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Old 09-17-2011, 03:04 PM   #1
The General
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

The Gate at Hinnom

138, the Year of the River. The army of Shalimahum the Strategist, Emperor of az-Qarratim, cuts a swath of devastation across the largely undefended plains of Jaresh. They meet only token opposition from a few isolate bands of shepherds, and seem bound to reach Kirjathuzoth, jewel of Jaresh, within the month. For the time being, though, the Divine Emperor solidifies his position, encamped about a mile outside of the small village of Hizjah.

The Gate at Hinnom is a game of dark fantasy, set in a homebrew world heavily influenced by the myth and history of the ancient Levant, a place that we as readers rarely get to explore. It's the Age of Heroes in its rawest form- only out of strife, misery, and decay can true heroes be born, after all. Like all good stories, it will have a definite beginning, middle, and end, though I'm sure we won't know those until we get there.

As with all homebrew settings, there's a moderate amount of lore already extant that you, as a player, have no way of knowing without reading a moderate amount of lore that, you, as a player, might find moderately tortuous. That's alright - it's more interesting if you learn along the way. I'll give a bare bones of important background details right off the bat, but I promise it won't be overbearing or self-important.

Starting Information the Details
The game will be starting in Hizjah, a town that rests at the base of towering Mt. Kerazim. It is modest, calm, and quiet, although in times past many from the capital would come to trade with the locals. Even the inn is a reputable place with little tolerance for excess. The mountain's many caverns once boasted a wealth of resources - primarily copper - valued by many of the nations in the region. Unfortunately, Kerazim's output has been fleeting in recent years, and popular attention has moved on to mountain ranges further north. Because of the arduous trek up the mountain, those men of the village that still mine often encamp near them for weeks at a time, leaving their wives and children behind. The people of Hizjah have a reputation for hard work and strength that few are eager to disappoint - they bear the label 'Coppermen' with pride. They rarely leave their mountain, and now few merchants are willing to brave the dangerous roads to trade when cheaper copper can be found up north. The people struggle to survive, and some have taken up farming the infertile, unyielding soil just that they might feed their families.

Then the might of the Divine Emperor, Shalimahum the Strategist, came upon it. Though the men in the camp are, by direct order, forbidden from entering the village, many do so anyway, usually to sleep with the local women. The camp itself is a large one, probably larger than Hizjah, with the brilliant gold tent of the Emperor located at its center. The Emperor has brought with him soldiers, mystics, craftsmen, and engineers from distant az-Qarratim.

World Information and Magic

The world is believed to be spherical by sages and is called Creation. The specific region we're playing in is called 'The Rift', after the enormous valley that exists at its center. I don't like maps in general as they limit creativity and restrict possibilities so we probably won't see one for a while - tactical maps being an exception. The technology is roughly equivalent to that of the Bronze Age (TL 1).

Magic called Naming exists, and this is accepted fact. However, the art itself takes so many years to master that all practitioners are elderly and many infirm. It is a pure mathematical discipline with a rigid structure - there are no 'sorcerers' born with innate ability - and as such all Namers have very high IQs. By channeling the power of his own True Name, not the name given him by his parents but by the gods, he can twist and weave the word into powerful magic. More experienced Namers can do the same with others names. Naming is exhausting and meditative by nature and is not 'portable' magic rather, it requires grandoise rituals and rites that take hours to complete. As if that weren't enough, Namers are distrusted and stigmatized by all but the Empire, and thus many live lives of hermitage and study. Namers are so rare that the sight of one outside of an imperial court is very, very strange.

Other Races: Giants and Spirits

Humans make up about 85% of the Rift's population. The "elder races" a catchall term for sentient non-humans are treated with distrust at best and active genocide at worst. According to myth, the progenitors of the elder races were the Nephilim, a race of giants purportedly spawned from the devas. The Nephilim raised themselves above man until a massive rebellion destroyed the giants, leaving only their descendants.

The Edomites, smaller giants that stand on average 8' tall, are now the most common, usually used in the Rift as slaves for construction, mining, and porting. They are distinguished by a set of small, golden horns located atop their heads. The Pari are winged giants about 7'5" tall, rarely seen outside of az-Qarratim, where they serve as craftsmen and messengers. They lack the horns of the Edomites. Other giants exist in the wilderness, especially the Wastes of Hinnom, but few are ever seen.

