Star Systems #1 – Ravnivori

I’ve only developed 3 Star Systems for my homebrew campaign, though obviously there are limitless ones in the universe.  I don’t know if I think there need to be any more than this.  I have the home system, which I’m presenting here.  One “away” so that there can be a sense of travel and a weird one.  Because there should be a weird one of everything – race, world, star, system.  When there is space travel involved you should run into something weird and alien sooner or later.

This system is actually one I developed over 20 years ago but I revisited when I started up with the concept again.  I’ve fleshed it out and changed it a bit more but the structure of the worlds is mostly the same.  I randomly ended up with more water worlds back then so I made one of them an earth world, because that’s easier.

And a note on the name.  The great and wise Emperor Ravnivorous did not name the system after himself.  Someone else did that, much as the queen of England did not decide on the name Virginia for the state, someone was trying to kiss up to her.  The same is true of his Empire.  It came to be known as the Ravnivori both because that’s how his citizens were identifying themselves and others were identifying them.

Ravnivori

The home system of the Ravnivori Empire, that nation has insisted on naming the system after itself. Given how out of the way the system is, none of the other major void going cultures have argued the point.

*Poryx:* The star around which the rest of the planets in the system revolve, it is said, alternately, to be the home of Amaz or simply her shield. Orbiting in close proximity to this star are a half ruined, unhelmed squidship used as an incubator for advanced saurians and an amazon temple. This latter structure is also unhelmed and appears to be nothing more or less than a Temple to Amaz that has been left floating through the Void.

*Rustan:* This small earth planet is completely barren on its surface, however, its core is honeycombed with natural and artificial caverns. An entire ecosystem with fungi and animals thrives here. Several dwarven civilizations thrive in these caverns but they are the only sentient species. A ring of earth surrounds the planet.

*Retra:* This is a moderate sized earth planet and the home of the Ravnivori Empire. It features two major landmasses with one divided into two continents by a massive mountain range. There are a number of islands of various sizes as well. Retra has a single moon and there is a Ravnivori outpost. This moon has no native life but the Ravnivori have managed to cultivate crops and raise animals on a small portion of it.

*Vel:* This planet is approximately the same size as Retra but has far less mass. It is made up of 6 small continent sized land masses that are arranged around each other like the points on a octohedron. These land masses are covered in primeval forests, rivers, lakes and swamps, though no oceans. Each mass has its own gravity but they all share a single atmosphere. The strongest flying animals native to the planet are able to cross from one mass to another. Primitive human and elf tribes fight incessantly over these masses. The Empire has laid claim to one of these masses and is currently pacifying it. Many of the native tribes have pledged their allegiance to the Empire in return for their assistance in destroying their enemies and giving them metal weapons.

*Gel:* This world is made up largely of air. It is a turbulent mass of winds and updrafts with only a few bits of earth and water swirling around in it. Imperial ships occasionally stop here to refresh their air envelopes. Rumors of massive shapes moving in the haze formed by the dust and vapor suspended in the air persist but nothing has been proven. Some of these are likely floating cities inhabited by giants with advanced culture. Some contact has been made with these giants but they seem little interested in joining the Empire. Rumors also claim that there is a solid core at the center of Gel but no one has dared to risk their ship in the attempt.

*The Gauntlet:* Not a world at all but an asteroid ring, this tumultuous mass of rock completely encircles the inner four worlds of the Ravnivori system. Not a few pirates and other scoundrels have used the Gauntlet as a hiding place, finding it perfect for such purposes as it is off the usual shipping lanes and it is difficult to navigate and all but impossible to effectively search. Ships in a hurry can cut through the Gauntlet instead of going around, cutting as much as a day off their travel time but risking the safety of their ship.

*Dakon:* This planet is larger than the earth planets of the system but is made up mostly of water though there is one continent sized mass of earth and several smaller masses. The former is always submerged and orbits the center of the planet just south of the equator. Two of the smaller masses, known as the Isles of Langerhans, are constantly on the surface while the others surface and submerge in specific patterns. The Isles of Langerhans are named for a Ravnivori Explorer who has laid claim to the two land masses. He’s established small colonies on these islands that harvest some of the sugar heavy plants native to the world and process them into rum. The planet is teeming with life, including huge masses of seaweed and a wide variety of animals in that sub ecosystem. It is dominated by a race of aquatic Naga which legend claims are the distant cousins of the terrestrial inhabitants of Retra. Various other aquatic races, such as tritons, merfolk and sahuagin vie for territory and resources on the planet. Dakon is encircled by a ring of water. For unknown reasons, this ring is much colder than the rest of the sphere. Icebergs are common in the ring and a race of shapeshifters who can take the form of humans or seals dominate the ring.

