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Author Topic: Beneath a Broken Sky  (Read 353 times)
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« on: April 12, 2017, 04:38:12 AM »

Out of Character

So this is a new iteration of an existing setting. I've returned from an absence and didn't start making a new one! I'm blending together Sreth and Urd here, and cutting out some stuff I had purely because I was married to Dungeons and Dragons mentality. The ideas that demand DnD are going into the game I'm running IRL, so for this I'm cutting out needless stuff and I'm going with FATE this time around.

For those that read this in its first iteration, the sections on Gods and Xhoatech are mostly unchanged but has some changes, the sections on Zigguropoli and Dominions and Factions are completely unchanged, and everything else has been updated or re-written or is new.

Overview


This world is broken.

In the world before, it was not so. Mankind lived in relative peace, warring amongst each other from time to time as mankind is wont to do, and the Gods watched over us from their seats in the Heaven, beyond the Firmament above us.

Then it all changed.

The Gods do not speak of what started the conflict - if any of them even know. But beings invaded from the Outer Spheres. In their opening salvo, the first shots of the Eschaton War the nearly won the watter, shattering the Firmament of Heaven and leaving the sky spider-webbed like stained glass. It seemed that all was lost, but the Divine rallied, standing against the Outer Beings.

In the end, no one really won the war. No quarter was asked, none was given, and the battle only ended because everyone was too dead, broken, or insane to keep fighting. Reality itself was warped by the massive powers wielded in that conflict, and the remaining Gods are shells of their former powers - although they did manage to strip the Outer Beings of much of their strength as well, a small comfort.

Human civilization now huddles in Dominions of the gods or Bastions ruled by the most powerful humankind has to offer. Meanwhile, outside the walls, natural life wages a constant war against the twisted exoterics unleashed by the Outer Gods.

But the human spirit is not a fragile thing, and with time what once was nightmare can  become merely horrible and then pass into the realm of normal. Some have learned to channel that indomitable spirit into the might of Ardor, while others have turned to drawing power from the Xhoa, strange crystals that are the scabs of reality's healing scars and are used to forge tools never before dreamt of by God or Man. 

The Age of Reclamation has begun.


Tones and Themes

Grim but Awesome: the lands of Beneath a Broken sky are full of terrifying monsters, deadly landscapes, insane gods, spreading corruption, and all other manner of nastiness. It's a terrible place to live, a shadowy world that was nearly destroyed. However, it's not intended to be depressing. All those horrible things are supposed to serve as challenges, things to overcome to make the heroes seem even more impressive.

Arcanopunk: The idea behind Arcanopunk in the Mists of Urd is to make sure to capture the punk feel of cyberpunk - in addition to Xhoatech mimicking aspects of cybernetics (especially in implants and robotics), one of the goals is to use the gods and their zigguropoli to capture the absolute power of corporations in the Cyberpunk world, with a distinctly fantasy spin to it.

Lovecraftian Gothic Weirdness: The overall tone of Beneath a Broken Sky is dark and creepy but always in a weirdly beautiful way that helps underline the horror. Norms include huge, imposing architecture; most of the Wilds being composed of thick forests filled with mist and mystery and bounded by vast wastelands torn apart by the Eschaton War; and abandoned cities and towns haunted by animals and monsters.

Martial Arts Cowboys: The heroes of Beneath a Broken Sky are those who dare adventure outside the walls protecting Dominions and Bastions in an attempt to reclaim large areas for humanity, essentially turning the entire world into a giant frontier. Trained in martial arts and armed with Xhoa powered weapons or empowered by their own Ardor, they seek to find new lands, hunt down exoterics, some even going as far as to stand against Outer Beings or Carnal lords too far gone into madness. Some also wage war or raids against other humans, seeking to increase their own power by weakening others.


Firmament


Once, the sky was protected by a great dome known as the firmament. Separating Urd from the Outer Spheres, the firmament was maintained by Ardor and was an implied promise of protection from the Gods to mortals - they would keep mortals safe beneath it in exchange for their worship and service.

The opening salvo of Eschaton War shattered the firmament. Great cracks appeared in the sky as Outer Beings poured through, finally unseating the Gods from the heavens that maintained the Firmament and breaking into the world. This has left the most visible scars of the Eschaton War - the sky appears to have great cracks in it at all times, and as the Sun and Stars move across it their light will often get refracted and cracked. Sunset and Sunrise in particular give the sky the appearance of stained glass.

As the Firmament continues to degrade, it falls to the ground in Empyrian Storms. Such events are dangerous and difficult to predict, as it essentially rains shards of crystal upon the ground. Since this is reality trying (and failing, in this case) to heal itself, what lands is Empyrean Xhoa, a much more stable form of Xhoa that possesses near limitless power. It's prized by any who seek to wield Xhoa, and an Empyrean Storm often means battle, if not outright war, will break out over the shards that have fallen.


Gods

The Gods of Urd are not pleasant beings - at least, not any more. While myth and legends make them out to have once been protectors and shepherds of mankind, that time is long past. Now, after the Eschaton War, the only survivors are insane or tyrants, ruling over chunks of humanity with an iron fist or preying upon them in some fashion or another. In addition to them, some of the Outer Beings that arrived during the Eschaton War remain, conducting strange experiments and pursuing their alien goals.

Although the gods of Urd are quite varied, they can be divided into four distinct subclasses:

The Outer Gods Creatures from beyond the Firmament that shattered it when they invaded, revealing the Inner Spheres and exposing Urd to the monsters that dwell amongst them. The Outer Beings are alien to behold, strange creatures with features not of this world. While their forms are numerous, there are types that can be identified.

