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metaphysician

Aberrant RPG - Ancient Aberrant

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Okay, since there is at least some interest, and unlike alot of games, I have most of the material involved, I give you my current game, Ancient Aberrant. The GM is Pendaran. This document, written by him, is essentially the 'campaign premise' which is used to introduce the setting prior to character creation. As such, it covers basically the obvious and the status quo at campaign start.

Alright, I can’t think of a pretty song to encapsulate the campaign theme really as I usually do (for the curious, the Abyssal theme song would have been the Hurt cover by Johnny Cash). If one comes to mind, I’ll let you know. As is, the core theme of the campaign is a variant on the standard Aberrant tagline. Essentially: What would you do if you had the power of a god, and everyone was telling you that you were one?

As far as setting, this is the pretty much bronze ageish ancient world (though this is a world, even in real history, of shocking advancement, the Minoans had flush toilets, many societies had /very/ complex math, all sorts of things we still can’t do today were going on. Now magnify that to the level things would be at with novas around), keep that in mind as to how your character would react to things, think about the causes of things, and so forth (for instance, only the most way out there intellectuals have theories about channeling invisible etheric essence, and so forth). That said, this world is going to be far from historically accurate, there are after all superpowered novas bopping around. If there was a culture I found neat or interesting to toss in that’s not quit fitting the overall time period I put it in. Look, there’s thousands of years of historical distortion and a few decades of active history writing by the Aeon Society to console yourself with as to why Baal’s faction call themselves the Enherejar and get away with it paradox free, for instance.

One final thing to keep in mind, for those that are refugees of my old, 2 year spanning Aberrant campaign, this is indeed the same world, same universe, same timeline, just thousands of years in the past. This may or may not matter to you as far as little things to notice.

Note: Document broken into multiple parts due to length. May get combined by the forum engine, though.

Relevant Backstory:

The chosen of the gods walk the earth. Wielding mighty powers, or simply pure physical might, heroes, demigods and monsters change the face of the world they inhabit, as history and culture deform around them. These figures generally agree on “chosen” as a term for themselves, since something has to have empowered them, whether the gods, the force of destiny or their own indomitable will.

The story begins with a tale of 4 such chosen, mighty even amongst these scions of divinity. Of the August Personage of Jade and the Maharajah of Mohenjo Daro, we will leave be for a time, and focus instead on two brothers, Heracles and Minos. Each felt they were the sons of Zeus, and their might, wisdom, and wit lead all to believe the same. They walked the entire earth, sometimes together, sometimes apart, developing their abilities, speaking with and learning from other chosen, and observing cultures as they developed.

Minos became especially enamoured with the grandeur of Egypt, and with a grouping of chosen there calling themselves the Champions of Ra, who regaled him with tales of their victory against Apophis the Corrupter and his dark son Set, banishing them from the very firmament of reality.

His journeys drawing near to an end, he reached particular philosophical conclusions on the chosen, himself, and the world. He felt that the chosen were indeed gods and thusly inherited a certain responsibility to humanity with their great power, that they were obligated to create a perfect world for those that would worship them, in order to be worthy as gods, and simply as sentient beings. Gathering about himself both chosen and mortals of great wisdom and erudition, he crafted a culture and moral code that took heavily from Egypt, and from the best of every culture he had encountered and then proceeded to attempt to create this perfect world for man, under the aegis of these laws and beliefs. Powerful, charismatic and inspiring, Minos would convince many chosen and humans alike to join him in suborning themselves to what would be called the Theran Compact for the glorious capital that rested on the island of Thera itself.

Heracles in the meantime, had not been idle. Heracles had become enamoured with… Heracles. That is to say, with furthering his own unique power and development as a god, at seeking personal enlightenment, with the world at best a proving ground to challenge and grow against, and at worst a total irrelevancy. He had also sired a line of powerful children, who had risen to become god-kings of various Mycenean city states. He and his children viewed Minos’ goals and philosophy as patently ridiculous. How can mortals create a moral code that could bind gods when they are so beneath the understanding and breadth of existence of gods? Why should any god have to enslave himself to a foreign morality that is in truth only enforced by the vast personal power of Minos himself? If a god is truly a god, then he should yet be free to decide how to act on his divinity himself and not simply by virtue of being chosen, have to have that synonymous with slave, with Minos’ demands of propriety.

These philosophies went from mutually exclusive, to outright antagonistic, to open war, with Minos regretfully slaying his brother in battle. His children and their followers were driven out in the wake of the ever expanding compact, taking for themselves the name Heraclidae to remember their progenitor and his beliefs.

With many tribes, cities and nations joining willingly, and certain horrifically destructive empires (such as Assyria) being subsumed by force, the compact continued to grow, as chosen after chosen and human after human signed onto it. The many groups opposed to Thera found themselves weakened and failing, until in part desperation, in part due to the leadership skills of the sons of Heracles, they united as one under the banner of the Heraclidae, rising to dominate swaths of Western and Eastern Europe, the Russian steppe, and North Africa. These lands would be denigrated by the Therans as “the lawless” for the sometimes slapdash and far from cohered or unified rule the Heraclidae had over those lands. Great wars would now ensue on the borders of these two great powers whenever resources could be spared to wage them, with agitation and intrigue taking their place when they could not.

Of course, the chosen do not choke the world with their numbers and presence, and there are yet many independents ruling tribes as gods, wandering the earth as figures of legend or simply making a living out of the now seemingly endless war between the Theran Compact and the Heraclidae.

General notes on mentality

Remember, this is the ancient world, and as modern as even Thera is, and as modern as Finn himself can think.. they don’t think like we do, and their values orient differently. Try to remember that. For example, as I’ll get into, on the side of the Heraclidae, there are Achaians who hate the entire sect, regardless of faction, and are personally horrified by it, but are there because in the name of Achaian honour, when someone kills your blood kin, you are required to kill them. Things like honour, face, social, cultural and traditional taboos and laws, pure social intangibles that a modern, secular or even religious society might find ridiculous are driving forces behind whole wars. There’s a legitimate theory that everything Julius Caesar did, he did simply as a Roman acting under the guidelines of how one is supposed to defend and live up to one’s dignitas. Ma’at is a freaking huge deal in Thera as their big defining core, like Time (pronounced Thee-may) is to the Achaians, enech is to a Celt, and so on, and so forth. Family matters, your gods matter, your history, traditions and people, matter. This doesn’t mean they’re shiny pure and noble as a result, humans always do horrible things in the name of their ideologies, it just means there’s a different set of them driving and defining people than there is now.

That said, don’t force yourself to play pure alien style. They were human, and stuff is always common to, you know, the human experience. A Celt is just going to view what’s worth holding a grudge over far differently than, say, a Canadian (there are areas where the Celt will be shockingly more forgiving, and shockingly less).

And on gods, and being gods.. like I say, most if not everyone of this era thinks the chosen to be gods, or at least demigods (hence the name chosen, as in “chosen of the gods”), including the chosen themselves. Doesn’t mean other gods aren’t worshipped though, including by the chosen themselves. Ra’s a great big example. There is no Ra as chosen, but Ra is one of the most worshipped deities around. Unless you have an amazing reason, you think yourself some kind of divinity as well, and you should factor that into how you look at the world, and how it looks at you. And in that Chuck has already given a good reason for why his thinks differently, anyone else so doing needs to have spectacular ones for me to let it through, because too many people with one, and I’m really just basically running modern novas in an ancient world.

The Factions: NOTE ON NPCS: they are being listed as far as what is known about them publically and how most in their faction see them.

The Theran Compact

Peace. Prosperity. Advancement. Beauty.

These are all words synonymous with the greatest dominion on earth, mighty Thera. With such prestige cities as Ilium, Byzantium, Heliolopolis, Ur, and the Theran capital itself, the compact is legendary well into the Jade empire itself. Called a compact and not an empire for that save for the most egregious of nations and peoples, all chosen and men have willingly entered the compact, willingly pledged themselves to one another, to a perfect world.

