Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Magic system of My Áereth

I've had my doubts about the DCCRPG magic system from the beginning; mostly because of the fact that the game system applies alignment directly to the "force of magic."  This isn't the first time I've run into this concept some of the DM's I've had have tried this too, but the first time I've ever seen a game system "hard-wire" the concept.  I don't like that aspect.

I've always taken the approach that The "force" that powers a magic spell or item, etc., is no different than "electricity."  Impartial, applies affects to all.  In my FRPG worlds magic is just one of the forces available to be manipulated... in terms of the physics: Magical force, Strong & weak nuclear forces, Electro-static force, and Gravity.  The difference is that the magical force has the property and facility to alter the other laws/forces of physics at the command of a skilled caster temporarily or sometimes permanently.

I didn't like the Patron based magic that was presented in the beta rules, but now that I've added a list of "Good" & "Neutral" Patrons for players, the system has grown on me.  It allows me to add a few powers defined by the Patron to the wizard player and gives me a new tool for "steering" the wizards in the game. 

I plan to write up the Patrons as I need them, & I only have one wizard player in the game right now so here is the write up for that players Patron:

The Goddess Aristimis has sent to you a Spirit guide in the form of an old feather quill. This tattered but surprisingly functional writing instrument has the ghostly spirit of a once faithful wizard (long dead) attached to it.   It’s arrival was as odd as the quill itself; having been bundled up with a piece of parchment (Patron Bonding spell)  You cast the Invoke Patron Spell 1x / week; of which the quill is an integral component. 

 Furthermore your wizard is marked as one favored by Aristemis: the back of one of your PC’s hands now sports a stylized arrow tattoo and cast the Invoke Paton Spell at +1.  You may not cast the Patron Bonding spell on others, and after you finish the successful casting, the spell fades from your memory and the parchment; but at least you have a nice piece of parchment now.   

The Spirits name is Thob, and the character communicates to the spirit via written questions by the wizard that are then wrapped on a summoned arrow and launched into the air.  The responses are inscribed and returned in the same manner with any answers and the arrow lodges in the brain-pan of the wizard, which stings a bit as 2 points of stats are burned (players choice) as the information/ service requested (etc) is communicated telepathically.  The arrow fades leaving no evidence of a wound.

The wizard may summon forth an arrow and fire it as if using a long bow.  This acts as a normal arrow fired from a normal bow, but no bow is required and the wizard uses their standard attack bonuses.  The wizard must have the tattooed hand free to cast (not tangled or holding something) and be able to see the target per the normal targeting rules.   Using this ability takes the place of a normal spell casting, and his daily quiver of arrows is = Intelligence score.  This ability will even function within an anti-magic zone if the wizard is willing to stat burn 1 point for each arrow… this can even take the wizard beyond his daily maximum of arrows.

Invoke Patron results table:

1-         Fail: no taint, but the wizard must make a reflex check for half damage vrs the arrow. Arrow summoning ability is suppressed for the rest of the day and for the next 1d4 days…

2-11     Fail and arrow summoning ability is suppressed for 1d24 hours…

12-14   Success: Thob will either answer 10 questions on any given subject; though there is no real way of knowing what he might or might not know.  Or the summoned arrows function as +1 arrows for the next 1d6 hours; or, the wizard is granted +2 on all diplomacy checks for the next 1d6 hours.

15-17   Success: Thob will answer 15 questions; or, for the next 2d3 rounds all summoned arrows fired by the wizard will split into 3d3, +1 arrows. Each is rolled separately. The wizard may choose instead to gain +2d3 on any diplomacy or “fast talking” attempts for the rest of the day.

19-22   Thob may be summoned to chat for 60 minutes; or, the wizards arrows are +2 for the rest of the day and for the next hour they may be charged with 2d4 elemental damage (fire, acid, electricity, sonic). Or the wizards voice is charged with arcane energies such that their voice functions as a charm person spell (with this result level) but with a radius = 10ft / wizard level.

23-26   Thob may be summoned to chat for 2d3 hours; or, the wizard’s arrows are +2 for the rest of the day and for the next 3d3 rounds they may be charged with 2d4 elemental damage (fire, acid, electricity, sonic) and each arrow is split into 2d3 arrows. Or the wizards voice is charged with arcane energies such that their voice functions as a charm person spell (with this result level & +2 save DC) but with a radius = 20ft / wizard level.

27-29   Thob may be summoned to chat for 3d3hours; and, the wizard’s arrows are +3 for the rest of the day and for the next 2d3hrs they may be charged with 2d8 elemental damage (fire, acid, electricity, sonic); and the wizards voice is charged with arcane energies such that their voice functions as a charm person spell (with this result level & +2 save DC) but with a radius = 20ft / wizard level.

30-31   Thob may be summoned to chat for 1d4 days; and, the wizard’s arrows are +4 for the rest of the day and for the next 2d4hrs they may be charged with 2d8 elemental damage (fire, acid, electricity, sonic); additionally for the next 2d10 rounds each arrow will split into 3d3 arrows; and the wizards voice is charged with arcane energies such that their voice functions as a charm person spell (with this result level & +3 save DC) but with a radius = 30ft / wizard level.

32+      Thob may be summoned to chat for 2d3+1 days; and for 1d3 days the wizards arrows are +3 and charged with 2d8 elemental damage (chosen once; fire, acid, electricity, sonic); additionally for the next 2d3 days the wizard may invoke arrows to split into 4d3 arrows for up to 4d3 rounds; and the wizards voice is charged with arcane energies such that their voice functions as a charm person spell (with this result level & +3 save DC) but with a radius = 40ft / wizard level.

Thob Summoning:  most of the time this takes the form of the wizard writing down the question and then letting the quill scribe the answers, but the wizard may ask him to cast one of the 3 patron spells on the wizards behalf.  Invoking this ability costs the wizard another point of spell burn for each level of spell that Thob casts; and the service ends any communication with him for the rest of the day.

Name: Determined Locomotion

Level: 1

Range:  self or others

Duration: varies

Casting Time: 1 action

Save: none, or willpower


General:  Aristemis is one of the children of Gorhan and valor flows through her veins; but unlike her father, she is willing to take a realistic look at the battle.  She recognizes that there is no shame in retreating from a more powerful enemy.  Therefore she grants this spell for those times when the tide of battle has turned against the wizard and diplomacy has failed.  Then it is time to run…  this spell may only be used for running away from combat or danger that cannot be overcome by the means at hand.

