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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Monday is reader participation day!

    I am a bit compulsive when it comes to doing things systematically and putting everything in order. So right now I am trying to figure out how to structure the articles for humanoids before I start writing on them.
    Looked through RPG books and some fantasy wikis, but their systems are all somewhat lacking. So here's what I have in mind so far:

    Creatures
    This category is for all creatures of non-player races, including ogres and goblins.
    • Combat: A description of what tactics the creature uses and what special abilities it has.
    • Ecology: Where the creature lives, and what it lives on, and special biological traits it may have.
    • History: A brief summary of when the creature showed up in history, like being domesticated by humanoids or used in warfare.
    • Society: How groups of the creature live together and how it interacts with other creatures in ways that are not eating.


    Humanoid Races
    This category serves the same purpose as the creatures category, but is slightly different structured to better suit humanoid races.
    • Physical Description: The biological traits of the race.
    • History: As with the creatures, a brief summary of the global history, focused on the time before the establishment of current tribes and clans.


    Tribes
    Probably the most important category for player races. These are like sub-races, ethnicities, or nationalities.
    • Physical Description: A short description of unique traits of the tribe, as well as special hairstyles and warpaint.
    • History: The early and recent history of the tribe.
    • Culture and Society: Social structure, social roles, typical government, and so on.
    • Religion: General trends in the most common forms of religions.
    • Magic: Spellcasters, views on magic, magical societies.
    • Relations: General views on other tribes.
    • Warfare: Equipment and tactics.


    Clans
    Clans are quite specific groups and as there are several hundred of them, only a fraction of them will get a description. These are all the minor lords with their main town and surrounding farming villages.
    • History: The clans history.
    • Politics: The clans leaders and relationships with other clans.
    • Religion: The primary religion shared by most clan members, including its religious leaders and specific deities or spirits that are worshiped.
    • Warfare: The clans military, including numbers of warriors, military leaders, equipment, and tactics.


    The Creatures and Tribes categories seem well structured to me. But Races and Clans are still lacking. Especially Races is nowhere near usable yet. If you have good ideas what other categories to add, please share them.
    I think clans could maybe be a bit longer, and I don't like the title "Politics".
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  2. - Top - End - #182
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    OK, it took me a second read-through to figure out (I think) why you have it divided up that way. If I understand correctly, you'd be giving the same kinds of information about, for example, ogres and elves, but just dividing it up differently.

    Since ogres are not playable and don't have the detailed political system or clans and tribes, their political info just goes into the creature description. Since ogres don't have different military setups by tribe/clan, their combat info also goes into the creature description.

    Elves, on the other hand, would have different political and military infor depending on tribe/clan, so that doesn't go in the creature/humanoid description, but goes instead in the tribe or clan description.

    Is that the way it works? Sounds like a good plan to me.

  3. - Top - End - #183
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    The Races descriptions are about the humanoid species, the Tribes descriptions about ethnic groups.
    Monstrous races get into the Creatures category together with the other monsters, but also get a few additional stuff that would have been part of the Tribes descriptions.

    For example religion would not be part in the description of elves but be dealt with seperately for each elven tribe. For goblins, that will just appear under culture in the Creatures category.
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  4. - Top - End - #184
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    What types of climates are supported here? Would we see stuff like Ice Age Megafauna, or Dinosaurs?

  5. - Top - End - #185
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    The Areas is actually quite narrow but rather long, and the planet is not very big, so there's a wide range of climates.
    In the North, it's like Norway or Finland, with ice age conditions every winter and short, but real summers. The very southern most parts reach tropical climate with the Jungles actually being mostly sub-tropical. Like southern China or Florida.

    I think I want to avoid obvious dinosaurs and mammoths, but less obvious prehistoric animals are okay. No pterosaurs, but most plesiosaurs should be fine.

    I started writing the Race description for elves. Here's what I have so far with probably just as much being added tomorrow.

    Elves
    The elves are one of the humanoid races that inhabit the Barbarian Lands. Along with the lizardfolk, they established many of the first and oldest humanoid civilizations in the known world.

    Physical Description
    Elves and humans share a great resemblance when compared to other races and can in fact be mistaken for one another at a distance or by people not familiar with either race. Elves typically stand between 5'6" and 5'10" in height and of noticeably slender build. Elven muscle structure is noticeably more dense than humans, which tends to obscure an elves actual physical strength and makes even very strong elves appear very lean. While highly agile, the lack of fat and low body mass puts elves at greater risk from long term exertions, exposure to cold, poisons, and malnutrition, which is the cause for the elven reputation of weakness and frailty. However, this does not translate into a lack of physical strength and many elves are quite capable at hand to hand combat. However, as they tire faster than humans, kass, or even gnomes, elves prefer to not draw fights and battles out and make decisive strikes or retreat.

    On shorter distances, the differences between elves and humans become more noticeable. Compared to humans, elves have pointed and slightly elongated ears, which usually are a dead giveaway, but also the easiest part to conceal. Elven faces are usually more narrow and have less prominent features, like short noses, thin eyebrows, and narrow lips. Only noticeable at very short distances is that elven eyes have relatively larger irises and show less white, making them appear slightly more animal-like.

    A well known trait of elves, that get frequently exaggerated, is their comparatively long life span. It is not uncommon for elves to live over 300 years before they succumb to old age, but given the long time span, the majority dies at an earlier age from accidents, injuries, or disease or from generally failing health caused by hardships at an earlier age. Elves are regarded adults at age 24 and aging significantly slows down during their 30s. It's usually when reaching ages over 200 years that the age of elves truly starts to show, with graying hair, aging skin, and slowly diminishing endurance. However, only the few truly ancient elves show signs in age as commonly seen in humans that live for more than 70 years before they reach the natural end of their lifespan. Judging an elves age is quite difficult for non-elves and even among themselves elves mostly use hints from small differences in clothing and speech, and the behavior to other elves of known age, to discern the generational differences between elven strangers. Age doesn't play such an important role in elven society than it does among other races, which usually only recognizes children under 16, youths under 32, adults, and elders who have lived for over 200 years. Age differences between adults barely play any role and close friendships and marriages with over 100 years of age difference are quite common. Elves encountered outside the lands of their clans are usually at least in their late 30s or 40s.

