View Full Version : [Isle] The Soverign Republic of Hala
12-18-2007, 02:24 AM
The towers appear on the horizon long before the islands themselves were visible. Clinging to the sides of the mountains, they all clawed for the sky, seeking to rise above the white-washed filth that rested in the valleys beneath. Nearly a million souls scurried beneath, engaged in the commerce, bribery and politicking that kept the gears of the island's government turning. Every minute, decisions were made here that could change the course of a war, lay low a noble house, or decide the fate of men who had only heard of the isle in legends and rumors. But this island was all too real. This was Hala, the Isle of Towers, the Isle of Gold, the Isle of Lies.
The Sovereign Military Republic of Hala
Common Name: Hala
Government: Military Dictatorship under the Knights of Hala
Ruling Bodies: The Sovereign Council of the Knights of Hala
Current Rulers: Grand Masters Amir bin-Said (Human male Psychic Warrior 15), Abdullah al-Rashied (Xeph male Paladin 13), Martin Lucias (Human male Fighter 14), Kristos Vradal (Elf female Ranger 11), Fatima abd-al-Malik (Human female Paladin 10), Duncan Jargen (Dwarf male Fighter 9)
Economic Type: Merchantilism
Currency: Halashi Dinar
Area: 2,800 sq. miles
Demographics: 57% Human, 18% Gnome, 8% Xeph, 6% Dwarf, 4% Kith, 3% Elf, 1.4% Halfling, 0.3% Half-elf, 0.3% Kobold, 3% Other
Capitol/Largest City: Raslokk (82,000)
Official Religion: Cael the God-Emperor
Major Languages: Halic is the predominate language of the nation, though almost every langague can be found spoken somewhere in the city.
Symbol: A gold moon on a green and white field
The Sovereign Republic of Hala is an archipelago of several islands located near the tropics. It has long been a center of trade, commerce and diplomacy for nations from all over the known world. Eventually, trade on the isle became controlled by several powerful local barons, who became the Princes of Hala. Under their reign, corruption flourished, and the garish opulence of the noble manors on the mountainsides gleamed in stark contrast to the squalor of the serfs who lived in valleys. A little over a century ago, an order of nights from a small, obscure religion staged a brilliant coup of the nobles. Banishing the Princes into exile, the Knights of the Temple, or the Knights of Hala as they would later be known as, took control of the isle, promising reform and justice. The isle has experienced explosive growth since then, and now has nearly a million citizens, and it's clean, orderly streets reflect the prosperity of the average citizen. However, despite the best efforts of the Knights (or maybe because of them), corruption and decadence still flourish, in the back rooms and alleyways of the cities. Thus, though Hala is not unknown, uncharted, or forgotten, it has more secrets, lies, and mysteries than any one nation is wont to have.
Geography of Hala
Hala is composed of five main islands, six smaller ones, and a good dozen minor cays. The major islands from north to south are Cedeq, Zawduna, Hala, Ghedex and Corzo. The islands are mountainous, proving an indented coastline with numerous bays and natural harbor's, the most famous being Raslokk's winding bay. Though largely arid, the eastern regions have fertile soil, and can support significant agricultural activity. In the past, this was what made Hala a popular stoping-point on voyages, but now it can't even feed the ballooning population of it's cities, relying increasingly on imports of grain, fruits, and cattle. However, in certain metropoli, or districts, the terraced farms are still common, and local cuisine is considered a delicacy to those who can afford it.
The dominant features of the islands, however, is not natural but man-made. The metropolis of Zantos Xulien-Raslokk covers a third of Hala, and has a population in the hundreds of thousands, while it's neighbor, Xygarz-Gotano now borders on half that. The area bordering upon the Strait of Tuzan consists of literally mile upon mile of city-scape, townhouses taking the place of trees, cobblestone roads the place of streams. Under the earth, in the place of the underdark, runs an extensive, magically-maintained sewer system. Above circle the endless flocks of gulls and other seabirds, who feast off the mounds of refuse generated by the cities and artfully dodge the gnomish sky-trains that rattle along tracks above the largest of the cities.
The climate is largely Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Normally, crops can be grown year-round, though on occasion a particularly nasty cold snap in the middle of winter can destroy a harvest. Normally, however, plant growth is restricted not by temperature, but by rainfall, and summer droughts have caused more crop failures than frosts ever will. Still, despite the normally pleasant climate of the isles, late winter and early spring windstorms bring cold northern winds to the islands, causing residents to moan about the cool temperatures for hours on end.
Watter is of greatest concern for Hala. A few rivers run through the isles from the higher mountains, but these have recently begun to run dry in the summer months, their springs taxed to the limit. In contrast to the aridity of summer, however, in winter rainfall (and even snowfall at the higher altitudes) is abundant, and a vast majority of this downpour is runoff, turning streets into streams and the normally tame rivers into swelling monsters. Flooding has been a problem, and an intricate series of dikes protect some of the more upscale neighborhoods from these threats. An ingenious system of reservoirs have been set up in recent years, trapping some of this water underground to be used in later months. Still, nearly 90% of the water used by the cities is produced through magic, and the kingdom employs a small army of adepts to produce and maintain the arcane fountains that provide most of the populace with their share of the vital liquid.
Average temperature ranges from lows of about +3C in the winter, to highs of around +30C in the summer.
Though much of Hala is covered with cobblestone and brick, there are still places where the natural flora of Hala thrives. On some of the smaller, less inhabited isles (Ghedex is a prime example), tall shrubs such as juniper, sage, myrtle and holm oak are the norm, while lavender, rosemary, thyme, heather, heath, mesquite, sagebrush, and gorse can also be found. Occasional taller trees, such as cedars, pines or furs, dot the landscape, but most of the plants do not grow taller that 4 meters. Palms can be found along the seashore on some of the smaller islands, or planted along boulevards in the cities.