*Larkon:* This earth planet has a wide variety of environments, forests and jungles, hills and mountains, deserts and oceans, freezing poles and a sweltering equator. The plant and animal life is as diverse as one might expect but there is only one sentient species: elves. Of course, there is almost as much diversity in this species on Larkon as there are diversities in races on other planets. Wild forest and jungle dwelling elves, cultured plains and hill elves, aquatic elves almost identical to those on Dakon, winged elves in the mountains and even sinister cave dwelling elves all exist on the planet. Far from being united, they are often at war with each other, both within types and between types. Dozens of irregular shaped asteroids orbit the planet and make it difficult for Void Runners to enter their atmosphere. The Elven Navy has been allowed to establish an outpost on the largest of these asteroids though this is a sad thing. No more than a dozen elves are stationed there at any time though they have a dry dock and can make repairs to elven ships.

Denizens of the Void

Hmmmm…it really seems like I’ve posted this before…but then, maybe I’m getting it confused with something else.  I apologize if you’ve seen this before, but this is one of the areas I update the most so maybe there’ll be something new added, anyway.

Here are some of the threats that are commonly faced by members of the Ravnivori Empire, both in the Void and planetside.

Oh…and if ever play in one of my games and run into one of these things, pretend like you don’t know its stats…if you happen to remember its stats…which would be weird come to think of it.  Unless you’re obsessed with this campaign setting.  Which is awesome, instead.

People and Creatures of the Void

Following are several creatures and generic citizens that characters might encounter in their travels throughout the Ravnivori Empire and beyond.

Black Widow Shark

Agility: d10 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d8, Strength: d12 + 4, Vigor: d12

Skills: Fighting: d10, Guts: d8, Intimidation d10, Notice d12, Swimming d10

Pace: 8 Parry: 7 Toughness: 12

Special abilities: Aquatic: Pace 10

Bite: Str + d8

Hardy: Does not suffer a wound from being shaken twice.

Large: Attackers add +2 to their attack rolls

Size: +4

Brass Dragon

These living weapons are growing more common as the popularity of black powder grows and as the need to reduce the amount of breathable used on a ship continues to be an issue. Intricately sculpted to look like a living dragon, these cannons are animated through complex arcane rituals. They are relatively unintelligent, often not as bright as a common dog, though they are quite loyal to the captains of their ships and follow orders diligently. Like all mechanids, they grow more clever the longer they live and the more they experience. The process of creating them is relatively new, however, and none of them have shown more than animal intelligence. Their legs enable them both to be mobile on deck and to reload themselves and their innate magic keeps them from requiring black powder. So long as they are given a continuous supply of cannonballs, they are capable of firing.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d4(A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d12, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d4, Notice d6, Shooting d8

Pace: 5 Parry: 4 Toughness: 13(8)

Special Abilities:

Armor: +5 Made from almost solid metal, Iron Dragons are hard to damage

Cannon: The bulk of an Iron Dragon’s body is a cannon. Assuming it has a ball loaded it can fire itself with the following profile: Range: 50/100/200 Dam: 3d6 ROF 1 AP 4 HW

Claws: Their metallic talons allow them to do Str+d6 damage in combat

Construct: +2 to recover from shaken, no additional damage from called shots, immune to disease and poison

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

Ponderous: Iron Dragons roll a d4 when running instead of a d6.

Size: +2 Iron Dragons are the size of horses.

Death Dog

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6 (A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d8 Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d10

Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 6

Bites: Str + d6

Fleet-Footed: d10’s instead of d6’s when running.

Go For the Throat: With a raise on attack roll, hits the target’s most weakly-armored location.

Improved Frenzy

 

Draga Warrior

Agility: d8, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d10, Strength: d12 + 3, Vigor: d10
Skills: Fighting: d10, Guts: d10, Intimidation: d10, Notice: d10, Persuade: d6, Shooting: d10, Taunt: d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 7 Toughness: 13(3)
Edge: Improved Frenzy
Hindrance: Cold Blooded
Special Abilities: Armor +2, Scaly Hide
Claws/Bite: Str + d6
Constrict: Fighting attack. Str + d8 each round. Opponent may escape w/raise on an opposed Strength roll.
Breath Weapon: Bolt (using Vigor as skill) 10pts
Quick: Redraws cards of 5 or less
Size: +3
Tail lash: Sweep 1″×3″ in rear arc. Fighting attack. Damage Str – 2

Emperor Beetles are man-sized insects that strongly resemble stag beetles. A wild Emperor Beetle’s carapace is generally a dull brown, black or green color but the Shan have bred their own lines of Emperor Beetles for generations and all manner of colors and patterns exist in domesticated animals. While unintelligent, they can be trained to perform a few simple tasks, such as guarding a location or attacking a foe. Larger specimens, though rare, exist and these are large enough to be ridden. They have a +1 to size (and corresponding toughness) and a +1 to strength.