War, wide scale plague, famine are all freakishly rare events within the peace of Thera as advanced techniques of construction, medicine and agriculture ensuring lives of plenty for all. Great academies dominate cityscapes. Patrols by the great military body of Thera, the Rhadamanthine legions, keep the well maintained roads free of bandits, even as her fleets are the scourge of the pirate.

,,

The chosen of Thera, if not simply citizens of the compact, fall into two main groups: The Venerated Seers, the scholars and philosophers of the compacts, ever working at new and interesting innovations in art, philosophy and science. More famously there are the champions and troubleshooters of the Rhadamanthine Order, protecting the compact from renegade chosen, engaing in general improvement projects and leading Theran efforts to ever expand their compact outwards to new peoples and nations, ever moving out to defend them against depredation and terror, to show them the benefits of Theran law, and to hold them to it when they act in tragic error.

The Rhadamanthine Order

Counting auxiliaries and chosen in training, the Rhadamanthines count some 50-70 chosen amongst their number. This is actually a lot if you think about it. Yes, nowhere near overall Heraclidan numbers, but there are other chosen in Thera serving as city champions, ruling nobles, members of the Venerated Seers, attatched to the Rhadamanthine legions or even just living as Theran citizens and etc. that can be called up in war.

Lots of chosen want to join the Rhadamanthines, only a few get to, the screening is rather arduous, given that the end result basically makes you a roving over authority in Thera. And roving is the key word. Outside of Rhadamanthines who also double as city champions (more on that in a bit), they’re usually in motion throughout the Compact, doing circuit like patrols, exchanging shifts with those on border duty, leading troop detatchments, training local militias or newly minted legionnaires, leading improvement projects (whether construction, crude terraforming, or helping newly joined compact members reach a Theran standard of living) resolving disputes, in conference with the Venerated Seers on the latest planned diplomatic effort and the like. Whether singly or in groups, the Rhadamanthines often function as itinerant magistrates throughout Thera acting on their own initiatives here and there, if not currently occupied with some directive from the Rhadamanthine leaders or the Theran Assembly itself.

When arriving in an area, they usually take time to contact the local Venerated Seer legate, city champion, or local authorities to get an idea of the local situation, though there will likely also be legionnaires around they can get reports from.

Some Rhadamanthines are particularly skilled in particular areas, and will often be left to them, but Ioannis Kymberion (see below) tries to make sure that everyone gets some experience in one area or another, even if only as escorts to the particular expert therein, in order to keep people well rounded and give them occasional perspective beyond themselves.

The Order have final authority over the legions and answer directly to the Theran Assembly, though structure within the Order is actually somewhat loose. Being a collection of elite champions already, it’s a little bit of a stretch to go “I’m more elite than you!”. That said, it is recognized that of the Order, Ioannis is their leader, and a group referred loosely to as the companions of the champion (detailed below), are the ranking figures just below him as far as ability to command their brethren.

It’s a heady thing to be a Rhadamanthine, as you are given land, title, and worship as one of the protector gods of the entire compact. Songs are written about you, artwork is made, children are named for.. Still, the screenings ideally ensure there will be no more Baal style incidents as a result.

Basically, it’s like Team Tomorrow fused with the Jedi Order of the Old Republic, with a lot of crap edited out.

The Venerated Seers

The other big prestige group. If slightly easier to get into, given the lack of requirement of being able to handle yourself in a fight and potentially lead soldiers into battle. Artists, scholars, philosophers, bureaucrats, social engineers and the occasional muttering prophet fill the ranks here. Outside of Seers on local tribune/regional bureaucrat coordinator duty, they tend to be based at the great Academy (all other academies tend to have names, the Seers’ place is simply /The/ Academy) in the Theran capital, almost a minature city into itself, where the occasional muffled explosion or odd energy warping into something.. else.. noise can be heard, but the people nearby have gotten used to it.

Seers do wander though, working on art, architectural or scientific projects, on knowledge seeking journeys, or just to confer with scholars in other cities. They will occasionally do so in conjunction with the Rhadamanthines, answering, like them, to the Theran Assembly.

Ur Nammu is deferred to as their overall leader, and the bureaucratic divisions have a genrally more cohered hierarchy, but other than that, outside of the occasional academic scuffle over funding, it’s basically a collection of artists and scholars, and about as hierarchical as you might figure. The Assembly does hand them directives on research directions and other projects now and again of course, and Ur Nammu will handpick teams to work on them and appoint a temporary head for such, everyone afterwards being able to get back to previous focus once its done.

Xenos’ Men

This is not a prestige group because, well, they don’t exist. Not in song, not in art, nowhere. They’re Xenos’ counterintelligence group against what is a disturbingly sophisticated Hercalidan spy network (the hand of Baal is largely suspected in this one). Not exactly black ops, because Xenos doesn’t indulge in things like kidnapping and assassination, they are a collection of spies, saboteurs, scouts, wanderers, merchants, commandos and bodyguards, chosen and not. Like a sort of ancient world Stormwatch Black. They also usually have “day jobs”, sometimes even as Rhadamanthines (who do know about the general existence of these people, and usually they have related scouting jobs in the Order proper).

They often jokingly refer to themselves as “the metal men” due to little metallic discs some of them will carry that let Xenos get in contact with them at extreme long distance.

It is said that while Xenos had to argue long and hard to get the mandate to establish this grouping, it is he and not Minos who gave them a directive that they are not to kill while on duty, save in self defense, or against an enemy agent, as it were.

The hierarchy of this group is very simple: Xenos activates you for a mission, you do it, and then you go back to your life. Of course sometimes the mission might be “watch this city for Heraclidan spies” and will thus take /years/…

Less simply, there is an overall cell structure for the mortal agents, all chosen answer directly to Xenos and can commandeer cells as need be, assuming they know where one is, as Xenos is fairly notorious for not disseminating that kind of information in case someone gets caught and mindwhacked. In many cases one of Xenos’ men, even a chosen, won’t know who another is until Xenos actually tells them.

Look, I’m not Bond, Agamemnon Bond, Captain Troy or Reed “Gilgamesh” Richards, I do what in Thera?

Like I said, there are chosen in Thera not in either of the above groups. Very often they are the rulers of cities or influential nobility therein, or champions thereof. City champions, well, basically municipal defenders like from Aberrant, if worshipped as gods. Basically that.

Chosen that are simply Theran citizens (although “simply” is a hard word to apply to a chosen) might have a flock of worshippers who’s well being they tend to (depending on the chosen and the flock, that can be a damned hefty responsibility), might work as independent performers, athletes or artists, might teach at or be enrolled in the various academies throughout the compact, might captain local militias, or quite often are wealthy merchant coster heads (or employed as the guards thereof) who travel through and out of the Compact. They might also serve as mentors and trainers to those chosen who have just come into their powers.

Chosen newly arrived to Thera or who have just come into their gifts therein might also spend a fair bit of time just exposing themselves to as much of Theran society to decide what sort of place they want in it, and are highly encouraged to do so.

As recommended, Ma’at for dummies

Alright, I saw a subtitled version of Hero on DVD before the movie came out that translated the central philosophy tenet as “all under heaven” instead of “our land”. That’s a pretty good guide as far as it goes. Everything, as mentioned, has a place, everything has a role to play in the cosmic order, and in cosmic harmony.

Ma’at in Thera has been largely disassociated with the goddess and taken as concept, though it varies, especially in Egypt proper.

