A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    This is currently an incomplete idea, incorporating things I've cherry-picked from favorite experiences in prior games. The goal is to eventually bring everything together into a cohesive game world, familiar but distinctive enough to make things interesting.

    For now, I'm listing established things, with the intention of expanding each element in its own post.

    Inspirations include real world historical cultures, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. I like playing around with linguistic elements, but I'm not actually knowledgeable in that arena.

    I tend to use 3.5 as my rules system.

    Please ask me questions to help me clarify elements, or to inspire me to flesh things out more.

    Or, maybe offer me suggestions to consider that would fit the direction I'm going for.

    ***

    The Commons: The collective lands of Human peoples that are unclaimed by the various kingdoms. The name was derived from its generally central location between the major powers.
    Inspiration/Influence: Medieval Europe
    Notable Groups: The Lyon Clans
    Racial Variation:
    Human ethnicity was due to regional variation, but all were dislocated during the time of the Giant Empire. As a result, any physical traits within the limits of human races (eye color and shape, skin tone, etc) are possible for each individual, though there may be biases with specific family lines. For example, King Lionel’s family line has traits normally associated as African in our world.


    Dowafukoku: The lands of the Dwarven peoples, a massive plateau that begins at Raptor Ridge and extends up to and within the Dragonspine Mountains.
    Inspiration/Influence: Feudal Japan and Imperial China
    Game Rule Changes: Instead of Weapon Familiarity, a Dwarf gains Item Familiar as a bonus Feat upon reaching 3rd Level.
    Racial Variation:
    Standard 3.5 Dwarves (sometimes called Hill Dwarves) tend to exist on the surface of Dowafukoku.
    Dream Dwarves tend to dwell underground, within the plateau and mountains.
    Ridge Dwarves trade Stonecunning for Woodcunning, which applies to forest environments and structures made mostly of wood. In addition, a Ridge Dwarf has a racial bonus to Craft and Appraise applied to wooden, bone, and leather items, instead of stone or metal.


    The Forged: Constructed beings, which compose the bulk of the Gnoman Republic’s workforce and military. Considered property instead of sentient beings, and treated like a slave race.

    Gaialin: (from Giant tongue, “Land of the Giants”) Common name of the game world, across all cultures. Its proper use is only for the continent in which the game takes place.

    Gaiant: The proper name of Giant species. Their empire once controlled the bulk of the continent, and brutally enslaved nearly every race in the best of circumstances, or used them as livestock or lab animals in the worst cases.
    Inspiration/Influence: None

    Goblin: Collective term for the nomadic tribesfolk, known for their violent mounted raids. The proper use of the term Goblin is for the females of the species, all considered wives to the Chieftain. Hobgoblins are the males and leaders of the tribe, with only a single male heir allowed at any given time. All other male children are neutered at birth, resulting in Bukubar (commonly called a Bugbear).
    Inspiration/Influence: Mongols
    Racial Variation:
    The three dominant goblinoid races have been combined into a singular race here, with the variation being the result of gender (or castration, in the case of Bugbears).


    Minoan Sea: Northern region which the Giants fled across. Name is taken from the Minotaur peoples, who patrol the waters for signs of Giant activity.

    Minotaur: (from Giant tongue, “Little Bull”) Preferring the term Northmen, a seafaring race of large size, once used as heavy laborers and gladiatorial entertainers by the Giant Empire. Their homeland is lost to history, and they now exist as a nomadic people. It is customary for all seaports to maintain a Northman Hall, to accommodate visiting Minotaurs at a scale comfortable to their large size.
    Inspiration/Influence: Norse
    Racial Variation:
    Boath is the term for the bulk of the Minotaur race. The term is used the same way Humans might use the term man, woman, person, and the like. They are distinguished by their horns turning forward at the base.
    Mokath is a subrace of Minotaur that favor psionic abilities. They are often distinguished by the shape of their horns, which only turn forward at their tips. Both have interbred so completely that the distinction can only be made as their horns grow in.

    Bratha's Journey Part 1, Part 2

    Orclundi: The wild region beyond the Dragonspine Mountains, and home to the Orcish peoples. Renown as the only race that never succumbed to Giant rule, and respected by all races as the source of the Rise. The lands are savage, filled with dire animals and enormous reptilian beasts.
    Inspiration/Influence: Klingons, the Predator franchise
    Racial Variation:
    Orrak: The term for the more numerous, migratory orcs. Using Half-Orc statistics, they are considered a true orcish race, rather than the result of crossbreeding.
    Urrok: The nocturnal hunters that dwell in caves. They use standard Orc statistics, and are visually distinguished by larger eyes and heavier builds.


    Res Publica Gnomes: (commonly called the “Gnoman Republic”) The nation of the Gnostae peoples, often called Gnomes or Gnomans when referred to by the people of other lands. Was once the capital region of the Giant Empire, and in many ways Gnomans emulate the grand architectural cues, or the benign cultural norms, of their former masters.
    Inspiration/Influence: Roman Empire
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2021-08-24 at 09:42 PM. Reason: Updating

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    I like your take on Minotaurs, and your goblinoids are a super unique concept. I’d love to see a world map to put all of these nations in perspective!
    Last edited by Sam113097; 2020-08-03 at 01:35 PM.
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    The Commons:

    There are knights, earls, barons, dukes, and even kings scattered around, with a dozen more titles thrown in, all of various degrees of legitamacy. There are also magisters, viziers, sorcerous monarchs, and a wide variety of priestly rulers.

    The peasants have no choice but to obey whichever warlord claims his farm. Indeed, some locations are well governed and prosperous, but in others the pearants starve and pray that the tax-takers leave enough to starve through another winter.

    In the Barony of Rhu the 3rd generation Baron Rhu is considered to be a competent leader of one of the more stable city-states. Located on a secondary trade route between massive empires, for the last three generations Barons Rhu have prospered by successfully remaining neutral and serving as a middleman between the empires' trade networks.

    Spies and counterspies walk the streets of Rhukka. Trader lords hoard wealth and hire mercenaries to guard it, and a variety of thieves, both illegal and official, ply their trades in the city.

    Nearly all subjects recieve at least rudimentary military training, and are required to serve in the militia. From this talent pool the Barons have trained a cadre of active duty non-commissioned and commissioned officers to defend the realm.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    The Commons:

    [Lots of Stuff]

    I kinda like your take, and it shows a good way to run with this sort of idea.

    However, I didn't intend to have that large of a region set aside for Humans. Can get a little unweildy, and I know my own limitations.

    I only really intended for there to be 3 Human "kingdoms" (for lack of a better term), with the Commons mostly filling in the gaps between them, as well as open spaces between the Gnoman Republic and Dowafukoku.

    (I only have one "kingdom" conceptually formed in my head at the moment, "Lionspride", which kinda leans towards an Arthurian tone.)

    Your post does bring up a point, though. How exactly would the Commons work, without being affiliated with a proper kingdom?

    (Full disclosure: the only reason I chose the name Commons was to create a proper rationale for the term "common tongue". It would make speaking Common more of a trade language, with some specific dialects based on region and class.

    After that, it was just creating a concept that justified a region with that title.)

    I had initially planned on the bulk of the Commons would be filled with Freemen, which bent the knee to no one. After the oppression of the Giant Empire, some would simply find the concept comfortable.

    But it is a bit impractical. A region that would obviously be filled with trade routes, with no proper military power to protect them, and a threat of Goblin Raiders...

    Maybe dozens of minor Lords is something I should reconsider.

    [Edit: Or perhaps, it is custom to have towns organized under a local democracy, appointing representatives to a Town Counsil? And maybe these trade routes are important enough for nearby powers to donate soldiers, under the command of such a Council?

    That could be neat, and a method to actually have mixed populations in the Commons. More thought is needed...]

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam113097 View Post
    I like your take on Minotaurs, and your goblinoids are a super unique concept. I’d love to see a world map to put all of these nations in perspective!

    Glad you like it.

    I've kinda ran Goblins like this for years. I was initially inspired by the Game of Thrones books (long before the show... I get hipster points, I suppose), but running them as archers on Worgs really ups the threat level.