In terms of the divine, only to the most powerful amongst them are Outer Gods, the beings with power to rival the gods directly - powerful enough to be considered gods in their own right.  Outer Gods rarely rule over Dominions, instead pursuing their own goals in isolation in the Wilds, but some do seek mortal followers to impose their will upon. Cults devoted to the Outer Beings are often quite mad, but that madness still takes a methodical form, and they often can answer questions as to their master's motives - though they are rarely willing to betray the dread beings they serve.

The Carnal Lords and Ladies: The gods that run the Zigguropoli, powerful beings of flesh and blood that only hold a fraction of the power they once did, bound to the physical with the destruction of the heavens. The Carnal Lords are the most relatable of the various god types, since they are bound to the basest of desires - lust and greed and hunger and dominance. The Carnal Lords are all unique in their appearance, but for the most part they look reasonably human, although with additional features such as wings or extra arms or the head of an animal. Most Carnal Lords either look like physically idealized humans with a single feature that is in some way grotesque - eyes that are empty pits, strange scars or scabs, disturbing coloration to their skin, rotted teeth, open sores - some sign of the corruption that grips them. The truly depraved amongst them, the ones that have given wholly over to the corruption, show clear signs of it - only one or two features hold their former beauty, while otherwise they are horrid monsters.

Not all Carnal Lords rule over Dominions. Some lack the power to hold onto one or have been dethroned, and plot and scheme to gain a dominion of their own. Others wander for their own reasons, driven by strange desires, occasionally taking residence within a small town or city and imposing their will upon it in return for their protection - although such arrangements with wandering Lords and Ladies are temporary. No one knows exactly how many Carnal Lords walk Urd in this fashion, but most scholars estimate their numbers to be less than one hundred.

In some areas, Carnal Lords looking to hold down a larger area, or lacking the power to hold onto an area themselves, organize into groups call Pantheons, pooling their individual power to accomplish what no single one could.

The Cryptic Gods: The spectres of dead gods. Appearing most often as massive, faceless, semi-solid beings wearing long robes that fade into nothingness, they still possess immense power. Individually, it's possible the Cryptic gods hold the most individual power of any god-type, but they are also the least scrutable. The Cryptic gods rarely reveal their intentions until their plans are made manifest, and it's difficult to discern why they wanted whatever they were doing. They can be found sometimes floating above an area for days or weeks before taking some action - typically destructive - and then moving elsewhere. Some Ur-priests claim to be able to communicate with the Cryptic Gods, while others maintain such a thing is impossible.

The Cryptic Gods are the gods of the abstract, of ideas and potentials. While they have human servitors, those are rare, and they rarely conflict directly with Outer Beings or Carnal Lords. Whatever insane plan a particular Cryptic God pursues, they typically do so while avoiding the Dominions of others where it can be avoided. They are viewed almost more of a force of nature than anything else - their arrival heralds a catastrophe of some kind, a massive change (not always harmful) to the surrounding area, and then they move on.




Power


The two powers most commonly wielded by mortals, Ardor and Xhoa are vastly different - Ardor is, most simply, imposing one's will upon reality, forcing it to obey your rules. Xhoa, on the other hand, is found in crystals of the same name that form at places where reality was most broken - the scabs left behind as the fabric of the universe attempts to stitch itself back together after being torn asunder. Divine and Outer power sits outside this distinction - the powers wielded by the Gods are not meant for mortal hands.

Humans that tap into Ardor do so through incredible discipline and, unsurprisingly, force of will. Also known as Ki, Ardor is the result of honing the mind and body into an instrument of one's will. On the most basic level, it can be used to accomplish incredible feats - leap vast distances, punch through stone, catch arrows or blades with bare hands, and other feats beyond what a normal human is capable of. Beyond that, Ardor can be extended outside the body - air can be fused into flaming spheres that are hurled to deadly effect, the user takes to the air and flies, war cries are unleashed that bowl men over, and objects lift and move purely by the force of will. A master of Ardor can wield a power that makes him a danger to Carnal Lords and Outer Gods, although if their will wavers they will find themselves powerless against such creatures. 

Xhoa cannot be handled directly by mortals, and in the hands of a mortal a crystal of Xhoa is a very pretty and very volatile rock. The first attempts to use Xhoa actually played on that volatility, as when ruptured a Xhoa crystal can explode with tremendous force. Since then, however, more refined ways of utilizing the power within have been found, and special packs are constructed to harness their power to a variety of uses. Anyone wielding Xhoatech wears one of these packs, if not multiple - most commonly it is worn on the back, although some prefer smaller packs on the hips and shoulders. Xhoa powers a variety of tools, from armor to weapons to more mundane devices, and allow for a skilled warrior without the knack for channeling Ardor to fight on a playing field with those masters.

While the Carnal Lords are immensely powerful, mortals wielding Ardor or armed with Xhoatech can pose a threat to them. What makes the Carnal Lords so beyond mortals isn't about raw might, but rather scale - a divine being can impose their power over miles of terrain, and to them there is no difference in effort to lifting a pebble and lifting a mountain. Add to that countless millennia of experience using their powers and fighting amongst themselves, and then consider the fact that the only remaining Carnal Lords are the husks of the gods that survived the Eschaton War, and it's easy to see why humans so rarely define divine will.

Outer Beings, on the other hand, draw their power from the Void. Their weapons are terrifying to behold, and their powers are strange and nightmarish. While mortals and Carnal Lords can stand against them, such a task is never done lightly.

Animals and Exoterics


Life has become strange in the wake of the Eschaton Wars. Normal animals were warped by its passing, as Gods turned them into beasts of war while the Void powers of the Outer Beings corrupted them into nightmares. The animals that fared best in the Eschaton Wars were the ones humans had a vested interest in protecting alongside themselves. Dogs, horses, cows, cats, chickens, and pigs - domestic animals in general were kept safer, although new breeds have emerged as a result. Animals outside human protection did not do well - as habitats were warped or destroyed, many species were wiped out completely. The twisting of reality allowed some to undergo an accelerated evolution, however, and those new species have begun to thrive in the aftermath. Many of these species have biological adaptations that make them living weapons - able to spew acid, exhale flammable gas, shoot quills at high speeds, and covered in bone plates as strong as steel are just some examples.

