Thursday, June 27, 2013

Religion and the Hill Cantons Part Four: The Hero-Cult of Adalfuns

Hero-cults of the Sun Lord play an important role in the confusing panorama of religious life of the Solarity-holding people of Zem (see this post for background). The cult of Adalfuns the Choate is one such aspect held dear by even the heretically-minded in the Hill Cantons.

The Chant of Adalfuns the 37th Aspect of our Sun Lord Puissant
In the Free City (then, as now, a misnomer) of Aufhebensplota in the August Year of the Noxal Surrender (or 41,069) was born the hero Adalfuns, the love child of the cow maiden Welga and our most beloved and virile of divine presences, the Sun Lord--who is also by way of the shared godhead also Adalfuns.

Though his adolescent years were spent happily if rowdily knocking the jaunty caps off of local dilettantes and earning the inexplicable nickname of “Wonder Hans” with the local maidens, the wanderlust that runs raging in his divine veins took his course and he struck out from home for the Path of Heroes: helping other beings in shuffling their mortal coils and the carting away of their possessions.

So it came to pass that Adalfuns entered the Hill Cantons in search of the Horned Oracle. Crossing the River Trvna on the road to Ostrovo he was startled to hear a great stirring of the water behind. Glancing over his magnificently broad shoulder he saw the hairy, horned mass of the bukavac hovering mid-air.

“What ho, bukavac?' Adalfuns cried. “why do you make ready to leap upon my rippled and ample back?”

“I lack sustenance and wish to dine upon the delectable substance called man-fat,” answered the bukavac reasonably.

“Surely my toned and muscular form would provide poor and gamey fare to your refined, if monstrous palate.”

“Ah but that is where we differ, oh man-flesh on the foot,” answered the bukavac, “I have found delight in the prodigious marbling of a well-seasoned fighting man.”

“I will happily share in my man-fat, but for a contest of logical conundrums. If you win, you crush beneath your mass and consume the entirety of my body. If I win, I shall lop off my right arm and present it to you. In either case your avaricious belly finds nourishment.”

“While I take exception to the libelous characterization of my abdomen, I agree to such a contest.”

As Adalfuns began his exposition his dextrous hands sought out unseen contents from his magic backpack (of which it is said that the desired item always laid on top).

“Baromil wears a scarlet doublet on Sunlorday, Jirimil wears a black one on Blackgoatday and Alena wears a woolen wimple twice a week. Timosz is wearing a burgonet. What day of the week is it?”

“That make entirely no sense,” said the bukavac in an exasperated tone. “I shall make ready to leap upon your ample back.”

“Oh no, wait there is a second part,” said Adalfuns as he hurriedly and steathily whittled behind his back. “There is a blood apricot-laden cart leaving Heimotbuch traveling at four cantonal potato-leagues an hour while another such laden cart leaves Muth travelling at two leagues per hour. Where and when do the two carts meet.”

“But again...” Before the thoroughly confused and enraged bukavac could ready his banter, Adalfuns took the 10-foot sharpened stick from behind his back and thrust it into the gleaming red of the great beast.

“Sweet fuck,” said the bukavac in tremendous pain. “You have blinded and cheated me.”

“But that was exactly my point,” quipped Adalfuns in a line that sounded good on his tongue at the time, but on further reflection later seemed cheap and breezy. Whistling a saucy tune he hitched up his pack and made way to Ostrovo for a steaming pile of halushky.

