The Story Of The Gallowblades
For nearly two centuries, the small northern island of Avadon has slowly evolved into a country of considerable significance to the continent of Hathaia. Detached from the rest of the continental landmass and acting as the easternmost country of Hathaia, Avadon has, over the years, developed its own identity, with a culture based heavily on the seas and oceans that surround it. Sailors and fishermen are among some of the most popular career paths for those who call Avadon home, and even those that take up lives on the land tend to rely on the success of those who brave the seas.
However, Avadon’s history is not completely riddled with tales of fearless sea captains and daring trawlers. Before the development of human culture began to overtake the rolling hills of Avadon, great winged reptiles known as arachs called the island home. The creatures, though little in number, sat at the top of the country’s food chain, living long lives in caves at the peaks of Avadon’s tallest mountains. For decades, the arachs put an end to the humans’ early attempts at invading their home, sinking ships before they had a chance to reach land, or wiping out entire armies before they had the opportunity to scale the mountainside.
Cunning as they are, though, the humans found a way. Through an alliance with the buchens – a species of humanoid creatures native to the island – the humans discovered a means of nearly eradicating the arach threat. Using weapons crafted from the horns of unicorns, the humans managed to slay the arachs during their annual hibernation that took place during the cold winter months.
As years passed, the alliance between the humans and the buchens continued to prosper. Together, they built several large cities that scattered the surface of Avadon. Between them, small villages popped up here and there, and a highway was constructed in order to connect the major landmarks of the island. Progress had been made, and it had come at a much faster pace than almost any other country of Hathaia.
However, the arach menace had not come to a complete close. Every now and then, a group of arachs would burst from the depths of their lairs, having been either missed, or forgotten, during the human raids of winters past. Though their numbers had dwindled to minuscule amounts, the massive, green-scaled reptiles still posed a significant threat to the well being of the civilized folk of Avadon. Capable of tearing down entire cities and slaying humans by the hundreds, the domesticated folk of Avadon feared the arachs, and for good reason.
As a means of self-preservation and protection of the future of Avadon, the humans and buchens, alongside anyone else who had immigrated into the well-developed country over the years, formed The Gallowblades – originally a band of warriors and knights trained specifically in the art of slaying arachs. These courageous few would dedicate their lives to the preservation of Avadon, and risk death in the name of their country as they plunged, weapon-first, into battle against the hulking reptiles.
Now, in modern day Avadon, there are chapters of The Gallowblades stationed in every major city, be it the capital city of St. Isaac’s, or the port city of Farr Harbour. The Gllowblades can be found wherever there are people to protect, ready and willing to face off against the seemingly immortal threat of the arachs.
However, it has been nearly 50 years since the last sighting of an arach. Gallowblades, both young and old, have lived their lives without every laying eyes on one of the beasts they have sworn to kill, and are a mere a shadow of what The Gallowblades once were. With numbers of willing recruits dwindling over the years, The Gallowblades have been given the rite of conscription, allowing them to forcibly grow in numbers, even if the wont is no longer there. Alongside this, their ranks are no longer restricted to swordsmen, as was once the case. Now, Gallowblades of all walks of life exist - Some practice the misunderstood art of magic, some avoid the death penalty after lives as criminals, and some even hide from their fate as ex-pirates. These sorts, and more, are what The Gallowblades have become, though one could argue that any and all efforts to exterminate the arachs is a commendable one, regardless of one’s personal history.
Rumours have begun to swell across the country of another family of arachs laying deep beneath the Long Range Mountains in northern Avadon. Word of mouth seems to suggest that eggs have hatched, and the young arachs have matured in underground lairs, feeding on the creatures that dwell beneath the surface. The pale-scaled beasts have allegedly made only a few appearances above ground, but if the rumours are to be believed, they pose a significant threat to the well being of Avadon, and its future.
Recruiting season has begun for The Gallowblades, and with the rumours of these white arachs spreading quickly across the island, veterans among the ranks of The Gallowblades have taken a much more serious approach to their training programs. The people of Avadon are once again looking to The Gallowblades for protection against what could possibly be the return of the infamous creatures.
This is where you come in. You’ve been recruited – by your own free will or not – into the ranks of The Gallowblades. You are stationed in the southernmost city of Belclare, where your chapter of The Gallowblades has only recently been sent word of the rumours. The Long Range Mountains are far to the north of Avadon, a good week long journey for anyone looking to travel from Belclare to the northern city of Allemore without interruption, but your life as a Gallowblade may very well require just that. You have yet to be properly sworn into the ranks, and have only spent a little under a week in your chapter’s guildhouse. You and the rest of the new recruits are soon to begin your training, and wherever your life as a Gallowblade takes you from there is anyone’s guess.
It’s not like you have much of a choice in the matter, anyhow.
- This is set in a medieval fantasy universe, with a relatively primitive feel, compared to popular settings like those seen in The Elder Scrolls or Dungeons & Dragons (I’m looking at you, Forgotten Realms.) Magic is not nearly as prominent as it tends to be in other places, so things like teleportation, telekinesis, and other such magical workarounds won’t be present. Please keep that in mind, and please remember the basics of magic. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to ask me, I’ll be glad to help!
- No godmodding. Your characters are meant to be run-of-the-mill mercenary types, not all-powerful gods. Frostbite can be just as deadly as a sword.
- Please try and be as detailed as possible, but I understand that real life gets in the way. If you find yourself strapped for time and can’t dedicate the time to the game, just let me/us know. Real life always comes first.
- Settle any beef with another player elsewhere, please.
- One character per player.
- I’d appreciate if you read through the “further reading” section if you’re serious about playing this. It will really help you out in the long run.
Your character is, as I mentioned before, a new recruit in the ranks of The Gallowblades. Perhaps they were conscripted after showcasing significant talent with a bow, or maybe they joined willingly in an attempt to avoid the death penalty, or to honour a family steeped in a history as Gallowblades. It’s completely up to you as to how or why your character is in Belclare, serving under The Gallowblades, so be as creative as you want.
As for your character’s class, The Gallowblades recruit anyone, from all walks of life. I haven’t listed any specific classes in an attempt to let your creativity flow, so have fun with it. Be a pirate, or a travelling bard, or a chef for all I care, as long as they have a good reason for being among the ranks of The Galowblades.
