Ravnivori Duelers and Gladiators

A violent post but not a martial one.  The Ravnivori and the two other Empires on their home planet were all warrior cultures so dueling has been an important part of their society.  And gladiators have been an important part of their entertainment.

It’s possible this is a duplicate and I posted this information before I created the Ravnivori tag for this blog.  If so, I apologize.  I try not to duplicate content.

Dueling Traditions

The Ravnivori Empire is a vast conglomeration of societies and nations. As such, it has a diverse culture and set of traditions. Some of these traditions remain true to the history and culture of the people who originated them while others have adapted to the influence of other cultures over the years.

One area that is especially indicative of both these types of changes is the wide variety of Dueling Traditions. Almost every society inducted into the Empire had some set of behavior and or rules that were considered honorable. It is little surprise then that each had its own manner of dealing with situations where one person challenged the honor of another. It should also not be surprising that the traditions and rules surrounding these challenges have changed both as new societies have been introduced to each other and as the semi-cohesive society of the overall Empire has grown and become more stable.

It should be noted that in all cases it is the purview of the person challenged to chose the terms and conditions of the duel. Thus, most people consider carefully before challenging someone that they know is very adept at one of the dueling styles. Especially if they are not as proficient in that field. In fact, it is not unheard of for a pair of foes to exchange insults for weeks before one of them finally snaps and makes a challenge, allowing the other person to pick more favorable terms. In a way, this has become its own sort of dueling.

Ravnivori: Duels in Ravnivori society have their origins in the challenges of one chieftain by another in the ancient, barbaric tribalism of their past. After years of intertribal warfare decimating the population of the Ravnivori continent, the practice of having the chiefs of opposing tribes challenge each other grew. Whichever man proved the victor gained the territory or supplies or tribe or whatever else the two groups might have been warring over with a minimum of bloodloss. While this method was not always used and large and small scale battles continued to occur, it did lessen the losses.

Originally, these duels were fought with whatever weapons were most favored by the combatants and were not required to match. This usually meant a shield and hand weapon such as a sword, battle axe or mace, but paired weapons, two handed weapons and spears were not uncommon. For that matter, the two opponents were wielding entirely different weapons more often than not.

However, many times, one of the duelists would fight underarmed. As a show of disdain for their opponent’s fighting ability they would use weapons clearly inferior to their opponent’s arms. For instance, they might fight with only a short sword and buckler when their opponent was using a full sized shield and longsword. Occasionally, this was a strategy that depended on speed over reach and protection, but more often it was a not so subtle insult.

This ploy backfired with shocking regularity and the person offering the insult often died for his or her pride. It worked often enough, however, that a trend of using smaller and smaller weapons developed. Many of the duelists would rather suffer injuries to their bodies than their prides so no one wanted to be out done by using a to large or effective weapon.

By the time the Possessed had consolidated the Ravnivori continent under there rule, the generally accepted weapons were a full-sized shield and a short sword. On the positive side, both parties in a duel were far more likely to survive when these weapons were used than when the more brutal ones of the past were utilized.

The escalation (or de-escalation) did not end there, however. As the fighting to conquer the Almatian Confederation grew, the fighting amongst the fighting amongst the Ravnivori hardly decreased. Especially since the Ravnivori nobles and noble families fought to claim domains in the new lands. By the time Ravnivorous and his fellow Possessed slew Sunchaser, the Ravnivori duelists used only a dirk and short sword.

And, of course, the infighting continued even when the still shaky Ravnivori Empire faced the powerful Shan dynasty. By this time, however, the weapons were small enough that few duels were to the death, though any number of scars and maimings occurred. Still, the movement towards smaller weapons continued and by the time the Shan Emperor pledged the loyalty of his people to Ravnivorous, no respectable Ravnivori Duellist would fight with more than paired daggers.

Dueling in the Ravnivori courts has become pretty stable. There are several unwritten rules revolving around it. The most important is that only daggers, knives, dirks and katars are acceptable weapons. In all cases, a total length for the weapon can be no more than twelve inches. In most cases, this means that the hilts are approximately 4 inches long with 8 inch blades, although the blades are commonly longer with katars and shorter with Minotaurs and other species with large hands (which is why many Minotaurs fight with katars.) Most nobles and aspiring nobles wear a pair of daggers at all times, though these are for show as often as not, a way of showing one’s status. And of course, any number of methods of ornamenting these weapons to show wealth and power have also grown up over the years.

Almatian: Almatian duels have their origins in very similar situations as the Ravnivori. Originally a way for nobles and generals to settle their differences with little loss of life.

However, there has always been a more uniform set of arms and armor in the Almatian Confederation than there was amongst the Ravnivori. From very early in their history, most of the Almatian warriors were armed with a shortsword, shield, dagger, spear, javelins and a bow. While each race and nation might focus on one of these weapons or weapon combinations more than another, in the end, they had a fairly standardized method of fighting and skill with certain of the weapons was respected more than others.

Thus, the most commmon duel amongst the Almatians takes place with each combantant having several javelins and a shield. Each combatant takes up a position 150 yards apart. Then, taking turns as determined by lots, they hurl one of their javelins at their opponent. The short run necessary to properly throw a javelin draws them closer to each other with each round, making it both more likely that they’ll hit their opponent and that they’ll penetrate their opponent’s shield with each throw. It also means that the number of steps to be taken has been set at exactly 5.

In it’s simplest form, such a duel just comes down to which person can throw with the most accuracy and power. However, centuries of practice have made things much more complex. A number of factors go into the honor surrounding such a duel including strength, bravery and accuracy.

Thus, it is quite common for the first throw from both individuals to far overshoot their marks as each person attempts to prove that they are stronger.

Then, for the next several throws the two challengers will often purposefully miss. Ironically, this proves their accuracy as each tries to hit as close to his opponent as possible without hitting him. It also allows them to prove their bravery as the chance of getting hit and injured increases dramatically with each round of the two opponents getting closer. There have been several times when a pair of duelists have been less than 20 yards apart before the first javelin hit a shield.

In fact, it is often considered a mark against a person’s honor to be the first to hit the other person’s shield. While not so grievous as losing outright, any victor who was the first to strike is considered slightly tainted and it is the height of disgrace to both be the first to hit and lose a duel.

In the end, it is possible for a stronger, more accurate and braver duelist to technically lose a duel and yet win honor for him or herself.

Shan: Unsurprisingly, a society as conscious and focused on honor and duty as the Shan have developed dueling to a very rigid structure. While the Ravnivori and Almatians have settled on one set of weapons that are commonly used to duel, the Shan will not duel with any weapon but one: the katana.

However, it is not the weapon that is strictly regulated, but all aspects of the duel from how far apart the two people should stand to the way in which the challenge should be presented to the types of cuts allowed.

This type of duel demands amazing skill and speed and most Shan duellists begin training at an early age and continue until they die.

Numerous philosophical and practical works have been written on the art. However, almost all modern duellists are students of a few schools of thought. One of the most common is the style based on the writings of Ishihara No Siki.

Ishihara’s focus was in rapid, well aimed strikes coupled with often complex and agile foot work to avoid enemy’s blows. The woman is legendary for fighting in more than 4 dozen duels without ever losing or even suffering a wound, thus earning her epithet of “The Iron Maiden.”

Ishihara’s collection of philosophy’s and training techniques were combined into a single text known as “The Path of the Blade.” It is prized not just by iajatsu duellists, but by people in all walks of life for its ideals.

In Shan, a person always has the option to allow someone else to defend their honor. Thus, very few people of power fight their own duels. Instead, most noble families and clans of any note include a duelist in their ranks. Sometimes this is a member of the family who has been trained since a young age for this duty, sometimes it is a ronin who has similar training who has been adopted into the family or clan. The most powerful clans have entire stables of duellists and schools for the express purpose of training duellists. Lesser families often send their prospective duellists to these schools for proper training.

Most Shan duels are to first blood. This has led to the quest for single stroke victories. Quite often, a Shan duel will go no longer than the draw of each duelist’s katana. More rarely, one of the duelists will not even get a chance to draw before he or she is defeated.

A few duels are to death or unconciousness, usually chosen by the rare duelists who depend on their toughness or defensive abilities more than their speed and dexterity. Even these duels are often shockingly short and single stroke victories are far from unheard of.

In all cases, the duelists begin just far enough apart that they cannot quite reach each other with their swords. There is no official start to the duel with each duelist simply standing until one draws. Drawing first is considered an admission that one’s opponent is a better swordsman and many times the prelude to a duel will last minutes before one person loses his or her nerve and draws. It is not unheard of for this part of the duel to last hours as each person refuses to the the first to draw.

Duelling is a very public and popular event in Shan lands and skilled duelists can gain more honor and admiration than many nobles. As such, the abilities of most duellists and their duelling styles are generally well known. This is especially true since there are a limited number of schools that teach the duelling arts and the style and methods of each have remained essentially unchanged for centuries. Because of this many duels do not run to completion. Previous to the first draw, each duellist is allowed to back out of the duel with only a small loss of face. The loss of honor associated with actually losing a duel is much higher as it is considered a demonstration of unsupported arrogance in one’s abilities to lose to a superior opponent. Thus, it is more commmon to see a pair of duellists study each other for several minutes before one calmly bows out (literally bowing to his or her opponent to indicate their acknowledgement of his or her superior abilities) without ever coming to blows.

Imperial: Although all types of duels have been altered by the advent of the Empire in any number of ways, at least one form has developed because of the rise of the Empire.

Gladiatorial duels have their origins in the traditions of dog and cock fighting and bear and bull baiting. While these bloodsports were originally created and fostered simply for entertainment, it was often only the rich upper class who could truly dedicate the resources necessary to the endeavors to produce effective bloodlines.

With the shift of the ruling class of the Ravnivori Empire from warrior chiefs to dedicated nobility, the appeal of fighting for one’s own honor and risking death and/or dismemberment declined in proportion with the interest in learning how to fight. Thus, alternative methods of settling disputes were sought out. The usage of animals fighting each other was struck on rather early in the birth of the Empire.

Since that time, Gladiatorial Duels have enjoyed an explosion in popularity and diversity. As time went on, it grew cliched to use a dog or cock to fight in such a duel and more exotic animals were sought out. It was not long before all manner of unusual and rare creatures were being collected, bred and trained for this express purpose.

Of course, the advent of slaves who’s express purpose was fighting brought a whole new dimension to the practice of gladiatorial dueling. Well skilled kazyas brought top dollar, the greatest of them earning a king’s ransom for their services. Unfortunately, unlike that animals kept for the purpose, kazyas could not be bred and their bloodlines could not be controlled, at least not by the kazyas’ masters. More than one kazya has started a bloodline of kazyas that voluntarily bred themselves to be skilled gladiators. The children of these families are often raised as warriors from a young age and taught the family business early. A number of free warriors have also made a living offering their services for those who needed a gladiatorial champion.

Unlike the other dueling styles which have become highly stylized and organizes, gladiatorial dueling is essentially a free for all. There are no standardized rules regarding the practice. Often, there is no more agreement between the two challengers than where to meet and when. This means that completely unbalanced contests are shockingly common, especially if one of the challengers does not have resources on par with the other.

Of course, any stipulations that can be agreed to by both parties can be enforced and any number of limitations are possible. This can include what type of species are involved, weapons used, size and weight limitations and even number of participants on a side.

Many wealthy people amass stables of warriors of all types simply to have a viable option under as many circumstances as possible. Others simply focus on having the most dangerous or deadly creature they can own and do their best to avoid any limitations in their duels.

Another industry has arisen around this type of dueling. It is highly profitable to own and maintain arenas where such duels can be enacted. Not only do the proprietors often charge the duellists a nominal fee for using their location, but also they charge admittance to the crowds that gather to watch the bloodsports. Since they have little overhead other than keeping their arenas in working order, the coin they make is almost pure profit.

The most successful of these arenas have waiting lists and draw capacity crowds for several hours every day. Many operate continuously, offering night battles involving a variety of the nocturnal beasts that are sometimes used in such duels. Refreshments are generally offered at these arenas and many citizens will make a day of it, arriving when the arena opens and staying until the last battle is settled.

Racial Duels

For the most part, the type of duel used and the rules governing it are determined more by national identity than by racial identity. For example, a True Ravnivori human and a True Ravnivori Elf are both likely to choose to settle their differences by the knife rather than by any other method.

However, the exact weapons used are often different depending on race, as outlined below:

Elves: True Ravnivori elves use knives just as their human kin do. However, these knives, while limited in the usual way as far as length goes, are small in other manners. Very thin, sometimes with rounded blades that are only useful for stabbing, they are fast and elegant weapons, often with broad tangs that can be used to block and catch opponents’ blades.

Duels amongst Almatian Elves are generally archery contests rather than any form of face to face confrontations. The opposed parties simply try to outdo each other with ever more difficult and/or flashy demonstrations of their accuracy and skills with bows.

Dwarves: Ravnivori Dwarves favor thick, cleaver-like blades for their duels. The use of these weapons lead to farm more lost digits and broken bones in relation to the more elegant, cutting blades of Ravnivori humans and stabbing blades of Ravnivori Elves. Only the impressive sturdiness and durability of the dwarves keep these wounds from being more dangerous.

