Monday, August 31, 2015

Cultures of Hrimgate: Iotar

This is an updated version of the Iotar culture originally published by Rich Forest on his Superhero Necromancer blog last year. The Iotar are one of the main cultures of his War in the North campaign, which also took place in the world of Hrimgate. This has been polished up for inclusion in the Magisterium Campaign.  

Iotar (Barbarian Culture; Language: Iorsk)

Standard Skills
Athletics, Boating, Brawn, Endurance, First Aid, Locale, Perception

Combat Style: Iotar Fighting
The purview of karls in Iotar society, this combat style uses spear and viking shield, with additional training in dagger, hatchet, and battle axe. [Cultural Style - Lower]

Combat Style: Iotar Shield Wall
Primarily fights with spear and viking shield or sword and viking shield; also trained with javelin, dagger, hatchet, battle axe, jǫtunn axe (great axe), short bow, long knife. [Cultural Style - Upper]

Shield Wall (Iotar Shield Wall Benefit)
Allows a group of three or more shield users to combine their protection, adding one to the number of locations which can be protected with passive blocking, and resisting Knockback, Leaping attacks and Bash as if using the Brace action.

Professional Skills
Commerce, Craft (any, esp. Farming, Animal Husbandry), Exhort, Lore (any), Navigation, Oratory, Seamanship, Survival

Specialist Careers
Varangian, Viking

Societies: Diggers College, Magisterium
Theist Cults: The most common cults among the Iotar are the Cult of the Nine Winds and the Cult of the Bock. Traders and travelers often favor Sail Filler or the Steady Hand, and raiders and vikings favor the Gullet, the Reavers, and Black Eagle. Those Varangians who fight for glory favor Eagle Head.

The first Iotar raiders came to the shores of the North over one hundred years ago, crashing upon those lands in waves, conquering and making them their own. They are the chieftains of most of the north, but currently face a strong challenge from the Snow Elf hegemony. Those Iotar in Andrassos and the Inner Sea are mainly Varangians, seeking fame, fortune, and freedom, with the dedicated huscarls of the Exarchate’s Varangoi Guard considered the most elite.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cultures of Hrimgate: Lemurian

This is an updated version of the Lemurian culture published last year on this blog. It more closely reflects the particulars of the Magisterium Campaign.

Lemurian (Civilized Culture; Language: High Agadic)

Standard Skills
Deceit, Endurance, Influence, Insight, Locale, Perception, Sing

Combat Style: Lemurian Alubari (urban commoners)
As a recent refugee community, Lemurians have worked hard to develop and maintain basic fighting skills throughout the lower orders (alubari), who are trained with spear, dagger, hatchet, and sling. [Cultural Style - Lower]

Combat Style: Lemurian Pahi (urban elites)
Primarily fights with spear and hoplite shield; also trained in mace, akinaka shortsword, dagger, javelin, sling, and short bow. [Cultural Style - Upper]

Defensive Fighting (Lemurian Pahi Benefit)
When parrying a blow during combat, a Lemurian pahi's weapon is considered one step higher in size.

Professional Skills
Craft (any), Commerce, Language (any), Literacy, Lore (any), Musicianship, Streetwise, Teach

Specialist Careers
Shangu Priest

Societies: Brotherhood of Merchant Venturers, Diggers College, Inkashic Brewers Guild, Magisterium
Theist Cults: The Dustmen, The Star Synod

Far across the world ocean was once a mysterious land of ancient cities, fertile river valleys, and arid deserts, the true name of which was unknown by those in Borea or simply forgotten to time. Vanorans called it Lemuria and spoke tall tales of demon lizard shibboleths and gods in living form ruling the land from great temple platforms in its cities. Older than Vanor, more ancient than Stygia, more antique perhaps than even Hyperborea and Atlantis, Lemuria was a primordial land -- the Garden of the Sun -- known only to those who could see into the Deep.

