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I've been around on this site for a while. At this point I don't have too much to say. I'm not nearly as active as I once was, but I have a sort of clique that I speak with fairly frequently, and occasionally I get a good idea at a serendipitous time when I have sufficient motivation to start a new RP.

I've GM'd or Co-GM'd probably something like 10 RPs over the years, to mixed success. I'm probably best known now for my involvement with the big Divinus RPs, but before that I did other things on the Oldguild with some Dungeon Keepers RPs and one called the Horde of Evil. I've occasionally made forays into the NRP section. I want to like those, but it's a cesspool. Everything in that section seems to invariably stall out and die early on the planning phase, so I've sworn off any further involvement there.

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“Pah! Keben swallow these things! It’s like walking on snow!”

The steps of three pairs of feet heavily creaked and rustled over the bed of dried needle-like leaves that thickly carpeted the forest ground, with only a rare knot of roots or mound of ferns poking out of the brown sea. The one who had spoken, laden with two large bundles of hide and thus treading more ponderously than the others, staggered from side to side every two feet he pushed ahead, cursing as the sides of his coarse footwear sank in the unfamiliarly soft surface.

Indeed, these three were clearly not natives of the cedar woods, though they walked with the assurance of those who knew where they were going. Their clothing were furs and rough linen, their beards thick, long and unkempt, and, most outlandish of all, the hue of their skin a stony grey, unlike the fleshly tones of those who had come to dwell about the forest from the south. Any who might have by chance crossed them would have known they came from the dark northward woods, and rightly be alarmed, for the arrival of such folk often boded ill. The axes and long knives hanging from their squamous belts spoke clearly of what sort of life they were used to lead, as did the charms and talismans of wood and human bone, tied together so they would not rattle with every movement.

Now, however, their wicked arms hung untouched and their hands were either empty or carrying less menacing things, for they had come with a less rapacious purpose. The one in the lead, who looked slightly younger and darker of skin than the other two, raised two fingers on his right hand to signal for silence.

“Easy there! We’re in their haunts now, it won’t be much longer yet.”

It was all for naught, of course. It was said that the Great Humbaba and his many sons could hear from leagues away even the slightest rustling in their Cedar Forest, and of course all knew that the birds adored and served the Old One as their king. As the sinister trio made their way forward, now in a slower and quieter manner out of respect, they saw a moving cedar.

The tree’s limbs had been sheared off such that the log was stark with only the scars in its bark to show where giant hands had torn free whole branches. The giant piece of timber was casually slung over the shoulder of a great and hairy thing, one of the humbabas, not quite vertical as a man might march with a spear but certainly not horizontal as a lumberjack would balance a beam for comfort and ease of carrying--the log-made-club was halfway brandished in that threatening pose that a warrior might hold a maul. The humbaba padded directly toward them at a reasonable pace, the podzol beneath his massive feet making not so much as a sound, the many birds nestled in the branches above watching in silence.

The travellers recoiled, biting down on exclamations of fright and surprise.

“Pest! It’s him!” the one carrying the bundles almost dropped his charges as he stumbled backwards and struck a root with his foot.

The first to collect himself was the guide. Lifting himself to his full height, insignificant as it appeared in the presence of the giant, he quietly gestured to his companions to be still, then inclined his head in a motion of reverence and spoke in a strange dialect, where mangled words of giant-speech were sprinkled throughout the expansive phrases of the northern tongue.

“O great dweller of the cedar-wood, be not wroth, but take our gifts, for today we come to be your guests.” He subtly waved with an open palm by the hip, and the bundle-bearer came forward. The wrapped hides were laid on the ground and unfurled, revealing their contents - chunks of raw boar meat, still fresh, seasoned with walnuts and other dry fruit that were a rarity outside the thicker forests.

Aside from its hulking stature, skin the color of drying wood visible in patches beneath its fur, and its long tail, the monstrous creature was made even more inhuman by its lionlike visage...and the razor sharp teeth inside its mouth. Still hefting the huge log effortlessly over its shoulder with one arm, it quickly snatched up the offering of meat with the other hand and inhaled a morsel of it--just a pound or two. That rest of the bountiful offering it rewrapped and scooped up. It eyed the trio down some more, the tallest of those little men still not even reaching its shoulders, and finally growled, “Come along then. Humbaba the Great and Terrible may care to hear you. But I, Humbaba the Mighty, do not.” Without further words, it turned about and began padding back through the woods, walking at a pace just fast enough to tire the men as they followed.