Agility: d6 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d8 Strength: d10 Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting: d6, Guts: d10, Notice: d4

Pace: 7 Parry: 5 Toughness: 11(2)

Special Abilities: Armor +2: Tough Carapace Manibles: Str+d6

Howler Apes are the terrors of the caverns and tunnels under the Shan and Almatian continents and the source of many bedtime tales amongst the Troglyns. Structurally, Howler Apes greatly resemble gorillas, with broad chests, massive arms and relatively short legs. However, their heads more closely resemble the elongated snouts of baboons. Most striking about their appearance is that they have no eyes. Rather they have large, bony nobs where their eyes should be. These nobs contain the powerful sonar that they use to see in the darkened realms that make up their homes. Terrifyingly, they can amplify and direct these ultrasonic waves into cones of stunning force. They generally begin an ambush with one of these screams and then finish off their victims with their powerful hands.

Agility: d6 Smarts: d6(A) Spirit: d8 Strength: d12+1 Vigor: d12

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d10, Climbing: d10

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 9

Special Abilities: Squeeze: On a fighting success with a raise, the Howler Ape gets a grapple and causes damage equal to Str+3. Prey may escape by getting a raise on an opposed strength roll.

Stun: Sonic Scream. Cone. Victims must make a Vigor check or be shaken for 1d6 turns.

Sonar: Howler Apes suffer no penalties for bad lighting or darkness.

Hydra, Minor

Agility: d6, Smarts: d6(A) Spirit: d10, Strength: d12 + 4, Vigor: d12

Skills: Fighting d10, Guts d12, Intimidation d12, Notice d8

Pace: 4 Parry: 7 Toughness: 15(4)

Armor +4

Bite: Str + d8

Improved Frenzy

Size +3

Iron Horse

The name of these automata is something of a misnomer as only the earliest versions were made of iron. As the process was refined they were constructed of stronger alloys such as brass, bronze and even steel. The most elegant are often inlaid with silver or gold or decorated with gold leaf. No matter what the material they are made of, they are designed for one purpose: hauling great quantities of material over vast distances quickly. These enormous mechanical creatures have boundless stamina and exceptional strength. They are harnessed to massive wagons filled with huge cargoes. Due to the great deal of weight both of the horses themselves and of the wagons they tow, only the best of roads can support their weight. In fact, it is not uncommon for governments or merchant houses to build reinforced roads meant only for Iron Horses and their wagon trains. It is not uncommon for 2, 4 or even 8 Iron Horses to be harnessed together to tow 2 dozen or more wagons. Iron Horses are only nominally intelligent. They are little more than machines. They are not designed to fight and must rely on others to protect them.

Agility: d6, Smarts: d4(A), Spirit: d4, Strength: d12+8, Vigor: d10

Skills:

Pace: 10 Parry: 2 Toughness: 13(8)

Special Abilities:

Armor: +5 Made from almost solid metal, Iron Horses are hard to damage

Construct: +2 to recover from shaken, no additional damage from called shots, immune to disease and poison

Fleet-Footed: Iron Horses roll a d10 when running instead of a d6.

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

Kick: Str

Large: Attackers add +2 to any attacks against Iron Horses due to their large size.

Size: +5 Iron Horses are the size of small elephants.

Ironhead’s War Goats

Dwarves are not known for liking horses or living creatures at all, for that matter. Given how difficult it is to raise enough food to feed the average riding animal in the darkness of a cavern, it is no surprise that dwarven cavalry is hard to find. Given their love of crafting, however, it is also no surprise that they found a acanomechanical method of getting around this dislike. Ulfgar Ironhead created the first war goat, an animated, durable automaton. He has refined the design over the years, increasing their speed, durability and fighting capacities. Most of the War Goats he’s created are used by members of his own military unit though he has sold a handful for exorbitant prices to others who are interested in possessing a mount that does not require food or air. Made of brass, bronze and mithral, they are quite tough and though they are of only animal intelligence, they are both quite aggressive and quite loyal to their owners.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d8, Strength: d12+2, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 14(9)

Special Abilities:

Armor: +5 Made from almost solid metal, War Goats ses are hard to damage

Construct: +2 to recover from shaken, no additional damage from called shots, immune to disease and poison

Fleet-Footed: War Goats roll a d8 when running instead of a d6.

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

Horns: Str + d6

Gore: If they can move 6” before attacking they add +4 to their damage total

Size: +2 War Goats weigh 1000 pounds.

War Saddle: War Goats have a saddle built into their backs that give riders a +2 to any skill checks to remain in the saddle.

Space Saver: When they are not in use, War Goats can be folded into a compact form that is only the size of a dwarf. They cannot move or fight while in this form but get an additional +2 to their armor.

Kindori (Horned Kindori)

Mini-Raptor

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d4, Vigor: d6

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d8, Stealth d8

Pace: 7 Parry: 6 Toughness: 3

Special abilities: Claws/Bite: Str + d4

Fleet-footed: d8’s when running rather than d6’s

Size: – 2 to hit, -2 toughness

Muntjacks are omnivorous creatures native to the Ravnivori continent. On the surface they somewhat resemble sleek elk. However, closer examination quickly reveals the long canine teeth that extend from their upper jaws and out of their mouths. Although most of a Muntjack’s diet consists of grains and fruit, they have been known to eat carrion and hunt herbivores in times of need. Wild Muntjacks and most domesticated versions are just as fast and agile as other elk and deer, the creatures have been domesticated for quite some time and the Ravnivori have bred a larger, stronger version as a war mount.

