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Credit to JeremyPaillotin on DeviantArt.com.


Beware the Keep of the Blackened Mire, the old rhyme begins. Every child in the Kingdom of Beldemar knows the story. It is an ancient place, one which stood watch over the endless expanse that is the Wildwood, one which kept the beasts of that misty forest at bay. It was a marvel of man, a grand castle with magnificent turrets, a place where the governors of the past era dwelt. Few fortresses were as impregnable, and none held back the wild like this mighty keep.

None remember the true name of this once proud citadel any longer. It has long since sunk into the earth, the land around it becoming a thick and pitiless swamp. As many things built in the days of Old Aldonia, it fell when the Empire did. The Aldonians brought their destruction upon themselves, having tampered too long with magics that should have been forbidden. The Caernlings, those who called the land which is now Beldemar home, overthrew their masters and took Imperial holdings for their own... but for some reason they kept a wide berth from the Keep of the Black Mire.

Blackmire Keep remained dormant for years, though eerie lights and strange happenings surrounded it. Villages established near it never lasted; too many hauntings and disappearances dissuaded long-term settlement. It became known as a cursed place, a peaty patch of land where the grass grew tall and black, where the sun never quite shone, where the marsh ate the castle itself.

Recently, however, that dormancy has ended. People have been vanishing from their homes. Travelers claim to have seen shadowy figures and strange creatures in the surrounding lands. Dark storms have settled in the sky over the keep, and the vines grow thicker and more twisted. Something dwells within those pagan halls. Evil stirs.

Unfortunately for Beldemar, all their best knights and their armies are busy elsewhere. Abagon to the west has been thrown into a bitter civil war, and Beldemar itself has begun a naval campaign against the Holy Empire of Lithenia. The villages south of Benetia, the capital of the realm, have been left utterly defenseless from the machinations of the haunted keep.

But hopelessness leads to desperation, and desperation is good for you. You are a mercenary. You go where others will not, kill things so that others don't have to risk their own sorry hides. You and the other sellswords in Benetia are in a good position to earn a pretty purse of gold. Head to the crumbling castle; chase off ghosts for the sake of some superstitious serfs; get a sack of coins from the Lord Mayor and retire to live like a king in Carise. It should be easy, shouldn't it?

The Depths of Blackmire Keep


Welcome to Blackmire Keep, an overgrown ruin in the middle of a fetid swamp and part of my homebrew Men-at-Arms setting! This setting is one I originally intended to use for a tabletop RPG, but as time has gone by I've found myself wanting to apply it to a forum setting more and more. Freeform RP with only minor rules to guide the game may make for a better story, I reckon.

Now, thus far I've just copy-and-pasted what was in the original Interest Check, but from here below is where it changes. For those who haven't read the list of setting assumptions already, I'm slapping those in a hider below.



Our story takes place in the Aldaric Sea Region, a war-torn realm of man pressed from without and within by monsters of many flavors. Its temperatures range from temperate to freezing cold, and its terrain sports such lovely locales as the Cinderbog, the steep cliffs of Beldemar, the endless Wildwood, the craggy peaks of Jotunheimr, and the overgrown remnants of the Shattered Isles. This realm surrounds the Aldaric Sea, but the sea stretches North, East, and West as well, joining the Northsea, the Sea of Storms, and the Vester Sea respectively.



However, our story does not span all those climates, vast and varied as they may be. Our story focuses on the the lands surrounding the city of Benetia, capital of the Kingdom of Beldemar, and the pile of rubble to its south they call Blackmire Keep.

Characters in Men-at-Arms


Humans are the only truly civilized folk within the Aldaric Sea Region. In a world inhabited by fierce monsters, barbaric orcs, aloof fey and the walking dead, humanity has carved out a few bastions of order from the sea of chaos. Humans are more advanced, more intelligent, and more capable than their many neighbors.

At least, this is what humans believe.

It is a harsh world humanity lives in, and humans have as much capacity for cruelty as any man-eating orc or walking pile of bones. They hail from many parts of the world, and a motley assortment of cultures and ethnicities now call this region home. Black-skinned men from the west, pale northmen from across the Aldaric Sea, Aldonians from the ruined remains of their old Empire, wild-haired Caernlings fleeing strange happenings in the southern woods... Over the years, these disparate peoples have all made this fertile territory their home.

Of course, with so many people packed into a single region, war is inevitable. Humans have been fighting each other since time immemorial, and the present day is no different. Some humans fight each other out of loyalty or duty, for some greater cause, for a better world...

You, though? You’re a mercenary. You know what you fight for.

