Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Z is for Zuvassin the Undoer

Thoughout the Old World one may hear tales of miraculous healing of abominable mutations attributed to the goddess Shallya, news of a large cult of Tzeetch the Changer of Ways being destroyed by a righteous and pious Witch Hunter, or even diaries of insane wretches claiming to have been slaves to rats that walk on two legs in which tales of incredible plans collapsing upon execution.

Those that study the worship, strictures and rituals of the renegade gods whisper that Zuvassin the Undoer is behind it all. Zuvassin is a devious god of Chaos. 

These learned men, especially those that study the rat men known as Skaven believe that Zuvassin is so devious a power, seeking to waylay all worshippers, that the The Great Horned One, the father of all Skaven, is Zuvassin, undoing every grand scheme of the rat men in a long harbored grudge against the foul beasts.

And yet his worship is proscribed by all for his boon is the undoing of good or evil, naught a preference given or asked. The forbidden writings of countless academics--the ones not burned--speak of a hatred for Zuvassin by the Ruinous Gods themselves, save the twisted alliances that oft arise in the bitter infighting for souls by Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch or Nurgle.

Zuvassin the Undoer is untrustworthy in any worship and never refuses a willing thrall. Yet any worshipper is a fool to enter into a bargain with Zuvassin as he is one that seeks to undo all in destructive reversal of desire.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:38 PM in d10

Monday, 29 April 2013

Y is for Yeoman, Simo Goubert

It is known that the life of a peasant throughout Bretonnia is barely more than a slave. None may own weapons or build with stone. Property is such that it is often taxed so heavily that it is often better to do without. When it is possible to escape this life, even for brief moments in troop musters for their liege, young men often seek adventure or just a regular ration.

The liege is often watching--well, the liege has charges that watch for him--for talent in the peasant fodders that he fields in combat. Simo Goubert is such a warrior talent.

Mustered as a peasant man-at-arms for what became a long winter campaign against the Greenskins in the Irrana Mountains, Simo distinguished himself in witness by his liege. Standing alone in the wreckage of peasants that was hastily built dirt wall on the flank of embattled front, he picked up a two-handed broadsword from the hands of a dead knight and waded into the line of Iron Orcs in front of him. The orcs fell like timbers as Simo's found sword swung through the legs and guts of orc after orc charging the earthenwork he stood atop. His action delayed the orcs for the precious few minutes his liege needed to organize his lance calvary behind him.

Simo's act was immediately rewarded. He was given a mount, permitted to keep the sword of the knight (at the insistence of the deceased knight's squire who witnessed the Simo's act), and put on his liege's war retinue. His new task: ride far afield and scout the terrain for camp or battle.

His steed and sword however promise Simo something greater than serving his liege until he is dead, freedom. Simo often looks on the foothills of the Irrana Mountains riding far from any chase. It would only be a matter of just not turning back to camp. Ride until he reaches the mountains and then seek a pass to Tilea.

The simple plans are always more likely to succeed.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:33 AM in d10

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X is for Xoanon of Taal and Rhya

Few know of the Xoanon of Taal and Rhya. Those that know of the pair of ancient oaks grown in an intertwined, disturbingly human, mating embrace are the same that know of and protect it.

Those few are the highest ranking of the Horned Hunters, Taal's zealots. Horned Hunters must pass an initiation right that will, in survival, lead them to the grove of the Xoanon. Here the initiate will pledge to the austere life of the hunters in an eight night ritual that an objective observer might find to be nothing more than a naked, hedonistic orgy serving, not Taal and Rhya, but the ruinous god of pleasure and excess, Slaanesh.

The Xoanon is only a rumor, denied by the Cult of Taal, as well as by the Cult of Rhya. No one outside of the Horned Hunters know of the great oaks location and only those Horned Hunters that have survived the initiation know of it in truth and experience.

The rumors of the Xoanon and its rituals are circulated in Talabecland and Talabheim, more often only in whispers. Not blostering its legitimacy is that these whispers are often spoken by members of Slaanesh cultists seeking a new hedonistic experience on the path to corruption. 

Posted by caffeinated at 11:32 AM in d10

Friday, 26 April 2013

W is for Wall Warden, Arbert

All nobles, iniquitous or benevolent, of Bretonnia are an aloof lot of great property owners.

And owning property comes a great responsibility of serf management in a highly structuralized order of society. Often that responsibility means recognizing peasants for natural talent or a skill often ritualized by family. The peasants do seem to have qualities of even the most inbreed noble clans.

Arbert is such a peasant though his status is never lost in quiet conversation with his wife or his mud hutch corn beer klatch.

He has a natural brain for engineering, and he's not even a Dwarf. Arbert is a Wall Warden for Duke Huebald of Carcassonne. What exactly is a "wall warden"? Arbert is in charge of the very stone walls that protect his liege from any and all enemies, known and unknown.

Wall Wardens literally stand and fall on the security of the walls built by their peasant charges. Arbert is more fortunate than many of his fellows--organized secretly and loosely in peasant guilds across Bretonnia--having a dwarf stonemason passing an art for precision fitting of stone work to himself and others.

And yet Arbert is also a master archer, a skill that all nobles dismiss to the point of abhoring. It is an added value to the Duke to have a wall warden that can hit a target at nearly 180 feet and he passes this skill to the defenders of the Duke's residence.

Yet Arbert harbors an unrequited inheritance, his father's illegally forged "birth sword." In Bretonnia peasants may not possess a weapon of the noble class. Arbert's father felt otherwise. Arbert hides this "birth sword" in his mud hut, only his elevated status protects him from others even thinking he possesses such a thing. And his skill and swiftness with a bow and knowledge of stone dismisses even the slightest rumor that he may harbor the heresy that "just because some watery tart promises a sip from a cheap wine glass" his liege has any authority.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:49 PM in d10

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V is for Vagabond, Hadred Buschdorfer

Hadred Buschdorfer is probably one of the wealthiest wretches to wander the border towns and villages of the Empire's Grey Mountain provinces. He is never want for food or drink, but will never be found to be comfortably lodging.

If you're looking for Hadred, and many watchmen are, one starts in the vagabond camps outside most larger settlements. To ask him over a drink, that he may likely buy you, he'll tell you to stay away from the refugee camps: "All thieves and miserable poor! You're always welcome in a vagabond camp!" Which is certainly true for many branded as such.

Vagabonds do not often arrive with a reputation or seek to leave one, yet gods seems to smile on Hadred, like Ranald, or forget he is still alive, very much like Morr.

Hadred found himself in an unenvious position some years back in Bretonnia (a brief conscription found him at Fort Bergbres on the border with Gisoreux) with a small harassing force of some 200 men keeping certain nobles from pouching on the Emperor's lands as well as keeping the Gisoreux Gap sort of open to the trickle of trade that would find its way from Marienburg crossing the Wastelands.

He would desert the ridiculous outfit of ill trained and poorly supplied draftees and wander into the court of Gailhard De La Baumont, a well positioned Baron to the Duke of Gisoreux. His knowledge of the Empire would soon find him back in the Empire thieving and generally making a wreck the trade interests of Baron Baumont's rival in the south, Baron Aimeric De Balleroy of Montfort. De Balleroy would soon have a price the head of the "Vagabond Baron Buschdorfer." 