    Also, Barghest influence can be interesting. I kinda treat them as secret gods to the females, working to slowly undermine Hobgoblin interests.
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2020-08-03 at 09:16 PM. Reason: Idea

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    I had not thought of The Commons as a single, homegenous area, but as clumps strung along the regions between the boundaries of the empires mentioned in the OP. Certainly, there is ample room for many kinds of cultures.

    The Curraq Tribesmen

    Along the chains of hills which make convient borders for far-away map and treaty makers live the Currak. Their lands are rugged and largely unwanted by the empires, and though armies have marched to war through them, but when the fighting is over, the hills and the Currak have always been left to themselves.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    I had not thought of The Commons as a single, homegenous area, but as clumps strung along the regions between the boundaries of the empires mentioned in the OP. Certainly, there is ample room for many kinds of cultures.

    The Curraq Tribesmen

    Along the chains of hills which make convient borders for far-away map and treaty makers live the Currak. Their lands are rugged and largely unwanted by the empires, and though armies have marched to war through them, but when the fighting is over, the hills and the Currak have always been left to themselves.

    Could this be flavored with something resembling Scottish Clans? I'd like to stick with Anglo-Saxon, Gaelic, and Celtic name conventions and general cultural styles for Human groups, even if I'm not locking them into the ethnic appearance.

    [Edit: Perhaps call them the Lyon Clans, and push them near to the kingdom of Lionspride. The lands of both Lionspride and the Lyon Clans would be named after a common event or factor in that region.

    They respect and trade with Lionspride most frequently, and have been mutual allies when the needs arose, but these freemen owe allegiance to no one.

    King Lionel understands the Clans, and each Clanhead is considered an honored guest in his court. He has earned enough trust to be asked to moderate disputes between Clans.]

    [Edit 2: Yeah, I dig the idea enough that the Lyon Clans are going to be part of the Canon. Adding that to the Commons description.]
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2021-07-09 at 06:30 PM.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Use, modify, or discard my suggestions as you wish.

    The Woodsmen of Brechtal

    The Brechtal Woods would be included as part of the Sylvan Forest on virtually any map, save for the Woodmen.

    Divided from the main forest by a low but rugged chain of hills, the Brechtal is only thirty miles wide by one hundred twenty long, and it occupies seven valleys on its northeast flank, spreading out and thinning as it encroaches on the grasslands to the southwest.

    Within each valley there is a log-and-earth fort of the motte and bailey style. These forts are seldom used as defensive points in war. Instead, they serve as the local trade and social hub of the valley.

    The woodsmen appear to periodically vote for whomever is to reside in and administer the fort. Outsiders have difficulty following the ebb and flow of Brechtal politics, but it appears they vote in the wealthiest and when the costs of funding what government exists exhausts their wealth they vote in another.

    Indeed, this appears to be the only form of taxation the Woodsmen tolerate. They certainly resist any taxation attempts by the Elvish government.

    From the Elvish point of view the humans simply appeared there. One monarch focused attention elsewhere and in the next generation the monarch found the humans had annexed the wood. Attempts to repel the humans resulted in war, and by the time the Elves realized the price they would have to pay to get them back, the humans were no longer willing to compromise. There was never an official end to the war. The elves still claim the lands, but it has been more than a human lifetime since the last elvish excursion over the hills.

    Among the Woodsmen an occasional half-elf is born. Although the mother may be accused of collaboration, the child is seldom stigmatized, and can grow to be a free man of the woods. Those born to the elves are heavily stigmatized and their social opportunities are limited among people who see them as handicapped at best. Many such children are delivered to the druids who find homes for them or raise them as orphans to become rangers and druids of the wood.

    Typical Woodsmen live in small log houses with turf roofs, tending subsistence farms and harvesting, under the supervision of the druids, the timber and game of the woods. Barter is often based on skins and jerky, with coins and other currency rarely used outside of the trade towns.

    As may be surmised, the local druids are the religious leaders. They also train a school of bards who are employed as roving school teachers, news gatherers and tellers, and entertainers. The druids are the most organized group in the wood and assume primary responsibility for its defense.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-08-06 at 07:48 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Use, modify, or discard my suggestions as you wish.

    The Woodsmen of Brechtal

    (Lots of cool ideas that I can't figure out how to incorporate)

    Here's the rub. Elves don't exist in any recognizable form in this game world. The closest analog would be faeries that sometimes cross over to the mortal realm and "get stuck", but they are few.

    For the record, Halfings (called the Warrow, their lands will be called the Warrens) exist on a different continent, and will mirror various Native American cultures. Most of Gaialin doesn't know of the existence of this continent.

    Catfolk (called the Basti, as is their empire) exist on yet another continent, and will be similar to ancient Egypt, with others being more tribal, like the Zulu people. Gnolls will also exist on that continent as a rival group, but I haven't decided how I want to handle their culture(s). Gnomans know of these lands, few other beings are aware of the continent.

    I want to make Lizardfolk and Troglodytes the same species, or at least related and allied, newly emerging from the Underdark in various parts of the world. They are escaping persecution, though I haven't put enough thought into them or their oppressors at this point.

    Dragons did exist, but are almost myths. There hasn't been as much as a sighting of one since the height of the Giant Empire. If they do still exist, they might dwell in Orclundi, or perhaps an unknown continent.

    The Minoan Sea was actually named by the Giants, meaning "little sea". The Giants aren't as far away as people think.

    There is a migrating continent called Nemesis. It's rare knowledge, only sages from the longer lived races might know of it's existence, but don't know any more than it's name.

    *

    I figured I should mention all the stuff I have planned, but haven't fleshed out enough to list, if you wanna keep playing around with ideas.
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2020-08-06 at 09:47 PM.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    The Woodsmen need not border an elfland. The idea is of a fiercely independent people who are too tough to conquer and too independent to control from a distant capital.

    The Trader Folk

    Caravans cross the lands using beasts of burden suited to the terrain: camels in the deserts, llamas in the mountains, horses in the plains, elephants in the jungle. But they are all owned and operated by The Trader Folk.

    Some say they are a single family, others say they are a cult. Romantic tales say that young children are captured and taken away to become the next generation of Trader Folk, or that youths seeking adventure sneak off to join them. The truth is a lot more boring.

    They are a network of independent families who trade across great distances. Their work is hard and dangerous, so they tend to be selective about who they allow to join. They are constantly at risk from bandits, so they concoct strange cautionary tales about their magic to discourage them.

    The Trader Folk follow old paths across the wilderness and beat new ones when there is profit to be made. And from time to time, when bandits or taxmen become a problem, the Traders come together and burn them out.

    Good leaders protect the caravans because they know that wealth comes with them and poverty fills the voids they leave when they abandon a locale.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-08-07 at 05:25 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Why are you so focused on the Commons? Not that I mind. It's good to see things outside one's own thought process. And the Lyon Clans alone make the process worth it.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Nuts & Bolts stuff.

    I'm thinking of having the some of the true Giants be individuals, instead of races, and immortal in some form. For example, the Storm Giant would take the place of Zeus in the Giant hierarchy, the eternal ruler of the Giant races. The Death Giant would be a combination of Thanatos and the Keres, but may also hold the key to Giant longevity in some form. Maybe tie the Death Giant in with the Fates.

    Anyways, you get the idea.

    Each would have lead their own city-state during the height of the empire, allied but mostly independent in practice.

    Those would be the leaders of the Giants. The bulk of the Giant population would be trolls (including scrags) and ogres (including ogre mages). I'm going to apply the Primordial Giant template to them (Secrets of Xen'drik), and make them less monstrous in appearance, fluff-wise. So, smarter, more beautiful, "perfect" beings, that are lead by even greater beings.

    The lesser, non-Giant races were slaves labor, used for entertainment, and sometimes food or lab rats.

    Dragons, most specifically the Gold Dragons, were the most credible threat. All dragons were hunted down during the earliest days of the empire, though the complications in Orclundi means the "Dragon Purge" couldn't pass beyond the Dragonspine Mountains.

