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Author Topic: Death from the Depths  (Read 9322 times)
Better to roll in Hell....
Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2009, 11:44:29 AM »

 830,000-1.5 million; 22 islands x 20,000 per island = 440,000-1.5 million (any less than 5 million however, though, should be easily overwhelmed by hundreds of millions of demons); dominions adrift (~200,000)[/quote

But considering the forces they are arrayed against I don't think that the losing side here can be any worse off than a 1:10 or 1:15 ratio or else they should just get flattened immediately- especially considering how the demons' magic is more powerful (it seems to be at least- despite the demons' lack of intelligence.)
only[/i] thing going for the demonlings is numbers.  It may take a hundred or so of the weakest fae soldiers to kill an ifrit (though experienced officers/explorers/PCs could probably do it in a group of about ten starting around level 6-ish given exceptional tactics), but the weakest fae soldier can take a dozen or so demonlings before falling.  The ability of the fae to gang up on the demon lords after taking out the demonlings is what's let them survive thus far; the ability of the demonlings to take out a handful of soldiers every battle is what's causing their numbers to dwindle.

Quote

Requests for next?
1. Dwarven Runic magic (as mentioned previously)
2. Historical Magic Items?
3. Still pushing for Demonic factions (but I understand you said that was open to GM preference- but still I don't see how the fae could still survive given all that they have been through without some serious problems with the demons).[/quote]4. More on the Underground. (A tale of a goblin raid on the underground?)
5. Adventuring Party ideas. [/quote]6. Famous personalities?/philosophies of battle? a list of the already mentioned differences of opinions on the fae's side.[/quote]You may also like Samurai Cat Goes to Hell- Will there be any anthropomorphic creatures in this world... I have the image of controlling a cat-character (and I never play animal characters... but this seems appropriate for the setting) in samurai garb wading into the depths of hell and striking down thousands of demonlings with a holy sword.

http://www.amazon.com/Samurai-Goes-Hell-Mark-Rogers/dp/0312866429
Amazon Key Phrases: Key Phrases: transport devil, angel gun, transport demon, Baby Face, Ubersaurus Rex, Route One (more...)
??? Transport Demon... This really says it all about the story.
[/quote]after[/i] Runelords....

2) I've deliberately left vague the other races of fae that survived beyond those given here, and tried to leave the nature spirits more mysterious than the air and water ones; if you want to have an anthropomorphic animal fae, go right ahead.  They probably won't be a major part of the setting, but they most likely exist somewhere, and I had been meaning to mention one or two in the IC parts in future posts.
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Call me Dice--that's the way I roll.
Current setting: Death from the Depths; Unfinished Setting I'll Probably Get Back To At Some Point: The Living World of Glaesra
Warning: This poster has not maxed out ranks in Knowledge (What the Hell I'm Talking About).

Better to roll in Hell....
Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2009, 12:11:02 PM »

The Fae at War
[/b]

Best of the Best

After two hours of packing gear, double-checking mission goals, and rehearsing tactics, the four were finally ready to go.  This team had fought together for a score of years--Sean Fhunduir, human warrior extraordinaire and only survivor of the Massacre of Fasach Desert; Croi "Pyro" Scath, powerful goblin warlock and tutor of the arcane arts; Ian Dioltas, ancient pech priest and the first pech to successfully extract fae from the Besieged; and Bris Farraige, selkie shapeshifter without peer and retired head of the War Council of Odheas City.  The regiment of satyrs traveling with them had grumbled about "babysitting a bunch of washed-up [expletive]s," but their tune changed faster than a selkie on a rampage when they found out exactly how competent this quartet was.  Now, they waited politely for the four to enter the cavern (well, as politely as sober fauns ever do, anyway) and hesitantly asked questions about their assignment.

"Sorry, you know we can't tell you anything," Sean informed them regretfully.  The priest looked up from his haversack and asked, "What do you mean we can't--" before Croi stepped on his foot.  "We'll never get them to shut up if we start," he hissed.  The priest ignored him and turned to the satyrs.  "You will be distracting a legion of demonlings, thirtyscore strong, while we perform our mission below."  The satyrs began to grumble; why can't we do something useful? they asked, and why do you get all the fun?  "We," the priest continued, "will be searching out the titans who created these demonlings and killing them."  The satyrs stopped grumbling instantly; one raised his hand, after some encouragement from his fellows.  "How many titans, did you say?"  Bris rolled her eyes: "He didn't say, but there are at least three."  After some solemn debate, the satyrs pushed another of their number forward, who proclaimed, "Since you are all specialists, we think you should be the ones to kill the titans, while we mop up the demonlings."  The quartet concealed smiles, and the pech patted the satyr on the knee.  "I'm certainly glad we have your approval."

The nature of their enemy forces the fae to fight two wars.  One war pits the rank-and-file armies of the fae against the inconceivably massive swarms of demonlings; the other pits those fae who survived the armies into service killing demon lords, retrieving artifacts, performing reconnaissance, and otherwise doing what massive numbers and beginner's luck can't.  It is these brave souls upon whom the hope of the fae races rests, and the demon lords have learned to be fearful when after slaughtering a hundred fae they see a handful more step out of hiding.

Weapons and Tools
[/b]

Descent

The party squeezed through the opening of the cave and found themselves in an open area devoid of any demonlings...so far as they could see, at least, given that the party was in complete darkness.  There was a rustling sound and a whispered prayer to the spirits of the sun and fields, and a flower on the priest's tunic began to glow.  Ian hopped up on Croi's shoulders and the two lead the way deeper into the cavern.  They soon came to a dead end, and everyone looked to the human.  "Excellent," Sean muttered as he examined the wall.  "This will work nicely."  He took a small leaf out of his pack and held it out, its stem just meeting the wall, while he concentrated.  After a few moments, roots began to grow with blinding speed all through the wall and deep into the stone, covering a two-foot-by-four foot area in front of them.  They waited about a minute as the roots thickened, causing the wall to crumble, and a covering of leaves grew over the door; the wall rumbled ever so slightly as the roots continued undermining the wall.

