Friday, September 4, 2015

Southland: Contested Migration Areas

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Contested Migration Areas
The various Humanoids of the Outback are voracious consumers.  A few of the clans, tribes, and gangs have settled into certain permanent residences, where they can comfortably feed themselves.  [These places, along with the Humanoid’s stats, will be detailed in following posts.]  Most Humanoids though are near roaming armies, tracking around the continent in migratory arcs, searching for new feeding grounds.  This can include preserves of wildlife, human settlements, and even meeting opposing Humanoid forces. 

The Nullarbor Plain along the southern coast is a tree-less prairie that is something of a transit corridor for large groups of Humanoids.  This seems to be the one of the common stops for these migrating groups engaged in the Humanoid version of the “Walkabout.”  For this reason, though the plain would be quite suitable for ranching, the humans have left this area alone.

The Plain was a site of massive battles during the Ancient Civil War.  It has since ecologically recovered, somewhat.  There are many limestone caverns, tunnels, and sinkholes underneath the Plain.  There is also abundant water held in some of those caverns.  The Ancients used these as military and survival bunkers.  Unfortunately during the Catastrophe, they weren’t deep or enchanted enough to save anyone. 

It’s a very dangerous spot for exploring, but in some of those bunkers should be magic weapons, artifacts, and knowledge.  There has been a tale of one explorer stumbling upon a cache of several “sleeping” dragons.  Were this story told anywhere else in world, it would be dismissed.

[Yep, drop in your favorite cavern-style dungeon here.]

Above ground water is a problem in the Southland.  Most fresh water has to come from Artesian wells underground.  There are just a few fresh water rivers, such as the Murray and the Darling in the southeast, that are constantly flowing.  Lake Eyre, along with a series of other salt lakes (Torrens, Frome, Gairdner), form when there’s enough monsoon rains to fill them.  Eyre is the only one with standing water, but even then, most of the time, it’s a crust of salt over a depression in the desert.    

Humanoids can process saltwater, though they don’t like it, but it’s easier than digging a well.  These saltwater lakes, when filled, are watering holes for the tribes when on the move.  It is another common stop on their “Walkabouts.”  Humans do harvest the salt, but normally avoid the area during the wet season, when the Humanoids typically visit.  The various tribes do normally have an informal, standing truce around the lakes, but it doesn’t take much of an incident to get them to break it.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sports Journal 9-3-15 Deflated

I’ve probably already made enough snide, off-hand comments about the NFL to make any commentary on “Deflate-Gate” questionable on my part.  Further, my obvious allegiance is to BASEBALL!  But, how can I pass up an opportunity to do some actual timely topical blogging for a change?

First, I think the whole league is fixed.  I don’t mean deflated footballs.  How can you seriously watch a season’s worth of football and not question calls on the field and subsequent reviews on a weekly basis?  You can think of your own examples, probably very easily.  The only reason for official reviews is because the referees on the field kept botching the fixes.  The “replacement” refs weren’t any worse than regular ones, except they were unacceptably screwing up the fixes.  Here is why the league is mad at the Patriots: they keep trying to fix the games to their advantage!  That is the exclusive, not-to-be-messed-with domain of the NFL.  They determine the winners and losers, not the damn teams!  No team scores unless the third team on the field (the refs) allows it.

Okay, I’ve got no proof behind my allegations (or than watching what goes on in the actual games).  You can legitimately dismiss what I’ve said.  Maybe it’s not the NFE (National Football Entertainment).  If this is the case, then you then have to accept that the rules of the game are impossible to play by.  The players routinely break them.  The referees arbitrarily enforce them.  There are fouls on virtually every play of the game if they were observed and called by the book.  Seeing all the infractions is impossible and then calling them all would not produce anything close to entertainment.  

Second, this whole “controversy” was just a publicity campaign to keep the NFL in the national consciousness during the off-season.  That’s all it was.  It was there to keep people talking after the Superbowl.  It was re-ignited, conveniently, right after the NBA finals.  This has been manufactured by the media.  It’s all been a bunch of panty-wadding crap to give pundits (I guess including myself) something to pontificate on. 

I’m not a Patriots fan.  I think Tom Brady is a great player, but he’s not my favorite and I don’t root for him, unless his team is playing somebody I really hate.  That said, I’m glad that he’ll be playing.  Since I think it’s all illegitimate anyway, may as well put the most entertaining players out on the field.  I am a Cowboys fan (low-key, I admit).  This decision may harm my team since I think they’re playing each other this season.  (No, I don’t know their schedule.  I don’t memorize baseball schedules beyond the current week either.)  Well, if the Cowboys beat the Patriots with Brady, then it’s a greater victory than without him playing.

