Plot Device #6

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

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

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

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

    That was Friday. Saturday –

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

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

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

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

Mancon year 3– King Under the Hill story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ravnivori Empire – Military Units

I’m sure that I have a good excuse for why I haven’t posted a blog in 2 weeks, but I can’t think of it and I won’t insult both of us by trying to come up with one.  Especially since I was so sure I was going to be back on track after the last one.

Anyway…Mancon is next week, so there definitely won’t be a post then.  I’ll be busy running a game in this world as opposed to just writing about it.  The next week, I should have another plot device with the details of my planned plot and the actual plot that arose when the pesky players mess up my beautiful idea.

Obviously, the military is an important part of the Ravnivori Empire.  They are in the midst of active conquest, after all.  While there is a standing military, it’s function is to maintain the peace on the homeworld and protect it from any invasions, now that they know it is possible for offworld armies to attack.

Most of the offworld work is done by semi-official mercenary units.  These units are sort of adjuncts to the regular military and are at the service of any loyal Imperial citizen who needs some soldiering done.  As they are not officially part of the military hierarchy, there is little in the way of standardization in uniform or methods.  And, in fact, their adherence to these sorts of things is considered far less important than their efficiency.

Military Units

One common method for determining and describing the effectiveness and abilities of one of the Imperial Military units is by identifying the wolf it carries. A unit that has proven its worth to the Empire is granted the right to bear an Imperial wolf on all the standards that the unit carries. The Emperor himself grants this honor and he generally only grants one or two per year. However, simply gaining a wolf is not the end. The Emperor not only grants the unit the right to bear a wolf but names the type of material the wolf can be made of. An Imperial wolf is always a high honor so they are never made of mundane materials but always a precious metal. When a wolf is granted, it is usually established as a copper wolf. If the unit later proves itself more valuable to the empire and distinguishes itself further in the Emperor’s eyes, he will grant the unit the right to bear a better wolf. Only the most honored units gain the right to bear a platinum wolf. And both of these processes can be reversed if a unit displeases the Emperor. A unit can suffer a demotion in the level of wolf they can bear or even have the right to bear a wolf stripped entirely. The ranks of Imperial Wolves in ascending order are: None, Copper, Brass, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Hammers of Doom: A strictly Ravnivori Dwarven unit, the Hammers of Doom are lead by Ulfgar Ironhead. A rather unique unit, they are one of the few Dwarven cavalry units in the Empire. What makes them unique, however are their steeds. Rather than riding living mounts, the Hammers of Doom go into battle riding mechanical rams. These wonders of artifice are not as fast as flesh and blood horses, but are much sturdier and bypass many of the limitations such flesh and blood mounts suffer. For example, they need no food or air and can stand completely still indefinitely and even be partially collapsed and stacked atop each other. This makes them perhaps the most efficient cavalry unit in the Empire for traveling on Void Runners. The Hammers of Doom need only stock provisions and account for air usage of the Dwarves themselves and the entire unit and their gear take up only 5 tons worth of cargo space whereas most cavalry units require an entire hold for their animals. The Hammers travel on their own Hammership, a vessel also named the Hammer of Doom and the unit essentially lives on the ship. In addition to the unit itself, there are also dedicated sailors and weapons crews as well as a handful of Arcanomancers who construct and maintain the mechanical rams. As an elite unit, recruitment into the Hammers of Doom is quite an honor. Only dwarves are chosen with preference given to Ravnivori dwarves. The dwarf must be a master rider, which is quite rare and an expert with the warhammer, eliminating even more potential candidates. Not a few dwarves practice for years, focusing all their energy on the unique skills needed to become a Hammer before even being considered. The Hammers of Doom are a relatively small unit with only 20 members, though there are an additional 30 dwarves who serve as support to the warriors.
Wolf: Brass

Hurzah’s Ravens: Lead by Kreok Hurzah, a skilled Troglyn archer and master ranged tactician, the Ravens recruit only skilled archers. While not every archer in the Ravens is a master marksman, Hurzah recruits each member personally. He looks for natural talent, developed skill, a sharp mind and the ability to follow orders rapidly and precisely with no care for gender or species. This combination of traits in each of his archers means that none of them are particularly remarkable but as a unit, they are extremely lethal as a unit, capable of laying down withering clouds of arrows in enemy units. Until approximately 5 years ago, this unit was lead by the Amazon Ionia and was known as Ionia’s Ravens. Hurzah was her lieutenant and she bequeathed the unit to him when she became and independent contractor for the Emperor. The Ravens are a fairly large unit, currently numbering 46 members. This value varies from as low as 40 to as high as 50 depending upon how many losses they have taken and how much time Hurzah has had to recruit replacements.
Wolf: Silver

Rolling Thunder: A relatively new unit, it was formed in the latter years of the conquest of Shan by a Ravnivori soldier named Matias. He was completely fascinated by the elephants and assorted kaiju that existed in the Shan lands and even more enamored of their usage as living war machines. With the help of a few backers, he managed to capture and buy a few elephants and a single kaiju and get them trained. In the few battles they were able to fight in, they proved quite decisive but, unfortunately, for Matias, the war ended soon after he formed his unit. There was little use for the massive beasts in the peace keeping capacity that the Ravnivori military took on after the conquest of Shan and he retired, earning a meager living by charging curiosity seekers for the privilege of seeing his animals. His hopes were raised when he discovered that there were Void Runners and that the Imperial conquest would continue. He was certain that the Imperial military would need his animals. He was largely wrong. While Rolling Thunder is quite effective when it is fielded, it suffers from a logistical problem. Each of Matias’ animals is so big that it is difficult to transport more than one or two on a ship and they utilize a great deal of the air that is held on a Void Runner. He has actually found little work for his unit though again his hopes have been raised. A magical researcher has developed a method for putting living creatures in a sort of hibernation that greatly reduces the amount of air and food they need. It takes some time to put the animals into hibernation and to take them out, so Rolling Thunder still has not become very popular though Matias remains hopeful.
Wolf: None

Star Sharks: This unit only came into being after the use of Void Runners and are quite specialized to that purpose. Their focus is on combat on Void Runners and everyone in the unit brings some skill that accentuates Void Runner combat. Many of the members of this unit are Mechanids, both sentient and pre-sentient and not a few members are undead. A few of these undead are intelligent but most of them are mindless creatures controlled by other members of the unit. Low oxygen usage is a priority and the Star Sharks attempt to get as many combat worthy bodies upon a ship for as little oxygen use as they can. Those who are among the living in the classical sense are all highly trained and highly skilled at the usage of the assorted siege weapons used in ship to ship Void Runner combat. The most highly prized members of the Star Sharks are their impressive collection of living siege weapons. These creatures not only take up no air but need no crew to fire them. The Star Sharks were founded and are lead by a Mechanid named Art Fisher. Despite this public leader, rumors abound that the Star Sharks are actually a puppet organization for the Children of the Night and serve one of their unknown purposes, perhaps to gain information on the military structure and strength of the Empire.
Wolf: Copper

The Right Hand of Amaz: Founded by the Temple of the Virtuous Maiden in the Sea of Grass plains in Almatia, this unit is composed entirely of females. These women all begin as orphans at the Temple and are trained from a young age to join the unit. They are trained in military tactics, archery and horsemanship. After a decade of training, and just as they become adults, those who excel at their training are inducted into the Right Hand of Amaz. A group of mounted archers, the Right Hand of Amaz specializes in hit and run and harassing tactics, supporting infantry, archers and siege units. They are highly skilled and greatly feared. Unlike some other units, they do not have established rates for their services but charge on a case by case basis. It is impossible to prove but most people assume that they charge males more than they charge females. Because of this and because of the high air need of their mounts, they have not found a great deal of success when Void Runners are involved.
Wolf: Bronze

The Adamant Corps: One of the oldest units in the Empire, the Adamant Corps was formed in the middle of the unification wars of the Ravnivori continent. In fact, they were friendly rivals to the Legion of the Abyss. Under the brilliant leadership of its founder, Tilion Kray, they expanded and proved themselves invaluable in the continuing expansion of the Empire. They have been an integral part of every war that the Empire engaged in during the conquering of Almatia and Shan. On countless occasions, they have held the battlefield against overwhelming odds long enough for the remainder of Ravnivori forces to reorganize. Even once the conquest of Shan was completed, the Adamant Corps did not disband like many other of the Empire’s units did. Thus they were still organized and ready when the Void Runners were discovered and have extended their service to the Empire into the stars. The Adamant Corps is a mixed unit. It includes infantry, cavalry, archers, siege engines and even still uses chariots. The unifying theme of the unit is that they are heavily armored. The Adamant Corps is known for its battle cry “Feed the Wolf” all most as much as for any of their history or acts.
Wolf: Platinum

Ravnivori Empire Organizations

Sorry for the missing posts the last couple weeks.  I had some technical difficulties.

I should be back on my weekly schedule, now.  It’s less than a month until ManCon, a small gaming event held by Ideology of Madness own Aron Head.  You may wonder why that matters.  Well, I’m going to be running an adventure in this setting at the event.  It will actually be the first time I’ve run a game in this setting since the last one I went to 2 years ago.  I’m pretty excited.  I always like getting back to this Universe.

Without further ado…

Organizations
Following are several of the important organizations, whether political, ideological, religious or mercantile within the Ravnivori Empire.
Children of the Eternal Night – Undead creatures who believe that their wisdom and intelligence entitle them to rule the Empire. The Children of the Eternal Night began in the foggy annals of history. As Ravnivorous was uniting the clans, tribes and nations of his home continent he was approached by a young, ambitious undead woman. This woman had no interest in playing the politics necessary to rise in the ranks of the world of vampire, wraiths and mummies that hid beneath the surface world of society. Instead, she saw Ravnivorous and what he was doing as a quick path to power. She managed to be quite persuasive and convinced the future Emperor that she could be useful to him.
While Ravnivorous continued to conquer other lands, Ellebetta worked behind the scenes, meeting with the undead rulers of the various lands they encountered and either swaying them to her cause or stealing their power from them. This latter was done either by destroying the undead (generally indirectly, alerting the living to their presence) or by convincing the lower ranking members of the group to join her and Ravnivorous.
As Ravnivorous’ Empire expanded, so did Ellebetta’s power. Unlike those who went before her, however, she did not reign over a shadow empire. She and her followers interacted with the living just like everyone else, gaining and losing power, honor, fame and fortune just as their still living brother citizens.
Of course, the undead did, inherently cluster together, at least when they weren’t paranoid about being betrayed by their fellow undead and Ellebetta capitalized on this, creating the Children of the Eternal Night. Like most fraternities, the group was little more than a way for like individuals to gather together and help each other.
That changed when Ellebetta was assassinated. In the midst of the Ravnivori war with Almatia, the venerable Mother of the Children of the Eternal Night was slain during one of the many balls she held each year in the capital. Her lifeless body was found in a secluded area but her murderer was long gone.
Ellebetta’s replacement was a Shan Vampire named Fzou. Fzou had a very different idea about the Children of the Eternal Night’s place within the Empire. Fzou believed that the short lived mortals who ruled the Empire were incapable of running the Empire as well as the immortal and wise undead. Fzou has rallied several followers to his cause. Though they do nothing illegal and do not openly subvert the authority of the Empire’s officials, they are doing all they can to maneuver that power into their hands.