A: Chaotic, Good (one of the few aspects of the Sun Lord so)
B: +1 to hit when using a piercing weapon (3), +1 to surprise if engaged in conversation with a being before combat (6).
C: Fighters, Rangers, Fey exiles from New Hampshire

D: See the Sun Lord.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Homebrewing and the Tabletop Origins of King of Dragon Pass

Rereading this morning the interview I did with David Dunham, the creator of the brilliant King of Dragon Pass (after blogging for five years I find myself forgetting the details of my own copy), it struck me that one of the things—besides the charming hand-drawn artwork, deep setting and challenging game play—that makes the game great and not just merely good is that it evolved in part out of two creative DIY-tinkering tabletop campaigns.
Clan Raiding scene [Source: King of Dragon Pass wiki]
If you remember (or if you are just tuning in) Dunham had played in the 90s in “The Taming of Dragon Pass”, a tabletop campaign run by Jeff Richards, chief editor of Glorantha's most recent home Moon Design Publications. That campaign ran off a home-brewed system called PenDragon Pass, a hack of Pendragon rpg and Runequest. (You can check out a partial version here on Dunham's website and a full version in Enclosures #1 if you are lucky bastard)

Mash-up seems inadequate, synthesis is the better word, as Pendragon Pass takes an unusual campaign premise, modeling small-scale “domain game” activity centuries before the usual Glorantha canonical setting, bending the elements of the two games with a great array of new subsystems and variant rules.

Here is a whole mini-game on cattle raiding, there an adaption of the Arthurian traits and glory system to a more organically Gloranthan system. You have the grafting simplified RQ magic system and the generations-long saga system of Pendragon noble family life into an Orlanthi clan system.

There's a simplified variant skill system working off of a d20 with a new skills appropriate to the colonizing/warring backdrop. The Enclosure version (yes, I know a lucky bastard) has a tight, interesting character generation system, an exploration mini-game and a bunch of other lovable chrome.

Fans of the computer game may recall a scene when some pre-Roman looking Briton types, exotic but still Orlanthi tribesmen from the distant west, come rolling up in open-walled chariots. That scene seems to be a bit of an easter egg homage to an East Ralios campaign by Dunham again using PenDragon Pass with further customization to fit the particular cultural and religious features of that other region.

Both accounts fire all my gaming pistons and strike me as a fully-realized vision of the kind of backwards engineering that me and my comrades in the DIY wing of the so-called OSR love to do: take crazy, individualized worldbuilding visions and bend, break and mutilate all the elements of our favorite games until they fit. (Sometimes the process works exactly in the opposite direction, with the mad tinkering informing the shape of the world, but I think you get my drift.)

That kind of spirit—when it works at the table—can create a vitality and freshness to the game. Further having some roots in the open “who knows what's going to happen” kind of play that is more typical of tabletop than that of the storyboarding lock-step of most modern crpgs grown purely in staff meetings.

Or maybe I'm just rationalizing breaking my self-imposed ban on computer games (again) as I fire up the PC version for the umpteenth time?  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From the Sunken Lands to the Feral Shore

A couple of weeks ago I had the great fortune of scoring an affordable copy of a Holy Grail product I have been patiently searching for a good long while now: Midkemia Press's Heart of the Sunken Lands.

Though like many so-called Petalheads (thanks, Scott) I get my rage on for the Tekumel lifting by Raymond Feist, the setting's popularizer, I have a great love of the actual gaming products they put out with all their interesting sandbox subsystems (the encounters and down-time business in Cities in particular) and eye for nestling those systems in colorful setting specific ways.

With Rudy Kraft--co-designer of the gold standard for wilderness sandboxes, Griffin Mountain—listed as the author of Sunken Lands I figured it had to be a solid piece of work.

I wasn't disappointed.

The book lays out (with a nifty four-panel blank players' map) a first-class wilderness sandbox set in a large, mountain-ringed, jungle-choked depression. The product has a lot of depth with many pages being devoted to navigation/exploration of the unique range of terrains; inventive, non-standard creatures, plants, gems, extractable resources, and humanoids; an expeditions table (lifted from my favorite section of their Jonril books) that hardwires in an interesting range of incentives for player exploration; and a couple mysterious sites.

With my eponymous campaign now shifting for the moment to the exploration, clearing and possible colonization of a wilderness region called the Feral Shore (more about that later) what I found most intriguing were the subsystems for wilderness exploration (apparently planned for a never-published Midkemia wilderness supplement). I found them highly inspirational and instantly set down to custom fit them to the new mini-campaign.
What the Feral Shore looked like 500 years ago
before being wiped out of existence by the Turko-Fey
The outline of that system (redacted to not tip off the players over much) I share below.