When the rumbling subsided, a small mushroom grew out of the leaf cover about where a doorknob would be on a door about the same size as the leaf cover.  Croi put his ear to the door, listened for a moment, and nodded.  The selkie grabbed the mushroom and twisted; the barrier of leaves opened silently to reveal a passageway through the stone with a small glimmer of light at the end, from the pech's glowing flower illuminating another living barrier at the other end.  As they moved to close the door, the human held up two feathers, whispering to one "General Gnath" and to the other "Insertion successful.  We're in and undetected."  He connected the feathers to a sprig of holly, where they began to beat like wings and flew out of the cave to deliver their message.  "All right, folks," he said as the leafy door shut, "let's get this over with."

The Daoine (particularly the dwarves) have developed many enchanted items to help them combat the demons, and the Oga countless more.  A selection of their most well-known inventions are given here.

Dawnlily
This small gold and white flower absorbs sunlight every day at dawn; once it has absorbed this sunlight, it can release it at a word, brightening the area as natural daylight for up to 10 minutes per day or as a torch for up to one hour per day (the duration need not be continuous).  The dawnlily may also be used to produce a sunlight or sunbeam effect; 2 minutes' worth of stored daylight is consumed each time this function is used.

Spiritfletched Bow
This +3 distance elemental-bane longbow appears to be a set of wings taken from a freakishly large bird, usually a raven.  As a swift action, before the wielder fires an arrow, he can pluck a single feather from the bow and touch the quill to the arrow; the feather will adhere to the arrow in place of one of the existing fletchings.  If the arrow hits a non-fae living creature, it will shatter into a partially-real copy of the bird whose feathers were used in the creation of the bow with a flash of light; this topaz-colored phantom will irritate its target, dealing 1d4 damage each round and imposing a -1 penalty to skill checks, AC, and Reflex saves (multiple birds stack).  Each bird has an AC of 20, a fly speed of 50 feet (good), and 1 hit point, and disappears if the creature it is attacking dies or if the creature moves more than 20 feet away from it.  Each bow regrows plucked feathers in the light of the moon; if more than 7 feathers are plucked before the bow has a chance to regenerate them, the bow loses its enhancement bonus and bane property until all of the feathers are regrown, and up to 20 feathers may be plucked before it loses all magical qualities until exposed to moonlight.

Door into the Mound
This item appears to be a simple oak leaf, but it hides a great potential.  When a creature presses it to unworked earth or stone and concentrates for 2 rounds, the leaf forms roots that burrow through the earth and create a tunnel to the next open space they find.  The tunnel takes one round to burrow through 30 feet of earth or stone; once the process is started, it cannot be stopped until an open space is reached.  When the tunnel is completed, a door composed of leaves forms on each end, with a mushroom for a doorknob.  The doors can only be opened from the direction from which the tunnel was formed, and they close on their own if unattended, but if the doors are held open creatures can pass through in either direction.  Doors into the Mound come in 2ft x 4ft tunnel and 4ft x 6ft tunnel varieties.

Silversheen
A vial of silversheen holds up to three doses of the substance.  A single dose is enough to coat a single outfit of clothing, suit of armor, or tower shield in silversheen, or two tunics or smaller shields.  When a creature is wearing silversheen clothing or armor or using a silversheen shield for cover, it takes on a mirrorlike shine; all attackers who successfully strike the creature must make a Reflex save or be blinded for 1 minute.  In addition, the creature gains the damage reduction of any creatures within 30 feet (which overlap as normal) and can overcome their damage reduction automatically--for instance, an elf in silversheen breastplate fighting a glass demon with DR 10/bludgeoning and an ifrit with DR 15/good, he would gain DR 15 against the glass demon (since the ifrit overcomes his own DR), he gains DR 10 against the ifrit, and he can overcome both of their DR.  Silversheen wears off 1d8 minutes after application.

Whisper Aloft
This item comes in three parts: a blue feather, a yellow feather, and a sprig of holly.  A creature can send a message to any other creature, regardless of distance, by speaking the creature's name into the yellow feather and a message of 30 words or fewer into the blue feather, then touching both to the holly leaf.  When it does so, the feathers adhere to the holly leaf and the contraption begins flying toward the target of the message, covering 1 mile each minute.  When the whisper aloft reaches its destination, the holly sprig grows a berry; if the intended recipient plucks and eats the berry, he hears the message in the sender's voice and receives a mental image of the item's surroundings at the time the message was sent; the holly grows another berry after each one is plucked, to allow a message to be reviewed multiple times.  If a creature other than the intended recipient eats the berry, it takes 1 Con damage from the berry's poison and does not hear or see the message.  Other creatures can experience the message if the recipient places a berry into their mouths willingly, without coercion.  If the recipient cannot be reached after 1 day (if it is dead or in a sealed room, for instance), the whisper aloft immolates itself in emerald fire.

Missions and Heroes
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Ambush!

As the selkie stepped out of the tunnel, a trio of cackling sludge demons dropped on her from above, their caustic, slimy skin searing her flesh.  With a cry of anger, she drew on her druidic powers and became a cave bear, surprising them and causing them to lose their grip.  As they fell off her coat, she saw three large figures approaching from behind a nearby column.  "We've been made!" she growled at her allies.  "Damn stealth, our targets are here, repeat, targets are here!  Go go go!"  The warlock needed no encouragement; he quickly placed the pech on the group and dove into the clearing; three titans emerged from the gloom to find their demonling servants on fire and being crushed by glowing fists.  Angered, they charged at the exposed goblin and selkie...only to have both vanish from sight while the human sliced one's legs out from under it.