Tzhou Family – Shan Clan who possess an Emperor approved monopoly on black powder weapons in the Empire.
The Tzhou were not the first people to discover black powder, but they were a powerful and influential family when it was discovered. The clan immediately recognized the potential of the discovery and began maneuvering themselves to gain authority over it. Through a combination of political machinations, economic maneuvers and even physical intimidation, the Tzhou managed to eliminate their rivals in the field of black powder weapons. After consolidating their power for a couple generations, the Tzhou had built up enough leverage to force the Shan Emperor to grant them an official monopoly over black powder production. Given the fact that they already controlled almost all the black powder production anyway and that they could cripple his army by denying him access to more, the Emperor grudgingly agreed. However, to remind the family that he did not like to be trifled with and that he was still the true power in the nation, he forced 1/3 of the males of the family to join the army and sent them off on a suicide mission against the Shan. At the same time, he forced 1/3 of the females of the family to marry various soldiers in his army. To increase their shame, he ensured that none of them were allowed to marry a soldier with a rank higher than sergeant.
Though the blow was bitter, the Tzhou took this punishment in stride and quickly moved to shore up their power and prestige. By the time the Ravnivori conquered the Almatians, they were second only to the Emperor’s family in honor and respect. In fact, two of the Emperor’s wives were Tzhous as was his grandmother.
The Ravnivori were less than pleased with the Tzhou when the war between the Empires began. The weapons the Tzhou created were responsible for a ridiculous number of Ravnivori casualties and the invading empire quickly began to target the family to eliminate this edge they gave to the Shan.
It took only a few of these slaughters before the Tzhou began to reconsider their position in the war. Without informing the Shan Emperor, they made a deal with the Ravnivori and began supplying both sides with weapons in the war in return for promises that their family would not be targeted.
Once the war was over, Ravnivorous allowed the monopoly that the Tzhou had been granted to continue and they are still the only people allowed to produce black powder in the Empire.

Peers of the Silver Shield – Knightly order who revere the honor and tradition of the Empire’s past.
The Peers of the Silver Shield began as a group of noblemen in one of the early kingdoms that Ravnivorous claimed. Already a knightly order, they threw their lot in with the Emperor when their king (also a member) surrendered to the invading force. For decades, only these original members and their descendants were allowed to join the order and those descendants had to be pure of blood. Any child produced by a marriage with anyone who was not a child of the Silver Shield was considered tainted and incapable of maintaining the high ideals that the Peers of the Silver Shield felt their order stood for.
Inevitably, their numbers shrank as potential candidates grew fewer and fewer. Worse, many of those who were eligible proved themselves completely incapable of living up to the standards of the Knightly order. Not that this kept them from inducting these young men and women into their ranks and then covering up their foibles.
Finally, instead of seeing their legacy fade into nothingness, the Peers of the Silver Shield decided to induct people who were not descendants of the original members of the group. Still, they didn’t throw their doors open to just anyone who wanted to join their organization. Instead, they were careful to approach only the highest ranking members of the societies that made up part of the Empire. Of course, it was often up to a great deal of debate about who the highest ranking members happened to be. Eventually, a set method of voting and lobbying arose to decide who would be invited to join their organization.
The Peers of the Silver Shield grew once more and expanded as the Empire did. The lobbying and manipulations that go on to determine who will join the brotherhood and who will lead it continues to this day.
The Peers of the Silver Shield are lead by the Lord of the Silver Shield, a man (or woman) who has not only proven his skill and valor on the battlefield but also managed to secure and hold his political position in the group. At times, it is much more important for the person to manipulate the political aspect than it is to be successful on the field.

Legion of the Abyss – Originally a legion of mercenaries that Ravnivorous hired early in his campaigns of conquest, the Legion of the Abyss was eventually absorbed into the armies of the fledgling empire. Officially labeled the 6th legion, they were integral to the Imperial war efforts, proving to be the deciding factor in more than one campaign, until after the fall of the Almatian Confederation. Just after the peace accords were signed, Ravnivorous ordered the Legion of the Abyss disbanded and the soldiers of the Legion were offered the choice of retirement or being reassigned to other units. Rumors abound that the Emperor did this because the Legion was gaining too much military power. Other rumors suggest that the Legion serves as the Emperor’s secret police within the military. For the esprit de corps was too strong for the Abyssal Legionnaires to give up their identities. The Legion of the Abyss, rather than fading into history became an elite military brotherhood. Now, there are Legionnaires in every military unit in the Imperial military, though the title is technically only honorary. The Legion of the Abyss has its own traditions, rules and rituals and only the best and most savage soldiers are invited to join. What happens after this invitation and the initiation rituals are secret, but Legionnaires are legendary for being loyal to the Legion, highly skilled and single-mindedly vicious. The leader of the Legion of the Abyss is chosen by and from the highest ranking officers within the Legion when the current leader dies and he is known as the King of Pain. The current King of Pain is a Dracotaur named Dunbar Liggett.

The Four Fingered Hand – Officially, the Four Fingered Hand no longer exists. Even unofficially, most people believe that they are more myth and legend than an actual organization.
Originally an Almatian trading family the Four Fingered Hand gained a reputation as being ruthless in their pursuit of power and profit and not at all above breaking the law to do it. Their brutal methods proved quite effective and they quickly outstripped most of their competitors and killed off others. Perhaps the only thing that rivaled the family’s cold blooded efficiency was their utter loyalty to each other. The name for the group arose when one of their members was captured. Her captors began to torture him for information and removed one of his fingers a joint at a time before he was rescued but the woman was rescued but she refused to talk. Inspired by this story, other members of the organization began cutting off one of their own fingers as a sign of loyalty and bravery.
The reign of the Four Fingered Hand in Almatia came to an end soon after the Ravnivori conquered the continent. Though they prospered when the war was going on by selling weapons and information to both sides, they were just as defiant and law breaking under the rule of the Empire as they were under the confederation. The Empire was less inclined to suffer this defiance, however. It did not take long before many influential members of the family were arrested for one crime or another and when the remaining family members began a campaign of revenge they were quickly branded as traitors with all that implies. The Empire’s assault was as swift and brutal as any of the Four Fingered Hand’s had ever been. Within a week, the family was crushed and the Empire claimed that it was completely destroyed.
However, a handful of members of the family survived the oppression and vowed a vendetta against the people who had destroyed their way of life. The remnants were smart enough to know that they could not face the Empire directly, however, and set out on a campaign of assassination. Scores of officials fell to their weapons before the Empire once more stamped them out.
But the Four Fingered Hand has proven to be a disease that simply will not go away. Periodically, cabals of assassins are found who claim to be members of the Four Fingered Hand, though whether these groups can truly trace their origins back to the original family or if they are simply capitalizing on the myths that have grown up around the group depends on who is being asked. Of course, the Empire long ago banned membership in the group and anyone claiming to be a member of the Four Fingered Hand is considered a traitor.

Gray Hearts – The Gray Hearts are often known as the left hand of the Emperor. A group of men and women who serve as special investigators and inquisitors for the interests of the Empire, the Gray Hearts dedicate themselves to the Emperor’s service. Gray Hearts are seldom the greatest fighters but they often find themselves in danger and are well trained and skilled in getting out of it.
Their real skills lie in the realms of investigation, both physical and social. They are adept at picking up clues at crime scenes as well as following up on rumors and social conflicts. While it is possible to keep things hidden from a Gray Heart, it is generally quite difficult.
Gray Hearts have their own ranks outside of the military. They are not subject to military authority, though most of the work with the military rather than against them, finding both officers and common soldiers to often be valuable resources.
Gray Heart authority is almost unbounded and they can, theoretically at least, order the captain of a Void Runner ship to take them wherever they like. Likewise, they have the authority to enter and investigate the homes and businesses of any citizens of the Empire.
Of course, the Gray Hearts do not have absolute authority. They are still subject to the Emperor’s will and often receive orders directly (or only slightly indirectly) from him. By the same token, if Gray Hearts are accused of abusing their powers, they are investigated by a triad of Ki’Li’Lee and any inappropriate use of their authority is considered treason, with the usual punishments.
For that matter, the main purpose of the Gray Hearts is rooting out treason in the Empire. The function of the Gray Hearts is to protect the security and sovereignty of the Empire with a focus on dissent from within. It is not the duty of the Gray Hearts to expand the Empire, only to ensure that it remains stable and does not lose anything that it has gained.
Once, the Emperor hand picked the members of the Gray Hearts. That is no longer the case and high ranking members of his government do the job for him, but Ravnivorous makes a point of meeting and assessing every Gray Heart before bestowing their badge upon them.
The Gray Hearts get their name from this badge. The coin sized brooches are made from simple stone and, as might be expected, are carved in the shape of a heart. This badge symbolizes that their hearts are as hard as stone towards enemies of the empire and as neutral as the color gray in the service of their duties.

Cult of Balticimus/Balticimeans – Although all of the religions of the Empire and most of those that they have encountered on other worlds assure their followers that there is some sort of afterlife, there has never been any definitive proof. The summoning of demons is possible and they have often been questioned by the curious about what happens after a person dies. The results of this questioning has been mixed with even what is assumed to be the same fiendish creature giving different answers at different times, apparently based more on its mood and agenda more than any need to tell the truth.
However, while there is no proof, there is a great deal of evidence that the souls of individuals killed by the Possessed continue to live as long as the Possessed does. What this existence is actually like is up for some debate, but many people will take the chance to exist indefinitely over the possibility of expiring with their mortal shell eagerly.
This potential for an afterlife was first noted and advanced by an Almatian man named Balticimus soon after the Ravnivori began their invasion of the Almatian Confederation and the Almatians first encountered the Possessed. Balticimus was fascinated by the powers demonstrated by the Possessed and their potential for immortality. He quickly pledged his allegiance to the Empire and, almost as quickly, sold his services to one of the original coven as an indentured secretary and advisor.
In the years that followed, Balticimus made the most detailed study of the Possessed and their daemons ever performed. Even now, several centuries later, the insights and discoveries made by this scholar form the basis for most of the understanding of daemons and their interactions with their hosts and none have surpassed the amount of knowledge on the subject he obtained.
As age overtook him and his life was coming to an end, Balticimus became ever more convinced that the only way for him to achieve immortality was to either become Possessed himself or to have his soul taken by a Possessed. The former path seemed very unreliable as he was no fighter or killer and, even when a person killed a sentient being in the presence of a Possessed, they were not guaranteed of getting a daemon. As such, he decided to convince his master to kill him and take his soul.
Even so early in the Empire’s history, the rules for slavery were already highly developed and Balticimus’ master insisted that he would have to commit a capital offense for her to take his life. Balticimus, already a century old, quite frail and almost blind from age, “declared” himself an enemy of the Empire and made an “attempt” on his master’s life, one she was easily able to foil.
Recognizing his actions for what they were, she declared him a traitor and his life forfeit.
A Possessed must claim a soul through violent means but Balticimus’ master did it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Over the following decades and centuries, the writings of Balticimus and his beliefs slowly spread throughout the Empire. Though, even today, it has not achieved the same popularity and level of dedication that any of the religions associated with the gods of the Empire have, it has become a respected religion.
The growing worship of Ravnivorous as a divine being has lead to some problems with the Cult of Balticimus, or Balticimeans, as they are more politely called. While they worship all Possessed in their way, Ravnivorous, as the last of the remaining 13 has pride of place. Ravnivorous’ church is somewhat conflicted by these worshippers. On the one hand, they consider welcoming them into the fold to increase their flock. On the other, many in the clergy consider them somewhat unstable at best and want to distance themselves from the cultists as much as possible.
The relationship between the Possessed and Cult of Balticimus, has always been somewhat complex, as well. Though Ravnivorous has not officially endorsed the religion, he has also done nothing to stamp it out. In fact, his only real attention to the Cult is that he has codified the method for their “transcendence” as Balticimeans call being slain by a Possessed and having their souls taken by them. Ravnivorous is not entirely comfortable with the obviously dark nature of the cult but, also cannot deny the value of a steady stream of willing souls to not only keep he and his fellow Possessed alive but also making them ever stronger.
To ensure that those who sacrifice themselves do not do so on a whim, or as a momentary act of fervor there is a formal, stylized ritual that a Balticimean has to go through to satisfy the legal rules for becoming a traitor and being slain by a Possessed rather than simply becoming a life slave. The Balticimean has to declare his intention on or before The Feast of Souls and cannot achieve transcendence until the next Feast of Souls or after.
When that day comes, the Balticimean declares his “intention” to overthrow the Empire and “attacks” the Possessed. This is generally a very stylized process and the Balticimean is usually easily disarmed and slain, quickly if the Possessed if kind or generous but sometimes slowly if the Possessed is particularly cruel. Many Balticimeans are of the belief that the more they suffer as they die, the more proof of their dedication and the more sublime their afterlife as a part of the Possessed who kills them.

