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  1. #1

    Default Doug Seacat on...

    I have copied a lot of Doug Seacat's data dump posts from both the old and new forums and I sorted them by topic for my use. With the loss of the old forum archive a lot of great material was lost. So on to make at least some of it available again I'll post what I have here.

    When you see *** that seperates one post from another. Things in Italics indicate that it is not from Doug or [Topic References or Edits] of what Doug said.

    The categories are my own and there are some overlaps in topic as they developed as I saved posts.
    Last edited by Kriegtanzer; 08-31-2011 at 11:18 PM.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  2. #2

    Default Doug Seacat on Alexia and the Witchfire

    Wanted to say a few things on Alexia since I think she is getting slightly shorted in her
    descriptions by some people. It is true she bears the Witchfire, one of the most powerful artifacts
    in our setting, and this has had a tremendous impact on her life. But she is also a prodigal
    sorceress and has manifested rather formidable talents for necromancy even without the blade.
    The allure of necromancy seems to have sprung from horrors in her childhood and the death of
    her mother; had things been otherwise, perhaps she would have taken to some more productive
    expression of her talent. As it is, her arcane abilities are quite strong. Perhaps not quite on the
    same scale as someone like Victoria Haley, but certainly far beyond most of those who manifest
    these powers. Not all the dead she created arose from the Witchfire, and she was able to more
    quickly and readily create them than was thought to be possible using the methods she had on
    hand.

    There are certain aspects of the Witchfire worth bearing in mind. It isn't simply a weapon or tool.
    One of its main powers is the ability to permanently increase the power of its wielder when its
    blade is used to kill those who control magic, whether arcane or divine. There is a story regarding
    the original recovery of the Witchfire in No Quarter Magazine #3. There it mentions a history
    of the blade before the Gift of Thamar when it was wielded against Menite priests by Thamarites.
    Some of the events of the Witchfire Trilogy had to do with this sacrificial power, including the
    death of Alexia's mother and her coven, who were sacrificed by a greedy man to augment his own
    personal power. Either way, it's certainly likely Alexia has killed a few arcanists since joining the
    wars as a mercenary. She is therefore probably even stronger than before, and she was already a
    youth of tremendous innate potential.

    ***

    The origins of the Witchfire remain a bit of a mystery, although it was definitely not made by
    Cryx. Keep in mind it was in the stash of King Moorcraig, one of the pre-Cryxian pirate kings
    who defied Lord Toruk and was obliterated. This sword remained hidden in the ruins of that
    blasted castle for nearly sixteen centuries, completely unknown to Cryx until it was unearthed by
    an expedition led by Dexer Sirac. (This story is in NQM#3, called "Better Left Forgotten.) The
    sword predates the invasion by the Orgoth.There has been speculation, but no proof, that the
    sword may be linked to Scion Delesle, who ascended in 1610 BR, a thousand years before the
    Orgoth invaded....

    There is not a lot of material available regarding the use of the Witchfire, although this topic is
    mentioned in the "Better Left Forgotten" story in NQM#3 (p. 35, bottom of 2nd column). It is
    entirely possible the sword may have had another name, but before it landed in the trove of King
    Moorcraig, it was known to be utilized against priests. The last known wielder of the blade before
    it was lost was "a once lowly Thamarite priest who embarked on a crusade of bloodletting against
    both Morrowan and Menite clergy to steal the souls of dozens of priests"....
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  3. #3

    Default Doug Seacat on Arcane Language and Runes:

    The best language for arcanists to study is Caspian (root language for Cygnaran), which has a
    similar position in our setting as Latin. Caspian is utilized for many fundamental arcane texts and
    was widely utilized by most of the seminal groups of wizards. This includes the Fraternal Order
    which eventually gave rise to both the Greylords Covenant and the Order of Illumination.
    Therefore, many of the most significant arcane lore is either written originally in Caspian or has
    been translated into Caspian.

    Caspian is also useful when researching other fields, such as history and religion. It's the best "dead
    language" to learn among anyone involved in an academic field.
    Remember, Caspian is not what people speak in day to day conversation, any more than people
    today regularly speak Latin. I actually do think Caspian would form a regular part of arcane vocal
    incantations, but the actual words are simply a method to ease the mind in shaping the power into
    the proper controlled shapes and patterns. Likely they serve a primarilyy mnemonic purpose, albeit
    no less important because of this.

    Discussing this gets into a strange gray area between the "reality" of the magic in the setting, such
    as how it would appear in a novel or a movie, versus the necessities of a nicely balanced and
    versatile RPG game system for magic. I may elucidate on that topic later, since I have a number of
    thoughts on the matter, but I don't have time to write a detailed dissertation on the various schools
    of formalized arcane symbology at this moment in time.

    I think it would be quite possible to pick out bits of Caspian, Khurzic, and other more obscure
    languages amid an arcane incantation, including some words and phrases which would sound like
    nonsense if put together as a sentence. And as we know the power itself does not come from the
    voicing of these words, otherwise any repetition of those words would have an impact. They are
    simply one part of a more complex process, most of which is a mental exercise.

    ***

    The runes are another matter entirely, they are a distinct arcane alphabet. As I mentioned before,
    it's the difference between alphabet and language.

    For a comparison, we have access to the various faction arcane fonts in our download area on the
    forums (if memory serves). One can type in this font using these letters of an alphabet as a
    substitution for our alphabet, but the words you are typing are the same. It's simply a way of
    slightly disguising the words by utilizing unfamiliar symbols for letters. Conversely, someone not
    versed in French or Spanish can still recognize the letters of their language, but not comprehend
    the words.

    In the occult circles the proper use of runes is of a higher order of importance in the process than
    a specific spoken language. Many arcanists are convinced the written word and the symbolic
    importance of certain alphabets conveys innate power which the spoken word does not. Some
    alphabets and languages are deemed better suited to certain tasks than others. It all has to do with
    symbolic representation and how those symbols can be used to control and precisely delineate the
    flow of arcane power.

    While most Morrowans don't like to dwell on the fact, it is clearly delineated in Thamar's journal
    which comprises part of the Enkheiridion that she believed her own ascension to be facilitated by
    her exploration of the Telgesh glyphs.

    Arcane runes are indeed very similar between the different groups where they appear. Telgesh is a
    weird special case mainly seen only with certain necromantic spells, particularly those dealing with
    the animation of the dead. One could justify a higher DC on spellcraft checks versus necromancy
    since the origins of that magic are distinctly different from other arcane research. However
    otherwise most human arcane practices have identical origins, and these have nothing to do with
    regional languages.

    All of the modern orders of wizardry sprang ultimately from the Circle of the Oath in Ceryl,
    which was nearly crushed by the Orgoth but gave rise eventually to the Order of the Golden
    Crucible. Later, the Fraternal Order arose from practitioners of the same background, and this
    group fractured into the Order of Illumination and later gave rise to the Greylords Covenant
    when its Khadoran branch split from the central organization.

    I was indicating that the actual words being utilized in arcane practices are not a distinctly
    separate language and that pieces of existing archaic languages might be found in certain spells and
    incantations. However, this was primarily to explain why Caspian is probably the most commonly
    utilized root language for most arcane spells in western Immoren, including those being utilized by
    the Greylords Covenant. Most of the arcane lore utilized by the Covenant is based on the same
    underlying principles and research as was stolen from the Fraternal Order of Wizardry. All
    human wizardry ultimately traces back to Cerylian principles from the Circle of the Oath, later
    expanded by the work of Sebastian Kerwin. This is why Spellcraft checks are possible, and why
    it's not necessary to invent some kind of "magic language" like Draconian.

    If one wanted to get far more detailed and complicated, you could determine if some spells are
    exclusive to certain wizard orders and assign those a higher Spellcraft DC. This would be the case
    with new spells being added to the spell lists of regional wizards that aren't found elsewhere.
    These spells might utilize more non-Caspian words in their incantations and be difficult for
    wizards outside of that group to understand. The Greylords have expanded their specialization in
    cold-based offensive magic, for example. Some of those spells might have deliberately adopted
    Khurzic incantations. Similarly, there may be certain spells in use exclusively by military wizards
    trained at the Strategic Academy in Caspia which would not be easily recognized by outsiders
    without some repeated exposure to them.

    This is the gray area I mentioned between the "reality" of how magic works in the setting and
    having a functional RPG set of rules to deal with them. For most GMs it's easiest to use
    Spellcraft as it is described in the SRD, and not worry about what exact language the wizards are
    utilizing in their incantations. If you must name it, consider that most spells are utilizing Caspian
    words, mixed with occasional words from other obscure tongues. Wizards do not need to be
    fluent in any of those tongues to make use of specific incantation or to recognize the spell with
    Spellcraft. Many of these incantations are used as mnemonics and learned by rote to help the
    caster send his mind through the proper gymnastics to make the spell work. The actual linking
    together of these words has nothing to do with saying something coherent. If you were to
    "translate" an arcane incantation it would usually sound like gibberish or an obscure poem at best.
    You would simply have to know that "Fireball uses a Caspian mnemonic phrase taking some of
    the words for a common prayer about fire and vengeance from the Codex of the True Law, but
    the final word of the sequence is derived from the ancient Thurian word for 'inferno'. While I
    speak these words, I force my mind to pass through this particular exercise and create these
    corresponding patterns with my arcane power, facilitated by these long-practiced hand gestures."
    If you have a wizard or arcane mechanik on the "bleeding edge" of research or utilizing a lot of
    personally researched spells, by all means increase the DC on spellcraft checks to recognize them.
    Just keep in mind most arcane magic used by humans has similar roots. While wizards don't like
    to admit it, many of the fundamental principles of evocation derive from the work of Scion
    Nivara, for example. Learning magic is hard enough without trying to customize or modify every
    spell or to reinvent the magic missile.

    This is however one reason knowing a lot of obscure languages is not a bad idea for a well
    educated wizard who takes his craft seriously. Knowing the ancient Calacian word for "fire" is
    probably not necessary most of the time, but perhaps it will prove helpful in some specific time
    and place as one is unlocking the details of some obscure occult tome. Having a broad mastery of
    languages is a good idea for any educated and systematic arcanist.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  4. #4

    Default Doug Seacat on Banes:

    Almost nothing is widely known about the source of the banes, even among those occult circles
    inclined to investigate such mysteries. The only legitimate experts in this field are Lich Lord
    Tenebrous, the eldritch Goreshade, and Bane Lord Tartarus, none of whom are inclined to share
    their lore.

    As to whether that place is the same as the dreaded fate the skorne expect to face if their souls
    are not preserved in sacral stones, there is similarly no one in any position to say with any
    certainty. While the skorne have an advanced and sophisticated body of occult lore, their awareness
    of the afterlife and Urcaen in particular is extremely lacking. It would be difficult to determine
    with any certainty whether the destination of their souls is the wilds of Urcaen, the source of the
    banes, or somewhere else. They just know it is terrible and to be avoided if at all possible.

    Void Seer Mordikaar certainly boasts a unique perspective on the matter, but has no real access to
    western necromantic lore. I'm sure the void seer and Lich Lord Tenebrous could have an
    interesting and illuminating discussion if they were ever to meet, but such a conference seems
    unlikely. Similarly, Hexeris seems to be working diligently on research related to the matter which
    may eventually bear fruit, given he has time and a sufficient quantity of captured or enslaved
    "volunteers" for his lethal experiments. As shown in Metamorphosis, whatever those particular
    skorne occultists are working on seems to have gathered the attention and prompted some concern
    from Omnipotent Mohsar, one of the three leaders of the Circle Orboros, which is probably a good
    sign that they are onto something significant from a cosmological perspective.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  5. #5

    Default Doug Seacat on being marked by Infernals:

    On being marked by Infernals:
    The mark definitely cannot be placed on just anyone. This was a topic we explored in greater
    depth in the infernalist PrC in No Quarter Magazine than we did in the Monsternomicons. In
    the most basic terms, an infernalist must have someone completely in their power to offer them to
    an infernal. In other words, the person must be captured or helpless in most circumstances (thus
    giving infernalists the rather deserved reputation of capturing people and sacrificing them to dark
    powers), or killed previously and their souls captured by soul cages, etc. There are special bargains
    which go outside the scope of this, but are much more unusual and require larger bargains with
    more powerful infernals, hence more skilled infernalists, etc. The infernals themselves are under
    fairly tight cosmological constraints while operating on Caen and are not generally at liberty to
    slaughter wantonly. They are intruders in this reality and powerful supernatural entities (such as
    agents of the gods) can enforce those restrictions. They are only able to function with some liberty
    while operating at the behest of a mortal intermediary, which is why the infernalists exist in the
    first place (both to summon them to Caen, as well as providing a mortal-inspired anchor for their
    actions). Those actions can in turn be countered by powerful priests and those who work with
    them. There is an entire branch of the Church of Morrow dedicated to the investigation and
    elimination of these practices, after all: the Order of Illumination.

    On large scale markings such as the casulties of a battlefield or plague victims:

    Any larger scale deals like this are purely in the realm of conspiracy theory and conjecture, as
    there is no clear mechanism by which this is possible. Nonetheless there are rumors that crop up
    from time to time of particularly skilled and powerful infernalists able to make certain
    arrangements of this nature, particularly involving arrangements with the Executors (MN2, p. 88-
    91), an echelon of infernal above the curators who ordinarily deal with mortals.

    No one really knows how much clout or what in fact the Nonokrion Fellowship has actually
    arranged or managed for itself. This is one of those setting plot seeds which GMs can safely
    ignore or make use of as they see fit. I'm sure not going to confirm or deny anything related to
    their actions since they are not widely known. A deal of similar scope is presented as a campaign
    option in the GM section of Five Fingers, Port of Deceit. These are intended to be rites and rituals
    and occult dealings on a scope beyond an easily distilled rules/spell interaction, into the realm of
    "major plot device."

    Such arrangements would be singular and unique rather than repeatable or something upon which
    to expect there to be any sort of widely understood mechanism. Somehow the infernalist would
    need to be able to make some sort of claim over the lives in question, to the point of being able to
    persuasively argue in a contract that the lives are "owned" by him and therefore eligible to be
    offered to an infernal agency.

    The most widely accepted historical precedent for this, one which seems to have some teeth, has to
    do with Scion Ekris himself, the patron of infernalism. He is reputed to have been involved in
    deals on this scale to extend his lifespan and possibly also related to his eventual ascension as a
    scion of Thamar. There isn't much factual merit or evidence behind any other similar claims in
    the setting's history. (The largest rumored "infernal bargain" in history would be allegations
    around the Gift of Thamar, aka The Gift of Sorcery, by which the overthrow of the Orgoth was
    made possible. But there is almost no evidence related to what this might have involved or what
    promises were made.)
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  6. #6

    Default Doug Seacat on Cortexes:

    Cortexes are really nothing like computers. Warjacks can't really perform some of the simplest
    mathematical equations done by a calculator, yet can intuitively grasp the physics of the world by
    similar instincts as we use when catching a ball or throwing one. They are most certainly not
    adding machines. They are in some ways far more extraordinary and also less systematic. They are
    simulated brains, not calculating machines executing lines of code. They are more trained than
    programmed. Cortexes are best at controlling things that approximate bodies, but not so great at
    many of the things we use computers for.

    Tests with cortex controlled boats demonstrated a problem of them trying to slam and throw
    other boats. Didn't work out very well.

    ***

    There is no programming or code. Cortexes are not computers but rather artificial mystical brains
    that approximate thinking, but mostlylack self-motivation or will. (The caveat is provided since
    there are exceptions among seasoned 'jacks that have picked up greater autonomy through extended
    service and time with warcasters). Most warjacks do not really think for themselves, but are sent
    into battle with commands and can make decisions within broad parameters. This includes enemy
    vs. friend recognition and knowing that they should keep on fighting enemies until ordered
    otherwise. Warjacks that are jack-marshaled are given verbal orders, which are interpreted to the
    limited degree of their intelligence and awareness. The default state of a warjack once the fighting
    begins is more or less: "kill all the enemies I can see, until told to do something else by someone I
    recognize as my master."

    Military grade cortexes are actually reasonably smart, within the very narrow confines of the
    battlefield environment. Thinking of them as particularly brilliant animals who only know how to
    fight is not a bad comparison. They do not suffer from impatience, hunger, or other desires
    possessed by living things, although as noted some eventually pick up lifelike quirks and qualities.
    In the game these are generally characters, but a lesser degree of this same phenomena is simulated
    by Warjack Bonding rules (Prime p. 246-249).

    When a warjack seems to get angry, impatient, or highly protective of its master, these are signs
    of emerging personality. If these quirks become moreof a problem than a help, the cortex can be
    wiped. Generally warcasters prefer bonded warjacks be left alone as they value signs of learning
    and personality development from extended battlefield experience. But if a 'jack begins to have
    trouble telling friend from foe (attacking allied soldiers, or civilians, for example), or exhibits other
    unpredictable and dangerous behavior, a wipe might bethe only solution.

    Ol' Rowdy's history is interesting in this regard as this 'jack might have been wiped had not
    someone decided it could be useful for journeyman warcaster training. Drago is another extreme
    example, being one of the most autonomous 'jacks in our setting. There are even documented
    instances of Drago somehow starting its own steam engine. (Those interested in this should read
    the Guts & Gears dedicated to Dragon in the 10th Year Anniversary Issue of NQM.)

    The majority of warjacks demonstrate far less initiative and basically do what they are told.
    Warjacks demonstrate the widest range of complex behavior and understanding of their
    surroundings in combat, as is appropriate given thisis the task for which they were designed.
    Precisely how the cortexes make decisions and take intheir environment remains somewhat
    mysterious, being achieved by mystical means rather than being precisely delineated like lines of
    code in a computer program.

    ***

    The Vassals of Menoth are entirely capable of manufacturing cortexes for the Protectorate. Indeed,
    there's even a nice illustration of this in the IKWG, p. 280-281. Smuggling of cortexes was to
    supplement local manufacture, and cortex productionhas increased as the Vassals program has
    expanded. It's also worth mentioning that the Fraternal Order of Wizardry does not produce all
    the cortexes for Cygnar, as the Cygnaran Armory is also capable of producing their own cortexes.
    The FoW maintains a lucrative military contract and increases the warjack production capability
    of the military by their efforts, but do not have a monopoly on these techniques. If you look in the
    force books under warjacks for the factions you willsee the cortex manufacturer. For most
    Protectorate 'jacks it is the Vassals of Menoth and in Cygnar it is often listed as either the
    Cygnaran Armory or "Fraternal Order of Wizardry/Cygnaran Armory".
    Last edited by Kriegtanzer; 03-25-2013 at 09:59 AM.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  7. #7

    Default Doug Seacat on Cosmology and Religion: Part I

    We rarely present information from omniscient third-person, particularly related to the gods,
    cosmology, and the underpinnings of the greater mysteries of the world. Even when we do not
    have a specific narrator listed for a given piece of information most of these "facts" are presented
    from a faction-biased perspective or are given from the POV of a relatively objective baseline of
    what is generally understood by some specific (if well educated) inhabitants of the setting.

    This is not to say that everything is equally true or all facts are possible, but there is definitely
    some intentional mystery and certain areas of lore where there are differing opinions even between
    highly educated scholars of the same background. For example, in the Sancteum of Caspia among
    the theologians of Morrow there are endless debates regarding some of these issues, such as how
    Dhunia fits into the cosmology and the ancient conflicts between Menoth and the Devourer
    Wurm. The sentient races of our setting definitely do not know everything about how the
    supernatural world, the gods, and Urcaen function. Therefore you as a reader of this material also
    do not know everything, although if you read enough of the different perspectives you will have a
    broader and more informed perspective than most people who actually live in the setting. Readers
    of our material have access to a number of pieces of information that are not readily available
    otherwise, such as comparing the Cryxian world views to those of the Retribution and the Skorne.
    To most inhabitants of the setting each of these is an extremely alien and enigmatic culture.

    It is worth noting that Morrow in particular--and Thamar to a more subtle degree--are not "lesser"
    gods simply because they arose from mortal flesh. Morrow is one of the most pervasive and
    powerful divine entities in our setting, with a very large majority of the human population of
    western Immoren worshiping him. Populations in the setting in the modern era are considerably
    higher than they were in the ancient past, which puts Morrow in an extremely good place in the
    great War of Souls between the gods. The faiths of the Twins have been going strong for 2500
    years and literally transformed philosophy and religion across the western continent. It would be a
    mistake to dismiss the power of either of these gods simply because they used to be mortal. In
    particular the reach afforded Morrow by his powerful ascendants, and the influence of his
    extremely organized, wealthy, and pervasive religion.

    ***

    Remember, don't get in-game rules mixed up with your background cosmology. Just because all
    living creatures normally have souls in the miniature game does not mean these are truly all the
    same. Lich lords are not walking around in the forests scooping up the souls of squirrels and
    rabbits for their cages. Asphyxious did not seize hold of the Temple Garrodh to have herds of
    cows and pigs slaughtered at his feet. The spiritual essence of animals is considered far weaker
    and less useful for occult purposes than that of sentient creatures. The War of Souls in Urcaen is
    primarily about human souls, for example. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the spiritual essence
    of most living creatures seems to dissipate into the earth. The Dhunians claim this is part of the
    same process that takes place with those creatures favored by their goddess, who brings their
    essence back into herself after death to be reformed into new living creatures after. For those who
    have heard the harrowing tales of the wild and terrible expanses of Urcaen and the endless battles
    between the gods and their followers in the afterlife, the Dhunian reincarnation cycle has a certain
    peaceful appeal.

    ***

    The elven gods physically crossed the bridge to arrive on Caen. They did not leave bodies behind
    in Urcaen/the Veld. Urcaen and the Veld are in the same cosmological realm. It is best to consider
    Urcaen as the afterlife equivalent to Caen, being a very large "world" (universe/reality) with
    possibly multiple disconnected continents/regions. The Veld was one of these, which is where the
    elven gods lived. (Consider this to be equivalent to a different continent from the geographical
    space occupied by the human gods such as Menoth, Morrow, Thamar, etc.) Similarly the dwarves
    refer to the section that their gods occupied as Kharg Drogun, or the "Land Beneath," but this is
    still in Urcaen, specifically a region also apart from those areas utilized by the human and elven
    gods. (Imagine our own globe, with gods from different pantheons on different continents.)