The toppled titan, one of sand, was hardly inconvenienced, but it was delayed long enough for the pech to leap on top of it and send its body flying to the four corners of the cavern with a miniature whirlwind.  The remaining two titans were mauled from behind by the selkie, now visible and visibly enraged, and the other three fae worked together to quickly strike them down.  "That was too easy," the goblin murmured to the selkie after the last titan fell.  "Those were the ones we came to kill?"  The selkie shook her head, now in her natural form.  "No," she replied morosely, "the ones we were sent after didn't have any sand or shadow titans among them."  The human swore and the pech looked distressed; the selkie sighed.  "Come on, people, let's keep moving and finish this."

The fae of today are much better prepared than the fae of millennia ago; now, explorers and small groups of soldiers can infiltrate the world below the earth for very short periods of time and escape without being discovered, where only centuries ago the demons would have surprised and killed them.  Nevertheless, the rank-and-file troops do not have anywhere near the expertise needed to see these missions through.  Taking out demon lords underground, extracting fae from the Besieged, laying a beachhead for further invasion...these tasks can only be entrusted to the elite among the fae.

Out of Character

Any plot you can run in a basic D&D game can be done fairly well on Ifrean.  The usual lich is raising tons of undead for world domination?  Here, a lilith is making a particular effort to improve its undead and is sending them along with demonlings to test them against the fae.  A secret group of shapechangers is infiltrating society?  Here, a small group of ifrits has learned how to take on the form of some of the fae, and are trying to fit into fae society so they can assassinate the Daoine and learn the fae's plans.  And so on and so forth--this isn't to say that campaigns in Ifrean should use the same old cliche plots, but rather that PCs don't have to play the elite strike force of the fae armies if they don't want to deal with chain of command, missions-of-the-week, and such.

Classes
The following classes exist in the setting but are only available to members of certain races (as given in the race descriptions above), with any changes noted:
    * Warblade (elf; has access to the Setting Sun discipline)
    * Spirit Shaman (dryad; spirit abilities work against all undead and against "insubstantial" demons
[fire, shadow, etc. demonlings])
* Wu Jen (dwarf; taboos are dropped and free item creation feats are gained, as the artificer progression)
* Druid (selkie; either the normal druid or a combined shapeshift + aspect of nature variant, sans animal companion in both cases)
* Crusader (pech; has access to the Iron Heart discipline)
* Dragon Shaman (satyr; reflavored to a fae theme, and gains features based on the seasons rather than dragon types)
* Favored Soul (sylph; gains spells one level earlier, as a cleric, and gains one domain based on the spirit venerated)
* Warlock (goblin; gains eldritch glaive, brimstone blast, devil's sight, and darkness free at 5th level)
* Scout (undine; features and base stats as if a gestalt scout//ninja)[/list]

Aside from the classes unique to individual races of fae, there are several base classes to which all have access, with any changes noted:
    * Beguiler (gains spells one level earlier, as a wizard)
    * Sorcerer (gains spells one level earlier, as a wizard)
    * Warrior (new class, essentially a multi-gestalt barbarian//monk//ranger in terms of class features and stats)
    * Swordsage (loses Desert Wind
[or subs it for a homebrew nature-y discipline], reflavors Shadow Hand [more illusion, less darkness])
* Bard (has all rogue class features except sneak attack, in addition to its normal features; loses spellcasting)
* Duskblade (has Quick Cast triple the number of times per day)
* Shugenja (can still cast spells from the opposed school, and gains all four elemental domains)
* Priest (new class, essentially a spontaneous-casting cloistered cleric; loses turn undead, gains a domain every 4th level)[/list]


Artifacts and Relics
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Inspiration

As the selkie and pech began to trudge off in annoyance, the human held out a hand.  "Hold on, folks; we might not have to take out those titans alone."  The pech and goblin glanced at each other in confusion; the selkie rolled her eyes.  "What, you happen to have a legion of Oga hiding up your sleeves?"  The human chuckled; "No," he said, "but I did work out a little something with the general ahead of time."  He knelt down and cleared a wide patch on the sandy floor of all debris, then traced a circle a few yards in diameter; that finished, he took out a pouch of seeds and began sprinkling them in the groove.  The others looked on with dawning comprehension, but still a little confused.  "Sean, why are you drawing a fairy ring?  We're not supposed to leave until the titans are dead!" asked the goblin.  The human smiled enigmatically, declining to explain as he finished filling the circle with seeds and pricked his finger to let some blood drip onto the circle as well.  As soon as the drop of blood touched the circle, the circle was transformed from a seed-covered circle in the sand into a rune-inscribed ring of pulsing turquoise flames.  Goblins wielding spears and wands began spilling out of the opening and forming columns near the wall.  A few minutes later, the full twoscore of goblins was in the cave.  The others didn't seem all too impressed.  "Great job; now we'll have to get them to the titans as well," the warlock spat, "and they'll probably let them know we're coming hours in advance."  The human smiled that irritating smile again.  "I figured it would be nicer if we just knocked; I'm sure the titans will let us in."  In the ensuing pause, the pech's whispered I don't think he's cracked.... was the only sound to be heard.  The human walked around behind the circle, putting it between himself and the wall, and motioned for the others to move likewise.  "You remember the Stormhammer of the Moon we retrieved from the mounds a few years ago?"