One of the elder sojourners turned to the other with a frown. “What’s he mean?” he whispered, “They really called the same?”

“They don’t truly carry any name,” the other replied with a shrug, breathing a little heavier from the longer steps they were forced into to keep sight of their new guide, “I’ve heard it they don’t even know what a real name is. Only way they tell each other apart is with kennings.”

Further ahead, they swore they heard the creature snort at that, but this particular one didn’t seem to care much for men or their talking. For hours it trodded silently forward while they struggled to keep up, never letting it out of sight for they feared that the moment they could no longer see it, it would be gone entirely. Somehow the creature managed to walk through its domain silently and without following any trail or path that they could discern, and frustrating also seeming to not so much as even break or bend the protruding vegetation, spiderwebs, and other petty obstacles. They passed some stumps of trees that had clearly been felled with purpose in mind, but never were there more than two or three stumps next to one another, much less a whole thicket that’d been clearcut. More common than outright stumps were trees that had just had a single branch removed, that they could still live. In the distance they saw some other creatures similar to the one that they followed; those looked at them curiously, or perhaps even aggressively, for a moment before realizing that they were already being escorted, and then they stopped their work or their goings and began to follow too.

Eventually they came to a true river, not one of the many countless small creeks and streams that watered most of the forest, and all of the creatures flung the timber they carried into the water as if it was nothing. The logs drifted downstream to presumably be collected elsewhere, and then the humbabas all turned and began to plod in some other direction for at least an hour. Where they walked, the woods grew only thicker and the occasional sights of stumps vanished altogether. Only then did they finally come to a dwelling dug into the ground with its roof and entrance woven from brambles, vines, and branches. One of the creatures was already waiting expectantly outside of it.

Though they all had thus far looked more or less identical--and there were at least a half dozen of them--this one was different. It was grander, but still the same height for its slouch, and its countenance and hair were both greyed from age and perhaps sorrow.

Humbaba the Mighty, or whatever the first one had introduced itself as, approached his father to offer the boar’s meat. They exchanged a few grunts and growls; the elder finally opened the gift and sniffed at it, then took a single bite or two before pushing it into the dark depths of its dwelling behind.

And then it looked at the trio of strange men expectantly. “The crone sent you?”

“She did, Great and Terrible one,” the younger man’s speech was now even wealthier with words evidently borrowed from the humbabas’ usage, much to his companions’ puzzlement, even at times taking on a rasping guttural tone like an animalistic rumble. “Strange beings have flown from the south up to her domain, who move like birds but are akin to crawling snakes. She would know if you, who are wise to the ways of flying things, can say anything of such unusual things.”

That seemed to spark their attention. There was suddenly a chorus of low grumbling and growls from the assembled humbabas, but of course none of it was intelligible to the men.

“Such creatures were once abundant, but in these days I thought them all long gone,” the eldest humbaba finally mused. ”Perhaps there are yet a few that remain, the last of their kind. I would send my sons to go and find this noble creature and bring it here, that I may see one again for myself. Perhaps with some effort, more could be found and the lands could teem with them once again.”

At those words, the two elder visitors exchanged an alarmed glance, and one quietly elbowed the guide to call his attention. They rapidly conferred in a dialect from further north, as obscure to the humbabas as their own speech had been to the men - though the more perceptive of them might have caught the word “fire” repeated once or twice - and by the end of it the foremost speaker was himself frowning, but he swiftly cleared his brow as he turned back towards the ancient giant.

The humbabas meanwhile watched in what could only be described as an intense stare, the hairs around their noses twitching. One of them - was it Humbaba the Mighty? They could hardly tell - actually began creeping closer to them as they talked...whilst sniffing. The two men in the back, oblivious to his silent motions at first, jerked back as they suddenly caught the looming presence behind them with the corners of their eyes, almost knocking into the speaker’s back. The ogre-like creature stiffened then and remained still while the third man started to talk.

“That strange bird is yet far north, in the Toad Mother’s custody, and we cannot say what she would do with it,” he managed in an altogether natural tone, “We will make sure she hears of this. But no other such beast has been heard of among us. Perhaps the maple-skins from south could know of more, if it has flown from over them first?”

Sniff, sniff. It was definitely Humbaba the Mighty looming beside them, for there were still a few bits of boar that they could see stuck in his teeth as he bared them. “Those words smell wrong,” he growled.