On top of that, Lesser creatures from the Outer Spheres are called Exoterics, and while some serve the Outer Beings, other Exoterics peruse their own goals. Exoterics come in a wide variety of forms, and typically stay in the deepest parts of the Wild and Waste, or deep beneath the earth, not wanting to draw the ire of Carnal Lords. They do raid human settlements from time to time, often with no rhyme or reason. Exoterics are undoubtedly intelligent, but also undoubtedly alien in their thinking and impossible to reason one.

A particular type of Carnal Lord should be considered here too. Called Husks, the trauma of the Eschaton War drove them beyond madness, beyond reason, and turned them into ravening beasts. Their forms shifted to match as well, resembling horrible amalgamations of humans and animal. A Husk can cause massive devastation, and should be brought down quickly, since, although they possess none of their prior intelligence, they still have their old powers.


Zigguropoli, Dominions, and Bastions

Note: How large are the Zigguropoli?

While size can vary, most Zigguropoli are large enough to comfortably house between 2,000 and 10,000 people, as well as administrative buildings and military buildings, plus sizeable markets and other venues of commerce. Living in a Zigguropolis is pretty much exclusive to the upper echelons of society and their slaves/servants as well as anyone that provides a service those people would desire. A Zigguropolis is never self-sufficient and depends heavily on the city below or nearby to support it - although laying siege to one would be extremely difficult, it is still an option.
The massive city-temples from which the Carnal Lords reign over chunks of Urd, Zigguropoli is a catch all term for any number of structures. The most powerful of the Carnal Lords prefer to use their Ardor to physically wrest their Zigguropoli from the clutches of the ground itself and elevate them into air, leaving them as floating, multi-tiered castles that are testaments to their power. However, others - whether because they lack the strength or they prefer a more creative expression of their power - change the formula.

For example, the Zigguropoli of Lethesda, the Queen of the Black River, sits at the head of the Black River and also is that river's head - made entirely from liquid water given shape purely by her Ardor, holding itself firm enough to be easily walked upon. On the other hand, Drakun, the Forgotten King of the Screaming Grove, has a zigguropolis that sits atop five trees more massive than any could grow naturally, and is woven and grown from their branches. His Zigguropoli is constantly growing, new rooms being added as old ones wither into mulch for the forest below. All Carnal Lords that lack the strength to elevate their Zigguropolis make sure to put as many unique twists on it as they can, to hide if their changes are from a unique quirk or a due to a lack of strength.

Zigguropoli sit over areas called Dominions, chunks of land that are directly under Divine rule (often literally). Life in a Dominion is a trade-off. Mortals within are subject to Divine Law, which in addition to standard laws of include Taboos that are imposed by their gods for various reason. Worship of the local Carnal Lord or Lady is, of course, mandatory. In addition, the clergy of the local Carnal Lord often have near absolute authority within the Dominion - with all the corruption that comes with that. Also, there is always a risk within the Dominion of drawing the attention of the Carnal Lord him or herself, and once that attention is drawn there is little that can be done to protect oneself. However, in exchange for this you have protection - Dominions cover much larger areas than most mortals can lay claim to, and the Carnal Lords care enough about having their worshippers safe that monsters are dealt with by a well armed and trained military force that also serves to impose the law - which does offer some degree of protection for ordinary folk.

Bastions Another catch-all term, Bastions are independent city states that serve as points of law and order on Urd, but lack a god to enforce that. Bastions are typically much smaller than Dominions: since they lack the might of a Carnal Lord to enforce their safety, they instead rely on Xhoatech, thick walls, and being much more closely organized to provide that same protection. Typically ruled by a group of men and women with similar goals, some Bastions do have actual Kings and Queens that rule though their bloodline or powerful users of Ardor that, while not quite divine, still offer the "single, powerful protector" aspect that is appealing to those free from Zigguropoli. Also, most Bastions allow worship of whatever within their borders, and do not enforce divine Taboos on their citizens, preferring to spend their limited resources enforcing laws that they actually view as important to the stability of society.

However, there are downsides to living in Bastions. Their rulers are mortal, meaning they see changes more often than areas ruled by immortal beings, and mortals are just as prone to corruption as anyone else. Some Bastions are ruled by outright tyrants who, fearful of being deposed, take the laws to levels of cruelty beyond what even Carnal Lords do. Also, they cannot protect the outlying areas as effectively, so farmers and outlying towns are at much greater risk from incursions from the Wilds. Finally, there is a risk that a Carnal Lord will seek to establish a Dominion from a Bastion, or add it to their existing Dominion. Although such things are not common, they are also not unheard of, and wars between a Carnal Lord and a Bastion are a constant fear.


Organizations and Faiths


Reclaimers:
The Reclaimers are a loose-kit organization. In fact, calling them an organization might be a bit generous. The Reclaimers, collectively, are those who seek to beat back the Wilds and reclaim it for civilization. They share information amongst each other and come from all walks of life - and often have very different views on things beyond their shared goal. Many Reclaimers are opposed to the Gods, wanting to drag them down as well, but will grudgingly work with the faithful as they acknowledge that the gods, while a problem, do at least maintain civilization in the face of encroaching wilderness.

The Order of the Onyx Blade:
Founded by the Church of Blessed Shadow, the Order of the Onyx Blade is an organization that is dedicated to enforcing order, where ever it can be found. Willing to work with any group that upholds some semblance of law, the Order of the Onyx Blade also has their own very basic laws they will happily go to communities that lack clear law and order and enforce - although they will not do so where they clearly are not welcome. Despite the fact that they would be willing to work with most gods to enforce order, they often are not welcome given their ties to a religion that denies the need for the divine.