    Elves do in fact have as many children as humans, but often with much greater time spans between births and it's not uncommon for elves to have uncles and aunts younger than themselves.

    Elves possess a remarkable sense of perception, which manifests in heightened hearing shared only by gnomes, and the ability to see without difficulty in only very dim light.

    Wood Elves
    Most elves living in the Barbarian Lands are wood elves, but are usually simply referred to as elves by most people outside the southern jungles. Wood elves generally have lightly tanned skin and hair ranging in colors from dark brown to almost black, though lighter browns and shades of blond and green are common among the Moreshin. Wood elves most commonly have green eyes or occasionally brown. In the northern parts of the Barbarian Lands, gray eyes also occur, with blue being exceptionally rare and often attributed to fey ancestry.

    Dark Elves
    In southern Jungles, most elves one encounters belong to the dark elves. The most striking difference to wood elves is their dark skin, which ranges through several shades of ash gray, that sometimes even reaches to charcoal black in some clans. In stark contrast, dark elven hair is often, white, silver, and very pale blond, but a bluish gray is also not uncommon. Dark elven hunters, who usually hunt at dusk and night, often dye their hair dark to better blend in with their surroundings. The eyes of dark elves most commonly have the same shades of green found among wood elves, but red, purple, and blue also appearing frequently in some family lines.

    Dark Elves are semi nocturnal and are mostly active from noon until deep into the night. Their ability to see in darkness is even much greater than that of wood elves, but they are also slightly sensitive to bright light and either live in areas with very thick foliage overhead or remain inside until the sun is low on the horizon. Some dark elves, especially the Keiyashei, even live mostly underground and only come to the surface when absolutely necessary.

    Culture and Society
    Many of the unique and unusual aspects of elven culture are closely connected to elven longevity. As age differences among siblings often span decades, families are usually small and elven children form much closer bonds with others of similar age, with which they grow up together. These childhood friendships are often the most important relationships of elves, right after their parents, and usually rank higher than the bonds of blood. Once elves reach their mid thirties, they stop visibly aging for almost two centuries, which makes it almost impossible to tell an elves age even for other elves. As a result, age plays a much smaller role in elven society than for any other race and only true elders, who have lived well over two hundred years, are treated with any kind of special respect and reverence. Instead, personal ability becomes a much larger factor in determining social hierarchy. Elves take great pride in their crafts, as it determines their social standing.

    While elves are well aware of the changes in perspective and ideals as they become older and new generations follow, this is a fairly slow and gradual shift. In practice, even age differences of forty or sixty years are not considered great enough to be an obstacle to friendships and romantic relationships, and even much larger time spans are not regarded as something improper. As a result, it is a common experience for elves to see their friends and spouses become elders and eventually die of age while they still have more than half of their own life ahead of them. And that is in addition to the numerous dangers that all people in the Barbarian Lands face on a daily basis. To elves, this is simply a part of life. Over the span of up to three centuries, an elf does not attempt to live a single life, but in his lifetime will leave an old life behind and begin a new one several times. As a side effect, elven villages and especially towns frequently gain new residents that become part of the community and are much less stable than communities of other races. The one exception to this fact of elven life are the childhood friendships, which are the most stable and long lasting relationships among elves. While even elves change greatly over the span of more than twenty decades, the connection of being the only people from their childhoods that are still alive is extremely strong for elven elders. Many elves who feel that it is time to permanently settle down for the last station of their life return to their birth places to find any traces of their friends from their childhood who are still alive. This strong bond between many elven elders is also a part why they are regarded with special reverence. Often it is only two or three who find back together, and with the other elders, who share similar experiences, they form their own small segments of society within a community, which nobody who hasn't reached that stage of life yet can fully understand. While elders are usually not active leaders, it is no surprise that they wield very great powers, both because of the special reverence they are shown and the exclusivity of their group.

    While gender roles exist in elven society, they are usually much less pronounced than in other cultures. While certain professions have clear tendencies to be performed by either men or women and there are slight differences in male and female dress, gender is much less of a barrier for elves to find their chosen calling and there is generally a rather high tolerance for deviations from the average. Given the great variations in upbringing and experiences among members of an elven communities, certain eccentricities are also very much permitted and rarely cause for ostracism as long as it doesn't upset the common peace.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-01-23 at 08:50 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #186
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I admire the level of detail you go to, Yora.

    Anyway, random thought/opinion: Did you consider deviating from the drow appearance for dark elves? Drow just make me think "the Underdark" and "backstabbing spiderworshipping gits" and "Drizzt", and I don't think your dark elves should have any of those connotations. I get the vibe that they're mostly supposed to be just southern jungle-elves rather than evil scheming bastards, and feel their appearance should reflect that.

    You probably disagree with me, but I thought I'd at least mention it to give some kind of feedback!
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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    But I like that appearance!

    The difference will be in equipment and class builds. And if I remove coloration, they are just jungle elves.

    I've been thinking of something like Crinti and Dunmer.
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  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Now its going to bug me that most of my good uncivilized art won't work for this setting.(Centaurs, Dwarves and Orcs...)

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  9. - Top - End - #189
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Actually, the kaas will be very orc-like in many aspects, but only brown instead of green.
    And the second image is one of my primary reference for a race of forest-goblin/kobold-creatures I have planned, but has not shown up so far for their lack of major settlements or military power. They will be a PC-Race, though.

    I am also putting the last touch to the elf description. The second hald should be added in about 15 minutes or so.

    Edit: Writers block now. So some of the later sections are ver brief, but I'll revise most pages several times later on as everything is settling into place. But here you have it. It's over three pages of text.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-01-24 at 11:13 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #190
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    So, I've been doing some work on gnomes, but I have to say I don't have nearly as much planned for them as for the other races.