A not terrible webpage summary can be found here: http://www.touregypt.net/godsofegypt/maat2.htm

Basically.. Therans don’t believe in subjective morality, period. There is a universal way, a universal truth, a universal justice, a universal harmony, and a universal morality. There is a right, and a wrong on a fundamental level. They don’t necessarily assume they’re it, but they do feel that they are striving towards it more than any nation ever has, and hope that they live in its principles and will someday achieve them perfectly.

Even the merest farmer feels a pride and satisfaction in his work, it isn’t just farming, it’s playing his part in cosmic harmony. To be moral is to be in balance with the universe, to be amoral is to be out of balance with it.

To be perfectly in tune with Ma’at is viewed in Thera like achieving Nirvana, except that going off to meditate on a rock to do it would be seen as selfish and ditching your responsibility to cosmic order. You become perfectly in tune with Ma’at through service to Ma’at, through figuring out what your role in society is, and then striving to embody it. To serve others, serve Ma’at, and thereby truly serve your very soul.

Notable Theran NPCs

Minos: What can be said about the great son of Zeus? There seem none that can approach his power amongst any of the chosen, none that can approach his divine beauty, his wisdom, his kindness, his justice. Thera is his gift to the world in his eyes, and a gift to which he gladly suborns himself. Believing that all Chosen carry the potential to be great and glorious gods in the service of man in his heart, it grieves him to ever find a chosen truly beyond hope, beyond redemption, beyond a chance to take part in something better and greater than themselves. The lord of the Theran compact could walk with a justifiable pride at his works, yet for him there is always more to do, to accomplish.

The Champion of Ra, Ioannis Kymberion: Leader of both the Rhadamanthine Order and the Champions of Ra, he is the valiant shining sun of the compact, second only to Minos himself in power and prestige. Some find it odd that a Mycenean is the leader of an Egyptian order, yet all agree that his dedication, courage, battle acumen and poet’s soul are the bastion of the defense of Thera. When not at war he is a calm, gentle, even idly bemused at the world sort of fellow, a demeanor that often initially stuns those first meeting him off duty. Still, There is no finer sight to a Theran citizen, nor more terrifying to her enemies than the Lion of the Dawn blazing brilliantly through the sky above.

Xenos, the Warden: A more quietly beloved figured for that usually, his efforts are in the background. It is he who maintains the central prison of Thera, and he who works as a liason between the Seers and Rhadamanthines, often (some female admirers would add cutely here) flustered with a dizzying array of tasks from each. His features more youthful than inhumanly perfect, he can often be seen traveling from one corner of the capital to the other, putting project after project into place.

Ur-Nammu, the great sage: Venerated Seer, amongst Venerated Seers, the great Ur Nammu built cities out of wilderness, wielded tribes into nations, turned shamans into scholars. His city yet bears his name. Many written languages yet bear his deftly shaping touch. It was seen as one of Minos’ greatest of his early victories that he convinced the great civlizer to place his name under the Theran banner.

Orestes and Electra: Rhadamanthines, and twin siblings, who had fled to Thera after leading an unsuccessful rebellion against their father Agamemon’s tyranny in Heraclidan territory. Though they slew their father, the resounding, screaming fury from every core Herclidae related to him was more than they could stand against, surviving to flee into the Compact an accomplishment in and of itself. Orestes for his part wields the physical might and legendary warrior skill common in part to all chosen of the blood of Heracles and the Achaian princes coupled with divine grace and beauty. Electra is somewhat less physically potent, though she compensates for this with a disturbing control over fire, to the point of flying along on jets of flame. Each have taken to the Compact with a fierce and unrelenting zeal and are often soldiers along its borders, especially against their former kin, for whom no love is lost, and quarter is neither asked nor given. They are very much gripped in Achaian passion, but it is a passion they channel in the name of the Compact and her people.

Neoptolemus: King of New Ilium, having fought on the side of the Heraclidans in the sack of Ilium and turned against his kin at horror from their actions, making him perhaps the most universally reviled Chosen in all of Hercildan lands after Minos. An old and potent chosen, he views his reign as penance for his past and for the deeds of his father, Achilles. Ilium has thrived under his aegis, having proved himself princely both as ruler and as a warrior, though his people often wish he would smile just a bit more. While some say he has abandoned Achaian honour in the name of Ma’at, he maintains he acts in it truly, and while those who seek kin vengeance may do so, as a king, he will be bound to defend his people to the very death.

Toth: one of the Companions of the Champion, the Venerated Seers often grumble at the loss of Toth to the Rhadamanthines, not simply for his peerless genius, but for his mystical command over the very forces of reality itself, as befitting a god of magic. Space, time, and matter are all Toth’s to manipulate and control, often to devastating and terrifying efficacy on the field of battle. Toth himself, for all his might, seems a very reserved and dignified fellow, his humour wry and academic, his only vibrant displays of emotion around his many wives and children.

Eidolon: another of the Companions, devastatingly beautiful, and a mentalist and teleknietic of near overwhelming capacity, somewhat even to herself at that. In part she associates with the Rhadamanthines as they contain the few chosen mentally resilient enough to have their thoughts be their own around her, and thus give her a blessed respite from constantly knowing the minds of all around her. She does her best to keep the Order in constant contact, and safety at that. What would she do without the few she can call her closest friends?

Graven: another still of the Companions, Graven, quite simply, is a stone giant who grows a massive stone war maul from his body before fights, using it to sweep battlefields clean. Enemies often underestimate Graven’s intelligence, which is just as he prefers it. In truth, of the companions outside of Ioannis, he is the most regular commander of the legions. Outside of battle, Graven is nearly the archetype of the gentle giant, with a fondness for acting as a storyteller to children, who delight as he acts out his tales with moving earthen statues he grows out from the ground.

Lir: last of the Companions, Lir is a Celtic god of storms and thunder who cheerfully admits to anyone who asks that Ioannis defeated him in battle, and as terms Lir is bound to serve as his bondsman. The Champion of Ra, if in earshot, will often shake his head and comment that that was centuries ago and that Lir is free to leave at any time he wants, but Lir will firmly maintain there was no time limit set, and that would be dishounourable. Brash, bold, joking and loud, Lir could call down heaven’s fury upon a foe, but that would be leagues less satisfying than pounding them into unconsciousness with his fists.

The Lioness of Byzantium: the newest and youngest of the Rhadamanthines, at 16, the Lioness of Byzantium is also the champion defender of her city. Able to shapeshift into the form of a supernaturally potent lion, and a potent hybrid warform inbetween, her powers are yet developing still. Her unflagging youthful enthusiasm makes her beloved of the entire Order, and Thera itself, even if it occasionally runs full steam into /over/ enthusiasm now and again, though some claim that to be yet more endearing. She is of course a potent warrior regardless, undergoing training from the Champion of Ra himself.

Anubis: Leader of the Champions of Ra after Ioannis, high priest of such (Ra that is) and defender of Egypt entire, this death god is an enigma. Possessed of what he himself feels is a dashingly sarcastic sense of humour, his power over the endings of things (what others might call “entropy”), marks his station in the lands of Khem. Said to have been found wandering the deserts centuries ago, muttering a single word over and over that translated as “death”, his features are of an oddly indeterminate ethniticy, as is his accent.

Ushas: a goddess of light and beauty from the east, who traveled to Thera from stories of its wonders and became enchanted by them, devoting her existence to beautifying them further still, whether in grand celebrations and festivals in their honour, or breathtaking works of art from her own hand. Ushas seems to travel in one, endless party constantly swirling about her person, yet the luxury of it is deceptive, for unlike, say, the orgies of Mithras’ city, she leaves her celebrants invigorated and inspired for the experience.

Mammon: One of Thera’s chief merchants, who’s name in this era, ironically, is synonymous with fair and honest dealings, of wealth used for a constructive purpose. Master of multiple trading costers and a large merchant fleet, Mammon sponsors exploration of new trade routes, and trips to new lands, often deigning to accompany such in his own person, though his own gifts lie largely in advanced business acumen. Often seeking council with Minos and various Venerated Seers over various projects and theories of his.