1-5:      spell lost

6-11:  Success, the spell grants the target +5ft of move rate & +1 on all physical checks related to movement.  Duration is 2 hours / level of wizard.

12-17:  Success, the spell grants the target +10ft of move rate & +1 on all physical & mental checks related to movement.  Movement speed now applies to swimming.  May activate the spell for up to 1 additional person per INT bonus.  Duration is 2 hours +1 hour/ level of wizard.

18-19:  Success, the spell grants the target +10ft of move rate & +2 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +1 on AC and saves. Movement speed now applies to swimming & climbing.  Duration is 3 hours +1 hour/ level of wizard.

20-23:  Success, the spell grants the target +15ft of move rate & +2 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +2 on AC and saves.  May now activate the spell for up to 2 persons per INT bonus.  Duration is 3 hours +2 hours/ level of wizard.  Plus 1 point of spellburn.

24-27:  Success, the spell grants the target +15ft of move rate & +3 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +2 on AC and saves; +1 Attacks and damage.  Movement speed now applies to swimming & climbing, and flying.  Duration is 4 hours +2 hour/ level of wizard.  Plus 2 points of spellburn.

28- 29: Success, the spell grants the target +20ft of move rate & +3 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +3 on AC and saves; +2 Attacks and damage.  Movement speed now applies to swimming & climbing, flying, & burrowing.  May activate the spell for up to 3 persons & 100# of cargo per INT bonus.  Duration is 6 hours +3 hour/ level of wizard.  Plus 3 points of spellburn.

30-31:  Success, the spell grants the target +25ft of move rate & +4 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +3 on AC and saves; +3 Attacks and damage.  May activate the spell for up to 5 persons & 10,000# of cargo per INT bonus.    Duration is 1 day +1 day/ level of wizard.  Plus 4 points of spellburn.

32+      Success, the spell grants the target +30ft of move rate & +5 on all physical & mental checks related to movement; +4 on AC and saves; +4 Attacks and damage.  Movement speed now applies to swimming & climbing, flying, & burrowing.  The wizard may now teleport to any spot they can see within 5x move rate.  May activate the spell for all persons & 100,000# of cargo within a radius = INT bonus x 25ft.   Duration is 2 days +2 days/ level of wizard.  Plus 5points of spellburn.

Returning to the Gods for a moment...

I probably should have posted this sooner, but I didn't have the DCCRPG versions of the clerics and their duties finished until a couple of days ago.  Now that my test game is in full gear, I thought I should take the time to post the write-ups for the clerics of Ormazd, Elyr, and Gorhan.  These all existed prior to the DCCRPG, but I've modified them to the new format.


Ormazd the sun God L-G
The Sun God is one of the oldest of the Gods and was being worshiped by the Sphinx and Naga races long before the arrival of the Dragon Kings.  His worshipers can be found everywhere that the Sun shines, but the center and cradle of the church of Ormazd is within the vast southern deserts.  The Sun God is locked into an eternal struggle against his Twin Brother Ahriman, the Lord of Darkness.

You can always recognize a cleric of the Phoenix Lord, during the day they sparkle & have no shadow.  At night they radiate light based on level.  The minions of Ahriman are easy to distinguish due to their lack of pulse and the fact that they are still moving about.  Any folk who use, study, or sell such knowledge are also considered minions of Ahirman, but are usually given a chance to repent of their evil.  Additionally the clerics of Ormazd are charged with clearing away the shadows, literally, figuratively, intellectually, and spiritually.  To that end they have been given several powers.

  1. All clerics of Ormazd are granted a nimbus of light radius = 10ft/ level.  Its brightness is equal to 1 torch per level, though there is no harm or penalty to gaze upon the cleric.  At 2nd level the cleric may impose a -1 penalty / level upon all who gaze upon them; willpower save vs. DC= 8+cleric level to overcome this radiance.  This penalty applies to anyone attempting an action that requires looking at the cleric.  At 3rd level the light counts as actual sunlight for all purposes.  At 4th level they gain the ability to provide warmth when it's cold, or shelter folks from the suns harshness.  At 5th level they gain the ability to gather their auras into a bolt that may be hurled at a foe.  They get +5 to hit, and the bolt does 5d4 damage.  This power may be invoked up to 1x / level/ day; for 1 round (starting when the bolt is thrown) the cleric has no aura of light and thus no benefits for others.
  2. Sun Phase Magic:  the ebb and flow of the sun over the course of the seasons has an effect upon clerics of Ormazd.  Their power is at its zenith on the Summer Solstice (July 14) and at its lowest ebb on the Winter Solstice (Winterheart 28).  The progression is as follows:

·        January 2, to February 14 clerics of the Sun God are at -1 to their caster level.

·        From the festival of Kindle Hope (Feb 15) to the end of Spring on May 21 there is no adjustment to the caster level

·        From Beltane (May 22) to July 12 the clerics gain +1 to effective caster level

·        On the day before and after the Summer solstice (July 13, & 15) the clerics gain +2 to effective caster level

·        On the day of the Summer Solstice the cleric gains +3 to effective caster level

·        On July 16 the clerics effective caster level returns to +1 and stays that way until the end of August (28)

·        September 1st is the festival of Harvest bless and makes the start of Autumn, the clerics caster level is normal until the 7th of December.

·        The 8th of December is the first day of Winter and the cleric applies a -1 to caster level until the 26th of Winterheart.

·        On the day before and after the Winter Solstice (Winterheart 27 & January 1st) the clerics of the Phoenix Lord have a -2 to caster level

·        On the day of the Winter Solstice, the Cleric is -3 to caster level.

3.  Clerics of Ormazd may add their Luck bonus (if positive) to all attacks and damage to undead
 as well as turn and turn results.

4.  Clerics of Ormazd always know what time of day it is in relation to where the sun is (dawn,
     noon, dusk)

Ormazd is married to Shul Goddess of the Moon, but the vigilance against the Great Enemy requires that they spend most of their time circling opposite to each another.  Shul gathers the radiance of her husband and reflects it into the night to harass the minions of Ahriman.  Only on the days of the solar eclipses (2) are they allowed to meet.  Known as “the time of the lovers,” Clerics of Ormazd are often asked to perform weddings on these auspicious days.  The Sun & Moon have 2 children Gorhan the Valiant, & Delvyr the Explorer.  The clergy of Ormazd has no authority over the clerics of Gorhan or Delvyr, but can usually expect mutual aid when asked.

