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Campaign Creation => Homebrews => Topic started by: Humabout on October 16, 2013, 09:28:38 AM

Title: Starfall: On the Edge of Oblivion [WIP]
Post by: Humabout on October 16, 2013, 09:28:38 AM
Starfall:  On the Edge of Oblivion

Note: Replies

Discussion Thread

While I always welcome comments, questions, and critiques, I ask that they please be limited to the discussion thread found here. (,209998.msg225721.html#msg225721)
Hundreds of years ago, the world was normal.  Kingdoms fought, droughts desiccated the western plains, Winter killed, politicians stole, prostitutes fucked, – and things were normal.  Then the stars fell.

The kingdoms of the Great Southern Sea were the first to witness the bright green streaks screaming overhead in such a furious fusillade that roosters crowed thinking the dawn had come and men, women, and children dressed to perform their morning chores.  But upon leaving their houses, they saw the light was not of this world.  The skyfire stretched from horizon to horizon, reaching ever northward.  Across the land, similar stories were passed from father to son for generations, even in the far north near the Great Glacier.  Where the stars eventually fell, no one is certain, but the ramifications were dire indeed.

Since the starfall, the corruption has crept south from beyond the Great Glacier.  Beckoned by dark sorcerers whispering blasphemies to the stars, demons come in the night to bless their servants with preternatural power and blight the land.  They drive hordes of tainted beasts and corrupt men down from the Glacier into the northlands to raid, rape, and pillage.  They drive women to profane acts that can only begin to explain the horrors known as beastmen.  They destroy all that is natural, bringing chaos to the world around.

Indeed, the world itself seems infected.  The ocean and seas have swallowed all of the great port cities.  Rivers overflow their banks every spring, washing away the great waypoints and capitals of the world.  Torrential rains and horrific tempests savage the coasts every summer and autumn, while great blizzards bury the north in mounds of snow in the winter.  The summers grow hotter and longer, while the winters cooler and shorter.  Marshes and lake lands now stretch where tundra once ruled.

Now the world teeters on the brink of oblivion.  The shattered remnants of civilizations cling to existence by whatever means necessary.  Towns are beset by unfathomable monsters.  The trackless wilderness has reclaimed all but the most stalwart communities.  The heroes of old are all dead.  Men fight only to survive; while, Nature fights the demonic plague that infects the very soul of the world.

Out of Character

I will be initially throwing up what material I have in a haphazard way, but eventually I will organize this mess.  I will also refrain from massive, wall-of-text posts, restricting giant write-ups to spoilers, like the one found below.  Open spoilers at your own peril!

Title: Re: Starfall: On the Edge of Oblivion [WIP]
Post by: Humabout on October 20, 2013, 06:39:14 PM
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The world people see every day is only a small part of the universe as it is known to scholars and mystics.  It is little more than an echo or manifestation of much greater workings only a blessed few can perceive.  These other mechanisms behind the Veil bespeak the truths of the Faith and the righteousness of those who oppose Chaos in its many forms.  The learned often speak of these other layers of existence as planes, which are essentially other realities.  The most important of these are discussed to some degree below.

The Material Plane
The Material Plane, also called the Prime Plane, the Mortal Plane, the Mortal Veil, or more simply put, the world, is the normal, physical world people spend their day-to-day lives existing within.  It has constant physical laws, a constant time flow, and is largely immutable.  Within this plane, the sun is a burning orb of fire that lights and heats the world below, and the moon is its cool, pale mistress.  The stars are tiny pinpricks in the benighted firmament that are often associated with spirits of madness, drunkenness, depravity, and revelry.  These turn about the world in unfathomable cycles, yet still Man has deciphered many of the uncanny rhythms of the stars and learned to navigate by the dark knowledge they bestow.  Below the airy skies, great continents rise from the abyssal depths of the world's oceans whose origins lie in the Eternal Ocean of the Dreamer.

The Ethereal Plane
"Spirit Plane," "Near Astral Plane," "Spirit World," – all of these and more are names commonly given to what planar scholars call the Veil. This is a thin, astral-like plane that coexists with the material plane and acts as a buffer between it and the Astral Plane. It is a plane between planes that shares traits of both, yet is neither. Gravity in The Veil is not subjective, but its grasp does not as reliably anchor residents to the ground. Solid objects in the material plane may or may not be reflected in the Veil, and even when they are, spirits can often pass through them.

Occupants of the Veil are completely invisible and intangible to those in the corresponding material plane, although some more sensitive people find they can catch glimpses of this hidden world. Similarly, those in the Veil are only able to view a denuded and faint image of the material plane and cannot affect it anymore than those in the material can affect the Veil. In this way, the Veil is a ghostly reflection of the material world.

Ethereal Sinks
At certain times and in certain places, a Veil and its material plane have been known to merge partially or wholly. These places and times are called ethereal sinks. At or during an ethereal sink, those in a Veil and its material world can more easily see and interact with each other. The degree to which this is possible depends on the individual sink, but such locations and times are often held in high regard, either as sacred or unholy haunts, for only through powerful magic, miracles, or at an ethereal sink can an individual bodily travel from the material to the Veil or vice versa.

How sinks come to exist is not truly understood. Some sinks appear to have always existed; while, others were spawned by a definite event. Still others pulse in intensity with an unearthly rhythm. The most commonly known method for creating a true ethereal sink (and not just a magical rift or gate) is via a traumatic or intense emotional event, such as a murder or death surrounded by intense hatred, love, longing, or sense of regret. Such sinks are closely related to haunts and ghostly activity.

Between the Planes
Some entities exist between the Veil and the Material Plane, able to perceive and affect and be affected by them both to an extent. Many nature spirits experience this dualistic nature in one form or another. Some are sensitive to the presence of the other side, while others can actually see, feel, touch, smell, affect, and be affected by the other side. Such entities are sometimes colloquially called inbetweeners.

The Astral Plane
Far more difficult to describe than the Ethereal Plane, the Astral Plane is within and without the observer.  It is the architecture that underlies the material world.  It is the both the Dreamer and the Dream – the collective spirit of the universe.  It is everywhere and nowhere at once.  It is what lies beyond the Veil and inside every spirit and soul in the world.

Because the Astral Plane is inherently a piece of each person and each person shares in is as well, an individual's journey to the Astral Plane necessarily shapes his own perception of the plane.  This makes it virtually impossible to give exact descriptions of the plane's characteristics, but some generalizations are still possible.  While some people may build a mental architecture through which to view the Astral Plane – a childhood home, a temple, a library, an endless ocean, etc. – the passage of time there is never marked.  Gravity may be subjective, allowing visitors to fly or otherwise real, depending on in whose architecture the visitor resides and how it was shaped.  Visitors to the Astral Plane do not want for sustenance, sleep, or air, either; although, they may feel tired, hungry, thirsty, or as though they are suffocating.

While it is possible to bodily visit the Astral Plane, such a feat is quite difficult.  Instead, most people journey there by projecting their souls beyond the Veil or through by projecting through their own soul's connection to the World Spirit.  In either case, the projector appears as a spirit in the Astral World.  Mystics most commonly do this.  They also use the Astral Plane as the medium for reaching out and touching the spirits, minds, and bodies of other entities.  It is via everything's inherent connection to the World Spirit that this is even possible.

Despite the variable and very personal nature of the Astral Plane's appearance, the Astral Plane is not without certain landmarks or regions.  The most commonly visited of these is the Plane of Dreams, and perhaps the most hidden and sought after is the Akashic Library.  Far more common are soul portals – the means by which a mystic can touch and affect another entity via the Astral Plane.