Theran tech level

Like I said, think steampunk Troy with an occasional Egyptian flavouring. More specifically.. Thera’s most wide scale advancements tend to most specifically be in metallurgy, clockworks (for lack of a better term), architecture, city planning, medicine and agriculture. Theran cities have running water, flush toilets and sewer systems. Some few Theran cities have actual clock towers. Forging techniques and the chemical (and even, alchemical) advancements that have been pioneered result in metals vastly more resilient and in many cases lightweight than would be otherwise normally capable to produce, which also helps with the clockwork bit, there’s thus a fairly extensive use of metals, as gears and cogs in super-refined and nearly automated giant mills for instance. Some say the fairly extensive use of metal also comes from Xenos the Warden’s ability to extend his senses through it and thus watch any part of the compact from anywhere he might be.. but that’s idle rumour. There are weapons that even strong chosen can use without breaking them, and the bronze alloy breastplates and greaves of the Rhadamanthine legions are renowned for both their durability, and their relative lack of weight and hindrance on the wearer (Thera doesn’t use steel, no, Thera uses some kind of bronze super alloy).

That said, all those clockworks are not always too visible, as Thera has a strong fondness for white limestone and marble. Theran cities practically gleam, and while very methodically laid out in districts around a central raised acropolis, there is always care taken to make sure there are vast spaces for public forums, colonnades of statues and other artworks, and public parks, fountains and pools. There is always a huge amphitheater for the public to gather in for citywide performances and athletic displays (bull jumping/dancing is a pretty darn popular sport), being addressed by the local rulers or the like. The streets themselves are often tiled. The architectural style is a sort of hybrid of classical Greece, the Minoan civlization, and various light ancient Egyptian touches (so, lots of ornate columns, bas reliefs, intricate, brilliantly colourful mosaics, etc.). The one exception to this being Egypt. Egypt, or Khem, still largely looks like ancient Egypt, being seen as some kind of spiritual/religious homeland to the entire Compact, no one wants to change it overly as far as style. The regional capital of Heliopolis does look entirely like a Theran city though.

Medically, with medical academies, advanced herbal concoctions, surgical techniques, and just generally cleaner living (there are public baths, and hygiene is encouraged), disease rates are much lower, as is the infant mortality rate. It’s not like there’s, say, neurosurgery or anything like that (though certain very rare and really, really, really smart, dextrous, superperceptive members of the Venerated Seers may be able to do the equivalent), but dying of a cold is pretty rare in Theran cities. Actually, if you look at it, surgical techniques in some ways weren’t all that relatively shabby in some places, I’m often just magnifying what was already there.

Medically, with medical academies, advanced herbal concoctions, surgical techniques, and just generally cleaner living (there are public baths, and hygiene is encouraged), disease rates are much lower, as is the infant mortality rate. It’s not like there’s, say, neurosurgery or anything like that (though certain very rare and really, really, really smart, dextrous, superperceptive members of the Venerated Seers may be able to do the equivalent), but dying of a cold is pretty rare in Theran cities. Actually, if you look at it, surgical techniques in some ways weren’t all that relatively shabby in some places, I’m often just magnifying what was already there.

Theran villages tend more to look like actual villages, but are very often just basically communities that grow up around farmer’s markets, and given the well maintained quality of the Theran roads, are usually within decent distance of one of the Theran cities. And even the villages tend to be somewhat built up (the central village meeting hall will likely be something typical of a Theran city with all the amenities for instance).

The upper end of Theran advancement, outside of chosen “enchantments” (i.e. nova super science), include things like heliograph communication posts, Da Vinci style platform launched gliders that are used by the military and for important communication that a flying chosen isn’t available for, and gigantic clockwork walkers that you point in the direction of an army, set off the electric or chemical charge to get the gears going (or release the binders holding tensed gears in place), and watch it stomp and thresh.

Theran military tech.. the armies use legion formation and organization, with missile units consisting of crossbowmen with ornate, multiple gear and pulley powered bows (reload rate’s a bitch, but the damage potential’s quite nice, the usual formation of a crossbow unit is crossbowmen with attendants to do the reloading and keep them in loaded bows). Siege weaponry wouldn’t be out of place in the high middle ages, with use of things beyond that like greek fire. Thera tends to rely more on infantry than cavalry tactics, as if you need a shock charge that badly, well, there’s chosen. They largely use cavalry for the internal post/patrols along the roads. The border with the Heraclidans also sees the use of massive siege weapon topped towers supported by walkers. The navy is very trireme and trireme tender based, with a large scale of construction for flagships and the like.

A day in the life of Thera, as modified and ripped off from the Outcaste book

Theran citizens typically rise around 6-7 AM, depending on their schedule, they then attend morning calisthenics, or bathe and take breakfast. By 8, they are either in classes in one of the various academies (education being mostly free and meritocratic- if you pass the entrance exams, you can go to the academy, with itinerant tutors ensuring a basic level of education among younger people to let them try) or in the workplace, wherever that might be, or tending to their households. Outside of a lunch hour, breaks and time to run errands as needed, tasks and classes are generally done by 5, 7 at the latest, with time after that being a citizen’s own. Late afternoons and evenings are spent going to restaurants, entertaining friends at home, taking strolls through the city, going to theaters or attending classes or intellectual debates. Thera does have a vibrant economy, and while everyone has a certain pleasant base standard of living, the wealthier do have more time and access to leisure and self education to have a better chance of getting into the great academies. It’s not a huge glaring disparity, but it’s there. There’s a lack of over grumbling about this as even the wealthiest spend days in fulfilling their responsibilities as any other, and thus leads us to..

As far as super science and the like, remember what I said, this isn’t like the modern era, not even a little. People are coming up with the ideas they’ve come up with, out of whole cloth. In the grand scheme of things, even math and literacy really aren’t all that old. There is no tradition of theory and experimentation to mold your thought processes and come up with stuff out of for many, many fields. The Venerated Seers are thus an exciting place to be as all kinds of wild for the time ideas get thought up and debated (“I bet we could use lightning bolts as power!” “You’re crazy! Now watch this blast of steam turn these gears! That’s the wave of the future!”). Some super science will be easier than other super science, basically, and you’ll want to take me through the thought and justifcation processes of how you’re making it work, and how you’re making it go. That said, feel free to use outlandish ones, it is super science after all. One of my favourites from the old campaign was this series of mirrors and chemical relays that you could control the direction of the walkers with. Theran innovations, when they happen, are big, but they’re not coming fast and furious, as it’s preferred for them to be mass socially applicable in some fashion, and to have been refined until they’re completely safe. There’s something of an emphasis on the practical and on refining or enhancing existing techniques, and lots of existing things work well in the practical (so how is it going to be making life better? And etc.)

It’s some kind of crazy Atlantean utopia! I want to be indolent! Or, Theran society and cultural values

Sadly no. You /can/ be indolent if you want, but the result will be society as a whole frowning on you and finding you a massive jerk. Ma’at is taken to heart here as a defining and guiding principle. Everything has a place and role in the cosmic harmony of the universe, and if one is in that place, one is supposed to fulfill one’s responsibilities therein, from the great to the small. There is a strong work ethic in Thera, who’s philosophy involves the belief that it is only in serving others that one truly serves oneself, from the gods on down. Whether you’re an artist beautifying the lives of your fellow citizens, a scholar innovating and challenging the growth of thought, or a farmer in the fields, everything and everyone and every act has a purpose. Can that get a little stifling to people sometimes? Well, yeah, but Thera is idyllic, Thera isn’t perfect.

