Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Black Friars

The Monastic Order of the Black Friars of St Erecius stems from Lord Solar Macharius's own legion, Legio XXIII 'Nemesis'. Their teachings are modeled after the works of Macharius's bloodbrother, St Erecius, and places great weight on the individual's duties to Creation.

For centuries, the Order of the Black Friars have served the Kings of Pendrell as advisors and bodyguards, but after the Revan's Eve Plot in YE 996, they lost standing in the court due to their inability to prevent the assasination attempt on the king.

Six years later, in YE 1002, they were accused of blasphmy, and acts of enmity against Man. The case led to the Order being declared Anathema, and its lands being transferred in equal parts to the Royal House and the Ministerium. Ninetythree friars were imprisoned, seven were executed, and the Order was disbanded.

The fall of the Black Friars caused great harm to the Macharite philosophy, and in its stead, the Presbyterian teachings have gained hegemony of the Pendrellian society.

Macharius: Codex of Creation

Storyteller's note: This is an excerpt of  the cornerstone of Macharian thought and the Doctrine of Pure Thought. This work is central in most Western Erian thinking over the last millennium, and is arguably the most read book on Argos.

Lord Solar Agenmar Macharius was the greatest general of the Scythian Empire during the Second World War, and the founder of Pendrell. He was also the greatest mind of the Cabal of Pure Thought, and today, a thousand years after the Covenant his thoughts still guide the pure of thought. 

Chapter I
The Ascension of Man 
In the dawn of time, Man rose from the dust of Creation. He hunted the beasts that grazed the plains, and gathered the fruits that grew on the trees. He was content in his existence, living in smoke filled huts, for he knew not of anything more. 
In this world, peace reigned, and Man was ignorant of anything else, for he was protected by Elf, his elder. Thus he spread across the lands, not by design, but instead following the great animals that were his prey. 
It was here that the first gods found Man, for they saw the power in his soul. Man, grateful for their aid, paid the gods in sacrifices. In these early days the gods stayed close to the smoke from the altairs, and Man was given safety and good fortune in return for his slaugthterd lambs and worship. 
There was a Great Enemy, come into Creation from Outside. The agent of this darkness was the Orc, a twisted creature, not of Creation. Against the Enemy stood the Elf, but as the Dark Horde grew in power it came that the gods themselves had to do battle with the Eternal Foe, for darkness threatened to engulf all. 
Against this enemy Man was powerless, and as his guardians were locked in battle he suffered. The very flame of his soul were flickering in these winds of war. 
Thus it came to pass, that in this darkest hour Man proved his mettle. Seeing that his guardians were hard pressed, and that each night grew darker and colder, he snuck into the Halls of the Gods and stole that which they would not give, even on the brink of defeat. This, the secret of Creation, the gods guarded with such jealosy that they'd rather see the lands made barren, and all of Creation laid to waste, than share it with Man. 
Man, now armed with what was rightfully his, rose from the howels and caves in which he dwelled. He built the First City, and from it he marched to stand beside Elf and gods against the Enemy. What the guardians could not defeat, were now driven back by the combined armies. By claiming his right, Man prevented the greatest of defeats. Thus it was that the Orc was crushed, and Darkness driven to the very depths of Creation. Here it lies, entombed til the end of time. 
The Enemy defeated, the gods grew jealous of the Enlightenment of Man for they had not forgiven. Fearing the loss of their power, and hungering for obedience, they demanded more and more of those they should protect. Once content with prayer and sacrifice of crops or animals, they hungered for more. Their greed would only be quelched with the blood of Man. 
Those who refused to meet the demands of the cruel gods were punished with famine, pestilence, plagues of pests, and the einmity of their brothers who worshiped still. 
Likewise, as the realms of Man grew, the older brother, Elf, once the benevolent protector, grew resentful. Forgetting the blood shed together against that common foe, the Eternal Enemy, they now turned upon Man with great fury. 
In the face of such unfathomable betrayal, the Light of Man once more seemed close to extinction. It was in these fateful days Man claimed his rightful place in Creation. No longer protected by his former guardians, Man turned to himself and found great power. He went to war against Elf and gods, driving them from his lands, and strenghtening his own flame til it burned the strongest. 
Thus it was that Man's old allies, turned traitors, were defeated, and from the ashes of this war the Hegemony of Man arose. 
We must never forget that only in himself can Man find the strength to overcome those who wish to prey upon him. Only in his own brother can man find community. We, Man, are the Exalted, the First of Creation. 
Look to your brother, Man, and there you will see your duty. Stand true, and serve him well, for there are no one else who will come to your aid. The Light of Man must burn, and you must stoke its embers faithfully, ere it will extinguish. 
Let these great treacheries never be forgotten, and remember always that Man is the Master of all Creation. Let it be known that the Greatest Betrayals are that of worship of a god, that of allying with Elf, and that of communing with an outsider. He who makes himself guilty of any of these Betrayals are to be named Enemy of Man. 