Hadred enjoys a patronage from Baron Baumont, which makes his apprehension something of a problem as he can often bribe most watchmen to turn an eye from his capture; bribe now or reward later (or never) usually wins in a pinch. De Balleroy knows of this arrangement but his interests in the Empire are not as deep as his rivals.

De Balleroy hopes to hire an honorable bounty hunter to rid himself of the problem. 

Unfortunately for De Balleroy, Hadred is always on the move and protected by his vagabond "kin" or those that like his free drinks.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:13 PM in d10

The day got away from me...

Today's Blogging A-to-Z entry is on the way...very shortly and will arrive on date, if late, within the hour EDT (GMT -0500).

Apologies for keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:38 PM in d10

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U is for Übersreik

The free town of Übersreik on the Grey Mountains is home to one of the largest Dwarven communities outside the mountains themselves. Their influence can be seen in the construction throughout the immediate area in the stone and timber construction of the simplest home and farmstead, most especially in Black Rock, the imposing fortress gateway to the Empire.

As a free town it enjoys a citizen government and a fair tax schedule, if you're not an Elf. Übersreik is one of the few places in the Empire that still imposes an Ear Tax on any Elf entering the free town or tariff on elf trade. There is no doubt that these taxes and tariffs exist solely at the demand of the large Dwarven community and Dwarven members of the town council.

Ostensibly, Black Rock exists to protect the Empire from invasion by Bretonnia. In practice, this is unlikely to ever happen. With the Storm of Chaos, the Emperor opened the pass for numerous Knights Errant and still today they trickle through Übersreik returning from war in the north.

Significant mining and quarrying operations by the dwarves are present in the foothills and steep cliffs of the Grey Mountains--enjoying nigh free trade in the free town--and roads to Bögenhafen and Altdorf and the River Teufel make the stone of Übersreik cheap and readily available to points east and south, often competing with stone from Helmgart on the Axe Bite Pass to the north.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:21 PM in d10

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T is for Toll Keeper, Velgeit Rechtshandler (Deceased)

Velgeit's story is the story of many Toll Keepers of the Empire.

The job is fraught with danger and, aside from the generally good pay for the hazards of the job, utterly thankless. Located in often isolated locations at ravines, rockfalls, claustrophobic narrows, natural fords or shallow shoals, Toll Keepers must be prepared to stop all comers, inspect and collect tolls. The money is often ensconced in a strong box that then must be transported by the keeper or picked up by scheduled coach. The toll keeper all the while waiting for the next bandit or worse to run the toll, paying with violence, or rob the toll house. 

Velgeit's story is not well known, but his toll house is a burned out marker on the River Road between Ossino and Gersdorf in Talabecland. The destroyed two story stone house a wreck of fire damaged beams collapsed in on itself, broken thick oak "windows," no roof or door, and new vines threatening to forever hide what remains. All this result of a beastmen raid out of the Great Forest.

Velgeit, unknown to all, lies on the bank of the river behind the toll house. His all but skeletal corpse face down in the mud before the escarpment over the river where he slid to a stop. Vines, dirt and leaves cover the body. If Velgeit were to be found by the curious how he died would be immediately obvious: blood loss from both legs missing mid-thigh, his legs the foul ration for beastmen or wild animals that would dare to approach the burning toll house.

Beastmen are savages, no doubt uncaring for the revenues lost to Talabecland or the tolls that Velgeit may have collected in the hours before the attack. Velgeit's murder and the burning of the toll house just another raid, spurred on by the rising winds of the Storm of Chaos.

Today, along with Velgeit's unceremonious grave in the mud on the bank of River Stir, a shallow stone box fills with rain water or snow melt beneath the ever rotting floor. Two thick, rotting leather bags, feeding hungry worms lie in wait for the revenue collector. Velgeit's charge left incomplete.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:06 PM in d10

Monday, 22 April 2013

S is for Shieldbreaker, Jorunn Skafinson

Some academics say the Dwarf race is waning. Reproduction rates aside, the seemingly unrelenting war with evil in the dwarf holds of the Grey and World's Edge Mountains does more to reduce the race to near extinction. The constant war however has made many Dwarven generals master tacticians and strategists, ever seeking advantages on the field and underground though unique efforts.

Such are the Shieldbreakers, elite soldiers trained to fight underground against the waves of greenskins and skaven. Shieldbreakers are unique in one aspect, their ranks can sometimes be found to have human and halfling members.

Jorunn joined the Shieldbreakers after a score of years fighting in distant lands against the hordes of chaos out of the North. Returning to his home at Karak Norn in the Grey Mountains he was shocked. The fortress city was nearly under siege by Night Goblin clans from the North and Skaven from the South. Jorunn immediately joined the nascent Shieldbreaker unit being formed to fight these foes.

Jorunn is a force of unmatched skill for many in the units that are brave, but have never "brought the fight" to the enemy or held lines with no option or order of retreat. His skill is sought by many and he is a willing teacher. But he harbors a secret.

Jorunn quietly prays to Hashut, "The Father of Darkness" for his deadly skill on the line of the Shieldbreakers. Hashut is the Chaos Dwarf patron deity and a murderous one. His worship would surely have him kneeling before his commander's axe should he be found out. Yet he continues for he knows only that on the fields of many battles the Chaos Dwarfs were formidable foes and skilled. Killing with such effectiveness that he sought out the martial skills and found Hashut. He believes his skills are a blessing from Hashut and, in a twisted way, is saving his kin from annihilation.

He quietly worries about being found out. Moreso that his worship will ultimately make him an enemy to be killed because his corruption becomes the very thing that eliminates the dwarves in the Grey Mountains.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:42 PM in d10

Saturday, 20 April 2013

R is for Runebearer, Kaztok Darinson

Kaztok takes the Runebearer oath, The message is my life, very seriously and has the scars to prove it.

Born in the gold mines of Kazad Gorl1 in the Grey Mountains he grew up steeped in rune lore. His father instilled in Kaztok a great pride in the language of the dwarven people and the importance of clan, race, and survival. These traits sown would be reaped as greenskins in the Grey Mountains would bring a constant struggle of fighting and to the small khazids2 of the mountains.

Kaztok is known to many manlings of the Empire as "Dusty," for his perpetually scree filled boots and dust filled beard--and oil cloth cloak. Some also know him as "Hairy Darin," especially in Osburg. The former by most in Helmgart, the latter mostly is an affection for his hairless pate and face (though he still sports a powerful beard). Kaztok must often travel overland, stopping in ale houses of Helmgart and Osburg, depending on the safest route south over the Axe Bite Pass, to quench a thirst (and eat) to deliver news to Karak Norn and other settlements.

His mostly hairless features are the result of an explosion, ironically of his own making, in an underground tunnel once linking northern and southern dwarven clans of the Grey Mountains. Kaztok lost not only his hair, but the tunnel too. However, to hear him tell it over a pint, he also killed a clan leader and two score of night goblins and their squigs3 too. And he still delivered the messages in his charge.