    *

    Goblins weren't technically subjugated by the Giants. They were the equivalent of pests, vermin, scavenging on the scraps of civilization like rats. And sometimes being exterminated like rats, but their prodigious breeding rate always kept them present.

    They proved a vital link during the "Rise" of the other races, a source of communication and coordination between various factions.

    After the Rise, they suffered a new indignity. Because they weren't enslaved during the Giant's reign, the other races saw no need to allocate lands for them. They were left again to scavenge, but without the Giants crushing their numbers, they were able to organize, forming proper tribes and developing a proper culture.

    *

    The longer lived races, the Gnomes and Dwarves, have something of a cultural inertia. Their longer lifespans extends the effects of a generation, turning them into traditions relatively quickly.

    For the Dwarves, this is a source of cultural and ancestral pride. With minor exceptions, a Dwarf from 2000 years ago would easily recognize and acclimate to modern life in Dowafukoku.

    Gnomes are more technologically and magically advanced, a sort of steampunk culture (with a Roman aesthetic), but culturally locked. Advancements don't often change the way they live, serving instead to reinforce their lifestyle.

    For a race like Humans, on the other hand, an individual might live a mere 100 years at most. Because of this, their culture is more fluid, and advances more quickly. This is part of the reason Human kingdoms, and the people of the Commons, have such drastic differences despite being the same race. They aren't a united people, but that may be a strength, rather than a weakness.

    *

    There is no record of a Minotaur homeland because they are a creation of the Giants, a magical breeding experiment.
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2020-08-12 at 10:16 PM.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    The Ridge Dwarf stood in the center of the four posts of the tomi shrine, and as the sun's first rays broke through the treetops the dwarves of the village began to become aware of him. He stood unmoving as the Ridge Dwarves of the village began to raise the alarm.

    Unlike the villagers, who wore a motley of homespun wool clothing, the Clan Mahktaht wore fringed buckskin breaches and coat. Where their beards were still tangled from sleep, his was oiled and combed, and braided in the Mahktaht pattern.

    As the crowd grew and grew louder, two questions were on everyone's lips: who is this Mahktaht warrior, and how did he get into their sacred space?

    The people of the village were Tainhu, and the Tainhu and Mahktaht had been feuding for generations. The fact that there had not been a single killing between them in the last generation did nothing to deter some in the crowd who called for his blood.

    The village parson emerged from her hut still arranging her vestments. Her voice, with the power of many sermons, broke through the clamour.

    "Who are you, and what do you want?"

    The dwarf within the tomi waited for the crowd's silence before he answered.

    "I am Keltik beyMahktaht, and I am here to announce my intent to court Teskathri senTarret."

    The crowd of almost a hundred erupted as shouts of offended pride and astonishment clashed with disbelief. That the second son of a clan warlord would have the audacity! To pledge betrothal to the heir and only child of the village lord! Why, that would make him...

    That would make him, in time, lord of the village!

    "I have brought this as token of my sincerity and in pledge of my honorable intent," he shouted over the hundred voices as he swung a heavy sack.

    He tossed the leather bag to the feet of the parson and it opened as it landed. A small part of its contents spilled: hundreds of the polished wooden buttons the Ridge Dwarves used as money.

    The villagers erupted again.

    ...

    The sun neared zenith and Keltik beyMahktaht still stood alone in the tomi. Its four posts offered no shade, and the dwarf's formal clothing did little to protect him. Indeed, the buckskins blocked the warm summer breeze that might have carried away his sweat. He ignored the heat as he ignored the taunts of the village harn, (youths of from twenty to thirty who were deemed to not yet be adults.) They had established that the Mahktaht was unarmed and they thought to lure the dwarf out of the sacred space where he was safe from the axes of their elders.

    In the Town Hall voices were raised.

    "I will not turn my daughter over to some Mahktaht adventurer!" shouted Akassar Tarret.

    "The peace between us could be broken if we insult the son of..."

    "Do you not wish to hear what your daughter might have to say?" asked an unexpected voice.

    Teskathri senTarret had entered as the village elders argued. She was pretty in the way all young are: with the health and vitality of youth. But there was something more. She possed a confidence and poise seldom found in a woman who had come of age less than a year before.

    "There is nothing to say," Lord Tarret said. "I'm not letting some whelp of a Mahktaht anywhere near you!"

    "Let us hear what she has to say," the parson said.

    "Second," said an elder from the far end of the table. "Do we need to call the vote, Akassar?"

    The dwarf lord looked around the table, then at his daughter. With a sigh he said, "Go ahead."

    "As you all know," the young woman said, "I have reached the age of maturity, and I am by right capable of choosing my own spouse. I choose to defer to the wisdom of the council because I am young and because my position creates diplomatic issues that you all will have to face.

    "Like all girls I have given thought to the kind of husband I would like to have. He should be handsome. He should be brave. He should be bold and daring. He should be of good bloodlines with no connection to my own. He should be smart and ambitious, and yet willing to support me when I come into my inheritance rather than rule me.

    "The dwarf in our shrine has demonstrated all of those qualities save the last, and I believe as a second son he may have trained for that role all of his life.

    "And there is one more thing I never expected, but would be pleased to have: if I marry him it will mean an end to the feud with our neighbors.

    "He is only asking to court. I am interested in seeing what may come of it."

    Most of what followed was loud enough to be heard at the shrine.

    ...

    By the time clouds began to turn orange in the West and purple in the East the council had come to an agreement. They marched out of the council house to the shrine with the lord and his daughter in the lead.

    The young warrior had not eaten or drank all day. Indeed, save for shifting his weight to maintain blood flow to his feet he had not even moved. As the column of elders approached he turned and saw Teskathri, and his eyes locked with hers.

    He spoke before the lord could, and his intense gaze left no doubt to whom he spoke.

    "Told of your beauty,
    "I had to see for myself.
    "Words fall short."

    Whatever the parson was about to say was lost in her sudden smile. Lord Tarret cleared his throat and the young dwarf turned to him.

    "You're very brass to come into my village. Tell me why I shouldn't have you killed."

    "Because all who speak of Lord Tarret speak of wisdom. I believe your wisdom is telling you that being my friend is better than being my father's enemy."

    "What do you know of wisdom?" the older dwarf growled.

    His daughter put her hand on his arm. He glanced at it then looked away with his jaw clamped shut.

    "The Elders of the Village of Tainhat have met and judged your petition," the parson said in her 'official' tone of voice. "Our decision is to grant your petition so long as you come and go unarmed and so long as you maintain propriety at all times. This is also binding upon any who come into our territory. During your courtship any act of war or feud by Clan Mahktaht will be considered a breach of promise. The order will bind Clan Tainhu as well. Do you agree to these terms?"

    "Before I answer I have one question: Teskethri senTarret, do you of your own free will, accept my petition?"

    She stepped forward, into the tomi, and then to the young dwarf as the villagers gasped. She took his hands and stood up on her toes to place a kiss on his bearded cheek.

    "I do."

    "All right, then," Lord Tarret said in a gruff tone, "There's still the matter of tresspass..."

    "My lord," the parson interrupted. She continued, "Since you came as an enemy combatant unannounced and unhearalded, the council decrees that you must leave in the same manner. In honor of your betrothal you may choose to fight our champion or to run the gauntlet."

    "Who is your champion?" he asked. Seeing the malicious grin spread on the lord's face he quickly answered, "I choose the gauntlet!"

    There was a cheer from the assembly while some of the dwarves scrambled to get sticks and staves with which to beat the young dwarf as he ran between two rows of villagers.

    He turned to the young woman facing him and said, "I am Keltik beyMahktaht, and I would stand here forever to gaze into your eyes, but I see no reason to wait while they prepare to beat my brains out. I will return in two days."

    He bowed and kissed the back of her hand, and with a smile he jumped into a run toward the perimeter of the village.

    "After him!" shouted the lord, and the villagers became a mob, running hard on his heels. He swerved as the quickest almost caught up to him and was ahead of the pack as they came to the first field outside the village.

    Then he surprised everyone when he turned left and began to lead them on a weaving course between the small wooden houses back to the tomi!

