View Full Version : Ashkardia - Background and History

2007-12-07, 11:06 AM
Boring and unnecessary background information

This setting is, at it’s heart, not my idea. It is based upon two other role-playing settings, which sounded great when I heard the first time of them, but were not half as great in reality as I had wanted them to be; one of them was the Banestorm Setting for Gurps, the other one was Changeling: The Dreaming by White Wolf.

Though both are good settings, they had flaws – Banestorm wasn’t to get in German (or in Germany, to be exact) when I read the first time about it. I only found one paragraph about a Fantasy setting called Yrth which is invaded by medieval humans from Terra who continue the Crusades while parallelly meeting typical Fantasy creatures. I was completely fascinated by the idea. In my imagination, this was like the best premise for a Fantasy game I’ve ever heard of. It explained how a medieval society with all that chivalry and multiple facets of true history (because most fantasy games are a line of constant flat clichés) could fit in a Fantasy game and it would explain why there are monasteries and all that. I was totally fascinated, I imagined like a true miracle of a background and I was fully convinced that a game with such a great premise would be like the Holy Grail.

I spent a lot of money and time to get my hands o a copy of Gurps: Fantasy. And it was one of the most disappointing and frustrating readings I ever had. The book isn’t bad – but it was not nearly the pure Ambrosia I did expect and therefore it was a great disappointment. Really, under other circumstances, I would have loved that setting. I was 16 or so back then.

One year later, I picked up a copy of Changeling. I liked the moot and especially the different races in the book, but the German translation of the game’s rules were completely incomprehensible. I did only understand the rules for magic in this system after I read them in English. Roughly five years later. Until then, I had a game, that I did not understood and no one but me wanted to play. It was, mostly, a nice reading, without me ever playing it.

Somehow – I really don’t know how, I had the idea to create my own standard Tolkien clone fantasy setting (apparently because there aren’t enough yet). The ingenious idea was to combine these two biggest disappointments into one great, breath-taking setting of pure inner happiness, combining the great Banestorm premise with the very likable Changeling species – Based on the questions how a Fairy world would develop after a group of mean, destructive yet well organised beasts (called humans) invaded it. I started to write, formed worlds, developed to a point, met a new girlfriend and forgot about it. I was 19 or so then.

Last month I found the old manuscripts and drafts for the setting. I knew I wrote a lot of crap back in the Sturm und Drang days, and most of it wasn’t worth the paper it was written upon, but I was fascinated by it. Seriously, I find it hard to believe that I had that many, at least not really bad ideas.
I decided that I will rework and continue this obviously quite unnecessary Tolkien clone Fantasy Setting. I still think that the “Real humans in a strange world” is the best idea for roleplaying since the d20.

Ashkardia (the world’s name, an extremely clever combination of Arcadia and Asgard) is in its core a typical fantasy world like dozens of others. I don’t claim that this is the best setting ever created, but I think it is the optimum for me (and hopefully a small group of individuals with a similar taste). I hope to give all elements an unique and unspent twist or two, but the setting is not for everybody or is it intended to be for everybody. (I would be happy though if at least someone likes it). I’m already actively sabotaging my concept of that “unique and fresh elements” by using real medieval human cultures. I will try to make them as authentic yet playable as possible, but, everyone knows Vikings. Or Saracens. Or feudal European nobility and clergy. Or at least they think they do.

Ashkardia is also about creating a more gritty, plausible Fantasy world without repeating the same (enter stream of curses hear) grind of ever repeating clichés of typical fantasy settings of superhuman, beautiful elves, ugly subhuman orcs or the other typical fantasy world racism. I want a setting where questions of good and evil are always debatable and subjective and almost completely dependant from the point of view. Especially the idea that morals and behaviour are dependant from the race of someone is disgusting to me.

Ashkardia should also be a setting where magic is not exclusive from rationality. Magic does not replaces any laws of nature, it complements them. Water still consists of two hydrogen and one oxygen atom per molecule, and the good old laws of thermodynamics are in full use –
And yet there is magic. I have only very basical knowledge of physics, but I will try to make magic fit with the laws of thermodynamics. Because no one else does.

And, as a last point, Ashkardia is a world without the intervention of gods. It just does not feel right, to give God/Allah/JHVH or any other real object of faith something as profane as a portfolio or domains. God, Zeus, Mithras, Odin or Tezcatlipoca are as present and real (or as unpresent and unreal, if you prefer that interpretation) in Ashkardia as they are in the real world – perhaps there are miracles and wonders, but not in a D&D sense.

True Middle Ages
There are no artificial and often very stupid fantasy cultures- it’s more like the real world. There is no mystical old language of the intellectuals, there is Latin. You don’t have to explain how the society works or looks like, because it’sd the known stuff.With Elves. And Orcs, And magic.

Humans as monsters
I am not a friend of the often very humanocentric fantasy interpretations; perhaps I’m too misanthropic, but I don’t think we are a very likable species. Humans normally don’t need any monsters to justify almost any imaginable atrocity. And I like the idea of the other point of view – describing the humans in a less euphemistic way. But, the others will not be much better, so much I can promise.

Sense of Wonder
Probably the most important element of a truly great fantasy game is the sense of wonder when great things happen. The fascination with the unreality of the setting, the feeling that there are strange and wonderful things to discover and explore. This feeling can easily be destroyed by an overkill of magic, spectacle and special effects on every corner. One magical airship from ancient times is a great and fascinating artifact, which is wort an own adventure or two. Whole fleets of flying ships destroy the feel of speciality and kill the awe. I want the awe, and therefore I want quality, not quiantity in exotic.

Ashkardia was always known to men; they dreamt of it, their legends where formed there. It is open to speculation if the legends were formed by the Ashkardians based upon a contact of both worlds in the dawn of man, or if the legends of men and their common subconsciousness formed Ashkardia to the lands of mysticism and magic it has become.

2007-12-07, 11:08 AM
A Brief History of Ashkardia
(This background information is slightly coloured and was supposed to be a ingame source, like an excerpt of a chronic or something similar. I tried to write it that way, but I fear my language skills have failed me in more than one instance. I’m not entirely content with the text, but I’m not in the moot to rework it. Again.)

Ashkardia was always known to men; they dreamt of it, their legends where formed there. It is open to speculation if the legends were formed by the Ashkardians based upon a contact of both worlds in the dawn of man, or if the legends of men and their common subconsciousness formed Ashkardia to the lands of mysticism and magic it has become.

Ashkardia was called Asgard, Olymp, Tir Nan Ogg or Elysium by the humans, they called the Otherland, the Eternal Hunting Grounds, sometimes Paradise and often Hell. It was the cradle of dragons, the lair of the Echidna, the place the people thought off when they scribbled “there be monsters” on their maps.

The Time of Travels
Arcadia was always near to what we call “Terra” or Earth. In the old times, magic was strong enough on both sides of the gap between the different layers of reality to allow travels between the worlds. Ashkardians came to Earth and left legends of fairies and trolls, of gods, dragons and monsters. Heroes of human origin “descended into the Underworld” and sometimes came back to tell the story. Ashkardian travellers where the origin of many human legends and myths. It was a glorious time, a time of adventure and exploration, when the worlds where still young and optimistic. Back then, there were monsters, and heroes, ad what was supposed gods came to earth and brought miracles and wonders with them, as beautiful as they were terrible. What later historians and archaeologists described as myths and legends were nothing but the reports of the wondrous meetings between men and beings from an other facet of reality.

The oldest of the Ashkardians – apart from those who called themselves gods, and travelled the lands to satisfy their endless hunger – were the Elder Races, those who were as old as the gods themselves and savvy in the ways of warfare and magic. The Elder Races were the dragons, bound to the elements and terrifying in every aspect, the Trolls, the Rockborn, who had the strength and patience of mountains, and the Elves, called Sidhe in their own tongue, nimble and fair and with an unmatched insight in the hidden truths of magic.
There were other people as well – galloping Kentaurs and sylvan Satys, the winged Hawkpeople and the playful Selkies on the beaches.

The Shattered Bridges
As the time went by, the humans eventually found a new source of power: iron. Iron broke the magic of Ashkardia and it burned the flesh of the world travellers. Iron the most profane of all metals was poison for those who needed magic as much as oxygen to survive. Magic withered on Terra and the gates between the different world closed. Ashkardians found it harder and harder to cross the gap, and the humans lost their aptitude for magic even faster. And suddenly, their magic gave little protection against the black iron and crossing the gap of the world became a perilous adventure at best. Around the time that mighty Ilion was sacked the first time, the gates closed, seemingly for ever. And the visitors of a stranger world didn’t come anymore. Humanity was alone, and prospered, declined, and prospered again through the changes of centuries.

2007-12-07, 11:18 AM
The Godswar
Suddenly, those who were used to travel the worlds where captured in there own reality. The Ashkardians weren’t used anymore to have such burdens on their freedom, and conflicts between the different people grew. The gods, oldest and most powerful of the Ashkardians claimed their superiority over all others, and those who refused, where attacked. War became first a threat, than a normality throughout Ashkardia. The gods subjugated those who refused to worship them, or exterminated them. Millions cried. Millions died.

There were only nine gods who travelled across the land and sea of Ashkardia
Artukash the Horse, Aztev the Child, Arkiva and Rorkeva, the Big and the Small Leaper, Iourestma the Owl, Makutha the Bear, Nilestri the Hare, Rorkashah the Lion, Ushtkar the Mole and Zultumak the Boar.
Now, who can determine where these great gods in animal form come from?

In the end, the three eldest people united to defend themselves against the wrath of the gods. These three were the Dragons, old and wise, the tall Trolls of the World Spine mountains, vigorous and brave, and the Sidhe from the golden Garden Palaces, cunning and apt in the way of magic. An alliance was forged between the three Elder Races and they fought back, hunting the rampaging gods. And killing them. One by one the gods were slain by dragon poison, troll kryst axes and elven witchwood arrows. There were those who tried to protect the gods, but they, too, couldn’t resist the united force of trolls, dragons and sidhe.

After a century of war and carnage, Makutha the Bear, oldest and most powerful of the gods, was killed by trolls and elves – the dragons had retreated, after taking the heaviest losses of the godslayers. With his last breath, Makutha cursed his murderers and their blood with immortality. The godslayers laughed at the curse, took it as a blessing and feasted over their triumph.

And after the last god’s death, their alliance broke. The dragons flew away, and hunted down the remaining dwarves, the only Ashkadian species that stood always loyal to the gods; and the dwarves suffered heavily for their loyalty. The armies of trolls and elves did not part in friendship, but in scorn and distrust; the oldest of the races were always rivals, and only the mutual struggle bound them together. But the Trolls were annoyed by the scrupulous tactics of the Sidhe and the Elves were disgusted by the Troll’s blood rituals and scarification.

2007-12-07, 11:20 AM
The Time of Fire
The triumph of the Godswar faded, and what seemed as a glorious battle for freedom while it lasted, was soon recognized to be genocide. The victors were ashamed of their actions. And the curse of immortality took its price; overpopulation, spite and increasing profanity overcame the trolls in their mountain halls as well as the elves in their garden palaces. The Ashkardians were isolated in a world which soon grew to be to small for them. Old rivalry grew into struggles about land, struggles into skirmishes, and skirmishes into war. Only two centuries after the last god was slain, his murderers turned on each other.

Troll warriors and Sidhe archers met on the battlefield more and more often. In the beginning, these ‘wars’ were highly ceremonial duels between single champions or small bands of warriors, but the conflict escalated, and even though the Elder Races couldn’t die from age, they still could die from a blade.

The escalating war was also important to ease the population pressure in societies, where illness were rare and noone died from age. In thousand battles, trolls and elves clashed together. Uncountable heroic deeds were fulfilled, praised by the bards and soon forgotten. In thousand battles, troll bearers of the Witch Warrior Rune and Sidhe Spellswords spilled the blood. And with every dead who was denied the immortality, the hate on both sides grew.

The warriors of both sides were equal in their martial power and their deep knowledge of magic. The endurance and sheer physical power of the trolls were matched by the agility and quickness of the Sidhe. No side was predominant, and no side was ever able to get a significant advantage. This all changed when two persons came to power who were exceptional even for the standards of the Elder Races. Aggdegg the Prophet, the Farseer, Elfdoom – he earned many names. Aggdegg, was born with an unique Gift: He could see in the future, and he erred rarely. His augury gave him knowledge about the things to happen, and this gave him an enormous tactical advantage over any enemy who faced him. Aggdegg became a great leader of his people, combining success and the enormous force of personality only a True King has. He lead the Witch Warriors under his command from one victory to the next, avoiding the traps of the Elves, finding their weakest points with ease and shattered the Sidhe forces that opposed him. For the first time in an age old war, the balance began to shift. The war has long lost its meaning, and no side can remember what started it, but Aggdegg was sure that he was the one that was destined to end it.