Holy Days: the first day of each new season, the solstices & equinoxes, and the days of the 2 yearly solar eclipses.

Favored Weapon: Morning Star

Knowledge base: they have studied: the rituals & history of their order; the Minions of Ariman and how they might be overcome, Prophecies of Áereth two in particular:

Gorhan the Valiant- the Helmed Vengeance [L-G]- The Valiant One, He who fights first is the patron God of those who fight against the lawless & corrupt; he also acts as executioner when required by his wife Justica.   Gorhan doesn’t bother to heal anyone who hasn’t proven themselves to be honorable, brave, or innocent.  Usually this means that the recipient of the healing has just survived a battle, or are the peasants caught on the battlefield.  Those who are killed in combat are His to judge. If the soul is found honorable, or innocent then they are granted a pleasant after-life; if judged corrupt, then the soul is obliterated.  The clerics of Gorhan are divided amongst two sects; one that is male only and one that is open to all stouthearted folk who hear the Valiant Lords call to battle.  The clerics of the male only sect are paired off with clerics of the female only sect of Justica’s clergy.  They live their whole lives within the Temples of Law and function as the Imperial Judicial system.  The open order is generally known as the Ordo Militantis they spend levels 1-3 as battlefield troops or helping the Clerics of Thormyr with securing the Empire from harm.  In this capacity they are mostly responsible for; escorting members of the wandering order of Justica, hunting the undead, & as bounty hunters serving Sentence on those who have fled Justica’s merciful decrees.  All clerics of Gorhan radiate a zone of courage = 10ft / level that grants +1/ level on saves verses fear.  Preferred weapon is the Longsword.

Duties of the clergy:
The Ordo Militantis is exactly what it sounds like… When acting within the borders of the Empire, they are basically the national guard.  They show up in force when the clerics of Thormyr are out matched.  The Ordo Militantis are the ones who show up to deal with local incursions of Orcs or Goblins that are too large for the local militia, but too small to bother mustering an army, or any other such situations.  Kinda like a combination of bounty hunters, S.W.A.T., and the Fire Department… D&D style. 

One of the duties of the clerics of Gorhan is to hear the petitions of those seeking justice.  Anyone may approach them and ask for the cleric to hear their petition for justice.  If traveling alone, the cleric of Gorhan decides whether to send the case to a cleric of Justica, or they can offer to engage in trial by combat with a champion for the opposing council.  In the case of petty crimes, the intimidation factor of having to face a cleric of Gorhan in combat is usually enough to get the guilty party to confess.

Clerics of the Ordo Militantis are charged with subduing the evil and the wicked for trial.  If the targets give up willing they may be brought to the courts for judgment, but if the targets resist… well… that means they have opted for trial by combat.  Because the battlefield is the purview of Gorhan and he has the power to decide justice there.  Clerics of Gorhan have a reputation for being a little over-zealous sometimes in their persecution of Evil, so the people of the Empire treat them with respect.

The Clergy of Gorhan Are not really all that keen on festivals and such, but they do honor the parents of their deity on the solar eclipses and on the equinoxes.

Elyr- Goddess of Healing [C-N (g)]-  She believes that life should be sustained at all costs & is worth any risk.  She is also one of two Gods who can remove Corruptions (makes you invaluable to wizards).  Clerics of Elyr function as the doctors of this society.  Low levels (1-3) clerics wander the world bringing aid to those in need, during this time they tend to develop specialty skills.  At 4th level they decide whether to stop wandering and live out their lives in the hospital/temples, or continue their wandering ministrations: this choice is permanent. 

Elyr is an ardent pacifist, but has a particular hatred for demons, devils, & aberrations and grants her clerics powers and abilities to deal with these creatures.  Elyr’s hatred for these creatures is rooted in the story of her creation.  Elyr was the last of the Gods born prior to the creation of Áereth.  As the Gods were fleeing into the refuge of the Dreaming realm provided by Oae, the Great Enemy stretched out its talons and nearly killed Ildavir as she was stepping into the portal.  The chunks of flesh and blood that fell to the ground in side the Dreaming became the newborn Goddess of Healing.  She grew to maturity within the Dreaming, and so her POV on the universe is idealistic and a touch naïve.  The trauma of her beginnings is the foundation of her philosophy of preserving life at all costs.  All clerics of Elyr are limited to weapons that do no more than 1d4 damage and are not allowed to kill unless fighting aberrations, demons, devils, undead, etc.  They are free to paralyze, maim, or cripple an opponent in the defense of others. 
Elyr feels that even evil creatures have a right to exist, Evil is as much a part of the designs of the Gods as the concept of Good.  Her clerics will even heal them, but along with that healing comes a compulsion to run away and re-evaluate their lives {evil creatures roll willpower save Vs DC= cleric PER bonus+ Level+ number of points of damage healed, or they flee the scene to rethink their lives.  Said evil creature may eventually return to their evil ways; but that is their choice, and the clerics of Elyr can only strive to heal and defend the weak and the vulnerable from those who would do them harm.  This belief was very influential in helping the Goddess Justica formulate her theory of the redemption of evil. 

Knowledge base: clerics of Elyr know all there is to know the history of their order, and are experts at comparative physiology and the healing arts.  They know a little about animals as well -3 on healing checks, and if they were a healer prior to entering service the cleric gains +2 on all healing check rolls from the extra training and experience.  These clerics also know the science of alchemy, but only with respect to the healing arts… no bomb making, etc.

Clerics of Elyr study old tomes of lore to better recognize their extra planer enemies:

Devils are fairly easy to recognize unless they are possessing someone. Their natural skin tones of red and orange, horns, and lawyer like demeanor are classic hallmarks of a devil.  However, devils rarely manifest upon the material plain, choosing instead to possess a normal creature.  The clerics of Elyr may identify possessed creatures with a healing check (INT bonus+ cleric level) but the DC will vary by situation. A cleric of Elyr can use their lay on hands ability to exorcise the devils from a possessed creature.  A result of 1 die / 3HD of the devil is needed to exorcise the devil from the possessed creature.  Should a cleric of Elyr encounter a devil, they are free to use as much violence as the can to destroy its physical form.  The cleric of Elyr’s most powerful defense Vs devils is that they can use their turn undead ability against devils.