    He turned again and again until villagers began to drop out of the chase. Some even began to block lanes in an attempt to trap him. With a burst of speed he turned to one of the blockers.

    It was Lord Tarret and two younger dwarves. The lord waved to the pair indicating that they should spread out across the lane as the runner approached.

    Keltik charged Lord Tarret and planted a foot as if he was going to jump. The moment the lord's club went high the leap turned into a slide beneath the club.

    Akassar was getting old, as the run had proved, but he retained the reflexes of a veteran warrior. His club came down and glanced off the young dwarf's eyebrow before hitting his shoulder. Before the lord could recover for a second stroke the young dwarf turned his slide into a roll, bounced back to his feet, and was running straight down the road into the forest with a pack of determined young villagers behind him.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-08-20 at 07:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Adamantrue View Post
    Res Publica Gnomana: (from the Gnoman tongue, “Gnoman Republic”) The nation of the Gnoman peoples, often shortened to “Gnome” when referring to the land within its borders. Was once the capital region of the Giant Empire, and in many ways Gnomans emulate the grand architectural cues, or the benign cultural norms, of their former masters.
    Inspiration/Influence: Roman Empire
    (Since your Gnomes are based around the Romans, and they apparently speak something that resembles Latin, here's a little suggestion: make ”Gnome” an exonym (a name used by other (non-Gnome) folks to refer to Gnomes) resulting from a misunderstanding and a number of phonetical changes. Latin does, in fact, have the word gnome (-es), a borrowing from Greek (cf. γνωμη, -ης). Latin restricted its meaning upon borrowing the word, but originally it had quite an array of senses. Among other things, the Greek original meant `common sense` and `knowledge (of stg.)`. Subsequently, if you were to rename the Gnome state Res Publica Gnomes (/rε:s publika gno:mε:s/; gnomes is the (irregular) genitive of gnome), the name could mean something like `the State of Knowledge`. Now, gnome in Latin (and Greek) is actually pronounced /gno:mε:/ rather than /noʊm/ as in English, but all it takes to get from the former to the latter is trying to pronounce the word in a language that abhors word initial consonant clusters and tends to leave word final vowels silent or otherwise reduced. If someone speaking such a language were to try and reverse engineer the name of the population from the name of the polity, they would naturally end up believing that the population calls itself Gnomes.
    Since basically calling yourself `a knowledge` is fairly weird, I'd have them use a different endonym. They could call themselves, for instance, Gnostae (the Latin plural for Gnosta, otherwise also from Greek (cf. γνωστης)), meaning `the knowledgeable [ones]`.
    In order to explain why they don't try to correct everyone who gets their ethnonym wrong, you only have to make them smug enough to actually like the idea: if the others have difficulty using the correct name, they can perceive that as a proof of their intellectual superiority.)
    Last edited by Metastachydium; 2020-08-19 at 09:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    Lots of Stuff
    That's a pretty cool linguistic coincidence, that goes great thematically with what I'm trying to do here. Thanks for the tip.

    Weird question, since I have access to someone that seems familiar with all the terminology: My Gnomes are going to be steampunk-ish, but with a Greco-Roman flavor instead of Victorian. Their cities will be patrolled by dirigible-style airships, and I've been struggling to figure out a term for them. You got any suggestions?

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Romans used biremes and triremes, so how about skyremes?

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Romans used biremes and triremes, so how about skyremes?
    Heh. Fun pun, but I don't think sky would really fit into the theme in this form, while provided we intend to take into consideration the original meaning of the words used, we cannot disregard the fact that the part with remes referred to (rows) of oars, with bi-, tri-, quinque- (&c.) referring to the number of such rows of oars a vessel had, and I don't think dirigible patrol airships would have oars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adamantrue View Post
    That's a pretty cool linguistic coincidence, that goes great thematically with what I'm trying to do here. Thanks for the tip.

    Weird question, since I have access to someone that seems familiar with all the terminology: My Gnomes are going to be steampunk-ish, but with a Greco-Roman flavor instead of Victorian. Their cities will be patrolled by dirigible-style airships, and I've been struggling to figure out a term for them. You got any suggestions?
    Eh, if you want something based on an actual nautical term, I can only offer somewhat long and complicated suggestions. The Romans had a type of light patrol ship called (navis) lusoria (lusorius (-a, -um) meaning `related to playing, playful`; whether it referred to the size or the good maneuverability of the ships is unclear, but at any rate, you can safely go with the latter). From this you could form words such as caelilusorium (if you tweak the original meaning of lusorius just a little, it can mean something like `skydancer` (caelum meaning `sky`)).
    Of course, like I said, that's one long word, so if you don't insist on using words that actually formed the basis of the name Roman used to describe some type of vessel they had, you may as well go with something shorter. I could recommend volans (volantes in the plural, the stem being volant-), which means `flying [thing], flyer`. It's a perfectly good Latin word, and, as an added bonus it may sound familiar to the English ear, since English borrowed it as an adjective from Latin or French as volant (which could be what non-Gnomes call the damn things).

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    Heh. Fun pun, but I don't think sky would really fit into the theme in this form, while provided we intend to take into consideration the original meaning of the words used, we cannot disregard the fact that the part with remes referred to (rows) of oars, with bi-, tri-, quinque- (&c.) referring to the number of such rows of oars a vessel had, and I don't think dirigible patrol airships would have oars.
    I would make a case for replacing screw-type propellers with a row of broad bladed oars which pivot like bird's wings and undulate like the flappers on those things that attacked New York in Endgame.

    However, I do like the idea of a gnome trying to explain what it is to a barbarian and concluding with: "It's a flying thing."

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    Default The Forged

    The Forged:



    Constructed beings, which compose the bulk of the Gnoman Republic’s workforce and military. Considered property instead of sentient beings, and treated like a slave race.

    *

    Gnomans spend most of their efforts devoted to artistic, magical, scientific, philosophical, and political pursuits. They consider themselves "above" the menial tasks, such as labor, but recognize the need for such tasks to maintain their lifestyle. Early in the republic's history, the family Dementis created the perfect solution: the Forged.

    The Forged are constructed beings, produced as-needed to serve and maintain the needs of the republic. They work the fields to produce and harvest crops, they build and maintain the infrastructure of the aqueducts and shipyards, and serve as personal attendants to the aristocracy. Originally designed for the most basic of tasks, the Forged have proven to be versatile creations, and more modern models can perform virtually any task.

    All this allows the Gnostae population immense wealth, and the freedom to pursue even their most eccentric interests. Even the lowest Gnoman families own at least a few Forged to assist them, and have estates other races would consider expansive.

    *

    The Forged are mostly constructed of bronze and marble, with wood, earthen, and steel elements at the joints and deeper within their structure. There is great detail in the sculpting, enhanced with permanent minor illusions, often modeling them after specific individuals to convey ownership or to pay tribute (due to their indefinite lifespans, Forged can resemble ancestral rather than current owners). As such, when they are not actively performing a task, they are to pose motionless on a designated perch, acting merely as works of art.

    Gnome city streets have Forged "statues" at each corner called Sentries, which fill roles such as fire fighting, disaster relief, medical aid, and law enforcement. There is usually an additional Sentry or two in common areas, such as at entrances to public buildings.

    Though their appearance is nearly flawless, their mannerisms, composite construction, and Gnomes' resistance to illusion has made interaction with them someone unnerving, a phenomenon Gnomes have dubbed the "Uncanny Valley".

    The mental capabilities of modern Forged is comparable to that of a Gnostae, and they can be charged with more cerebral tasks. They are limited by their experience, and can have a naïve or simplistic view of the world, and their place in it. Older units that are still in use can overcome this limitation, though some of the earliest models, such as the rare Forged Titans, simply lack the design complexity for more sapient thought.

    Price of a Forged = (Level, including LA)² X 1000 gp

    Racial Variation

    The following represents the most common Forged models.

    The Standard: (Warforged Scout) The size of the average Gnome citizen. Used most frequently as personal attendants or for administrative tasks. Variants are used in the military as cavalry and scouts.

