|Time for the map again!|
Aeshe, Umbersheen, Arel, and Lussen are languages and shared cultures. King is a language and culture which they don't like to share. There's a pretty solid Aeshean Empire (both the country and the language are named after a religious figure), but besides that the world is mostly scattered with princedoms and baronies that might not fill a single six-mile hex (~20,000 acres).
I promised a player some meaningful mechanical differentiation between races, so here's my attempt at doing that without introducing full demihumans into the world.
|I am using all derived stats. If you want to steal something from this, you'll have to adjust accordingly.|
For all races: if your INT is at least 7/+0, you can read and write in your own language. At 12/+1 INT you know an additional language.
Imperial subjects tend towards the tall and sturdy, with bronzed skin and work-hardened hands. They were the g_ds' most highly-favored, once, which is why their empire is so broad and they have so many skilled practitioners of the supernal arts. Their Church is the preeminent religion now that the old g_ds are gone, but many still worship dead Timotheos in their homes. Red Heretics are common here.
You get +2 MOVE for being an Aeshean. If you can see the sun you know how long until dusk, and if your CHA is 12 or more you know the time even underground.
These are the slight, fair-haired people of the east half of a narrow land bridge, divided down the middle by an imperial road. Their part of the world is broken highland and moor, and they spend most of their days fighting brutal civil wars over sheep. Umber (the country doesn't have the "n") produces sturdy warriors and little else. They are ardent followers of the Church, but Green Heresy is still common.
You get +2 HRTS for being an Umbern. By ignoring your body's pain receptors you can sacrifice 1 HP to gain a second melee attack in combat, and if your CHA is 12 or more you eat half as many rations as anyone else.
These are the willowy, dark-haired people of the west half of a narrow land bridge, divided down the middle by an imperial road. Their part of the world is densely wooded lowland and swamp, and they spend most of their days shooting at deer or Umbern. Sheen (the country has the "n") produces bold hunters and little else. They are ardent followers of the Church, but Blue Heresy is still common.
You get +2 SNEK for being a Shee. Experience and a stern eye gives you an extra 10' of range from your weapons, and if your CHA is 12 or more you can tell people apart by scent.
Staunch plebiscitaries bearing gray hair and skin, proud of suffering under the most advanced Democracy in the known world. Every three years, Arelians elect an Undeniable Dictator who sets all taxes and spends all taxes. There are no term limits, but unpopular dictators may find themselves executed by their successor. Orthodox monasteries are common in these parts. So are harems, forbidden by the mainstream Church but common among Purple Heretics. Arelians are a complicated people.
You get +2 SKLL for being an Arelian. You know an additional language and can read any language you can speak. If you have 12 CHA or more you know a primal language of the spirits, and can speak with wizards and demigods.
Natives of the rainforests and wetlands of Icorn. Originally short, ruddy and dark-haired, but most are at least part Aeshean after centuries of subjugation. They recently threw off that subjugation; this has everyone worrying. Have their leaders made deals with Wizards? Will Chaos soon have its own kingdom in the world of Man? The Deltans are just happy to be free. Most are Yellow Heretics.
You get +2 INIT for being a Deltan. You swim like a fish and can climb trees like ladders, and if your CHA is 12 or more your jump distance is doubled.
The arrogant precursors to modern humanity. Lanky, ruddy, bearing hatchet-noses and shaved heads. The Kings (claim that they) were the ones who built the ancient cities, (say that they) named the nameless hills and dells, and (may have) raised the first temples to the old g_ds (if you believe them). They (claim to) rightfully own all ruins, all artifacts, all cities and all territories. As other peoples ignore these claims, most Kings live as wandering vagabonds and mercenaries. Kings still worship the old g_ds and have a generally hostile relationship with the Church of Aeshe.
You get +2 SAVE for being a King. Martial training from an early age gives you a permanent +1 to-hit, and if you have at least 12 CHA you recognize ancient artifacts immediately and can generally guess their value and origin.
- What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
See above image. It's very complicated. Tolerance for heresy depends on the region.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Towns have blacksmiths, larger towns have larger selections.
- Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
A Manufactory would be able to whip it up in no time, but you might be able to pay for a custom job in a larger town.
- Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
"Wizard" is usually used by superstitious peasants to refer to something dangerous, whatever that may be, supernatural or fully mundane. All sorts of horrible things might be the most dangerous Wizard around. If you mean "mightiest caster", and aren't picky about "in the land", the Great Sage Aeshe(pbuh) is the mightiest.
- Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Undoubtedly the Holy Emperor, in the great city of Anyang, capital of the land of Aeshe.
- Who is the richest person in the land?
The Executive, an elected (not by plebiscite) official responsible for taxes and tolls, has the most ready cash. The cash at least nominally belongs to the Emperor, but the balance of power in the empire is complicated.
- Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Every settlement has at least one qualified cleric. Settlements without clerics do not survive for very long. You can always find a wide variety of cleric-errants and heretics on the road, busily flitting from one catastrophe to the next.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Poison, disease, curse and level-drain can be dealt with by any competent cleric. Polymorph and alignment change are consequences of heresy; they can be avoided by not associating with heretics and can be cured by burning at the stake. Lycanthropy is something that happens to Builders who anger their g_d. Death can be cured by lying around. You'll get right back up. Undeath can be cured by a cleric as well (the ones who carry swords).
- Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Yes, you definitely belong to some sort of organization. Unsanctioned magic is, at best, a crime. If you're particularly unlucky you will be labeled a Red Heretic and summarily destroyed. Organization isn't all bad though; you can buy new spells if you're willing to pay the exorbitant fees, and if you're trying to track down another member you can just ask your boss.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Arel (in the frozen south) is famous for its libraries and its total kooks. You could take a boat, or the nice broad highway, but it's a few hundred miles at least. Study of esoteric literature is popular among the disgustingly wealthy everywhere.
- Where can I hire mercenaries?
Most places. There are always strapping young men and women ready to rove out in search of adventure. If what you're looking for is a large group of battle-hardened veterans, they are more expensive but still common.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
You can't wear armor in major towns. Rougher areas are fine with you carrying weapons of self defense, but no civilized places appreciate you walking around with a blunderbuss or a pike in your hands.
- Which way to the nearest tavern?
Less than a day's travel from you at all times. If you're farther than one day's travel from civilization, you have much bigger things to worry about than alcohol.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
There are any number of werewolves, wizards and armies of the unburied dead roaming about. You should ask individual townships for their local problems.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Constantly. The Empire has many regional governors, who oversee many greater lords, who oversee many lesser lords. Some small civil war is always going on somewhere. If you prefer a longer-running and more idiotic fight, the Umber and the Sheen are always raiding up and down the borderlands.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
Bloodsport is frowned upon (too much risk of the undead). The underworld may have what you're looking for, especially in larger harbor towns with weaker laws and more roughnecks.
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
That sounds like something you shouldn't be asking in public. You might have a few friends or contacts who can point you in the right direction, though.
- What is there to eat around here?
Human flesh, and plenty of it. The humans themselves eat root vegetables and goat.
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Dozens, here's a list to start you off with.
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
Straight down a few miles. If you'd prefer monsters you can actually reach, you should start hunting Wizards. Many carry artifacts, or can be harvested for reagents.
Things You Need To Know:
- The world was created by a group of five g_ds commonly called the Brothers. They sculpted coastlines and waterways, built up mountains, and peopled the world with intelligent animals which closely resembled them (now known as "Man"). For unknown reasons they abandoned it before it was complete, and the world has never quite worked right since.
- Bodies which are not treated properly rise as the Unburied. Before Aeshe developed clerical magic the only "proper" treatment was the pyre, and control over the priesthood is why the Church of Aeshe is so widely accepted.
- The sun hangs in one spot in the north, flicking on and off at dawn and dusk. Scholars believe it was once supposed to orbit around the world like the moon, but nobody knows how that was supposed to work (what if it flicked "on" and it was pointing at the wrong side of the world?). Natural sunlight banishes evil, and in the absolute darkness of night evil flourishes.
- The world is flat, with three corners. Scholars believe it is a four-faced pyramid and rests its point on.... something. It's hot in the north (where the sun is) and cold in the south. Oceanic currents run "downhill". The shallow sea pools around islands and reefs. Sailing is dangerous.