    ***

    It isn't that gods create souls directly. What they create is a sentient species which can then
    reproduce and continue to produce souls so long as it exists. This is a method of replicating souls.
    It is the initial investment required to create a species which is extremely taxing, once that has
    been done the gods can reap the benefits so long as they continue to be worshiped by their creation.
    This particular creative process may no longer be possible at this point in Caen's history as there is
    no evidence of any recently created species. It's possible the barrier between Caen and Urcaen is
    now such that the creation of new species can no longer occur. Of course no one really
    understands this process exactly nor the requirements behind it.

    ***

    I'd definitely advise against considering Menoth as Dhunia's child any standard part of
    cosmological belief. This was part of an alternate creation myth as described by, appropriately
    enough, an ogrun priest of Dhunia. Doesn't it seem a little self-centered and convenient that an
    ogrun shaman of that goddess proclaims the Creator of Man to actually be an ogrun descended of
    Dhunia? No humans in western Immoren believe this. Then again, the standard human creation
    myth does not really provide for Dhunia at all, so you could probably consider their depiction of
    the creation of the world flawed as well. All of the world creation myths are ancient legends
    passed down through countless generations from prehistory and should be considered flawed at
    best. Nonetheless, no one (of any species) disputes Menoth as the Creator of Man.

    The Veld is indeed the elven name for Urcaen, although it could also be taken as the specific area
    of Urcaen where their afterlife and the Divine Court was located. This appears to be at least
    reasonably remote from the region where humans go when they die. (The same is true of the
    dwarven variant of the afterlife.)

    I may post more on the War of Souls later, but it is primarily described as being fought between
    Menoth, Morrow, Thamar, and the Devourer Wurm --which fights in an entirely different
    fashion from the other three. The War of Souls can refer either to the literal battles between
    these gods and their followers in Urcaen or sometimes as a metaphor for the battles of faith and
    conversion taking place between their mortal followers. (The latter is considered akin to a
    "recruitment" phase for the War of Souls.)
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  8. #8
    Annihilator
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    Default

    Excellent work!
    Last edited by HerrDeux; 09-01-2011 at 06:53 AM. Reason: Why interrupt Doug Seacat?

  9. #9

    Default Doug Seacat on Cosmology and Religion: Part II

    The Morrowan symbol does indeed represent the moment of ascension, the transition to
    enlightenment, with the long line and dot as an abstraction of man passing beyond his mortal
    shell with the radiance representing the mind transformed into spirit. It also represents the sun,
    light, and all things associated with those principles.

    The Ternion Brand represents the three-pronged choices of the Thamarite faith, the three
    fundamental principles of tyranny, discord, and subversiveness. These elements are represented by
    the different paths chosen by the Malefactors (featured in Five Fingers), and each priest or
    priestess of the goddess also generally falls into one of these three paths in their pursuit of dark
    enlightenment. As a related aside, there are certain ancient pieces of iconography shown in the
    Morrowan faith, such as the Witchfire Trilogy's representation of Father Dumas, which shows a
    six-pointed star. This symbol is often found on certain complete and unabridged texts of the
    Enkheiridion. These six points represent the three fundamental precepts of good and the three
    fundamental precepts of evil as discussed by these faiths. The counters to the Thamarite paths are
    the pursuits of justice, righteousness, and accord. The six-pointed star on the Enkheiridion thus
    represents the Volition. These six paths are loosely similar to the three alignments of good and
    evil. (Tyranny = LE, Discord = CE, Subversiveness = NE; Justice = LG, Righteousness = CG, Accord
    = NG)

    The Menofix is indeed one of the most ancient abstracted symbols to represent man. It has come
    to represent the "Creator of Man" more than mankind itself. But it is definitely a shape derived
    from the human form.

    White, silver, and gold are the dominant colors of the [Morrowan] faith. The blue accents seen on
    many of the models is something I've always personally considered associated with the Cygnaran
    members of the faith although we've never specifically described it as such. Certainly makes sense
    with the Precursor Knights in particular since they are a specifically Cygnaran order. It is usually
    shown as a lighter blue than the "Cygnaran blue" in either case. I could imagine Khadoran
    Morrowans having small red accents lines instead.

    Other than the brand there are no specific colors associated with Thamar, other than black and
    arguably (with some groups) blood red. She has myriad septs (cults) associated with her worship
    and there is considerable variance between them. Some of these may adopt their own symbols or
    choose to associate with one or another of her scions. But for the most part Thamarites prefer to
    not look like Thamarites. Fiona is not a typical example and can be considered to be flaunting her
    affiliation. This is considered marginally suicidal in most areas of western Immoren, given the
    scope and power of the Church of Morrow and its adherents. Even though a Thamarite is not
    technically subject to the law unless they commit crimes (excepting clergy), proudly displaying your
    allegiance to the dark goddess is an invitation for trouble. Some of the pirate ports will tolerate
    such behavior, but even there discretion is generally considered a better long term health plan.

    ***

    [Balance between good and evil?] Not exactly. There is no "balanced" perspective of the faith,
    since choosing any of Thamar's paths represents a failure of will (to the Morrowans), and
    succumbing to temptation. The Morrowan faith recognizes that mankind is not perfect and that
    some choose poorly when the time for Volition comes. They recognize that there are those who
    take the easy path, or cannot control their impulses toward cruelty, or who are overcome by greed
    or a thirst for power at all costs. A recognition of these dark corners of the human heart does not
    represent acceptance. Morrowans believe they must understand this side of human nature and not
    deny it, but they also believe very firmly in fighting against those things and doing everything that
    is in their power to encourage others to stand strong and choose the path of light. For some, the
    Volition is an extremely traumatic and difficult decision, and choosing to do right can come at
    enormous cost. They can sympathize with those who have stumbled at this time and were unable
    to be strong in the face of their trial. The hope is to find a redemption even for these. Of course
    the degree to which a specific Morrowan thinks redemption is possible, and when they believe
    there is no choice but to eradicate the fallen, is a matter of internal debate. Certainly there are
    individuals for whom there seems to be no way back from the darkness and the only option is to
    remove them before they do greater harm to the innocent.

    ***

    The more martial aspects of the faith prefer to fight directly against the darkness, while a number
    of priests see themselves more as teachers and guides. Neither side is considered right or wrong,
    but essential parts of the larger Morrowan purpose. That doesn't stop internal discussion and
    argument, of course, and historically every primarch has been slightly different in this regard,
    which influences the church accordingly. (As does the overall balance of sentiment among the 36
    exarchs.) Currently the path of Accord is strongest in the Church of Morrow. They say in his
    youth Arius was a follower of the Righteous, but he has mellowed to preach Accord since his
    elevation to Primarch.

    ***

    Morrow and his ascendants and host are not idle or inactive, even if we have not been given
    excuses to show them in action, particularly within the context of the miniatures game. Keep in
    mind the ascendants have power because they are known to take an active hand in the world, and
    some of them ascended not so long ago. The notion of an entity speaking the will of Menoth and
    performing visible miracles is indeed novel and unusual for Menoth, but it is quite familiar to the
    Morrowans. It's a mistake to view Morrow or his ascendants as pacifists or inactive simply because
    they often work through more subtle signs and portents. At the risk of a slight spoiler for the
    Witchfire Trilogy (which most readers of this forum are at least familiar with, and many have
    played through), keep in mind the rescue of Corvis in 603 AR from the skorne was very directly
    led by the hand of Morrow through the fulfillment of an unusual prophecy laid down by
    Morrow over three centuries before the event, passed to mortal ears by the manifestation an archon
    of his host. Morrow is called the Prophet for a reason, and there are many other lesser prophecies
    that have yet to be fulfilled and through which he has given subtle guidance to his faithful.

    If I were running a religious themed game in this time period, I'd have a number of rumors of
    the influence of various ascendants taking place during this time. As noted it hasn't been
    appropriate for us to dwell on these entities in the miniature game fiction, but there is little doubt
    among the realm's Morrowans that Ascendant Katrena, Markus and Solovin are taking an active
    hand in things (likely other ascendants as well), passing advice through dreams of honorable
    military commanders at the very least. Menoth is certainly not the only active divine presence, and
    his faith is still a minority, outnumbered by Morrowans by more than four to one. Even the
    Harbinger is a case in point that the gods generally work through mortals to see their will done,
    including most prominently their clergy. Again, we hear more of the exploits of the Menites
    because they are a full faction in WARMACHINE, but the presence of Morrowan priests and
    battle-chaplains is implied throughout the setting's backdrop and pervade both Khador and Cygnar.
    Events are not so one-sided on the faith front as one might be led to believe, nor are the
    deprivations of the Wurm so great as to prompt some kind of mass conversion. The influence of
    both Menoth and Morrow are still far greater than the occasional horror story or rumor of some
    blood-mad Devourer cult. So too the conflict between Morrow and Menoth is certainly much more
    center stage than the ancient and sometimes forgotten struggle between Menoth and the Wurm.

    It's worth mentioning that a sizable number of the Molgur were humans. It was a rather diverse
    assortment of Devourer worshiping races, including those humans who had not embraced Menoth.

    Most of Menoth's ire is indeed directed at humans who do not recognize or properly respect him.
    However, his animosity with the Devourer Wurm and the fact that a number of other species
    have at times served that power does complicate the issue. Also the fact that most Menites choose
    to make no distinction between Dhunia and the Devourer.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  10. #10

    Default Doug Seacat on Cosmology and Religion: Part III

    Souls are not generally recycled by the gods. Souls are indeed created and are rarely destroyed, and
    therefore grow in number. This is one reason the creation of a sentient species becomes a continual
    and ongoing font of power for a creator god, so long as that species is intact and worships them.
    Urcaen appears to rely on Caen for the fabrication of souls, and therefore there is a built-in
    reliance. The gods cannot entirely ignore what transpires in the world of the living. One could
    easily argue that the recent upsurge in Menite fanaticism relates to the belated realization by
    Menoth that his faith was dangerously waning on Caen while Morrow's was on the rise. Despite
    thousands of years of gathering the souls of Menites, the fact that the Morrowans are a large
    majority on Immoren represents a distinct threat to Menoth's future strength in Urcaen.

    Reincarnation does happen in the cosmology of certain religions, but only to a limited degree.
    Reincarnation of souls is an element of the elven and Dhunian religions, but is not an element of
    the other faiths. So long as births are happening, souls are continually created.

    The Dhunian reincarnation process is not well understood. Her cosmological process is a mystery
    no one has explored.

    Elven reincarnation is more thoroughly documented by Iosan theologians. They believe
    reincarnation was part of a gradual refinement process, and that all souls would eventually make
    their way into the domain of the gods. Those deemed "not ready" by Ayisla were sent back to be
    reborn, but this was not mutually exclusive with the creation of new souls. Some elves were born
    with reincarnated souls, others with new souls. Ayisla was the governing force behind this. The
    manifestation of soulless elves is hypothesized (by some) to be an unexpected side-effect of Ayisla
    joining the Vanished. A small minority of newborn elves are born soulless; some consider these
    unfortunate individuals might have been destined to receive reincarnated souls which went astray.

    Among the gods participating in the War of Souls, aside from exchanges during those battles,
    every gathered eternal soul still exists in some form and is a member of their domain. With very
    few exceptions, these souls do not return to Caen.

    There are losses and setbacks and injury in the War of Souls even if the souls themselves are like
    minted coins and are never actually removed from circulation. One of the most important factors
    is a soul has no automatic means of being recovered by its patron power should it be lost or
    captured by the enemy. Generally one of the worst fates a soul can suffer in the War of Souls is
    to become a prisoner of war. This is a particularly dreaded fate as over time and given the
    creativity of endless torment and/or temptation, such captured souls can be turned from their
    original faith and converted to the side of the enemy. This tactic is apparently particularly popular
    with both the Devourer Wurm and Thamar. While of course no living mortal knows exactly
    what it's like to be an eternal prisoner in the War of Souls, falling to the Devourer Wurm as a
    member of another faith is probably the most dreaded fate. Some texts describe this as
    experiencing being consumed and continually digested for all of eternity. Whether that's the truth
    or poetic hyperbole is of course impossible to determine without actually having this happen to you,
    and of course no one has ever experienced this and returned to talk about it.

    ***

    The simplest explanation is that some of these groupings of gods act as a pantheon, others really
    do not. Both the elven and dwarven gods are very much pantheons and were/are worshiped in this
    fashion. Certain things have changed with the elven gods (for obvious reasons) but throughout
    history they were worshiped both individually and collectively. The dwarves worship their gods
    very much collectively.

    Humanity doesn't really have a "pantheon" in that sense of things, but rather several recognized
    competing gods most of whom are at odds with one another. There are a number of relationships
    which are more akin to a series of interlocking dualisms. The Twins are often examined together
    as opposites, Menoth is uniquely defined by his hostile relationship with the Devourer, etc.

    Similarly there is another "duality" recognized by most of the other races (gobbers, trollkin, ogrun)
    who consider themselves created by both Dhunia and the Devourer Wurm. One of these gods
    generally dominates a given tribe and its ritual life. (In modern times, this is usually Dhunia.)

    Cyriss is not part of any of these relationships and stands apart.

    In a cosmological sense a true pantheon only works if the gods in question are sharing the souls of
    the dead of a species. Because of this a pantheon also shares the same "real estate" in Urcaen. This
    was the case with the elves, and is the case with the dwarves. However, Morrow, Thamar, Menoth
    and (to a different extent) the Devourer Wurm are all engaged in the War of Souls and thus do
    not work together to manage and acquire the souls of the dead. Each also has their own distinct
    domain.

    The closest humanity has to a pantheon system is among the ascendants and scions. This is one of
    the spiritual advantages Morrow and Thamar offer their faithful, allowing an overarching
    philosophy combined with specific higher powers more closely identifiable to certain ways of life.

    ***

    Most of how the gods act on Caen is handled through mortal intermediaries. Direct and obvious
    intervention is extremely rare. Morrow and Thamar have other intermediaries which can also
    manifest and function, the Ascendants, Scions, Archons, and Chosen, but even these in most cases
    operate by influencing the actions of mortals. Divine intervention is most often just that - a subtle
    and often long-term set of circumstances put forward by mortal agents of the divine.

    The situations revolving around the Orgoth were quite complicated, and won't be something for
    which you will find any clear or simple answers. It is no coincidence this was the period where
    the Menites lost their majority control over the oppressed people. It was expected Menoth might
    arrive in some thunderous explosion of power and obliterate the Orgoth, yet He did not. In times
    of great suffering it is easier to understand a message that one must improve oneself, gain
    strength from adversity, and seek inner enlightenment. Menoth's message of unquestioning
    obedience seemed useless and lacking in comfort when not accompanied by some form of
    protection or security, the "wall" of the Menite faith.

    The gods of our setting are not omniscient, even if several are often prescient (sometimes in a
    limited fashion), nor are they omnipotent, yet they are extremely subtle and powerful. The
    priesthood is usually the largest, most pervasive, and most directly active agency of a god, imbued
    with the god's power and expected to use it in the name of that god. Yet they too are fallible and
    not always perfectly in tune with the wishes of their patron. Instructions sometimes arrive--if they
    arrive at all--through obscure portents, omens, and signs that are subject to misinterpretation.

    Even now, when Menoth appears to be more focused on the struggles of the region, He is
    ultimately working through his mortal followers. The Harbinger, as extraordinary as she is, is
    mortal. At what cost to other battles in Urcaen does this greater attention require? Might Menoth
    be weakening himself in other ways to put forward a stronger hand on Caen? No one knows.

    With the gods, you always see a fraction of the complete story. Even as they battle one another,
    there are interactions and agreements made between them which mortals have no awareness of
    whatsoever. This is why priests and theologians and university professors enjoy vibrant debates and
    can all disagree with one another while putting forward what seem to be compelling but
    contradictory arguments. No amount of such debate and arguing is likely to resolve these questions
    to any degree of mutual satisfaction.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  11. #11

    Default Doug Seacat on Cosmology and Religion: Part IV

    There is a strong case for humans predating elves. The main difference is that elven and dwarven
    civilization predates human civilization by a good measure. This appears to be related to the direct
    assistance of the gods who created these species, whereas humanity was apparently left to their
    own devices for quite a length of time. (Possibly tens of thousands of years or longer.)

    So, it seems likely that barbaric humanity predates elves but simply took a much longer time to
    arrive at civilization. There is some reason to suspect that the elven pantheon created the elves
    after observing the benefits granted by sentient species to other gods.

    The elven pantheon is interesting in several respects, most notably evidence that they had a fairly
    complex internal society and pseudo-civilization in Urcaen that had little to do with the goings-on
    of Caen. Similarly, it is worth noting that the dwarven gods, if their creation myths are to be
    believed, originated in Urcaen and had no impact on the shaping of Caen itself, only crossing over
    to create a species before withdrawing again.

    Many interesting elements of the interactions between Caen and Urcaen can be observed by
    examining these different pantheons. Of course, few humans in the setting have access to all of
    this information at once. (Particularly regarding any of the lore of the elves.) No theologian in the
    setting has even a good estimate or guess at a "creation date" of humanity, at least one that is based
    on any appreciable facts.

    ***

    [Knowledge (law)] should indeed be a free class skill to dwarven clerics. Feel free to replace
    Knowledge (the planes) with Knowledge (law) for dwarven clerics. No IK cleric should have
    Knowledge (the planes) anyhow; I'd suggest tossing in a faith-specific replacement for others as
    well, perhaps a knowledge skill of the PC's choice, subject to GM approval of course. (For
    Morrowans and Thamarites it would likely vary by Ascendant or Scion.)

    ***

    It's worth noting that while the Church of Morrow as an entire organization has not entered the
    various wars, individual priests and battle-chaplains are most certainly fighting alongside the
    soldiers in both Khador and Cygnar. This is allowable per the tenets of their faith. Priests can
    fight for their country and serve as battle-chaplains on opposite sides of a war without impacting
    the overall unity of the organization. Their duty in these battles is to ensure battles are fought
    with whatever honor can be mustered, that the dead are properly handled, and to see to the
    wounded whenever possible. Further they are expected to respect their fellow Morrowans even if
    events put them on opposing sides. They are not represented in the miniature game but such
    battle-priests do exist and would be seen in the field (the Lion's Coup scenario in NQM#7
    provided some rules for our RPG figure Morrowans in those scenarios; anyone interested in trying
    them in WARMACHINE should check those scenarios). Morrowan priests have fought on
    opposing sides of individual battles as far back as the Church has existed, such conflicts being
    particularly common in the Thousand Cities Era.

    The Exordeum in particular is intended to be a bastion of unity, and there are indeed a number of
    Khadoran exarchs serving in the Sancteum. There has been more going on internally including
    debate about the wars and the proper role of the Church within them. We just haven't been at
    liberty to show some of this. I haven't had a particularly good excuse to delve into those matters,
    but perhaps a short story on that topic in the near future might not be a bad idea. For now it's
    best to presume that the Church hasn't been entirely silent or inactive, but that they have been
    "off stage". Like any very large and politically/spiritually complicated organization, they aren't noted
    for making fast decisions and are prone to getting tied up in endless debate. The Primarch himself
    is decisive, but the Exordeum is not.

    ***

    I dislike putting "definites" on ancient history, and these ascensions were 2500 years ago, but most
    sources will agree that Thamar got there first. The best evidence for this is the way in which the
    Enkheiridon were compiled, and the best argument for this sequence of events was presented by
    Asc. Angellia, whom most would consider a reliable source. Some Morrowans dislike this depiction
    of events and find it undermining, but most well educated theologians will concede that Thamar
    was the first to ascend. They do believe, however, that Morrow was already capable of ascension
    but refrained because of a deep sense of humility and a desire to stay connected with his followers
    as long as possible. By this depiction, Morrow only ascended after it became clear he must do so to
    prevent some of the harm his sister might otherwise cause.

    The Dark Ascension preceeds the Ascension Feast, and while some might quibble that could be
    arbitrary, most think this is an accurate order for these two holidays.

    It was actually an editor of the IKWG which was too eager (not a writer), unravelling my
    carefully constructed timing and sequence for these events in the interest of a small piece of
    additional violence and drama. But regardless I think it would be logical in the context of the
    setting that some Morrowans would find the fact of Thamar's earlier ascension disturbing and
    would seek to revise this bit of history to better suit their world view. This is also why not every
    individual is ready or should be encouraged to read Thamar's journals in the Enkheiridion. Some
    facts are not easy to face.

    Remember that the IKCG was printed before the IKWG by a significant length of time (over a
    year, if memory serves). The version of events as described in the IKCG is what I would consider
    to be the "correct" version, which is that Thamar ascended over a month before Morrow. However,
    the IKWG history section contradicts this.

    I think it is fine if both versions of this history exist in the setting, believed by different scholars.
    One of the strengths of our setting and our theologies is a more "realistic" and complex depiction,
    where some myths are contradictory and sometimes the truth requires some effort to discern.
    Ancient texts do not always agree, and are sometimes mistranslated. Just as in real world religions
    there are differences of opinion regarding some of the key events revolving around certain of this
    monumental historical figures. Therefore, I would suggest that some Morrowans believe the
    depiction as described in the IKWG, but serious scholars of this period would instead follow the
    order of events as described by Asc. Angellia before her own ascension when she recovered the
    original Enkheiridion.

    As to the topic of "what does the Enkheiridion say", that's not something that can be answered in
    a quick post. Nor is it something we will ever likely detail in full. Several lengthy descriptions of
    its contents can be found in our works, including a detailed callout in the Witchfire Trilogy. But
    the basic contents of the Enkheiridon are the journals of Thamar and Morrow in life, compiled
    together as a single book, with Morrow's words on one page, Thamars on the other. This book is
    more than just words, including many diagrams, riddles, enigmas, hidden texts, and allegorical
    examples. It is not a factual day by day journal, nor simply a description of history, but resembles
    more certain eastern philisophical texts. Some of the earlier portions do describe the lives of the
    Twins in a straight forward fashion, but the later and more "advanced" portions of the book are
    confusing and subject to interpretation. (Some of these would be considered similar to "Zen
    koans".)

    Nonetheless the general belief among most educated theologians is that Morrow compiled the book
    by his own hands after Thamar ascended and just before his own ascension, leaving it to the
    wisest of his followers who would lead his clergy for some decades after. The traditional depiction
    of Morrow's ascension is not a death in a violent clash with his sister, but rather a measured
    decision and sacrifice on his own part to follow after his sister and by doing so, to provide what
    protection and guidance he could to humanity.

    In both depictions there are descriptions of at least one violent clash between Thamar and Morrow
    shortly before her ascension, a great argument where the full measure of the breach in their
    philosophies was revealed. What differs is what happened at the end of this clash. Confirming the
    "facts" of any of these events is now quite difficult, and the text of the Enkheiridon itself does
    not provide any clear answers. Still, most Thamarites and Morrowan theologians believe Thamar
    ascended 5 weeks before Morrow.

