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 Archetypes

Most of the Savage Worlds campaign books have Archetypes as a good stepping off point for people not only to get a feel for the setting but also ideas for characters.  Since there are no classes in Savage World it can be a lot harder to create a character from whole cloth and these archetypes are good inspiration.  Because I steal good ideas whenever I find them, I went ahead and wrote up some for my campaign setting.

Adventurer

Something of a catchall category, “adventurer” is often the polite term used to describe someone who gets into and out of trouble without having a specific function within the empire or a discernible skill set other than a knack for getting into and out of trouble. They are just as often called “vagabonds” and “heroes” depending on their level of skill and success.

Diplomat

Though stories and songs focus on the exploits of warriors and wizards, war and conflict is not the Empire’s preferred way of expansion. An enemy is something you hurt yourself destroying while an ally is something that you gives you strength when you in strengthen it.

Engineer

The Ravnivori Empire depends on machines as much as it does magic. Whether ballista, catapults, cannons or other siege machinery, the complex mechanics that go into Void Runners or more mundane machines like elevators and printing presses, the Empire is in a time of great innovation. Engineers are the men and women who take wood and metal, steam and electricity and turn them into these wonders of machinery.

Explorer

The Void is unimaginably vast, containing countless planets, each one so large and diverse that an entire lifetime could be spent exploring it. Some people are fascinated by this fact and are drawn to new horizons. Some of these individuals pick a world or nation and spend a lifetime exploring and documenting it, adding to the knowledge of the Empire while others are more restless and travel from one world and nation to another, always seeking new experiences.

Mechnomancer

While many of the wonders of the Ravnivori Empire are purely mechanical as many or more depend on some form of magic. This combination of mechanical parts with arcane components is known as Mechanomancy and it can often lead to results greater than can be achieved by either of its parts. The men and women who practice this art and science are known as Mechanomancers and they are responsible for everything from the ships that ply the Void to indoor plumbing that provides hot water on demand. Many consider the pinnacle of this practice to be the creation of a Mechanid. Of course, this is usually a bittersweet accomplishment as it means watching one’s creation literally develop a mind of its own and many Mechanomancers are not eager to give up a useful (and expensive to create) servant, even if it does give them bragging rights with their peers.

Merchant

Taking goods that are cheap in one place and transporting them to another place where they are expensive and taking advantage of the profit is perhaps the second oldest profession. That has not changed now that the Ravnivori are able to fly through the Void. In fact, there is a whole new class of merchants and traders who make their living by either taking goods made in the Empire or on Retra and selling them outside the Empire or in the colonies or vice versa. While the dangers are greater, so are the profits.

Noble

All three nations that make up the Ravnivori Empire had some sort of feudal system in place. Though Ravnivorous cares more for talent than blood, those systems have not completely expired. There is still a certain amount of respect provided to people from noble families and they often own a great deal of land or other resources. But times are changing and many nobles have to struggle to retain their place of privilege in the world in the face of plebeians who now have equal rights. Additionally, there is a new breed of noble have carved land and power out of the possibilities of the Void, often through sheer willpower and skill.

Priest

There are many gods in the Empire and even more in the vastness of the Void around it. While these gods are sometimes distant and silent, others are active participants in the lives of their followers. Priests can range from simple officiants who perform the rituals necessary for their church and congregation to mighty magic wielders able to perform miracles and demonstrate the divine power of their deity in a very real way.

Privateer

While the Ravnivori are quite proud of their Void Navy, it is miniscule compared to their ocean going navy and even smaller compared to some of the collections of Void going ships owned by other nations. To help counteract this discrepancy in power, they have taken to providing letters of Marque to several amenable independent Void Runners. These individuals have specific instructions not to attack any of the larger Void powers in the Ravnivori name and largely serve as system patrols and blockade runners, but it is likely only a matter of time before a ship with one of these letters attacks an Elven Navy ship.

Ravnivori ships are welcome to take on letters of Marque from other nations as well, especially if these nations are allies or likely candidates for expansion. These individuals are expected to keep the best interests of the Empire in mind, however and know better than to pick a fight with any nation that would be a true danger to the Ravnivori.