Meanwhile, Goodell is apparently going to appeal this.  Not for the league, not for the fix, but for his job.  This whole thing has been a massive screw-up on his part, since this deflation issue actually came up before the game in question was played.  He has embarrassed the Shield with this loss in the court.  If he doesn’t win at some point in this saga, Goodell is out the door.  The commissioner is just a mouthpiece/figurehead anyway.  But, the games will be being played at that point.  This story has already served its purpose of publicity and will be over-staying its welcome after the season starts.  Brady being suddenly suspended in-season is just going to anger the fans, rather than placate them, thus making Goodell an even more hated tool. 

Hopefully, these will be my only comments on this, hoping that this affair now goes away.   

Southland: Humanoid History

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Humanoid History
The Ancients wanted troops that were more effective than standard humans and could be controlled like domestic animals, as they prepared for their planned conquest of the world.  Different Wizard-Kings had different theories about what would make for more effective Humanoid troops, hence the different races.  This magical construction has limited these creatures’ lifespans to only 10 to 20 years.  Though given their warrior lifestyles, none of them live long enough to die of old age.  

One might question why the Ancients generally didn’t use undead troops, instead of going to all of the trouble of creating the Humanoid races.  They did, before the Civil War, but mindless troops only have limited uses.  During the War, necromantic magic was entirely too common amongst the Ancients.  Attacking with an army zombies, one ran the risk of encountering a more powerful necromancer than yourself and having the army turned against you.  Even a few minor necromancers could turn significant numbers of your troops against each other.

[This is the bane of using completely will-less troops.  The Humanoids might be savages, but did understand the concept of loyalty (of a sort: harsh discipline, fear, and being the sole source of Vegemite were also motivators).  Now in the Commonwealth War back on the home continent, the use of undead troops against the far more numerous, but magically destitute Prophecy Empire troops was very effective, if for nothing else than the sheer shock value.  Necromancy is a forbidden magical art in the Commonwealth by treaty with them.]

Humanoids were designed to be low-maintenance, subsisting on a cloned protein jelly, called Vegemite.  Quite on their own, Humanoids developed a taste for flesh in battle (the Ancient Civil War), though it lacks the narcotic effect of Vegemite (which has a little eucalyptus in it).  One of the Wizard-Kings’ controls on the Humanoids was that their magic was the single source of Vegemite.  With their destruction, the Humanoids had to adapt.

Humanoids can reproduce themselves asexually.  They have no means of sexual reproduction, which was very intentional.  When sufficiently gorged on Vegemite, the Humanoid will generate a clone bud on their back.  It will fall off on its own and mature quickly into a new warrior.  The amount of food and maturation time varies by species.  The Wizard-Kings had complete control over this process by controlling the food supply, whose magical content was necessary to start the cloning process.  The Humanoids hated them, but served them to continue to get the Vegemite and out of fear.  The Wizard-Kings could easily disintegrate masses of them if they got out of line.  The Humanoids would take it out on human civilians whenever they were allowed. 

With their masters’ deaths at the end of the Civil War, that should have been the end the Humanoids.  However, the Catastrophe essentially irradiated the entire continent in magical energy.  This meant that, as they expanded their diet out of necessity, everything they ate (mostly meat) could potentially allow them to reproduce.  There has even been some species mutation and an occasional reoccurrence of the magic trait. 

After an initial population explosion, the Humanoid populations eventually became self-regulating.  In other words, they became too numerous and slaughtered each other over scarce resources.  Since then, their populations have thinned out and stabilized to the environment.  Most tribes and clans roam the Outback for food and move on when an area can no longer support them.  A few clans have permanently moved into specific sites that can support them (and often have some cultural significance). 

Centuries later, this magical irradiation has started to fade.  Areas around some of the coasts (especially the south east) became depleted first.  Humanoids there could no longer reproduce and were forced to move inland.  They could hold and hunt in depleted areas, but couldn’t realistically live there.  The magic saturated areas are continuing to contract and will force Humanoid migration further inland, which will again put them at each others’ throats for that land.  But, it’ll take a long time before it’s all gone.  At that point, the Humanoids will finally die out within about 20 years, unless some Wizard figures out how to make some more Vegemite.

Humanoid tribes are numerous and all warriors, but they are highly disorganized, mostly not very smart (or simply savages), and more prone to fight one another than the colonists at this point, as their interior resources dry up.  It should be noted that however, that the Humanoids have a deep seated hatred for humans.  You can pick out any number of reasons why.            