Feral Shore Exploration and Movement
What's different from the typical D&D systems:
  1. Movement is calculated by the hour instead of by the day.
  2. Encounter checks are done by the hex rather than by time.
  3. Encounters cover a wider range of events than the typical wandering monster-like check. Interesting plants, mineral deposits, geographical features, run-in's with sentient beings, strange sites etc are included on tables specific to the terrain of the hex.
  4. Checks are also made on a Mishap table per hex (includes such things as getting lost, having a horse go lame, equipment break, inclement weather, etc.)
  5. Speed matters. A party moving at a slower speed will have an increased chance of hitting an encounter but a decreased chance of having a mishap.

Movement Speeds
Exploration 6 average hours/day
Cautious, Encumbered or Party over 50 8 average hours/day.
Normal 10 average hours/day.
Traveling Light or Forced March 12 average hours/day.

Assumption for Normal travel
Foot: STR 8-14 character can hump 25-40 lbs of gear in pack and pouches, armor of chain/half-plate or less, two weapons, shield. Weaker character -10 lbs, Stronger character +10 lbs
Mounted: Horse can hump 150-250 lbs normally (total includes rider and related gear). Mule 200-300 lbs.

Foot: Average Miles per Hour (includes breaks)
Terrain Road/Trail Overland
Grasslands, Fields 2.5 2
Light Woods, Scrub 2 1.5
Grassy Hills or Moor 2 1.5
Scrub or Rocky Hills 1.5 1
Deep Forest 1.5 1
Forested or Steep Hills 1 .5
Coastal Wetlands 1 .5
Swamp or Heath 1 .5
Badlands 1 .5
Mountain .75 .25


Terrain Road/Trail Overland
Grasslands, Fields 5 4
Light Woods, Scrub 4 3
Grassy Hills or Moor 4 3
Scrub or Rocky Hills 3 2
Deep Forest 2.5 .5
Forested or Steep Hills 1.5 .25
Coastal Wetlands 1.5 .25
Swamp or Heath 1.5 .25
Badlands 1.5 .25
Mountain 1.5 0

Encounter Chart example
Light Woods: Encounter on roll of 1 on a d10. +2 if moving at Exploration, +1 at Cautious, -1 at Fast.
Roll d10
1-3 Roll on standard D&D Wilderness Encounter
4 Human or Sentient Neutral
5-6 Normal Animal
7 Plant
8 Mineral
9 Site
10 Weird

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Attention By This Axe PDF Purchasers

One of those “how did I get this far into the party with spinach stuck in my teeth with no one telling me” moments. The full-color Bilibin cover for By This Axe that I had intended for both the print and PDF versions hasn't been showing up in merged in the PDF version (though it does appear on my publisher preview).

Since it was my intention to provide said cover, if you have purchased a copy of the PDF before today (the new revised version online now should have a cover merged in) drop me an email at kutalik at the gmail dot com with your Lulu receipt (you can excise info if that doesn't make you comfortable) and I will send you a copy of the new file AND automatically email you a copy of the two free supplements when they come out.

Mea culpa.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Hill Cantons Cosmology “Appendix N”

One for the “showing my work” file, some of the inspiration points that went into the religion and cosmology series. Another post on the terrifying inimical gods of the Anti-Cantons may be in the making.

Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword and Three Hearts and Three Lions, Douglas Bachmann's Dragon article in #40 (the Weird and its cosmic juxtaposition to human civilization, the association of humanity with Law, the waxing/waning of gods being tied to the amount of human worship and the reduction of “Faerie”)

Jack Vance's Lyonesse, Dying Earth, and Planet of Adventure novels (absurdist satire of religious mores, weird gods and weirder religious doctrine)

Leiber's Lankhmar stories especially “Lean Times in Lankhmar” (more satire, petty gods and apotheosis)