Demons are easy to spot most of the time, their chaotic nature lends itself to odd physiognomies; like tentacles and tri-partite symmetries; or normal features misplaced, rearranged, swapped for animal parts, etc.  They don’t usually bother with possession, their motives are as alien as their physiology.  A cleric of Elyr is likewise free of constraints upon the use of force as with devils, but they gain +1/ cleric level to hit, & +1d4/ cleric level to damage when fighting demons.  If the cleric knows the demons name or gains access to the info on the summoning ritual, they may attempt to banish the demon back to its plain of origin by rolling 1d20+PER bonus+ level Vs DC= 5+the number of HD of the demon.  Success sends the thing spiraling back into the abyss.

Aberrations are the hardest to determine, as they may not always manifest outward signs to advertise their presence and are sometimes confused with demons.  Almost all aberrations derive from wizard experiments whether upon natural creatures to create creatures with more heads then normal, to hybrid animal/elemental monstrosities, or upon the wizard directly.  In this latter case, the wizard has either succumbed to patron taints or voluntary corruptions from adopting powers/traits from their familiars.  A wizard who has accumulated 4+ involuntary corruptions also counts as an aberration.  Dealing with Aberrations is difficult.  First they must be identified, and that takes a healing check (1d20+INT bonus +level) Vs DC= 20 - the number of corruptions and taints.  The hardest part is determining if the wizard or creature can be saved.  If the wizard is sane then they can decide they are done with their evil ways and abandon their evil patrons, then the cleric of Elyr will use lay on hands to remove 1 taint or corruption /2 dice of the result.  If the wizards oath be false and they return to their evil ways, then the taints and corruptions return instantly.

Presence of Elyr:  They radiate a zone of purity with R= 10ft / level that grants all within it range +1 / level of cleric bonus to saves.  Furthermore, this aura allows a cleric of Elyr to help those who have already failed saves Vs diseases, unless that failure occurred within the Presence of Elyr.  In other words, if someone fails a save while they are within an aura of purity, they can’t then leave the aura and get a new save when they return.  This aspect of the ability is for situations for when the cleric walks into a village and a lot of folks are already ill.

Duties of the clergy:

After taking their vows, the Clerics of Elyr never cut their hair again.  You can always tell the rank of a cleric of Elyr by the length to their braids and the gray in their hair.

Any healing that the cleric does for the party is subject to the -1 penalty per application (game balance) but when clerics of Elyr are traveling, they may not deny care to any one who asks it of them and they must stop in every town and village to ask if anyone needs healing.  In these cases the cleric may heal 5+their stamina bonus people for every -1 of penalty to their cleric abilities to represent the strain of channeling so much healing energy.

Holy Days: Elyr is more interested in healing people than organizing worship for specific events, but in general the first day of Spring and the festival of Kindle hope mark the return of life to the world after winters dreariness and death.  During the festival, or wherever they may be, they must spend an hour/level in ritual observance of the returning life force contemplating the nature of life, how the cleric has helped others & planning how they will maximize there efforts for the coming year.

Preferred weapon:  Elyr deplores violence, even though she recognizes its role in Nature and that others my not feel the same way.  She prefers that her clerics use light hammers, or staves as they are also useful as tools.

Monday, September 19, 2011

World of Áereth: Halflings/Veltoni Clansmen.

        The following entry pre-dates the release of the DCCRPG Beta, but the ground work for Halflings as "gypsies" or nomads was laid down in the DCC #35 Gazetteer.  Most of this was written to expand on that concept and give it my own spin.  This file references the D&D 3.5 PH, for "Halfling abilities" and originally had augmented War Dog stats from MM1 (3.5).  I edited in a DCC version the dog I provide as a "familiar" for wizards, only more powerful.  My "house rules" gets rid of the double weapons mastery written into the beta for the more traditional racial ability with thrown weapons & slings.  Additionally each of the "classes" of Veltoni gain powers related to their societal function/needs; but I'll cover all that in a different post.


        Any Player that chooses to play a “Halfling” per the rules in the Player’s Handbook, is chosing to play a Veltoni Clansmen.  The term “Halfling” is one of a host of terms that the Veltoni find offensive… and it is best not to anger them.  The Veltoni do not remember the place where they first entered the world.  Their souls are bound to the Goddess Olidrya the wanderer, and if questioned about it they shrug and say, “ I don’t know, if you find it let us know.  We’ve been trying to find it for a very long time.” 

However, the Veltoni were given the stewardship of a fertile province of land by their Sphinx Masters some time around -2700dc.  The abundant grasslands and orchard-covered hills of their new home were destroyed when the Shadow star fell from the heavens to create the Devil’s Cauldron in -1199D.C.  They have been wandering nomads ever since and have weathered the fortunes of Fate simply by taking what they need and getting out of the way…
By now, the standard wisdom of the entirely nomadic Veltoni runs like this: “Why would we want to muck about with things like “Countries”, and “Borders?”  Those things require vast amounts of time and resources to make, and then comes the endless hours of guarding them from other folks.  We are the Veltoni: the people of the winds… we go where adventure steers us… and we live where our hearts reside.” The closest thing to an allegiance that they have ever offered anyone, was when they agreed to scout out the routes for the new Imperial roads that the Imperial Crieste Engineers Guild (ICEG) were building at the behest of Emperor Gunere Numon in 2280dc.  They completed their task by 2590dc and have been using those roads ever since to do business and to access new places to wander.

 The majority of the clans travel the trade roads from the northern Kingdom of Morain, all the way to deep sands of the Lost Lands.  Indeed, they are the only people on Áereth other than the Sea Elves who may travel freely between the two lands.  In recent times they have also taken on some of the role of diplomats and so have helped to keep the north and south from devolving into total, all consuming warfare.  The Veltoni weapons of choice: the trade agreement and the embargo.  They figure that the stodgy old Dwarves can sit under their mountains and guard the vaults full of cash if they want too…  The Veltoni quickly took advantage of the new Banking system set in place by the Clerics of Poderon, God of Commerce to stitch the north and south together by getting each one “hooked” on the others products.  The fact that the two nations had once been a part of the same Empire helped this plan succeed.  “There can be no sellers if there are no buyers” is sage wisdom by Veltoni standards.  The deserts are metal and grain poor, and the north is addicted to the new spices, fabrics, and such that only come from the southern regions of Áereth.