After a decade under the leadership of Aggdegg, the Trolls ad broke the elvish armies. No mercenary was wiling to waste his life against the seemingly unstoppable Troll army, and the noble born elves declined in decadence awaiting their end. After a dozen years, Aggdeggs troops lay flame on one of the oldest Garden Palaces, and the Elvish core lands were in immediate danger.

The elves seemed willing to let it happen. Their ageless life and the futile resistance drank them in apathy. All of them, as it seems, but one.

Vilanai of the waters was a reputed Sidhe wizard, old and very crafty both in the light and dark sides of magic. For centuries, she delved I the secrets of life, in the arts of vivisection, anatomy and transmogrification. She was no fighter, and was never involved in the war of her people, but she was old enough to remember the Godswar. It is said that all her forty two sons and daughters were killed by the Trolls during the sack of the tree fortress of Yòl and that she grew spiteful and insane after she heard of their descendants. She disappeared from the eyes of the world, and soon from its memories.

Around the time, the Troll warriors and their auxiliaries and mercenaries closed in on the core lands, Vilanai returned – with an army. She had brought the Ritual of Chimera to perfection, and created from captured trolls and Shidhe “voluntaries” a new species of hybrids, a servitor race of great power and fury. Within merely two years, a legion of the servitors clawed their way out of the artificial wombs of Vilanais Breeding Trees and collected in troops of artificially aged warriors. Vilanais children. Orks. The new breed of servitor warriors came over the surprised Trolls – and killed them. Armed with weapons made from iron and protected against magic, they attacked the trolls like mastiffs attack bears. Aggdegg himself, astonished by the failure of his oracle died under an iron blade.

The bloody and cruel the constant state of war between Trolls and Elves ever was, no side ever used iron weaponry. It was the greatest atrocity a honourable warrior could think of. And yet, there it was – packs of Ork warriors, armed with iron blades, eager to kill, driven forward by the powerful enchantments of their creator.

No one knows how Vilanai’s ritual worked. But it tipped the scales in the war.

Without Aggdegg and his prophetic visions, the troll armies were left in decay. Without a leader, Aggdegg’s generals had a hard time to cooperate. Apart from the war against the advancing Elves and their Ork shock troopers, an internal power struggle weakened the Trolls.

The next years of the war gave the Time of Fire its name. Aggdegg’s successes where repaid most cruelly. For every Elf who died under the axes and spells of the Witch Warriors, a family was wiped out. This wasn’t a honourable war of noble fighters anymore; it was genocide, and the Elves were out for extinction. Aggdegg was able to treat his enemies with honourable arrogance in the knowledge that they couldn’t compete with his strengths, but the Elves were infuriated and out for extermination. The vast army of orcs left no survivors behind. The settlements were burned, their inhabitants raped and killed and the land was scorched and salted. The rugged and tired remains of once proud troll clans fled back to their homelands in the Spine of the World.

Even the mountainous ranges of the mountains and the dirt white glaciers of the Spine, the Ork armies pushed on, even though hundreds of them were killed in ambushes and rockslides. But for every Ork that felt, a new one seemed to rise from the artificial wombs. The noose of advancing Orks grew tighter and tighter around the last refugium of the Trolls: The Mil’ Warat, the holy mountain of the whole species, the very rock from where in the oldest of times the ancestors of all Trolls came into existence. There the remnants of the noblest of Elder Races gathered for a last glorious battle before descending into darkness. Sullen determination was written in the defender’s faces, but the Council of Elders, those Trolls who once signed the pack which was the beginning of the end of the Godswar, came together for a last time, and came to a desperate decision.

More about the glorious and bloody history of Ashkardia and how humans came there to make everything worse tomorow.

Delta Nu Delta
2007-12-07, 12:40 PM
Umm, this is awesome so far.

I'm definitely excited about further installments.

I absolutely love moral ambiguity in a setting. I think it's essential for interesting play. I also appreciate your humility, but I think you're unjust in your judgement of yourself. This is great stuff!

2007-12-07, 05:50 PM
VERY good background, I love it, wonder if the dragons will do anything?

2007-12-08, 05:30 AM
Thank you. Very flattering.

I fear that the dragons are not that important as the other races - in the first draft, there were no dragons at all, and though I like dragons I never really was satisfied with the color-coded dragons in D&D. Ashkardian Dragons are a bit different and as individuals, there are as different as any other individuals.

2007-12-08, 05:34 AM
The Arrival of mankind and goblinkin
For millennia, the bridges between the worlds were cut. But the oldest trolls tossed the closed gates opened, sacrificing themselves to the greatest summoning ever to happen in any facet of reality. A storm of magic crossed the gap between the worlds and called those who had long mastered the secrets of iron and forgotten the secrets of magic; the lords of steel and fire, the iron apes. Us. Us who were never supposed to enter this realm.

The largest group of men arrived in Ashkardia were the glorious founders of our Holy Order – together with the Saracen warriors they ware eager to kill. It is said that both armies, clad in steel and ready to attack manifested among the approaching Orks and Elves. Ur ancestors were glorious men, and when surrounded by strange shapes of demonic appearance, old enmity was forgotten. The Saracens my be heathen and heretics, but they are still formed after the image of god, and they are still born with a soul – and the knights and the camel riders attacked. The Orc warrior slaves and their Sidhe masters were completely taken by surprise and were not able to react as the humans spread death around them swinging deadly steel. The Sidhe’s troops were scattered and the valley beyond the Mil’ Warat was covered in blood.

The Troll scholars’ sacrifice had called them, but somehow, the summoned humans did not disappear after the spell ended; they had come to stay. The armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Saracen warriors were by far not the only humans who arrived in their new world. Humans from different continent and even different times arrived, summoned by the very force of magic. Like in a cyclone, the humans were blown away and landed in a land far away from the world they lived in. Our ancestors were victorious, but confused. Under strange stars and at the foot of a majestic mountain, they felt left alone. The short-termed alliance of Cross and Crescent Moon ended as fast as it began and both armies parted peacefully.

The Trolls were not able to control the summoning, men and other creatures came like locusts over the war-weakened land of Ashkardia. From the depths of a meagre wasteland, the goblinoid people arrived – not as numerous as the humans, but fascinated by the lush and fertile lands that suddenly were all around them. From a true Amoebus Loci, the Golden Ones arrived and cried as they were ripped from Paradise. It seems that people from every facet of reality was drawn to Ashkardia, but none were as numerous as the humans and the tribes of the Goblinoids.

The history of Gondaran
Gondaran is a strange place to us Northerners. While the Goblinoids and Humans devastated the northern continent Ashkardia, the southern lands were invaded by something stranger. There are humans as well, but they are only slaves of different masters. In the jungles, the hidden towns of the lizards kingdoms rule and worship the dragons.
On the coast, the Vivisectionists live and rule over their slave armies. It is not known what those vivisectionists really are, but their magical powers are even stronger than those of the Elder Races, and there are only a few them, hiding in high towers and ruling through their priest caste over the northern coast of Gondaran. The population of these towns are only slaves and are forced to worship their rulers as if they were gods, and the vivisectionist city states are in a constant of war, where the rulers send ever new magical creatures created in the transmogrifying chambers of their towers and striving through the sunburnt land.

Gondara is not a part f the normal, fully described Game world, but it is the hopefully exotic terra incognita in the South, were strange creatures from the transmogrifying chambers, Lizardpeople Kingdoms in the Jungle and other mysteries can be explored by adventurers. The vivisektionist city states are roughly based on the Dark Sun setting. Only without the canibalistic halflings.

2007-12-08, 05:40 AM
The conquest
The least newcomers were as martial as the Saracens and Crusaders; most of them were simple people, peasants and craftsmen, simple women and uneducated men – the salt of the land. Stranded in a strange world, surrounded by even stranger beings which controlled magical powers long forgotten on Terra, they panicked and leashed out. Mankind grew together and overcame the native Ashkardians. In those days, the newcomers still had iron tools and iron weapons and the first years were a series of easy victories over surprised Ashkardians. It is the irony of our blood: The only time that mankind was ever united was to bring doom and violence over people we did not understand. Our bloodlust still embarrasses your humble chronist. Our ancestors forced the Ashkardians in the wastelands and claimed the fertile soils for themselves. Those who dared to resist were wiped out. The only rivals were the goblinoid tribes in the East; everyone else was no match for the black swords of iron.
It needed seventy years until the thirst for blood was stilled.

The human kingdoms
After this time of blood and murder, new empires were found. In the north, the descendants of the proud knights of Jerusalem created the Ordensland, ruled by the grand abbots of the faith militant. Nominally, the knights of the faith militant are vassals of the king of Gildfurt, but they are vastly independent.
The king in Gildfurt and his vassals are the dominating force in the centre of west Ashkardia. The ruling family claims to that the powerful Carolingians were there ancestors and it is true that they have the charisma of kings. Their land is fertile, but the nobles under the crown are unruly and do not bend their necks easily.

In the West, near the still impressive Palace Gardens of the Sidhe, the Caliph claimed his throne, and founded the Caliphat. The Caliph and his followers were the first of the human rulers who hold in the bloodshed and accepted Ashkardians and Goblinkin among them when those accepted to convert to their heathen faith; now, people from all races live among the rule of the caliph.

The descendants of Cathay and stranger coasts live on the south western coast. I do not speak their language, but it is said they call their land the Cradle of the Dragon and that it is ruled by powerful clans who are steadily warring each others but united against al foreigners.

In the east, the pyratae danii and the Saxons settled; they intermarried and grew into one people, but they have more kings than it is beneficial for any country; their lands are called the Heptarchiat, for there are seven kingdoms under one crown. It is known that no other nation has that many great warriors.

In the Southeast, bordering to the Hobgoblin lands and the Spine of the world, the Africans landed. They are a strange people, some as tall as the greatest men in Christianity, others as small as children. Dozens oidf kings of rulers have divided the land among them, and led skirmishes against each other and the HGobgoblins opn their border. We call these lands the Black kingdoms, after the skin of their inhabitants.

On the southern isles, the strangest of all human kingdoms can be found: The empire of the militis aztecae, warriors who dress as animals and plunder the coastal villages in their small boats.

In the wastes on the other side of the Spine, there are vast kingdoms as well, but the contacts are rarer. The goblin sailors report of a harsh steppe where the Horse people live; and it is said that they travel around on their small horses following their large herds of livestock.

And in the South, in the fertile lands of the five fingers of the hand rivers there are the remnants of the once most powerful of all empires – the Eagle Empire, founded by the mostpowerful hobgoblin centurions of old and their cohorts.

It is common knowledge that there are humans as well on the far side of the spine and beyond the Hobgoblin reaches and the Wandering Mountains, but they are strange to us and we hear little of them but rumours. The horse people are the most famous among them, who are said to be like the White Huns of older ages.

The Trolls did not only summon our ancestors - they also summoned the doom to the realm.

2007-12-08, 10:10 AM
The walls breach
For three hundred years, there was peace – more or less. The bloodletting of the first decades had disappeared., and humans, other Newcomers and the Natives build contacts – shyly first, but more bravely later. Trade caravans travelled the lands. The others still feared our ancestors and hated them, and your humble chronist fears that will never change after all we did to them, but it was a time of peace and rebuilt. The unity of mankind broke but internal skirmishes and small border wars were the most dangerous what happened.

Than they appeared. They weren’t neither Ashkardian nor Terran; nor did anyone knew about them in their old legends. First, they were only a few, vermin in the dry plains south of the River Simber, the frontier of the Hobgoblin Eagles back then. But they seemed to prosper, and others came as well. Rumours spread about swarms of gigantic insects, of blood red mountain ranges wandering north. And then it all escalated when the rumours proofed to be true. The Klackers had arrived.

Nobody, not even the oldest sages of the Elder Races knew who or what the Klackers are. They are strange our ands and vision, they are stranger than anything native to Terra or Ashkardia. They are like insects, but of towering height; they seem to be soulless animals but yet they move with the discipline and coordination of battlefield veterans. There are a hundred different races among them, but they all seem to be one big tribe. They are very strange – and even more dangerous. Their hides are tough as Courboule armor, their claws are razor sharp and their warriors are strong enough to kill a horse in one blow. And they travelled north, towards the realms of men. While they move, they built their fortresses out of sand and their own blood, forming the wandering mountains and turn the land into a dry and dust red waste.

The mighty armies of the hobgoblin empire rallied against the Klackers. We all knew that powerful warrior caste of the hobgoblins was unmatched, and only the bigger numbers of humans had saved us from a life as hobgoblin vassals. As the Wandering Mountains grew northwards, the Hobgoblin armies marched to intercept them. It was a shining force. A great host of warriors marching against an more or less unknown enemy.
They lost, and they lost bitterly. The hobgoblin forces were annihilated. Only small troops returned and no one really believed it – this enemy, the Klackers seemed invincible.