The two in the back held up their hands, as if to show they were not holding - and supposedly hiding - anything. The guide leaned his head to one side, then to another as he looked back, two fingers pensively, or perhaps nervously, tugging on his beard. “For truth, we say it as it is. We have never even seen the beast ourselves, only heard of it from those who did.”

A quick glance from the eldest Humbaba made that one step back a pace away from the humans, to their palpable relief. “Then you may share what I have told you to the crone, and express my desire to have the creature. I know how your kind are greedy and must always take. So tell her that I will not ask just as a favor, and would pay for the creature with some amount of the mystic cedar of my realm, and rare herbs that she might...find use for.”

Humbaba the Mighty did not look pleased at this outcome. He cast a baleful glance at the humans, they loudly growled something. Humbaba the Great answered with a nod, and then his son wordlessly skulked away from the trio of humans and then into the darkened recesses of the nearby den. There was a rustling sound from within, a familiar clacking, and then a short time afterward Humbaba the Mighty reemerged, dragging behind him a makeshift sled of sorts that had been fashioned from interwoven branches. Atop the sled were heaps of bones, perhaps the shattered and jumbled skeletons of three or four humans altogether. “The last few of your kind to venture into this forest,” Humbaba the Mighty explained. “We did not care so much for what they did and said.”

”As a gesture of kindness, you may have their remains.”

The three traded some quizzical looks, and spared some more for the sled and its macabre trove, but soon inclined their heads as they had done upon meeting the Mighty One for the first time.

“No doubt these fools blundered to their own doom without care,” the foremost shook his head, “Thank you for giving us leave of their sorry bones, we will make sure they come to something useful at least now.” As he spoke, the other two stepped forward, with wary glances at the younger Humbaba, and took hold of protruding staves at the front of the sled. They tried a few tugs, grunting and gritting their teeth as the construction barely moved forward when held too low, before finally taking a rather uncomfortable-looking grip that held the branches turned upwards. The sled trailed behind them more readily, but with little more ease.

“If ever we return, it will be with news from the Old Hag about the bird-beast, and if not, do with us like with them. May the crowns of your wood grow tall.” With a final nod, the speaker went to follow his companions and their new load, pushing the sled from behind. As they left that neck of the woods behind and ventured back toward their grim homeland, they occasionally caught glimpses of a distant figure in the trees; that was no doubt one of the humbabas, likely following them to ensure that theirs was a swift departure. Goaded on by such sights, they made sure not to disappoint, and trekked on even when dusk began to fall, pressing on at an arduous pace and not resting for a long while.


Unfortunately we're quite full. My original intention was to keep the group very small. I ended up accepting a few more people than I'd planned because of the recommendations of others already in here, but at this point I need to draw the line.

I wish you the best of luck in other RPs!
Journey to Akk-ila

At the borderlands, where the foothills gave way to flat grasslands and the great mountain ranges were no more than a hazy grey band looming over the distant horizon, the Akkadean ambassador and his party were met by their escorts. There was a modest party to receive them rather than some grand entourage or small army, but it was enough to be polite if only just. The head of the escort was flanked by an honor guard of ten armored warriors bearing axes. Further back, that their presence would not offend, there were two dozen slaves acting as attendants and porters (for the rocky lands here were not conducive to drawing carts by oxen or horse) as they shadowed their masters.

The man who looked to be the leader of the escort stepped forward. To call him a man was perhaps being generous; this was a youth barely old enough to have a beard. Even so, the presence of a sword at his side, its exquisitely decorated scabbard, his haughty countenance, and even the way that he groomed what little facial hair he had demonstrated that this was some sort of noble.

In an flawed and accented, yet passable enough dialect of the Aïryan tongue, the boy proclaimed, “On behalf of Lugal (blessed be his reign!), you are bid good tidings and warm welcome to his realm. I am he who is called Ut-ahum, the fifteenth son of Lugal Zulmash.”

“Praise,” spoke a respondent echo and violent whisper originating from an inanimate mouth accompanied by the steeled gaze of an entity whose eyes were not of the typical kind. “Good tidings onto ye. As was written in the epistle, we are Ahn-khaan.” It stood looming, a fair few heads taller than the next, as it lifted its lifeless, yet blistering gaze from the noble lord and out towards the distance and the impression it wrought into the mind of this individual of stone.

