Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tilly's Story: Reunion and the opening adventure

When the Auld Acquaintances parted ways, Tilly returned to the cloistered walls of the monastery where she could reflect and grow from her experiences. This adventure begins when Tilly is found by her Aunt Gerta.

It was a day like most others in the monastery. I had arisen to greet the sunrise, breakfasted with the Aunts and Uncles, done my chores in the garden, and retreated for morning meditation in my favorite room, The Waterstone Room. I liked it because it was completely surrounded by stone with masterful floor tiling. One wall of the room was open to the waterfall and let through filtered natural light. I am a dwarf and I prefer to meet the world surrounded by stone. It was not a popular place for meditation as it was only known to The Aunts and The Nieces, an most of The Aunts preferred to do their meditations in other places, usually their private quarters and rooms that had a small corner utilized for reflection or the main temple.
This particular morning I was working through a series of meditative postures when in the distance, my mind registered some sound of quiet and gentle footsteps coming down the stairway. It took me a few seconds to return and gather myself. I turned to see my Aunt Gerta standing with a sealed scroll. “A messenger arrived this morning with a letter for you, Niece Tilly. I would not have interrupted your meditations, expect that there was some urgency conveyed.” She handed me the scroll and stepped back. The scroll was from a Master Pollard, a prioritor of an inn in a very small fishing village the Auld Acquaintances would frequent. Next to that fishing village was an old lighthouse that now served as a wizard’s tower, and our group had done some work for the Mistress of the Lighthouse Tower years ago. The letter contained a request that I return to the fishing village as the Mistress had not been seen for some months and there had been some odd occurrences and dark creatures seen around area that have been getting progressively worse. And now some children and livestock had gone missing. They requested my assistance in the matter and asked that I come as quickly as possible. When I finished reading, I looked up at my Aunt and conveyed the news and the request. I would be packing and leaving today to make my way to the village. 
I had been at the monastery for well on 10 years now, and the majority of my time had been spent within its confines pursuing reflection and training in herbalism. During the time, I had only left the monastery to help administer to the sick in a few nearby villages. Aside from my biannual meeting of The Sisters, my experience with the outside world has been quite limited. So it was with some excitement and anticipation that I left to pack my items. As I thought about it further, I could only assume my former adventuring companions had been requested as well. I had not heard from any in the past 10 years and was admittedly looking forward to seeing how their lives had progressed and how they had changed over time. 
Before leaving, I said goodbye to my Aunts, each of whom had become an important part of my life and had transitioned into my closest family. I would see them all in a few months at the solstice. And by early afternoon, I had saddled up my trusty pony, Beatrix, and was on my way.

It was on one evening of the ## day of travel when I arrived in South Warren. The sun had set and I was about half a day away from the fishing village. I new there was a small inn associated with the tavern in town and decided this would be a good stopping point for the day. Besides, from the sound of the letter, it would probably be better to approach the village in daylight. The proprietor of the inn had seen me approach, and had stepped outside. “Do you have a room and a spot for my pony,” I asked? 
“Aaah, yes, my dear, we certainly do! It’s been quiet the past few weeks until tonight,” he said. 
“Until tonight,” I inquired?  
“Aye, you are my third travel tonight. You all seem to be of the adventuring types, do ya know if there will be more coming through,” he asked. 
“I know not, kind sir. But I will be interested in seeing who has arrived here. It is possible it could be some of my friends.”   
With that, I took Beatrix to the stables and settled her in for the night with some fresh hay, and made my way into the tavern. Sure enough, when I came in the door, I saw a slightly plumper version of Gaylia hunkering down over a meal at a table near the bar. She looked up when I entered, bounded to her feet and headed over to engulf me in one of her unavoidable overly-affectionate hugs. Still, I had missed those hugs, though I would never admit to her.
Tethran was there too, and stood to greet me as I walked over to their table. Tethran looked weary and haunted, perhaps more so than I remembered. The past ## years had been hard on him, and it was clearly evident that his battle with his demon had continued to wear on him. I wondered how his soul was faring. And it was with compassion and respect that I grasped his hands and returned his greeting.
As I sat down and ordered a tankard and a meat pie for myself, Gaylia introduced her new friend, James. James was tall and lean, dressed in black pants, shirt, jerkin, boots, gloves, hooded cloak and mask. He was, in essence, black form head to toe. The only bit of color was an orange gemstone embedded in the mask and fitted over his right eye. James perfectly countered Gaylia’s warm welcome with a sense of foreboding disquiet. He spoke little and very much kept to himself, adding an awkward feel to the reunion. 
Gaylia explained that she had worked with James in her hometown of Organesson on a several major investigations over the years and had come to regard him with the affection of a younger brother. It wasn’t until the next morning that James appeared without his mask. He would be considered a handsome human, with shoulder-length black hair, dark brown eyes, and soft facial features. I wondered if he kept the mask on to scare off the human girls. Where the night before the barmaid was somewhat frighted of him, the next morning she had a more admiring eye, though I doubt he noticed. 
Our last party member joined us in the morning. I had arisen to meet the sunrise, and returned to the tavern for breakfast. When I walked into the door, in the back of the room was a bearded human wrapped in a black cloak. He had his breakfast before him and was singularly focused on consuming the food. I was fairly certain this was Edmon, and as I came closer I was more convinced and impressed! Edmon, who was previously clean shaven, had grown a Dwarven beard that was properly plaited and adorned. And his dwarven is much improved, he clearly has spent some time with the mountain dwarfs. 
As it turns out, dear Edmon has a traveling companion, a wee red pseudodragon named Andra. How Edmon came to befriend Andra is a story we have yet to hear, but she is a horrid little creature. I have no idea how Edmon can stand having that thing poking around in his mind. Dragonlike creatures are not to be trusted. They are harborers of badness and misfortune. Dear Gaylia is trying to befriend the creature, but she and the others will soon learn of their corruption. On this day she has tried to probe my mind. I will need to be careful and place strong barriers she cannot breach.
Upon full reunion of our group, and confirmation that we are all here for a single purpose, we elected to head out towards the fishing village where The Pollards have their inn. Our first adventure began just outside of South Warren when Gaylia very dramatically called her Spirit Animal, Athwalhei. Athwalhei is a large brown bear who coalesced out of nowhere and frightened our horses. Poor Beatrix lost her head and took off running. Much thanks and gratitude to Edmon who managed to chase after them and bring the beasts back, though they remained wary of Athwalhei. Athwalhei is a guardian and a good spirit, it surprised me that she frightened the horses so much. Typically the animals recognize a spirit guardian and are not disturbed. Horses are beasts of little brains, though, so I suppose it is not so surprising. Still... I will be keeping an eye on that spirit. 
Once we were all sorted out and had met our new members, our party began our half-day travel along the dirt road towards the fishing village. It was just outside the fishing village that we got a taste of what was troubling the area. We heard and saw some rustling in the bushes along the sides of the road, and shortly thereafter a pair of displacer beasts appeared. Andra took to the skies, typical of her kind, and the rest of the party hopped off their horses (Gaylia remained saddled upon Athwalhei) and rushed forward to fight the beasts. That left wee little Tilly with the horses. 
It is very typical of my friends to run headlong into a fight without considering ramifications. Admittedly the displacer beasts are not considered wholly good, in fact they are quite evil. Nonetheless, every creature has its place in this world and keeps balance in place, and this should be carefully considered before attacking. My companions are more than a match for these two beasts, so I remained behind with the horses. There is no need for me to contribute to the fight, especially when I could lose sweet Beatrix and her friends. So I focused my attentions on keeping them calm while the others ran ahead and showed off the skills they had built over the past ten years. 
Dear Tethran is still as odd as ever. He slinks off into the shrubbery off the side of the road and begins a conjuring ritual for his weapon. It about brought me to my knees in hysteria when I realized what was happening. Couldn’t do it in front of his old friends, oh no, had to hide in the bushes and conjure his weapon. The ancestors blesses us with such humor when we choose to see it.
As predicted, my companions ousted the displacer beasts without even a scratch, and returned to take their mounts. We then moved cautiously towards the outskirts of this small village. By outskirts, I mean a barn with a stable located at one end. The barn was empty, the beasts having likely recently been released. We figured it was a good enough spot for our mounts to hide while we assess the situation in the village. So there they were stabled and brought fresh hay. When the companions weren’t looking, I gave Beatrix an apple I had tucked into my pocket from the Cove Inn along with some encouraging words and some instructions on how to leave if needed. She is a brave little lass and smart too. She will be a The Cove Inn if trouble arises and she needs to flee. 
Heading out of the barn we look towards the town. The sea is on our left and to our right is a small clustering of houses that constitutes the village. Master Pollards establishment is on the far end of the village. My comrades fly headlong into the town and decide to investigate each house, one by one. I myself am more worried about finding Master Pollard than flushing out beasts, and I am not so sure I will be galavanting after them.   