Shan Dwarves use the broad-bladed Daitana that all of their samurai and nobles carry. Although they are as prone to determining the winner of a duel simply by a silent contest of bravery and repuation before a blade is ever drawn as their human counterparts, Dwarven Shan duels are even more steeped in ritual. It is not unusual for it to take a full day of preparation before a pair of duelists are ready to face each other. Perhaps this is the reason why these duels very rarely end at first blood. More often, they last until one opponent yields or is slain. Considering the stamina and durability of Dwarves, and the fact that heavy armor is not only allowed, but encouraged in these duels, they can last quite a long time. Anything less than an hour is rare and there are legends and apocryphal accounts of duels lasting a week or more.

Amazons: Amazons excell at both horsewomanship and archery and these combat skills are those most exalted by the race. Therefore, these are also the two that are tested in duels. They resemble Almatian elven duels in the fact that they are essentially archery contests. However, these contests take place on the backs of galloping horses. Another difference is that accuracy is only one of the factors that determines the winner in an Amazon duel. Horsewomanship is just as important as archery. The speed and skill with which they control their mounts as well as the daring gymnastics they perform on horseback are prime factors in determining the winner of a duel and the duels themselves are often spectacular sights.

Ki’Li’Lee: As far as has been determined by the other races of the Empire, these strange creatures do not argue with each other, let alone feel the need to duel over matters of disagreement or honor. Rumors persist that psychic duels of epic proportions occur amongst Ki’Li’Lee, but there has never been any evidence of this.

Minotaurs: Minotaurs revere strength, stubborness and ferocity most in their warrior tradition. Their duels are thus settled generally through contests of wrestling with shockingly few rules. Essentially, the two contestants meet in a 15′ diameter ring drawn on the ground. They are not allowed to bring or use weapons and gouging the eyes or striking the groin leads to disqualification. The duel continues until one participant either gives up or is incapacitated. Those are, essentially the only rules, however, and not a few Minotaurs have met their ends on the horns of their opponents in such a duel.

Lizardfolk: The concept of honor and organized dueling is an alien one to primitive lizardfolk. The closest thing they have to dueling is the savage (though seldom lethal) fighting that arises between males for breeding rights when a female comes into heat. These conflicts often involve a great deal of posturing and threatening but very little physical combat. Advanced lizardfolk are still developing their own culture distinct from their more primitive ancestors. They often use Ravnivori dueling methods and rules when necessary.

Naga: Much like Ki’Li’Lee, Naga do not duel each other and for much the same reasons. Whereas Ki’Li’Lee share a telepathic link with each other that make them essentially a single mind scattered throughout multiple bodies, Naga share an empathic link that make them essentially one racial soul. Wronging another Naga is tantamount to wronging oneself. In situations where Naga disagree, they generally meditate to come to an acceptable compromise or utilize the wisdom of the race as a whole to come to an answer. Naga are not as reclusive and aloof as Ki’Li’Lee, however, and they do participate in duels against members of other races. In these situations, they prefer to use large swords that are similar to Shan Katana’s but with longer, thicker blades that take advantage of the impressive amount of mass a Naga can bring into play with shocking swiftness.

Troglyns: Troglyns are another race that never duels each other, but for very different reasons than Naga and Ki’Li’Lee. Troglyns simply do not settle their differences face to face if they can avoid it. In Troglyn society a feud is far more likely to be ended by a dagger in the back, poisoned food or a carefully staged “accident” than by direct conflict. This carries over to other races as well. A Troglyn will generally suffer any indignity and humiliation rather than stand up for itself. However, anyone doing so should bear in mind that the diminutive creatures are extremely patient and cunning and that retribution is likely.

Centaurs: Though Centaurs are a proud people with a high sense of honor, violence amongst them is relatively rare. Thus, most questions of honor are settled not with a fight of some sort but with a contest of skill or physical ability. Most common amongst these contests are simple races, testing either sprinting speed or long distance stamina depending upon the preferences of those involved. Wrestling matches, pulling contests and various tests of agility and dexterity are also common. If forced to prove their combat capabilities, Centaurs generally resort to archery contests, generally the running style preferred by Amazons. Alternatively, they might prove their martial puissance through a hunting contest with the centaur bringing home the most impressive prize after a certain time limit being the winner.

Dracotaurs: Though Dracotaurs are more martial than their Centaur ancestors, the family ties amongst them are also stronger. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that all Dracotaurs are cousins and while the rivalries amongst them are high they generally have little desire to truly harm such close kin. Thus, they too prefer nonlethal duels and contests of skill to more lethal methods. Races are not as popular with Dracotaurs, but wrestling and contests of strength are. They also often spar and duel with large, but relatively light clubs. These weapons are capable of severely injuring or killing more fragile species, but the durability of Dracotaurs means that they seldom get injuries more severe than bruises.

Draga: Like their “cousins” the Dracotaurs, Draga are more militaristic and violent than their mortal ancestors. However, their empathic bond and close kin ties also keep them from doing each other real harm in most cases. While they are less likely to simply settle their differences through meditation than their Naga kin, they generally find some other non-violent means. Archery and climbing contests are common.

Possessed: In dueling, as in most things, the Possessed are as diverse in their preferences as they are in their backgrounds. Generally, they will utilize the dueling methods common to their cultures before any other considerations. However, most Possessed will also utilize their abilities as efficiently as possible. Thus, if they are skilled in close combat they will attempt to ensure that a duel involves melee whereas those who have advantages over distances will try for a ranged contest.

Gladiators

Given how warlike the Ravnivori are and how debauched Almatian entertainment can become and even the fascination of Shan with studying animals, it is no surprise that gladiatorial games of all sorts are common in the Ravnivori Empire. These range from small, simple animal against animal combats to massive simulated battles. Locations for these battles can range from a small pit in a citizen’s back yard for animal fights to the massive coliseum located just outside the grounds of Ravnivorous’ palace in the capital for the more massive battles and games. Most cities of any size have their own coliseum, though these range dramatically in size depending on how prosperous the city is and how popular such bloody displays are. There are a wide variety of levels of lethality between different arenas and even between different matches in the same arena. Some arenas use a great deal of padding and blunted weapons so that long term injuries are uncommon while others use normal weapons but stop combat after the first injury and others last until someone is incapacitated and still others go until one or more of the particpants are dead. Predictably, the bloodier the battle, the more popular it is. Following are some common types of gladiatorial combats in the Empire.

Beast Battles: The simplest of these are the dog fights in Ravnivori lands, cock fights in Almatia and beetle battles in Shan. Generally nothing more than two animals tossed into a pit and made to fight until one cannot fight any more, these fights are seldom more organized than a group of friends getting together on a regular basis. Larger fights, using larger animals such as bears or bulls are common as well, though these demand an arena of some sort. More exotic beast battles are common in even the smallest coliseums and utilize more dangerous creatures like tigers and zergans. Larger coliseums feature both these kind of beasts and even larger and more exotic creatures such as elephants and the assorted kaiju from Shan lands. Many people make their livings by either breeding or capturing the beasts used in gladiatorial battles and at least as many make their livings by owning stables of these animals and selling their services to different arenas.

Gladiatorial fights: The simplest of these fights are nothing more than one bare handed individual fighting another bare handed individual while spectators are present. These are most commonly boxing matches amongst the Ravnivori, wrestling matches in Almatian lands or a display of one of the various martial arts practiced by the Shan in their culture. Of course, it is a small step to go from a boxing match to a knife fight and from knives to larger weapons and gladiatorial combats with the participants using weapons and armor are more common than the simpler sorts of fights. Some of these fights are highly stylized, reproducing, at least thematically, assorted myths, legends and historical encounters and campaigns. These generally feature specific weapons and armors for the participants in keeping with the theme. Other matches are free-for-alls with no limitations or loose limitations on what weapons and armor can be used by the participants. Straight gladiatorial fights are generally considered to include anything up to ten characters either in multiple teams or everyone for themselves. Anything larger than that falls under the Battle Fight category. Like the people who have stables of animals for gladiatorial combat, there are also men and women who make their livings by managing and/or owning a stable of sentient gladiators. These generally consist of war slaves or life slaves, though more than one stable is made up of free men and women who want to make money in the arena who are managed by the same person.

Mixed Duels: Beast on beast and man on man battles are not the only possibilities. Quite early on, promoters discovered that fights pitting man against beast were quite popular. Like man on man battles, these often follow some kind of theme, with a specific species of animal facing a person using a specific set of armor and weapons in accordance with some ancient myth or tradition. Almatians, for example, favor bull fighters with the human utilizing a short spear and small shield with a long cloth streamer against a bull. The streamer is used to distract the bull as it charges. The most common example of this in Ravnivori lands are battles between a single man with an sword, shield, helmet and chain mail sleeves and leggings facing a pack of war hounds or wolves. More prestige and popularity and pay are given the larger the pack faced. In Shan lands, snake charmers are popular. Facing their opponent with no armor and wielding an axe and a special two pronged spear, the men in these battles face down giant, highly poisonous snakes. Other popular battles involve multiple men facing elephants or kaiju, lightly armored individuals battling sharks from small platforms and most recently men armed only melee weapons facing Zergans.

Gimmick Fights: Promoters and stable owners are constantly trying to find a way to increase the popularity of their battles. To this end, they’ve developed any number of gimmicks to bring fans into the arenas. One of the more popular of these are maze battles, where temporary walls are added to the arena and the contestants begin from different places with a goal of either escaping through a specific exit or being the last one standing. These often feature a minotaur as a sort of spoiler who’s only job is to eliminate the other gladiators and many minotaurs specialize in these sorts of battles. In certain arenas, it is possible to flood the floor, pumping in enough water until the liquid is waist deep. This changes the mobility of the fighters and, often, savage swimming creatures are also released into the water to make things more interesting. A simpler gimmick is blind battle. The gladiators involved are fitted with locked helmets that have no eye slits. They then try to pummel, cut or stab each other to pieces without being able to see. Some times, they must simply do this with no assistance. Other times, each gladiator also wears a bell to help indicate his or her position.

Wars: Possible only in the largest of arenas, gladiatorial wars are always grand spectacles. Involving at least a dozen men on a side, these games involve two or more “armies” battling each other. Though occasionally, these forces are battling just to destroy each other, there are usually larger goals that each side has to achieve to win victory. As with most other battles, a few wars follow certain themes from history or myth with the participating gladiators wearing specific armor and using specific weapons. Other times, the rules are only that each side must have a certain number of gladiators. Wars often include aspects of other gladiator battles and naval battles are not uncommon in the largest and most ornate arenas with some level of the arena being flooded for the spectacle and the threat of drowning a real possibility for the participants.

Law in the Ravnivori Empire

A little more insight into the color/fluff/story stuff in my Homebrew setting.  It’s so hard to find a good word for this sort of thing.  Even all the ones I just used make it seem inconsequential when it is often far more important than the mechanics.  In the end, the mechanics are just rolling dice and comparing numbers but this sort of thing is what creates the story.  Not that I’m a hardcore story guy, but without this sort of thing, you might as well be playing craps or the game of Life.

Anyway, some laws of the Ravnivori Empire and their repercussions.

Marriage

Marriage in the Ravnivori Empire can be both a simple and a complex thing. A sentient being is allowed to marry any other sentient being who will agree to it. Inter-species marriages are not uncommon at all. Likewise, homosexual marriages are relatively common.

However, the complexity of marriage laws in the Empire begins with the fact that multiple marriages are also legal. A single individual in the Ravnivori Empire may be married to as many other individuals as will agree. It is important to note that everyone in a marriage is married to everyone else. For example, if a man wants to marry two women, those two women must agree to marry each other as well. Likewise if three men and three women are married, all the men are married to each other and all the women are married to each other. The same is true if a new spouse is added to an existing marriage. Everyone currently in the marriage must agree to marry the new person and the new person must agree to marry all the people already in the marriage.

Divorce is legal in the Empire and can be both as simple and complex as marriage, unsurprisingly. At any time, any single member of a marriage may legally leave it. However, the individual must divorce everyone in the marriage. The person getting the divorce becomes single once more. The person getting a divorce receives an equal share of the property and money of those in the marriage. Another caveat of divorce in the Empire is that you may never remarry an individual that you’ve married before. Thus, if there is a large marriage and two people want to be married only to each other going forward, they must convince the other people in the marriage to leave it to remain married.

Crime and Punishment

All crimes in the Ravnivori Empire are punishable by either fines or slavery. The idea of leaving able bodied people locked in a cage doing nothing is alien to the Imperials. Far better to put criminals to work and get something useful out of them. Most cases are tried before a judge with a lawyer representing each side in the trial. These lawyers are not hired by the participants in the trial, rather they are paid by the state and chosen by random to serve one side or the other. Trials are adjudicated by a jury of 9 citizens. Unlike our legal system, a unanimous decision is not needed in a Ravnivori trial, only a two thirds majority.

The only exceptions to these rules are capital cases. Any crime whose punishment is Life Slavery is automatically tried by three Ki’Li’Lee. No man has ever been discovered who could hide a secret from a trio of Ki’Li’Lee working together. By the same token, no one has ever caught a Ki’Li’Lee lying. While they might remain silent, the idea of lying baffles them. Thus, anytime the ultimate punishment is a possibility, the Ravnivori do not leave anything to chance. They know the truth will come out. In a perfect world, all cases would be decided using this method and occasionally, other cases are tried with the Triad method, but there simply are not enough Ki’Li’Lee to try every case this way, especially as their abilities to communicate over massive distances makes them as important to the Empire as communicators as they are judges.