Counter-Reformation Catholicism, Mediterranean hero-cults, Hellenistic and Roman sun-cults, Theosophy, Jewish neoplatonism and mystical traditions, Piper's Lord Kalvan, Early Christian theological disputes (Sun Lord sects, Ha-Vul the Antagonist and to a lesser extent the Silent God)

Hussites (and Taborites), Mormon feminist views on the Heavenly Mother, William Blake's poetic mythology around the Triple Goddess (The Celestial Lady and her secret heretical societies)

Slavic folklore and pagan mythology (Pahr Old Gods, folk customs, and a number of godlings)

Hindu and Native American creation myths (World Turtle)

M.A.R Barker's Create a Religion In Your Spare Time for Fun and Profit and Mitlanyal (general inspiration, the concept of distinct aspects for gods)

Gary Gygax's article on Five-Fold Alignment in Strategic Review.

Robert Graves's White Goddess and Mary Renault's Theseus books (the Mistress of the Mountains and the religion of the Kaftors)

Occultist and Slavic Neopagan theories and art  (Hyperborean origins)

Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean cycle (Youndeh and other elements)

The Eternals comic Jack Kirby (space gods, duh)   

Monday, June 17, 2013

Religion and the Hill Cantons Part Three: Godlings, Atrophied Gods and Also-Ran Deities

Continuing this series on the religion in the campaign. Parts one and two here and here.

Gaxx the Jerk-King sets forth in his time-misted Annals of theFive-Fold Path that “puissant and sage paragons who follow alignment to the absolute letter of its definition must eventually move off into another plane of existence.” Such must be the case as despite humanity's seemingly inexorable march toward monotheism a bewildering number of godlings on the rise have joined the ranks of demi-gods, fallen gods, and nature spirits that densely pack most corners of the Weird with their Immanence.
Kostej the Deathless
The Ursine Master
The Mistress of the Mountains
Svatek the Guardian
The Horned Oracle
Moon Calf
Vul the Drowned
Ježibaba the Witch-Bitch
Water, Wood, and Hill Spirit-Gods
The Half-Gods of Marlankh
Civic Gods

Atrophied Gods
Even beings as powerful as gods face inevitably sunset. Without the power of veneration they coast on for years living on past glories, perhaps regaining a spring in their step here and there when fashions revive a pocket of faddish worship.

Many of the Old Pahr deities, like those of the Kaftors and Boreans before them, have faded to shadows. Who knows—indeed, cares--these days of the cosmic wrestling between Chernobog and his brother Bilibog? Or the Cattle Raids of Velesh? The aching pain of the Great Stonefisting? All-powerful world-shattering gods slowly become autumnal backhills gods and then--before the longer midnight of sleep claims them--they finally slump into mere godlings.

A few able-toed fallen deities manage to adapt to their downshift, sometimes recasting themselves with entirely different briefs and personas as they adapt to their new station. Marzana, the old Pahr goddess now coasting a head above local godling status, is widely suspected to be Mara, a chthonic goddess of legendary emotional iciness. It is said that after running hot for a while with the jet-set gods of the Latter Hyperborean successor states as a trendy “goddess of bittersweet remembrances, poised languidness, and doleful fashion” that she had a tremendous row with a divine lover and in that baleful fallout covered the world in ice.

Like Radegast she ekes out a life mainly as a Hill Cantons folk festival patroness (and tiny pockets of worship) where a rag-filled, garlic-bedecked straw effigy of her is dragged through the streets toward the local water source while being dipped into every puddle, pond and mud mire along the way. At water edge the effigy is burned and a nearby tree festooned with gaudy baubles. Druids (either real if a pagan community or symbolically draped with granola if a Sun Lord-fearing community) march behind the procession chanting “it's not much, but it's a life.”
A: Neutral
B: Ice Arrow (3), Reincarnation (11)
C: Female druids, magic users
D: Winter, Dead and Rebirth, Emotional Distance