    I know I want them to have a kind, but pragmatic outlook. They know when they are outmatched, which is very often, and usually react to it by giving in now and appearing as pushovers. Once they are in safety, they make preparations for a next confrontation where all the advantages are on their side and they can take back what they had to give up. Which in warfare means traps, ambushes, and assassinations. It also gets them a reputation of being liars for making lots of promises they never intend to keep.
    Gnome mining is more along the line of family business of 20 to 30 miners and not the large scale industrial type often seen with dwarve cultures. It's only the trade and distribution that is centralized by the major towns, which buy the ore from the small mines.

    But I havn't really been thinking much farther than this. I want no prankster and inventor stuff, but alchemy might step in for that role. But yeah, that's not really that much to create an interesting and unique culture, that is still recognizable as a common fantasy culture. Do you have any ideas for gnomes or even dwarves from other sources?

    Edit: I do however, have the perfect style for gnome homes!
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    Last edited by Yora; 2012-01-24 at 08:07 PM.
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  11. - Top - End - #191
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I did some reasearch on gnomes in other settings, and while Races of Stone wasn't helpful at all (stupid chilklike prankster-illusionists), the older Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings was very much so.
    And I got lots of ideas how their biology and the prestablished facts of their culture would determine their society.

    Gnomes
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    Gnomes are one of the major humanoid races that inhabit the Barbarian Lands. While they are both short in stature and small in numbers, they play a comparatively major role in the affairs of the taller people.

    Physical Description
    Gnomes have similar statures to humans and elves but stand noticeably shorter at less than four feet. With their round faces and thick noses, their heads appear proportionally bigger in relation to their body, and they are usually somewhat stout and broad shouldered in stature, which clearly makes them stand apart from human children. Gnomes have light brown skin in shades of earth or clay, brown or gray eyes, and brown hair, while males grow short beards. Like elves, gnomes have slightly pointed ears, but this is usually much less pronounced and less notable.

    Despite their small size and lack of physical strength, gnomes possess a remarkable endurance and resilience towards exertions. Gnomes can walk or work in mines for hours without breaks and possess phenomenal resistance to disease and poison and even can tolerate the corruption of Taint much better than almost anyone else. The toughness of gnomes rivals that of the kaas, which are several times their size and more than twice as tall.

    And addition, gnomes are also very long living and surpassed in that only by elves. Gnomes are generally considered to be adults in their early thirties and can live well over two centuries. Unlike elves however, gnomes age visibly throughout their whole lives and are much more similar to humans in that regard.

    History
    Like elves and lizardfolk, gnomes have been living in the Barbarian Lands for a very long time. However, very few is known about their early history before the Age of the Clans. Gnomes have always been most at home in hills and mountains, especially the Border Hills, the Mountains of the Upper River Valley, and the Mountains on the northern edge of the Southern Clanlands, where the majority of their present settlements are located. There are only a few gnomish clans living in the foothills of the Northlands, which always have been especially secluded.

    Relations between gnomes and the other humanoid races have increased significantly since the dawn of the Age of Kings, when elven merchants showed an immense demand for gnomish steel weapons and quality steel ingots, which had a major effect on elven clan politics.

    Culture and Society
    Even when compared to humans, gnomes live in very densely packed communities of large inter-related families. Gnome houses are often home to one to two dozen people.

    In gnomish society, gender roles are quite similar to those of humans. Fieldwork and hunting is mostly the domain of men, while women have almost complete control over the homes. Business is one of the fields of gnomish society where men and women are roughly equally involved as it is related to both the male and female sphere of responsibilities, though finances and bookkeeping are generally regarded as female skills. Gnomes do have a concept of nobility, but it includes few legal privileges and is more an aspect of social standing, which is mostly determined by wealth and success of certain families. In larger towns, they do form a patrician elite that holds the most political and economic power.

    Gnomes are perfectly aware of the fact that they are the smallest and physically weakest of the humanoid races, which greatly influence how they interact with people of other races and face the outside world. Generally, gnomes try to avoid open confrontation as much as possible as there are few situations in which they could easily overpower their opponents. Instead appeasing the other side is usually their first course of action. While they do have their pride, most gnomes are quite willing to accept temporary humiliations instead of being drawn into a fight with unfavorable odds. Seeing this as a sign of weakness or gnomes being pushovers can prove to be quite dangerous however. When a direct, and potentially lethal confrontation seems inevitable, gnomes will often concede defeat and initially give in to the demands of their opponents. Which particularly larger and stronger opponents are often much too willing to take at face value. When armed fighting breaks out, fast but ordered retreat is often the first priority. However, it is a mistake to believe that gnomes are easily defeated as they will often use that opportunity to prepare for the next confrontation in which they will have the odds decisively in their favor. Only if everything is in place will gnomes strike back, with very underhanded business practices, ambushes, or even outright assassination, after their enemies thought them defeated and themselves in safety. This has given gnomes a reputation of being liars or cheats, as they will often make promises they have no intention to keep, to get themselves out of tight spots.

    Life in gnome burrows is very cramped with lots of people living living tightly packed together. Politeness and respect for personal privacy have an extremely high value in gnome society to compensate for that. Provocations and insults are frowned upon greatly and while gnomes can show great restraint to not respond to them in kind, it significantly affects the respect gnomes have for other people and their willingness to compromise or provide help. People who unnecessarily aggravate arguments and disagreements will fiend very few friends among gnomes, but if their enemies are willing to do the same, gnomes are generally trying their best to remain civil and find mutually acceptable compromises. Life in the communal areas of gnome burrows is often loud and crowded with everyone trying to take part in the cheerful spirit. As most gnomes see it, bad mood and anger can easily be pushed aside for a few hours just by being willing to go with the flow. With the living condition in gnome settlements, one has to learn to swallow personal pride and restrain oneself from being rude to others who are getting bothersome. As a compensation, private quarters, which are often very small and belonging to no more than one to three gnomes, are absolutely forbidden places for everyone else. Only when offered may anyone enter the private room of a gnome, and even asking for permission is a serious taboo. Secretly entering, or even forcibly intruding into the private rooms of others is a very severe crime and an almost irrevocable breach of trust. Because gnome settlements have few open spaces, gnomes may appear as quite bold in how they show up at other peoples homes and expect immediate entrance, but they are usually very reluctant to enter sleeping quarters and private studies. And while some might go as far as helping themselves at food and drink, only the most unscrupulous would even touch any personal items of other people or search through bags and backpacks of others.