Following are several crimes and their punishments. When there is a question as to the value of an object, a third party expert sets the price of the fine. Anyone caught committing the same crime twice must pay twice the fine. A third time triples the fine and so on. It does not take long before repeat offenders are broke or enslaved.

Theft: A criminal convicted of theft must return the object stolen and pay an additional fine equal to the value of the object. If the thief no longer possesses the object, either because he has sold it or it has been destroyed, he must pay a fine equal to twice the value of the object.

Assault: This crime is one of the few that is up for interpretation from the judge. It is the judge’s duty to decide how justified an assault is and how much damage was done to the victim. The latter portion of the crime is often determined by how much it costs to have the victim healed. The assailant must pay this fee, of course. Any assault bad enough to cause the victim to miss work automatically forces the assailant to pay a fine equal to those lost wages in addition to any other fines.

Trespass: Breaking into a person’s home or being caught on their land without permission is subject to punishment by a fine equal to two months worth of their wages.

Rape: One of the biggest crimes in the Empire, rape is one of the few that is punishable by life slavery. As such, it is always tried by a Ki’Li’Lee Triad. Both the perpetrator and victim are scanned and if the rape was one of intent then the criminal is automatically consigned to life slavery. If, for some reason, the perpetrator believed the intercourse to be consensual, then the criminal is instead convicted of assault and must pay the fines associated with that crime.

Treason: Perhaps the biggest crime in the Empire, treason is the second infraction that is punishable by life slavery. This is, perhaps, the vaguest of crimes. It includes anything from actively fighting for an enemy of the Empire, sabotaging Imperial supplies, passing information to enemy states or even pledging loyalty to a nation other than the Empire. As with any crime punishable by life slavery, it is tried only by a triad of Ki’Li’Lee, though intent matters much less for treason than for either other capital crime.

Murder: The last of the big three crimes, murder is arguably the worst. While killing in combat and causing the deaths of life slaves through work or violence are hardly commented upon in the Empire, killing a free citizen of the Empire is considered utterly abhorrent. Tried by Triad, the intent of the perpetrator is taken into account when determining guilt for murder. If the murder is completely accidental, the culprit must pay any surviving members of the person’s family a fine equal to 5 years of the victim’s wages. If the perpetrator intended to do the victim harm but did not intend their death, then the charge is reduced to assault and the criminal has to pay a fine equal to 10 years of the victim’s wages. If the perpetrator intended, in any way, to kill the victim then he is automatically made a life slave.

Slavery

Slavery is legal in the Ravnivori Empire, although it is carefully regulated through a number of laws and traditions.

The first of these apply to how a person may become a slave. First, no person can be born a slave. Even the children of slaves are not destined to become slaves themselves (although because of some of the other causes of slavery it is fairly likely.)

There are three ways that a person can become a slave. The first is that he or she can be sold into slavery. A person can either sell themselves or in limited circumstances be sold by others. There are a number of reasons why a person might sell him or herself into slavery. First he or she might need to pay off a debt. In fact, any time a person defaults on a debt they are sold to their debtor or someone willing to pay off the debt for a length of time sufficient to pay off the debt as well as a slight handling fee.

Second, a person might want to raise a large amount of money in a short amount of time. Slaves are given a great deal of money, significantly more than they could earn as a free person for their services. This is because they are completely at the whim of their employer who can order them to perform almost any service and punish them for disobedience essentially at whim. In return for this loss of freedom, the slave is paid more. Additionally, the slave is paid their full salary at the end of their term of service in one large, lump sum.

Finally, a child might be sold into slavery by his or her parents. Until the age of 15 children are considered the property of their parents, who can do with them as they wish. Both parents must agree to this, though a woman may sell her child alone if she can prove that the father is unknown. Likewise, if only one parent remains alive, or only one cares for the child, he or she may sell the child alone. If both parents are involved in the sale, then they split the profits, and it is not uncommon for parents to sell their children in order to avoid slavery themselves or buy out the end of their own contracts. Children under the age of 10 are always sold for life as they have little value as slaves before this age and there is no guarantee that the child will survive long enough to be valuable. Any child over the age of 10 can only be sold on a contract basis. The contract can not have a term longer than the number of years until the child’s 15th birthday. At the age of 15, all of these children become free. Of course, he or she can immediately sell him or herself back into slaver to the same or a new master. In this case, any profits made off this sale go to them rather than to their parents.

The second way that a person can become enslaved is as a punishment for a crime. All violent crimes in the Empire carry slavery as their punishment. Rape and murder always entail lifelong enslavement (though, it is important to note that it is not illegal for a master to rape his or her slave.) Less violent crimes call for less harsh punishments ranging from a year to 20 depending on the savagery of the crime and the amount of pain inflicted.

The final way a person can become a slave is through being captured in war. These people are always enslaved for life. This law applies to both soldiers defeated in battle and civilians in conquered lands. Thus, there have been times when entire nations have been enslaved. It should be noted, however that if a person surrenders and pledges allegiance to the Empire, then they become an Imperial citizen rather than a slave. The Empire goes to great pains to ensure that all in their path realize this.

All slaves are originally the property of the Empire. If they are contract slaves they remain the property of the Empire for the duration of their contract and they are leased to anyone willing to pay for their services. Thus, any permanent damage done to these slaves is damage done to Imperial property and carries the same punishments. If they are lifelong slaves, they begin as possessions of the Empire and then are sold completely to their new owners, becoming their property to be disposed of as they wish. Thus, there are no repercussions for injuring or killing a one’s own lifelong slave.

Contract slaves are divided into four categories when they are made slaves. These categories are: Common, Expert, Combat and Pleasure slaves. The category a slave falls into is determined by the Empire at the time of enslavement based on the slave’s abilities. Contract slaves can also request one of the categories, though they will not be placed in a category that they are not suited for. A contract slave remains in his or her category for the duration of his or her contract and cannot be forced to perform tasks outside of it.

Detailed descriptions of these categories follow:

Common: This is the catch-all category for any slave who does not fit in the other categories. The people who fall into this category are generally used for the most menial, back breaking jobs. They are commonly farm hands, dock workers, rowers, ditch diggers, or pack bearers.

Expert: Expert slaves are those who have some sort of professional or technical skill. This includes everything from blacksmiths to accountants. Most people who can read and write can be considered expert slaves.

Combat: Combat slaves are used specifically for battle. These include those who are contracted for gladiatorial games, bodyguards and troops of various sorts. A combat slave must prove his or her abilities with one or more weapons before being put into this category.

Pleasure: Pleasure slaves are used for entertainment. This can range anywhere from a musician, artist, dancer, or actor to a skilled masseuse to a sex slave. Most slaves put into this category are young and attractive, but it is not unheard of for someone of plain features but exceptional ability to become a pleasure slave.

Each category of slave has a name in the Ravnivori language. The “zya” suffix means slave in Ravnivori and is added onto the root word that describes their function. There is likewise a name for the master of each type of slave using the suffix “ko.”

The word “cha” in Ravnivori means common so, general slaves are called “chazya.” Their masters are called “chako.”

“Kel” is the word for a craftsman, so expert slaves are called “kelzya” and their masters are called “kelko.”

The word for battle in Ravnivori is “kaz,” thus a combat slave is a “kazya,” while he or she refers to his or her master as “kako.”

A pleasure slave is known as a “purzya” while the master of such a slave is his or her “purko.” The word “pur” meaning “mating,” or “sex” in Ravnivori.

Lifelong slaves are in a different situation. The owner of a lifelong slave can force him or her to perform any act or job they please at any time.

Exiles #30 – Battleaxe

Pay no mind to the redundancy of equipment between this Exile and another one that may have the same Asgardian artifact or any obsession with said Asgardian artifact that might suggest.

This one sprang out at me while I was working on another project.  Kind of a no-brainer, really.  I guess I could have given her Terrax’s axe…dang it!  Now I’ll have to try to think about what would happen if she was a herald of Galactus…

Here, look at this, I’ve got mulling to do…

Battleaxe

Anita Ehren

Fighting: AM

Agility: EX

Strength: IN

Endurance: MN

Reason: TY

Intuition: TY

Psyche: GD

Health: 185

Karma: 22

Resources: GD(10)

Popularity: -15

Powers:

Invulnerability: Battleaxe has Excellent resistance to physical attacks, heat, cold, corrosives, fire, radiation, toxins, aging, and disease. Typical resistance to energy attacks.

Equipment:

Blood Axe (Unique Weapon): Battleaxe wields a double-bladed weapon made of Shift X material which inflicts Amazing Edge Damage. She can throw it up to 10 areas away, by holding onto the chain attached to the hilt, she can pull it back to her the round after it is thrown. It is enchanted with the following abilities:

Dimensional Aperture: The axe can cut through the barriers between dimensions, allowing travel between them. It can also cut through space.

The axe can disrupt magical illusions of up to Shift Z rank, revealing the true identity beneath.

Battleaxe can use the chain attached to the hilt to grapple foes up to 10 areas away. These attacks use her normal grappling values. Each round she gets as “Partial” result on her grappling check, she can pull her target one area closer to her. If she gets a “Hold” result, she can immediately pull the target adjacent to her. The chain can also be used in a similar manner to make grabbing attacks.

Talents: Battleaxe is trained in Wrestling and Martial Arts C and is a Weapons Specialist with her axe, giving her a +2CS to attacks (including Grapples and Grabs) and a +1 to Initiative.

Contacts: Battleaxe still has contact with the Grapplers and is partners with the Enchantress. She has also partnered with Titania (MacPherson) in the past.

Background: Battleaxe’s origin and activities before becoming a member of the Grapplers, the female division of the UCWF, are virtually unknown. Like the other Grapplers, she received her enhanced strength and durability by subjecting herself to the Power Broker’s strength boosting treatments.

Soon after joining the group, Battleaxe challenged, Titania, to a bout for her title as leader of the group. Ehren won but soon after Titania was killed by a Scourge of the Underworld who was disguised as a female wrestler. Ehren believed UCWF member the Thing had performed the killing and convinced several of her fellow wrestlers to attack him. They were only stopped when Sharon Ventura, another Grappler convinced them of his innocence.

Battleaxe nevertheless held a grudge against the Thing and this carried over into the ring with Ehren ambushing him, aiding his opponents and the assorted other professional wrestling shenanigans a Heel Wrestler gets up to against a Face.

This culminated in an exhibition match involving the Thing single handedly taking on Battleaxe and several of her fellow Grapplers by himself. Unfortunately for all involved, it happened to take place during Loki’s “Acts of Vengeance” and Amora the Enchantress and Skurge the Executioner were tasked with slaying the Thing.

They attacked as the match was reaching its climax. Between Amora’s magic and Skurge’s axe, the pair came very close to succeeding at their task but the Grapplers leapt to the Thing’s aid.

They managed to take down the Executioner and, as Amora’s most powerful magics did not work on them, due to their gender, forced her to retreat.

This defeat by a “pack of simple mortals” finally pushed Amora’s disgust for her partner over the edge. Using her enchantments on Skurge, she stripped him of his axe and left him abandoned back in Jotunheim.

Deciding that Men were too foolish to depend upon, Amora returned to the stadium where the UCWF competed. She chose the most impressive member of the Grapplers and offered her power in return for her service.

Battleaxe did not appreciate the term “servant” but jumped at the chance to become more powerful. She agreed to Amora’s offer and the Enchantress wove further magic into the Blood Axe

She did require one thing before leaving with Amora, though. She challenged the Thing, who was still recovering from his fight with the Executioner to another match. The Thing did not realize she had increased abilities and she was able to beat him before he was able to adjust.

Battleaxe’s success as a replacement for the Executioner proved to be somewhat questionable. She fought at the side of the Enchantress against such opponents as Thor and the Avengers and held her own, though she was not noticeably more successful in defeating them than her predecessor.

In fact, from time to time, the Enchantress grew frustrated with her new partner as well, and abandoned her back on Midgard. Battleaxe hardly cared, teaming up with the Grapplers, Femizons, Wrecking Crew and Masters of Evil during these times of exile.

Again and again, she was defeated and her list of rivals grew over the years. Finally, she came to face the Executioner, who, rather than wallow in self-pity and doubt after losing the favor of the Enchantress, had become a hero, fighting with the forces of Asgard then coming to Midgard to join the Defenders and Avengers.

Even with her having his axe, Skurge managed to defeat her. Deciding that the life of a villain simply was not for her after this loss, she decided to turn over a new leaf.

Though clumsy at first, and uncertain of the process, Battleaxe became a solo vigilante. She fought many of her former allies, including the Grapplers and Piledriver from the Wrecking Crew as well as villains she’d never met. Amazingly, she was almost universally successful.

She went on to team up with the Executioner and a reluctant She-Hulk before joining with a group of Heroes Four Hire made up largely of former members of the Serpent Society.

The stigma of her past life still followed her, though and many heroes distrusted her and her motives. It seemed that she had converted back to the other side when she let herself be recruited by the Enchantress to face off against the Exiles as they attempted to stop her plans to start Ragnarok.

Her supposed loyalty to Amora proved to be a ruse, however and, at the critical moment, she betrayed her former partner, disrupting her plans.

She was eager for a fresh start and accepted their invitation to join them on their omniversal quest.

History of the Ravnivori Empire

And here is a quick history of the Main Empire of my Homebrew setting.  Up until they reached out into the Void, anyway.