Most indigenous species to the isle have found themselves crowded out, replaced by humanoids and domesticated animals. Now, it is far more common to see cows, pigs, cats and dogs then it is to see any of the native species. Still, some species have found a new niche, and can still be found in the rural regions of the isles, not exactly thriving but continuing to survive.
Many of the native species are either birds or sea mammals. Halashi monk seals sun along the rocky coast, while tazani dolphins are a common sight further out to sea. Terns and gulls thrive in the cities, while vultures rule the countryside. Several species of amphibians and reptiles, such as the spined viper and the cedeqi salamander, can still be found in the mountain scrubland, while a a particularly hardy breed of wild sheep can be found grazing on the southern slopes of Hala. Other native species include the southern elf-eared bat, spiny shrews, southern rock monitors, blue-headed snakes, five-horned lizards, and cedeqi toads.
Political Structure of Hala
The Sovereign Kingdom of Hala really isn't a kingdom at all, it is more a military dictatorship with several features of a theocracy. The Knights of Hala are the self-appointed protectors of the isles, and rule them with a stern, yet often fair, hand. Lead by the Sovereign Council that meets in The Cathedral of the Cross, at the mouth of Raslokk's harbor, while local leadership is carried out by appointed Grand Officers and Colonels.
Previously, Hala was divided up into several dozen duchies, counties and baronies, but the Knights have consolidated these noble holdings into 27 separate metropoli, that function much as provinces in terms of sovereignty and responsibilities.
The Knights serve not only as the executive branch of government, but as the legislative and judicial as well, in addition to proving military services and law enforcement. Those wishing to join the knights must prove their worth to a ranking member first, and hope to be invited to join the order. The knights police themselves, but so far have not fallen too far into corruption and abuse of power, as the more virtuous members still hold a great deal of influence.
Despite the best efforts of the Knights, however, their control is far from absolute. Minor nobles still control a significant portion of the isles, through their considerable wealth, while the Church of Cael seeks to subvert the Knight's rule, slowly subverting their allies rule and replacing the knightly institutions with clerical ones. In addition, the descendants of the exiled Princes eagerly plot to return, hoping to take back their forefather's rightful positions, and foreign nations seek to wrest the isle from the Knights, as those that control the isle control one of the richest and most profitable trade routes in the world. Numerous other organizations or individuals also desire to control the island, from elder dragons to adventurers, to nationalist reformers. However, this diversity of opposition is likely what saves the Knight's rule...most would rather keep the isles stable under the nights then risk having the islands fall to another organization or into war.
01-06-2008, 06:12 AM
Peoples of Hala
Though not the first inhabitants of the isle, the Halashi humans have lived on Hala for the past thousand years, having settled on the uninhabited isles as part of human expansion. The Halashi are a short, olive skinned race of people whose defining traits include tick eyebrows, large hazel or dark blue eyes, and slim shoulders. Halashi hair tends to dark brown or black, and is usually fairly curly.
As Hala is an extremely rich nation, even the poor try to keep up with the shifting fashions of the nations. Currently, a long, loose white cotton pair of tunic and hose for men or a dress of similar length for women, both accented by an elaborate vest and waist-sash are in fashion at the moment. Head scarves and loose turbans are traditional wear among the Halashi, and despite the changing fashions, some variation of these coverings are always part of their wardrobe. Also omnipresent is the curved sheath of the syktall, the curved and serated dagger that is the favored weapon of the Halashi.
The Halashi are a brutally deceptive people. It has been said the day a Halashi says what they actually mean is the day devils and demons make peace. Indeed, most Halashi sleep with their syktalls under their pillows, and children are taught the skills of lying and deceit from a young age. Bribery and extortion is common, as is blackmail and other more refined forms of corruption. However, despite assumptions by outsiders that this would lead to anarchy and chaos, the Halashi are able to maintain a fairly stable society, as they can always trust one another to do what is best for themselves.
Though much diminished since the rise of the Knights, the Halashi nobility is still influential, though their power comes more from their money and ownership of businesses and trading companies than from military or political power. The middle class among the Halashi is extremely large, and many of the city dwellers may make more in a single season than someone in a similar station on the mainland could make in a year. Even the common laborers: the dock hands, carpenters, and farmers, make considerable profit, and are able to maintain an decent standard of living.
Phillip Zanto (NG Human male expert 6)
Boisterous owner of the Argent Dragon Inn and Tavern in the harbor district of Raslokk, Phillipe has given his inn a foreign feel while still maintaining Halashi sensibilities. The end result is a comfortable, if somewhat pricey, atmosphere for foreigners, appealing mainly to ship captains, merchants, and, in particular, adventurers. Phillipe has geared his inn specifically towards those of the adventuring persuasion, partially because he recognizes them as an untapped source of wealth on Hala, great crossroads of the world, and partially because he loves a good dragonslaying story. Phillipe tries to keep himself in the loop of things all across the world, and he has built up a substantial network of contacts among those who frequent the isles, letting him in on plots someone in his station is not normally privy to. And he is all to willing to spread this information with a wink and a smile, as he knows that the more help he is to adventurers, the more likely they are to come back to him for information again and again.