And then, within the living memory of only the most wizened elder, a great calamity befell Lemuria, and the land was gone.

But not its people.

The first refugees to Borea came as but a trickle, isolated landings in great sailing ships whose passengers carried statues of their gods and lamented the coming of Nibiru. Soon, a great flood of humanity swept across Borea, spreading throughout the southern lands of the continent from east to west. A proud people brought low by disaster, the arriving Lemurians were not content to remain as refugees and castoffs in a foreign land, and they soon turned their attentions to carving new homes into the face of the land.

Today, Lemurian communities are found throughout the South, both in Stygia and along the Southern Reach. In some lands, they are a useful but distrusted minority, using their past learning and cultural knowledge as a currency to buy new stations from the old elites. In others, however, they have become lords and conquerors themselves. As lords and elites plot to destroy their enemies and armies prepare to clash across the South, Lemurians watch the preparations warily. They will not lose all they have regained so easily. The Doom will not befall them again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cultures of Hrimgate: Andrassan

Andrassan (Civilized Culture; Language: South Vanoran)

Standard Skills
Conceal, Deceit, Influence, Insight, Locale, Perception, Ride

Combat Style: Akritoi Light Infantry
Trained as skirmishers to fight with short bow and javelin, but also some rudimentary training with spear, dagger, and hatchet. [Cultural Style - Lower]

Combat Style: Psiloi Garrison
Trained primarily as garrison and support troops, using the light crossbow, shortsword, dagger, and hatchet. [Cultural Style - Lower]

Combat Style: Andrassan Koursorses
Primarily fights with Andrassan kontarion lance, toxon bow (recurve), bardoukion war mace, and kite shield, usually on horseback, but can also be deployed on foot. Has further training in spathion (sword), dagger, and shortsword. [Cultural Style - Upper]

Mounted Combat (Andrassan Koursorses Benefit)
This combat benefit allows the rider to ignore the skill cap placed upon combat rolls by the Ride skill. 

Professional Skills
Art (any), Bureaucracy, Commerce, Courtesy, Language (any), Literacy, Lore (any), Seduction

Specialist Careers
Adventurer of Vanor, Andrassan Assassin, Andrassan Cataphract, Monk, Skutatoi Heavy Infantry, Sol Priest

Societies: Brotherhood of Merchant Venturers, Fascinarium, Fraternity of Inner Light, Magisterium
Sorcery Cults: Adelphic Society of War Fire, Arsaphian Codex, The Atlantean Mysteries, The Daemon Hexes, Invidentia Vanorum, Pharmakon of Sarturius Duro, The Umbral Way, The Victarian Mysteries
Theistic Cults: Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun) and the following aspect cults - the Martial Sun, plus any family/ancestor cults appropriate and custom to a character

In the waning days of the Vanoran hegemony, when Imperial control fell away from far-flung exarchates and Vanoran civilization withered to a husk, some areas were able to survive. Andrassos was one such land. Perched on a rocky peninsula overlooking the Sea of Ainos (where the Inner and Axial Seas meet) and behind virtually impregnable walls, the city of Andrassos remained a bastion of civilization and order as barbarous hordes and invading armies brought old Vanor low. 

But that does not make Andrassans complacent. Although one of the richest cities in all of Borea, its resources are not infinite. Although protected by high walls and an army of highly trained cataphracts, its borders are not secure. Although blessed with a legacy of civic prosperity and mature culture, its enemies both foreign and domestic are relentless in their desire to seize, plunder, and conquer. Thus, Andrassan society has adapted accordingly, embracing the politics of diplomacy and subterfuge, the application of power through secrecy, and the leveraging of economic power to keep threats to their way of life off balance and unsure. Considered schemers and cowards by some, Andrassans care little about the opinions of others on this matter. Their way of life will endure.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Magisterium Character Creation Rules and Hacks

The following represents the character creation rules sent out to the players in the Magisterium Campaign. The game uses RuneQuest 6, which is a great, setting-neutral version of RuneQuest with decent amounts of guidance regarding how to customize and do your own shit, so to speak. So Rich Forest and I have.