    The Hardy: (standard Warforged) The size of a Human or Dwarf. Used most frequently as laborers or as Sentries. Variants are used in the military as heavy infantry.

    The Colossus: (Warforged Charger) The size of a Northman (Minotaur). Used for heavy tasks or as Sentries at Gnome borders. Resemblance to Giants makes them unpopular, and they are no longer being produced.

    The Simian: (Warforged Simian, homebrew) The size and shape of a baboon. Used as mounts or beasts of burden, or occasional specialized tasks. Popular mounts for Forged cavalry.
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2021-08-24 at 09:54 PM.

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    Default The Just Blade

    The Just Blade

    During the Rise, there was a great human hero, Lyora the Lightbringer, also known a Lyora the Lyoness due to the orcish lion (Dire Lion) that was her chosen mount. She lead many factions of rebels to some of their greatest victories, often turning lost battles into triumphs.

    In the final years of the Rise, Lyora was charged with protecting a large refugee camp in the highlands, along with united factions of humans, dwarves, and orcs. During a patrol, scouts spotted a massive force of giants, two days away from the camp. Though willing to fight under the Lightbringer, Lyora recognized that untrained and unarmed refugees, still weak from their recent escape from the giants, stood no chance of surviving a confrontation, even alongside the seasoned freedom fighters charged with protecting them. And they couldn't be evacuated. They were too weary to outpace the giants or survive the wild, even with some of the most experienced rebels escorting them.

    And the leaders of the factions, under Lyora's command, all disagreed on what the best course of action would be. She dismissed them all from the tent, telling them she would make a decision by the morning.

    That was the last time anyone saw the Lyora.

    In the morning, her tent was empty. Both her and her orcish lion were missing. Were she someone other than the Lightbringer, other than the Lyoness, the people could have assumed she fled. But because she was Lyora, a hero of the Rise, no one even considered the possibility.

    By midday, scouts returned with unexpected news. The giant armies lay in waste.

    Two dozen men explored the aftermath. There were no survivors of the enemy force, ravaged by tooth, claw, and blade. Lyora seemed to defeat the entire force overnight, but both her and her lion were nowhere to be found. All that was found was the blade of her greatsword, broken off at the hilt.

    *

    The Blade of Lyora became an object of reverence after the Rise, kept upon a stone altar where it was found. The city of Lionspride rose from that site, having become a holy city where many great heroes are revered. The surrounding highlands, now known as the Lyon Highlands, sometimes tell tales of a massive, ghostly lion running through the hills.

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    When folk speak of The Northmen they speak as though they are all of one kind. The truth is that they are of many kinds, though two races are most common. Almost all minotaurs are brownish-red to reddish-black. There are some with white and black or white and red, some which are solid black or even brown, white, or red brindled, but color is not what determines the races. Indeed, in the far north where most are some variant of white, the two races coexist.

    What divides the two is the shape of their horns. The more individualistic Boath, who are more commonly seamen, have wide horns which turn forward at the tips while the more organized Mokath have horns which turn forward. The Mokath are more likely to live in cities and other large communities.

    While both have clerics, they tend to worship pantheons of their own gods, primarily derived from ancestral heroes. When it comes to arcane magic the Boath tend to have fewer per capita and they tend to be spontaneous casters while the Mokath have academys for training wizards. Both rely upon Bards as the information network and for general education.

    The two races live amicably, each recognizing how they compliment one another. Intermarriage is not forbidden, but there are many fables concerning the unhappiness of such unions. Half-breed children usually go strongly toward one culture and abandon the other, so interbreeding ironicly increases the cultural separation.

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Thoughts about Goblins...

    For most races, there is a even split between males and females. For the Goblin race, only 1 in 8 children are born Hobgoblin (the Goblin word for male), though the specifics vary for each individuals (some Goblins cannot produce sons at all, while others have a 50/50 chance). This results in a faster rate of population growth. The smallest tribes tend to consist of a Hobgoblin Khan, 5 Bugbears, 50 Goblin adults, 70 Worgs, and 20 Goblin young.

    The Giants began the castration process on the Hobgoblins, in an attempt to control the Goblin population, and this created the first Bugbears. This became part of the Goblin tradition, with Bugbears acting as the muscle for each tribe.

    Hobgoblins take as many as a dozen wives, to ensure the birth of some sons. Besides the obvious need of Hobgoblins as heirs, eldest sons are traded as peace offerings between waring clans. Since wandering clans often cross into each others' territory, this is a surprisingly common practice, and actually protects each clan from excessive inbreeding.

    Since Goblins greatly outnumber Hobgoblins, Goblins often pair with each other, and generally tend to prefer it to a heterosexual relationship. Even the Hobgoblin's wives may pair with one another, though are still dutybound to the Hobgoblin. Though rare, sometimes Goblins pair with their Worgs.

    There are two leading roles for Goblins, that together can rival the Hobgoblin's authority. The first is the Heart, which is preferred wife of the Hobgoblin. Though by default his first wife inherits the role, it will often be changed when another wife proves to be most worthy in his eyes, and rarely changes after that. The other role, the Fated, is the mother of a Hobgoblin heir, and rarely changes unless there is an untimely death. It is uncommon, but sometimes the Fated and the Heart are the same Goblin.

    Though Goblin raids are common in some areas, many Goblin clans have allied with multiple settlements, and act as protection for trade caravans between them. Because of this, learning the Goblin tongue is useful, though the difficult pronunciations prevent it from replacing Common as the trade language of choice.

    Goblins and Worgs worship the Barghest as gods, and the Barghest have shaped their culture for centuries, even before the Giants. It was the Barghest that created the Worg, and introduced them to the Goblins as a gift after the Rise. They work to keep Goblins from truly allying with others, perpetuating discord and conflict.

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    Default Order of the Pendragon

    [This seems sloppy and uninspired. I need help with how to clean it up, and make it more...something something something...]

    Order of the Pendragon

    A key victory in the Rise occurred in the Dragonspine Mountains. A mixed group of freedom fighters were chased through the mountain chain for months, by endless waves of Giant forces. The group of over 200 was reduced to nearly 50, with mostly humans and orcs remaining.

    They chose to make their final stand at Dragon's Head, a lone peak that gave them the high ground and no chance of surprise, but also no path of retreat. Dragons once were the ancestral enemies of the giants, so there was as much symbolism in this choice as there was strategy.

    The Pendragon, the leader who's true name is lost to time, had guided them through countless victories. She had turned them from disorganized brawlers to honorable soldiers, adhering to a noble code of conduct that served to inspire others to join in the Rise.

    The group faced hundreds of giants that day, and by dusk the mountain peak was littered with their massive bodies. The freedom fighters slowly began to fall, one by one, but they fought with honor and valor, for their great cause.

    The Pendragon took a mortal blow, and as she fell made a final prayer for her companions and her cause. This moment, known as the Knightfall, seemed to summon the spirit of the Dragonspine Mountains. It is believed that this lot of men was granted favor by what remained of dragonkind, and answered her prayer through them.

    The remaining warriors were “knighted” by this spirit, and granted gifts to help win the day. Some were granted with draconic traits, such as wings or scales. Some gained claws, some with flaming breath. Cavalry mounts transformed to dragon steeds.

    The Order of the Pendragon were left with a mere 17 knights by morning, worn but victorious. In addition, their story only further inspired others during the Rise. More eagerly joined their ranks, and to everyone’s surprise those that held most true to their ideals would be granted a gift from the Dragon Spirit.

    Centuries later, long after the War of the Rise, the Order of the Pendragon remains. They are scattered through many lands, and most know only two or three of their brethren. But they still hold true to the Old Code to honor those that came before them, and protect this new world they fought for.

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    When folk speak of The Northmen they speak as though they are all of one kind. The truth is that they are of many kinds, though two races are most common. Almost all minotaurs are brownish-red to reddish-black. There are some with white and black or white and red, some which are solid black or even brown, white, or red brindled, but color is not what determines the races. Indeed, in the far north where most are some variant of white, the two races coexist.

    What divides the two is the shape of their horns. The more individualistic Boath, who are more commonly seamen, have wide horns which turn forward at the tips while the more organized Mokath have horns which turn forward. The Mokath are more likely to live in cities and other large communities.