They were no ordinary man, much like how the sons of Lugal proclaim their right and justice from their birth. This fellow, however, need not whisper word of his origin for others to comprehend his station, for he was made of stone. Life made infinite in inanimate form. No different from the silhouette of man, merely taller. Slender but bulky, adorned with the unnecessary garments and robes expected of those who came to impress and honour in the same sentence. A shimmering mask of thin bronze covering most of his otherwise uneven face, adorned with three finely cut gems and accentuated with master-craftsmanship-like embossing. Accompanied by a moderate band of servants and assistants clothed much the same as themself, only that they needed the protection from the elements that clothing brought, and lacked the domineering importance which the uniqueness of their master produced.

The stone-man named Ahn-khaan took a step forward, a thud audible at his motion, and moved next with his left hand forward onto the yet distant horizon, the dust of the travel shaking off of his figure as he did. “A fine land we see towards the distance, Ut-ahum, son of Lugal.” Clear courtesy in his gesture, undoubtedly he had learned of the nation he had chosen to venture, but sparking topics of conversation was one important aspect of his task here.

And in turn, the boy almost scoffed. “What, this hinterland? Savage, backwater hills as far as you can see. We have many days of travel ahead of us before we will come to greater parts, so let us be off. Perhaps along the way we may stay at some of my own holdings, where the Lugal’s are more sparse.”

A curious glimpse was all that was reciprocated between the young prince’s groveling and the monotone Ahn-khaan before their continued venture.

The first days were not so impressive. The many porters must have been well trained, for the slaves were always first to break camp. Most of the slaves were trusted to press ahead of the group and prepare the next site with felt tents (where there was not some herder’s hovel to requisition, anyways), fires, and warm food. And of course, being further ahead, their presence could not offend any of their betters.

With time, the narrow game trails and rarely used dirt paths widened and became true roads, even paved in some places. The trees and ungrazed fields also grew much more infrequent until everywhere was ploughland or open ranch, and only a few trees so remote or scraggly as to not be worth the bother remained unfelled. Where at first there had only been the occasional band of shepherds tending their herds, many agricultural hamlets existed deeper into the Akkylonian lands. There was a strange mix--in one place there would be a massive village owned in the name of some lord, with one or two great fields all tended to by throngs of slaves and their overseers. Yet in other places there were clusters of smaller farms owned by free men and worked by families or clans.

“And this field and the thousand oxen and all its herders are my father’s,” Ut-ahum pointed out once. “And that one, too. And the cropland yonder,” he went on to say on many further occasions. “But that, there? The village beyond? That is mine,” he eagerly announced after the fourth day. “Let us visit it; there you may be made more comfortable, and I can attend to my holding for a night.”

Ahn-khaan made a polite look backwards, honouring his entourage with his presence of mind, and noticing their exhaustion. He nodded as he turned back towards his accompaniment. “Let us, they are bound to be as lucious and prosperous as your fishermen’s bounties of prior seasons.” Upon finishing his response, Ahn-khaan turned towards the yet distant but approaching domain of his escort.

Needless to say, he did not go beyond realization of the maneuvering of the Akkylonian supreme lord in matching him with such a manling as Ut-ahum. A clear insult for those experienced with the arts of diplomacy such as he. But a card to use all the same. With luck, Ut-ahum could prove to be the first piece of the grand game unfolding between two nations, and whilst the ambitious and ever-conquering Lugal desires one thing, Ahn-khaan’s master wished for another.

The smallfolk of the village, upon seeing the axe-bearing soldiers and their master approach, bustled to assemble themselves. One stewardly looking villager, a petty magistrate or perhaps just the locals’ headman, granted the party greetings and excessive pleasantries. The many folk glanced constantly at Ahn-khaan through the corner of their eyes, but were sure to never stare, and the steward did not address any of the foreigners directly but simply referred to the whole group as “Our master and his guests.”

Ut-ahum did not bother to elucidate them as to the identity (though surely they knew) nor the purpose of Ahn-khaan and his own escorts either, so they rested and were served for a time. The porters restocked their supplies, and then erelong they were off once again. Despite his posturing, the young Ut-ahum had done nothing to inspect the fields, or see to it that the laborers were working, or even speak to steward of any such matters. Instead he spoke of his father and of a few of the countless past exploits of Lugal (just be his holy hands!). For every tale that the Akkadeans already knew and had to hear repeated, the proud son recounted two that they hadn’t. He spoke rarely of his own accomplishments, or of his elder brothers, whose mere mention caused his upper lip to stiffen, and their feats. For a short time, the soldiers shared their own tales of the Lugal (forever may he rule!) and of their own experiences following him on campaigns. Unlike the sword, which conveyed wealth and nobility but not necessarily anything in the means of competence or valor, the Akkylonians regarded the axe as something sacred. Thus it was bestowed only upon the most elite soldiers, the Lugal’s own men, and those that guarded the great city of Akk-ila and its immediate surroundings.

