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.}

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