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

World: Religion - Halfling

Little is known among other races about the religious beliefs of halflings, and in truth most other races don’t care and the nature of halflings is that they really aren’t interested in asserting their own opinions against the ‘big folk’. If a human or elf makes assumptions or assertions about a halfling’s beliefs it is likely that the halfling will just nod and agree and go on believing whatever the halfling was going to believe anyway.


World: Religion - Dwarven

The dwarven system of faith is highly ritualistic but essentially atheistic. There are no specific deities and the dwarves do not recognize the human gods (their words for the Sun, Moon, and Star in the sky are Zonn, Aef and Gitaef ‘small moon’, respectively).

The dwarves follow a system of ancestor worship which fits their culture and history. An ancient civilization, some prominent dwarven families claim to be able to trace their lineage back to the time before history was written. Not as long-lived a race as the elves, the dwarves nonetheless can reach ages of several centuries. Not a race to spend long periods of time in idle contemplation the theoretical aspects of dwarven religion are not as valued among the populace as the practical aspects, thus dwarven religion is heavily integrated into family life, law, work and day-to-day activities.

Extensive records of family lineage are kept by the Council of Elders and the Masons Circle, as well as by the individual families themselves. Family records are used for settling disputes, approving marriages, punishment and resource management so the family line carries all the deeds, good and bad, of a dwarf’s history which has both direct and indirect impacts on their life. Thus, a dwarven family’s spirital life revolves centrally around this historic lineage.

A people very fond of duty, rules and structure, the most well-developed aspects of the dwarven faith are the rituals. For every major event in a dwarf’s life (birth, naming, day of calling, marriage, childbirth, day of mastery, day of eldering, and death) there is a ritual. Some are small affairs with close kin while others are large celebrations involving the entire clan. It is through the rituals that the dwarves show their reverence to the power of family and the gifts of their ancestors. 

A less commonly discussed aspect of dwarven spirituality is kinship with things of the earth (rock, mineral, gems) and things crafted from them. Dwarves believe that stone and the things that come from it have a soul just as much as the elves believe in the spirits of animals, wood and water. Moreover their creation mythology suggests that the souls of dwarves come from the spirit of the stone itself and their death rites return the soul and the physical remains to the stone. Thus the spirit of every dwarf who has lived literally infuses the very rock of their homeland that surrounds them.

The spirit of craftsmanship is also an integral part of dwarven religion. It is felt that the hands of the ancestors guide the craftsman, whether working stone, cutting gems, or at the forge. Since the material being worked (the stone itself) is believed to carry the souls of their people, the dwarves take the crafting of stone very seriously such that it could easily take two centuries for a dwarf to achieve the status of Master Mason. 

Death Rites: 
Dwarves are a long-lived people with a potential lifespan of centuries. They are shorter lived than the elves and though a more populous race they also engage in more dangerous work in their mines and forges, thus death among the dwarves is a more common event than the elves. 

The dwarven beliefs regarding the soul of the earth have shaped their death rituals. The dwarf is laid out their finest ceremonial dress and their hair plaited. After a day and a night of mourning where the family each can say farewell to the deceased (a process which sometimes takes longer than a day and a night, thus that time period is considered a minimum requisite), the body is wrapped and cremated in a special forge and the ashes cast into the Chasm of the Ancestors to return to the stone that birthed them. A small amount of ash is often retained by the family.

(Note: Out of necessity there are differences in the dwarven death rites for Highland dwarves, please see World: Races - Dwarves for more information).


World: Religion - Elven

The elves (and to some extent the dwarves) in this land follow an animistic religious philosophy, believing that souls exist not only in people but in all living things, and those souls are completely interconnected. Thus there are no specific deities in their religion, but rather spirits of nature that are understood to be metaphors rather than separately existing sentient beings. 

