Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eiru: Part 5 - Setting

We're nearing the end of the Eiru series. This post will introduce the general setting of Eiru: magic and technology.

This being designed for GURPS 4th edition, it will of course describe everything in GURPS terms. Thus, the GURPS Basic Set will be useful in deciphering the gibberish below, as well as the 4th edition version of GURPS Magic. And of course, the disclaimer:

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

Eiru is a TL 2 world, but their technology is retarded in the areas of construction and warfare. With the exception of the Fir Bolg, who know how to create any of the items crafted by the other races but simply choose not to do so in most cases, all the people in Eiru have the same weapons, buildings, farming techniques, and so forth.

Iron is the metal most commonly used, with copper and bronze still in use for certain applications or to make cheaper versions of items normally made from iron (it is possible, though rare, to find someone making bronze swords, for example). Copper is the most common metal for personal adornments, such as arm-bands, torcs, and brooches, though gold is preferred by those who can afford it.

Cattle are used as draught animals as well as food, and horses are common for use with chariots. Bareback riding is possible, but generally seen as lower-class and reserved for those who can't afford a chariot. Dogs (specifically hounds) are extremely common, and used primarily for hunting. In addition to animal power, the races of Eiru are known to build water mills for grinding grain.

The Danu live in subterranean cities dug from the earth, and the Fir Bolg tend to build simple wooden structures (often in the branches of trees, but sometimes on the ground as well). The other races build round wooden houses with conical thatched roofs, or occasionaly they will build a house from stone.

Small sailing vessels are known, but cannot withstand the rigors of extended voyages, and are generally pulled onto the shore at night. Usually, a boat will be powered by oars.

Two-course crop rotation is the norm for those people who make common use of agriculture, although hunter-gatherer lifestyles are still popular in some places (especially with the Fir Bolg). The Danu usually have farmers who live above ground, or sometimes in domiciles very near the entrance of the sheeher. On occasion, they will have a seperate residence in a nearby hill; a sort of 'mini-sheeher' that is just large enough for a single family. Alternately, a few sheehers have harnessed the power of magic to maintain underground crops, with enchantments to provide light and water in enormous caverns of grains and vegetables.

Now we move on to magic in Eiru. The entire setting is a high-mana area, and spells are cast using runic magic. Use the rules for Symbol Magic as detailed on pages 205 to 209 of GURPS Magic, with the following exceptions:

  • Symbol Tokens do not exist. The symbols must be inscribed every time.
  • Finger Tracing exists, but is not a case of tracing the symbols in the air with a fingertip. Instead, the symbol must be drawn on parchment or vellum, or traced in the dirt. This replaces the normal system of Parchment Symbol Casting.
  • The 'symbols' are not single runes, but words of power. Learning a symbol is not so much practising a specific 'letter,' but a set of words related to a specific subject.
  • Any use of magic requires the use of clanasolse. Finger Tracing involves using the soft metal as a sort of pencil to inscribe the words on the parchment or ground, and magic items created with Symbolic Inscriptions must have the runes inlaid with a small amount of clanasolse.

The language used for magic is, in a sense, a complete language in itself, but its words carry such power that it is never used except in casting spells or enchanting items. The Symbol Drawing skill represents knowledge of the words and grammar used in specific applications of magic thought. However, this does mean that bards, if properly trained and empowered, can use the skills of Musical Influence and Enthrallment. Note that Enthrallment is used via music rather than public speaking, and as such, has the prerequisite changed to Singing 12+, instead of Charisma 1 and Public Speaking 12+. Furthermore, the subset skill of Persuade can be used for satire, causing the victim of a bard's ridicule to suffer social stigma. In game terms, rather than using this skill to grant the bard a bonus to reaction rolls from his audience, the same amount is instead applied to the subject (only one person at a time) in the form of a penalty to reaction rolls.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eiru: Part 4 - Fir Bolg

We conclude the series of races in Eiru with our last entry: the Fir Bolg.

Again, for safety's sake, we include the disclaimer.

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

The Fir Bolg are a race of humanoids, smaller than humans (around 4 feet tall), with a thin covering of fur. Although they are slightly more bestial than the other races in Eiru, they are not animals. They have a true culture and possess technology just as the other races do. They are not fully bipedal, having a stooped posture. But they speak the same languages as the other races (in fact, they have more languages than even the humans do).