So say we all. 
Further on the Codex- 
Chapter II: The Eternal Duties
Where he speaks of every man's obligation to advance his civilization. 
Chapter III: The Purity of Thought

The Principles of Macharius 
I will not give worship to gods, for they serve none but themselves.
I will not seek their aid, nor their blessing.
I will not take their gifts, for the prize is the purity of my soul.
I shall not taint my soul, for my soul is a part of the Light of Man. 
I believe in thought and reason, I believe in work and sacrifice.
I believe in the pursuit of Enlightenment of Man.
I believe in the Sanctity of Man.
I believe in the Hegemony of Man. 
I will do my duty to those who have gone before me, for they have made the world I know.
I will do my duty to those who stand beside me, for they will shape the world I see.
I will do my duty to those who comes after me, for they will refine the world I leave.
I will do my duty to Creation, for Man is its protector. 
Though I am tempted by gifts from Gods or Outsiders, I shall not accept.
Though I am threatened with pain or loss by any who wish to sway my mind, I shall not yield.
Though I find myself in the Valley of Darkness, I shall not despair.
For even if I may perish, my soul will return to Creation. 
I will not practise dark arts, for they will weigh down my soul.
I will not practise arcane arts, for they will tarnish my soul.
I will not practise acts of worship, for they will dilute my soul.
I will guard the purity of my soul, for it is the Soul of Man. 
I am Man, I am pure in mind and soul.
I am Man, I am steadfast in my work.
I am Man, I am the protector of life.
I am Man, I am the Light of Reason. 
Chapter IV: The Enlightened Society
Where the distribution of power within a realm is discussed. 
Chapter V: The Order of Things
Where Creation is described, and things are placed in relation to eachother. 
Chapter VI: The Duties of Those Who Rule
Where the rulers's duties to the civilization are discussed. 
Chapter VII: The Duties of Those Who Serve
Where the duties of the common man to the civilization are discussed. 
Chapter VIII: The Duties of Those Who Fight
Where the duties of soldiers are discussed. 
Chapter IX: The Duties if Those Who Think
Where the duties of scholars and philosophers are discussed. 
Chapter X: The Dangers of Complasency
Where we are warned of the dangers of not pursuing the constant progress of the civilization.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

The last chapter

Last time the Company, or the Pius Cabal, as they are often referred to now, traveled to the city of Victoria, killed Akkran the slaver, and took control over his house.

We started with a few hours of calm, where the Company sat down in the late slaver's throne room and laid out their combat-strategy and discussed the order of things.

They were interrupted by one of the marines who reported that there was enemy activity on the square in front of the slaver's house. Just when the soldier left the room, someone else entered.

The uninvited guest was a young man, extremely beautiful, dressed in a black silk tunic with silver embroideries, and a luxurious cape, draped around him like a tunic. He seemed at ease in the situation, and spoke with a deep, almost soothing voice. He introduced himself as Caracalla.

With him was a tall, muscular man, cleanly shaven, both head and face. Dressed only in a loincloth and a loose robe hanging open over his shoulders, the tattoos that covered him from head to toe were clearly visible. He did not speak, and stood quietly, head bent, with the fingers if his hands forming a cage. This was the Painted Man.

Caracalla quickly had everybody's full attention, and as he himself said, he was "very pleased that fate had blessed them with this wonderful opportunity." His magnetic charm and animal attraction quickly had the heroes fumbling their words.

As fortune would have it, the Dark Prince had some business with the late slaver, and he came hoping that this could be resolved without un-necessary bloodshed.

The business was about a simple slave, a master jeweler, and the Dark Prince was prepared to offer the Company as much as three hours before the slaver's house was stormed. Additionally, he gave the heroes two paths they could follow. Now, the Company, the Pius Cabal, the last hope of Man, were a little antagonized by the young half-god. When he told them that Armand's assault on Cora had been successful, and that the plagueship Naglfār had left port this very morning, and would reach an Erian port within the fortnight, they did not see this as relevant for them.

And here it got interesting. Tradesmaster Drake/M'narcel (whom the Dark Prince already knew of; his mother had, according to him, helped him free his name) was speaking for the Company, while van Zaar and Banzel had prepared an course of action. They planned to repeat the success from the slaver's death, with a magically prepared and assisted shot to the head. They planned to take out the Painted Man. Now, at this point, the heroes have almost mastered the art of telepathic communication, and can thus, as long as Galan keeps the spell going, coordinate their actions without speaking. Still, when the plan sprung into action, nothing happened. Rather, Banzel's pistol, the one he took from a Proxima after a firefight in Göteshafen in the early days of their adventures, misfired. And between the Painted Man's hands there was a swirl of magical energy.

Drake/M'narcel noticed that what the tattooed nefandi was holding was actually the entire throne room, and that he thus had total control over the local paradigm. Galan now set about unraveling the spell enough to drive a bullet through the wards and protective fields surrounding the nefandi. He managed to nick the enemy in the arm. And then the shit hit the fan.

The Painted Man brought his hands apart with a sound similar to that made when an apple is broken in half, and dropped his cloak to the ground. As a cold, vast darkness crashed over the heroes like a mighty wave, Drake/M'narcel made two new discoveries. First that not only had the Painted Man controlled the paradigm, he had also submerged the entire scene into the dark caverns of the Deep. Now that he no longer contained them, they were litterally in way over their heads. The second discovery was that the nefandi wasn't technically there. He was in fact skin-riding the tattooed body.

When the wave receded, Caracalla was gone, and things were now starting to look bleak in earnest.

And this was when van Zaar decided to pull the mother of all rabbits out of his sleeve. He had been preparing his spell since the failed attack on the Painted Man; van Zaar undid the entire ill-fated chain of events, from immediately before Banzel took his shot.

And thus, just like that, nothing drastic or terminal happened. They somewhat politely told Caracalla thanks, but no thanks, and saw the Dark Prince off. The Painted Man lingered until his master had left the slaver's house, then he folded up on himself and vanished.

Alone again, the Company prepared to defend the fortified city-estate. Banzel and the Prince ran to the front courtyard, while Galan, Drake and van Zaar took to the rooftop terrace to coordinate the defenses. On the roof, Galan used his magical powers to get a full picture of the situation. A full company of pit-orcs, with a great, mallet-wielding troll, were in position on the square in front of the manor, while a company of Hollow Men, elite Blood Legion, with ladders, were moving in on the rear wall. Drake went down to muster the slaver's surviving guards (last chapter he managed to scare them into obedience). Let it be said that the Warlock can be right terrifying when he sets his mind to it.