Their reputation as Thieves and Kidnappers is somewhat over hyped, but something that they live with.  Their philosophy is: “what you have today may be gone tomorrow, so possession defines ownership.”  All that having been said, the Veltoni can be found just about anywhere, road or no road, trading, entertaining, and generally acting as a source of news for the myriad of small towns they pass through.  This service is vital enough to the folk of Áereth, that most will not harm, hinder, or otherwise trouble the Veltoni directly; but the ever-present fact that a Veltoni Clansmen can pick your pockets faster than he (or she) can wink fetchingly at you, is never far from the minds of the Authorities.  Many a Veltoni Circus has fled from a scene timed suspiciously close to the disappearances of valuable items… and sometimes even people. 

While the incidences of petty (and not so petty) larceny do increase with a Veltoni Clan in the area, it is not done with a sense of malice… just a difference in worldview.  The Freedom that the Veltoni Clans represent often inspires others to take to the road as adventurers looking to see the far off places told of in the old songs.  The reputation for kidnapping is completely false, they have no interest in inviting others to join them on their travels, but they don’t say no to company either.  The Veltoni often help and shelter fledgling adventurers because the Veltoni love to collect and trade “Favors” more than any thing else.

There are three classes within the Veltoni Nomads:  the Merchant class, and the Explorers, who are also known as Dog Warriors, and the Lost Ones.

The Merchant Class:

The most striking feature of a Veltoni Caravan is that it is a parade of houses on wheels called “Horja” in their language, originally pulled by any manner of strange beasts.  Half trade caravan, and half traveling circus, the more exotic the harness team the more prestigious the Family.  These days such menageries are mostly for show, or for the rare occasions they must leave the roads.  The animating forces of the roadways are sufficient to keep everything rolling, and these days many Merchant class Veltoni eschew the use of dray animals altogether (they are expensive you know) and rely entirely on the roads and town services for getting on & off the roads.  Regardless, if a Veltoni Circus has come to your town, you can be assured that many of your desires can be found for sale if your purse is deep enough.

These horja are always unique expressions of the same basic design: at least two levels on at least six wheels; with a slightly hexagonal floor-plan.  Beyond this they can be nearly any shape, size, color, or combination of the three.  Each family adapts their horja to their specific needs and roles within the Clan and take great pride in their creations.  Many are handed down through the generations, with each new owner adding something a little special, but as often as not, the families will come together and help build a new horja if there is no more room in the others.  In such cases, the new horjas are usually given out, starting with the second eldest son/daughter and their family on down until everyone has a home.  The eldest child will always inherit the “Family Horja” (or “Yam’horja” in their language) which is always the oldest Horja, whether they are married, have children, or neither.  There are however, some things that are found in every Veltoni community/caravan and the most widely known of these are fortune tellers, entertainers, and the Veltoni dogs (1d20 per wagon) 20% of which will be Dog Warriors.  There will always be 1 Dog Warrior per horja.

The Dog Warrior class:

The Veltoni have always had dogs.  The Dog Riders are the closest thing that the Veltoni have to a warrior class & they prefer the light spear/lance, short sword and shields, and use Short bows or Slings; and they prefer leather armor.  They are as passionate about their dogs and dog-breeding as they are about traveling.  The Veltoni are a good aligned people and as such they treat their animals well, but dogs are treated as family.  Any Veltoni Clansman (male or female) who shows any prowess in combat is recruited into the Dog Riders.  They serve as scouts and warriors defending the caravan alongside any hired mercenaries.  Each warrior who earns the right, is given a puppy to train and care for, and the two become bonded after a blood ritual. 
Full grown and fully trained, a Veltoni Dog can wear leather barding and carry an armored Veltoni Warrior at a speed of 50 for up to 8 hrs & then enter combat, or for 10 hrs if there’s no combat that day.  A player may add 2 hours to these times if neither rider nor dog are wearing armor or encumbered.  These hounds attack as 1st level warriors (1d20+1d3+STR) and they may perform MdoA from the lists for: Disarming Attacks, Pushbacks, Trips & Throws, as well as Defensive Maneuvers.  The dog has 1d12+STAM hit points; and the following stats: STR, AGIL, STAM, PERS= 1d6+10, INT= 4, Luck= 10; Their base saves are Stat +1; damage from attacks is 1d6+D3 result+ STR, threatens a critical hit on a 19-20; rolls 1d14 on table III; the dog may track and identify targets by scent & gets +2 on such checks; A Dog Warrior may spend EXP to train the Dog in up to 3 levels of Warrior.

The Lost Ones:

            The Veltoni are a playful, fun loving people; but on the rare occasion that they must deal out punishments to other Veltoni, the most severe punishment is banishment into the ranks of the Lost Ones.  This is also where a Dog Rider ends up if he loses his dog foolishly or in a cowardly fashion.  The other Veltoni classes shun the Lost Ones, and so a proxy must be used by the Lost Ones in all dealings with the other 2 classes of Veltoni society.  They tend to be sedentary and are not usually drawn to an adventurer’s life, but sometimes they continue with the itinerant life they were born into.  Those who have the misfortune of being born into this class of Veltoni society can get themselves adopted, but only if they can prove their status and their worth to the Veltoni.  This is the most likely candidate for an adventurer of this class.  They retain their racial abilities and their prowess with thrown weapons and usually get by as thieves or adventurers.  {These Veltoni are most like the “halflings” in other RPG systems.}

History of Áereth from the Dwarven perspective:

The following is the file I hand out to players w/ Dwarven characters.  There have been quite a few over the years, so I've built up the lore of this race fairly well.  None of this has been changed for the DCCRPG setting.  (Though in prepping for this post I did some minor editing for clarity)


        Being long lived and lawful by nature, the second eldest of the humanoid races has weathered the vicissitudes of history better than most; but they have not been without their troubles…  By the time the Humans arrived in the world, the Dwarves had had more than 5000 years to build and mature their culture under the tutelage of the Dragon Kings.  The Dragon Wars, and the inevitable failure of the Empire of Dragons punctuate the end of this golden period.  In the aftermath of this conflagration we see the first schism of the races, Dwarves included.  The Sphinxes & Naga split what remained of the Dragon Empire between them and tried to entice the lesser races to join them in the rebuilding.  Those who would not serve were slain.

