Saturday, 30 October 2010

Saturday Night Special, feat. Alma

Happy Halloween!


Still playing with the concept here. This header fits better, I think. But, I'm worrying that I'm cramming too many topics under one header, although I'm kinda looking at it as my take on a weekly zine of sorts. Again, please let me know if you have thoughts on the matter.


The last week has brought me up to 28 followers, and precariously close to 10,000 hits on my piece of the intertubes. If this keeps up, I will have reached 30 and 10k by next Saturday. The fact that so many people are reading the products of my maniacal brain is both humbling and elating.  Thank you so much to all of you who have honoured me with your attention.


I've also broken my own record of 22 posts in a month. I seem to go in fits and starts, but it is also very dependent on the frequency of play - once a week means my imagination keeps hammering away on the specifics of the setting. Here I owe thanks to my players. I keep reading about other GMs having all sorts of issues with their groups. I could not wish for better partners to tell a tall tale than my guys.


In other news, according to the latest episode of the The Hobbit production-soap, it looks like they're back to shooting in New Zealand again... I'm leaning towards a "whatever" on this one by now. I'm sure it'll be grand when, and if, it hits the silver screen, but holy ringwraith, Batman! Enough with the drama allready. Shit, or get out of the citchen. Now I'm just waiting to hear that it'll be done in 3D.

On gaming, apart from Thursday's news about Airship Pirates, the new project of Cakebread & Walton: Purveyors of Fine Imaginings - probably the coolest company-name in the entire industry - I read this post on the Cyclopeatron blog. It discusses the sales numbers of the leading games in the RPG-industry. Two things jumped out at me, first the fact that Pathfinder is tied with D&D 4E as market-leaders. Secondly, that the fifth largest game, by sales-numbers, sold less than 3000 copies. Food for thought, that.


Round-up for week 43
These are the three post I've enjoyed the most over the last week, in no particular order.




Find of the Week


Captain Future


Before we get to tonight's main feature, I would like to point you towards a site that brightened one of the cold and rainy days of last week. Tales of Future Past is devoted to 20th century visions for the future, and covers everything from future wars to future fashion. Looking at how we imagined tomorrow can certainly tell us something about yesterday. 


But wait...
I'm not quite done yet. Before the film, I would like to share a band I've recently discovered. Alestorm plays Scottish pirate-metal. Now tell me you're not intrigued. The song in question is Keelhauled, and the video is, for lack of a better word, flippin' awesome!







Main Feature
And now: tonight's film is Alma, a multi-award-winning, cute and disturbing short from the Spanish director Rodrigo Blaas. Enjoy.






Fortsatt god helg.



[Picture source: 1 unknown; 2 Tales of Future Past]

Friday, 29 October 2010

Flying Vessels of Argos

Who rules the heavens, rules the earth.
-Vanazar, The Eternal War


Dr. Locker's Tropospheric Gondola


In 959 YE Dr. John Locker demonstrated his Tropospheric Gondola for an enraptured Pendrellian Royal Court. While the balloon was fragile, and it's flight at the mercy of the elements, it was acclaimed as reason's triumph over scepticism. Fifty-six years later, in the Corillian War, Pendrellian forces first used aerial vessels in warfare, as scouting platforms, and for dropping grenades on enemy units. These balloons were still at the mercy of the winds, and only a very few of the Argonauts were able to actually navigate these vessels to any degree.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Airship Pirates by Cakebread & Walton


~The Rescue~


No, there are no airship pirates, as such, on Argos -  more on that to come  (edit: link). However, according to Mr. Walton, of Cakebread & Walton: Purveyors of Fine Imaginings, the gentlemen are now set to start working on their new game. We all ready know Messrs Cakebread & Walton from their acclaimed Clockwork & Chivalry roleplaying game

Their new game, Airship Pirates, again according to Mr. Walton's LiveJournal, based on the band Abney Park's fictional back-story. The gentlemen plans to have their new concoction ready for the masses by summer 2011. More than this he did not say, but this is most likely something we will hear more about in the months to come.

Mr. Walton also provided a link to one of Abney Park's signature songs, Airship Pirate. It would not be right of me not to share that with you, dear reader, and so to conclude this newspost:



[Artist: Myke Amend]

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cora and the Knights of St. Invictus

click map for full size


The island of Cora lies far south of the Erian continent, across the Straits of Ahriman, a mere day's sailing from the Dark Continent. Ever since the tribes of man left these ravaged lands, the island has been a watchtower against the dangers of the South.