The Simber battle
On the Simber, the large river that was the natural frontier between the southern and northern parts of the hobgoblin empire, a vast human army gathered. Humans from all the Ashkardian kingdoms came, as well as the remaining hobgoblin forces and a broad alliance of Asahkardians fought side by side. It was the first time, that such an alliance was formed, and I am glad to report of the great bravery of this pact against the Klackers. And, with the assistance of god, we were victorious. Hundreds of noble fighters and brave knights died on the Simber riverbanks, but somehow, the advancing hordes of the Klackers were stopped. We must slain thousands of these vile beasts, but the blood price was high. We know that they will come again, and it will be hard to form an Alliance like this again. But we must, we must or we will all perish. The Wandering Mountains will only stop when there is no more land to conquer. Or we will have destroyed the last of them.

Now we live in a fragile alliance - the Ashkardians hates us for all they had suffered, but they need us to defend them agianst the Klackers - as much as we need them. Our ancestors have loaded terrible guilt on their shoulders, and we must show our penintence.
We may be born under different stars and in different worlds, and we may appear strange and hostile to each other, but for all of us, mabkkind, Ashkardians and Goblinkin, this is is home. And we will defend it. Or die trying.

So, what are the Klackers? Well, thery are - mostly - Zergs. Or those Bugs from Starship Troopers. And starspawn of the great elder gods who sleep down there in Ryleh. I think I included them becauase I felt that the constant hatred between the different species doesn't make a good background for more flexible character creation ("No, my Elf will never work together with your stinking Troll!") and to offer a repeating theme - only a strong, common enemy can bind the rivals and enemies together.

2007-12-09, 05:51 PM
So, that's the history. A world based on - mostly European - mythology, utterly destroyed by enough authors of very different quality who all hought that they, too, must add their own thumbprint on a classic.

The history is the first chapter; now, the second: What is Adventuring in Ashkardia like?

(Chapters three are the Races of Ashkardia, four is Magic and Magical items, five the map and regional descriptions, six are plothooks and adventures).

2007-12-09, 05:52 PM
Playing in the godless lands of Ashkardia
There are several distinct differences between Ashkardia and most of the other D&D worlds. First of all, Ashkardia has a much lower Magician per capita ratio than almost any other world. Magic is here but it is not a collection of fancy special effects and omnipresent manipulation of cosmic forces. That does not mean that Ashkardian magic is weak (or at least weaker) it's more subtle (at least most of the time) and it needs more time for preparation and execution. And in the big scales, Ashkarian Magicians are frightingly powerful. Creating life, crossbreed different, completely unrelated species into Chimeras, summon thousands of people ffrom a different layer of reality at once… that is pretty big stuff, isn’t it?

About the power of Black Iron:
Ashkardia doesn’t offer much iron. There are iron ore mines, but they are rare and not very profitable. Iron in Ashkardia is rare, and expensive. While most human noble houses own a set of iron weaponry and armor, this is far from true for commoners. To own an iron dagger or knife is a sign of wealth and status. To own an iron broadsword is a true sign of great power. Blacksmiths are renowned and often very rich craftsmen who jealously protect the secrets of their craft. Real experts among them are praised like the most powerful wizards.
Most tools, weapons and armor in Ashkardia are made from bronze or brass. These materials are harder to process and are in many inferior to black iron, but much cheaper and easier to get.

Iron items are considered to be +1 or +2 weapons or armor. The price and the bonus is the same. Additionally, iron items have double as many hitpoints and 20% more hardness. Bronze or Brass equipment uses the listed stats.

Iron is not only a superior materiel for weapons, it is also an antimagic metal, that hurts the creatures of Ashkardia who are dependant on magic to survive and it protects its wielders from spells.
An iron item has a saving throw bonus +4 (or more when it is especially massive) to resist any magical manipulation or destruction. An iron item also protects its wielder from magical harm; an iron helmet, tiara or crown offers a protection against minds affecting magic and grants its wielder a +2 bonus to will saves against spells, spelllike abilities and supernatural abilities.
A suit armor which covers the torso grants a bonus to fortitude saves, +1 for a light, +2 for a medium and +3 for a heavy armor.
Likewise, iron armor is especially hindering for magical users. Wearing iron armor gives an additional –2 penalty to armor class penalties only for spellcasting.
The antimagic nature of iron makes it impossible to enchant it.

2007-12-11, 10:39 AM
Magical items and Equipment
Magical items are comparatively rare in Ashkardia. On the one hand, because it is harder to enchant items than in most D&D worlds and on the other hand, because the two great magical societies – the Elves and the Trolls – never really got into it. Trolls prefer not to be dependant on anything else but themselves and created bloodgems, magical tattoos and similar enchantments of their bodies. The Sidhe preferred transmogrification to create new servitor species, and rarely use more classical items (with the exception of magical armor and weapons) in the times of fire). Therefore, a lot of enchantments are still unknown to Ashkardian spellcasters and most spellcasters are not firm in enchantment practices. The magocratic Goblins are the one great exception, and roughly about 80% of all non-weapon magical equipment is of goblin origin.
The Price of Enchantments is higher than usual (both for the XP and the gold costs).

Wonderous items, rings and all kinds of similar items cost the double listed price (Gold and XP) to create them. The only exceptions are the Bloodgems (which are mostly Ioun stones with a slightly different fluff).

The only source to buy magical items are normally Goblin artificers, and they know about their monopole and exploit it by any means; the price to buy a specific magical item is quadrupled.

Magical potions and oils and scrolls still cost the listed prices. They are by far the most common magical equipment in Ashkardia.

Magical weaponry was once quite common, but since humans and goblinkin can use iron weapons which are equal to weaker magical weaponry, they have become rarer are only still produced by Elves and Trolls. The costs to produce magical weapons are 1.5 times the listed prices, and they are rarely sold outside of their creator’s species.

There are no magical staffs, wands or rods in Ashkardia, since the magic works differently and therefore other spell reservoirs have been developed.

2007-12-12, 10:07 AM
Excellent setting. I hope to see more of it.

2007-12-12, 11:43 AM
Thanks. There will come up more about it - I have not the slightest idea when I am finished with the notes I've done until know. Not including the newer ideas. The biggest problem I have right now is, that I need to put this in one more or less stringent form.

2007-12-12, 12:21 PM
Faith, Religion and Divine Magic in Ashkardia.

I have already mentioned that I wanted to use real religion, but I found it more than just wriong to put a real world religion into one of the very stereotypic mewchanicval descripütions of D&D. Therefore, there are no "clerics" in the D&D sense in Ashkardia. There are still clergymen, and there is faith, but there are no blatant obvious mysterious effects everytimes the clerics wants them to appear and there are no mracles and wonders on a regular base. The gods are more subtle than that.

Magic is not an external gratification or something you can learn in Ashkardia, it's a Gift, and a rare one. Only a few children are born with the Gift, the ability to use and form magic energies. Most people aren't, making the magical classes very exclusive.
to take levels in any spellvcasting class, a character needs a feat - the Gift - that can only be taken at 1st level. Characters without this feat cannot lkearn ho to cast spells.

Magic is divided into three different branches in Ashkardia:
the more or less scientific approach of the Hermetic Magic works pretty much like the the wizard's magic in standard D&D. Hermetic Magic is rational, based on trial and error and experiments. Think of it as "magic as a science."

Hereditary Magic is innate. Those who are born with magicdo not necerssarily completely understand what they are doing, but they just do it. Withoout much thinking or a philoosophy to bback them up. Hereditary Magicians (sorcerers and bards) are very rare in Ashkardia; they are those children who had the Gift, but neither lost it through the lack of training nor were they educated in any ways in it. They are, autodidactic magicians.

The third form of magic, is spiritualism, intuition based magic. While hermetic magic is based on rationality and thought, spiritual magic is based on emotion and insight. While a hermetic magician tries to explain everything, a spiritual magician tries to feel it.

Spiritual magicians are similar to druids or shamans and are more common among the less urbanized cultures, like the small tribes of satyrs or the trolls.

2007-12-13, 03:44 AM
I have already mentioned that I wanted to use real religion, but I found it more than just wriong to put a real world religion into one of the very stereotypic mewchanicval descripütions of D&D.
You also may use the Medieval Player's Manual (http://www.greenronin.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=1001&Product_Code=grr1403&Category_Code=) by Green Ronin Publishing, that provides an excellent treatment of medieval Christian religion in a D&d fantasy setting.

2007-12-13, 05:22 AM
I already have a good collection of different splat books about medieval society etc. (Mostly Gurps books, but that is only an advantage since the books are very well researched (which is sadly not the standard for RPG books).

I am not unhappy to have a setting ere real world religion plays a role, but without supernatural interventions; it doesn't matter how I would have implemend such a thing, it would be wrong. Therefore, there are no rule bound divine interventions. If the DM sees the necessity of such an intervention, he or she will know what to do; we all already know that a good DM is a divine representative who emnbodies the divine will.

In Ashkardia, Clerical Investment will be a feat that grants some boni to skills like Diplomacy or Knowledge (religion) when dealing with members of the same faith.

Likewise, Nobility will also be a feat, granting a similar bonus.

Both feats will grant social and juridical priviledges apart from the skill bonus.

Ashkardia's human societies are mostly a medieval estate system - there are no such things like "equal rights" or "democracy." A noble will have several priviledges and authority, while most commoners' rights are dependabnt on their noble's attitude.
A poor rural noble may only eat oats, but he will still have the jurisdiction in his fiefdom, has an own coat of arms and may wear a sword or another weapon of war. A rich merchant will probably have a hundred times the ressources of such a noble, but he is by no means a nobleman's equal.
Noble Player characters will almost automatically conscidered to be the leader of their group by the majority of the society, they have a lot more freedoms and are confronmted with a lot less restricions.

Similar to that, medieval society is basically sexist. Women are not conscidered to be the equals of men. Unwed women are under the tutelage of their fathers or oldest male relatives, married women are under their husband's authority. Female characters will have severe problems to break free from this social corsett, but there is one major exception: Women are much, much more often magically active than men, and the Gift does not only grants them the power to manipulate the forces ofg magic, it also gives them a freedom the profane women can only dream of.

I must be insane to create a setting were a patriarchal system is the default. I can already taste a lot of antipathy. Both statements of the social hierarchy are only true for the human societies; the Ashkardian or Goblinoid people will treat gender relations and social hierarchies very differently.

By default, there are no abilty modifiers or other templates for the gender of a character.
But, human female characters canchoose to take a -2 penaltiy to their Strength ability score and get either the Gift feat or a +2 abilty score bonus to any mental ability score instead.
This is by no means obligatory.

2007-12-15, 07:15 AM
Askardian Races

This is only a short list of the different races in Ashkardia - most of them are valid PC races. There are no designated "good" or "evil" races - I still think that such primitive moral systems are unnecessary and even a hindrnce for good gaming.

The Ashkardians:
These are the native species of Ashkardia; they have a much easier access to magic than the newcomers (esspecially the notorous antimagic humans) but they share a common vulnerability to iron.

Sidhe (Elves)
One of the two Elder Races, the Sidhe lives on Ashkardia since the dawn of time. They are nearly immortal and only die because of violence, never because of age. Sidhes are masters of magic and arts and have created the most astonishing pieces of art known to any sentient species. Sidhe tend to recognize their immortality more as a curse than a gift, and fight an eternal conflict against the creeping boredom that comes over than when all experiences start to repeat. Elves are known to be beautiful, easily bored, very cunning and often very cruel; their century old conflict with the Trolls have reduced them to a shadow of their former greatness, and by now both elder races have lost their predominance to the minor race of humans. The remaining Shide lives in separated and breathtaking beautiful garden palaces in the far west of Ashkardia.
Sidhe are taller but much slighter built than humans, but resemble them more than any other Acadian species; like all Ashkardians, Sidhe are vulnerable to iron, but they are one of the most powerful magical species in Ashkardia.

The Trolls are the other Elder Race of Ashkardia, and like the Elves, they are immortal, but contrary to the Sidhe, Trolls have learned to deal with eternal life without declining into decadence and airiness. There are only a few hundred Trolls left in the world, but they refuse to vanish, or to bow to anyone. Trolls are probably the physically and mentally moat impressive species in Ashkardia. The remaining Trolls live in their holy mountain range of Mil’Varat. Trolls are powerful magic wielders, and like the Sidhe there are no trolls without the Gift.
Trolls are reasonably bigger and stronger than humans and have an often very dark and leathery skin and canine teeth. Despite their physical prowess, trolls have a deep understanding and a natural link to spiritual magic.