The selkie rolled her eyes yet again and asked condescendingly, "And how were you proposing to use it, given that it can only affect things you can see, without barriers in the way?  Line of effect is one of the fundamental rules of magic!  It's far too large and heavy to fit through the ring!"  The human laughed and gestured grandiosely at the ring and proclaimed, "I know secrets of the stormhammer and rings that you can only dream of!  (Mostly because I've spent some time in the archives.)  And thus, I give you...line of effect!"  The next few moments were filled with the absolute silence of sudden comprehension and admiration, before a large beam of lightning leaped out of the ring--a large beam of lightning in the same sense that a sequoia is a large twig--and a half-mile stretch of solid rock was vaporized in an instant.  In the following silence (this time one of awe) the human muttered "Wish it could do that more often than once a month.  Still, we were establishing a permanent base here anyway..." He turned to the dumbstruck goblin troops and gestured forward.  "We've already knocked; it would be rude not to come in," he said in a mock-disapproving tone, then placed his palm against the stone behind him and gave an exaggerated bow.  "Allow me to hold the door, madam," he said to the selkie.  "After you."  Seeing a titan stick its head out into the ersatz tunnel, the selkie's hesitance disappeared, and with a shout she lead the other forty-three fae in a charge.

As innovative as modern fae may be, there are still many mysteries of magic beyond their ken, whether because none now alive have the sheer magical talent or power to create them or because many of the artifacts of the past rely on magics the fae forsook when making their pact with the air and water spirits.  Relics of the ancient Aos Si are scattered across the face of the world; many were destroyed in the first days after the demonic invasion when those studying the artifacts were caught off guard and killed, leaving them in the hands of the demons who promptly destroyed them, but many items of power yet survive.  These artifacts are gradually discovered in ones and twos, and the fae leaders put this steady trickle of powerful magic to work for them, studying as best they can in the hopes that one day they will gain enough new-found knowledge to best the demons once and for all.

The Stormhammer of the Moon
This Large +6 sonic-blast lightning-blast warhammer is the creation of an ancient Aos Si of the winter courts whose power drew from the moon; when wielded by her, the stormhammer could obliterate entire armies, sending bolt after bolt of lighting into their ranks and flattening them with clap after clap of thunder.  However, without her power (or that of another Aos Si) the stormhammer cannot draw freely on the moon's power to constantly power it, instead only drawing enough power at the height of a full moon, and only enough for one use at that.  When the artifact is charged, the wielder may cause one of three effects to occur, originating from the warhammer:
    * He can call a bolt of lightning up to 15 feet wide, up to 15 feet high, and up to 3/4 of a mile long.  The bolt deals 20d6 electricity damage to all in the area (no save), ignoring all hardness, resistance, and immunity; all who take damage from it are affected by a
destruction spell (CL 25, DC 36).
* He can invoke a clap of thunder that permanently deafens all enemies within 1 mile (no save), knocks them prone (Reflex negates, DC 36), and moves them back out of the area as if using the Explosive Spell feat.
* He can surround an area of up to 5 square miles with a barrier of unbelievably strong winds; any creature or object attempting to cross the barrier must make a DC 36 Reflex save, with success meaning it passes through, taking only 10d6 sonic and bludgeoning damage, and failure meaning it is ripped to shreds and utterly destroyed.  The barrier lasts until the next full moon or until another such barrier is created, whichever comes first.[/list]
The stormhammer weighs upwards of 10,000 pounds as is forged of pure adamantine, so it is impractical to move; it is currently in the care of General Gnath of Odheas City, and he much prefers to use it as a deterrent to the demons rather than using it directly. He has in the past used it on behalf of some fae who have done him a massive favor, though, but only uses it if the full moon occurs in the next couple of days (so as to not be without its power too long).

The Mantle of the Everlasting Forest
The appearance of this tiny amulet, carved in the shape of a simple oak leaf, belies its great power.  When donned, the amulet transforms itself into the flowing cape of brilliant green leaves from whence comes its name.  It possesses four powers:
    * First, the bearer gains the benefits of the wood elemental template as long as the mantle is worn.
    * Second, the bearer can cast
quickened awaken, extended barkskin, enlarged tree stride, and widened entangle as supernatural abilities at will, CL 30.
* Third, with a minute of concentration the bearer can plant the mantle in the ground (in its oak leaf amulet state) and cause it to grow into a Colossal treant, advanced to maximum HD; the treant can remain for up to 3 days before it turns back into the mantle, and the ability may be used once per week.  If the treant is killed before being dismissed, it shatters into difficult terrain and the amulet teleports to the last creature to have worn it in its mantle form.
* Finally, the bearer can conjure a wall of thorns of ten times the normal area; the wall is immune to fire, heals any destroyed 5-foot sections after 1 minute, and deals an additional 5d6 divine damage to any undead who touch the wall.  The wall seems to flow from the mantle when it is growing, and the mantle is merged with it until the wearer retrieves it (which dispels the wall).[/list]
This artifact is currently being used to provide a barrier around one city in the Besieged after they were dealt a crushing defeat and were almost overrun, so is not being used offensively at the moment, but it is hoped that the city can restore its defenses to full effectiveness within the next year in order to free up the amulet to create its massive treants on the front lines.