As a runebearer his life is one of constant travel to keep the lines of communication open and his regrets none of it, especially when he can deliver the messages in his lieges along with news of the Empire, the occasional Bretonnian rumor or sighting of Knights Errant returning from the Storm of Chaos, or just a note that the humans still can't make good beer, just drinkable beer. He is often only resting for a day before turning around with new messages written in the runic script of the dwarves. His ears are always listening for new rumors in taverns and for the gutter speech of the greenskins in the mountain tunnels still used in the Grey Mountains.

  1. [1] The Yellow Fortress, named such for the rich veins of gold found in the deep mines

  2. [2] settlement

Posted by caffeinated at 10:00 AM in d10

Friday, 19 April 2013

Q is for The Quinsberry Lodge, Alfred Hempfire, Tradesman and Steward, Kirchham, Stirland

Kirchham is a small border town of Stirland and Wissenland on the Nuln Road. Kirchham is a farming community with numerous sheep farmers herding in the rolling hills of the Stirhügel.

Kirchham is small, but the trade coming though it allows it to play host to the part trade union, part advocacy group and part halfling pride and community center of the Quinsberry Lodge.

Alfred Hempfire stepped into the position as the steward for the lodge when Stirland nationals killed the previous steward. As it turned out it could not have happened at a better time, Pie Week celebrations in Sauerapfel in the Moot.

As a master pastry cook he was able to rally the Halflings to push aside the murder of the previous Quinsberry Lodge leader to celebrate all the good things that the Halfling culture gives the community. The celebrations renewed the community ties and enriched large numbers of halfling businesses, especially his own bakery.

Today Alfred's Pipe Weed Brownies, baked with a sweet weed grown on the lodge grounds and often smoked in the Lodge's den by many guild members, is enjoyed throughout the region. The brownies travel to Nuln and Wörden on coaches that travel the Nuln road and very popular with the Tilean cooks in Kemperbad.

Posted by caffeinated at 3:07 PM in d10

Thursday, 18 April 2013

P is for Penitent, Keterlind Lechardt, Warrior Cult of Myrmidia

Keterlind Lechardt is a force for Myrmidia, the warrior goddess. Yet she is paying a penitence for her failings in the Storm of Chaos, or failings as she sees them in the honoring the strictures of Bellona Myrmidia and the cult.

As Archaon's armies neared Middenheim as the final lines of battle were prepared, her unit meet a large force of Norsemen raiding a small village. In the charge and clash of force that quickly dissolved into chaos. Keterlind was a whirlwind of death. Norsemen fell before her sword and against the brute force of her shield. Then she hesitated.

A young Norse boy, feral, dirty and holding an axe looked up at her, the bloody horror of the fight in his face. She couldn't strike looking at the terror in the boy's eyes. Behind her, Keterlind's commander yelled a command to strike. Keterlind's hesitation ended in black, struck from her flank, she collapsed.

Waking hours later on the field amid death and covered in the debris of battle Keterlind assessed her survival. On the ground was the body of the boy, split from shoulder to groin by a sword. She could not tell if the boy died with the same look of terror she recalled, the boy's face was destroyed by boot, shield, or hammer.

In those few minutes of awaking she understood her dishonor of the strictures: disobeying her commander and showing mercy, if brief, to the enemies of humanity and servants of the ruinous powers. Keterlind dropped to her knees and vowed to meet her end gloriously in service to Myrmidia and strict interpretation of the Bellona Myrmidia tenants. 

She can be found today in the forward pickets meeting the remnants of Archaon in Kislev. Her fierce faith is bolstered by the dented and cut shoulder armor that probably saved her life at Middenheim. The armor's dent is pierced and the jagged hole cuts into a deep scar that bleeds when she enters a fight. The pain reminding her of her failure, her vow, and her ultimate goal: death in glorious battle against the ruinous powers. 

Posted by caffeinated at 4:49 PM in d10

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

O is for Outrider, Ditl Mohrfurt

Ditl Mohrfurt is a handsome young man from a farming family in Tanndern, Averland. His father passed when his was 12, but was fond of telling the patriarchs of the scattered farms on the rolling plains north of Wuppertal: "Born under the Two Bullocks! He may not be a craftsman, but that boy will sow his seed and wander far from his mother bosom, as sure as Siggurd!"

True to his father's fortune, he would find himself in trouble with Elsbeth, the young daughter of Burgher Holz in Tanndem. Ditl would break two hearts the night he stole away on the burgher's second prized stallion: his mother's and Elsbeth.

Today, Ditl rides The Old Dwarf Road for Wörden Coaches. An exceptional rider, outdoorsman, scout and when in coaching inns, far from Averheim--where the off chance of encountering Burgher Holz would have him in chains--a bit of a heartbreaker to many barmaids and excitable maidens traveling with oppressive guardians.

Ditl's best friend is Jaswick Downhill, the pistol wielding halfling coachman for Wörden Coaches. When Ditl is not wooing a young woman with tales of outlaws hung or bested by his tracking and beastman killed or maimed by his crossbow, he can be found telling ribald jokes and drinking his betters under the table in a smoke filled snug with Jaswick and Stirland roadwardens. His infectious laugh is recognized by many, especially the ladies that he can't escape.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:51 AM in d10

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

N is for Night of the Fire Arrows

As one travels the Empire he will encounter the veneration of minor deities--often quietly and with great subterfuge as not to worry friends or a passing Sigmarite--and the celebration of local festivals for what might be seen as just another day elsewhere in the Empire.

The Night of the Fire Arrows is one such event. Held on the 25th of Sigmarzeit, the night commemorates the defense of Halstedt, Stirland from a horde of undead some 500 years ago. Crossing the plains of the Haunted Hills an "army of zombies, skeletons, wights, necromancers, and vampire counts" sought to overrun the village and march deeper into the Empire. The village reinforced its walls with trees and new palings and ditches. The force was delayed, but the village would not last another night if it was not for the sheriff. "Finding a stash spirits," the sheriff was able to muster a new defense on the second night of the attack. Under the sheriff's leadership the town "produced 3500 straight and true Halstedt arrows with spirit soaked wool." Every man and boy capable of wielding a bow was put on the battlements. The tale told at the festival is that the sky "caught fire" as the archers repelled the second night's attacks.

Today, Halstedt has turned the quincentennial event into a night of archery contests that attracts champion archers from around the Empire in a grand tourney before a reenactment of the Night of the Fire Arrows. In the last 250 years a wide swath of arable land was set aside for the festivities by an act of the Elector Count, much to the protest of nobles losing land rent. Protests aside, too many farmhouses and crops would be damaged or destroyed before the set-aside. 

Historians don't doubt the veracity of the story save for many of the details. The debate is constantly renewed every couple of years as some detail or minor mention of the event is uncovered in the libraries of Altdorf and Nuln or found in diary passing through a Veneran temple. Last year a witch hunter burned a Verenan Investigator that was found asking questions about the 500 year old event. He reportedly possessed a "book of necromancy" that "reportedly belonged to the then mayor of Halstedt in 2015" and "contained definitive proof" that the "army of undead" was "no more than 25 recently buried members of the community" raised in a ritual that had gone awry.