Common Agility: d8 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d6 Strength: d12+1 Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6

Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8

Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.

Antlers: Str+d6

Size: +2

War Agility: d6 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d8 Strength: d12+2 Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts: d8, Notice: d6

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 10

Special Abilities: Fleet footed: Muntjacks roll a d8 instead of a d6 when running.

Antlers: Str+d8

Size: +3

Scissor Tail Hawks are fast, agile hunters native to the forests and hills of the Ravnivori continent. They gain their name from the v-shape of their tails. This structure allows them to turn sharply and maneuver with a skill that other birds of prey can envy and that their prey can only fear.

Admiring the ferocity and hunting skill of these creatures, the Ravnivori nobility started to capture and domesticate Scissor Tail Hawks. It became a symbol of wealth and power to own a falconry with several birds and hawking competitions are as common amongst the nobility as jousts, hunts and gladiatorial games. Though not as popular, the Almatians and Shan have adopted the practice of raising and falconing Scissor Tail Hawks. The tradition has trickled down to the merchant and military classes and even a few of the richer workers are able to afford the creatures as pets. Members of all three cultures keep Scissor Tail Hawks as loyal and intelligent, if fierce pets.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d8, Strength: d4, Vigor: d6

Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d10, Stealth d8

Pace: 2 Parry: 6 Toughness: 3

Special abilities: Flight: Pace 24” Climb 4”

Talons: Str + d4

Size: – 2 to hit, -2 toughness

 

Skeleton Swarm Not always does a necromancer have access to a graveyard, battle field or other source of corpses suitable for raising the dead. In such cases, or when a necromantic minded individual does not find a standard skeleton useful, they can instead animate hundreds of smaller dead bodies into a single, undead swarm.

The skeleton of a lizard, snake, toad, bird or small mammal that has been stripped of flesh either through normal means or by the magic of the spell that animates them is the typical specimen in a skeleton swarm. Depending on the age of the skeleton, the bones may be bright white and fresh, old and yellowed, or bleached and pitted from exposure to the elements. Generally, a Skeleton Swarm is made up of the remains of a wide variety of whatever creatures the creator can find. However, some spell casters go through the trouble of animating only the skeletons of creatures of the same species, or happen to have such a single mass on hand and make a homogenous group. Though not confirmed rumors persist of at least one skeleton swarm made up of the remains of very small fey creatures.

They follow the simple orders of their creators or controllers to the best of their mindless abilities. When battle is joined, the tiny skeletons sweep over their victims and engulf them, attacking with thousands of tiny claws and teeth. They often serve as guards, patrols or part of diabolical traps.

Agility d10, Smarts d4(A), Spirit d12, Strength d8, Vigor d10

Skills: Notice d6

Pace: 10; Parry: 4; Toughness: 9

Treasure: None.

Special Abilities:

Bites: Skeletal Swarms inflict hundreds of tiny bites every round to their victims, hitting

automatically and causing 2d4 damage to everyone in the template. Damage is applied to

the least armored location.

Distraction: Any living creature that begins its turn in a skeletal swarm template must

succeed on a Vigor roll or be Shaken. This is not a physical attack.

Mindless: Unaffected by Tests of Will, Tricks, or arcane powers like puppet.

Swarm: Parry +2. Because the skeletal swarm is composed of hundreds of creatures, cutting and piercing weapons do no real damage. Area-effect weapons work normally, and a character can stomp to inflict his damage in Strength each round. Skeletal swarms are usually foiled by jumping in water.

Undead : +2 Toughness, +2 to recover from shaken, doesn’t suffer additional damage from called shots, immune to disease or poison

Zergans are giant birds the size of horses. Native to Vel, they thrive as one of the dominant predators on that planet, perfectly capable of flying from one planetoid to another if they so desire. With their massive wingspans, they are able to carry man-sized creatures and the Vellians have managed to domesticate some of them. They also have long, powerful legs that allow them to run with impressive speed on the forest floors of Vel. The Ravnivori were quick to adopt the beasts and many serve as mounts for Imperials

Agility: d8 Smarts: d4(A) Spirit: d6 Strength: d12 Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts d8, Notice d6

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8

Special Abilities: Beak or Talon: Str +d6

Fleet-footed: Zergans roll a d8 when running instead of a d6

Flight: Zergans have a Flying pace of 12″ with a Climb of 3″

Size +2: Zergans weigh up to 800lbs.

Almatian Guard Hound

Created by the great arcane flesh shaper, Sir Kirdan Burrus, Almatian Guard Hounds are favored pets and guard animals for many royal families and rich merchants. They are still a rarity and quite expensive, but one would be hard pressed to find an animal with better guard capabilities.