Fairy Rings
The system of the fairy rings is an oddity among the artifacts, in that modern fae can actually create and use the rings just as the Aos Si did; they simply don't understand how it works.  With a minute of effort, a fae can create a circle in earth or stone of any size up to 10 yards in diameter, fill it with water or seeds or another natural substance--being careful not to break the circle, of course--and seal it with a drop of blood (which deals 1 Con damage as the ring draws power from the creator).  At that point any creature can enter the ring and use it to travel to any other ring in existence...but there are some catches.  First, a creature can't simply travel to any ring it chooses; there are around 120 rings at any give time, with fae creating them and demons breaking them at about the same rate, and since all of the rings occupy the same metaphysical space the creature has an equal chance of stepping out of any one of them.  The DM rolls 1d% to determine the destination and then a creature wishing to use the rings makes a Concentration check, the creature being able to adjust the result of the d% roll by 1/3 of his check result to try to link to the desired destination--the creature does not know whether the desired destination is outside within the bounds of adjustment; if it is, the ring is linked there, and if it isn't it is linked to the d% result.  Traveling to another ring at random is of course possible, though unusual.  The two rings stay linked for as long as the creature concentrates (forming a "singly-linked" ring if it alone concentrates and a "doubly-linked" pair of rings if a creature at the other ring does the same), so he can try to hold it open for others to use, but he takes 1d6 damage each round he concentrates as the rings draw on his life force to use as an anchor.  Line of sight may be drawn from one ring to another if it is singly-stabilized (but only from the stabilized to the unstabilized ring, not the reverse) and line of effect may be drawn in both directions through a doubly-linked pair of rings.

Second, the rings don't exactly travel through normal space, instead traveling through a mind-warping void that can easily cause weak-willed creatures to lose sight of their destination and perish.  Any creature traveling through the rings must make a DC 15 Will save if traveling through an unstable ring (DC 10 if through a singly-linked ring or DC 5 if through a doubly-linked one) or lose control and be lost to the void forever; if a creature's base Will save modifier is greater than the DC, it doesn't need to roll, as his mind is strong enough to not lose its sense of self on a critical failure.  This danger makes use of the rings an escape of last resort for most exploration parties (because even if you have an ally stabilizing the ring at your destination, until you are very high level with a base Will save modifier of +11 you either risk annihilation 5% of the time or need to leave someone behind to stabilize the ring for the rest); normal troops are of sufficiently low level that even a doubly-stable pair of rings might still cause them to critically fail of the time, so grunts are never sent through a singly- or un-linked ring and only sent through a doubly-linked pair when absolutely necessary.

Movers and Shakers
[/b]

Pomp and Circumstance

Sean, Ian, Croi, and Bris stood upon a dais while General Gnath, a sylph of no small renown, spoke grandly about their accomplishments.  Not only had they killed the three titans they came to kill and the three who ambushed them, they managed to kill five ifrits and seventy-eight demonlings of ash, silt, and magma.  It was a near thing, and Croi had been killed in battle and needed to be resurrected, but they had surprised the ifrits before they could communicate to their armies and thereby guaranteed that the fae would be able to establish a foothold in those caverns and remain undiscovered for at least a month and a half.

As Gnath left the podium and a much-less-accomplished fae prattled--er, declaimed--about the glory of their accomplishments, their heroic mettle, et cetera et cetera et cetera, Bris looked to the back of the room and found another set of selkie eyes meeting her own.  She gasped slightly--that was Laoch Aosta, a survivor from the original demon attacks and a heroine in her own right--and suddenly noticed more famous faces in the crows.  Geal "the Rockslayer" Faobhar, human warrior-mage who had struck down the world's most powerful titan singlehandedly; Thios Sliabh, dwarf rune magus and inventor of the skyship and its aerial bombardment tactics; Cuir Gabhar, savior of the city of Three Rivers Pass...the thought that these living legends were all here watching her receive her accolades made her think that maybe, just maybe, things were looking up.


There are many living legends among the fae--"living legends" being a somewhat redundant term when most of them will see more than eight centuries--that inspire new generations of heroes to chip away at the demons' monolithic evil and drive them back into the earth.  The vast majority of the fae soldiers (i.e. fauns) are fairly inexperienced (i.e. level 1 or 2) but if they manage to survive a few demonling attacks, they tend to rise in power and experience quickly due to the constant conflict.  Some of the more well-known are briefly detailed here.

General Gnath
General Saighdiuir Gnath is a sylph just reaching his first century (duskblade 9) who distinguished himself early on for his masterful grasp of strategy and tactics and several decisive victories over the demons.  He has commanded several groups of explorers and commandos at all times since he reached adulthood at 7 years of age, and he is very highly regarded among most of the older strike teams for his firm hand and brilliant decisions in combat.

Laoch Aosta
Laoch is a rather laid-back veteran of many battles (selkie druid 8/priest of Boreas 3) who still leads the occasional raid even as she begins to enter her twilight years.  Her knowledge of liliths is unmatched outside of scholars of the demons, as she has personally slain 4 singlehandedly, and she is often tapped to deal with undead assaults.

Geal "the Rockslayer" Faobhar
Geal is a brave and somewhat foolhardy goblin (sorcerer 4/swordsage 1/jade phoenix mage 6) who earned the title of Rockslayer after a day-long combat against the fearsome titan Kokalaovos (16 HD half-fiend elder earth elemental) that was part pitched battle and part hide-and-find match.  He's mostly retired now, and deals with logistics in the Dominions Adrift.

Thios Sliabh
This old, curmudgeonly dwarf (wu jen 3/geometer 5/loremaster 1) has never seen combat but is one of the finest "armchair generals" in the Hundredfold Dominion.  He was the first to conceive of turning the remnants of the centaur fleets into airships and devised the standard airship tactics which are still taught today without a single alteration five centuries after their invention.

