In last night's 4e D&D game we managed to fit in two big combats, some roleplaying and some exploration. This is unusual for us - we often struggle to get through two encounters in an evening session. Using the escalation dice from 13th Age speeds up combat, but I think we saved a fair bit of time because I drew the two main encounter areas before the game on battle mats. They also looked a lot better than my usual scrappy drawing under pressure. Obviously this only works if you know the encounters are going to happen, but in this case I did.
- Current Mood: pleased
The Axe-Bearing Guard are based on the historical Varangian Guard, mercenaries from Scandanavia who formed an elite bodyguard for the ruler of Byzantium. Unswerving in their loyalty to the Basileus, these Northerners fight with reckless ferocity, not seeming to notice their wounds in battle. These days, being in the Axe-Bearing Guard is pretty dull – mostly they guard doors in the Great Palace and escort the Basileus and the Royal Family to and from services at the Holy Basilica – prompting some of them to leave and become adventurers.
The Platinum Knights are paladins of Themecia, goddess of justice, protection, nobility & honour, sworn to protect the god’s clerics and followers from harm and to mete out justice to evildoers. From their chapter house in Parsantium, the Celestial Bastion, the Knights support the Parsantine army in fighting back raiding humanoids. Some choose instead to become Platinum Knights-Errant. These knights are free to wander the lands, taking up honourable and chivalric quests to fight evil. All of the Knights follow a chivalric code:
The Code of Themicia
Protect the weak and the vulnerable
Live and die with honour
Fight for justice and welfare for all
Punish the evildoer
Respect and obey your superiors
Guard the honour of your brethren and sistren
Do battle bravely and fairly, eschewing trickery and deceit
Always speak the truth
Never leave a quest unfinished
I’ve also written a fair bit about Parsantium’s powerful guilds. These organisations are often at each other’s throats over goods and services where their spheres of influence overlap, leading to street fighting, arson and sabotage. Rival guilds sometimes call on the gangs of the Hidden Quarter to do their fighting for them, complicating the situation further. Other guilds are corrupt or have something to hide; some, like the Entertainers and the Vintners, just want to get on with making as much gold as possible. The idea with the guilds, as with the rest of the book, is to provide plenty of cool adventure hooks for DMs and players, as well as adding some verisimilitude.
Next up, I’m going to detail the noble families of Parsantium. Then, it’s on to the gods, the last chapter of the book. The current word count is 76,500 so my latest estimate on the final total is 81,000.
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- Fri, 14:39: I've spent too much time reading ruless & adventures. It is refreshing to read a novel. I'm reminded why DMs want that kind of tight story.
- Fri, 18:37: RT @oodja: The Varonian Nights saga continues with Vol 4- Lacquer! Get it free this weekend: http://t.co/OfxlXEMbzM #fantasy #selfpub #cr…
- Fri, 18:43: RT @oodja: Also, Varonian Nights 1, 2, and 3 are free today as well! http://t.co/csZDh7uPFn, http://t.co/CXVuPuuaaT, http://t.co/XeLsGuM9C…
- Fri, 18:44: The last two retweets of @oodja are not just because he is a great DM for #Dnd but also because he tells a good story in his world of #Varo.
The gangs of the Hidden Quarter were fun to write about. I had a lot of material on the Golden Scimitars and Orloch Scragmane’s Mangy Curs already but virtually nothing on Avishandu, the Dock Ward Bosses and the Lamplighters, and I’ve added in a guild of master thieves called the Felonious Larcenists, as well as a Tiangaon tong called the Eight Scorpion who run lotus dens in the Temple Ward. And, of course, the evil Heinsoo is in this section too.
Today I’ve been writing about the Cult of the Black Mother – the secret religious sect that worships the dark Sahasran goddess, Kali. I won’t deny the influences of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom here – you can’t have a Kali cult without thuggee – but things aren’t as straight forward as they first seem. Next, I’ve got the fighting orders like the Platinum Knights and Axe-Bearing Guard to do, plus the guilds and the noble families. And then some rakshasas.
The book is now over 72,000 words so my revised estimate of 75,000 words might need looking at again – I’ll probably hit this word count before I finish the rest of the organisations and I’ll need 2,000 words at least for the gods. On that subject, I am thinking of taking a leaf out of Saladin Ahmed’s book – he wrote the excellent Throne of the Crescent Moon – and going with one god for the Akhrani, rather than coming up with yet another pantheon. I reckon this could provide an interesting contrast to the many gods of Sahasra and fits well with the Arabian flavour. Let me know what you think.