An Almatian Guard Hound has a stocky, powerful body. Its fur is usually black and red or black and blonde. The most distinctive trait of these animals is the fact that they each have two fully functioning heads. These heads are square with powerful jaws, sharp ears and bright, intelligent eyes. Each head has its own personality and one is always dominant over the other, though they are quite affectionate toward each other. Though it is not their natural inclination, Almatian Guard Hounds can be trained so that one is awake while the other sleeps, allowing them to continuously guard an area.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d6, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d10*

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Special abilities:

Bite: Str + d6

Fleet-Footed: Guard Hounds roll a d10 when running instead of a d6

Go For the Throat: Guard Hounds instinctively go for an opponent’s soft spots. With a raise on its attack roll, it hits the targets most weakly armored location.

Small -1: Guard Hounds are relatively small.

Dual Heads: A Guard Hound’s heads are independent though they instinctively coordinate the movements of their body. As such, they draw two cards in combat and act on the better of the two. However, any time either card is a black deuce, they lose a turn as the heads bicker with each other over what to do.

Dual Senses: A Guard Hound’s two heads allow it to watch in all directions at once and to spot and hear things one head might miss. A Guard Hound gets a +2 to all Notice checks as long as both heads are awake.

Dual Jaws: A Guard Hound can attack once per round with each head at no penalty.

Ravnivori Royal Terrier

Descended from ornamental lapdogs, Royal Terriers were bred to defend their owners. A nobleman realized that his wife carried her dog with her everywhere and, finding its uselessness somewhat offensive, he decided to breed something for his wife and daughters that would actually protect them.

He found the most aggressive, loyal, brave lapdogs that he could find and began breeding them together. His sons took up the task after his death. Within a few generations, they had developed an actual breed. The results are dogs that are incredibly loyal to their masters (usually mistresses,) playful, and affectionate. They bond with their masters and defend ferociously both their masters and anyone their masters care for (though they are often jealous towards their owners husbands.)

Royal Terriers are small, with curly, exceptionally soft fur. They have upright, pointed ears. Rather stocky, they have short legs. Their muzzles are relatively short and they have powerful jaws. They have big eyes that are usually a very deep brown but are occasionally pale blue or, even more rarely one of each color.

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d8, Strength: d4, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d8

Pace: 7 Parry: 6 Toughness: 4

Special abilities:

Bite: Str + d6

Fleet-Footed: Royal Terriers roll a d8 when running instead of a d6

Go For the Throat: Royal Terriers instinctively go for an opponent’s soft spots. With a raise on its attack roll, it hits the targets most weakly armored location.

Size: -2

The Dog in the Fight: Due to their small size, attackers subtract 2 from their attack rolls against Royal Terriers

The Fight in the Dog: While sweet and loving to their masters, Royal Terriers are fierce, fearless fighters against their foes. They gain a +2 bonus to fear checks and to opposed rolls to resist being intimidated.

One Master: Royal Terriers bond closely with a single owner. If they see this owner attacked, they gain a +1 to all attack rolls against that attacker.

War Ape

Agility: d8, Smarts: d6(A), Spirit: d8, Strength: d12+2, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting d10, Guts d10, Notice d8, Climbing d6

Pace: 7 Parry: 7 Toughness: 9(1)

Special abilities: Size +1

Gear: Leather (+1,) Pounders (Str + d4)

Zethyrling

Agility: d8, Smarts: d4(A), Spirit: d6, Strength: d8, Vigor: d6

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Notice d12, Swim d10

Pace: – Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Aquatic: Pace 10

Flight: 10

Bite: Str + d6

Tentacles: 4 attacks per round. On a raise target is grappled. Victim may only attempt an opposed strength check to escape. Once grappled, Zethyrling automatically does bite damage every round. May only grapple 1 target at a time.

 

Myths of the Ravnivori Empire Part 1

Here are a couple of myths from my homebrew setting.  They both feature Amaz and Tauronus, those two avatars of the battle of the genders.  As might be expected, they feature some pettiness, fighting, sex and falling from grace.  They’re very Greek, actually and both gods come off as being rather human in their failings.  But then, I’ve always like the Greek myths.

Myths

How Amazons and Minotaurs Came to be Like Other Mortals

When the world was first populated by men, elves and dwarves, both Amaz and Tauronus looked upon it and decided that they wanted mortal children of their own. Amaz shone her light down on a fertile patch of soil and plants in the shape of beautiful women sprang up. As they were made in her own image, the goddess named them after herself – Amazons.

Tauronus quested deep into the earth, finding stones imbued with the power and energy of the soil itself. He brought them back to his home and carved his own likeness into them. With a mighty clap he awoke his sons and gave them his own name – Minotaurs.

For untold centuries neither Amazon nor Minotaur knew the sensual touch of another. When an Amazon wanted a daughter, she lay upon fertile soil for a day, baring herself to the powerful rays of Amaz herself. If she found favor with the goddess, a new Amazon would sprout and over the next months she would care for the tender plant that was her daughter until she was old enough to pull free of the soil and walk on her own.