History

The Empire of Ravnivorous began on a planet already dominated by a pair of Empires. The first was the Empire of Shan, a truly ancient nation whose hereditary rulers had held sway over a massive area for centuries. The Shan Empire was one of tradition and mystery with very few outsiders seeing even the smallest portion of the land. The Shan preferred this, having no desire to go against the decrees of their Emperors and mix with those they considered barbarians.

The second empire was on the same continent as Shan but was located on the much smaller land located west of the mountains that divided the continent. This land, known as Almati was once several diverse nations with diverse races that warred with each other almost constantly. This changed when an ancient Golden Dragon known as Sunchaser took up residence in the mountains that separated the two empires.

For decades Sunchaser paid no mind to the chaos around him, living a simple life of eating mountain goats and the occasional buffalo from the plains and hoarding what treasure he could find or the local tribes offered him in tribute. Then, one of the human tribes offered him a great deal of gold to assist them in their battles. Strangely, Sunchaser agreed. Not only did he love gold, but also he felt that it was time to bring some peace and stability to the land around him. Not to mention the fact that he fell in love with the Chief’s daughter who, rumor told, was actually the daughter of a Celestial Servant. Once the Chief agreed to give Sunchaser his daughter’s hand in marriage, the deal was sealed.

With the might of a dragon (and eventually, his descendants) behind them, it only took a little more than a century for the tribe and Sunchaser to consolidate the peoples west of the mountains into a single, cohesive nation. They formed a Commonwealth where each nation had representation in a governing Council. Having brought peace to the land, Sunchaser retired from active life once again, and accepted the tribute his expanded nation provided him.

However, about the same time that Sunchaser decided to take a more active hand in the world events around him, a group of men and women hundreds of miles away on another continent began a course of action that would shake the world. These thirteen sorcerers combined their powers to summon and make a pact with a group of demons. However, even the combined might of these spellcasters was not enough to overcome the inherent dislike of the material world of even moderately powerful Demons. Instead, they had to content themselves with a group of only marginally sentient, rather weak spirits.

There were advantages to utilizing these entities, however. The first was that they were only marginally sentient. This meant that once they were bonded to their host, the humans were able to completely dominate the spirits and there was no contest of wills. The second is that the price of the pact was low. All the spirits wanted was the visceral experiences that only physical entities can enjoy and a portion of the soul energy released by each person they killed.

The gifts they provided in return were originally fairly meager. For the price of one soul a year, the demons completely halted the aging process in their hosts, giving them a sort of immortality. However, the true power of the spirits would soon prove itself apparent as the Possessed, as they came to call themselves began to experiment with their newfound symbiotes

The Possessed soon discovered that the demons they now shared their bodies with needed very little soul energy to sustain them. Beyond this, whenever they received excess soul energy they “grew” becoming more powerful. This extra power translated into more powerful abilities for the hosts. While a single soul had little effect, the more that were given to the spirit the more powerful the adaptations they provided. What was more, these changes were permanent. The soul energy was eternal and powered the ability ceaselessly.

This discovery led to a frenzy of bloodshed as most of the members of the Possessed went on an indiscriminate killing spree to gain power as fast as possible. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, this led to a backlash by the mortal people surrounding them. Even with the power they had accumulated they were no match for the mass of angered humanity that sought revenge upon them.

3 of the group were killed and the rest were forced to flee, hiding their abilities and the source of their powers and scattering to the four winds. Those left alive learned a valuable lesson and were far more subtle about the acquiring of souls. They killed only those who would not be missed, or when they were sure they could not be caught, or in ways acceptable to the mortals around them such as in war.

Slowly, over the course of decades, their power, physical, mystical and societal, grew. They became the leaders of groups of bandits, or marauding war bands, or officers in armies, or the leader of villages, then their followers grew and grew again until they were at the heads of armies or held dominion over entire cities. They also discovered another very valuable aspect of their spirits. On occasion, a new person would be Possessed. They never discovered the exact reason for these new possessions, other than that there was a Possessed in their presence and at least one person died at their hands. While it was more common for the child of a Possessed to become Possessed, this heritage was no guarantee and a number of people who had no relation to the original Possessed were bonded with spirits. It didn’t matter if that was the first person they had ever slain or if they had slaughtered dozens in the last hour. It also had no bearing on those already in existence. When one died, the spirit didn’t immediately take up a new host and since it was impossible to tell the spirits apart it was also impossible to tell if they ever possessed a new host or if they were destroyed along with their host. Thus, the number of Possessed slowly grew.

Once they felt they were strong enough they consolidated their power, coming together as a circle once again, they overthrew the government of one of the countries in their homeland and set themselves up as rulers. The nations surrounding them were to busy fighting each other, or preparing to fight each other to pay the Possessed much mind.

The Possessed, for their part bided their time and consolidated their power once again, exhibiting the patience of the immortal. However, the very nature of the Possessed causes them to fight and conquer. They waited until a moment when all the nations around them had all but exhausted themselves with fighting each other and struck. In a lightning campaign, they invaded and conquered the weakest of their neighbors. The other nations surrounding them were too weak and divided to counter attack and, again, the Possessed consolidated their holdings.

This cycle continued, the Possessed waiting less and less time between attacks as they subsumed their conquered lands into their growing empire and used their resources and men to make themselves ever more powerful. It took several centuries, but, eventually, the Possessed were masters of the whole continent. This campaign did not come without a price, however. Only five of the original members of the Cabal survived these wars of conquest, the rest dying in battle. Because of the bloodshed, however, those who had survived had become quite powerful, many transformed so much that they were hardly recognizable.

For some time, things remained this way. The Possessed rebuilt the lands that they had so recently destroyed. They slaked their thirst for blood, violence and death by feeding on the souls of criminals and in gladiatorial games held for the amusement of both themselves and the citizens of their empire. However, the very nature of the Possessed requires conquest and it was only a matter of time before they sought a new goal.

Naturally, their eyes were drawn to the Almatian Confederacy. The Almatians and Possessed empires were separated by a relatively small ocean and the trade winds were favorable for the Possessed. The Shan were across a much larger ocean and the winds blew the wrong way to make the trip easy.

A vicious war ensued with the Possessed sending wave after wave of troops across the sea to attack their enemies. At first, Almati held their lands firmly, turning back their attackers time and again. The Possessed lands were far larger than those of the Almati, however, and eventually, numbers and resources overcame the skill and defenses of the Almatians. Their problems were exacerbated by the fact that the Shan took this opportunity to escalate their longstanding hostilities. Thus, Almati was forced to keep their defenses on their border with Shan strong while simultaneously fighting off the forces of the Possessed.

It didn’t take Sunchaser long to realize that he was fighting a losing battle. It was also fairly obvious to him that a great deal of the Possesseds’ advantage were the Possessed themselves. They bore powers and abilities that were greater than his own mortal troops and used them to great effect. The dragon realized that without drastic measures, his nation was doomed.

He had taken mortal paramours numerous times over the centuries and not a few of his subjects possessed draconic blood. However, for the first time, he made an effort to actively create such descendants. He focused on two of his subject people, the Naga and the Centaurs. The Naga considered him a god and were eager to mix their blood with his. Additionally, their reptilian nature mixed well with his own. The products of these unions were known as Draga and were far more powerful than their mortal brethren. The Centaurs were chosen for their already large size and strength. These traits were enhanced in the mixed blood descendants known as Dracotaurs.

Sunchaser also encouraged his descendants to interbreed to enhance the draconic traits they possessed. Then, he did all he could to stall the Possessed for as long as he could to give his children the time to mature.

The war continued for decades, each side gaining more and more powerful soldiers, the Possessed on one side and Dragon Children on the other. Eventually, the point came when normal soldiers were almost redundant with massively powerful combatants fighting over the battlefield before the victors descended to destroy the mortals on the losing side.

The war was essentially a stalemate, but slowly, the Possessed gained the upper hand, conquering territory after territory in the Almatian Confederacy. Finally, Sunchaser realized that he had to take an active hand in the war. The venerable dragon left his mountain home and descended on the armies of the Possessed. He single-handedly destroyed 2 of the Possessed’s divisions before the three remaining members of the original Cabal caught up to him.

Their battle was of epic proportions, shattering the landscape around them. When it was all over, the great wyrm lay slain along with two of his opponents. Only Ravnivorous climbed out of the scar that remains on the land to this day. From that moment on, the Empire of the Possessed became the Ravnivorous Empire.

Rumors persist that at least one of the other Possessed survived the battle with the dragon but not the ambition of their fellow. Ravnivorous neither confirms or denies this rumor, though whether because it is true, or he doesn’t deign to justify it is a matter of speculation.

With their revered leader killed, the will to fight left the Almatians. Within a few years, the last resistance disappeared and Ravnivorous ruled all the Almatian lands.

Unfortunately, the Shan used this opportunity to attack the war weary Empire. The Shan had remained essentially unscathed during the war by taking neither side and doing nothing more than threatening the Almatians.

Thus, their armies were fresh. Unfortunately for them, there was no easy way for them to assault the newly expanded Ravnivorous Empire. As has been mentioned before, the ocean between Shan and the original lands of the Ravnivori was too vast to be easily or quickly crossed. Likewise the mountains that separated the Shan lands from what had formerly been the Almatian Confederacy were too tall and jagged to be easily crossed in the best of times and were impossible during the winter months and much of both the fall and spring. Therefore, the Shan had to form several flotillas of ships to send troops around the coast of the mountains to land in the Almatian lands. Unfortunately, it was fairly easy for the Ravnivori to sink significant portions of these fleets before the troops ever landed.

It was only a matter of time, however, before the Shan got lucky and landed enough troops on the Almatian coast to drive the Ravnivori away. The Ravnivori were the ones who got lucky, however.

The rulers of Shan were extremely prejudiced against the non-human members of their Empire. Their unfair treatment of these people had already driven one clan of the Naga and all of their Dwarven subjects into joining the Almatians. There was still one race that had suffered under the yolk of their oppression, however.

A massive group of Kobolds lived under the mountains that separated the two nations, and unbeknownst to both sides, tunnels that extended well into each Empire. The Shan used these creatures as little more than fodder and shock troops to wear down their enemies before sending in the humans to finish their foes off.

Tired of being used and abused by the humans, the Kobolds turned on them. They allied themselves with the Ravnivori and, for the first time in their history led non-Kobolds through their lands. The Ravnivori, with their newfound allies were able to strike deep in the Shan heartland. They made a lightning attack on the Shan capital and took it before the soldiers on the front lines even knew it was under siege.

Shan was a much more fractured country than Almati had been, however, with dozens of warlords and clanlords constantly fighting for power under the Emperor’s reign. So, even when the Empire had been destroyed, the Ravnivori were not in control of all the lands. They had eliminated the threat of invasion from the nation, however, and with their greater resources and man power, it was only a matter of time before they picked off and destroyed the warring nations one by one.

And then, centuries after it had begun, the dream of the Possessed was fulfilled. They ruled every foot of ground and every soul on their planet.

Of course, they were not satisfied with this for long. Within a century, they had begun to war amongst themselves. The Ravnivori Empire would have ended there, like so many other empires before it, tearing itself apart until nothing remained but tattered remnants and memories.

However, a Shan technomancer developed the first Void Engine, a arcanomechanical device capable of carrying ships into the realms beyond Retra. Ravnivorous saw the chance to expand his empire not just to the edges of his own world, but to the very depths of space. He struck a bargain with the Arcane and soon the Ravnivori were branching out to explore the other planets in their crystal sphere.

The first planet they found was inhabited by thousands of tribes of humans, dwarves, elves and goblinkin of all kinds. Every tribe fought every other tribe with the occasional truly charismatic leader temporarily forging a few of the tribes into a nation long enough to conquer their neighbors before the reins of power slipped from his or her hand.

The world was perfect for the Ravnivori. Though their ships were few and it took months for them to establish a foothold, they began the slow, inexorable process of conquering the world.

However, the Ravnivori are nothing if not ambitious. Even before their first success on this planet, they began exploring the others in their sphere. They dropped spies upon each one, returning every year for reports.

At one, Ravnivorous saw another opportunity. A nation named Kakkebeku was under siege by its neighbors. It was only a matter of time before it fell to the superior numbers of its enemies. The Possessed offered them a chance. Kakkebeku would become a tributary nation to the Ravnivori Empire in return for Imperial protection. Faced with little other choice, they agreed. Ravnivorous dropped a full legion on the planet, tilting the balance of power back to the Kakkebeku. Soon, they had driven their foes back and the Ravnivori had even taken land from their enemies.

Homebrew special rules

A short one, today.  Here are a few special rules I use in my homebrew setting.  I really like the world building aspect and crowd sourcing it as it both helps me figure out where the players want to go and what they want to do and keeps me from having to come up with everything myself.

And, in a game where you almost inherently have to have a crew of NPC’s following you around, it’s important to set boundaries on what they can do for the PC’s.

Dynamic Fighting arose from playing Edge of the Empire and all the weird things that come up with their success system.  It always felt like a waste when you got more than one raise on a Fighting or Shooting roll in Savage Worlds, so with this system, you can actually use them for something.

