Monday, April 3, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Council with Fallen Gods: Jhune of the North

   A calling of sorts, but not that it was to be misunderstood as such, when one is called by one of the waking gods of the earth one is to attend and address the nature of the call. This is what she did though, she had been called by Uthet the Forgotten one of the waking gods, the common gods of the world. They where neither as great as the star born gods, but not as small as the abundant gods of house, hearth and nature.

   Jhune was what the men of the south may call a priestess but not so pompous or grand as the clerics of the great golden temples of the Hulion Gods. Jhune knew from a young age she would be called and had always seen into the little world that Edrinna called the Fast. It was here in the Fast that Uthet had called her,"Come Jhune" Uthet beckoned. Jhune was quick to announce to Edrinna of her calling by Uthet. She had laid the rite and prayed to the common gods for guidance and to discern as to the nature of Uthet's call. The house gods snickered and whirled about as they do at times, being mischievous and at times riotous. Kithkur the little god of thickets warned her, whispering,"Bewarned little woman, Uthet is a Fallen one, measure yourself and your morals when he beckons you." Jhune had little fear though, Uthet had little hold in the higher realms of man, what could a waking god do to her much less one of the Fallen. Edrinna had warned her just the same though, but it mattered little to Jhune she was no longer a pupil of Edrinna she held council in here own lodge now.

   Jhune had gathered a few needed tools and totems to perform the rite, to guide here to Uthet, for as a waking god he dwelt partially on the higher realm of man. He would be bound though to some physical beast or place of this realm and Jhune would need to locate his foothold here. The rite was simple and Uthet was not far, a few days north into the woodlands. She would leave on the morrow, saying her final prayers to the little gods and invoking rites for the protection from the elements as winter would soon bring its cold hand upon her as she traveled north.

   She arrived in a small clearing north of the Old One, a tree said to have been planted Umgar the Under the founder of her clan. It was a good place a place of honor and strength, she could see the little gods flutter about taunting a spirit of the snow, Jhune laughed at this. It was growing late however, and twice during her travels Uthet called her during her sleep. The rite was simple, Jhune checked and double checked her circles of protection, her totems and fetishes. All was prepared, Jhune smiled to herself, Uthet was an old god, one of the Waking Gods that saw the Star Gods forge the world, he was also one of the Fallen, but this did not frighten Jhune, she knew here strength and no Fallen could over power her.

   Hours passed as Jhune sung her rites, the moon grew old over head, Jhune wondered if Uthet would come, she was a little annoyed. Common gods did this though, sometimes, to test those they called. Jhune would contiue the rite till sunrise and then break her fast, she would continue the next night. A rustle to her left starttled her, a man in animal skins stepped out into the fire light,"I heard your chants little one, why do you call on Uthet, he is Fallen." the man seemed to whisper as he spoke, even though Jhune heard every word. "I am Jhune, I commune for Rekkjar Village to the south, Uthet has called me, talked to me from the Fast." she responded, a little unnerved by the mans voice.

   "Uthet is not to be treated so lightly child, it was good I saw your fires from my home." the man whispered once more. "I am no child, woodsman. I am ninth in my line, taught by Edrinna herself and I command the little gods of the world!" Jhune was annoyed know this rough woodsman knew little of her skill, her talents, who was he to chide her so?

   "Your circle is flawed, at the Point of Herat and the Crux of the Sea you have invoked the wrong spirits even now they tear at you protection, foolish, child, very foolish." the man's voice seemed to change there, at the end, becoming more disturbing in its tone, he stepped forward towards her as a bit of panic raised in her stomach. Jhune fumbled for her knife, and the man drew closer, Jhune heard the crackle of power as the man stepped across the circle towards her. That should not have happened no mortal could cause a circle to react in such a way, "No." Jhune whispered as she realized what was happening, who this man really was, "but he was Fallen and a common god, they could not take such forms, not like this, not in this age." sh thought.