    If this is not actually the case, it opens up another can of worms, which is whether Morrow
    actually assembled the Enkheiridion by his own hand, and whether his journal in the Enheiridion
    is actually complete. This can be considered one of those esoteric matters that some theologians and
    writers of ancient history enjoy debating about in the taverns near the Sancteum or major universities.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  12. #12

    Default Doug Seacat on Cosmology and Religion: Part V

    While there is a clear distinction in traditional Morrowan doctrine between Morrow and the
    ascendants who came after, there is no concept of "demigods" in the Morrowan faith. (Or really in
    the IK at all, although the treatment of the Great Fathers of Rhul comes closest to this concept.)
    Indeed, there exists a heresy known as the "Divinists" who firmly believe each of the ascendants
    are full gods and that Morrow was only the first of their number. Even outside of this heresy
    followers of the Twins consider the ascendants and scions to be "fully" ascended in every regard,
    but hold there is a significant distinction as they have chosen to serve a higher power (Morrow or
    Thamar, respectively). They do not really consider these beings diminished by the fact that
    Morrow and Thamar are deemed greater and more powerful than those who came after.

    ***

    The primary "pragmatic" reason to worship a god, other than merely the desire to belong to a faith
    of one's upbringing, is the reassurance that a place may be awaiting you in the afterlife within the
    relatively safe domain of one's patron. The afterlife as depicted by the residents of western
    Immoren is a cruel and largely unpleasant place, particularly for nonbelievers. There is no sharp
    distinction such as in certain real-world religions ("hell" vs. "heaven") but there is a similar
    dynamic.

    Those who are not faithful are expected to face tremendous unpleasantness in Urcaen, being lost
    in something of a cosmological wilderness surrounded by hostile and cruel beings that delight in
    nothing more than preying on loose souls. Whereas those who have been pious and faithful have
    the hope of a relatively sheltered and rewarding afterlife, should they be shepherded to their god's
    domain. Because of the War of Souls even those who arrive in a god's domain are not expected to
    experience endless "peace and tranquility", as each god's domain requires ongoing vigilance and
    periodic battles to preserve the safety of the majority. The general consensus is a soul which arrives
    in their god's domain has a generally positive existence in the afterlife, periodically interupted by
    short stints defending the borders of their god's domain or performing other useful services as
    required. Service to one's god and his domain is a nearly universal part of every religion which
    includes an afterlife in Urcaen. (Thamarites being the least focused on this aspect, preferring to
    imagine they will have great liberty in the hereafter, so long as they please the Dark Twin.)

    This might be considered a grim outlook on the afterlife compared to some religions, but the
    inhabitants of western Immoren take these concepts for granted as just part of their reality. Most
    pious individuals anticipate being rewarded for their faith and actually look forward to serving
    their god more directly in the hereafter.

    There is no particularly compelling reason to avoid paying at least lip-service to one or another of
    the gods, and most individuals, even those not particularly "spiritual" look at observing some of
    these formalities as "hedging their bets" for when they die. All the religions of western Immoren
    are generally in agreement that avoiding worshiping a god results in considerable unpleasantness.
    Of course some take other routes to avoid Urcaen entirely, such as the more extreme examples of
    necromancy. The religion of Lord Toruk is one way to attempt to avoid Urcaen, although I'm sure
    many of their living worshipers wind up dying in ways where their souls cannot be collected, and
    would likely experience all the same terrors of Urcaen as would afflict a nonbeliever.

    The religion which is the most vague about their afterlife expectations is the Cult of Cyriss, but
    here again we see an emphasis on avoiding Urcaen by preserving the immortal soul in an ageless
    machine. This is a privileged status only granted to a small minority, but gives the faithful
    something to aspire toward.

    On the other hand, Dhunians avoid the issue without necromancy by the process of reincarnation.
    Worshipers of Dhunia believe the goddess collects their souls into Caen on their death to be
    redistributed, which is another way to avoid the War of Souls or any concerns about the afterlife.
    Nonetheless, this is still one of the "reasons to worship a god" related to one's fate after death.
    Death is a scary thing, and the fear of dying and what comes after is a prime motivator for just
    about every religion in the Iron Kingdoms, in one way or another.

    As far as other pragmatic benefits, there are a number of boons given by many of their gods and
    their servants to their worshipers, even those who don't join the clergy. The benefits granted by
    various ascendants and scions to those who worship them, while small, are still appreciated by
    those who receive them. The pious of western Immoren certainly have a sense that the gods are
    real and tangible and may in fact actually look out for their interests (at least in some small and
    abstract fashion). For example, families that revere Asc. Gordenn are absolutely convinced that he
    aids the fertility, longevity, and general health of their family members. Those who are adherents
    of Asc. Sambert are convinced the works they craft are just a little better, more rugged, and less
    prone to wear and tear than if their patron was not looking out for them.

    ***

    The domains of the gods are more like continents or vast nations rather than cities; even though
    Menoth's domain is called the "City of Man," it is a city the size of a continent. Each of these
    rather large domains has its own protected borders and between them is the vast trackless
    supernatural wilderness inhabited by the Devourer Wurm and those who follow it, many
    transformed into horrible monstrous beasts. (The chaotic wilds between the organized domains of
    the gods is what is considered "hell" in our cosmology.)

    Theologians deem the War of Souls a complex and never-ending struggle between all the major
    involved parties. The Devourer seems to be focused on attacking the walls of the City of Man
    above all else but does indeed occasionally plague the other divine domains. Clashes between
    Menites and Morrowans are not uncommon. Descriptions of this war are of course vague and
    cryptic in the extreme, given they are related by those few who have returned from death through
    supernatural intervention and who pass down dreamlike half-remembered visions from their time
    on the other side. It is generally described as involving organized skirmishes between the 3 major
    worshiped powers (Menoth, Morrow, and Thamar), with random assaults by the chaotic horde
    that follows the Devourer Wurm. The Devourer is supplemented by the fact that it roams the
    vast wilds at all times, and has been known to intercept and consume freshly arrived souls lost in
    the wilderness who can't find their way to one of the gods' domains. This happens most often to
    those who were impious and lacked dedication to one of the gods in life. Agnosticism and lazy
    worship in western Immoren = eaten by the Devourer Wurm in the afterlife.

    ***

    ?If the chaotic wilds are our "hell" would that make Circle devil worshippers?

    The Menites and Morrowans certainly seem to think so, by and large. The majority religions take
    a very dim view on Devourer worship. This is considered to be an extremely destructive and
    dangerous cult. But there are also infernalists, which is a whole different ball of wax. (And
    making arrangements with them is another good way to get on the wrong side of the majority
    religions.)

    The only two mainstream religions among the humans of western Immoren are the Menite and
    Morrowan faiths. Everyone else is a member of a cult of some shade or another, and generally
    believed to be involved in strange and most likely depraved religious practices. The widespread
    view of Devourer cultists is best embodied by the Tharn--bestial and savage cannibals. This is not
    entirely accurate of course, but that is what most people believe all Devourer worshipers are like.
    Druids are thought to be slightly little more civilized, barely, but in a similarly sinister and
    dangerous way. Druids are spoken of as baby-snatching mystics who most likely capture people
    living on the fringes to sacrifice them on stone altars during significant celestial conjunctions like
    the solstices.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  13. #13

    Default Doug Seacat on Cygnar Military Arcane Ranks:

    The Fraternal Order has nothing to do with any ranks given to anyone in the military. If
    someone in the military belongs to the FO (as a non-military organization), they might have a
    rank within that order, but they are not part of the Cygnaran Army. It'd be like an officer in the
    United States Army also belonging to a private organization on his spare time. The mage ranks are
    part of the systems of classification by the Strategic Academy to credit a given arcane practitioner
    and recognize their merits.

    So, Fraternal Order = civilian organization, very influential regarding arcane research, creates
    cortexes used by the military, but not at all involved in the training of military wizards or other
    arcanists. Both the mage rank and the officer rank for an arcanist within the Cygnaran Army are
    given by the military, they just mean different things and are determined by different people. The
    mage rank does not denote authority but is more of a honorific to denote capability, and is
    determined by those responsible for the oversight and training of mages within the Strategic
    Academy.

    Every full warcaster in the Cygnaran Army is credited as a Magus by the Strategic Academy, and
    the same would be true of every gun mage who has successfully completed their training. Their
    gender or whether they are a sorcerer or a wizard has nothing to do with this, nor does their
    membership or lack thereof in the Fraternal Order. Some very rare few with exceptional talent are
    credited as Adepts. Haley is most certainly a Magus, and there are those who believe she should be
    credited as an Adept. Any resistance on that front probably has more to do with her age than
    anything else.

    Cygnar (martial ranking)
    * Sergeant
    * Lieutenant
    * Captain
    * Major
    * Colonel
    * Commander
    * General
    * Lord General
    * Warmaster General

    Cygnar (arcane ranking)
    * Apprentice of the Art
    * Journeyman
    * Magus
    * Adept
    * Prime

    The Fraternal Order is not part of the military. It is a civilian organization. They have nothing
    whatsoever to do with Cygnaran warcasters. Nemo happens to belong to that organization, but that
    they include some military individuals in their "club" does not change that fact.

    The naming convention used by Cygnaran wizards does share some overlap with Fraternal Order
    naming traditions, so some confusion is understandable. The Fraternal Order is an influential
    group with deep roots that has had an impact on the history of magical development across the
    setting (such as the fact that the Greylords Covenant formed from a schism within their ranks, as
    did the Order of Illumination), but they are still at heart a civilian organization. Most of the
    Fraternal Order's "clout" with the Cygnaran military has to do with cortex production. Think of
    them more as a strange blend of a fraternal organization like the Freemasons combined with a
    civilian corporation that produces goods for the military, like Lockheed Martin.

    For the record there's no "warcaster academy" specifically. The Strategic Academy (and lesser but
    similar facilities) is an officer academy in general, and provides training to many military
    disciplines, with a smaller specialty branch that handles military arcanists like gun mages and
    warcasters (also the schleps who learn the skills to sit around and do nothing but make blasting
    powder for military use). Without question the warcasters are the smallest and most esteemed
    group in this set. It's best to imagine them as being akin to fighter jet pilots, which are available
    and fielded in far smaller quantities than most other military specialties. There are other reasons
    this similarity is apt.

    At the Point Bourne branch of the Strategic Academy, for example, you'd run into a variety of
    officer candidates, including a lot of trencher and long gunner officers in training, perhaps some
    storm knights (although those more often go to Caspia or Fort Falk) as well as the occasional
    snooty gun mage clique, and then a few warcasters in training divided off from the rest, a
    number of whom have already gone through previous officer training and may not have had their
    talents understood until they were seasoned combatants.

    There are other wrinkles to consider when planning your HBO series around the Strategic
    Academy, such as the fact that many of the trencher officer candidates would also have been
    combat veterans coming in for short stints of specific training between tours, compared to some
    other officers who have never seen a day of combat and would be spending a lot more time hitting
    the books and reading about theoretical aspects of warfare. There would be a fun mix of
    commoner versus nobility to add to the interpersonal tension, plus the sprinkle of gender mixing
    which any good TV show should be able to exploit for drama and ratings.

    How exactly storm smiths fit into the whole mix is a bit less well defined, but they are probably
    also trained by the Strategic Academy, at least in part, even if they receive other training
    elsewhere. I'll admit I've done a poor job integrating those fellows into my mental picture of the
    Cygnaran military. I always imagine them with their own little tents set off from everyone else to
    avoid any widespread electrocution at odd hours of the evening when they decide to start making
    adjustments to their machinery.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  14. #14

    Default Doug Seacat on Cygnar Setbacks:

    The war is presently going against Cygnar and they have had significant setbacks, including in
    areas where previously they had earlier victories. Such is the nature of war. Some have
    misinterpreted this to mean "no victories" which is certainly untrue. But without question Cygnar
    is suffering. One victory that seems to be frequently forgotten is Sloan wiping out the new
    Khadoran fortress north of the Black River which prevented Khador from digging in near to
    Point Bourne. This is an example of ignoring a victory in favor of later events that were reactions
    to that victory, such as Khador feeling forced to attack Point Bourne in order to have a better
    fortified holding in the region.

    This is the back and forth of warfare, and sometimes the enemy does not react as predicted or
    adapts to moves made by the others side. The Khadorans were under considerable pressure by
    Cryxian assaults on their supply line, and so made a bold attack on Point Bourne. Does this mean
    Sloan should not have destroyed that fort and simply allowed the Khadorans to secure their supply
    lines? The question is debatable, but would have required perfect foresight. Had it not been for the
    Cygnaran siege engineer kidnapped by Strakhov, the attack on Point Bourne would never have
    succeeded, and therefore the Cygnaran prediction that Irusk would logically have to conquer
    Stonebridge Castle instead was logical. Neither Khador nor Cygnar was aware of the full extent of
    the Cryxian presence in the Thornwood, as until this time they had been engaged primarily in
    lighter harassment attacks on the fringes of major battles. Furthermore, both Khadoran and
    Cygnaran warcasters had witnessed the only significant Cryxian armies in the region nearly
    exterminating one another over the Temple Garrodh battle, which then imploded.

    Many Cygnaran fans are ignoring victories in favor of discounting them. The successful defense
    of Fort Falk is a good example. As is the breach of Sul's walls and the defense of Caspia. That Sul
    was not conquered after the walls were breached somehow invalidates previous victories in that
    city. Again, the tides of war sometimes turn, and Sul is a far more important and vital city to the
    Protectorate than Point Bourne is to Cygnar. (Being one of only 3 cities in the southern
    Protectorate and their only major bastion on their western border.) The Protectorate poured all of
    its resources except those already sent north with the Northern Crusade into regaining Sul, while
    Cygnar was in the midst of massive battles on its northern borders at the same time. I have seem
    people berate Cygnar for their inability to properly reinforce Northguard after the first successful
    defense there, ignoring the fact that the War in Caspia/Sul was happening at the same time,
    occupying nearly half of the Cygnaran Army in the process. (Not to mention considerable forces
    tied up at Highgate and along the western coast to defend against Cryx. Speaking of which, there
    have been attacks on Highgate which were successfully defended against, albeit this was not
    covered in detail in the fiction since our attention was elsewhere.)

    Cygnar has been struggling with wars on several fronts since the loss of Llael in Escalation, and
    things have gone from bad to worse. But it is a skewed and erroneous perspective to state that
    there have not been victories. It is true to say that some of those victories were later reversed and
    that Cygnar has struggled to make significant gains. The same can be said of the Llaelese
    Resistance. Several factions have had significant gains and this includes most notably Khador and
    Cryx, although the Protectorate has also managed successes in establishing its Northern Crusade in
    Leryn. The gains by other factions must be had at the expense of someone. This has included for
    the most part Llael and Cygnar. If all factions gain equally, the war is a stalemate. Cygnar is
    presently still holding its most vital territories, but there are more threats than ever directed at
    them, including ones from within.

    This is the reverse of the complaint we were having from Cryx fans before Wrath, which was
    that Cryx seems to make advances in the big picture but often fails in 1-on-1 encounters. When
    dealing with multiple factions, something has to give somewhere. In a narrative if we are to
    provide some sense of drama and satisfaction for one side, it will come at the expense of another.
    If we are trying to provide moments of glory for individuals in a faction that is suffering horrible
    losses and setbacks, like Cygnar, it will mean highlighting individual heroics in the face of those
    setbacks. That means someone on the other side is receiving the inverse. We are telling a story
    about an ongoing lengthy war involving hundreds of characters and multiple factions. There will
    be winners and losers, both in the larger scheme of things, and on the individual confrontation
    level. These will not be doled out equally since it is not our goal to maintain things in perfect
    balance. Sometimes the conflicts are internal, at other times they are against external forces. The
    scope of these conflicts will vary depending on the narrative needs and the events we are
    highlighting. It is true that some groups will have long streaks of successes while others will have
    longer lists of bitter defeats.

    There are several other factions who have had substantially fewer significant victories than Cygnar,
    most notably the Circle Orboros and the Trollbloods. There are tragic elements to all of these
    circumstances, as these factions are arguably working toward the most noble aims by and large and
    are frequently facing truly horrific enemies whose victories would result in terrible things. That is
    the state of the war right now. It is not a good time to be alive in western Immoren, unless you
    happen to be a mercenary.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  15. #15

    Default Doug Seacat on Dragons:

    Toruk originally created the other dragons to serve him, likely expecting them to behave as
    dragonspawn generally behave--as an extension of their master. However, he did not anticipate each
    of them gaining their own sense of self and will and eventually turning on him. That said, it's
    certainly possible he will gain additional benefits after consuming them when they have arisen to
    their own power, if he can catch the rest.

    Toruk's standing as a "god" is highly disputed and not universally accepted. He calls himself a
    god, and his followers call him a god, but he is not considered a god by most of civilization.
    Although even those who are uncomfortable with this term will at least allow that he is "godlike."

    All dragons have athancs. Whether Halfaug was actually created by Scaefang is unknown, and
    just as likely to be human myth and legend as reality. The only "confirmed" case of a "3rd
    generation dragon" are the two in eastern Immoren, if the giants are to be believed. Pendrake
    seemed to like the story, and it came from a good source, so perhaps it is true. There were some
    other elements of their stories Pendrake found hard to swallow, such as the possible ages of several
    of the giant heroes described to him by Chilon. With all things dragon it's important to always
    keep in mind that they are not entirely understood. They tend to be reticent with information
    about themselves. The mortal agency that seems to have the most information on the dragons is
    the Circle Orboros, which is itself an extremely secretive, slightly paranoid, and certainly violent
    organization.

    Toruk has not ventured anywhere near the mainland in sixteen centuries. Not since the alliance
    was created which forced him to leave. He has moved with deliberate caution and relying on his
    lich lord led armies since that time. Ergo, I don't think you can make the conclusion that he
    would immediately put himself in peril flying onto the mainland even if he knew Everblight's
    exact location. This willingness or lack thereof to take chances is also an important difference
    between the Dragonfather and Everblight. This can be deemed a strength or a weakness on either
    side depending on your point of view. Everblight is willing to gamble, while Toruk is not....

    The draconic fire which these creatures use as a weapon is similar to an air-ignited chemical
    reaction which happens very rapidly and produces tremendous heat. The speed and temperature of
    this reaction is one reason many of these effects do not use the "Fire" continuous effect that you
    see on other types of slower burning flame weapons. A lingering fire is possible, but more often
    the affected flesh or material is simply sizzled to ash and the reaction ends. In this regard, most
    draconic fire burns more like thermite than napalm.

    Whatever quasi-organic "chemical" is consumed in the process, it does carry a dose of blight, but
    the most concentrated blighted energy is found in the blood of these creatures. In a dragon or
    warlock the blood is continually pumped across the surfaces of the actual athanc or athanc shard.

    It's worth noting that all dragons are "fire dragons" in the Iron Kingdoms, more or less. Their
    names often revolve around blight, fire, ash, or other destructive descriptive terms, but I wouldn't
    take too much from the "Pyro" in "Pyromalfic." Every dragon in the Iron Kingdoms is quite good
    at burning things to a crisp. Those with the MN1 or the MN2 (Monsternomicon 1 & 2) can see
    this by checking out the d20 rules for Blighterghast, Scaefang, Halfaug, Ashnephos, or Charsaug.
    Just as a sampler, here are some of their various destructive powers as described in those books (all
    of which are in addition to the ability to annihilate their enemies by breathing on them directly):
    Deathdust (Scaefang) - a cloud of blighted ash which continues to kill anything exposed to it even
    long after it settles.
    Hell Shroud (Blighterghast) - an acidic miasma that obscures vision and burns flesh.
    Searing Aura (Halfaug) - intense heat hot enough to liquefy metal.
    Ruinbringer (Ashnephos) - A cloud of blighted ash shed by Ashnephos which can ignite to tear
    apart stone, earth and flesh.
    Burnination (Charsaug) - Residual molten lava seeped into his scales and kept liquid by the
    dragon's heat which he can shiver outward to splatter anything in the vicinity.

    The primary offensive elements of all of these dragons is an acidic blighted fire and ash. Basically
    heat created by way of tremendously intense blighted chemical and supernatural reactions.

    I think people don't entirely understand how significant it is for a dragon to consume another
    dragon. No losses at the Castle of the Keys are significant compared to this fact. Had Everblight
    annihilated everything else brought with him, absorbing Pyromalfic would have been worth it.

    Toruk has sacrificed much larger armies for less.

    Everblight is moving at a pace far faster and more radical than any other dragon in history. No
    dragon has ever operated like Everblight is acting now, and his actions now are not comparable to
    what he did before, when he was still in dragon form. One thing people can't properly appreciate
    is the volume of dragonspawn. It is not widely known, but ordinarily dragons cannot make many
    spawn, and very few dragons have made good use of their spawn. Everblight has broken that
    limitation entirely. Further, he has spent extensive time studying a specific race (the elves) and has
    applied that study to specific applications of his blight, which has also never been done. Toruk's
    blight is indiscriminate by comparison. He did not "make" the Bloodgorgers; they arose
    spontaneously from living in close proximity.

    There is no question Everblight is an innovator and dangerously active. The Circle Orboros seems
    to be the only organization on Caen with a proper appreciation for this at present, and even they
    cannot agree internally on the best course of action. I'm sure Metamorphosis will bring some
    additional insights into these topics.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  16. #16

    Default Doug Seacat on Druids:

    There are no Cryxian druids. There are former druids in Cryx, such as Asphyxious.

    It's important to understand that Dhunia as a goddess is a somewhat abstract principle and
    primarily embraced by the gobber, trollkin and ogrun races. She has been recognized by and there
    have been some attempts to integrate her concepts into other cosmologies, but she is not worshiped
    by many humans.

    For all intents and purposes, every "druid" in the setting is a Circle Druid. This is particularly
    true of humanity. We have allowed for the possibility of using the Druid character class with
    other races or for other purposes, if the rules blend feels better to represent a Shaman of Dhunia,
    for example. It can also provide a different flavored priest for certain gods, like Nyssor or Scyrah.
    (One could pick the Druid class to do this if the Priest class doesn't quite accomplish the desired
    ends, even with the Domain benefits.) This is purely from a rules perspective, however, and such
    individuals would not be referred to as druids. Within the setting, all actual druids are Circle
    Druids.