Thus an elf may pay homage to the plants or trees, or give thanks to an animal spirit. Worship is extremely individualistic and often a private matter. 

Elves do record the names and deeds of those who do remarkable things in the service of the land. These individuals are called ‘Saints’ and their names are revered and invoked by the people. They are often elves (whose exploits are known to their people) but can come from any race or species - there are human druids, halfling clerics, merfolk and dryads that have numbered among the Saints of the Elves. 

The basic tenets of the elven religion are rooted in egalitarianism and respect for nature. Rather than a religion of ritual and narrative it is better described as a way of life and practice of existence. Such extremely long-lived beings, elves have the luxury of time to contemplate the nature of the universe. Many have written their observations and realizations in tomes held in the oldest elven cities. These collected works of wisdom are often referenced by the elves, but treated more as philosophical treatises than guides to how one should experience ones spirituality. 

Though few elves would identify as followers of human religions, they are generally respectful of the beliefs of others and the in line with their broad belief of the nature of the soul, the elves can find a thread of understanding with many of the human religions and perhaps best relate to those that emphasize the dualism of the Sun and the Moon.

Though there are fundamental similarities between elven and dwarven religion, the practice of these is vastly different. To elves, who believe in a spirit that permeates all living things, the dwarven kinship with and apparent worship of stone and metal is puzzling. Though the practice of invoking or communing with the Saints is not, on its surface, dissimilar to the dwarven practice of beatification of ancestors, the elves fail to see any appreciable similarity.

Alalugweig - Spirit of the Sky (Encompasses sky, wind, and cloud).

Athwahlei - Spirit of the Bear (The Bear spirit is associated with great strength, slow to anger but fierce when protecting their loved ones bears are seen as wise and powerful creatures by the elves).

Atoquasu - Spirit of the Fish (Atoquasu is sometimes considered to be the soul that runs through all aquatic life).

Masgwei - Spirit of the Tree (Often invoked for trees of any kind, though some particularly ancient trees may be referred to by their individual name).

Naqasuaqei - Spirit of the Rain (Rain, snow, fog, thunder and all forms of precipitation)

Psitn - Spirit of the River (A changeful spirit that is considered both playful and powerful and should never be underestimated).

Taqtaloq - Spirit of the Reptiles (Usually associated with reptilian animals, otherworldly reptilian humanoids and dragons are related but different spirits).

Sgilmin - Spirit of Seed (Seeds and seedlings, new growth and youngling plants).

Earyende Lynnadhiel - Lady of Seasong (Literal translation ‘singing daughter of the sea’. An elf who lived thirteen centuries ago and who devoted her life to fostering the relationship between the southern elves and the merfolk of The Naguset Bay (Sun Bay to the humans).

Fainauriel’upadiel - Saint of the Flame (Literal translation ‘fire white who does not walk’. An elven druid who lived eight hundred years ago, born with malformed legs she nonetheless preserved the light of the everburning flame through the Invasion of Kellern).

Aran’galasrinion - Saint of the Holly (Literal translation ‘Leaf-crowned King’. A human king of old whose long rule and longer legacy preserved the beauty and bounty of the vast forests north of what is now the Singing Glen (though sadly, rulers over the past few centuries have not maintained this attitude)).

Death and death rites: 
The belief that the spirit of life flows through all living things informs the elven traditions surrounding death. Once the spirit has left the body (thought to take several days if not interrupted), it is believed that it usually goes on to another living being, but also may join the natural environment, or dissipates and flow wherever it is needed.

The elves are a very long lived race, with elders sometimes living more than a thousand years, but they are not immortal. Deaths do not happen often, but when an elf dies it is common for the entire community to enter a period of meditation and reflection. The body is bathed and treated with sacred balms and oils, then wrapped in sequential layers of leaves. The shrouded corpse is then taken to one of many sacred groves where it is left so the physical form can be reclaimed by nature. 

Many elves have personal beliefs about predictions of where the spirit goes after death, and the most religious believe that the more ardently they serve nature in life the more likely their spirit will stay in areas they loved in life. An elf who wishes to join the spirit of the river, for example, may ardently serve Psitn and keep physically near rivers through their life. Upon death they may ask that their body be kept near and then given to the river rather than left in a grove, thus further ensuring the soul will find a home in the river when it escapes the body.


World: Religion - General / Human / Gnome

Religion may or may not be important to your particular character, but you will need to know some of it to interact with others. As with our world, religion is deeply intwined with culture in this place.

There are distinct racial differences in ideas about spirituality. The humans and gnomes are the only races that truly embrace the ideas of deities, while the other races have different belief systems (that sometimes end up working about the same). 

Humans & Gnomes
Three deities. All human cultures seem to address these deities in some form, though the specifics vary greatly.
Animistic religion. They believe that the energy of the universe is woven through every being and object. They have ‘saints’ who are renowned mortals that achieved a higher level of consciousness in life or death and may be able to influence the mortal world.
Atheistic. They have strong family and clan ties and a ritualistic approach to spirituality. They honor their ancestors and feel a kinship with stone. 
Halflings generally don’t talk about metaphysical things. They value home, family, and community. They acknowledge the human gods but it’s hard to pin them down on specific beliefs.

Humans and Gnomes both follow belief systems centered around a trinity. It is known that there are three gods; the Father, the Mother and the Other. Some religions maintain that the three were birthed from an even more ancient go who created the world and skies while others think that the Trinity has always existed and itself birthed all things in the universe.

Each of the three deities has a particular personality and background that influences their interests and the causes they champion. Though the details may vary regarding these three gods (name, description, and the specifics of their respective domains) there are some similarities that thread through all cultures.

It is well accepted that humans are responsible for recording, organizing and spreading much of the lore of the Trinity. Gnomes, having lived in and around humans so long that their original culture is lost to the ages, seem to have adopted the same gods at some point in the past. As one would expect, the gnomish religions differ in some key ways from the standard human descriptions. To any gnome or human these differences constitute completely separate religions, however to the other races the Trinity stands out as being a common theme between human and gnomish religion, and many elven and dwarven scholars will discuss these only as various sects of one umbrella faith.

The three gods are associated with the three largest celestial bodies visible in the sky. 