The Purifying Flame – The history of the Purifying Flame goes all the way back to the Almatian Conquest. With the arrival of the Possessed and their “unholy parasites” splinter groups from the churches of several of the gods of the Almatians banded together as inquisitors and paladins specifically dedicated to slaying the invaders and their superhuman abilities.
They called themselves the Purifying Flame and, as the years went on took to burning their victims to death when they were able, to, though they were never above killing a Possessed in any way possible. They remained some of the most stalwart opponents of the Ravnivori even after the leaders and people of the Almatian Confederation conceded defeat and submitted to the rule of their invaders.
Understandably, Ravnivorous and the other Possessed were rather zealous and violent in rooting out members of the Purifying Flame. In fact, an Imperial Edict made aligning with the group or claiming membership in it a treasonous offense. In an act of cruel irony, the Possessed began burning the members of the Purifying Flame in turn.
Despite the harsh punishment that comes with affiliating with this group, the Empire has never been able to wipe it out, entirely. Instead, it has become an underground secretive group. There are always though who find the power the Possessed, physical, social and political offensive and it takes little effort to convince these individuals that destroying them is a divine mandate.
In fact, members of the Purifying Flame point to the fact that many in the group are given divine powers by the gods as a sign of their approval for what they consider a holy quest. If questioned as to why there are just as many Possessed priests who are also able to access holy energies, the members of the Flame claim that the Possessed are actually channeling infernal forces and use it as further evidence of their Evil nature.
Members of the Purifying Flame go through a secret initiation ritual when they are first brought into the ranks. As part of this ritual, they are branded with the sect’s symbol, a stylized fire. This brand is always placed directly over the member’s heart.
The powers that be know of this telltale mark and when rumors of a Purifying Flame plot surface, it is not uncommon for Imperial officials and security officers to begin strip searches to find conspirators.

Personalities of the Empire

The first three of these started out as the potential patrons for my player group.  Each one represents a different potential goal for a party.  Kazucarn (who the group chose) is a trader and represents a focus on making money through shipping. Shenzen is interested in discovery.  She represents a focus on exploration.  Karl is interested in expanding the empire.  He represents a focus on conquest.

The rest of them are just characters who either showed up in the campaign or who were ideas that I wanted to flesh out.  A few of them have stats, as well, but most are just descriptions.

Below are several personages representative of the citizens of the Ravnivori Empire.

Kazucarn Gurk

A massive minotaur with a potbelly, chestnut fur, and gold and gem encrusted horns

Kazucarn is first and foremost a business man. He seeks to expand his own fortunes and hedonistic horizons by sponsoring void runners. Though he never breaks the law, he will push it to extremes with no thought to morality or ethics. He has gained a reputation for buying or selling anything as long as it is not illegal.

Kazucarn Gurk began life as the illegitimate child of a woman who served as purzya to an Imperial military unit. The woman cared little for the child and did not alter her lifestyle in the least to take him into account. Kazucarn grew up wandering around following the army with his mother and scavenging a life from their castoffs.

He had just become a pre-teen when the war between the Ravnivori and the Shan ended. The unit he was associated with was not disbanded, but became a garrison unit in Shan lands. Kazucarn decided that he was going to forge his own destiny. Over the years, he’d scraped together a decent amount of money from found coins and pay for doing small chores and favors for the soldiers and he used this money to buy a cart and a few unique goods from the local Shan market.

With these supplies, he headed west. Gurk stopped in each village and town he passed, selling some of his goods when he could make a profit or buying cheap goods when he could find them. His real success came after he made the arduous trip over one of the passes that lead into Almatian lands. The Almatians clamored to buy the exotic spices, fabrics and art from Shan lands and he made a massive profit. After splurging on an opulent meal and room, Kazucarn quickly loaded his cart up with Almatian goods and headed back over the mountains.

Two more trips allowed him to buy a wagon, another, an additional wagon. Two more a ship so that he could trade goods between all three of the continents of Retra. By the time Gurk reached 16, the age of maturity, he no longer had to go on the trips himself. He had a large trading network with several dozen employees and interests in several permanent caravans and trading fleets.

Kazucarn semi-retired at this point, having a large, opulent villa built near his headquarters in Almatia and enjoying the good life. He always had a taste for finer things and fully indulged that predilection, enjoying all manner of alcohol, drugs, food, women and entertainment.

By the time void runners were discovered, Gurk was one of the few people on Retra with enough money to buy one. Seeing the massive possibility for profit these new vessels presented, he invested almost all of his liquid capital in them. This allowed him to outright buy two Tradesmen as they were produced and hold shares in two more. He immediately put them to work, setting up trade between the civilizations the Empire found in the void as well as selling their services to the Empire itself.

Currently, Gurk owns more void runners than anyone else in the Empire, three Tradesmen and a Squidship, though he is always looking to expand his holdings.

Sokune Shenzen

A short, birdlike, elderly Shan woman with long black hair, streaked with silver.

Shenzen sees the discovery of void runners as a chance to expand her already considerable knowledge. She hopes that those under her patronage will bring back books, art and information about the wonders of the universe beyond Retra.

Shenzen was born the first daughter of a high level functionary of the Immortal Court of the Glorious Empire of the Eternal Shan. Her mother held sway over a massive swath of land near the capital and the Sokune family often dined with the Imperial family.

Shenzen’s mother hoped that her daughter would follow in her footsteps and did everything in her power to prepare her for her future position. Shenzen was provided the best tutors in all fields from calligraphy to astronomy to to medicine to swordplay to court politics. Unfortunately, she proved completely incompetent and disinterested int he last of these fields. Shenzen simply did not care who was currying favor with who, what flutter of a fan meant that one hated a rival, or what the Emperor’s favorite kind of nut was. Once she discovered the wonders of the world that could be discovered though science and learning, she cared little for the politics that made that world go round.

Thus, though it disappointed her to no end, Shenzen’s mother was forced to pass her power on to her son, a boy who was not so bright as his sister but who had a double dose of the killer instinct and cunning that made for a brilliant courtier.

Shenzen was relegated to a role as a researcher and librarian at the Golden University of Ever Rising Knowledge, the center of study at the Imperial capital. It was a life that she excelled at. She never rose very high in the ranks as the social competition in academia proved just as fierce as at the Emperor’s court, but none could deny her brilliance and her superiors often jockeyed to have her assigned to them so that they could lay claim to at least partial credit for her discoveries.

She hardly noticed when the Ravnivori conquered her land. It was only a minor annoyance as she was forced to remain away from or sneak into the library for several months while the invaders laid siege to her city. Afterward, she simply returned to her quest for knowledge, hardly caring that her new superiors were foreign conquerors as long as they did not interfere with her work. Fortunately, those superiors were wise enough to stay out of her way.

Shenzen’s disinterest in the outside world was only shattered when that outside world expanded. The discoveries and possibilities available on other worlds was a draw that she could not deny. Though she did not have her brother’s power or money, she had amassed an impressive amount of money from her salary and from awards given due to her many discoveries. Since she seldom spent any of this money, she had quite a treasury by the time void runners were discovered.

She wasted little time in buying one and less in gathering a crew, boarding her ship and streaking off into the void. That first trip garnered her numerous specimens and tomes as well as another ship. One of the societies that she discovered was so impressed by her quest for knowledge that their ruler gifted her with a Dragonship to show his admiration.

Shenzen has returned home, now, retiring from the University so that she may examine the wonders of the universe. These wonders are brought to her by her two ships, both the Dragonship and her first Koi. Though she already has a backlog of material to research that will last until well after her death, her thirst for knowledge remains unslaked and she is looking to add a third research vessel to her fleet.

Karl Djordsen

Tall, broad shouldered with long blonde hair and a shaggy beard and bright green eyes.

Karl is a Possessed Ravnivori who is completely dedicated to the Empire. His interest in backing Void Runners is almost purely in bringing the glory of the Empire to new worlds and, incidentally, expanding his own holdings.

Karl is the current patriarch of a seafaring family that has served the Empire for generations. Once the need for naval military forces had essentially expired, the Djordsens, like many other families in the Empire with strong military traditions were left without purpose and looked for meaning.

For Karl, at least, this meaning came with the discovery of Void Runners. Karl’s secret dream, the chance to explore new places was suddenly a possibility. His entire world had been charted by the time Karl was born but the opening of the universe with the advent of the Void Runners opened up a universe of possibilities for the man.

The Djordsens were not a powerful enough family to claim one of the earliest Void Runners, but Karl was inspired by the Void Runners and let nothing stand in his way. He volunteered a great deal of his family fortune to the Thresher project to help get the experimental ship constructed. And, of course, after it was built, it was given into his care. Karl still captains the Terror of the Void, as the first Thresher has been named but he is also looking to expand his fleet with another vessel, either to serve as support or as an individual ship to further explore the universe.

Dunbar Liggett

A massive Dracotaur with deep grey-blue scales and a paler, almost white underbelly. Several horns spring back from his head and spikes bedeck the tip of his tail. His golden eyes are fierce, but intelligent.

The current King of Pain of the Legion of the Abyss, Dunbar Liggett began his career in the military in the closing years of the Ravnivori campaign against Almatia. He was inducted into the Legion just in time for it to be disbanded, though he was quick to join the military fraternity that rose from its ashes.

In the campaign against the Shan that followed, he proved himself just as savage, efficient and brutal as to be expected of Legionnaire. Eventually, his skills became so impressive that he was chosen for the supreme position in the Legion.