    For game purposes, more or less all human druids would consider the Devourer Wurm their
    patron, and belong to the Circle. They would actually refer to the Devourer Wurm in this case as
    Orboros, which they consider to be a larger and more all-encompassing name. It's still the Devourer
    providing their power in the terms of the cosmology, not Dhunia.

    It's natural to presume there would be a lot of Dhunia worshiping human druids, but that's just
    not how their organization evolved. Dhunia only has an indirect place in their philosophy, as a
    passive force of nature that is the other side of the active force from which they draw their
    strength.

    The inclusion of elven druids was done more for the purposes of RPG functionality and allowing
    a proper variety of classes to races where a class represents something that works within the
    culture. Druids as a class are divine casters with a certain spell list and powers which are
    appropriate to worshipers of Nyssor and Scyrah, but would be much more similar to "variant
    priests" than an entirely different and separate organization. The same thing goes for Dhunian
    druids. These would basically be Dhunian priests (shamans) who just have different powers and
    abilities and spell lists than those who are using the cleric class. Culturally the only large and
    significant organization of druids is the Circle Orboros, which is human.

    I should offer slight clarification that most druids occupy a different category than the general
    Devourer worshiper, although as we know some of them toe the line (or cross straight over), such
    as Krueger. Generally druids don't exactly worship the Devourer (even as it is arguably the source
    of their power) or look forward to an afterlife feasting on the less fortunate. They have a more
    philosophical and clinical approach to the patron, tied up in their complex notion of Orboros. The
    individuals I was speaking about are those who more ardently worship the Devourer, which
    includes the Tharn and once many other savage tribal peoples of various regions (now mostly in
    decline). The old Molgur were among these, and were largely eclipsed by the inheritors of the
    priest-kings who brought the word of Menoth. Over the centuries, and particularly in the ancient
    past, the Devourer has attracted a fair number of human as well as non-human devotees.

    It is correct that tales of this sort are one reason Devourer cults are feared and despised by the
    regular members of most communities, including both majority religions. They are seen as
    destructive and vile people willing to commit any number of atrocities, including cannibalism. This
    is actually the case with Tharn like Kromac. There are other Devourer worshipers who focus more
    on the predatory aspects of their patron or who revere certain guises of the Devourer in the form
    of animal totems like the wolf or the bear. A number of these sorts of worshipers still exist
    among those old families who form the core of the Wolves of Orboros. These individuals aren't
    quite as bloodthirsty or depraved as the masses would like to believe. But certainly no one likes the
    thought of being hunted in the afterlife while busy trying to find the safer realm of your patron
    god.

    As to what the wilds of Urcaen are like, in a word, they are hellish. They are definitely not like
    the wilderness of Caen. The geography of the regions between the domains of the gods is
    constantly in flux and impossible to accurately map or chart, including a variety of dangerous
    supernatural manifestations and inexplicable terrain. Not to mention any number of strange and
    violent predatory entities.

    The divine equivalent of sorcery is the wilding, which is where little druids come from.

    ***

    There is an important distinction between being feared and being killed on sight. Druids are not
    attacked in the street, nor randomly accosted. People are suspicious of them and don't trust them
    and don't like them generally, but that's a far cry from being attacked. Most people won't attack a
    druid precisely because they are afraid of them, afraid of what they have heard about their
    vindictive organization and how they look out for one another.

    A druid can probably find a way to co-exist with other adventurers and even to accompany them
    without incident into civilized areas. But a druid shouldn't be the person sent to negotiate for good
    rates at a store, to gather information from the locals, or to request aid from the nearest
    Morrowan church.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  17. #17

    Default Doug Seacat on Iosan and Nyss Elves:

    Timeline: Bridge of Worlds collapses - This happened in eastern Immoren in the old elven
    empire of Lyoss. It was when the elven gods first crossed over to Caen, and the fall of this bridge
    annihilated the empire of Lyoss and basically cracked the continent in half (creating the Abyss).
    Most of the elven population perished in the ensuing disasters, except those specifically close
    enough to the gods to be protected by them. These then crossed west and settled, with the gods, in
    Ios.

    Later the gods in Ios realized they were suffering from some kind of malady, likely due to being
    disconnected from the Veld (Urcaen to you and me). They left Ios to try to find a way to get
    back.

    Some centuries later, the Rivening happened, where all the elven priests went insane and riots
    ensued. This is believed to be the moment when "something bad" happened to the elven gods.

    Some time after this, Nyssor arrived back to his chosen people, and Scyrah arrived back in Ios, and
    promptly collapsed.

    So, the calamity in eastern Immoren was thousands of years before the Rivening. (Bridge of
    Worlds collapsed around 4000 BR, the Rivening happened in 140 BR, so 3,860 years later.)

    ***

    That even at the height of the Nyss population (before Thagrosh) there were still about 100x as
    many Iosans as Nyss, and that those born without souls in Ios are still a minority of births. There
    are a number of markedly differing circumstances between the two branches of the elven species
    and their respective gods, any of which could contribute to the reason why soulless appear to be
    happening only in Ios and not (thus far) among the Nyss. For example:

    1) There are far fewer Nyss, meaning any attempts to assist in the cosmological process of
    managing their souls (a task once handled by the goddess Ayisla) is probably easier for Nyssor
    than it would be for Scyrah.

    2) Nyssor appears to have used his powers of cold to preserve himself in a slightly more intact
    state than Scyrah. (Scyrah Pronunciation: Si-rah Ignore the c.) While frozen he may have less
    power to affect the world in general, but he is also not atrophying at the same accelerated rate. Of
    course it is not clear just how "impaired" either of these gods truly are, or what impact they have
    on the world despite their frozen/unconscious states, but clearly they are still exerting some limited
    influence on their surroundings including the granting of power to their respective priesthoods.

    3) Elves appear to have a complex cosmology which includes occasional reincarnation as well as the
    creation of new souls through childbirth. It has been hypothesized in Ios that the soulless may
    represent flaws in the reincarnation aspect of the system. Still, one could presume that a glut of
    fresh deaths and therefore freshly freed souls might create a surplus of souls available for
    reincarnation. The carnage that transpired with the blighting and conquest of the Nyss by
    Thagrosh, in addition to subsequent casualties in war, may be keeping this system primed for new
    births. A rather alarming percentage of the total Nyss population died just a few years ago, after
    all, and the death rate since that time (due to the militant efforts of the Legion) means there
    must be quite a few Nyss souls in the pipeline (such as it were). Perhaps this surplus of souls
    ensure that Nyssor has less difficulty guiding a few back to be reborn on occasions where this is
    supposed to happen.

    ***

    [The Soulless] are still able to function in a reasonably normal seeming fashion, particularly given
    instructions. If analyzed by a modern psychologist or other mental health professionals they would
    be noted for traits such as:

    Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
    Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
    Lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt or mistreated others.
    Lack of or diminished levels of anxiety/nervousness and other emotions.
    Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
    Inability to distinguish right from wrong.
    Lack of long-term goals.
    Lack of personal insight.
    Shallow affect.

    Fortunately there are no real mental health professionals in western Immoren and no clinical
    studies have ever been undertaken.

    [T]hey are also noted for having all black eyes and actually having no soul in their bodies,
    something that priests (and some others) in the setting can detect. They lack the normal emotional
    responses and empathy as a consequence of this condition, not the reverse. There are indeed also
    those people who have similar failings despite not having been born with this condition, but that
    usually means there's something else going on with them.
    Ios in general does indeed put [the Soulless] out of their misery as a rule. That is actually the law,
    as laid down by the traditional Fane of Scyrah.

    But killing one's offspring is something many parents find difficult to do, and the same is true
    for those who help with these births. They are often smuggled to the Retribution of Scyrah to be
    raised instead, as something of a small mercy. So, rather than being killed at birth, they are raised
    to help the cause in... other ways.

    They learn better by rote than by experience. This does not suggest they learn nothing from
    experience, but it doesn't happen as quickly or naturally. They just don't care enough and are not
    motivated by the same types of ambitions or desires as those with a soul. They do not have the
    "spark." Their biological processes work just fine, including their brain, but something essential is
    missing.

    ***

    Iosans believed that their souls only entered into the domain of the gods after being approved by
    Ayisla, Nis-Arsyr of Night, Suzerain of the Fallen and Watcher of the Gates of Lyoss. In some
    cases she preferred that a soul return to live another lifespan before entering the afterlife. So in
    this case it was not an endless cycle of reincarnation, but something of a half-measure perhaps
    intended to purify or otherwise strengthen the soul in question. (If you have the chance to read
    the Riven monster entry in the MN2 it touches on some of the side-effects of the disruption of
    this process.)

    ***

    There are about a million Iosan elves, which may seem like a reasonable number, until you realize
    that's all that's left of the species. There are passages in the Retribution history indicating their
    capital in Lyoss used to have a population twice as large as the entire population of the species at
    present.

    Iosan numbers have definitely been on the slow decline, but that is not the immediate doom they
    face and fear. It would likely take quite a long time for the Iosans to pass away simply from
    gradually dwindling population numbers. The more urgent problem is they expect the goddess
    Scyrah has less than a century to live, and they are fairly certain once this happens they will no
    longer be able to reproduce at all, followed by failing health and vitality in those who are left. To
    the Iosans, the death of Scyrah is expected to mean their extinction.

    As to the number of unblighted Nyss, that's a harder question to answer, but at best there are
    probably only a couple thousand left who are not already a part of the Legion of Everblight.

    ***

    Not everyone in the Retribution is bald. It is a popular hairstyle choice that is not limited only to
    the Retribution, but is embraced by many in Ios. These particular individuals are more strongly
    affiliated with House Shyeel than the Retribution at large. There are several reasons for battle
    mages being bald, including a disciplined mindset requiring putting aside personal vanity to focus
    on marshaling tremendous forces that can tear apart the unwary.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  18. #18

    Default Doug Seacat on Iosan and Nyss Elves: Part II

    Regarding technology and magic (and the overlap of the two), the main thing to keep in mind
    with the Iosans is they had a major leg-up thanks to their gods. Menoth left humanity to their
    own devices for long periods of time, bestowing only a few fundamental and basic things such as
    agriculture, fire, and stonemasonry. The rest was left to them to figure out. The elves, on the
    other hand, were guided from the start by their gods and given many advances without the need
    of inventing them. If humanity was neglected by Menoth, the elves could be considered pampered
    by their creator.

    One could argue, given current population levels and things like the presence of the Abyss (and
    the fact that most of the elven gods are missing) that Menoth may have had a method to his
    miserliness. Perhaps there can be too much of a good thing.

    Just to clarify, the inclusion of guns and a certain unique approach to technology with Ios is not a
    retcon. Descriptions of elves as bearing high quality firearms date back as far as Lock & Load,
    predating both the IKCG & IKWG, and the IKCG has a nice little section on "Arcanika" which
    is the elven counter to mechanika. What I was stating earlier is that the nation chapter for Ios in
    the IKWG does not specifically mention firearms when describing the military houses. This was
    an omission and oversight by the writer of that specific section of the book, one we did not intend
    to let stand in the way of a longstanding vision for these elves that included firearms.

    You'll note that the IKWG sections for Ios, Rhul, and Cryx were all placed in the same relatively
    short chapter, with a small number of pages allocated to each. These are not as complete or
    detailed as the other nations, which was intentional. Many aspects of Ios in particular were kept
    deliberately vague as they are a people not well understood by their neighbors. We have slowly
    added additional details over time, including adding to the lore related to their background as it
    impacts eastern Immoren in places like the Monsternomicon II and certain material related to the
    Skorne history in Primal, both of which allowed us to shine a light onto the eastern half of the
    continent, where the former elven civilization resided. You can expect to receive much more
    information about Ios in general in the Retribution book, albeit biased by that particular sect's
    agenda and perspective.

    Some of the information in the IKWG section on Ios regarding weapons and armor and the
    disposition of military forces can be considered inaccurate, out of date, and subject to revision and
    overhaul. Some of this material has been modified as we prepared to release the Retribution as a
    playable faction. It's also worth noting that even were this not the case, Ios is not synonymous with
    the Retribution. The army that defends Ios is not synonymous with the army that would be
    venturing out of Ios to march to war. Remember, the faction is the "Retribution of Scyrah," not
    "Ios."

    ***

    The Iosans definitely have their own arcane magic and this is not troubling to their gods. Consider
    their view on this topic as almost an inverse mirror of the Protectorate of Menoth. (Where divine
    magic is preferred almost exclusively.) Most of the sections relating to elven issues with magic
    either have to do with: 1) magic from humans, which the Retribution considers detrimental; 2)
    divine magic from elven priests, which places a strain on Scyrah. There was not much need in the
    IKCG to focus on those areas where their magic functions as expected. Evidence for this can be
    seen in a variety of places in the IKCG & IKWG, including numerous mentions of several of the
    hallytyr (high houses) who are experts in arcane/occult matters as well as their equivalent to
    mechanika (arcanika). You will also notice that even in the IKCG the favored class for an Iosan
    elf is Wizard and they have several special bonuses related to divination magic.

    The elves definitely had arcane magic a long time before humanity. The elven creator gods
    immediately gifted their creation with the lore of magic, whereas Menoth did not.

    Examining the different creator god "parenting styles" between the various IK sentient species
    makes for an interesting case study. Menoth is an example of a largely neglectful parent, while
    one could argue the elves were spoiled with too many gifts before they were ready. The elves
    always had a very close relationship with their gods, while Menoth had largely ignored humanity
    for most of known history.

    Of course claims to elven supremacy in the field of the arcane should be viewed with the biases of
    the source in mind, including the factor that the collapse of the Bridge of Worlds annihilated
    their entire original elven civilization and permanently changed the continent of Immoren. This
    was one result of early elven arcane and divine mastery. That disaster also had a profound and
    lasting effect on elven attitudes toward arcane research and the dangers associated with the abuses
    of power. But the Retribution generally prefers not like to look back quite that far. They prefer to
    shy away from any explanation for the troubles of their species which did not arise from an
    external source.

    The most zealous members of the Retribution are just that, zealots. They are a radical sect. They
    do not have a careful committee of arcane scientists who have spent decades carefully analyzing
    the problem and compiling research papers to verify their claims. They are based on a certain belief
    which they hold to be true and they justify this belief by a narrow examination of the facts,
    discarding anything which does not seem to fall in line with those facts. They want their theory
    to be true, desperately, since it gives their lives meaning and allows them a purpose in the face of
    the imminent destruction of their species.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  19. #19

    Default Doug Seacat on Iosan and Nyss Elves: Part III

    While we embraced certain universal aspects of the fantasy elf archetype, we also rejected many
    more of them. Some of the aspects of the elven type which we wanted to maintain we also
    tweaked in a different direction. This is hard for some people to see. But one example is by
    contrasting the Tolkien depiction of the elf species "fading" from the world. There is a certain
    interesting aspect of this archetype but we did not want them peacefully and gracefully accepting
    their fate as is presented in Tolkien's work. The elves of our setting would not be making their
    quiet processions to their ships to drift without complaint into the west, there to accept the
    paradise they knew awaited them. While we retained the idea of them being a "doomed" species,
    we decided that this would prompt quite a bit of upheaval, anger, and the occasional lashing out
    violently. Furthermore, we have a species that does not even know if they have an afterlife
    anymore. While some indeed embrace despair and others pretend nothing is wrong and try to
    avoid facing the death of their species, others have come up with theories and act on them,
    including the violent solution of the Retribution.

    It may well be that the Retribution is completely misguided, and that their much smaller and less
    popular rival sect, the Seekers, are closer to the truth. But thus far neither group has definitive
    proof of their theories and the efforts of the Seekers have not borne fruit to aid the elven plight.
    The handy thing about the Retribution, so far as recruitment goes, is that they--unlike the Seekers-
    -are not seeking a "solution" and therefore do not need to "solve" anything. They are offering an
    outlet, pointing a finger of blame, and giving the angry youth a target for their rage. When
    someone attacks your species and tries to wipe it from the face of the planet you want to strike
    back and at least get some revenge upon them. But unless human magic is to blame, the elves have
    no such target or convenient enemy against whom to strike.

    While the Retribution believes the spread of human magic is most certainly making things worse
    and that the elimination of human arcanists might help, they definitely do not point to any direct
    correlation to specific problems with their species. Ultimately it all goes back to the root of arcane
    magic. The Retribution pretty much think it's too late to fix the problem and that during the
    Sundering all hope of restoring their species was lost. Some of them individually might think it'd
    make a difference if they wiped out all human magic, but their ideology is most definitely based
    around the concept of... well... Retribution.

    The Sundering was an event whereby almost all elven priests were driven mad at once, for reasons
    no one understands. Only priests of Scyrah escaped this wild insanity. Many of the priests of the
    other gods went berserk, killing other elves at random, inciting riots, spouting crazy nonsense, and
    otherwise demonstrating that they had lost their minds. Even the priests of Scyrah, who did not
    go insane, found their power was no longer responding as it once did. Their connection to their
    goddess had changed. Later, when Scyrah returned to Ios (the Sundering happened long after all
    the gods left Ios to try to find their way back to the Veld--their name for Urcaen), it was decided
    that "something bad" had happened to the elven gods. Scyrah herself fell into something akin to a
    coma and answered no questions. No one knows what happened to the other seven gods (Nyssor
    has his own story, having gone to the tribes that became the Nyss, but the people in Ios did not
    know that), but they were largely presumed to be dead or dying.

    It just so happens that right about the same time as the Sundering there arose the first evidence of
    human sorcery. Human arcane magic arose quickly and spread after this point, for reasons which
    are again poorly understood. But without question even among humanity there are a lot of dark
    rumors about this rise of arcane magic. It's a controversial and not entirely popular topic. (Having
    given rise to a variety of inquisitions, for example.) We are likely to get into this a little bit from
    the human POV in a future NQM article, but the basic idea most people have embraced is that
    Thamar arranged for humans to gain this power, and that Morrow may have given his consent.
    This in order to eventually give the people of western Immoren the tools to throw off the Orgoth
    Occupation which otherwise would have extincted both of their religions. Menoth apparently did
    not consent to this. Hence why his faith has an uncomfortable relationship with sorcery and
    wizardry.

    That is about all that is well known. But it is enough for the Retribution. The timing is too close
    to be a coincidence. Given even humanity accepts that "something dark" gave rise to their magic,
    and that a disaster befell the elven gods at the same time, it is clear to them that human magic is
    responsible. They need no further evidence or proof. Since most of the elven gods appear to have
    been wiped out at this time, they also do not necessarily expect things to change by killing human
    arcanists. But they damned well intend to get their revenge.

    The Seekers believe something else. They represent a smaller minority opinion. Aiyana seems to be
    affiliated with this group, not the Retribution. They think the timing of these two events may be
    related, but perhaps not as a direct cause and effect but rather part of some larger cosmological
    sequence which is not understood. So you might have Event X (unknown), which may have
    contributed to Event Y (disaster of the elven gods) and which assisted Event Z (rise of human
    arcane magic). They firmly believe that they will need to cooperate with other races, including
    humanity, to understand the problems of their species and find a solution. They also think there
    may be a way to save their surviving gods before they expire (which is expected to happen in about
    ninety years, give or take a few).

    You can expect when we release a Retribution related book you will get much more on their
    perspective. But you can also expect it will not be an unbiased depiction. Also of course we are
    likely to examine the immediate repercussions of the related events in Legends, such as the
    encounters between Goreshade, Nyssor, Cylena, and Eiryss.

    It's worth reinforcing by the way that the ONLY "evidence" the Retribution has to support their
    theory about human wizardry/sorcery being responsible for the plight of their gods is this
    coincidence in timing. It's a tenuous case at best. There has been nothing more concrete to support
    any connection between these events. Not that this bothers any member of the Retribution or the
    larger number of elves who are sympathetic to their opinions.The fact that the Retribution prefers
    to overlook is that their gods wouldn't have been in dire straits in the first place if the elven
    empire of Lyoss had not constructed the Bridge of Worlds and brought them to Caen. Why
    blame yourself when you can blame another species?...

    The main problem is timing. The Twins ascended around 1900 BR. The Rivening--which was
    when the elven priests lost their powers and something bad is presumed to have happened to the
    elven gods--was in 140 BR, 1,760 years later. At the time the Twins ascended, the elven gods were
    still alive and well in Ios. (OK, not well, but they were still there.) One could maybe say their
    Ascension helped escalate their decline, but that'd be a hard argument to make given the large
    spans of time both before and after the ascension during which the elven gods were already in
    slow and steady decline, starting with their arrival on Caen (4000 BR). Of course we aren't sure
    how obvious this decline was or how alarmed the elven gods were about it, given it took them over
    three thousand years to finally decide to leave Ios and see if they could get back to the Veld. (Ios
    was founded in 3,900 BR, and the elven gods left Ios in 840 BR.) Most doctors recommend
    seeking professional help if the symptoms of your divine illness persists for more than 1000 years.

    The reason the Retribution has focused on human magic being a potential factor in the Rivening
    is that human sorcery began cropping up right around the same time period (first human sorcerer
    thought to have been discovered in 137 BR) as the Rivening.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  20. #20

    Default Doug Seacat on Iosan and Nyss Elves: Part IV

    Myrmidons are definitely warjacks, not elemental constructs akin to what is utilized by the Circle
    Orboros. We haven't provided much information about them at this point in time, but they are
    much closer in construction to warjacks than to a "golem". The main difference is power sources.
    Elven arcanika uses what the elves consider to be considerably more sophisticated and reliable
    power sources for their techniques, rather than relying on steam power and the burning of coal.
    They generally look down on human engineering as inferior, but there is also a widespread belief
    that human mechanika is "tainted". Even those who are not quite as extreme as the Retribution
    (who think all human magic is actually hurting Scyrah) believe mechanika has serious flaws and
    disrupts the more pure flow of magic. This is not quite an ecological issue, as our elves are not
    concerned specifically with protecting the environment (unlike the nature-obsessed elves of some
    settings), but more a matter of a certain belief in purity of form and execution. There is a degree
    of conservatism among the elves which dates back to the lessons learned after the fall of the
    Bridge of Worlds which has made them cautious about certain uses of magic, and they believe
    humanity lacks this discretion. So even the most "open minded" of elves, such as the Seekers, tend
    to view human mechanika and magic with (at best) some degree of scorn and derision. Whether
    this attitude is deserved or simply a residue of their xenophobic culture is uncertain.