The Legion of Incipient Heretics:
A tight knit organization, the Legion has one simple goal: to see every God torn from power or dead. While its members acknowledge that such a goal is likely to never fully be obtained, their overall mission includes forcing gods into less brutal policies against their followers, and focusing their attacks on the gods that will not back down on these aggressive policies. Called mockingly by some "The Heretics without a Cause," the Legion often seems unfocused in how they accomplish their goals, but their hit and run tactics have been effective in times in enacting change.

The Church of a Thousand Saints:
Before the gods went mad, thee saints were  mortals who who were venerated for upholding the ideals the Gods stood for. Now that the Gods are mad, these men and women are venerated as representatives of the ideals that we should not abandon just because the Gods have. Often tolerated by the Gods, since they still in a way worship them (if you don't look too close), members of the Saints are often healers or protectors, striving towards peace in the face of greater dangers - and hoping to be able to one day guide the gods from their madness and back to sanity.


Xhoatech

Xhoatech is a particular manifestation of the Xhoa, devices wrought from it. Samples below:

Xhoatech Tools

For the common person, Xhoatech is most often seen in the various tools that it creates. Most of these are quality of life additions, that make routine tasks easier or quicker or safer. The examples below are just a small amount of the wide variety of tools made from Xhoa

Crawlstars One of the simplest and yet most important tools Xhoatech has spawned are Crawlstars. They are small globes of light that, as their name suggest, crawl constantly to provide the best lighting possible. Virtually useless outdoors, where they will just move away from each other constantly, Crawlstars are massively important in the homes of the upper classes and the halls of Zigguropoli and within the walls of the Bastions, where they have removed the tyranny of the day/night cycle. A recent improvement to Crawlstars allows them to recognize if someone is sleeping or attempting to do so and dimming their light, ending the tedious task of collecting them every night.

Mass Scribe Another device that completely revolutionized life on Urd, the Mass Scribe is a huge, false eye attached to an apparatus made of hundreds of tiny mechanical hands holding pens. It can look at written documents and the hands can reproduce it with near perfect accuracy, although the writing is always oddly imprecise, and a strange flaw in the process causes them to occasionally insert random words into the text from time to time. Nevertheless, it has allowed the written word to reach the masses, and this change has been so drastic no one minds that texts will occasionally contain such utterances as "The End is Nigh", "They Burn," "Dusk Will Fall," or other such nonsense that are clearly artefacts from other documents.

Clawbow While nowhere near as revolutionary as the above, the clawbow nonetheless is a common tool among thieves and adventurers. A simple design externally, a clawbow looks like an egg attached to a cylinder with a handle. When squeezed, the egg unfurls into a five spaced claw and is launched from the cylinder at phenomenal speeds, attached to the base cylinder by a rope or chain. Once it impacts something, the claw attempts to grab on, and then quickly reels in - pulling either target to user or visa versa. Used most frequently to reach higher places or across chasms, clawbows are also are also used to grab items through open windows and even by some as a weapon to draw an important target out of a protective position.

Xhoatech Vehicles

Xhoatech Vehicles have not yet completely replaced animals as the primary means of transportation on Urd, although some suggest that is coming one day soon.

Skittering Carriage: The most commonly used vehicle on Urd, the Skittering Carriage is designed with personal use in mind. It sits on its eight spindly legs – spread wide from the center for greater stability. The body of the most common models are a simple flattened cylinder with tapered ends and a depression in the middle for passengers (it can house two). The driver and passengers are almost completely exposed, with only a simple canvas dome that can be stretched overhead on rainy days. While the poor cannot afford a Skittering Carriage, relegated to still rely upon beasts, their use is becoming more and more common. A simpler model, Skittering Chariots, only have four legs in the front with wheels in the back. Slower and less stable, the drastic reduction in costs by halving the complexity does make this particular vehicle more accessible to the common person.

Spirewalker: One of the most formidable weapons in any Dominion or Bastion’s army, a Spirewalker is a mobile fortification. Typically standing two stories tall, a spirewalker is a the top level of a guard tower affixed three giant legs. Capable of carrying eight soldiers and a host of munitions, Spirewalkers will stride into a battlefield before settling down, letting the stones cover their vulnerable legs while the soldiers within take fire. While the soldiers can fire on the move, doing so makes aiming very difficult.

Xhoatech Weapons

Weapons forged with Xhoatech far surpass anything possible by their more mundane counterparts, and while they can always trace their origin to a particular mundane weapon, their function often goes far beyond what one could imagine by looking upon it. As before, this is just a small sample of what's possible. Note that, in addition to the below, virtually any weapon can be found with a simple "Xhoaforged" version that just adds the power of Xhoa directly to a weapon's power.

Melee

Bilash: The bilash uses technology borrowed from the Clawbow to create swords with incredible reach. Worn more as gauntlets than held as weapons, bilash respond to their wearers thoughts to a degree - they are short swords on the end of long chains that expand and retract as their wielder needs in a fight. A skilled bilash wielder will dance to keep her enemies at a distance, out of reach of their weapons, which both plays to their inherent strength and the fact that bilash are poor weapons to have when defending yourself.

Keldmohr: The keldmohr is a terrifying weapon to behold, a sword that is often as large as its wielder. The Xhoatech engine within manipulates the density of the sword during a fight, making it light when being manoeuvred but bringing its full force to bear when striking. It is a difficult weapon to master given the constant adjustments that must be made to its weight, but the immense damage it can do makes it worth the effort of learning.

Spunclub: A brutal weapon, the Spunclub is composed of a series of interlocking gears that grow smaller towards the handle. In addition to the immense weight of the gears, as they spin they make every strike pinch, grab, and rend what the blow. Bladed Spunclubs exist, but break far too often to be a practical weapon.