Setting Rules

THINGS YOU CAN DO DURING YOUR TURN DURING WORLD BUILDING

  1. Define Something About the Universe – This can be almost anything as long as it does not contradict something that is already defined. You could declare that some NPC is your long lost uncle or that there is a new ship in the Ravnivori fleet or that the people of the planet you’re on enjoy a particular type of dish or that a certain type of creature exists or that there is a certain legend.
  2. Refine Something About the Universe – If something has been previously defined, whether by another player or the GM, you may refine it either by adding or clarifying some detail. Again, this can be anything as long as it does not contradict something already established.
  3. Spawn a Named NPC – This can be one of two things, either an NPC who lives at whatever location the party is currently at or turning one of the nameless, generic crewmembers into a Named NPC.

When you Spawn a Named NPC you get to define his/her name, race and culture (if they are Imperials.) You also define their Base Abilities and Skills. These NPC’s start with a D4 in each attribute and have 4 points to spend to raise them. Crewmembers get 3 Skills at a D6 and one at a D4 while “native” NPC’s get one skill at D8 two at D6 and one at D4. Named NPC’s get 250 Imperial Marks worth of equipment.

Note that all Named NPC’s start as Extras and thus have only one wound.

  1. Refine a Named NPC – If someone has already spawned a Named NPC during world building and you would like to further define it, you may choose a Hindrance for the NPC. This may be a Major Hindrance if one has not already been chosen for the NPC or a Minor Hindrance if two Minor Hindrances have not already been chosen. You may then either spend the point(s) generated using standard character creation rules or leave them for someone else to spend. Note that if you spend one point to gain extra equipment the NPC only gets another 250 Marks’ worth.
  2. Advance a Named NPC – If there is an existing Named NPC that you would like to make better, this is done just like an advance for a PC with the same options for advancement. Additionally, an advance can be spent to add a Wound to a Named NPC. This can be done up to two times which makes the NPC the equivalent of a PC as far as Wounds go and is the limit to the number of times this can be done. Once a Named NPC has 3 wounds, another opportunity can be spent to give the Named NPC a Wild Die and another to give him Bennies like a standard PC.

Each of these options can only be selected once per World Building Session. Thus, a Named NPC cannot get a boost to attributes and skills twice in a World Building Session or gain two wounds in a World Building Session.

  1. Other – Almost everything should be covered by one of these categories, but if anything comes to mind that doesn’t, suggest it and it can be worked out.

THINGS YOUR CREW CAN DO WITH/FOR YOU

  1. Make a Skill Check – Several crewmen on the Capital Gains have skills that the player characters do not. Kaylee’s Repair skill, for example. In addition, there will be times when the PC’s do have the pertinent skills but will not be able to perform all the tasks required. For example, the Capital Gains has more weapons than PC’s to fire them. Any player can declare that a member of the crew, or a group of crewmen are performing a skill check. Of course, this exposes them to whatever risk would normally occur around that skill check.
  2. Assist in a Skill Check – The crew have a number of skills that duplicate those of the PC’s. Any time the crew is available, the PC’s may have them assist. The crew will make a separate roll and for every success and raise they get, the PC gets a +1 to their roll. A number of crewmen have skills that can support the PC’s skills. Granada, for example, has Knowledge: Battle skill and can assist M’Zashi in his checks. Additionally, the crew in general has a Piloting skill and any maneuver or Piloting check made while on the Capital Gains by any of the characters can be aided by the general crew.
  3. Help You In a Fight – Using the Allied NPC rules from Savage Worlds, the party can always take a few sidekicks around with them. The players will essentially play two characters, their PC and an NPC. These can be named NPC’s like Ishi or generic NPC’s. In either case, they are subjected to the same dangers as the PC’s and are, generally, much more fragile but can be invaluable when the numbers are against you. Too keep the battlefield from getting too crowded, I would like to limit this to one Allied NPC per player. Additionally, the NPC’s have to be available in-game. No running off alone to the Lost Temple and then whipping a side kick out of your magic…pocket.
  4. Turn a Regular Battle Into a Mass Battle – In any battle involving the whole crew (a boarding action or land based battle where the whole or a significant portion has been taken along) the Mass Battle rules can be utilized. This keeps the party from having to fight a hoard of opponents while their crew twiddles their collective thumbs but ups the stakes as well as each token lost in a Mass Battle represents several crewmen. Of course, a subset of the crew can also be used, only the marines or only the skeleton soldiers, for example. Going forward, we will use the Ultimate Mass Battle rules as much as possible. In that system, a regular Sailor has a Composition Rating of 1. A Marine has a Composition Rating of 2. A Skeleton Soldier has a Composition Rating of 3.

Dynamic Fighting –

On a hit and a single raise on a fighting roll, the rules remain the same as the core rulebook. However, to take into account the spectacular success involved in multiple additional raises and to make combat more interesting, each additional raise can be “spent” for a special effect using Dynamic Fighting. Listed below are several special results that can be “bought” with these extra raises on an attack roll. No matter how many raises are obtained, the same result cannot be bought twice, nor do their results stack. For instance, an attacker could spend one raise to lower the target’s parry only for himself or two to lower the target’s parry for everyone but would only gain a 1 point parry reduction for his own attacks if he bought both. (Much better to buy the parry reduction for everyone and a hit increase for himself.) In all cases, these results are temporary and last only until the end of the attacker’s next turn.

For one raise an attacker may –

Add +1 to fighting rolls against the target for the attacker, only.

Lower the target’s parry by 1 against the attacker, only.

Add +1 to his parry against the target for the attacker, only.

Add +1 to damage rolls against the target for the attacker, only.

Lower the target’s cover bonus against the attacker, only by one level.

Increase the die type of a bonus damage die by 1 against the target for the attacker, only.

For two raises an attacker may –

Add +1 to fighting rolls against the target for everyone attacking the target.

Lower the target’s parry by 1 against everyone attacking the target.

Add +1 to the parry of everyone against the target.

Add +1 to damage rolls against the target for everyone attacking the target.

Add +1 to his parry against everyone attacking him.

Lower the target’s cover bonus against everyone attacking the target by one level.

Push the target back 1” (6’)

Reduce the target’s pace by 2 and lower his running die by one type.

Eliminate any gang up bonuses against the attacker.

 

Ravnivori Empire – Enemies of the Empire 2: the Capraerian Khanates

This one kind of came to me in a flash.  They’re inspired by miniatures I own.  But, once I started down the path, it went fast and deep.  In fact, it even inspired me to write a sequel for one of my novels.  These guys seem a perfect opponent for the Empire on the Soulless World, with their obsession and skill with Necromancy.

The Capraerian Khanates – Beastmen (Abraks) Abrak society is based around a caste system with the Pentavirate at the undisputed top all the way down to the serfs who are little more than slaves.

Even these individuals lead lives that are exponentially better than those of the actual slaves of the Capraerian Hegemony. These non-Abrack humanoids are treated as pets as best and as simple beasts of burden at worst. They are forced to perform on the most menial and strenuous of jobs – pulling, carrying, digging, and are neither given tools nor expected to know how to use them. It is not uncommon to see a group of slaves digging a trench with sticks or their bare hands or breaking rocks with other rocks, all while be extorted by their Abrak masters to work faster and receiving lashes for their troubles.

It is not illegal to teach a slave to read in Abrak society just as it is not illegal to teach a monkey to read in other societies and for the same reasons.

Humanoids are generally bred for size and strength (and they are bred) but are still often stunted due to a lack of nutrition. A life of labor begins early for these miserable individuals and, as soon as they can walk, they are set simple, but strenuous tasks lie carrying water to their fellow slaves.

Predictably and, perhaps fortunately, life for a Capraerian slave is invariably short. If their hard life of labor, want and abuse doesn’t kill them at an early age, their masters do. For the similarity between Capraerian slaves and livestock in other cultures does not end with them being beasts of burden. Unless they die of a virulent disease, almost every slave ends up butchered for meat.

Even then, their service to their cruel masters is not at an end. Necromancy is easily the most common and respected form of magic in the Capraerian Hegemony and the remains of any slave that can be recovered are reanimated to continue serving after their deaths. Ironically, these undead servants are often given jobs with more responsibility than their living counterparts.

An Abrak would never dream of arming a living slave, partially because he would not expect him to have the mental and physical ability to wield it effectively and partially because they would still potentially be somewhat dangerous to their masters. Yet, the vast majority of footsoldiers in the Capraerian military are armed and often armored skeletons.

Likewise, skeletons are given axes, shovels and other tools to aid in their work. These otherwise mindless undead are imbued, at creation, with simple skills like fighting with a weapon and wielding a shield, forming a shield wall, setting spears, using bows, or simple tools but never at more than the basic level and they are incapable of learning anything more.

They are very docile compared to most other mindless undead, and will simply stand without doing anything unless given orders. They are controlled by special amulets that allow even non-necromancers to guide 5, 10, 20, or even 50 mindless undead at a time. The Ravnivori have stolen this “technology.” Once given a command they continue it indefinitely, until destroyed or given another command, whether to do something else or simply to stop.

These skeletons make exceptional simple infantry for a Void going nation as they do not tax the limited resources of a void going vessel and the Capraerians have learned to break them down into pieces and pack them, weapons and all into crates that are only 2’x3’x1’. This means that a full 20 of them can be placed into a single cargo slot on a ship. This is also a technique that the Ravnivori have stolen.

Interestingly, even the lowliest of Abrak is never reanimated as a mindless undead, or eaten by his fellows, for that matter. In fact, they consider cannibalism disgustingly taboo. This fate is one reserved only for non-Abraks.

That is not to say there are no Abrak undead in the Capraerian Khanates. In fact, every member of the Pentavirate and most of the highest officials under them are sentient undead. These individuals have achieved their unloving immortality by a rather unique method.

The most politically powerful Capraerians have massive ziggurats constructed in their honor through a combination of labor by both slaves and dedicated followers. These ziggurats become objects of worship and devotion for their followers. They are constructed along ancient and precise rules and become huge necromantic batteries. When enough spiritual energy has been gathered, the individual interred within is reanimated as a sentient undead and generally takes back over the territory he or she left behind upon death, often to the chagrin of his living descendants whose rule is thus usurped.

The average Capraerian is completely unaware that their highest level rulers are powered by the same energies as their lowliest servants and would likely be horrified if they ever found out. To these average citizens, their greatest rulers are simply reborn due to their devotion to them so that they continue leading them to glory in a deathless state. This is completely accurate as far as it goes.

At one time, any Capraerian with the power and resources could have a ziggurat built in their honor. In relatively recent times (the last several centuries) it has become law that only those allowed by the Pentavirate may have a ziggurat built. And the Pentavirate has only given permission on worlds other than their home world, largely as a method to ensure that colonization takes place and to keep any potential rivals from getting too powerful.

Abrak Necromancer Lord

Agility: d8 Smarts: d8 Spirit: d8 Strength: d8 Vigor: d8

Skills: Drive d8, Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Knowledge (Necromancy) d8, Notice d8, Spellcasting d8, Throwing d6, Tracking d6

Pace: 7 Parry: 6(9) Toughness: 10(3)

Edges: Arcane Background (Magic,) Frenzy, Necromancer

Size: +1 Abraks average 7’ in height and are powerfully built

Armor: +1 Thick Fur

Low Light Vision: Halve penalties for illumination

Gear: Sword (Str + d8, +1 Parry), Armor (+2), Bladed Shield (+2 Parry, +2 Toughness vs. ranged, Str +d6)

Powers (10 Points): Bolt, Deflection, Fear

Abrak Warrior

Agility: d6 Smarts: d6 Spirit: d6 Strength: d8 Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d8, Throwing d6, Tracking d6

Pace: 7 Parry: 6(7) Toughness: 8(1)

Size: +1 Abraks average 7’ in height and are powerfully built

Armor: +1 Thick Fur

Low Light Vision: Halve penalties for illumination

Gear: Sword/Axe/Mace (Str + d8), Light Shield (+1 Parry, +1 Toughness vs. ranged)

Edge:

Capricorn

Requirements: Novice, Abrak, Swimming d6, Vigor d8

When exposed to water, you are capable of growing gills and a fish tail to replace your legs. You gain the Aquatic trait with a pace equal to your swimming.

Gear

Capraerian War Chariot

Constructed from a combination of wood, brass and bone, a Capraerian War Chariot is often used by Capraerian Necrolords as personal transport and war machines. They are generally drawn by a quartet of humanoid skeletons who are heavily armed and armored.

Acc/TS: Toughness: Crew: Notes:

Animal’s Pace 10(2) 1+1 Provides Medium Cover to crew. Scythes do 2d6 damage to people in adjacent squares with a successful Drive check.

Necrolash

Constructed out of the vertebrae of several humanoids, attached to the tibia and fibula of one of them, a Necrolash is a whip more than a dozen feet long. It is an exceptionally heavy weapon and requires both an above average level of strength and a talent with necromantic energy to wield properly. A Necrolash delivers savage wounds but is also infused with dark energy. Anyone hit by the weapon has part of their spirit drained, leaving them weak and disoriented.

Str + d8 Notes: Reach 2, Minimum Strength d8, requires Necromancer Edge or -2 penalty, any target shaken takes a -2 to recover.