Your race is slightly more restricted. I’ve listed nine below that I know I’d be comfortable with, and given them proper societies and whatnot. However, if none of them tickle your fancy, and you want to be something else, just ask. But please ask. Some races or species may already have a different role in Illora, or I may simply prefer that they not exist at all. In the same breath, I’d like to avoid half-races as much as possible. For now, at least.
Here is the character sheet. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, as usual!
Name: Anything you want, within reason.
Race: Any of the listed races, or one of your own choice, as long as it’s been approved.
Sex: Pretty self-explanatory. Male or female.
Age: For the sake of simplicity, most races have fairly common lifespans for the most part, and mature at the same rate.
Class: This is up to you, just give a title to the character’s particular skillset.
Appearance: Describe what they look like. Feel free to add pictures throughout the character sheet.
Story: Talk about your character’s past, prsent, and personality, and why they’re a member of The Gallowblades.
Major: List their major skills, such as what school(s) they focus on if they’re a wizard, or how they fight if they’re a warrior, or whatever pertains to them as a person.
Minor: List their minor skills. Maybe they have an affinity for the culinary arts, or maybe they have a particular interest in music. Those could also be major skills, depending on the character, though. Just list anything they do as a side-job or a hobby.
Strengths: List their strengths. Does not have to be about their skills, but instead could make note of their exceptional memory or charismatic personality. Whatever they use to get by in day-to-day life.
Weaknesses: Brandon Sanderson once said that weaknesses are much more interesting than strengths (or something like that). Maybe your character has poor eyesight, or poor hand-eye coordination. Maybe they have some rare disease, or maybe they’re just downright dumb. But give them something to remind yourself that they aren’t gods. Just Gallowblades.
Equipment: Provide a brief description of what they carry on their person. Weapons, bedrolls, foodstuffs, you know the drill.
There are hundreds of thousands of creatures, big and small, that call Illora home. However, very few have managed the seemingly impossible feat of coming together as one to create a true identity - a society. A culture.
There are only a few that have managed this accomplishment, and in modern day Illora, those creatures are the ones that reign supreme in almost every aspect of life. They construct large cities, they govern the lives of lesser creatures, they create both peace and war, they retain a sense of right and wrong, and, above all else, they survive.
The following races are available to you as a player. If you wish to play a character of a different race, I’m always open to suggestions, but please run it by me first, as I may have other plans in mind for that species, or they may just simply not fit into the universe.
Also worth noting is that all of these races are capable of being any sort of character, with any sort of lifestyle, personality, or job. What is listed under each race is more of a general outline of the species, and not a strict guideline. If you want your aeoc to be a calm, studious wizard-type that’s never stepped foot in Yupall, or a tuvul barbarian raised by dwarves, by all means, go for it. I want to see creative characters, and I know you’re all capable of creating interesting characters.
Humans are the most common race in Hathaia, and, in turn, Avadon as well. They populate the majority of Hathaian countries, as well as several countries scattered across Illora. They are, for the most part, a well-respected people, known for their adaptability and cunning. Depending on what part of the world one finds them in, humans can differ drastically in appearance and culture, with Hathaia itself hosting a vast number of cultures and peoples.
The humans of Avadon are a hardy folk, with an affinity for adventure, as well as good company and better drink. With a culture centered on the seas, one would be lucky to find an Avadonian human not well versed in the ways of seamanship in one way or another.
Humans are capable of pursuing any role in life, and being successful at it. Some carry out simple lives as fishermen, merchants, or blacksmiths. Some are born into nobility, while others are born into poverty, though both are more than capable of flipping their fates around with enough dedication, or lack thereof.
Naturally, humans are a generous mix of intelligent, strong, and dexterous, while also dumb, weak, and lazy. Therefore, are more than capable of taking up adventurous roles in life such as travelling mercenaries, studious wizards, or quick-witted thieves. In the same breath, it is not uncommon to find a human who is nothing more than a drunk, or an illiterate farmer, or a clumsy bartender.
The average human adult would stand somewhere in the range of 6-feet-tall. In Avadon, humans tend to worship Eris, the goddess they believe controls the seas and waves. Churches are scattered across the country in her name, and Erisinian priests are commonly relied on by sailors before embarking on trips at sea. With such a vast number of cultures, however, there are plenty of different gods that different human societies worship, though those are rarely mentioned within the borders of Avadon.
GM Note: Humans in Avadon are loosely based on medieval Celtic/Irish/Scottish/ culture, with a hint of eastern Canadian (for those that are familiar with that part of the world). If you wish to play an Avadonian human, I suggest using a name that fits that society if you want a more authentic Avadonian name. As stated, they are capable of fitting any role, and there are no strict rules against any role you wish a human character to pursue. Likeiwse, if you wish to play a human from a different part of Hathaia, have fun and create a culture. Just run it by me first. You want a more Scandinavian-esque human, or perhaps a jungle-dwelling shaman? Create your own Hathaian country that fits that idea. I don’t have the entire world mapped and planned out, so that’s free game. Your ideas may even be used in the future.
+ Adaptable, diverse, versatile, and well-rounded. Suited for any role in life.
+ Make up the majority of Avadon’s population, will hardly have any issues integrating into Avadonian culture.
- Masters of nothing.
- No significant natural abilities.
Buchens play a rather peculiar role in Avadonian society and history. Having lived on the island country long before the humans did, it was an alliance with the early human settlers that allow them to live so freely in human society in modern Avadon.
When humans first attempted to settle in Avadon, their efforts were quickly terminated by the raw strength and aggression of the native arachs. The buchens, however, having lived among the reptiles for so long, knew the secret to their downfall. Having formed an alliance with the humans, the buchens promised to share their knowledge of the land, as long as the buchens were able to secure a place in the future of Avadon, were the humans successful in the development of the land.
Now, centuries later, buchens live among humans in relative peace, living lives as respected members of human society. This is a rarity in Hathaia, and buchens are, in fact, only treated as such in Avadon. Their Hathaian cousins, known as hobgoblins and pucks depending on the country of origin, are treated as nothing more than monsters and savages, and are often slain on sight. However, the buchens act as living proof that not all of their species are wild brutes, and can, in fact, live as a civilized people.
In Avadonian culture, buchens tend to fill the most labour-intensive roles, often taking on jobs that even the lowliest humans would refuse, as many buchens are simply happy to be treated as a people, and not a monster. It is not uncommon to see both buchen men and women working jobs such as cow herders, stable cleaners, and sometimes butlers for human nobles. That being said, however, it is not law that buchens live meek lives, and are free to pursue any job they wish, have they the ambition.