Arcstaff: A large metal rod ending in two forked poles, lightning dances between the blades of the arcstaff, making it shock as it strikes. Skilled users will trap their foes between the forks, holding them in place with paralyzing bolts of electricity.

Ranged

Autobow: The autobow is a fairly simple creation of Xhoatech. An autobow uses darts and hurl them with a force similar to a crossbow's bolts, able to launch between 20-50 a minute. Depending on the model, the autobow can outpace the rate of fire possessed by entire squads of archers manned with traditional bows. Too heavy to be wielded by hand, Autobows are often attached to Skittering Chariots or physically placed to be part of siege.

Caster: Slowly replacing traditional crossbows, a caster is a long, metal tube with a ring of darts slung around it. When the trigger is pulled, Xhoa pushes a dart out of the tube at high speeds towards the target.

Diskbow: The diskbow, instead of firing arrows, launches bladed metal disks at its targets. What makes it so threatening is that each disk is guided by the xhoa in the bow, actively seeking out targets to bite into.

Cho-ni: A new creation of Xhoatech, a Cho-ni doesn't launch bolts or arrows, but busts of energy that vary depending on the exact make of the weapon. Although their effective range is much shorter than a bow or gun, most being able to shoot with a maximum range between 60 and 250 feet, the Cho-ni is still a deadly weapon in the correct hands.

Shredder: This cruel device fires glass shards at incredible speeds, slicing into anyone in their way. Although less effective against armored targets, they can completely shred a crowd of unarmored or lightly armored individuals. A more sadistic version instead fires a cloud of glass ground into dust, shredding eyes and lungs.

Xhoatech Armor:

Of course, the creation of Xhoatech weapons mandates the creation of armor to defend against it. Xhoatech armor is intended to boost the abilities of its wearer significantly in addition to protecting. Xhoatech armor responds to the thoughts and instincts of its wearer.

Living Carapace: Living carapace armor is closer to plate mail in appearance, but moves with its wearer. In addition to providing superb protection, anyone wearing living carapace is faster and stronger than they were before, augmented by the armor's strength. It does come at a cost to mobility, however, as fine movements are delayed as the armor catches up to its wearer.

Half Carapace: Favored by those who desire agility, Half Carapace armor provides some of the strength benefits of Living Carapace but less protection for the arms and legs, allowing them to move more freely at the cost of defense.

Scorpion Carapace: Similar to living carapace, scorpion carapace adds a long tail that will strike at the target of its wearer with every attack. The power to control these attacks means it offers almost no increase to brute strength or speed, however. It is available in a half carapace version, as well.

Thoughtfield: For those who desire mobility above else, the thoughtfield armor is the best option. Composed of a simple vest, bracelets, anklets, and a headband, the thoughtfield armor generates a kinetic field that protects the wearer's entire body. While not as strong as most armors, it provides zero hindrance to movement. Of course, it has a cost - powerful blows against the barrier hit the wearer with psychic feedback.

Archangel Pack: Appearing as a half-oval attached to the wearer's back, Archangel packs can be activated to spread wings that contain Xhoa powered gliders similar to a hawkskitter, allowing the user to fly short distances. More complex versions allow the wearer full control of the wings and include bladed feathers, making it a weapon as well as a mobility tool. Archangel packs offer little to no protection, so are often combined with another armor.

Spider Mail: A suit of mail that also includes gloves and boots, spider mail allows the wearer to climb any surface as if it were level ground, while offering decent protection in the form of a heightened awareness to danger. Some suits of Spider Mail have multiple grappling hooks worked into the armor, and are able to launch them in multiple directions to allow the user increased mobility.

Not There: A not there armor provides absolutely no protection, covering them in head to foot with cloth, but instead makes the user incredibly hard to focus upon, fooling even advanced Xhoatech sensors. While it doesn't make the user invisible, eyes want to slide off it and look somewhere else. Fighting someone in a not there suit is nausea inducing, and the fact that it provides no protection against your blows is little comfort when you cannot focus well enough to strike.

Dozeneye Helm: While offering little protection, a Dozeneye helm allows the wearer to see in all directions at once. For those not used to it, it's a sickening experience, but once adjusted to it gives you unparalleled ability to avoid attacks from all directions.


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Sparkletwist

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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 12:03:29 PM »

Hi Xathan,

I only read until the organisations part, so I have that and the Xhoatech left to peruse, but already a lot of questions come to mind. I wanted to say, though, that I really like this. Here are my questions.

I wonder why the gods need to rule over men with an ''iron fist'' when just before they used to guarantee their prosperity and safety from the comforts of the Heavens? What was their goal for doing that when they were in the Heavens? Have they become sort of petty because they're angry, or ashamed and unable to respond responsibly?

Additionally, is it their intention to restore order on Urd and protect it once again from the Heavens? If it's their purpose, is it shared among all of their peers?

Since madness, corruption and the bizarre are prevalent themes of the Urd universe, are there any monstrous races of men? Like an Exoteric mingling with women, resulting in twisted half-men half-creatures offsprings. Or perhaps a cruel Carnal Lord imposed himself on some of his subjects, or followers of a rival Lord with whom he waged war and that also resulted in half-men offsprings? If that happened, how did the offsprings look like and how were they treated, first by the mother, but then by the immediate family and finally the general public? And how would the Carnal Lord of that place where that parent lives react?

More on the gods; why can they build a zigguropolis with magic, but need soldiers and ministers to keep the peace in the dominion? Are there that many humans willing to risk the ire of the gods that it becomes necessary for these gods to have a military force aside from their divine powers? Does the god simply want to rest in his chambers and give in to leisure and entertainment, leaving the law into the hands of lesser beings, aka men? Don't the soldiers pose any threat to his power? I imagine some could wield both Ardor and Xhoa. Furthermore, how can a man invest his trust and respect in another man for his protection and keeping order when there's a god just beside who can do all that much better? Wouldn't trust be low in military forces made up of humans?