The book was lost with investigator, used as kindling in his pyre.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:43 PM in d10

Monday, 15 April 2013

13 down, 13 to go

Having fun yet with Blogging A-to-Z? I'm enjoying it a lot.

Have you seen the following Warhammer Fantasy Role Play blogs also participating?

I want to thank Gwen from YA Fiction Author for dropping by and leaving a comment on a career, or two. 

I like comments. I also like pingbacks if your blog platform supports them.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:18 PM in Bohemian Breakfast

M is for Master Vigilant, Lucas Tauberwasser, Magister of Ulgu, The Grey Order

There are many secret organizations in the Old World. We know that many are tempted by the allure of promises by the Ruinous Powers into hidden rooms, but we are often not aware of those that work in secret to protect us from powerful temptation of corruption in magical power.

Master Vigilant Lucas Tauberwasser entered The Grey Order as a teen. The son of a high ranking officer in Elector Countess Emmanuelle von Leibwitz personal police, Lucas grew up listening to quiet whispers in his father's study about the many threats to the Countess' life that found way to his desk from seemingly hundreds of informants. When Lucas' nascent magical abilities began to manifest themselves, it was a simple matter for his father to find him scholarship with the Grey Order and admittance to the Ulgu school in Altdorf.

Magister Tauberwasser was a quick study. The Grey Order's Cryptoclastic Thaumaturgy is the very weaving of the magical winds for illusion and concealment. His background would soon land him in good standing with the Order of Shadows.

The nature of Ulgu is such that its practitioners are spies and assassins. The illusionary affects can often provide the sorts of magics that can cover up crimes against the Emperor and even the very order itself. 

And such is the need for the Order of Shadows. Not unique to the College of the Grey Order in practice as often all schools of magic can harbor those that seek to use magic for the Ruinous Powers, however Ulgu makes the policing of those that practice the magics far more dangerous.

Today, there are few alive that know Magister Tauberwasser's true appearance; his father dead, no siblings, and many of his classmates in military service to Ulgu,  the Emperor, or dead...possibly by Tauberwasser's own hand for unknown and unspoken crimes. The nature of his position in so secretive that Grey Order's Patriarch can only know that if he must to contact Magister Tauberwasser he needs only turn the pyramid shaped paperweight on his desk to point to the window. When the paperweight is returned to its original position the Patriarch is to inscribe his request on a single sheet of paper and burn it, placing it in the fireplace. The patriarch is unsure of the means of this magic and the delivery of the message, but his Master Vigilant always completes the task asked of the Order of Shadows.

Often this task a simple: the Order of Shadows is must act: kill or pacify a corrupted Apprentice or Journeyman Wizard of Ulgu. It is not unheard of that a Master Wizard must be dealt with, but for the integrity College and the Grey Order the work is necessary.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:41 PM in d10

Saturday, 13 April 2013

L is for Lay Priest Jean De Pouchet, Cult of Manann

There are few avenues out of a life as a peasant in Bretonnia. Even rich merchants are, by law, just peasants. Any perceived status is only at the whim of their liege.

The merchant class of Bretonnia can afford to school children or "identify" a higher calling for their offspring paying for seminaries or other theological studies. Such education can get man and woman into many of the cults worshipped throughout Bretonnia. Wave Caller Jean De Pouchet is one of the lucky ones.

After a years studying with the Manann catechists in Bordeleaux, he was initiated into the cult priesthood. While most nobles worship the Lady of the Lake, many quietly honor Manann, Taal and Rhya, Morr, Shallya and Verena and offer chapels to them as appropriate. Jean was soon on the rise in cult of Manann after being moved to the Duke Alberic's personal chapel to Manann on the castle's grounds.

More recently the Wave Caller left his position with the Duke's chapel and travelled to the Silent Isle where he quietly observes Abbot Isodard Gumy for the Duke. The Duke is very interested in the reports of the Abbot awakening the island and what it may portend.  

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Friday, 12 April 2013

K is for Kemperbad, Freistadt

Kemperbad lies at the confluence the rivers Stir and Reik. Granted Freistadt ("Free State") status in 1066 IC by Emperor Boris "the Incompetent," Kemperbad is known for three things: wealth, corruption, and brandy.

The wealth comes from its status as free state of the Empire. It enjoys a tax free status allowing its Council of Thirteen to directly reap a tax base without tribute to the Grand Duchy of Talbecland or the Emperor. The Council of Thirteen is made of 11 prominent merchant guilds and the representatives of the Cult of Sigmar and Shallya.

Where there is wealth one may expect to find corruption. The corruption does not originate with the Council, but in the streets and docks of the free state. The infamous Tilean Belladonna crime family runs a vast array of unsavory "businesses" and a feared "protection" racket on the river traffic between Nuln and Altdorf.

And where a working class enjoys the riches of the free state, but is pressed into submission by a crime syndicate, a perfection of spirits, beer and wine will fill emotional voids of many. It is not long before such perfection can be made something exportable, taxable, and exploitable. 

The brandy of Kemperbad is sought after throughout the Empire as praised substitute for what passes as "fine wine"--when compared to the wines of Bretonnia of course. Wine makers of Kemperbad began distilling wine as a practical matter to transport and lessen a tax burden (simultaneously enriching the Belladonna's by avoiding tax seals). It was not long before word reached Kemperbad of how prized the distilled wine, aged in barrels of Talbecland wood, was in Altdorf. Today, wine production is up as distilleries run round the clock to satisfy demand and an every increasing "levy" (or "cut") by the Belladonnas.

Kemperbad, sitting a top high cliffs, enjoys a commanding view of Reikland forests to the West. It is also home to a well garrisoned river watch that patrols the river for pirates and other less savory, and certainly less connected, gangs. 

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Thursday, 11 April 2013

J is for Jailor, Deiter Narbe, "The Scar"

Deiter Narbe earns his surname: known by those that work with and drink with him as "The Scar," His once broken nose sits askew his face, framed on the left side by a poorly healed scar where the decade old injury opened his sinuses.

Deiter grew up in the streets of Middenheim, born to a brewer and his wife. Deiter's father was widowed--to hear him tell his patrons at the ramshackle roof and door tavern where he sells his ales Deiter's mother's death a blessing of Ulric for her to have passed before the Storm of Chaos.

Deiter works for the city watch in the over crowded gaol of the Altquarter near the watch house of the East Gates. His current job is to feed the prisoners their gruel. While serving the scum in the gaol is awful enough, at least his charge is not to clean the cells of filth, waste or bodies. He just wishes that the wretches in charge of that task would come more often. The stench really does nothing for the taste of the gruel.

Deiter's time off is spent at his father's "tavern," drinking the house ales and managing a side business: taking calls from distraught wives, lovers, or business associates of his gaoled charges. The fees are nominal: buy the next round for simple word that the receipiant is not forgotten or loved, five schillings for a letter, six for better food (must be provided) or a pint of ale--Deiter has taken to carrying a skin of his father's ale to work, making the effort all profit for him.