Soul Portals
Soul portals are the means by which each spirit's soul shares in the World Spirit.  They are windows into that out of an entity through which someone in the Astral Plane may enter or leave, or through which an entity may reach into the Astral Plane.  Precisely how this is accomplished cannot be easily explained and takes years of meditation and instruction to accomplish, but it is by this means that mystics can touch the minds and souls – and even the bodies – of anything in creation.

Many mystics who have encountered demons and been fortunate enough to survive the affair have remarked that demons do not possess soul portals.  Those who have traveled extensively through the Astral Plane have never found any and connection between the World Spirit and chaos spawn – only the weeping wounds left by their passage on the soul of the world.  This has led some to conclude that the denizens of chaos are not of this world whatsoever and others to further speculate that the corruption creeping across the Material Plane is nothing less than an attack by an alien universe on our own.

The Plane of Dreams
When anything dreams, the barriers between its mind and certain parts of the Astral Plane weaken and dissolve.  The dreamer's psyche actually enters a portion of the Astral Plane known as the Plane of Dreams.  There, each dreamer carves out a small domain shaped by his own mind, but it is not terribly difficult for those aware of this fact to learn to pierce the Dreamveils that separate dreams.  Indeed, Dreamwalkers are those who can traverse the nightly dreamscape, passing from one person's dream to another, encountering different people, speaking with them, appearing in their dreams, and even shaping them.  Moreover, because dreaming transports a person's psyche to the Astral Plane, this can be an easy but dangerous way to enter the Astral Plane.

The Plane of Dreams can be perilous, however.  Not every dream is pleasant, and not every dreamer is friendly.  While dreams may not be real, the sort of psychic harm that can befall those within them is.  Unscrupulous dreamwalkers may exploit this feature to attack their enemies, or unwary dreamers may unwittingly stray into the twisted nightmares of a crazed lunatic.  Worse over, there are myriad dream spirits, some friendly and some maleficent.  The most feared of these are the dream stalkers, entities who induce hellish nightmares that cause more than lost sleep and insomnia – the wounds they inflict on your dreams are made real in the waking world.

The Akashic Library
The Akashic Library is a small domain deep within the heart of the Astral Plane.  There resides the memories of the entire world.  Every experience, every sensation, every piece of knowledge gleaned by anyone who shares in the World Spirit is stored there.  Accessing it requires special training or magic, but those who do can learn absolutely anything they are capable of mentally processing.  Of course, sifting through every memory since the birth of time itself can be difficult, tedious work, so it is typically easier to find information that was or still is held as a common knowledge than obscure facts.  The veracity of the information stored in the Akashic Library can also prove dubious, as what is stored there are memories – not absolute facts.  If a person believed something to be true, it may appear as a true fact, even if the person was incorrect.  Despite these limitations, the Akashic Library is a tremendous resource for those talented enough to access it and is often credited with much of the sagacity attributed to mystics.

The Maelstrom
Little is truly known of the Maelstrom.  It is the mindwarping abominable place that spews taint, corruption, chaos, and demonkind into the world.  It is not of this world – no akashic delving has ever found any mention of it from before the starfall.  There are no known portals or crossings to it within our world; although, rumors from the north claim a gaping scar of a maw lies within a ring of jagged stone teeth beneath a constantly tempestuous sky in the center of a vast, barren wasteland somewhere far beyond the Great Glacier.  No one has ever claimed to have entered the Maelstrom and returned, nor has anyone ever claimed to have seen this worldwound first hand.  A few gibbering madmen claim to have peered beyond the edges of reality and witnessed the horrible truth of the Maelstrom, but their minds are so shattered and distorted and their discourse so fantastic and fragmented that such accounts cannot be given any weight.  So what is truly known about the Maelstrom?  It is the name given to the place from where the demonic scourge hails and corruption emanates.

Bardic Magic
“It is thought that words have power.  They can bring things to life.  If you tell a story over and over the same way . . . something might happen.  The World Spirit or any of the other innumerable spirits might take it as truth and make sure it becomes truth.  This is why there are so many versions of Father Sun and Mother Moon.  The only thing that is consistent is the World Spirit.”
- An old shaman

Bardic magic is best described as audible art elevated to magical levels.  When a practitioner becomes so skilled that his music, poetry, and prose approach perfection, he finds that he can work actual magic on his audience.  Craftsmen and visual artists seem capable of something similar, but bardistry holds a special place in society; it is the foundation of the world’s history.

Bardic magic draws upon the practitioner’s connection to the audience via his art.  This connection allows him to affect the minds of others and even alter the odds of an event occurring.  Thus, the bard resides somewhere between the green caster and the mystic.  In order to tap into this connection, he must perform flawlessly with such emotion and power that his music or recitation goes beyond merely entertaining – it must move people.

Capabilities & Limitations
Bardic magic is relatively limited in scope, but what can be accomplished with that magic is impressive indeed.  Bards can alter the thoughts and feelings of entire crowds, control spirits, and even write the future itself.  This can incite riots, prevent wars, win the heart of a princess, or eloquently lecture an adversary on his inadequate ability to cast insults.

Bardic magic suffers a few major limitations.  It cannot create enduring magical objects like potions, charms, or magic items.  It cannot affect that which cannot hear, although the effects of bardistry may – e.g., inciting a mob to attack a deaf monster.  Lastly, it is noisy, completely nullifying any attempts at stealth; indeed, by definition, a bard must vocalize or play loudly enough to be heard by his subjects.  In situations where stealth is required, bardic magic is impossible, as it also is when the caster is gagged or, possibly, bound.

The Cost
Bardic magic is easier to learn than green magic, but does not approach the ease of black magic.  One must first master an audible art form – spoken word, singing, a musical instrument, etc.  He must master it so thoroughly that he can sway the emotions of an audience without magic.  This is no mean feat, but it merely requires years of playing and perfecting an instrument, rather than learning an entirely new way of thinking.  Once this is accomplished, the bard need only learn to reach out through his art to touch his audience.

Black Magic
“Black magic” is the best described as the channeling and shaping of the raw chaotic energies of the Maelstrom that have insinuated themselves into the fabric of reality every since the starfall.  While this sounds torturously difficult, it has – in truth – proved alarmingly easy for most practitioners, because the taint of chaos wants to change the world.  The difficulties lie in controlling the chaos so that it neither perverts and erodes the practitioner’s body, mind, or soul and in producing the desired effect instead of whatever random outcome with which the Lords of Chaos wish to blight the world.

As with everything that calls from the Maelstrom, black magic is inherently evil, chaotic, and corrupting.  This is both its advantage and its cost.   The energies themselves naturally want to mutate and corrupt the world.  They do not abide by any natural laws and are quite capable of producing any imaginable effect – and many beyond comprehension.  All of this combines to create a source of magic that is naturally easy to unleash and inherently dangerous to both the caster and the world around him.

The power of the Maelstrom varies from place to place and from time to time, much as the power of nature does, but in distinctly alien ways.  Where the ebb and flow of natural power is linked to the seasons and purity of the wilderness, the potency of chaos varies with the subtle shifting of stars, degradation of nature, and latitude.  The lattermost is the reason many believe there is a gaping wound in the world far to the north beyond the Great Glacier.

