Star Systems #1 – Ravnivori

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

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

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

Ravnivori

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denizens of the Void

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

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

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

People and Creatures of the Void

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

Black Widow Shark

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

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

Pace: 8 Parry: 7 Toughness: 12

Special abilities: Aquatic: Pace 10

Bite: Str + d8

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

Large: Attackers add +2 to their attack rolls

Size: +4

Brass Dragon

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

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

Skills: Fighting d4, Notice d6, Shooting d8

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

Special Abilities:

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

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

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

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

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

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

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

Death Dog

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

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

Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 6

Bites: Str + d6

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

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

Improved Frenzy

 

Draga Warrior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 9

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

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

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

Hydra, Minor

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

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

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

Armor +4

Bite: Str + d8

Improved Frenzy

Size +3

Iron Horse

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

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

Skills:

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

Special Abilities:

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

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

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

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

Kick: Str

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

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

Ironhead’s War Goats

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

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

Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6

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

Special Abilities:

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

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

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

Hardy: Additional Shaken results do not cause a wound.

Horns: Str + d6

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

Size: +2 War Goats weigh 1000 pounds.

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

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

Kindori (Horned Kindori)

Mini-Raptor

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

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

Pace: 7 Parry: 6 Toughness: 3

Special abilities: Claws/Bite: Str + d4

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

Size: – 2 to hit, -2 toughness

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

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

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

Pace: 10 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8

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

Antlers: Str+d6

Size: +2

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

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

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 10

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

Antlers: Str+d8

Size: +3

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

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

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

Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d10, Stealth d8

Pace: 2 Parry: 6 Toughness: 3

Special abilities: Flight: Pace 24” Climb 4”

Talons: Str + d4

Size: – 2 to hit, -2 toughness

 

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

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

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

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

Skills: Notice d6

Pace: 10; Parry: 4; Toughness: 9

Treasure: None.

Special Abilities:

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

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

the least armored location.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skills: Fighting: d8, Guts d8, Notice d6

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 8

Special Abilities: Beak or Talon: Str +d6

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

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

Size +2: Zergans weigh up to 800lbs.

Almatian Guard Hound

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

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

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

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d10*

Pace: 8 Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Special abilities:

Bite: Str + d6

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

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

Small -1: Guard Hounds are relatively small.

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

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

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

Ravnivori Royal Terrier

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

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

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

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

Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d8

Pace: 7 Parry: 6 Toughness: 4

Special abilities:

Bite: Str + d6

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

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

Size: -2

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

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

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

War Ape

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

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

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

Special abilities: Size +1

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

Zethyrling

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

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

Pace: – Parry: 6 Toughness: 5

Aquatic: Pace 10

Flight: 10

Bite: Str + d6

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

 

Myths of the Ravnivori Empire Part 1

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

Myths

How Amazons and Minotaurs Came to be Like Other Mortals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Centaurs Came to Be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exiles #31 – The Coal Tigress

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

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

Coal Tigress

Shuri

Fighting: AM

Agility: IN

Strength: EX

Endurance: RM

Reason: GD

Intuition: RM

Psyche: EX

Health: 140

Karma: 60

Resources: AM(50)

Popularity: 66

Powers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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