For quick reading types, here's a list of the hacks we've done to the RAW (Rules As Written) embedded in the rules below: Language and Literacy Changes; Ubiquitous Folk Magic; Kalingoi Race; Generating Characteristics; and ACKS Conversion Rules. 

Character Creation

Characters are built following the standard RuneQuest 6 character creation process in most respects.
  1. Choose a Race (Human or Kalingoi).
  2. Generate Characteristics (see next page for methods).
  3. Choose a Culture from the list available in the next section and spend 100 points on any combination of basic skills, cultural combat style, and up to three professional skills selected from the culture. (Min 5 / skill; Max 15 / skill). 
  4. In addition to the standard +40% bump to the Customs and Native Tongue skills, you may also open a second bonus Language skill at +20%. If you have a non-Andrassan, Rothari, or Vanoran culture, you must take Language (South Vanoran); if you have selected Andrassan, Rothari, or Vanoran as a culture, you may take any other language associated with a culture in this document, as appropriate to your background and character concept.
  5. Choose or roll Background Event, Social Class, Parents, Family Standing, and Connections.
  6. Choose a Career from the standard or specialist lists for your culture (see below) and spend 100 points on any combination of basic and up to three professional skills from the career (Max 15 / skill).
  7. Join up to Two Cults, Brotherhoods, Mystical Orders, Sorcery Orders, Churches, Companies, Colleges, or Guilds, one of which must be the Magisterium spy society. You begin as a common member of each. If you so choose, you may swap one Cult professional skill for one of your three Career professional skill slots in the step above. This includes magical skills (keeping Ubiquitous Folk Magic still in play as well). In addition to these two cults, you also start as a lay member of your main cultural pantheon cult (e.g., an Andrassan is a lay member of the Sol Invictus cult). 
  8. If through Culture or Career you have access to the cult’s magic skills, you may begin as a dedicated member. You may draw from the cult skill list when selecting professional skills and spending points from the career point pool. 
  9. Choose one free professional skill to add to your skill list when spending additional Bonus Points (150 points for an adult, max 15/skill. More points for older characters, as described in the rulebook).


Humans are the major race of Borea, and thus are the default race for this campaign. However, Arborean peoples are ubiquitous around the Inner Sea, and those Kalingoi of Vanor that have obtained their freedom from their cyclops slavers have begun to branch out into other communities. As such, there is a small but growing Kalingoi presence in Andrassos proper. As such, they are a racial option for this campaign.

People of Borea


For Andrassans, Atlanteans, Lemurians, Rothari, Stygians, Vandals, and Vanorans, the standard careers are: Agent, Alchemist, Beast Handler, Courtesan, Courtier, Crafter, Entertainer, Farmer, Fisher, Herder, Hunter, Merchant, Miner, Official, Physician, Priest (Stygians and Vandals only), Sailor (no Rothari), Scholar, Scout, Sorcerer, Thief, and Warrior.

For Acherians, the standard careers are: Crafter, Entertainer, Farmer, Fisher, Herder, Hunter, Merchant, Official, Physician, Sailor, Scout, Thief, Warrior

For Kalingoi, the standard careers are: Beast Handler, Crafter, Entertainer, Fisher, Hunter, Merchant, Priest, Scout, Shaman, Thief, and Warrior.

For Iotar, the standard careers are: Crafter, Entertainer (Skald), Farmer, Fisher, Herder, Hunter, Merchant, Miner, Sailor, and Scout. 

Specialized cultural careers are listed in the various culture breakdowns later in this document.


Characteristics can be generated in one of two ways. 