The Silent God
Rumored to be the Father of the Sun Lord, though the increasing tight-lippedness of his dwindling congregants makes the true nature of this god and his doctrine a head-scratcher for most. His symbol is nine-pointed star. Complicated esoteric equations and schematics are often associated with savants that follow him.
A: Lawful (Good? Evil?)
B: Confusion (5)
C: Any but must be born into the faith
D: Inscrutability, Stoic Continuity, Guiltmongering
Click to enlarge

The World Turtle
Jarek the Nagsman, Marlank bon vivant and sage, maintains that the World Turtle that the Hill Cantons rests on swims through time in a series of dialectical mini and macro cycles upwards to the End of History. The other planes, he contends, may be the antithesis or synthesis of the present of the HC--but of course that's absurd heresy.

At High Summer, the shortest night of the year, Altnoc, is celebrated by placing a turtle shell (for the WT naturally) inside a wagon wheel and rolling into an enormous bonfire while celebrants plait wreaths of nightshade and jump across the blazing logs in defiance of the demons who dwell Beyond the Veil.

Perhaps troubling for the continuing existence of the world, very few actually worship the World Turtle anymore.

Hyperborean “Space Gods”
The Late Classical Hyperborean period suffered from a surfeit of power-intoxication best personified by the wicked, vying Necromancers' pursuit of divine transformation. Lying in state in the Cerulean Vaults far below the surface streets of Kezmarok they spend millenia pondering dream logic and building up the will to metaphorize into beings of pure energy. Small cults nestled in the Undercity continue service and worship of them.
Zirran the Golden
Nezar the Aborted
Hisvart the Underwhelming
Onig the Prober

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Religion and the Hill Cantons Part Two: the Outlier Deities

Following up from the last post on religion and the HC campaign, the remaining two “outcast” deities of Solarism and the pagan old gods of the Pahr. The last post will finish the series up with the myriad godlings and inimical gods (and an “Appendix N” of all the various half-baked sources in the cosmology mix).

Habeka the Celestial Lady
A spurned and feisty female deity (also called the Lady, She Who We Shall Not Mention, or the Triple-Goddess) whose now-heretical followers seek to restore her place in the Divine Family. While her relative divine status is disputed, her location and lack of mobility is not: she is currently chained to the Great Hearth constellation—a situation she and her followers greatly resent, naturally. Men of learning attribute the nourishing twice annual Blood Rains to the Lady's periodic revenge beatings of the Sun Lord with her star-forged silver chains.

Her followers are divided among three bickering secret societies: the Evening Star, the Morning Star, and the Starry Void lodges. The first two societies are mostly moderate and socially egalitarian factions with a strong base artisans and denizens of the Borderlands. The Starry Void is a zealous, secretive, and lotus-addled crew who are rumored to dabble with the Mysteries of the Outer Void.
A: Neutral (Evening Star), Chaotic Good (Morning Star), Neutral to Chaotic Evil? (Starry Void)
B: Darkness 15' foot (3), Commune (7), Meteor Swarm (15)
C: All classes but Clerics and Druids. Magic users, Monks and Assassins only for the Starry Void.
D: Co-Ruler of All Creation, Mystery, Motherhood
William Blake's The Night of Enitharmon's Joy (often called Hecate)

The Antagonist, The Fallen Demiurge, Ha-Vul
A third malicious yet lawful entity, carefully never called directly by its true name, is often attributed to the Solarist religious grouping. Some in the borderlands believe that the god has no real substance and is merely a folk legend maintained by the Sun Lord's spiritual lords to scare some moral purity into the dullard minds of Corelands folk. Others say that this entity is the collective spirit of that fell domain known as the Anti-Cantons and a brave few maintain that he may even be a wayward, malicious aspect of the Sun Lord himself.
A: Lawful Evil only
B: reversed spells only. Cause Light Wounds (2)
C: (Anti) Clerics
D: Rigidity, Corruption, Being a Dick

Pahr “Old Gods”
The gods worshiped by the Pahr people of the Overkingdom and Kezmarok before their conversion.