Capricorn Crumster

Size 16 Acc/TS 2/10 Handling -1

Crew 19 + 18 Toughness 25(10) Wounds 3

Mods 19 Cost 99,850 Cargo 44

Notes 3x Armor, Cargo Hold, Crew Increase, Heavy Armor, 3x Passenger Decrease, 2x Reinforced Hull, Ram, Turret

Weapons Medium Ballista x2

Range: 25/50/100 Dam: 3d8 ROF: 1 Crew: 2 Notes: Heavy Weapon

Heavy Catapult

Range: 75/150/300 Dam: 4d8 RoF: 1 Crew: 3 Notes: AP20, Heavy Weapon, Turret

The only design created by the Capraerians, the Capricorn is a heavy warship and troop transport. It is inspired by some of their most revered citizens and their legendary ancestors the creatures with goat forequarters and fish tails known as Capricorns. They are very heavily armed and armored but have a somewhat inefficient design requiring a larger than normal crew and without much space for additional passengers. This is not generally an issue for a Capraerian troop transport as the bulk of their troops are skeletons, in any case. In fact, the Capraerians took this into account when designing the Capricorn and gave it a spacious cargo hold. In fact, if they use the hold for nothing other than carrying these undead they can transport almost 900 skeletons (though they would have no way to command that many troops with the crew available to a single Capricorn. Because of how durable these vessels are and their abilities to carry so much cargo, a few brave captains have stolen the design. It does take a truly brave captain, however, as Capraerians hold their Capricorns as religious icons and zealously hunt down any non-Abrak who dares defile them by using one.

Necrocorn

Size 16 Acc/TS 2/10 Handling -1

Crew 19 + 18 Toughness 25(10) Wounds 3

Mods 15 Cost 115,350 Cargo 40

Notes 3x Armor, Cargo Hold, Crew Increase, Heavy Armor, 3x Passenger Decrease, 2x Reinforced Hull, Ram, Sentient, Turret

Agility: d6, Smarts: d4 (A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d10

Skills: Fighting: d8, Notice: d6, Piloting: d6

Parry: 6

Special Abilities:

Horns: Str + 3d6

Weapons Medium Ballista x2

Range: 25/50/100 Dam: 3d8 ROF: 1 Crew: 2 Notes: Heavy Weapon

Heavy Catapult

Range: 75/150/300 Dam: 4d8 RoF: 1 Crew: 3 Notes: AP20, Heavy Weapon, Turret

Utilizing the same general design as a Capricorn Crumster, a Necrocorn is made from the gathered remains of several massive starbeasts, often including at least one Kindori. Through extensive rituals, these cobbled together beasts are a single mindless undead creature. Due to their Necromantic abilities, Capraerian Lords often use these as their personal vessels as they are able to control them directly. They lose much of their capacity to carry undead troops, but the Necrolords do not mind as they use them only as command vessels for larger fleets or personal hunter-killers.

Exiles #28 The Ringer

Another original character that I only knew through the old Marvel Universe write ups.  I did, however, read the stories with the actual Ringer below…or the person I made the Ringer.

I find Leila’s story strangely compelling.  Even if her characterization in Lethal Foes of Spider-Man was a little thin.  In fact, I was inspired to write this up because I just read a TPB with Deadly Foes and Lethal Foes combined so I had her story arc all together.  The first story is far superior.  It’s dense and almost Shakesperean in it’s complexity and level of betrayal.  The second one is…very 90’s.  As you can see below, I took the cyborg out of the story because…well, very 90’s.

As devious as she was, I feel like a slightly different direction and she could be inspired to be a hero instead of a villain.  So, without further ado, here’s the all new all not lame, Ringer –

Ringer

Leila Davis

Fighting: GD

Agility: EX

Strength: GD

Endurance: GD

Reason: EX

Intuition: GD

Psyche: EX

Health: 50

Karma: 50

Resources: GD(10)

Popularity: 4

Powers:

Rings: The Ringer employs wrist projectors which throw rings of Incredible explosive damage, Incredible freezing cold, and Amazing strength constriction. She can simply fire a constant steam of metal rings which inflict Remarkable Blunt or Edged damage. She normally carries enough rings to do five attackes of each of the special types listed above. She uses “particulate-matter condensors” which give her an unlimited series of projectile blasts. She can fire any ring up to 2 areas away.

The Ringer also uses assorted rings on her costume to form an Amazing strength Lasso (range of 1 area), a ladder (up to 2 stories high), or a whip (Remarkable Blunt damage or an Amazing Strength Grapple attack.)

Body Armor: Excellent protection from physical attacks. Good protection against energy attacks.

Talents: Davis has the Leadership and Repair/Tinkering talents.

Contacts: None

Background: Nothing is known about the history of the original Ringer before he publicly committed his first crime in his costumed identity. He burglarized a safe in a building owned by Kyle Richmond, only to be opposed and defeated by Richmond himself in the latter’s identity of Nighthawk. In the course of their battle, half of the Ringer’s teeth were severely damaged. The Ringer was sent to jail where it took months for a prison dentist to rebuild his teeth.

This disastrous encounter with Nighthawk convinced the Ringer that he was not meant for a life of crime and that he definitely never wanted to clash with a costumed crimefighter ever again. Therefore, after leaving prison, the Ringer hired the criminal inventor called the Tinkerer to construct him a new costume with improvements that the Ringer himself had designed. But the Ringer did not intend to use the new battlesuit himself to commit crimes, mas as he felt the temptation to do so. Rather, he intended to sell it to “business contacts” of his.

Before the Ringer could get his hands on the suit, the New York City Police learned the location of the Tinkerer’s shop and posted guards around it. The Ringer secretly broke into the workshop, found his suit and started testing it. While this was happening, the Beetle broke into the workshop as well to find his own new battlesuit constructed by the Tinkerer. He easily knocked the Ringer out and abducted him.

When the Ringer revived, he found that he was the Beetle’s prisoner. The Beetle demanded that the Ringer battle Spider-Man on his behalf. The Ringer was afraid of fighting another super hero but the Beetle had placed a large ring around the Ringer’s midsection. The Beetle claimed this ring was made of a powerful explosive material and that he would detonate it if the Ringer refused to do his bidding. The Ringer reluctantly complied.

The Ringer proved no match for Spider-Man, who soundly defeated him. As a cruel joke, the Beetle, who had been monitoring the battle from afar, pressed a detonator, which caused a small explosive charge in the ring to go off that did not harm the Ringer in the least. The Beetle had tricked the Ringer: the ring about his midsection actually had contained devices that relayed information about Spider-Man and his battle techniques to the Beetle’s computers. Spider-Man delivered the Ringer to the police, and the Ringer was imprisoned once more.

After next leaving prison, the Ringer avoided New York City and its superheroes and operated as a costumed criminal, primarily in the Midwest. On a visit to the “Bar with No Name” in Medina County, Ohio, one of a number of similar secret meeting places for costumed criminals the Ringer was contacted by Gary Gilbert, who was formerly the costumed terrorist called Firebrand. Gilbert invited the Ringer to attend a meeting at the bar to discuss strategies for dealing with Scourge, the mysterious vigilante who had murdered a large number of costumed criminals. The Ringer came to the meeting, but, unfortunately for him, so did Scourge, disguised as the bartender. Scourge slaughtered the Ringer and all the other criminals who were present.

Unbeknownst to Scourge, Beetle, Spider-Man or Nighthawk, Anthony Davis had a wife. The newly widowed Leila Davis was wracked by grief and guilt over the fate of her husband. Grief both at his loss and because of the sad path of his life and guilt over the fact that she had helped him design the Ringer equipment that set him on that path.

She turned these feelings to anger and a desire for revenge on all those she blamed for her husband’s misfortunes and death. She felt that the Beetle was the most responsible as he had forced Anthony back into a life of crime when he’d decided to go on the straight and narrow.

Leila enacted a complex scheme using her feminine wiles to turn Beetle’s latest incarnation of the Sinister Syndicate against him. She found the task relatively easy as the petty men with power who made up the team were full of grudges and greed that could be used to her advantage.

Still, some of the Syndicate remained loyal to him and he caught wind of his danger before she was able to fully spring her trap. Between that and the intervention of Spider-Man, her ploy failed and Leila found herself under arrest. Worse, before her plans fell apart she was forced to use the Ringer weapons that she had come to hate in her attempts to kill the Beetle.

After being released from prison, Leila attempted to enact her revenge on the Beetle, again, this time with her own suit of armor. Calling herself “Hardshell” she gathered together others who had a grudge against the Beetle or who were simply greedy enough to kill him for the right reward.

Hardshell succeeded this time, despite the interference of Spider-Man and a rival group of villains. Having killed the man that she blamed for getting her husband killed, she surrendered and was put in jail, once more.

Leila found that her grief was not soothed by her actions, and, in fact, sank into a depression. She likely would have spent the rest of her days in prison, abandoning her quest to kill Scourge as well had the Exiles not happened along. They were breaking another prisoner out and she was freed in the chaos.

It took little effort for her to play the role of damsel in distress and one of the male Exiles “rescued” her, taking her back to Otherworld with them. Leila fostered her relationship with the Exiles and used her cunning and wiles to sneak and steal bits and pieces of the advanced technology on Otherworld.

Having decided that the only way to honor her lost husband was to redeem his name, she rebuilt his battle suit even better. Once it was completed, she then snuck into a mission with the Exiles. They were unable to send her back once they were in their new dimension but the new Ringer quickly proved her skill and capabilities.

As an added bonus for Leila, that first mission involved stopping a monstrous version of Spider-Man and defeating and capturing him helped her finally end her guilt and anger over her husband’s death.

Ravnivori Empire – Magic Items

Where would a swords & space game be without magic items?  The biggest magic items in the Ravnivori Empire are, of course, the Void Running ships, themselves.

But, many smaller magic items are just as valued by their owners, if not technically as valuable.  Here are a few magic items relatively common in the Empire that do not appear on the usual list of random treasure tables –

Magic Items

While mighty sorcerers and mages throwing around balls of fire and warping the rules of reality are not common, magic abounds in the Ravnivori Empire. Artificers and technomancers create everyday devices for the comfort and happiness of Imperial citizens. These range from devices that provide light and/or heat without burning fuel to those that aid in cleaning and even ones for entertainment. More martial devices are also created. Following are magical items that have military or adventuring applications. While they can, occasionally, be bought, it is far more common for them to be given to members of the Empire who prove themselves either as awards or as aids. A few interesting devices that are less common but that have been found in exploration of the Void are also included.

Amulet of Undead Control: These amulets are made from intelligent undead. These creatures must be sacrificed whether willingly or unwillingly. If the creature has already suffered the True Death it cannot be used to create one of these amulets. These pieces of jewelry are always ornate and generally large and feature some physical portion of the undead that went into creating it, whether a finger, tooth, or a vial of blood or ashes.

Amulets of Undead Control do essentially what their name implies. They are used to issue commands to a set group of mindless undead. Their powers do not affect sentient undead. The number of undead controlled is based on how powerful the creature that was sacrificed to make it was. The least powerful amulets can control 5 undead while the most powerful can control up to 50. A character may only wear one of these amulets at a time. The undead that are controlled can be replaced but not changed. For example, if a weak amulet controls 5 skeletons and the controller encounters a zombie, the wearer cannot take over the zombie and release a skeleton. However, if, in the ensuing combat, the zombie slays one of the skeletons, the wearer could then take over the zombie.

Animated Weapons/Shields: A number of magical weapons and shields are invested with a life of their own. Created in much the same way that Mechanids are crafted, they are also given the ability to hover and fight by themselves. The owner of an animated weapon or shield has only to give a command word and the device will hover near the possessor and fight and defend him to the best of its ability. Much like Mechanids, they learn and become more skilled as they grow older. New Animated Weapons are relatively cheap but start with only a d4 in fighting. The oldest Animated Weapons are capable of challenging even master duelists in combat. Periodically, the weapon must be taken in hand and the command word spoken to start the weapon fighting again. This time period is based on how skilled the weapon is. The weapon remains animated for a number of rounds equal to the fighting skill of the weapon.

Battle Table: These magical devices come in a number of shapes and sizes. The simplest are portable platforms with legs that can be folded up and easily packed on a wagon or even carried on someone’s back. The most ornate are the size of banquet tables and intricately carved and decorated with gold leaf. The size and complexity has little bearing on the device’s effects. The surface of each of these tables is blank but when the appropriate command word is given or button pushed, a miniature illusory display of the surrounding terrain and military forces springs into being on the surface. The location displayed can be shifted and expanded or contracted depending on the quality of the table and the commands given it. The user of the table must be aware of these forces in some way, though it can be through reports from scouts or divination magic and does not have to be personal knowledge. Once these units are established, the table tracks them, moving the forces around the table in accordance with how the actual units move. How precise these images and tracking can be is a factor of the quality of the table. For the cheapest it is nothing more than symbols and words identifying the units as a whole. For the best, it actually displays the individuals in each unit and shows their movements in near real time. Depending on the quality of the table, users receive a bonus on Knowledge (Battle) checks of between +1 and +3.

Berserker Cloak: These cloaks are made from the skin of a large bear. They are big enough that only grizzly and polar bears are large enough to provide the skins necessary to create them. The wearer of a Berserker cloak gains the berserk edge if he or she does not already possess it. Additionally, it provides a bonus to the wearer’s strength. This bonus is variable with the weakest providing only a single shift while the most powerful provide up to 5 shifts in strength.

