Author Topic: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything  (Read 139 times)

The Dan

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Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« on: January 24, 2019, 01:02:18 PM »
AMBRIANS

The problem with Ambrians is that they are too big, and they’re used to fighting to survive.

The first problem with Ambrians is that their lives have turned them into wolves. Because their land was ruined, they were always hungry; because of their enemies, they were always fighting. They had to kill or starve, defeat or be destroyed. This made them hard, like tempered steel. And cunning, like a hungry wolf. They knew only how to fight and struggle and take what they want. They were good at it, no shame in saying that. And I think they had so little before, they cannot fill their bellies enough.

The clans are more like hounds. A hound is just a wolf that's tamed. Like a hound, the clans were well-fed, with warm hearths and full bellies. They were happy, I think. At least the ones I knew were. Yes, there was fighting, but they were not so hard. It was about territory, resources, balance. And no happy man fights as hard as a desperate one. No fat dog is as quick as a lean old wolf. And wolves know no masters, only dogs do. 

You cannot put wolves and hounds together - wolves will take what they want from the hounds. Because when the wolf and the hound fight, the wolf usually wins. This means that in time, all hounds become wolves. 

The second problem with Ambrians is that there are too damn many of them. A family is a good number, a clan is a good number. A kingdom is too big. The clans are wise, they have a high chieftain for feuds and peacemaking, not ruling. But the Ambrian queen commands too many, and because of this they need too much, want too much, and take too much. I think the time will come when like any pack of wolves, they will turn upon each other and splinter. They may be better after that.

A secret for dealing with Ambrians: The older they are, the tougher. Beware men who have seen forty winters or more, for they fought in the war against the Dark Lords and lived. 

GODS

Met a god once. Ox god. I carried his severed head around, until we could put it back on. He seemed relaxed about the whole thing. That says a lot about gods, I think. They are what they are, just themselves. 

WITCHES

Witches are a lot like Ambrian priests. Their favourite things is showing you how wise they are. Unlike priests, every witch is different. Biggest mistake the Ambrian’s keep making is thinking they are priests.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2019, 06:55:27 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

The Dan

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2019, 01:09:38 PM »
THISTLE HOLD

Thistle Hold is like a mill. It is a great grinding wheel, that takes in blood and hope, and produces gold for Nightpitch. For everyone else, it is a machine to extract your coin and leave you hungry for another foray into Davokar. It’s clever, mean; colourful and glorious; alluring, like a drug. Despite knowing all this, I like the place. I helped build it, bled for it.  But Blackmoor is freer. At least for now.

Things to do: Get a gate ring if you’re here to stay. Keep a full purse, if you can (you can’t). The Brew has all the best beers (mess with Kaglio and Sunna, and you answer to me). The Slaughterhouse has the most food for the cheapest price, but the Odovakar has the best clan food. The Ruin has a crowd of treasure hunters. Benego's has mostly honest games, and Legends the best storytellers... but I like the Salons of Symbaroum - everything in one place and it's not too shitty about goblins and ogres. If you’re desperate, you can stay at the Rose Garden, but I wouldn’t. I liked it better when it was a real rose garden.

Big Basher is definitely the best smith. 

Do not mess with the guards. They’re all veterans.

ANADEA

A priest woman who went crazy, but who may still be right. She thought something terrible had been brought into Thistle Hold. She was right. 

Ullovan says she was Iron Pact. She knew elves, winter elves. She went to the Well of Tears. 

BELOW THISTLE HOLD

Below the town there are caves and tunnels. Some run all the to Davokar. There is CORRUPTION down there, and people. Clans from before the invasion. I saw Haloban’s daughter down there. She wasn’t human anymore.

ERDOLAN 

Erdolan was an artefact smuggler, I don’t know how he survived the Merchant’s War – wouldn't have, if he crossed paths with father and I. He had a tannery on the north side. He led a band of treasure hunters and sorcerers. They chopped off the Ox god’s head, and performed a ritual with it a dark grimoire that turned him into a blight beast.

I killed him, saved the town. You should buy me a drink.   