Graigh or The Sun:
In all religions he is represented by light, daytime, and warmth. In most religions he will  have a masculine personal and may be associated with things like strength, extraversion, action, forward movement, heat, passion, etc. (basically all things yang) and often with the colors of yellow, gold, red, and orange.

In religions that do not acknowledge an older god, the depiction of the Sun ranges from benevolent but stern father figure, others as the loving protector, and still others see him simply as the masculine (with whatever that constitutes in their society). In some religions he is further seen as the protector of human (and gnomish) kind. If the religion believes in an elder god then the Sun is the eldest son of that god who is often depicted as being warmer toward humans (and gnomes) than the elder god. In those religions the similarities between the common words for ‘Sun’ and ‘Son’ are often leveraged in these religions.

The association with the sun shows up in religious ceremonies where many cultures celebrate the summer solstice (with the most hours of sunlight of any day in the year) in his name. In the northern provinces these often take the form of a day of celebration. Entire cities will cease normal activities to raise banners, feast and parade. The day typically starts before sunrise, and much like small children may rise early to prepare a special breakfast for a parent’s birthday, everyone in a town will be up hours before dawn cooking and decorating so that when the Sun’s eye opens on them it sees their gratitude and love. In the southern provinces there are sects where the summer solstice is considered sacred and solemn. A time to appreciate what the Sun God does for humanity. Entire cities also cease normal activities, but as the sun rises the streets will be quiet. Humans gather into temples and churches to sing the god’s praises and contemplate the bounty of his gifts. 

Gnomes, scattered as they are through human-dominated areas, typically join the predominate human sect, though there are a few gnomish religions that have their own distinct take on the Sun God. They pointedly do not envision him as physically human (the way he is frequently depicted in human religious art and writings) but rather an ephemeral being of light who (also pointedly) cares equally for humans, gnomes, and other races. The celebration of him in these belief systems is usually jovial and raucous (as most gnomish celebrations are).

Cryaigh (The Moon):
In all religions she is represented by darkness, night-time, and coolness. In most religions she will  have a feminine persona and may be associated with things like gentleness, introversion, quiet, wisdom, calm, etc (basically all things yin) and often with the colors of blue, green, purple and silver.

In religions that do not acknowledge an older god, the depiction of the Moon may be of Mother and wife to the Sun, while others see her simply as the feminine (with whatever that constitutes in their society). Being that childbirth is exclusively the domain of women, all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth fall under the watchful eye of the Moon and she is often considered the specific guardian of children, regardless of gender roles in a particular culture. If the religion believes in an elder god then the Moon is the only daughter of that god and may be seen as a figure to be protected and defended.

Though she represents the feminine in all known religions the form this takes varies depending on the specific culture. Many cultures do not have strong boundaries for gender roles, and in those she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sun, either as Husband and Wife, or Brother and Sister. In these cultures she often represents the feminine in an abstract way and more as a counterpoint to the domains of the Sun where they exist as counterparts, not opposites (you cannot have light without dark, cool without heat).

In other cultures that tend toward patriarchal organization she tends to be seen as inferior to the Sun. Smaller, weaker, in need of protection and guidance. She is more likely to be more strongly associated with home and hearth, crafts, child rearing, romantic love, and physical beauty. Her counterpoint to the Sun is maintained even in these religions  though it may be framed as opposing and so ‘weaker but still important’ or in more misogynistic cultures as truly inferior (also societies which may judge people who have traits that run counter to their ideas of gender norms).

The Moon is celebrated during the winter solstice - the day when the Sun spends the least amount of time in the sky and her brightness can be seen and admired. Her celebrations typically are less exuberant than summer solstice festivals, often emphasizing and embracing the darkness. Small lights (candles, lanterns, etc), intimate gatherings, artful music and dance, and fine meals are enjoyed to varying degrees by most religions. Wine is almost universally part of celebrations of the Moon.

Fealgh (the Star):
In almost all religions the Star is represented by mystery, shadow and secrets. This deity is the most divisive and controversial. Many times a common religion has split into entirely separate faiths over time due to disagreement over the nature of the Star.  As discussed previously the name Star is capitalized when applied to what looks more like a moon in the sky, and in languages other than dwarven or human the name for both the celestial body and the god associated with it may translate more closely to ‘little moon’. 

Those who see the Star as benevolent are more likely to associate it with philosophy, the mysteries of the universe, the intricacies of human nature (delving into psychology), guardian of secrets and hidden things and associated with magic and creatures of rarity and secrecy. A deity to be respected and revered, and not to be treated lightly.

Those who see the Star as malevolent are more likely to associate it with deception, trickery, deceit, cheating and manipulation, the occult and black magic, guardian of evil secrets that should be hidden and creatures of great malevolence and power. A diety to be feared, mistrusted and certainly not one to be respected.

The Star does not usually represent a specific gender. In more gender fluid societies the Star will represent those who do not fall into the traditional gender binary (transgender, ‘two-spirit’, gay, pansexual, etc) and may refer to the Star as ‘he’ or ‘she’ interchangably. In more gender binary societies the Star may be seen as gender neutral or asexual and pronouns such as ‘it’ or ‘they’ may be used. Attitudes toward this aspect of the Star vary widely from celebration (especially in the north) to derision or fear (especially in the south).

With the uncertain and multiplicious (it’s a word - look it up!) nature of this deity it is often represented by white, black or grey - clearly not falling into the colour spectra of the Sun or the Moon. There is not a specific metal associated with it, though black steel, unoctium, and even diamonds have been variable used to represent the Star from religions of differing factions (black steel - evil/death, unoctium - change/complexity, diamond - many faces).

In religions that acknowledge an elder god, the Star is seen as the younger brother to the Sun and Moon. 

Most folk who do not closely watch the patterns of objects in the sky consider the Star to be an unpredictable thing. Some nights you can see it, others you cannot. Sometimes it is a bright, ruddy object in the sky (when at its fullest and brightest it is called a Blood Star) and sometimes gold, green or purple. At other times it is a faint disc or even just a sliver of light in the sky.

Church factions:
Opinions regarding the nature and domains of each of the gods of the Trinity have varied among different groups and changed over spans of time. Some opinions that fit within a common schema have become amalgamated and interpreted as the multifaceted nature of the gods, while others have proved to be severe enough differences that they led to a schism. Today there are numerous factions of the church of the Trinity, some so far removed from the traditional teachings that they are considered completely separate religions.