    An aspect of gnome society, that is often quite hard for outsiders to comprehend, is the often very dry type of gnome humor. With personal restraint being an important gnomish virtue and direct accusations and outbursts of negative emotions being frowned upon, irony and the parody of politeness play a great part in gnome humor. Affected anger and offense, which are of course restrained as proper etiquette demands, is part of most well meant jokes gnomes frequently play on each other, but the subtle clues by which gnomes are told they just had been duped are almost always missed by outsiders. Gnomes may appear slightly unhinged, erratic, or outright abusive to others, while they only intend to make lighthearted jokes. To gnomes, making constant jokes about pent up aggressions, is one of the best ways to keep tension from arising and also regarded as a safe way to give others hints that they are getting close to overstepping boundaries.

    Settlements
    Gnome villages often consists only of a few houses, which are mostly located underground. On the surface, villages consists mostly of barns, stables, and some workshops that produce a lot of smoke and fumes, while living quarters are mostly below ground. Only the main gates of most gnome homes are visible on the surface, which lead to an entrance hall from which tunnels and staircases lead down to the majority of rooms. It is not uncommon that villages and towns also have large communal spaces underground, which are connected to the homes by tunnels that serve as underground streets. Unlike real underground living races, gnomes spend a great deal of time outside on the surface where they tend to their fields and herds. Only during winter does public life move almost entirely underground with many gnomes not taking a step outside for weeks.

    Craft
    Most gnomes take their crafts and professions very seriously. In the high buzz activity of gnome homes and villages, concentrating on ones work is a highly valued distraction and it is considered very impolite to disturb other peoples work. Workshops and kitchen are often used by many people, but most gnomes learn very early in their lives to tone out the drone and chatter that is occurring right behind their backs.

    Gnome craftsmanship is often sturdy and simple, made from solid and durable materials and eschewing delicate details for more stylized shapes. Since gnomes are well at home underground, they are also the greatest and most experienced miners anywhere in the Barbarian Land. Their most well known and most appreciated handiwork are the arts of metalworking. While gnomish smiths and craftsmen also work very well with bronze, silver, and gold, it is the steel produced in Komkaren foundries that is their most prized, and most valuable industry. However, their craftsmanship in forging weapons and armor is also among the best and frequently surpasses the work of the most talented elven smiths. Masterwork weapons and armor are almost always made from gnomish steel and most suits of heavy armor found among any of the humanoid races has been made by gnomish armor-smiths.

    Tribes
    There are two main divisions of Gnomes in the Barbarian Lands, called the Komkaren and the Hoyaren, which very roughly mean "mountain people" and "forest people".

    Hayoren
    The Hayoren are the smaller of the two gnomish tribes and found mostly in the Southern Clanlands. Most Hayoren live in the southern Parts of the Great Forest, but there are also some Hayoren towns in the mountains near the coast.

    Komkaren
    The Komkaren are found mostly in the western regions of the Barbarian Lands, centered on the Border Hills. The Komkaren are widely known throughout the lands as the greatest miners and metalworkers and still basically hold a monopoly on the production of high quality steel that is highly valued among the other races.

    Notes
    The gnomes of the Lands of the Barbarian Kings share traits of dwarves, gnomes, and halflings and have their own set of racial traits for player characters and NPCs.

    While it may seem a bit convoluted, gnome humor is not made up but straight from my home. Even people in the rest of Germany regard us as grumpy and humor-less and are suprised to hear it explained. Not to speak of the japanese people I talked to, who speak perfect german.


    Here is a question for all of you. Do you like to have all descriptions here in the thread, or is it just the same to you if I only post links to the new pages of the archive? It isn't really that much extra work for me, but might get quite outdated in the future, as I won't update older posts.
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  12. - Top - End - #192
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I like getting the full description here in the thread. Spoilered like that is good for those who don't feel like reading the whole thing.

    I love your gnomes! Sensible and fierce without the pranks (I see you share my annoyance). Though, I can't help but see them as Gummi Bears now...

    Edit: I'm getting really interested in seeing more details on the dark elf tribes now.
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  13. - Top - End - #193
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Okay, this will be a plan for tomorrow, then.

    Really havn't that much spelled out yet, but I'm sure they'll get an interesting and unique touch as I go.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Your comment about gnomes being seen as liars made me think, what if thats a defining trait of their society? What if their race valued seeking to gain an advantage all the time? Plots instead of pranks? Ambitions over arcane?

  15. - Top - End - #195
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    That also sounds rather immature and contrieved to me, when you put it like that.
    The point is to make the cultures unusual, but belivable and plausibly working in reality.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    The Shadow Society
    A placeholder name, of course. This one is silly.

    Headquarters: Unknown.
    Members: Estimated to be about 200 wizards.
    Hierarchy: Order.
    Leader: Unknown.
    Races: 55% wood elves, 20% humans, 12% gnomes, 10% dark elves, 3% half-elves)
    Religion: The Deity of Darkness.
    Secrecy: High.
    Symbol: None.