All of the Dwarves that refused this call feared for their lives and some delved deeper into Áereth than ever before… eventually forgetting the surface world as they were slowly changed by their hate and fear into the Deep Dwarves.  The rest of those who would not serve bunkered into the Mountain Halls of their birth & were so obstinate about dieing that the sphinx’s & naga’s gave up and abandoned the siege: these Dwarves would later be known as Mountain Dwarves.  Renown for their fighting prowess, their love of Stone and Metal Crafting is as deep as the roots of the mountain holdings they call home.  The rest followed the Sphinxes into the southern deserts to help build the Khansurian Empire, but they were treated as little more than useful slaves, and powerful warriors.  In spite of their treatment the Dwarves learned many new crafting skills during this time; including the use of magic, but the Empires of the Sphinx’s & Naga’s (like all Empires) eventually destroyed each other.  The Wandering Dwarves had long since lost the desire to delve into the strata of Áereth, for they had toiled as slaves within the mines of their Sphinx masters for untold centuries & the tasks of mining & living underground had become anathema to them.  They along with the other descendants of the humanoid races find themselves once again orphaned by fate.  These Wandering Dwarves would later come to be known as Hill Dwarves.

Most of the Dwarves and Elves feel an instinctive longing in their hearts that eventually causes them to migrate northwards.  The Humans and Halflings follow in their wake, but small groups of all the races stay behind in the ruins of their homes, hoping to rebuild; or wander off in other directions searching for new homes.  It was some time around -400dc that the Dwarves & Elves returned to Lirea, the isle of their birth.  The Mountain Dwarves recognized their long lost kin and invited them to live in the Halls of Amonzadd, but the Hill Dwarves politely refused.  The Mountain Dwarves were shocked and angered at the reticence of their newly found cousins, but before any grudges or feuds could take root, an elderly Mountain Dwarf came forward.  He was a cleric of Daenthar the Lord of Áereth and he spoke quietly, forcing everyone to strain in order to hear his words.  Soon they all began to calm down and see reason.  He instructed the Hill Dwarves to take residence on the mountain above, while the Mountain Dwarves would remain within their Mountain Halls.  Both would benefit greatly from this arrangement and the Hill Dwarves were charged with defending the exterior of Amonzadd.  In time the Dwarven Clans began expanding into the various mountain ranges of Áereth, but the center of their identity (political & cultural) was the Isle of Lirea.  As such, Amonzadd is where all of the best and brightest of the Clans came to parley, & to conduct their business.  It is where the Clan Chiefs were required to make their holdings so that all Dwarven maters could be attended to efficiently and feuds and grudges minimized. Thus began the 2nd golden age of both races: but it lasted for less than 300 years.

The races of Giants from all over Áereth banded together into a Mighty Horde in -120dc, beginning the War of Divine Right by the year -66dc and the war would not end for more than a century.  Finally, with the island under siege, and the Elves falling before the might of the Fire Giants; it seemed like the survivors would have to surrender or flee into the depths of Áereth, when it seemed as though a miracle had arrived.  Jathra the Cloud Giantess brought the arcane plans for the creation of mighty artifacts that would turn back the Armies of the Giants.  It was the Elven and Human wizards and those who had believed the lies of Jathra the giantess, which had led to the annihilation of the island. 

They had convinced the Dwarven Elders of that time to agree to help craft the Pillars of Expulsion, primarily by supplying the high quality adamantium and craftsmen for the forging of the pillars.  The Elven & Human Wizards were responsible for casting the powerful spells to bind enchantments to the Pillars.  The Mountain Dwarves are convinced that Jathra was setting a trap from the very beginning, and feel most betrayed by the Hill Dwarves.  They feel that the Hill Dwarves were duty bound to defend the Adamantium Gate of that great hall; they were ultimately responsible for Jathra’s entrance to the Halls of Amonzadd because they had failed to kill her or die trying.

The last battle for the Isle of Lirea ended with the island sinking into sea, and when the halls of Amonzadd sank beneath the waves: they took all of the greatest loremasters, craftsmen, workshops, tools, and the repository of all the elder crafting wisdom of the Dwarven people… gone in a night and a day of elemental chaos.  The Dwarves reset their calendar from its normal tracking of the ages: to 0, in honor of those who died defending their ancient home. To this Day Dwarves are terrified of open water. 

With the ancient birthplace of the Dwarves at the bottom of the ocean; it not only tore the heart out of the Dwarven race, but it also caused much havoc for the political structure of the Dwarven Clans.  The cohabitation & sharing of resources between Mountain & Hill Dwarves had worked beautifully for hundreds of years, but now the Dwarves were sundered from one another culturally and geographically. The Dwarven people have been a divided race ever since that horrible day… and the divide seems to grow as the ages pass & the tempers boil. 

The Hill Dwarven faction thinks that the future is best served by living close to or even above ground, spread out like the other races… ensuring that they never become “centralized” & thus vulnerable, as their ancestors had been.  They are less concerned with things like mining and the working of stone, and are far more gregarious than the other branches of the Dwarven line.  While they still make their homes and holdings underground, they seldom delve deeper than that needed for a small family complex: and such a structure would include nearly equal amounts of “open to the sky” courtyards as it does basements and cellars.  They are the most friendly with they other races, because they have “moved on” and have chosen not to hold a grudge against the Elves and Human for the weaknesses of their ancestors.

On the other side of the anvil, the Mountain Dwarven faction have become obsessed with rediscovering all that was lost.  They are extreme traditionalists that want to hold on to the majesty and glory of their elder days; as such they have held strictly to the edicts passed down through the ages since the “Time of the Fall.” These edicts are a collection of the fragments of Dwarven Law and Religious practice that were scavenged from the all of the remaining private libraries of the Clan Holdings & temples of Daenthar left upon the world of Áereth.  It is a hodge-podge of contradictory sayings and poorly defined customs that was used to rule the Mountain Dwarven Clans for the first 500 years: this period of inter-clan warfare is known as the Kin Wars. 

They ended when an elderly Cleric of Deanthar, a Dwarf known as Nomothamai the Seer, came forward & through the powers granted him by Deanthar: shared his vision directly with the minds of all Dwarves.  He prophesied the coming age of mankind and the horrors it would bring to the Dwarven people should they not stand united against the demonic armies of evil men.  Daenthar calls to his children through Nomothamai to gather in the Ul Dominor Mountains.  By the year 1000D.C. nearly 80% of the worlds Dwarven population had gathered into the most massive underground complex ever built; linking the Ul Dominor Mountains with nearly every Dwarf Hold via tunnel or Teleportation Ring.  They leave nothing behind within their abandoned halls save for traps to kill the foolish.  In spite of the Unifying vision, the bitterness between Hill & Mountain Dwarf continues and they prefer not to mingle.  However, the need to defend the race compels the Hill Dwarves to settle Ul Dominors lowlands and there are few tunnels or Teleportation Rings connecting with their mountain dwelling kin.