The Catastrophe took a while to play out before it consumed the entire continent.  The Ancients left copious notes of the effects of it and theories about it.  (Most thought it would dissipate and intended to ride it out.  It was too late to escape when they learned otherwise.)  The Commonwealth colonists have found some of these notes and thus have some understanding the Catastrophe fallout areas and Humanoid reproduction. 

[While some areas to be described are dominated by a single Humanoid species they are by no means the only possible occupants there.  Further, even within each species, there should be plenty of variation.  Check out this post on Monster Variation.]

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Southland: Humanoid Lands-Introduction

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)


Mount Connor (Humanoids, other monsters)
The Deep Dark (Grimlocks) 
     Deep Dark Oozes
Kalgoorlie Gold Mines (Orcs)
Argyle Diamond Mine (Goblins)
Ranger Uranium Mine (Hobgoblins)
     Biviron (Undead Guardian)
Gnoll Hunting Grounds (Gnolls)
     Dangerous Prairie Animals
Devil’s Marbles (Kobolds, Dragons)
     Abraxus the Red Dragon
     Other Dragons
Cape York Swamp and Jungle (Lizardmen)
     Antalamya the Shell Dragon
     Swamp Animals
The Great Barrier Reef (Gillmen)
     Dangerous Sea Creatures

Introduction to Humanoids
Let’s get this out of the way first: These creatures are NOT noble savages defending their land against a foreign invasion.  [Humanoids are not standing in for the Aborigines in this environment.]  They are unnatural creations blighting the land.  The Humanoids have some intelligence, but they only concerned with killing and eating.  They have only a very few primitive superstitions and taboos, which might reflect slightly higher thought.  They see humans as hated dangerous prey animals.  They see other Humanoid species and members of their own species, even their own tribe if desperate, as potential food as well.  There can be no negotiation with them, no matter how much the humans might want it. 

Of general note, all Humanoids have darkvision and can see well in low light.  However, they can operate without penalty in daylight.  They all speak variations of Ancient particular to their species.  They will not learn other languages (nor teach their own) and cannot read or write.  Different Humanoid species may communicate with one another (haltingly) and with other monsters, but they won’t talk to humans.  (Magical translation and knowing the Ancient language would allow humans to at least understand them.) 

The species listed here is by no means all-inclusive.  If you have a favorite Humanoid race not mentioned here, go ahead, pick a spot on the map, make up an environment, and insert it.  There’s plenty of room.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Southland: Pirate Stats

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Pirate Seaman
+2 Dex
HD 1 (d8), Hp 4, AC 12 (None)
Fort +0, Ref +4, Wis +0
Melee: Cutlass (Short Sword) +1 to hit 1d6
Ranged: Light Crossbow +3 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +1 [(Int bonus + Wis bonus)/2 + 1/2 level]
Climb +2

A scurvy dog with little discipline, but typically high morale.

Pirate Petty Officer (Mate)
+2 Dex, +1 Wis, +2 Str
HD 5 (d8), Hp 20, AC 12 (None)
Fort +1, Ref +6, Wis +2
Melee: Cutlass (Short Sword) +7 to hit 1d6+2
Ranged: Light Crossbow +7 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +4
Climb +5
Intimidate (Physical) +4

Usually command ballista and catapults on ships and keep the men in some semblance of order.

Pirate Captain
+3 Dex, +2 Wis, +3 Str, +1 Int, +1 Cha
HD 7 (d8), Hp 28, AC 15 (Leather, worn if expecting combat), Enhanced Init.
Fort +2, Ref +8, Wis +2
Melee: Long Sword +10 to hit 1d8+3
Ranged: Light Crossbow +10 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +6
Climb +7
Intimidate (Psychological) +5
Haggle +5

The brains of any pirate ship.  They’re also usually the only ones who can effectively pilot the ship and find prey.  The Pirate Captain keeps his job by a combination of their sailing knowledge, their physical prowess, and plenty of booty for the men.

Captain-Emperor Hobart
+3 Dex, +4 Wis, +3 Str, +4 Int, +4 Cha, +2 Con
HD 9 (d8), Hp 64, AC 18 (+1 Leather, +2 Bracers), Enhanced Init.
Fort +5, Ref +9, Wis +7
Melee: +2 Trident +14 to hit 1d8+5 + DC 12 Ref Sv or +1d6 Bleed
Ranged: Repeating Heavy Crossbow +12 to hit 1d10, 5 Bolts, M

Sailing Skill +9
Climb +8
Intimidate (Psychological) +9
Charm +9
Haggle +9
Dinosaur Control Headband +9 (Wis + ½ level) vs 10 + Dinosaur’s Will Sv, can directly control the actions of any giant monster with concentration.  With three successful controls over three days, the animal is conditioned and will follow commands without direct control.