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    The Schadow Society is an organization of sorcerers which are active in the lands along the northern coast of the Inner Sea all the way up to the Frozen Sea. Only very few things are known about the Shadow Society and most of their goals and activities are shrouded in mystery. Common knowledge says that the group consists of a brotherhood of sorcerers who always keep their true identities secret and specialize in illusions and enchantments. They have no known bases and even the most shady information dealers readily admit that they have never heard of any way to contact the Shadow Society. However, since they seem to only serve their own mysterious goals, there is nothing anyone would ever want from them.
    Members of the Shadow Society never outrightly claim allegiance to the brotherhood, but there are always new rumors about sorcerers, that nobody seems to know, who contact other people with requests and offers, and are often assosicated with the group. While one can never be entirely clear not be just dealing with an impostor who tries to invoke the appearance of representing the society, it is quite likely that most people who are contacted by them never mention it to anyone else. The only thing that can be said with certainty, is that they almost always request help in finding rare information or magical objects. Usually they will simply pay for any rendered help, but romors consistently claim that they also offer valuable information on their own, and probably use a lot of blackmail as well. Once they got what they wanted, sorcerers of the shadow society are gone as silently as they have come, without leaving any trace of their presence and no clue about their identity. However, they always show up only at night, which leads many to believe that they are using some kind of shadow magic, in which case it would probably be very easy for them to use illusions to take any appearance they want.

    Inside the Shadow Society
    While the acquisition of hidden or incriminating knowledge is highly profitable for the society and they gain most of their funds from finding wealthy people who would pay handsomely for what they can offer, or just outright blackmailing them, this is not the primary purpose of their activities.
    At its heart, the Shadow Society is a brotherhood of mystics who worship the Deity of the Dark. The belief shared by the members of the society is that the Shadow World, which separates the worlds of mortals and spirits, has its own will, or it least spirit. Finding this spirit and discovering its true nature is the ultimate goal of all members of the society. But despite their shared efforts, almost all of the sorcerers are loners and care very little for the enlightenment (if one can call it that) of their fellow brothers and sisters. Almost all new members who are initiated have worked for older members for many years and proven highly useful in uncovering the kind of knowledge they seek. Offering potential candidates to join the society is usually not done with the candidates own interests in mind, but simply to make them even more usefull by teaching them the secret skills of the society. However, such offers are only made to individuals who have shown a true personal interest in the mystery that the shadow society hopes to uncover. New members in the society simply means more skilled and trained individuals the other members can call on for help.
    There some small cells in adition to the mostly lone sorcerers, but they rarely consist of more than three or four members. Not all members of the Shadow Society are purely cold hearted egoists who couldn't care less about their fellow brothers and sisters, but the main reason to share their discoveries with others is to help them becomming more useful in providing assistance. After all it is not as if there would be any benefit in being the only person who gains full knowledge of the true nature of the shadows. There is few reason to keep any discovery secret from other members of the society, but since the selling of knowledge is one of the societies main sources of income, most of the sorcerers have long ago learned to never show all their cards. You always keep some secrets that your enemies, and even your allies, might value. Be it to gain special help, or to buy the silence of others.

    While there is no official headquarters and most members work alone, there is still a small number of shadow masters, those members who have achieved the greatest amount of insight into the secret. They also tend to be the ones who are the most informed about the activities of the other members, so they are often approached when someone is seeking help with problems they can't solve alone. Even the simple service of telling them the name of a member who might be able and willing to help, and how to find them puts one into debt with the shadow masters, which are often repaid by performing special missions on the shadow masters behalf. Many junior members are not too unhappy to perform these tasks, as they usually involve learning new information about something the shadowmasters consider worth investigating.

    The shadow masters, and many of the other senior members, have their homes hidden away in the Shadow World, which is the object of their fascination. Learning to navigate the shadows is one of the most important skills initiates are taught, and it allows them to reach almost any place in the World of Mortals, or even in the Spiritworld, if they would desire so.

    Despite their sinister appearance, the shadow society does not pose a serious threat to most people. They never expose enough of their identity and goals to make it worth assassinating anyone, but they are very willing to use blackmail to get what they want, which makes them especially feared among the mighty and powerful.

    --

    In other news, the current playtest version of the new D&D edition has warlords.

    Which I think is awsome, I really want such a class in my setting. Too bad the Chevalier from Pathfinder is lacking meaningful abilities.
    Warlord would be a great class for chieftains, sub-chiefs, and their sons, who were raised as leaders, and which sets them apart from the barbarians, fighters, and rangers.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-01-27 at 08:51 PM.
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    More on Demons

    This is not a first draft for a final descriptions of demons, but more conceptual work on what I want demons to be developed to.
    One big problem with demons is, that about every setting eventually comes down to "prevent the world being consumed by demons". Sauron, the Burning Legion, the Quori, the Shadow (Midnight), the Dark One (Wheel of Time), the Blights (Dragon Age), the Reapers (Mass Effect), the Sith (Star Wars), the Vong (Star Wars!), the Great Old Ones (Lovecraft), and I don't know how many more. And I want the Barbarian Lands to be something different than what's already been done a thousand times.
    Two of my favorite versions of demons are the Quori of Eberron and the Demons of Dragon Age. Full out invasion and destruction of all living things is not their goal, and a trait they both share is that they lack bodies that could travel to the material world. Instead they use projections of their spirits, or much more often, possession of mortals. The quori are doing it to prevent their own annihilation, while the demons of Dragon Age just find it extremely entertaining to visit the other side of the Veil. Destroying the world or casting it in darkness is not in their interest, and in the case of the Quori, in direct opposition of their goals.

    As I have established several times before, the Barbarian Lands have no alignment and demons are not inherently evil. However their interaction with the material world is harmful to the natives, and most demons simply don't care. They don't want to destroy, at leaster after they stilled their initial curiousity, but don't care if they do so anyway. There is an infinite number of material universes and none of them have any meaningful value to demons. But true demons are potentially eternal and time doesn't have any actual meaning in the raw Void. For most demons, things that truly matter are their interactions with other demons, but without physical needs, an almost infinite amout of time, and pretty much no way to permanently harm each other, demon society is absolutely incomprehensible to mortals.
    On occassions, the rare demon takes note of the existance of a material universe and decided to investigate it. But since they can't really leave the Void, they need mortals who act both as their eyes and guides. In the most simple form, a demon makes contact with a mortal spellcaster who is using magic to explore the Void. In exchange for services, the demon provides him with some additional magical power. If a demon is truly interested in what it dinds, it tries to get a greater foothold engineeering the creation of a cult that worships it. Cults can accomplish much more than a single warlock and might provide some willing hosts for possession.