Cornucopia: There are two forms of these magical devices. Both provide food and drink but in quite different ways. The first type is made of woven stalks of grain and is dedicated to Sivis Kee. These Cornucopia’s provide enough food from the large end and enough water from the small end to keep a single person alive and healthy for one day. The owner needs simply to reach into the mouth of the Cornucopia and can pull out plain tasting but hearty bread. This bread includes all the vitamins and nutrients that the possessor needs. The owner can also open the tiny end of the cornucopia and clear, cool water will flow out, enough to keep him hydrated. All this food and water can be drawn out at one time or broken up over several servings up to the total amount for a day. The second type is made from the large horn of a ram, goat or bull. The owner of this cornucopia can reach into the large end of the horn and pull out a single large serving of delicious fully cooked and hot meat each day. A cap can be pulled off the small end of the horn to dispense a large tankard’s worth of ale or wine.

Fire Brand: Weapons with this enchantment are capable of bursting into flames. These weapons are often decorated with flames and embedded with rubies.

Fire Brands add a +1 to damage when they are ignited and negate regeneration abilities. They also provide light equivalent to a torch and can ignite flammable materials.

Flight Ammunition: This type of ammunition is relatively common as a magic items The magic that goes into it is fairly simple and the special materials necessary to make it is relatively common. The shaft and fletching of a piece of flight ammunition (if it is an arrow or bolt) is like that of any mundane missile but the heads (or the balls themselves if this is flintlock ammunition) are made from turquoise that has been carved with mystic ruins that both strengthens the material to the hardness of steel and provides the magic effects of the ammunition. Simply put, flight ammunition has double the ranges of mundane ammunition of the same time.

Ghost Shield: When deactivated, these devices appear to be nothing more than large, ornate steel bracelets adorned with a large, clear gem surrounded by smaller gems on one side. Activating the device causes a transparent 3’ diameter shield of magical force to spring into existence.

+3 Parry attacks from the front and left, +3 Armor to Ranged Shots that Hit. +2 to attempts to hide device. Weight: 1lb.

Giff Targeting Monocle: A favored device of Nocerans especially, a Giff Targeting Monocle is a well-crafted lens in an ornate brass frame with a chain made of the same material. It is particularly useful for individuals with the nearsighted hindrance. While wearing the monocle, the nearsighted hindrance is negated but only for the purposes of shooting skill checks. Notice, throwing and any other checks are still subject to the normal penalties. In addition, anyone with the nearsighted hindrance gets a +2 to shooting rolls while wearing one of these monocles. The way the device functions is a bit awkward for others and anyone without the nearsighted hindrance only gains a +1 bonus to shooting rolls.

Hammer of the Star Titans: Legends of mighty and wise giants who once dominated and explored the void exist on many of the worlds that have taken to exploring the stars. These ancient weapons are rumored to have been minor weapons or tools of these powerful creatures. Given how potent the devices are, if the rumors are true, the Star Titans were great, indeed. These weapons appear to be large mauls with metal hafts and heads made of strange, rune encrusted stone.

Dam: Str + D8 + 1, AP 2 vs rigid armor, Parry -1, 2 hands, Heavy Weapon.

Helmet of the Ram: As might be expected from the name, this full helmet sports a pair of large ram’s horns. These horns have been etched with numerous arcane runes of power.

Anyone wearing a Helmet of the Ram has his running die raised by one type. Additionally, he adds a +1 to his fighting and damage when charging.

Living Armor: Crafted from arcanely crafted ambulatory plants, living armor bonds with its host when worn. A number of different plants are intertwined and bonded to the host to provide a variety of benefits. All Living Armor acts as mundane armor with various levels of protection. Additionally, depending upon the plants involved, the wearer’s physical abilities are boosted, either by external augmentations or through the injection of ability heightening chemicals into the blood stream. Other abilities, such as flight, enhanced speed, and melee and ranged weapons can be added as though the wearer was given the Arcane Background (Weird Science) Edge. Further edges can be applied to give the armor more power points and additional powers. This armor feeds off its host, however and it causes a level of fatigue for every 8 hours it is worn.

Magic Lanterns: Two types of magic lanterns are common in the Ravnivori empire. Everburning lanterns give off magical light rather than burning. Thus, they need no fuel and can not be blown out by high winds. Shutters on the lanterns can be closed to block the light it sheds. The same arcane technology that is applied to animated weapons can also be applied to lanterns. These lanterns float just behind their owners whenever a command word is spoken. Another command word deactivates them. These two features are often combined with everburning lanterns being animated.

Ray of Amaz: Only given to the most faithful servants of Amaz, these weapons appear as either a spear or a bow. Calling upon the name of the goddess, the device transforms from one type of weapon. In addition to this mystical ability, the weapons are often also blessed with bonuses to fighting and damage.
Range | Dam |Weight |Cost |Min. Str. |Notes
3/6/12 | Str +d6 |5 |300 |d8 |Parry +1, Reach 1, 2hands, transform from spear to bow with one action
15/30/60 | 2d6

Repeating Flintlocks: Although flintlock weapons have the potential for impressive damage and range, they all have one distinct flaw: they have an exceptionally slow rate of fire compared to other missile weapons. Although a number of people are experimenting with technological methods for overcoming this disadvantage, many arcanists have turned to magical means. To this end, arcanists have created flintlocks with an arcane mark on their barrels. This arcane mark is duplicated and linked to a number of other barrels. Each time the barrel of the gun is emptied, the powder and shot in one of these other barrels is magically teleported into the barrel of the gun. This allows the wielder of the gun to fire again immediately without reloading. Unfortunately, there is a limit on the number of barrels that can be linked to a single mark. Barrels have arcane mark that matches mark on other tubes. Currently, this limitation is 6, including the actual barrel of the gun. When all barrels are expended, the weapon operates like any mundane version of its kind. It takes 2 actions to reload each barrel.

Restoration Bed: This large canopy bed is fully six and a half foot wide by seven foot long. The posts holding up the canopy are carved with numerous symbols and signs indicating health and restoration. Each night that an individual spends sleeping in this bed he makes a natural healing check. There are various levels of power of these beds. The most basic simply allow the sleeper to make their healing check each night. Better beds negate various levels of wound penalties made during these checks. These beds are meant to provide exceptionally peaceful sleep and only function when the curtains are closed. This causes a -2 penalty to any perception checks to either wake up if the person inside is asleep or to hear anything outside the bed if the person is awake. In either case, the curtains are impossible to see through. Only one person can benefit from the bed at a time and the person must get a full 8 hours of sleep to gain the benefit.

Scepter of Pini-Ya: This Scepter once belonged to one of the greatest rulers of the Empire that created the first Nautiloids. A master of controlling mindless undead, he was capable of commanding legions of the creatures by sheer will alone. Upon his True Death (at the hands of one of his great grandchildren) his remains were made into this scepter and much of his powers lingered in the device. Though the deepest secrets of this device have been lost with time, it still retains a great deal of power. The Scepter of Pini-Ya appears as a humanoid skull with onyx eyes mounted on a humanoid femur. A crown of humanoid canine teeth form a crown around the skull and the hilt is wrapped in ancient leather made from humanoid skins.

Str + d6, AP 1 vs. rigid armor. The following powers operate only against undead: +1 Damage, +1 Fighting, +1 Parry, +1 Charisma, Puppet and Zombie with 10 Power Points to spend.

Sky Chariot of Amaz: Another item that is generally only bestowed upon the most faithful servants of the sun goddess a Sky Chariot appears to be an ornate golden shield decorated with Amaz’s sunburst symbol. And, in fact, it functions as a quite effective shield. Anyone wielding this device as a large shield with an additional +1 to Parry and Armor (Large Shield: +3 Pry, +3 armor vs. rng.) Additionally, the owner can place the shield on the ground and stand on the inside of it and with a short prayer to Amaz, cause it to levitate. The Sky Chariot has a fly speed of 10” per round and can climb at 2” per round. It is guided by leaning, leaving the rider’s hands free. Turns up to 45 degrees are done without a check but for each additional 45 degree or fraction thereof a check must be made with a cumulative -1. Failure means that the rider goes straight instead and any result below 0 indicates that he rider has fallen off the sky chariot and suffers the normal results of a fall from whatever height they were at.

Spear of the Gods: This weapon is rumored to have been created directly by the gods themselves and to be utilized against their brethren who have gone rogue. The weapon appears to be made of some unknown wood and metal and is covered in intricate scroll work that many claim is actually some ancient language.

Dam: Str + d6 + 2(electricity), Parry +2, Reach 1, 2 Hands, Range 6/12/24 5lbs.

Spirit Shield: These seemingly flimsy shields are made from the skin, fur, claws, and/or feathers, of an animal. A simple silhouette image of the animal that the shield is made of is painted on the shield in pigments made from from the animal itself. The shield acts as a simple medium shield but is as strong as steal and some of the more powerful ones provide bonuses to parry and armor. When activated with a command word the animal displayed on the shield springs out to fight for the person carrying it, leaving the shield blank. The animal can be recalled to the shield at any time and if it is killed, it disappears and reappears on the shield. The usual animals used on these shields are wolves, bears, elk, and eagles, though other animals are possible and even more exotic and magical animals are occasionally used.

Wolf Cloak: Made from the unblemished skin of a large wolf, this cloak provides a +1 to vigor rolls made to resist fatigue caused by cold and a +1 to tracking rolls while worn. Additionally, as an action, the wearer can turn into either a wolf or dire wolf, gaining the physical abilities of whichever type of creature he or she turns into but retaining their own smarts, spirit and skills (though some skills may not be possible without opposable thumbs.)

Ravnivori Empire Military (and other) Titles

While I’m not a huge military aficionado, I am fascinated by ranks and medals.  There has been more than one RPG where I played a military person and wanted to get a medal for no reason other than getting it.

While the Ravnivori military, or at least the part reaching out into the void, is pretty non-traditional, they still hold to some traditions that just work like ranks.  At some point, I should (and will) place some in game mechanics to these ranks.  I’ll also likely come up with some medals and game mechanics for those, too.  In both cases they’ll be Charisma bonuses for people who care.

Military Ranks

Unlike most armed forces, the Ravnivori Empire’s military long ago abandoned separate chains of command and ranking systems for its navy and army and uses a unified set of ranks. A sergeant in a ground based unit is the same as a sergeant on a ship. Occasionally, traditional minded soldiers will still use alternate ranks, but this is officially discouraged.

There are no Commissioned and Non-Commissioned officers in the Ravnivori Empire. Though most people who go through the military academies of the Empire gain the rank of Lieutenant upon graduation, those with poor or spectacular performance can be made Sergeants or Captains, respectively, instead. Additionally, a soldier who enters the military as a private can work his or her way up to a Lieutenant and beyond.

The following are the ranks used in the Imperial Military from lowest to highest.

Private: The lowest rank in the Imperial Military, these are men and women who are either fresh recruits or who have never risen through the ranks. Many kazya never achieve a higher rank than Private.

Corporal: These men and women generally lead the smallest Imperial Unit; the File. Files vary widely in size from only three troops and a Corporal up to nine troops and a Corporal. The standard File is four Privates lead by a Corporal for a total of five soldiers.

Sergeant: Sergeants are in charge of Squads. A Squad is made up of between one and three Corporals with their Files and an additional File that the Sergeant personally commands. The Sergeant’s File is often known as the First File (or “Double F” or “FF” in military circles) and is generally hand picked by the Sergeant to contain the most experienced and effective Privates in his Squad. A standard Squad is made up of only one Sergeant, one Corporal and their Files (making the standard Squad ten soldiers) but exceptionally large squads of as many as 40 men exist.

Lieutenant: Each Lieutenant commands a Platoon. A Platoon is made up of two to three Squads plus the Lieutenant’s personal File. The Lieutenant’s personal File is commonly made up of non-fighting men and women who serve him in clerical capacities. However, some Lieutenants select elite fighters who are often of Corporal and Sergeant ranks for their personal File. A Platoon is thus anywhere between thirty and 120 men, though forty is the most common size.

Major: The rank given to a person who commands a Squadron is Major. A Squadron is made up of two Platoons as well as the Major’s personal Squad. A Major’s personal Squad is almost always made up entirely of clerical personnel who assist the Major in managing the paperwork needed to run a Squadron. A Squadron can be as small as seventy troops and as large as 250 with 100 being the standard size.

Colonel: A Colonel commands two or three Squadrons as a Company. Again, a Colonel will have a personal Squads that serves him in a clerical capacity and oversees the personal Files and Squads of all the officers under his command. Numbering between 150 and 750 troops, with 310 being the most common size, a Company is often the largest Imperial Military group in a given region. Often, the spearhead of an invasion force is made up of a company and can include ten or more spelljamming ships carrying troops.

General: A General is responsible for a Regiment. A Regiment is made up of two or three Companies and the Genearl’s personal Squad. A Regiment can number just over 2,000 troops though 1,000 is much more common and special Regiments as small as 300 troops exist. Each Regiment has its own dedicated fleet to serve as transportation and defense. Against small countries that the Empire encounters, a Regiment is generally considered a large enough force for conquest.

Marshall: Each Marshall is in charge of his own Brigade. Between two and four Regiments make up each Brigade and a Marshall usually has his own Platoon of troops under his direct command. This Platoon is generally equal parts clerical staff and body guards. “Light Brigades” of less than 1,000 troops are almost nonexistent and always made up of elite forces. 4,000 troops is the most common size, but “Heavy Brigades” of 8,000 troops are not uncommon and are often formed to face truly large and powerful nations.