Capabilities & Limitations
Chaotic magic is capable of anything.  Not just what is imaginable, but even such arcane concepts as absolute nothingness and impossibility.  It can make anything truth to the world.  It is bound by no physical laws and does not suffer the constraints of green magic.  It does, however, have an easier time increasing the amount of chaos and entropy in the world than creating order.  This more readily lends it to destructive and maddening uses over restorative ones.

The Cost
As with all power, black magic carries a cost, and being such a powerful source of power, that cost is far from trivial.  Tritely put, the cost is the caster’s immortal soul.  No matter how well a caster is able to control and focus the powers of chaos, his will eventually slips and those powers eat away at him, corrupting him thinking, his morals, his body, and even his very soul.  Over time, black magic practitioners develop depraved, macabre, eccentric personalities; twisted anatomies; rotten organs; and tainted spirits incapable of rejoining the World Spirit.  What’s worse, black magic is highly addictive.  The feeling of truly godlike power coursing through one’s body leaves its imprint so strongly on the psyche that even the most willful eventually crumble before the temptation to fell that rush again.

Green Magic
“Green magic” is the art of manipulating the energies that pervade nature.  They are extremely powerful and allow for the manipulation of every aspect of the natural world, and while their manipulation requires more skill than the chaotic energies Maelstrom, they do not devour your spiritual essence and corrupt your being.  Learning cast green magic requires years of training, patience, and practice, but the payoff is the mastery of a supernatural power that has few drawbacks and extensive capabilities.

Green magic draws on the pervasive life-giving energies of the world.  Being strongest in spring and summer and weakest in the dead of winter, they tend to fluctuate slightly with the seasons.  They also vary with the purity and virginity of nature within an area – e.g., they are extremely strong in thick, verdant jungle and weak amidst a clear-cut forest turned to farmland, and all but nonexistent in a chaos-blighted wasteland.  This is widely believed to be because this form of magic manipulates the life force of the World Spirit itself.

Capabilities & Limitations
Green magic is capable of a wide variety of effects – event those that seem to defy physics – but they must still affect nature itself.  Green magic cannot directly affect an entity not of the world – e.g., a demon.  Moreover, green magic has great difficulty breaking physical laws; practitioners must gather incredible amounts of energy to accomplish anything that seems to go against what is naturally possible.  That said, it is also extremely powerful when restoring the natural order

The Cost
Where black magic steadily destroys a practitioner’s soul, green magic gently nudges it in a more nature-centered direction.  This does not remove corruption or undo harm caused by corruption.  It merely makes a person more enthusiastic about nature and being part of it.  This is not as severe as the steady corruption of black magic, but can make a practitioner quite eccentric over time.

The main cost of green magic is time.  Learning to use green magic is a long, arduous process that almost always requires finding a teacher willing to pass on his knowledge.  Once such an apprenticeship is had, years of quasi-religious training and practice ensue until the caster is fully indoctrinated into the ways of using the World Spirit’s life force to shape the world.  By then, he is able to perform theurgical workings that rival the miracles of priests, but his powers are not bound the will of other entities.  Still, it is said that it is dangerous to abuse this power.  Nature is ferocious if it is nothing else.

Mysticism is the name given to a group of powers innate to every sapient mind.  These powers operate based on the bond every spirit shares with the World Spirit.  This interconnectedness allows spirits and souls to affect each other spiritually and mentally; this is how ghosts possess people, mystics access the Akashic Library, and sleepers dream.

The World Spirit
Everyone and everything in the world has a spirit from the smallest grain of sand to the largest mountain, and even the world itself.  This great spirit is the source of every spirit and every soul in the world, and each one shares in the World Spirit.  From their birth when the spirit separates from the World Spirit, but that bond is never severed.  Throughout a spirit’s existence, be it as the soul of a person or the spirit of a tree or stone, the spirit remains connected to the World Spirit, and when they die, their spirits are reabsorbed into the World Spirit itself.

Mystics often speak of the Astral Plane.  This plane is a metaphysical representation of the myriad connections between the spirits of the world and the World Spirit.  Everything – every blade of grass, every hill, every squirrel – is connected to the World Spirit.  This web of connections forms a collective consciousness in which everything shares, known as the Astral Plane.

Most people visit the Astral Plane regularly without even realizing it when they dream, but mystics use the Astral Plane regularly.  It is through this web of interconnections that they use their powers to affect others who share in this common soul.  As they master their own body and soul, they learn to discorporate temporarily and visit other locations spiritually.  They even learn to enter the minds and spirits of other humans.

Mysticism & Demons
Mystical powers only work via the World Spirit.  This simple fact can cause tremendous difficulty when dealing directly with something not of this world.  Because demons and their ilk do not share a connection with the World Spirit, mystical powers cannot affect them.  Mystics theorize this is the reason that the Akashic Library holds no known information on the Maelstrom from before the starfall.

Mystical Powers
Body Mastery:  Mystics are capable of exerting extreme amounts of control over their own bodies' functions.  They are often supernaturally fast, strong, and fit, and capable of actively altering involuntary bodily functions.  By meditating in their physical form, mystics develop the skills required to open ones senses to the unseen world.  This is usually the first step in becoming a mystic.

Projection:  As mystics delve into what exactly comprises a person, they learn that the body and soul are not rigidly attached.  In fact, one's soul can be ejected from one's body, changing the person's sensory perspective and leaving the body a mindless shell.  This is usually the mystic's first step into the greater world.  Those with highly developed projection powers can even project their souls into the Ethereal Plane, or even the Astral Plane.

Perception:  By projecting his soul, a mystic learns to control his soul and discovers the first shadows of an enormously powerful soul deep within himself – although "within" is not quite the correct word.  As he concentrates on this soul, he first experiences the World Soul and true interconnected nature of all souls.  By developing this connection, a mystic learns to perceive the world not only from his own perspective, but from that of anything within the world – including the World Soul itself.

Dream Mastery:  Often developed in tandem with powers of perception, a mystic's ability to project into the Dream Plane is common, as well.  The mystic may enter the dreamworld through his own dreams or by projecting, but once there, he acts not as a dreamer, but as an observer and shaper of dreams.  Some mystics learn to enter other people's minds in this manner.

Fate Mastery:  A common latent talent, the ability to bend the world to one’s will in minor ways – e.g., ensuring a coin always comes up heads, regularly rolling seven on a pair of dice, etc. – is a relatively trivial matter once one is open to the World Spirit.  If developed, this power can become a powerful tool in the hands of the mystic.  He learns to manipulate the fate of himself and others, blessing and cursing those around him as he sees fit.  Moreover, where some may hope for a lucky coincidence, such serendipity seeks out the mystic.

Telepathy:  Once a mystic realizes the true interconnected nature of all life in the world and develops sufficient control over his own connection to the World Spirit, he can begin learning to enter the minds of other entities, creatures, and even people through that connection.  He can see through the eyes of others, manipulate their thoughts – even possess them as a spirit might.  This is among the most powerful powers available to a mystic, as he can attempt to bend anything to his will.  As such, masters are often reticent to even teach it to pupils before they first prove their intentions.

Soul Mastery:  Both a dark and light power, this is the most advanced set of abilities a mystic might learn.  The closely guarded secret of manipulating a person's soul itself is held by few masters and rarely taught to pupils.  With such power, a mystic can mend spiritual wounds, cleanse a person's soul of corruption, siphon away a person's life force, or even steal his soul outright.

Note: Power names are not yet set in stone.  I want to get something more fantasy/zen-sounding.