As far as governance, local will vary from region to region, with local monarchies and nobilities sometimes being the case, though sometimes with attendant assemblies of the people regardless, to full out classical Greek style democracies. The Venerated Seers both chosen and mortal handle the overall Compact bureaucracy, and usually have some kind of tribune style oversight representative in the big cities or thickly populated regions. Thera overall is governed by the great assembly in the Theran capital, with representatives sent from all over Thera to serve as delegates of their region or city therein. Think like the Old Republic Senate, but not horrifically ****ed up and bad. If you’re wondering, Minos’ official title is Speaker for the Theran Assembly (though no one bothers with using it), as the delegate of the Theran capital.

To note, there is slavery, a non slavery based economy is too huge a jump in thought and etc. even for Thera. That said… it’s more like Lookshy style helotry as far as the system for it.

No, I told you Thera’s not perfect, or: The Bad Things in Thera

There’s not that much badness actually, buuuut.. there’s an undercurrent of arrogance and superiority to certain Therans and festers within them, whether human or chosen. It’s not commonplace at all, but it is there, and you can guess where it comes from. I mean, look at their lives? It’s a little hard not to get arrogant when you look at the rest of the world. That said, the people running the joint are rather arrogance free, and generally most Therans are as well.

And depending on how much you do sympathize with the Fianna or not, Thera does eat cultures. It just happens. There’s no thought police making it happen, or secret nova mind control, people just assimilate, they want to assimilate, who wouldn’t? It’s only been in the case of the huge cultures that built Thera (Egypt, Greece and the Minoans) that some synthesis occurred. Lots of far smaller groups and tribes just drifted away from their gods, values and culture to embrace Theran ones over time. On the one hand, sometimes this is completely a good thing, i.e. Assyria, sometimes it’s not. The general opinion in Thera is that it can be regrettable, but, overall, they’re not forcing anyone to do anything, or hurting anyone, or tricking anyone. They’ve found a better way, and they like to have the willing join them in living it. The hell is wrong with that damnit?

The Heraclidae

Slavery. Hypocrisy. Stagnation. Narrow-mindedness.

These are the words the Heraclidae level in bitter accusation at the Therans. They make gods into slaves some decry. They turn the world into a lifeless, perfectly ordered machine. They destroy whole cultures and peoples so insidiously, that not until it is too late is such realized. They lock man into an artificial peace that prevents any real growth through conflict or necessity. They turn men into useless sheep who can do nothing for themselves anymore but live off the goodwill and caretaking of their chosen slaves. The accusations and reasons for hate are near endless, but as to who holds to each one, well, it varies highly with the internal factions that have grouped under the overall Heraclidae banner. Disparate as they may be, they are united in one simple truth. If they stand alone against Thera, Thera will crush them all.

As far as their lands go, disparate factions make for disparate lands. There are often large stretches of lands and tribes where no chosen dominate or can even be found. And then there are instead great cities where they are thick on the ground, with every situation imaginable between those two extremes from dominated nomadic tribes, to clusters of small villages. The borders with Thera are of course more tightly maintained.

Those that simply call themselves Heraclidae are the closest to the original philosophy of Heracles and his lineage. Gods should be free to be Gods, however they themselves choose to express that. There is no one to bind the conduct of a god but that god herself. They work the hardest to keep the factions together as each faction to them is a valid choice being made by gods on how they wish to live their lives, and should thus be protected from Theran eradication. Many being Mycenean exiles, they have no one territory, roving instead between all territories to ensure continued unity and morale. That said, they have the strongest control of anyone over the Phoenician traders of the Spanish and North African lands, their seafaring ways reminding homesick Heraclidae of, well, home. Their leader is the extremely charismatic Atreus the Firebrand

Then there are the Fianna, viewed by some as the most reluctant of the Heraclidae. Their view is simple, relating to each tribe or nation a member of the Fianna lives among. Their people have the right to their cultural sovereignty. To believe their own beliefs, follow their own codes of law, wage war as they see fit, live as they see fit. Minos and his ilk destroy whole civilizations or reduce them to fading insignificance, they have simply found a way to do it without a lifting a blade. Minos lures in whole nations with will sapping comforts, then robs them of their individuality and vitality. This must be stopped. This will be stopped. They call themselves the Fianna in the name of the man who most exemplifies their beliefs, Finn, guardian of Eire. The Fianna are dominant in Eire, in other Celtic lands, and in the lands of the Slav. Patriots, and in their own way, beings who love humanity as much as the Therans ever could, the Fianna fight for their people, to the last breath and drop of blood.

Standing outright as the rivals of these warriors are the Einherjar. The Therans have it part right, they believe. The Chosen are beholden by their power to create a society for man. Where they get it wrong is thinking the society they made gives man any significance at all. For the only significance a human, so utterly beneath a god can have, is as the tool of that god’s direct will, whether as slave, sacrifice, or soldier. Gods must be Gods, and must hold dominion over all, building dominion that is a testament to their divine power and nature. The Einherjar are dominated by one unimaginably powerful figure, Baal, god of storms, who chose the name for his faction after approving in near enrapt pleasure the Norse of northern Europe, with their glorious cries and beliefs about blood for the blood god. This faction mostly makes their home in these lands, centered around the one great (some would argue, horrifying) city the Heraclidae have to rival the Theran capital itself. The city hewn from the earth by Baal’s will as a testament to his faction’s vision and his own godhood. The city who’s climate has been permanently deformed to Baal’s native Levant. The city of blood. The city of storms. The city of screams. The city of inexorable might. Awesome and terrible Gehinnom, Hell and Heaven on Earth all at once.

The Fianna hate the Einherjar for their stated goal of the enslavement of humanity. The Einherjar simply find the Fianna pathetic. Both know the day the Therans are ever defeated is the day both fall immediately into vicious, merciless war.

,,
There are beyond this those who fight for the right.. to be left entirely alone. Chosen are above men they say, and so chosen should not interact with men, the two groups have nothing in common, nothing to offer each other, and no basis to relate on. The only responsibility is not to build some foolish empire, but simply to come to an understand of what one is, and can yet be, that is the only fitting tribute to the enlightenment and depth of experience being chosen can bring. These aloof intellectuals call themselves the Sidhe. Outside pursuing ways to further their own power and understanding from methods that range from meditation to battle they occasionally cluster in meetings around their leader, the impossibly beautiful Rhiannion. They hold no territory, being either wanderers, or scattered across isolated monasteries and holdfasts. They share in common towering intellects, bizarre and rare powers, and inhumanly perfect beauty. Oh, and a faint patronizing attitude to anyone that can’t converse on at least 5 different levels of meaning with them.

The Sidhe too have their opposites in the savage Grendels. Monsters one and all, less motivated by philosophy than by sheer hate at a world that rejects and fears them at worst, or pities them at best. If this world will give them no place in it, they will take one, and humanity be damned. The Heraclidae are.. not so bad as most, most of them can at least look at a Grendel simply as an equal and comrade. The faction lairs in the wild places where man is yet few and weak. Their leader is Grendel himself, for whom their fierce bestial loyalty is best expressed in reverent howls.

How the flying ****ing hell do these people work together?: Good question. It helps that some either want no territory, and those that do have theirs firmly established, and know not to try and take any more than what they have from one another. Why do they know this? Because that’s how hateful or scared they all are of Thera. That’s how powerful Thera is. If Thera ever fell, sure, a bunch of these factions would descend on each other in a frenzy. But until that day, they suck it up and put up with each other, and try to maintain a unified front as best they can.