At this point, Drake remembered that there was a pit below the throne room. Faced with a prolonged battle that would, like as not, have ended in tears, the Company decided that even for them, discretion was the better part of valor.

The marines and the Enæïd fell back to the pit, while Drake's lads got the honor of buying them time.
In the ancient catacombs beneath the city, Galan and Banzel (the former with scrying ahead, the latter with opening new tunnels, or closing old ones) took the party safely to a chamber. While the men rested, the Cabal convened for a council. Several wooly theories were explored, and van Zaar took the opportunity to rattle the bones again. They also discovered that the floor of the catacombs was covered in broken bones, effigies were disfigured, and beneath the layer of crushed bones they found a dark glyph of denial. After a period of back and forth they decided to break the glyph. The result was perhaps not spectacular, but both Galan and Drake became aware of the proximity to another realm.

After another stretch of heated debate, the Cabal, in its infinite wisdom, determined that they should not let themselves be distracted by the big picture.

Lt Lance (the young officer of the marines) had a falling out with van Zaar over this decision; he went so far as to call him a coin-clinker and a banker.

After having figured out their mission (again) they declared themselves saboteurs, and set out to weaken the city's defenses, all the while avoiding the hunting packs of Orc, the forge demons, and the other nasties that swarmed through the catacombs in search of the Pius Cabal. Come morning, Banzel had undermined a section of the city walls, and almost as the sun broke, Galan was telepathically contacted by Octavian. The Hermetic told them what they had known since a few hours past noon the day before, namely that the gateposts on Cora had been lost. His ship was shadowing the Kraken on a south-westerly course, but could do naught about it. He also informed them that the Marshall of the Host had dedicated all the dead of the storming of Mulwar to Dìs, the god of death.

At this point the Cabal decided to call it quits and return to the Host. So they broke another dark glyph of denial, pierced the Gauntlet, and entered the Underworld. They passed through old tunnels and soon found themselves by the shore of a large, underground body of water in a vast, pillared chamber. When the ferryman came, Banzel could pay the fare with the pouch of assorted change he got from his senile grandfather before he left Pendrell.

Arriving in the newly taken city of Mulwar, complete with all the soldierly pastimes belonging to a fresh victory, the Company made their way to the Marshall's command-post. Here van Zaar tried to convince the commander to not attack Victoria due to the presence of the Dark Prince, and something about a prophecy, and doom... And after some more semi-coherent rambling about the end of days they were all dismissed.

End of chapter, and now it'll be a few weeks til the next one due to honeymooning and vacations.

Storyteller's note: First off, I must say I'm pretty impressed with the group, the bad thing is that so are they. In all seriousness, though, even if they would have lost the fight with the Painted Man, or at the very least won an extremely expensive victory (we're talking dead characters here), the manner of retreat just gave them even more of a swagger. And (tongue firmly in cheek now) swaggering players is not a good thing. It's time to put the fear of the dark back in them, I believe...

Don't get me wrong, though, I don't begrudge them their success, but while they are congratulating themselves, the world is going to shit around them. There are so many bad things happening on Argos right now... And here I was starting to feel optimistic about it.

I also see a few things I should cover within not too long, like the Death-worshipping Stygian Empire, for one.

Also, I see that I need to step up to the plate where group-integration is concerned. Running a game with five players is a completely different one than I'm used to, and I see that it is easy for them to sort of fall between the cracks when things speed up.

Lastly, I will confess that the Painted Man's presence is the result of a bit of thievery on my part. I took him from Peter V. Brett's book, The Painted Man and made him a nefandi. The picture in this post is from that same site.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Another article from The Correspondent, this one from YE 1017.

~ And Dark Knights fell upon the Heirs ~

~ Correspondent XXIV ~

The origin of the seven Swordgaunts are lost in myth, but the three most reliable sources are Kalshan and bar Mahhout, both scolars of the First Century of Enlightenment, and the Xantuul-fragments of the early Second Age.

Kalshan writes:
"The Swordgaunt is a tall, gaunt figure clad in black full plate mail with a long cape made out of darkness and shadows. His face is pale, with a wax-like shine. His lifeless hair flows like strings of coagulated tar, and his eyes glow like the cold winter sun. On his head he wears a crown wrought of a dozen sharp blades. He wields the sword Kawnshuagh and a Nightmare serves as his steed."

Here Kalshan is believed to speak of the witch-king Hanamog who held the city of Mulwar thrall around 450 BC.  According to Kalshan, this feind were slain by the hero Abbanzar when he freed the city. It is this correspondent's believef that Kalshan mistakenly thought that the witch-king and the Swordgaunts were of the same ilk. This conclusion builds on an Orcish legend discovered in my journeys on the Dark Continent in the last days of the Old Colonies. The witch-king is also mentioned in the Bolianor, see below.

Bar Mahout writes:
"The Swordgaunts, seven, once great heroes. Their armours, empty shells; their faces, forgotten memories. The seven, once heroes, now hollow men. Not blood but empty darkness in their veins. Not love but cold hunger in their hearts."

Both these sources clearly points towards a nature of soullessness, and as such unnatural to this world.

The oldest source that mentions the Seven is the Xantuul-fragments, pieces of three Second Age tablets, bearing the eulogy of King Humarrahim of the Illai.