    True Demons
    True demons are the spirits of the void, incorporeal and eternal. Some sages believe that they can be classified into seven types of different power and behavior. If they are actually seven different types of demons, or just individuals of different strength of the same type, or even different forms of evolution or stages of maturity, is unknown.

    Rage Demon: By all accounts the least intelligent and cunning, and apparently the weakest type of demon. Compared to other demons, they actually quite dumb and possess the intelectual qualities of common humanoids. That's still enough to draw small groups of followers and even outsmart careless spellcaster on occasion. Rage demons usually don't have any plans beyond taking possession of a powerful form and going on a rampage of destruction until their body is slain or consumed by exhaustion. However, powerful sorcerers sometimes manage to lure rage demons into attacking their enemies and they are sometimes send by more powerful demons to aid in the defense of their mortal servants. But given the rage demons nature, they are only used as weapons of last resort.
    Hunger Demon: Hunger demons are similar to rage demons in many aspects, but they are not as careless and blind in the destruction they cause. A hunger demon attacks with much more purpose and is primary driven by its desire to feed and consume. Sometimes they just slay mortal creatures to devour them, but as true demons they are capable of much more calculated action. As it is their nature, hunger demons set lose in the world of mortals will usually set out to hunt for a specific kind of treat, but they also desire to keep their feeding binges continuing as long as possible and, in an unlikely kind of restrain, try not to bite off more than they can chew. Sometimes the target of a hunger demons desire is completely mundane, like apples or ale, which they will consume in almost endless quantities. But quite often they are also out for such exotic things like dogs heads, human children, rubies, or pixies. Where ever a hunger demons appears in the world of mortals, they usually cause a string of strange disappearances, murders, and burglaries, trying to not draw to much attention to them, that might bring an end to their feeding.
    Greed Demon: In a greed demon, the inhuman craving of hunger demons is more sophisticated, but no less intense. The emotion that drives greed demons to seek out the material world is the desire for possession. With the Void being an infinite and eternal realm of thoughts, ideas, and energies, the concept of possessing physical things is a source of endless fascination for greed demons. Greed demons are simply obsessed with gathering and hoarding certain types of objects, and the more rare and valuable they are to mortals, the better. The demon does not have any use for these things, but just the sensation of possessing things and denying them to others is all they need and desire. If other people value them, then there must be something special about them that makes them worth possessing. Greed demons are very intelligent by mortal standards, but their single minded, and ultimativly futile obsession with gaining more and more makes them act completely irresponsibly. In addition to the currupting influence of the Taint they spread, greed demons can be very dangerous to humanoids, as they know restraint or boundaries when it comes to attaining the object of their desire, which migh as well be slaves, jewels, ancient tomes, or anything that other people do not want to part with.
    Desire Demon: The next step in the demonic hierarcy are the Desire Demons, which are far more particular and descriminating about their cravings. Unlike hunger or greed demons, desire demons not only want to consume or possess things of the mortal world, but also enjoy them. For desire demons, it is all about the pleasures that a mortal existance includes. Part of this includes, that desire demons have the least interest in destroying or currupting things, though there are some of them who revel in depravity and causing suffering. Like all other demons, desire demons never get bored with the things they are craving. They may start to try out some variations or even travel to other places to experience other forms they have not sampled yet, but a desire demon will never just give up its persuit of pleasure and return to the Void for good willingly. Completely destroying all support they have in the mortal world is the only way to get rid of them, and even then they might just bid their time and wait for an opportunity to seduce another uncareful sorcerer with their promises. Desire demons can be active in an area undetected for many months or even years, if they are careful. But during that time they will always spread the curruption of the Taint, which will first take their mortal minions and eventually plague the whole settlement if not taken care of.
    Sloth Demon: Sloth demons are a significant change in attitude and behavior to the desire demons that rank below them. For sloth demons, material pleasures are only of few interest. Like the other greater demons, the objects of their desire are the minds and spirits of mortals. Similar to desire demons, sloth demons often amass great riches and luxuries, but to them they are merely tools to seduce others. Nothing is more exciting and fascinating to a sloth demon than currupting and twisting the minds of mortals and playing with them as it desires, though excitement is no emotion one would associate with them. The corruption of sloth demons is slow and creeping, ver difficult to detect and even harder to escape. Like rage demons, they greatly enjoy destruction, but instead of seeing things burn and razed, their goal lies in causes slow decay by spreading despair and apathy. Sloth demons are just as good manipulators as desire demons, but much more intelligent and great liers and deceivers.
    Dominance Demon: Where sloth demons are simply toying with mortal minds and spirits, dominace demons go much further. They desire nothing more like complete control and power over both mortals and weaker demons. Dominance demons are not content with enslaving remote villages and being given regular sacrifices to appease their wrath. While those might be a good starting ground, the true goal of desire demons is complete obdience and entire countries, and most of them would probably not even stop if they would manage to control entire worlds.
    Pride Demon: At the absolute top of the demonic hierarchy are the pride demons. In many aspects they resemble more powerful dominance demons, but to a pride demon obedience is not enough. They desire nothing more but unquestioned loyalty and devotion, and being worshiped as gods. When pride demons set their eyes on the world of mortals, they desire nothing more than laying claim to everything in that unvierse.

    Lesser Demons
    Though only scholars of demons know the difference between true demons and lesser demons, the later are distinctivly different beings. While native beings of the Void, lesser demons are the creations of true demons. They are the essence of the Void, given shape by powerful demons and filled with tiny sparks of the least demonic spirits. Unlike true demons, lesser demons possess physical forms that can be permanently destroyed, effectively slaying the creature. Lesser demons that are summoned to the mortal world are merely projections that merely dissolve when destroyed, leaving the demon unharmed. But when a lesser demon is called through a portal or slain in the Void, it is permanently destroyed unless a very powerful true demon decides to reform them.

