment does not change no matter what armor the dwarf wears or their encumbrance.
- +1 on attack rolls with blunt weapons.
- Stability: as phb.
- +2 racial bonus to saves version poison and disease.

Choose one of the following:
-Stone cunning: as the PHB
- +3 to craft checks related to stone
- +1 to hit and damage versus monsters with the earth subtype.
- Dark vision 60'.
-Greasemonkey: The dwarf's long years working with metal and machinery has granted them an innate understanding of steel workings that most humans would never understand. The dwarf receives a +2 racial bonus to disable devices. In addition, when a dwarf is with 10 feet of a mechanical trap he may automatically make a search check to locate. He can also check for mechanical traps with a standard search check as per a rogue. He can not detect or disable magical traps.
+3 to craft checks related to metal.
+1 to hit and damage against constructs.
- Treat environmental temperatures as 40 degrees cooler or warmer than ambient temperatures before making survival checks.

Anathema: 3. Dwarves suffer a -3 penalty to interacting with humans with any skill using the charisma modifier, save intimidation. A dwarf can only achieve a maximum skill check of twenty when interacting with a human.

Caliban: "You might be bigger than me, but yer uglier too!"

2009-11-18, 04:09 PM
a couple quick notes, the term that I believe you're looking for for the Caliban's electrified and brimstone abillities is energy resistance 5 for electricity and fire respectively,also, the term for reach1 is five foot reach, also, if the caliban has long arm and tremendous size, does he gain ten foot reach? you may want to clarify that.
just a couple nitpicks. im not sure about the caliban's balance level, but it seems like it's better than goliaths in terms of balance, it really depends on homuch the anathema abillity affects play.
the dwarf looks good from my perspective. and i like the flavor you've given both races.

2009-12-11, 08:35 PM
Ka-bump, also, can't wait to see more of this.:smallsmile: