Characters of Cimmeria: Jovy

One of the purposes of this writing is to connect the stories of the mythical heroes in my campaign world. Cecilia’s story connects to Jovy’s because they both had adventures in the Caspian Sea. Thus, I’m also going to repeat verbatim a few of the paragraphs from Cecilia’s story in Jovy’s. No apologies!

image

Jovy followed the guidance of Hermes to become the first captain to sail the Caspian Sea. Hermes gifted Jovy with the first double masted frigate capable of tacking against the wind. Jovy along with his friend and companion, Cecilia, rid the Caspian of monsters making it safe for other voyagers. Jovy declared himself King of the Caspian, exacting tribute from coastal settlements and pillaging those that did not comply with his demands. He named and colonized Those Blasted Islands in the sea and fought to protect the colonies during the Dragon War. He imprisoned the gold dragons. When Jovy retired he beached the Mira Miro at the mouth of the Aractrash River to found the city of Lordodo. Jovy joined the other heroes of the Dragon War in their slumber beneath the earth, awaiting the destruction of the Orbs of Dragonkind and the return of the dragons.

Jovy was born to a group of farmers living in the area around what is now Jipangu. Jovy was a rebellious child, often shirking his duties to swim in the river, whittle toys out of wood, or steal eggs from the hen house. His father arranged an early marriage for Jovy, hoping that the responsibility of a wife and family would straighten Jovy out. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. Jovy skipped town the night before the wedding.

He journeyed west to the Caspian and then south following the shore. Along the way Jovy earned money by working odd jobs or more often by stealing. By the time he reached the sea he had himself a nice pair of clothes along with a good set of armor and matching sabers. Jovy found that his natural charm and his wanderer’s mystique attracted many of the young women in the villages he passed through who were bored of their provincial lives just like he once was. In addition to leaving a trail of theft and robberies, Jovy also left a trail of broken hearts and pregnant teenagers.

Throughout his journey, Jovy made offerings to the patron god of thieves and vagabonds, Hermes. Joy saw his life as a dark place with only toil ahead, but for the grace of Hermes who led him towards a full and joyous life. Jovy often spoke to Hermes and as he went south towards the Aractrash River, Hermes spoke back to him. The god of travel told Jovy, “When you reach the Aractrash River chop down the five largest trees. Use the wood of these trees to build a large bowl, as big as a room. Then get the bowl into the river. Do this and I will turn the your life’s fate from woolen thread to cloth of gold.”

Jovy followed Hermes’ command. When he reached the River he located the five largest trees and cut them down with an axe he’d pilfered from a farmer’s woodpile. He bought a saw with stolen gold to make planks out of logs. He boiled water in a large soup pot and painstakingly bent the logs, inch by inch. Jovy nailed them together to make the largest bowl he had ever seen, rounded with a rough bottom. Undoubtedly any soup the gods wished to drink from it would leak out the sides, but Jovy had done it! Hermes’ bowl was completed.

Jovy strained and pushed to get the bowl into the river. He pushed, he pulled, he tied a rope around it and put his back into it. Nothing worked. Then a woman showed up wearing fish scales for armor with a golden sword slung at her hip. She introduced herself as Cecilia the daughter of Zeus and asked his name. Jovy said, “Me name is Jovy. Apollo told me to build this here bowl and put it in tha’ river. He promised a reward. Perhaps iffen you help me we can share it.” Cecilia shrugged and shoved the bowl into the water with a single push.

The bowl splashed into the jungle water and began to grow. It lengthened and tapered at the ends, forming a streamlined structure. Huge poles grew out of the bottom rising up into the sky. Wooden slats protruded from the internal sides and then joined together to make two decks. Ropes and sails appeared from nowhere to fill out the rigging of the ship. An anchor and chain grew out of a whorl on the wooden side. Lastly, the steering wheel slowly rose from the upper deck at the rear of the ship. Floating on the river before Jovy and Cecilia was the first sailing ship complete with two masts, a forward boom for a jib and almost a dozen sails. A crew of sailors stood at attention on deck, summoned by the same magic that created the ship.

“Are you to take that into sea against the monsters? asked Cecilia.

“Aye lassy, and I’ve a mind for you to come along too iffen you be willing,” said Jovy.

“An adventure on the open water? I’d like that.”

Jovy named the vessel the Mira Miro and he took his place at the steering wheel as Captain. Cecilia joined him, wearing her fish scale armor with her golden sword always at the ready. After sacrificing a bull to Poseidon, Jovy’s command set the sailors to work taking the Mira Miro downriver. Fresh water turned to salt as they reached the Caspian Sea. Almost immediately something rocked the ship. A great tentacle rose out of the depths and attempted to drag the ship down into the water. Cecilia called out her father’s name and jumped into the water with sword in hand. Her fish scale armor allowed Cecilia to swim through the water with ease and breath it as well. She sliced off the monster’s tentacle with her golden sword, then followed the beast into the deep as it retreated. She slew it and reemerged with a giant octopus eye to document her achievement. Jovy congratulated Zeus’s daughter before setting sail once more.

The heroic duo traveled across the width and breadth of the Caspian, slaying monsters as they went. Cecilia slew monsters through brute force, but Jovy had more finesse. He tricked monsters into giving him their treasure without a fight. He snuck into their caves and grottos at night to slay them in their sleep. He convinced them he was a god and that they were better off swimming ashore than facing his wrath. Jovy hoped his accomplishments would impress Cecilia and win her heart, but she never looked at him with the doe eyes he had come to recognize in his conquests.

Once while sailing Jovy asked her, “Why ain’t a lass such as yerself married?”

Cecilia said, “I vowed to Zeus that I would give my virginity to no man who could not take it for himself.”

“Aye. I’ve seen ye fight. Twould ‘ave to be a mighty man indeed who can claim yer maidenhood.” And I am not that man, thought Jovy to himself. He gave up any hopes of winning Cecilia. They had passed the time on deck by arm wrestling many times. He had never beaten her.

When the pair had defeated most of the monsters in the Caspian they parted ways. Cecilia returned to her village to make it the first fishing town on the Caspian. Jovy stayed upon the water in the Mira Miro. He traveled across every inch of what he called Those Blasted Islands in the sea. He named each one according to who he thought best suited to live there after exploring them. Jovy went to the Caspian’s rapidly increasing coastal population to gather colonists for Those Blasted Islands. The islands were soon inhabited with Jovy proclaiming himself King of the Caspian.

Jovy took tribute from more than just the colonies on Those Blasted Islands. He also claimed all the towns and villages within 10 miles of the sea as his own (excepting those close to Cecilia). Those who would not submit were pillaged.

Jovy took some time off from sailing and became good friends with the Hill Dwarves of Jord. Some say he was even buried in Jord. Others say he was buried on Jovy Isle where his pleasure mansion once stood.

When the Dragon War started, Jovy joined up along with Cecilia. He imprisoned the gold dragons. When the time came for the heroes of the Dragon War to sleep, Jovy beached his ship at the same location he first made the large bowl for Hermes. The Mira Miro remains there to this day, now serving as the city hall for Lordodo.

To be continued

-GoCorral

Characters of Cimmeria: Cecilia

Whew! This one took a lot longer to write than I thought it would. A little late for “D&D Mondays.” I should still be able to keep up with one post a week though.

Cecilia

Cecilia the Salt Champion was the daughter of Zeus and the mortal Hymniara. The founder of the city that now bears her name and liberator of the Caspian, Cecilia slew the great sea beasts that prowled the sea. She accomplished many other great tasks on land as well as befriending the dolphins and the people of the sea. During the Dragon War, Cecilia imprisoned the black dragons. All her tasks were done in the name of her lord-father, Zeus, while wielding a shining sword that he gave to her. The sword was buried with her deep beneath the earth where Cecilia slumbers, awaiting the return of the black dragons.

Continue reading

Cimmerian Timeline Part 2

Previous: Cimmerian Timeline Part 1

Composing the Cimmerian Timeline has an issue that if I do it chronologically I risk missing events that I put into various cities’ backgrounds and later forgot. I’ll do my best to get everything as it comes up chronologically. Inevitably I will make mistakes and need to include events that are in a period of time that I already covered. I’ll just note that in each update that requires it and edit the complete timeline on the menu bar at the top of the site.

1150BCE: The Olympians held a convocation. The Trojan War devastated the greatest heroes of Greece and now the oldest survivors had died. The gods wished to continue their philandering and fun, but the Fates decreed that no such business would occur in Greece. A decision was made to head east, to the land of the Goblins.

The Goblins had a pantheon of their own which the Olympians had to combat with before their rule of Cimmeria could be secure. The Olympians created many new mortal servants to war against the Goblins while the Olympians engaged the Goblin gods themselves. These new mortals organized themselves into a governmental body known as the Conclave. Humans, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, Halflings, and other races of Cimmeria all worked together in the Conclave.

1149BCE: Threatened as they were, the Goblin pantheon called upon a most terrible weapon, the Phoenix. The Olympians battled with the Phoenix. They defeated the great bird but found that it arose anew from the ashes, stronger than it was before.

1147BCE: After many attempts to destroy the Phoenix, the Olympians turned to their mortal allies. They gave the mortals access to powerful magic and combat techniques in the hope that with their combined force they could vanquish the Phoenix for good.

1146BCE: The health of King Aeëtes of Colchis began to fail without his daughter Medea’s magic. He started feverishly studying to reclaim the arts she once used to extend their lifetimes.

1140BCE: Years of planning allowed the mortals, led by the sorcerer Sadroston, to defeat the Phoenix. A city named after the bird was built upon its ashes. This was the first Olympian city in Cimmeria.

1139BCE: The war with the Goblins and the Goblin pantheon continued. King Aeëtes mastered the unruly magic of the Olympians to immortalize himself. Hades was furious that a subject escaped entrance to his realm. The God of the Underworld began preparations to reclaim the old Aeëtes’s soul.

1118BCE: The war raged on. The Conclave pushed the Goblins out of Western Cimmeria and founded the city of Nox as a center for people living in the west.

1113BCE: Tensions rose between the Dwarves and the Humans over how to coordinate the actions of Phoenix, Nox, and smaller population centers against the Goblins.

1102BCE: Karnafaust, First High King of the Dwarves, stormed off with his army after a disagreement with the Human leader, Drolofo. Karnafaust struck into Goblin territory in Eastern Cimmeria, stopping only when he reached the Black River.

1101BCE: Karnafaust founded the city of Fangaroot upon the Black Mirror Lake. He declared an independent Dwarven state from the Conclave of Humans, Elves, Halflings, and Orcs.

-GoCorral

Next: Cimmerian Timeline Part 3

First Steps of the Cimmerian Timeline Part 1

Greek myths describe periods of hundreds or thousands of years when humans were around and the Titans ruled. And before Cronus was born there was a long time where just the primordial deities were around hanging out and doing whatever primordial deities do.

So how far back does my timeline of Cimmeria go? A hundred years from current events? The Trojan War? The war between the Titans and the Olympians? The birth of Gaia from the void?

I picked the birth of Deucalion as where my timeline would start.

For those of you who don’t know, Deucalion is the Greek mythological version of Noah. A lot of religions have versions of Noah. Archaeologists link these stories to flood events at the end of the last ice age.

Deucalion and Pyrrha threw stones over their shoulders and they turned into people to repopulate the Earth. And that's where babies come from.
Deucalion and Pyrrha threw stones over their shoulders and they turned into people to repopulate the Earth. And that’s where babies come from.

Deucalion is the “Father of Humanity” in Greek mythology, so he is a natural starting point for a timeline about Humans.

But where do I line up Deucalion with an actual historical timeline?

Fortunately, there is a event in Greek myths that has a counterpart in reality, the Trojan War!

The remains of Troy have been found with multiple layers of cities built on top of each after the previous layer was destroyed.

Two of the layers are reasonable candidates for what was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. These two layers are called Troy VI and Troy VII.

Troy VI was destroyed first around 1250BCE and Troy VII was destroyed around 1183BCE.

So which was the Troy the Greeks destroyed?

Luckily the myths give us an easy answer. Troy was attacked and damaged a few decades before the Trojan War by Heracles. Thus if we were to line up mythical and historical events we would claim that Heracles destroyed Troy VI in 1250BCE and the Greeks destroyed Troy VII in 1183BCE.

From there it’s a matter of counting backwards generationally from the Trojan War to Deucalion.

It turns out that Patroclus is the best candidate for counting backwards to Deucalion. Figuring out Patroclus’s age is somewhat dependent on Achilles’s age.

The good news is that Achilles’s age is given in the Epic Cycle. He is eight years old when Odysseus takes him off to the Trojan War. It takes two years to get to Troy and the Greeks are there for ten years. That means Achilles would’ve been 19 or 20 near the end of the war.

Patroclus is meant to be Achilles’s older cousin and pederast. I guessed that he was seven years older.

So we count backwards 27 from 1183BCE and we get 1210BCE as the birth year of Patroclus. Patroclus was the second son of Menoetius. We count backwards for Menoetius, assuming that he had his first child at 25 (typical for Greeks), with a 2 year gap per child. Continue this process until you reach Deucalion and then add a bunch of years to Deucalion because he lived longer than normal Humans do just like Noah.

Obviously, I could use a similar system to date many of the events in Greek mythology, but that’s a huge pain in the ass. It’s enough that you know that all the heroic myths take place over a roughly 200 year period, with most of them concentrated around the 50 years leading up to the Fall of Troy.

And without further ado, here is the first installment in the Cimmerian Timeline.

1421BCE: Deucalion is born.
1339BCE: The Great Flood happens, signaling the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Heroic Age.
1196BCE: Paris steals Helen and the call goes out among the Achaeans.
1195BCE: Odysseus finds Achilles at Scyros and the ships sail to Troy, ravaging almost every settlement enroute to the great city.
1193BCE: The Achaeans arrive at Troy.
1183BCE: Troy falls, signaling that the Heroic Age will end soon.
1173BCE: Odysseus returns home.
1159BCE: Odysseus is killed by Telegonus, his son with Circe. Telegonus takes Penelope and Telemachus back to Circe’s Island. Telegonus marries Penelope and Circe marries Telemachus. This death and marriage signal the end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the Iron Age for Greece.

-GoCorral

Next: Cimmerian Timeline Part 2

Cimmeria and Syncretism

Syncretism noun syn•cre•tism: the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.