The Illai was a great tribe in the First Age, and Humarrahim was their captain in the Great War. The fragments tell of seven great warriors who set out to destroy the Dark Queen of Gerem Faït, said to be a master of the elven art of naming. (Note that the Dark Queen is believed to be the same entity the Orc now worship as Mother) They were never seen again alive, but over the following Generation (here: Generation of the Exalted -- a period of time roughly four hundred years long) seven armoured warriors hunted the royal line of the Illai. Humarrahim was the last of his house, but the parts of the Xantuul-tablets that speaks of his fate are long lost (the fragments we have were lost earlier this year in an unexplained explosion that destroyed the Abbey of Nerwalt).

Various lesser sources claim that as many as five of the Swordgaunts may have been slain over the ages, but this cannot be held for certain. Keep in mind that the Erian Republic-era epic poem, the Bolianor, has Irendar slay the witch-king of Gerenfall already as early as in the sixth or seventh century BC.

The Swordgaunts appear here and there in tales and legends, but they seem to be bound primarily to the Dark Continent, with only brief and allegorical mentions of them in Erian culture. I write of these now so that if they too should reappear in this Dark Age, they be known to those they fall upon. Remember that in every myth there is a shard of truth, and that whatever has happened before shall happen again.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Gift of Industry

Storyteller's note: The following article was published in the Committee of Correspondence's printsheet 'The Correspondent', in Octavum YE 1021

The Committee of Correspondence is a secret network of scholars and free thinkers that spans most of Eria. There are cells in many cities and universities. They communicate through a complex and clandestine network of couriers, and a printsheet that is published four times a year. Both the Temple and the Cabal have declared the Committee subversive and dangerous.

The topics discussed in The Correspondent cover a wide field, from philosophy, through metaphysics, to magical theory. In the past there has been articles on the nature of Ascencion, on the origin of magic, on the Cult of Shaitani, and on the rise of the Younger Gods.

There will most likely be posts of other articles from The Correspondent in the future.


Esteemed fellow correspondents,

As per Your request I have looked into the Rise of the Orc on the Dark Continent.

One of the greatest betrayals of Man in the Third Age was the Gift of Industry to the Orc. In the following I will attempt to shed some light on this dark deed.

Little is known about the man who did this horrible thing, but he is reliably believed to have been an Outsider. Two names are known for him, both are monikers, Futurist and Rogue Navigator. I have, however, recently discovered what might be a name closer to the core: Major Rigby.

We know that sometime after the Great Storm that hit Cora on 21st Dodecium in YE 999, Franko da Cola met this Outsider. Where he came from, and for what errand, is not known.

At this time, da Cola served the Orc Ghurandakh as his vizier, and aided in the unification of the tribes. However, even a unified Orc could not have accomplished what came to pass without aid, for the race is a primitive one, and the weapons of Man would have defeated the horde.

How the Gift was given is not known, but what is known is that for three years before the Occupation, the Orc built factories. From what I have been able to ascertain, these factories where primitive compared to even the most decrepit Erian mill-works. Still, it enabled the Orc to produce firearms on a scale big enough to field large numbers of muskets, and a considerable amount of heavier ordnance.

Hereunder I must add that the Orc was also supplied with a large number of rifles of good quality from an unknown source. Yet again what little evidence there is points towards da Cola.

Less know than industry is the second gift. It is not often spoken of, but I am certain that the Outsider, who served as the Chief of Staff to the Kahn of the Black Blood during the years leading up to the Occupation, also gave the Orc advanced strategy. When the Dark Horde crossed the desert, it was as an organized army. The warriors were deployed in regiments, and its weapons were used with intent and design.

One point needs clarification: the nature of gifts such as these. It is vital to understand the metaphysical mechanisms at work here. The following factors apply. First, Magic has awakened. Second, the Orc is a creature with a singular ability, namely that of forming a horde (each individual will become nothing but a part of the greater unit, akin to a hive or a flock of birds). Lastly, the Gifts were more than knowledge; they were doctrines, and they were the secret of understanding how to apply the doctrines. Understand that the society of the Orc is no more advanced today than it was a hundred years ago.

From what I have learned through my research, I have come to two conclusions.

We, Man, are guilty of a mistake of epic proportions in not exterminating the Black Blood after the First World War. The scourge of the Orc is truly the sins of the fathers come to be visited upon us, their children. This time we have no choice but Genocide.

The second conclusion is that we must be cautious in our dealings with the Outsiders. They are agents of their own agendas, and we cannot allow ourselves to become dependent upon them. Argos and the fate of Man depends upon it.

Your humble servant,

Correspondent XIII

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The guys

This is the crew of the current chronicle, the Book of Reckoning. From top left: Håvard, Eirik S, Bjørge, yours truly. Bottom row, from the left: Eirik M, Rune.

The Orc

When Darkness was defeated in the First Great War, the Orc was hunted by both Elf and Man. The Black Blood was all but vanquished, and driven deep into the wild regions of Argos.

On the Broken Coast of the Dark Continent, small tribes survived deep in the fjords, valleys and mountains. These lands were harsh, and Man had no use for them, so the Orc was left alone for most of the Second and Third Age.

Now, the Orc is not a particularly advanced race. Its society is dominated by the warrior, and martial prowress, strngth and cunning are the only respected qualities. The tribes are split into warbands, each no larger than the leader manages to rule through force and intimidation.

The society of the Orc is male dominated, and females are regarded as property. The strongest warriors mate with those females he chooses, and the weaker ones have no chance to procreate unless they manage to rape or steal a female from another tribe.

The Orc's physiology demands meat. In fact, they need meat to retain their strength and their wits. A Black Blood who can't eat meat regularly will grow docile and dim. This has led to two classes of Orc. The workers, who eat swills and vegetables, are smaller and more decrepit than the carnivorous warriors.