And yet more recently, after the Storm of Chaos broke on the walls of Middenheim last year, a wanderlust has taken hold of mind and spirit. Tales from the drunk tank or bounty hunters dropping off or picking up tell of game filled woods, shining cities and riches to be earned as a sellsword or guide have awakened an imagination of adventure in the wake of a war torn Empire.

He has saved a considerable sum in his side business. Deiter knows that only his skills keep him in Middenheim. He has never tracked game in the woods or wielded a sword in a fight. Even during Archaon's siege, Deiter was busy in the gaol; a gaol overcrowded with dying flagellants and doomsayers; an overzealous watch herded these barkers into the gaols to keep a modicum amount of order on the streets.

Deiter has made many loose friends from his courier work and befriended still more that speak friendly of him in the gaol and after release--if so lucky. He has also recently made friends with halfling going by the name Downhill at the tavern. Downhill promises to write a letter of reference to a coach line looking for muscle. He has also learned that coaching inns often need gaolers with experience and pay handsomely for the right person with the skills and experience working with watchmen, road wardens, or other judicial types. Maybe his skill are useful and getting out of Middenheim easier than first thought.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I is for Ice Maiden, Beledna "Belinka" Evelinavnuka Skvorskov

Beledna, grand-daughter of Evelina Skvorskov, or just Belinka to her mother, is a woman scorned and a formidable nascent witch.

Belinka was born to an Ice Witch on the Western Oblast near a small winter trading outpost on the what is known as the Kislev Verge. The trading outpost was also the home to a traveling circus troupe from Ferlangen in Ostland. All the unique and colorful goods fetched high prices by the wives and men of the oblast.

Belinka was a fetching young woman and her handsome lover tall, well-bred, and respected on the plains. Belinka and Mikhail both came from single parent households, Mikhail's father dead, his mother losely connected to the coven of Belinka's mother. They were lovers and pledged to be married.

That was four years ago. Mikhail's eyes wandered to the attractions of an actress in the traveling circus. He would steal away from his kin, leaving Belinka. At first both her and her mother attempted to discourage Mikhail's interests with minor magics that would turn his eyes away, soon escalating to outright murder of the actress with magics that summoned snow and ice drifts that collapsed tents and fell trees. The acts only embolden Mikhail to escape what soon became abusive acts.

Belinka was left alone. She would immediately begin on her training as an Ice Witch. Apprenticing in her mother's coven, fueled by scornful heart she excelled at her studies and trials on the Western Oblast. She would soon pledge her chastity and become an Ice Maiden. 

While her heart is fueled by desire to find her ex-lover Mikhail she has resigned to never see the tall, handsome, raven haired hunter again. The winds speak mixed messages that he met an honorable death at Middenheim when the forces of Chaos broke on the Faustschlag or he wallows in the gutters of Altdorf, reduced to a thief. Unsure of which is a worse fate for Mikhail, she hunts greenskins in the Grovod Wood, returning to her mother's coven to prove herself in new trials to become a full Ice Witch.

Her mother is often known to tell her that mastery of the Lore of Ice will only come when she releases the harbored hate for Mikhail. Belinka's vow of chastity cannot be released until she can master the magics of her mother's coven.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:36 AM in d10

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Trackbacks died last night

I disabled trackbacks last night. Somewhat sad about it, but it seems to be all the rage. TypePad announced plans to disable trackbacks and WordPress may be soon to follow.

I've never been a fan of the trackback protocol. Last night I looked at great many voices--some I was re-reading having first seen them over 10 years ago!--talking about the weakness in Six Apart's Trackback specification and slow definition of a version 2.0 that would include some kind of authentication mechanism. There were quite a few 10 year old posts talking about the death of the trackback...then. It may have taken 10 years to finally die however.

For me trackbacks became a spam vector that grew into a management problem. I just didn't want to spend 5 minutes a day or 15 minutes at the end of the week purging the moderation queue when every. single. trackback. was just spam. It was tiresome. 

My platform has support for trackbacks, pingbacks, and comments, including comment and trackback throttling (throttling is the ability to reduce trackbacks from a single IP to manage volume). I never get pingbacks due to the low adoption of the specification on many platforms, but it is the HTTP "back link" protocol I liked the most.

Ian Hickson wrote extensively about the pros of pingbacks vs. cons of trackbacks in 2002. I've been a convert to the specification ever since. While there have been emotional arguments to saving trackbacks, as a developer and actual maintainer of a blogging platform, I'm not convinced by touch feely arguments about making new friends because of trackbacks. Sorry, but I'm not seeking friends in the spam community. And making friends is not a specification that can be defined, so let's keep the death of the trackback moderately scientific in nature.

My appreciation of the pingback specification is not because it has the authentication that is missing from trackback, both don't seem to have any defined support. My appreciation is about the simplicity: it's just HTTP. There's no auto discovery necessary, no IDs, etc. Pingback just used good old HTTP and HTML metadata. And yet, while I have pingbacks on and trackbacks off, I don't expect a flood of the former. The specification kind of took off in 2002-2003 but fizzled in support.

Alas, this is all moot: with TypePad removing support, Blogger never really making it easy to support, and WordPress considering dropping support...2013 might be the year that the Trackback really died. Pingbacks may quietly follow.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:21 PM in experimental madness

H is for Horned Hunter, Van Garten

Van was born in Vateresche, a Taalbaston--the near 20 mile diameter, naturally walled, interior remnants of a crater--village of Talbecland. Located in the heart of the Taalgrunhaar Forest, Vateresche is home to a thriving lumber and charcoal community supplying raw goods to Talabheim, the seat Talbecland's Elector Count, and surrounding Taalbaston villages.

Born to a family of charcoal burners, Van would often work the shallow underground furnaces with his brothers and father. Yet he was also raised by a devout mother to honor Rhya, the goddess and wife the woodland god Taal. It was a chance encounter with a monstrous mutant beast capable of uprooting trees with a single blow and his father's selfish indifference of seeing each tree felled as a tree he didn't have to cut down that changed Van forever. Running to an empty charcoal pit and hiding from the monster, Van watch a pair of Horned Hunters slay the beast as his brother's prayed for protection and his father counted trees for charcoal.

Van vowed to join the order of Horned Hunters to protect the forests from the abominations of Tzeentch, the ruinous god of change. He ran into the forest the next evening on the regular trip to the furnaces. Van soon found the Horned Hunters and pledged to join the order.

Van submitted to a mentor known as Neidhart. Neidhart saw the fervor of Van's heart and immediately began his induction. Eschewing all civilized trappings Neidhart found the runaway an easy initiate as he arrived with only the clothes on his back and a desire to protect the forest from all evils, real or perceived. Neidhart set about with the ritual tattooing of Van and teaching Van the simple faith of the Horned Hunters: Serve the Forest, and the Forest shall serve you.