The Admiralty never should have passed Hobart over for promotion, much less allowed him to drummed him out of the service on trumped up charges for protesting the slight.  He was a brilliant officer, but always had a bit an ego.  Hobart is the Commonwealth’s prime example of creating their own worst enemy.  He’s a control freak and almost unable to delegate responsibility for any of the myriad schemes he has for revenge and glory, which is probably his only limiting factor.  Hobart is the Mirror Universe version of Governor-General Bligh (right down to the hyphenated title).    

[Stats for the various giant monsters are in the Tasmania entry.  ***link***] 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Southland: The Crossbones

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Crossbones

This was once a pirate group covertly sponsored by the Hegemony, in an attempt to siphon off the wealth that the Commonwealth was shipping out of the Southland.  The effort was joined by pirates from the Oriental Empire and the Commonwealth and even unknown countries.  However, the attacks were a minor nuisance, relative to the total shipping. 

Then came Captain Hobart, a former Commonwealth Naval officer and nobleman.  Whatever motivated him to turn on his country did so with a vengeance.  His knowledge and tactics turned this rag-tag group into a navy in their own right (albeit a pretty grubby one).  The price on his head is astronomical, but his crews remained loyal to him, trusting and fearing him more than the Commonwealth.

Giant monsters surrounding the continent had always been a menace to shipping.  The island of Tasmania, or Monster Island, was not only populated with them, but they seemed to be actively and intelligently keeping intruders out.  Hobart correctly figured out that there was someone controlling them.  At great cost, Hobart and the pirates managed to explore the island and found a degenerate clan of Ancient survivors.  He managed to force them to teach him how to use an Ancient magical device that could control the monsters.  Hobart then massacred the group (though there are a few survivors, who are currently in hiding). 

This was a scary development.  The Crossbones took possession of the island and openly declared it sovereign territory under Captain-Emperor Hobart.  The Commonwealth Navy would have found this amusing, but with giant monsters backing up the claim, the pirates could make it stick.  Striking from a hidden, fortified, well protected nearby base, the Crossbones are a force to be reckoned with.  Effectively, he’s made the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Southland a hunting ground and the south of the continent, a danger zone. 

While the Navy hasn’t been given sanction to assault the island, they have beefed up their presence and the shipping is more protected.  It’s something of a stalemate.  As long as Hobart alone can control the monsters, his rule is also secure, but the pirate captains are grumbling about the lack of easy pickings.  Hobart may be planning more ambitious adventures, perhaps an invasion of the mainland and taking the gold and diamond shipments there.     

So far, Hobart has only made one major mistake.  The Gillmen, living offshore, often came ashore to take eggs of the giant monsters to raise them as their servants.  While he approached them under truce, Hobart didn’t like the non-human intrusion and slaughtered the poachers.  This brought quick retaliation from a small army of Gillmen and their giant monsters.  The Crossbones with their monsters held their own and beat them back.  Hobart even took a magic trident from their king, who was leading the assault, though he escaped.

While the Gillmen haven’t made such a large scale attack again, they are a constant guerilla warfare menace to the island and to the pirate ships at sea.  Worse, they’re not discriminating between the pirates and the colony, and they have been attacking coastal settlements.  It’s pretty much another stalemate situation, as no one is able to effectively strike back at the Gillman’s underwater bases.    

The pirates also have mobile supply points in secluded bays all around Tasmania, giving them greater range and making them harder to spot. 

The town of Hobart (how modest of the Captain-Emperor) is every bit the den of pirates you’d imagine if it were a Disneyland ride.  It is, however, an actual functioning municipality.  There are women (with questionable backgrounds brought in or purchased from various other nations) and children (of dubious parentage).  It is well-defended by ships, monsters, and even coastal emplacements and siege batteries.  There are also a network of informants on the mainland, keeping the pirates informed of naval movements and shipments.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Southland: The Hegemony

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Hegemony
While the Hegemony and the Commonwealth are officially at peace, it is a much more complex relationship.  The sides fought a major war with one another 20 years ago.  The war coalesced several, previously unfriendly nations into the Commonwealth after the invasion.  While the Prophecy Empire was never directly attacked, the disintegration of their invasion force and sudden death of much of their leadership, broke the empire back up into the unallied, minor clan holdings from which it sprang.  Only recently, have they formed something close to a national government, the Hegemony.    