As a point of interest it could be mentioned that before the occupation of the Colonies, there were Orc slaves kept by human entrepeneurs. This was technically illegal, as even vegetated Black Bloods could be dangerous. The most dominant drive of the Orc is the hunger for flesh.

It is said that the only thing the Orc craves more than Man-flesh is Elf. It is known that a Black Blood, even if vegetated, can enter a feeding frenzy if it were to get hold of meat. This can also spread throughout the group, leading to a violent attack on any human in the vicinity.

This feeding frenzy is also a part of the aftermath of most Orc attacks, as the warriors will ravage and feed on the defeated enemy.

Pit Born
The Orc does not possess magic as such, but it is known that there are shamans amongst them that know certain dark rituals. The breeding-pits are an example of this.

Before the Rise of the Orc, Pit Born were seen as champions. On the few known occations where they were spawned, they were let loose on the enemy. Simple minded, with only rage, violence and hunger in their heads, they were seen as the embodiment of the anger of the Black Blood.

After the Awakening of Magic, the gift of Industry, the Rise of the Orc, and the Coming of the Darkness, the Orc has developed the Pits. Deep in the Fallen Star Mountains, in dark caves, vast pits spawn hundreds of Pit Born Orc each day. Shamans and tenders cut hungry warriors from their leathery wombs, the tar-like primal slime dripping from their muscular bodies. Then they are marched off to the Black Horde, or given to servants of the Deep as guards.

The Pit Born have no other function than murder and war.

Luckily, there are extremely few examples of such a blasphemous offspring of Man and Orc. Most women who get ravaged by a Black Blood will die from it, either during the conception, or during the pregnancy. No human is known to have survived giving birth to a Half-Orc, and should the offspring survive, it should be killed immediately.

See also: Dark Arts

Storyteller's note: I am looking for pictures of orcs that matches with how they look inside my head, but since I lost the one I felt gave them the justice they deserve, I haven't found it (or a new one) yet. Stay tuned...

Edit: Problem solved

[Artist: Nicholas Collings]

The last chapter

This is a synopsis of the last session.

The Company was summoned to the Marshall's tent, and before they left they were arguing their future course. M'narcel had, as we remember, agreed to kill Akkran the Slaver. Now, for some reason, both the Captain and van Zaar had problems with this. Still, they decided to go ahead with it and pitch their plan to the Marshall.

On the way to the command tent, the Captain was approached by a Mr Pettigrew. This fellow claimed to be with the Pendrellian Foreign Office, and offered the Captain a piece of information as a token of good will. He informed of a certain Father Tomas, an Aragonian Black Hand, who was here after a member of the Pius Cabal. Unfortunately, Mr Pettigrew couldn't say which member, since that piece of paper seemed to have been lost.

The Captain decided to keep this in mind.

In the command tent, the Marshall, his second, general Swartmark, an un-named Fire Lord, and an Aragonian priest waited for them.

Van Zaar presented the Company's plan to infiltrate the city of Victoria, and possibly neutralize some of the defenses before the Host turned towards this city. Without further ado this was approved.

Before they left the tent, the priest approached M'narcel and took his hand. He then looked him in the eye and called him by his truename and said, "you have received the Black Mark." M'narcel tried to stare the Father down, but had to cast his eyes down after a little while when a sharp pain shot through his head. When he turned away, a trickle of blood ran from his nose, and he had a inky, black mark between his thumb and his index finger.

When they left the camp of the Host the next morning, the marines were dressed as Blood Legion, and the Enæïd had been equipped with large, black cloaks. The plan was that M'narcel should act as a merchant, the Master Merchant Drake, the rest as his escort, and that they should just ride up to the city and ask for directions to Akkran's house.

This went smoothly, and during the two days it took them to reach Victoria, they were not bothered.

The Company got to see a little of how the Colonies worked, a generation after the occupation; most menial labor were done by scores of slaves, with human overseers. Soldiers and toughs were plentiful, but they saw relatively few of the Orc.

Upon arrival at the gates of Victoria, the Captain had had to have words with Master Drake, as the merchant took only too well to being in charge (it could also be mentioned that while the rest of the party struggled with the heat, Drake/M'narcel, wearing a black, leather overcoat, jacket and cravatte, had no such problems). Some worried that he was taking to the act a little too well.

Gaining entry to the city proved to be quite easy, as none seemed willing to challenge the sinister-looking Master Merchant who travelled with a Blood Legion escort and eighteen giants.

And so the Copany found themselves outside Akkran's gate. Again, the appearance of Drake, and his attitude, proved helpful. Of course, Akkran wasn't prepared to let fourty armed men into his house, so the Company left their troops outside under the command of lt. Lance and entered the proverbial lion's den.

Now, Akkran the Slaver was a prudent man. He had both mercenaries, monsters and a few Black Bloods, all dangerous-looking and ready for a brawl, on the premises. In Akkran's throne-room alone, the Company counted thirty one armed hostiles.

Akkran himself, an enormously obese man, dressed only in a loincloth, were lying on a large pile of pillows on a podium. A naked girl, too young, were hand feeding him sweetmeats and grapes. Around the throne-room, applicants and guards sat around tables, drinking, gambling and doing business. On the edge of the podium sat a naked man, dark skinned and muscular, a disinterested look on his face, a white, silver collar around his neck, playing absenimdedly with a small flame.

The Major Domo started the negotiations with Drake - the eminent Akkran was not the kind of man who deigned to talk to just anyone.

When it became apparent that Drake meant to sell the eighteen giants, Akkran wanted to see how good they were. Prince Aegir, being in the room, became the natural choice for the demonstration, and when the pit was opened he jumped in.

And that's how the fight started.