Method One: Rolled Attributes
  1. Roll 3d6 seven times and assign in any order to STR, CON, DEX, POW, and CHA. (This means you will be able to throw out the lowest two rolls in the set.) 
  2. Then roll 2d6+6 three times and assign in any order to INT and SIZ.. (You will be able to throw out the lowest result.) 
Method Two: Point Buy
  1. Spend 84 points (77 points if Kalingoi) on STR, CON, SIZ, DEX, INT, POW, CHA. 
  2. Stay within the ranges available to human or kalingoi characters. 
Please stick to just one of the above methods for each character.


Living Languages
Dead or Cultic Languages
Acherian, Arborean, Sciritaen
High Agadic
Old Samulkaran
High Atlantean
Classical Atlantean
Hothar, Iorsk, Thiudar, Ormish
Jǫtunn, Rothardic, Vandal
Kemi, Kvennish, Thulean
Old Hyperborean
Groznayan, Slezan, Ughoritic
Vanoran, South Vanoran, West Vanoran (Provincial)
Old Vanoran
Stygian, Cimmerian
Old Cimmerian

Other than your cultural Native Tongue skill, languages require the Language skill to have spoken fluency. To have reading/writing fluency in your Native Tongue, you must open up the Literacy skill, which confers knowledge and aptitude of the primary writing script for your Native Tongue. In addition, you may read/write linguistically related languages using the same script at one difficulty grade higher than normal, as usual for related languages. For example, a Vanoran trying to read a text written in South Vanoran has their literacy skill fluency capped at Hard Difficulty.

To open up a dead or cultic language, you must select the Literacy (dead language) skill. You may also speak the dead language at two difficulty grades lower than your literacy. If you would like to speak the dead language more fluently, you must buy it as a skill. 

Converting Characters

If you have characters from the previous Ruins of Vanor ACKS campaign (which ended a year ago in game time) and you have a story reason for having them join the Magisterium in Andrassos, you may convert the character to RuneQuest using the following procedure. 

  1. You may either port over your ability scores characteristics from your ACKS character (straight conversion, with WIS = POW and SIZ determined by your ACKS size description) or generate new statistics using the methods outlined above.
  2. Appropriate cultures, careers, and cults are found throughout the campaign documents. If you cannot find an appropriate translation in any of these categories, let me know.
  3. In addition to a standard starting build, your converted character will carry over extra experience from the ACKS campaign in the following manner: a) 45 bonus skill points to be spent on starting skill allocations (that is to say, you cannot open up new skills, spells, etc, with this bonus pool; use it in the same manner as Step 9 in the Character Creation Guidelines above); and b) 3 + CHA bonus (if any) experience rolls per session played in the ACKS campaign (this is by character, not by player). If you don’t have that information handy, let me know. I kept good records.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The City of Andrassos: Region Maps of the City

The City of Andrassos has the physical infrastructure to contain over 100,000 people comfortably, which it did in its heyday. But since the fall of mighty Vanor, the city has dwindled considerably while still being able to hold the core functions of the various neighborhoods in the city together. The images below are close up maps of each Andrassan Regio, with a short narrative description and several keyed locations.

Next time: The Character Creation Rules and Hacks for the Magisterium Campaign

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The City of Andrassos: Maps, Demographics, and State Bureaucracy

The Government and Bureaucracy of the Exarchate

Andrassos as a political entity has been in continuous existence for hundreds of years, dating back well into the heyday of mighty Vanor. As a Vanoran exarchate that survived the fall, it has inherited many institutions, habits, and methods from ancient Vanoran practice, but has also, in the four hundred years since Vanor’s end, begun to develop its own approaches and traditions. Thus, the state apparatus is a curious mixture of old and new.