Spirits are incorporeal entities, although many are capable of assuming physical forms or interacting with physical matter and others remove themselves from the physical world completely.  The number of types of spirits is innumerable, but they can largely be classed into a handful of categories.  Regardless, the existence of spirits points to something beyond the physical world and deeply ties them to religion.

Nature Spirits
The most prolific and earliest recipients of worship and acknowledgement, nature spirits spring from the physical world or dwell primarily in it.  Every natural thing has a spirit from the smallest grain of sand to the largest trees and mountains.  Even carefully and masterfully manufactured objects can have spirits of their own.  Nature spirits range from inscrutable to willful, from deliberate to flighty.

Animal & Plant Spirits
Animal and plants, like anything else in the natural world, have spirits.  While they usually lack the triumvirate spirit of humans and other sentient creatures, they still possess, at minimum, the animating force of an aigne.  Mobile plants and all animals also possess the spirit of animal instinct called the oston.  Occasionally, such spirits will awaken with a hugin, or intellect; these are often powerful spirits in the natural world.

Animal and plant spirits usually have qualities and characteristics associated with the creatures they represent and are often called upon to provide food and necessities.  The spirits of those which are killed for survival are always given offerings of gratitude for their sacrifice.  Powerful plant and animal spirits often are anthropomorphized with better-than-human intelligence and humanlike form, and may serve as a totem spirit.

Elementals embody the essence of the primal elements of nature or subset thereof.  They typically have personality traits associated with their element and are considered to be among the oldest and most primal spirits in existence.  They range greatly in power – both the Great Ocean and a pebble have elemental spirits –, and most are sentient to some degree.

In addition to elementals and animal and plant spirits, there exist spirits that personify a wide variety of human qualities and natural forces.  These exist in a very real sense, but are usually far more removed from daily life than other nature spirits.  Personifications can embody nearly anything from natural features to abstract ideas and emotions.  They are seen as humanlike in thought, behavior, and appearance and exist primarily to support and further whatever they embody.  Thus, a spirit of war promotes armed conflicts, while a spirit of fertility spreads lust and inhibition.  Powerful personifications may be considered deities.

Genius Loci
Places often have spirits inextricably tied to them.  The two blend into one to such an extent that one cannot exist without the other, and harm to one usually results in harm to the other.  Spirits of place usually dwell in the places they embody, and many cannot leave without facing sickness or some other harm.  Most have increased power in their homes and guard them ferociously.

Celestial Spirits
Celestial spirits come from a realm outside the physical world completely.  They may originate in the Astral Plane or the Ethereal, or perhaps somewhere altogether different, still.

Demons are chaotic entities from the Maelstrom, as their worshippers like to call it.  They are beings of Chaos and Corruption who came to this world garbed in skyfire and sew discord, strife, and war everywhere they go.  They are rarely seen directly, and few of those who do witness the terrible truth of their horror rarely survive long enough to describe it to others.  The couple of first-hand reports describe impossible combinations of animal and man, shifting illusions, and indescribable colors.

Demons rarely interact directly with humanity.  Typically, they remain unseen and use their corrupting influence to drive people to terrifying acts.  They corrupt babies within their mothers; they blight crops and send plagues.  They are often portrayed as exhibiting an overabundance of such human traits as greed, envy, lust, pride, hatred, wrath, destruction, etc., but there is little chance they even feel such things.

One type of demon serves as an exception.  The entities known as faeries often interact with humans.  They lie to, play tricks on, steal from, abduct, and kill humans.  They steal babies, afflict misfortune on and incite discord among communities, rape women and steal their offspring, and generally terrorize people.  They are the demonic watchers of humanity.

The most powerful natural and celestial spirits are sometimes revered as gods and embody major portions of the universe.  The power of a particular deity can range from that of an ordinary spirit to near omnipotence.  Regardless, what defines a deity in terms of these classifications are three functions:  their role as patrons and superiors of lesser spirits; their ability to manifest through their mortal worshipers; and their ability to grant their followers miraculous powers.

The Human Spirit
The human spirit is just another type of spirit, except that it spends most of its existence bound within a corporeal body.  Death releases the human spirit from its corporeal vessel and allows its component parts to separate pass on to whatever awaits us after death.

The Soul
The soul is believed to incorporate to be tripartite:  the aigne resides in the head and represents vigor, life force, and magical energy.  The hugïn dwells in the heart and embodies knowledge and personality, and is the part of the soul that actually enters the afterlife.  Found in the liver, the oston is the base part of the soul responsible for a person's animalistic instincts and passions, like hate and lust.  Upon death, the aigne should rejoin the collective spirit of the world while the hugïn attempts to carry the oston with it into the afterlife.

The most prevalent form of undead are hugïn or oston who, for some reason, do not enter the afterlife.  Such beings continue to inhabit the world of the living as incorporeal spirits who no longer belong to this world.  Far less common are uncremated bodies who rise as restless undead or are reanimated through demonic magic.

Corporeal undead typically stop rotting as soon as they rise to their new unlife.  It is even possible for dismembered body parts to be granted a crude and horrific form of undeath, but this rarely occurs naturally.  Overall, the state of decay has little to do with whether or not a body can rise to undeath; skeletal undead are roughly as common as fleshy ones.

Ascended Spirits
An ascended spirit is a once-mortal spirit that has discorporated and ascended to a higher plane of existence but is still in contact with the physical world.  Ascended spirits may offer guidance and advice or remain aloof and merely observe and direct events from afar.  The Saints are ascended spirits, as are the mystical Immortals.  Many prophets and mythic heroes are thought to be as well.

Most ascended spirits are believed to have left the physical world behind and rarely intervene directly.  They typically operate through visions, dreams, portents, possession, or channeling.

Title: Re: Starfall: On the Edge of Oblivion [WIP]
Post by: Humabout on October 21, 2013, 03:59:23 PM
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Lore (Continued)

Blessings of the World Spirit
The World Spirit seeks to protect itself in many ways.  It allows casters to work magic through its life force and serves as a medium for mystical powers, but it also works in more direct ways.  Those who truly align themselves with the purposes of the World Spirit in the defense of the natural world against all threats find that they can petition the World Spirit for miracles with a degree of reliability.  Moreover, they are often gifted with supernatural abilities that rival any magic or mystical ability.

The divine powers of miracle working require both the consent and presence of the World Spirit.  It will never allow a power it bestows to be used to harm nature, and it cannot grant powers where it has no influence.  Similarly, it will not answer prayers that do not further its own goals or that are beyond the reach of its power.

While not every person chosen by the World Spirit as an emissary of the natural world is a paragon of righteousness – the World Spirit often acts in mysterious ways – almost all exhibit a handful of traits.  The divinely blessed seek to uphold the rule of nature wherever possible, always oppose the enemies of nature, seeking out threats against the natural world, and generally serve as wardens of the world.  They tend to be altruistic, peaceful, and generous among their people, but fearless, tenacious, and ferocious in their fury.

The blessed call down their miracles by praying to the World Spirit.  Prayers take many forms, despite formalized religious views on the matter.  A prayer can be a whispered plea for help, a prostration facing the rising sun, an hour of nude dancing around a massive bonfire beneath a full moon at midnight, or a fleeting thought in a time of need.  No matter the manner of prayer, if the World Spirit hears it, it may decide to take action.