In due time they departed that hamlet and were back on their way. The roads were frequented much more in these parts, and they passed and were passed by various travelling peddlers and caravans hauling grain and other supplies toward the great city. The road that they followed ran north to Akk-ila, alongside the great river and rarely were its banks out of sight. Date trees and farms were everywhere; this must have been the great Akkylonian ploughland. Glorified as it was in all the tales, it was not so grand. The soil here was dark, muddy, and rich, and it annoyingly clung to one’s sandals or bare feet. Even the farmsteads had a filthy look about them, built from brown or tan mud brick for lack of timber or stone quarries in this area.

Another two days saw them finally nearing Akk-ila itself. The flat floodplains by the river was at last broken on the horizon by the rise of a distant hilltop--only that was no natural hill, but rather the foundations of the greatest ziggurat that would ever be. The ziggurat was not being built from mud brick, of course, for that material was ignoble and ephemeral. So teams toiled endlessly under the sun to haul massive stone blocks from distant quarries, that the ziggurat could be built immortal and eternal.

Even the airy Ut-ahum was quietened as that grandiose beginning began to dominate the horizon, so awe-striking and imposing was the sight. There simply were no words. The great river, which had dominated the landscape for the past days, was still there, but now it was utterly dwarfed, a child beside a giant.

“It is like a land-born sun,” responded Ahn-khaan to the distant landscape’s visage as it spoke to him without need for words themselves. It was impressive, no doubt could be had about that prospect, however at the same time, he disliked it for its dominance and demanding subjugation of the land in which it inhabited. The building itself spoke not of why it was built, but he knew that those who wished for its construction had desires and ambitions which could pose danger to those who found themselves stuck therein.

He turned to Ut-ahum, the stone face and copper mask in which he was blessed to occupy feigned his mental worry, and continued promptly, “Most impressive.”

Ut-ahum caught the unease that even the golem’s face betrayed, but he misunderstood its source. In what was supposed to be assurance, he idly spoke, “Daunting and ambitious, but my father says that it will be finished in due time, certainly within our lifetimes. The architects have reported that progress has been faster than was expected. Of course, finding enough labor to sustain its construction has been something of a challenge.”

A vast labor camp was sprawled out across the plains all around, with hundreds of various tents and structures both temporary and permanent. Even from afar, where the distant silhouettes appeared only as uncountable ants, it was easy to see that there must have been thousands of them. With all those little villages of two or three score souls that they’d passed on their way here, it was maddening to think of how many entire settlements could have been populated by all those laborers, and of how many more toiled to grow the food, brew the ale, and quarry the stone to sustain such a vast operation. Of course, the boy Ut-ahum likely understood nothing of such logistics and their extent, so how could he appreciate the full weight of even his own words?

“Not merely labor, Ut-ahum. Resources, motivation, purpose; projects like these do not live off of the air. Ambition is needed. Akka, much like Akk-ila, is birthed by ambitions such as those of Lugal, and Khaar-am-khaar,” he interjected at the boy’s misplaced sense of assistance and reassurance, politeness explicit in his otherwise cold voice. As he gazed upon the ziggurat, a construct which undoubtedly dwarfed the rest of its city in both purpose and significance, he viewed it like the will of the Ambitious One, merely that it originated not from him, but another.

The manner of its construction, similar yet different to those of the dreamers in Akka, carried another atmosphere in its entirety. Whilst those same dreamers persist, but scattered amongst them there was another kind of force acting towards the finalization of such a grandiose construct; those of slaves and the begotten men and women who work not with fire in their eyes and strength in their chest, but with monotony in their intent and food their only desire.

“Indeed, constructs such as these, the lifework of those blessed by fortune and prowess, do indeed require much to be completed.” Ahn-khaan could not help but feel conflicted at the sight of something which seemed to challenge the legitimacy of the grand project which was Akka, a city built with perfection in sight and endlessness as its destination. And not only was it produced on a similar scale as to his home, but within some measly decades in comparison.