    While both have clerics, they tend to worship pantheons of their own gods, primarily derived from ancestral heroes. When it comes to arcane magic the Boath tend to have fewer per capita and they tend to be spontaneous casters while the Mokath have academys for training wizards. Both rely upon Bards as the information network and for general education.

    The two races live amicably, each recognizing how they compliment one another. Intermarriage is not forbidden, but there are many fables concerning the unhappiness of such unions. Half-breed children usually go strongly toward one culture and abandon the other, so interbreeding ironicly increases the cultural separation.
    I've decided to roll with this idea inspired by this. Boaths have no innate aptitudes towards the arcane, Mokaths, however, have a strong tendency towards psionics.

    *

    Gunnar's deep, hearty laughter was quite contagious. The mighty mokath gripped his maul tightly as he stood at the bow of the longship, waving it toward the shoreline. "There, the fools." His own laughter made him pause. "The giants have taken to land. I think they intend to make a stand against us."

    Vidar's eyes followed the line of the hammer, watching as the giants formed into ranks. Some trolls, some ogres, and what looked to be an ogre mage. He gestured to Ivar at the helm to position at range off shore, then adjusted the sail.

    "Close enough for your bow, no closer. Mainland is too far for use to swim, and I have no desire to lose my ship this deep in the north."

    The boath let out a low chuckle as he looked back to his helmsman, hoping for at least a smile. He was a bit disappointed to see only steadfast resolve from the young archer.

    Gunnar came back to meet them, putting his free hand on Vidar's shoulder. "Just the two of us, then? So be it."

    The two elder northmen worked to lower the sail, the younger tossed the anchor, ignoring the steady sounds of the giants losing arrow after arrow into the waters between them. They readied their weapons, and began to chant over and over again, in the tongue of the giant's.

    "...For our Fathers, for our Mothers. For our Brothers, for our Sisters. For our Sons, for our Daughters..."

    As they said it the fourth time, the arrows stopped being fired. By the ninth, the northmen's voices thundered and echoed. By the twelth, the mokath's horns began to glow, crackling with sparks.

    Gunnar put his free hand on Vidar's shoulder, and let out a deep roar of a laugh as he called the lightning from the sky. The archer shielded his eyes as the elders were struck.

    *

    The giants watched in confusion as the lightning silently struck the ship in the distance. When they finally heard the thunder, they were all horrified that it came from behind them.

    The sands behind them crackled with the remnants of electricity, and Vidar pointed his sword at the lot of them. He spoke sternly in their own tongue. "Surrender, and I may show you mercy."

    Behind him, Gunnar quickly grew, towering over them as they would tower over gnomes. He raised the maul in both hands, as it became as shrouded in lightning as his massive horns. "Yes, surrender, and HE may show you mercy.

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    Default Minotaurs

    Minotaur:

    From Giant tongue, “Little Bull”.

    Preferring the term Northmen, a seafaring race of large size, once used as heavy laborers and gladiatorial entertainers by the Giant Empire. Their homeland is lost to history, and they now exist as a nomadic people. It is customary for all seaports to maintain a Northman Hall, to accommodate visiting Minotaurs at a scale comfortable to their large size.

    *

    Northman Halls are often the largest buildings in a settlement, and are constructed at the highest point possible near the water. Atop each is a Signal Flame, constantly maintained to work as a lighthouse for most ships. Minotaurs have no need for their use as positional markers, due to their innate sense of direction, but use their color to send signals from the shore.

    These buildings are maintained by the local population, and freely provide Northmen with food and drink. Though these structures can house up to 50 Minotaurs at a time, there's rarely more than a few elders, some children, and at most a handful of sailors resting and resupplying.

    *

    Minotaur women suffer no impairments during pregnancy, up until the moment they give birth. As they fight alongside their spouse, they occasionally are struck down late in pregnancy, and spend their last moments birthing their child. This is considered something of a blessing, and the child is referred to as Battle-Born.

    Mother and child spend the first year in a Northman Hall. The father will return to that hall often, and fairly early on the family chooses an Oathinn, an elder to teach and raise the child until adolescence. Often this is a grandparent or uncle, but it need not be a relative.

    This does not mean the parents abdicate responsibility or ties to their child. On the contrary, the bonds of family are quite strong among Minotaurs, and from them we have the proverb "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." But even the role of parenthood cannot delay returning to their chosen duty forever.

    As they enter adulthood, most Minotaurs are prepared for life on the ocean, and protecting the other races. They are a race known for their warriors, though some also augment their abilities with the divine. Arcane abilities are virtually unheard of, but a subrace of Minotaur, the Mokath, have a Psionic knack.

    Its isn't unknown for Minotaurs to want more peaceful lives, though it isn't necessarily an easier one. There are no Northman settlements or villages, and living among other races is difficult due to the difference in size. Other Northmen think no less of these civilian Minotaurs, and there is no shame in this choice.

    As Minotaurs suffer injuries or age, many can no longer patrol the ocean and fight alongside their brethren, at least without putting them at risk. These honored elders take their place in a Northman Hall, maintaining the Signal Flame and sometimes being honored to serve as Oathinn.

    When a Minotaur dies in battle, a typical funeral involves placing the body on a pyre inside a small boat, which is launched in a local body of water, usually the seas that it patrolled in life. An archer fires a flaming arrow into the boat, igniting the pyre and sending the body to meet the soul. With its body returned, it may continue the fight among the great heroes.

    If death comes from illness or age, a pyre is built on a site near a Northman Hall. This sends the body to one of the countless Northman Halls in the night sky, guiding other sailors by night. A death by cowardly acts or a betrayal of service is a disgrace, and the body is left to rot where it fell, moved only if its location is inconvenient for the living.

    Racial Variation

    The Boath: The term for the bulk of the Minotaur race. The term is used the same way Humans might use the term man, woman, person, and the like. They are distinguished by their horns turning forward at the base.

    The Mokath: A subrace of Minotaur that favor psionic abilities. They are often distinguished by the shape of their horns, which only turn forward at their tips. Both have interbred so completely that the distinction can only be made as their horns grow in.

    Lore

    Bratha's Journey Part 1, Part 2

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Bratha turned the small boat into the wind until the sail began to luff, then threw a double-loop around the tiller to hold the course while she trimmed the sail to catch what she could of the headwind.

    "The map shows nothing on this course until we come to the world of ice," she said to her broken-horned companion.

    Without turning the elder minotaur said, "If one could sail straight as one can see, she would sail to the world of the dead, but if one could see as far on the course she must sail, she would see only the back of her head. Turn and look any way, and there she would be, blocking the view."

    "A riddle, Oathin?" she asked.

    The old minotaur turned to look at her with her ruined eye, then. "Has the child grown too old for riddles? Let me tell you that life is a riddle with many answers. I hope you find good ones."

    Bratha thought, then, about her answer. If she spoke frivolously now, Oathin might not speak again for a day, or a week. Such a silence on the small boat would be unbearable.

    "If, no matter my course, I come to myself," she said, "Then it is not the destination that matters, but the journey."

    Oathin smiled then, and the stiff burn-scars that had once frightened the young girl she had been wrinkled as the ruined muscles beneath tried to remember how.

    "To know where one is going, one must know where she came from. Hold this course into the wind. If the wind shifts, follow it."

    "Where are we going?" Bratha asked.

    "Worried about the destination?" the old minotaur asked. "I will rest now."

    As her teacher made her bed beneath the storm deck of the small boat the stump of her right arm slipped from beneath her coat.

    ***

    The boat slammed down hard on a sharp wave and Oathin woke.

    The wind was hard and gusty now, and it took all her skill to keep it on the port quarter without stalling.

    Her mentor crawled from beneath the deck just as the prow bit the foam off of the crest of a wave, soaking Oathin with salt water.

    "Shall I pilot?" the elder asked her grinning student.

    "Sorry," Bratha said. "It's difficult to quarter into these gusts when the seas come in off the opposite quarter. The prow is being shoved both ways."