It is a lush and idyllic island, with a rich fauna and an agriculture that is able to support not only its own demands, but also a healthy export. While there are many smaller coves and shallow bays, most of the coastline is steep cliffs, and the only harbour capable of landing a ship is the  Grand Harbour of the island's capital, Borgen.

For more than fifteen centuries, this tower has been manned by the Knights of St. Invictus. Founded in the early years of the old Skythian Empire, the order has weathered the winds of time, adapting to the changes in history, while retaining their creed; the island of Cora must be defended to the last man.

The origin of the order is traced to St. Invictus himself, who, according to legend fought a demon on the summit of Mt. Revelation, the highest point on the island. Before the fiend died, it told the saint that when Cora fell, the northern lands would burn.

The Knights joined the Temple of Man Supreme in the years of the Last Great War, but retained autonomy over all internal matters. This, combined with the devout veneration of their patron saint, has led to many conflicts over the years.


The city of Borgen with Castel Vigilius
in the foreground


Over the last millennium, the Knights have become prosperous, some even say fat, on the trade between Eria and the Old Colonies on the Dark Continent. As the only port between the two continents, almost every ship docked in the Grand Harbour before crossing the Straits. This led to a steady flow of coin into the coffers of the order, and eventually to the founding of banking houses in several cities in Eria.

As the end of the Third Age drew near, many of the order's knights served in these offices, or they administered the many estates now owned by the Knights. And so, when Captain Armand and the Kraken attacked the island in 1021 YE, the defenses were breached. Still, the Knights managed to rally around their Grand Master and drive the enemy into the sea.


Aramatheus Gathan, the Grand Master at the time, has been criticised for allowing the walls of Borgen to be breached. Only the fact that the old man gave his life in the charge that broke Armand's attack, saved his name from being struck from the rolls of honour.

The new Grand Master, Orthellion de Martellus, is of a different cut than his predecessor. His entire career has been spent fighting the Dark Horde, first in defence of the Old Colonies when the orcs overran them. Later he served on one of the Knights' galleys, raiding the shores of the occupied territories.

He eventually rose to the rank of Knight Admiral, and was a natural choice when a new Grand Master had to be elected. Martellus is also an Awakened, and the election of a magician as the head of the order led to open condemnation from the Temple of Man Supreme.

This condemnation culminated with the Arcane Congress, when the Arch Primarch of the Temple declared a War of Enlightenment on all who practiced magic. In response to this, the Grand Master had called in outstanding depts in the lands controlled by the Temple, and summoned every knight to the banner of St. Invictus.

The conflict reached a boiling point when the Black Hand sent Sensors to investigate the order. Martellus ordered them seized on the docks, clapped in irons, and shipped of the island. This act led to the Arch Primarch declaring the Knights of St. Invictus Enemies of Man.



Knight in full armour


Since he received his office, Martellus has been relentless in his work to improve the defenses of Cora. He has constantly been overseeing the construction of new fortifications, the weaving and strengthening of powerful wards, and diplomatic relationships with new allies.

As a result of this work, not only is the fortresses and around Borgen now among the greatest on Argos. There are also thousands of troops from Draccia and the Caliphate garrisoned on the island - both the Wolf Lords and the Awakened Viziers have invested greatly in the defence of Cora. There are also a large number of refugees from the Old Colonies living on the island, in addition to several scholars and Awakened adventurers who has fled the Erian pogroms.

Cora's perhaps the biggest asset is the ancient hallow, located in Castello de St. Invictus in the city of Borgen. Even if the island lies close to the Dark Continent, the hallow draws upon a ley-line connected to the Erian continent. As such, it cannot be corrupted as long as Eria remains outside the control of the Deep.

This hallow was recently enhanced by the Pius Cabal, making the island totally self sufficient in its demand for Mana. Another factor of the island's defense is the many artifacts and relics the order possesses. It is also believed that the Knights can call upon a large number of angels to stand against the inevitable attack.