Orks are a magically created hybrid of Elves and Trolls. They were raised to be the shock troopers of the Elves to destroy their Troll rivals, and therefore they were created to kill extremely powerful warriors. Orks combine the features of both their parent species, but to a much lesser extend. (They are mortal like the other younger species as well.) Ashkardian Orks are of similar height than humans, but they are built more heavily and feature both Elvish and Trolllish traits, such as the canine teeth of the trolls and the elongated and pointed ears of the Elves.
There are two major Orkish cultures in Ashkardia: On the one Hand, the Abiders, who are still loyal to their Sidhe masters and on the other hand the free Orks who are no slaves anymore. While the Abiders serve the Elves as cheap labourers and legionnaires, most of the free Orks were assimilated into the surrounding human cultures or retreated in depopulated areas where they can live free in small tribes.
Orks are physically strong and resilient, but their masters created them to obey and not to think for themselves.

The Pixies are another chimera slave species of the Sidhe. They are small and very similar to the Shide in appearance except of their insect wings. They serve the Sidhe as man-servants and pets and are bred for the most interesting or beautiful appearance. There are only very few Pixies who left the golden cage of serfdom to the sidhe and those are regarded as traitors by the majority of the race. To the Sidhe, the pixies are little more than a small diversion.
Pixies are very slender built and have roughly the size of a ten year old human child.

Satyrs are small inhabitants of the remaining wilder places of Ashkardia: They are native Ashkardians, like the ancient Trolls and Elves, but they are not immortal. Satyrs live in remote areas and shun the contact with the humans or other people. They are living in little clans as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers and rarely appear in the human settlements.
Satyrs are slightly smaller than humans and have a slighter frame; and are easily recognized by their horns and goat legs.

Before the humans arrived, vast hordes of Centaurs travelled through the lands of Ashkardia. They were feared plunderers, great hunters and expert herdsmen who fought as mercenaries on both sides of the war between Trolls and Elves. Their way of life, travelling along their large herds of livestock, needed a lot of free space, and this lead to early and very bloody conflicts with the new human arrivals. The centaurs lost, and they lost heavily. Not only because of their normal, Ashkardian sensitivity to iron, but to newly introduced diseases as well- A century after the World Wall Breach, 90% of the Centaurs were dead And the remaining survivors retreated to the northern tundra. The remaining centaurs live in small and scattered prides and dream of revenge.

Selkies are a small race of slightly humanoid sea otters. It is not known if they are truly an own species or of they were created through magic and abandoned as a failed experiment. Selkies live both on land and in the water and their great swimming skills helped them to flee from the blood thirst of the humans; from all Ashkardian native people, the Selkies had the smallest losses during the human conquest. But since they were never among the most numerous of the Ashkardian inhabitants. Selkies live in small clans on rocky islands and deserted coasts.
A Selkie has a thick fur that covers his whole body, black beady eyes and roughly the size of a twelve year old child.

The Deep Ones
Also called the pale ones, are the remnants of the once proud dwarf people. The dwarves were nearly wiped out in the last days of the Godswar by angry dragons, and while the dragons suffered as well, the dwarves faced extinction – and they decided to descent into the greatest depths to hide from their foes.
That was a millennium ago, and caught in the darkness and alone, without contacts to anyone else (and a fairly shallow gene pool) the dwarves changed into the Deep Ones, the Night stalkers.
The Deep ones aren’t that rare, they live in caves and rifts almost everywhere in Ashkardia. They rarely leave their hideouts, and mostly do so to plunder and carry of new victims. Their attacks are no real threat to the population, but the commoners fear and hate the pale ones more than everything else.
The Deep ones are as big a regular dwarf, but much skinnier. Their eyes are bigger and very bulgy, and they completely lack hair.

Not all Dwarves fled into the depth of the mountains – other remained on the surface and as refugees of the dragon’s wrath, they travelled the lands. Most Dwarves live now on the northern coast of Gondaran, as prized craftsmen, travelling merchants or expensive slaves. Before the Godswar, the Dwarves were praised as excellent craftsmen and warriors, but their decision to fight along with the gods and against the victorious elves and trolls has marked them since then. The dwarves are probably the last who still worship the old Ashkardian gods.
Dwarves are stout and even though they are smaller than humans, an adult dwarf weighs as much as an adult human.

2007-12-16, 05:27 AM
The Newcomers:
These are those who were summoned to Ashkardia, the strangers in a strange land. After the numerous atrocities and genocides of the Conquest humans and hobgoblins are also the most numerous species in Ashkardia by now.

Humans are not native to the lands of Ashkardia, but by now they are probably the most numerous species in the lands. They have arrived only 4 centuries ago, but due to their fast reproduction and aggressive expansion, they were able to supersede the native Ashkardian peoples. Distrust towards humans is a very common trait among the Ashkardians, especially because humans can easily wield weapons made from iron which is deadly to most native Ashkardian species. From all the people in Ashkardia, humans are the least magical ones. No other species bears that little magical gifted people in their lines. And humans are the only known species where magical aptitude is bound to sex; there are only very few male human mages and even less powerful ones. Since male humans tend to be physically stronger than females, humans live normally in patriarchal structures where female power wielder are rare, with the exceptions of the sorceresses.
The human realms which formerly formed the mighty Iron Throne Alliance are the probably biggest state structures in Ashkardia.

Similar to humans, Goblins are not native inhabitants of Ashkardia but they were summoned to the world in the process of the World Wall Breach. If they had arrived in similar numbers as the humans, they would probably be the dominant species of Ashkardia by now. Goblins are of small stature and slighter frames than humans and have little hair and green to ochre colour of skin. They are pretty intelligent (and tend to have an extremely short attention span). Goblins are fascinated by all kinds of magic. There are different forms of Goblin culture- a significant minority of so called “civilized” goblins live within human or hobgoblin settlements as craftsmen and often as hired magicians, the majority olives on the Bear Isthmus and form an own and very colourful society of their own. Goblins are renowned as daring sailors and expert alchemists, and their fast and elegant ships export wares to all harbours in Ashkardia and Gondaran.

Hobgoblins are next to humans, the most dominating species in Ashkardia, even though they are not very numerous. They share a lot traits with humans – including expansionism and cooperation – but they tend to be more aggressive and very pragmatic. Nonetheless, before the Klacker Arrival, the hobgoblin Eagle Empire and other similar fiefdoms were seemed as the most powerful realms in Ashkardia due to their overwhelming military power. Since they were never as numerous as the humans, they did not participate in the genocides of the conquest (or at least not in the same scale). Therefore, the hobgoblins are better accepted by most of the Ashkardians.
Hobgoblins are strongly muscled and on average a little bit taller and heavier than humans. Like humans, Hobgoblins have only a very limited access to magic. Other than humans, they tried to eradicate this weakness by creating the Firebloods.

Bugbears are the biggest and physically most impressive of the Goblinkin, second only in size and Strength to the mighty Trolls. Bugbears are also quite rare and bread slower than their smaller brethren. There is no unique Bugbear culture in Ashkardia, but they are assimilated into the Goblin and Hobgoblin communities were the Bugbears serve as physical labourers and soldiers. Even though Bugbears are strong, they somewhat lack the determination of the hobgoblins or the curious ingenuity of Goblins.

Firebloods are a very rare subspecies of Hobgoblins, created to bypass the natural lack of Gifted Hobgoblins. Firebloods are a magical crossbreed between hobgoblins of noble stock and beings from the Plane of Fire. They have – compared to regular hobgoblins or humans - a stronger affinity to magic, but the outsider blood makes them somewhat impulsive and unpredictable. In some hobgoblin communities, the Firebloods are revered , in others they are outcasts.
Firebloods resemble hobgoblins, but their skin is fiery red and their hair is golden like a flame.

The Golden Ones
Where ever the homeworld of the Golden Ones once was, compared to Ashkardia it was Paradise and pure bliss. The Golden Ones felt punished to be ripped out of their old world into the banal and cruel reality of the human conquest and the almost constant conflicts of Ashkardia. But they survived.
The Golden Ones resemble humans, but their skin has a golden, or golden red metallic gleam and they lack hair. The Golden Ones are rare, and scattered all over Ashkardia – and strangely their melancholic ways are accepted by almost every warlord, chief or noble, so that the Golden Ones have become the heralds and messengers of Ashkardia. That works well for them, because they travel a lot and learn as much about travel as possible – to find a way home some day.
To my defense, I have written this around five years ago. It’s not my fault that the humanoid form of the dragon in Beowulf looks like my Golden Ones. Stupid coincidence.

2007-12-16, 10:03 AM
By the way, any chance we will get information on dragons?

2007-12-16, 12:34 PM
I'm not yet sure how I will design the dragons; there are several options how to design 'em. But mostly, Ashkardian dragons will be probably more similar to Wyverns and not too smart.

2007-12-16, 01:13 PM
I'm not yet sure how I will design the dragons; there are several options how to design 'em. But mostly, Ashkardian dragons will be probably more similar to Wyverns and not too smart.

But didn't you say they were one of th elder races?

2007-12-16, 02:21 PM
They are; and they are sentient, but not on the bright side of sentient. Strong, powerful, intuitive link to magic, a mean natural arsenal and the attention span of a six year old with ADD.

2007-12-17, 05:22 PM
The Lizard Kingdom
It is hard to describe the many tribes and species within the lizard kingdom, since there see to be an enormous variety of different species all formed and trained for a specific function.
There is no deficit of strange reptilian or pseudoreptilian (‘draconian’) creatures in D&D. I don’t know if I would use them all, but if they have a place in Ashkardia than as a part of the big, mysterious dragon worshipping reptile kingdoms.
The most common (but by no means the only ones) are:

The Snake Priests
Snake Priests combine elements of humanoids and snakes and worship the dragons and their own strange gods. They use a strange and powerful magic and their natural poison is deadly for most mammals (like humans).
Snake Priests have the lower body, heads and scaled skin of vipers and a pair of humanoid arms.
they are essentially Yuan-Ti. But with a quite different fluff.

The Skrreyn
The Skrreyn are the most common inhabitants of the lizard kingdoms. They are the hunters, gatherers and warriors of the kingdoms, and in this function, they excel. Skrreyn are big and strong and resemble upright walking crocodiles. Their bite and their whipping tails are excellent natural weapons.
Lizard Folk. In all varieties. But more organized and involved in one big poikilothermic utopia.

The Budaiki
The Budaiki are smaller and more primitive than the more elaborated species of the inner lizard kingdoms. Budaiki are the shock troopers and scouts of the kingdoms, and their first perimeter of defence.
Budaiki are jungle dwelling troglodytes. Who came up with the – extremely stupid - idea of reptiles living under the earth, without the warmth of the sun?

I have several ideas how the Ashkardian Dragons could look like or should look like, but none of these ideas are satisfying. My first idea were more wyvern-like, with the spiked skin of sharks and the defensive ability to throw up their flesh consuming digestive enzyme and bone dissolving gastric acid on attackers (that would be what wannabe dragon slayers would describe as a breath attack, because it burns). These dragons would have hollow bones, very large wings and a very slend built, to be light enough to fly. But they wouldn't be very dangerous, because, well they have hollow bones and are somewhat clumsy on the ground.
I still like that idea, but I like other ideas as well.

There could be different kinds of dragons, one per classical element - the airborne dragons of the air above, gigantic swimming dragons of the sea (as big as whales, and like them not survivable outside of the water), more snakelike or crocodile like earthdragons (more robust than their flying cousins but without the ability to fly) and a rumored fourth variety, deep red and living inside volcanoes, fire dragons.

And, I don't like the cliché of dragons as age old schemers; this is an ecological and dramaturgical niche that is occupied by the Sidhe and, to a lesser extend, by the Trolls. Ashkardian dragons are... not among the smartest inhabitants in the world. They are sentient, but if they were humans, they would need both hands to find their own nose without a map. Dragons should be very dangerous, perhaps too dangerous to fight them, but a clever hero can outsmart them with a bit of luck and a good plot.

2007-12-17, 06:22 PM
The term chimeras describe all species which have no natural origin but which were created by transmogrifying magic. Technically, this includes Fireblood, Orks and Pixies, but in the actual use of the word, only obvious humanoid/animal crossbreeds are considered as chimeras, and because of the often quite lacking social or mental abilities, the term is often used derogatory (especially for Orks). The division between those artificially species and true chimeras is not absolute, and in most cases open to debate.
Not all Chimeras are sentient and humanoid; scorpionmen, owlbears, pegasi and seacats are examples for non humanoid or monstrous chimeras which are very common, like the Vodrag, a sheep/pig/cow chimera that is created as the perfect lifestock (it lays eggs, too).
Eierlegende Wollmilchsau!