In 1060D.C. the Kin Wars resume, but this time it is the Deep Dwarves who attempt to take control of the Dwarven Nation.  The battles rage for 300 years before the Deep dwarves are finally defeated; and at the end of the last battle, Ryvek Helsborne, the King of the Mountain Dwarves turns to the surviving clan chiefs and pronounces that the Hill Dwarves have acquitted themselves with such valor that he declares their feud at an end and let them be done with the bitter days of enmity.  The Hill Dwarves accept this pronouncement and the feud between Hill & Mountain Dwarves is ended.   Ryvek Helsborne is elected the first Steel Overlord by the Council of Clans, which allows the Dwarven people to prosper and flourish once again.

All is prosperous and golden until the year 1810D.C. when the Nimorian Demon Kings made war upon the Dwarves and Elves of the northlands, but the coalition of Dwarves and Elves crushed their foes and sent them packing by 1814D.C.  This having been the first time the two branches of the Dwarven family have stood side by side with a common foe that wasn’t a Dwarf, it cemented their renewed sense of kinship and the 3rd golden age of Dwarves had begun.  It lasted until 3090 when a loathsome Mountain Dwarf named Oro Loroth led his entire Clan in revolt against the Steel Overlord & the Council of the Clans.  By 3100 they managed to kill Fargustin Dronil, the Steel Overlord & slaughtered every last member of the Dronil Clan and set up an independent Dwarven Kingdom known as “The Halls of the Mountain King” with Risinox as its capital.

The Council of lords quickly appoints Saraas Helsborne as the new Steel Overlord in 3100D.C., & it has been a profitable first century of rule ever since the Human Empire started to crumble…again…  But the Dwarves of the Ul Dominor mountains are ever watchful to this new “mountain king” for he is always undermining (sometime literally) the influence of the Steel Overlord & the Clan Council with the other races.  Sometimes with acts of aggression directed mostly towards Hill Dwarves & Elves; but also by undercutting the Steel Overlords prices for the materials that are most needed by the Humans.  A time will come for a reckoning, but the Dwarves are a long lived people and can afford to be patient; besides, the Dwarves of the Ul Dominor Mountains don’t mind seeing the Humans knocked back a little.

This opinion changed when the Human provinces east of the Ul Dominor mountains began to fall to the Tribal Horde of the Scourge around 3175.  It became clear that without an alliance of the 3 major races, the light of civilization would be gone in the east.  For the Dwarves it was a pragmatic decision, not an emotional one… the Tribal Clans weren’t interested in trade for metal items or any of the other services the Dwarves had to offer; so they sided with the Elves and Humans.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A brief history of Áereth:

This is my synopsis of the DCC#35 material plus some of my own woven together in an attempt to help players gain some geo-political perspective of my version of Áereth.  It was written by me in order to run a game full of courtly intrigue right after I started merging my world with that of Áereth.  Thanx a million Lexxi... I didn't modify this for the DCCRPG setting, so it diverges from the "appendix N" feel.  The map at the bottom will (I hope) be helpful in understanding the text.  Though, in all the shuffle, I think I forgot to hand this map out to the players... oops.  Such lapses are one of the reasons why I finally decided to put everything down in a BLOG format: one stop research for the players.


This is written from the Human perspective…Unless your character is a sage, minstrel, bard,  or wizard, etc. they won’t know most of this beyond generalities.  I figure the Players need to be able to visualize and understand the world in order to take full advantage of opportunities and recognize clues.  Normally this is taken care of by the numerous novels and such that support the existing game worlds… Áereth doesn’t have this, and so a bit of explanation is needed to take full advantage of the game world.  There is a lot of material available, and I’ve tried to condense it all into a more digestible brief in order to make things easier. You may want to have the attached map file open to clarify some of the points below.

Humanity, the youngest of the races of Áereth, has had a turbulent ride through history.  Crawling out of the mists of the Gods imagination onto the Isle of Nos Caen more than 20,000 years ago to spread across the face of the world just as all the other races had.  While the Elves claimed the seas and the deep forests; and the Dwarves claimed the mountains.  The Gnomes refused to choose one home and so fractured, scattering into the Wyld Gnomes, living at ease in all the wild places of Áereth.  The Humans and the Halflings have always chosen to be nomadic and wander the places that were left to them by the elder & more powerful races.

For most of Human pre-history, they were ruled (like everyone else) by the Dragon Kings, but the elder races were more “civilized” and so garnered most of their Lords attentions and found positions of honor within the Dragon Empire as well as knowledge beyond Human understanding.  When that glorious Empire fell; the Sphinx & Naga races (the most powerful servants of the Dragon Kings) divided the known world between them.  Those who swore fealty to their new Lords followed them into the southern sands and jungles to help build new Empires in the wreckage of the Dragon Wars.  It is during this period that the Humanoid races see their first schisms; between those who would follow the new masters, and those who would not.  This is when the races of, Deep Dwarves, Svirfneblin, and Deep Gnomes; as well as the Drow and Wild Elves were born.  When the Sphinx’s & Naga’s attempted to gain the trust of Wyld Gomes, the Gnomes who left the wilds for civilization became the for-runners of the Gear Gnomes. 

After the War of the Brothers & the inevitable fall of the Khonsurian  & Serpant Empires; many of the surviving Humanoids began a slow northern migration. The Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Halflings, all returning to their ancestral homes as refugees; Gear Gnomes found homes wherever they could, and stuck mostly to larger cities.  The longer lived races fared better than most and quickly regained the majesty and vigor of their Races’ Elder days combined with all of the knowledge acquired in their travels and struggles.  Humans & Halflings reverted to small, nomadic Tribal Clans… again. 