    Lesser Rage Demons: Dretch, Hell Hound
    Lesser Hunger Demons: Barghest
    Lesser Greed Demons: -
    Lesser Desire Demons: Succubus
    Lesser Sloth Demons: Imp
    Lesser Dominance Demons: Erinyes
    While pride demons might possibly be able to create lesser demons infused with the power of pride, they are never doing so, every single one of them believing to be the one true manifestation of it.

    Demonspawn
    At the lowest level are the demonspawn, which are not actually demons. Demonspawn are mortal creatures permanently possessed by demons, or infused with the essence of the Void in other ways.

    Half-Demon: A half-demon is the magical ofspring of a mortal and a demon or a mortal creature directly altered by demonic magic.
    Tiefling: Tieflings are the humanoid descendants of half-demons. They are mortal in almost all respects, but have natural resistance to the Voids currupting effects and can survive in the Void indefinitly. Tieflings are often found in the mortal world, but whole colonies of them exist in the artifical demiplanes of the Void.
    Dread Beasts: These creatures are animals and other creatures that have become possesses by a minor demonic spirit. They are still alive, but completely consumed by taint and almost mindless. They sometimes are created spontaneously when animals enter areas so heavily currupted by Taint, that some tiny spirits can slip through the border between the world and possess them. More often, they are created on purpose by warlocks and guardians.
    Dread Warrior: Dread Warriors are similar to dread beasts, but are created from heavily tainted corpses and resemble skeletons and zombies in many regards.
    Abomination: The easily most feared version of demonic possession. True demons will often project their spirits to the mortal world and ride the bodies of mortals while remaining passive and simply observing. Such people, or more rarely animals, are most often willing warlocks, tricked sorcerers, or sacrifices presented to the demons in dark rituals, but may even be unlucky individuals who touched ancient traps that allow a true demon to possess them. Demons often ride these bodies without becomming active and only manipulating their victims thoughts, and might even leave without leaving any trace but a strong tainted aura. Sometimes the demon decides to take complete control of the body, destroying its soul and warping the body into a horrible demonic form. Sometimes a demon will sacrifice a high ranking servant in this way to destroy dangerous intruders into their cults bases, but usually this is the prefered choice for true demons to enable a long term stay in the world of mortals. Rage and Hunger demons make the most use of abominations and cling to them until the bodies are destroyed. Desire demons often enjoy the sensation of riding a mortal body they have completely mentally dominated, but sloth demons prefer to keep their demonic nature hidden as much as possible and the more powerful dominance and pride demons rarely step so low to use such humble forms. To them the bodies of giants or dragons are much more suitable and appropriate.

    I'd really like some feedback and even additional ideas, before I start to really work this into the rest of the setting.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-01-27 at 08:52 PM.
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    I know you don't use alignement and you said your demons aren't inherently evil, but it seems that all your true demon types are leaning towards the evil side.

    For example, a sort of humor-demon would lean a bit more to the good side, but is actually far more dangerous. Because if you're a demon, you don't want subtle limericks, you want good old slapstick. Or a little war, that would be funny. Mass suicide you say? Hilarious!

    Or another example. You know how people love playing simulation games? The sims, Simcity, anno, Europa Universalis,...
    They go from running the life of 1 person, to a city, to whole nations.
    A sim-demon could be much like that, they pick out one person or city or whatever and try to lead him/it to greatness.
    Again, leaning on the good side and it'll probably have good results, but it means losing most control over your life so still something that has it's bad sides.

    There are many options for demons that don't lean towards evil, but still want to become to the material plane(s) to get their entertainment.
    Voyeur-demons wanting to see secret things, thrillseeking-demons diving into a mortal's life and letting them do dangerous things to make the adrenaline flowing, culinary-demons possessing bodies to epxperience taste, tourist-demons that want to visit as much material planes as possible, banished demons, trying to get back to the void, merchant demons trying to make a profit, hunter-demons trying to kill difficult prey while inhabiting a weaker body, void-record demons trying to be the best at something or do the most of something or trying to get a silly record like people do.

    There are a lot of options for demons so that they have no desire to destroy anything, but they are still incredibly dangerous.

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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    They are not EVIL evil in a cosmic sense, but I guess still fey evil, as in being dangerous and careless. The portrayal of the seven demon types has indeed turned out quite negative. In future write ups I will pay more attention to their more ambigous sides.
    The examples given are really worst case. Because that is what they are feared for, that's also what they are named after.
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    New map, with the islands still missing.

    I'll probably start a new one instead of continuing with this one, but the basic layout is pretty much set.

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    Stormkeep


    Deep inside the forest, three days from the nearest elven settlement, stands a single mountain that rises high above the surrounding trees. The entire top has been carved out into a large castle, which is the largest known fortress in all of the Barbarian Lands and if fully inhabited would easily be the continents greatest city. Despite being one of the largest and best preserved ruins of the fey, pretty much nothing is known about it at all. There are no hints whatsoever, who build it for what purpose, and why it was abandoned. The size of stone tables and benches, and the staircases that run everywhere through the ruin indicates that it was probably inhabited by shee, but that is where common knowledge ends.
    While storms are not particularly common in the area, those who have been in the city all reported extremely strong wind that almost constantly blows through the narrow allies and makes it dangerous to get to close to edges that don't have high railings. There are no large flying beasts like griffons or wyverns living on the cities spires, and even on the inside it's mostly rats, bats, and other vermin. The most probable reason for this is, that the entire place is haunted. Reports are conflicting about what kinds of being are haunting the place. Some say it's spirits, ghosts, or wraiths, and there are even occasional claims of demons. How many of these creatures are haunting the massive fortress is anyones guess. What is known is that the whole place is mildly tainted. Even explorers who have left the place before nightfall report of feeling an unnatural fatigue that often lasts for days afterwards. For attempts to delve deeper into the ruins magical protection is needed and some adventurers tell of halls that made their protective charms break and rot away the moment they set foot inside it.
    The outer parts of the city are relatively easy to explore, with the strong winds being the only thing that may be difficult to deal with. However, it is believed that the corridors and stairs reach all the way down to the mountains base and that the whole mountain has been hollowed out by the castles builders. There are some open shafts that provide air and a slight amount of light to parts of the deeper chambers, but once one leaves the outer streets and the rooms directly adjacent to it, the entire ruins lie in complete darkness. Only the outermost portions of the ruins have been explored, and there are no known tales of anyone ever making it up all the way to the highest spires.