HALOBAN’S WELL

Thistle Hold’s well is a capped by a great, carved ring of metal – brass or bronze, or something else. It is carved with runes of some kind. I don’t think anyone knows what they say. There’s a legend that it will ring out in times of need. It sang when the god’s head was brought to town.

LYSINDRA GOLDENGRASP

Former treasure hunter, one of the few who keep their coin and their lives. Wealthy. Must have a lot if she lives in town. Home on the West side. Careful, knowledgeable. Has contacts among Ambrian nobles, sometimes guides ‘tours’ into the forest. I am not sure how you be a former treasure hunter if you still have all your arms and legs, and are still right in the head. Maybe she spent too long in Dark Davokar. I don’t trust her. 

MAYOR NIGHTPITCH

Cunning. Rich. Busy. Not especially a bastard, if you don’t cross him. Hates to pay in coin. Often pays in information. 

TARAN

Taran is a Zarek, but thoroughly a city man these days. He buys and sells information. You can get word to him at the Witch and Familiar.

WENDELL’S BEAST HOSPITAL

Back alley ‘medicus’ but for fighting beasts, not men. Maybe he does goblins too. The Ambrian word is vetinarius, I think. He patches up mare cats and other beasts of the fighting pits. Bloody place. Cheap though. He’ll stitch a man up and ask no questions.

WINGED LADLE INN

A great log hall in a towering tree. Once it was Chieftain Haloban’s, now it is another way to separate rich men from their coin.  That says a lot about Ambrians, and this town. Richest inn of Thistle Hold. Nightpitch himself lived there, after the conquest.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 05:49:03 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

The Dan

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2019, 05:35:06 PM »
DAVOKAR

THE ARCH BRIDGE

A great span, carved by the people of Symbaroum, they say. The river no longer passes beneath it, but the bridge remains. It is a great work - the Karohar desired it mightily in the days I fought for them. There was also a tree, the All-Tree, that many died in seeking to claim.

The Odavs hold the bridge, this has helped the Ambrians I think, a friendly clan so close to Thistle Hold - though not everyone is as welcoming as their chieftain. It is a good respite on the trail to Karvosti, for the way is sometimes troubled by robbers. There are no inns, for this is clan land, and hospitality is the law.

HALL OF A THOUSAND TEARS

I only ever heard of one stronghold of the Iron Pact - The Well of Tears. I wasn't certain it was real. It is, I have been there. There are caves where elves weep for the harm wrought against creation by mankind - from Symbaroum to Ambria. It's guardian is one called Ka'eroan. Tall, that one, remembers Symbaroum and the founding of the Pact.

To find it you need a certain truffle, and a beast of the forest.

KARVOSTI

It is not safe. We do not come to Karvosti to make peace with our friends - we come to stand eye to eye with enemies, and fight them with words and gifts exchanged so there can be peace for a  time. It may be sacred ground, but it is only ever a few inches of steel from open war. This is a lesson for visitors, learn quickly or you too will disappear or join the maimed.

There are many stories here - as many of old Symbar, maybe. Long history. Head east to the Thingstead if you want to find the clans; the Pilgrim camp is for Ambrians, and mostly crippled and wounded, at that. Not safe. The sun shrine is up on the north side, full of priests. Witches live in the great step, the cliff caves. The High Chieftain's great hall squats in the middle - can't miss that, it's huge. The throne hall alone was once a stronghold, in the old days. Built by Maiesticar the Spider-Slayer - a name so great that it resounds even now. That's a mighty name for a man.

Don't bother the Wrathguard. Do not bother the terror in her glade. Do not walk alone if you have feuds.

I remember the war against the Blighted, when I was young.  I came with the Karohar, when Karlaban the Corrupted returned to fight the Huldra who had banished him, with a blighted horde. The battle was larger than any I had ever seen: I saw the Slumbering Wrath let loose, and great walk from her grove and exercise her thorn-claws. Never have I felt such fear. Afterwards we slept in a cave on the side of the plateau, but there was much drinking and stories in the trading grounds; tales of the men and women fallen in battle, of dark Davokar and the monstrous things that came with Karlaban. I was traded then, and I was Karohar no more.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 06:06:11 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2019, 10:16:17 PM »
When Things Go Wrong...