Svat the Four-Faced
Distant, vaguely warm Father Figure god, head of the Pahr Pantheon but greatly diminished in power to the point of his fading from existence outside of the four-faced wooden pillar shrines. It's unclear what we does all day and when he gets home he sits by the fire, smiling distractedly. 

A: Chaotic Good in some aspects, Neutral in others.
B: Pass Without Trace (2)
C: Druids, Fighters
D: Formerly all things. Unclear what current domain is other than his veneration by the unemployed and harassed Pahr fathers.

Old Pahr name Radhošt. He is still widely revered during harvest rituals throughout the cantons as a folklore symbol even by Sun Lord worshipers.
A: Chaotic Good
B: Resist Drink (1), can voluntarily elect to drink three times as much as normal without becoming inebriated. Friends (2). Cheat Fate (5): Reroll a single die roll. Otto's Irresistible Dance (15)
C: Fighters, Rangers, Thieves, Mountebanks, Magic-Users
D: Hospitality, Games, Ludic Activity, Generosity, Fermented Drinks and the “Dionysic Soul”.

Reputed by certain esoteric orders to be merely the half-human offspring of one of Radegast's many dalliances with the female half of humankind, he is undoubtedly the most beloved of the Lord of Hosts' children and his cult flourishes to this day in the backhills of the borderlands. His followers' abodes are instantly recognizable by the littering of children's toys, many teeth-marked, throughout their living space. Not one for subtle interventions Storm-Child demands the attention of mortals he encounter. Many of the “touched” ruffians, mountebanks and picaros that style themselves “adventurers” spread too-consistent tales of hearing the godling's howls carried by a far wind while deep in the Weird.

A: Chaotic Good
B: The Squalling (2), Shocking Grasp (4)
C: Fighters, thieves, half-ogres
D: Thunderstorms, Willfulness, and Dice

Friday, June 14, 2013

Religion and the Hill Cantons Part One: Sun-Lord Sects

I continue to plug away at Live Weird or Die, the obsessive compilation of house rules, variant classes, and Hill Cantons setting whoha. As the project grows it becomes unclear who I am actually writing for. The players? A broader audience? Or just myself?

At any rate I find it a pleasureable place to go in my mind when work gets overwhelming and it's helped fill in the holes during play so I take it as a good place to “procrastitask”.  And because the players have been recently eager as of late to suss out the various big-ticket cosmic mysteries in the campaign, I have been pounding the keys on the religion chapter.

Below is part one of that chapter, headed up by the simple system I am using to spit out the necessary D&D mechanical information. You will note my moving away from Clerics as a universal class for deities and one specifically tied to the ostensibly monotheistic dominant religion detailed here.
The first painting from Mucha's Slavonic cycle
Sect Characteristics
Attributed Alignment (A): the hyper-powerful beings called gods exist beyond the human-derived theoretical framework called alignment. In fact, many stories of the antics of the gods clearly show them acting in ways inconsistent with alignment behavior and it's not an infrequent occurrence for many of the most powerful gods to have distinct aspects, manifestations, or incarnations that act wholly in a different alignment mode (though never in the one directly in opposition). Of course, that doesn't stop humans from attributing a single, approximate alignment to the deity and an aspirational doctrine for followers.

Bonus Spells/Powers (B): Special bonus spells and powers granted to faithful clergy or other temporal agents beyond their normal spell range. The number in parenthesis represents what level the power is granted. All powers are useable once a day unless otherwise specified.

Priesthood Class (C): Clerics are only found in the ranks of the most supreme of all humanity's gods, the Sun Lord. All other clergy are vocational posts (with special powers/spells) eligible to certain classes as per their deity.

Domain (D): What humans consider the deity's area of control. Again the actual deity may consider his or her's brief to be something wider and may share or battle another power for jurisdiction.

Solarist Sects
Most of humanity in Zěm (the world that the Hill Cantons reside in) lives nominally under a single, yet highly fractious and localized religion called Solarism. As the centuries have rolled on this body of religious doctrine has been thought by sheltered Coreland practitioners to be the single “theologically correct” world view ruled (or at least dominated) by a single godhead, the Sun Lord. Though open to fierce debate two other “entities” the Celestial Lady and the Antagonist are recognized--to varying degrees--as part of the religious umbrella.