   Uthet smiled,"Little girl, so prideful, so foolish, you are mine Daughter of Earth and Sky, I hold you, I bind you, you are mine." The roar of his whisper caused Jhune to cover her ears, she knew it was true, she would be bound to him, a puppet to his will, it was horrifying, she had failed.

New Spells:
Commune with Common God
Level: 2
Duration: See Below
Range: 100'
The duration of this spell is a number of turns equal to the casters level +6 turns. The Commune allows for the interaction of the otherwise hidden common gods. Common gods may or may not respond to the requests of the caster and may or may not require gifts or tasks to fulfill requests made of them. The spell requires that the caster be in a area of known common god dwellings and the caster must know the common gods name. See common god entry for more information on common gods.

New Creatures:
Common god*
No. Enc.: 1 (1d100)
Alignment: Various
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: -2
Hit Dice: 7+10
Attacks: 3 (2 claws, bite)
Damage: 1d4+1/1d4+1/2d4
Save: F7
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: nil
XP: 1,000
   Common gods of the North are related some believe to the fey of southern realms in Ganth. This may or may not be true as common gods are very powerful creatures and hold sway as much in the natural world as they do in the realms of man. Common gods represent the most common parts of nature and man, from pots and pans to bushes and trees everything has a common god that rules over it. This may seem a bit much but the common gods have very little to do with anything but what objects or natural elements they rule over. Common gods are ancient beyond understanding but as society develops new common gods are born. Common gods refuse to answers questions about their creation.
   Common gods are invisible and ethereal but can change this at will. They can appear in any shape they will but always some hint is given as to the area the common god rules. Common gods are a source for answers and will answer questions about areas they rule or the nature of the Fast given that they are appeased correctly.
   Common gods will always flee combat and if attacked will slip into the Fast. From that point on the Common god will do its utmost to enact revenge for the assault, from simple tricks and annoyances to out right attempts on the attackers life through trickery and manipulation of the elements the common god rules. It is very hard to gain the forgiveness of a common god but it can be done.

*Common gods in Ganth are used as a story telling element and truthfully shouldn't be used as common monster fodder. But hey I'm not telling you how to use them.

The Kinship of Man

Ganth is the home of many strange and wondrous races and cultures. Among the many unique races it would seem Man is the most wide ranging, diverse and adaptable. Below is a short list of the most populous Kins of Man. 

Neadar, Woodsmen of the Karg
Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: +2 STR, +1 CON, -2 CHR, -1 INT
Ability Min/Max: STR 10/19, DEX 3/18, CON 10/19,
INT 3/10, WIS 3/18, CHA 3/12

Physical features: Neadar are taller than most humans broad and a barrel torso. The have sloped heads with thick brows and short necks that force the Neadar to appear as if they are hunched.

Environment/culture: Neadar are most prominent along the great woodlands of the Karg and the hills east of the great river Struum. In Karg the Neadar belong to primitive tribes that are named for the many great predators of the area. Along the Hills of the Struum the Neadar have little culture and live most their lives as slaves to the giants and trolls of the area.

Other Modifiers & Abilities: None
Available Classes: Fighter, Barbarian, Shaman
Class Level Limit: 10th Fighter/ 12th Barbarian/ 9th Shaman
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Orphan of the Tribe, Raised by Wolves, Half Orc, Hunter of Man

Religion: The Neadar have no formal or culturally active faith, they honor certain aspects of nature and their surrounding world. This honor is as much respect for the deadly natural world as it is the gifts the natural world can provide. They have no concept of life after death, a spirit world or even the Planes, Neadar live for the moment, survival being the most important part of their lives.

Ogre, Hillmen of Underock
Requirements: STR 12
Ability Modifiers: +3 STR, +1 CON, -2 CHR, -2 
Ability Min/Max: STR 8/18, DEX 3/17, CON 12/19, INT 3/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 3/16

Physical features: Ogres or Hillmen appear as massive humans with squat faces and small heads that seem to be squished or pinched. Their broad mouths contain filed and jagged teeth that seem never to dull. Their bodies are twisted and knotted by malformed bones and muscles.