He has maintained this title even after the defeat of the Shan and, though many wondered what the Legion of the Abyss would become with the apparent end of war, Dunbar was quick to petition for and be granted the captaincy of a Void Runner ship. His ship, The Hammer of Doom is considered one of the most dangerous vessels in the Empire, not least because Liggett is its captain.

L’un Dihn

A petite Shan woman with large, deep black eyes and long flowing brown hair. She has a round, warm face and full lips.

Eyes: Black Hair: Dark Brown Height: 5’ Weight: 115#
Agility: d8 Smarts: d4 Spirit: d8 Strength: d4 Vigor: d6
Skills: Fighting: d4, Shooting: d4, Guts: d8, Knowledge (Fashion) d8, Persuasion: d8, Riding d4
Pace: 6 Parry: 4 Toughness: 4 Charisma: +4
Edges: Attractive, Noble, Rich
Hindrances: Small, Clueless

L’un Dihn is the daughter of Kazucarn Gurk and the daughter of a noble Shan family. Though the woman’s out of wedlock pregnancy was somewhat shameful, the family could not turn a blind eye to Gurk’s money and power. Strangely, Gurk doted on the girl, if from afar. While he would never win any prizes for being a good father, he showered his daughter with money and gifts, utterly spoiling her and ensuring that she never needed to worry about anything.

Dihn has managed to reach adulthood without learning much about the real world. She has grown somewhat bored by her sheltered life and has decided to stowaway on one of her father’s voidrunning ships to learn more about life outside her cloistered existence.

Sokune Takio

A petite, Shan woman with an elegant face and short midnight black hair and almond shaped dark brown eyes. She moves with unconscious grace and athleticism.

The daughter of Sokune Shenzen, Takio followed a very different path. Instead of becoming a scholar and burying herself in books, she instead dedicated her life to becoming a samurai and master swordswoman. Taking up the ancestral weapon of her father’s clan, she is not yet the world’s greatest swordsmaster, but she is universally acknowledged as one of the best.

Eyes: Dark Brown Hair: Black Height: 5’5″ Weight: 130#
Agility: d10 Smarts: d4 Spirit: d6 Strength: d6 Vigor: d6
Skills: Fighting: d12, Shooting: d6, Guts: d8, Persuasion: d8
Pace: 6 Parry: 8 Toughness: 7(3) Charisma: 0
Edges: Trademark Weapon (Chrysanthemum Wind)
Hindrances: Vow (Samurai Code), Big Mouth
Gear: Chrysanthemum Wind (Katana) Str + d6 + 2, AP2, Plate Corselet +3 Torso, Pot helm +3 Head 50%

Vangral

A tall, slender but muscular Ravnivori elven man. He has flowing, golden blonde hair and dark blue eyes. His face is thin and sharp.

Eyes: Dark Blue Hair: Blonde Height: 5’10″ Weight: 160#
Agility: d10 Smarts: d8 Spirit: d8 Strength: d8 Vigor: d8
Skills: Fighting: d10, Guts: d8, Intimidation: d8, Notice: d8, Shooting: d6, Spellcasting: d8, Stealth: d8
Pace: 6 Parry: 7 Toughness: 9(3) Charisma: 0
Edges: Arcane Background: Magic
Gear: Platemail (3), Longsword: Str+d8, Longbow: 2d6
Special Abilities: Infravision
Magic: Stun, Deflection, Speed

Vangral served as the captain of a ocean going dreadnought in the Ravnivori war against the Shan. He was a steady commander who won the victories he was expected to and avoided trouble he could not handle. He was also the mentor of a young human named Karl Djordsen.

When the Shan war finally ended, Vangral remained in the navy, continuing to serve steadily if without distinction. Until, that is, Djordsen contacted him and offered him a position as the human’s lieutenant on his new void running ship.

Chorizal (Draga)

A powerfully built draga with dark green body scales and pale yellow belly scales. A scowl seems to be permanently etched into his face.

Eyes: Yellow Hair: None Height: 12’ Weight: 800#
Agility: d6 Smarts: d6 Spirit: d6 Strength: d8 Vigor: d6
Skills: Fighting: d10, Intimidation: d6, Notice: d8, Shooting: d6, Stealth: d6, Swimming: d4
Pace: 6 Parry: 8 Toughness: 7(2) Charisma: 0
Edges:

Hindrances: All Thumbs, Code of Honor, Cold Aversion (Major), Mean
Gear: Halberd: Str + d8, Flail: Str+d6, Medium Shield
Special Abilities: Armor + 2, Bite Str + d4, Dragon Deference, Four Arms

Ravnivori Empire – Edges

And, with this, you should be able to make a fully compatible Ravnivori Empire Character.  Race, culture, skills, hindrances and now Edges.  I have some equipment I’ve worked up, so I guess there’s that but otherwise, if you’re playing along at home, you basically have the Character Creation guide for my campaign.

Speaking of characters, my document got up to 200 pages but I pulled out the pre-gen characters I’ve offered folks at cons and put them into their own document.  So I have some room under that entirely arbitrary number, again.

Edges:

The following are Edges appropriate to the Ravnivori Empire.

Background

These are edges that the character is either born with or begins play with. Many of them are a direct result of some unusual ancestor in the character’s bloodline or represent unusual characteristics for a member of his race.

Advanced Saurian

Requirements: Novice, Saurian

Saurian eggs hatched near suns produce Saurians who are quicker both mentally and physically. Saurians with this Edge lose the Slow Footed Hindrance and are capable of achieving a Smarts of d12, though they must still spend two points to raise their Smarts at character generation.

Giant Kin

Requirements: Novice, Vigor D6, Strength d6, Amazon, Dwarf, Elf, Human, Minotaur or Troglyn

One of your ancestors was some sort of giant. Though your stature cannot match theirs, you are noticeably larger than others of your type. However, your bulk also interferes with your dexterity. You gain a +2 to your size (and toughness) and can carry 8 times your strength in pounds with no penalty rather than 5 times. Unfortunately, it takes two steps to raise your agility at character creation, though it can be increased as normal with later advances.

 

Unusual Heritage

Requirements: Novice

Over the centuries, the more powerful and exotic sentient species have had a fascination with humanoids. Whether through love or simple lust, faeries, dragons and otherworldly creatures have interbred with the more mundane races of the Empire. One of your ancestors is one of these strange creatures and you have inherited some special ability from them. You gain a single Novice level power and five power points to use on this power. These power points refresh at a rate of one per hour and cannot be augmented in any way. In addition, you gain immunity to poison or disease, a +2 to checks against environmental effects or a +4 to checks against a specific type of environmental effect.

 

 

 

Professional:

The below edges reflect the benefits provided to a character because of their training or association with one of the organizations in the Empire, or because of their expertise in a particular field.

Gray Heart

Requirements: Novice, Fighting d6, Streetwise d6

You are the Left Hand of the Emperor, the enforcement of his will. You have the power to arrest and punish any Imperial citizen who breaks the Emperor’s laws. Any Imperial citizen recognizes this power and defers to you, giving you a +2 to Charisma against them. Your extensive training also gives you a +2 to Investigation, Streetwise and Tracking rolls. You also gain a minor vow to uphold the laws of the Empire.

Member of a Military School

Requirements: Varies

Your character is a member of one of the many military schools, fencing academies or martial arts dojos that exist scattered throughout the Empire. Each of these schools of specialized learning provides its own advantages but they all provide members a +1 Charisma modifier to other members of the Academy.

Scion of the Tzhou Family

Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Blackpowder) d6, Shooting d6

Although perhaps not, technically a member of the Tzhou Family, you have at least received that honorary status. You have been given the privilege of monitoring Black Powder weapons throughout the Empire. You’ve received extensive training both in the use and design of black powder weapons. You gain a +1 to hit with any black powder weapon, including cannons. You also gain a +2 to any Knowledge or repair rolls that involve black powder weapons. Finally, you gain a +2 to your charisma when dealing with Imperial merchants if the goods in question are black powder weapons due to the respect given your position.

Talon of Kahwen

Requirements: Seasoned, Agility d8, Fighting d8, Knowledge (Religion) d8, Weapon of the 7 (Katar of Kahwen)

When wielding 2 Talons of Kahwen, you may gain both the parry bonus and attack capabilities of one of them. This allows you to make an attack with one of the weapons and get a +4 total parry bonus from the two weapons.

Improved Talon of Kahwen

Requirements: Veteran, Agility d10, Fighting d10, Knowledge (Religion) d10, Weapon of the Gods (Katar of Kahwen)

As above but you may use both Talons to attack and still receive their full parry bonus. Multiaction and off hand penalties apply as normal.

Weapon of the 7

Requirements: Novice, Spirit d8+, Strength d6+, Vigor d8+, Fighting, d8+, Knowledge (Religion) d6+

The militant arm of the 7 Lords of Thunder are men and women who are often not blessed with magical abilities. Instead, they are skilled warriors who have dedicated their lives to protecting the faithful of the 7 Lords.

A Weapon of the 7 gains a +1 to hit when wielding the favored weapon of their patron. In addition they get a +2 bonus to resist all negative environmental effects related to weather. Finally, the faithful have nothing but love and respect for Weapons of the 7 and they get a +2 Charisma bonus with any worshipper of any of the 7 Lords of Thunder.

The Weapons of the 7 for each Lord of Thunder go by titles based on their name and favored weapon as shown below:

Clenched Hand of Upi

Katar of Kahwen

Hammer of Grashk

Whip of Mu’Ab

 

 

Social

These edges help you get along in the world. They help you win friends and influence people.

 

Kronor

Requirements: Seasoned, Noble

Your character has holdings on multiple worlds. He gains an additional 500 marks a month in income from these holdings. He also gets a +1 to his Charisma when dealing with Imperials who know he is a Kronor. Additionally, his knowledge of all the worlds he has holdings on is exceptional and he gets a +1 to any Knowledge rolls directly related to those worlds. Of course, his duty to the Empire and the number of subjects he is responsible for also increases.

 

Weird:

Weird edges reflect abilities that your character has that are outside the norm for members of your race, or average members of the worlds. Many of these are edges that apply only to certain races but, unlike background edges, they can be taken after character creation.

Combat Tail

Requirements: Novice, Draga, Naga

While the tails of most Draga and Naga are too slender at the tip to be effectively used as a weapon, a few are born with thicker appendages or even spikes or heavy knobs at the end that can be a threat. A Draga or Naga with this adaptation does Str + d6 damage with their tail and can strike with it at +1 Reach.

Enhanced Natural Armor

Requirements: Novice, Draga, Minotaur, Naga, Saurian or Troglyn

Whether it be thicker scales, armored plates, tougher hide or simply shaggy, protective fur, your character has skin that is naturally resistant to damage. Your character gains a +2 bonus to natural armor. This is in addition to any natural armor the character already has.

Enhanced Natural Weapon

Requirements: Novice, Natural Weapon

Your character has larger horns, sharper claws or fangs or a tail with a heavy knob or spikes at the end. The damage of all your natural weapons increases by a die type. Minotaurs may take this edge only if they have the Large Horns edge and Naga may only take this edge if they have the Combat Tail edge.