Catfolk were once a very common breed of chimeras, but like the Goatfolk, they were replaced by the much more effective Gnolls. The now sunken Vivisectionist city state of Arte’byrah employed the largest number of Catfolk troops and scouts, but the city was razed and the army was wiped out (and eaten alive) by Gnolls. The remaining Catfolk are fugitives that live in the wasteland and slowly die out. Being considered a delicatessen by the Gnolls only accelerates their extermination.
Seriously I hate cat people. And there are not enough RPGs were they suffer accordinly to make me happy. I want to fill this hole. Cat people are only included in Ashkardia to be spayed, wiped out and being miserable.

One of the more successful chimera breeds, Gnolls were created by several of the vivisectionist rulers of Northern Gondaran as Shock Troopers and warriors. While Gnolls excel in those tasks, they are much too undisciplined to serve in a normal army, and marauding Gnoll packs are one of the many scourges of the Gondaraian lands.
Gnolls resemble tall, bipedal hyenas, they are taller than humans, but they are lean and better build for endurance and speed than for hulking strength.

Theoretically, the Goatfolk are the predecessors of the Gnolls and other, more aggressive war chimeras, but they are widelöy considered to be a failure., but most vivisectionist transmogrifiers believe that carnivorous animals are more aggressive and therefore more effective shock troopers. Their still remaining Goatolks, both as servitors and as free roaming groups, but most of them are used for physical labor where their muscles are of great help.

I never liked the newer variety of kobolds as some kind of humanoid micro dragons. They seemed too noble and cuddly to me. But I want my kobolds to be disgusting and filthy.
Kobolds are a rather new chimera, a chimera of dire rats and a few unlucky goblins that were captured in the vivisectionist city states. Kobolds are small, ratlike creatures, hiding in sewers and caves and breed like rats. They are considered to be little more but biped vermin, but they are very hard to come by. Once a canal system is infested with kobolds, one needs powerful mercenaries and battle mages to get rid of them again. Kobolds are only around for fifty years or so, but they are constantly expanding and almost every civilized country in Ashkardia pays a bounty for dead kobolds.
Kobolds are the low end of the totem pole; they are the smallest, they are the weakest and everyone thinks it’s not only okay, but a good idea to wipe them out. They are still sentient – and often very malnourished, hungry and desperate little beasts with nothing to lose - but the big ones see them as little else than upright walking rats.

Ogres were created to insult trolls. They are so old, that it is almost ridiculously to still call them chimeras (and especially humans who do not understand the finer differences between chimeras and true Ashkardians fail to make this distinction). Ogres were created in the early years of the Sidhe Troll conflict as Mock –Trolls, large, hulking beasts with great power and very limited mental capacities. Ogres were long used as heavy shock troops by the Sidhe armies, but because they breed much slower and are less self-sufficient than orks, they were eventually disbanded. Now, the remaining ogres roam the more rural areas of Ashkardia, after Humans and especially Trolls who hate them almost as much as their Sidhe creators nearly exterminated them.

Snake Infiltrators
The infiltrators are a rare breed of the Snake Priests of the Lizard Kingdoms; they are still considered to be a part of the lizard kingdom, but they look almost like humans. The reptiles of the jungle do not trust any mammals and therefore created their own chimeras as spies among the scaleless. The infiltrators are fascinating beautiful to humans and hardly recognizable as the snakebreed they are (they can even regulate their body temperature to be warmblooded), but they are still… well pretty alien in their thinking.
Snake infiltrators are not a true race, since they are not able to reproduce on their own – every infiltrator is created through a transmogrifying ritual, that also involves several implanted enchantments that guarantee their loyalty.

2007-12-18, 06:33 PM
Magical items and Equipment
Magical items are comparatively rare in Ashkardia. On the one hand, because it is harder to enchant items than in most D&D worlds and on the other hand, because the two great magical societies – the Elves and the Trolls – never really got into it. Trolls prefer not to be dependant on anything else but themselves and created bloodgems, magical tattoos and similar enchantments of their bodies. The Sidhe preferred transmogrification to create new servitor species, and rarely use more classical items (with the exception of magical armor and weapons in the times of fire). Therefore, a lot of enchantments are still unknown to Ashkardian spellcasters and most spellcasters are not firm in enchantment practices. Goblins are the one great exception, and roughly about 80% of all non weapon magical equipment is of goblin origin.
The Price of Enchantments is higher than usual (both for the XP and the gold costs). This, however is not true for magical potions and oils and magical weaponry.

Wonderous items, rings and all kinds of similar items cost the double listed price (Gold and XP) to create them. The only exceptions are the Bloodgems (which are mostly Ioun stones with a slightly different fluff).
The only source to buy magical items are normally Goblin artificers, and they know about their monopole and exploit it by any means; the price to buy a specific magical item is quadrupled.

Magical potions and oils and scrolls still cost the listed prices. They are by far the most common magical equipment in Ashkardia.

Magical weaponry was once quite common, but since humans and goblinkin can use iron weapons which are equal to weaker magical weaponry, they have become rarer are only still produced by Elves and Trolls. The costs to produce magical weapons are 1.5 times the listed prices, and they are rarely sold outside of their creator’s species.

There are no magical staffs, wands or rods in Ashkardia, since the magic works differently and therefore other spell reservoirs have been developed.

{table=head]magical item | costs
Wondrous items| listed price x2
scrolls| listed price
potions and oils | listed price
magical weapons | listed price x1.5
magical armor | listed price x 1.5
iron weapon*| listed price of magical weapons
iron armor*| listed price of magical armor
staffs, rods, wands| do not exist in Ashkardia.[/table]

* Iron weaponry can get a mamimum bonus of +2. Other enchantments on iron equipment are impossible.

2007-12-20, 12:05 PM
Unique magical equipment of Ashkkardia

Bloodgems are magical stones, often made out of Kryst or jewels which are filled with magical essence. The first bloodgems were used by the Trolls who claim that the first bloodgems were found by them in the depth of the Mil’Varat and they only copy the natural magic of these stones.
Bloodgems are implanted into the forehead of its wearer. A very painful and cruel procedure, but after the implantation, the stone is awakened by the life force or magical flame of its wearer and grants him a magical bonus.
In Rules, a bloodgem works like an Ioun Stone, but they are implanted in the head and can not be removed without violence or powerful magic. The implantation of a bloodgem costs the new wearer one permanent hitpoint. If the gem is removed, the wearer regenerates this damage within a month. Everyone can only wear one Bloodgem at a time (beings with two heads are the exception, though).
Bloodgems are very common in Ashkardia, and belong to the most common magical items around. They just use the listed prize of Ioun stones.

Tattoos of Power
Trolls never liked to use magical items, but they learnt how to enchant their blood ritual scars and other emblems on the skin. The process is similar painful as the implantation of a bloodgem, but it is irreversible; if a tattoo of power is in place, it can’t be removed (with the exception of flaying). A tattoo of power is a magical sigil carved into the skin of its bearer which grants him an enchantment bonus. The more powerful a tattoo is, the more elaborated and big is the tattoo.
Tattoos of Power grants an enchantment bonus to abilities. There were once other, more elaborated and exotic tattoos of power who granted other, more exotic powers, but the near extinction of the Troll people and the self-sacrifice of their council of elders have destroyed the knowledge how to create those.
A medium sized creature can have tattoos of power for a total bonus of +10 to its ability scores. The maximum bonus is scaled by size, it is +/- 4 per size category. Therefore, a large creature can have a maximum total bonus in Tattoos of Power of +14, and a small creature only a total bonus of +6. Any tattoo of power which grants a bonus bigger than +4 can not be hidden.
The price of a Tattoo of Power is the same as an ability enhancing magical item. However, no one can tattoo and enchant the one back or face, therefore the tattoos must be purchased from those who are able to use the magic of scars and ink.
Magical tattoos change under the skin and move slowly when they are active and gleam dimly. It is quite easy to identify them.

Glowstones are a common tool of spellcasters – these are gems that storage magical energy and offers it to the user. A Glowstone can greatly expand the magical energy of any spellcaster.
There are two different kinds of Glowstones – unaligned stones can feed about any spell, while dedicated Glowstones only energize one specific one specific school of spells.
A Glowstone of any kind regenerates one Spellpoint per day, but the wielder can pump his own magic into the stone to recharge it on a 2:1 ratio: For every two spellpoints the magicians spends, the Glowstone regenerates one.
An unaligned Glowstone costs (100 x stored spellpoints³) GP, a dedicated Glowstone (100 x stored spellpoints²) GP, whereby half the costs is the prize for a fitting jewel of the needed size. Glowstones are Wondrous items.

Foci are magical items that simplify the spellcasting. Foci can have about any given form (common are jewels, jewelry, wands and rods). A Focus concentrates the magical power of spellcasting and allows to cast certein spells with a higher efficiency. Unlike Glowstones, Foci are always aligned; every Focus only works for one school of magic, and ignores others. Powerful (or rich) magicians therefore often use more than one Focus, dependant on the magic thy want to cast.
In the religious donminated Magical Orders, Foci are often formed as religious symbols, in at least one case, a Focus was included in the hilt of a sword. Foci can be implanted in the casters like bloodstones, but rarely happens.
A focus offers a bonus from +1 to +5 to concentration checks for spells and the Casting Level.
The price of a focus is the double cost of a weapon enchantment of the same level (a +1 Focus costs 4000 GP).

2007-12-21, 03:58 PM
Special Materials

More than - the often very boring and dull and rarely as fascinating purely magical items, special materials are an acceptable reason why better or supernatural items which identical or similar attributes are that common. I tried to gave Ashkardia some interesting and unique materials like iron. Which is, obviously, extremely mysterious and exotic.

Witchwood trees are magically created trees which were used by the Sidhe to fletch powerful bows. Witchwood is dark grey as ashes, but the wood is extremely stable and flexible. Witchwood can be formed by magic quite easily, and Sidhe fletchers knew magic songs of creation that helps to give the wood the expected form. A witchwood bow can be enchanted much easier than regular wood.
Witchwood grants a +1 accuracy bonus to attack rolls with bows. This bonus stacks with any enchantment bonus. Enchantment of Witchwod bow cost 10% less XP than usual, but the material doubles the basic weapon price.

Kryst is the deep blue to sea green crystal used by the Trolls to create extremely sharp weapons. The stone can be clipped into blades sharper than anything made out of metal, but it is brittle. It is not possible to build a sword or a similar long blade out of Kryst, but the material is excellent for axe blades, arrow points or other smaller blades. A weapon made out of Kryst deals grants a natural +1 enchantment bonus to damage. This stacks with any other enchantment bonus.
Kryst weapons are double as expensive as the regular listed price.

A rare material for armors, which is almost completely reserved for veterans of the Klacker front, the skin of the outworldish vermin is an extremely good raw materiel for armor. Klackhide can be used to create both leather armor and hide armor and grants a natural +1 Enchantment bonus and the weight is reduced by 25%. Klackhide can not be enchanted, and the armor must be cooked and salted carefully or it starts to rot.
Klackhide costs as much as a +1 enchanted armor of the same type (either hide or leather armor).

An uncommon sight today, but in the times of the great war, veteran sidhe warriors praised their armor made out of dead troll’s skin. Trollskin is tough and leathery, and it grants good protection, but, and this is the most important, it is a great way to infuriate any troll.
Trollhide uses the same stats as moon ivy, but the wearer should not be seen by a troll.

2007-12-22, 07:34 PM
Here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=67438) is the link to the first detailed description of one of the Ashkardian races, the infamous Sidhe.

2007-12-23, 05:01 PM
Laws concerning Ashkardian magic (in the following just called magic):
Magic does not “tell the laws of physics to shut up and sit down”. Magic just transforms one form of energy (raw magic force) into an other concentrated, specified form (the spell and its effects). In this, a magician is remarkable similar to a light bulb. Only more flexible. And less transparent.

Magic does not create new energy, it just transforms it. A spellcaster collects the magic raw energy around him and most important inside of him and channels it through him in a new form. If the inner flame of magic energy burns low, the spellcaster can’t form new effects, until it regenerated. In fact, a spell caster is a big transformator, pressing raw magic energy into formed effects via spells.

And don’t think that magic is that much more powerful in battle –obviously this is not true in Ashkardia, where completely unmagic knights and Saracen warriors could beat an army of powerful Elven wizards and their orkish dogs of war. In Ashkardia, the Sword is more powerful than the spell – especially when the sword is made out of steel and iron.

There are two ways to use magic in Ashkardia – quick and dirty, without much preparation time and a high risk to fail or even to backfire, which is normally described as spell casting, in contrary to the slow and secure way of ritual magic, which has a much lower chance to fail – or to kill the magician in a terrible loss of control over the magical powers.

To mimic the effect of an inner flame of magic, as an energy source for spells, Ashkardia uses the Satyr's Sadistic Spellpoint System. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65274)

Magic, and the risk of embarassing perils
Magic comes at a price. The biggest (and from my perspective almost unforgivable) mistake of the normal D&D rules is the easiness of magic. It can hardly fail, and with the exception of running low on fuel, there are no affiliated risks. How boring. How completely and utterly uninteresting.
Power must have its price – or it kills anything like balance (as shown in the standard D&D rules) and even the worth of magic – it must have a downside, or it is, essentially, worthless.