    Nonetheless, myrmidons are very sophisticated and intricate engineered constructs. They bear no
    resemblance to the stone, wood and vine wolds which the druids force into animation through
    sheer force of natural magical forces. This isn't to say that some of the techniques of the druids
    would be antithetical to the elven concepts of magic, but they are fundamentally different
    disciplines. By elven standards, druids accomplish what they do by relying a lot on sheer raw brute
    power, tapping into the abundant source of untamable chaos which is the Devourer Wurm (or
    Orboros, depending on your POV). Elven arcanists prefer more subtle techniques and generally get
    more out of less power.

    To use a different sort of metaphor, if we were to compare these constructs to automobiles, you
    could look at human approaches to magic (both arcane and divine) as preferring "gas guzzlers" or
    "muscle cars" whereas the elves prefer more refined engineering and efficiency, such as hybrids or
    electric cars. This doesn't make the elven approach stronger or better, just more efficient. In some
    cases the muscle car will still get to the end of the track in a faster time, it'll just burn more fuel
    and put out more exhaust to get there.

    ***

    It is a common misconception that Nyss society is matriarchal. Seniority in their society was
    actually based on age, not gender. Perhaps the eldest and ergo the most respected individual in
    Nyss society was the male priest Vaeril the Wise.

    ***

    Hallyr is a name which predates the split between the Nyss and the Iosans, and actually stretches
    back to originate in Lyoss. A number of names are shared between the Nyss and Iosans because of
    their ancient roots. When Aeric and his followers left and eventually created the Nyss tribes,
    those who followed them were not necessarily the entirety of their respective family lines. This
    does mean there are Nyss who are actually distant relations of people in Ios. (Albeit separated by
    about 1400 years.)...

    ***

    Just as a small point of clarification, Raefyl are not the only Nyss who made it out uncorrupted.
    A certain portion of the population managed to flee the north and were not brought under the
    Legion. Of course given the small size of their overall population and the fact that the Legion
    managed to get the largest share of them still makes this quite a horrifying situation. We've never
    printed exactly how many elves managed to flee, but I've always imagined it as on the scale of a
    few thousand. (In the range of 20-40% of the former population.)

    ***

    Keep in mind we haven't necessarily shown you everything that is happening in the world, so it is entirely possible and even likely that there have indeed been some conversations between the Nyss refugees in Korsk and certain Khadorans, such as agents of the Greylords Covenant. I'm sure they have reported what they went through, but I do not know if this information would be of much greater value than the other first-hand accounts of run-ins with the Legion of Everblight from Khador's own citizens on the fringes. We have shown that the Nyss will talk about their experiences if prompted properly, such as in the Gavyn Kyle files in NQM related to the Legion of Everblight. But it is important to keep in mind there has been no actual dragon involved in any of these battles. Everblight does not actually appear to exist, as far as any witnesses would be able to ascertain.

    Cylena Raefyl is our main narrative bridge to this segment of the population, and I think she has amply demonstrated the extremes to which some of the unblighted Nyss are willing to go to fight this enemy. (And we all know how the arrangement with Goreshade turned out.) But otherwise we haven't really detailed how much or how little the remaining Nyss have been talking to any specific individuals or governments or secretive wilderness cabals. From the events of Legends and the descriptions in the Retribution of Scyrah book, it looks as though these refugees may have decided it is time to rejoin their distant cousins in Ios.
    Last edited by Kriegtanzer; 09-03-2011 at 08:22 PM. Reason: Added more recent posts.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  21. #21

    Default Doug Seacat on the City of Fellig:

    Fellig is a Cygnaran city, so you are not misremembering that. It has been attacked several times in
    the recent conflicts. It is the city outside of which was the monastery of Asc. Angellia burned by
    Protectorate forces.

    ***

    Regarding Fellig: the city itself was not taken, however one of the main objectives of the
    Protectorate in that attack was to burn down the ancient monestary to Ascendant Angellia which
    was just outside of Fellig, and this they achieved. Many priceless and irreplacable ancient books
    were burned and destroyed in the process, and the residents slaughtered. Given they had been
    largely dedicated to providing assistance to the wounded in the war and not participating in the
    battle, this has been seen as an atrocity in some ways worse than the sacking of Fisherbrook.
    Some of the books stored there were smuggled out and escaped the fire, but many more were
    lost, as were many lives trying to defend them.

    ***

    There seems to be a bit of understandable confusion about Fellig. This is a Cygnaran city, not an
    Ordic one, but was the northernmost Cygnaran city and it became isolated from the rest of
    Cygnar after the events in Legends. The Butcher was involved in a brutal battle against its
    garrison and his force was defeated, but only after inflicting extremely heavy losses and
    shattering the gates of that city. The city was relieved by mercenaries hired by Ord (including
    Gorten Grundback) and then the Ordic Army provided additional support to the city by moving a
    garrison into place. King Leto acknowledges the necessity of this situation near the end of
    Legends (p. 174), and refers to it as "an Ordic city in all but name." Given Cygnar has no means
    to support the city, leaving it in Ordic hands for the time being is likely considered the best
    possible outcome for its residents as well. Naturally should Cygnar repulse Khador from the
    Thornwood at some point this would likely be a matter requiring diplomatic resolution between
    the two sovereigns.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  22. #22

    Default Doug Seacat on Gunmages:

    Regarding gun mages and history, there were indeed individual gun mages in this period, but they
    were not yet organized as a formal military unit. Drake Cathmore himself was one of our few
    historical examples of a gun mage and warcaster, akin to the modern Allister Caine. In his case he
    was also exceptional for his preference of the rifle rather than the pistol, an uncommon choice.

    The Brotherhood of the Arcane Tempest was founded in 515 AR, just a few years after this war.
    This was still not a recognized military branch, but more of a gentlemen's club or secret society of
    gun mages, some of them officers in the military, who met periodically and shared their
    experiences and expertise. They also began a more systematic approach of finding youths with this
    talent and trying to teach them the ropes. The actual Tempest Academy and the true Militant
    Order of the Arcane Tempest did not happen until 581 AR, under the reign of Vinter Raelthorne
    IV. This was an act put forward by the Warmaster General of that time period (an ancestor of
    Katherine Laddermore), as a means to ensure these practitioners were not caught up and
    persecuted in the growing Inquisition. The arrangement between the military and the Ironhead
    Conglomerate to regularly purchase magelock pistols for this organization happened in 585 AR.
    Before that time most gun mages had to endure burning through normal pistols at a rapid rate as
    they were destroyed by the energies channeled through them. (Except in those rare cases where an
    individual might have been able to afford a singularly customized and more durable enchanted
    weapon, likely garnered at great cost.)

    ***

    I definitely wouldn't get too locked into the RPG definition of a gun mage in the IKCG when
    examining them in the setting at large. Some of our ideas about the way gun mages manifest and
    the way they are trained and interact with the Cygnaran Army have been refined in the many
    years since we were working on the IKCG. The initial concept of the gun mage was strongly
    linked to the pistol specifically. But as we've indicated in other places and at least one NQM
    article, on very rare occasions, those who are born with this talent may find a rifle feels more
    natural in their hands. This does require a more expensive magelock forged weapon and it would
    require many adjustments in training. I'd imagine when possible the Arcane Tempest Academy
    would try to break such individuals of their preference and convince them to adopt pistols instead,
    but that might not stick. One can imagine that in the case of an individual who had also
    manifested warcaster talent, an exception could be made and trainers would make the proper
    adjustments.

    We have given at least one famous historical case of a likely gun mage and warcaster who
    preferred rifles with Drake Cathmore, who was killed by Karchev in the Battle of the Tongue
    during the First Thornwood War. This was an era before the discovery of the magelock alloy and
    also before the Brotherhood of the Arcane Tempest had formally joined the military. They were
    more of a cabal of like-minded individuals who had discovered a unique talent and sought to assist
    one another in exploiting its potential in battle. As such, gun mages were not very well known of
    at the time, but certainly it seems very likely Drake Cathmore was one. You'd have to pry into the
    older records of the Arcane Tempest to know for sure, but I think it's safe to consider him an
    early example of the breed.

    I am not going to answer any questions specific to Kara Sloan at this time; as I've mentioned
    before I dislike discussing such details before the book is out. But I will say her being a gun mage
    would in no way violate what we have established in our setting about gun mages or warcasters.
    The Arcane Tempest Academy is a subsidiary organization of the Strategic Academy entrusted to
    train gun mages to serve in the Cygnaran Army, and the Strategic Academy is itself the
    organization that trains Cygnaran warcasters. Warcaster training is flexible by nature, since every
    one of them is unique. They have had to deal with larger challenges than figuring out how to
    train a gun mage to use a rifle rather than a pistol.

    To be fair it is rather firmly established in the setting that the gun mage as a trained tradition
    which exploits the full limits of its potential is very much closely linked exclusively to Llael and
    Cygnar. These are the two groups which have made being a gun mage into a full military reality.
    Any other background of gun mages is not particularly supported in the context of the setting. As
    I mentioned in another thread, there is no Khadoran gun mage "tradition". Such individuals would
    likely either be trying to develop their power on their own or would become sorcerers working for
    the Greylords Covenant. This was misinterpreted in a creative direction to give rise to thoughts of
    some kind of internal gun-mage cabal within the Greylords, but that was not what I meant.
    What I meant was these people would not in fact be practicing gun mages. They would be
    sorcerers, perhaps with an odd knack and preference for pistols which has never been properly
    exploited.

    The most skilled gun mages in our setting are the members of the Arcane Tempest and the Loyal
    Order of the Amethyst Rose.

    I've never particularly encouraged people to try to make exact approximations between the
    miniatures game and the RPG in terms of matching a model rules to a playable class/level
    arrangement. This is particularly true with our character warcasters, but can be said of solos as
    well. However it is worth reinforcing that the appelation of "Adept" on the Gun Mage Captain
    Adept implies an extremely high level of skill and experience. This is one reason this solo is FA:1.
    Despite not being a character model, these individuals would indeed be very high level in RPG
    terms, among the best of their profession. In the RPG these people would certainly have names
    and be recognized individually. Even Caine has not been given the honorary title of Adept.
    Gaining recognition as an Adept is actually a very big deal among the arcanists serving the
    Cygnaran Army. At least among those who care about such things, which does not actually
    include Caine.

    ***

    The [Pistoleer] class is more based upon a gunslinger concept than a soldier, which is one of the
    flavor differences between the rifleman and pistoleer. However, that isn't to say there aren't
    pistoleers in the military. The rifleman is much more specifically a military tradition, in other
    words, whereas the pistoleer has arisen from a different background.

    I would have to say the gunmage's proficiency would qualify as a special case equivalent to the
    requirement here. Related to a tangent thread where people were discussing the question of rifles
    and gunmages, the discipline of the gunmage is very focused and specific to pistols as part of their
    training and practices. Gunmages don't use rifles for their unique abilities, but there would be
    nothing to prevent them from making the transition to a pistoleer.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say pistol and rifles are the same to use, however. I wouldn't allow the
    gunmage who made that transition to be proficient in rifles without buying the regular feat.
    Someone who has the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (small arms) has had training in various types of
    firearms including rifles and pistols. The gunmage has a special affinity for pistols specifically and
    is the only base class automatically proficient in them. This is therefore a more limited proficiency
    than the exotic one which requires a feat.

    In summary, I'd have no problems with a gunmage becoming a pistoleer. He'd still not be
    proficient in rifles, however.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  23. #23

    Default Doug Seacat on Hell:

    Hell and adjectives like "hellish" do indeed exist in the setting, and the term gets liberal use in
    some places, such as the Helljacks of Cryx. The hell in our setting is, as Simon noted, used to
    describe the wilderness areas between the gods in Urcaen. This does not have quite the same flavor
    or connotation to the denizens of our setting as it does in the real world, but it is similar enough
    to suffice as a reasonable translation. In some respects this area is slightly more reminiscent of the
    roots of terms like Hades or Gehenna. But in most respects you can just consider it to be a
    description of a supernaturally bad place in the afterlife where one can expect to experience terror
    and suffering. As is noted in our cosmology, this fate is most likely to happen to those who refuse
    to worship any god, as the impious tend to get easily lost in the wilds of Urcaen, and it is
    expected they will be consumed repeatedly by the Devourer Wurm or the other unnatural beasts
    that follow in its wake. Devourer worshipers of course have a slightly different perspective on this
    region, since this is where they expect to spend an eternity hunting and preying on the weak.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  24. #24

    Default Doug Seacat in Infernals: Part I

    You do not need to have a deal with the infernals as a species to utilize arcane magic, but you do
    need the approval of your creator god, and in the case of Menoth, that approval was never granted;
    indeed it was expressly forbidden.

    As to the question of what happens when you tell the infernals "no" it's important to keep a
    number of things in mind. Infernals are patient and subtle creatures, and I think many GMs have
    the urge to use them as an immediate death sentence which is a waste of their potential as a story
    hook, creepy mood device, or narrative complication. One of the most important things about the
    infernals is they are not here most of the time, and they want to be here more. When an infernal
    takes "notice" of an arcanist, you should presume this is happening remotely, from wherever the
    infernal's realm happens to be. They are contacting and tempting their target at a great distance
    and with no immediate power over them. This may be in the form of dreams, or other indirect
    means. (Perhaps a book where the text writes itself and then disappears? Perhaps they find
    themselves writing messages in their sleep, clearly written in the character's own handwriting yet
    conveying communication from some alien entity? Maybe messages begin appearing in the steam
    on a mirror?)

    It's perfectly legitimate for an arcanist to refuse these temptations and try to avoid the darkness
    calling to them. That makes for good drama. Infernals are patient. Perhaps each use of the types of
    magic which draw their attention (particularly teleportation and summoning) strengthens their
    ability to communicate? They are likely to offer considerable benefits if they can convince their
    chosen "recruit" to begin focusing more on summoning magic, to see if they can establish a longterm
    relationship by which they can begin to negotiate contracts and teach summoning magic
    which will allow the Infernal to come to Caen more regularly to perform work toward their own
    agendas and begin reaping souls. They are the ultimate in persuasive salesmen. They will offer
    deals which appear to be at terms which are too good to be true. Particularly in the beginning.
    This is how they can hook people into working with them long-term. As time goes on their
    demands become more costly. Think of them as used-car salesmen who are actually very good at
    what they do, except they trade in souls and life-essence. This doesn't mean any PC has to give in
    to their sales pitch. Indeed, it can be more interesting if the PCs refuse. The infernal may go quiet
    for months, watching remotely and periodically, waiting for that one moment when the PC's
    guard is down. Perhaps the PC and his friends are facing a near-death situation or can find no
    solution to a problem. That is when the seductive whisper of the infernal begins again, offering a
    solution to that problem, just for the mere cost of a small portion of one's life essence. (Perhaps 1
    point of strength, to a caster who never relies upon his physical strength, such a small sacrifice, to
    save the life of a friend. And as a bonus present the caster gets to learn a new spell which will be
    very handy in his future endeavors, a spell not typically known among the regular arcanists of
    Caen. No extra charge.)

    The arcanist's own soul is not the juicy target which makes an infernal pay attention to arcanists.
    That is a decent "end of relationship" closer, but what makes arcanists interesting to infernals is
    the opportunity to turn that arcanist into a true infernalist. Once the arcanist becomes an
    infernalist, this can become a lengthy relationship which may deliver dozens of souls in the years
    to come. Infernals think long term. While they will gladly take any soul which happens to fall in
    their lap, when it comes to relationships with wizards, they are usually after something more
    involved and profitable. Consider each arcanist that draws their attention a long term investment.

    There is a difference between having one's soul marked for collection by infernals, and being noted
    as a "person of interest" by the Infernals. There is also a difference with the temporary "taint"
    which can linger with a person after casting a number of spells which can be detected by feats
    such as Sense Mark.

    One problem here is a simple labelling issue. We shouldn't have used the term "mark" quite so
    liberally in some of these overlapping areas. But the mark that one will have on one's soul, which
    is more or less permanent, for having a soul consigned to Infernals is not something that happens
    casually or easily. It usually involves a contract or a person being sacrificed as part of an offer to an
    Infernal. It is not something which happens by the casting of a single spell.

    If one frequently casts teleportation spells, the Infernals are likely to notice and take an interest in
    that person, and may decide to peg them for "further opportunities". This does not mean that
    person's soul has been irrevocably marked for collection. Consider it instead akin to drawing the
    attention of the FBI or the CIA, with the Nonokrion Order being the "agency" in this instance
    which has taken an interest in the person. This has no immediate predetermined consequences
    other than the fact that some infernal somewhere may decide that wizard is worth some
    investment in time to establish a relationship and see if they can be turned to aid the soul trade.

    Souls which have been voluntarily offered and marked are pretty much impossible to restore. But
    the Church of Morrow does have means to try to save souls which have been marked in other
    circumstances, particularly those left behind in the wake of infernal violence where the individuals
    marked are innocent victims. This isn't exactly the same situation as described here, but just
    wanted to provide that there is some precident for dealing with marked souls and preventing their
    horrible fate. This usually requires a reasonably powerful priest to arrive on the scene of infernal
    violence, to see the lingering marked souls (with Reveal Souls) and then perform a number of
    significant benedictions. Naturally this could become particularly dangerous if a Soul Stalker
    happens to be on the trail of those same souls and is closing on the vicinity, hoping to get to them
    before the priest can fix them.

    Trying to fix someone who is still alive and has a marked soul should of course be trickier yet.
    Infernals are certainly fond of trying to trick people into giving up their souls. However, the fact
    that she was not fully aware of what to which she was agreeing could be a loophole that could be
    exploited for her redemption. This is of course why the infernals try to use tidier contracts. But I
    think it makes for an interesting plot twist, and a demonstration of why contracts are important.
    This was clearly an opportunistic move by this particular Curator, who was willing to take a
    chance to get the soul.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  25. #25

    Default Doug Seacat in Infernals: Part II

    With the dwarves within Rhul, wizardry is very tightly controlled by a group I'd love the
    opportunity to write more about some day, the Brand of Odom. The dwarves took a different and
    extremely conservative approach to magic than the elves, which may be one reason their civilization
    has endured. They obeyed the dictates passed down by Great Father Odom, who believed very
    much in secrecy and restrained use of magic. All members of the Brand of Odom are literally
    branded when they join its ranks, part of a swearing-in process which binds them to very exacting
    oaths that have the strength of a geas. Their approach to magic is most comparable among
    humanity to the Order of Illumination, at least in the respect of closely scrutinizing their own
    membership. The virtual monopoly of this organization over arcane matters in Rhul has likely
    slowed the progress of innovation and research but seems to have also done a remarkable job of
    preventing corruption by outside forces. Not every single dwarven arcanist is a member, and
    dwarves have joined other organizations outside Rhul, but it is very difficult to establish oneself to
    any degree of legitimacy in Rhul without the approval of Stone House Odom and the Brand.

    Things are different and more complicated in Ios, with a number of competing groups. I'm sure
    there have been occasions when these groups have had to face infernal corruption by individuals.
    However, from an infernal POV this is a diminishing market. Not one to ignore entirely, but
    certainly less of a thriving market for the soul-trade than humanity by several degrees of
    magnitude. Furthermore, while elves of the old empire (Lyoss) were incautious and free with their
    magic, they learned to become more disciplined the hard way. Ever since the founding of Ios, Iosan
    magic has become much more conservative. One of their strongest areas of specialty is divination,
    which would make concealing such pacts to peers a challenge.

    It is important to remember that only amateurs or the extremely desperate infernalists offer their
    own souls immediately in infernal pacts. While infernals work over the course of an infernalist's
    career/lifetime to seduce them into compromising their own soul eventually (and usually succeed),
    they are patient. Remember the parable of the goose who lays golden eggs. If an infernalist is
    providing the infernals with an steady supply of souls, their own soul can be negotiated for at any
    time, or postponed indefinitely. This is how Thamarites can function as infernalists without
    compromising their faith. Scion Ekris never offered his own soul.

    That said I think there are other unrelated problems related to the soulless and any interactions
    with infernals. I think infernals may not even recognize such a soulless individual as being capable
    of signing a binding contract. There are peculiar ramifications to the soulless which I don't think
    the infernals would embrace. It is likely they would ignore such a person altogether, considering
    them no different from an animal.

    ***

    There is the origin of power, and then there is the application of that power in various forms. An
    infernalist could be an evoker, for example, if he has petitioned his "patron" for destructive magical
    power, learning to shape tremendous energies of fire, for example. If instead he chooses to learn
    how to animate corpses or control souls, he is utilizing necromancy. This has nothing to do with
    where that power or knowledge to shape it comes from. The same goes for priests. There are
    Thamarites priests who draw on divine power to animate the dead. They are still practicing
    necromancy.

    One of the main things infernals offer is specific arcane lore (spells) and direct access to power
    without requiring the permission of the gods. They have both unsurpassed knowledge of the
    arcane as well as the means to unlock that power in others. Which is one of their main
    bargaining chips. Once you have that power, however, it is applied in similar fashion (via spells) as
    any other magic.

    ***

    A skilled infernalist will not bargain his own soul to an Infernal, avoiding that for as long as
    possible. A particularly skilled infernalist might never need to offer up his own soul, although
    throughout the relationship it will be an objective of their "patrons" to put them in a position
    where doing so seems necessary.

    Like certain other marketing schemes, the infernals work with the notion that it's better to have
    an agent bringing in multiple souls over the long haul vs. the short term gain of a single soul.
    Therefore, if an infernalist is expected to bring in dozens (or even hundreds) of souls in the
    course of their career, their own soul can wait or even be considered an acceptable loss.

    For example, there are Thamarite infernalists. Thamar's doctrines specifically forbid her
    worshipers offering their own souls in these pacts, although some still slip and make that mistake
    eventually, or find themselves caught in contractual obligations that put them in an impossible
    situation where they are forced to forfeit their soul. Thamar's relationship with these powers
    appears to be tense and not entirely cooperative, although by her doctrines of achieving power by
    any means they are considered a valid (if dangerous) study. A "proper" Thamarite infernalist
    should only be offering the souls of others to the infernals, preferably the souls of enemies of
    Thamar (Menites and Morrowans, for example). While this does not gain souls for Thamar, it
    does deny them to her enemies, and is thus considered a net gain.

    As others have noted, infernals have no ability otherwise to travel to Caen and even when
    summoned their ability to interfere in this world is limited. They rely rather heavily on bound
    contracts to provide them an avenue of influence on Caen and a means of acquiring more souls or
    life essence (a lesser but acceptable exchange for their services can include "life essence" which
    could include anything from XP to permanent attribute loss).