Sometimes things go bad and it’s no one’s fault. That is the battle that is life. We pit our will against the world, it pushes back, and we hope to be the one who triumphs - or at least, survives. Sometimes it is other people pushing at us for their own purposes. It is not a matter of right or wrong, just push and pull. Good men can hate, or kill, or be overcome by a desire. Both good and bad men do these things. All that differs is our aim, our intention. Never forget your intention. You are master only of your desires. Everything else is a battle between chance and necessity.

Sometimes a deed is like an arrow loosed from a bow: You aim, draw, and loose towards an end. Other times it is like a pebble rolling down hill, hitting one stone after another until the whole damn mountain comes down. Terrible deeds are sometimes born from a small pebble, and once the avalanche starts, nothing can stop it.

Sometimes you have the luxury of a good choice, and sometimes you are ruled by necessity. Who has not stood by friend or kin in a quarrel, when we knew them to be wrong? Wicked actions aren't always foolish, and honourable deeds are not always wise. You are a lucky man, if life gives you good choices and only honourable foes. Oft-times men are just unreasonable. They are tired, drunk or have the ale-sickness that comes after, or their blood is burning for hate, for lust or for killing. These thoughts are like brothers, who encourage each other along. They say foolish things, do foolish things, because to them it does not seem foolish at the time. To them you are foolish, or wicked.

Only when both sides push and pull do we find out who is the fool.

Sometimes you see the future a moment before this comes to pass. You see the pebble falling, hitting others. You smell the wolf and know its teeth are near.

Upon this moment, the world pauses. Your heart beats like thunder and you feel the tickle in your bones that means what follows is the avalanche, inevitable - someone is going to die. In that moment you are freed of all shackles, all fear. That is why some people laugh in the face of doom, and run headlong into battle, happy. Because terror is the herald of Death, and goes ahead of him, but vanishes when you see Death clear before you. Then all things become simple: The only question is who will walk the cold path, who will rot and who will breathe a while longer. You or them, push or pull. This is the best feeling, save only one: The feeling when you take the first breath once the battle is done, for the pushing and pulling is over and you are victorious. You are born again.

Do not fear death, for it is all that you can say for sure is coming - sooner or later. Nothing good comes from letting your worries stand in your way. Be bold. Push, and push back, and do what must be done when  the rocks fall.

But never forget your intention.
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 08:32:30 PM »
MONSTERS

If it bleeds, you can kill it. But that doesn't mean you should or you have to.

Elves
Elves are, generally speaking, arrow-loosing bastards who hate you. If my forest had been despoiled by humans, I would probably be a bastard too. Elves don't bother most clans, because clansmen and women stay out of their way, giving ground whenever they have to. If you don't give ground, like Ambrians hate doing, they fill you full of arrows. Contrary to common belief, they CAN come out of the forest - they loved peppering us with arrows and setting fire to the place whilst we were building Thistlehold.

Height is a good measure of an elf's tricksyness and bastardry - the taller they are, the worse they are and the more fancy magic and leaping about you have to deal with. That said, some of the really tall elves have calmed down a bit, and might be prepared to talk.

Elves have a thing about weeping. and a magic place they do it called the Well of Tears. I do not understand the point of it. Ask Ulavan.

Goblins
Goblins are like children, if children were raised by wolves who were mad beggars and alley thieves. They don't live long so they learn fast and live hard, and die young even if they are harder to kill than you'd think. They're good at surviving. People are shitier to goblins than to ogres, but that's because goblins can't tear your head off, mostly. Still, half a dozen goblins with kitchen knives can make a mess of you, so be careful. No need to fight like a knight when you're the smallest thing around.

Gob is a goblin. I taught him to play chess, and think about the future. He says that goblins who live to thirty winters turn into trolls. That might explain why trolls are so pissed off, so maybe be nicer to goblins.

Kanaran
Big snakes. Big sneaky snakes. They like to sneak up on you and pick off stragglers, coiling around them to crush and squeeze and drag away. They are a pain in the arse to fight, as like elves and hunger-wolves they can twist and slip away of your blows so you hit their prey instead. They make nests. They can swim.