Minotaurs would delve deep into the earth, following labyrinthine passages that would bewilder others and leave them stranded and lost. If they please Tauronus, they would find a magic stone, one almost too large to carry and have to haul it back out. Then, they spent months carving the stone into the likeness of a minotaur. When the carving was done, their son came to life to walk on his own.

And Minotaurs and Amazons were happy but the goddess Sivis Kee was not. She was jealous of the two races because all other men and animals in the world worshipped her as they mated but Minotaurs and Amazons had no need to.

In her pride and greed, Sivis Kee set out upon a plan to bring them to her, as well.

Her first target was the king of the minotaurs, for she knew that if she could corrupt him the rest would follow. She lay in wait for him the next time he delved into the caverns to find a stone to become his new son, taking the form of a female minotaur.

He came across her before he found a stone and she seduced him, using all of her sensual skills and arts to show him the pleasures of the flesh. She also provided him what he had originally been looking for, giving birth to a minotaur and handing it over to him.

The amazon queen was no more difficult to seduce. As she lay in the light of Amaz, Sivis Kee appeared to her as a male amazon. Just as she’d done with the minotaur king, she introduced the amazon queen to the delights that were her specialty and also left her with the gift of a child.

While both the minotaur king and amazon queen were still able to get children the way their creators had intended, they could not forget Sivis Kee’s insidious lessons and each sought out paramours. Their children with Sivis Kee naturally had a rapacious desire for the pleasures of the flesh.

From there, the corruption slowly spread throughout their nations as other mintotaurs and amazons learned Sivis Kee’s pleasures.

Worse, all of the children conceived in the way of other mortals were incapable of reproducing in the traditional ways. Eventually, all minotaurs and amazons were only capable of reproducing as other mortals do.

Both Amaz and Tauronus were furious with not only Sivis Kee but also their own people. Sivis Kee cooled the ire of both gods in her usual way. Their mortal followers were not so lucky. Because they had chosen the way of other people Amaz cursed her chosen people to bear their children as other people did. Amazons had to carry their babies in their wombs for 9 months just as human women did and had to suffer through the pain of childbirth just the same.

Because minotaurs had allowed themselves to be distracted by the female form, Tauronus made that distraction an obsession. No longer would his chosen people have the focus and calm necessary to make the wondrous stone carvings that could come to life. At all hours of the day and night, thoughts of women and the pleasures they could provide would creep into their thoughts.

And that is how amazons and minotaurs came to be like other mortals.

How Centaurs Came to Be

Just as her chosen people, one of Amaz’s greatest joys is riding. In fact, it is this joy that takes her across the heavens every day, her glowing shield providing heat and light to all those below.

In the time before time, Amaz’s mount was the mother of all horses, a glorious, powerful mare named Centia. Centia could run faster than the wind and for weeks without tiring. She was more beautiful than the moon with a gleaming, sleek coat, straight back, and proud head. She was also filled with wisdom and Amaz often asked her for her advice, always finding it valuable and true. She was so glorious that gravity refused to hold her and she was capable of crossing sky and stars as easily as land and water.

She was so beautiful that, one day as she was bearing Amaz across the heavens, Tauronus caught a glimpse and immediately lusted after her.

He approached Amaz and asked the goddess to gift her mount to him. Centia was not her property but her friend so Amaz could not give her to Tauronus. She did not tell him this however and simply told him “no” finding that much more amusing.

Tauronus then offered to buy her from Amaz, providing ever more extravagant payments, until he finally brought her an entire mountain. When Amaz laughed at his exorbitance, he cast it into the sea, creating a small island.

Amaz’s denials only spurred on Tauronus’ desires and, after discarding the idea of fighting Amaz (they were too closely matched) for Centia, he decided to use a more subtle approach.

Taking the form of a massive, well-formed bull, Tauronus snuck into the pasture where Centia spent her nights while waiting for Amaz to ride her each day. She was wary at first but he simply grazed in her field the first night. On the second, he got a little closer. On the third closer still. After a month, they were grazing side by side. Another month and they were cavorting together.

Amaz did not realize anything was wrong, though she noticed her otherwise indefatigable steed was growing ever more listless and dreamy. That is, until Centia began to show. Centia had freely given Tauronus the gift that Amaz refused him and was carrying the inevitable results.

Amaz was furious that she had been bested by the other god. In her fury, she attacked him, but they were too evenly matched and she soon gave up the assault when it became obvious that the outcome was far from certain and that Retra and all on it would likely be destroyed in the conflict.

Unable to vent her ire on her fellow god, she instead took her anger out on her former friend. Centia was stripped of much of her divine power and cast down to live on Retra.

In the due course of time, she gave birth to Tauronus’ offspring, a being who shared both her equine traits and the humanoid traits of his true form. This child was named after both his parents – the first centaur.

Centia was saddened by her reduction in stature. Tauronus took pity on her and reshaped her so that her form was more in matching with that of her son. Without the constant reminder of what she was, Centia was soothed somewhat, though still prone to melancholy.