Paradoxically the more monolithic Solinaity has grown the more hyper-nuanced, locally-differentiated, contradictory, contested and absurd it's actual real world practice has become.

A: Lawful Good (with odd, rare Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil aspects)
B: by sect below
C: Clerics only
D: By doctrine all things human, but Illumination, Glory, Warmth, Sustaining the World, Heroic Activity, All Things Related to the Sky and the Sun,.

It is known that in the post-Hyborean period that the Sun Lord roamed the world conducting great feats. Achingly similar stories of his virile prowess and —the bullwhipping of the Unachus, the jilting of the White Goddess, etc--are told throughout the known world. One school of contemporary thought maintains that the Sun Lord was merely a mighty folk hero, a fleshy mortal sac like you and I, another that the many and diverse manifestations are the work of many separate local heroes. The more orthodox hold that he was an existent god, who manifested himself everywhere as hero and concealed his divinity as a test of humanity's worth.

The Sun Lord (his true name is banned from mention) drives the Chariot of the Heavens along the wheel-rutted troughs of the Dome of the Cosmos daily. The god spends the winter months dining with the ancient divine “space god” luminaries of Hyperborea. Some savants believe that the god is in reality a godhead of 313 “Rays” and that many old gods have been said to be usurped, absorbed or even eaten this way.

The faith is currently divided into 31 Houses of Orthodoxy over seemingly absurd doctrinal differences (whether sign of the sun is clockwise or counter, how many fingers used, the number of wheels on the Sun Chariot, etc.)

The Sun Lord grants special favor to his servants that walk the path of prim and orderly weal (LG), they gain access to the full range of spells and bonus powers. Clerics that have lapsed into Chaotic Good can use the full range of spells but not the bonus ones, while those who have decadently slipped into Neutral (a sad majority of this class, really) are limited to the first 3 levels of spells. Perversely Lawful Evil clerics gain access to all levels of only the reversible spells—though clearly they gain such nefarious power from secret affiliation with the powers of the Anti-Cantons or Ha-Vul the Antagonist (see Part 2). Chaotic Evil clerics do not exist.

Supernal Orthodox Temple of the Puissant Sun Lord
The official religion of the Overkingdom with an established and widespread hierarchy through most of human civilization. Projecting itself as a monotheistic (if syncretistic) religion, the Temple ostensibly dominates the Overkingdom spiritually. The Temple itself holds a tight monopoly on the manufacture and distribution of the Seed of the Sun (gunpowder), which does not work in the Weird.
A: as above
B: Light (1), Continual Light (4), Disputation (6): priest lays down such a mighty and byzantine line of theological polemic that the listener must save as vs. a Confusion spell, only usable on humans who understand Vulgar Hyperborean (the common tongue of the realm)
C: Clerics
D: as above

The Ultra-Orthodox Patriarchate
The official religion of Kezmarok with the Patriarch as its supreme spiritual head. Though astoundingly rigid in its doctrine and intolerance of other sects of the Solianity, they are shockingly tolerant of other “apostate” religions to the point of allowing their open (if regulated and taxed) worship.
A: as above
B: Smell Heresy (2): priest can smell out in a 20-foot radius followers of other houses, Continual Light (4), Disputation (6) as above.
C: Clerics
D: as above

Minor Houses
The Thousand-Faced Myrmidons
A martial order of clerics and lay-brothers who emphasize and centralize the hero-cult manifestations of the Sun Lord.

Brothers of the Other Mother
Orthodox monastic order that promotes the veneration of a less divine “Marian” like mother-figure to the Celestial Lady.

Followers of the Cleansing Rays
An ascetic order of ultra-orthodox followers that believe one must drop away all care of the material world and devote yourself to full-time basking in the rays of the sun and other devotional acts.