Therefore, Ashkardian magic comes without the guaranteed spellcasting success of the standard rules.

Spell casting – the risky and dangerous way of magic - needs a Concentration check to be successful. The DC of these checks is 15+Spell level. (A 1st level spell would be DC16, a 7th level spell would be DC 22). If the check fails, the spell is fizzled and the invested spellpoints are wasted. Armor Check penalties are applied to these checks, but the Arcane Spell Failure Chance plays no role anymore.

A natural 1 on the Concentration check always means a failure and needs a confirmation, just like a critical hit, but against the Concentration skill. If the confirmation succeeds, nothing more happens. The spell points are wasted, but, that is the only negative effect. If the confirmation fails, the caster has made a critical mistake and suffers for it. The target of the spell is a different (in the case of damage dealing spells it’s almost always the caster himself), the effect is turned around (Cure spells become Harm spells for example), etc. The more powerful the spell was, the more devastating is the effect of a critical failure. As a rule of thumb, a damage dealing spell will deal its full damage to the caster.
A botched spell should bring a spellcaster in serious, in the case of powerful spells even life threatening peril.

Yes, that means that a 1st level wizard has a chance of fail around half the spells he or she casts at least on the short term. But with feats like a Concentration Skill Focus, the risk of blasting yourself isn’t that high. But the risk is always there as it should be.

Ritual Magic is much safer and reliable. A ritualized ‘spell’ needs twenty times as long as a fast cast, but it does not require a Concentration check and therefore can only fail horribly when the ritual is interrupted by outer means.

Ashkardian spells rarely use material components. Doing this is in most cases not necessary, but helpful and grants an additional +1 bonus to the Concentration check, but it is by no means necessary.

Magic and Thermodynamics
It is much easier to destroy than to build something up. Think about it. Compared to the amount of labor, energy or time you need to let almost anything grow or construct something, it is extremely easy to destroy it. Why should it be different with magic? In Ashkardia, at least, that is how magic works.- You can create with magic, but it hurts. Destruction is much simpler (and it hurts, too, but at least not you).
All Spells, that heal, restore hitpoints or have similar numerical effects are only half as effective as listed; Cure spells uses D4’s instead f D8’s, Heal heals only 5 hitpoints per Caster Level, etc.
Spells that create, gives life or similar effects (like e.g. Plant Growth) are treated as one level higher. The Spell Mend does not exist at all.
Destruction is easy though –spells that hurt, kill and injure just stay as they are.

The different varieties of magic
There are three different greater categories of magic – hereditary magic, like those of sorcerers (with innate magical abilities and charisma as a basic attribute), hermetic magic (with spellbooks, long training and intelligence as the basical ability - the magic of wizards) and spiritual magic, based on the spirit world and a deep understanding of the supernatural.
Hereditary magic simply is and is only based on the will and character strength of its user; hermetic magic is based upon an inner logic. It works on a base of rationality and an almost scientific approach. Spiritual magic on the other hand is almost completely based on intuition and emotion; it is not based on logic and thought but on dream and passion. Hermetic magic works within a prefixed set of rules, spiritual magic doesn't.

Hermetic magicians – Wizards – uses more or less the same rules as in Standard D&D. Apart from the complete different magical system.
Likewise, hereditary magicians – Sorcerers – resemble their predecessors.
But the spiritual magicians are different. The two major spiritual magicians are Shamans and Druids, and the Scholars of the Trolls, who were always the most apt spiritual magicians.

2007-12-26, 09:05 AM
Yes, yesterday was the first day I didfn't wrote anything about Ashkardia. I'm sorry, but I had twqo good reasons. A) It was Christmas, B) I had a terrible hangover.

But today, there are two things to enjoy - the two most regular enemes apart from humanoids and klackers: undeads and demons.

Undeads in Ashkardia
Undeads in Ashkardia are rare. There are no large hordes of brainless zombies or animated skeletons (which I personally despise, because I always found them extremely contalogical). Ashkardian undeads are created when a "soul" is forced back into its body after it died. Since animals can be animated in this way as well, the "soul" part is up to dispute. The undead remember their life, even though they rot. Undeads dissolve without a constant supply of life energy - and therefore they hunt for the living to get this supply. The form in which they consume it varies widely - from flesh and blood of the most primitive undeads up to the "breathstealers" who can feed on a sleeper without waking him up and leaving only a dried out hull behind.
Unmdeath is a curse, and often the victims of undeads become undeads themselves.
There are numerous names for the living dead in Ashkardia - draugr, vampire, wights, ghouls, gyonshi or revenants. The single names do not refer to single, different species but to a wide number of different undeads.
The power of different undeas vary widely - the more life essence a living dead has absorbed or absorbs regularly, the more powerful it becomes. As a rule of thumb, an undead needs 1 D6 of hitpoints per week to not further decay (they still decay, but the changes are purely cosmetical). When they consume the flesh or blood (or essence...) of the living, they regenerate damage both from injuries as well from rotting as well from decay. An undead that starves becomes more and more feral and rots faster, while their decaying joints make their movements slow and staggering. An undead needs a steady supply of essence to maintain a human-like intellect; if they regularly consume more essence than they need, they will develop additional powers and often a very life-like appearance. The most powerful undeads are as old as the oldest dragons and Sidhe and more than equal in powers. Many undeads can feed of magical energies as well, which makes all kinds of magicians a favorite targets for them. There are therefore quite a number of undeads which have the Gift themselves, but like they can't heal their bodies on their own anymore, they need the essence of the living to cast spells. The Dark Portals are very common among them.

Demons in Ashkardia are no physical monsters that can be beat by mundane measures or even most magic. Demons are insubstant, etherical beings that hardly live on their own but posess their victims and live within their hosts as long as they need or want. Many demonsdo not follow any agenda but use their hosts as little more than toys changing often between different hosts after one of their puppets is broken. Others slowly and cunningly build up a new and well-hidden persona and manipulate their environment.
Demons feed of the emotions of their environment, and often create the desired emotionms in their hosts. The most common demons feed of fear, because it is the most easy emotion to create, other, more sophisticated demons prefer emotions of love, hate, desire or even religious fervor. It has become quite common for demons to play the roles of "angels" and manipulate the clergy to beliefe that they are, indeed, messengers of god and crete "Saints" or often enough "heretics" this way.
All demons have in common, that their hosts are used up while they live in them, and shrinkle under the influence of the demonic parasite. Many demons, esspecxially those that live from fear or pain, transmogrify their hosts into dreadful creatures.
Demons can be summoned by magic, but they strongly dislike it. ummonings of demons are mostly used to use them as spies, scouts or assistants of complicated rituals- the infamous transmogrifying chambers are thriving with enslaved demons that are forced to accelerate and faciliate the changing process of the Vivisectionists.

2007-12-27, 05:55 AM
Rules of Ashkardia
Ashkardia is in many points very different from a standard D&D world, as it is meant to get rid of what I felt were the weakness of the standard rules and likewise to create a set of rules that fits into a more plausible gaming world.

This change includes:
Less magical items, but more character based powers
a grittier and less artificial fighting system
spellcasting is seriously nerfed and comes at a price.
The balance of the classes is adjusted: Magicians are put in their place as the supportive sidekicks of the real heroes - the guys and girls with the big swords

To further theses objectives I pirated through the better fitting (and often also just better) D20 games I found, and there are three systems that should be mentioned for their great impact on how Ashkardia is meant to be:

Midnight D20 (where I stole borrowed major pats of the character creation like the paths and where some of the major ideas for the magic system are from),
A game of thrones D20 (esspecially the fighting system, but I'm still intrigued to take the classes of the game as a base for the Ashkardian classes) and
Conan D20 (which was mostly used for the small, nice additional ideas, like the codes of honor or the - much better - way to handle favorite classes.

2007-12-28, 01:25 PM
Demons and magical items
Demons are an essential part of Ashkardian magic - it is much easier to summon and bind a demon into an item than to anchor magical forces directly into it. Therefore, most magical items that are not nurtured directly by a host -like Bloodgems or a Tattoo of Power - or that include a powerful Glemstones, which would make any item extremely expensive. A demon is a cheaper, more accessible and therefore very common way to create magical items.
On the downside, demons are not the most stable allies - even though most demons summoned for the creation of magical items are not sentient (or very intelligent) they all need their maintainance - or the items lose their power. There are several ways to "feed" most items - weapons are often the most self-reliant items, because they feed from their victims, but other items need to be ritually cleansed and recharged with a fitting annual ritual, often at midsummer or midwinter.

The Dark Portals
The ressources of most magicians are very limited, and therefore, some magicianes have learned to toss open the dark portals and tap their own life force to fuel their magic. This is a very dangerous but effective way of magic, but the risk of a backfire is increased and the drain of life energy can be a severe risk for the caster.
The Dark Portals are a dangerous and often desperate last measure for many casters, reserved for the most perilious situations.

2007-12-30, 08:33 AM

The Trolls are the other Elder Race of Ashkardia, and like the Elves, they are immortal, but contrary to the Sidhe, Trolls have learned to deal with eternal life without declining into decadence and airiness. There are only a few hundred Trolls left in the world, but they refuse to vanish, or to bow to anyone. Trolls are probably the physically and mentally moat impressive species in Ashkardia. The remaining Trolls live in their holy mountain range of Mil’Varat. Trolls are powerful magic wielders, and like the Sidhe there are no trolls without the Gift.
Trolls are reasonably bigger and stronger than humans and have an often very dark and leathery skin and canine teeth. Despite their physical prowess, trolls have a deep understanding and a natural link to spiritual magic.

The Trolls are - still - my personal favorites among the species of Ashkardia are the Trlls. The Trolls are both the noble savages and the great, honorable warriors. They are on the first view probably the only really 'good' people around in Ashkardia - unless you recognize that they brought the Doom over the whole planet, destroyed its balance and even though they didn't took part in the atrocities of the Conquest, they are still responsible for it. And they sacrificed their whole ideals by doing it. They had great ideals, they were - truly - the honorable ones. But when it became decisive, they failed.

The nature and the culture of the Trolls:
The Trolls are an old race, perhaps the oldest race in Ashkardia. Almost as old as they are is the feud between them and the Sidhe. The Elves hate and despise the Trolls, and use the word “trollish” as a curse. The Sidhe word “Fhoi Myore” is one of the direst result in both languages.

The humans fear the Herculean Trolls, and the other Ashkardians pay them more than a fair share of respect.

Like the Shide the Trolls were cursed with immortality after the Godswar when the last of the Gods died under the arrows of the Sidhe and the axes of the Trolls. After they have reached a certain age, they don’t age anymore and without violence, they can live for almost ever. Their immortality has affected the whole Troll society. They had never the delusion that the immortality curse was anything but dangerous and threatening. While the Sidhe cling to their life and manically try to live for no other reason, the Trolls have become stoics, who do not celebrate their immortality but simply endure it. To forestall the descent into decadence and corruption so many Sidhe suffer from, the Trolls develop a rigid code of personal honour. The ideal Troll that is praised by its brethren embodies the ideal of equanimity. Passion, hate and enmity will pass by, but the Trolls will remain. It is pointless to burden oneself with useless ballast – no matter if said ballast is emotional or materiel. From a Troll’s point of view it is more important to be accept ones life and fate. Their dominant codex includes a strong stoicism and indifference towards material property. Trolls rarely rely on anything but themselves, and even though they use weapons or tools when necessary, most Trolls believe it is more honorable and pure to not be dependant on anything. Fanatic Trolls form anything they use with their hands, with the unique force and patience that is unique to the Trolls.

The Troll society is not very restrictive, but it only changes rarely. The Trolls don’t believe that they need something like judges or rulers, because this implies that the single Troll could be dishonourable or incompetent. In the years before the Time of Fire, there were several Troll Clans scattered over the flanks of the Spine Mountains, but the genocide when the advancing Orks and Elves killed any Troll they could lay their hands on has destroyed the clan system and most clans as well. The remaining social order of the Trolls are the N’charka, which can roughly translated as ‘caste’ or ‘school of thought’. Not all trolls are part of a N’charka, but among most of them, it is the rule. There are more than twenty different N’charkas but most of them are very small or local. There are three major N’charkas that easily dominate the Troll culture; these are the Fe’kra (‘the nurturing ones’), the Gul’wa (‘the builders’) and the Sissel’kra (‘the deep dreamers’). The legendary witch warriors the military elite of the Trolls, come from all N’charkas. Being a witch warrior is more a question of readiness to make sacrifices and fatalism than of personal views.