The relation between a Carnal Lord, their dominion and a Bastion interests me greatly. What I find most interesting is that the Bastions even exist. Some Carnal Lords would have interventionist inclinations wouldn't they? Why haven't they exterminated Bastions to bring them under their influence? Or is there tributary system of some kind? Would the gods even allow that?
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 12:37:03 PM by Magnus Pym » Logged


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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 08:03:40 PM »

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Hi Xathan,

I only read until the organisations part, so I have that and the Xhoatech left to peruse, but already a lot of questions come to mind. I wanted to say, though, that I really like this. Here are my questions.

Thanks, glad you like it. smile And I love questions, favorite way to get me thinking.

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I wonder why the gods need to rule over men with an ''iron fist'' when just before they used to guarantee their prosperity and safety from the comforts of the Heavens? What was their goal for doing that when they were in the Heavens? Have they become sort of petty because they're angry, or ashamed and unable to respond responsibly?

So, before the Firmament was shattered and the gods were knocked from the Heavens, they were sort of like the classic Greco-Roman deities - they guided mortals at time, they manipulated natural forces, and at times messed with people. Overall benevolent, but kinda of dickish about it. They did it because they adored being worshipped - it was about their egos as much as anything else.

The iron fist - which is present in pretty much all Gods that rule a dominion - is born of madness and fear. For starters, the Eschaton War left most of them at least somewhat mad - at the same time they were fighting horrible beings from the Outer Spheres, they were stripped of their divine power and divine senses by these terrible beings. In a way, that same ego that lead them to desire worship before has been corrupted by that madness to the tyranny of today. Like many petty tyrants, the control is a means of inflating the go that was so badly wounded by being so harshly taught they were not the ultimate beings in the cosmos. On top of that, the Gods beleived nothing could ever challenge them - they were supreme. Now that they've lost that comforting lie, they are perpetually terrified of being caught off guard again, leading to the tight fist they control society with now.

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Additionally, is it their intention to restore order on Urd and protect it once again from the Heavens? If it's their purpose, is it shared among all of their peers?

I cant imagine a god that, if they had the opprotunity to reclaim their divine mantle and restore the Firmament, ruling from above again as protectors, wouldn't leap at that. Perhaps there are some that have come to enjoy the unique joys of living among mortals, the carnal joys that give them their names, but most would rather return to the Heavens and just manifest when they wanted those pelasures, sames as they did before. That being said, very few actually believe it's possible or worth effort to achieve. Plus, they've becoming such a backstabbing lot, jockying for power constantly, they'd never be able to trust each other long enough to work towards that goal. The gods are really only able to work together in the face of an external threat anymore, and even then they'll constantly seek ways to gain personal power in the process.

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Since madness, corruption and the bizarre are prevalent themes of the Urd universe, are there any monstrous races of men? Like an Exoteric mingling with women, resulting in twisted half-men half-creatures offsprings. Or perhaps a cruel Carnal Lord imposed himself on some of his subjects, or followers of a rival Lord with whom he waged war and that also resulted in half-men offsprings? If that happened, how did the offsprings look like and how were they treated, first by the mother, but then by the immediate family and finally the general public? And how would the Carnal Lord of that place where that parent lives react?

I've gone back and forth on if they exist. I don't want to make the setting too crowded, but on the other hand they're just too fitting.

If they exist (they probably will) some are from Exoteric mixing with humans - although more often than actual offspring in those cases, the cause is experimentation done by Exoterics and Outer Gods. Most Exoterics do not breed in traditional ways. There may also be some cases where Exoteric being plant larvae within humans that merge with their host - obviously not part of their normal breeding cycle, but still a thing that is done. Such infested humans would then be able to breed with unifested humans, producing the more traditional type of offspring. When the mother is human, they often still try to care for their children, hoping that the monster they gave birth to can be redeemed. W

Carnal Lords and Ladies taking human lovers is a thing that happens. In the ages before, when they were Gods, this produced Hercules type demi-gods. Now, the offspring of such a union are often deformed monsters, although some of these offspring retain human form or human intellect, but their reason is often as warped as their sibling's bodies. When the mother is a Carnal Lady, more often the child is treated more like a favored pet. Human fathers are only as involved as their Lady allows them to be, which is rarely much. Divine fathers either ignore their offspring, letting the human mother deal with it, although some decide to take the mother and child in and care for it.

For their part, these twisten demigods, called the Misbegotten, tend to react depending on how they were raised. Those raised by their human parents tend to spend much of thier childhood feared and shunned and as such become violent loners, while those raised by their divine parents are arrogant and dismissive of everyone who isn't their parent - divine parents are rarely kindly, so around them their children will become subservient to avoid provoking divine wrath.

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More on the gods; why can they build a zigguropolis with magic, but need soldiers and ministers to keep the peace in the dominion? Are there that many humans willing to risk the ire of the gods that it becomes necessary for these gods to have a military force aside from their divine powers? Does the god simply want to rest in his chambers and give in to leisure and entertainment, leaving the law into the hands of lesser beings, aka men? Don't the soldiers pose any threat to his power? I imagine some could wield both Ardor and Xhoa.

Building a Zigguropolis is a slow process, even for a god. They're often the result of years of pouring energy into it, although enough time as passed since the Eschaton War that most gods have built one by now. The soldiers are an interesting case - because gods are capable of covering a huge area with their powers, they're actually less vulnerable to large groups of standard soldiers than a few dedicated experts. A god can cover a huge area with divine fire, several acres, but it doesn't become more powerful if they limit the area, for example. While they don't want to just rest in their chamber, they also do view many things as being beneath them, which they also want mortals to handle.