As it stands today, the city of Borgen has become a vibrant mythopolis, with knights rubbing shoulders with magicians and shape-shifters. Angels stand watch on the towers, vast wards are being constructed, the faithful worship in temples to the New Gods, and the Grand Harbour is teeming with ships. There are people from a dozen tribes and creeds working, plying their trade, and preparing for the Enemy's next move.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Featured Artist: Keith Thompson

I have another one for you. I found Keith Thompson's work not too long ago, and I ended up going through all the pictures on his homepage. Not only does he have a distinct style that very much agrees with the images I see inside my own head, he also accompanies most of his work with short stories that tickles the imagination. I recommend that you visit his site and take the tour. It's well worth it.


While some of his artwork can be classified as steampunk, it's not the run of the mill begoggled-crazy-professor-type steampunkery you see so often. He also draws on references from both classical and contemporary art. Thompson's alternate pasts (and futures) have a distinct touch that sets them apart from the rest of them.


I have also discovered that Thompson has been working on the Leviathan series with author Scott Westerfeld. Without going into details here, I'll just say that those books have gotten on my reading-list.


So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


From Leviathan


Warden
The following is the vignette to this picture, and is written by the artist. Click the caption on the images below to read those vignettes. 
The Fey Folk, being barren, steal away human babies and raise them as their own, twisting them into fair forms. Often the fairies leave one of their own in the raided crib as a spiteful taunt to the oblivious parents. The Warden was a young fairy who took the place of a babe stolen from an old woodsman’s house deep in the forest. 
He would twist his face hideously as the old man and woman tried to love and care for him. Mischievously, the fairy would break valuables, set fires, and make the animals ill. Still, the parents patiently raised him.This continuing love puzzled the Warden, and he slowly became accustomed to it, growing tall and healthy as a young man would from such compassion.
He knew that he could never live as a man in the city, so he stayed with his new parents in their isolation until they eventually died, still thinking him their ugly, troubled son. In bitter grief, the warden took to the forest with the intent of returning the same sorrow the Fey doled out so generously. He now stalks through the forest, his size immense for a fairy from his humans’ diet, and the nurturing of the old couple. He captures all Fey Folk he comes across and lets them slowly waste away, savouring their pleas as they cry out in a language he hardly remembers. 
A young fairy with his wings clipped is chained to the turret in the Warden’s hat, where he is forced to use his man-catcher to snag those flitting high in the trees. An adder lives in the warden’s sleeve, darting out to capture fairies skulking in the underbrush. 
Men who find themselves lost in the forest often wake up to discover a small leather purse in which is a drawn map showing the way to town, and a bundle of small, iridescent wings tied together with the finest hair.

The Prophet

The Tower

Damned 02

Sedales Serpent from the Iron Grip game

The video below is from the on-line game Iron Grip. Here you can see some of Thompson's concept-work in action.


Monday, 25 October 2010

Chapter: Stormfront



This chapter picked up a day after where the last chapter left off. The cast is the same, though Bansl's player came a little after we began, and Tito's a little after that.


The following takes place between 23 Septium 1022 YE, and 14 Octavum 1022 YE.

After their victory at Geminon Field the cabal had a telepathic conference with Master Octavian of the Ordo Hermetica and Aktor Smit of the Wezellian Syndicate. The strategic picture was discussed, and some information exchanged. After this meeting, Master Galan decided to commune with their man in the Argonauts, Commander Colomb. To the surprise of the masters, Colomb was somewhere above the Enlightened Skythian Empire in a balloon-ship, seeking for the Pius Cabal, carrying a summoning from the King of Pendrell.

The heroes quickly answered this summoning, and appeared before King Rowar II. The king begged the masters to help him*. The problem was that over the last weeks, people had been disappearing from villages on Pendrell's southern coast. Whole villages were found empty, with food, live-stock, and valuables left behind. Up til now, some two thousand had vanished. As for witnesses, only four had been found - all seeming like empty bodies without a soul, none could provide any information on the matter.

As the cabal had other plans, they decided to put together an amalgam of six magicians, picked from all the traditions of the Arcane Congress. To lead this amalgam, they asked the Syndicate to appoint the seventh man, the one to lead the six. This group were then sent to look into the Pendrellian problem.

Once the First Amalgam had set out, the masters returned to the Pius who had been anchored on Cora. Here they presented three hundred revolving Bansl-rifles to the Knights of St. Invictus, and in discourse discovered that the fortifications on the island consumed a large quantity of mana each week. More in fact than the Knights' hallow could provide. This was something the wizards of the Pius decided they had to remedy.** After having performed the proper auguries, the ritual was completed to great success. In fact, the hallow now produced a surplus. The Knights were so pleased and impressed that they knighted the magicians, and threw a procession, with the necessary speeches and masses attached.