The three major N’charkas represent the most important groups in the Trollish philosophy – the Fe’kra consists of farmers and huntsmen. Their basic belief is aimed at the notion that the individual has to serf the community and that the common welfare is more important than personal happiness. The Fek’ra are the providers of the Trollish society and they have become the most important branch of the Trolls – they were the ones who sacrificed themselves during the worst times of the Age of Fire to save the rest of their people. This sacrifice gave the Fek’ra a great prominence among their fellow Trolls.

The Gul’wa are the most materialistic Trolls – they are the craftsmen and architects of the Troll society. The Gul’wa’s traditions contains commitment to one’s work and the strive for perfection. A Gul’wa tries to elaborate his craft and to be taken up in the process of their work. Some Gul’wa manufacturers create only a single object in a century – handformed kryst goblets or the famous song chambers where the wind blows through certain wholes to create whole symphonies. The Gul’was are not interested in the possession of their products, but in their creation and perfection. Humans or Sidhe can hardly understand how a Trollish crystal grower can form a single gem in a decade and after its completion destroy it just to form it again. There are few renowned Gul’wa warriors who form the cold and calm heart of the Trollish forces. They are still craftsmen who perfect the art of killing.

The Sissel’kra are the smallest of the three major N’charka, but also the most influential. The Sissel’kra live most of their life completely without material properties and while most Trolls prefer a calm and stoic mind, the Sissel’kra are the most extreme. Many of them spend their life in meditation and asceticism, parted from the hectic of other beings. In the world how the Sissel’kra sees it, there is no need for passion, fear or discomposure. Fate will come as it comes and nobody can change it – and since everything is predetermined, there is no need to quarrel with one’s destiny. The other Trolls respect the Sissel’kra for its self-abandonment and their calm minds - and because the Sissel’kra also have the most powerful mystics of the Trolls in their rows.

All N’charkas bear warriors for a reason – the last 500 years weren’t kind to the Trolls. The last decades of the Time of Fire was an era of genocide, when Vilanai’s Chimera warriors killed a family of Trolls for every Sidhe that had died during Aggdegg’s campaigns. Only one in ten Trolls survived this slaughtering, whole clans were wiped out and all but the most holy settlements of the Trolls were burned and in the end, the Trolls were desperate enough to betray their own philosophy – out of fear of extinction, they tossed the gates between the worlds wide open. The remaining Trolls that are old enough to remember the siege of the Mil’Warat and the coming of men are deeply ashamed by their actions. They remember how they were too weak to fight off their enemies especially such dishonourable foes as the Ork packs which could only withstand the Trolls due to pure masses, The veterans f these days remember that they had to call out for help to survive and this burdens the soul of the Trolls until today.

The only comfort is, that the Mil’Warat was never defiled by the Sidhe. This mountain, the semi-mystical place of Origin of the whole Trollkind is the centre of the Troll culture. Here, the first Trolls treaded out of the very stone into the world of Ashkardia, and now, here lives the majority of the Trolls. The mountain was formed and carved by generations of Trolls, formed into a fortress and a shrine, even though it is almost blasphemous to lay hands on this holy rock.

Back in the days before the genocide, there were no gender-related assignment of tasks within the Troll culture. Men and women could follow any path they chose, as long as they were honourable and strong enough for it. But now, after the genocide, most Trolls have developed a protective instinct towards their females – female Trolls are rare by now, and only them can bear new Trollings. In this time of sorrow, with so few remaining Trolls, the loss of a female Troll is much more painful than the death of a male Troll. Therefore a certain expectation towards their females has become common among the Trolls. Most Trolls prefer to see the their women in more peaceful activities than in the midst of a battlefield – and they prefer it the most, when they see their women pregnant. The female Trolls have a very strong influence on the Troll society – much more than most outsiders suspect. Trolls live in a mild matriarchy and many Troll women live in polygamous relationships with several husbands.

As Godslayers, the Trolls have no such thing as an organised religion. Trolls do not worship any gods, but they worship their Trollship. Trolls don’t pray – because that would mean that they beg for help – they remember great heroes and ancestors of Trolldom, and use these ancestors as examples for their own life. The Trolls fought the Gods not because of a strive for personal freedom as the Sidhe did, but because of the glory that lays in a victory over the most powerful beings and the determined mind to be strong enough to accomplish a quest as great as this.

Every Troll who comes to age undergoes the Ritual of the first Blood to prove their mental and physical prowess and symbolizes the initiation of the Trolling into the world of the adult Trolls. The Ritual consists of a long span of time of feasting and meditation – and finally, the soon-to-be adult Troll enters a trance due to blood loss. The Troll cuts himself with small Kryst blades or even bite their own veins open. In the trance, the mind of the Troll should form and the Troll should make the change from a Trolling into a real Troll and chose a name. Many Trolls chose their N’charka during these rituals and a mentor who should lead and advise the new adult. Some prominent elder Trolls had several protégés. It is told that Aggdegg was chosen as a mentor more than a hundred times, even though he never joined a N’charka. This mentor system is the base of the Troll’s hierarchy. Every Troll respects his mentor and often follow their advices. In a society that does not know any priests, leaders or other authority figures, the mentors are a necessity.

Whenever a Troll is confronted with a vital question – for example to reproduce or to join the ranks of the Witch Warriors – he undergoes the Blood Ritual another time to come to a decision. Therefore older Trolls are often covered in scars (and often, these scars are enchanted as Tattoos of Power) and the lack of a similar spiritual ritual in other societies is a reason for distrust for the Trolls who find such behaviour to be hasty and a sign of to little thought.

The body of the Trolls
Trolls are – compared to humans – quite big. The typical Troll is taller than the tallest human. Most of them are between two and two and a half meters tall and weigh between 140 and 180 kg. Trolls have a grey to blue skin and often darker or lighter patterns on their skin. Back in the old days, these patterns were typical for the different clans, but since most Troll clans has long lost their boundaries to their clans, the patterns have become more random and have lost their meaning. The Troll’s skin is surprisingly tough, more like hardened leather. There are several reports of blades that slide of a Troll’s skin like from an armour. Their skulls are hard, with a jutting eyebrow ridge, a wide jaw and a set of bowed horns. Trolls have only hair on their heads, and very rarely on their limbs, and the color of their hair varies widely. Most Trolls wear their hair in long braids. Troll eyes are often dark and glow dimly in the dark. Trolls can see in the dark, because they see in the infrared spectrum and are independent from light sources, but most of them prefer the daylight. Because of the cultural importance of their ritual scars and the idealised independence from any aids, Trolls dress as lightly as possible, displaying their ritual scars and muscles for all to see. Their canine teeth are long and pointed and look like the teeth of a predator, their hands are beefy and equipped with short but powerful claws. Female Trolls are a little bit smaller than their male relatives but have an equally muscular built – with the exception of their broader hips and the often quite voluminous bosom.

The Magic of the Trolls
Like Sidhe, the Trolls have an innate Gift for magic, but unlike the Sidhe, the Trolls do not rely completely on their magic. The Trolls uses magic when necessary, but they fear to become dependant from it like the Sidhe. And unlike the Sidhe with their often quite wandering minds, the Trolls concentrate more on certain branches of magic and tend to specialise. The different N’charkas have set their own emphases in the magical education – most Fe’kra are apt in the schools of healing and protection, the Gul’wa attend mostly to elemental spells and the Sisel’kra focus on divination. Trolls have a strong taboo towards necromancy, for two reasons: Firstly, because desecrating bodies or graves is considered very dishonourably by almost every Troll and secondly because the Trolls regards the dead and the undead as weak – if they were truly strong allies, they would not have died.

The Witch Warriors
The Witch Warriors are the military elite of the Trolls. They were founded back in the time before the Godswar, as a military force that could act independent from the bickering of the different clans. Now, the clans have lost their importance and influence, but the Witch Warriors (called ‘Raka’Chuz’ in Trollish) still remain. Every adult Troll can join the Witch Warriors. They undergo an additional Blood Ritual, get the rune of the Witch Warriors carved into their face and swear to become the defender of the Troll people – or die trying. A Witch Warrior consecrates himself to become the most effective and strong fighters among the Trolls, and other than the rest of he Trolls, they sacrifice their honor for the greater good and the survival of the Trolls. A Witch Warrior can do things any other Trolls would be cast out for, if they are necessary for the survival of other Trolls. The Witch Warriors are living martyrs who sacrifices anything to save the rest of their brethren.
Under the leadership of Aggdegg, the Witch Warriors became famous and respected among the other Trolls, and in the time of the genocide they were the ones who guaranteed the survival of the whole Troll species. Prior the elder sages of the Trolls sacrificed themselves to summon the humans, they joined the ranks of the Witch Warriors.
A Witch Warrior leaves his former life and names behind and is mourned by his friends and relatives as if he had died. Witch Warriors are suspected to have no relationships and are required to live celibately. A Witch Warrior should not reproduce because of their often quite short life expectation – and the Trolls don’t believe that a child should grow up as half-orphans.
Witch Warriors fight with all weapons, their bodies and magic. Since they regard themselves as moribund, they have little else to do but train and improve their martial skills. The Sidhe hate and fear little more than a Troll that wears the rune of the witch warriors.

Troll Rule Template
Trolls (LA+2)
Abilities: STR +6, CON +2, WIS+2 Trolls are extremely strong and have the endurance and resilience of the mountains. Their calm and stoic minds grants them a deeper understanding of their environment.

Medium Ashkardian Humanoid (Troll)
Troll base land speed is 30 ft.

Powerful Build: The physical stature of Trolls lets them function in many ways as if they were one size category larger. Whenever a Troll is subject to a size modifier or special size modifier for an opposed check (such as during grapple checks, bull rush attempts, and trip attempts), the Troll is treated as one size larger if doing so is advantageous to him. A Troll is also considered to be one size larger when determining whether a creature’s special attacks based on size (such as improved grab or swallow whole) can affect him. A Troll can use weapons designed for a creature one size larger without penalty. However, his space and reach remain those of a creature of his actual size. The benefits of this racial trait stack with the effects of powers, abilities, and spells that change the subject’s size category.

Darkvision: Trolls can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.

Physical Prowess: The natural athletics and strength grants Trolls a +2 racial bonus to Jump, Climb and Swim checks.

Natural Magic: Trolls don’t need the Gift trait to take levels in a full Caster Class. They are always treated as if they had the Gift trait of their chosen form of magic.

Tough Skin: The hard and leathery skin of the Trolls grant them a +2 natural armor bonus.

Resilient: Trolls just refuse to lay down and die. They get one additional Hitpoint per level.

Strong mind: The calm and stoic nature of the Trolls grants them a +2 racial Bonus to concentration checks and a +2 racial bonus against all fear or fear related effects.

Cultural Background: At Character Creation, a Troll chose one of the following traits: Alertness, Athletic, Endurance,… and several others. The lists are not complete yet.

Resistant: Their natural toughness grants Trolls a +2 racial bonus to Saving Throws against Poisons and Illnesses.

Vulnerability: Trolls are vulnerable to iron. They suffer one additional point of damage for every damage dice dealt by iron weapons.

Unaging: Trolls take no penalties to their ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Bonuses still accrue.

Weapon Familiarity: Trolls may treat the Elfcrusher and the Trollaxe as martial instead of Exotic Weapons.

Favored Classes: Druid, Swordsage or Warblade. Trolls who follow the Druid, Swordsage or Warblade class get a bonus feat on 1st, 5th and 10th class level.

Typical Troll Weapons:
Elf Crusher: The Elf Crusher is one of the favorite weapon of the Witch Warriors - a gigantic, heavy hammer able to squish an enemy Sidhe with the full force of a troll's heavy muscles. These Hammers are so big that even the Trolls use them two-handed.
The Elfcrusher is an exotic two handed weapon.
(weight 15lbs. Dam.(large): 3D6 Dam.(huge): 4D6 Crit: x4)

Troll Axe: The Troll Axe is another favorite of the Troll warriors. It is a big and often unwieldy weapon and it needs some training to use it one handed. For a human, a Troll axe is just a Greataxe, but a Troll warrior can use it as a one handed weapon.
(weight 12lbs. Dam.: 2D6 Crit: x3)

2008-01-01, 08:03 AM

Orks are a magically created hybrid of Elves and Trolls. They were raised to be the shock troopers of the Elves to destroy their Troll rivals, and therefore they were created to kill extremely powerful warriors. Orks combine the features of both their parent species, but to a much lesser extend. Ashkardian Orks are of similar height than humans, but they are built more heavily and feature both Elvish and Trolllish traits, such as the canine teeth of the trolls and the elongated and pointed ears of the Elves.
There are two major Orkish cultures in Ashkardia: On the one Hand, the Abiders, who are still loyal to their Sidhe masters and on the other hand the free Orks who are no slaves anymore. While the Abiders serve the Elves as cheap labourers and legionnaires, most of the free Orks were assimilated into the surrounding human cultures or retreated in depopulated areas where they can live free in small tribes.
Orks are physically strong and resilient, but their masters created them to obey and not to think for themselves.