There's one other major thing gods worry about - other gods trying to seize power from them. In such a conflict, a god with an army will always beat a god without, since the two Carnal Lords can cancel each other out.

Also, a god can't be everywhere at once. Human soldiers/law enforcement/clergy are needed to serve as their eyes and ears and, in places where they can't be, their hands. On top of that, in some cases the local Carnal Lord taking a direct hand in things is just overkill. A petty theft, or even a jealous lover murdering their rival, rarely merits divine intervention.

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Furthermore, how can a man invest his trust and respect in another man for his protection and keeping order when there's a god just beside who can do all that much better? Wouldn't trust be low in military forces made up of humans?

Most of those who serve do so because they understand the above, which makes them feel like they serve a vital role (and they often do). Plus, the rewards of service - it often means the best of everything, especially for officers - make it very appealing.


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The relation between a Carnal Lord, their dominion and a Bastion interests me greatly. What I find most interesting is that the Bastions even exist. Some Carnal Lords would have interventionist inclinations wouldn't they? Why haven't they exterminated Bastions to bring them under their influence? Or is there tributary system of some kind? Would the gods even allow that?

It's not unheard of for a Bastion to be crushed or dominated after some time by a nearby Carnal Lord, or for the Carnal Lord to demand tribute in exchange for "not slaughtering you for your defiance", but many Bastions have othe reasons to exist. They may be situatated in an area that no Carnal Lord wants, so they are "allowed" to keep it because the effort involved in destroying them is far outweighed by the value of taking them. For some, it's about being between to Carnal Lords, either literally or not - but if two gods in the area are giving each other sideways looks, they'd be unwilling to work together to destroy the Bastion, and neither will attack the Bastion for fear that will give an opening for their rival god to finally move in.

Some other Bastions are just too well defended to be worth the effort, carved into the side of a mountain or some such, where the gods can't risk an attack that they might, in theory, lose, since such a loss would make them seem incredibly weak. In other cases, the god likes having the Bastion as a buffer against nearby Exoterics or other natural threats - the Bastion existing means the God doesn't have to worry about such things, and it's therefore in the gods best interest to not even tax them, because doing so would theoretically weaken their buffer.

And, in some cases, the God has a very personal reason for allowing a Bastion to exist. Perhaps it's founder is the long distant descendent of a mortal the Carnal Lord was fond of, or maybe could trace their lineage back far enough to the Carnal Lord back before the fall. Or Perhaps it was awarded to a family line for serving the God well during the Eschaton War.

The final reason is because the Carnal Lord or Lady is just a sadist. He or She will send his powers at the Bastion from time to time, horrible storms or earthquakes or rain of fire or plagues, but never enough to utterly wipe them out - just enough to make them suffer. Such Bastions typically fall prey to outside threaths, although sometimes their tormentor will act to protect them to prevent their favorite toy from being broken.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 08:14:24 PM by Xathan » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2017, 09:22:08 PM »

The Lornrealm

Travelers do not easily enter the Lornrealm. Hidden behind Shelva's Lament, a fifty mile long Plateau that is honeycombed with a complex labyrinth of caverns, this peninsula is largely cut off from the rest of Urd. Within dwell the Dominions of three Carnal Lords and two Bastions that have managed to withstand or avoid deific wrath. Several groups of Exoterics haunt the region, pursuing their own goal, some under the direction of of The Gaping Maw, an Outer God. Another Outer God lurks deep in the waters off the coast, and a Cryptic Goddess, the Widow-in-Amber, stalks the woods to the south.

Laphesta, The Warmonger's Fist

The Dominion of the Carnal Lord Calzuz, a Dominion circled by a spiked wall of iron that dares intruders to attempt a breach. The realm is well tilled and farmed, the bodies of countless wars used to fertilize the fields. Towers of iron dot the landscape, each one molded into a giant eye of flesh that sits atop it - putting the entire realm literally under his gaze. Each one is an eye of Calzuz, the Blind General, a Carnal Lord with a taste for endless battle.

Calzuz is a tyrant who constantly provokes other powers in the region to ensure Laphesta is at war in a near perpetual basis. His subjects are forced to adhere to military discipline, from the lowliest vassal all the way up, and everyone from 16-20 serves a term in his service. His Zigguropolis is a classic floating citadel, except large chains dangle from it that end in blades the size of a horse - as a last resort, for defense, he will take direct control of those and begin stabbing his foes from above, although he prefers to take the field himself.

If you can tolerate the discipline, Laphesta is a fertile realm, and keeping his soldiers well fed means that the citizens rarely starve. If, however, you want to express yourself artistically - or you simply do not like your every move being watched by eyes that sit on top of towers - it's best to try and escape Laphesta - and hope that Calzuz does not sic his elite Zealots on you for desertion. Most civil disputes are settled in the gladiatorial arena, while the ultimate punishment in his Dominion - and the fate that awaits prisoners of war - is to have their will broken and turned into obedient simpletons known as Thralls.

Cathagen, the Fecund Garden

The Dominion of the Carnal Lady Darella, Cathagen's wall is a vast thorn forest that seeks to close in on those who would intrude. Within is one of the most beautiful realms of Urd, fields of beautiful flowers and trees that bear immense fruits. Of course, those flowers are attached to plants that grow a number of powerful narcotics that Darella uses to keep the populace placated - as well as trade to bring more of the continent into addiction to her.

Darella, the Mother of The Garden, enjoys control through corruption. The narcotic plants are the simplest way of keeping her people in thrall to her, although she is careful to keep the dosage low enough where they can still function. For those that seek to resist her more actively, they - when caught - are dragged into her Ziggurpolis, a massive tree that dominates the landscape and whose branches are hollow  to accommodate her servants. They are taken to the Roots, where they are implanted with strange seeds and fungi that slowly overtake their bodies, turning them into Terraphages that serve as her enforcers.