    Since it has been thousands of years that the entire place stood empty, almost all wooden furniture and tapestires have been rotten away ages ago. But there are some rooms that are remarkably well preserved, assumedly by magic, and still show some of the cities original splendor. Even while the outside streets are covered in dust and small plants have cracked open many of the stones, one can still see that the original architecture was much more advanced that anything mortal masons can do in the present age. Unlike most fey ruins, the stone blocks that make the outer buildings added to the rock have no rounded edges and are seamlessly fitted together.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    So, another question to the people who read this thread: what kind of stuff do you want to see?
    Even though I post new stuff on an almost daily basis, there have been very few replies for the last two weeks, which I assume means you don't care for such things. So I think instead it would be more useful to show you things that do interest you and keep my work on other things to personal notes, which take a lot less time to write. But for that I would have to know about what kinds of things you want to know more about.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I believe I mentioned I'm interested in knowing more about dark elven culture, a tribe writeup would be cool.

    One thing I wonder about, too... Who are the actual Barbarian Kings? There has been very little mention of them as far as I've seen.
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    I've enjoyed the posts on demons and blood magic, just haven't had much to say about them.

    I am looking forward to reading more about the Kaas and the two different kinds of Lizardfolk societies.

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    Okay, interest is there. Now I just have to find a way get some reaction to it.

    I had made several attempts to define the title of Barbarian King, but wasn't happy with any of them. In practice they are the most powerful of the hundreds of clan chieftains, who are the leaders of more or less stable alliances of clans.
    I made some demographic tables, and there are about 500 chieftains of individuals clans ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 people. While they are all independent there are lots of alliances of clans that band together and the leader can call himself a King. I tried basing it on the number of chieftains loyal to them, or the number of people under their command, but without a central authority that would establish and control such a standard it doesn't make much sense. So I guess it mostly comes down to whether or not you can pull it off calling yourself king without being rediculed by other chieftains.
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    Aha, I see... well, I guess that means I'm interested in seeing more information about the most powerful clans and their chieftains. I think they should be fleshed out a bit, seeing they are what the setting takes its name from.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Okay, interest is there. Now I just have to find a way get some reaction to it.

    I had made several attempts to define the title of Barbarian King, but wasn't happy with any of them. In practice they are the most powerful of the hundreds of clan chieftains, who are the leaders of more or less stable alliances of clans.
    I made some demographic tables, and there are about 500 chieftains of individuals clans ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 people. While they are all independent there are lots of alliances of clans that band together and the leader can call himself a King. I tried basing it on the number of chieftains loyal to them, or the number of people under their command, but without a central authority that would establish and control such a standard it doesn't make much sense. So I guess it mostly comes down to whether or not you can pull it off calling yourself king without being rediculed by other chieftains.
    Aww, did we lose the Dragon that was a King? I liked him.
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    That is not a contradiction. There will be plenty of non-humanoid chieftains.

    Regarding the humanoid races:
    I really would like to do more work on them, but I've run pretty much out of ideas now. For elves and gnomes, I had a lot planned long before, so that was relatively easy.
    With the other races, I am still at a quite early point. So maybe some of you have ideas that might help me get on track and find their own niches and cultures?

    For Lizardfolk, my primary reference are the Jungle Trolls from Warcraft. I actually started out with trolls, but wanted something more generic and lizardfolk quite the whole thing quite well.
    The Kaas are a logical next step in the development of orcs away from the murdering monster origins. The Warcraft 3 orcs are not quite bad, but the major reference are the Maltak orcs from the webcomic Dominic Deegan. Though they are bit strong on the noble savage line. Also Qunari from Dragon Age 2, those guys are awsome. And also the Cathar from Knights of Old Republic, where I got the name from.
    For the tree critter race, I still don't have a good name, and I hate to start working with placeholder names. They are a bit like Baldur's Gate style kobolds and a bit like nezumi (rat people). Quite energetic and daring, but not silly or stupid. They have great racial bonuses to climb, jump, and balance and for standing just 5 feet tall they are quite quick. Which makes them extremely good at foot chases. Their society is the most simple and they live in huts in the forests, but those who mingle with the other races are smart enough to adapt to civilization easily.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-02-01 at 03:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    For the tree critter race, I still don't have a good name, and I hate to start working with placeholder names. They are a bit like Baldur's Gate style kobolds and a bit like nezumi (rat people). Quite energetic and daring, but not silly or stupid. They have great racial bonuses to climb, jump, and balance and for standing just 5 feet tall they are quite quick. Which makes them extremely good at foot chases. Their society is the most simple and they live in huts in the forests, but those who mingle with the other races are smart enough to adapt to civilization easily.
    You don't have goblins in this setting, do you? These critters sound a bit like some versions of goblin to me, so you could call them that, unless you wanted a completely original name to show they are non-standard.

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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Yes, they are pretty much forest goblins. However with the rat/dog-people appearance, I'd like to have them called something completely different. I kinda like kobold, but with that being a name for a very popular D&D monster and the setting being aimed at D&D, that would be even more impractical.

    I think I do want to have actual goblins as well. But those aren't mini-orcs, but an almost entirely subteranean race that is crawling through underground cracks. However, since they are quite smart, they are the perfect guides for anyone who wants to go to the underworld, as almost no surface race ever travels that far down.
    Too bad it's already so late, that's something I could easily fill a few pages with. Maybe tomorrow.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-02-01 at 06:04 PM.
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