Count Ronald Pyratha , Ninth Count of Pzeni (LE Human male aristocrat 5)
A ruthless and power hungry man, Count Pyratha is behind a recent spat of murders in the Zoddena metropoli. Attempting to shake the young Grad Officer of the metroploli, Carlos Aledez, Pyratha believes that if he plays his hand right, he could force Sir Aledez to turn to him for aid. Pyratha already owns much of the administration of the district thanks to bribery and extortion, including almost the entirety of the watch, and the potential to adding the Grand Officer to this is simply the final step in seizing total control over the district. Then, the decisions affecting the direction of Zoddena would not come from the Knight's barracks, but from Pyratha's sprawling estate.
Almost all of Pyratha's hired thugs are foreigners, and though a series of contacts he gives them directions through a series of targets. Their victims are typically middle-class Halashi who have nothing to do with one another, but are all in debt one way or another. After their deaths, their property is seized by the government, and thanks to Pyratha's contacts in the administration, he is able to then kick a share of the deceased wealth back to their killers in payment. If any of Pyratha's paid killers are caught, he uses his connections in the watch to silence them, usually by poisoned food or apparent suicides, before they can reveal their allegiance.
The Knights of Hala
An militant order devoted to a god of law and honor, Cael the God-Emperor, the Knights of Hala, formerly the Knights of the Temple, are the most recent of Hala's myriad of rulers. Seizing the isle from the corrupt Princes a century ago, the Knights were charged by the Imperial Church to protect and govern the isles, as a neutral party not interested in land or profit. The Knights have taken this mandate to heart, and have transformed themselves from an order of crusaders, to a combination city watch, navy, and bureaucracy.
In comparison to the vibrant colors of the native Halashi, the Knights wear a more subdued wardrobe. The standard-issue uniform for the knights is a chain shirt, leather braces, and a red tabard marked with gold and white embroidery to form a set of Borromean rings. The standard weapon of the Knights is a long spear or pike, though they are also given a short sword and light crossbow to round out their arsenal.
The Knights draw their recruits from around the world, and their members can range from fair-haired northerners to the pale elves to the swarthy xephs. However, they carry themselves with a certain manner of dignity and honor that other foreigners tend to lack. Most Knights are fairly pious individuals, and see themselves preforming the the Living Emperor's acts on the isles by protecting the Caelean Halashi from foreign influences, and helping the spread of faith to foreign lands. Most are not blind zealots however, and are worldly enough to understand that controlling these isles is not only important for spreading the faith, but also for ensuring peace and stability for their homelands. On a whole, the Knights are an honorable and just organization that does its best to maintain law and order on the isles, and despite grumblings from the locals, most will admit that their lives are better under the knights than they were under previous rulers.
Sample Knight of Hala
Miska Dragovitch (LG Human female paladin 5)
A young, if somewhat reserved knight, Dame Dragovitch has risen swiftly though the ranks of the knights thanks to her understanding of the intricacies of the islands politics. Recently appointed to rank of Colonel, she is currently overseeing the Vantena neighborhood of Yaeda, a somewhat volatile neighborhood populated almost in it's entirety by foreigners. She is responsible for ensuring that the various residents in his neighborhood get along, as well as communicating with the foreign churches that have established themselves in the neighborhood. National, racial and religious rivalries have caused several spats of violence in the previous year, though nothing very serious has happened yet. However, Dame Dragovitch is a little concerned about the several of the evil churches under his purview, specifically the isles only temples to Lloth and Nerull, and he has full rights to be. Under the veneer of inter-religious dialog, the churches are planning to burn down several of the other shrines in the neighborhood (including a Caelean Church, the defacing of which is punishable by public execution), framing them in the context of a racial riot by orcs, goblins and their ilk, which the two churches have been slowly nudging towards violence for the past year. They hope that these riots would discredit the churches of Gruumsh and Erythnul, potentially getting them removed from the isles as due to previous actions and riots they have supported. Dame Dragoivtch would be extremely interested in finding out what is going on, and will gladly pay for adventurers to infiltrate Nerull's church to find out their current plan.
Making up two thirds the population of the isles, and coming in every stripe imaginable, the foreigners residing on Hala make the island the most diverse city the world over. Dozens of races, from drow to half-dragons to gnomes to orcs even stranger creatures can be found carousing Hala's streets, and a hundred different languages and dialects can be heard spoken amongst the stalls and businesses. The churches, temples and shrines to their many gods can be found here, vying for both followers and influence. Ships from across the world dock in the harbors, trading for goods from lands on the far side of the sea, and supplying the residents of the isle with their lifeblood. It is impossible to place a concrete number on the foreigners, as many of them are transient, visiting the isle for a few weeks to several months before moving on, but there is a significant portion who have made their homes in the metropoli, adding their own customs and traditions to the already diverse patchwork of Hala.
Bard Durkan (LN dwarf expert 4)
A resident of Hala for two decades now, Bard serves as his clan's representative on the isle, negotiating trade deals with folk from half a world away. Bard is more relaxed than the average dwarf, but he is always on the look out for new opportunities. Recently, however, he has grown a little unsettled, as news from his homeland has stopped reaching him. Unbeknownst to Bard, his clan was assaulted by a tribe of orcs, and though they were fought back, the orcs have taken to watching the surrounding hills and passes, and ambushing anyone passing through. No news has gotten in or out about the dwarves current straits, and Bard has begun to fear the worst. He is willing to pay a large sum of money to anyone who would be willing to travel to his homelands and discover the truth, though he will warn those interested that they may very well be heading into grave danger.