Notable Heraclidan NPCs

Atreus the Firebrand: named such both for his firey speeches and charisma, and for the fires that burn in place of his eyes and hair. Eldest of the remaining sons of Heracles, like the fires that blaze within his bronze, powerfully muscled body, he is in constant motion with a select cadre of chosen, keeping the Heraclidae overall in communication with one another, bolstering morale, encouraging, and now and again, enforcing sect unity. He is the emotional heart of the sect, and one of the only beings that can bring all the faction leaders together and get them to act as one. A powerful warrior with control over fires without, and the fires of emotion within, he is a linchpin of the entire Heraclidan movement

Finn: Master of the Fianna as a faction, and of the elite warrior band of mortals and chosen that bear too that name. Finn shocks and horrifies many of the chosen for two main reasons. He is perhaps one of the only chosen in the world to openly question that the chosen were chosen by anything at all, that this is not simply freak occurance these powers, that there might yet be some other explination that no one in their egomania has bothered to think of yet. When people go to argue with Finn, he challenges them to prove to him in the moment of their empowerment that they truly saw a god. To admit to him they saw in truth nothing at all. Many have stopped coming to argue with Finn for some reason… The other reason for horror? Finn has sworn fealty to the High King of Eire to defend the land from all invaders, and to police it as an agent of the King’s justice. Finn has sworn fealty to the /mortal/ King of Eire. This is the fifth such king Finn has served. Heraclidae blink in confusion. Einherjar gasp in horror. The Therans sneer that Finn lets his people live and rut in filth and straw thatch when even just he alone could be bettering them. Finn for his part does not give a damn. It is for the people of Eire to grow as they choose, to be ruled from amongst them by a High King. Finn as immortal overlord would be a Finn that destroyed the growth of his wondrously vibrant people. He will simply ensure they always have that chance to grow and be thus content. It helps that while from the outside, Finn seems a normal looking, if regal and commanding human, yet in a fight, none have ever been able to stand against him. He is a combatant without yet equal. A perfect fusion of relentless training and greater than human (he would never say divine) power. Heraclidae are always welcome to take refuge in Eire, but if they ever try to set themselves up as gods, or harm any of the humans of Eire, Finn hurls them out bodily.

,,
Baal: All praise unto Baal, god of storms. All praise unto Baal, god of blood. All praise unto Baal, god of gods and king of kings. Ageless and wise Baal, dark overlord of Gehinnom knows the pain of exile as the Heraclidans do. Once beneficent overseer of the Levant. Once god to thousands there, taking his superior right to rule to its logical extent was for some foolish reason refused by the shortsighted Theran buffoons, their jealous protector Minos himself taking a hand in driving out Baal. The glory they could have had.. the eternal glory.. Of course the most hurtful betrayal of all was that of Baal’s former protégé in the Rhadamanthine order that he himself had helped found with that dissapointment Minos. Ioannis was to rule by Baal’s side come the day, and now look at him, a slave of slaves. But Baal /is/ wise and Baal never makes the same mistake a second time. Thera cannot be his for now? Then let Thera be damned, Baal will build his own empire out of whole cloth, from his sheer mighty will. And so Baal has. Thera claims only it has cities on a scale to bring the awe of men? Let them behold Baal’s city, and cower in dread. And so those idiots, those uselessly intelligent morons do. Baal does not need to dignify Finn’s inane prattle with a response, for how can it not be known that the simple reason for the divinity of Baal, is that Baal is Baal, those that truly know what it is to be a god need no other explination. Baal challenges all chosen to be as gods should truly be. To rend this world into the great proof of their divinity. To shake and tumble the pillars of heaven with every simple breath. To be willful, to be glorious. To be as Baal.

Grendel: Grendel does not require as much detail as the others. Picture an engine of pure devastation. Now make it look as horrifying as you possibly can. Now make its form in constant flux so that whoever is looking upon him sees the misshapen form that would horrify them the most. Now give that form a burning hatred of humanity, and a disturbing eloquence with which to expound upon the worthlessness of that species. Now make him 15 feet tall. There. Grendel.

Rhiannion: What is there to say about a woman who makes your vision die in ecstatic agony with a glimpse of her true form, who’s true voice would strike you deaf from sheer revulsion of all other sounds. Now think about something. If there was a woman like that, would she bother to ever really say much or interact much with anyone not like her? That’s why there’s not much to say about Rhiannion.

Bellarophon: If Atreus is the emotional heart of the Heraclidae as a sect, Bellarophon is its philosophical one. Supposedly one of the teachers of even great Heracles himself, the enigmatic wandering sage holds himself reserved from any one faction, instead seen as a respected counselor to them all. Gently nudging them in unified directions with a soft word here, and a parable there, for reasons not quite clear, he keeps the sect moving as close to harmony as it ever gets. He wears a myriad of forms, young and old, male and female, beautiful and hideous. The one feature tracking across all of them when he chooses to let it be seen are his agelessly wise blue on blue eyes. If a form seems too unnerving he will, with a dissatisfied sigh, take the form of a wise old man reminiscent of

Ur-Nammu, stating “well, this I suppose is what you were expecting”. When asked just what his agenda is, the few times he has not responded with an enigmatic smile, he has said simply “Heracles and Minos created crucibles for the gods. Minos’ will not work, for what comes out in the end will be diluted by mortality.. but here.. after the end of all… well… I hope for the one, to see at last a perfect god”. He maintains a tiny handful of afactional disciples, and outside of Haqim and perhaps one other, they tend to be as infuriatingly inscrutable as he.

Mithras and the Independants:

There are yet chosen who wish neither to truck in Heraclidae or Theran, to live their own lives separate from them, make their own paths. The world is vast, filled with a dizzying array of cultures, peoples and tribes and any chosen with skill, determination and a bit of luck can carve out wealth and a legend from such. Wanderers, warlords, rogues, mercenaries, minstrels, these chosen find their lives in the spaces inbetween these great wars, uncaring of grand visions and ideals. The truly daring play on the needs of those demanding sects of chosen for acts that some wish to go unnoticed, to be tied to none of their own, to need a professional they infuriatingly lack.

There is of course a reason that such as these remain free of being co opted even in the heaviest fighting. The appropriate tribute rendered to the Lord of Light, in exchange to wear his symbol of protection.

For once upon a time there was a wandering chosen mercenary named Mithras, and he fought in many campaigns, performed many successful missions, earned much wealth, many favours, many debts, and learned oh so many secrets. Other like minded chosen came to know Mithras as the one to go to to tell you where and how to find work, how to get out of trouble if you found yourself in any, to barter information and favours with. And cunning Mithras figured out quite quickly what a killing he could make out of this. And so it was a great city arose east of the valley of two rivers. A nameless city of wealth and decadence. Where mercenaries and wanderers gathered to consult great Mithras, and to be directed by him to find their own wealth and power. And he charged them a very simple fee. Were they payed in measurable wealth, to tithe some to him. Were a statue made in their honour, Mithras or his symbol should be associated with it prominently. A ballad written? Why, include a few lines of praise to the chosen’s dear sponsor. Or instead a debt., or a secret, or a favour from either they, or the one so desperately needing their services. ,,

And so the symbol of the lord of light protects the independent from all but consequences for the harshest of actions, in which case it is understood that the protection is void. Aside from those.. well.. there are those that fear the occasional personal and potent wrath of Mithras ruining them in retribution. There are those that fear Mithras calling in but a handful of the favours owed him, and ruining them. Most of all there are those that fear Mithras whispering ever so faintly even a single secret he knows in the right ear, and unleashing devastation.

Notable Indeps who are not Mithras:

Serekh: Cool, competent, quiet, and completely unobtrusive, Serekh is said to be a descendant of Gilgamesh himself, and a wanderer to put even Minos to shame, having learned ancient secrets and fighting styles from across the entire world. Said also to be the greatest bodyguard in any kingdom, which well compliments his sister Anneke, who is said to be the greatest assassin.

The Patriarch: Ancestor to Serekh and Anneke, and thus closer in blood to Gilgamesh himself, if the legends are true. Called such for his place as the master of a bloodline that produces powerful chosen, whom he invariably trains. Called such further for being something of a partner to Mithras, in that he will often train chosen in his service for a fee, making them battle ready as warriors, assassins, commanders and thieves, who he himself keeps ties to in the criminal empires some of them build. Invariably with a beautiful woman to drape from his arm, the Patriarch has a lean build, and weathered features topped by gray, somewhat wild hair. His charisma becomes apparent in his wide, white toothed smile. Tends somewhat to be prone to oddly philosophical, if fascinating anecdotes.