Lindworm
Ulavan says lindworms aren't real, but I seen one. They're bloody big snakes - goblin could walk into its mouth without bending down. A Gaoia once told me they have magic powers and you shouldn't look them in the eye.

Ogres
Ogres aren't stupid, but everyone treats them like they are. Don't be an ass, show ogres some respect.

Big Basher is the best weaponsmith in Thistlehold. Crueljaw is the best equipment-seller in Karvosti. Crackbones is the best ogre, end of story.

Trolls
Rage Trolls are big, strong, angry and in your face. Best plan is to ambush them.

Liege Trolls are big and strong, but clever. They like tribute, and demand strength in all they meet - expect to be tested, and that weakness will get you killed. They can sing, and draw trolls and ogres to them with their songs, maybe (its pretty good singing) but goblins, humans, or changelings don't feel it in their bones.

Orangaar is a liege troll, he lives in Farah Marun.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2019, 05:11:08 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2019, 07:14:35 PM »
BLIGHT & CORRUPTION

This is the what the witches tell me of the world: We are all born from Wyhta, the Primal Life. Animals live all their lives within the Wild, but men and ogres know themselves, and so can plan and scheme. When we force our will upon the, we invoke Wielda, the Wield. Wield is created when craft, when we cultivate, when we conquer.

When the Wield pushes against the Wild, it creates Wratha - the Wrath. It is like rubbing your hands to keep them warm, or two sticks  together, to create a fire. When you push against the wild, it pushes back and Wratha is created., but we can choose when to light the fire, choose how much we make and how often. All the taboos witches speak of are spoken to prevent you from creating Wrath.

Ambrians call it Corruption.

Corruption is bad for everybody. It is like disease – it can become in bedded in you, like a splinter, spreading infection. Sometimes you must cut it out to stay alive, sometimes you must cut off a limb to save the rest. This at least the Black Cloaks understand. Nightpitch knows it too, and its why we fought the Merchant’s War.

Artifacts cause corruption, some more than others. Maybe it is because of something done long ago, in Symbaroum - I think it is just the nature of magic; when you unbalance the world, the world pushes back, and hurts you. I think that's what corruption is. Some people say it can be managed, that it is inevitable - like wounds on a warrior that never quite heal. Maybe.

Primal Blight Beast
They are big. They can dish it out, and they can take it. Even bigger than a normal aboar - hard to miss. Watch for the tusks, get behind it if you want to fight it, but avoid it altogether if you can. They are as strong as a colossus, and as violent as a mountain storm. Pretty stupid, but I wouldn’t need to think much if I could hit like an avalanche and had a hide like plated steel.
 
Did I mention watch out for the tusks and the trample? These are bad news.

Hunger Wolves
Wolves are pack of bastards. Gluttonous, cunning, and rarely alone. Fast as a cold wind, its easy to strike your companions when fighting them: Stay apart, and pin them down when you can.

Hunger-Wolves are even worse. They have all the speed and tricksy cunning of a wolf, but with a poisoned and diseased bite. Don't skin them.

UNDEAD

this is an Ambrian word, meaning "neither alive nor dead". As far as a reckon it, everyone else just calls them “dead people”.

Walking corpses and trapped spirits are bad news, no doubting that. They are filled with Wratha, with Corruption, like living men have blood; who knows what that does to their minds – rot them probably. They mostly seem mindless, or savage, or trapped in a dream. In most cases though, they will leave you alone if you stay out of the place they haunt, like any animal. That’s what the clan witches always say: “Don’t wander into taboo places” and “go tell a witch” - this seems to serve most times. I don’t know what happens when you tell a witch.

But it was different in old Alberethor – or so the Ambrians say; there, the dead marched in the armies of the Dark Lords, rank on rank, or so they say – if that’s true, then I understand why the Ambrians are how they are about them. They hate the undead more than the worst of the living; I have seen priests be agonised over the death of people that were trying to genuinely murder us, but they are happy to murder undead just minding their own business.


Frostwight

Ghosts Ambrians call them. I am not sure what they are, but steel can touch them, if only barely. They are drawn to life like moths to a flame, mindless almost. I have seen  them walk into the holy light of priests and be destroyed, never caring. You might use this.