Large Horns

Requirements: Novice, Minotaur

In many sectors of Imperial society, The larger a minotaur’s horns, the stronger, better and more virile he is assumed to be. A long horned minotaur is able to charm his way through many situations and garners respect from many individuals even before he has had a chance to earn it. They gain a +2 to Charisma when dealing with Imperial citizens, though members of other societies generally do not share the same prejudice. Additionally, these horns are large enough to be used as weapons, though their position makes it somewhat awkward if the minotaur is not charging. These natural weapons do Str + d6 in damage, but with a -1 to hit unless the minotaur is charging headfirst, in this case, he must move at least 4” and does an extra +4 damage if he hits.

 

Poison Bite

Requirements: Novice, Draga, Naga, Saurian, Troglyn

You have a pair of long, sharp fangs attached to venom sacks. When you bite an opponent, you can inject them with poison from these glands. Your bite only does Str + d4 damage but any victim that suffers a Shaken result must make a Vigor role or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.

Possessed

Requirements: Novice, d10+ in any stat or skill

You are bonded to a spirit known as a Daemon.  This entity keeps you young and healthy, as long as you pay its price.  So long as you kill at least one sentient creature each year, you do not age.  Additionally, you gain a +2 to Vigor rolls to resist diseases.  You also gain a +2 to Charisma when dealing with members of the Ravnivori Empire.  However, you get a -2 to Charisma when dealing with outsiders who are particularly opposed to demons, devils or spirits.  Finally, you can always identify another Possessed if you can see them.  Ki’Li’Lee and undead cannot take this Edge. Having the Possessed Edge is a requirement for taking the Arcane Background (Super Powers) Edge in the Ravnivori Empire. It also allows a character to take any Racial edge even if he is not a member of the required race. He can also take any physical background edge even after character creation. Additionally, he has access to all Possessed Edges. He must meet all other requirements for these Edges, however.

 

Size Increase I

Requirements: Novice, Draga, Minotaur, Naga, Saurian or Troglyn

Several of the species within the Empire have highly variable sizes that are within the normal range. Many of them also continue to grow over the years, even after they achieve maturity. Any Draga, Minotaur, Naga, Saurian or Troglyn that takes this edge is considered one size larger and gains the corresponding +1 toughness.

Size Increase II

Requirements: Seasoned, Draga, Naga, Saurian, Size Increase I

Some members of certain species in the Empire grow truly huge as time goes on. Many of them continue to grow over the years, even after they achieve maturity. These titans can grow to be literally as big as a horse. Any Draga, Naga, or Saurian that takes this edge is considered one size larger and gains the corresponding +1 toughness.

 

Undead

Requirements: Novice

Mindless undead are not uncommon in the Ravnivori Empire. Whether through curses or intentional rituals designed to raise useful soldiers and workers, skeletons and zombies roam the world of Retra, sometimes under the control of living creatures, sometimes wandering free. More sentient, but common undead such as vampires, mummies, ghouls and liches also exist. However, there are also more unique undead. Created through passionate curses, twisted rituals, or even simply passion that death cannot extinguish, there are individuals who have managed to live on even after their bodies have failed them. Generally, they defy categorization beyond being called “undead.” Undead characters gain a +2 to their toughness, a +2 to recover from Shaken, do not suffer from Disease or Poison and take no additional damage from called shots. These benefits do not come without a price, however. Invariably, people find it difficult to ignore what an undead character truly is and they gain the Outsider trait. Additionally, they gain a Major Phobia, Habit or Vulnerability related either literally or symbolically to the way they were killed or raised. Note, that the character cannot take a Hindrance he already has to pay this price. Also note that Neither Mechanids nor Ki’Li’Lee can be made undead and no one can have both the Undead and Possessed Edge.

(Echoes of Death – The process of becoming undead is a traumatic one. Very rarely does someone go through it without being scarred either mentally or physically. Sometimes these changes are magically linked to the nature of the death. These generally present themselves as unusual weaknesses or mental disabilities. Most Undead go through a great deal of trouble to hide these weaknesses from their enemies and from people in general. Each character who takes the Undead edge must also take one of these Echoes of Death.

Vulnerabilities – Undead characters can be vulnerable to a number of things. This can range from things that are dangerous to everyone to things that are otherwise innocuous to normal individuals. Examples include fire, electricity, precious metals, herbs and plain wood. For weapons that are made out of this substance or types of energy that do damage, the damage is increased by a d6. For substances or energies that are not normally harmful to people, the damage is d6 for each round of contact or exposure.

These vulnerabilities can also be specific symbols or sites, as well. These are often holy symbols or holy ground but any common symbol or type of location could be a Vulnerability for an Undead. The symbol can be made of any sort of material but must come into contact with the undead to do damage. In the case of locations, they must actually be at one of the specified locations for it to have an effect. A fistful of dirt from the location will do no damage, though standing on the grounds or inside the building will do damage every turn.

Hungers – Sometimes when souls come back, they are filled with unnatural hungers. The most famous of these is the vampire’s need to drink blood but others exist as well. Invariably, these hungers are disturbing and could include raw meat or brains. The Undead must feed this hunger at least once a week or suffer a level of fatigue until it is satiated. This fatigue can incapacitate such a character but not kill them and if they reach the level of incapacitation, they must make a spirit roll each time a source of their food is available or attack it in a mindless frenzy. As these hungers are always disturbing, an undead suffers a -2 Charisma penalty with any NPC who has seen him indulge in it.)

Military Schools

Following are the descriptions and explanations of the various Military Schools common in the Empire. A character must have the “Member of a Military School” Edge to gain the advantages of one of these schools.

Sheetara’s Equestrian Academy

Requirements: Fighting d6, Knowledge: Animal Training d6, Riding d6, Shooting d6

Begun in the ancestral homeland of the Amazons, outposts of Sheetara’s Equestrian Academy have spread throughout the Empire. They all retain their dedication to several of the basic tenets of Amazon warfare, however.

Foremost of these ideals is that a rider and her mount should become one. Because the teachers of the school respect the animals that serve as steeds, they realize that these beasts are all individuals and that each has their own abilities, skills and personalities. As such the academy teaches its students that they should first and foremost learn everything they can about their steeds.

To gain the benefits of the school, the member must choose one particular mount and spend at least a month with it, forming a bond with the animal. While horses are the traditional choice for mounts, more exotic animals are certainly a possibility in the modern Empire. This mount may be replaced either if it is lost or simply because a more appealing mount appears but the benefits of the school are unavailable until the member has spent a month familiarizing herself with the new animal.

While riding her favored mount, a member of this school gains a +1 to Fighting, Riding and Shooting checks. They also reduce the unstable platform penalty for shooting to -1, but only while riding this particular mount.

Dojo of the Fiery Whirlwind

Requirements: Agility d6, Shooting d6, Fighting d6

Like many parts of Shan culture, the usage of firearms is a heavily divisive topic. Many people embrace them wholeheartedly and see them as a leap forward in warfare and combat. As such, they believe there is no need to rely on the old fashioned methods of combat and many Shan gun wielders refuse to learn even the rudiments of hand to hand combat.

Others believe that tradition is all important and refuse to touch the newfangled firearms. They instead, cling to their ancient forms of martial arts.

The Dojo of the Fiery Whirlwind was founded by a disgraced member of the Tzhou family who believed that the deadly power of firearms could be combined to lethal effect with the ancient forms of certain martial arts.

Students of the Dojo of the Fiery Whirlwind gain the following benefits.

As long as you are armed with a loaded pistol and have a hand free, you may make 2 attacks per round with no multi-action or offhand penalty. One of these attacks must be an unarmed Fighting attack or grapple attempt and the other must be a shooting attack. This shooting attack can be against any target within range but, if it is directed towards a target within melee range, the TN is the target’s Parry rather than the standard ranged attack TN’s.

When a student achieves the Seasoned Rank they can wield any one handed melee weapon rather than making an unarmed Fighting attack and still gain the above benefits.

 

Imperial Officer’s Training School

Requirements: Knowledge: Battle d6, Fighting or Shooting d6

Ravnivori leaders are expected to lead from the front. As such, they must be able to fight and command at the same time. While this was seldom a problem when the Empire was small, as time went on, leaders were expected to guide larger and larger groups into battle.

While not all Imperial Officers go through the Training School, many wear graduation as a badge of honor, and with good reason. The training regimen includes extensive training in both physical combat and in strategic and tactical doctrines.

Graduates of the Imperial Officer’s Training school enjoy a number of benefits when leading their men from the front lines. First, they don’t suffer any multi-action penalties for making Knowledge: Battle rolls if they take one or more additional actions, including performing heroic actions.

Additionally, a graduate of the Imperial Officer’s Training school may make a Persuasion, Fighting, Shooting, Throwing or arcane skill roll when first taking charge of an Imperial unit. This reflects the character demonstrating his combat skills to prove himself to his soldiers. The character gets no additional effect on a success but for each raise he receives, that unit gets a +1 bonus to Mass Combat morale checks. If he fails, he instead gets a -1. A bonus remains until the character loses a Mass Combat, either because his forces are forced to retreat or are completely destroyed. A penalty remains until he gains a victory, either forcing his opponent to retreat or completely destroying them. If the commander neither has a bonus or penalty, he may roll again after each Mass Combat and gets a +1 if he achieved a victory or a -1 if he lost. The bonus or penalty also resets if he takes leadership of a new force or gains new troops equaling half or more his existing force.

Ravnivori Empire Races – My Void Stuff

Here are a few races from my homebrew setting that are neither from the old Spelljammer setting or native to the Empire’s homeworld.  They’re original Void going races I’ve created, though obviously, Cyclopes, Sphinxes and even scorpion people have appeared in other settings.

The Cyclopes have an obvious Racial Hindrance that can be used for points when designing them as a race.  The Savage or Civilized part is inspired by the Greek legends where half of them seemed to be master craftsmen and half were vicious primitives.  And the size bonus with it’s need for extra food is my way of using the “Extra Rations” hindrance.  Basically, each extra level of size after the first costs only 1 point because of their need to eat and breath more, both issues when you’re traveling through space with limited rations.  I would make it where all Gellian giants are actually Cyclopes but I’ve already run 1 adventure where that was not true and I really hate retconning.

The Dromepodans are just kind of weird, but I’ve always like scorpions and centaurs so they were kind of an obvious combination.  The only unusual thing for them was that I made their armor only a 1 point advantage since it can be easily avoided and at least half their mass is just skin rather than carapace.

And the Void Sphinxes started as a purely feline race with humanoid faces.  I was toying with the idea of them not having opposible thumbs at all.  Then, it occurred to me that they could just be more comfortable walking on all fours but able to move about on their hind legs and use their hands, when necessary.

Dromepodans:

Also known as scorpion people, the only known Dromepodans are much like the Ravnivori in the earliest stages of their development as an empire. They have a well established empire that has its origins around a massive freshwater lake in the middle of a large desert. With this geographic advantage they were able to set up a trading and military empire that stretched beyond the desert. While they have not yet managed to conquer their entire world, they dominate two of its continents and, more importantly, have already had contact with void going nations and races. They very quickly set up deals with these nations and learned the secrets of void running, themselves. While they have not yet conquered their own world, they do have colonies on others and, in fact, have more off world territory than the Ravnivori.

Many Dromepodans have taken to the void even beyond the imperial dreams of their nation and it is not too uncommon to see them in large void ports. A few have even joined the Ravnivori empire and, since their contact a few years back, both empires have traded envoys and merchants.