Ethnicities


The medieval world of Men-at-Arms is one where cultural exchange is common, and where what distinguishes one group of people from another often comes down to political affiliation. Though the Aldaric Sea Region has limited contact with the world beyond its waters, the people here commonly interact with one another.

The following is a list of the common ethnicities in the Men-at-Arms setting. Note that while these are “typical” descriptions for each group, they are by no means the end-all, and due to the prolonged contact these groups have had with each other it’s not at all uncommon for people to be of mixed races. There’s no stigma against having mixed heritage, either, except among truly stubborn believers in “blood purity,” such as the inbred lords of New Aldonia.

High Aldonians are a pale, almost ghostly-looking people whose hair is typically black or white. Their eyes have eerie colors, such as icy blue or violet. Due to inbreeding to maintain “pure lineage,” Aldonians are known to suffer from respiratory problems among other things. They can mostly only be found in New Aldonia, though people all throughout the known world can claim to have some Aldonian blood in them.

Low Aldonians are people who were considered the lower class in the Aldonian Empire’s height (but still higher class than foreigners in that era). They are native to the area which is now called Lithenia, and are an olive-skinned people with large, dark, expressive eyes. Their hair is typically curly, and it ranges from black to brown to a sort of reddish-black.

Caernlings are a wild-haired bunch of woodfolk who hail originally from the Wildwood. They are the smallest of the peoples of the region, and their hair is usually brown or black, and their eyes brown, green, or black. They are known for maintaining the Old Ways.

Reavers are broad-shouldered and rough-looking men who hail from the north, from the lands that are now called Jotunheim. Their skin ranges from pale to a light brown, and their hair comes in the full range one would expect human hair to have. Their eyes are generally blue or brown. They are known to be hale and hearty folk.

Westerlings are dark-skinned people whose skin tones range from coal black to a light brown. Their eyes are usually brown, amber, or golden in color. They are most likely to be find in Abagon or Grunmark, though some can be found just about anywhere. Westerlings are generally tall, lean, and strong.

Places of Birth


The coast of the Aldaric Sea is home to several unique cultures and independent nations. While certainly there is a baseline similarity between the different realms due to the influence of the old Aldonian Empire, these territories have distinct environments from one another, both physical and political.

Player characters in the world of Men-at-Arms may be from any of the listed regions. While human cultures do exist outside the scope of this setting, player characters by and large should hail from within the Aldaric Sea Region. (PM me if you wish to be from outside the region.)

The year is 912 A.F., or “After the Fall.” This denotes the number of years that have passed since the Aldonian Empire crumbled.















History


The history of the Aldaric Sea Region is rife with violence. It can most easily be split into two eras: Before Aldonia’s fall, and after Aldonia’s fall.





The Role of the Sexes


The Aldaric Sea Region is situated in a world where monsters and magic are all very real, and where soldiers die in disgusting amounts for the needs of their nations. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that while there is certainly a stigma against men and women breaking their traditional roles, the ever-pressing need for more bodies on the field means that female soldiery are not heard of.

The traditional roles of the sexes certainly do still exist, and the majority of people adhere to them. And folk definitely scoff at the idea of knight-ladies and women generals. However, hard labor is expected of peasants regardless of what they have between their legs, and when steel starts flashing it doesn't matter whether the person holding a sharp stick beside you has flappy bits on their chest so long as they can stick the pointy end in the right direction.

Of course, different peoples have different degrees of tolerance for breaches of the gender norm. The Reavers of Grunmark are the most likely to accept women warriors, though women leaders still have some trouble. Rural Caernling communities (such as those outside of the Wildwood) frequently elect female leaders, and their women sometimes fight in war. Abagon had a severe outlook concerning adherence to traditional roles once, but cultural exposure to the Reavers and the Caernlings has made them a little more permissive of deviance. Lithenia and New Aldonia allow almost no breach of this unwritten social contract, however, especially among the nobility. Carise is a melting pot of ideas, and so people of all different opinions on the manner can be found there.

Religion


The Celestial Church, the Temple of the Bleeding Lord, and the Old Ways of the Caernlings are the three remaining major faiths in the Aldaric Sea Region. Most people follow one of the former two, including the Caernlings, but there are still some who try to appease the spirits of the Wildwood and who pray to rain spirits and the like to grow their crops.









Character Creation


To create a character for Men-at-Arms, use the resources on this post at your leisure and fill out the character sheet listed in the Characters tab.

Click Me for a sneak peek into what the RPG elements of character creation will be like.