My campaign world, Cimmeria, uses the Hellenic pantheon but Cimmeria is not Greece, it’s Cimmeria. The Greek gods get pretty active in Cimmeria, but why Cimmeria instead of Greece where they’re supposed to be getting up to all their shenanigans?

The meta/out-of-game answer is that I wanted creative freedom for geography and historical events. Tying myself to a real world location would’ve restricted those choices. I still needed Greece around to draw on the myths of the Greek gods, but I didn’t need my campaign to physically be in Greece or the Aegean.

The in-game answer is that the Greek gods wanted a fresh start after the Trojan War. They moved away from Greece, only occasionally interacting with their followers in that region. Cimmeria became the new playbox for the Olympians.

But what does this move from Greece to Cimmeria have to do with syncretism?

Well, do you suppose there might have been gods living and being worshiped in Cimmeria before the Hellenic pantheon showed up?

If you said yes you win the prize!

There are multiple pantheons within my campaign world outside of the region of Cimmeria.

Other pantheons include the Egyptian, Norse, Sumerian, Abrhamic (more of a monotheon, but whatever), and a few other minor deities that could be represented by the Greyhawk/Faerun pantheon.

Prior to the arrival of the Olympians in Cimmeria a pantheon of Goblin deities ruled the region.

The Olympians engaged these gods in some sort of battle for the region and emerged victorious. The old Goblin religion has all but disappeared.

Each of these different religions contain their own rules about the underworld and the realm of the gods. How can all these pantheons have different underworlds? How does that make sense?

The ancients had an idea called syncretism. That’s when one god is equal to another god in a different religion. Zeus = Thor is a fairly obvious one.

Another one people did was Dionysus = Osiris, because both of them came back from the dead by being sewed together. The problem with that one is it means Dionysus must also be Hades because Osiris is the ruler of the underworld. But Osiris is also the father of Horus who would be Zeus or Helios in the Greek pantheon. Does that mean Dionysus/Hades is also Cronos, the father of Zeus? Or even Hyperion, father of Helios?

Dionysus Osiris Syncretism
All answers to this test must be written in cursive.

It’s my belief that the ancients didn’t really have rules for this. I think that when they contemplated this issue with syncretism they just said something like, “Who can understand the immortal gods?” or more rarely, they expressed a monotheistic belief where every god was simply a reflection of a singular deity. Thus, I believe that even the people who actually practiced these religions in their original forms would’ve found syncretism confusing.

Are there rules for how syncretism works in Cimmeria? Nope, sorry. I went with what I thought worked best in each situation.

There are occasional instances of syncretism, but for the most part each pantheon exists separately from other pantheons. Each rules over its particular worshipers and regions without interfering in the other regions unless some large event precipitates such interference.

What does this decision mean for the cosmology? First, it means that most of the Goblin deities were absorbed by the Olympians through syncretism.

It also means that a character’s access to other planes besides the Material and closely connected planes (Astral, Ethereal, Shadow) is heavily limited.

A Hellenist cannot travel to the Pharaonic afterlife. It simply isn’t possible unless the Hellenist travels with a Pharaonist or is somehow cursed to go to the wrong afterlife.

Another effect is the weakening of divine magic when within another pantheon’s realm. Clerics find their spellcasting powers diminished to those of a cleric half their level when not in their pantheon’s region. This means that Greek priests are weaker than their Cimmerian counterparts, as the Greek pantheon abandoned Greece for a new region, Cimmeria.

That hopefully answers a few questions about how different pantheons work in the world around Cimmeria and provides some background for the move of the Greek pantheon from Greece to Cimmeria (and later on Rome).

-GoCorral

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules Movie Poster

Hulu has started streaming movies as well as TV shows. I’d wanted to see the new Hercules movie since it came out. Perfect Combination!

The movie stars Dwayne Johnson (are we still calling him the Rock?) in the title role, which is probably one of the best casts I can think of for Hercules.

The trailer advertises the classic story of the Twleve Labors of Hercules with our hero slaying many beasts  to thunderous applause.

That is not what the movie is about. At all.

So with that disappointment out of the way, let’s talk about what the movie is about.

Hercules and his band of friends are mercenaries with Hercules as the front man.

Hercules and his band of misfits are hired by King Cotys to defeat the barbarian warlord, Rhesus, who is attacking local towns. They train Cotys’ army and then lots of fight scenes ensue. Standard action movie stuff.

The group plays up Hercules’ reputation by constantly reinforcing that he is the son of Zeus and that he’s slain tons of fantastical monsters. All of that is false in this story. No monsters. No divine parentage. Just stories to make Hercules more intimidating to their foes.

There is a bit about Hercules having to fight centaurs later on in the movie, but a nod is given to what some people believe inspired the myth of centaurs, people riding horses. A person unfamiliar with that practice might assume that they were seeing a human-horse hybrid and not just a person on top of a horse.

As for Hercules’ well-known strength that many are familiar with from the Disney movie, that is actually in the movie. It’s not to the supernatural degree, but he is still really freaking strong.

There is some augmnetation for that intimidation factor I mentioned. At one point Hercules kills a man with one punch. The audience sees that he accomplished this by concealing an arrowhead in his fist and stabbing it into the man’s skull.

Hercules is very similar to 300 and Beowulf. He even shares the iconic scene in Beowulf where the title character shouts his name to emphasize his manliness. If you liked those movies you will like Hercules.

If you’re looking for a story that is actually about the myths of Hercules, that isn’t here. There are tons of references to the myths, but no actual reenactments. Similar to Troy the movie tries to show us how historical events could’ve inspired those myths instead of showing the myths themselves.

If none of that interests you the movie is still a decent action movie. Lots of well choreographed violence and snarky one-liners. It’s not the best in that genre, but I certainly enjoyed myself.

If any of the stuff I said interested you, go check out Hercules in the DVD section of your local store or on Hulu if you have a subscription (I don’t think you can watch it there if you don’t have one).

-GoCorral

Mars’ Oasis

Mars' Oasis

Mars’ Oasis is a large settlement of 50,000 people in the Shacklack Desert. The city is built around two oases, a large one full of water, and another minute oasis full of a magical liquid called Dythalid. When objects are immersed in Dythalid for an entire month they acquire magical properties, while the Dythalid is consumed. Metals that go through this process become Dythalidium and have the same properties as Dragonsteel. Plant material that goes through the process becomes Dythalidare and has the same properties as ironwood, but can still be consumed for 1d8+3 healing for each serving eaten. Minerals that go through the process become Dythalidem, a crystal that radiates blue light as well as enough heat to protect against cold temperatures as low as 0˚ F. Other liquids that go through the process become Dythalidos, a liquid that explodes under pressure or when the smallest spark touches it. Dead animal products that go through the process become Dythalidon, a virtually weightless substance that still provides ample sustenance if consumed.

Naturally, the liquid is unbelievably valuable. An equal amount by weight is needed to change an object into a Dythalid substance. Dythalid is sold by the government of Mars’ Oasis for 1,600 GP an ounce to citizens of the desert. It is sold outside of the city for more, but this is illegal and carries a very severe punishment that is kept in vague secrecy. Civilians are terrified of this punishment but the fugitives who sell Dythalid to outsiders think the worst that can happen to them is starvation in a prison cell.

Dythalidium is used by the nobles of the city, but is too expensive to give to the soldiers who could easily desert and sell their armor and weaponry for a fortune. Select super soldiers, called the Dythalidee, are chosen to be guards of the Dythalid Oasis from birth. They are always extremely exceptional in every aspect, resistant to mental corruption, have psionic abilities, Dythaldium weapons, Dythalidare armor, and know all the secrets of Dythalid. No Dythalidee has ever fallen in combat.

The city needs food to survive. A little grain does grow around the oasis, but the people need water to drink as well as for irrigating crops. There isn’t enough water for livestock and people to drink, so few beasts are kept at Mars’ Oasis. A special fruit bearing cactus known as Sithica grows throughout the whole Shacklack desert. It is poisonous in its normal form, but if soaked in Dythalid one of the fruits can support someone for a week. The Sithica fruit is the only known substance that does not consume the Dythalid in its incubation period. These fruits are the staple crop of Mars’ Oasis.

The government of Mars’ Oasis is based around a caste system. The lowest caste is slaves, next servants and laborers, moving up to merchants, craftsmen, artisans, and specialists, then nobles and other people from rich or powerful families, the final caste is the royal family who has control over the Dythalid pool. Taxes go through the castes. King Mero III taxes the nobles, the nobles tax the merchants, the employers tax the servants, and the owners take everything they can from the slaves. King Mero decides where the money goes, usually into the army.

Mars’ Oasis needs a good army. It has a constant struggle with the desert environment as well as the other inhabitants of the desert. Bavastatner, the oldest of the blue dragons, lived in Shacklack and his progeny are one of the biggest problems for the people at the oasis. A dragon slayer’s guild has come into existence to deal with the problem. They provide free weapons to the public whenever the city is under attack and King Mero III himself is an accomplished member of the guild. Brass dragons also help against their worst enemies, but only when required.

An enormous formian hive has been set up in the desert. The hive has 25 queens and almost 10,000 workers in it. These outsiders are seeking to enslave the other humanoid species of the desert. To counter the ant encroachment Mar’s Oasis has welcomed a group of Dionysus missionaries. The chaotic clerics are able to keep the lawful Formians away from the city proper whenever they decide to attack.

Previously, undead were an even bigger problem than the blue dragons. In the east of the desert a powerful lich lived in an enormous stone monolith surrounded by legions of undead. The people of Mars’ Oasis, never knowing the lich’s true name, called it the Bane. The Bane sent huge armies of undead to attack the city every few years. The Bane didn’t seem to have any particular goal beyond getting more corpses to make more undead to attack the city to make corpses. It may have wanted control of the Dythalid pool, but the pattern of the attacks were never aimed at that area or any specific area of the city.  Recently the Bane was defeated by the exiled members of the Alliance. King Mero III planned to reward them, but ordered them to leave the city when he discovered that the exiles weclomed an undead in their midst.