In addition to the elder races, spirits are very common in the Rift. It is not uncommon for a family to have three or even four shrines within their homes for the express purpose of satisfying them. Though most remain hidden, the Mazikeen are spirits that often take up dwelling in a household. They are seen as a symbol of status in the Rift, and are treated with a fair degree of reverence by most religious folk. Believed to be the spirits of the elderly, they are usually harmless, but a few vengeful ones can wreck havoc on the houses of disobedient sons. They usually appear statue-like with a faint ethereal glow, and rarely move or speak.

The Kingdoms and Nations of the Rift

On the kingdoms - an entire country can't be summarized in four sentences. There are so many nuances region-by-region that to say "x is a country of warriors, y is a country of mages" is simplistic and stupid. What follows are 'teasers' of the most important nations. Expect more nuance to be detailed in game, when and if it's necessary - these are things your characters would know regardless of where they come from.

az-Qarratim: a large, bustling empire often just called 'the Empire' - noted for its tolerance of the elder races and magic in general. Once part of the old kingdom of Arrapkha, it broke away after a violent civil war. Though their emperors are titled 'Divine', they are not worshiped as gods. They follow a decidedly foreign monotheistic religion that preaches the omnipotence and omnipresence of "az-Yek" the One and Unknowable God. The priesthood is exclusively male and places a great emphasis on fire. The religion is notable in that it explicitly forbids the practice of slavery. They are almost universally hated in the Rift.

Arrapkha: an ancient kingdom bound by centuries of legalistic ritual and code. Towering ziggarauts and human sacrifices are the norm, built amongst rolling, desert sands. Arrapkha is not generally seen as part of the Rift, as it lies to the north of az-Qarratim. Arrapkhans are usually only seen in the Rift as glass and spice merchants. Their king is rumored to be a wizard.

Jaresh: a small pastoral Rift nation ruled by an inexperienced, temperamental king. The copper mines that, by chance, were discovered right beside the grazing plains are the kingdom's lifeblood. The people here practice ancestor worship, revering the spirits of the ancients with bone rituals many other nations mistake for necromancy. Many immigrants from Urgu have settled in the country, fleeing the destruction only to be met by the advancing Imperial army.

Urgu: a Rift nation to the east of Jaresh, Urgu is a crumbling kingdom in a state of decay after several catastrophic wars with the Empire. The monarchy here is divided and weak, with many cities practically independent. They are united, however, by faith in Belzyon, Lord of Near and Close, the deity they revere above all others. The priesthood has a complex hierarchy that acts as, in practice, the head of the country. Imported deities and shrines from Ibnatum and Jaresh have caused reactionary backlash and Urgu is rife with turmoil.

Ibnatum: the largest of the Rift nations. It was Ibnatum that defeated the last Qarratimian incursion into the Rift, almost single-handedly, and won pride of place among the nations. A strong, growing nation ruled by an ambitious monarch elected by a council of Elders they stand as a bulwark against further Imperial influence in the Rift. Their navy is the best in the known world with advanced seafaring technology, and they possess several colonies on island chains off the coast. Nonetheless, they are almost always seen as uncivilized by citizens of the Empire, likely with good reason. Slavery is widespread in this frequently snow-covered, mountainous country.

Character Creation
  • 150 points for advantages, -30 points for disadvantages, -5 points for quirks
  • nothing Supernatural or Exotic EXCEPT:
    • True Faith
    • Blessed [first rank only]
    • Medium
    • Spirit Empathy
  • Wealth, Status, Reputation & Social Stigmas are all important and worthwhile.
  • Allies, Duty, Patron, & Enemy are all important and worthwhile.
  • Magery can be taken up to level 1. If you do so, the minimum age for your character is 65 and you may suffer aging penalties in play.
  • Humans and Edomites can both be played - other races are a maybe.
  • No starting attributes higher than 13, no starting skills higher than +2, Edomite strength excepted.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:05 PM   #2
The General
 
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Discussion on Magic
Magic continued, Languages, and Cultural Familiarities

Your characters are a group who happen to be in Hizjah at the same time as the Imperial army - they may well be part of it. I would like the characters to have some starting ties with one another rather than meeting randomly, so you should all try and figure out what that's going to be. Your character sheets can be submitted however you want - PM or posted here - but I'd like ample background information so I have plenty to work with during the adventure.