The Exarch
*An appointed position voted on by the Curia of State, held usually for life or retirement
*Has overall control over the policy and direction of the Andrassan polity, in matters foreign and domestic
*There is no inherent or legislated hereditary principle for succession, but increasingly exarchs are able to influence and even at times dictate the selection of a successor

The Curia of State
*Developed out of the old Vanoran town council for the city of Andrassos itself
*Manages the day-to-day activities of the Andrassan polity through the various administrative Sekreton (bureaus) of State
*Provides advice and counsel to the Exarch on all matters
*Positions appointed by the Exarch and are at-will offices; members of the Curia can be removed from office at the whim of the Exarch

The Legacy of State (The Legates)
*Consists of those appointed offices connected to the Andrassan military and the regional Thematic system
*Officers serve at the will of the Exarch

Church of the Unconquered Sun
*While not an official entity of the state, the Church bureaucracy has become increasingly intertwined with that of the Andrassan state, often sharing personnel
*The Tetrarch of the Great Humanitarium serves as a non-voting member of the Curia of State

The Honors List
*Prestigious titles and awards given out by the Exarch, part of the complex system of hierarchy and ranking that has been developing in Andrassos since the fall of Vanor
*Usually results in higher monetary bonuses during the Roga Donative Ceremony every year

The Exarch’s Household
*Offices that manage the day-to-day affairs of the Exarch and the activities of the Grand Magnaura Palace
*Paid by the state and vetted by the Curia, although exarchs do have decision-making authority over who holds these offices
*Notable Offices: High Chamberlain (Parakoimomenos), Grand Master of Ceremonies, Comes Domesticorum (head of the Domestici, aka the Palace Guard), First Master of the Wardrobe (Protovestiarios)

Key State Offices (Dignities by Proclamation, in order of prestige)

The Grand Logothete
Curia; chancellor in charge of diplomacy, high admin, and postal
The Genikon of the Public Chest
Curia; collects taxes and manages state enterprises
The Stratikon of the Military Chest
Curia; military pay and supply, manages military arsenals
The Eparch
Curia; home affairs, police, fire, regulates trade guilds and foreign merchants
The Quaestor
Curia; justice, appeals courts, wills and testaments
The Sakellarios
Curia; chief financial officer, budgeting, audits
The Magister Officiorum
Curia; head of the Magisterium, spymaster
The Grand Domestic of the Army
Legacy; top ranking general of the standing army
The Grand Duke of the Navy
Legacy; top ranking admiral of the standing navy
The Four Strategoi of the Themes
Legacy; military and administrative commanders in the Themes
The Akolouthos of the Varangoi Guard
Legacy; head of the Varangoi Guard

Honors List (Dignities by Award, in order of prestige)

President (Proedros) of the Curia
Singular honor; presides over all meetings of the Curia of State
Magister (Magistros)
Old Vanoran title for Master
Old Vanoran title for Master of the Wardrobe
Originally a lesser Vanoran wardrobe office title
Proconsul (Anthypatos)
Old Vanoran office
Patrician (Patriklos)
Old Vanoran distinction
First Sword Bearer (Protospatharios)
Andrassan noble household title
Sword Bearer (Spatharios)
Andrassan noble household title
Consul (Hypatos)
Old Vanoran office
Groom (Strator)
Andrassan noble household title

Exarchate of Andrassos Demographic Information

Total Population: 235,000
Total Urban Population: 47,000
Andrassos City Population: 24,500

Other Urban Centers
Berutos, Pop: 3,220
Bourla, Pop: 3,250
Eruks, Pop: 3,130
Marash, Pop: 3,125
Philea, Pop: 3,263
Rusion, Pop: 3,262
Skopelos, Pop: 3,250

State Governmental Structure: 1 Exarchate, 4 Themes, 16 Prefectures, 64 Kastra

City of Andrassos Demographic Information

Andrassans - 49% - 12,005
Lemurians - 14% - 3,430
Iotar/Varangians - 10% - 2,450
Atlanteans - 8% - 1,960
Stygians - 7% - 1,715
Acherians - 6% - 1,568
Others (Vanoran, Rothari, Ughor, Kalingoi, etc) - 5% - 1,225