Prayers are answered when the World Spirit takes action in response to a plea.  This can result in anything from a sourceless breeze extinguishing a candle to the waters of a lake parting so that a champion may pass.  While prayers may take many forms, certain characteristics and circumstances seem to increase the likelihood of the prayer being heard.  Praying en mass, praying for longer periods of time, or otherwise putting more effort into a prayer makes it more easily heard.

Assuming the prayer is heard, the World Spirit will decide what course of action to take, regardless of what the prayer requested.  The more dire the circumstances, the more likely the prayer will be answered, but repeated petitioning for help will quickly exhaust the World Spirit's willingness to help.  Similarly, bothering the World Spirit for menial tasks may even result in punishments.

Sainthood is a term used to describe the state of some people who are blessed by the World Spirit with supernatural powers beyond simply having a more direct line for requesting divine intervention.  Saints can perform miracles themselves, albeit on a much smaller scale.  They might bless water, purify springs, heal wounds and diseases, walk among wolves unharassed, speak to plants, or repel the undead.  In all cases, despite still being alive, they are transformed into a spiritual entity trapped within a mortal shell and may continue to exist in discorporate form long after their deaths.

Saints are not usually selected for their own devotion to the World Spirit.  Many saints have been far from upright citizens at the time of their canonization, but sainthood changes a person.  Just as green magic alters a person's way of thinking and aligns it more strongly with nature, sainthood slowly alters a saint.  Whether it is the circumstances he finds himself in, his own personal struggles to handle the power given him, or some divine insight possessed by the World Spirit that suggested this person would rise to the occasion is unclear.  Still, no one is ever the same after such an investment of divine power.

Blessings of the Spirit World
The myriad spirits of the world can often be entreated for assistance.  While their efforts on a petitioner's behalf are not truly "miracles," they do impart a measure of supernatural power to shamans, totem warriors, and their like.  Because spirits are so numerous and pervasive throughout all parts of the world, spirit-working is often more consistently accessible than both miracle-working and demonurgy, if not more limited in power.  The spirits' responses to prayers is always limited by the power of the spirit responding and never rivals the awe-inspiring grandeur of some of the miracles of legend.  Still, a lowly air elemental is capable of a great deal, even if it cannot topple mountains.

Spirits pervade every aspect of the world.  Anytime a shaman prays, he can be assured that a spirit hears him.  Getting them to pay attention is another matter entirely.  Spirits tend to be wrapped up in their own world and often ignore the mortal realms.  Even if they do take notice of a prayer, they are a fickle lot who may choose to simply ignore the prayer.  This is where a shaman's training and lifelong dedication to the spirit world comes into play.  He knows how to get their attention and make them willing to help.  A powerful shaman is never without his spirit allies, and this is the key to his power.

The spirits usually demand relatively little of their mortal intermediaries.  A few gifts from time to time, proper respect, a favor occasionally, and generally looking after those who lend a hand are the minimum requirements for spirits to be willing to work with a shaman.  He must still learn to get their attention, usually with gifts, sacrifices, and ritualistic ceremonies.  Once they are listening, he must curry their favor with more offerings, and should they feel it worth their while, they will do what they see fit to assist the shaman – this may not be what the shaman wants, however!

Shamans must develop basic skills in order to even work with spirits, however.  They must learn to see the spirit world, commune with it, and sway spirits to his cause.  For most, this training begins at a young age, although one can manifest this ability naturally at any point in life.  Once a shaman can do this, he has learned the most difficult part of spirit-working.  From there, he must spend time regularly communing with the spirits, building a rapport among them so that they heed his calls for assistance when the time comes.

Shamans make use of spirits for all manner of tasks, from healing and protection to housekeeping, sentry duty, and tutelage.  While each spirit has a limited set of powers it can bring to bear, the vast number of spirits in the world ensure that there exists a spirit who can accomplish what the shaman wants.  Thus, he can achieve stunning effects through his spirit-workings, if the spirits abide him.  Still, effects tend to minimal and subtle if possible.  The most useful of spirit-workings involve gathering information.

Totem Spirits
Totem spirits are powerful spirits who patronize a mortal willingly, tutor him in the ways of life and the spirit world, and grant him power.  People are not born with totem spirits.  Rather, they must seek them out and forge a pact with them.  This typically involves the mortal offering some service to the spirit in exchange for the benefits the spirit can provide.  The exact nature of these will vary from totem to totem, but in all cases, the mortal gains great power from this relationship, even if he is occasionally called to perform tasks for his totem or the spirit world in general.

Some extremely powerful spirits favor particular mortals for one reason or another and see it fit to lend them a portion of their power via a possession-like state.  In these circumstances, the spirit partially possesses the mortal – or vessel – imbuing him with a fraction of its power.  In this way, the mortal dons the vestige of the spirit, gaining some of the spirit's personality and some of its power.  The process of donning a vestige varies from spirit to spirit, but most involve the vessel putting on a symbol of the spirit – e.g., a bearskin cloak for a bear spirit, a wolfskin belt for a wolf spirit, a coyote mask for a coyote spirit, etc.

Gaining a vestige requires seeking out the spirit in question and negotiating a pact with it.  Usually the vessel promises to behave in a certain fashion or performing various tasks for the spirit.  Some spirits are jealous of their vessels and refuse to share them with anyone else, while others don't mind some soul neighbors.  A wise vessel will negotiate all of this beforehand rather than finding out the hard way.  Should a vessel ever offend his vestige or otherwise break the pact, the spirit may grow angry.  This never turns out well for the vessel.

The Brotherhood of the Damned
Loathe as any may be to admit it, the Maelstrom can also grant tremendous power beyond merely the black magic it enables.  Those desperate and depraved souls who seek out its whisperings on the springtime's winds and give themselves up wholly to the whims of the dark powers that govern its malodorous melodies may find themselves gifted with more than a chaotic taint on their souls.  They may find that when they raise their voices in the cacophonous hymns and utter their dark prayers in the deep swamps and wastelands of the world, when they reach into the utter darkness of the abyss beyond the world and plead for salvation, something whispers back.

Cultists, demonologists, and the deranged must make themselves heard by the Maelstrom in order to gain its gifts.  This typically requires some form of prayer – although sacrifices, unholy rites of desecration, and other depravities never hurt.  If the Maelstrom has any presence in the area where the prayer is incanted, it may respond.  Fortunate for the madmen of the world, the Maelstrom's reach is long; it is strongest in places where nature is denuded – clear cut forests, wastelands, stagnant swamps, urban sprawl, etc. – and weakest where nature is at the height of her power – virgin forests, secluded glades, etc.

Once the prayer is heard, the Maelstrom must decide whether or not to answer it.  It usually favors any chance to corrupt a soul that otherwise seems unimpeachable – a saint, a devout priest, a lifelong spirit shaman, etc. – although it also responds well to sacrifices and other attempts to spread chaos in the world.  The individual's corruption, deeds, and lifestyle factor little into the Maelstrom's decision to lend assistance, except insofar as it may present an opportunity to defile a particularly pure soul.

Infernal Intervention
The Maelstrom is more than willing to unleash a little chaos on the world, and answering prayers is the perfect excuse.  Miracles – if they can be called that – can take any form and accomplish absolutely anything, but as with any chaotic "gift," it carries the cost of corrupting the petitioner's mortal soul.  That said, the gifts bestowed are powerful.  They may involve magical talent, beneficial physical mutations, or the most remarked upon gift:  mental powers that surpass the most accomplished mystics.  The most famous of these is the ability to move objects with the mind alone.