Bansl, the Master of Matter, became so inspired that he created a statue of the cabal to be placed in the city of Borgen.

Having wrapped up their business on Cora for the time being, the Pius now set out to find the Land of the elves beyond the Horizon. Plotting the course after the primestaff they had acquired from Mr. Godfree, the ship teleported to the easternmost point of the Waymar Islands. Here they saw why no ship had come from the Western Isles for the last seven months.

They came up to a forest-clad island as the morning sun arose behind them. The ocean had a sickly sheen, and there was a foul smell on the air. One of the seamen fished a dead sea-bird out of the water, covered in a black, sticky substance. On the horizon, the magicians could make out burning metal towers, rising out of the sea.

As the captain was about to plot a new course, Bansl's ravens warned that metal birds were coming over the island. As the ship blinked out of its location, the heroes could see these flying machines. Three of them, in formation, were coming over the green hills of the island. At the next location, the westernmost point of the Isles, things were much the same - with the difference of more activity. Towers were burning on the horizon, and six of the flying machines could be seen, in addition to a type of metal barrels with short towers pointing towards the sky. These were floating on the surface, and on the top of each there was a blinking light.

Despite the cloaking of the ship, they were quickly spotted from above, and the flying machines swooped down. Better prepared this time, the Pius went to full battle-stations. Then it teleported away, to the Land of the elves.

Following the primestaff led the heroes to the mouth of a great river with primordial, temperate forests on each shore. The sail inland took days and days, and the crew had to get in the boats and tow the ship until they got inside the tidal zone. After this, it was slow, peaceful days while the primestaff led them through the network of tributaries and steadily inland. One of the things that really bothered van Saar at this point was that he couldn't find the name of the Land of the elves; the great men of the Last War did too good a job of erasing the elves from the history of man for that.

At long last, the Pius rounded a bend in the river, and came upon a river pool, behind which a city carved out of the living rock reached for the heavens. A white pier stuck out of the forest on the far side, and on this pier a tall, slender silken-clad figure stood waiting.Though the figure had human-like features, it was most certainly not of the human race. This was Alyssia, the elven ambassador on the Waymar Islands, the same elf the cabal had spoken to earlier.

The visit with the elves did not go as the cabal had anticipated. Alyssia wouldn't let them into the city, and she kept repeating that in the final hour, the elves would buy the humans time. When the mages argued that this was the final hour, the elf didn't agree, and repeated the promise. At length, the heroes had to accept that the First of the Younger Races wouldn't take the field at this moment. In frustration, they then demanded to be allowed to talk to another elf, and to be shown the might of the elven race. The first was denied, and after days of persistence, the elves gave the cabal a parade.

Over the forest, flying vessels looking like great butterflies fashioned out of living wood, passed by. On the ground, thousands of beautiful, dangerous-looking, armoured warriors filed by. Finally realizing that the elves would not give them more, the cabal boarded the Pius and set a course back to the world of man.



*This I admit was a deliberate red herring, which the guys resolved elegantly.
** This red herring, however, was completely of their own manufacture.

Storyteller's note: At long last the group made it to the elven lands, and I cheated them of the dog-and-pony show they wanted. For that have to say, "I'm sorry, guys." Then again, having given the Elven Problem a lot of thought lately, I had reasons for making that decision. This is patently not the Final Hour. While it looks grim, the world is not ending right now. Granted, the apocalypse is seemingly on track, but as the elf-chick said, there is still hope. At least I still think so.

If the elves had been brought on to the scene now, what or who would then come to aid man when the final hour finally rolled around? Besides, that was their promise all along.

There are also details I have omitted in this post, but these are matters that deserve devoted posts so as not to lose the information in the text. These topics include: The Waymar Islands, Cora, and some more vague stuff about elves ;) I aim to get that up before next session.

Thanks for a good session.


[Picture source: unkown]

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Artifact: Grauengammer



The Grauengammer appears to be an ancient and worn Corinthian-style longsword. Legend has it that it was forged by Stregan Varerdaska, one of the seven Shade-wolves of Draccian lore. The sword has been in the Tito-family since the 5th century of Enlightenment. It is to have been given to Ligor Tito by Stregan Varerdaska himself, after Tito had sought out the avatar in the Worgan Mountains and bested him in a test of wits.