Cuir Gabhar
One of the few satyrs to rise above mediocrity, Cuir (dragon shaman 2/warrior 13) received little notice from his superiors in the army until he managed to hold off a horde of sixscore chalk and limestone demonlings by himself to allow the residents of the city near the Three Rivers Pass copper mine (one of two mines on land still functional at that time; neither remains today) to send for help--he formed the fairy ring to let the reinforcements arrive by drawing it of chalk from the demonling whose skull he crushed with his bare hands.
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2009, 04:07:15 PM »

Spectacular opener. I'm going to try and give this a thorough read through to get more to reply about soon.
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2009, 05:25:02 PM »

I've only really read the opener (some time ago, I just skimmed it this time) and a few chosen entries in the races/monsters section.  I'm drawn more toward the mentions of various demons, how they're composed of earthen elements: I don't think we get enough of that in fantasy.
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« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2009, 06:09:28 PM »

SilvercatMoonpaw

I've only really read the opener (some time ago, I just skimmed it this time) and a few chosen entries in the races/monsters section.
I'm drawn more toward the mentions of various demons, how they're composed of earthen elements: I don't think we get enough of that in fantasy.[/quote]

That was one of my motivations, yes; I figured, "Hell is always 'down there' in real-world religions, why not have them show up not by coming through a portal or whatever but just by digging their way out?"
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« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2009, 12:06:25 PM »

The new numbers are much more realistic. smile
The story about the mission is very well done.
Thank you again for the explanation about the demonlings

The fairy rings are annoyingly useful... but the "lost to the void" effect might be a bit too powerful.

I almost feel bad to ask this, considering how rapidly you delivered on the last request, but 1 more request: the topic of the fortnight is "Festivals"... what sort of somber festivals do the fey now celebrate- and can they celebrate?
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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2009, 08:35:59 PM »

Light Dragon

The story about the mission is very well done.
Thank you again for the explanation about the demonlings
The fairy rings are annoyingly useful... but the "lost to the void" effect might be a bit too powerful.[/quote]will[/i]), it provides an opportunity for sneaky missions without having to get through a bazillion demons, and otherwise facilitates the plot.  I don't really think long-range teleportation is really that powerful as long as it's point-to-point rather than arbitrary--one does not simply pop into Ifrean, someone has to get there first to make a ring, and since the rings can be destroyed simply by screwing up the circle, it's an unpredictable system (read: if the DM doesn't want you somewhere, the circle was broken. ;))

You know, I was just thinking about how the fairy rings are like Stargates (point-to-point, can be sealed off) and noticed the mission party is eerily similar to SG-1: The nominally-in-charge human soldier who's too smart(-mouthed) for his own good, the small, somewhat timid but smart support character, the angry/driven female with something to prove, and a token member of the enemy who's switched sides and uses their power against them...all lead by a general back in HQ to whom they send a message to open the gate/ring on the other end.  Apparently my subconscious is telling me I need to watch more Stargate.

Quote

I almost feel bad to ask this, considering how rapidly you delivered on the last request, but 1 more request: the topic of the fortnight is "Festivals"... what sort of somber festivals do the fey now celebrate- and can they celebrate?
somehow[/i] bring myself to write more fluff...

As soon as I finish up the "important people" portion from your last request, I was actually planning to go into timekeeping and history/traditions, so covering the festivals won't require any extra effort.
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« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2009, 10:47:38 AM »

Pair o' Dice Lost



Essentially, the void does two things: One, it makes using the rings risky, since there's always the chance of a crit fail, and two, it ensures that PCs are really the only ones who'll use them.  It provides a nice little "get out of jail free" card when things go south (and they will), it provides an opportunity for sneaky missions without having to get through a bazillion demons, and otherwise facilitates the plot.
 I don't really think long-range teleportation is really that powerful as long as it's point-to-point rather than arbitrary--one does not simply pop into Ifrean, someone has to get there first to make a ring, and since the rings can be destroyed simply by screwing up the circle, it's an unpredictable system (read: if the DM doesn't want you somewhere, the circle was broken. ;))[/quote] Oh, i agree with that- that's why I said they were "annoyingly useful" they only sort of worked.


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« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2009, 12:22:06 PM »

Light Dragon

It just seemed to be a little too likely to fail- and instant character death is often a problem to resolve at a gaming table- it's not fun for the players and it seems arbitrary. Even if the players assumed the risk. It's a tricky situation.
teleport[/i] if you have a goblin sorcerer in the party, so the two coincide.  By 16th level or so, a singly-linked ring is safe, and you could have greater teleport by this point.  Essentially, it lets any PC teleport at will to certain points at the same time they could teleport anywhere with limited uses.
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« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2009, 09:16:26 PM »

I've posted the rune magic writeup here; take a look.
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« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2009, 09:59:55 AM »

History of the World, Part 1
[/color][/b]

In Character

"It has been noted by many distinguished scholars that the study of history is one of the few advantages we Daoine possess that the demons cannot possibly match.  We have lifespans of several millennia, with elves such as myself having no upper bound on our lifespans, and are thereby able to use the sum total of our knowledge at all times; the demons are remade on the order of months or years, and have no perspective on the past.  This is why we send our armies to kill the older demon lords--every time we kill a single one of them we set their strategies back by years, whereas all but the youngest of elves remembers every conflict stretching back to the Day of Seclusion when the Aos Si bid their final farewell."