There do exist, however, buchens that despise humans, simply for invading and colonizing on what they believe to be their rightful land. These buchens tend to live well away from human society, instead deciding to inhabit the forests of Avadon, creating small, tribal societies within.
Standing at an average of 6-foot-four, buchens are easily identifiable in human society, with skin tones ranging from light orange to deep brown, pronounced foreheads and jaws, sharpened teeth, and coarse hair. Their appearance makes no effort to hide their wild heritage.
GM note: As mentioned, buchens are heavily inspired by hobgoblins of popular fantasy. When/if creating one, inspiration should be taken from there for physical appearances. Though the majority of buchens tend to live more physically-intensive lifestyles, they are still fully capable of more studious and introverted lives, if they so desire. Buchen names tend to be more simple and raw when compared to human and halfling names. Rokk, Dorn, or Viss are good examples of this.
+ Powerful and durable species. Good warriors and labourers.
+ Treated with respect by most humans.
- Generally ugly and repugnant to most.
- Treated as raenous monsters outside of Avadon.
Halflings were, once upon a time, believed to be nothing more than stunted humans. Having originally lived in the forests of Hathaia when humans first began to settle, the little folk, eventually, succumbed to their natural curiosity and began to intermingle with humans as towns and cities began to rise up from what had originally been nothing but miles of forestry and meadows. As the years passed, halflings had become a part of human society, abandoning their lives as forest-dwellers.
Now, halflings live as the humans do, depending on what part of the world they find themselves in. For the most part, humans accept them, and treat them as equals. However, in some parts of Hathaia, halflings are shunned, or treated as second-class citizens, ultimately forcing the little folk into lives of crime in order to survive.
Halflings do tend to find success in the less-than-noble trades, though, as their miniature stature gives them a significant advantage in areas such as subterfuge and thievery.
Despite their integration into human society being a centuries-old occurrence, halflings may still find troubles with basic tasks in smaller towns, and sometimes major cities. For example, doorknobs may be too high for their arms to reach, or chairs may require stepping stools to reach. In the same breath, halflings looking to pursue lives as warriors, adventurers, or even mercenaries and bandits, may have trouble finding proper armour or weapons, since most things of such a nature are expensive to craft, and are often made specifically for creatures of human’s stature.
Since halflings tend to live among humans, their culture is usually dependent on the humans around them. In Avadon, halflings live almost identical to their human neighbours, though their Avadonian population is significantly smaller than in other largely populated countries of Hathaia. Standing at an average three-and-a-half-feet tall, a fully-grown Halfling adult would just barely reach the waist of a human of the same age. As a result, halflings often find themselves struggling to properly immigrate into Avadonian society. Instead, many Avadonian halflings form small villages within walking distance of human settlements, working from within the human cities, but building homes and families within the smaller halfling villages.
GM note: Since halflings in Avadon are looked at pretty equally (figuratively) with humans, it’s safe to assume a halfling character originally from Avadon would have a fairly human name, and otherwise live life as a human. Avadonian halflings aren’t really forced into lives as criminals like they are in some human societies, though their bodies are much more suited for lives as rogues and thieves than any other typical adventuring job.
+ Charismatic, well-respected in Avadon.
+ Naturally talented in roguelike skills.
- Short stature makes life in human society difficult.
- No longer have a culture of their own.
Elves are tall, golden-skinned people with fair hair and pointed ears. Standing at an average of 6’5”, the elves have made homes in the massive forests that make up the majority of their home continent of Prinea, where trees reach nearly into the clouds and ahve trunks as wide as human cities. The elves have learned to live around nature, rather than through it, by building entire cities in the trunks of the great trees, which they also worship as gods.
With the great trees of Prinea serving as both a home and a deity to the elves, their culture is vastly misunderstood by other peoples, and considered to be quite alien to most civilized races. Their cuisine is largely insect-based, and their funeral ceremonies involve the consumption of the corpse in a great feast, shared by all within the community, as two major examples of the vast differences between elven society, and the rest of Illora.
Evidently, elves often find great difficulty when it comes to assimilating into western or southern cultures. When elves find themselves in need of trade goods, the exposure to overseas societies tends to strike them with a sense of fear, and, as a result, the elven people are often considered to be a reclusive species, rarely stepping outside the borders of Prinea.
This is not always the case, though. The nimble elves have become world-renowned for their skills as artists and performers, and those gifted in the arts have sometimes been lucky enough to lead lives as travelling performers, gracing the ears and eyes of civilized folk across Illora. These elves are typically more accustomed to different cultures, and have long abandoned the reclusive nature of Prinean elves.
GM note: Despite there being several subraces of elves in other popular fantasy, this is not the case in Illora. Elves are all of the aforementioned species, and there are no drow, or high elves, or any other such sub-race. Not civilized versions, at least.
+ Naturally nimble and intelligent. Skillful hunters and wizards.
+ Often considered to be very beautiful and charismatic.
- Prinean elves have a very strange culture.
- Cannibalistic, to a certain degree.
Hailing from the far northern reaches of Illora, dwarves are a short, stocky folk that have built societies among the great mountains, living both inside and above them.
Standing at an average of four or five-feet tall with bulbous noses and stout and sturdy frames, dwarves can have a fairly menacing appearance to anyone unfamiliar with the creatures. Their hair is usually thick and coarse, and their demeanours often imply lifestyles of heavy drinking mixed with heavier pride.
Dwarven culture, though not entirely different than that of humans and halflings, may seem slightly alien when one examines their dedication to loyalty. A dwarf would likely rather die than break a promise, and any dwarf caught being unfaithful to some sort of agreement or commitment is often shunned by their kin, with little to no chance of redeeming themselves. The hardy creatures have, despite their love of alcohol, unmatched memories, which often ties into their dependence on pledges and pacts. Dwarves never forget.
A proud people, dwarves will rarely leave their homes in the mountain ranges, though when they do, it is often because they seek atonement for some wrong they’ve committed against their people. A dwarf who has been found guilty of foul acts is often rejected from society, forced to seek his or her own death in the outside world however they see fit - be it in battle, by suicide, or through the forces of nature.
Not all dwarves share this sense of pride in their home, however. Some willingly abandon the mountains, seeking lives as travellers or nomads. While still shunned by dwarven society, the expulsion does not have such a negative impact on how these dwarves view themselves, compared to a dwarf who was forced from their home.