Being neighbors, though mostly geographically separated by inhospitable terrain, the nations are continuing trade partners.  Frictions are usually, and correctly, attributed to the Hegemony’s very weak central government and the rebellious actions of individual clan states.  While there is some low-level conflict over the “Dark Continent” colony, the possible riches in the Southland have rekindled some serious animosity. 

Hegemony business concerns and efforts at exporting workers and mercenaries have mostly been blocked by the colonial government, naturally suspicious of the Commonwealth’s old enemy.  Besides, they’ve already established a relationship with the much friendlier Oriental Empire.  Individual clan states have taken to sponsoring pirates and in-land adventurers to raid in and around the colony in a more aggressive action.  (This effort has actually gotten away from them at sea and ended up helping to create the Crossbones pirate nation.) 

There is always a persistent fear that events on the home continent may ignite open warfare in the Southland, and vice versa.  At any given moment, the hot-blooded clans of the Hegemony might unite again, given the excuse.  The nations of the Commonwealth haven’t forgotten being invaded and many of them still want payback for it.  That trigger could happen because of events in the far away Southland.  

The Kalbarri Portal

Seven Sisters Myth: The last remaining Sisters found a Wizard with a magic gate.  He warned them that he could not control their destination in times such as these.  The Sisters were desperate.  He took the treasures that they had accumulated (gold, diamonds, and Philosopher’s Stone) and gave them transit through the gate.  One at a time, they disappeared through it, but all of them went to different, far off places.  The Sisters were finally safe, but they weren’t together anymore.   

The Kalbarri Portal may actually pre-date the Wizard-King’s empire.  It may be another source for their immense arcane knowledge, as it can connect with the other-worldly/other dimensional/other periods of time.  Of course, one has to be high-master of magic to command the object to function correctly.  More likely, a lesser wizard might activate the Portal, but the destination will be completely unknown.  It can, and will, activate by itself or by the command of a user on the other side.  Anything can come out of the Portal under those circumstances.

The Portal is known in the Commonwealth colony of Perth, but they do not have the resources to fully examine it.  Though it radiates strong magic, colonial authorities elsewhere have had little interest in it.  The sparseness of the land and the presence of two dangerous insect colonies (Giant Ants at the Pinnacles and Giant Locust swarms near the Portal) have dampened any exploratory enthusiasm.   

Hegemony raiders, however, use this area as a gathering point, being an easy-to-spot landmark.  Having experience with locusts and giant ants in their homeland, they’re actually able to use them as a screen for their activities.  They also revere the object, but given the Hegemony’s traditional aversion to magic, they do not have sufficient skills to activate it, except by accident. 

While devout fanatics, the raiders are masters of hit-and-run tactics on caravans and small settlements and forts.  They take whatever treasure they can carry and captured supplies, destroying anything they can’t take with them. 

Hegemony Raiders
+1 Str, +1 Con, +2 Dex, +2 Wis
HD 2 (d8), Hp 9, AC 14 (Leather)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +2
Melee: 2 attacks/rd Scimitar +3/+2 to hit 1d8+1
Ranged: 2 attacks/rd Short Bow +4/+3 to hit 1d6
Charge: Spear +3 to hit 1d8+1, max dam + Stun, breaks spear
Mounted Archery Skill

Hegemony Raider Captain
+2 Str, +1 Con, +2 Dex, +3 Wis
HD 5 (d8), Hp 25, AC 14 (Leather)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +4
Melee: 2 attacks/rd Scimitar +7/+4 to hit 1d8+2
Ranged: 2 attacks/rd Short Bow +7/+4 to hit 1d6
Charge: Spear +7 to hit 1d8+2, max dam + Stun, breaks spear
Mounted Archery Skill

HD 3+6, Hp 19, AC 13 (Natural)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +1
Melee: Bite +0 to hit 1d4+2 (Camels don’t bite when carrying a rider, only when being handled by someone they don’t know)
Camels are known for their ability to travel long distances without food or water.
Carrying Capacity: A light load for a camel is up to 300 pounds; a medium load, 301–600 pounds; and a heavy load, 601–900 pounds. A camel can drag 4,500 pounds.

Horses have proven to be impractical in western Southland for extended field operations.  The Commonwealth has used oxen as the primary beasts of burden and relied on well-known watering holes and outposts.  The Hegemony raiders have brought in camels for their operations, which allows them a wide range of deployment without the need for constant resupply.