--Muin Caislean, elf scholar, aged 78,432 years

The following is a timeline of major events in Ifrean history; times are measured from the Day of Seclusion and are rounded off to two significant figures.  Significant years or time periods are referred to as "Days" if centuries in length, "Summers" if millennia in length, and "Aeons" otherwise.
-100,000: Day of the Elf Elves are formed by the Aos Si.
-98,000: Day of the Pixie Pixies are formed by the Aos Si.
-92,000: Day of the Dwarf Dwarves are formed by the Aos Si.
-85,000: Day of the Gnome Gnomes are formed by the Aos Si.
-79,000: Day of the Selkie Selkies are formed by the Aos Si.
-74,000: Day of the Centaur Centaurs are formed by the Aos Si.
-71,000: Day of Revelations The greater spirits (who would later become the Aon Ag Dulra) reveal themselves to the Daoine and the Aos Si; whether they first gained sentience around this time or had simply been hiding is unknown.
-62,000 to -60,000: Summer of the Scale Several reptilian Daoine are formed by the Aos Si, including kobolds and drakes.
-42,000 to -21,000: Aeon of Fulfillment The rest of the Daoine are formed by the Aos Si.
-11,000: Day of Ascension The Aos Si retreat from the underground to join their children on the surface.
-8,000 to -800: Summer of Solitude The Aos Si retreat from active involvement with the Daoine, keeping mostly to themselves.
0: Day of Seclusion The Aos Si travel to the Otherworld and begin sealing it for reasons unknown.
119: Day of Omens The Daoine detect the first signs of demonic incursion.
122: Day of Desolation The demons emerge from the core.
141: Day of Sorrow The surface finally becomes too dangerous to inhabit; the Daoine retreat to the Dominions.
150: Day of Deliverance The Daoine make an alliance with the spirits to protect their Dominions from invasion.
153: Day of Renewal The Daoine share the secrets of creation with the spirits, and the Oga are formed.
155: Day of Loss The Aos Si finish sealing the Otherworld; Ifrean is now completely cut off from the Aos Si and all other dimensions.
1038+: Aeon of Conflict Present day.

Timekeeping
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In Character

Thirty days hath Eanair,
And Feabra through Deireadh Fomhair;
Twenty Samhain, Mi Na Nollag,
And the days of Criochnaigh.

Weeks are fivefold, years are four,
Moons are sixfold, decades more.
Births to harvest, seven moons;
Then to springtime, return soon.


--A pech children's poem to teach the turning of the year

The surface of Ifrean may be hell on earth, but the Dominions are far enough removed from the corruption to retain the world's old seasonal patterns upon which their calendar is based.  The year is split into 13 moons, the first of which (Eanair) begins at the end of winter.  The first 10 moons of the year possess 30 days, the next two 20 days, and the last 40 days; there are 4 "bridge days" between seasons added to this total, for a total year length of 384 days on the dot.  The reason for the uneven distribution of moons is simple: Ifrean, thanks to the spirits inhabiting it, spends over half the year in what would be on other worlds spring and summer--150 days of each--and spends less than half in autumn and winter--40 days of each.  Each spring or summer moon is divided into 6 weeks of 5 days each, and the latter 3 moons have in total 6 weeks of 14 days each; the bridge days serve to keep the calendar regular so the year does not progress and throw off the calendar, but the day of the week a given date falls on will progress.  The spring and summer moons are known as the crest of the year, and the autumn and winter (including the bridge days on either end) are known as the trough.

Daily Life
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Old Routine

After an eventful mission, Sean Fhunduir returned to the Dominion Adrift of Mullach and received control of his brigade of satyrs from his second in command.  He always hated commanding even this many fae--he longed to be out exploring and killing demons, not managing logistics--but duty is duty, after all, and he had given his word to the general that he would command for at least the crest moons of each year for the next decade.  Thus, his first act when returning was to give everyone a four-day leave, effective immediately.  While the satyrs cheered, his aide pulled him aside and whispered, "Lieutenant, today is the day of rest here in Mullach, so having satyrs running around with nothing to do would be a bad idea.  Your timing is probably off after spending so much time in Odheas."

Sean sighed.  "Right, right, I keep forgetting they're two days ahead.  Soldiers!"  The satyrs looked depressed at the sound of his voice; that was an I've changed my mind tone if they'd ever heard one.  "I was mistaken about the timing, so no furlough today; everything is closed.  However," he interjected into the chorus of groans, "Everyone who doesn't bother me before leave tomorrow gets three drinks on me."  The cheers were even louder this time.  "Are you sure you know what you're doing, sir?  Offering satyrs free drinks?"  Sean smiled and waved off his aide's concerns.  "I picked up seventeen flawless sapphires and amethysts I don't need from the gem demon I killed last moon.  A few drinks are a small price for the chance to head out and catch up with friends I haven't seen since Winterheart."

Since each Dominion is for the most part autonomous, rarely coming together with other Dominions for fear of presenting too tempting a target to the demons, each keeps its own weekly schedule; travelers between Dominions often have to adjust their schedules to compensate for days of rest and days of commerce, and they often find other small quirks of their schedule as well.  Each week generally consists of one day of rest (where the fae spend time with their families), three days of commerce (where shops and taverns and such are the busiest) and one day of study (where the fae focus on self-improvement or learning) during the crest of the year; in the trough of the year, the last three months and the bridge days are split fairly evenly among days of rest, commerce, and study, plus at least one day of service per week (where the fae train with the militia, volunteer their magic for public works, and so on).  These days don't fall in any particular order during the week, but all cities have these ratios--the fae are very tradition-bound, and are loath to change familiar patterns of living due to their long lives.

Observances
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All Spirits' Day

The little elven children came up to Croi's door and asked the goblin for treats.  Each was disguised as a little demonling, one of fire and three of shadow, with illusion magic helping complete the image.  "Oh dear me," the goblin exclaimed with mock fright, "the demons have caught up to me at last!"  The children laughed at this and made threatening gestures, but the goblin was ready: "Begone with you, foul demons!  I destroy your powers!"  With a wave of his hand, the illusions surrounding the children disappeared.  Confused and upset, the children stared at him; he glared back, then smiled evilly.  "See?  I have them now!" he said, holding out his hands and creating images of flame and shadow demons chasing illusionary fae.  The children brightened at once, and clapped and cheered as the little fae beat the tiny demons off Croi's hands, where they fell to the ground with a shriek and disappeared.

Laughing along with the children, Croi restored their illusions, handed them some candied sunshine, and sent them on their way.  As they disappeared behind a bend, his smile slowly shrank.  The purpose of All Spirits' Eve was to accustom the children to the demons and show them that they could overcome their fear; after all, the best way to overcome fear is to make light of that which is feared.  However, the tradition dated back to before it was discovered that the demons actually existed, and teaching children not to fear exactly what they should fear always struck him as wrong.  A ghost of a smile returned to his lips as he saw his own daughter returning with a sack stuffed to the top, and as always he put aside those thoughts until next year.  Why take away one of the few occasions for children to enjoy themselves?  They had to grow up too fast these days anyway, so they might as well enjoy it while they could.