Due to their natural strength and composition, dwarves are a true force to be reckoned with on a battlefield. Many are trained from a young age on how to properly wield a weapon. It is almost unheard of to find a dwarf knowledgeable in the arcane arts if they have spent their lives in the company of their kin. However, contrary to popular belief, dwarves are fully capable of casting spells, and knowledge is one of the most common ambitions behind dwarves who willingly leave their mountain homes.
Those that do remain true to their culture, however, are often firm believers in the dwarven deities, of which there are three - Bhorndall, the god of war, Grihvard, the god of the mountains, and Feredal, the goddess of truth and honour. Each deity governs a major aspect of dwarven culture, and all are respected equally by dwarves who still dwell in the mountains.
GM note: Though they all have a common culture and belief system, there is no real dwarven continent or country. The northern regions of Illora are largely unexplored by other races, and dwarves have built several cities across the mountains, though the region holds no formal name. Often, it is simply referred to as dwarfhome, which covers the entire northern sector of the northern hemisphere.
+ Strong and sturdy people. Well-respected warriors.
+ Will never lie, or forget. Ever.
- Not the most elegant creatures.
- Will never lie, or forget. Ever.
Tuvuls are a race of blue-skinned, humanoid creatures that have built their society in the humid lands of Suul Thanoor, which is comprised mostly of sandy, arid deserts. The tuvuls have grown accustomed to high temperatures, and have managed to create cities of stone and sand amongst the otherwise inhabitable wastelands.
The tuvuls were originally at the forefront of magical discoveries. It was in their home continent of Suul Thanoor that the shurn were first uncovered, and without the help of tuvul scholars, mana manipulation would likely still be a lost art. Since the discovery, tuvuls have begun to believe that they are direct descendants of the shurn, and that the shurn bloodline lives strong as long as tuvuls do as well. As such, tuvuls have become very territorial people, abandoning the peaceful nature they were once known for. Now, they do what they believe they must in order to keep their ancient bloodlines flowing strong throughout Illora.
Much like the shurn, tuvuls have developed a certain affinity for magic. Some of the best wizards in Illora are tuvuls, and a large majority of magical discoveries, such as new chants, come from the studies of tuvul academics. Though their history was forged through blood and sweat, their future as a species will seemingly be built by magic.
The tuvuls have, as some may say, become obsessed with the shurn. Before the discovery of shurn remnants in Suul Thanoor, the tuvul were dedicated worshippers of a goddess called Djyyna. Now, however, they believe it is their purpose in Illora to resurrect the shurn god Yione. They believe that heavy worship and sacrifice will bring the god back from his deep sleep, and will bless the tuvul with a grand understanding of the arcane, as the shurn once had before their sudden extinction.
GM note: For inspiration behind your tuvul character’s physical appearance, think of the classic djynn or genie, but with bones, legs, and muscle, rather than a wispy body whirling out of a lamp. As for names, tuvul society is loosely based on middle-eastern society, so name inspiration can be taken from there if you wish to play a Suul Thanoorian tuvul.
+ Naturally gifted in the arcane. Powerful wizards.
+ Naturally resistant to high temperatures.
- Thin-skinned, easily taken down in combat.
- Not used to cold areas.
These feline creatures have become known as diplomats for nearly the entire continent of Yupall. An evolved subspecies of jungle cat, the rakshasa dominate the jungle and safari regions of Yupall alongside the slaiths, who they have formed a beneficial alliance with.
The sleek, fur-covered rakshasa are a charismatic bunch, with affinities for the finer things Yupall has to offer. Usually, this involves fresh meat, good company, and excessive use of cutleaf - a natural plant that induces a state of euphoria when consumed.
Much like the slaiths and aeocs, the rakshasa do not construct massive cities. Instead, the jungles and safari regions of Yupall have small towns and villages scattered across the lands which host both rakshasa and slaith citizens, who live among one another in harmony. Each village is governed by a small group of individuals of both species, who overlook the day-to-day activities of civilians, with the ultimate goal of moving forward as a society. Usually, rakshasa will take on roles of hunters and fishermen, as well as the more social roles like messengers and mediators.
Though the fur colours and patterns of a rakshasa vary drastically between individuals, it holds little significance within society. However, some rakshasa may perform better at certain tasks than others, based solely on their fur. For example, a rakshasa covered from head to toe in black fur will ultimately blend into the night better than others, but will stick out like a sore thumb in the plains during the day. As such, this rakshasa may take on nighttime duties as a hunter, leaving the lighter-furred rakshasa to hunt during the day.
Rakshasa, alongside slaiths, worship no proper deity, and instead focus their prayers to their dead comrades and family members. With a firm belief in life after death, the rakshasa and slaiths are under the impression that once their souls abandon their physical bodies, they are left to roam Illora as spirits. In order to ensure protection from these spirits, the rakshasa and slaiths honour the deceased with daily rituals, which involve a dance, followed by deep chants. This ritual, known as Gu’la’no’orro, is said to connect the living with the dead, and is used to pass along well wishes to the afterlife.
GM note: A rakshasa can physically look like almost any jungle cat, within reason. Lions, pumas, cheetahs, and jaguars are all available, among others I’m likely forgetting.
+ Sleek and nimble. Great hunters.
+ Usually well spoken, and well respected by other cultures.
- Many rely on cutleaf to get through the day.
- Their odd skeletal structures prevent them from wearing human-specific garments.
Slaiths are the apelike neighbours of the rakshasa and aeocs, who share the northern half of the continent with the rakshasa, living alongside the felines in the jungles and plains of Yupalla.
The slaiths are a peaceful and quiet folk. Usually keeping to themselves, the large gorillas tend to make exceptional scholars when given the chance to focus their thoughts. In the same breath, their size - usually standing at around 7-and-a-half-feet tall - ensures them ample success on the battlefield, during the rare occasions they find themselves in such a situation.
With small towns and villages scattered across the plains and jungles of Yupall, the slaiths live alongside the rakshasa in peace, having formed an alliance centuries prior, under the impression that a unified Yupall would better serve all of the continent’s people. With no proper cities, the small communities serve as homes to several families of both heritages, which are overlooked by a small group of individuals, serving as something of leaders for the villages. Usually, the slaiths live lives as guards and warriors, where they can serve their homes as defenders. Likewise, their highly-developed brains allow them to serve the communities in a number of ways, as historians, chefs, and builders alike.