Grauengammer
Artifact llllllll
Mana 13
Damage 5
Powers:
Harm Spirit (Spirit llll) 
   Contingent: speak the words "by my blood."
Bestow Peer Across the Gauntlet (Spirit lll) 
   Contingent: glance along the flat of the blade.
Hostile Space* (Spirit lll + Mind ll
   Contingent: drive the point of the blade into the ground.


* Spell found in the Summoner book.


Storyteller's note: This is the family sword of the theurge Velimir Tito, a player character in the BoW.




[Picture source: The role of realism in RPGs part 1 on Codex Martialis]

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Saturday Movie Night: The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello

Well, I didn't make the deadline for the SMN this week - second week in, and already I'm slipping. Oh, well, overtime will do that sometimes. But at least it's still Saturday somewhere.

I thought I'd try to expand on the concept a bit by including a little round-up from the last week. More to the point, I'll give you the three best post I've read over the previous week. Before I get started, I need to include a little disclaimer. I am not setting myself up as an authority on good blogging, or even on penmanship. Further, while I try to read most posts on my blog-roll, there will be stuff I miss. So, if you feel left out, that's my bad, not yours. Now that that's out of the way, here's the stuff I think you should read if you haven't allready.

Round-up for week 42

There you go. My top three, in no particular order. I'm not sure if I'll make this a regular feature. We'll see next week.

Now onto tonight's main topic. This time I have two videos for you. The first I picked up on Thursday when Leketøys, one of the BoW-players, VJ'ed at a local bar. There was all sorts of really neat stuff on his play-lists, but this one made me take notice. Here you go, brilliant, disturbing, and confusing UNKLE.


And now the main feature of the evening, The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello. I've posted this on this blog before, but I know there are still may out there who haven't seen this awesome film yet. And it is a big inspiration for the Outsiders of the BoW. I hope you'll take the time to watch this Lovecraftian steampunk marvel of an animation.

Ha en fin kveld, godtfolk.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Pendrell

This is the first post in a long overdue series on the kingdoms, empires and states of Argos. First out is...

The Kingdom of Pendrell

click map to see full size


Government: Awakened Monarchy
Ruler: King Rowar II Garwellyn
Capital: Crondor

This kingdom occupies the southern part of the Aelevian Peninsula, west of the Inner Sea. It now borders to the Elfswood to the north, and two oceans on all other sides. The Pendrellian landscape is dominated by rolling, green hills and lush valleys. As of recent, a thick forest has sprung up, all but dividing the north from the south. The climate is temperate, and the temperature may fall below freezing for a few month in the winter. The autumn and spring often see longer periods of rain, while the summers tend to be long and mild.

Before the Elfswar, the peninsula was largely covered in a thick, primordial forest called the Aelvinwoode. As the name infers, this was the homeland of an elven house, the Andradhril. This was the last of the elven houses in Eria, and the peninsula also saw some of the heaviest fighting of the centuries-long Elfswar. Over the span of several generations, the forest was burned and cleared, and battle for battle, the elves were driven off their ancient lands.



Most of this fighting were done by the legions of the Penderii tribe, led in the last century of the war by Lord Solar Aegenmar Macharius. The Pendrellian kingdom was founded in 5 YE, when Macharius led the his tribe to leave the Skythian Empire. When he was proclaimed king, he took as his seat the Oaken Throne, a large chair carved from the stem of the Heart tree of the defeated elves. Macharius, now King Aegenmar I of Pendrell, wrote the Macharian Laws that still dominates most Western Erian legal systems. In these first years of the Third Age, he also created the Cabal of Pure Thought, and sowed the seeds that would later develop into the Ministerium. 

In the system of government laid out by Macharius, the Ministerium was the third House of government, the other two being the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The king, while being the head of state, had to have the support of at least two of the Houses to levy taxes and pass laws. This system was to last for a thousand years.


Pendrellian landscape


Over the following centuries, Pendrell stayed out of the many wars that ripped the Skythian Empire apart. In this period the kingdom enjoyed a time of growth and prosperity, and slowly most of the peninsula was settled. A few lesser tribes who had lived on the outskirts of the Aelvinwoode before the Elfswar, as well as people fleeing the turbulent southern Eria, further swelled the population.