There is even some discussion of a political marriage between Ravnivorous himself and one of the Grand Sultan’s daughters to forge a strong alliance and potentially unite the two empires as one.

Scorpion people have humanoid, dark skinned and haired torsos springing out of the body of a scorpion. Their scorpion portions can range in color from a cream or tan all the way to midnight black.

Scorpion Body: Rather than humanoid legs, Dromepodans have a scorpion body below the waist. This provides them a +2 to armor but only for this portion of their body. Opponents can make a called shot with only a -1 penalty to strike the portion of their body without a carapace.

Snap and Sting: In addition to their hands and the weapons they can wield with them, Dromepodans have two claws and a stinging tail. All three of these natural weapons do Str+d4 damage and, if the stinger hits and causes a shaken or greater result, the opponent has to make a Vigor check or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds. Note that a Dromepodan is not necessarily more coordinated than members of other races and must take the ambidextrous and multi-attack edges to offset the penalties of attacking more than once per round. Even this only provides them a single additional attack at no penalty and they must take the multi-attack edge again for each additional attack up to 4 total times to be able to attack with both hands, both claws and their tail.

Desert born: Though they have spread throughout their world, Dromepodans trace their ancestry to a desert environment. As such, they are unaccustomed to extreme levels of cold and suffer a -4 penalty to resist cold environmental effects.

Scuttling: Though they have 8 legs, Dromepodans are relatively slow. They have a pace of only 5, though they still roll a d6 when running.

Void Sphinx

Void Sphinxes claim that their race was born in an asteroid field out of stardust and solar winds. While few other races believe this story, no one has ever discovered the actual world where they were born and many suspect that they are the results of a mage’s experiment that went awry.

In any case, Void Sphinxes are unusual creatures. They have humanoid faces, though with a distinctly feline cast. Their bodies are also quite feline though they have longer forelimbs than hind legs and there is something simian about their posture. These creatures can walk on their hind legs alone indefinitely but are generally more comfortable walking on all fours. Their hands are somewhat primitive and, while they are quite agile, they are not particularly dexterous.

Void Sphinxes cultivate an air of mystery and wisdom and often engage in battles of wits with those around them. Some are amused and delighted when they lose these battles while others grow quite angry and violent when they are defeated.

Wise and Nimble – Void Sphinxes are known for both their mental and physical puissance. They begin with a d6 in Smarts and Agility

Simian Gait: Void Sphinxes have a pace of 6” when walking on all fours but roll d10’s for running. When walking on only two legs their pace reduces to 4” and they roll only d4’s when running. They may carry items while walking on all fours but if they run, they must make an agility check (with no multi-action penalty) or drop whatever they are carrying.

Simple Hands: Void Sphinxes hands are somewhat primitive. While they have opposable thumbs, they are not as dexterous as most other races. They suffer a -2 to any skill check that requires fine manipulation. Any Lockpicking and Repair check would suffer this penalty though Fighting, Shooting and Throwing checks would not, unless using a complex device. Other checks are up to GM discretion. Likewise, if the Void Sphinx rolls a 1 on the skill die while using any delicate item or complex piece of machinery, it is broken. Repair takes 1d6 hours and a check at -2.

Claws: Void Sphinxes fingers end in razor sharp retractable claws. They do Str + d6 damage with these natural weapons.

Cat’s Eyes: Void Sphinxes’ eyes are well adapted to darkness. They suffer no penalties for dim or dark lighting.

 

Ravnivori Empire Cultures and Skills

More from my homebrew handbook.  I like the concept of cultures in the game.  It is a nice little way to give some added mechanics to the flavor.  In fact, with settings where humans are the only character race, it’s the only mechanics influenced by the flavor of characters potentially being from different backgrounds.

I’m not even sure where I first saw it but when I did, I knew I had to add it.  I actually need to expand it.  I only have the rules for the 3 main cultures of Retra one of their colony worlds and a group of their allies.  I should work something up for each place where they have enough of a presence that it’s actually likely a character could come from there.

Skills, both new ones and modified ones are another excellent mechanic for flavor.  They can help show where the focus of a game is going to be and what sorts of knowledge and abilities are going to be useful.  Of course, some of the skills in Savage Worlds are so broad that there is some limit in what sorts of focus you can do.  In fact, I only have one unique knowledge skill for my campaign. This should also be expanded.  I can see a Knowledge: Astrogation and Knowledge: Offworld Cultures or their equivalent as obvious options.

I’m going to throw in the Hindrances here, too.  Again, good mechanics to influence flavor, Both for the setting in general and characters in particular.  At some point I’m going to write up a system to buy off hindrances.  I’m the kind of player who doesn’t like flawed characters.  I’d rather my character be average than to have him be great at something but very bad in another are, but it’s hard to create a character without taking hindrances and the associated benefits in Savage Worlds.  Being able to get rid of them later, is, therefore, very appealing to me.

And, as I think I’ve mentioned, I borrow heavily from other games and settings.  There are many skills and hindrances from other Savage World products that I allow in my game, especially ones from settings that have sailing, imperialism or steampunk space travel.

Cultures:

The following are the major cultures of the Ravnivori Empire and the benefits they provide to characters. Each native of the Ravnivori Empire should select one of these cultures during character creation and apply the benefits.

Ravnivori: Ravnivori are a very aggressive, straightforward race. They prefer to face their problems head on in both social situations and battle. No matter the species, Ravnivori are generally tall with broad shoulders and long legs. Their hair is generally straight or wavy and blond or red. Their eyes are usually a pale color such as blue or green. Most Ravnivori have pale skin though some are tanned from exposure to sun and others have a distinct red undertone. Because of the straightforward way in which they approach life, Ravnivori start with a free d4 in Fighting or Intimidation.

Almatians: Almatians are a very social, athletic people. They know how to make deals and influence people but also enjoy the visceral joy of measuring their skill in throwing a javelin or discus against someone else. Almatians are generally stout with powerful builds but only moderate height. Their hair is usually wavy or curly and auburn, brown or black in color. Their eyes are generally dark, ranging from green to brown but even being so dark as to be black. Their skin is similarly dark running the gamut from an olive tone to a deep brown. Because of their friendly nature and athletic prowess, Almatians start a free d4 in Persuasion or Throwing.

Shan: Shan revere learning and careful skill above all. They leave petty things like threats and crude weapons like axes to others, preferring to learn about their world and prove their superiority with more elegant weapons. Shan are generally relatively short with slender builds. They are often described as delicate and graceful. Their hair is almost invariably straight and dark, either deep brown or ranging to midnight black. Their eyes are likewise dark and usually have epicanthic folds. Their skin can be quite pale but usually has a golden or dusky tone. Because of their love of learning and focus on skill in combat, the Shan receive a free d4 in Shooting or any 1 Knowledge skill.

Vellian: Vellians come from a primitive society when compared to that of the native cultures of Retra. They work iron and bronze and craft impressive tools from stone, wood and bone but have not developed the art of blacksmithing. Nonetheless, they have a deep understanding of the natural world around them and have a warrior/hunter culture. Vellians are of average height though often more slender than Almatians. Their hair ranges from sandy blonde to dark brown and their eyes range from light blue to green to light brown. Their skin is generally tan or dark and often has a coppery sheen. Because o their warlike nature and close link with nature, Vellians receive a d4 in Fighting or Survival.

Yoltsov: The Yoltsov clan is a very small contingent of the Ravnivori Empire. However, their culture is completely independent of Retra and even the Ravnivori system and they are spreading, slowly. They are masters of Void Runners in all forms, knowing both how to create and fly the vehicles. Yoltsovs are approximately the same height as Shan dwarves but have proportions like Ravnivori dwarves. Their coloration is also more like Ravnivori dwarves and they almost invariably have eyes that are some shade of blue. Their hair is usually lighter even than the Ravnivori and range from white or silver to sandy blonde. As a Void Running culture, the Yoltsov gain a free d4 in Piloting or Knowledge (Void Runners.)

Knowledge Skill

 

 

 

Knowledge: Voidrunners

Your character understands the process for designing and building Voidrunner ships. This skill is required to build a Voidrunner or Voidrunner Drive and to modify Voidrunners. It also allows a character to identify most Voidrunners and estimate tonnage, modifications and armaments.

Hindrances:

Following are hindrances that are suitable for characters in the Ravnivori Empire.

 

Code of Honor: Weapon of the 7 (Major)

The following is the Code of Honor by which each Weapon of the 7 is expected to live. Though there are those in the order who do not follow this code, there are also many who are not part of the order who aspire to it, either in hopes of eventually becoming a Weapon of the 7 or simply out of respect for the 7 Lords of Thunder and the code. Many of the other religions have similar codes for their parishioners, as well.

Obedience – Obey the commands of those who have been duly chosen by the 7 Lords of Thunder to lead.

Service – Serve the faithful to the best of your ability and aid the non-faithful when possible to show them the glory and beneficence of the 7 Lords of Thunder.

Defense – Defend the faithful even with your life, if necessary.

Honor – Show all honor that the 7 Lords of Thunder deserve for the blessings they provide the faithful and non-faithful alike.

Respect – Just as the 7 Lords of Thunder are brothers, so all gods are cousins. Give the proper respect to other gods and their worshippers.

Strike – Just as the 7 Lords of Thunder do not strike unless they must, so must you withhold your fury. Yet, just as with the 7 Lords of Thunder, when violence is necessary, strike hard and fast, for no one benefits by half measures when action must be taken.

Extra Rations (Minor)

Whether due to your large size or simply because of your voracious appetite, you require more rations to keep you going than the average person. You must eat twice as much food, drink twice as much liquids and breathe twice as much air as a regular human. If you consume normal rations for a human, you get a -2 on your vigor checks to avoid fatigue from hunger. If you consume less than normal rations for a human, you get a -4 to those checks.

Indentured (Minor)

Whether to pay off a crime you have been convicted of or simply as a means to earn extra money for a stake once you’re freed, your character has sold his services to someone else for a set period.  You must obey any orders from this other person so long as they pertain to whatever services you have sold to them.  The three general categories of Indentured servants are: General Labor, Professional and Combat.  General Laborers can be commanded to do any sort of simple work from hauling barrels to assisting in building houses.  Professionals have only one specific area of expertise, usually one that requires skill or knowlege (accounting or architecture, for example.)  Combat servants can be ordered to fight anyone or anything at any time for any reason (though if they commit a crime in the process of obeying the order, by committing murder, for example, it is their master who is charged with the crime rather than them.)  An indentured servant is under no obligation to perform any task for which they were not contracted. A master is free to punish an indentured servant for refusing to perform some task related to their area in any way they wish, though scarring and maiming are frowned upon (and reduce the time of the service) and killing is strictly forbidden.


Lecherous (Major)

Your character’s libido is quite powerful. In fact, it is so powerful that he is helpless in the face of whatever gender(s) might tickle his fancy. In addition to the possible embarrassments and problems that come from trying to seduce possible paramours, your character suffers a -2 to any opposed social roles with members of the gender to which he is attracted. This penalty is modified by an additional negative modifier equal to the opposing characters positive charisma. Opposing character’s negative modifiers to charisma have no effect and do not add a bonus or negate the standard penalty for this hindrance.