    Amateur infernalists are the main ones who get caught immediately or quickly into the trap of
    giving up their own soul for power. These are the "suckers" of the infernalist trade. (Many
    Umbral Reavers have a very good racket taking advantage of these individuals, as they have created
    a system whereby they can be summoned by non-arcanists who immediately pay a toll by doing so.
    This is an unusual arrangement, and one which any proper infernalist would steer well clear of.)
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  26. #26

    Default Doug Seacat on Llael:

    We didn't decide to invest the time to detail the Llaelese Army since indeed it has been
    dismantled since the Khadoran occupation. However, contrary to some of the popular belief they
    did in fact have a formal national army, in addition to (and combined with) the personal retainers
    of a number of nobles. They certainly relied heavily on mercenary groups to bolster their army and
    in the last few years Glabryn did much to weaken, disorder, and undermine the national military.
    However, while it was small they did in fact have a real army with a similar hierarchy of ranks
    as is utilized in Cygnar. The Llaelese Umbreans comprised a large majority of the soldiers in the
    Llaelese Army and there remains among their community a number of individuals who feel
    betrayed by their former leader. Naturally where such people were not killed during the invasion,
    a number of them joined the Llaelese Resistance.

    The largest garrisons of the Llaelese Army were deployed at Redwall Fortress and Merywyn.
    There was actually a small but respected garrison at Laedry as well, which is not touched on in
    the Escalation text due to the focus on the mercenaries bolstering that region. The Llaelese Army
    fought quite valiantly during the Siege of Merywyn in particular, which took considerably longer
    than most Khadoran kommandants would have expected. (In part due to Cygnaran support, but
    also due to the courage of the local soldiers, who at this time still had no idea they had been
    betrayed from within.)

    The claim that Glabryn's collaboration ultimately saved lives is certainly the Khadoran POV but is
    by no means conclusive or widely believed by enemies of that empire. Most Llaelese believe that
    they could have held Khador longer at their border if their military had been given the proper
    support, at the very least buying time for more substantial Cygnaran forces to be deployed into the
    region. Had Cygnar been able to entrench itself to support its ally rather than scrambling to
    staunch what was already a full-scale occupation force penetrating the nation through multiple
    routes, it's possible that things might have turned out differently. Certainly Llael could not have
    stood without Cygnar's help, but as it was they were unable to even give a proper fight along their
    western border, a fact which many look on now with shame and regret. The events leading to the
    slaughter at Riversmet and the subsequent surrender of Leryn might have gone down differently
    if Laedry and Redwall Fortress had been able to withstand the initial assault.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  27. #27

    Default Doug Seacat on Magic: Part I

    The "Gift" of Thamar is a bit like Pandora's box. It isn't something that is continually given, or
    something any entity has control over now. It was given during the Orgoth Rebellion, and
    apparently the terms required it be given to a species (or at least a large local segment of a species),
    rather than being given to individuals on a case by case basis.

    The Gift of Magic was therefore given to the oppressed humans being subjugated by the Orgoth,
    in other words, regardless of their faith. Once given, that potential has continued to express itself
    down through the generations, periodically cropping up in stronger form as sorcery, but also as an
    inherent capability to learn arcane magic as wizardry. Where and when this happens is not well
    understood, but is certainly not regulated or controlled by Thamar, Morrow, or Menoth. Indeed,
    the very "Pandora's Box" nature of this "toggle" may be one reason Menites believe their patron was
    infuriated over the "Betrayal" this represented. Menoth did not desire humanity to have this
    power, and now there seems to be nothing he can do about it other than having his priesthood slay
    those born with obvious sorcery.

    Now that humans have access to the arcane, what they do with it is a matter of their own
    individual free choice. This follows the fundamental Volition principle of Thamar and Morrow -
    one's path is chosen, to do good or to do evil. One's powers are utilized accordingly. Some wizards
    and sorcerers have chosen to heed the message of Morrow, others Thamar. (And some neither of
    these gods, turning to the Devourer or even Menoth, among the voluntary recruits among the
    Vassals of Menoth.)

    It is the principle of those who emulate Asc. Corben, including but not limited to those who join
    the Order of Illumination, that they will use this power to fight evil, regardless of the original
    origins of that power. That this could be seen as "using the Gift against the one who provided it"
    is simply one of the risks that was inevitable as a long term consequence to opening humanity to a
    power which allowed them to shake off the Orgoth.

    ***

    The relationship between the Twins is indeed intentionally complex and often misunderstood.
    Neither of these entities is simple nor 1-dimensional. Their faiths intermingle more than either of
    their clergy would like to admit, as inextricably connected as both parts of the Enkheiridion. (The
    root of this connection is elegantly represented by the Volition.) They have sometimes worked
    together despite their opposing philosophies. One of the best examples being the efforts by both of
    their faiths to rid the region of the Orgoth. Each had their reasons for this, Thamar's certainly as
    selfish as her reputation would lead one to expect. She and Morrow saw their faiths doomed to
    extinction if the Orgoth were allowed to persist. Given that risk, it is no wonder extreme
    measures were undertaken to prevent that from happening. One element of Thamar's role in this
    was apparently the Gift.

    Sorcery is a specific type of magic when we speak of it in the setting. It does not encompass all
    forms of magic. Fell calling is its own odd little ability. Further, some of the things warlocks can
    do are also in their own category, as it involves manipulating the power generated by warbeasts
    into the equivalent of spells. Some of the things Grissel can do she might not be able to do if she
    was not able to draw on the power of warbeasts.

    Much of the differentiation between types of magic in our setting has to do with the source of the
    power, and how one gains the ability to master that power. Magic at its root is the ability to
    manipulate reality by force of will. There are lots of ways this can happen. Sometimes it involves
    having a dragon's athanc stuck in your chest and turning your blood into blighted soup, at other
    times you might be able to pray to a god for that sort of power, or you might be born to it and
    possess in innate knack for bending the world to your will, with the power arising from within.
    This last category is what we refer to as sorcery.

    It is worth bearing in mind that there is no real study of genetics in our setting at this point in
    time. I will usually only answer questions within the context of what is known in the setting. Fell
    callers believe their talent is passed down from a progenitor. Those born as sorcerers seem to be
    rather randomly scattered across the various kriels with no strongly discernible pattern. The same
    is true for warcasters or sorcerers. There are some family lines that believe they have a higher than
    normal propensity for such things, and they might even be correct (the Tzepesci line is one of
    these, as was Alexia's family line) but these claims are largely anecdotal and not scientific.
    Madrak's parents were not albinos, for example.

    Among the trollkin all sorcerers are albinos. Fell callers are something else. Technically fell callers
    aren't spellcasters. ...

    ***

    There seems to be a bit of confusion between sorcery and the Gift of Thamar, which is
    understandable given the two are related. Before this enigmatic event arcane magic was all but
    unknown among humanity, and it seems plausible that this was not simply a matter of ignorance,
    but something deeper. Most consider that Menoth may have placed some limitation on humanity
    to prevent their dabbling in powers he considered off limits. Menoth is jealous of the power to
    shape reality, and prefers those who have this power be members of his clergy.

    This does not however mean that "every human is a sorcerer" by any means. Sorcery is a very rare
    and indeed an "in born" gift, which happens to a very small percentage of humanity even after the
    "Gift of Thamar". Sorcery is a strong connection to arcane magic which manifests spontaneously,
    often at a young age, and at times difficult to control until the sorcerer learns to properly control
    their talent. There is definitely a clear point in history before which almost no one was born with
    this talent (or at least so few as to be nearly unheard of), and then a point after where these births
    were happening, while rarely, in greater numbers and across a wide area.

    Corresponding with these "spontaneous" casters who had a talent from birth, there was the rise of
    organized wizardry. It has never been decisively proven but it is generally believed before the "Gift"
    humans may not have been able to control these energies even had they the knowledge to do so.
    There is some evidence to contradict this, such as legends of the Morrdh, but it does seem at the
    least that whatever powers were had by the rulers of Morrdh were not identical to wizardry, and
    may have been something else entirely. Little is known of those enigmatic people. Regardless, the
    first Circle of the Oath in Ceryl put forward a systematic and "scientific" approach to arcane
    magic, studying its practices and inviting intelligent and ambitious individuals to join their ranks,
    all in the hopes of eventually finding ways to overthrow the Orgoth. This group was eventually
    quashed, but gave rise to the Order of the Golden Crucible and later certain advanced practitioners
    of these arts founded the Fraternal Order of Wizardry. Much of the current standards for the
    study of the arcane by wizards is built on the foundations of these groups. (With later splinter
    groups separating from the Fraternal Order, including most notably the Order of Illumination
    and the Greylords Covenant.)

    Any properly intelligent, keen-minded human can, in theory, become a wizard, given they study
    hard enough and are taught by a mentor. However, only those rare few born with the spontaneous
    manifestations of arcane power can become sorcerers (of which gun mages and war-bards are
    variants who tap into these powers in different ways).

    So, it's important not to equate what some are terming a "spark" which allows the control of
    arcane energies and sorcery, the two are not the same. The existence of such a "spark" is still a
    matter of debate and speculative, but most practitioners believe, even if reluctantly, that divine
    agencies are involved. It is without question in both elven and dwarven societies the gods are
    directly credited with provided these races access to mastery of arcane magic. The elves were given
    this ability freely and early by their generous gods. The dwarves claim this power comes from
    Odom, one of the Great Fathers, who attached considerably more cautions, regulations, and
    warnings associated with the use of these powers. Dwarven wizards in Rhul belong to the Brand
    of Odom which is a rather severe organization. (Of the human wizard orders, it is most similar
    to the Order of Illumination.)
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  28. #28

    Default Doug Seacat on Magic: Part II

    The important distinction here is that arcane magic does not flow as power from the gods. Gods
    are not the source of the power, at least not directly. With divine magic, the power is indeed
    coming from the deity. Arcane magic allows the manipulation of reality without the intervention
    of the gods. Which is why it is powerful, desirable, and (from some gods' point of view)
    dangerous. The ability to wield this sort of magic appears to be something some species possess and
    others do not. The exact whys and wherefores are still not entirely understood and have prompted
    endless discussion, debate, theorizing, etc. Similar to other large unanswered questions such as what
    is the true nature of good and evil and how exactly was Caen created in the first place?

    Nonetheless our more widespread civilized species speak of this power as being something the gods
    either allow or do not allow. Consider it a switch thrown on or off. The elven gods "threw the
    switch" for their people early on, granting them access to arcane magic apparently quite early in
    their history. (The same is also true for the dwarves and their gods.) Menoth, on the other hand,
    did not do the same for humanity. He apparently did not like the idea of humanity having the
    access to alter reality without his direct supervision. For a long age before the rise of the Twins or
    other religions the only means for humans to gain the magical power to alter reality was either to
    worship Menoth or to pay homage to his ancient foe, the Devourer.

    There are rather clear indications of the divine sanction for these powers in the mythologies of the
    dwarves and the elves, as well as the specific prohibition against these powers in the Menite
    religion. How the Dhunian races fit into the equation is not well understood. It isn't entirely clear
    when races like trollkin and gobbers gained access to sorcery, or why the ogrun seem incapable of
    harnessing this sort of power. Since Dhunia is a different sort of goddess who does not really
    communicate directly with her followers, this is a question that will likely never be answered. It's
    probably best to ignore the Dhunian races when examining the origins of sorcery in various species,
    or to presume that Dhunia had some reason for granting it to some of her offspring and not to
    others.

    The relationship between magic and the religions of Morrow and Thamar is exceedingly
    complicated and I won't bother elucidating on it at length here. There will be an article in the
    next NQM which will shed a bit of light on the topic, as well as opening up even more questions.
    But the basic gist is that it is widely believed Thamar played a hand in bestowing magic on
    humanity despite Menoth's disapproval, to help shake off the Orgoth. Morrow seems to have
    accepted this power as a tool which can be put to good use whatever the nature of its origins, as
    represented by the elevation of Ascendant Corben. Until the ascension of Corben wizardry had an
    even more sordid and suspicious reputation. And even after his ascension many people have borne
    suspicions toward sorcerers and wizards, and Cygnar's famed Inquisition under Vinter Raelthorne
    IV is an example of this.

    In several areas of our background material we describe the fact that many arcanists do not
    formally join a wizard order until after several levels spent learning under a single mentor. The
    wizard orders are intended to be societies of practicing professionals, akin to trade guilds. Once a
    wizard is a "professional" so to speak, they will seek out a wizard affiliation which suits their
    goals, talent, and temperament. Indeed, one of the shticks of the Fraternal Order is that they
    generally prefer experienced wizards and can force applicants to go through lengthy and difficult
    processes to join. They are therefore also guilty of frequently "poaching" from the other wizard
    orders, trying to persuade the most powerful practitioners to join them and thereby access their
    vaster store of research materials.

    I've always had it in mind that most wizards probably wouldn't start worrying about an order
    until at least 3rd level and in some cases not until 5th level or later. The Fraternal Order as our
    most elitist example isn't much interested in wizards below 7th level (at least), but will sometimes
    take on probationary members earlier given they appear to be quite promising. An ample bribe and
    the proper family connections help, as does being male rather than female, one of their most
    notorious sticking points.

    The Order of Illumination does indeed often attract those more inclined to multiclass than some
    of the other wizard orders. It is quite common for Illuminated practitioners to have studied as
    priests before deciding they could serve the Church better by refining their aptitude for the arcane.

    At any rate the Order of Illumination certainly accepts wizards higher than 1st level into their
    order, although depending on the background of the applicant this may prompt more intense
    scrutiny and testing to be sure the applicant has not been tainted by dark lore or black magic
    practices taught elsewhere. Having glowing references and recommendations from a prominent
    member of the Church would certainly help.

    It's worth noting that people with the Healing domain, and particularly Morrowan clerics who
    worship Asc. Solovin, are really supposed to be quite good at healing. That is one of their primary
    focuses and roles in life. I would highly suggest not restricting those who choose to follow this
    path, so long as they are dedicated to that role and not simply using it as an excuse to heal more
    hit points in a given day.

    The changing lethal to nonlethal system works very well for bards, and folks may have noticed
    the entire Skorne culture only has access to this sort of healing.

    The reason for this had less to do with Pain of Healing than the source of bardic spell power. In
    regular D20 this doesn't matter, but in our setting it does. Healing magic is solely divine in nature,
    and bards are a sorcerer hybrid. There is no true healing available to sorcerers, and therefore
    having access to these spells was an odd fluke which contradicts our depiction of the way magic
    functions and some of the fundamental differences between arcane and divine magic. Pain of
    Healing would only come into play if the bards were receiving their healing magic from the gods,
    but they really should not be getting their power from a divine source. It would be a little odd if
    all of their spells arose from their own innate sorcery except for the odd cure spell which for
    some strange reason they were receiving from a god as if they were a priest.

    Just because our cosmology has its own internal rules and that these are unrelated to the
    conventional D&D notions of elemental planes, plane of shadow, ethereal, astral, etc. does not
    mean these rules do not exist or that Caen/Urcaen are entirely alone in our universe. It has been
    clearly stated that the Infernals definitely come from somewhere "else" other than Caen or Urcaen.
    The main thing is that the arcane practitioners of our world are not very well versed in planar
    matters, having an imperfect but substantial body of lore on Urcaen only and far less on anything
    else. Magic which would require some of those planes in the D&D system simply operate by other
    means in our world.

    We really have no intelligent living species that have a godless origin which are native to Caen.
    But there are species who are disconnected either in part or entirely from their origin gods.

    Our setting world is intended by design to be self-contained and different from other fantasy
    settings. But as noted, this does not mean that Caen/Urcaen are entirely separated from other
    "realms" beyond them. Clearly the presence of the Infernals alone is proof of this. They are likely
    also the best source of information for any realms beyond, but they have not shown any inclination
    of sharing that information at this time.

    This is similar to the fact that Immoren is only one continent on the world and that its residents
    have no global map. That does not mean those other continents do not exist. Indeed, we have
    stated most categorically that they do. But our setting residents simply do not know the shape or
    locations of them. (With the tenuous exception of Zu.) Given they do not even entirely know
    their own world, they have a far larger gulf to try to explore realms/planes beyond Urcaen.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  29. #29

    Default Doug Seacat on Magic: Part III

    There are definitely purely magical items still being produced, there are just incentives not to do so
    in any bulk or regularity. The Fraternal Order of Wizardry in particular is a group that still has
    expertise in magical item creation (and certain feats geared toward reducing the penalties with
    such, with more likely if we ever get the chance to delve into them in greater detail). Similarly,
    religious organizations like the very large, pervasive and powerful Church of Morrow and the
    various Temples of Menoth would be creating regular magic items for notable members of their
    faithful.

    The main thing is every such magic item was probably created for a specific reason, individual,
    and purpose. For example, say the military commissions the Fraternal Order to enchant a firearm
    as a special gift of recognition to an honored officer for particularly commendable and lengthy
    service. The cost to produce them is usually much higher than their actual value in terms of
    practical use (something which unfortunately is difficult to represent given the way item creation
    and market cost are so tightly related in the rules; this is one reason we added the risk of HP loss
    when making these items). In the case of a commission like I mentioned, the wizard enchanting
    such a firearm would probably demand a much higher price from the military for this
    commission than the item's materials and production cost would ordinarily warrant. So the
    production of such firearms would be considered extravagant and limited to special cases, rather
    than being widely distributed.

    The nice thing is that most items will outlast their original purpose and owner and therefore can
    sometimes fall into other hands, which can serve as a special sort of treasure for adventurers to
    encounter. So long as any given item has an applicable background and these items remain
    relatively rare, there is really no contradiction in having the occasional true magic item. True
    enchantment still has certain benefits over mechanika to the user, just carrying an associated (and
    sometimes unacceptable) risk to the person (or persons) fabricating them.

    ***

    Menoth had nothing to do with the Gift, and the emergence of arcane magic among humanity is
    considered one of the signs of the so-called "Betrayal of the Twins." The first slight leniency
    shown by Menites regarding arcane magic was the incorporation of steamjacks into the Protectorate
    military structure after the Civil War and later the establishment of the Vassals of Menoth,
    considered a pragmatic necessity to allow the Menites to fight on even footing with their enemies.

    That Infernals were likely involved in "The Gift" has been a known supposition for some time,
    although the specifics have not been well known outside of the original Circle of the Oath and
    certain tight-lipped Thamarite organizations. But this is one reason for the attempt by certain later
    wizard orders to "redeem" their power through good works and dedication. This is one of the
    fundamental precepts of the Order of Illumination.

    Consider the quote on p. 300 of the IKCG, by Severin Copernicum, Founder of the Order of
    Illumination: "Our powers were granted in the bleakest hour, by the darkest of powers. It falls to
    us to bring light from that darkness, and promote the spark of knowledge rather than the fires of
    damnation."

    ***

    Cryx by no means has a monopoly on necromancy, they are simply the most prolific and focused
    on its practice. Thamarites have been using necromancy for thousands of years, particularly
    utilizing divine rather than arcane magic initially. The main innovation for Cryx has been
    "Necrotech" which is the necromantic equivalent to mechanika. They have been by far the most
    successful at combining engineering with necromancy. But Cryx is certainly willing to steal and
    borrow to improve their power.

    It seems likely that the mysterious and lost kingdom of Morrdh may have had a sophisticated
    knowledge of necromancy, and their techniques seem separate from other traditions and predated
    the Gift of Thamar. Their magic isn't well understood but has been of interest to Cryx, as has the
    Orgoth magic. I think a lot of the sophistication Cryx has over souls is very much derived from
    Orgoth techniques, although to be sure Toruk himself demonstrated unique necromantic powers
    well before their arrival. The best example of this being the creaton of the Atramentous and its
    revenants, as well as the initial Lich Lords.

    ***

    [T]here is evidence the wizards themselves helped to increase this animosity toward sorcery, as an
    attempt to differentiate themselves. The Fraternal Order in particular was heavily involved in
    several inquisitions and went above and beyond the call of duty to root out "Thamarite cultists,"
    many of which were innocent of any wrongdoing or associations with the dark goddess. It's a case
    of pointing the finger elsewhere to say, "They're the evil ones, not us!"

    The spontaneous nature of being able to wield powerful magic without any guidance or
    supervision was a big part of the initial prejudice and fear. Those taken by the wilding and who
    would eventually become druids were lumped into the same category. The notion being if they
    didn't learn this power, it had to come from somewhere, and Thamar seemed the most likely
    culprit.

    Asc. Corben did indeed ascend long before the Cygnaran Civil War, and his doing so helped pave
    the way for Morrowan wizards to gain some measure of acceptance.

    Things are considerably better in the current year, particularly in urban areas, but prejudices
    against untrained spellcasters lingers on. War-bards and military gun mages are actually
    extensively educated, so they are able to escape this usual scrutiny. Wearing a uniform always
    helps.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  30. #30

    Default Doug Seacat on Menites: Part I

    Menoth is more or less the absolute personification of an absentee parent. He almost did not notice
    when he created humanity in the first place and left them entirely to their own devices for quite
    a long time. Once he noticed them, he provided a number of extremely significant gifts, like fire,
    masonry, agriculture. Then he ignored them again for possibly many thousands of years before
    turning back to see they were worshiping things they should not (like their ancestors, the
    Devourer Wurm, other gods that may or may not have actually existed), and he rebuked them.

    He is basically a parent who is very busy with his job and checks in periodically with his offspring
    after long absences and sometimes overcompensates on trying to make up for lost time, either by
    providing presents or cracking down with extreme punishments. The present setting exists in one
    of these periods, a time when Menoth's attention has focused once again upon the actions of the
    humans of western Immoren, for better or worse.

    This is significant because the relative warmth and compassion demonstrated by the Morrowan
    faith was a stark contrast to the attitude of the Menite priests, who took absolute faith and
    devotion for granted. The Menite faith can be warm, depending on the choices of individual
    priests, but at its core it is much more about unquestioning adherence and obedience. Morrow's
    philosophies were a radical departure from this and resonated with those who had felt neglected,
    oppressed, or unfairly dominated by the faith of their creator. Morrow (and Thamar, in her own
    way) sparked the idea that individual people were in fact capable of great things and that each of
    them could change the world. He presented the notion that there was more to life than obedience
    and that those who ruled others also have an obligation to them. (In the real world, this is akin to
    the concept of "noblesse obilge.") Naturally in the modern era, in certain areas the Menite priests
    have had to adapt and many of those outside the Protectorate are eager to show the "kindler,
    gentler" side of the Menite faith and to serve their communities. Such priests likely do describe
    Menoth using more of a "caring father" analogy, but that does not necessarily reflect Menoth's
    demonstrated attitude toward individual human beings. Such matters are likely topics of
    theological debates between various branches of the Menite religion, each of which likely takes a
    slightly different spin on the depiction of the deity and his place in the world.