Where the World Spirit creates saints and spirits manifest as vestiges among their most faithful, the Maelstrom freely grants powers with the intent for the recipient to use them, because the more they are used, the more corrupted the individual becomes.  Thus it is not uncommon for the demons and their ilk to dole out power and ability quite freely with no apparent strings attached.

The Mark of Corruption
It is commonly said that all power has its price.  Nowhere is that more true than in dealings with demons.  Anytime a recipient of dark powers uses those abilities, his soul becomes a little murkier, his mind a little foggier, and his actions a little more menacing.  Every time he taps the power of the Maelstrom, the mark of corruption shines a little more brightly upon his soul until one day, it consumes him.  This mark may not be physically obvious, but it is there for those who know how to look:  the person's aura is festering with inky worms; his smile is a little too wide; his eyes don't blink often enough; his voice doesn't sound quite right; etc.  In the more obvious case of physical corruption, the person may be stricken with a perpetual pox that never eats away his life, or perhaps he becomes disfigured or acquires strange and unnatural features.  Other times, his internal organs all rot and his flesh become riddled with maggots.  Regardless, the person is always marked.

The mark of corruption usually has dire consequences once it becomes widely known.  Any sane community will at least lynch someone who has succumbed to too much corruption, and any agents of the spirit world or World Spirit will react negatively to the corrupt.  Even when they are penitent, their motives are questioned and honor besmirched.  Only after scrubbing the taint from their souls can they rid themselves of the stigma associated with their condition.

Title: Re: Starfall: On the Edge of Oblivion [WIP]
Post by: Humabout on October 22, 2013, 02:33:46 PM
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Technology in Starfall
The world has relatively constant technology akin to medieval Europe:

Material Technology:  Bronze; copper; small-scale steel working.

Other Technologies:  Arches, vaults, domes, and flying buttresses; concrete; distillation; early celestial navigation; humoral medicine; large glass objects; moldboard plow; riding horses and mounted herdsmen; theoretical mathematics and numerals with zero; three-field crop rotation; windmills and water mills.

Social Organization:  City-states and monoethnic empires; coinage; historical scholarship; marketplaces; monsaticism; philosophy; written law.

Warfare:  Castles; cavalry; mechanical artillery; walled cities and siege warfare; war mammoths.

Personal Weapons
Weapons vary largely by wealth more than geography.  Poorer peoples must rely on cheaply attained weapons such as spears, glaives, fauchards, axes, and other weaponized tools.  Cultures across the continent prize archery both for its usefulness in providing food and for defending city walls and eliminating enemies from a distance.  The crossbow is similarly prized when time is not of the essence.  With the exception of the spear, the wealthy almost exclusively prefer metallic weapons like maces, flails, and especially swords.  Axes still see use because of the tremendous blunt trauma they can inflict through mail.

Axes:  Axes are popular among heavily wooded areas and anywhere leather armor predominates.  They range in shape and size from small hatchets to full-sized battle axes to impressive long axes, whose extended haft allows for longer-reaching, more powerful blows.  Some ceremonial axes that dwarf even the long axe exist, but these are rarely wielded in combat.

Clubs & Maces:  These war clubs are heavy bludgeoning weapons intended to inflict maximum damage through flexible armor.  As such, they are quite popular anywhere mail is common.  Thankfully for the poor, they also tend to be among the cheaper dedicated weapons available.  From a lowly hardened tree branch to a weaponized maul, clubs and maces have been bashing in skulls for millennia and show no sign of fading out.  Only plate armor can hope to ward off their blows, but that's why one aims for the chest!

Flails:  Any man would gladly have these balls and chains.  While their striking surface makes them somewhat unwieldy in combat, they are extremely difficult to block and inflict devastating injuries.  A morningstar is a smaller, one-handed version of a flail.  Both are popular among wheat farmers who use similar tools to thresh their crops.  

Picks:  A pick is little more than a dagger mounted at a 90° angle to a stick.  Despite the horrific wounds they can inflict, their tendency to get stuck in their victims reduces their general appeal.  They are really only popular among large, wealthy warriors who are strong enough to consistently rip them out of their opponents and who wear enough armor to ignore most blows while doing so.  The warhammer is a two-handed pick.

Broadswords:  Broadswords are easily the most popular weapons among the wealthy in the world.  Their versatility allows them to easily serve as both offense and defense, thrust and cut.  They are usually moderately expensive unless made cheaply – common among professional armies, – and can be crafted to greater perfection than many weapons.
Bastard Swords:  Bastard swords broadswords with slightly longer blades and a longer hilt that can be grasped with one or two hands.  Wielding any weapon with two hands prevents the use of a shield, and as such, relegates this weapon to the heavily armored or the incredibly agile – who usually end up dead in warfare anyway.

Falchions:  Falchions stand between swords and axes, although far more toward the sword end of the spectrum.  They are heavy, curved swords designed primarily for cutting.  Falchions retain some point and can still thrust, but not as effectively as a straight sword like the broadsword.  Machetes are large knives with a blunt end and heavy curved blade designed solely for chopping; some of these have been used as a pattern for swords, but they are still ineffective thrusting sweapons.  Both falchions and machetes come in every size as their straight counterparts.
Shortswords:  Shortswords are small cut-and-thrust swords with blades from 18" to 24" long.  Like all swords, they are most popular among those with money, but as the smallest sword, they are also the cheapest.  They are good for close-in fighting and sometimes serve as a secondary.  They are also popular in areas where metal is at a premium.

Greatswords:  These massive two-handed swords cannot be wielded with one hand and are incredibly expensive.  They are powerful, however.  This makes them ideal for heavily armored, wealthy warriors who are willing to sacrifice the additional defense of a shield for more offensive power.  They are most common among the legions of chaos who care little for their own wellbeing and seek only to bring pain and suffering to those before them.
Knives:  A ubiquitous tool, knives are everywhere.  They are also incredibly ineffective at penetrating armor, which relegates them to the realm of last resort.  Knives include one-edged, two-edged and purely thrusting weapons with blade lengths up to roughly 18".

Polearms:  The sheer number of variations among polearms make it impossible to discuss every their iteration.  However, knowing that most are weaponized farming implements explains both their variety and their popularity among peasants.  Those intended for use against infantry usually have 6' to 8' hafts, while those designed to counter cavalry have longer ones and are more unwieldy.  Some common pole weapons include the voulge, a heavy blade mounted atop a pole; the billhook, a voulge with a hook fastened to the back for snagging and dismounting horsemen; the fauchard, a weaponized scythe; the guisarme, a pronged thrusting weapon that can entrap weapons; and the halberd, a heavy axe blade backed by a pick and topped with a spear head.

Spears:  Spears are essentially daggers mounted atop long sticks.  This oversimplification does not do their effectiveness justice.  They are cheap, can be thrown, braced against a charge or used from horseback, and make good hunting weapons.  Some common variants on the spear include the boar spear, which uses a crosspiece to prevent an adversary from running himself through to reach the wielder; the ranseur, which incorporates a pair fo prongs that can entrap enemy weapons; and the partisan, which has a set of curved blades at the base of the spearhead for cutting and hacking as well as stabbing.  Spears are typically 6' to 9' long, but some intended for use against cavalry are longer.

Staffs:  Staffs are truly the poor man's weapon.  They are nothing more than sticks fire-hardened for increased resilience.  They are versatile, however.  They can parry with frightening speed, strike hard, and serve as a tool when not being used to bludgeon people to death.  They are favored among peasants and woodsmen.