Life Slave (Major) 

Your character has been convicted of one of the three capital crimes; murder, rape or treason and thus, his life is forfeit.  Rather than simply being executed, your life has been sold to someone else (and the profits pocketed by the Empire.)  The master of a Life Slave can command them to do anything, from shine their boots, to work 18 hour days in a coal mine to “distract” a dragon while the master gets away.  Disobedience can be met with any sort of punishment the master desires, up to and including death, and, the master doesn’t actually need an excuse to abuse or kill a Life Slave.

 

Semi-Vestigial Limb(s) (Minor)

To take this hindrance, the character must be a member of a race that has limbs in addition to legs and the normal 2 arms. A character with this hindrance has stunted extra limbs. If they have extra arms, they take either a -2 to strength or agility based checks, including damage done with these arms. A prehensile tail takes a -2 penalty to all agility based checks using it and a combat tail takes a -2 to damage done.

Small Horns (Minor)

Though no one discusses it, there is a certain belief that the larger a Minotaur’s horns, the stronger, better and more virile he is. Conversely, minotaurs with smaller horns are considered weaker, inferior and even stupid. A certain social stigma follows them, and they often find their paths to power and privilege blocked, and even in everyday interactions, they sometimes find their lives more difficult. Minotaurs with small horns suffer a -2 Charisma penalty when dealing with any Imperial citizens. For obvious reasons, only Minotaurs may take this hindrance.

Ravnivori Empire – Voidgoing Races

If you had any doubt about where the inspiration for this campaign setting came from before, it will be dispelled by this post.  At least if you are familiar with the source material, at all.

Spelljammer was my favorite of the D&D settings.  It just always had a feeling of limitlessness.  Whatever you wanted to do could be done because it had to be out there in the Void somewhere, right?  Of course, that leads to its own problems.  Its hard to focus when your canvas is literally anything and if you do end up focusing on one planet or country, the question becomes: why have the spelljamming stuff at all?  Why not just use the setting your focusing on?

I hope that the journeys themselves become the story.  That going to new and interesting places will trump the joy of really delving deep into a single location for the players.  Sort of how the best Star Trek episodes weren’t about Klingons or Romulans but about some strange new one off world that the Enterprise happened to come across.

I know at least one of these races was something of a joke, but the Giff definitely have potential.  Hippopotamuses may be funny looking but they kill more people on the Nile than crocodiles and the Romans used to match them up against gladiators in the coliseum.   They’re big and mean and tough.  Adding some other types of Giff based on other big, mean, tough mammals hopefully expands them out some and makes them more interesting.

I probably wouldn’t have worked the Hadozee up as a race, but one of my players specifically requested them.  When he gave his character a name that was the same as the last name as a certain Strange Doctor, it didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to decide to run with it.  So now, other Hadozee also have very English names shared by actors like Clutterbuck and Popplewell (look ’em up…the first will probably surprise you.)

And I just always liked the plasmoids.  No particular reason…unless they just reminded me of Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids, subconsciously.  Or maybe it was that they were so alien that I was fascinated by them.

Hadozee: No one knows exactly where glider apes came from. Their own legends speak of a home world full of giant trees and lush jungles. None of them know the name of this planet, have visited it or even know where it is. It is assumed that a group of their ancestors, or several groups, were captured and enslaved by some race or another and eventually escaped. Void nomads, the glider apes can be found in most of the major space going metropolises and almost all of them spend at least some portion of their life as part of the crew of a Void Runner. They are a curious, adventuresome and gregarious race. Any who are familiar with the void are familiar with the glider apes but many land bound people are fooled by their bestial appearance and are often surprised when they prove intelligent. They resemble large baboons with leathery flaps stretching from their wrists to ankles. Their fur is generally brown or grey but occasionally strange colors like blue or purple occur.

Glide: Glider apes can glide at their pace every round. They drop 1” for every 2” moved horizontally. If they make an agility check each success negates an 1” of drop and they can even rise 1” if they gain enough raises. Glider apes cannot hover and must move at least 2” per turn.

Size: -1. Glider apes are the size of children.

Curious: Glider apes are interested in everything. They find it difficult to avoid investigating anything novel.

Rigging Monkeys: Glider apes are highly agile. They start with a d8 in agility and can get a d12+2 in this stat through normal advancement. They are natural climbers and start with a free d6 in climbing.

Flingers: One of a glider ape’s natural defenses is throwing things. It is instinctual for them to throw things when threatened or angry. They start with a free d6 in throwing.

Giff: The Giff are actually 3 related races who occupy a single caste based society. The lowest, most common group are known simply as Giff and are massive humanoids with heads that resemble those of dour, fierce hippopotami. Renowned for their stupidity and aggressiveness throughout the known worlds, they are also fiercely loyal and brave. They love to fight and love the noise and chaos of black powder weapons, especially.

The next highest caste of the Giff are the Nocerans. These creatures are even larger than the common Giff and have the heads of rhinoceri. They are slightly smarter than the common Giff but just as loyal and courageous and even more aggressive. They are also more disciplined than the common Giff and have keen tactical minds. Most units of common gift have a Noceran leader.

The final class of Giff are the Nibals. The largest of the races, they have the heads of elephants. Unlike either of their smaller cousins, the Nibals are not particularly aggressive and are noticeably smarter and wiser than their kin. Calm contemplators, many of them spend much of their lives in meditation. Others are administrators, researchers and engineers and it is they who keep the Giff culture going.

All Giff are obsessed with black powder and much of their research and strategy revolves around using this material.

Giff society is highly hierarchical and largely militaristic. Almost all common gift and Nocerans are members of the military and there are over 100 ranks in this military, meaning that there is a definitive chain of command. Discipline is high and the punishments for disobeying orders or superiors are severe. Only the Nibals are commonly outside this hierarchy and even they generally serve the military in some form or another. Most of their contemplations go into creating strategies and new weapons.

Another lost race, the Giff homeworld is unknown. They possess a small world where most of the Nibal live and where a slight majority of the other two races also have their homes. Most of the rest of them live in small colonies or, more commonly on ships that wander the Void looking for contracts.

Though the Giff have a vast military, in fact most of their society revolves around it, they do not fight each other nor do they carry on campaigns of conquest. Instead, they are divided up into myriad mercenary units of assorted sizes who sell their services to other races. There are very few void ports without at least one unit of Giff offering their mercenary services.

Common Giff

All Thumbs: Common Giff are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Common Giff have 2 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Slow Witted: Common Giff will never be mistaken for being incredibly bright. It costs 2 points to raise their smarts during character creation and two levellings to raise it afterwards.

Size +1: Common Giff are just over 6’ tall but are quite sturdy, weighing over 400 pounds.

Powerful Muscles: Though Common Giff look fat, they are actually very muscular. They begin play with a d8 strength instead of a d4. They may purchase their strength up to a d12+2. The Professional and Expert edges can increase this to d12+4.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Common Giff are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.

Semi-Aquatic: Common Giff are not amphibious but they are more comfortable if they can keep their skin moist. They take a -4 penalty to resist heat or dehydration. On the other hand, they only gain a Fatigue level every 15 minutes that he holds his breath. On reaching incapacitated must make a vigor roll every minute or drown. Fatigue recovers one level per 15 minutes back in air.

Nocerans

Agility: d6, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d10, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d4, Piloting: d6 Shooting: d6

Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 11(3)

All Thumbs: Nocerans are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Nocerans have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +2: Nocerans stand just over 7’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 600 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Nocerans are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.

Near-sighted: Nocerans have weak eyes and receive a -2 to all ranged attacks.

Charge: Nocerans can use their horns in combat if they charge at least 2 squares. The damage for this attack is Str+d6.

Nibals

Agility: d6, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d10, Strength: d10, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Any 2) d8, Persuasion d6, Piloting: d4, Shooting: d6

Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 11(3)

Thick Skinned: Nibals have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +3: Nibals are truly huge creatures who stand just over 9’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 1000 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Nibals are fascinated by black powder weapons of all sorts. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option.

Tusks: If a Nibal must engage in combat it will use its tusks for Str +d6 damage.

Trunk: Nibal trunks are prehensile and quite adept. They gain a bonus non-move action each round using their trunk.

Plasmoids: No one is quite sure whether plasmoids naturally evolved on some strange world, were created by some unknowable god in its own shapeless image or were created as an experiment by a mad wizard in ages past. In any case, they are some of the most unusual sentient creatures in the Void. At first glance, a plasmoid appears to be nothing more than a puddle of viscous goo with unidentifiable organs floating in it. Plasmoids have impressive control over their shapeless bodies, however and can “stand” upright, form “limbs” or slither through tight spaces. Their amorphous form makes them unusually difficult to injure but also gives them an alien mentality that often leaves more mundane species nonplussed. Plasmoids communicate with each other through a series of vibrations of their skins that are often inaudible to other species but most are able to control these vibrations enough to speak more common languages.

Alien Nature – Plasmoids have unusual bodies by almost any definition. This means that other species are often put off by their appearance and method of communication. For that matter, their own mentalities mean that they have a difficult time understanding and interacting socially with members of other species. This leads to a -2 to all charisma checks with those who are not members of their species.

Amorphous Shape – The very nature of a plasmoid’s body provides it some advantages and disadvantages. They receive a +2 to recover from being shaken. They have no discernible anatomy so called shots are not an option against them. They also do not suffer any wound penalties. Additionally, their body chemistry is so unusual that they are immune to diseases and toxins. However, because of this strange anatomy, those trying to render aid to them are at a disadvantage. Anyone other than a plasmoid trying to heal a plasmoid through either mundane or magical means suffers a -2 to all checks. Likewise, it is almost impossible to create armor that fits these creatures. Only a master armorer is capable of crafting something suitable and will require a great deal of time and expense.

Shapeshifting – All plasmoids are capable of consciously altering their amorphous forms, though sometimes in dramatically different ways. To reflect this, every plasmoid gains the Arcane Background (Shapeshifting) edge with an extra 5 power points and a starting Shapeshifting Skill of d6.

 

Ravnivori Races: The Weird Stuff

As promised, here is some more of my homebrew setting document.  These are the final playable races that are available from the homeworld of the Ravnivori Empire.  There are a couple powerful races that aren’t playable.  Maybe I’ll post one of them next.  The other is centaurs and there are stats for NPC centaurs available in Savage Worlds, anyway.

If I ever run the setting again, I may pull the Ki’Li’Lee from the available options.  I like the idea of them and they are important to the Empire, serving as a sort of psychic radio network, but I have an idea of them in my head that I can’t quite convey to get the right feel for players.  That and the fact that they are a hive intelligence means that it’s hard to let a player go without providing them too much guidance.  I would, at least, make them small…just because of their inspiration from the Grays and the fact that there is only one small race available out of the dozen or so, now.  Oh, I guess I should mention they’re inspired by Gray aliens and mind flayers.

Speaking of the small race; Troglyns originally started as my version of Kobolds then morphed into a sort of shrunken down version of Tieflings, though without actually having an infernal background.