Glim Longshot (CG halfling rogue 7)
Unusual for a halfling, Glim has always loved the sea, and from a young age desired to captain a ship upon the waves. Well, eight years ago Glim got his wish, and now as captain of the Lady's Grin he makes regular runs between the mainlands and Hala on behalf on a minor merchant company. Sounds fairly uninteresting, yes, but Captain Longshot can talk your ears off about the numerous battles he has experienced against pirates, rival companies, sea beasts, and once even a bored red dragon. However, he has noticed something over the past several months. The normally discordant pirate attacks have become more and more organized, and it is becoming harder and harder for the Lady's Grin to fight them off. Glim is suspecting that the old pirate fortress of Red Rock has been reoccupied, though he doesn't understand why the Knights haven't chased them out yet. Truth was, the Knights did attempt to, but they found themselves under assault from a kraken as they approached the isle. After having lost three ships to the beast, who is actually the current mastermind behind the pirates reorganization, the Knights have fallen back to wait for reinforcements from their mainland allies, keeping all rumors of the beast quiet to stave off panic. However, their much needed aide will be a long time coming, and by then the kraken may have gathered more pirates under it's banner, becoming an almost unbeatable foe. However, before that happens, an unsuspecting Captain Longshot plans to take his ship in to investigate the isle, and is all to happy to accept any help that may be offered.
Beleifs and Ethics
Around 500 years ago, the Halashi were converted to the worship of Cael, and despite efforts by other churches, have largely rebuked attempts to turn them to other faiths. Though the foreigners do bring in their diverse selection of religions and philosophies, the Knights of Hala, who are still a Caelean militant order, have ensured worship of the God-Emperor as the primary faith of the isles. The bell towers of his churches stand out from the town houses than line Hala's boulevards, and his holy days are celebrated by lavish festivals. Though the Halashi are not very religious, they see the Caelean Faith and his Imperial Church as part of their culture, and though church attendance is rather low, most Halashi do profess belief in the Living God, and this belief is particularly strong among the lower classes who on Cael's festivals flood into the bascillicas of Zanto Xulien and Zanto Kriztover (in Cdina).
The God-Emperor, the Living God, the Immortal Emperor
Symbol: A broken circle
Alignment: Lawful Good
Portfolio: Leadership, honor, good, honesty, love, peace, justice
Worshipers: Varried, from peasants to nobles, merchants to knights. Has no core base of followers
Domains: Community, Good, Glory, Healing, Law, Nobility, Protection, Sun
Favored Weapon: A warhammer
Once a living human emperor, Cael brought such prosperity to his realm, though both conquest and peace, that his citizens began to see him as blessed, or even divine. After his death, Cael was risen to ranks of the divine by several good and lawful deities for his actions in life. Cael's church quickly spread amongst his empire, and his decedents relied upon his wisdom to direct the empire he helped to forge. In divinity, as in life, Cael promotes the values of peace, prosperity, and justice among his followers. To this end several knightly orders have been set up to spread both Cael's values as well as his faith to the followers of other gods.
Cael appears as an aged, but imperious, human wearing a burnished bronze breastplate and a fine blue cloak. His face is stern but kind, and he carries a massive hammer in his hands.
Dogma: Everything in life is a circle. Hate leads to more hate, fear to more fear, death to more death, and love to more love. Right wrongs, stand up for the oppressed, and be just in all your actions, and your singular actions will perpetuate and grow, bringing good to souls you may never meet in your life. Strive always to aid others, to help them grow, to bring hope, and create prosperity, for what you do to one soul today will echo upon a million souls for eternity. Consider each action, and the effect it will have not on you today, but tomorrow and ever after. Uphold the laws of the land, for chaos breeds evil and disregard for your fellows. Avoid despair, as it only breeds more, and instead realize that from every evil a new opportunity to do good arises. There is no shame in death for a great cause. Stay your course, and if it is true, your god will be there to help you through all trials and tribulations.
Cleric Training: The priesthood of Cael is extremely hierarchical, and to enter into his priesthood normally takes several years study in a seminary. Once one is confident in one's understanding of Cael, the new cleric is allowed to choose which branch of his church they desire to enter. From the laity who spend their lives in meditation, to the Inquisition which seeks out evil in the hearts of men, to the Builders who dedicate their lives to construction homes for those who are without, there are a myriad of options available, and even more ways to advance through the ranks from a simple Brother or Sister to Eparchs of cities or districts, to Prelates of their orders advising the Archprelate himself in Cittia Sulla Collina.
Quests:Anything that spreads justice and prosperity is considered a worthy quest by Cael. Though a priest may be sent on quests by local exarchs in response to regional concerns, only rarely does Cael actually send his followers on missions.
Prayers: Prayers to Cael are normally very ceremonial and formal, using antiquated language and common themes such as light, fire, and the wheel to time. There is a great diversity in these prayers, from short ones whispered just before attempting something risky, to complex to invoke the God-Emperor's blessing on a harvest or a birth. Faithful are expected to spend at least one night in prayer and meditation a week, while his priests pray for new spells at the rising of the sun and the start of a new cycle.
Shrines: Churches to Cael dot the landscape of those lands where his faithful reside. They are generally designed to promote public worship, shaped in a half-circle with a number of aisles lined with curving pews spreading out like spokes from the altar standing at the hub of the church. Besides the half-circle shape, most churches distinguish themselves by having a bell-tower, which is used to remind the faithful of their daily prayers to Cael. In more southern lands, these bells are sometimes replaced by open towers where a caller will sing out praises to Cael, though the purpose is much the same.
Rites: There are many rites devoted to Cael, from daily prayers, to weekly meditation, to special events such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. Most rites dedicated to Cael ask for blessings of peace, love and prosperity, though some ask for victory, wisdom, and guidance. Some of the more important festivals are of Cael's birth, his coronation, and his ascension to divinity.