Prior to the defeat of the Bane, the mages and clerics of Mars’ Oasis had been thinking of different tactics for driving the undead off for centuries. The most basic tactic is using lots and lots of clerics to turn and destroy the undead. The most effective tactic the mages have created so far is the Rot Reaver. It is a monster that eats and controls undead. It is a little on the black side of magic, but it was seen as necessary to fight the thousands of undead that attacked the city.  With the defeat of the Bane, the mages of Mars’ Oasis are now tweaking their Rot Reavers to prepare for a conflict with the Dragovinians.

Other dangers that threaten the city include lamias, manticores, dragonnes, basilisks, sphinxes, hyenas, giant insects, braxats, dune stalkers, sun giants, asabis, brown dragons, stingers, harssafs, witchknives, and all different kinds of lizards. These creatures never attack in large groups and are usually just one rogue monster that has got the suicidal idea that it can attack an extremely militaristic civilization on its own and survive.

Mars’ Oasis’s army has 3,500 people on active duty patrolling the city, making weapons and armor, and out in the desert killing any monsters they can find. The men are all able to turn undead due totheir clerical or paladin training. They all wear at least breastplate armor and carry masterwork bows and weapons. All of them are trained for killing undead and desert monsters. Their other equipment includes a bead of dryness to store water, cold weapons, potions of healing, holy water, and an oil of gentle repose to be applied immediately upon death to prevent being turned into a zombie or other undead monster.

The name of the city, Mars’ Oasis, comes half from the oasis and the other half from Mars, the Roman version of Ares. In 700 BCE he led a group of Roman soldiers to the dark side of the world and then back around. They fought many orcs, goblins, monsters, and demons on their journey. Ares gave the Romans peace at the end of the journey in his Oasis. Out of the fires of the desert a lake arose with many desert nymphs to become the legionnaires’ wives. From those Romans and nymphs the indigenous humanoid population of the desert has sprung.

With the war between the Alliance and Xoria, Mars’ Oasis is suffering under a constant barrage of diplomats requesting that they enter the war with the Aliiance.  This is due to Mars’ Oasis unique experience in defeating dragons and undead of which Dragovinians are a hybrid. Until now, Mars’ Oasis declined to join the war. The milieu of threats within the desert kept the Mars’ Oasis army busy enough without having to deal with threats outside their immediate region. The situation is about to change though. The Alliance exiles vanquished the Bane and recently slew Bavastatner. Additionally, they negotiated a peace treaty with the formians. Removing the three primary threats to Mars’ Oasis frees them up to join the war against Xoria.

-GoCorral

Dradelden

Dradelden

Dradelden was a colony established by the Amazons of Pontus around 800 BC and later became the last remnant of their country when the Persians successfully invaded. Since the Attic War the Amazons have been led by their strongest warrior until her death, at which point a tournament is held. The winner is declared the new ruler of the Amazons. This tradition held true even after the Amazons joined the Xorian Empire when King Jevaninada I married Queen Anajakaze. After the death of the married pair, Jevaninada II respected the tradition, but with the condition that the queen who succeeded his mother be made a Dragovinian. The new queen, Ashabodai, ruled for several years until she was slain at the battle of Phoenix. In the next tournament the council of the Amazons forbade Dragovinian Amazons from competing. The winner and new Amazon queen, Jittehalong, still nominally holds power in Dradelden, but she is forced to take orders from Jevaninada’s subordinates.

Dradelden is famous for the horses that are bred here. After the death of Achilles his horses, Balius and Xanthus, were captured by Paris. Upon Paris’s death they were left unattended in his palace stable until an Amazon, Anathilea, who had escaped the battle with the Achaeans, snuck in and liberated them for herself. The horses would have rebelled against her had they not know she was related to Penthesilea, the one woman Achilles’ loved. All the fine horses in the Dradelden stables are descended from those first two studs.

The excellent stables of Dradelden improved their stock of horses through selective breeding until a godly zenith was reached with no room for improvement. At that point new blood had to be called in. A group of Amazons were sent to the Whitewood Forest to capture some of the unicorns that are known to dwell there. Enough were brought back to breed with all the best horses of the Dradelden stables. Now the city has some of the smartest, fastest, and strongest horses known to humankind. Another oddity of interbreeding the unicorns with horses was unaligned unicorns. The common unicorn is white and values goodness and a few magical beast experts speak of black unicorns that value evil. The professional horse breeders at the Dradelden stables have managed to breed unicorns of any alignment and color.