By the end of the 8th century of Enlightenment, the Ministerium had developed from being just a domestic power to being an authority in all of Western Eria. By now, the Cabal of Pure Thought consisted of more than half a dozen universities, cabals, collegiums and societies from several states and kingdoms. To prevent dogmatic wars between the various members of the Cabal, the Ministerium was made the ruling body of all these different groups. As such, the Ministerium had now become second only to the Temple of Man Supreme in Paradigmatic authority.

Another important development in the 8th century was the birth of the Presbyterian movement. This movement sprung out of the peasant-communities of northern Pendrell, and were opposed to the ownership of land by those who do not work it. Even if this led to conflicts with the nobility, the Presbyterian ideas quickly spread, and by the end of the century the Presbyterium had become a member of the Ministerium.

When the first century of Enlightenment drew to and end, the Presbyterium had come to dominate the domestic policies of the Ministerium, and had also gained a large following in the House of Commons. Following the failed Macharian plot on King Arthor XIII on St. Revan's Day in 997 YE, the Presbyterian-controlled Ministerium instigated a series of purges of prominent Macharites in the government. Later it has become clear that the plot was fabricated by central figures in the Presbyterium.

Over the generation that followed the St. Revan's Day Plot, shadow tribunals became commonplace, and in the end anyone who criticised the government stood in peril of just vanishing. By the 1010's, the House of Lords had been all but neutralized, and the Presbyterian majority in the House of Commons wrote off on any law passed by the Ministerium. The had by now become nothing more than an impotent figurehead. As magic returned to Argos, the agents of the Ministerium also carried out strict pogroms against anyone suspected of arcane connections. 


King Rowar II marches on Crondor

Things came to a boil when the Presbyterium led Pendrell to declare war on the Wezellian Syndicate in Primium 1022 YE. Shortly after the outbreak of this war a great dragon laid waste to Five Fort Vale in north-western Pendrell, and within days of this remnants of the elves of the Andradhril struck deep into Pendrell. This attack was of a nature never seen before, and the kingdom stood completely powerless to stop this old enemy's vengeance. As the elves penetrated deeper, the lands became covered by a terrible forest that sprang up over night, as if by sorcery and vile magics.

The old King Arthor XIII now did made is probably the bravest action in his life. He fell on his sword, and leaving no direct heir, he then left the kingdom without a ruler. This window of opportunity was seized by the young Rowar Garwellyn, Duke of Ayre. Quickly raising an army, he made a claim on the Oaken Throne and marched on the capital.

The civil war was to be a short one, lasting less than two months. A cabal of magicians retrieved the Crown of Pendrell from the vaults of the Royal Bastion, and after the new king had been crowned, aided him in crossing the River Ayre undetected. In the resulting battle, the Presbyterian army was defeated, and the king could now march all the way to Crondor. It is also said that the king Awakened on the morning before the battle. In these same  days, he also struck a peace with the elves, promising that the people of his kingdom should never venture into the Elfswood.

In the months that followed, the remaining Presbyterians were driven out of southern Pendrell, and the Awakened king has devoted all his energies to reorganizing his realm. Amongst other things, he has disbanded the Ministerium, and reorganized the two remaining Houses. Much land has also been lost to the Elfswood, and the northern parts of the peninsula, with the duchies of Windshire and the Highlands, is held by the remnants of the Presbyterium. The southern duchies of Ayre, Sothershire and the Midlands have all sworn allegiance to the king.

Despite the hardships in his kingdom, King Rowar II has joined the Enlightened Alliance, and is preparing for the Great War.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

An Introduction to the Book of Worlds


This is something I've been meaning to write for a long time. If you are a new player in the Book of Worlds, or if you are just plain curious, this is the first post you should read. It should give you a basic understanding of the world of Argos, and the events that are taking place there.

This post will be edited to reflect changes in the world, and links will be added to this text as the relevant posts are published.

For any questions you may have, please post them in the comment field - I am notified of comments even on old posts - or you could talk to me in person, if that is an option. I will do my best to provide a satisfying answer.

Introduction
The world of Argos is dominated by Early Enlightenment-era cultures, and much of the real-world reference material used to build it is drawn from the 17th century. This is the age of flintlock pistols, of fencing and intrigue, of burgeoning science, of pikes, muskets and cavalry, of trade and piracy, and much more. Think Three Musketeers, Solomon Kane, the English Civil War, the Thirty Years War, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei.

It is also a world in which magic is awakening after having been suppressed for a millennium. The history of Argos is the history of the rise and fall of civilizations, of mythic ages and great wars between good and evil, between races, kingdoms and religions, and even between gods and men.