The party kept walking for the better part of the day, of course, but they did not truly or fully leave the ziggurat behind. It loomed so large upon the horizon that it remained there, its vague silhouette watching over them, until they came upon Akk-ila itself. A large mud brick wall encompassed the city, though already there were hovels and shanties built outside the perimeter. Another wall was already partially built to encompass them as well, and further inside one could see even more concentric walls. It was a formidable city, but also one that spoke of hasty construction and poor urban planning. Then again, it’d been raised from the ground of empty plains within the span of just a generation and a half, so what else was to be expected?

A massive gate wrought from unbroken logs of cedar guarded the outermost gate, but it had been pulled open for the day that the merchants and farmers could come and go about their business in the city and then be well on their way back to their villages and hinterlands by duskfall. The roads were well paved inside the city, and they bustled with makeshift stalls and merchants set up all along. But the axe-bearers walked ahead of the group, and the awesome shine of their bronze armor struck the throngs with fear and admiration; they parted to make way for the delegation.

Here, even more than in the muddy and dirty agrarian villages and ploughlands by the river, there was the overpowering reek of filth. There were magnificent sculptures and large stellae adorned with lapis lazuli and other extravagant stones, and then ten paces ahead would be piles of excrement--human and otherwise. And though the city had its statutes on animals and laws forbade swine being left to run loose upon the streets, there were still enough merchants with their fetid donkeys and goats to make the air smell of reeking fur as well.

In the center of the city stood Lugal’s palace. Ut-ahum and his men walked the Akkadeans right up to its doors, and then with a short farewell they left them to the palace guards. The delegation were led into the palace and brought to a parlor besides a hearth, and then the waiting began.

Goblins. You are second and third. I beat both of you by more than half a day.


Introduction


In the earliest days, there was nothing, not even the empty shell of a world. Then Chaos!

From the emptiness erupted fire and light, water, air, and earth. These primordial forces clashed with terrible power, and from their violence was born life. The beings that emerged were as terrible and primal as their time. Giants, monstrous beasts, and even some great figures that would be remembered in the tales of survivors and eventually regarded as gods or demons. This First Era was a time of great violence. The world was forged, but then the land was cleaved and reshaped a hundred times over as these beings clashed with one another alongside the ancient forces that had thrust them into existence.

In the end there was no victor. The primordial forces grew tamer with every passing millennium, until there came a time when the mightiest of breezes was nothing but the faintest whisper compared to the storms of old, the hottest flame no more than a candle before the sun of the first fires, and the world was not so savage. The children that Chaos had begotten did not grow any less wild, and they kept fighting endlessly; they slew one another and destroyed the very lands and fortresses they had ruled, leaving their surviving minions and degenerate offspring to scatter across the land and hide fearfully in the shadows. In the end the children of Chaos dwindled so much that they at last began to realize their time was over. Some of the remnants laid down in rest and began a long, or perhaps endless, slumber, whilst others departed the world altogether for more distant lands beyond our comprehension.

The signs of the First Era still remain for those that know with a discerning eye. In some places, the greatest fortresses and works of the past might still be visible above the ground as forlorn ruins. Within ancient caves there are not just crude paintings depicting an early era, but also there are the lost and long-buried remnants of the ancients, and perhaps even the occasional snore from primordial beings that still slumber. In the wildest and most untamed of wilderness, there may still roam great and extraordinary beasts.

Yet aeons have passed, and now new masters emerge to dominate the world. The Dawn of Civilization has come; everywhere it seems that the wilderness is being conquered as cities, villages, fortresses, and kingdoms are erected. This time they are populated by mortals, be they weakened offspring from the great and powerful children of Chaos, or perhaps descendants of whatever servants or playthings entertained such gods and demons of legend, or perhaps even just animals that have found their intelligence. Most of these mortal civilizations arise and are shaped not organically and of their own, but rather by the will and leadership of great sorcerers.

For in their rage, the ancients had left some of their weapons and relics scattered across ancient battlefields. Similarly consumed by lethargy, they later abandoned their treasures and the secrets of their magic upon the earth or inside their crumbling holds. There those secrets rested for untold years before they fell into the hands of new owners, those inquisitive mortals that harnessed the lost powers of the past to grow stronger and lord over their own kind as wizards. The age of Chaos and Its children has long passed. Now it is the Second Era--the Reign of Sorcerers!