The slaiths are an evolved subspecies of gorilla - an animal commonly found in the wilderness of Yupall. Though intelligent creatures all on their own, the slaiths have evolved much further than any other ape species, and have been known to employ the skills of smaller monkeys and apes in return for food. It is not uncommon to find a slaith with a small chimp living in their home, carrying out menial tasks, such as cleaning, in exchange for warm food.
Slaiths, alongside rakshasa, worship no real deity, and instead focus their prayers to their dead comrades and family members. With a firm belief in life after death, the rakshasa and slaiths are under the impression that once their souls abandon their physical bodies, they are left to roam the earth as spirits. In order to ensure protection from these spirits, the rakshasa and slaiths honour the deceased with daily rituals, which involve a dance, followed by deep chants. This ritual, known as Gu’la’no’orro, is said to connect the living with the dead, and is used to pass along well wishes to the afterlife.
GM note: As you may have noticed, slaith and rakshasa society is pretty similar. Much like the humans and the halflings, the two live amongst one another. Some consider the two to be part of the same species, though this is largely untrue.
+ Strong and silent. Good warriors and wizards.
+ Peaceful, not always eager to fight.
- Peaceful, not always eager to fight.
- Menacing appearances often abandon their peaceful personalities.
The aeocs are a race of crocodilian humanoids who, alongside the rakshasa and slaiths, call the vast expanses of Yupall home. The aeocs are a subspecies of crocodile that, much like their fellow civilized Yupallians, have evolved much further than their cousins and developed a fondness for bipedal movement, the ability to speak common languages, and the intelligence to grow as a people and think as a group, rather than individuals.
A typical aeoc stands at around 5-feet-tall. Rather than skin, their bodies are covered with rough scales that could, in and of itself, act as armour. Their long snouts are lined with sharp teeth, and their hands and feet are tipped with sharp talons.
The aeocs have built villages and towns in the damp swamplands of Yupall, found in the most southern portion of the continent. Living mostly off the land, the aeocs have no formal government or supreme rulers, and instead live in a tribal society, where each village acts as its own tribe, run by a single shaman - the only aeoc allowed to practice magic in the tribe.
Though civilized, and completely capable of living peaceful lives in the marshland of Yupall, the aeocs are naturally hungry for power, and are known to invade both slaith and rakshasa territory in hopes of expanding their own, and ultimately broadening the aeoc bloodline by creating tribes in the northern half of Yupall. As a result, the aeocs are largely deemed untrustworthy by their neighbouring Yupallians, and are known to be instigators of civil war, often fighting in the name of Krall - their chosen deity, who they believe blesses them with power in times of war.
Despite the tribal, and relatively primal society of aeocs, they are not unintelligent. Those that wish to pursue lives outside of the typical life of an aeoc may do so, though “outsiders” - aeocs who have abandoned their lives as tribesmen, are typically looked at negatively by those still living in aeoc society,
Aeocs are significantly rare in Avadon, and for good reason. Avadonian folk tend to be weary of reptiles in general, with such a detailed history of war against the arachs. As a result, aeocs are treated rather unfairly, and will have a hard time finding a place within Avadonian society, especially compared to other Hathaian countries, where an aeoc may have an easier time assimilating into the human culture. In fact, some parts of Avadon have taken to completely banning any kind of aeoc presence, treating them as monsters instead of civilized people.
GM note: Aeocs are a subspecies of crocodile (or alligator), and are not the typical lizardman or dragonoid. Hunched backs, crocodilian tails and long snouts are a must for an aeoc.
+ Strong and menacing. Capable warriors and hunters.
+ Often do not require weapons or armour to survive in battle, relying on their scales, claws, and teeth.
- Hated by Avadonians due to their reptilian heritage.
If you're interested, feel free to discuss characters with me in the OOC section, or via PM if you wish. Then, after I give the go-ahead, post away in the Character Sheet section. Likewise, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this game, or the setting, I'll try and answer them as best as possible, so ask away in the OOC!
If you're very serious about joining, or already have a character approved, I highly advise reading through this following section, titled Further Reading. Although a bit lengthy, it may asnwer some of your questions, especially in regards to magic.
Avadon is a relatively small island country belonging to the continent of Hathaia. Hathaia sits in the northern hemisphere of the world, which is known as Illora. Avadon is the easternmost country of Hathaia, and is not actually physically connected to the rest of the continent. Instead, it lies about a day’s journey across a sea known as The Merchant’s Expanse, and thus, Avadon has become a rather self-sufficient country, with no proper means of easily contacting their continental neighbours.
Avadon, much like Hathaia, has a mainly human population, though the alliance between humans and buchens has created a significant population of civilized buchens, which can hardly be found in any other part of the world. Though, due to its geographical location, Avadon has become a popular destination for travelers sailing across The Emerald Ocean, and so people of all races can likely often be found somewhere in Avadon’s expanses.
The people of Avadon are a hardy, but lighthearted folk. Their reliance on the ocean has created a culture of marine-based livelihoods and cuisine, with a large majority of Avadonians taking up lives as fishermen and sailors. Bard’s songs often tell tall tales of the hardships of life at sea, and any chef of Avadonian heritage is capable of serving any seafood dish with near perfection.
Avadonians are proud, but happy people. Known worldwide for their hospitality, anyone looking to take refuge in their home can expect to be treated as family, with hard drink and a good night inevitably written into their future.
Due to its location along the northern hemisphere, Avadon can be a rather cold place. While still experiencing all four seasons, their summers are less hot, and their winters are slightly harsher than other parts of the world. The scenery of the island, however, usually makes up for any ill feelings toward the temperature. With rolling mountains and lush forests, any explorer looking to experience nature at it’s finest can have their dreams fulfilled by travelling through Avadon.
Avadon sits at a fairly central part of Illora’s map, when laid out on flat paper. To the west, just across the sea known as The Merchant’s Expanse, is the remainder of Hathaia. To its north is dwarfhome - the far-reaching expanse of mountains that dwarves have claimed as their own. The the east, across The Emerald Ocean, lies Prinea, home of the elves. To the direct south of Avadon, across The Black Sea and into the southern hemisphere of Illora, lies Yupall, home of the rakshasa, aeocs, and slaiths. In the southeast, directly east of Yupall lies Suul Thanoor, where the tuvuls have claimed ownership of the deserted land.