Other Stuff You Might Want to Know
  • I'd like to handle combat via an instant messaging program of some kind and then post summaries of the combat here when finished. If this doesn't work for any of you, fair enough, but it's the happiest medium I've found in Play-by-Post, as otherwise combat will likely take a great deal of time and, likewise, the gambling element of playing is reduced in that it's less hoping the slots come up in your favor than it is waiting for a college acceptance letter. I don't know about you, but I hated waiting for college acceptance letters. Please let me know if you'd be willing to do something like this.
  • The starting cash amount is $500. This can be modified depending on wealth.
  • It'd be nice if all significant advantages and higher-than-average skills and attributes had explanations in your background. Not necessary, but nice!
  • I'd like everyone to post as often as possible - don't sweat it too much though. I'll be posting as much as I can. Try not to have a conversation between two people take up three pages, if you get what I'm saying.

Racial Template: Edomite
51 points

Attribute Modifiers: ST+10 (Size, -10%) [90]; IQ-2 [-40]

Secondary Characteristic Modifiers:
SM +1.

Advantages: Discriminatory Taste [10]; Regeneration (Slow) [10];
DR 4 [20]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; Fearlessness 4 [8]

Disadvantages: Berserk (12) [-10], Disturbing Voice [-10]; Gluttony (12) [-5]; Social Stigma (Subjugated) [-20]; Divine Curse (Berserk) [0]; Extra Sleep 2 [-4]

Thanks, and let me know if you have any questions!

Last edited by The General; 09-18-2011 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

I would love this setting, posting a frame for my PC soon, I am looking at a blacksmith ^,^ (a finnish movie called The Jade Warrior is an influence).


He is called The Blacksmith, Though that is not all he does. He started of as a farm boy helping his family while his father was the blacksmith of the town. He learned from his father how to smith and had a talent for it. But he didn't want to just repair simple tools, he wanted to create new ones. And so he started to learn more about what to do and even how to find materials. He left his home at 16 and went to the mining fields where he learned to locate and determine minerals value. from there he traveled for a while before settling at a small village and working for them repairing tools and farming. It wasn't long before he started to make protective clothing for hard jobs. then new weapons for hunting. He never really settled in his mined what he wanted so, when the time came, he left the village again. He learned how to use some of the weapons he created from hunters whom he traveled with from time to time, even helping on hunts with his weapons. When he needed to He would sell what he made in towns to buy more material.

The Blacksmith

If he does not fit I can think of another one.

Last edited by zoncxs; 09-17-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoncxs View Post
I would love this setting, posting a frame for my PC soon, I am looking at a blacksmith ^,^ (a finnish movie called The Jade Warrior is an influence).


He is called The Blacksmith, Though that is not all he does. He started of as a farm boy helping his family while his father was the blacksmith of the town. He learned from his father how to smith and had a talent for it. But he didn't want to just repair simple tools, he wanted to create new ones. And so he started to learn more about what to do and even how to find materials. He left his home at 16 and went to the mining fields where he learned to locate and determine minerals value. from there he traveled for a while before settling at a small village and working for them repairing tools and farming. It wasn't long before he started to make protective clothing for hard jobs. then new weapons for hunting. He never really settled in his mined what he wanted so, when the time came, he left the village again. He learned how to use some of the weapons he created from hunters whom he traveled with from time to time, even helping on hunts with his weapons. When he needed to He would sell what he made in towns to buy more material.
Sounds interesting - a wandering blacksmith with a dose of warrior. Let's explore him a bit more. Where is he from? What brings him to Hizjah? Wandering as a blacksmith is difficult, as forges and anvils are not exactly mobile. He would have to rent out forges from other blacksmiths, which isn't really an economic situation. It would probably make more sense for him to be settled down, no - otherwise he'd hardly be able to make a living? So he could be the resident smith in Hizjah... or, perhaps, he's accompanying the imperial army. I'm certain they could use a decent forger. I do notice he knows how to smith iron, which is a bit too advanced for us at the moment, so you'll want to scratch that.