The basic traits of the Sun, the Moon and the Star are often preserved (or at least recognizable) between religions. Broad associations, such as the masculine/feminine/neuter, or the Moon as birth, Sun as life, and Star as death will be seen in many related religions. Specific iconography, tenets or attributes (e.g. is the source of my ability to case ‘sunbeam’) varies between religious groups.

For further information on specific religious customs see World: Races.

Magic and the Church:
There is no single domain of magic, rather each deities’ domains encompass some magical areas. Offensive and elemental magic of lightning and fire tend to fall under the Sun domain. Healing and nature magic, elemental water and ice fall under the Moon domain. Summoning, transmutation, and mental magics as well as other magic that doesn’t clearly fall under the Sun or Star domains all fall under the domain of the Star. Arcane scholars typically apply their personal beliefs (or keep church and science separate). Religious faiths will more clearly delineate the sources and be more adamant that the favor of the gods are required, as in the case of Paladin (in which case the particular church determines what is ‘truth’). Over centuries the division of particular types of magic has led to some things being available to arcane practitioners that are not available to so-called ‘divine’ practitioners and vice-versa.

As mentioned elsewhere in this text, gnomes do not have a separate and distinct society. It is commonly believed by scholars that they did have their own origin and faith (much as elves, dwarves and presumably halflings do) but details of it are lost to the ages. Modern gnomes live in human settlements. They tend to favor larger urban centers, though it is not uncommon to find some gnomish families in smaller villages and hamlets. 

With respect to religion there are secular gnomes who do not actively practice any faith. Of the gnomes that do practice religion there are two main types, those who follow one of the many human religions (all based on the divine Trinity) and those who follow a strictly gnomish faith. Still solidly based on the Trinity, the gnomish religions differ in some key ways. Most often the emphasis on the gender identification of the gods is less pronounced in gnomish theology, and the positive aspects of all three are clear and robust. 

The Sun: Typically the Sun is the most revered of the three gods. Celebrations of the summer solstice will last three days; the first day honoring the Moon, a period of relative quiet reflection and close family gatherings; the second day (on the actual solstice) honoring the Sun with raucous celebrations in the streets and revelry, often spilling well into the third day which honors the Star. On the third day revelers often take to acts of mischief (if they aren’t sleeping off the effects of the first two days of celebration).

The Moon: The Moon is probably the least regarded in gnomish society. Not that there are any negative attitudes toward the goddess, but rather that her domain tends to encompass things which are more quiet and contemplative and responsible and, to some gnomes, represent drudgery. The winter solstice is traditionally a time to celebrate motherhood and the family, however in more modern times many faiths have encompassed the practice of pantomime where the menfolk of the family dress as women and take over the women’s duties for the days while the women dress as men and sit about drinking.

The Star: The gnomes universally are more openly accepting of the Star and in fact tend to relate more closely to this deity than to the Moon (an attitude adopted by individual humans but not seen on any scale in human religions). Most often seeing the god as the patron of mystery and mischief they celebrate the Star on the equinoxes (where major human religions generally do not have a special celebration for the Star at all). In both cases (autumnal and vernal equinox) a two-day celebration is held that is effectively a masquerade. Traditionally the vernal equinox celebrates nature and the gnomes dress in costumes representing the beasts of the world both mundane and magical. The autumnal equinox is perhaps the more proper celebration of the Star, reveling in the aspects of mystery and mischief, the gnomes dress in dark costumes and masks and play tricks. Humans often find reasons to stay inside with the doors locked when darkness falls on the autumnal equinox.
For more information please refer to World: Races - Gnome.

Death Rites:
Most human and gnomish religions believe that the Moon takes the souls of the dead into her busom. What happens after that is interpreted differently depending on the specific tenets of the faith. 

Likewise the ritualistic rites surrounding death vary greatly from culture to culture, though burial and cremation are the two most commonly observed practices of handling the earthly remains of the deceased. Prayers are typically spoken and the blessings and guidance of a cleric used to guide the soul of the deceased to the gods. 

V 1.1

World: General World Information

This is a home-brew world called Ebarra.

This is not Faerun, nor is it Earth - though it has elements of both places. For the most part the world falls in line with typical fantasy worlds (and D&D type fantasy worlds specifically). There are humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings. There are stranger things like tieflings and dragonborn, and a multitude of different creatures. There are planes (that basically follow the rules of the 5e PHB) though what is found on those planes may or may not be the same (e.g. established cities and such).

The annual cycle also similar in length and seasons work about the same as on earth (i.e. they vary a bit depending on latitude - but most of the continent will be in a temperate latitude). 

The Sky:
There are some important differences in the appearance of the sky. The day/night cycle is pretty similar to Earth’s (roughly 24 hour days) and at night stars are visible throughout the sky, likewise the sun rises and sets and is visible in the sky much like the sun from Earth. However there is no moon in the sense that we have - there are two large celestial bodies visible (besides the sun) which are generally referred to as the Moon (the larger of the two) and the Star (the smaller of the two). 

The Moon: 
This is a large moon that visibly looks a bit larger than our largest harvest moons on Earth and has a bluish cast. It has a relatively fixed position in the sky both day and night. When the sun and the Moon’s paths cross, the moon will appear as a dark circle against the sun. When they are both in the sky (but not crossing paths) it would look similar to the way our moon appears during the day (but bigger).

The Moon doesn’t really have a rise and set, it will vary in position and size somewhat through day and year cycles but in general is a very consistent celestial body. The Moon is often associated with one of the gods of the Trinity in human and gnomish religions.

The Star:
The Star is a second celestial body in the sky that visually looks like a smaller moon. It is commonly referred to as the Star and the word capitalized to clarify the meaning as separate from the small, twinkling stars in the sky and likely stem from the references to The Sun, The Moon, and The Star in the religions of humans. In fact, in the dwarven and elvish languages the word for this object in the sky translates more closely to ‘small moon’. 

Visually it has a far more variable appearance than the Moon. It moves through the sky and sometimes is not visible at all, it’s position in the sky is erratic throughout the year, it’s visible size changes considerably over the course of it’s path, and it’s hue ranges from golden to red at different times. 