Though a relatively young country, Avadon is well developed, with five major cities dotted across the map, and a lengthy highway to connect each one. In the center of the country lies St. Isaac’s, the capital city, where the king of Avadon resides. To the south, through the great forest known as The Deep Thicket, is Belclare. To the far east is one of the two major port cities, Farr Harbour, which is known around the world for its massive ship harbour, where boats from almost every corner of Illora have docked. On the opposite side of Avadon, on its westernmost point, lies the second major port city – Lochport, which serves as the main connector between Avadon and the rest of Hathaia. In the far reaches of the north, among The Long Range Mountains, lies Allemore, where the rumours of white-scaled arachs first began.
The use of magic in Avadon is relatively open and easily accessible. There are no formal laws to forbid the manipulation of mana, and so any wizard-in-training is free to weave spells of any school, much unlike other countries of Hathaia. However, the general attitude towards magic may vary drastically, depending on where one finds themselves. In the south, near Belclare and The Deep Thickett, pyromancy is generally frowned upon, due to the heightened risk of forest fires in the area. However, further north, where temperatures get colder, such spells may be met with a more positive response. Necromancy and demonology are generally met with disdain, however, and it is something of an unwritten rule that such practices are to be kept behind closed doors, for the betterment of society.
Travel between the five major cities, and several smaller towns, can mostly be done via the main highway, built during the original development of Avadon. The highway allows for relatively easy travel by foot or horseback, and times spent on journeys to and from the major cities are cut nearly in half if one sticks to the paths. However, as is the nature of almost every sentient creature, the highway is not completely safe from predatory beings. Bandits are a well-known issue, and creatures that dwell in the forests and mountain ranges of Avadon are known to sometimes prey upon those that travel the highway.
Arachs are somewhat similar to the dragons of popular fantasy lore. They are massive, winged, reptilian beasts, standing at an average 20-feet when on all four legs, with wingspans that nearly double that. They are capable of travelling on both land and through the sky, using their large, talon clad feet to traverse the biomes of Avadon, or their hooked wings to take flight and soar through the clouds.
However, unlike the dragons that have made other fantasy worlds so popular, the arachs lack any significant abilities to set them apart from other reptiles, save for their sheer mass. Arachs cannot breathe flames, nor can they speak or change their shape. They are simply animals, like any other reptile, that have evolved over time to grow to great sizes, with a great temper to match.
Normally green in colour, the arachs would likely blend well with the environment of Avadon, were they not so large. Instead, they take refuge in caves found at the peaks of tall mountains, or lairs beneath the surface, where they hide during the winter with the intent of sleeping through the bitter cold of the season. During the spring, summer, and fall, however, the beasts roamed freely throughout Avadon, feeding and procreating.
That is, until the humans claimed Avadon as their own.
In the early days of Avadon’s history, the humans attempted, and failed, several times to invade and develop Avadon into a proper country, and not just an island filled with winged reptiles. Through an alliance with native buchens, however, the humans learned of a major weakness in their winged foes – the top of their skulls. While the majority of an arach’s body is covered in metallic scales, the tops of their heads are soft, coated only by a film of leathery skin. Easily penetrable, if one is capable of reaching the beast’s head.
As an added bonus, the lush forests and meadows of Avadon were home to a significant population of unicorns – equines with horned skulls. The horn of a unicorn, though not particularly magical, is known to be one of the sharpest natural objects in the world. With this knowledge in mind, the buchens and humans carried out a grand hunt for unicorn horns, slaying the once sacred animals for the betterment of human, and buchen, society.
With a new plan in place, the buchen and human alliance patiently awaited winter to roll around. In the bitter cold, the arachs had hidden away in their cave homes, sleeping through the season. Then, the alliance attacked. Focusing on multiple parts of the island at once, groups of humans and buchens set out, sneaking into the lairs of arachs, and stabbing into their skulls with weapons crafted from the horns of unicorns - just sharp enough to pierce the skin and skull of the giant reptiles.
Arach numbers were relatively small even then, numbering only in the hundreds. It took only a little less than a month for nearly the entire species to die off at the hands of the alliance. Now, almost two centuries later, arach sighting are exceptionally rare. The aggressive creatures barely avoided extinction, and those that have survived up to this point were likely only hatchlings, or still unhatched eggs, at the time of the invasions.
A proper arach sighting has not been spotted for nearly 50 years. Children who call Avadon home know arachs as a thing of history lessons, and elders count their blessings that the creatures have seemingly died off. However, The Gallowblades are always prepared for the return of the beasts, and if the rumours of white-scaled arachs are to be believed, their skills as hunters and slayers may be needed once more.
In order to truly understand how magic works in the world of Illora, one must first understand its origins, and how it came to be in the modern world.
Long before the humans, or the elves, or the tuvuls, or any other civilized creatures roamed the world and claimed land masses as their own, a people know as shurn lived and thrived on Illora’s landmasses. These people were peaceful, intuitive, and most of all - masters of the arcane.
Approximately five centuries prior to this roleplay taking place, remnants of shurn society were discovered by an excavation team in Suul Thanoor, the homeland of the tuvuls. Bones, fragments of structures, and most importantly - ancient writings, were among the artifacts found. Word of the discovery spread quickly, and soon enough, scholars from every corner of Illora were traveling to the southern continent to study the findings.
The writings of the shurn were one of the most thoroughly examined of the discovery. Written in a language unknown to anyone at the time, the words inked onto the paper held great power - a power that would not be unlocked for several years.
As more and more studious folk studied and transcribed the words of the shurn, the true purpose of the written records were revealed - the chants were used to pull mana from the air, where it rested in translucent pockets known as “pools.”
Mana, the base source of power behind each arcane incantation, is a mysterious substance. By speaking the words the shurn have written, spellcasters are able to open up these pools, and pull the mana from the air using the specific vibrations the chants elicit from the speaker’s vocal chords. This is the beginning of every spell - minor or major - and as a result, the mouth has become one of the most important parts of a wizard’s body.
Once the ancient words are spoken, the mana seeps out from its pool, and slowly takes on a much less gaseous state. It thickens, and becomes a much more liquid like substance. As the caster continues their chant, the mana slowly creeps toward their body like metal to a magnet. Once the mana reaches the body, it embeds itself in the skin, seeping through the pores until it can no longer be seen with the naked eye.