The monster in the pit proved to be a pit-troll, a four meter tall mountain of hurt, with small, malevolent eyes. As the troll attacked, Drake and the Major Domo were arguing terms for a bet. Van Zaar, Galan and Banzel had prepared for action, Galan coordinating it through mental projection (thus avoiding the attention of the hostiles).

The Prince manages to wound the troll, but takes a jab to the shoulder that all but sends him on his back. Banzel, having prepared his magic, whips out his gun and puts a bolt between the fat slaver's eyes. The Captain blows the brain out of the Major Domo's skull, and van Zaar runs to the Naked Man.

Drake/M'narcel is about as suprised as the, now dead, Major Domo, while the Prince has his hands full in the pit. Before things get completely out of hand, the Captain sends a telepathic order to lt. Lance to attack.

M'narcel sees an opportunity here, and although it'll cost him, he draws upon the dark powers and commands the court of the dead slaver to kneel before him.

In the pit, the Prince is taking a severe beating. The troll doesn't seem to know pain, and even if its lost use of one leg, and one wound has exposed its innards, it has enough hurt left in it to fell the Enæïd with a blow to the kidneys. Luckily, by now the rest of the fight has been stopped, and Banzel puts a bullet in its eye.

It all lasted less than ten seconds, and the only member of the Company that got injured was the Prince, while providing the distraction. M'narcel, however, was now bleeding from his nose and ears.

Before the throne-room was emptied, one of the musicians, a slender-looking Orc, approached the Company. He presented himself as the Storyteller, and told that last night Armand had sailed for Cora with a large fleet, intending to take the two gateposts that stood there.

The Naked Man? Well, Akkran had a ring made from the same metal as the collar, and it was quickly established that without some nifty magic, the bond could not be broken. So when we left off, they had a tame Fire Lord.

Storyteller's note: Another good night, and the guys were in a good mood when we left the basement.

The biggest challenge, as I see it, is to keep all the characters in the action, or at least in the story. With five players, I find that I have to be quite firm if I'm to keep things moving. But thankfully, there are no real power-gamers in the group. Still, one can only try.

On another note, the characters are now starting to really come out. In the future I see them facing off against eachother on a few issues, unless they manage to keep the musketeerish attitude they've been cultivating.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Tucked away between forbidding mountains, hidden in the deep, old forests on the northern shores of the White Sea, lies Thule, the realm of the wizards of Ordo Hermetica Argonis. Thule is a closed realm, and the few outsiders who visit never get past the port-town of Göteshafen. Little is known about the enigmatic masters of the Thule, and they are seldom seen at all, ruling, it is said, from the Obsidian Tower somewhere deep inside the mythocratic realm. Their will is carried out by the Proxima, a body of men who, if rumors are to be trusted, are everywhere within their masters's area of influence.

In the world of Man, magic is not allowed, and for more than a millennium the Temple and Cabal has been steadily and methodically crafting a paradigm where Reality itself will resist open magic. Still, the Hermetics, in their tower, have managed to preserve their own paradigm. Within the borders of Thule, no one doubts the existence of magic, or even creatures of magic. It is also said that as long as the Masters are in the Tower, the crops of Thule will never fail.

For generations upon generations, the Hermetics have appeared as an arcane body, seldom speaking at all, but with a single voice if they did. Now this appears to have changed. On the Pius's first trip to Göteshafen the crew met Adeptus Octavian. He hinted towards a conflict within the Tower, and on their next encounter, he promised to come to the aid of the Host despite of the will of Grand Master Mithrandes.


Octavian Augustus Arbalestus bani Flambeu, Adeptus of the Arts, Border Warden and Captain of the Aegathon, together with two adepts has left Thule with two ships. He has pledged to support the struggle of Man against the Deep, and appears to have left the order.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The last chapter

Right. This is slightly overdue, so I might miss something. Can't be helped. Anyway, this is a synopsis of the most last chapter of the Book of Reckoning, the current chronicle of the Book of Worlds. You may be interested to know that this is also the beginning of the second volume of the BoR.

After having made it safely through the blockade and landed on the Dark Continent (see last time), the Company and a shore party made up of the Enæïd and the Pius's marines, headed inland by foot. According to their guide, the mysterious Efreti, the mustering field was about two days marching from the ship. The astute reader will remember that their main objective here was to place the gateposts and activate the portal, so that the Host could march through.

Early on, van Zaar (becoming more and more wracked by semi-prophetic visions, and hardly sober for the last two months) decided to quarrel with lt. Lance, the officer of the marines. This resulted in van Zaar attacking every suggestion made by the only professional infantry officer in the crew. Thus, in no particular order, the shore party trekked into the dry plains.

(O'Connor) acted as the scout, his main task being to make sure they didn't somehow get tricked into the spiritworld, while Captain Galan scouted the surrounding country. Note: both are Awakened professionals.

After some hours the captain became aware of some three hundred cavalry on the other side of a low ridge, and scouts about to reach the top, thereby noticing the Company and their expedition. In a short session of the, now trademark, supperåd, or wild committee, they opted on deiscretion as the better part of valour.

(O'Connor) found a track that would take them through a deserted part of the spiritworld, thus evading the cavalry. For a while, it all seemed to be going smoothly, until they start to feel the familiar tingle of danger approaching. (O'Connor) quickly realizes that they have walked into some sort of trap, and that he can't pierce through the Gauntlet.

As (O'Connor) continues to look for a way out, the rest form up in a protective circle to meet whatever it is that's stalking them. Soon after, they are attacked by a metal monster, burrowing through the sand (think Scorponok from Transformers). This Forge Demon killed two of the marines, and all but killed (O'Connor) and two of the Enæïd before the Prince and his men dispatched of it. Luckily, immediately before the Forge Demon incapacitated (O'Connor), he had managed to open a path back to Argos prime.