Because of the erratic nature of the Star  (specific appearances do not occur at regular intervals - e.g. waxing gibbous) it is not used as a basis for any lunar calendar. Some groups will observe certain repeated appearances of the Star for religious or cultural reasons, but most mainstream religions have fixed these events to seasons to make them more predictable through the year and only followers of the ‘old ways’ will still observe them at times dictated by the appearance of the Star.

In the religious Trinity of humans and gnomes the Star is always less powerful than the Sun or the Moon (see Entry Word: Religion).

Marking the passage of time is important for communication, trade, religion and many other practices that social creatures like to partake in. In this world there is much cross-cultural contact and trade that, over time, most societies across various races have adopted a common language used for marking time. Though individual cultures may have older historical systems that differ, these will be rarely used for day-to-day activities and often referred to only by scholars or used for longstanding religious or cultural traditions. 

A year is about the same length as our year on Earth, and seasons have a similar length and order (summer, autumn, winter, and spring). The day of longest sunlight of the year is the summer solstice (occurring at the peak of summer, as in Earth’s northern hemisphere), the day of least sunlight is the winter solstice (at the peak of winter). The vernal and autumnal equinoxes occur at the height of spring and autumn, respectively.

As mentioned earlier this is a well developed society that is the result of the mixing and intermingling of many cultures and races, thus there is a generally accepted Common Calendar in which the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each (the actual solar year is slightly shorter than ours on Earth so there are no frigging leap-anythings). Since there is no consistent lunar cycle the months are just subunits of the year with each season broken into three manageable chunks of 30 days each. Note that this is based on the relatively equal length seasons of the oldest societies (as seasons may be longer or shorter as you travel to the far north or south). The solstices and equinoxes therefore fall in the middlemost day of the middlemost month of each season. 

The months are not always divided further (days and weeks are the least consistent units of measure as they are not definitively outlined in the Common Calendar) but the unit of time referred to as a ‘Fortnight’ does generally refer to a period of about 15 days (half of a month) because reasons.

Like with language and time, the many currencies that have existed throughout the land are now mostly indexed to one Common Currency which is comprised of Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Copper coins (refer to the 5e rules on money and remove electrum pieces because nobody uses electrum). In geographically isolated areas you may encounter other currencies but those people will still generally understand the value of a silver coin.

Many races are known to exist in this world, but the most common are humans (by far), elves, and gnomes. Halflings and dwarves are more likely to stay in or near their homelands and so will be found in high numbers in those places, but far less commonly abroad or in large urban centers (which are typically predominately populated by humans and gnomes). Tieflings, dragonborn, and other races do exist but will generally make up only a small percentage of the population of an urban center or folk you may encounter on the road. 

Gnomes live where humans live, and often have vibrant subcultures within existing human towns and cities. Some individuals blend into human culture while others maintain their distinct society within the human-dominated city or town. Visibly very distinct from humans it is hard to miss a gnome, but you could not tell by looking at them what a gnome’s political or religious opinions would be for as many follow the ‘human’ religions and politics as follow the gnomish.
(For more details on each race please refer to entry World: Races).

Political Structure:
There is no overarching governing structure in the land, instead power is collected in various city-states, each of which is ruled autonomously. The heads of state may be Kings or Queens, Chieftains, Clan Leaders, Emirs, Emperors or even a Council of Elders or other group, depending on the specific culture decides the fate of their land. 

Though things like calendars and currencies have been universally adopted across the land, it does not follow that there is harmony and agreement between or even within each city-state, in fact divisions between political and cultural factions can get very complicated indeed. The organizational structures vary, often inspired by tradition but adapted as needed or desired by those in power.
For more details on specific political factions please refer to entry World: Races and World: Geography.

The world consists of predominately one large continent (see below). The size is roughly similar to Europe with the northernmost lands at a similar latitude as Scotland/Sweden and the Southernmost lands at a similar latitude as South Italy/Greece.

(For more details on locations please refer to World: Geography).

V 1.0

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Character Profile: Edmon Fynn the Human Rogue

When the group knew him Edmon Fynn was a relatively well-maintained man in his early through mid 20s. Clean shaven, hair cut in a modern style, wearing trim, well fitting leathers. Not a dandy by any means, but not a slob either.

Born a farm boy in Pelham’s Pier he grew up tending the cattle and sheep, but when in his late teens the town was invaded by an organized group of orcs and goblinkin. Between things he’s said and what you’ve heard through public knowledge you have learned that the town was occupied for several years and the townsfolk subjected to brutal oppression. During that time Edmon was young and fiery, full of righteous indignation as he joined the underground resistance of townsfolk fighting back against their oppressors. After some time however he worried more and more that being caught as a rebel would lead to retaliation against his large family who still maintained their farm on the outskirts of town, supplying the humanoid army. In the wake of a string of retributive murders Edmon slipped out of town, joining up with your group on the road not long afterward.

During your time together you could see the easygoing farm boy he had once been, overshadowed not infrequently by the rebel he’d become. Never as rash or overly quick to act as many young men can be, Edmon had been an invaluable member of the group when deadly silence was needed, but get him talking about orcs or goblins or Pelham’s Pier and a smouldering fire of rage would light his eyes. For the most part he kept these emotions in check, but occasionally in the early years you had seen him go off on an orc perhaps more than was strictly necessary.

While you knew him he also maintained an interest in animals and creatures you encountered through your adventures, sometimes dissecting them to compare them to the animals he’d slaughtered for food in his youth. He had tried, on a few occasions, to harvest the claws or teeth or venom from a felled creature with the intent of making it into a weapon, though these attempts were rarely successful.

Near the end of your adventuring years together Edmon had become an even more serious and stealthy killer, following the ways of the assassins of old. To those closest to him it seemed that his desire for revenge grew even as his outward demeanour became more calm and calculated. After years of traveling together and building your skills as a group, the party had gone to Pelham’s Pier to drive out the invading force. With the help of the local rebels and some key people you’d met in your travels you were able to oust the orcs and goblinkin and find that the masterminds behind their unusually organized occupation were a human brother and sister named Mordus and Lucia Vilcath. At the end of that endeavour two significant events happened; Mordus was killed and you effectively removed the orcs and goblins and restored the town, however Lucia escaped. Also during the final throes of battle Edmon’s entire family (and it was a big family) was killed. The group wasn’t able to stop it, and though you had saved the town you went to their farmstead where Edmon burned the barn and all in it to the ground, refusing to let anyone even look inside.