The Elves and Dwarves reigned supreme over their domains both in the Northlands and much of the Southern lands for many times many years; and there was glorious peace and harmony, until the Giants banded together & started the War of Divine Right.  The war ended with the sinking of the Isle of Lirea, which scattered the Giant’s Armies, but broke the collective spirit and will of both the Elves and Dwarves.   
This is the true beginning of the Age of Humanity.  The Druids act as sheppard’s for Humanity; selecting the brightest and teaching them the ancient knowledge of magic.  Within 1600 years of the fall of the Isle of Lirea, the Druid Kings have guided Humanity into the first Human Empires of Erhiem, Kothia, & Nimoria.

These first empires only represent a fraction of the Human population; & even at the zenith of their power, the bulk of Humanity is still found within the Tribes of Abylossian's roaming the Northern and Eastern lands.  It was inevitable that the Imperial push for new territory would spark the Abylossian Tribesmen into open warfare.  The Abylossians’ started by slaughtering the Druids and sacking Erhiem & most of Kothia; but in doing so, they over extended themselves and their mighty horde splintered and faded back into the lands of tundra and ice to the north.  It was Nimoria that managed to survive and prosper, but only because its rulers turned to dark magic and demonic pacts to secure their power.  Eventually they tried to expand… right into the territory claimed by Elves and Dwarves. 
Nimoria’s demonic armies marched out to clear away the non-human refuse and make room for Humans as the rightful rulers of Áereth.  The War started in 1810dc and ended in 1814dc; when the demonic armies were soundly vanquished and the Nimorian Empire spends the next 300 years fighting to maintain its own existence as the Half-Demonic noble houses fight amongst themselves.


Modern History:
They say that Crieste was once a grand and glorious Empire founded over 1000 years ago in
2290dc (druidic calender) by Gunere Numon after his army vanquished the armies of the last Demon King of the Old Nimorian Empire.  They may be right, there are certainly great cities and powerful works of magic the likes of which only an Empire can build.  The existence of the great road systems, the teleporting grid whisking merchants, the important folk & cargo of the Empire from place to place are certainly profound and unavoidable evidence of the Imperial Past.  The Crystal Viewing Network (CVN) still transmits the bardic entertainments and news of the day to the public houses & those that can afford private subscriptions, but for most of your lives this thing called Empire has been naught but an ephemeral shadow.  Mostly this is due to the fact that the Last Emperor (Ostad II) was kidnapped in 2903… beginning nearly 300 years of political & financial Chaos.

Yes, the trappings of a mighty Empire surround the people of Crieste, but these enduring works are made inconsequential by the simple fact that there was no one to give the orders anymore.  The Princes & Lords wouldn’t agree on a successor and took advantage of the fact that no one was in command of the Imperial Army or Navy to settle old insults and feuds that the Emperor had kept in check.  This continued until the Lords realized that they had more power and were better off without an Emperor (approx. 172 years).  Their “wake-up call” was when the Southern Province seceded in 3075dc, taking most of the Empires mineral wealth with them when they departed.

The Council of Lords declares war on the Southern Province and attempts to retake the territory, but the Lords take individual command of the their troops and fail to fight in a coordinated fashion.  They lose a substantial portion of the Empires finest troops with this blunder.  Afterwards, the Northern Lords try to continue on as if nothing had happened, propping up the economy with the gold from the Colonial tribute fleet & new trade agreements with the Dwarves for Iron and other metals.

Late in the year 3098 Bloody Jack the Pirate hijacks the gold fleet.  He is captured, but dies before revealing the location of the gold.  Without an Emperor to commission a new fleet, the supplies to the Colonies & the gold shipments to Crieste are ended; the Colonies get independence by default.  Now the Council of Lords could no longer afford to ignore things, so they meet early in 3099 to declare silver as the new coin of the realm after the largest deposits of silver ever found within the Empire are discovered in the sleepy mining town of Silverton. By 3100dc the provinces were dropping away & declaring independence faster than autumn leaves in a storm.

To the north, the Province of Valsund breaks apart into feuding factions.  They have now fought for so many generations that they have forgotten why they fight and their former province is known simply as the War-lands.  Their neighbors to the west, the province of Luithea, declare independence after the sudden death of their king and the rapid ascension of his son to the throne.  It is a stable country for the most part, that makes its money by selling mercenaries to the factions within the War-lands.  What’s left of the Imperial forces in the occupied sections of Nos Caen are driven into the Straits of Ymtal as the remnants of the Druids regain control of the island.

East of the Ul Dominor Mountains, the province of Thire leaves the Empire, but manages to retain friendly relations; the Province of Lerheti dissolves under the brute force of the Tribal Horde known as the Scourge.  What is left of the armies of the Empire of Crieste are fully deployed in order to deal with the slow advance of the Scourge; so they are incapable of stopping the tide of secession.  It isn’t until the nations of the Elves & Dwarves join the Human forces in 3180dc that the Scourge is slowed in its progress; by 3196dc they’d succeed in halting the Horde’s Advance.  The cost was terrible, and success came only after the Clans of the Cinai were nearly exterminated after they refused to leave their lands.  Their final stand allowed for precious time to reorganize and regroup the Allied forces of Dwarves, Elves, & Humans within the Free Cities of Leherti.  Still, the once mighty nation of the Theocracy of the Lance, and the newly independent nation of Thire have lost nearly half of their respective territories and have had to rely upon help from Crieste and the non-human alliance to remain intact.  On the other side of the Scourge; the Dark Fae that have seized the western 1/3 of the Corsan Forest in the name of the Tarkhan Khurzog.  The Free Holds are so overflowing with refugees that the Robber Barons that rule the place are in danger of collapsing under the press of humanoids.

The fear of total collapse of the Empire was finally sufficient to overcome the personal agendas of the Princes & Lords; on the Summer Solstice of 3197D.C. the Council of Lords appointed a 7 year old boy named Vilgar Numon I as Emperor of Crieste.  They selected Lady Moritannia to be his regent until the Summer Solstice of his 16th year.

The New Crieste Empire (NCE) is wholly concerned with killing the Ogre Mage Tarkhan Khurzog & pushing the Scourge back into the northern wastes, so most of the peasantry has been relegated to supplying the armies with both kit & kin.  These days there is barely enough food for everyone after the Nobles take the lions share for themselves and their armies. Lady Moritania has left domestic control largely in the hands of the temples of Thormyr the Protector, Justica the blind seer of Truth and they have enforced order. Gorhan the Valiant, his daughter the Goddess Aristimis, & his adopted son Thormyr (aka: Honorus the Steadfast) have sent many of their clerics and loyal followers to defend the Empire from the Tribal Hordes to the east.