Like most other cultures in Eiru, the Fir Bolg venerate nature, but they hold the plants and animals of the natural world in higher esteem than do the others. It is for this reason that they live in the forest, subsisting mostly in hunter-gatherer lifestyles. This is mostly due to their love of trees, and the difficulty in advanced agriculture in a forest environment.

Although they have a reputation for being primitive beasts, they have been able to learn the art of metalworking, and there are smiths among them capable of crafting a sword that rivals the work of the Danu. Such smiths are rare, however, as they prefer to use combustible minerals which they can only acquire through trade with other peoples. Their skill in woodworking, though, is unparalleled, and other races are always willing to give them valuable goods in exchange for their bows and arrows, furniture, cups and bowls, and other wooden items.

On occasion, a Fir Bolg leaves the forests and joins an adventuring party, or sets out on a specific quest. Normally, this is because they have a divine mission, but sometimes it is because an individual feels a wanderlust and desire for adventure.

It costs 85 points to play a Fir Bolg. They have the following modifiers:

Attribute Modifiers: ST -1 [-10]; DX +2 [40]; IQ -1 [-20]
Secondary Characteristics: HP +1 [2]; Per +2 [10]; SM -1
Advantages: Animal Empathy [5]; Brachiator [5]; Discriminatory Smell [15]; Fit [5]; Mimicry [10]; Perfect Balance [15]; Silence +2 [10]; Striking ST +2 [10]
Perk: Fur [1]
Disadvantages: Curious (12) [-5]; Impulsiveness (15) [-5]; Semi-Upright [-5]
Quirk: Careful [-1]
Skills: Survival (Forest) at Per [2]; Tracking at Per +3 [1, 4 levels free from Discriminatory Smell].

Next time, we'll start discussing the world of Eiru itself.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eiru: Part 3 - Fomors

As we continue to examine the land of Eiru, we come now to the third race: the Fomors.
Let's stay safe: here's the disclaimer again.
The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.
A Fomor is an amphibious humanoid. They generally look quite similar to humans; however, they all have black hair and black eyes, except for specific individuals who are the offspring of one Fomor parent and one Human or Danu parent, who may have blonde or brown hair, and can have brown or blue eyes. They live near coastlines and seldom venture more than a mile or so inland, unless they have good reason to, and even then, they prefer to stay near rivers or other large sources of water.
They tend to be arrogant and convinced of their right to rule. Several Fomor nations have warred with the other races in Eiru for dominance, and many of them have, at one time or another, received tribute from other nations. As with most people in Eiru, the Fomors tend to organise themselves into kingdoms, with the stability of each varying depending on many factors.
However, the thing for which they are most renowned (and most feared) is that on occasion (roughly 10%), a Fomor child will be born with hideous appearance and/or disfigurements. Any child so marked will grow to have some impressive power. These creatures, known as Arrects, usually become great warriors, and sometimes impressive generals. The most infamous of them all was Bailan, who enjoyed supernatural strength in exchange for the hideously deformed eye that took up most of the left side of his face. In addition to this, a magic spell backfired and caused that eye (but not the right eye) to project a beam of withering energy that caused any living matter to shrivel and eventually die. He covered this eye unless he wanted to use its power for his cruel ambitions. However, because of this trait, he was able to rise to become king of his nation. He conquered many surrounding areas until his grandson, a half-Fomor/half-Danu warrior named Luaid, killed him in battle and freed all the people under his rule.
Despite their cruel reputation, the Fomors are not much more harsh than the humans.
It costs 55 points to play a Fomor. They have the following modifiers:
Attribute Modifiers: ST +1 [10]; HT +2 [20]
Secondary Characteristics: HP +1 [2]; Will +1 [5]
Advantages: Amphibious [10]; Doesn't Breathe (Gills, -50%) [10]; Fit [5]; Pressure Support 1 [5]; Speak Underwater [5]
Disadvantages: Bad Temper (15) [-5]; Dependency (Water, Daily) [-15]
Quirk: Humourless [-1]
Feature: Characters can purchase the following exotic advantages in exchange for taking a disadvantage-level of appearance and/or unnatural features worth a total of at least 50% the cost of the advantage: 360┬║ Vision, Chameleon, Clinging, Constriction Attack, Extra Arms (2 max.), Extra Attack (in conjunction with Extra Arms only), Extra Legs, Extra Mouth, Striker, or Teeth.
Skills: Fishing at Per+1 [2]; Swimming at HT+1 [2].