Despite its vassalage to Xoria, Dradelden has kept a strong and unique warrior tradition. Every girl child that survives to the age of six is taken from her parents to a female agoge. All these girls are taught mathematics, poetry, and gymnastics from a young age. Once they are deemed ready by their teachers the girls learn how to use swords, spears, axes, bows, and any other weapon imaginable in combination with a shield. Most of the graduates of the weapon academy choose to use the weapon of Penthesilea, a two-handed battleaxe. Under the original terms of vassalage to Xoria the soldiers trained at Dradelden were not required to serve in Xoria’s main army, but could choose to defend only Dradelden. This remains technically true, but the Amazons must also obey their queen, who has ordered them to continue serving in Xoria’s main army. Many suspect that Queen Jittehalong has been threatened by King Jevaninada II.

As one would guess, because the women of the city are becoming soldiers and leaders the men take the backseat in society traditionally filled by women. Growing food, serving the upper class, caring for the horses, and the variety of other menial tasks required to keep a city going are all performed by men. The only semi-high class job that men are allowed to do in the city is slave trading. This is upsetting to outsiders used to a patriarchal society and confrontations between Queen Jittehalong and Xorian dignitaries have grown in frequency since she took office.

There are many farms around Dradelden that the city relies upon for food. They grow the grains and root vegetables that keep Dradelden’s citizens’ bellies full. Lately more and more of the food has been sent away from the city to feed the soldiers in Eastern Cimmeria. This has put a strain on the city, which only twenty years ago had a famine due to an arsonist burning half the town’s crops.

In the Second Alliance War the Amazons were initially led by Queen Ashabodai in the battles around Phoenix and subsequent siege. During the Battle of Phoenix, Ashabodai was killed by Logan the warlock during the Battle of Phoenix. After the battle two tournaments were held to decide who the next queen should be, one in Dradelden and one in the warcamp outside Phoenix. A human won the Dradelden tournament and a Dragovinian won the Phoenix tournament. The two champions faced off to determine who would rule the Amazons and the Dradelden champion won. Jittehalong was crowned Queen of the Amazons. While she remains loyal to the Xorians, she is clearly irritated that she must take commands from male Dragovinians. Every offer to turn her into a Dragovinian is refused.

-GoCorral

Colchis

This is the first of these entries that requires more significant editing. I admit that when a character never showed up in my previous campaigns I saw no reason to change the name or provide a different story. The same can’t be said for Aeëtes. He played a large role in the events over the past forty years in Cimmeria and he also died. I needed to detail the more recent history of Colchis which will become relevant in my campaign soon. I also needed to remove the references to Aeëtes that used the present tense. Additionally, there are a few words and mythical characters that you might not be familiar with in this post. Rather than define them here, I’ve added links to appropriate webpages with additional information if you wish to access it.

Colchis

Colchis is the famed holy city where Jason ventured to find the Golden Fleece. Before the Trojan War the city was ruled by King Aeëtes and the same king continued to rule into the new age. After having his city’s prized possession stolen from him he panicked and immediately sought out a way to extend his natural life. He found his answer in undeath. Aeëtes forced the city magician to transform him into a Curst. With eternity on his side, Aeëtes studied as many magical tomes as he could get his hands on in order to increase his inhumane might. He later had his eternal power increased by having himself spell-stitched.

This unholy process didn’t go without attracting some attention from Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Every mortal who becomes an immortal has effectively escaped Erebos and Hades doesn’t like losing any of his citizens, especially kings. Hades put a bounty on King Aeëtes. Hundreds of Marut inevitables, demons, devils, bounty hunters, and hopeful heroes swarmed to Colchis in the wake of the Trojan War. They all failed and died due to Colchis Castle’s excellent defenses and the intervention of Demeter who stepped in to save Aeëtes due to her old grudge with Hades. Some of the warriors were captured and made to serve King Aeëtes through magical charming, bribing, or in the case of the inevitables, reprogramming. The other creatures have since died out, but the inevitables survived the centuries. Aeëtes even made more inevitables to increase their numbers.

While Aeëtes lived Hades sent another army to attack the city every blood moon. Aeëtes fought off all of these attacks but he could not defend against the Seven Rages of Jevaninada the First. The Seven came to Colchis and subdued Aeëtes. They forced him to undergo a permanent quest spell that bound him to serve King Jevaninada the First. This enchantment was broken by Amalgami and Salzar during the First Alliance War. Aeëtes engaged the Rage, Grave, during the uprising and lost his soul in the conflict. With his soul imprisoned in Grave’s ruby dagger, Aeëtes could not return to life as he once did. Some say that Grave bartered the soul to Hades, but others say that the soul still resides in the ruby dagger, now lost after the death of Grave.

At the conclusion of the First Alliance War, Queen Anajakaze put ruling ladies in control throughout the realm, replacing existing lords or absent lords such as King Aeëtes.  In Colchis she installed Lady Shunawo Ka, the sorceress, as the city’s ruler. Shunawo is one of the few ladies to survive the purge that King Jevaninada II instigated upon taking power. She married the King’s friend, Wulang, adopting his surname, Li. As Wulang often went away on eforcer missions, Lady Li continued to rule in his absence. She keeps control in Colchis Castle to this day, even with Wulang missing and presumed dead in Bigby’s Forest.