But Neidhart also instilled a zeal for protecting the forest from even those that worked the forest for a living. Van soon was quietly fighting woodsmen, game hunters, and even his own family's charcoal burning business.

Neidhart has released Van to find the sacred shrines of Rhya and Taal in the Tallbaston to prove his initiation into the order of the Horned Hunters. Neidhart fully expects Van to survive this trial, but has also suggested that any mills or charcoal furnaces destroyed are prerequisites to full initiation.

Van is quietly earning his own moniker in Vateresche, Van the Traitor Axe. However, there are those that claim to have seen Van also dispatching a rare beastman in the forest. Van's skills and mentorship will likely have him soon succeeding in the initiation rites, but also are likely to earn him a price on his head... along side Neidhart the Axeman's Bane own bounty.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:44 AM in d10

Monday, 8 April 2013

RSS A-to-Z bonus material

If you're following my A-to-Z posts and play Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, be sure to check out the RSS feed in your favorite reader.

Each career focused entry contains a completely stated Non-Player Character for your game or enjoyment.

Of course, I'll put these in the final retrospective document at the end of April as well, so even if you don't play WFRP, you might enjoy the character abilities, etc.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

G is for Ghost Strider, Aensanaine Soaringsun, High Elf

Sea Elves--Asur, or High Elves by any name other than their chosen profession as master sailors and traders--have numerous communities along the coasts of the Empire and Bretonnia. It is not unheard of that in such quartering, often measured in human generations given the long life spans of Elves, Elven partners will have children.

These children, far from the cultural norms of Ulthuan--the High Elf homeland--will seek adventures amongst the human society that surrounds them. Whether under protest by the parents or with a laissez-faire attitude, young elves will venture far into the wilderness of the Empire and other nations seeking knowledge or experience.

Aensanaine Soaringsun is such an elf. Born to two highly placed merchants in Marienburg guilds, Aensanaine has led a human lifetime of adventure across the Empire. In her early lessons at home she would learn of her kin the Asrai, or Wood Elves, and the related High Elf woodland clans of the Drakwald in the heart of the Empire. Not a runaway as much as "not currently interested in her parents work," after all she would learn that she was all but immortal by human understanding of time, "Why not see the elves that lived in the woods?"

And such began her journey to her current position as one of the most sought after guides of the Drakwald by Empire merchants, Imperial generals and curious crypto wizards. While but an child in the eyes of most elves at 42 years, she has gained invaluable experience under many human tutors for skills all necessary for survival in the dangerous wildernesses that encroach or hold at bay human settlement.

Those that know her will say that she can shoot a quiver of arrows in the time it takes a master to empty a third. Her aim is deadly and her charges never starve for game on long treks. Her skill at tracking and light foot has often cost many a heartbeat when she appears from shadows without a sound. 

At first a causal hire to patrol the forested stretches for bandits, beastmen, and greenskins with an official paper allowing discretion on summary judgements, Aensanaine used her position to hone her skills to a razor's edge. But a misstep almost cost her life if she had not heard the gallops of the roadwardens on the road ahead. Chased by several bull headed beast men, she lead them into the road where they were dispatched by Captain Jörg Schmidt, his men and the few arrows she had left.

Aensanaine currently enjoys the hospitality, and bed, of the dashing and handsome Captain Schmidt of the Talbecland roadwardens based out of Lieske and the large coaching inn of Taal's Bowers. The Old Forest Road bisects the province of Talbecland north to south and is heavily traveled affording her many opportunities to redouble her constant training as a "ghost strider," riding far ahead of coaches to lessen the chances of bandits or worse. She is paid well for these services and often turns the information gained in the effort into a secondary line of work that enriches the coffers of the road wardens, innkeepers and other interested parties. Such practices she learned from her father... maybe returning to Marienburg and her parents line of work is not too many years off.

There is the matter of the captain's growing love however.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:54 PM in d10

G is... late.

Back from vacation and just settling back into life.

G is for Ghost Strider will post tomorrow. On time, mind you, just not what you may have come to expect given my GMT posts in the first week.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:29 AM in d10

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Chronicles Remastered

Six! Six years ago--damn time truly flies--I blogged about The Chronicles, a c. 1988 college produced, Canadian-made, radio play that takes place in the Traveller game world.

I was just a tad bit snarky about the radio play. The post was made in good fun and was constructive criticism as much snark. Now, I have never made a radio play, but I did spend 10 years in film and TV production--on set and as a producer--so I have some idea of what it takes to produce a successful product.

Traveller is finally out in a fifth edition. Funded as a Kickstarter, earning nigh $300,000!, Traveller 5 rewards are being delivered and a recent unboxing was posted on G+ via YouTube.

I commented on the unboxing after seeing a comment from a Jon Woodland that suggested he supported the Kickstarter just to be sure that the name "Ted D. Flask" would be recorded on the Galaxiad Wall Of Heroes, an iconic memorial in the Traveller universe.

I immediately recognized the name and commented that an honorific to Ted D. Flask is 1) awesome, 2) that I loved the "good, cheesy fun" that The Chronicles provides for Traveller fans and then 3) linked to the above snarky blog post. As it turned out, Jon was a producer of The Chronicles in 1988! and he was familiar with my blog post.

Jon reports "I read that review and agree. We were young and techno-drunk but we had so much fun putting it together. I did a remastered version from the original 4 track in 2008." As soon as I get permission to share the link to the remastered version, I'll update this post.

If you have not heard the work before, consider a listen. It really is inspiring on many levels. The technology exists today to produce radio plays of this sort on every computer for those that have the creative leanings and desire. $WFRP2$ radio play? Sure. D&D? Absolutely.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:18 AM in kaffehaus

Saturday, 6 April 2013

F is for Friar, Blessed Roderic Leer, Ulrican Friar

Roderic Leer was born to a woodland father that worshipped Taal and a mother who was quietly an Ulrican. Roderic grew up honoring Taal, but abhorred the labor of the woods. He soon found an opportunity to join the militia of Talbecland when a muster in Klepzig was held. The muster would credit his father's liege as required by the Elector Count, but it paid directly. His years as a soldier set his path toward becoming blessed by Ulric, and some say a "Saint-in-the-wings."

Roderic's company became separated from the main body on a march to Kutzleben, a farming community on the Taalbaston, outside Talabheim. Roderic's company was surrounded by Skaven in an ambush. Roderic rallied the troops and formed a pocket of resistance against a collection of boulders and high ground near the Taalbaston. In what seemed like a situation that would eventually end with the entire company eliminated to a man, Leer, out of desperation, started to pray to Ulric. Huddled in rain ditches and tumble down rock holes, listening to the chittering ratmen in positions only 10 yards away, he quietly prayed for bravery. It came when he could take no more of the plotting by the Skaven below. With a fierceness he would later say was the hand of Ulric, he charged the foul "children of the horned rat god" and routed them.