Mechanical Artillery
While much advanced knowledge of devising and constructing advanced siege weapons and artillery is isolated or lost, the principles of older mechanical artillery are still sufficiently widespread to mention.  These mostly involve torsion devices that use ropes comprised of various fibers and ingredients to store energy and accelerate a throwing arm or projectile.  Catapults use an arm with a cup run through such a torsion spring to launch stones, globes of flaming oil, or even infected bodies into enemy fortifications.  Scorpions utilize a pair of vertical torsion springs to accelerate a pair of arms that throw a large spear or bolt with impressive accuracy – much like a massive crossbow.  Both weapons come in different sizes, but the latter is of particular importance because it can be used defensively against both besieging armies and against some of the massive beasts that stalk the wilderness.

Some less-sophisticated artillery weapons involve a counterweight at the end of a catapult arm that propels the stone simply by falling, and man-powered catapults that use twenty or more men pulling downward on the end of the throwing arm.  These are found primarily among the desperate and the particularly devolved.  Legends tell of massive counterweight catapults that used entire trees as their arm and hurled boulders past the horizon, but if such things ever existed, they have long been swallowed by the void of time.

Body Armor
Protecting oneself is always a primary concern in combat.  Armor is the primary means of accomplishing this.  Body armor refers to all armor that covers the torso, limbs, and extremities; this excludes the neck, head, and shields.

Most warriors who can afford it wear armor of some kind.  The type of armor varies greatly from locale to locale based on a number of factors including availability of materials, stylistic preferences, and the wealth of an area.  It also depends greatly on the craftsmen available to create such armor.  Ever since the collapse of civilization, trade has stifled and almost all goods are locally produced; if no craftsman capable of creating the desired armor piece lives within trading distance, the armor simply isn't available – even if it exists elsewhere.

Textile Armor
Common in metal-poorer northern regions where flax grows, armorers usually produce linen armor by quilting multiple layers of linen to together.  The quality and protection afforded by the armor depends on the number of layers, the weight and grade of the fabric, and the spacing between rows of quilting.  Layered cloth generally provides better protection than hide armor for the weight.

Another form of textile armor more commonly found where sheep or lamas abound is made from padded cloth.  A heavy layer of felt or a stuffed quilt comprises quilted armor.  It offers far less protection than any other type of armor, but it is correspondingly light, as well.

Textile armors are common among the poor.  It is relatively low cost compared to most other forms of protection, and layered linen armor can afford a surprising amount of defense against blows.  Textile armor also sees use among more wealthy warriors who want additional protection beyond their mail.

Leather Armor
Leather armor refers to any cured animal hide that has been tanned and turned into armor.  A variety of processes exist for accomplishing this, but all methods produce quality dependent on the animal from which the hide was taken.  Soft, flexible leather typically comes from cattle, sheep, pigs, deer, and reptiles; such leather offers minimal protection and only then against cutting attacks.  Bears, buffalo, horses, and large alligators produce leather tough enough to offer noticeable protection, although it is usually weak against stabbing attacks.  The toughest leathers come from huge animals like whales and mammoths; these still offer reduced protection against piercing attacks but the protection is no insignificant.

By layering leather, an armorer can create a rigid armor capable of protecting against blunt trauma as well as cutting attacks.  A process known as cure-boiling can produce much tougher hardened leather that can ward off stabbing attacks as readily as any other.  The process involves boiling the leather to soften it, shaping it, and then baking it to set its shape before waterproofing it with a wax, resin, or lacquer coating.  Lightweight, flexible leather cannot be cure-boiled because it will warp and crack.

Leather armor is generally heavier and offers less protection than linen or metallic armor.  This makes it relatively rare except among people who have an overabundance of large animals at their disposal – such as those of the central steppes.  Leather is sometimes worn by the wealthy as an additional layer in conjunction with mail, when layered linen is not available.

Reinforcing Non-Metallic Armor
Textile and leather armor is sometimes reinforced with metal, horn, wood, or other hard materials to increase its protective capabilities.  This increases its ability to absorb slicing blows.  Bezainting involves attaching small pieces of horn, bark, coins, or metal discs – usually with rivets or laquer.  Splinted arm and leg guards involve incorporating vertical strips of metal, horn, or wood riveted to the armor.

Metallic Armor
Metallic armor is the preferred armor across the world.  Pound for pound, such armor affords better protection than any other material available.  Unfortunately for many societies, these armors may not be available because of a lack of trade and scarcity of raw materials.  When acquired, they tend to be highly prized among such people.

The cheapest metallic armor available is scale or lamellar – the difference being that scale is fastened to a cloth or leather backing and lamellar requires no such backing.  These offer the least protection per pound of any metallic armor, as well, making them common among the poorer warriors in metal-rich areas.  Even being metal, they tend to be cheaper and lighter than linen, edging it out wherever the two are both available.  Scale and lamellar armor is slightly less effective against crushing attacks, but not nearly as susceptible as mail.

The most widespread and successful armor in the world is mail.  Consisting of a cloth made from interwoven metal rings riveted closed.  There are variations in the weaving pattern, but most are "four-in-one."  The diameter of each link and the thickness of the wire determine the mail's weight and effectiveness.  Mail's main disadvantage is that it is flexible, and susceptible to blunt trauma.  To mitigate this, it is sometimes layered with other more rigid armor.  This hampers movement, however.

Segmented plate is constructed of large horizontal bands of metal curved around the body and overlapped to allow some articulation.  While it is heavier than standard steel plate, it is capable of protecting joints and can be fashioned into larger pieces than metal plate.  This often takes the form of a coat of plates, often worn over mail to protect the torso.  Such a coat has the segments riveted to the inside of a foundation garment to that only the rivet heads are visible on the surface.  While segmented plate offers less pound for pound protection than regular plate, it is also significantly cheaper.

Armorers can fashion steel into solid plates large enough to cover anything but the torso.  These are extremely expensive, but they offer better pound for pound protection than any other kind of armor in existence.  Most wealthy warriors wear a combination of plate, segmented plate, and mail.  Bronze and copper plate armor can be fashioned in any size, but may have other drawbacks.  Plate armor is typically fastened together with arming nails that do not afford a great deal of overlap or articulation; this results in larger gaps in armor to allow the joints to flex and move as they need to.  These gaps can be attacked by those with sufficient skill.

Helmets & Neck Protection
Helmets are among the most varied pieces of armor in the world.  Despite the variations in style, all helmets cover a person's skull, at the very least, and most are metallic.  The most minimal of these – the skullcap – does only this.  More complete bascinets cover the entire back of the head and the ears, as well, and some full helms cover the entire face, save only narrow eye slits.  These are most often constructed from multiple pieces of metal riveted to a frame, but some master craftsmen can save weight by fashioning the helm from a single piece.  Most helms are rounded to help deflect blows, but, again, some are flat-topped – primarily because such construction is easier.  This makes them heavier than their rounded cousins.

In addition to the actual construction of the helm, many include additional bits and pieces to protect the face in part or in full.  Nasals are metal strips that extend downward from the brim of a helmet to protect the nose, while spectacles are rings that protect the eyes.  Cheek guards can extend along the jaw line to offer partial protection to the face, or even cover the ears – although this makes hearing more difficult.  Some helms have wide brims to protect against arrow volleys, while others incorporate partial or full masks or visors.  In all cases, these extra pieces may be detachable or hinged, with the exception of a brim.