Having gained almost half a day by the short cut through the shadows, they pitched camp shortly after getting back on the track. Through varies and sundry magics, all the wounded were fit for fight come next morning, and they pressed on. Around noon they were found by a dozen scouts from yesterday's cavalry - Blood Legion (humans sworn to the Dark Prince), according to Efreti. This time, the mood was for fight, rather than expensive flight.

Now the Enæïd got a chance to shine. At about a thousand paces, and in the span of fifteen seconds, five of the warriors of the Second Age had put arrows in all the riders, killing every last last man. Banzel and van Zaar headed out to inspect the fallen, and returned with uniforms, weapons, a banner, and the horses.

Later in the afternoon, riders were again spotted, this time it proved to be Efreti's men, the Fire People. That night they dined well in an oasis, surrounded by about two hundred desert warriors.

Having a few days to spare, they killed time catching up on studies, practise and drink. Banzel became so fascinated by the rifles of the fire People that he challenged their best shot to a shooting match. After five shots at the feather of an arrow, first at 150 paces, then fifty more each time, they had to admit to being equal. As the Bombman said after the contest, "at least none of us cheated more than the other."

Finally the day came upon them. The gateposts were set up, and Captain Galan called upon both his own, and older powers, and the portal shimmered as it activated. Without further ado, (O'Connor) walked into the cold winds blowing from behind the gate, and disappeared.

When he returned, he was followed by several hundred Crinos of the Draccian Wolflords. For the remainder of the day, thousands upon thousands of soldiers from the Kingdoms of Eria, Draccian men-at-arms, and Hannuman Mujahed marched through the gates and onto the soil of the Dark Continent.

The Host of Man is now poised for battle.

Storyteller's note: The Company is now in a unique position. They have completed the task they were assigned: they've found a way to get the Host past the blockade. They are now discussing what to do next. Now, I have a few ideas of my own, of course, and so do they. Frankly, I'm exited to see where the story goes next.

As for the new name of O'Connor... Well, I got it in writing last time, but right now I am away from my desk. Additionally, I have been pestered by van Zaar's player as well. Apparently I misspelled his name in three ways the first time around. Now I have to go back and edit all the mentionings of him as well, and I have to change that tag. Why is it that PC names almost always have the most exotic spelling possible? One of the universal constants, no doubt.

Timeline of Argos

As drawn by the good Doctor Hieronimus el Rei Misterio, professor emeritus of Universidad Santandres, medicus, alchemist, astrologer, scholar extraordinaire, magician and formerly physician to his Exalted & Most Enlightened Majesty, King Carlos Pedreo XI of Aragorn.


First Age (Dawn of Man)*
  • The Dark Star falls upon Argos - the coming of the Exarch
  • Darkness comes to the world
  • The Fall of House Hedhrindal (Elf), and the Rise of the Black Blood (ref.: the Lament of the Orc)
  • The First Great War, wherein follows the Awakening of Man, the Darkness is defeated, and the Black Wyrm (Nefrangap, Troy, Ahriman) is defeated and imprisoned by Arkon (St Marcus, Huntsman)

Second Age (Mythic Age)*
  • The First City of Man is built in the land of Enokia
  • The Orc is vanquished by the armies of Man
  • The Eriandu tribe settles in Eria after defeating the Orc Horde of Nifsunfall
  • The War of the Silver Lance is fought between the Eriandu and the House Valedil (Elf)
  • The Rise of the Cults - the tribes of Man falls to religious worship
  • The Wars of the Priests are fought amongst Man, the gods unleash the Great Mortality - several of the great tribes succumb, the Eriadu amongst them.
  • The city of the Erdangars fall, ending the centuries long Angarlaw imposed on the Old Kingdoms of the North (Bolgen)
App. 500 BC (Before the Covenant)

  • The Scythian Empire defeats the deity Xuul in the Godslayer War
  • The death of the goddess Ruinn by the hands of (Prince Aegir of) the Enæïdùn triggers the Second Great War(?); Elf strikes at Man - weakened by the anger of the gods; Man goes to war against Elf and gods
  • The Scythii unify the Western Tribes under the Imperial banner - the lands of Eria is cleansed of gods and Elf
The last century of the Second Age
  • The Second Age ends with the end of the Great War, and the Covenant of Waymar
Third Age (Age of Reason)

YE 2 - 5
Lord Solar Agenmar Macharius of the Penderii leaves the Imperium and the Temple of Man Supreme, founding the Cabal of Pure Thought and the Kingdom of Pendrell. He is followed by the Livonii and the Wezellians.

YE 33
The Ordo Hermetica leaves the Dominion of Reason.

YE 213
The Skythian Empire collapses after Aragon declares its independence. The last Emperor, Agustyn IV of the House Adiadin, is killed by Istvan Palladinus of House Elderell, First King of Aragorn, thus ending the Imperial Line.

YE 213 - 257
Wars of Succession. The Great Houses of the Skythian Empire battle for the Iron Throne, ripping the Imperium apart. There are twelve emperors during these years.

YE 251
Wildemar Erenson is crowned as King of the Narbonii.

YE 262
The Ruhan tribe leaves the Imperial Remnant

YE 272 - 307
The Corinthian peninsula is factionalized. Cities and noble houses form independent states.

YE 311
King Ragmar II Hakenmark of the Ruhani defeats Hodrinus the Black Duke in the battle of the Temple Gates. The Enlightened City is declared a sovereign realm.

YE 399
King Thedrich Blacksleeves of the Alemani tribe conquers the three tribes of the Merenmarch and declares himself Emperor of Man.