Herald and Allies: Cael's herald is an advanced 30 HD Solar. His allies include avorals, leonals, and planetars
(I hope to finish this all off sometime next week! Don't worry, I'll be quicker with the next few updates!:smallbiggrin: )
01-14-2008, 03:52 AM
The largest criminal syndicate on the isles, the Knucklebones' members number well over a thousand thieves, cutthroats, prostitutes, beggars, information dealers, drug dealers, pirates, bruisers, slavers, blackmailers, and hired muscles. The Knucklebones, or Thaga il-Bakim as they are known in Halic, rule the city's underworld, and have considerable influence on the more legitimate aspects of Halashi life, as many barons, merchants and more then a few grand officers have been bought by the sprawling thieves guild. Though the Knights of Hala rule the city by day, once the sun has set it is the Knucklebones who are the true power in the city, and decisions made small, walled enclave in Cdina that serves as their central authority affect the daily lives of the citizens almost as much as those made in the Citadel of the Cross.
All members of the guild are trained in stealth, combat, and information gathering. In fact it is from the later that the guild gains most of it's money from, as thanks to their training they posses eyes on every street corner, and even the 'beggars' are on the lookout for scraps of information. Indeed, 'beggars' must be put in quotations, as many of the beggars in the streets of Hala are rich men in their off hours, being paid healthy sums by the guild to dress in rags and sit in the gutter, begging for charity one day, and carouse with nobles in their finest livery the next. Furthermore, the Knuckebones have a stranglehold on the isle's bustling, if illegal, slave trade, which they run out of the many warehouses and taverns they own along the docks. Nearly a hundred slaves pass though Hala a month, their lives and freedoms being traded by others in exchange for gold, and the Knucklebones are not hesitant to add those who pry to closely into their activities to that number.
The syndicate is run much like a mockery of the Sovereign Council, with the six 'Dukes' of the Second Council meeting regularly to evaluate current activities and finances and plan future endeavors. The six dukes are currently Sael il-Basari (Human male rogue 15), Mehmet Itmad (Xeph male urban ranger 13), Jerome Thaedon (Human male wizard (necromancer) 12), Dallah Kargan (Half-Orc female fighter 12), Ordun Rudel (Dwarf male expert 10), and Faiza Hussein (Xeph female bard 10). Each of the six masters controls a certain region (Cedeq Nota and Aests Nota, Cedeq Ante, Zawduna and Jorda Kavano, Hala Dargo, Hala Omdar, and Hala Ante and Aests Ante) and has numerous 'ministers' who serve under them and run the day-to-day activites in the various guild buisnesses. Appointments to the Second Council are for life or until one chooses to resign, upon which the remaining members of the council will elect one of their subordinates to become a Duke and join them at the table. The remainder of the membership of spread throughout the isles, reporting to the various guildhalls sporadically. Most Knuclebones are native Halashi, and blend right in with the native population, those there is a small but growing number of foreigners among their number, and two of them have even made their way to the Second Council (Dukes Thaedon and Rudel).
However, despite it's initial appearances, the Second Council is not the true seat of power for the Knucklebones. Unbeknownst to all but the dukes themselves, the syndicate is run from the shadows by Baron Assif il-Zoddena, a former Merchant Prince of Hala. However, unlike most of fellows, Baron il-Zoddena did not leave the isle. Instead, he hid himself and his fortunes in the caves that line the mountains of his former barony. And there he waited and watched. When it became obvious to him that the Knights would not fall in his lifetime, the Baron, being a fairly formidable wizard, made the transition to undeath and lichhood. Now nearly 170 years of age, the Baron (Human male lich wizard 18) directly controls the organization he founded using the fortunes of his barony to slowly eat away at the knights and their rival organizations. He makes use of a rather large network of undead of both the intelligent and unintelligent varieties, to bring to heel many powerful merchants and officers who are too moral to be bought out. Furthermore, the Baron is the one responsible for the packs of undead that crawl through the sewers of the city, and take up much of the Knights time and attention. Just another of his plot to topple the Knights and seize control of the isles he one ruled.
Hajar Achmad (LE Human female vampire rogue 14)
One of Baron il-Zoddena's enforcers, Hajar is above the Second Council, reporting to the Baron directly. She runs many of his special operations in Raslokk, ones which he cannot or will not trust to living members of the Knucklebones. Hajar is completely devoted to the Baron, and serves him without hesitation, knowing the rewards that she would receive for helping him gain control of the richest island in the world would be beyond imaging. Currently, she is tasked with infiltrating the Caelean church, and has a number of agents, both living and vampiric, among the lower rungs of the church. Now, she is looking for a way to buy out an eparch, as she realizes that she cannot place her undead spawn in any higher positions without risking exposure and spoiling her previous work. Currently, she is making round trips to many of the eparch's manors, using her wealth and connects to bribe her way in to talks with the churchmen. She is still searching, but she has several candidates in mind, those who are all to eager to accept some coin, those of exotic hobbies, and those whose fear of the undead would make them easy targets for intimidation.
Knucklebones Magic Item
Weapon Property: Tainting
Description: Weapons with this enchantment smell faintly of rot and decay, and glow a sickly black-green.
Properties: Whenever a tainted weapon deals damage, a portion of that damage continues to be dealt over time, as a caustic green cloud eats away at the wound. For 1d4 rounds after dealing combat damage, the weapon will continue to deal a third of the damage from that strike at the start of the wounded individual's round, minimum 1. Damage from special abilities, like sneak attack and smite good, are factored into this total damage. Spells that offer protection from evil, those that restore hit points or those that remove diseases will all remove the corrupting effects.