Brethren of the Supernal Skies
A mystical and martial order of monks devoted to a heretical reconciliation—cosmic “remarriage”--of the Sun Lord with the Celestial Lady. Nominally at war with the Other Mother cult.

The Quadraligists
An orthodox sect that dogmatically maintains that the Sun Lord's chariot has four wheels and four wheels only. In mutual and heated conflict with the Two-Wheeled School of Immanence and the Troikaites (who go as far as to say at times that the chariot could be in fact a sled).

The Fustians
It's unclear what they actually believe other than a highly contrarian worldview that involves the shouting down of opponents.

Primitive-Reconstructionists, Heimtbach Conclave
Orthodox sect that maintains that the Sun Lord has a single aspect to be venerated among all others. There is internal confusion however on what that aspect is, paralyzing their spread.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

By This Axe Skirmish Rules Ready for Playtesting

Last week I promised that I would be releasing both a Skirmish and Campaign supplements as free PDFs for folks picking up copies of my mass battle rules By This Axe. The good news is that that work is steadily on track. A working draft of the skirmish rules are reasonably complete and poised for playtesting.

Basically I have taken the mini-game that handles duels in the larger battle system between strutting champions and extrapolated a dice-pool melee system that allows you to make individual tactical choices for warriors each combat turn. The scale is downshifted from the 1:5 and 1:20 system of the battle rules to a 1:1, unitless scale (though complemented by a simple command and control system). They seem to work reasonably well in my solo-testing for forces of 5-25 figures a side, but you know we will see as we get further in.

Anywho if you have picked up a copy of BTA (the draft rules will make very little sense if you don't have a copy) and are interested in playtesting or just giving me feedback drop me a line at kutalik at the gmail dot com and I will pleased as the proverbial punch to send you a copy of the draft.   

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Save the Date: GuadaComaCon August 17

Looks like we are jumping back in the water again and doing a third South Texas mini-con. The date is set for Saturday August 17 at our usual digs, the styling New Braunfels convention center.

More updates later, but expect a solid day of miniatures and rpg action hosted by the local crew.  

yeah, yeah last year's logo

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Freebie By This Axe Supplements Coming Down the Pike

Sales of By This Axe broke 100 yesterday (overwhelmingly the PDF) for which I am greatly appreciative of. Yay supporting advocacy work for autistic children.

One thing I wanted to flag the attention of for the folks who have ponied up their hard-earned dosh for BTA, I have plans for releasing not just the one campaign supplement that I promised earlier but two.

The campaign supplement will roll out as planned hitting the points I teased a few days ago (and adding a few more about tips on how to integrate the system with an ongoing rpg campaign) . Kicked in the butt by a new design inspiration flurry, I will also be releasing in the next couple weeks a free skirmish rules set (and yes, an errata) that extrapolates the duel “dice pool” mini-game in BTA into a more detailed one-on-one combat system.

Best of all to the frugal wargamer both supplements will be available for the “right price”, free, for all people who purchased either the PDF or print copies of BTA. Yay cheap asses.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ruling by the Axe

This just in from the Seers Guild...

By his axe, the Decade King doth rule again on the occupied Kezmaroki island of Jorfyrr.

Mercenary forces retained by the Decade King have routed the army of Lykutaa the Cackling Satrap in a battle this morning on the isle. Veteran mercenary captain Mahk “the Knife” leading a mixed company of knight-exiles, black hobbit infantry, gladiators and cantonal bowmen shocked the Southlands with his surprise landing yesterday. Swiftly leading his forces inland he was met by the quick muster—and sorcerous summonings—of the demi-lich tyrant that usurped power so many long centuries ago.

For two grinding hours the two armies were locked in a see-saw battle. An artist's recreation with cast metal figures follows below.
Satrap phalanx works up a battle frenzy.

Melee in the center.
Knight-exiles lock swords with the giant lizards.
Cantonal bowmen decimated by Cloudkill.
Vexor the Underwhelming vanquished in a duel with Mahk.
And now the rout begins in earnest. A highly perturbed demi-lich tyrant tries vainly to rally his center.