Their touch makes you old – bones aching, muscles withered, limbs weak. You recover, in time - but are likely to be weak as a newborn by the end. Armour is no defense against their chill fingers of light. Steel barely touches them, but they can be killed.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 07:56:12 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2019, 05:03:55 PM »
Concerning Dwarves

I am starting to understand dwarves, I think. Or maybe just one dwarf. I don’t know enough of them to be sure. Fought a few back in the day, tough fighters, mean streak and a mouth full of curses. Dwarf cursing is not to be taken lightly.

Dwarves. They are not just short people.

I travel with a dwarf named Korick. He reminds me of some men from the war, who were broken by anger, despair and hate. some of them were broken to begin with. He is all business; he has no kindness in him, he sees people like things – treasure to be possessed, tools to be seized, possessed, made use of.  He seems brave and skilled, but I can see it is all calculation, a weighing of risk and gain. If you are a useful tool, if your plans are aligned, he is a good ally and you are safe. If not, watch out. I worry what may happen, if someone makes him a better offer.

Until then he is reliable, and that seems to be important to dwarves.

Like all dwarves, he remembers all things with perfection. I think this might be very painful to him. Certainly, he hates imprecision, repetition and ambiguity. He hates the way we forget things or remember vaguely. Maybe he envies it too. He doesn’t write and doesn’t trust writing. And yet, he seems to have no aversion to lies. I would have thought they were anathema to him. Maybe they are just another imperfection he tolerates in us.

They cannot be corrupted. Instead, magic and the Wrath manifest as wounds, and might kill him. This is strange and interesting.

Unlike men and ogres, I think they are not made of the Wild, the living energy of the world. If this is so, then how can they be natural, if they are made from desire and will, force and violence, possession and domination? That would explain their desire to craft, and for perfection in memory and other things. 

That is why corruption affects them as wounds – there is no Life in the way of humans in them, no Wild; nothing for the Wrath to push back against. I wonder if this means they themselves are crafted things, like dolls come to life.  Does this mean they cannot become undead?

I think this is the secret of their cursing too. When you push your will against them, when you try to dominate them in battle, the response bounces off them, and onto you; like wandering too long in a taboo place.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 07:54:45 PM by The Dan »
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.

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Re: Crack-Bones Guide to Everything
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 04:44:46 PM »
Isle of Yeferon

Today we left the world. Today we went to Yeferon.

This is where Elmendra the Senseless found the way into Karvosti. We were not alone there. The others treasure hunters got here before us, and before that another group, lead by a man called Marvello and a short bearded man armed with a strange hollow stave.

It is a taboo place, and that's probably wise. But in Herun, the largest Zarek village on the north-east shore of Volgoma, we found a man named Kol prepared to take us, and to wait and bring us back. At least, I hope so. How trustworthy is a man who will break taboos and go where witches say go not?

Pole between two isles - a table-rock and a spire of stone, they are the entrance. To cross over you must bind your rudder and trust not your senses. Do it right and the world will peel away, like a torn page, and behind it you will see another place. An island beyond the world, cursed by the gods and haunted by those who once called it home.

It has dirt, a sky, a sea around it - but it feels wrong somehow. It is a large stepped island, riven by an estuary upon which sits a ruined city. The lower isle is scrub land and rock. I'll call that the southern edge. To what I will call the north is a raised plateau. A river runs down and through the ruins, to the 'sea'. In the centre of the high place is a great square walled compound, within it is an army of the dead and a stepped tower of black stone, surmounted by a throne. 

Wraiths haunt the scrub and city ruins. The buildings are covered in images - some frog-like thing, and a symbol that looks like a boar-spear's head or a pointed T. Something like frostwights prowl the streets.

In a cellar we found Serema. She had been here for almost a fortnight, and the place had marked her with black stains and bruises on her skin - it was blight. Simply being here causes corruption. Was that because of something on the island, or because it is an unnatural place?
Dan: A title of honor for respected men, equivalent to Master or Sir. Any of 12 levels of proficiency at the grade of black belt in martial arts such as judo and karate. An expert or expert level in shogi and other such games. He that judges.