This weapon bestows one negative level on any good creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disappears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded.
Moderate transmutation; CL 11th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, inflict serious wounds, creator must be evil; Price +2 bonus.
Description: This wicked looking dagger has a long, jagged blade designed more to inflict pain than to kill. It's hilt seems to be made out of a carved bone, wrapped in cured and dried flesh. The blade, and it's bearer, give off the faintest smell of rotting eggs.
Powers: Fingerbones are a favorite among the members of the Knucklebones that are no longer among the living. While in the hands of any non-undead creature, it functions as a +2 unholy dagger. However, when wielded by an undead, it becomes a +3 unholy tainting dagger, as well as granting it's wielder a +2 resistance against attempts to turn or rebuke it.
Moderate transmutation; CL 13th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, death knell, inflict serious wounds, protection from good, creator must be evil; Price 100,302 gp; Cost 50151 gp +4012 xp
The Cult of the Sithak
An even more ancient secret than the dead of the Knucklebones rests on Hala. Ages ago, the isles were the home of an powerful and malevolent race, the Sithak. These bestial terrors sought to spread the worship of their dark gods to all corners of the sea, and they wagged a brutal war against the elves to that end. Though great personal cost, the elves succeeded, hunting down and slaying the Sithaks to their very last, and going so far as to bind their gods to clay idols with powerful elder magics which shattered the Sithak's homeland into the archipelago it is today. The elves buried these idols, and raised powerful dweomers around them, locking them away for what they hoped to be forever.
However, over the milenia that passed, the enchantments weekend, and the spells binding the dark gods faded. Finally, a little over 60 years ago, a farmer on the isle of Ghedex unearthed a small cavern when plowing his fields. He wandered into the artificial cave, and there found a shrine, and upon that shrine a hideous and maddening statue. The farmer turned to flee, but was mentally assaulted and dominated by the bound deity. Instead of fleeing, he instead bowed before it in fervent worship, alien prayers streaming from his mouth. He was Said Urdak, the first member of the Cult of the Sithak.
Said eventually succeeded in converting his family and neighbors, leading them to the shrine and letting his new god do it's work. However, it would prove infeasible for them to convert the entire island this way. So Said chose four of his fellow converts to unearth the other gods, one each on Hala, Zawduna, Cedeq, and Ulbaq in the Aests Nota. From there, they spread out the cult, converting the owners of the land on which the shrines sat and their servants. Within a decade, the gods of the Sithak had nearly two hundred dedicated followers. They were then able to harness the power derived from their prayers and worship to commence their plan to recreate Sithak civilization on the isles. They converted almost all of their worshipers into Sithak-hybrids known as Least Sithak. Since then, they have been able to continue these conversions, and even create a handful of Greater and True Sithak.
The Cult of the Sithak has a following of nearly ten thousand now, present in every metropoli and even into the world beyond. They are extremely covert about their worship, and take great pains to keep their true faith secret. Most converts do not act any differently after their conversion, nor does their appearance or mannerisms change significantly. However, internally they are very different, their minds completely subsumed by the Sithak hive mind, and their thoughts and actions now completely controlled by their alien gods.
The Leadership of the Cult is directed completely by the five Sithak gods, and is usually headed in a local area by either a True or Greater Sithak, whichever the gods decide the region warrants. The True Sithak serve as a focal point for the Sithak Gods, allowing them a greater control their followers and reducing the risk of rebellion among the more unwilling of their followers.
The immediate goal of the Cult is the control of the Sithak's homeland, the Isle of Qtheul, or the Halic Archipelago. To achieve this, they wish to accelerate their current rate of conversions and transformation, up from a dozen or so a month to tens of thousands all at once. That would require an immense amount of magical energy, something far beyond the powers of the bound gods. Thankfully for them, an item of such power has just arrived on Hala. To celebrate the hundred-year anniversary of the Knights of Hala's official rule of the isles, the Warhammer of Cael, one of the God-Emperor's most sacred artifacts, has been brought to the Cathedral of Zanto Xulien for public display and reverence. Carefully warded and trapped to prevent it's loss to any of several organizations who would love to get their hands on an item of such power, there will still indubitably be attempts to take it from the Knights of the Blessed Hammer dedicated to it's protection. Still, the Sithak gods believe they can get the awesome weapon, whether through the unlikely event they would be able to force a conversion of some of the Hammer's protectors, or the more likely scenario of a mass assault on the Cathedral. The Sithak gods are not above playing their hand at this time, as they realize that this could be the only time an artifact would be brought to their islands, and if they are able to get their hands on it it would guarantee shave centuries off their plan.
Gods of the Sithak
Name |Alignment|Domains|Sacred Color
Dormuq, God of Fire|CE|Chaos, Evil, Fire, Knowledge, Magic|Red-Orange
Ghathak, God of Death|NE|Death, Destruction, Evil, Strength, War|Red-Brown
Ghronag, God of the Hunt|CE|Animal, Chaos, Evil, Luck, Trickery|Yellow-Green
Hrashae, Goddess of the Sea|CE|Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Travel, Water|Blue-Black
Ytha, Goddess of Mating|NE|Air, Evil, Healing, Plant, Protection|Green-Blue
All the gods are effectively equal, though at this time Dormuq, with his knowledge of magic, has assumed temporary leadership. The Sithak gods are unable to create avatars or effect anything physically, though they can attempt to mentally dominate anything that gazes upon the idols they are impassioned in. These idols will be dealt with later..