The Red Lion: Called such for his deep, crimson mane of hair, his powerful, stone shattering roar, and his bold nature, wherever there is war, the Red Lion and his mercenary army usually manage to find their way there. The Lion, very simply, thrives on battle, and attracts those of a like mind. Honourable, and notable for not carrying grudges off of the battlefield, save for those who ruin what he regards as “fun and proper battle”. A familiar war cry of “Fortune and Glory!” fills soldiers with either dread or joy, depending on what side they happen to be on. His reckless tactics tend to decimate his own followers, but he has yet to lose a personal fight or engagement, and his charisma always draws more adventurers to replace the fallen.

Thats the campaign document we started from. 100+ sessions later, its been a wild ride.

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Interesting. What were your character creation rules?

As standard, except 45 nova points and a base Quantum of 2. No agg, no armor piercing. Make sure your backgrounds cover your, well, background, etc.

In addition, while not a rule, we ended up with all Theran or allied characters, and nobody with any Taint.

Edit: might as well give quick character summaries:

-Hermes: my own char. Native born Theran, son to a diplomatic envoy. Was previously a, basically, spoiled college genius, gained a bit more compassion, humility, and a touch of divine power when he actually got exposed to what life is like *outside* Thera. Speedster, supergenius, Venerated Seer. ( if this seems short compared to the others, well, I made up for it with the subplots I hauled in later on ::biggrin )

-Aral von Darian: Okay, I'm not really doing this one justice, but basically, he's heir to the throne of Mallorea, a border kingdom in a critical area of the Balkans. After years of trying to choose between Thera and the Fianna, his father chose to ally with the Fianna. Unfortunately, he had been deceived about who he had been talking to, and Baal showed up and took the whole place. Aral and his immediate family survived, because of two things: they were on the road to visit his wife's ( theran ) relatives at the time, and because Aral became Chosen when confronting the Einherjar sent to track down and kill him and his family. Thusly, they escaped to Thera, he swore himself to its cause, and is in general trying to be a big pain in the ass for Baal. General skill and mega-attribute guy, Rhadamanthine Order, and one of Thera's top generals ( even at chargen ).

-Artemis: Only daughter in a family of shepherds in perhaps the most back wood part of Thera. Lived the life you'd expect, until she was Chosen while being attacked by a bear. Fled from her village when everyone seemed frightened of her ( she wasn't quite aware atm that she looked like a bear herself ), spent several years alone in the wilderness. Eventually, a travelling Theran Chosen discovered her, and taught her a bit more about what she was. She followed him back to Thera, where found task amongst the border scouts. Shapeshifting nature goddess, and IMO, the best example I've even ever heard of of someone playing a truly non-human character role.

-Quetzlcoatl: King of Anahuac, on the continent far to the east across the sea. Leader among the new generation of gods who built a civilization out of the tribal peoples of the land. His brother, Tezcatlapoca, experimented with the consumption of life, however, and grew dark and evil. He corrupted or killed the other gods, and drove out Quetzlcoatl, turning Anahuac into a land of blood and death. Eventually, Quetzlcoatl made his way across the sea to Thera, where ( at campaign start ) he accepted its hospitality while considering his further path. Weather and extra-sensory abilities.

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So, any other questions or requests? If there's interest, I could do anything from describing amusing incidents and anecdotes about the characters and their misadventures, to expanding the setting description to include material not mentioned, to posting the whole damn thing ( as attachments, natch, putting up the campaign doc has put me off trying to post anything lengthy again, ever ).

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Actually, I've found the whole thing to be immensely interesting myself, and I was more than a little curious about what was happening in the rest of the world. So if you've got anything else than I for one am interested.

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Actually, I've found the whole thing to be immensely interesting myself, and I was more than a little curious about what was happening in the rest of the world. So if you've got anything else than I for one am interested.

Well, lets see.

Southern Africa, past the deserts, is Shango's domain. Isolationist in the extreme. We know almost nothing about society down there, mortal or Chosen, except that Shango is a dick ( we've seen/encountered him twice via unusual means ). Think an African tribal warlord version of Caestus Pax, whose had total dominion within his kingdom for a millenium. The main geopolitical concern with them lately is whether Shango might choose to end his isolationism as part of a bid to bring the Theran/Heraclidae war to a close before it turns apocalyptic.

Anahuac, Quetzlcoatl's homeland in the Americas, well, after Quetzlcoatl got kicked out, Tezcatlapoca has been turning it into the best homegrown horror he can manage. Diplomatic ties have been established between Anahuac and Gehinnom, as really, they are made to be allies. However, thanks to a bargain Aral made with Mithras, this has turned into a mixed blessing for both.

Way over in what will be called Japan, the Ainu lords are busy killing each other. The old king died, no heirs, and so, given they all hated each other, cue civil war. This was all exacerbated when the great smith Muramitsu put forth a powerful artifact sword, his last and greatest creation, as a lure before them, and then snatched it away at the last moment, thus hoping they'd kill each other in a last spurt of violence without taking the whole population with them. Oh, and 90% odds Baal engineered the whole thing, via a "freakishly strong tsunami."

The big one: the Jade Empire. Not as isolationist as Shango, the August Personage recently sent out diplomats to the west, with nigh certain interest in potential expansion. After a whole bunch of hijinks, short version is, we've found and made contact with a rival claimant to the throne, and Thera is quietly supporting her attempted revolution. Partly because the August Personage is a monster only somewhat inferior to Baal, partly because it averts the likely incoming invasion. It helps that the rival claimant, White Crane, is also an old friend ( and *whisper* lover ) of the Champion of Ra. The PC group is currently involved in supporting her efforts.

That covers most of the major geopolitics outside the West. Further details available on request. I've also left out alot of *why* we know about these things, as its often quite complicated.

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::huh Why arent you running this game here??? ::tongue

,,,,

It sounds like a more grounded and historically based version of Exalted.

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Note the "The GM is Pendaran" in the first post. And its already been going on, over 100 sessions by now roughly.

As for the Exalted comparison, that applies in the "contemporary" portion of the setting. However, the "future" ( modern era ) portions more resemble something based off Planetary before it started sucking. And cross-temporal cross-dimensional weirdness is. . . its own thing.

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Okay, thats it. This forum gets too little traffic. So, without further ado, I give for your reading please. . . Ancient Aberrant.

Session 1 - "Hermes and Artemis are summoned to Thera for a diplomatic mission to Ayest. They pick up Aral on the way, and find the city under siege by its neighbors, and defended by the Heraclidae Telemachus."

( if there is interest, I will continue posting these transcripts )

[attachmentid=91]

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Very nice overall. Reminds me slightly of Exalted in flavour (although I only know of Exalted second hand; I've never actually read or played it properly). but reminds me far more of Julian May's Saga of the Exiles series (which depicts humans with damn-near godlike powers set around six million years ago).

I like it very muchly. Don't suppose you could turn all your campaign notes into a small supplement/setting could you (Word/PDF)? I imagine that it might find a wider audience if you turn it into a more user friendly format. Since you have so many sessions, you must have shedloads of extra background goodness to add on top of the basic setting rules.

JC ::tongue

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Good stuff MP. Is the transcript from an online play or did someone have a recorder going during live play? That or one of your players day job is court stenographer... ::laugh

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Thanks. The game is online, via AIM chatroom, hence the easy transcripts. Also nice since it has a dice roller innate to the program.