There are few reasons for the fae to celebrate in modern times, but the Daoine are nothing if not creatures of tradition, and the Oga don't see any cause to get rid of old feasts and holy days.  Observances fall into one of two categories: light-hearted traditions kept from before the war, and more solemn occasions to commemorate momentous events after the start of the war.  Every Dominion has its own observances from after their founding, but in general those observed by the majority of the fae are described below:

All Spirit's Day
Fae children are dressed in costumes and illusions of demons and go around their cities trying to scare their neighbors, receiving small treats of food or small toys in return.  [Essentially, this is a somewhat twisted version of Halloween.]

Dawn of the Year
On the morning of the first day of the year, fae young and old travel to small shrines (erected specially for the occasion) to hear the "words" the Aon Ag Dulra "speak" (again, anything involving the spirits requires a liberal use of quotation marks).  Most leave small portions of food or other gifts at the shrines for those less fortunate (those whose relatives were slain in the last year, those who were recently rescued from the Besieged, etc.) to begin the year on a positive note.

Day of Investiture
At the end of Eanair, first month of the year, new members of the fae armies take their oaths; all taverns, hostels, and other public establishments are open around-the-sundial to welcome well-wishers, as this is one of the few times that civilians will brave the dangers of the demonic assaults to visit relatives and friends in other Dominions.

Feast of Ayailla
On the forty-seventh day of the year, the Daoine gather to remember and honor Ayailla the Fair, the Aos Si who lived most closely with the elves and other early Daoine in millennia past and who served as a liaison of sorts between them and the Aos Si.  Every few years on this date, the seal on the Otherworld weakens enough to allow the Aos Si to send messages, thoughts, and encouragement across the barrier to strengthen their childrens' resolve and reassure them that the Aos Si are trying hard to find a solution to end the war; visions are frequent on this date, and often the Daoine are able to speak with those loved ones who passed the veil before they could be resurrected, but many don't bother with this observance any more, feeling that they've been abandoned and that their creators are telling white lies to keep morale up.

Induction Day
The Daoine believe that children should be named and formally accepted into fae society only during the spring months, when the fae's power (and the Aon Ag Dulra's protection) is strongest, so any children born before the first day of spring the preceding year are named, inducted, and celebrated on the first of spring.

Week of Service
During the second week of summer, civilian Oga over the age of 24 are expected to take a trip to other Dominions and go see the world; it's more of a cautionary, sobering experience to really introduce new adults to the harsh reality of the world than a carefree exploration.

Harvest Days.
Autumn and winter are the seasons when the Aon Ag Dulra are weakest, so demons are occasionally able to mount direct assaults on the Dominions this time of year.  As the end of summer approaches, magically-gifted fae help their communities, for no pay or recompense, to do any work that must be completed before winter, whether harvesting crops or building shelters; under the influence of so much magic from so many powerful fae, the tiny fields in each Dominion can often produce enough food to feed its inhabitants for the rest of the year and enough timber to erect dozens of buildings.

Day of the Remembrance
On this date a few centuries ago, the fourth day of winter, the last Daoine to personally remember the Aos Si fell in battle.  Since then, the fae have taken to honoring those who have given exceptional service to the fae on this date, and teaching about the history of the fae--though the fae naturally live centuries to millennia, they know all too well that history can easily be lost if the most learned ones are killed before their time.

Feast of the Winter Sun
The Daoine, who normally eat less and are morose during the winter months as horde after horde of demons batter themselves against the Dominions' defenses, partake of plenty and attend revels to remind themselves that the Aos Si and Aon Ag Dulra are always with them despite the cold and darkness and fear.
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« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2009, 09:12:58 PM »

Finished the last post with the addition of a bunch of festivals to fit the fortnightly theme.

I'm somewhat at a loss as to what to describe next (same thing happened to my last setting, where it's straightforward enough as to not need tons of background and explanation), so if anyone has a burning need to see something, let me know.
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2009, 12:35:02 PM »

Well, no one's posted in a while and several people said they'd comment on this (you know who you are, yes, that means you), so here's one last post for feedback.
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2009, 02:43:42 PM »

Sorry, I was traveling these past few days.

-On Festivals...
 All Spirits Eve  sounds particularly macabre considering their travails against the demons. I assume it is mostly celebrated in the clouds and that any young people who happen to be on the actual islands below (in the cut-off lands, for example) don't have time for that sort of frivolity since hte demons are far too close.

This festival makes sense from a fae point of view (twisted logic) but why not have the children dress like historical fae creatures-- as it looks- the demon (children) are extracting protection money from the adults. Could it instead be the adults dress up like demons and the children pretend to be crusaders assaulting demonic dwellings and demanding treats or to destroy the demons?

I like the Week of Service and the DAy of Investiture. Both holidays are particularly suited for the world. Might I suggest increasing the week to two weeks? A week seems to be too short (considering travel time, etc.)

The Feast of Aiyalla is a good personal addition.

===
I do not usually read timelines, but your timeline here was nice, short, and to the point. It was useful for better understanding your world.

===
I also liked the addition of the movers and shakers.
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« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2009, 02:52:02 PM »

Elsewhere you noted a Celtic inspiration. I just wanted to note that at least with the demons I get a sort of vibe similar to that of Buddhist hell. Was that purposeful or coincidence (I figure the latter).

For more inspiration, you might want to look into the strangeness and weirdness that is the Buddhist hellish afterlife.
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