Roderic and nearly three dozen soldiers survived. Barely honored by his captains, Roderic opted to complete his service quietly and left Talabecland for Ostland. Roderic wandered the Empire for two years reconciling the his salvationf, his friends lives, the loss of so many, and the denial that ratmen could have been responsible for the ambush. Initially, his wanderings afforded him opportunities to tell stories at taverns or coaching inns for lodging and food. But soon he was avoiding the armies marching through villages, conscripting any man able to wield a halberd. He knew now that the Storm of Chaos moved over the Empire. Roderic would not know of the devastions of the war until he arrived outside of the ruins of Wolfenburg.

Skirting Wolfenburg and deftly hiding from bandits, beggers, and sellswords, he would stumble upon a cave in the Middle Mountains that would bring him quick closure and honor, after his years of wandering and fighting. In the cave, a "bishop of Ulric" was hiding with a group of monks, all persecuted by the Sigmarites that ruled the refugee camps and garrisons surrounding the remains of Wolfenburg. It was here that he became an initiate in the Ulrican cult. He would succeed the "bishop" who initiated him when Sigmarite zealots raided the camp and his mentor was instantly killed as he tripped and fell against a rock.

Ulric would deliver him from the Sigmarites when several of the soldiers he served with in Talbecland stopped the monks as they crashed through their campsite. The small company of sellswords would slaughter the zealots and Roderic would convert them all to the Ulrican faith. The new martial order would settle in a wilderness area near Ferlangen far from Wolfenburg. They would clear all manners of Archaon's stragglers from the woods. The monks would also render aid to those that tended the forests and lands around Ferlangen. Roderic would also ensure the safety and care of Ulrican temples and priests far from Middenheim. Alas, the order would be arrested during renewed persecution by the governor Ferlangen fearing witch hunters and "witnesses" that would bear false witness that the monks were truly mutants hiding in the woods, corrupted by the very things they fought. Caught and tortured, the were promised mercy if they were to worship Sigmar. They refused to a man. The monks were beheaded. Roderic would be tortured and burned at the stake in Ferlangen in 2523 IC as a heretic and mutant.

Roderic's ashes were quietly spirited away and poured over the pile of skulls of his monks outside of Ferlangen. Talk in taverns of Ostland and in temple's of Ulric tell of an elderly woman--his mother! it is said in some places--performing this act. Today, Ferlangden farmers tell of a ghostly order of headless monks that clash with beastmen daring to terrorize the surrounding farms. Quiet groups of Ulricans are said to visit the bump in the grassy field where the monks were unceremoniously buried, heads separate from body.

Roderic's champions for Sainthood in the Ulrican faith wear a stylized ear with a cut and ragged lobe, a personal trait reported by some in Ferlangen that saw his execution. "Rodericans" often can be seen discretely pulling their ear when encountering others that honor Roderic's faith, leadership, and martial order. 

Roderic's Character Sheet is presented as an artifact of his life. His ghost, if real, will possess these skills.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Friday, 5 April 2013

E is for Essen, Village of The League of Ostermark

Essen is a small village of some 90 farmers and distillers in The League of Ostermark, bordering the County of Sylvania.

To the south lies the Dead Wood, home to the ruins of Mordheim and the remnants of VanHal's retinue of undead slaves and the wights, ghouls, zombies and leaderless skeletal remains of scattered armies from the Storm of Chaos in 2522 IC. To the north, the Eirie Downs is a terrain of rolling hills, high grasses, and barrows to kings long forgotten and evils that do not wish to be.

It is said that Essen is the most haunted village in the Empire and a great many exaggerations can be heard by visitors of just how haunted. The reputation of Essen precedes it when discussed in even the politest company and does the village no favors in attracting more that transient residents: cryptonecromancers, witch hunters, and even Ostermark's own famed vampire hunters. However, this transient crowd has led to a vibrant spirits industry fed by its largely agriculturally leaning residents. The pun is not lost on anyone and is sure to get you a grumble, a surcharge, or even a black eye, in the taverns and inns

Some of the finest potato vodka comes from Essen's small distilleries and is sought after by many, especially in the northern villages closest to Kislev.

The Storm of Chaos last year largely left Essen unscathed, if wary of even the slightest "bump in the night." Sylvanian armies mustered in the Dead Wood and marched east through Talabecland to Middenheim. The Dead Wood only rightfully earns its name, even after the "storm broke in the west."

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Thursday, 4 April 2013

D is for Dilettante, Saissa Jean-Aubry

Siassa was born to a merchant family in Bordeleaux, Bretonnia. A peasant by any other measure and a woman by all laws. Her future did not promise much other than the promise of a dowry.

Her mother soon recognized that her interests did not lie in clothing and spending her father's money, but in her father's business. Siassa would follow her father to the warehouses in the merchant quarters of Bordeleaux. Doted on by her father, she began learning everything about the exchange of goods and the cultures that dealt with Bretonnia.

In the warehouses, hidden from the prying eyes of zealots, she learned about cultures from around the globe. In hidden, sometimes smoky rooms--especially from Cathy--the world's cultures came alive. Exotic languages would be spoken, exotic liquids poured, exotic spices and food served, and small shrines to venerated souls or even heretical gods would be displayed. This was what life was like in the warehouses, where each trader doing business with her father would cling to their traditions and homeland in small, but important ways.

Saissa would hear stories of denied races, like the Skaven, from merchants far and Dwarves closer, learn a few words in Nipponese, Sea Elf!, and Orcish, or hear of the black arks of the Druchii and even whispers of the dark gods.

In the warehouses she would meet Verenean Investigators--that had befriended her father or others--recording stories and cultures in great tomes. She even learned to read and write from the Vereneans. Her father encouraged it all, until her mother required her at cotillion.

She abhorred the ritual, but she obeyed her mother, then she met Ugs Nivard. Ugs was a minor noble in Bordeleaux and cotillion was his chance to find a wife of near status, if a peasant by birth. Ugs arrogance was not subtle. Saissa overheard the argument and the relenting--albeit with much reluctance--of her father to her mother's argument: nobility and status was worth any dowry for the hand of Siassa.

Begging passage with a Verenean Investigator to the Silent Isle and the libraries of the Cult of Verena in the monastery of Cult of Manann, Siassa ran away.

She has spent nearly six years on the island and off, traveling with Verenean Investigators and Priests to many great cities of Bretonnia, always returning to the books in the library, a little more knowledgable, but always in quiet study on the isle, and always hiding from her parents and Ugs.

Recently, she has heard that the abbot at Pointe du Flambeau Silencieux has been causing the silence of the isle to be lifted. Siassa has charmed the old abbot of the lighthouse and prayed with him, hoping to hear the waves crashing or even his prayers. She visits the Wave Lord Isodard Gumy as often as he can welcome her, but has yet to experience the awakening of the island her Verenean friends have written about. Yet.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

C is for Coachman, Jaswick Downhill

To meet Jaswick is to observe a study of contrasts. His stark white hair is punctuated by two pitch black eyes that seem to have no iris. He appears undersized for his oversized firearms: two Dwarven pistols sized for a human named for his mother and father, Wanda and Murder. The guns, as long as his torso, makes him seem much smaller than he actually is.