Psychic

Some people don’t need arcane study or faith in some deity to change the fabric of reality. All they need is their own strength of will and inherent abilities. Psychic abilities often manifest early and with no obvious explanation. This leads to them being the subjects of superstition and suspicion. Sometimes feared as demons, sometimes worshipped as gods, often called freaks, psychics are often outsiders who live lonely lives and either become exactly what society expects of them or work desperately to prove they are not.

Sailor

Whether they’re an old salty dog expanding his horizons from the oceans of a terrestrial world to the boundless vistas of the Void or a fresh kid with stars in his eyes, sailors are, as they ever were, the backbone of the Ravnivori Navy. This hasn’t changed since ships have begun to fly. A trusty crew is the most valuable asset to any captain and wise leaders will go out of their way to put together a group of sailors that are dependable and trustworthy. Becoming a sailor is a good way to feed a hunger for travel and is a respected profession in the Empire if one is willing to accept the dangers that come with the job.

Scout

Knowledge is power and knowledge of an opponent is power over them. It is a scout’s job to procure this power. While the traditional ideal of a man or woman who is able to live alone in the wilderness for long stretches of time, remaining hidden from the enemy and travelling fast when the time comes still stands, a new type of scout has come to prominence as well.

Able to blend in with local cultures, these jacks-of-all-trades infiltrate societies on new worlds, portraying themselves as local citizens while learning of their way of life and traditions. They then take this knowledge back to the empire so that it can be used to advance Imperial interests.

Serf

Not everyone is born rich or powerful or even works their way up to a position of prominence. In fact, the majority of Ravnivori citizens simply toil away in regular day to day lives as farmers, carpenters, carters or other mundane jobs.

But Fate has plans for even the meekest individual. Often everyday citizens are thrown into spectacular situations, and how they react to those situations determines whether they will be forgotten by history or will achieve fame or infamy. Sometimes the simplest clay has a core of the strongest steel.

Soldier

Flying ships, fantastic beasts and powerful spellcasters are all well and good and can give any force an important edge in battle, but in the end what wins wars and holds territory are boots on the ground. Despite what many stories say, the life of a soldier is rarely glamorous. Generally, it is a great deal of waiting or marching interspersed with short bursts of fearsome fights for survival. Still, the Empire pays its soldiers well, and for many, the military is the best, if not the only, way to get out of a life of peasant drudgery and to see other realms and even other worlds. And for those with the talent, skill, or simple luck, the Ravnivori military can be a place where a man or woman can find fortune, glory and prestige. Also, maidens be bewitched by scars.

Spellcaster

Sorcerer, wizard, witch, there are any number of names for those who practice the arcane arts and almost as many techniques. Whether it be someone who depends on esoteric gestures, words of power, strange rituals or implements that aid them in bending the universe to their will, the end results are the same. Sometimes meant to aid allies, sometimes meant to harm foes and sometimes meant to view the future or distant places or move to those places faster than would be normally possible, magic can turn the tide of battle and the fate of a world and Spellcasters are the individuals with this power at their proverbial fingertips. In all cases, those who practice these arts do so only with a great deal of natural talent augmented by years of study and practice.

Spy

Although the Ravnivori Empire is not a voracious conqueror, one of the Emperor’s mottos is “an Empire that is not growing is dying.” Not all expansion is done through mass battles and force of arms, though. Ravnivorous knows that the subtle hand is often the strongest and that, in any case, the application of force is only effective if directed to the correct place. For that matter, he knows that the same is true for his enemies and that the Empire must be aware of threats that are not as obvious as marching armies. As such, he has a number of agents, most overt but quite a few more covert who spend most of their time in the courts and other places of power of other nations. The overt representatives are called emissaries and spend their days and nights enjoying the upper echelons of society. The covert agents are called spies and often appear to be doing the same but spend a great deal of their time in subterfuge and stealth, garnering information they are not intended to have. It is a thrilling life but also one that is full of danger as every nation has some sort of capital punishment in place, sometimes quick and efficient, sometimes slow and excruciating for those found engaged in espionage.

Remember, you can always find my games and fiction at Black Guard Press

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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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