As for turning it into a more user-friendly fashion, thats something I'm considering for when the campaign is over. . . several years from now, IOW. ;) Small, however, will *never* be a word to describe the setting. Especially when you factor in a contemporary era that is divergent in almost all important ways *except* in its surface appearance circa 197x-202x.

In the meantime, I will continue posting transcripts. If you have any questions about the events within, or events implied that don't seem to appear ( occasionally, a scene gets missed ), or just background in general, here's the place to ask.

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Session 02 – "Quetzlcoatl arrives at the city and joins the others."

Session 02b – "The party meets with the elders of the city, and finds out the circumstances of the war. Plans are made, which send Hermes to help Telemachus with the defenses, Quetzlcoatl to interrogate a prisoner, and Artemis to reconnoiter the enemy camp. . ."

( was only properly speaking one session, but got split up by chat disruption )

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Session 03 – "Aral inspects the troops, and finds disturbing levels of Telemachus worship. He then inadvertently contacts the spies of the city elders. Meanwhile, Quetzlcoatl telepathically interrogates a prisoner, and gets more then he bargained for."

Session 03b – "The party, sans Artemis, regathers. Quetzlcoatl, attempting to view Telemachus’ arrival in the city, accidentally casts the three into a white void. There, a mysterious man sends them further on, to Telemachus’ incursion south, and encounter with Shango. . ."

Session 03c – "The battle concluded, the party finds themselves back at the city. Artemis returns, just missing the oddness. PLUS: a view of the telepathic trap that caught Quetzlcoatl!"

( in addition, somewhere during this time frame, while Artemis was scouting the camps, she got attacked by a large group of soldiers with unnatural coordination. Since her form was small and relatively unarmored, she was in deep trouble, until Telemachus showed up and saved her. This is relevant later on ;-) )

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Session 04 – "Flashback to Artemis’ reconnaissance of the enemy camps. The party plans, Aral has a conversation with Telemachus, and the oligarchs decide: Ayest shall join Thera."

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Session 05 – "The party, after preparation, delivers the news to Telemachus that he is no longer needed. Speeches are given, Quetzlcoatl observes an argument between Telemachus and his mentor, and fewer troops than feared leave when Telemachus does. The party thus splits to various rests and tasks before the besiegers return. . ."

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Session 06 – "Aral and Artemis stand down the approaching army. Hermes returns to Thera, and reports to Toth in a bizarre manner, learning that the mission succeeded: Grendel is captured. . ."

Session 06b – "The party returns to Thera with the Ayestian entourage, and reports to the Champion of Ra. Iollanis gives them a new mission: escorting an ambassadorial exchange with the Jade Empire. . ."

( Note: the numbering and connection between these two is alot vaguer than usual for the multipart transcripts. Artifact of the early days, before more numbering and archiving was fixed up. )

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Session 07 – "Setting out with the envoys to the Jade Empire, the party sans Aral encounters another group: the Heraclidae mission likewise waiting to meet the imperial ambassadors."

Session 07b – "The ambassadors, Zhang Fei and Si Ma Yi arrive, and trigger initial reactions among all present."

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Session 10 – "Having met ambassadors and representatives, the party begins taking everyone on the tour of Thera, leading to Byzantium."

( Note: there is a discontinuity in numbering. This is due to my archiving system having some bugs. Ignore. )

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( this version is same as above, but as a Word file, might be more readable )

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Session 10 – "Having met ambassadors and representatives, the party begins taking everyone on the tour of Thera, leading to Byzantium."

( Note: there is a discontinuity in numbering. This is due to my archiving system having some bugs. Ignore. )

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I find it epically depressing that the segment with the arrival of the ambassadors was lost, it's one of my favourites. You're sure it's not in your collection somewhere?

Also, you might want to paste the file you just posted into word or something and save it there, turn it into an rtf somehow, as the current format of it is a bit difficult to read.

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I find it epically depressing that the segment with the arrival of the ambassadors was lost, it's one of my favourites. You're sure it's not in your collection somewhere?

Also, you might want to paste the file you just posted into word or something and save it there, turn it into an rtf somehow, as the current format of it is a bit difficult to read.

The latter I can do. The former got lost because I was disconnected midsession. I think I tried asking around, but the problem was, even back then, I think I kept records more consistently than anyone else.

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The latter I can do. The former got lost because I was disconnected midsession. I think I tried asking around, but the problem was, even back then, I think I kept records more consistently than anyone else.

Sad. I especially had a fondness for Zhang's entrance.

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On the plus side, Session 10 is the *only* session that was saved in Text format. Virtually everything from here on out is HTM/RTF, complete with coloration for (usually) easier reading.

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( btw, if anyone wonders the logic behind when I add more. . . each attachment has a download counter ;-) )

Session 11 – "On the way to Byzantium, the party converses with Alaric and Telemachus."

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Session 13 – "The party, ambassadors, and Heraclidan envoys arrive at Byzantium, greeted by Aral, the Lioness, and the king. After settling in, Artemis and Telemachus have a private meeting. . ."

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Session 14 – "Artemis and Telemachus have concerns the morning after, Aral and Zhang Fei bare souls over a game of Maj Jong, and Quetzlcoatl interrupts Ydrasil’s attack on the court after his retainers were murdered. The party gathers to investigate, and Aral comforts the Lioness."

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Session 15 – "The investigation continues, with Quetzlcoatl’s postcognition implicating the Lioness while his telepathy exculpates her. Meanwhile, Hermes visits Xenos, and brings back additional info about the Heraclidan envoys, and a theory for how to track the real killer. . ."

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Session 16 – "The investigation finally turns up results, as a scent trail leads to a dock. Pursuing and boarding the ship in question, the party, the Lioness and Telemachus capture the suspected perpetrator: Loki Lie-Smith."

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Session 17 – "Loki is interrogated telepathically, leading to a trip for the entire group through his mindscape, viewing a scene from Telemachus’ past and a further mental trap. Following this, Loki is delivered to the Isle of Woe, and Aral and Telemachus talk of mutual regrets."

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Session 19 – "Hermes reports to Ur Nammu the latest events, and the need for a trial. Afterwards, Telemachus transports everyone for a meeting with the oracle, Hadrian, who provides answers, some sought after more than others."

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Session 21 – "The party flies to the hidden valley Hadrian revealed, and after meeting with the strange residents thereof, is transported to Ydrasil’s retreat to inform him of the trial. From there, all are transported to Thera, where Elektra objects to Telemachus’ presence angrily."

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Session 22 – "The trial begins. Ur Nammu, Eidolon, and Quetzlcoatl combined cannot breach Loki’s mind, and thus does Minos come forth, acquitting Loki of the murder. At the same time, alarm goes up, and Minos takes everyone to the site of Grendel’s imprisonment. The Heraclidae have come to free him. All of them."

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Session 23 – "The battle begins. Armies clash, the Heraclidae ruling council contains Minos, Graven falls to Finn, and Aral executes his great ruse. . ."

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Session 24 – "The ruse against Baal continues, but Aral’s life is in mortal danger. Thus, the others are sent to the prison, to relieve the Champion of Ra at guarding the Grendel’s cell. . ."

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Session 25 – "The defense of the prison goes poorly, and Hermes is forced to carry his two comrades out for medical help. Meanwhile, Aral’s ruse works, and Baal’s army is cut off. The Champion of Ra arrives just in time to spirit away Aral before he is killed. Following this turn for the worse, Finn initiates a desperate plan, and at the expense of Atreus, Rhiannon, and himself, Minos is felled."

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Yup. The campaign itself is done in an AIM chatroom, so saving the games is just a matter of saving the transcript. After the early days, the format got nicely settled ( due to the saving not always being done on AIM or by me ).

In any case, thats the first two arcs of the campaign, ending with the first big setting-altering event.

So, I'm going to take a break for a bit, to let people catch up who are interested. In the meantime: questions? Comments? Clarifications?

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