Sorcerers


The names are mostly interchangeable--call them sorcerers, witches, wizards, magicians, magi, thaumaturges, artificers, or demigods; for our purposes here, they are all practically the same thing. This RP takes heavy inspiration from mythology and folklore of all different sorts, so magic can take many different forms and our wizards will likely have very different arrays of powers. These differing magical abilities probably won’t be on parity when it comes to power level, but that’s fine by me. Because magic is often situational, nebulous, and vague, I suspect that even if I wanted to it’d be impossible to define, much less, enforce, an equal level of potency in all of our characters without destroying diversity. So I will simply be very permissive about what magic can do in our setting, and hopefully with a small and generally good group we can have that much greater range of freedom without suffering for it. Magic can be acquired in numerous different ways; above, I implied that the most common means would probably be to discover some artifact or long-forgotten secret from the great and powerful precursor beings, and then gain magic from that. However, I am entirely open to other means. Perhaps there is something special about your wizard’s lineage that left latent power in his or her blood, until it was somehow activated. Perhaps your sorcerer’s magical powers were gained through the consumption of a magical being (perhaps even the flesh of another sorcerer?!), substance, or potion. Regardless, the means of acquiring magic shouldn’t be something that’s very easy.

That leads me to talk about some traits that I wish to be common for magic in this setting:
Potency. Magic is very powerful, and though it can come in various forms, sorcerers practically are demigods on a whole level of their own, far above the abilities of all but the greatest of mortals to challenge on even footing. Think of Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings or Sith Lords from Star Wars, for example.
Mystery. This will certainly be more of a soft magic system, without rigid overarching rules or much of an explanation for how magic functions or comes into existence. Besides being thematically appropriate that magic be strange and poorly understood, this works best in a collaborative story setting because it enables many forms of magic to exist without precluding or contradicting one another. This enables greater variety and freedom, and hopefully less plot holes, internal inconsistencies, and suspension of belief rather than more. Of course, some people prefer more hard magic systems, so if you really want to state that your sorcerer derives power from some force (like mana) or physical object and explain the constraints of that magic and its source, then perhaps something can be worked out.
Limitations. As magic can come in various flavors, as alluded above, one sorcerer shouldn’t necessarily be able to do what another one can, and as an exception to the general rule of mystery outlined above, I would like for you to at least have in mind what the general limitations of your specific character’s magical powers are. For instance, one might be able to mentally dominate and control malleable minds like those of animals or even dim-witted or emotionally vulnerable people, but not mentally powerful beings like fellow wizards or a determined and disciplined warrior that is wise to your tricks. Or one might be able to fly, but only for a certain length of time and not through storms, etc. As a general rule, things like time travel, use of alchemy to create gunpowder and bombs, and raising millions of undead are not going to be allowed because they are too extreme and not conducive to the sort of theme that we are going for. If you are in doubt as to whether something is permissible, just ask.
Rarity. This is the biggest one; magic users are meant to be very powerful, yet exceeding rare. Think once again of the Lord of the Rings, and how unlike in World of Warcraft or the Elder Scrolls where magic-users are everywhere, there’s just a handful of wizards like Gandalf scattered across the world. Perhaps an even better example is Thulsa Doom from Conan, who is the last of a near extinct race of men and practically the only magic-user.

Setting


As this is the Dawn of Civilization, there are some things to take into account so that we can all be on the same page and maintain consistency in the setting. Note that almost all of these things come with caveats and potential exceptions, consider all of the following a rough guideline rather than a hard rule or limit. If you think that in some way you might be going beyond some of these guidelines, maybe it’s worth discussing, but I’ll probably be fine with it.

The denizens of this world are all very humanoid, if not entirely human. Furthermore, the civilized people (with the obvious exception of the few individuals that have become sorcerers) are quite mundane and should not possess any blatantly magical or extraordinary abilities or traits; if their ancestors ever had such powers, they were lost in the ages past. Different groups of people will naturally have different races and look different, and in some cases they might even be wholly different species; perhaps Neanderthal analogs, or elves-lite (pointy ears and slender bodies, minus the immortality and being superior to humans in every way). Cyclopes or blemmyes (headless men) would exist on the very periphery of what is allowed; full beastmen, orcs, and the like are too extreme.

