All Hail Xathoqqua!

The Frog (1908), from Segundo de Chomon.

(Check out my other Xathoqqua-tagged posts.)

Hyperborea HR

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Sorcerers of Minaria

Sorcerer by
Martin McKenna

(Today it’s Minarian sorcerers. I’ve taken the spellsinging rules from the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook and just renamed it “sorcery”, then built a human sorcerer class. I also put together Bloodline Proficiencies.)

Scions of innately magical bloodlines, the spawn of monsters, pawns of fate and destiny, or simply flukes of fickle magic, sorcerers look within themselves for eldritch prowess and draw forth might few mortals can imagine.

Gifted from birth with power beyond other men, sorcerers are feared and respected by all. Because of their independence and unpredictable nature, sorcerers are often branded as dangerous threats to the realm by the Wizard-Kings.

Sorcerers who survive long enough to become powerful (between 5th and 9th level) can present themselves to the Invisible School to gain recognition for their ability. Those who can pass the tests are accepted as near-equals by wizards.

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Wizards of Minaria

(A post today about Minarian wizards. With the exception of the “Language of Magic“, none the game mechanics presented here are original; it’s all adapted from the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook or other sources.)

Wizard by
Martin McKenna

At the height of the Bright Empire, loremasters of the College of Thaumaturgy made a breakthrough – they discovered a universal language which could describe the workings of magic. They dubbed this language the Logos or the Words of Creation.

Through disciplined study and application of the Logos, individuals with an aptitude for magic can learn to memorize and cast spells with mere words and gestures – they can become wizards.

The College of Thaumaturgy formalized various schools of magic. Eight distinct paths were established – Artifice, Dominion, Fellowship, Lore, Nature, Necromancy, Summoning, and Transmogrification.

As the Bright Empire declined, the Wizards of the College of Thaumaturgy (now called the “Invisible School”) grew in power. By the time of the Empire’s collapse, many of the regional governors, or Autarchs, were wizards. They were able to protect and preserve enclaves of civilization, forming the foundation for the current Age of Autarchs and the rise of the Wizard-Kings.

Wizards still take apprentices and train them in the classical schools of magic. Once these apprentices have proven themselves (reaching 3rd level), they are sent to the Invisible School to complete their training (advancing to 5th level). They can then go back to former masters or strike out on their own. Those who become “true” wizards (9th level) return to the Invisible School to be recognized by their peers.

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Worms of the Earth

There’s less than a day left now in the HYPERBOREA: Beasts & Cannibals Kickstarter. You should pitch in, if you haven’t already!

Jeff Talanian released a new teaser image for the Kickstarter today (by Jason Sholtis), and it’s awesome:


This is exactly how I pictured Alpia’s worms of the earth spell from the Black City campaign!

The squishy little mooks couldn’t take a lot of hits, but in a swarm they could do a lot of damage. And since they were summoned creatures, they were able to damage targets that required magic weapons.

Fun times!

Hyperborea HR

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Hyperborean Time-Warp

Image unrelated to post; from David Bowie’s amazing Blackstar video

I’m publishing an old post today that I’ve had in draft forever…

In my Astonishing ACKS campaign I was pretty vague about the length of year. The Hyperborea as-published in AS&SH has a 13-year orbital period; I mentioned this in a old post about astronomy, but it has never sat well with me. How could the plants and animals possibly adapt to such a huge deviation from Earth’s climate and season? It just extends my suspension of disbelief past the breaking point.

So when I return to my Astonishing ACKS campaign, I’m going to institute a “standard” year instead of the 13-year cycle. (Actually this would be a 28h × 28d × 13m year, which would be 1.16 Earth years.) This will make long-term survival in Hyperborea much more plausible.

To keep the pretense of realism for a “far future Solar System” concept, I’m going to implement sort of time-warp – where Hyperborea exists inside a temporal anomaly which operates at about 29× “normal” time. (Why 29? Because Saturn/Kyranos takes about 29 years to orbit the Sun.)

Refer back to my previous astronomy post. From the time-warped perspective of Hyperborea, Ylidiomph (Jupiter) appears to have have a 147d (0.4a) cycle, Ouranos (Uranus) a 2.85a cycle, and Poseidonis (Neptune) an 8a cycle. I’d declare Yuggoth to have a 210a cycle.

This also has some trippy knock-on effects. You could almost watch the storms of Kyranos change before your eyes, the moons would be whipping around the planet rapidly, and celestial phenomenon (like comets) would occur over days instead of months.

Hyperborea HR

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Sample Domain – Tyrvo March & the Tower of Octavius

The wizard’s tower has perched atop a steep hill for centuries. It has served as a home to minor noblemen, bandits, and wild animals in need of shelter. Thirty years ago, the wizard Octavius took up residence and nominal authority over the village below. The tower is modest for someone of his power, but it is also venerable, defensible, and remote from civilization.

– from GURPS Tower of Octavius

Another Minarian domain post today. I picked up the GURPS Locations – Tower of Octavius in PDF format and have converted it to ACKS.