Colchis Castle has long been known for its amazing defensive capability. The castle is a built on a solitary hill in the middle of the city. The Don River has been rerouted to flow around both sides of this hill creating a natural moat. A large clutch of about thirty Tojanida were persuaded by Aeëtes to live in the moat. They prevent anybody from swimming across in exchange for food and gold from the ruler of Colchis, now Lady Li.

The Castle itself is an extradimensional space much bigger than it would normally be. There is space enough for the 65,000 people of Colchis to fit along with the food and water necessary to sustain them for four months. Every single one of the statues in the Castle animates upon intrusion and seeks out the trespasser. A guards and wards spell is also in effect for when the castle is under attack with the added effect of a suggestion over every significant entrance to join forces with the good and just Lady Li and receive great rewards. There are numerous other traps within Colchis Castle to prevent an army from ever reaching the basement where the population of the city waits during an attack. There are even rumors that the ancient sleepless dragon that Medea defeated is still somewhere within the citadel with an army of its Spartoi waiting at Lady Li’s command.

Colchis is practically a Greek city and thus the typical Colchian diet is also practically Greek. The farms in Colchis are especially plentiful because of Demeter’s help. They provide onions, wheat, olives, grapes, and goats for the people to eat and plenty left to export and earn money for the city’s defense against Hades. Some of the best wine in The Magical Lands comes from Colchis. The Colchians also consume fish and urchins that are taken from the Black Sea. Colchis has a small navy that can contend with any of the other tiny fleets on the Black Sea. They need fear no invasion from the Mediterranean due to the Symplegades.

A huge temple to Demeter was built after Aeëtes received her help in the first invasion of Hades. The temple walls are made of magically hardened glass that helps the indoor jungle plants grow. A special breed of faeries was made by Prometheus in exchange for a favor from Aeëtes at a later time. These faeries, dubbed Washernias, fly around on small water jets that keep the plants inside the temple hydrated. At the end of the temple away from the huge glass doors is a thirty foot high statue of Demeter standing with her arms spread out to the sides. In her left hand she holds a shaft of wheat and in her right, an apple. A smaller statue of Persephone rises to her navel. A large basin is carved into the floor at the statues’ feet for sacrifices to be offered into.

A large tomb to Aeëtes’s only son, Absyrtus, exists in the market district of Colchis. The custom of touching one’s hand to the lips and then to the heart as one passes the shrine has continued even after Aeëtes’s death. The interior of the tomb is open to those who wish to see the gold, jewels, treasure, and body contained within. The valuables are cursed and cannot be removed from the tomb. When the tomb was first opened many thieves tried to steal the items only to dissolve into putrid liquid as they exited the tomb. The corpse of Absyrtus was magically put back together after Medea eviscerated it and is now preserved with a magical effect emanating from the tomb itself. On the anniversary of Absyrtus’s death a day of the dead is held which includes a solemn parade that terminates at the tomb’s threshold.

It is not clear to the public why Aeëtes did not bring his favorite child back from the dead. Legend says that he attempted a resurrection that the soul of Absyrtus refused. The citizens of Colchis believe the corpse is animated and is simply under orders to remain in repose at the tomb until some mysterious event has passed. If this is true then Absyrtus would be an extremely powerful being after having nothing to do but gather his power over the centuries.

Colchis is a melting pot for the people of The Magical Lands and those of Greece. It attracts tourists from both sides to enjoy its mixed culture. The city also brings in many religious tourists due to the monuments built to the many heroes who passed through the city on the Argo. A strange effect has been noticed by those who visit Colchis. Whenever Lord Aeëtes or a Dragovinian pass by one of the fifty-two statues to the Argonauts, the statue’s eyes glow an eerie green. No one is sure why this happens, but some believe it to be due to the immortal nature of Aeëtes and the Dragovinians. This has infuriated Hades but his hands are tied by the blood moon restriction on his attacks on Colchis.

The city has many places to stay for tourists, travelers, pilgrims, and merchants. By far the most popular boarding house for adventurers is the Broken Wagon. The first room of the Broken Wagon was built from discarded wagon parts deemed unsalvagable by Colchian wainwrights. That room now serves as the entryway to a far larger structure. The Wagon is owned by the Nima family. The current owner, Dreyus Nima, is the descendant of the original builder, Gestor Nima. Dreyus was an adventurer for a time during his youth, but stopped after losing his hand. He has since regenerated the hand, but the fear of losing it again dampens his thirst for excitement. He loves to hear the tales of other adventurers and vicariously experience their thrills.

The rough and tumble appearance of the Broken Wagon provided the attraction for adventurers initially and now more and more come due to the network effect. Jobs a plenty can be found at the Wagon, bounties are collected at the Wagon, magical items are identified and traded at the Wagon, and everyone has a story to tell at the Wagon.