It is said that, even today, Centia roams the deepest parts of the Sea of Grass, still beautiful, still powerful and swift, though only a little more than mortal. It is also said that Tauronus still visits her from time to time. The results of these dalliances are the centaurs who possess horns like their fathers, individuals who are always destined for greatness and glory.

Exiles #31 – The Coal Tigress

I don’t know what depths of Marveldom I was exploring where I found an alternate version of the Black Panther that was named the Coal Tiger.  I know it joked about there not being any tigers in Africa.  That just made me think that, because it’s an alternate reality, there could be tigers in Africa.  There could even be a subspecies that was all black the way panthers are an all black subspecies of leopards.

I’ve been sitting on that for a while and I’ve been reading Infinity lately.  Needless to say the lady Black Panther has been an interesting character.  Flawed in many of the same ways as her brother, she also seems noticeably younger and wilder.  It was easy enough to make my idea for a Coal Tiger into a Coal Tigress.  And when I found out she’s running around with Black Knight’s Ebony Blade, much of the story fell in place.  So, here you go, the Coal Tigress, from a world where not only are there tigers in Africa, there are all black ones, too.

Coal Tigress

Shuri

Fighting: AM

Agility: IN

Strength: EX

Endurance: RM

Reason: GD

Intuition: RM

Psyche: EX

Health: 140

Karma: 60

Resources: AM(50)

Popularity: 66

Powers:

Infravision: The Coal Tigress has excellent infravision and can see well on moonless nights. However, she cannot see well in absolute darkness.

Tracking: The Coal Tigress’ keenly honed senses give her Amazing Tracking ability. Outdoors, she can follow a trail up to 12 hours after it was made. In a city environment, the time limit is six hours.

Ebony Blade: The Coal Tigress’ is made of Unearthly strength material, and in her hands it inflicts 20 points Edged damage or 26 points Blunt damage with the flat of the blade. The sword’s anti-magical properties allow it to detect spells and energy as if it were a shield of Unearthly strength, as well as cut through mystic barriers and enchantments as if they were normal materials. It can affect normal energies as a power stunt; the sword can cut through energy barriers, and can deflect non-magical energy. It can also absorb energy blasts, which may be flung back at the assailant as an attack of equal rank. The sword has a blood-curse on it; if the wielder takes a life, she becomes bloodthirsty (Psyche FEAT roll to avoid this.)

Through complete concentration (red Psyche FEAT) the Coal Tigress may summon her sword to her or teleport herself to the sword with CL3000 ability, crossing time and dimensions to do so.

Body Armor: The Coal Tigress wears a full suit of polymer armor that includes Wakandan vibranium woven into it, which provides her with Excellent protection against physical attacks and Good protection against energy attacks.

Talents: In combat, the Coal Tigress uses Martial Arts A, B, C, E, as well as Acrobatics and Tumbling Skills. She has Excellent reason in regard to physics and electronics. Shuri is a weapon specialist with the Ebony Blade (+2CS.)

Contacts: In addition to her membership in the Avengers, the Coal Tigress is a close friend of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Strange. In her youth, she befriended Storm, of the X-Men. In addition to this, she has diplomatic immunity in the United States.

Background: Shuri was the daughter and youngest child of T’Chaka, king of the African nation of Wakanda. When her father was slain by Ulysses Klaw, a lawless American ivory hunter who sought to possess Wakanda’s Vibranium mine, the young Shuri and her brother T’Challa swore vengeance. The two of them succeeded in thwarting Klaw’s raid. T’Challa, as the oldest was then sent off to be educated at the finest schools in Europe and America.

While he was gone, Shuri trained for and underwent the two tests required to become the guardian of the Wakandan people, the Coal Tiger. The first test was to triumph against six of Wakanda’s greatest warriors in unarmed combat. The second was to obtain the secret heart-shaped herb that grants great physical strength and heightened senses.

She completed the tests and donned the mantle of the Coal Tigress, just in time. Klaw returned with a band of super powered mercenaries in tow and only the abilities granted to her by the heart-shaped herb allowed her to narrowly overcome them. Many of them were captured, though Klaw escaped.

One of the mercenaries she captured was Nathan Garrett, the Black Knight. She claimed his Ebony Blade as a trophy.

Possession of this blade took her into a new realm of danger and adventure as she came to the attention of the mystical community. Morgan le Fey attempted to possess her body in the hopes of being reborn in modern times, but between the Ebony Blade and the power of Bast, the cat goddess who protects Wakanda and uses the Coal Tigers as her champions, she was able to fight off the sorceress.

Dr. Strange also recruited her into his Defenders, depending on both her skills and her sword to fend off incursions from mystical attackers. This quest kept her away from Wakanda for months and when she returned, T’Challa had taken over the mantle of Coal Tiger and Klaw was attacking once more.

Klaw was able to overcome T’Challa and the Coal Tigress arrived just as Klaw was about to strike the killing blow. She managed to deflect the attack with her blade but was not able to completely stop it. T’Challa lived but was crippled by the assault.