Citizens of Cathagen are allowed the illusion of freedom, but their behavior is evaluated on a regular basis and dosages are adjusted accordingly to ensure they are kept as placid as possible. Darella mislikes Xhoatech as being unnatural and only tolerates it in her realm as much as needed.

Shobbath, The Pit of Desire

The Dominion of a brother/sister pair of Carnal Lords, Ghathi and Ymona, Shobbath is kept in near-perpetual twilight as the two combine their power to ward their realm with a shield of black mist. Plants that grow within their Dominion take on a red and black hue to allow them to absorb heat the mist radiates, which makes entering their Dominion even more like entering another world than most.

Being relatively young, Gathi and Ymona have a love for Xhoa that most Carnal Lords don't share, and their fields are tilled by vast engines known as Harvesters. This had lead to a relatively idle populace, which they keep placated with drugs purchased from Cathagen and all manner of fleshy entertainment, from the violent to the sensual. Anything that you desire can be found within Shobbath.

Their Zigguropoli is divided firmly in twain, with each half reflecting the sibling's personality, and the two often squabble when no outside threat distracts them. They keep an eye on any birth within their realm, and children are often taken from their parents to be infused with a portion of their divine flesh, turning them into the Hollow Walkers, hooded beings that ensure none challenge their  masters.

Bronze-In-the-Rock

A bastion carved into a series of caves, Bronze-In-the-Rock - known informally as "The Bronze", has the titular metal sealing every entrance with barriers nearly a foot thick, and doors held shut by complex Xhoatech mechanisms. Xhoatech panels on top of the cave ferry sunlight in through mirrors spread throughout the bastion.

The Bronze is near impregnable, which is good, because none of the nearby Carnal Lords particularly like that it exists. They  survive in large part because they have never angered their neighbors enough into unity, and Cathagen and Shobboth often do buisness with them - the Bronze is Calzuz's favorite target, and both fear that if they allowed the Bronze to be destroyed, Calzuz would turn his full might against either of them.

The ferried sunlight allows for crops to be grown within the halls, leading to strange fields in caverns that are tended carefully. When riders leave, they always - in addition to their other duties - seek to gather fresh soil to be brought within.

The Bronze is ruled by the Council of Iron, seven men and women who, when on council business, always wear their custom Xhoa armor to hide who they are.

Lao-Shun, the Hidden Monastery
Located atop a mountain, above the tiered fields that sustain it, Lao-Shun is a bastion founded on the power of Ardor. It is ruled by the Wise, a woman whose mastery of Ardor has allowed her to halt her own aging. Little is known of the Hidden Monastery by outsiders, and all parties on the continent allow it to exist because the monks of Lao-Shun rent their services to any that can afford it - never in exchange for money directly, only goods. A place of peace and tranquility, the stories say of Lao-Shun.

In reality, Lao-Shun is a city of slaves, everyone owning at least one and owned by someone else, a vast network of servitude that extends all the way up to the Wise, the only one who is owned by nobody. Slaves have no rights in regard to their master, and as such the best one can hope for is to find a master who demands little and would impose less. Those mercenary groups that are sent out also hunt any who seek to escape the web of ownership that governs this bastion.

Threats

The Xenolim

A reclusive group of Exoterics, the Xenolim reside deep within the woods of the Lornrealm. They are large, tentacled beasts with broad heads that flit about the sky on gossamer wings. They kidnap humans randomly, seemingly with no rhyme or reason how they choose their victims. Once abducted, the human's brain is removed and placed in twisted golems formed from resin call Nihilohm. A single Nihilohm may be powered by the still-living brains of a dozen men and women, and always follow the alien purpose of the Xenolim, most frequently digging at ruins across the Lornrealm. The Xenolim are considered a threat by every power of the realm, but even the disciplined armies of Calzuz, or the addled warriors that fight for Darella, are not immune to breaking in terror in the face of these monsters.

The Gaping Maw

An Outer God, the Gaping Maw lives up to its name - embedded in the ground, what shows of the Gaping Maw is its massive mouth, a four-hinged trap nearly twenty feet long, and dozens of hands that thrust from the ground around it, each one long and spindly but curiously and horribly human. It commands small groups of Exoterics, the Starbourne, which look like four armed, androgynous humans with a blood red multi faceted gem where their faces would be. The Starbourne never speak, and carry out the Gaping Maw's strange desires - sometimes brutally killing someone and leaving, other times carrying people away to an unknown fate, and still others arranging stones in strange patterns.

Those strange patterns, unknown to the rest of the Lornrealm, are attempts to contact an Outer God that still await beyond the stars. The Gaping Maw is actually a barely sensible part of a horrible whole, and it wants to be reunited with its full self.  

The Veiled Widow

A Cryptic God, the Veiled Widow roams the land, appearing most often as a woman wrapped in yellow cloth from head to toe. Her forms shifts constantly - instead of moving normally, she shimmers in and out of reality, her form changing between shimmers. She only interacts with travelers in small groups, no more than ten. In some cases she simply sings to them, and as long as they ignore her, she allows them to passed unmolested. In other cases, however, she turns hostile even if ignored, haunting the group until they are in a town or, more likely, dead.

In rare other cases, she tears out their eyes - sometimes leaving them alive, and other times replacing the eyes with yellow cloth sewn over the gaping sockets. Those Ragdolls will appear, sometimes weeks later, and go on killing sprees until they are put down - but studying the bodies have shown wounds they are doing something between their death and reappearance. Thus far no one has been able to uncover her motives, although the Carnal Lords would dearly like to know.

People who study reports of her seem to think she's in some kind of shadow war with the Gaping Maw, and Starborne have been found at times flayed, their skin replaced with yellow cloth hurriedly stitched together.


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