One unique form of head armor is the mail coif.  It is little more than a hood constructed of mail that covers the entire head and neck; some extend down to even protect part of the chest, as well.

All helmets are generally worn with padding.  This increases the protect quality of the helm, but adds additional weight to the helm.  Some helms also impair the senses to a degree.  Bascinets, full helms, and any helms that incorporate large cheek guards that cover the ears impede hearing, and any armor that protects the eyes blocks the wearer's peripheral vision.  Wearing padding beneath a coif also reduces hearing.

Note that helmets do not protect the neck.  This is a very difficult location to armor because the head must have free range of movement.  Most neck armor is flexible and not terribly heavy.  An aventail is a curtain of mail that hangs from the bottom of a helmet, covering the neck.  A lobsterback is a segmented aventail that only protects the back of the neck.  A ventail is a mail bib that unfolds up from the shirt and is tied behind the head to protect the front of the neck only.  A bevor is rgid plate collar that fans out and extends up to protect the neck, chin, and mouth; these are often hinged or removable and worn in conjunction with a sallet.  Gorgets are rigid collars that protect just the neck and throat.

Shields vary at least as widely as do helmets, but they are more easily categorized.  Shields have any combination of three types of grips:  buckler, arm straps, or a guige.  A buckler grip is simply a handle gripped by clenching the fest around it.  An arm strap is a set of lops or straps through which the shield arm passes anchoring the shield to that arm; it cannot be dropped as a free action.  A guige is a neck strap incorporated into most heavier shields to help redistribute the weight of the shield; some shields can be wielded by this strap using the neck alone.

While shields vary in shape, the protection they offer is primarily a function of their size and weight.  Large shields protect a man from his chin to his shins, medium ones cover from the chin to thighs, small shields are rarely longer than the forearm, and some dueling bucklers are nothing more than a boss with a handle.  Construction may vary from heavy shields made of solid wood or metal, often laminated or covered in a stretched leather hide to light ones constructed from light wood, wicker, or several layers of hide stitched together.

Most shields have a boss, which adds durability to shield, but some omit this.  Others use a laminated construction that greatly increases the durability of the shield.  Some small shields are constructed solely of metal, but this is relatively rare.  In all cases, shields may feature a number of additions, ranging from conical or spiked bosses to sharpened metallic edges, to prongs for catching weapons.

Most northern shields are round or oval, where most southern shields tend to be rectangular, or teardrop-shaped.  The actual shape of the shield does little to affect its protective quality, but it may affect how it is used in combat.  One group of northerners may wield a heavy medium shield with a bucker grip as a weapon and as a means to bind an opponent's weapon while attacking with his own, always keeping his blade in contact with the shield's rim, while a soldier from the south may hide behind a heavy, rectangular shield and stab around it with a spear or straight sword.

Title: Re: Starfall: On the Edge of Oblivion [WIP]
Post by: Humabout on October 22, 2013, 08:42:22 PM
A Dark Menagerie




ST: 16HP: 20Speed: 6.00
DX: 12Will: 10Ground Move: 6
IQ: 10Per: 13
HT: 12FP: N/ASM: 0
Dodge: 9Parry: 11 (Unarmed)DR: --
A gust of wind caught the stranger's hood in its grasp and threw it back.  The townsfolk shrank in horror at the bone-white hide, black, abyssal eyes, and grotesquely extended beak-like face of the creature before them.  It opened its hideous maw to reveal rows of rat-like teeth, hissed, and vanished into a cloud of mist.

The plaguebearer is a horrific creature that subsists on the blood of others.  It tears at its victim's neck, wrist, inner thigh – anywhere a major artery or vein is accessible – and guzzles the blood down amidst its prey's screams of agony.  Despite their similarities with vampires, plaguebearers are not related to them; they are embodiments of disease and physical corruption.  They are a walking pestilence that sap the strength and life of their victims until their consumption is complete and they transform into plaguebearers themselves.

Fangs (16):  1d+2 impaling + Blood Drain (see below).  Reach C.

Talons (16):  1d+2 cutting or impaling.  Reach C.

Power Grappling (20):  Plaguebearers are immensely strong and know how to use that to their advantage.  Except when rolling to hit or for an active defense, they can use an ST-based Wrestling roll (skill 20).  Additionally, whenever you would make a ST roll that usually enjoys a ST bonus from Wrestling, you may waive that bonus and attempt a ST-based Wrestling roll instead.

Blood Drain:  A plaguebearer must successfully grapple or pin a foe and deliver a bite that penetrates DR to inflict injury.  So long as this initial attack succeeds in injuring its prey and the plaguebearer maintains the grapple or pin on success, it drains 1 HP per second and heals 1 HP per full 3 HP drained.  The drain ends instantly if it releases its prey.  Blood Drain can only affect living subjects that have blood to drink.

Friendly Face:  A plaguebearer's true form is truly monstrous, but they still manage to infiltrate populations regularly.  They do this with a glamour that makes them appear like any other human.  Whenever someone observes a plaguebearer, the GM secretly makes a Will-5 roll.  On a success, the person sees the plaguebearer for what it is, but on any failure, it appears as an ordinary, nondescript person.

Infectious Touch:  A plaguebearer's touch spreads disease.  Anyone who comes in direct contact with a plaguebearer must immediately roll against HT, as described in Contagion, but at an additional -3.  Choose the disease randomly by rolling 1d, 1d:

1-2, 1Bubonic Plague3-4, 1Meningitis5-6, 1Smallpox
1-2, 2Ergotism3-4, 2Mumps5-6, 2Tuberculosis
1-2, 3Influenza3-4, 3Pneumonia5-6, 3Typhoid Fever
1-2, 4Leprosy3-4, 4Polio5-6, 4Typhus
1-2, 5Malaria3-4, 5Puerperal Fever5-6, 5Whooping Cough
1-2, 6Measles3-4, 6Scarlet Fever5-6, 6Yellow Fever

Pestilent:  Plaguebearers are corporeal embodiments of disease.  Should they injure a living person through an unarmed attack, he must check for infection at -3, just as if he had been wounded in a locale with a special infection.

Summon Rat Swarm (12):  Roll 3d.  On a roll of 12 or less, the plaguebearer successfully summons a Rat Swarm.

Traits:  Appearance (Monstrous); Bad Smell; Disturbing Voice; Divine Curse (Cannot enter a dwelling for the first time unless invited); Doesn't Breathe; Dominance; Draining (Human Blood; Illegal); Dread (Salt); Frightens Animals; Immunity to Metabolic Hazards; Infectious Attack; Injury Tolerance (Unliving); Insubstantiality (Costs 2 FP/Minute); Lifebane; Night Vision 5; Regeneration (AP; HT/Second); Speak with Animals (Specialized, Rats); Supernatural Features (No Body Heat, No Reflection, Pallor); Unaging; Uncontrollable Appetite (12) (Human Blood); Unhealing (Partial, Healed by Leech and Necromancy); Unkillable 2 (Achilles Heal: Fire); Vulnerability (Fire x2).
Features:  Affected by Spirit Empathy (rather than Empathy).  Born Biter 2.  Sterile.

Skills:  Brawling-16; Disguise-14; Shadowing-14; Stealth-16; Wrestling-16.

Class:  Undead.

Notes:  Plaguebearers are intelligent and may be willing to negotiate.

Encumbrance:  51 / 102 / 153 / 306 / 510.