    "What could cause such conditions?" Oathin was standing now, her bad shoulder braced against the mast of the heaving boat.

    "A storm passed away to the East and another brewing to the West."

    Oathin said nothing. She simply stared ahead. Bratha thought a moment, then said, "Land."

    Oathin braced her hand on the mast and turned around with a smile and a question in her good eye.

    "The maps show no island here. But to do this," Bratha waved at the sea, "It would have to be a very large, very tall island."

    "None of our kind will ever need a map to find this place."

    Oathin opened a small pouch on her belt and took out a white marble. With a sigh she turned her head and put it in her right eye socket, grimacing with the pain.

    Bratha said nothing, returning the gaze of her mentor, but she couldn't help looking at the white eye that looked so out of place on her friend. Oathin turned and looked into the wind.

    "Shallows ahead," she said, "Mind my directions."

    The seas grew worse, until they didn't. The boat cut through the last of the rough and into a broad bay, framed by two ridges which sloped down in crescents to form a bowl with a chip where it tilted into the sea.

    The inside of the bowl was a single city of gray and black stone, terraced and climbing away from the sea. The city, what she could see of it, was vast, and it implied a greater empire that supported it. And it was empty. In the hour it took to tack into the obvious port nothing stirred. Even the sea-birds seemed to shun the desolation.

    "Oathin," she began.

    "It is Ter-na-Hoel, the lost homeland. It was built by our foremothers ages ago under the whips of the giants, and here is where our kind first overthrew the masters to make their children free."

    "If it is our place, why is it empty?"

    "It is cursed. Our ancestors made of it a place of peace, and forgot, for an age, that the giants do not forgive, nor do they forget. Unprepared for the onslaught, our ancestors dispersed. We have come together twice since, to rid this world of giants. Or to make them fear us. You know those tales. But on the third attempt, it is said, either the giants or our kind will fail and fall, and there will be nothing left to those left behind but enslavement."

    "When will this be?" Bratha asked.

    "Make for the jetty there," Oathin said, pointing to a massive pier of stone. Oathin looked every direction except toward her student as they approached the headland, her good eye and her magic eye scanning the walls of the desolate city.

    ***

    The road zigged and zagged up the slope, a single cobbled street serving the whole city, with staircase alleys crossing it again and again. Used to the cities of men, where dirt paths wound through tiny wooden huts, she was unprepared for the massive scale of everything, from the stairs which were too tall for comfort to the doorways broad enough that she would not have had to turn her head if she had entered any of them. The buildings were of two or more stories, with each floor taller than the mast of her boat.

    Halfway up the stair grew steeper and, as several stairs merged, wider. The scale of the structures increased. The stonework was intact, though here and there the rotted remains of woodwork clung to corroded hinges. A small amount of work would make these structures habitable. Nothing built today would last as long as the histories said this place had existed.

    "Was this place built with magic?"

    "Yes," Oathin replied. "But magic would have failed long ago. It stands now because our ancestors knew how to build."

    The climb grew steeper as the switchback road looped its way up to the top of the city. Bratha could see the edge of a plaza above and the turreted towers of the builting that sat on it, but the broad stair obscured almost everything else. She turned to look out across the city, as much to give herself a chance to catch her breath as to admire the view. Spread out below her were tile roofs of every color in a random mosaic, as if it had been the deliberate design of an abstract artist. Grey and white plazas peeked through in randon places, and here and there black shadow-holes showed where the roofs had failed. The city's particolored arms embraced the harbor, and beyond the blue-green bowl the dark blue sea extended into the wall of grey mist she had sailed through to reach the island.

    "This place is no more empty than the vast open blue, and yet it is not so lonely as it is here. The city needs laughing children."

    "One day," Oathin said. "Now we must reach the top."

    "What's up there?"

    "Our destination," the elder said as she resumed the climb.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2021-07-22 at 07:44 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Awesome stuff
    Me and my wife have been enjoying watching you update the story. And, its been driving me a weird sort of crazy that you are spelling Oathinn with a single "N". ;)

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Sorry about that. I have been trying to edit as I go, but I missed that one.

    I have had many irons in the fire lately, and have not had the time to devote to the story that it deserves. The plot is not as important as the descriptions, but I find it's easier and more fun to read a story than a description, and in a story things emerge that might not in a paragraph.

    An example of this is the appearance of the city. Grey and black when seen from below, but colorful from above. Almost as if the designers wanted it to appear to be oppressive and bleak to those who lived at the bottom and cheerful to those looking down on it from above. Hmm...

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    The stair topped out at a wide plaza. On the far end a many-tiered castle continued the climb up what was left of the peak, its stark black stonework contrasting with the colorful patterns of the paving.

    It took only a moment for the student of seacraft to recognize that the patterns made a collossal map of the world. The familiar coastlines of her homelands were marked out in colors which may have indicated political boundaries rendered obsolete by time. Farther away the coastlines were unfamiliar, and in the center of the map a large island found on no map she had ever seen was laid out. Her hoof filled the harbor.

    A sudden intuitive leap caused her to pause. What had appeared to be random streaking on the open plaza aligned with her innate sense of place and direction. 'Ley Lines' her human friends had called the currents along which natural magical potential flowed. Bratha had always thought that explanation to be inadequate. Now she stood in the center of the map, and she knew she was in the exact place in the world that was represented on the map. The marks she had initially dismissed as weathering clearly aligned with the flow of energies which she felt around her all of the time.

    "Oathin," she said.

    Her teacher half-turned her good eye to her pupil. "It feels like you are standing at the center of the world, doesn't it? But the world is a ball, and every point on its surface is the center."

    "Why are the directional lines so indistinct?"

    "Giants and their kin, even humans, cannot sense the Veil which encloses reality. They use magic to divine effects of it, magnetism and ley lines, for example.
    Only we can directly sense the greater reality beyond this one.

    "Our foremothers built this place as slaves. The masters saw only flaws in the work of their slaves, never knowing what they repsesented. Only here have we recorded the true nature of the world, and we never teach this knowledge to others."

    Bratha nodded and turned full circle, memorizing the patterns of the world.

    "Look with your mind's eye," Oathin said.

    Closing her eyes she focussed her mind.

    The world fell away from beneath her feet. The map was much more than a colorful stone mosaic. It was a globe of energies crafted to map both realities and the interchanges between them. And only people with minds like hers would ever be able to see it.

    Near her, on the scale of reality rather than on the map's scale, the energies of Oathin and her Eye shone as beacons through the map. Unlike the ancient tiles, the mind-map showed the present.

    And on the far end of the plaza another energy flared. Ten minds, she realized, linked as one.

    "Oathin..."

    "Yes, we are going to them. Be ready to shield your mind."

    Bratha opened her eyes and the map vanished. The world around her was less real now, but Oathin was walking with purpose toward the castle.

    Bratha followed.

    The massive iron gate which once had sealed the entrance was now a twisted mass of rust. The bits of wood clinging to the inner framework may have once been immense doors. The scale of the hallway beyond dwarfed the minotaurs.

    A collonade extended in all directions beyond the entry hall, fading into darkness. Even her dark-adapted eyesight was useless just a few columns beyond the entry.

    A sudden burst of light caused her to jump; it was Oathin's broadsword, Oathkeeper, being drawn. Its sudden brightness caused the shadows of the columns to waver and dance in time with the sword's motion.

    Oathin walked with purpose, though Bratha could not have said why she chose the turns she took as their course meandered through the massive black pillars. There was something about the pillars, something that tickled the back of her mind. Tiny strings waiting to be pulled, perhaps, though she had no idea what might happen if she used her mind to tug a strand.

    A light glimmered ahead. She sensed life there. And something else.

    A huge voice echoed from the dark, "Two more slaves return for their chains!"

    Bratha drew her axe and as the first wave of hate washed over her she slammed closed the window in her mind.

    For a fraction of a moment she knew the mind of the speaker: arrogant, self-righteous, filled with contempt and hate. And it reveled in the suffering of the minds linked to it.

    It was those minds she feared. They were like hers: minotaur minds, but also wayfinders. They were sensative to the Veil, and in life they had known how to manipulate reality. Now they were dead, trapped. Bound. Enslaved.