Though the Sithak have been extinct for millenia, their gods have been able to create a crude analog by inducing a transformation in their followers that slowly converts them into Sithak-hybrids. When a convert, whether willing or dominated, is brought before any of the five idols, that god is able to infect that individual with the tiniest essence of a Sithak. That individual is then connected to the Sithak hive-mind, which is controlled and directed by the five gods. Essentially, the convert dies and their personality and memories are added to the hive-mind, however as true death never took place, only a wish, miracle, reality revision, or similar magic can bring back the deceased.
A few Sithak who prove their worth and ingenuity to their gods, or those that prove particularly strong willed, will be brought before the idols once again, and in a ritual preformed by their fellows, they will be transformed into the bestial Greater Sithak. Greater Sithak begin to regain their own distinct personalities, though these are twisted by the hive-mind and are fanatically devoted to the Sithak Gods. Greater Sithak typically function as enforcers or rulers of small, rural areas. Finally, those Greater Sithak that prove themselves most loyal and dedicated are transformed by the idols one last time into the True Sithak. True Sithak serve as nodes of the hive-mind, and are able to direct their lesser brethren much like their gods, and though they are completely independent from their god's control, their minds have been so twisted that that they are for all intents and purposes Sithak. True Sithak serve as leaders of cells of worshipers, and are themselves able to induce the transformation into a least Sithak through a long and arduous ritual.
Least Sithaks are represented by a template, while advancement from Least to Greater, and from Greater to True is archived via a racial class which grants an increase in ECL without an actual increase in levels. Someone who starts on the path of advancement much complete that path before once again taking levels in a class.
Least Sithak appear and act much as they did before their transformation, albeit fitter both physically and mentally. Only a stray patch of scales or ring of fur will indicate the individual is something more, or less, than human.
Least Sithak is a template that can be added to any humanoid or monstrous humanoid, hereafter referred to as the base creature. The Least Sithak template is an acquired template.
Least Sithak speak the languages they knew in life, and they automatically learn Sithak upon their transformation.
A sithak uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type
The creature’s type remains unchanged, though they do gain the Sithak and Psionic subtypes
Same as the base creature.
As the base-creature's skin toughens to scales and hide, their natural armor improves by +2
A least sithak retains all the attacks of the base creature and also gains a claw attack if it didn’t already have one. If the base creature can use weapons, the least sithak retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons. A least sithak fighting without weapons uses a claw when making an attack action. When it has a weapon, it usually uses the weapon instead.
A least sithak fighting without weapons uses both claws when making a full attack. If armed with a weapon, it usually uses the weapon as its primary attack and its claw as an additional natural secondary attack.
Least Sithak have claw attacks. If the base creature does not have this attack forms, use the damage values in the table below. Otherwise, use the values below or the base creature’s damage values, whichever are greater.
Least Sithak Damage
A Least Sithak has all the special qualities of the base creature, plus darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision.
Twisted Blessing: A Least Sithak gains a specific enhancement based on what god transformed them. If a Least Sithak was transformed by a True Sithak, they gain the same enhancement as the True Sithak that transformed them has. Choose one of the below upon transformation. This choice cannot be changed later on.
Least Blessing of Dormuq(Ps): Gains the ability to manifest Control Flames 3/day with a manifester level equal to their current HD. Save DC is charisma based. Also gains an additional 2 points to their natural power point reserve
Least Blessing of Ghathak(Ex): Gains a +1 racial bonus to all saving throws.
Least Blessing of Ghronag(Ex): Gains the scent extraordinary ability
Least Blessing of Hrashae(Ex): Gains the ability to breath water as if it was air
Least Blessing of Ytha(Ex): Gains a +2 racial bonus on all charisma-based checks.
A least sithak gains 1 bonus power point.
Hive Mind (Ex)
All Sithak within 50 miles of a clay idol of their gods, or a True Sithak are in constant communication. If one is aware of a particular danger, they all are. If one in a group is not flat-footed, none of them are. No Sithak in a group is considered flanked unless all of them are.
Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +2, Cha +2
Least Sithak find their natural senses heightened as their transformation progresses. Least Sithak have a +2 racial bonus on Listen and Spot checks
Any, usually urban
Solitary, same as base creature, or cult cell (2-5)
Same as the base creature +1.
Always chaotic evil .
By character class or Sithak racial class.
Same as the base creature +1.
Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class
Anytime after gaining another level, a Least Sithak may choose to undergo transformation into a Greater Sithak. After undergoing a night-long prayer, their transformation begins, and they gain a level in the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class. They may not take a level in another class until they complete both levels in Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class.
Unlike a Least Sithak, a Greater Sithak is visibly different than it's base species. It's face pushes out into a vicious snout as it gains the ability to rend flesh with it's teeth. It's previously discreet claws grow in size, and an entirely new set of arms burst from the growing Sithak's chest. Their hides grow thick, and become covered with competing mixtures of fur and scale. Finally, they grow a long, lizard-like tail and an additional set of menacing eyes on their face, making it impossible for them to disguise their natural appearance.
Effective Class Level|Ability Score Increases|Benefits
+1|+2 Str, +2 Wis|Bite, Claws, Heightened Senses, Natural Armor (+2), Power Resistance
+2|+4 Dex|Additional Limbs, Improved Grab, Greater Blessing Monstrous Humanoid type, Natural Armor (+4), Psionics
Ability Score Inceaces (Ex): Starting at 1st level, the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class grants the following permanent increases to ability scores: Strength +2, Wisdom +2. At 2nd, Dexterity increases by 4.
Bite(Ex): At 1st level, the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class grants a bite attack that deals damage according to the chart below.