Next Time: Close-up and labeled maps of all eight regiones in the city.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Magisterium Campaign

Last spring (about March I believe), I started my current campaign in the setting of Hrimgate, the combined campaign world I'm building with my co-GM Rich Forest (who will one day actually post to this shared blog, honest!). It's called the Magisterium Campaign, a sort of medieval spy and espionage game using RuneQuest 6 as the base rule set. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting all of the generated content for the campaign - character creation hacks, setting cultures and careers, unique cults, player reports, etc. -- and other goodies that pop up. Since there's so much, I'll be able to pre-load a lot of the content ahead of time. Ideally, this material will drop Monday-Wednesday-Friday in the late mornings, but don't hold me to that. Also, I've tried to source images used where I can, but ultimately it got away from me. Just be aware that I don't claim any of the images that adorn posts as my work, and if any artists wish them to come down, just shoot me a line. 

Anyway, here's the campaign pitch the players received announcing the campaign.

The Magisterium Campaign

There’s something wrong with the Exarch of Andrassos.

His High Lord Exarch Vanorus Dandalo, he who is also known as Vanorus Pogonatos (the Bearded), has administered his office for fifteen solar years. A novus homo, or new man, as the ancient Vanorans would have called him, he is the first of the Dandaloi Family to attain such high office in the Exarchate. A just yet firm administrator, Pogonatos’ years of rule have been prosperous for Andrassos. But recently the years have not been kind to the Dandaloi. Accidents, feuds, and disease have culled the ranks of the family, through chance or something more, culminating last spring in the death by pox of the Exarch’s beloved wife, Ariadne. That was a difficult time for Pogonatos, but, capable ruler that he is, he shouldered through the pain and held to his duties. For that is the type of man Pogonatos is.

But recently something has changed.

Vanorus Dandalo has held no court nor conducted any duties of state in more than two months. Although the administrative apparatus of the state has continued to operate in the firm hands of Grand Logothete Loukas Choniates and the Curia of State, the Exarch’s public absence has rustled the grass of court life in Andrassos. Has the Exarchate been stricken by pox, like his dearly departed wife? Has he lost his mental faculties and been touched by the Fair Ones? Or has something more sinister seized him?

The public word is that Pogonatos is conducting private affairs of state that necessitate his absence from court, but this has not quelled the whispers. Sekretikoi talk in the passages between offices, plotters scheme in basilicas and porticoes throughout the city, and all eyes are turned to the Grand Magnaura palace. For despite the veil of secrecy surrounding the Exarch’s status, one conclusion is clear to all in Andrassos with even the lowest presence of mind.

The days of the Dandaloi holding the high office are coming to an end.

Let the games begin.


For this campaign, you are all members of the Magisterium, the secret intelligence office for the Exarchate of Andrassos. It is your job to protect the affairs of state from the privations of enemies both foreign and domestic. This is done through spying, subterfuge, and investigation, as you work to uncover and disrupt plots against the state, rulership, and people of Andrassos.

This will be a game of medieval espionage, of plots and shadowy factions, of spies loitering in the dark to uncover the edge or leverage they need to achieve their goals. Think Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by way of The Name of the Rose, with a healthy dose of Dark Age Hrimgate pulling it all together. What you do in this environment is entirely up to you.

As is befitting any campaign I seem to run lately, there is a complicating element to it. As a game of spies and espionage, there are of course a number of powerful factions in the city, working to achieve their own goals in light of the recent unsettledness with the Exarch. Some of these factions will be run by you in addition to your player character agent in the Magisterium (secretly of course; you should not share with your fellow players which faction you are running). Some of these factions will be run by other players and people I know who do not come to our games regularly (also secretly). The plots and schemes that you as PCs are investigating will be instigated by others and each other, not me as the GM. I will simply be managing the process and prepping the game sessions in response.

It will be glorious, I’m sure.