Unlike our own world in the corresponding period, this world has not yet reached a stage where the world is mapped out, let alone fully settled. There are vast tracts of land where no civilized being has ever walked, and in these regions, fantastic and terrible things dwell. The world is divided into different Realms, or Paradigms, and each such Realm has its distinct metaphysical rules. Why this is so, or the exact nature of these differences is one of the great mysteries.

At present, the Third Age is coming to an end, and the Great War has broken out all across Argos. The Old Enemy, the Sleeper in the Deep has gathered its strength and is now reaching out to devour all of Creation. The world is changing, and the chronicles of the Book of Worlds are about that change.

Eria
Many peoples call Argos their home, but current events focus around the Erian continent. Here we find the kingdoms that formed the Hegemony of Man after the last Great War. Most of these realms sprung out of the old Skythian Empire - the Empire that defeated the gods and the elves in a long series of wars known as the Godslayer Wars and the Wars of Domination. Having driven all supernatural influences out of the World of Man, the Empire then outlawed magic, a decree that stood for a thousand years.

Throughout the Third Age, the Erians have stood divided between the two rivalling belief systems of the Cabal of Pure Thought and the Temple of Man Supreme. Both believed that humans were the highest form of life in all Creation, and that any other race was a blasphemy. 


The Cabal held hard work and rational thought to be the ideals all should strive towards, and against which all were measured. In the last years, the Cabal has been splintered, and most of the Northern Realms are now part of the Enlightened Alliance. This new alliance is united against the common enemy, the Sleeper in the Deep. It also recognises the importance of magic in this fight, and has removed many of the old laws against the supernatural.

The Temple on the other hand, worships the pure soul of man. It has become infiltrated and controlled by dark conspiracies secretly aiding the Enemy. In Southern Eria, religious fervour and old superstitions are being whipped into a frenzy of fear and hatred, most of this directed against the Enlightened Alliance and the witches and demons who control it. This hatred is also directed at any one suspected of witchcraft or free thinking; the smoke of the pyres have long been a common sight over the cities, towns and villages of the South.

Another factor in this age is the return of the gods. Most of the gods of man were slain, and their worshippers were killed or driven into exile as the Second Age drew to a close. Now a few of the old gods are returning, and new ones are appearing as man tuns to the supernal for aid and consolation. Temples and shrines are appearing all over Northern Eria, while the Black Hand persecutes any such worship with ruthless vigour in the South.

The World of Argos
Argos is more than Eria. To the north we find the Wild, a great land-mass covered in impenetrable wilderness, steep mountains, endless plains, and deep, dark forests. Only the northern shores of the White Ocean and the western coast of the Wild has been settled. These are both shielded from the Wild by ragged mountain ranges, and few humans have braved the lands behind. Rumours and legends tell of ruins of lost civilizations, and of foul creatures inhabiting this large white area on the map.

To the east we find the enormous Principality of Wukowsky. This feudal realm stretches from the eastern shores of the White Ocean and into the icy Lands of Endless Winter. While the Erian kingdoms have reached a state of enlightened development, the Principality is stranded in a dark-age agricultural society. The nobility lives in unfathomable opulence - the serfs live a life of endless toil and hardship.

Further south we come to the Hannuman Caliphate, a large realm consisting of deserts, jungles and archipelagos. It is ruled by the Council of Awakened Viziers, a conglomerate of religious magicians following the teachings of Aziz. One of the first major battles of the Great War was fought on the sands of the Caliphate, and it was in this battle that Aziz gave his life so that the fallen Daeva, Grishnak, could be defeated by the first of the younger gods,  the Lord of Nightmares. 

The death of the Daeva released a flood of magical energy that caused a mass of awakenings all over Argos, nowhere more so than in the Caliphate. The war on Grishnak also left countless nightmares free to roam the lands, and today the Caliphate is still struggling to rebuild.

Before we leave these lands, two distinct realms should be mentioned. One is the Hermetic Order State, located on the northern shores of the White ocean. The other is Draccia, home of the Wolf Lords. These mythocracies survived the the wars on the supernaturals that cleansed the World of Man of their kind, and has become a part of the world as the Erians sees it.

The Hermetic State is ruled by the Ordo Hermetica, probably the oldest magical order in the world. Few outside the Order has been past the port city of Goeteshafen, but rumours tell of weird and wondrous things being commonplace between the mountains that shield the lush farmlands of the realm.