From this point, the caster must carry out a precise pattern of body movements in order to mix the mana, and shape it into a new physical state, where it will seep out once more from the skin and perform the task the caster has in mind. For the most part, these movements are nothing more than hand gestures, though some larger-scale spells are known to require the full body to be in motion. The mana could take the shape of a ball of flame for the caster to throw, or create a barrier around the caster, protecting them from possible harm. The manipulation of mana can also be used as a means of creating small wounds, recreating creatures long dead, summoning creatures seemingly of another world, looking through the eyes of other people, or even completely changing the caster’s shape, allowing them to take on the form of another creature.
The list is seemingly endless, and as more discoveries are made in the ancient language of the shurn, the possibilities of magic continue to grow.
As wonderful as mana manipulation seems on the outside, it is a dangerous process, and rather difficult to master.
Firstly, wizards must be cautious of what they wear when attempting to pull mana from the pools. As mentioned, as the mana seeps into the physical world, it takes on a more liquid like state. As a result, it cannot pass through solid objects like leather or steel - two components commonly used for armour. It is recommended that simple cloths and fabrics are worn when pulling mana from the pools, as the mana can easily seep through such garments to reach the skin. If mana fails to reach the body, and instead comes upon an impassable substance, it will dissipate, abandoning its new physical form and returning to the pools in an instant.
However, if only some mana manages to reach the caster’s body (such as an unprotected head or hands), then the amount of mana that infuses into the caster’s skin will represent the spell’s chance of success. If, for example, a hopeful spellcaster wears steel armour on their lower body, covering only their legs and feet, and remains bare from the waist up, it would be safe to assume that approximately 50% of the mana reached their body, uninterrupted. This means that the spell will have an approximately 50% chance of success when the caster attempts to finish casting. The amount of mana that enters the body will not alter the actual strength of the spell, and only the success rate for casting.
Clothing choice also comes into effect for the second half of the casting process, as body movement is an important aspect of a successful cast. The required gestures and movements are strict, and an incorrect movement, or motion that has otherwise been restricted, can result in unfavourable or random effects unrelated to the desired outcome of the spell in mind. For example, a wizard wishing to cast a bolt ice at a foe may instead encase their hands in an icy enclosure if they do not carefully execute the proper hand gestures. With this in mind, nonrestrictive clothing is favourable when manipulating mana.
Due to these restrictions, wizards are rarely ever seen adorning traditional armour. Instead, many prefer to wear regular clothing made of simple fabric, or cloth robes, relying instead on mana for protection if need be. However, the further north one travels, the less common magic will be, as soft fabrics and thin cloth do little to protect against the bitter temperatures, which ultimately get in the way of successful casting.
Due to the unfamiliarity of magic in many parts of Illora, alongside the dangers it presents to both casters and innocents, the study and practice of mana manipulation is often regarded with contempt. It is a common belief in many parts of the world that magic is unnatural, and should not be tampered with. As a result, several major countries have prohibited the practice of magic entirely, though laws vary from place to place.
Some countries, for instance, may prohibit magic use within city walls. Others may deem only certain areas of magic illegal - necromancy and demonology being two popular choices.
However, no matter where a wizard may find him or herself, there is no doubt that their interests will ultimately be met with derision of some kind. For millenia, the use of magic died with the shurn, and is often considered, though there is no solid proof of this, to be the direct cause behind the ancient people’s extinction. The discovery of the shurn and their culture led to the re-discovery of mana manipulation, however, and is thus a relatively young and unexplored power. A mix of rumours, lack of education, perversion of power, mistakes, and the general mysteries of magic has given it something of a negative reputation in almost every corner of Illora.
Over the years, as the study of magic continues and expands, more and more spells have been discovered, and the reaches of the arcane have expanded tenfold. However, it is still a largely uncharted source of power, and the surface of its full potential has yet to even be scratched.
Arcane scholars in Hathaia have managed to categorize the majority of known spells into several different schools, to aid in the simplifying of study. These schools are as follows:
Pyromancy - Any magic that creates and manipulates fire falls under this category. A mage who focuses on this school will likely be able to create small flames, release blasts of hot air from the palms of their hands, surround themselves in flames, and attune their body to withstand extreme temperatures. Often deemed a dangerous and risky area of study, it is not uncommon to find novice practitioners of pyromancy without eyebrows, or with significant burns on their skin. In more extreme cases, the remnants of bodies of unlearned pyrokinetics have been discovered charred, or burnt to nothing but ash.
Often looked at as a strictly offensive school, it is not entirely without use in day-to-day life, much like fire itself. Careful pyromancers rarely need to worry about finding heat sources to prepare meals, and colder seasons are hardly a problem for someone well versed in the art of creating flames.
Geomancy - Likely the most foreign of the three elemental schools, geomancy gives wizards control over nature - be it the rocks beneath the surface, or the wood of a tree.
A favourite of druids who isolate themselves in forests, away from society, geomancers can both create and control stones, boulders, vines, leaves, and plants - both magical and natural. Thought to be the middle ground between offense and defense when it comes to the elements, geomancy offers spells that both damage and protect, though its uses often go beyond combat.
Summoning a small boulder to burst forth can be useful for one caught in the heat of battle. However, surrounding oneself with stone, or coating one’s skin with bark can sometimes be just as effective as man-made armour.
A forest would quickly become a geomancer’s refuge of choice. Such an environment would be very beneficial to the wizard, as being surrounded by the very thing in which they choose to study, while also being in an environment that allows for the use of mana without any deadly repercussions, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, or distraction from civilized life.
Cryomancy - Much like pyromancy, cryomancy is a strictly elemental school of magic. Though, much unlike pyromancy, it deals strictly in the colder components of nature. Cryomancers are capable of summoning forth water in both a liquid and solid state, utilizing it however they see fit. Perhaps deemed as the most civilized school of magic, there are very few immediate dangers to both the practitioner of cryomancy, as well as those around them, if things go wrong. Misplaced cages of ice can be melted, and water, unless reaching extreme temperatures, poses no immediate threat.
Looked at as more of a protective form of magic than anything else, cryomancers are among some of the most well respected wizards, and are often found at the forefront of natural disasters such as forest fires, aiding those who would otherwise perish at the hands of nature.
One thing to bear in mind when studying and practicing cryomancy, is that magically summoned water has similar effects as salt water when consumed. Though it tastes rather sweet instead of salty, it will ultimately make one more thirsty, and too much consumption can have ill effects. This is perhaps one of the most deadly uses of cryomancy, if the wizard is also gifted in subterfuge.