Claws(Ex): At 1st level, the Least Sithak to Greather Sithak Racial Class increases the base damage of a Sithak's natural claw attacks to those on the chart below.
Greater Sithak Damage
Size|Bite Damage|Claw Damage
Heightened Senses (Ex): As a Sithak's transformation progresses, their senses continue to improve. At 1st level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, the prospective Greater Sithak gains an additional +2 racial bonus on all Intimidate, Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
Natural Armor (Ex): At 1st level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, a Sithak's natural armor bonus increases by an additional +2, At 2nd level, this bonus increases a further +2 to a grand total of +4 over both levels.
Power Resistance(Ex): At 1st level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, a Sithik gains power resistance equal to its Hit Dice +10.
Additional Limbs (Ex): At 2nd level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, the now Greater Sithak grows an additional pair of limbs. This new pair has a wicked set of claws that deal damage like the Sithak's first pair, allowing the Sithak to make 2 additional natural attacks a turn with a full attack, or wield an additional 2 light or one-handed weapons, or one more two-handed, dual or raged weapon. These additional limbs, in conjunction with a Greater Sithak's new tail also grant them a +8 racial bonus on all climb and balance checks.
Improved Grab (Ex): Starting at 2nd level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, a Greater Sithak can use their new limbs to devastating effect. To use this ability, a Greater Sithak must hit with one or more claw attacks. They can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. They receive a +2 bonus on the grapple check for each claw that hits.
Greater Blessing (Ex): A Greater Sithak gains an additional enhancement from their patron diety. This ability must be from the same god that they recived a blessing from as a Least Sithak. This choice cannot be changed later on.
Great Blessing of Dormuq: Gains the ability to manifest their psi-like abilities as if 2 level higher.
Great Blessing of Ghathak: Gains the ability to fly into a rage 1/day, as the barbarian class ability.
Great Blessing of Ghronag: Gains an increased natural movement rate of +20 feet, as well as the track feat. If they already possessed the track feat, a Greater Sithak of Ghronag gains the Swift Tracker extraordinary ability as the ranger class ability.
Great Blessing of Hrashae: Gains the aquatic subtype, and gains a swim speed equal to their base movement speed, as well as the amphibious extraordinary ability.
Great Blessing of Ytha: Gains the ability to cast attraction as a psi-like ability at will with a manifester level equal to their current HD. The save DC is charisma-based.
Monstrous Humanoid Type: At 2nd level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, a humanoid Greater Sithak looses it's humanoid type and becomes a monstrous humanoid. This grants them immunity to spells affecting only humanoids. Characters who were already monstrous humanoids are not affected.
Psionics (Ps): At 2nd level of the Least Sithak to Greater Sithak Racial Class, the Sithak Gods bless the Sithak with a wide array of Psionic abilities, depending on their current HD, as indicated on the table below. The effects are cumulative. A Greater Sithak manifests these powers with a manifester level equal to their current HD. The save DC is charisma-based. The Save DCs are Charisma based.
1-2|3/day—telempathic projection, empathy
3-4|3/day— psionic charm, mind thrust
5-6|1/day—animal affinity, psionic blast
7-8|3/day—energy missile, 1/day—psionic sugestion
9-10|3/day—death urge, energy cone
11-12|3/day—psionic dominate; 1/day—energy ball
13-14|3/day— mind probe 1/day—energy current
15-16|At will—psionic dominate, 1/day—ultrablast
17-18| 1/day—energy wave
Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class
After gaining a additional level after their second transformation, a Greater Sithak may be choosen by their god to become a true sithak. They must journey to the idol of their god, and spend an enitire week in prayer before it. Once this trial is complete, they may take a level in the Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class.
A True Sithak looses all connection with it's former race, becoming completely Sithak. It's thoughts are no longer controlled by the hive mind, but now it has become something far worse. A true sithak continues it's transformation, growing in both size and psionic power, as it becomes a vessel for it's god's plans. A True Sithak appears much like a larger version of a Greater Sithak, with vicious bony protrusions along it's spine and wicked horns framing it's head. It's four eyes glow with psionic power, and it's body steins with physical might.
Effective Class Level|Ability Score Increases|Benefits
+1|+2 Str, +4 Cha|True Senses, Natural Armor (+3), Change Shape, Size Increase, Telepathy
True Senses (Ex): At 1st level of the Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class, a Sithak's senses increase to the point where it can see four times as well as a human in shadowy illumination and twice as well in normal light. They also gain darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.
Natural Armor (Ex): At 1st level of the Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class a Sithak's natural armor bonus increases by an additional +3.
Change Shape(Su): At 1st level of the Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class, the True Sithak assume the shape of any Small, Medium, of Large humanoid. In humanoid form, the True Sithak loses its natural attacks. A true sithak can remain in its humanoid form until it chooses to assume a new one. A change in form cannot be dispelled, but a true sithak reverts to its natural form when killed. A true seeing spell or ability reveals its natural form.
Size Increace: At 1st level of the Greater Sithak to True Sithak Racial Class, the Sithak increases in size to their next largest size (small to medium, medium to large, and so on). They gain a +2 size bonus to Strength, a -2 size penalty to Dexterity (to a minimum effective Dexterity score of 1), a -1 size penalty on attack rolls, and a -1 size penalty to Armor Class due to your increased size. If their new size is Large or larger, they gain a space of at least 10 feet and a natural reach of at least 10 feet. Natural land speed is further increased by 10 feet.
Telepathy(Su): A True Sithak can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature within 10 feet of any Sithak within 50 miles whose presence they are is aware of.
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