The product is written by Matt Riggsby and is really useful – it’s a description of a quasi-medieval fantasy wizard’s tower and the surrounding territory, complete with location maps and adventure hooks. It’s generic enough that I’m going to use most of the background info and descriptions without change, and can just focus on domain game mechanics plus some details to tie it into Muetar. I’m developing it as an example of a “typical” domain in my Age of Autarchs game (although its ruler, the wizard Octavius, is a bit higher-level than would be expected).

In ACKS terms, the domain is a March (which gives Octavius the rank of Wizard-Marquis). Octavius’s personal domain consists of three 6-mile hexes (about 90 square miles), plus he has three vassal Lords who each rule 1 hex. The total realm population is 1200 families (about 6000 people) with one urban settlement – the village of Tyrvo (MC VI, 150 families).

Tyrvo March; the Domain of Octavius

Domain Population: 150 urban families, 600 peasant families; Domain Alignment: Neutral; Domain Rulers: Octavius (Wiz 7) & Bailiff Konrad (Ftr 4); Domain Income: ~2500gp per month; Stronghold Value: 129,000gp + 98,000gp dungeon; Urban Investment: 10,000gp; Market Class: VI (Tyrvo); Liege: Wizard-Duke Batzas; Vassals: Lord Merron (Ftr 3), Lord Andre (Ftr 3), Lord Corolon (absentee).

Tyrvo March is situated at the edge of Tanglefoot County of in the Principality of Pennol (on the border with Basimar). It is ruled by the Wizard-Marquis Octavius, whose imposing tower stands on a steep hill overlooking the village of Tyrvo.

Octavius tries to stay away from the politics of the Autarchs. As a wizard of lore, Octavius seeks out the secret laws and esoteric principles that govern magic. He is noncombatant and prefers to pursue his own solitary studies, but to avoid interference he quietly pays fealty to his liege (the Wizard-Duke Batzas) without drawing attention to himself.

Octavius does not like to be interrupted by the mundane aspects of rulership. Bailiff Konrad manages day-to-day activities in the wizard’s personal domain from the village of Tyrvo, while the three vassal fiefs are left to their local Lords to run. Merron and Andre rule their lands directly, but Corolon is an absentee landlord. His family has owned the land for generations but has never visited it himself; instead it is overseen by a local Bailiff.

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Minaria – Sephir & the Black Knight

To the south of Muetar is the free city of Sephir, which is defended by the infamous Black Knight from his stronghold known as Stubstaff Keep.

Sephir is the largest settlement in the Banished Lands. The soil in this region is poor and too dry to support extensive farming. Ranching is possible along the border with Muetar, however, and Sephir itself is built upon a massive underground aquifer which provides ample clean water.

The Legend of the Black Knight

Artwork by Lakey Studios from
ACKS Player’s Companion

It is said that infamous Black Knight was originally an important General in the Imperial Army before the fall of the Bright Empire. The most common tale of his origin is that he led the Orcish Ninth Legion against the Emperor, and that he died during the Sinking of Porros but was cursed for his crimes and emerged transformed from the waters as an undead monster.

Whatever the truth of these stories, the Black Knight arrived in the Banished Lands almost 100 years ago at the head of a mercenary army. At that time, Sephir was the domain of a outcast wizard – a necromancer known as Velis. The Black Knight led his troops against the undead hordes of Velis and toppled the necromancer’s rule. He also toppled the wizard’s tall, black tower; leaving behind a “stub” in the middle of the Keep. For whatever reason, the Black Knight has never rebuilt or demolished this “Stubstaff”, which still dominates the Keep today.

The Black Knight does not actually “rule” Sephir – in fact, he doesn’t really interact with the city at all. On occasion, he will unexpectedly ride forth at the head of his elite Cavalry – the Stubstaff Guard – to defeat threats to Sephir or campaign across Minaria. At other times, he will not be seen in public for months or even years.

Those in Sephir view him as their dark and mysterious “protector”. Although his forces help defend the city’s independence, his overall motives and purpose are unknown.

Map of the Banished Lands, with Stubstaff Keep (and the Free City of Sephir) at center

The Free City of Sephir

Domain Population: 2500 urban families (Sephir), 5000 peasant families; Domain Alignment: Neutral; Domain Rulers: Council of Landowners & the Black Knight; Domain Income: ~11,500gp per month; Stronghold Value: 105,000gp; Urban Investment: 200,000gp; Market Class: III; Liege: None; Vassals: Various “Cattle Barons”.

Travellers crossing the Banished Lands are often suprised when they spot Sephir on the horizon. Dominated by the distinctive sihouette of the Black Keep and its broken tower, Sephir is a densely-populated walled city in the midst of semi-arid grassland. Near Sephir, ranchers manage massive herds of cattle which graze on the thorny prairie, but otherwise the territory is open and sparsely populated.

Day-to-day activities in Sephir are governed by a ruling council dominated by the “Big Five” land-owning ranchers. Sephir is also a centre for trade and a stopping point for overland caravans between the realms of the Wizard-Kings and the barbarian territory of Shucassam.

For the past several years, the Warlock of the Wind-Swept Downs has been consolidating his territory in nearby Muetar and has claimed lands that were previously used by Sephir for cattle grazing. The ruling council fears that a conflict between their city and Muetar is inevitable, but so far the Black Knight has done nothing to intervene.

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