Skip to main content

Chaos on the Old Borderlands - 20 Questions, Part One

Continuing the description of the Old Borderlands, here's the first four answers to Jeff Rients's famed 20 Questions.

1. What's the deal with my cleric's religion?
Clerics from the Realm serve the church of Law, which resembles a sort of Roman state religion reconstructed around Stoic, Neoplatonic and somewhat gnostic philosophies. The church’s pantheon of gods above —the di superni—is headed by Sol Invictus, his consort Juno Augusta, Quirinius, Vulcan, Minerva, Bellona, and a host of lesser gods, messengers, and apotheosized mortals. It is common, in this decadent age, for the learned to either euhemerize the gods, or to treat them as personifications or metaphors for abstract spiritual sub-forces of Law. There are mystery cults or devotional societies which focus on a specific deity (like the ‘Soldier’s Guild’ of Mitra Bull-Slayer, or the Colleges of Apollo); on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Solist sect sees the other gods as avatars or emanations of Sol as ultimate supreme being (similar to Vaishnavism or Saivism).

Elfs (and some human clerics from the Republic of the Sea-Barons) worship other gods, such that even among the 'civilised' there are a bewildering array of names which receive orisons and devotion. Some say these are simply the gods of Law under different, older names, but generally the opinion in the Realm is that they’re at best unreal, and at worst demons of Chaos. Among their number are Isis (usually associated with Juno Augusta under the name ‘Juno Caelestis’), Rhea (also associated with Juno Augusta, though also with Persephone or as a god below herself), and obscurer figures such as One of Two Faces, Obsidian Butterfly, and Grandmother Who is Clad in Serpents.

Dwarfs have no priests known to outsiders, but in their shrines revere Vulcan. However, Dis Pater — the Father of Riches — and Persephone — the Favoured One — are held by the dwarfs in highest esteem, though other folk group them in with the di inferi.

The church of Law believes in the gods below — the di inferi — but see them as fearsome beings of Chaos to be shunned or propitiated, not worshipped. Among their number are the aforementioned Dis Pater and Persephone, and also Neptune, Orcus, Diana, Hecate, and Saturnus. The petty spirits of grove and stone that receive the traditional worship of goblins are usually grouped in with the gods below. Where the gods below end and the ranks of demons begin is a common topic of debate, though one of little practical value.

Orc clerics are often puritanical Solists, often with their own rituals and eschatological prophecies. The most prominent among these is that of the Iron Sun, which sees the current sun — the current aeon — as ending soon, to be reborn as a new world with a new political order.

2. Where can I buy some standard equipment?
Metal goods can be gotten from the hut of Narbio the blacksmith, in the employ of the Constable of the Fort. (Narbio also has a side-racket trading in various plant-based inhalants, and takes payment in kind.) More particular adventuring gear, including ropes, block and tackle and the like can be purchased from Rhondobart Feathercap, a dwarf merchant-house representative and local Grand Master of the Mercer’s Guild. He’ll buy from the PCs, and store and bank things for them for a fee. He also sells goods of guilds that do not have representatives in the fort. Sometimes availability fluctuates, depending on how the war goes and any local bandit, orc, or berzerker activity.

3. Where can I get some weird armour made?
The aforementioned Narbio can do custom barding, but you’re going to have to pony up. Better not be in a hurry, either.

4. Who's the Greatest Wizard in the Land?
Aside from ghost stories and the probably untrue tales of lurking hags and chaos-cultists:
  • The Sorceress of the Tower: The elven wizard who once accompanied the Castellano primogenitor in his adventures is still said to be somewhere in the vicinity, despite being nearly three hundred years old, but she is both an elf and a wizard and so doubly strange. Old locals say her tower is to the east of the Old Keep, but nobody’s exactly sure where.
  • Sardo the Younger: Conversely, everybody knows where to find Sardo—he’s got a sign and everything—but the wizard’s sales pitches and fashion sense tend to put people off. 
  • Master Fringuello: An odd and wild-browed man claiming to be the local representative of the Alchemist’s Guild. Despite his uncertain licensing, his demeanour is definitely the result of too many years of working in poorly-ventilated laboratories. 

Popular posts from this blog

Carol of the Bell

As one of my make-work projects to keep me busy while the GF is away this holiday, I took John Bell's compressed three-page RPG Into the Depths and ultra-compressed it into one page.



Free Friday Map, One or Eight Days Late

Another gridmapper map.


Chaos on the Old Borderlands - Introduction

This is the background to my current D&D project, a West Marches cover band cover band cover band. The prep started as just an exercise to do something in the vein of 'bog-standard D&D,' but I've ended up prepping enough material that I might as well post it in case I don't get to run it before my interest turns to something else. 
In a nutshell, the premise is to take the Keep on the Borderlands, and add approximately two centuries of settlement, plagues, invasion, decrepitude, and revanchism. 

The Eastern Principalities were once the edge of the Realm of Man, the Old Borderlands between Law and Chaos, but rugged explorers and bellicose adventurers slew the orcs and goblins and worse who plagued its forests and swamps, and founded new towns and castles to bring the land within the orbit of light and reason.

But now, as war and rebellion engulfs the Realm of Man, the return of Chaos to the Principality of the Keep again draws grim adventurers to seek fortune …