Some potential character ideas for newcomers:
  • a mercenary captain from the imperial camp
  • a merchant who decided to brave the roads to Hizjah
  • a wandering tribesman
  • Hizjah's resident Bone Priest, communing with ancestral spirits
  • a sage from az-Qarratim
  • a minor spirit, the protector of one of the local families - we can talk
  • an escaped Edomite slave on the run from his masters, with the az-Qarratim camp and, by extension, freedom just over the horizon
  • a Copperman miner, militiaman, or farmer
  • an Ibnatumite spy, following the movements of the Divine Emperor
  • an Ibnatumite/Urguite soldier come to lend aid to the people of Jaresh in the wake of the invasion
  • an az-Qarratimian soldier, mystic, engineer, or scout accompanying the Divine Emperor's army
  • a Prophet
  • a diplomat from Kirjathuzoth come to parlay with the Emperor
  • a camel tamer and caravan master
  • a bandit taking advantage of the turmoil

Some of these are mutually exclusive - that's okay. Note one thing that most of these roles have in common: for the most part, they draw other people to them or are attached to other people. As I said, you are not only creating characters but you're also creating a group. I won't saddle you with the boring and tired cliche of meeting in a bar or having a kingly edict sent out or anything like that- it makes most sense and is most natural if you're together from the start.
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Quote:
Originally Posted by The General View Post
Sounds interesting - a wandering blacksmith with a dose of warrior. Let's explore him a bit more. Where is he from? What brings him to Hizjah? Wandering as a blacksmith is difficult, as forges and anvils are not exactly mobile. He would have to rent out forges from other blacksmiths, which isn't really an economic situation. It would probably make more sense for him to be settled down, no - otherwise he'd hardly be able to make a living? So he could be the resident smith in Hizjah... or, perhaps, he's accompanying the imperial army. I'm certain they could use a decent forger. I do notice he knows how to smith iron, which is a bit too advanced for us at the moment, so you'll want to scratch that.
OK then, the smith iron. I lowered the articier talent by a level and used it to raise the skills a level.

Depending on the rest of our cast, He may be the residing Smith or working for the imperial. He is almost 30yo now, He left his farm life with his family at 16yo and worked as a miner till he was about 20 then as a smith for 5 years. spent the nest 2 or so years wandering around, learning different things. then settling to where he is now.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:46 AM   #6
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

A good question is how are you handling armor and weapons? will you use low tech?
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Very, VERY interested. Not sure what to play yet, but what popped into my mind the second I read the whole thing were:

- An opportunistic scoundrel, infamous thief and rogue, just looking for a chance to accumulate some wealth
- A merchant who is more than meets the eye, smuggling various goods from one side to another, as long as he gains profit while doing so
- A bandit/mercenary leader, working for whoever pays more. Known for his brutality and efficiency

Marko
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

looking at a warrior type perhaps a slave/gladiator on the run or a mercenary. Maybe he is hiring himslef out as a caravan guard?
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Yeah, 10000 character limit made me forget some stuff.

Okay, on equipment, optional rules, etc:

Like I said, you all start with $500 - as usual, you can only spend 20% of that on adventuring gear. I think it'd almost be a crime not to use Low-Tech - which is an awesome book with awesome rules - especially given one of our players is a blacksmith. We'll be using it and a lot of its rules including but not limited to: improvising armor+shields, the upgraded armor table, edge protection, equipment decay, the upgraded hit table, etc. Low-Tech is honestly 100x better than what's in the Basic Set for TL1.

Combat will be done on hexagonal grids because it's honest-to-god easier and more satisfying than normal combat is. As such we'll be using the Tactical Combat rules presented in the Basic Set.

@Skullcrusher - either one would be fine with me. Mercenary would likely work well, and then somehow that might tie in with at least a pair of Harry O'Gane's character ideas.

@Harry O'Gane - all three sound cool. I like the second and the third myself, look forward to what you come up with.
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Old 09-18-2011, 01:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: [OOC] The Gate at Hinnom

Skullcrusher, how about I roll the merchant with you as his trusty guard and companion "in crime"?

Marko
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