Draccia, on the other hand, is a feudal state where the Wolf Lords make up the ruling class. These shape-shifters seldom venture outside their borders, but lately they have become involved in the Great War, as have the Hermetics.

South of Eria, on the other side of the treacherous waters of the Straits of Ahriman, lies the Dark Continent. Legend has it that it was here that Man first arose from the dust of Creation, and that it was here that the Sleeper in the Deep fell onto Argos. It was also here that the First great War was fought. Since then, the continent has been all but abandoned by the civilized tribes, and up until recently the only known settlements were in the Old Colonies on the north of the continent.

A generation ago, the Orc tribes of the Dark Continent became united under a great warlord named Ghurandahk. In but a few years he had acquired industry, and forged his race into a vast army. This army he first turned on the Old Colonies, and before any force could be brought to bear, he had conquered all of the human realms on the continent.

An army was assembled to reclaim the lost colonies and defeat the Dark Horde. This army, the Host of Man, was the first human force in more than a thousand years to be supported by magic. Still, after months of fighting gruesome battles against this terrible enemy, the campaign had to be abandoned.  Now the Dark Continent is outside the World of Man.

In the far east lies the Kithayan Empire, called the Empire in the Middle of Time by themselves. Few Erians have ever been this far east, and even fewer have been allowed to travel these mysterious lands. The Kithayans themselves seldom travel the world outside their borders, and what exchange there is between Eria and this realm is through trade conducted mostly by Hannuman merchants.

The last place we'll visit on this tour is the Waymar Islands, far to the west of Eria. It was here that the Covenant between humans and elves was signed at the end of the Second Age. These rich islands have drawn adventurers and dissidents from the Erian realms ever since, and many an adventuring gentleman has struck rich on trade or other, less honest endeavours on the Islands.

Finally, beyond the Empty Sea, somewhere over the horizon, legends say that there is a vast and beautiful land, the land of the elves. Some claim to have been there, but none have been able to recall the course they sailed, or what star they followed to reach those distant shores. Many more are those who have set out to find the elven harbours, only to never be heard from again.

The Book of Worlds
The world of Argos is a part of a greater multiverse. This multiverse encompasses all of Creation, and all the metaphysical planes. The Prime Material plane, or the physical reality, is where we find Argos. Other worlds and other planes have an interest in the events taking place here, and sometimes agents from these places will meddle or interfere with what's going on here.  Still, while these outside forces may try to affect the world of Argos, they are not the focus of the story.


The most active of these outsiders are the Ordo Ultima Thule. This organization comes from a dead world far away, and their goal is to awaken the Sleeper in the Deep. They are far more advanced than the cultures of Argos, and they employ dark arts and foul rituals to warp the human body and soul to serve their blasphemous goals.

The Game
The Book of Worlds is about mystery, magic, horror, and the eternal struggle against good and evil. It is about the fallibility, and the folly, of man. It is about telling a captivating story, and seeing the characters and the setting change and grow as a result of the choices made.


The game is Mage: the Awakening, with elements of the other White Wolf-lines thrown in. There is also an element of fantasy added to the mix, as well as a liberal dash of Call of Cthulhu - the Sleeper in the Deep is in fact the Great Old One.

Further reading
The following posts also provide valuable information on the setting.
Argos, a short introduction - the first introduction post, written when the world was still relatively young.

Atlas, vol. I - a Flikr album that contains most of the maps I have drawn for Argos. A work in progress.
Chapters - here you can find play-reports of the previous sessions.
Historical References - this is the label I use when I publish source material from our own history.
Languages - A list of the languages spoken on Argos.
Mechanics - under this label you will find some of the house-rules of the BoW, as well as a few resources for playing and understanding the system.
Metaphysical Topography - here you can read about the various planes, and how they relate to the physical reality.
The Pantheon of Argos - an overview of contemporary deities.
Timeline - this timeline is kept up to date, and most important events are listed.
Tower of Heavens - the Rosetta Stone of the Book of Worlds. This is the first written material ever produced for this setting, and almost everything since is based upon this.

Under the "Index" header in the side-bar of this blog you will find a list of links to informative posts and resources of my own making. Further down, under "Other Resources," you can find relevant off-site resources that will help you build and play a character in the Book of Worlds.


[Artist: Keith Thompson]