Ork – word that already sound like a threatening growl. The Orks are a species that was created to commit a genocide and that was born from two species that hated each other for millennia and their child combines the best – and the worst – traits of both. The Orks are hated, feared and enslaved, praised for their martial prowess and despised for their cruelty. The Orks were created to commit a genocide – and afterwards they had no place in the world apart from that they have conquered for themselves.

The nature and culture of the Orks
It is difficult to talk about the common nature of the Orks, because there is no uniform Orkish culture. There are two major groups among the Orks – the Abiders who are still loyal to their Elven creators and masters and the Dissidents, the free Orks who are nobodies servant anymore.

The Abiders are still the frugal and stoic servants of the Sidhe, who are trained to follow the orders of their masters and see their honor in their servitude and the worship of their “Goddess” Vilanai. These Orks regard their renegade brethren as traitors and heretics who refuse to follow the path they are determined for.
The Abiders still live as the times of the first breed, the first 12 Ork men and women who broke their way out of the magical womb of Vilanais transmogrifying chambers. The Abiders have no own language, but use a more guttural and often simplified variety of the Sidhe language. It is up to debate if the Abiders have a culture of their own or if they are just a part of the Sidhe culture as a whole. Their whole society is targeted on the ideal of assist and serve the Sidhe. Due to the Sidhes’ aptitude for enchantment and generations of Orks manipulated by a lifelong propaganda, the Orks were conditioned into their roles of humble servants and this manipulation has left its marks. The Abiders are willing to die for their masters and worship them. A true Abider follows any order given to him by a Sidhe, even the order to commit suicide or kill the own children. Like all Orks, the Abiders slowly develop a magic resistance, and with the reduced liability to the Sidhe’s mind warping spells, they have lost most of their illusions about their masters – but they still serve them, because they still feel that it is their destiny to do so. Those who refuse to obey their orders among the Orks disappear or join the ranks of the Skru’zash. But still, the majority of the Orks kowtow whenever a Sidhe walks past them.
The life of the Abiders is determined from the day of their birth. No magician was able to copy Vilanai’s breeding methods, and therefore the Orks of today are produced in the classical way. The ruling masters couple fitting parents together for a night or two and part them afterwards. Parenthood and family means little to the Orks; most Orks do not even know their parents. Early after their birth, they are taken away from their mothers and are brought together in the child cohorts where they are filtered and trained for the caste they will join. The majority of the Orks are member of the hammer caste – the physical labourers and mules of the Palace Gardens, the craftsmen and workers. They are regarded as the lowest caste of the Orks and therefore the lowest social group in the whole hierarchy of the Elven cities. The caste sign of the hammer is a mark that its bearer is not good enough for the more advanced castes. The next higher caste are the tree Orks, the gardeners and craftsmen who are responsible for the gardens and groves of the Palace Gardens – and since the Sidhe produce most of their weaponry out of special crops of Witchwood trees for their bows and Moonweave bushes for armors. The tree Orks live in a constant concurrence with the other Sidhe servitor race, the Pixies. The Sidhe encourages the competition between their servants to make sure that they will never join forces against their masters.
The highest caste of the Orks are the swords. Sword Orks are the military backbone of the Sidhe’s armies and the elite of the Abiders. The Sword Orks remain for the longest time in the cohorts and are trained in camps separated from the rest of the world. The warriors to be are trained in different packs of Orks. These packs are the base military unit of the Sidhe armies and, for the sword orks, they are family and security. Orks do not work – or fight – well alone, and they excel in the cooperation with their pack mates. This is a part of their design – Vilanai thought a single Ork would hardly be a match for an angry Troll and implanted the pack instincts deep in the being of her creation. The training encampments are a dangerous place and the training of Orks cost almost a third of the young Ork whelps dies during their first years. In the time of their rigorous training, the future sword Orks have gone through the fire and back. All the weak ones have died or were send in one of the lower castes. Barely any human would survive a week in the training camps and only the constant training of the Trollish Witch Warriors is equally enduring. The surviving Sword Ork packs are proud on the torturous training they have survived and compared to their training, the blood and mud of the battlefield looks liberating for the Ork warriors.
Female Orks are not part of any caste. The Sidhe are dependent on a vast army of Ork slaves to nurture their settlements and maintain their prosperity and since they have long lost the secret of the artificial wombs, they need the female Orks as breeders. The female Orks are born in the breeding caves and they stay there for the rest of their lives. They have nothing, not even names, and when they are too old to bear new children, they become the goodwives of their caves, until they die. The dissident movement began in the breeding caves, and the first Orks who fled the rule of the Sidhe were young females.
Most foreigners only ever see sword Orks when they meet Abiders at all – most Orks are slaves that rarely leave the Palace Gardens. Therefore, the Sword Packs have formed the common picture of the Orks for most people – hulking, scarred warriors with grim faces, always armed and equipped for war.
The Abider’s culture is strongly influenced by the cult of Vilanai. The Orks worship the Sidhe sorceress as their great mother and creator who created them to cleanse the world of all demons and devils. Most Orks believe that Vilanai not only created them but the whole world as well, with the Sidhe as the rulers and the orks as their servants and protectors. The ‘evil god’ Aggdegg on the other hand created the demon races of Trolls, humans and Klackers because he was jealous about Vilanai’s beauty.
The Sidhe, who have their own quite unique and murderous point of view are slightly disconcerted by the religious fervour of their servants.

The Dissidents
Since centuries, there were Orks who tried to break free from their slave’s life and become free from the rule of the Sidhe. They fled from the breeding caves and the Palace Gardens into an uncertain freedom, in a world where there were no place for them. They have changed the public image of Orks – away from the grim warriors of the Sidhe to bands of vagabonds. Many free Orks travel from one fiefdom to another in small family groups because they are rarely tolerated in the long term by the denizens. Only a minority has settled down (most of them in the larger cities under Human or Goblin rule) and absorbed the surrounding culture.
Dissident Orks have a bad reputation – they are a part of a minority and they are as well confronted with the normal prejudices against Chimeras as well. In the best cases, they are confronted with forced politeness, but rejection is much more common. This has lead to isolation and this has formed an own and surprisingly detailed culture of the Orkish vagabonds. The Skruzashim how the Ork vagabonds call themselves (a malapropism of the Sidhe word si’jirusazh: worthless, dirt, scum) live from begging, small scale trading and sometimes as brigands. Orkish bandits have become a stereotype in the tales of the bards.
The alliance against the Klackers after the Simber battle slowly changes the social position of the Orks – suddenly, a standing army has become very attractive for the different realms of Ashkardia. Hobgoblin, Goblin and Human kingdoms start to finance a defensive line on the Klacker front. But recruits and mercenaries are rare – and the dissidents have little to lose. The “Bug Stomper Legion” in the South of the Simber has become a catchment basin for former Orkish bandits and peons.
The urban Orks often live in small ghettos, small towns outside of the greater settlements. These Orks are accepted in the greater communities as they are strong and enduring craftsmen and as long as they accept their inferior position, they are tolerated. These urban Orks often accept the religion of their environment. This is especially true in the traditionally more tolerant Caliphate, where the rulers have long ago acknowledged that they have little to lose but much to gain from recruiting those who are persecuted elsewhere. The Caliph uses over 5000 Orkish mamluks and the Orks are eager to follow him and their new found religious fervor.
The dissidents have retained the belief in the divinity of Vilanai and the Sidhe as her divine servants – but they have long ago ceased to worship her. The Hated Children of the Icecold Mother, so one of the more colourful names the Skruzashim use for themselves see Vilanai as a near crazy demon queen who prostituted herself to other demons (or were raped by them – there are quite different stories) and gave birth to the Orks. Because she hated the demons who fathered her children, she also hated her children and used them as tools against the other demons.
Since only a minority of the Dissidents (and almost no Skruzash) is literate and therefore, the Orks have developed a colourful oral lore. The Orks never developed an own language – their language is a pidgin of Sidhe and different human languages – and there is no fitting alphabet for it. The more important the oral history has become for the traditions and culture of the Orks. Almost every Skruzash group is lead by a Wisdom Keeper who keeps the Skruzashim’s legends and lore. These Orkish bards are no singers or idle troubadours but narrators and often the spokesmen of their groups. Ideally, the Wisdom Keepers are Gifted, but because of the rather weak affinity of the Orks for magic, this is an exception. Apart from the Wisdom Keepers, most Ork groups are lead by a Greatfighter as well. The Greatfighter is the physical leader, the champion and defender of the group. This dual leadership structures have been maintained even among the urban Orks, where the duo of Keeper and Greatfighter represents the Orkish communities.
The Dissidents were created by women who fled the breeding caves, and they have always sought to separate from the picture of the almost always pregnant breeding machines that the female Orks have become among the Abiders. There is no gender based distribution of activities among the free Orks.

The Body of the Orks
Orks were created from Trollish prisoners of war and inconvenient Sidhes who ‘disappeared’ into the transmogrifying chamber of Vilanai’s castle. The children of this magical coupling bear the physical features of both parent species, but Vilanai formed her Chimera as well and left her marks on them. Orks are tall, but smaller than Trolls. They have long arms and legs, but not as elongated as the limbs of the Sidhe and they are built with heavy muscles – but not nearly as strong as the Trolls, but they were not meant to be. They have inherited the tough and leathery skin of the Trolls, but their skin lacks the almost mystical protective quality of true Trollskin. Ork faces combine the jutting eyebrow ridge of the Trolls with the elongated and pointed ears of the Sidhe. They have the canine teeth of the Trolls, but their lower teeth are longer and remember tusks. Their eyes resemble the eyes of the Trolls, but they do not glow like those – Orks lack the infrared vision of the Trolls because Vilanai believed in the superiority of Sidhe perception.
There is no true appearance of Orks – the variety between different Orks is enormous – the color of their skin, hairs and eyes varies from albino white to the slate blue skin of the Trolls and, often an olive green skin both parents lack – the green skin was meant as a camouflage. Some Orks are completely hairless, others feature a dense body hair, in some cases it even resembles a fur. There are even Orks who wear the stumps of horns – a heritage of their Troll ancestors. Strangely, there seem to be no relation between those physiognomic features of Orkish parents and their children.
Orks mature very fast – and the age very fast, as well. An Ork is pubescent with seven and full-grown with ten years. They start to age with roughly 30 years and it is unheard of an Ork who has reached an age of over 50.
Like all Ashkardian people, the Orks have inherited the deadly affiliation for iron.

The magic of the Orks
Deliberately, the Orks are notably unmagical, especially in comparison to their parent species. Vilanai knew that magic holds power and the Orks were meant to be tools, not rulers and therefore they were barred from magic. Only one in two hundred Orks has a weak Gift, and only one in hundred of those have a Gift that is strong enough to become a powerful spellcaster.
Among the Abiders, most Gifted Orks are included in the Sword caste and are trained in the way of battle magic – the Sidhe decline their war slaves the access to more powerful varieties of magic, especially antimagical spells. The Orkish mages also serve as priests of Vilanai for their comrades and they are even stronger indoctrinated than the rest of the Orks and they are left to believe that their Gift is a divine instalment of their Goddess.
Among the Dissidents, those who have the gift are similar rare and in most cases, they are educated by Gifted Wisdom Keepers to become Wisdom Keepers as well.
One thing all Orks have in common, is a growing resistance against magic. This resistance is inexplicable, and the first Orks didn’t have it – but the modern Orks have developed a resistibility against magic which is almost as strong as that of the humans or dwarves.

Ork Race Template
Orks (LA+0)
Abilities: STR+4, CON+2, INT-2 Orks are hulking strong and muscled, granting them great physical prowess and toughness. They were created to follow orders, not to question them.
Medium Ashkardian Humanoids (Orks)
Superior Low-Light Vision: An Ork can see four times as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
Tough Skin: Though not as hard and leathery as the skin of their Troll ancestors, Ork skin grant them a +1 natural armor bonus.
Cultural Background: At Character Creation, an Ork chose one of the following traits: yes, this list isn't complete as well.
Vulnerability: Orcs are vulnerable to iron. They suffer one additional point of damage for every damage dice dealt by iron weapons.
Sharp Senses: Their effective perception grants Orks a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
Pack Hunters: Orks get a +1 racial bonus to attack rolls when fighting in groups of 5 or more Orks, whether they are enemies or allies. The wild calls and howls of attacking Orks fill their brethren with a frenzied sort of valor.
Favored Classes: Rogue, Warblade or Warmage. Orks who follow the Rogue, Warmage or Warblade class get a bonus feat on 1st, 5th and 10th class level.