On Player-Defined Setting Details


Players are free to further define elements already on the map, such as the cities and castles, and to invent their own places as well. Players are encouraged to make up other details such as noble houses, guilds, mercenary companies, monasteries, etc. as befits their character's background.

You may begin creating characters. Applying doesn’t mean you’ll be accepted; but I can promise you that I will carefully consider every application, and that I will try to be accomodating. I cannot promise that everyone will get a chance to play.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Heyitsjiwon
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Heyo! Interested. Quick question about the setting. Is it more like the late or early medieval age? I ask for two reasons, 1. to get a better sense of technology, armors, and weapons, and 2. to understand how power is centralized in these various kingdoms. Are the nobles often as powerful if not more so than the King himself? Or does the King rule above all typically and hold most of the most valuable holdings?
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Chicken
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Heyo! Interested. Quick question about the setting. Is it more like the late or early medieval age? I ask for two reasons, 1. to get a better sense of technology, armors, and weapons, and 2. to understand how power is centralized in these various kingdoms.


Somewhere in between. Gunpowder doesn't exist yet. Crossbows are the newfangled knight-killing weapon, and there are rumors that the goblins have created even more devious versions of them. Plate armor exists but is very expensive, so some poorer knights still prefer to run around in things like chainmail.

Are the nobles often as powerful if not more so than the King himself? Or does the King rule above all typically and hold most of the most valuable holdings?


Depends on the realm, but by and large the King has quite a bit of power and divine right in most given realms. There are generally a small number of nobles whose power is roughly equal to that of the king's, but the king's influence is generally vaster.

As you can see with Abagon, the Black Duchy, and Lithenia, divine right ain't always respected.

I'm back from work and you folks can expect an updated post some time tonight, along with character sheets and a summary of what I'm looking for in characters.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Chicken
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@Wadesauce@AngelNoire@Heyitsjiwon@BurningCold@Zetsuko@Ashgan@The Scotsman@ECDN

I think that's everyone. But hey-o! The first OOC post is completed, and the character sheet template is ready for you to work with. Religion and History sections have been filled out. They're chew-able versions of stuff I originally wrote in my personal notes, and... and frankly, they're better written than the rambly mess that makes up my personal notes.

Note that I may not accept everyone that applies for this thread. I want to say that up front. I am perfectly happy running for a large group, but I will be vetting applications very carefully, as I want to make sure that we're all going in wanting the same things out of this game.

I've encouraged you in the character sheet template to NOT write too much in multiple places. This is for the above reason, but also because I want you to be able to edit your post easily if need be. Changes will be asked, most likely. Just because I suggest revisions doesn't mean you're denied.

I should note that while I study medieval arms and armor a lot and I want this world to feel very real, I DON'T expect everyone that applies to be experts on feudal society and how the medieval world operates. It's a plus if you are! But it's not a requirement, and I'll try to be as accommodating as I can so long as you put forth a good and honest effort once the game begins.

Finally, thank you all for your interest thus far, and especially for your patience. My job is one where I get unexpected overtime sometimes. It's good pay when that happens, but damn if it doesn't get in the way of writing this sort of thing. I'm glad to have so many people who were interested in this concept around.

So... without further ado, please feel free to ask questions! Send me PMs or post them here; I'll try to answer them at night.

Something I'll add to the first post of the OOC later:

POSTING FREQUENCY

We all have busy lives. I won't try to strong-arm you into posting daily or anything. I will leave a few guidelines, however.

1) Let's try to each post at least twice a week.
2) Let's also try not to drown the IC with 20 post conversations between 2-3 characters. That's not nice. If you have that urge, why not make a collaborative post via Google Documents or a similar program?
3) If you won't be able to post for a while, just please try and give me some advance notice. We'll work something out.

ABOUT DISCORD SERVERS

I don't have one made for this RP yet. Should I make one for this RP? Give me your thoughts on that. I won't invite anyone until I've picked players, however; that much I can promise you.

I like Discord, but I know some people don't. It CAN be helpful for organizing collaborative posts and the like. So... let me know if you want one or not, folks.

HOW THE RP WILL OPERATE

I, as the GM, will sometimes give you hard consequences. When I say that, what I mean is sometimes I'll say something bad happens to your character, and it simply does. It may feel god-modey at times. It may even involve your character dying. You have to be willing to accept that going in.

With that said, I'll generally try to give you a scenario or circumstance and let you RP your way out of it. And no, my goal isn't to kill players, but it IS to create a world that feels real and makes your actions matter, for better or worse.