    Her mental defense blinded her until she opened her eyes. A nightmare stepped from the darkness and into the margin of the ring of light, pale and human-like, with black wool hair and a single eyebrow above eyes shadowed by the sword's glare. It was twice the height of Oathin.

    At its throat a ruby pulsed with a heartbeat rythm, and from the darkness other lights pulsed in reply.

    "I come to free those you torment. I am Ulma Oathkeeper; my companion is Bratha Chainbreaker. Your name is... Unimportant."

    "You will die for your insolence, slave!" The giant swung a massive club.

    Oathin's blade deflected it to the side and it shook the floor with its impact.
    Bratha leapt and her axe bit deep into the giant's knee.

    Even before she could ready a second strike Bratha could see the wound healing.

    She heard the other minds screaming in impotent fury as the energies which bound them to the giant drew upon them, drained their essence to sustain the giant.

    She never saw the heavy club swing her way, nor did she hear the crunch of her ribs under its impact.

    She became aware of Oathin's mind merged with hers, as they once did for her lessons. Bratha was fighting the giant in that moment, as completely absorbed in the parry and slash as her teacher. Yet a small part of her, calmly detached, cool, isolated, was saying, "Child. Child! Wake up! You must free them."

    "How?" she asked, and it never occurred to her to ask, "Who?" in that moment she knew what her teacher knew.

    Nine heartbeats must be stilled before the dead could live. Their chains must be broken.

    Oathin severed the link, and Bratha felt pain. It was her pain.

    It was nothing compared to the anguish of the dead. They wailed outside the perimeter of her mental shield, but what at first she mistook for attacks were abtually pleas for her help. The image of a drowning human drowning the companion swimming out to rescue her came to mind.

    A ruby light pulsing in the dark was her first goal. Away from the battle; away from her teacher.

    It felt like desertion.

    There a small red gem sat beneath the skull of a minotaur so that its bloody pulse lit the eyes, nose, and mouth, and what light it created formed shadows that appeared to move.

    Thd shadow did move! It was the body of a minotaur long dead, its hide dried to vellum with most of the hair gone. It was headless. And it carried a rusted spear.

    As her mentor fought she fought. Her foe felt no pain, but stroke for clumsy stroke it fought, and used up time Oathin didn't have. It still writhed as she finally disabled it and flung its spear into the darkness.

    She kicked the helmet and with the flat of her axe smashed the gem. The axe bounced. The mind bound by the magic of the stone wailed.

    There had been a game Oathin played when her power first manifested. Oathin would tickle or pinch Bratha mentally umtil she could shield her mind. Then Oathin taught her to shield the mind of another. She learned first to recognize the shape of her mental shield then extend it around Oathin's mind. Later, she practiced by guarding the minds of strangers from Oathin's attacks.

    She extended her shield around the gem. It almost worked! The minotaur was still bound, but for now the chain was slack.

    She smashed the gem again and it shattered. The writhing body went rigid, but the minotaur's mind was still shackled to the giant.

    There was another gem. She ran to it and almost isolated it before a headless minotaur attacked. Quick strokes to the legs allowed Bratha another chance to approach the gem. She wrapped the second mind in her shield and smashed the gem.

    She ran to the next. She had gotten the fifth mind under her protection by the time the giant noticed her, and Oathin did all she could to slow the giant's attack on her student.

    The sixth was freed and its gem smashed by the time the giant escaped Oathin's reach, but Bratha made no attempt to fight it. She ran a long circle around and back to Oathin, who had recovered enough to furiously assail the giant as it tried to catch her pupil.

    The seventh and eigth were shielded when the giant turned to guard her last prison-gem. Oathin was beaten and bloodied, but made a last attempt to stop it. Bratha could not reach the jewel without risking losing control of the ones she had freed.

    Oathin was loosing.

    Bratha calmed herself. The animaton would not reach her in time. She reached out and shielded the last mind.

    The giant struck Oathin.

    The headless minotaur corpse fell to the ground.

    Oathin slammed against a pillar then fell to the floor, half-lying on her sword.

    The giant now bled from a dozen wounds, and did not heal.

    The ruby at the giant's throat pulsed red light. The chains binding the minds Bratha now held linked back to the glowing stone.

    As the giant celebrated its victory with an ear-splitting roar Bratha acted. She clamped her shield firmly around the gem and hurled her battle-axe.

    It struck the giant's collarbone, and the chain from which the ruby dangled separated. As the axe fell from the serious but not fatal wound, the giant's left hand caught the slipping gem.

    The giant raised its club and opened its mouth to speak. To gloat, perhaps.

    A sudden white light burst from its chest, then pierced the hand that held the gem.

    Bratha's shield almost slipped. The gem exploded. Its arm and hand were shredded, as was its chest where Oathkeeper had penetrated from behind.

    The giant fell. The body changed, dessicated, shriveled. The ruined corpse appeared as a mummy many years dead.

    Oathin still lay where she had fallen.

    The mental shackles which had bound the life-essences of the minotaurs were gone now. Bratha released them; they were gone in that instant, finally dead.

    Oathin groaned, and laughed. Bratha ran to her, and her sob reminded her of her own pain.

    She tried to straighten the twisted body of her mentor, but she felt the pain her attentions caused.

    "Oathin," she said.

    The reply was soundless. "It worked?"

    "The giant is dead," Bratha answered.

    "It has been dead a long time, stealing the lives of our kin since before my birth. Our kin?"

    "Truly dead now. Gone to their places in the sky."

    "Good. My Oathinn was one of them. I may see her again soon. Bring me Oathkeeper."

    By this time her cracked and broken ribs made breathing a chorus of pain, and she almost lost her balance in the simple, excruciating act of getting to her feet.

    The sword had fallen beside the giant corpse, near her own battleaxe. She bent to pick them both up, and nearly blacked out. When she got back to her dying mentor she had to pause to regain mental control.

    "How did you throw Oathkeeper?" she asked.

    The old minotaur laughed and winced in the pain of it. "My one discipline. I hurled with my mind."

    "One discipline?" Bratha asked. "You taught me many disciplines."

    "They are from the Orb of Memory. What you call my eye. My own strength is small: manipulating objects at a distance. I could never have held all those minds as you did. The student has surpassed the teacher."

    "There is much you can still teach me."

    "Learn it from the orb. But be aware that it has a purpose and will seek to use you to accomplish its goals. In it are the memories of every mind that ever attuned to it, and now they are your memories. But its memories of the future are fluid. Change even the tiniest detail and the remembered future will change."

    "How can it remember the future if the future hasn't happened yet?"

    "Ask the orb. Oathkeeper is yours now, I need nothing more than your axe where I'm going. There should be a small boat in a warehouse down by the harbor. It will be dry enough to burn."

    "i will get you to a healer..."

    "I am already dead. Only the orb sustains me. When I remove it I will cease to feel pain. Look into it with your mind's eye."

    A wet sound came as the white eye popped out and floated a moment before it fell to the floor with a bounce.

    Bratha sat a long time beside her friend, soundless except for the occaisonal gasp as a sharp pain stuck her chest. Finally she picked up the orb and looked.

    A vertical and horizontal grid appeared and grew, with each point on the grid a node from which many paths flowed along the grid. Planes cut through the major planes at angles creating billions of pathways through millions of nodes.

    She focused down to the very center and touched a node. The memory of Jarrat the Mariner sailing in the endless blue came, clearer than her own memory of yesterday's journey.

    There was much she had to do now, and time to study later. She placed her axe handle under her mentor's hand and struggled to her feet. She knew the way back out and down to the harbor. She had to find a boat.

    She took Oathkeeper with her.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2021-07-29 at 12:55 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    Finally!

    Use what you like, modify or discard the rest. Ask if you have questions.

    Thanks to all of you who have read the story. Feedback is welcome.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Nov 2010

    Default Re: Gaialin: a SLOW Work in Progress

    You done did make me have to update the Minotaur entry in the main post, and "Bratha's Journey" (you can correct the name if you'd like) is officially part of the lore.

    Thank you.

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