Jaswick Downhill grew up on the border's of Stirland and the Mootland in Sauerapfel. The first son of a prominent innkeeper and an awardwinning pie maker, Jaswick learned how to cook very early, but innkeeping and cooking did not sate a wanderlust. His parents died tragically in a fire that swept through part of Sauerapfel during the Mootland's famed Pie Week celebrations. The inn was lost, as were Jaswick's eyebrows--permanently seared in a backdraft during the fire--and Jaswick inherited debts and three much younger brothers.

Jaswick sent his siblings to live with a cousin in Averheim and set to handling his father's debts. His father had connections with several coaching houses that serviced the Mootland, Stirland and Averland provinces. Wörden Coaches hired him riding the unenvious position of footman. Standing on a springless steel pad at rear of speeding coaches was hard work that often started with tying oneself with thick cords of rope to the handholds so as not to fall off. Hours standing in thick oil cloth to protect himself the endless clouds of dust in the heat of summer, rain and mud in the wet season, and snow and mud in the winter was exhausting work. Yet it also allowed him to keep the fine clothing that his employer provided him mostly clean. A fact not unnoticed by the customers that were presented at there destination by a relatively clean footman.

Jaswick's small stature and position on the coaches would soon save him and his charge from a goblin raiding party that ambushed an otherwise empty coach, but one that carried a large sum of crowns being sent to Wurtbad. The goblins, riding mangy and vicious wolves, killed the driver with arrows. The coach slowed to a halt as the horse team, without instruction, came to a stop. The goblins did not see Jaswick on the footman's mount, covered in dust and mud, in the hustle to tear off the doors or attempting to steal the horses.

Jaswick took the opportunity to lift himself to the roof and retrieve the teamster's two pistols. Two dead goblins later, and the reins in hand, the coach was again speeding toward Wurtbad. The owner promoted Jaswick to full coachman. Only Jaswick's eyesight and expert use of pistol's made him the perfect partner to a larger teamster.

Today, Jaswick rides bodyguard for all of Wörden Coaches most prominent passengers or most valuable cargo.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B is for Black Water

Black Water1 lies in the World's Edge Mountains east of the Grand County of Stirland.

With a shore line extending some 300 miles as measured by Hr. S. Kaplin, Cartographer of Stirland, it is an impressive sight to see from the upper levels of Zhufbar, the famed dwarven hold.

Dwarven lore tells historians that Black Water is the crater formed by a meteor that came down in the higher reaches of the surrounding mountains. The crater soon filled with ice melt from the peaks forming one of the deepest natural lakes known in the world. The water would soon overflow the crater and spill into the surrounding valleys. Zhufbar, meaning Torrent Gates in Khazalid, was founded and built by the dwarves to harness the great energies of the waterfalls. The waterfalls power huge mining and processing machines of Zhufbar that enrich all of the dwarven kingdoms.

Black Water itself is legendary for possessing some of the richest ore and gemstone deposits in the mountains. It is also the home of untold mysteries and terrors in its darkest depths. Abandoned prospector settlements lie scattered on the shores, the inhabitants known to have left unable to adapt to the harsh conditions, terrorized by greenskins, or just "all gone"... vanished from one day to the next.

Most travelers are welcomed to the upper reaches of Zhufbar where a thriving trading community works and lives. It is the first stop for those brave enough to scratch out a living along the shores. Recently, traders have spoken that the dwarves have restricted passage over the Torrent Gates to points east, prodding adventurous souls south and toward the lost hold of Karak Varn, or Crag Mere. Reasons remain unknown to most.

Herr Kaplin, while making maps for Stirland, tells of rumors that the dwarves are planning on mining Black Water itself. Whispers of a great steel sphere being constructed in a brackish stillwater on the shore are heard by many in taverns of Zhufbar, especially when the infamous name Malakai Makaisson is mentioned. Others talk of Malakai Makaisson's obsession to recover the powerful hammer of Runelord Kadrin Redmane. Redmane tossed his hammer far into Black Water to prevent its capture by an ambushing regiment of Goblin Warlord Gorkil Eyegouger's army during the Battle of Black Falls.

  1. [1] Map excerpt © Shawn Brown

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10

Monday, 1 April 2013

A is for Abbot Isodard Gumy, Wave Lord of Manann, Pointe du Flambeau Silencieux, Silent Isle

Pointe du Flambeau Silencieux, or Point of the Silent Torch, is a small abbey to Manann atop the western most cliffs of the Silent Isle off the coast of Bordeleaux.

Isodard is the restless and animated Abbot to a small, faithful, if sometimes lazy, group of monks that operate the lighthouse in the abbey. He can often be seen marching through the courtyard of the abbey waving his hands and shouting loudly if the monks seem to be shirking their duties. Only his stomping, shouting, slamming of doors, forcibly closing tomes, and purposely tossing empty wine bottles to his office hearth is all for naught. For no sound can ever be heard on the Silent Isle.

Isodard Gumy's journey to his position is not as much politically earned as expedient. He is probably one of the greatest sailors Bordeleaux has ever known. Isodard single handily navigated the Dragon's Maw by only the light of Mannslieb while carrying 200 barrels of wine from L'Anguille in a four day, three night run for the gambling Duke Adalhard of Lyonesse. His success was well rewarded and Isodard bought his ship. He was a successful merchant for sometime, but he was a changed man. He entered the Manann priesthood and began preaching along the coast of Bretonnia.

A recognizable name soon found him on the great floating temple to Manann near Bordeleaux where he was often given audience to Dukes, Grail Knights and all manner of nobility blessing shipping and travel. When a regular rotation of monks, initiates and Venerean priests struck rocks off the Silent Isle at the Pointe du Silencieux and all hands were lost, Isodard found new purpose in priesthood: championing common sense warning for seafarers.

Isodard begin politicking for a lighthouse on the point soon after the accident. He was anointed, transferred to the monastery, and charged with making the lighthouse a reality. He soon found how hard it was to get things done on an island where everyone took a vow of silence and had it enforced by the impossible and unexplainable magics (or curse) on the island that silenced all sound. 

He was able to fund the lighthouse from generous donations by Duke Adalhard. The Cult of Mannan also charged laborers and monks with building the lighthouse. The years of construction left Isodard a man with a short temper that often ended in great displays of anger in silent, animated, and thus comical, fits to the leaders of the monastery. 

Isodard was soon promoted to Abbot and given charge of the lighthouse, now officially recognized as an abbey by the cult. The point was renamed to Pointe du Flambeau Silencieux. 

Initiates and monks are often assigned to the abbey as punishment for Abbot Gumy is known to be a devout, powerful priest--some say speaking directly to the Wave God himself--and also a harsh taskmaster: maintenance of the abbey grounds is a full time job and the light must be manned every night, calm or stormy, sticky humid or icy cold.

Recently, Venerean monks on the island have been writing to cult leadership that in Isodard's presence sounds can be heard: footsteps, a door hinge, or when he sets a quill to blotter. A letter recently sent says that Isodard's prayers can be heard in the abbey and many of the monks assigned there come back telling of how during his prayers in the abbey chapel, waves can be heard crashing on the rocks below the lighthouse.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 AM in d10
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