Demonology - Demons are one of the only physical clues that there are realms outside of the one Illora exists in, and even then, none other than demons themselves have experienced cross-realm travel. It is, in fact, a popular debate among scholars as to whether or not the plane in which demons claim to live - Ixillithit - truly exists, or if the creatures are simply the result of a form of magic that is not yet thoroughly understood, and are nothing more than manipulated mana.
As a result, demonology is one of the most controversial schools of magic to exist in Illora. If magic itself is not completely outlawed, demonology and necromancy are often the two exceptions. This is because, whether or not the summoned demons truly are beings of another world, or simply magical creations, they are known to be inherently mischievous, delirious, or downright evil. Very few summoners are capable of truly controlling demons, and those that do, rarely live long. However, the power and riches promised by summoned demons is often difficult for weak-willed sorts to pass up, and as a result, the practice is unusually prominent.
The casting process for demon summoning requires a slight bit of extra effort, as well. While still calling for a chant in the tongue of the shurn, and body movements, demonology tends to require a sacrifice in order for the demon to come into existence. Whether that be a small piece of flesh, a puddle of blood, an entire appendage, or a living creature, is entirely up the caster, however, it has been deduced that the more there is to be taken, the more powerful the demon will be. This is often the base of the argument supporting the idea that demons do not actually exist, but are instead the result of mixing mana with a life force. However, a single conversation with a demon may convince someone otherwise.
Necromancy - Toying with the dead is, in and of itself, a vile act in the eyes of many. Necromancers, however, tend to revel in death, and celebrate it instead. Those who study the magic of death and undeath are capable of giving mock-life to carcasses long since passed, creating deathly wounds and illnesses, and insulting the idea of death entirely.
Thought to be the epitome of evil, necromancers rely on the existence of corpses to carry out the true power of their chosen area of study. The carcasses they work with often serve as thralls to the necromancer, walking as if they bear life once more. However, anyone with eyes, ears, or a nose is capable of deducing that the reanimated corpses are not alive by any sense of the word.
Necromancers are not only capable of toying with the dead, but they are well versed in the art of creating the dead as well. Or, as many may describe it - killing.
Necromancy spells include things such as the creation of wounds and diseases, and the production of deadly poisons to be attached to blades or mixed into food and drink. Ultimately, anything capable of causing death at the hands of the necromancer, falls under their preferred school.
It is believed, though not entirely proven, that all living creatures attract mana in some way, before chants are ever spoken. When a creature dies, that mana does not pass on, and instead lingers around the corpse. This is where it is believed necromancers truly harness their abilities, and explains why they are capable of animating even single, detached fingers, when such an appendage otherwise has no means of movement on its own.
Shapeshifting - Although proper alteration of other objects and beings through mana manipulation has yet to be discovered, there is a means of altering one’s own body via magic, albeit a lengthy and dangerous process.
Shapeshifting is considered the ultimate understanding of another creature. From their physical appearance, how their brain operates, and how their inner organs function, the shapeshifter must know and understand it all. Wizards are capable of, with proper study and understanding of the target shape, morphing their bodies to resemble that of another creature, ultimately becoming the creature themselves, save for the brain, which retains its original capabilities. Other than that, however, the wizard becomes the creature they aim to be. Though the process is far from permanent, it is known to be rather painful during the morphing phase.
However, much like cryomancy, the general public tends to regard shapeshifting as a relatively innocent form of magic, and can in fact be rather beneficial under certain circumstances.
For example, a wizard looking to travel great distances can study a horse for an extended period of time, and with enough concentration, take on the creature’s form in order to travel great distances. Likewise, a wizard who feels threatened could, with enough passion and study, take on the shape of a great bear to fend off attackers, or a small mouse to escape danger.
Mysticism - This school of magic is perhaps the most diverse. Mysticism spells tend to deal with the minds of other creatures - creating illusions, summoning strong emotions, or discerning motives. However, it also deals in divination as well, allowing casters to see through the eyes of another, hear the thoughts of other minds, and understanding words spoken in foreign tongues. As such, the mysticism school is known to be both very dangerous, and very advantageous.
Known as mystics, practitioners of mysticism spells are often regarded with great caution, though very few treat them with disdain, for fear of losing control of their own minds.
Powerful mystics are capable of controlling the mind of another creature, or overwhelming said creature with powerful thoughts and inducing rage, depression, fear, or even happiness and excitement. They can also conjure up illusions, convincing people and creatures that what they are seeing is reality, and not simply manipulated mana. The idea of losing control of one’s mind and thoughts has given mysticism something of a frightful reputation - sometimes, even more so than necromancy or demonology.
Mysticism also has its practical effects as well. Mystics are capable of vision beyond their physical eyes through the use of scrying stones, or by seeing through the eyes of another being, similar to the way they read another being’s thoughts. Likewise, spells in the mysticism school can give mystics the ability to understand foreign words and sentences, be they man-made or natural, ultimately giving mystics a particular affinity for animals.
As powerful as mysticism sounds on the outside, there have yet to be any mystics capable of controlling more than only a handful of minds at once. No single wizard holds enough power to sway entire armies, and, as such, mysticism is not quite as frightening in the face of multiple foes. This is often considered the major downfall of the school.
Since magic requires such focus of the mind, and the sacrifice of the caster’s physical body, many wizards tend to focus on a select few schools, as no creature possesses enough mental prowess to master all the different areas of magic. Instead, it is common practice for mages to limit their study to only a couple schools at a time. Usually aiming for two, though truly dedicated scholars sometimes add a third to their studies, though this often leads to antisocial, uncivilized lifestyles.
If you are looking to play a magical character, by all means, do so. Magic in Illora is ever-expanding, and despite the restrictions, can be a very powerful ability. However, keep in mind that magic is not the be-all-end-all of this world, and your character will not be able to evolve into a god among men - just like a warrior is incapable of becoming indestructible, a wizard in Illora is incapable of solving all the world’s problems. There are no healing magics, and the casting process makes it so that no wizard, novice or master, is capable of casting spells with the flick of a finger. Wizards must be intelligent enough to know and understand mana manipulation, but they must also be wise enough to stay aware of their surroundings when casting, and do not put themselves, or others, in harm’s way.
Other than that, I hope to see some interested folk! I look forward to testing your characters against the wrath of the arachs.