After that Edmon changed. He became obsessed with tracking down Lucia and delivering vengeance. You tried to find Lucia, chasing some leads which led to further adventures, but she always eluded you. It was a fight over whether to pursue a new and dubious lead on Lucia's whereabouts that led Edmon to leave the group, presumably heading off on his own in search of his nemesis. Some of you have no idea what happened to him after that. If you were particularly interested in trying to find out please email the DM.

Edmon Fynn was born and raised a farm boy on the outskirts of the medium-sized town of Pelham’s Pier. In the summer of Edmon’s 14th year, the town was attacked by orcs and goblinkin. Edmon’s family promised to supply food for the occupying army in return for safety. The leaders of the army saw the farmers as slaves, but useful slaves with skills that they themselves did not have. Thus things continued for a time. After the initial shock of the invasion passed, a resistance flared and Edmon happily joined. Following some initial successful skirmishes however the army, under the direction of a half-orc called General Rengh, cracked down on the citizens. Edmon was forced to flee, knowing that if he were ever caught as a member of the resistance that his family’s lives would be forfeit. Soon after his escape Edmon met up with the others of the group, whereupon adventures ensued. Though the group enjoyed many years of harmonious companionship, it took Edmon much longer to warm to Tethran. As the group’s travels went on, he eventually came around - or so it seemed.

After some years together the group journeyed back to Pelham’s Pier, with key reinforcements at their back. It was during that journey that Edmon and Tethran seemed to have an irreparable falling out. Neither seemed inclined to speak much of whatever brought the change about. When pressed Edmon only shook his head and spat. “There are some things you just don’t make light of.”

Once the group arrived at the town, the attack began. The humanoids, disorganized and not expecting a coordinated attack, lost the battle. General Rengh was destroyed, but not before the escaping monsters caused as much chaos as possible. As the last parts of the humanoids were being quelled, the group got word of a skirmish out near his farm. The group hurried out there, to find the farmhouse empty and a scene of horror centered around the barn. Edmon was the first and only one into the barn - whatever he found there made him back out quickly and empty his stomach onto the ground.  

“No one goes into the barn,” he said simply as the others approached. “They are beyond help.” Stunned, the group watched as he slowly, wordlessly barred the door and set the barn ablaze. To your knowledge, he never spoke of that day again.

In the aftermath of the battle the group hunted down the orchestrators of the attack, a pair of human siblings. The cleric, Mordus Vilcath, was killed. The wizard, Lucia Vilcath, elder sister to Mordus, escaped in the chaos. Edmon became obsessed with finding Lucia, and the group helped him hunt for her until the trail seemed to turn cold. Several months later he discovered another lead. Once again he turned to his friends and told them he’d learned Lucia was in the dwarven city of Dhun Lomir many miles away and the guest of a Clan Elder.

Edmon detailed what he knew but ravaged as he was by grief, to the group it seemed more likely that the merchant from whom he had learned the information was simply angling for a few extra coins. At best the lead was unlikely, if admittedly possible. Incredulous, Edmon argued his case but the group could not come to agreement. In the end, sharp words were exchanged on both sides. When the group awoke in the morning, Edmon was gone.

Edmon and Tethran:
Edmon and Tilly:

Watch here for more updates on Edmon.

Character Profile: Gaylea Opalson the Half-elven Green Knight

You knew Gaylia Opalson as half-elf of voluptuous form and jovial personality. Gaylia was always a pleasant sight - whether swinging her battle-axe and shield on the battlefield or enjoying a cup of spiced cider by the fire. As she has always professed, the reward for a job well done is a fine meal and a good drink with companions by the fire. Her full-plate armour was impeccably well-designed, protecting her while hinting at her feminine curves. It was made entirely from unoctium, burnished in such a way as to bring out the natural beauty of the metal.

While clearly a patron of the finer things in life, she was never pretentious or snobbish. Her obvious appreciation for beauty and craftsmanship was never swayed by others’ opinions or the fashion of the day. She’d as likely comment on an elven aristocrat’s gorgeous floral gown as she would the simple but well-made furniture in a crofter’s home. Her tastes did tend toward the natural, and she was particularly pleased by art and objects that expressed the beauty of plants, animals, and other natural things. 

Everyone in the group knows that she was raised in a relatively quiet village called  in an area that is now known as the Singing Glens. Oganesson was a small but prosperous trading spot on the LOCATION TBA (likely near a river). Her human father still lives there, running his shop of unoctium metalwork as a master worker of unoctium and even if she hadn’t been part of your traveling group you might have heard of his great skill as an artisan of unoctium. In fact through your years traveling you each have some item made or adorned with unoctium (the pommel of a dagger, a belt buckle, etc). 

You all have visited her ‘Papa’ at least once. As a group of road-weary, battle worn adventurers returning from your last life-or-death experience, healing from wounds, having eaten trail mix and rations for weeks, and feeling like the dirt was now a part of you, arriving at the spacious but cozy home of Piotre Opalson was a pleasure that left an impression on you. Any time you met he would welcome you in as if you were his own offspring, rather than his daughter’s adventuring companions. A hot bath, a vast meal of incredible home-cooked food (that made you appreciate how Gaylia's fine palate developed), a peaceful sleep in the most comfortable bed anywhere, and within a day or so you would feel refreshed and renewed. In the evenings he and his daughter would sing and play, and he’d revel in the tales of bravery around the fire. He had the uncanny ability to make each one of you feel special and appreciated for your contribution to the group. 

In battle Gaylia has been responsible for saving each of your lives more than once. Between her martial skills, her ability to take a hit from even the biggest brutes, and her connection to the Elven spirits of healing and purification she has always been an invaluable asset in a fight. The uplifting nature of her bubbly personality, with a quip or a bright smile even in the midst of the most dire circumstances, may have been beloved by some of the group and mildly irritating to others - but kept morale up for everyone nonetheless. During your travels she swore the Oath of the Ancients, to serve as a protector of the land. It was also during that time she found her totem animal, the Bear, who has served as her spiritual guide ever since.