Also keep in mind that I will be posting music samples from YouTube in my posts as mood-setting music, typically in the form of yellow hyperlinks attached to a sentence at the start of a paragraph. You are NOT required to listen to these bits as you read the post. However, you'll make me feel warm and fuzzy if you DO listen to them. (Feel free to hover your mouse over those hyperlinks before you click them to make sure the hyperlink is legit, of course. I won't take offense. Safety first.)

We'll be starting this story in a tavern, as befits any quest that leads into a dungeon. Is it cliche? Yes. Yes, it is.

On that note... It's midnight, and I need to go to bed. I'll check on this thread tomorrow morning and tomorrow night. See you folks later.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Darcness
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Excited :) plan to get a character written up momentarily.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by The Scotsman
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Hey I'm still very interested! However, I won't be able to get a character sheet up until tomorrow night (GMT) earliest, possibly Friday as I won't be by my computer. Hope that's alright with you, and sorry!
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Hey I'm still very interested! However, I won't be able to get a character sheet up until tomorrow night (GMT) earliest, possibly Friday as I won't be by my computer. Hope that's alright with you, and sorry!


That's not a problem at all. I haven't established a deadline yet, and I'd be a hypocrite if I demanded immediate attendance from all interested parties given that I was 1 day late in cleaning up my material for posting. Take your time.

With that said, the deadline for completed characters will probably be some time next week. Wednesday gives everyone one week to set their character up. Let's roll with that tentatively for now.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Chicken
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Impromptu, but I accidentally left off one thing from the original Character Application: Homeland. I'm adding that to the sheet. That's all.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Darcness
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Can I go ahead and PM my CS to you? I know it's an odd question, it's mostly cause I also had an idea in the event of something potentially happening at some point.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Chicken
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Can I go ahead and PM my CS to you? I know it's an odd question, it's mostly cause I also had an idea in the event of something potentially happening at some point.


You certainly may, but I won't be able to reply via PM properly at work, so expect an answer around 5-6 p.m. Central.
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That is totally k for me :)
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Irisity
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@Chicken do slaves exist in this universe?
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@Chicken do slaves exist in this universe?


No. Slavery is not condoned in this region.

Serfdom, however, is alive and well.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Romero
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Really like the look of this, and would love to join. Problem is I'm on holiday till the weekend so won't be able to start on a CS till then. Does that still give me time?
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Enzayne
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I'd also like to throw my hat into this ring, unless it's considered bad form to have missed the initial interest check.
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Irisity
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@Chicken how many different languages are spoken across the kingdoms? I'm curious how useful linguistics could be. Also, do the mountains have names? Particularly the mountain within Abagon
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Really like the look of this, and would love to join. Problem is I'm on holiday till the weekend so won't be able to start on a CS till then. Does that still give me time?


Plenty. As I said in an above post, I don't plan to close things until sometime next week at the earliest.

I'd also like to throw my hat into this ring, unless it's considered bad form to have missed the initial interest check.


It's not bad form at all. Feel free to throw your hat in! You'll receive the same scrutiny and the same chance that everyone else will.

how many different languages are spoken across the kingdoms? I'm curious how useful linguistics could be. Also, do the mountains have names? Particularly the mountain within Abagon


Linguistics was just an example skill. Remember, you're free to make up your own. But essentially, while there are technically several languages throughout the realm, the Common language is essentially a bastardization of the Aldonian tongue with a mish-mash of everything else included. Will Linguistics be useful in this story? I'd rather not reveal that.

As far as mountain names go, thus far I've left them unnamed. As I said in the first post, however: "Players are free to further define elements already on the map, such as the cities and castles, and to invent their own places as well. Players are encouraged to make up other details such as noble houses, guilds, mercenary companies, monasteries, etc. as befits their character's background." If you want to name a mountain - or potentially even a mountain range - I'm fine with that, though I may vet the name.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Irisity
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Chicken
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As a youth and peasant, Kyra has 4 positive traits and I didn't feel right with just having 1 flaw so I added another. Is that alright?


Every character has one flaw baseline. Different backgrounds and age categories may add flaws.

If a character wishes, they may take a Fatal Flaw in place of one of their regular flaws so they may get one extra trait. You may only have one Fatal Flaw. Fatal Flaws are particularly damning, and will be highly scrutinized by the GM.
On Flaws


So, yes. You're free to take up to one (1) extra flaw. Doing so gives you one extra trait, however.

I am reading your sheet now!

And don't forget, you can make up your own flaws and traits. I stress it in the document a few times. Make up your own if what I listed doesn't include what you want!
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Heyitsjiwon
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