    ***

    The Old Faith was never a part of the hierarchy of the Protectorate of Menoth. It's worth bearing
    in mind that the Menite religion is old. Very old. And has never been entirely organized as a
    single organization. The closest it has ever come to this was under the reigns of Priest Kings
    Golivant and Khardovic, but even here these were more regional rulers and had limited sway over
    distant members of the faith.

    The Menites of various regions have heeded the True Law as they saw best, looking to their
    nearest priests and ranking visgoths for spiritual direction and paying their tithes. Occasionally in
    a region the visgoths would band together for cooperation, but this still tended to be a regional
    matter. During the Warlord and Thousand Cities eras a visgoth would look to the affairs of his
    local city-state and perhaps seek to advise the nearest local lord, king, or what have you. Their
    control over religion was quite pervasive until the spread of Morrow began to overtake them, but
    this did not represent a single united hierarchy.

    After the Corvis Treaties they were more inclined to organize and coordinate matters by kingdom,
    but even this wasn't absolute. Some temples remained more isolated and saw to their own affairs.
    Both Ord and Llael never saw much of a strong central body of the local Menites, so each temple
    attended to its faithful more or less individually. Khador and Cygnar saw more organized efforts
    to connect their priests and create more pervasive hierarchies. In certain periods of history a single
    individual would rise to cause a stir and gather a larger than ordinary number of Menites under
    his direction, and these that were recognized became hierarchs. There were very few of these
    overall, and none were recorded in the Iron Kingdoms era until the rise of Sulon in Cygnar. He
    proclaimed himself hierarch and did indeed attract nearly all of the Cygnaran Menites under his
    banner, gaining the support of the visgoths as they gathered in Caspia. As we know, this led to the
    Cygnaran Civil War and the founding of the Protectorate of Menoth. Even here, the Khadoran
    Menites (referred to as the Old Faith) were largely uninvolved and their powerful visgoths never
    recognized any authority of the hierarch over them. They quietly supported the Protectorate for its
    worship of Menoth but also because it was a political thorn in the side of the Cygnarans.

    Things have of course become quite a bit more sticky in the last few years due to the Harbinger,
    who seems determined to unite all the Menites rather than accepting their more scattered state.
    But as yet the ranking visgoths in Khador are still being cautious. They have not denied her holy
    mandate or the source of her power but do not wish to prompt a similar civil war in Khador as
    the majority of Khadoran Menites are still loyal to Empress Vanar, and see Hierarch Severius as
    the ruler of a foreign nation more than the leader of their faith. But those that see the Harbinger
    personally or who hear Hierarch Severius speak do have a disturbing tendency to reverse this
    position.

    This is quite different from the situation with the Church of Morrow, which has been a united
    single organization for most of its history, and this has been one of its strengths. Of course even
    here there are significant regional biases and perspectives, but the primacy of the Exordeum and
    primarch in the Sancteum in Caspia has been an accepted fact across the entirety of the faith for
    some time.

    ***

    ?Additionally, some Protectorate Knights of the Order of the Wall have a number of adherents in
    the north who have chosen to sunder ties from their homeland, much due to harrassment in
    recent years of their Order by the Hierarch. These staunch paladins have become something of a
    secret society and choose not to openly show their affiliation to the knighthood.?
    (IWCG, page
    230, under Old Faith)

    I believe this is based on a period just before the recent more open outbreak of hostilities when
    there was greater contact between the Sul-Menites and the Old Faith. There used to be a number
    of pilgrimages and missionaries sent between them, which assisted in the cortex smuggling from
    Khador to the Protectorate as well as making overtures toward working more closely together.
    Likely at this time the northern branch of the Order of the Wall came into greater contact with
    their southern brothers, who were certainly under considerable pressure and experiencing some
    degree of persecution by Hierarch Voyle.

    I'm not entirely sure what would have become of this group or its goals in more recent years as
    things have changed considerably. I could see a number of very different outcomes for this group,
    including the possibility of their contacting Dartan Vilmon and subsequently serving as an
    important source of inside information on the goings-on with the Khadoran Menites, and perhaps
    serving as a bridge between the southern and northern Order of the Wall. They would likely be
    working to ensure the preservation of the Order of the Wall in general, while hiding their
    affiliations in order to avoid drawing the attention of either the Sul-Menite scrutators or Empress
    Vanar, both of whom would take a dim view of such communications. (Both sides would consider
    this treason.) Of course the Order of the Wall in the south is also in a less precarious situation at
    the present, thanks to the death of Hierarch Voyle, the intervention of the Harbinger for Dartan
    Vilmon, and the general acclaim the order earned during the defense of Sul.
    the Order of the Wall is still strong in Khador (recent events have given it a resurgence in the
    Protectorate as well). But it's important to make some distinctions between the priesthood and their
    methods of conveying the faith and gaining converts versus the god himself. Even the most
    benevolent and kindly priest of Menoth will likely describe his patron in stern terms. Menoth is
    and always has been a wrathful and uncompromising figure, one with no tolerance or patience for
    those who defy him or his laws. Mercy is something to be granted by mortal agencies, should they
    see fit to do so.

    This also puts the priest in the position of serving as the kinder intermediary for an imposing and
    intimidating god, which is an effective method of inspiring the faithful to behave as they should.
    In some regards this "good cop, bad cop" dynamic can be seen functioning even within the clergy
    by the actions of regular priests contrasted with the scrutators. Often the ordinary priest can act as
    the warmer face of the religion whereas the scrutators are those who implement the punishments
    and who judge the faithful who are found lacking. A person fearing the wrath of a scrutator
    might turn to his local priest and plead for a more merciful intercession, and perhaps be given
    some consideration for having admitted his wrongdoing. Should the punishment be enforced, the
    fear and loathing of the community remains focused on the terrifying scrutator, not the more
    friendly local priest who did his best to beg for clemency.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  31. #31

    Default Doug Seacat on Menites: Part I

    Clerics: If a god gives you a domain, he probably wants you using it. Naturally he'll expect you to
    use it toward the good of his faith. But it's fundamentally impossible for a god to be opposed to
    one of the domains that he grants to his priests. Scrutators are the sacred torturers and
    executioners of the faith, as well as being the guardians who preserve the faith at all costs. Killing
    in Menoth's name is one of the things they do best. This is not considered a misuse of magic or
    necromancy by the Menite priesthood, so long as the applications of these powers are in the
    enforcement of the True Law and not being exploited for purposes contrary to the temple. It's also
    worth bearing in mind that the Menites are against all arcane magic on general principle, except
    that which has been sanctioned by the priesthood (like the Vassals of Menoth). They do not have
    the same sort of strong prohibition against death magic or necromancy as the Church of Morrow.
    However there are things they do not do with that power (like animating the dead). Killing a
    heathen marked for execution with that power is entirely acceptable.

    ***

    Mechanika created by the Vassals of Menoth is considered acceptable, particularly if cleansed by
    the proper prayers. There are several other examples of mechanika in warjack armament and
    weaponry, although certainly less than in other armies. Overall the pervasiveness of mechanika is
    less in the Protectorate, for the reasons described. The Vassals of Menoth are able to create things
    other than cortexes, however. And all mechanika is considered essentially "unclean" and requires
    some religious cleansing before its application can be accepted.

    ***

    The fact that scrutators are lawful evil has been misunderstood by many people. I have posted on
    the topic a few times and do not have the time to do a lengthy dissertation on the topic, but it's
    worth remembering they are not evil for evil's sake or out of some arbitrary desire for malicious
    characters. This caste has a very specific purpose as the dark protectors of the Temple. They need
    to develop merciless qualities in order to perform their function, which is to pragmatically preserve
    the faith regardless of the cruelties they must inflict on other human beings. Torture and
    execution are two of their primary functions and have been since ancient times. When Menoth
    was the majority religion it was the scrutators who served the community by punishing and
    executing criminals as well as those who were deemed to be traitors to the faith. This requires
    them to divorce themselves from empathy and to master practices which eventually remove their
    ability to sympathize with other human beings. This is why they are evil. They are not expected to
    randomly lash out nor to seek power for their own sake. Actions done which are not in the
    interests of the Temple can lead to them being placed under the lash just like any other violators
    of the True Law.

    ***

    If a hierarch truly wanted to eliminate the Order of the Wall, they could do so rather quickly
    and easily, by a single mandate. The animosity between these two groups is not that direct or
    overt, but rather a matter of ongoing tension over their different functions. Nonetheless they are
    both considered important and ancient organizations which perform essential duties to strengthen
    the faith. The scrutators in the Protectorate have generally been happier when this group is kept
    small and out of the way. This is because paladins are in the habit of sometimes disobeying orders
    or interpreting them in a different fashion than intended because of their more merciful approach
    to the Menite faith. This lack of absolute obedience makes them, to the scrutators' mind, an
    unreliable tool. This is why the Knights Exemplar exist, as they are duty bound to obey without
    question. This means generally scrutators prefer to work with Exemplars above the Order of the
    Wall. But it does not mean they see the need to eliminate the Order of the Wall entirely. Rather,
    they try to minimize these conflicting situations by keeping the paladins out of their way. This
    becomes more difficult with the higher ranking paladins who are more likely to be in important
    places and to have a chance to voice their opinions to other senior members of the Temple
    hierarchy.

    ***

    Just a short bit of food for thought on the hierarch versus Harbinger debate, which I do think is
    an interesting one. The hierarch's main purpose, as he saw it, was to extend the crusade against
    the nonbelievers outside of the Protectorate. The Harbinger's primary purpose, as she sees it, has
    been to convert the faithless to the worship of Menoth and to unify all Menites regardless of
    country of origin. Therefore, the Harbinger's primary goal is to consolidate and increase the
    number of Menites, as well as to ensure that Menite souls are delivered to Urcaen (a function
    which is more specifically handled by the Testament and the Reclaimers). Generally these goals
    went hand in hand, but in the final fight in Caspia we can see a conflict between the two goals
    and this certainly contributed to the hierarch's death.

    One thing that tends to get lost I think in people's mind is the fact that the Harbinger's actions
    on the day Voyle died were subtle and not necessarily precisely seen by everyone there. You as the
    reader got the best seat in the house, able to linger right down at the front line as Stryker fell
    down beside the mortally wounded prophetess. You witnessed in amazement and disbelief as she
    passed her blade to Commander Stryker. But consider that those watching the fight did not see
    these events as clearly. I don't think it was obvious that the Harbinger handed her blade to
    Stryker. I'm fairly certain none of them were near enough to hear her words to him. Most likely
    believe she fell, the blade dropped from her hand, and he took it. However, even if they had a
    perfect awareness of what had transpired, it would not be a simple matter.

    Even if one concludes she disobeyed Voyle, how much authority does a hierarch have over her, by
    the standards of the law? Where in the law is it written that the living embodiment of the Voice
    of Menoth must heed a mortal priest over the god himself? Clearly the harbinger deferred to his
    decisions and recognized his authority to lead all of the faithful. But keep in mind Voyle has
    never actually ordered the Harbinger herself to do anything. They interacted with one another as
    equals with different areas of influence and control. Hierarch Voyle has the sovereign right to
    order the execution of his subjects. The Harbinger has the divine right to preserve the lives of any
    Menite she chooses to be an important instrument. In this instance, one followed the other. Voyle
    executed Vilmon, and the Harbinger martyred herself to save him. Both were entirely within
    their respective domains. You will notice the Harbinger did not stop Voyle from striking Vilmon,
    nor did she produce some miracle to prevent Feora's 'jacks from firing on the Menites atop the
    wall. She allowed his orders to proceed, but then intervened after the fact.

    It is a mistake to presume there is some law which covers these contingencies. No one perfectly
    understands Menoth's will. He is a generally aloof god and his reasons are beyond mortal
    reckoning. His faithful have had to periodically wrestle with such uncertainties, looking to
    whatever authority they feel has the most direct channel to the divine. The Reclaimers and the
    Harbinger are accepted as having a clearer conduit than even the highest of the regular priesthood,
    albeit that connection is irregular and unpredictable. Nonetheless their actions are not constrained
    by mortal law. If you think a Reclaimer has every right to do as they do, you must also accept that
    the Harbinger has the exact same jurisdiction. Are you going to argue with Menoth that he
    "should" have reclaimed Voyle by some other means rather than the one which was most readily at
    the god's disposal? Gods acting on Caen almost always take the most readily available expedient
    and the one which requires the least expenditure of power. This is because it is difficult for the
    gods to act directly on Caen. Furthermore they tend to act with divine awareness and intelligence,
    with a better understanding of the repercussions of their actions than any mortal.

    The nature of the relationship between Harbinger and hierarch is complicated and not easily
    reduced to a simple notion of "chain of command". Indeed, if you look at the Protectorate chart in
    Superiority, which is intended to represent that chain, you will see them at an equivalent level.
    These sorts of circumstances are not codified in the written law. They would come down to a
    decision based on the highest available authority. And my hunch is both of those authorities
    (Hierarch Severius and the Synod of Visgoths) will see anything the Harbinger has done as a
    representation of Menoth's will, unless the god says otherwise.

    Note that I am not saying Menoth actually did speak to or act directly through the Harbinger in
    that moment. No one except her knows if that is true. We did not see any of the usual evidence
    of her receiving the word of the divine. It is certainly possible she acted on her own initiative
    rather than a divine impulse. However, you can be assured that none of the Protectorate Menites
    present there will make that presumption based on what they saw and who she is. You can
    certainly expect that Hierarch Severius will not leap to that conclusion. If you want to consider the
    Harbinger guilty of "murder", that's fine. But if that is the case she committed the perfect crime
    because she is beyond reproach and likely will remain so unless she loses the ability to channel
    Menoth's will and is no longer a conduit for miracles.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  32. #32

    Default Doug Seacat on Menites: Part III

    Menites were oppressing Morrowans long before the reverse even became a possibility.

    Remember that the Menites were the majority religion until about mid-way through the Orgoth
    Occupation. But it is true that shortly after the Corvis Treaties there were a few incidents of
    notably vicious treatment of Menites. This was particularly the case around the time Morrow
    became the state religion and were removed from having influence over the succession of the
    crown. The most brutal period is generally associated with Malagant the Grim (256-289 AR) and
    the immediate aftermath of his reign. Many of the seeds that would eventually lead to Cygnar's
    civil war were planted at this time. But it's certainly important to remember that the strained
    relations between these two religions dates back considerably further in history, long before Cygnar
    existed. There have also been long stretches of history where the two religions have co-existed in
    relative peace, albeit even at their best these two communities have never been exactly friendly
    toward one another. This is still the case in Khador as well, although it is advertised less and
    Empress Vanar has done a good job of conveying the impression that her people live in harmony
    regardless of faith.

    ***

    Protectorate of Menoth: It used to be the Protectorate of Menoth in the classical sense of a
    protectorate as a legal status. This is generally described something similar to: "The authority
    assumed by a superior power over an inferior or a dependent one, whereby the former protects the
    latter from invasion and shares in the management of its affairs." (Webster's)

    Cygnar has revoked its protectorate status since they are in open war. But the Protectorate itself
    still considers itself the "Protectorate of Menoth" borrowing another meaning of the term:
    "Government by a protector" in which they consider themselves the protectors and guardians of
    the Menite faith. It is their duty and cause to ensure that the proper religion of Menoth is
    preserved and spread to encompass all of mankind.

    The Cygnaran Civil War which ended in the creation of the Protectorate of Menoth took place
    from 482 AR - 484 AR, during the reign of Bolton Grey V "The Blessed". Leto Raelthorne
    became king in 594 AR, 110 years later. Furthermore, the Morrowan faith became the state
    religion of Cygnar in 293 AR, during the reign of Malagant the Grim, so you can see this was
    almost two centuries before the civil war and a good three centuries before Leto became king.

    Malagant was one of the most notable anti-Menite of Cygnaran kings and did in fact enact several
    cruel persecutions of the Menite faith during his reign as well as stripping away their traditional
    involvement in the royal succession process. His reign is certainly one of the less pleasant episodes
    in Cygnar's Menite/Morrowan relations, but as the time span shows this did not immediately
    result in a civil war. Rather it created a precedent for a growing divide between these two
    religious communities and resentment which increased in the years to follow. This added to the
    rhetoric used when Hierarch Sulon called for all Cygnaran Menites to gather in eastern Caspia
    (now Sul) shortly before the Civil War. He preached the fact that the Cygnaran government and
    the Morrowan faith had turned their collective backs on their Creator. The bloody civil war ended
    after the death of Hierarch Sulon with a treaty which created the Protectorate of Menoth. The
    terms of this treaty allowed the Protectorate to govern itself as they saw fit, but required token
    taxation and required that the Menites not assemble an army for war. This particular prohibition
    was one which was never stuck to very firmly, although it did inspire the Menites to take
    surreptitious means to arm themselves for many decades, including the use of converted labor
    'jacks and insisting that all of their armed faithful were just guardians of the temple and not a
    proper army.

    There are a variety of other pertinent historical details, but it's important to remember that the
    tension between the southern Menites and Morrowans is far more deeply rooted in history (even
    beyond what I detailed here, dating back thousands of years to the initial rise of the Twins and
    later relations between the religions during the Orgoth occupation), and that the Protectorate has
    been around for over a century. King Leto was not directly involved in any of this and is simply
    the most recent Cygnaran king who has had the "luck" to be on the throne in the present
    momentous period during the rise of the Harbinger and the declaration of crusade by Hierarch
    Voyle. Before open war erupted, King Leto was a strong advocate for religious tolerance and
    peaceful relations between Menites and Morrowans. He had been working to try to settle the
    differences between the people on either side of the Black River. However, he never understood
    Hierarch Voyle's determination to see Menites returned to a place of dominance in spiritual
    affairs.

    To the Protectorate Menite perspective, the majority of western Immoren is guilty of turning their
    backs on their Creator and failing to offer the proper services, respect, and tithes. The only
    acceptable compromise the Sul-Menites would accept would be if the worship of Menoth was
    elevated above all other faiths and his temple recognized as preeminent. The Morrowan faith
    might be allowed to exist, but only if it was demonstrably subservient to the Temple of Menoth.
    Even the accord between the Old Faith and the Morrowan religion in Khador is considered
    unacceptable since it puts these two religions on equal footing, daring to place Morrow on the same
    level as the Creator of Man. Protectorate Menite priests believe they should not only hold sway
    over all human religious affairs but should also have a say in the selection process of secular
    sovereigns, if such secular sovereigns should exist at all. There are some texts in the Protectorate
    which suggest that secular sovereigns are unacceptable and that all such authority should fall to the
    priesthood. This is a more recent development, but one which most Menites in the Protectorate
    accept, having lived under a strict theocracy for over a century.

    Remember that Morrowans do not consider themselves to have "turned against" Menoth. Their
    prayers include many words of thanks and acknowledgment of the Creator. They simply follow a
    different path which does not accept the tyranny of certain aspects of the old Menite traditions.
    They became the dominant religion and were unwilling to continue to treat the Menite priests as
    if they still had a right to dictate all aspects of daily life or to enforce terms of succession for their
    kings. There appears to have been some form of ancient agreement between these two gods
    whereby some elements of overseeing humanity was allowed to Morrow. Of course no one was
    privy to any of the specifics, which allows for lots of speculation on either side and interpretations
    which support the claims of either religion.

    The conflict between the current Menites and Morrowans is, as often happens in wars between
    faiths with shared roots, a matter of degrees. The Menites do not believe the Morrowans are
    offering enough respect and obedience to the Creator of Man. This is particularly true of the Sul-
    Menites who now believe that not only should Menoth be recognized above Morrow, but that their
    supreme priest should be recognized as the singular secular authority of mankind. What makes
    this attitude even more terrifying is the fact that the Harbinger seems to confirm this doctrine
    from the normally aloof god himself.

    The fact that the god is normally aloof and distant needs to be remembered and reinforced, even
    in the modern period. Menoth is not in the habit of regularly dictating the small details of life to
    his clergy or his following. The clergy actually exists to interpret his will and to take care of
    matters which would be beneath the god's attention. This is true even with the presence of the
    Harbinger and the Reclaimers, as the number of times they are actually receiving direct
    instructions from on-high are rare and few compared to the actual number of decisions which
    must be made daily by the clergy. The appearance of the Harbinger is also still a very new
    phenomena, and one not well understood. Clearly Menoth has turned his eye back to Caen and
    has taken measures to reinforce his flagging faith in light of the fact that they were dwindling to
    unacceptable levels. But most decisions are still being made by mortals, as is always the way of
    things in the affairs of gods. Likely as not the War of Souls still rages on in Urcaen and all of
    the gods involved are more occupied on that plane than on Caen, where it is difficult for them to
    directly (or even indirectly) extend their will.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  33. #33

    Default Doug Seacat on Metallurgy:

    Most of your interesting metal needs can be met by alloys rather than creating strange new
    materials as yet unheard of by mankind. This is generally the policy of our setting. We prefer to
    utilize metallurgy, even if sometimes exotic metallurgy, rather than creating purely fantasy metals.
    Most of these alloys resemble real world alloys and utilize the same or similar materials, but in
    some cases alchemy or magical forces are utilized to get past the technological barriers that would
    otherwise make them impossible to manufacture without higher technology than exists in the
    setting. In particular, certain alloys require extremely high heat or require highly refined trace
    materials at a level of purity. Purification and isolation methods as well as the generation of
    extreme heat are handled by arcane methods. It is magic that resembles technology, as we've
    discussed before.

    A number of sophisticated materials manufacturing and assembly methods are known to houses
    like Aiesyn, Ryvrese, Shyeel, and Vyre, but many of these originated before the fall of the Bridge
    of Worlds and were passed down directly by the gods. In many cases these arcane techniques are
    followed more or less by rote, with incomplete understanding of why and how they actually work
    or the fundamental principles behind them. This means the Iosans have access to some truly
    remarkable methods and materials but have less ability to refine and adapt them in significant
    ways.