Admiral: An Admiral is the highest official rank in the Ravnivori military. Though higher ranks exist, they are often unique or shared only by a handful of people. Beyond this rank, a person makes military policy rather than actually leading troops. Each Admiral is in command of a Corps. A Corps is made up of at least two and as many as five Brigades. The Admiral is assisted in managing his Corps by his own personal Platoon made up of both organizational and combat staff. The smallest Corps numbers 5,000 troops while the largest is made up of five “Heavy Brigades” and contains 40,000 troops. Most Corps contain approximately 10,000 soldiers and are responsible for conquering or invading large areas of land including small continents and even sparsely populated planets.

Honorary Titles:

In addition to the standard rank system, there are a number of honorifics in the Imperial Military that provide shades of command between the ranks. While not officially of higher rank, people with these titles are generally given deference and respect by others of their rank and are expected to take command in a group of their peers.

Standard Bearer: Generally, the Corporal of a Lieutenant’s personal File is chosen to be the Platoon’s Standard Bearer. Each Platoon’s standard is made up of a unique element added to the standard of the Squadron it is a part of. The Squadron’s standard in turn has an additional element that differentiates it from the Company it is subordinate to and so on up to the Corps Standard, which is generally just a color or pattern. The Standard Bearer of each larger sized unit is of higher rank than the previous size. Additionally, Standard Bearers are considered of higher rank than other people with their rank, though not of officers of a rank higher. For instance, a Standard Bearer Corporal can command other Corporals but not Sergeants.

Specialist: This honorific is added to the rank of any enlisted person with a supernatural ability. Whether it be supernatural, psionic, or magical in origin, people with special abilities are known as Specialists. Each Squad contains at least one Specialist and it is general policy for one out of every two Files to have a Specialist. Additionally, there are entire Platoons made up only of Specialists of one type.

“Captain” is an honorary title given to the commanding officer of any Imperial ship. Captains always have another rank, usually a Sergeant, Lieutenant or Major. A Captain is responsible for all the daily administration of a ship from navigation to discipline and even combat. Even officers of higher rank cannot usurp this power and, though a higher ranking officer can tell a Captain where to go, they cannot tell him how to get there. Even an Admiral is a passenger on another Captain’s ship, though Admirals are usually Captains of their own ships.

Inquisitors: Entirely outside the military hierarchy, Inquisitors are not subject to it. Chosen by the Emperor, his advisers, the Regents or some other governmental body, Inquisitors serve the dual purposes of keeping the military in check and performing missions of a delicate nature that the military is not suited for. Generally given at least the title of Lieutenant, an Inquisitor can ignore the orders of even Admirals and even investigate and command people of such lofty heights no matter what their relative ranks. Of course, abuse of this power can lead to the dismissal of an Inquisitor or even criminal charges if it is grievous enough and there is certainly no love lost between members of the military and the Inquisitors and military men and women work to block and slow Inquisitors as much as possible as a matter of principle.

High, Grand, Arch and Prime Admiral: These titles are given to the men and women who are in charge of the entire military force for a Regency or Sphere and vary from person to person. At this level of command, these officers are responsible to no one but the Regent or other governmental body, and in some cases, only the Emperor himself. At this level of the military, command is not determined by rank so much as force of personality, respect and experience. The Prime Admirals who serve in the Senate of the Almatian Regency are independent of and equal too the High Admiral of Kirtina’s Regency.

Kronor: As expansion into the Void began, it became obvious that the traditional titles that labeled various types of nobles on the planet, baron, duke, shogun, etc. were insufficient to describe the new elite who would develop. It was one thing to say that a man was a duke and had this much land with this many people under his power. It was quite another to say that a man had this much land on one planet, this much land on another planet and a stake in a merchant guild with trade routes between two more worlds. The title “Kronor,” a bastardization of the term “void lord” in Old Ravnivori was coined and slowly adopted by those who dealt with the Void. It is a very new and fairly generic term. Essentially, anyone who has holdings on more than one world, no matter how small is referred to as a Kronor. Whether these holdings are two small villages on different planets or two duchies, both people are termed Kronors. Of course, the Void Running society is fairly small and while all Kronors respect each other for their shared background, those smaller Kronors who try to throw their weight around with the larger ones, and even with the larger nobility of Retra will be subtly put in their place if they try to be too arrogant about it.

Plot Device #6

Mancon 2017 was wildly successful. The worst thing about it is that I can’t figure out which game was best and worst because they were all so damn good. Here’s a quick breakdown for those of you who were not fortunate enough to make it. At least the games I played in –

  1. Savage Worlds Rifts – Pretty awesome, I’m a fan of both Rifts and Savage Worlds and using the latter game system solves a lot of the problems involved in the former’s setting.

    2.) Ravnivori Empire – Mine, obviously. It went surprisingly well. I ended up with the curmudgeon crew so I was a little nervous but they just wanted to do cool things and I just like letting people do awesome things so it worked out. The highlight was probably when they one-shotted the master bad guy by defenestration because he was watching the battle below from a window.

    3.) Savage Worlds Division E – a Homebrew by the organizer of the Con and the guy I rode with and an ongoing campaign. I played a character previously played by someone else. We were mostly normal people trying to stop a Superman level “hero” who was doing a lot of collateral damage. The highlight here was that we blew up the children’s wing of a hospital to stop him. (all the children had been moved out.)

    That was Friday. Saturday –

    4.) Dogtown – a homemade system and setting. We’re Irish mobsters in prohibition era Missouri. Highlight here was the final scene where one of the players turned on the rest of us and got tommy gunned down then I killed a rival mob boss.

    5.) This Empire Earth – Another Homebrew by the organizer of the Con. I was in on the ground floor of this setting and I’m still playing my original character. It’s funny because none of the party has ever died while I’ve played in a session but when I’m not there, there are inevitably casualties. Highlight here was when we turned the living ship from beyond our galaxy that was trying to eat us onto the cyborg bounty hunter that was after us.

    6.) East Texas University – Savage Worlds and East Texas. It’s like this was made for me to love it. I’m not a super fan of horror, but it’s pretty good, anyway. I played a yuppy cheerleader sorority girl so….that wasn’t easy…but it was fun. It’s another on going campaign that only gets played at this con so the characters go to whoever is available to play them with preference going to people who have played them before. Highlight for this one was slowly closing the secret door on the demon that had been bound up in a closet. It had the visage of a woman so it was “sorry lady.”

And, as promised, here is the plot for my game. Things in <> are where the party diverged from my plan and/or their actions.

Mancon year 3– King Under the Hill story.

Background – Tzarina Vonka Yoltsov wants terrestrial holdings. A horde is invading Shaintar (Lead by Vadagor.) 7 nations opposing the horde offer land in exchange for providing aid <I just did this as a quick backstory. They didn’t even interact with Vonka IC. We jumped straight to the below encounter.>

  1. If there is a pilot in the group, as they are arriving, they are attacked by a dragon with a light ballista mounted on its back. “Piloted” by 2 orcs. <There was a pilot in the party, 2 in fact, but my predilection for close combat meant that there was only 1 person with the shooting skill. So, they couldn’t fire the ship’s weapons at the dragon. One of them was a spellcaster though so he was able to throw some damage at the thing. I’ll have to adjust my pre-gens again so that some more of them have shooting. I ran this like a chase and they made short work of the Orcs but it ended up with the captain ramming the dragon to death with the ship. The best part was when the Hadozee jumped from the ship onto the dragon then shot the ballista at its head at point blank range. It hit but deflected off.>
  1. Commander Bartov of the 7 Nation Army holds a conference. And assigns them their mission. (Knowledge: Battle roll indicates he is sacrificing them.) <No one had Knowledge: Battle, so this wasn’t an issue and kind of threw a monkey wrench in the end game.>
  1. Use OSA on page 150 as basis for first encounter <It’s the one where the party has to convince villagers to let them burn down their village.> Include mention of folks there, including Mayor (Barados) barmaid with birthmark (Malani.) Some mention that only the King Under the Hill can save them. If asked, told that old Ezekiah at Gnollview tower can tell them more. Replace Orcs and Boars with Goblins and Dire Wolves. <This went pretty much as planned. I ran it as a social conflict and the party got enough successes to convince the villagers to leave. They ran fairly roughshod over the goblins when they showed up.>
  1. Orcs are attacking Ezekiah’s tower. She’s throwing things at them, including books. “Do I have 2 copies of this? Oh no, I think that’s the one that had my notes in it.” Takes a liking to one of the characters (Nice to her, smartest, handsomest, one with white benny.) <This turned out to be the Minotaur because I gave him the Big Horns edge and that translates into a Charisma Boost. I played Ezekiah as an elderly who was lightly hitting on him.> Gives that character a “trinket” – minor magical item (and healing, if needed.) They can suggest things but Luck token, if nothing else. Provides 1 free reroll per session but can’t be used to Soak. <He took bracers that gave him a +1 to Fighting. The Sorcerer managed to convince her that he was the Minotaur’s bodyguard and that he should get something too, so she gave him an amulet with 5 Power points. And then, the Hadozee swiped another pistol. All in all, she kind of ended up being that leprechaun thingy you kick in Gauntlet to get loot…> She’ll explain that they need the blood of the king or his crown or both to get his aid. Blood is the barmaid can be identified by birthmark “His Hand is upon them.” <It didn’t take them long to clamp onto this…which was ok. It’s where I wanted them to go and I didn’t particularly want to hide the ball.>
  1. Crown is in separate barrow. Defended by riddle and trap – A simple map of a town is on the floor – Castle, church, CEMETERY, homes, port, barn/farm, jail. Writing on the wall says “Relief lies only where every man’s wealth is stolen, every man is equal in the eyes of justice, all pain is ended, all dreams are dashed.”

Laser beam trap is guarding the chamber. Turned off by stepping on cemetery but if anyone steps on any other, trap strengthens for the turn, even if cemetery is being stepped on. <This also went pretty much as expected. I’m always nervous about riddles but the guys got this one pretty much right away. The only fly in the ointment was that they thought each part of the relief was a separate location. Once I clarified they could all stand in one spot, they got it immediately. (It’s the cemetery, btw, if the Caps Lock didn’t make it obvious enough.)

Regular guards (Skeletons toughness and +1 parry for armor/shield. Using spear str+d6.) Will bow to the blood, if she is with the group and aid in fighting the Guardian. <They did this before going to get the Blood so they had to actually fight these guys. Again, short work was made.>

Naga guarding crown. Sleeping. Can be avoided with stealth and agility check but money can’t be taken. 600Gp in horde and shortsword with a +1 to Fighting bonus. <Didn’t even try sneaking. They just charged right in. I got to have a Kaa moment and had one of the characters under the Naga’s thrall for half a round before they killed it…the Naga, not the character.>

  1. Ranks and ranks of warriors at main Barrow. Spear, shield and sword. Not sure how they’re standing up. The king is on a throne, armed the same way. Doesn’t speak but will welcome blood/crown holder and show agreement. If neither, runs the party off. (Obvious they can’t win.) <They’d looped back and gotten the Blood by now, so they had both and he was glad enough to follow them out with his army arrayed behind him.>
  1. A Beastman Necromancer is waiting outside with henchmen. (Use Orc Stats.) Can turn the King Under the Hill’s followers against them. <We completely skipped this encounter. I forgot it when they came out and we were running short on time, anyway so I didn’t try to squeeze it in.>
  1. During the Final battle the party can hunt down the leader. Dramatic task: Each person has to get at least one success. May use any reasonable ability. Others can aid. <This is what the party did. And they got an extra success so they got the drop on the commander.> Attended by Adamant Corps <I took this part out.>– Ogre bodyguard. Will surrender if Goblin Beetlerider defeated. <This happened. Actually, the Ogre took one swing before the party defenestrated the leader. He was watching and commanding the battle from a window in a ruin overlooking the battlefield from a cliff and they just pushed him out. I’d be mad about the one shot kill but that’s pretty awesome. If I remember, I may let them use the Ogre as a combat NPC next year. Or I may create him as a pre-gen. I have the rules for PC ogres.>

 

  1. Modifiers for the final battle <None of this mattered since the party didn’t have anyone with Knowledge: Battle so the commanding was actually done by an NPC and it only mattered that they killed the commander. But, here would have been the way things would have shaped up if we would have used the mass battle rules> –

If party succeeds at nothing – out numbered 5 to 10. <Obviously not the case.>

King Under the Hill recruited – Makes forces equal or gives enemy -1 token if Villagers Convinced to leave peacefully <Achieved!>

Convincing Villagers to leave peacefully – +1 allied token (Militia) or -1 to enemy if King Under the Hill is also Recruited. +1 morale to allied forces. <Achieved!>

Villagers run off – 1 morale to allied forces. <Not the case.>

If they defeat the dragon at the beginning, a second ship arrives with them they get one extra token or enemy forces are reduced by 1 more token if King Under the Hill Recruited. <Achieved!>

Kill enemy leader before battle is over – enemy has -1 morale and rolls Battle Rolls untrained (shouldn’t take long.) Allied forces get +1 morale. <Achieved!>

<So, they would have ended up with 10 tokens against 8 with a +2 to their Morale rolls and the enemy would have been using a replacement Commander who would be rolling Knowledge: Battle Untrained by the end.>

All in all, it was a sweeping success. I’m already thinking of adventures for Mancon 2018!

Here are the pregens I had out and their associated miniatures.  I had 13 options for the players.

And the penultimate moment in the adventure just before they shoved the goblin leader (at the very bottom) out the window.