YE 409
Emperor Thedrich I crosses the Elfswall and sacks the Enlightened City, occupying northern Corinth.

YE 421
Thedrich is defeated in the Battle of Cortona by the combined army of the Corinthian city-states and the Kingdom of Ruhan. Shortly after, the Enlightened City is freed.

YE 477
The High Masons of the Alemanii join the Cabal of Pure Thought.

YE 555
The colony of Victoria is founded by Aragorn on the Northern Shores of the Dark Continent.

YE 632 - 639
The Surge. Black Blood warbands attack Livonia and northern Pendrell.

YE 743
The Dukes of the Kingdom of Alemani elect Helmand Alfgarde as the first Emperor of the Enlightened Scythian Empire.

YE 959
Dr. John Locker's Tropospheric Gondola completes the first scientific flight of man in Pendrell.

YE 971
Franko da Cola is born in the village of Scutino in the Principality of Andron.

YE 995
The Crypt is opened. Magic awakens.

YE 997
The St Revan's Day Plot. A scheme to kill King Arthor XIII of Pendrell is thwarted by the Second Witness (Sir William Blackstaff, the Blackstaff).

YE 998 - 1022
The Reign of Reason. The Ministerium assumes full control over the Cabal of Pure Thought, and a period of persecution towards freethinkers and Awakened follows. This is brought to an end with the Elven Scourge and the Pendrellian Civil War.

YE 1000
The Orc is given Industry by an Outsider known as the Futurist or the Rogue Navigator (the Emmisary?).

YE 1002
The Black Horde of the Orc, led by Urgal Kahn Ghurandakh, conquers the colony of Victoria. The Barrier is broken by Franko da Cola.

YE 1003
The Living Prophet of the Hannuman Caliphate is slain by the Grishnak Gahalar. Aziz becomes the new prophet.

YE 1005
The last city of Man on the Northern Shores fall to the Orc.

YE 1008
The first cult of Shaitani is tried by the Ordo Manus Nigrum in Lavarre in Aragorn.

YE 1009
Frank da Cola reveals himself as Shaitani to an Argonaut in Freeport. He speaks of the Olympos and the end of the world.

YE 1011
Franko da Cola strikes at the Ministerium and the High Temple of Man, killing scores in both attacks.

The Black Horde turns south, crossing the Charred Plains and attacking the Empire of Stygia.

YE 1012
Truth until Paradox, by Franko da Cola, is published in Andron. It is blacklisted by the Temple the same year, and shortly after placed under a print-ban by the Ministerium.

YE 1015 - 1017
The Corillian War. The King of Narbonne, 'Mad' Phillyp, backs the Free Macharites of Corillia against the Ministerium. Pendrell declares war, and defeats Narbonne in the Battle of Crezen.

YE 1016
Aziz turns away from the Grishnak Gahalar. The War of Fate begins.

The Lost Regiment vanishes.

The Process of Enlightenment is started by the Temple of Man Supreme. The Ordo Manus Nigrum is given 'supreme discretion in all matters heretical and all acts of enmity against Man.'

YE 1017
Emperor Constantinius Ada of the Enlightened Skythian Empire is named Protector of the Temple of Man by Arch Primarch Inocens XI.

YE 1019
Friedrich Roeder, formerly margrave von Roeder and commander of thevLost Regiment, (somehow) manages to convince the Kings of Eria to raise the Host of Man.

YE 1020
A horde of Nightmares is unleashed on the followers of Grishnak Gahalar. Some are granted access to the prime material plane of Argos.

The good ship Pius starts her journey.

YE 1021
Grishnak's Legions of Light is defeated by Aziz's Mujahed and an army of Nightmares under Morfeus himself in the Battle of the White Tower. Aziz is slain by Grishnak, who is in turn slain by Morfeus.

The Counsil of Awakened Viziers declare that Aziz is the True Caliph, and rules the Caliphate in his stead.

The Host of Man musters on the island of Cora and invades the occupied Colonies. The host is cut off from the Lands of Man when their bridgehead on Cora falls to the Black Ships.

The Wezellian Syndicate strikes the Lex Arcanum from the Laws of the Realm, in effect making magic legal.

YE 1022
Pendrell declare war on all witches and magicians, and invades Wezell on the first day of the year.

The Five Forts are burned by a Great Dragon. The Great Hunt of the Frost Elves descends on Pendrell, this is known as the Elven Scourge.

King Arthor XIII of Pendrell falls on his own sword. Duke Rowar Garwellyn of Ayre claims the Oaken Throne. Civil war breaks out.

The host of Man is brought from the Dark Continent by a miracle of Arkon.

King Rowar II of Pendrell is crowned (20 Primium) and crosses the River Ayre, defeating the Parliamentarian Force in the Battle of Sander Bridge.

The First Arcane Congress meets in the Wezellian town of Ghoerwald (1 Tertium). The Concord is signed (21 Sextum).

The Enlightened Alliance is formed by Wezell, Livonia, Maravia, Pendrell and the Ordo Hermetica.

The Temple of Man Supreme calls for a War of Enlightenment on the Arcane Congress and the Enlightened Alliance.

Alliance forces cross into the Enlightened Skythian Empire (13 Septium).

The First and Second Battle of Geminon Field (22 Septium). The Flood army under Samil Raga is defeated by a small force of Kengellians and Wezellians, led by the deity Geminon and the Pius Cabal.

The Great Explosion of Rederhafen.

* The exact dates of the events of the First and Second Age are uncertain, I have therefore elected not to list these.


Storyteller's note: This is perhaps the most comprehensive outline of the history of Argos as of yet. Any errors or mistakes belong to the good Doctor Misterio.