Without further ado…

Ki’Li’Lee are perhaps the most unusual of the races from Retra. They are also the only one whose arrival is alluded to in the annals of history. The most ancient Almatian texts speak vaguely of several stars that fell one night and the discovery of the Ki’Li’Lee in a previously uninhabited part of the continent soon after. It is now assumed that the Ki’Li’Lee were a void running race and that their arrival on the planet was the result of some crash that left them stranded. The Ki’Li’Lee themselves, in their usual inscrutable ways refuse to speak of it or answer any questions about where they came from. All Ki’Li’Lee are psychically connected and, a Ki’Li’Lee within 10 miles of another is automatically in constant mental contact with it. With effort they can boost this to hundreds of miles and with the appropriate devices they can reach out across the distance between stars. This is not an ability they can block and they exist in a constant hive mind. This gives them an a point of view that the other races of the Empire find exceptionally alien as Ki’Li’Lee have not sense of themselves as individuals and consider themselves extensions of the greater whole. Ki’Li’Lee are also the strangest looking inhabitants of the Ravnivori empire. Their skin is pale to the point of being bluish grey and almost completely smooth with no hair or scales anywhere on their bodies. Their heads are large and round with huge, black eyes. They have no noses, only a pair of nostrils and anywhere from 3 to 9 tiny, fleshy feelers around their mouths. Ki’Li’Lee have four arms but each of their hands has only three fingers. These fingers are totally opposable and form a triangle on their hands. Ki’Li’Lee are as slender as elves, though a bit taller. They range in height from 5’6” to just over 6’ tall. Ki’Li’Lee weapons often seem strange in the hands of other races. They favor the use of spiked chains and kamas and katars. Their armor is light, but sturdy, providing surprising protection.

 Four Arms: Ki’Li’Lee possess four fully functional arms. These extra limbs allow the Ki’Li’Lee to take one additional non-movement action per turn with no penalty.

Telepathy:  Ki’Li’Lee are naturally psionic.  They are in constant communication with each other and can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature they can see.

Outsider:  Ki’Li’Lee are unusual creatures with a strange appearance and a bizarre way of thinking.  They receive a -2 to their charisma scores when dealing with people of other races and many people simply refuse to deal with them.

Cultures: Although the Ki’Li’Lee nation is in Almatia, they hold themselves separate so they receive no culture bonus.

Troglyns inhabit and rule the vast cavern and tunnel complex that lies under much of both Almatia and Shan. Their society nominally follows that of the Shan humans with a single mandarin ruling all of them and that mandarin nominally reporting to the Shan Emperor. A complex bureaucracy with even more complex rules defining it flows down from this mandarin. Unfortunately, the rules have become so complex that no one really understands them fully anymore and Troglyn society and government is nothing more than thinly veiled anarchy. Anyone from any class or caste can attain any position, though it is determined more by their skill at subterfuge and deception than any true ability. Any Troglyn who gives a straightforward reason for doing anything is hiding a particularly subtle and complex deception. Troglyns are the smallest of the species under the domain of Ravnivorous. They seldom rise to 4’ in height and can be as short as 3’. Their builds are small and flexible. Their skin is usually a grey or dull brown color though black is a rare possibility that is considered particularly exotic and attractive to other Troglyns. They are completely hairless and their heads feature horns in a variety of shapes and large, bulbous, green or red eyes. Their tails are long and thin.  Troglyns almost exclusively use missile weapons. They use a variety of bow and crossbows, both of their own manufacture and those they can procure from other races. Even their melee weapons can be used at range, with throwing axes, javelins, spears and throwing knives being most popular. They seldom wear armor, though they will occasionally carry shields.

 Fast Healing:  Troglyns heal much faster than other creatures.

Thermal Vision:  Given their home environment, the ability to see in the dark is vital to Troglyns.  They can detect heat signatures as easily as light.

Combat Tails:  Troglyns can use their tails as weapons.  When hitting someone with their tail they deal Strength + d6 damage.

Small:  As the smallest of the sentient species on Retra, Troglyns are not as durable as the larger races around them.  They take a -1 to their toughness.

Cultures: Troglyns inhabit the lands under both Almatia and Shan. They may choose either culture. Both sides believed they were working for them in the long wars between the two nations and the Troglyns quickly changed allegiances to the Ravnivori when it became evident that the Empire was going to defeat them both.

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Ravnivori Races: Core

As it seems unlikely it will ever see the light of day as a published product, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish my Homebrew Savage Worlds setting in piecemeal fashion here.  It’s already happened to a certain degree.  The Ravnivori Empire Pantheon posts and the ones with my space faring fantasy ship design rules are both from the document.  Also from the document are the races in the Union of the Snake, Battle of the Sexes and the Mechanids from the Fauxbots posts.

I’m going to go ahead and complete out my races over the next few posts, starting with what most consider the core fantasy races that originate on the Ravnivori Homeworld, then exploring the stranger native races and finally some of the races they have discovered since reaching the stars.

For those who don’t know, the Ravnivori Empire is a Swords and Sorcery in Space setting.  Sort of like Lord of the Rings meets Pirates of the Caribbean  meets Star Wars.

There are now 2 of my novels about one particular agent of the Empire on Amazon.

Lost Temple of the Soulless World

The Prince’s Fate

Dwarves are native to the Ravnivori lands and the mountains that form the border between Almatia and Shan. However, these two branches of the race are distinctly different. Both respect tradition, duty, and martial prowess and they both societies have a clan structure. The similarities end there, however. Ravnivori clans are all distinct and often at odds with each other. Before uniting under the rule of the Ravnivori Empire they often warred with each other. Shan dwarves, on the other hand are united under the rule of a single Mandarin. Ravnivori clans are completely self-sufficient while the clans of the Shan are each specialized, its members performing one service for the nation for generations. Thus, family and loyalty are much more important to Shan dwarves than they are to Ravnivori Dwarves. Even the physical features of the two branches are different. Both are shorter than humans or elves, being between 4’ and 5’ tall, and both are have stocky builds and are heavier than either humans or elves. However, Shan dwarves are more slender than their Ravnivori cousins and very thin members of their race can pass for short humans. Ravnivori dwarves have pale skin, hair and eyes. Their hair is often blonde, light brown, or red. Their eyes are generally blue or green. Shan dwarves have golden skin, dark hair and dark eyes with epicanthic folds. All dwarven men grow thick, long facial hair. The Ravnivori wear full beards whereas Shan shave and trim theirs into various types of beards, mustaches and sideburns that display their clan affiliation. Ravnivori Dwarves favor heavy sturdy weapons such as axes and hammers. Their armor is some of the toughest and most impregnable in the world, but is also quite heavy and they often wield equally effective shields. Shan Dwarves use curved blades similar to their human counterparts, but they are generally much heavier and thicker. Hammers are less popular amongst them, but also used. They disdain the use shields and all of their weapons can be wielded with both hands. Their armor is lighter, though still relatively bulky and protective. Both types favor crossbows as distance weapons, though Shan Dwarves are also prone to use the black powder weapons that have recently been introduced in the Empire.

 Low Light Vision: Dwarven eyes are accustomed to the dark of the underearth.

They ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.

Slow: Dwarves have a Pace of 5”.

Tough: Dwarves are stout and tough.  They start with a d6 Vigor instead of a d4.

Cultures: Dwarves are native to both Ravnivoria and Shan. They may choose either culture. Ravnivori dwarves are generally insular. Though there are a fair number of Ravnivori dwarves who venture out into the world to adventure or make their way in the larger world, the bulk of their clans not only do not mingle with the outside world but often do not mingle with each other. Shan dwarves, on the other hand, have a complex web of associations and alliances fostered through kinship and marriage between their clans. Ravnivori dwarves strive to retain their individuality. Shan dwarves strive to be a useful part of their clan. A recent addition to the dwarf population of the Ravnivori Empire is the Yoltsov clan.

Elves are native to both the lands of Ravnivorous and Almatia. They respect nature, learning and magic. They are a peaceful people, generally more than willing to remain in their secluded forest cities and spend their long lives in contemplation, thought and learning. However, when they wish, they make formidable warriors, uniting impressive magical skill and fighting puissance with equally impressive woodland abilities. Many young elves seek adventure by leading the life of a warrior. Despite existing on separate continents, all elves have similar physical forms. They are small compared to humans standing between 5’ and 5’6” tall with thin, willowy builds. They have pointed ears and almond shaped eyes. Hair, eye and skin color can vary widely amongst elves. Hair colors range from blue and black, through brown and red to blonde and even silvery. Eye colors include blue, green, brown, black and yellow. Skin color can be anything from pale pink to a deep mahogany brown. Unlike humans who once had very narrow skin, eye and hair colors in different areas, Elves of every skin tone, eye and hair color can be found in almost any community. Elves primarily use fast, elegant weapons such as longswords and rapiers. Elves disdain the use of shields, as most of them are ambidextrous and will use a weapon in both hands. Their armor is usually light, though, elven cavalry is known to use armor all the way up to plate on occasion.

 Agile: Elves are graceful and agile. They start with a d6 in Agility instead of a d4.

All Thumbs: Elves have an inbred dislike of mechanical objects, and thus have the All Thumbs Hindrance. They shun most mechanical or items of any design.

Low Light Vision: The character’s eyes amplify light like a cat’s, allowing him to see in the dark. He ignores attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.

Cultures: There are Elves from both Ravnivoria and Almatia. They may choose either culture. Elves have also been discovered on Vel and some of these Elves have joined the Empire.

Humans are the dominant species in the Ravnivori Empire and on Retra, in general.  They are also the only sentient species to occupy all three continents before the unification of the planet.  Adaptable and outgoing in the extreme, these volatile creatures regularly try and do things members of other races don’t contemplate.  True Ravnivori humans are tall with broad shoulders and long limbs.  They have is very pale skin and their hair is usually blonde or red and straight or wavy.  They generally have blue or green eyes.  Alamatian humans are shorter and stockier than the Ravnivori with darker skin that ranges from olive colored to light brown.  Their hair is generally darker, usually brown or black, though auburn is not uncommon.  It varies from wavy to quite curly. Their eyes are similarly dark, usually brown or black with a few instances of hazel.  Shan are the smallest of the human races, shorter and more slender than either of the other two types.  Their hair is almost always black and very straight and their eyes are also black or dark brown.  Human weapons and armor run the gamut from light to heavy, from elegant to crude.

Adaptability:  Humans gain a free edge.

Cultures: Humans are the only race that originates from every continent on Retra. They may choose any culture. Ravnivori humans are known for their extremes of passion. They can go from being stern and foreboding to being loud and boisterous, often with no provocation in the opinions of others. Ravnivori feuds are legendary for their duration and ferocity as are their celebrations. One can have no more implacable foe and no better friend than a Ravnivori. It is not uncommon for them to occupy both roles at some point in a relationship. Almatian humans are somewhat easier going. While it is true that Almatian vendettas are the stuff of legend and often multigenerational affairs, Almatian humans see nothing wrong with enjoying life, relaxing and do so at every opportunity. A Ravnivori might shake an acquaintance’s hand and speak a few sentences when they meet on the street and a Shan will often simply bow and pass but an Almatian will start a conversation that lasts for minutes, if not hours. Even strangers receive warm greetings from an Almatian. Shan humans are much more serious and structured. Each person has a place and function in Shan society and thus in the universe as a whole. It is each person’s ultimate honor and goal to fulfill this function and most other activities are considered a distraction that should be avoided. Shan feel little need to associate with people not of their class. Humans have also been discovered on Vel and some of these Humans have joined the Empire.

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