Since the group parted and went their separate ways you know that she was involved with the development of what is now known as the Singing Glens, a winding string of land in the west that is riddled with interconnecting gorges and waterfalls, some of which are rumoured to have healing properties. Some of you will have heard of people who have traveled to the Singing Glens (or intend to someday), particularly those skilled in the healing arts or those in need of healing. It has become popular for the chronically ill to make a pilgrimage to the Glens.

Gaylia and Edmon:
Gaylia and Tilly:

Watch here for more updates on Gaylia.

Character Profile: Tethran Sheol the Half-elven Warlock

Tethran Sheol was a half-elven male, young, though his precise age was hard to determine by looking at him. He was of slender build (some might say ‘gaunt’ on occasion) and wore functional clothing that allowed free movement. His dark, oiled leathers were not bulky, but worn in layers that created an ever-changing silhouette as he moved. His eyes didn’t seem to fit his relatively young face, deep purple in colour and more like the eyes of someone who had lived a thousands lifetimes and seen… things. Though his face remained implacable, something about his unblinking gaze would give you the impression of great despair, or desperation, or maybe loathing, or maybe passion, or maybe maniacal humour. It was hard to look him in the eye too long, even after you’d known him for years. 

All of you have at one time or another heard Tethran muttering in his sleep or under his breath in a language that you didn’t understand. You may have seen him rhythmically swinging a handbell that has no clapper, head cocked to the side as if listening. When you first started traveling together you might have asked what he was doing, to which he’d respond “Trying to hear the bell.” As the years passed you became used to the sight of him listening intently to things that weren't there - some of you would have ignored this (willfully or not) while others may have tried listening themselves, no matter how hard you tried you always heard absolutely nothing. 

His laugh was as infectious as his growls were intimidating, and what provoked either was hard for you to pin down, and might at times have seemed inappropriate or completely random. His mood was ever changing but despite his weirdness he was always a stalwart companion and basically a decent guy, if pretty godsdamn strange. He was always willing to help a friend, and though he eschewed churches he was frequently spotted giving a bit of money to orphans or stopping to help an old man with his cart. 

You knew that Tethran was a warlock, and from what you know of warlocks he must have made a pact with something of great power in the past - though the names he invoked while spell-casting were nothing you recognized. Some of you really didn’t want to know who or what his patron was. Others, more curious or brave, may have asked and over the years gotten varying responses - The Messengers, The Bellringer, but perhaps most frequently “The Thing that Lives in the Moonlight”. Pushing him on the subject often lead to uncomfortable or downright disturbing descriptions of things like pale, mummified goblins with human teeth that could speak directly into your brain. Over time everyone stopped asking.

Likewise, in battle you have seen him conjure some strange things. Disturbing things. The kind of things you really strongly wanted to pretend were just a trick of your eye. His explanations that they came to him from ‘between worlds’ didn’t really help. They helped you win battles though, and he was a good companion to have in a fight. Over the years you fought many foes, including other warlocks. In battle Tethran was always calm, perhaps eerily calm, even when fighting abominations or anyone who dared threaten an orphan, things which always seemed to fire him up more than other foes. You do recall a handful of times that certain warlocks really triggered him - though it’s hard to figure out what about them set him off, all of you are aware that when his hatred and anger are truly riled his battle calm hardens into something else entirely and the murderous glint in his eye as he ended those warlocks was actually frightening.

Tethran and Gaylia:
Tethran and Edmon:

Watch here for more updates on Tethran.

Character Profile: James Careck the Human Rogue

James Careck strikes you as a quiet and conservative young man when you first meet him. A human in his mid-20’s he has jet black hair and dark, penetrating eyes. You get the sense that he’s a man who misses very little, even if he outwardly appears to be focused on other things. He wears unremarkable clothes of high quality, a tunic and pants of deep browns, and leather gloves.
(James is a new addition to the party who did not travel with them in 'the auld days', thus his character will be fleshed out more after the first gaming session)

Character Profile: Tilly the dwarven monk

The group remembers Tilly as a young dwarven woman who stood about 4’2”. She had a light, slightly ruddy complexion with rosey cheeks and deep red-amber hair worn in a thick plait down her back. Tilly was physically fit and agile, always dressed in soft undyed wools and leathers of brown and dun. She typically wore a belted tunic over loose-fitting breeches tucked into her tall boots, all under a cowled robe. Her movements were fluid and efficient, in fact ‘fluid and efficient’ would have been a good descriptor for her whole being.

Other than knowing that she was a monk who studied in a very small and remote monastery, you know little else of her background and family. Dwarves you’ve met have been typically independent, logical, practically-minded, and fiercely loyal to kin and clan. You know that many dwarves never leave their great mountain cities. So to meet this lone dwarf living the life of a wanderer was odd at first. After traveling with her for many years you now have a greater appreciation of the temperament that leads one of any race to leave their culture and choose the life of a monk. 

Serene and calm. You have seen Tilly walk the edges of a battlefield assisting the fallen just as calmly as she may sit by the campfire and cook the evening meal. But yet is not an apathetic or somnolent calmness. Looking into her deep, green eyes you sense that she cares deeply for the world around her, but there is a distance there as well and a chasm of duty fills the space in between. She would laugh at a joke, smile at the antics of a child or animal, show sadness when witnessing pain and death, but you always had the sense that she was serving her duty. You might have wondered if you ever truly got to know the ‘real’ Tilly.

Dutiful or not, Tilly was always ready to help, fair-minded, and even-tempered. Though she could easily hold her own in a fight (and likely saved your ass once or twice over the years), she considered violence a last-resort option and would urge for a diplomatic resolution or even outright avoidance of a conflict rather than deliberately harm other creatures. If asked she would introduce herself as a healer and herbalist, and though not a channel of divine healing magic, she seemed to have such an intuitive sense of the body and vast knowledge of herb-lore that she probably spent more time healing wounds than inflicting them during your travels. 

Though hard to read, impossible to rile, and not someone who ever opened up on any deeper level, you still count her as a friend. You have many fond memories of downtimes during your travels where she would forage roots and berries from a barren tundra and somehow create the most amazing meal that would fill your belly and warm your soul. In fact, Tilly’s fantastic cooking is probably one of the things you recall most vividly about her.
Tilly and Tethran:
Tilly and Gaylia:

Watch here for more updates on Tilly.