Shuri was infuriated by her failure and Klaw’s audacity and she struck him down, little knowing of the Ebony Blade’s curse. Killing someone with the blade instilled a magical bloodlust in the Coal Tigress.

As queen of Wakanda, she led her nation on a much more aggressive path than they had undertaken in the past. She began to lead her people in conquest of many of the surrounding nations, beginning with those who had threatened or tried to invade Wakanda in the past. Soon, the tiny hidden nation had occupied a significant portion of the African continent.

This brought the Coal Tigress and her nation to the attention of the international community but assistance came from an unexpected source. Two, actually. Victor von Doom and Namor, seeing something of a kindred spirit in the rogue leader of Wakanda offered her alliances. Prideful as she was, Shuri recognized that her nation could not stand alone and accepted.

Dr. Doom provided legions of doombots to bolster Wakanda’s military while Namor provided unquestioned dominance of the oceans and the use of some of the gargantuan creatures of the deep. In return, Shuri exported supplies of her nation’s precious vibranium to both rulers as well as training their organic warriors in Wakanda battle techniques.

With their combined abilities and the power of their nations behind them, Wakanda, Latveria and Atlantis slowly began to literally take over the world. In a surprising display of understanding and putting aside of pride between the three of them, and after a great deal of negotiations, it was decided that Doom would claim Europe, Asia and North America while Shuri would claim Africa, Australia, South America and Antartica, including the Savage Land. This gave her access to an entirely different form of vibranium, one which she quickly set her nation’s scientists to researching and incorporating into their technology. She also used it as a personal safari ground, going there to hunt the dangerous prey there as a form of relaxation.

Namor neither desired, nor requested any surface lands though he garnered an agreement from them both that they would not impinge on his undersea realms and that they would stop the pollution of the oceans by the lands they conquered.

Namor and Shuri also found themselves attracted to each other and began a romantic relationship, though a rocky one, at best.

It was not long until they had conquered the entire world except for North America, which only held them back because of the unusual number of superhumans in residence there. They had massed their forces for an assault on New York, the hub of this superhuman activity.

Before they could start their attack, the Exiles arrived to bolster the defenses. Even this addition would have hardly shifted the balance but, alongside the Exiles, the Sorceress Supreme of Otherworld, Lady le Fey entered the Coal Tigress’ dimension.

She had sensed the corruption of the Ebony Blade in this dimension and sought to cleanse it. She did not go to Shuri, though. Instead, she visited T’Challa, offering him the chance to redeem his sister.

T’Challa, who had always blamed himself for not taking the mantle of the Coal Tiger himself and saving Shuri from a life of strife, agreed. Morgan called upon the power of Bast, the patron of the Coal Tigers and healed T’Challa’s injuries and imbued him with the power of the Coal Tiger.

She then took him to New York to face his sister. T’Challa tried to reason with Shuri but the curse of the Ebony Blade was too powerful and it drove her to attack him. Their battle was heated but T’Challa really had no chance of victory. Shuri had years of experience on him and he was trying not to seriously injure her.

She seriously injured him but when the moment came to finish him off, she found that she couldn’t. Her psychic conflict over killing her brother was enough to break the blood curse and she abruptly came to her senses. She swore then and there never to kill again.

Horrified by the bloodshed she had caused, she immediately called for the withdrawal of the Wakandan forces from the attack. Not a few of them refused, especially as the Latverians continued their assault.

Shuri appealed to Namor, however. The King of Atlantis had begun having second thoughts as well, his fury toward the surface world cooling in the face of the suffering caused by him and his companions.

He, too, ordered his forces to withdraw. Doom, not one to take betrayal lightly and with his usual foresight activated his failsafe. His doombots turned on the Wakandans and Atlanteans and all of the technology that he had provided them self-destructed, often killing its users.

Coal Tigress, Namor the Sea Scourge and the Exiles struck straight at the heart of Doom, assaulting him in his Latverian stronghold. Doom was able to subdue Namor quickly, having prepared for just such an occurrence and setting up a number of traps that would dehydrate the monarch of the seas.

He had much more trouble with Coal Tigress and the Exiles. After breaking her curse, Shuri’s fighting style became much more controlled and less savage and the traps Doom had set up depended on her weakness and desire for blood. The Exiles were, of course, complete wild cards.

Again, the Coal Tigress found an opponent at her mercy and, though Doom deserved her revenge as much as anyone, she remembered her vow and spared him. Namor was revived but in the confusion involved, Doom escaped.

Though Shuri felt an obligation to remain and undo the wrongs she’d done, she was also extremely ashamed of her actions and felt a duty to repay Lady le Fay for freeing her from the curse. T’Challa, who had been healed by the powers of the Heart Shaped Herb, reassured Shuri that he would lead Wakanda in her absence and Namor promised her that he would ally with her brother to stop Doom’s advance on the world.

Believing that she could better atone for her sins with the Exiles, she left her home dimension with them, joining their ranks. She serves particularly as an agent for Lady le Fey when she needs tasks done in the mystical realms.

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.