I envision that the civilizations of this world will be set mostly in the early Bronze Age (technology circa 2000 B.C.) and will be smaller, weaker, and more diverse than that of typical NRP settings. Allow me to elaborate upon each of those points:

Individuals matter more in such settings, especially given that our primary characters (the wizards that lord over these civilizations, be it indirectly or directly) have magic and are superhuman, comparable with story figures like Saruman, Thulsa Doom, Maui, etc. That is why I would like this to be a mostly character-driven and focussed story, with the narration more coming from the angle of what individuals (probably the wizards, or people close to them) are doing, rather than the point of view being like that of some omnipotent god as their perception encompasses what the entire state and all its apparatus are doing.

Early history was dominated by small agrarian villages for many thousands of years, before the urban revolution would eventually lead to the foundation of proper cities as we know them today. These cities were often independent and localized powers that only ruled enough hinterland to sustain their own population, and that limited their size; however, given our setting with wizards championing advancement, it makes sense that there would be much greater centralization. The development of proper kingdoms and empires rather than mere city-states and tribal groups is possible in our setting, so don’t feel that social organization is confined to what historically existed in the early Bronze Age. Feudalism or similar systems are fine. Still, cities should not exceed around 100,000 in population at the absolute most, and any city with more than 10,000 people would be large. Just keep that in mind--something like a vast empire with millions of people is a bit too much for our setting. Similarly, standing professional armies would be rather small (if they exist at all) due to the inefficiency of labor and the difficulty in producing a large enough surplus to support many people that don’t directly contribute to the sustainment of the population, and warfare would probably be conducted largely by normal citizens levied into armies for a season or two. The limited technology also limits the speed of transportation and spread of information, and therefore contributes to a difficulty in projecting power over vast areas.

This segues into my next point--since we have the first civilizations to emerge after a very long gap-period where nothing really went on, which was preceded by some vague time of creation and Chaos, there probably won’t need to be excessive backstory. NRPs often suffer from excessive premature worldbuilding while everybody sets up their sheets, with hardly any of those details becoming relevant to the IC, much less making it there. Some backstory between our wizards and civilizations is okay, and it certainly makes sense that the people of this world might have many legends and myths about the First Era (of dubious veracity, of course!) but for the most part I would discourage a heavy emphasis on the background and history of your civilization. Instead, I think it best to place the emphasis more on the wizard--how did they attain their power, and what have they already used it to do? What would they like to do in the future? From that frame and point of view you can still answer many questions about your civilization’s formation and roots whilst retaining the emphasis mainly on the characters.

OOC Goals and Thoughts


With the soft magic system such that it is and our rules and guidelines being kept loose, there will of course be a disparity in the power level between various characters. That isn’t inherently a problem, though it does mean there’s a lot of potential for abuse in the form of powergaming. It has to be emphasized that this is not a “game” to be “won” but rather a collaborative storytelling effort, so some maturity and restraint are necessary. Though Oraculum and I would rather leave everyone with a great deal of freedom, we will be forced to intervene if such powergaming becomes apparent.

The intention is to keep the planning phase for this RP rather short. Too many RPs on this site, especially NRPs that act similar to this one, stall in the pre-IC phase and don’t take off. For that reason, character sheets can (and are even encouraged to) be very brief and just contain the broad strokes. This is the Dawn of Civilization anyways, so there shouldn’t be some huge and ornate history to write out. Instead I would prefer a “show rather than tell” approach where your first IC post acts as a sort of introduction that tells one more about your character. You do not need to go so heavy on the exposition as to render the character sheet useless by virtue of restating everything in it but in even greater detail; ideally you’d just use the barebones established in the character sheet as a platform and quickly build off from there to establish detail, motivations, and so on.

So what ‘barebones’ should be in a character sheet?

Didn't want to make a double post, but I had to do it this way because the @mention wouldn't cause a notification if it was added in an edit.

@Ever Faithful

As Wyrm has dropped and you're on the top of the waiting list, you've got a chance to jump on in if still interested!
Sorry to see you go!
At Some Point™ I definitely want to wrap up the Ventus arc, and I think there's a good chance that at least post concerning that comes out within a week or two. I'm questioning the scale of things though because I'm afraid it might end up being more like 3 posts worth of content. I could probably do two or three posts back to back but triple posting to myself would be too much. I need you, Capy!
This looks interesting. Might there still be space for an applicant?


Unfortunately Chenzor and I have to restrict the number of participants, otherwise it just becomes too difficult to write out the turns.

We do keep a waiting though! @Chenzor can get you on there.
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