    For this reason, the dwarves of Rhul have superior metallurgy to Ios, overall. In Rhul there is a
    far better understanding of the underlying principles and science behind these metals and alloys
    and this gives them greater ability to innovate within the field, applying what was learned in one
    process to another that has different needs. Rhul (and humanity) also uses alchemy and arcane
    means to side-step certain barriers, but they do so with a better understanding of the process.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  34. #34

    Default Doug Seacat on Necromancy of Souls:

    There is an entire branch of necromancy dedicated to soul-related magics, which would include
    affecting spirits. The most important thing to keep in mind in these cases is that these are usually
    dealing with spirits that have not "crossed over." Once souls get to Urcaen they are pretty safe
    from interference, except of course by other things that are also in Urcaen. Raise Dead is one of
    the few ways you can bring a soul back from there, and we all know the difficulties our setting
    places on that. (It is certainly not impossible, and does in fact happen periodically, but generally
    only by the leaders of major faiths. As I've mentioned before, getting someone raised in our setting
    more or less requires the equivalent of a personal meeting with the pope. The Exordeum has a
    council specifically established to review these petitions and the vast majority of them are denied.)
    Another mechanism that pulls souls from "elsewhere" for the purposes of animating them is the
    process that gives rise to Banes, a category of thrall. These souls come from somewhere that seems
    to be neither Urcaen nor Caen, but possibly some kind of limbo between them. It is apparently not
    a pleasant place. We have yet to provide many RPG details on these creatures, but part of that is
    the necromancy behind them is very obscure, known in any detail only to a couple of specific
    individuals in the setting. (Such as Lich Lord Tenebrous, who isn't telling.)

    Fortunately there are lots of ways spirits can get stuck on Caen. Incorporeal undead in our setting
    will generally be souls that have lingered on past death on Caen and either resisted the pull to
    Urcaen or were somehow bound here or prevented from crossing (a particularly gruesome death,
    unholy energies, or having previously dabbled extensively in necromancy and dying unexpectedly
    can all contribute). Soul cages are one way that souls can be kept on Caen, and these are enjoyed by
    entities like iron liches and many powerful entities from Cryx. Infernal marks are another way
    souls can be prevented from going to Urcaen. Such souls do not always manifest as a "ghost"
    (something that can sometimes be seen or which can affect the living) but certainly that could
    happen depending on what happens to them after death. The infernal mark is intended to force a
    soul to linger so that it can eventually be scooped up and claimed by an infernal and taken for
    their use, but in many cases such "collecting" might not happen for quite some time.

    Manipulating the spirits or souls of the dead will be necromancy in almost all cases, but as noted
    such efforts might not actually fall under the purview of "summoning." Even in this case, a
    necromancer who "summoned" a spirit to him would most likely be pulling a disembodied soul
    (possibly transformed by trauma into an actual dangerous undead) from elsewhere on Caen.

    ***

    You will notice the bulk of our incorporeal creatures are actually (un)dead, meaning spirits, or
    naturally occurring bodiless creatures like feralgeists. They are usually only manifesting physically
    to attack things. The idea here is not that they have some fully physical body that exists on some
    nebulous "other plane" somewhere, but that they are actually insubstantial creatures (call it
    ectoplasm or whatever you wish), who can briefly manifest a tangible body by sheer force of will
    in order to interact with corporeal creatures. The notion is they are still always on Caen, just that
    sometimes solid things can pass through them.

    The take on these types of entities existing on some other plane is not really the way these types
    of entities are traditionally depicted in myth or legends, at least not until more recently. If you
    must have another place where they exist, the notion is they are fighting the pull of Urcaen.

    Nonetheless we do not consider that our ghosts have a physical body normally, but are rather
    creatures of spirit who can temporarily become more solid. The same could potentially be done in
    the reverse, which is how these sorts of spells could function. But it was never intended that this
    is a regular subject of arcane study. Particularly since for just about everyone (ignore the
    Testament) going to Urcaen is strictly a 1-way voyage. Even our highest priests do not make jaunts
    to Urcaen and come back. The closest we have to this is the fact that some people who have been
    raised from the dead have managed to remember the trip and describe Urcaen, often in vague
    terms resembling memories of a dream.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  35. #35

    Default Doug Seacat on Newspapers:

    I wanted to clarify that more than one newspaper exists in Cygnar. I've seen this
    mentioned at least twice now, an understandable misunderstanding caused by an
    out-of-date entry in the IKWG. Attempts by the Daily Newes to become a
    monopoly in Cygnar have largely failed. There are papers in most major Cygnaran
    cities although a local variant of the Newes is also often printed and they do sell
    well. Attempts to limit other papers have never been particularly successful. Various
    local papers do have an assortment of biases and differing reputations for
    respectability. The Corvis Chronicle , for example, is considered a "conspiracy rag" by
    most. The Mercir Messenger is more widely respected but is certainly biased in
    favor of the Mercarian League and focused rather heavily on shipping and
    mercantile topics.

    Even in the case of the Daily Newes no one really takes the time or effort to ensure
    that all of the local variants printed in specific cities are held to the same exact
    standards. Oversight of this paper by any government authority is minimal at best,
    and mostly a matter of passive pressure.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  36. #36

    Default Doug Seacat on Ord?s Military:

    Ord's military is quite strong, simply not very modern, and the king and his sons have been taking
    measures in the last several years to try to improve this situation, to the extent possible given the
    limits of their treasury. Ord in particular lacks for sufficient quantity of warjacks but makes up
    for it with an ample supply of cannons, which works quite well at fixed positions but does not
    enable the sorts of mobile offensives common to warfare in our setting. Ord is an altogether
    different prospect than Llael was at the time of its invasion. For a number of reasons, not least
    the apparent collaboration of Llael's Prime Minister, Ord would be far more costly and difficult to
    conquer. Of course Ord does not take this for granted, as the Khadoran Empire continues to flex
    its might, and the exposure of Ord's eastern border (after the seizure of the Thornwood) is a
    matter of tremendous concern, one that has prompted Ord to erect a line of new fortification and
    patrols along that newly exposed territory. At the moment however it seems as though Khador has
    other things to worry about and has yet to press on toward this western nation. In addition to the
    potential cost and expense of committing to war with Ord, there is also the consideration that the
    Ordic Navy has been handily helping to interfere with Cryx's fleets. This is likely considered to
    be preferable to those same fleets turning their attention (more than the privateers and pirates
    already have) upon Khadoran ports and shipping. As others have noted, in addition to a respected
    national army there are quite a few substantial mercenary interests in Ord who are interested in
    preserving its neutrality. At the moment many of these companies are as willing to hire their
    services to Khador as to Cygnar but many would become more patriotic were that kingdom to be
    attacked.

    ***

    In some ways, the average Khadoran soldier has more respect for the Tordorans in battle than they
    do any Cygnarans. The northern border of Ord has repelled several massive attacks despite access
    to limited resources and somewhat antiquated weaponry, whereas Khadorans consider the
    Cygnarans reliant on their technology. Tordorans have proven themselves to be quite hardy
    fighters. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Ordic Army is substantial, well trained, and well led.
    It is certainly considerably smaller in troop strength compared to Cygnar or Khador but is
    nonetheless a respected fighting force. As others have suggested, Ord's army has proven
    particularly tenacious in defensive engagements, but is not considered strong enough or supported
    by sufficient warjacks to field a mobile offensive. That said, as was suggested in several places in
    the IKWG (dated loosely 3 years before the "present"), King Baird II and his heir (who is an
    Ordic general) have undertaken considerable projects in the last several years to modernize and
    improve the army.

    So in answer, Tordorans are certainly respected fighters, both on land and at sea.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  37. #37

    Default Doug Seacat on Rhulic Religion:

    Knowledge (Law) is very specifically important among the dwarves of Rhul, and could be used in
    the context of their own faith in the place of Knowledge (Religion), and I'd say would provide a
    +2 synergy bonus with such checks as regards the Great Fathers and their lore.

    We didn't have room to include it unfortunately but I had a rather extended piece of text written
    originally for the IKCG/IKWG which was quite a bit of detail on the Codex of the dwarves. This
    material was eventually decided to be a bit specialized and periphery to the center of the setting
    (which involves the human kingdoms), but was written as part of an exercise on my part to
    determine the nature of the IK dwarves and their relationship with their internal laws and how
    law functions within their society.

    The Codex is a big deal to Rhulfolk. This is a huge library of information, not a single book or
    text. It is the equivalent of an entire legal library which includes every legal decision made and
    recorded by both dwarven clan lords and the Moot of the Hundred Houses. At its core, the Codex
    includes both edicts and laws . The batch of edicts is much smaller, and likely has been compiled
    into a single volume by the priests of the Great Fathers, as these are the instructions by the
    dwarven gods/progenitors regarding the core precepts of dwarven society. They have similar
    importance as the Ten Commandments among humans who consider themselves Christians,
    except being greater in number and a bit more specifically detailed. The Edicts of the Great
    Fathers were originally collected and compiled by Great Father Godor (Patron of Orators and
    Master of the Codex). They are a document which is both religious text and legal document in
    Rhul, the foundation for more or less all of dwarven society. It's important to remember in Rhul
    that religion and law are inextricably bound together, in a way that bears some similarity to the
    faith of the Menites and yet has a very different overtone. Among the most zealous Menites the
    priests are rulers and law-enforcers. But in Rhulic society, priests are more akin to lawyers,
    arbiters, and judges. They are rarely themselves rulers, except the Stone Lords themselves, who are
    honorary priests as well as paladins. The role of priest in Rhulic society is as advisor and
    maintainer of the principles of the Codex. Edicts never change.

    Laws on the other hand, which outnumber the Edicts by a large measure, are individual
    interpretation of the Edicts to specific cases and situations in the fullness of time. Given dwarves
    have been interpreting the Edicts and adjusting their society in writing for about eight thousand
    years, there are a lot of tomes of laws and their history. Enough to fill several libraries. Particularly
    combined with the exhaustive records of individual cases used for precedent. This is the bulk of
    the Codex. Laws have changed and evolved over the millennia, and those in use today bear
    similarity to ancient laws only by their fundamental connection to the core Edicts. One could
    spend an entire dwarven lifetime studying these laws, their permutations, and history, and never
    reach the end of them. This is why this particular knowledge skill has a specific use and existence
    among the dwarves.

    Some day if I have time I might post up some of the more specific information on the Edicts for
    those who are interested. I had some details on the following Edicts and their place in Rhulic
    society:

    The Edict of Oaths - which covers specifics regarding formal oath-taking among dwarves, and is
    the root of the Oathbound attribute. (Those interested in this should be sure to read the callout on
    p. 126 of the IKWG which relates an interesting point about oath taking and its role in dwarven
    jurisprudence.)

    The Edict of Unity - which establishes that all dwarves are brothers and sisters and must unite
    against external threats.

    The Edict of Authority - which establishes a clear chain of Rhul's hierarchy, and reinforces the
    importance of clan lords.

    The Edict of Duels - which relates the proper and lawful manner in which duels can be utilized
    to solve disputes between individuals.

    The Edict of Feuds - which relates the proper and lawful manner in which larger disputes
    between entire clans without disrupting the Edict of Unity.

    The Edict of Building - which conveys the purpose of dwarven life as passed down by the Great
    Fathers, which is transcending mortality by building a legacy that outlasts a single lifetime.

    The Edict of Ownership - that stresses how lawful ownership is determined. (This particular
    Edict has been the subject to the largest number of interpretations in actual laws.)

    While Knowledge (Law) in Rhul likely is very specifically applied to dwarven laws as represented
    by the Codex, I think such a person with this degree of highly formal training would be able to
    absorb foreign legal systems rapidly, given proper exposure to such texts. The knowledge skill
    would therefore be useful, with a little preparation, for the individual to have a good grasp on local
    laws, including the distinction between kingdom laws (those set down by the crown in various
    southern kingdoms), and more regional laws. It's worth noting that while less significant to
    humans than dwarves, there are professionals who deal in the law in other kingdoms, for whom
    this knowledge skill would also be useful. Even in a reputedly "lawless" city like Five Fingers,
    there are those like Dorne & Fergurn Barrister and Imports (Five Fingers, p. 46) who offer their
    advice related to legal services.

    As to some of the other knowledge skills we've added, I may post more on those later. I may also
    provide some sample DC checks whereby Knowledge (law) might be practically useful. But the
    basic guidelines on answering questions provided in the PHB still apply. Given how often
    interactions happen between the authorities and adventurers in any game I've ever played, having a
    bit of legal expertise is never a bad thing. It should indeed be a free class skill to dwarven clerics.
    Feel free to replace Knowledge (the planes) with Knowledge (law) for dwarven clerics.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  38. #38

    Default Doug Seacat on Sancteum Warcasters And Warjacks:

    The gods are far enough removed from micromanaging their clergy that becoming a warcaster or
    not would really not have any bearing on the god's opinion. It would depend upon the individual
    in question being born with the ability, just as warcasters are rare even among wizards or sorcerers,
    and then choosing to take advantage of this ability. This might also require such individuals being
    recognized and trained. As we have presented before, finding people who have the warcaster knack
    is not easy. In the Retribution of Scyrah book we describe how it is only recently that the
    Retribution has been able to put forth any systematic efforts in this regard, and they have been
    helped by those experts in House Shyeel and House Nyarr who have greater experience in these
    matters. Elsewhere we have also described that certain nations are better at finding them than
    others. Cryx seems to have a particular leg-up in this regard, having a track record of detecting
    mainland individuals with talent and sometimes abducting them before anyone else even knows
    they are special. (The situation with Haley & Deneghra is an example.) The Protectorate is one of
    the very few groups which has, after considerable time and effort, better success at finding their
    warcaster talent and nurturing it.

    We can logically presume that a number of people who might have had the warcaster talent live
    entirely normal lives and go to the grave without anyone ever being the wiser. For obvious reasons
    the military is the most proactive about trying to seek such people out, but clearly they do not
    always succeed despite money and effort spent in this direction. Barring an incident like a local
    laborjack suddenly seeming to obey the telepathic instructions of some nearby random passer-by,
    there is little to go on in most cases.

    There is nothing inherently preventing those with divine power from having the warcaster talent,
    but combining these two aptitudes and being instructed in their use and then actually having
    warjacks at your disposal is another matter. I certainly believe there are divine casters among the
    Church of Morrow who are warcasters. But I'm also willing to bet they are very few in number.
    The church is not as proactive about finding and training them, and is also drawing from a much
    smaller pool than the Cygnaran Army. Most priests' lives do not put them in an ideal position to
    even realize they have this spark, let alone act upon it.

    It is important to remember that in our setting the priesthoods are still left to their own devices
    most of the time and the gods really do not play a direct hand very often. Until recently this was
    MORE true with Menoth than Morrow. Menoth has traditionally been an extremely aloof and
    distant god. Things have shifted with the rise of the Harbinger, but even now Menoth leaves most
    of the small details to his clergy and does not tell them what to do most of the time. Pragmatic
    decisions like utilizing warjacks for battle were made by the clergy, not directly by Menoth. As the
    god did not immediately smite them down and later gave other evidence of his approval, the
    tradition continued.

    By and large the Church of Morrow has had far less need for warjacks and warcasters than the
    Protectorate of Menoth, since as an organization they do not embark on military crusades or flex
    their armed might very often. Generally their people are occupied with attending to their flocks,
    spreading the word of Morrow and his ascendants, studying theology, and seeking personal
    enlightenment. Things have changed a bit as the entire region has become less stable and
    particularly when Caspia itself was threatened by invasion, but I'd still expect the church has not
    had the opportunity or inclination to identify, equip, and train very many warcasters. Particularly
    as most of their needs could be met by patrols with more mundane warjack handlers.

    No, I'm certain the church has built its own 'jacks, as the Sancteum includes all of the facilities
    for doing so. These are of course on a much smaller scale than the Cygnaran Armoury, so would
    be more akin to smaller 'jack shops like Engines East. Each likely built individually to completion
    before starting on the next, etc. I do think they could also get their hands on old decomissioned
    'jacks at a good rate, if required, similar to how mercenaries operate (but with a special discount!).
    But in the Sancteum itself I would expect to see Morrowan designed chassis. Whether they would
    resemble their Cygnaran counterparts would be up to our artists to decide, if we ever have an
    excuse to illustrate them, and not I.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  39. #39

    Default Doug Seacat on Social Status:

    These are great questions, but one reason it isn't directly spoken about is this type of thing would
    vary tremendously by individual community and city. The typical relationship between various
    members of society will be very different in Ceryl versus Caspia, for example.

    Ceryl is the home of the Fraternal Order of Wizardry and includes very strong contingents of
    every other major wizard order. (A strong branch of the Order of Illumination, a strong branch of
    the Free Order of the Golden Crucible, even some spies from the Greylords Covenant, and a
    number of smaller unaffiliated organizations. Not to mention the secret Infernal Archive hidden
    somewhere in the city.) Clearly being an arcanist is one of the most prestigious things you can be
    in Ceryl. This doesn't prevent those same wizards from being resented and disliked, but clearly
    they are a force to be counted in the city and are generally treated with more than usual
    deference.

    Being a wizard in Caspia is certainly prestigious, but in that city the clergy holds a much more
    prominent position in local society. I'd also hazard that in Caspia itself the mechanikal trades are
    more valued and appreciated by and large than the arcanists, who would be considered somewhat
    aloof and mysterious elitists whose day-to-day contributions to the city are enigmatic at best. No
    one knows what a wizard is doing to help the city, while they can see the labor steamjacks
    laboring every day on the docks and see the warjacks manning the garrison that is protecting them
    from the Menite threat across the river.

    Move up to Five Fingers or Corvis and things change yet again.

    Overall, I'd advise that practical professions which have an immediately discernable impact on the
    people are more likely to be widely respected and appreciated. Some of this varies based on local
    resources and economy. Similarly, those professions which require more skill and are expected to be
    difficult will have some automatic prestige associated with them. Arcanists always earn a bit of
    respect (but also suspicion and fear) just from their rarity and the awareness of the strange powers
    they boast, along with the awareness that very few people have the aptitude, wealth, and unique
    mental acumen required for the pursue this field over an extended period. Yet wizards are also
    viewed similarly to landed gentry - often it's hard to tell what "good" they are, or what they are
    actually doing to help anyone else. You can admire the rich noble and envy him for his station and
    comfort in life, but at the same time resent him for the same reasons.

    Farming is more widely respected than is generally easily conveyed in the setting since it's not one
    of the things we dwell upon. But as is noted in the IKCG Asc. Gordenn is perhaps the most
    widely worshiped ascendant, and on some level most people in the IK know the importance of
    maintaining food supplies. This is doubly true in times of war and conflict. That said, people tend
    to also look down on "dirty" people, or those who toil in the field, seeing this as a relatively
    unskilled job. They are more likely to look up to the wealthy family in charge of multiple
    productive farms who brings in money to the local economy and keeps food flowing through the
    region, even if those specific people aren't actually getting their hands dirty and are managing
    those who do the real work.

    In the local area the people to be respected and admired are often: 1) those who keep the people
    safe. 2) Those who add to local prosperity. 3) Those who have mastered an apparently difficult but
    useful trade. 4) Those boasting obvious skill, wealth, and/or power. 5) Those who are approachable
    and even friendly to others regardless of their class. 6) Those who are physically attractive, which
    may include those who are well attired. (Inevitable, even subconsciously.) 7) Anyone in a position of
    authority, including those wearing a uniform.

    Several of these categories can also of course add to resentment, jealousy, envy, or scorn, depending
    on the situation. Yet for all a local farmer may gripe about being unappreciated and how he'd
    "show the Earl a thing or two about real work", and how "he just sits up there high and mighty
    on his horse", you can expect if the Earl came marching by on the main street during a visit to the
    city, that farmer would be as awe-struck as everyone else around him. Overcome by the pomp and
    circumstance of bustling crowds, sharp-looking soldiers at attention on horseback providing escort,
    and all the finery, he'd probably take off his hat and start yelling his appreciation alongside the
    rest of the crowd.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

  40. #40

    Default Doug Seacat on Soldiers: Part I

    In our world the vast majority of professional soldiers are not actually low level warriors. That
    may be true in other fantasy settings. Cygnar in particular is differentiated by the fact that its
    soldiers go through extensive training, which is one of the main features that differentiates a
    fighter from a warrior. The suggestion that there would only be 16 3rd level fighters in Caspia--a
    city of a million people with Castle Raelthorne, the Strategic Academy, and headquarters for a
    major branch of the Cygnaran Army--makes no sense to me on many levels. Our world is
    populated with heroic individuals on both the lower and higher end of the pay grade. We prefer
    to have a range of experience and levels even for our NPCs. I see nothing wrong with the regular
    soldiers of the line being in the 1st-5th level, depending on their field experience and length of
    service. Even regular "grunts" achieve some degree of experience and advancement in the course of
    a career, albeit generally far slower than any adventurer or truly heroic NPCs who are running
    amuck saving the world and/or killing everything that moves.

    It's not uncommon for world-builders to feel free to advance experts or certain other NPC classes
    to an appropriate level to allow those individuals the skills they require for their work, which
    seems reasonable, but they rarely seem to do the same for anyone in the other character classes. In
    a world where priestly power is not abstract and purely a matter of clerical acumen, it might
    make sense for the more influential and higher ranking clergy to be capable of manifesting
    miracles appropriate to their station. Similarly, an elite royal guard force responsible for protecting
    a royal sovereign might need to be selected from among those who are skilled enough to keep their
    liege safe from even well-armed and equipped murderous hobos (adventurers) who may wander
    into the city.

    Every world has its own scale, but with ours we certainly expect that a thriving metropolis like
    Caspia will have a rather rich blend of talented, skilled, and powerful individuals (in addition to
    the larger number of masses representing lower levels of skill).

    The PCs in an adventure are the stars of the show, without question. But that is true whether
    they are 1st level or 20th level and does not reflect upon their place in the world compared to
    other powerful individuals. Our setting was never intended to portray everyone except the
    adventuring PCs as powerless and feeble. There is an entire continuum, and while those at the
    upper level are rare, some range of lower levels is not uncommon. The world will not be undone
    by units of 3rd, 4th, and 5th level fighters taking to the battlefield.

    What we advocate when examining our world through the lens of a level-based RPG is the notion
    that adventurers get a leg-up on advancement because of the high intensity nature of their riskheavy
    lifestyle. But everyone else is also advancing at a modest pace. Those in greater positions of
    authority will often (not always but often) have levels in their class/profession commensurate with
    this and the noteworthy backgrounds that have brought them there.
    I don't think a 2nd level fighter is really all that much more of a superhero than a 5th level expert
    tailor, but that's just me.
    Sir Haemophilus Borne, Knight of Cygnar, Militant Order of the Arcane Tempest, Cygnar Reconnaissance Service
    Captain Nicolas Hawke, Owner and Commander of Hawke's Company, Corvis (Military Officer/Pistoleer)
    Lieutenant Arden Ravenstone, Officer of The Phoenix Company, Corvis (Gun Mage/Spy)

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