Environment/culture: Hillmen are servants of chaos, they despise order and civilization. Their tribes and clans are formed from the strength of their leaders. They live among the hills and rivers of Underock a border land between the plains of Prynn and the Grey Crags of Serith.

Other Modifiers & Abilities: Ogres have the ability to see in the dark, up to 60 feet with starlight and 30 in complete darkness.
Available Classes: Fighter, Barbarian, Thief, Shaman
Class Level Limit: 10th Fighter, 9th Shaman
Thief Adjustments: 
Pick Locks: -10%
Find and Remove Traps -5%
Pick Pockets -10%
Move Silently -5%
Climb Walls +5%
Hide in Shadows -5%
Hear Noise +20%

Background Options: Hither Lord, Son of a Seventh Son, Witch's Brood, Slayer of Autumn

Religion: The Hillmen vary in their faith, as much as most of Mankind does. At their core they still hold some ancient forms of belief, most surround ancient demon worship. The Hillmen have a special kind of relationship with demon-kind that suggests some long forgotten pact. Demon's look upon Hillmen as little cousins, very much like humans look upon apes as kin. This relationship is strengthed when the Hillman becomes a Shaman. Hillman shaman are guided by demon familiars and mentors they make pacts with in trade for power. The most powerful shamans come from the Stone Heart Clan a old clan of Hillmen that have sworn oaths and vows to a Demon Lord by the name of Wernnuxx the Star of the Bloody Sky. The Stone Heart shamans trade their fleshy hearts for demonic runed stones, these stones become foci for the spells and enhance the strengths of the Hillman shaman.

Wynterian, High Men
Requirements: CHR 10
Ability Modifiers: +1 CHR, -1 WIS
Ability Min/Max: STR 8/18, DEX 8/18, CON 8/18, INT 8/18, WIS 3/12, CHA 10/20

Physical features: The Men of Wynter are strange and mysterious, they appear very much as humans but their eyes hold an ancient, knowing light even at birth. High men skin color varies, from pastels of purple and blue to reds and greens. Most males have little if any body hair while females have thin wispy heads of hair that they tend to keep braided in tight knots or buns.

Environment/culture: The Twelve Houses of Wynter and the Thirteenth are the great families that rule the mountain island kingdom of Wynter, the true home of all of Man. This simple fact has only further increased the utter elitism and arrogance of the High Men. Wynter is a city, ancient beyond all memory that is beleived to be the point on Ganth Man first rose from the primordial stuff of chaos. Because of this Wynter hold a sense of holiness and wonder for all of humankind, and it is commonly believed that the High Men where the first to lay the foundations of Wynter. Thirteen House rose from this ancient time to rule over all of Man, however over the eons the High Men have fallen from this path and closed themselves behind the walls and towers of Wynter. All except the Oldest House and the most mysterious the 13th House.

Other Modifiers & Abilities: High Men can see in complete darkness up to 120'. They are resistant to the taint of chaos and can not die of any natural cause. They are immune to all diseases and poisons of the natural world.

Available Classes: Fighter, Magic-User and Thief only
Class Level Limit: None
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Lord of All I Foresee, Doomed to Diaspora, Fallen from Grace, Dilettante

Religion: High Men long ago forsook faith and religion, they may be considered misotheist, in that they acknowledge the existence of gods but hate them and refuse to honor them. Their is a small cult of worshipers who honor a type of demiurge, but it is heavily shunned and ridiculed among the elite of Wynter.

True Men, Great Men of the Golden Cities

Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: None

Physical features: True Men vary in skin colors from golden browns to deep amber and earthy browns. These are men of the Sun and the great and ancient Golden Cities far to the South. Their hair tend to be browns or blacks but in rare cases reds and deep wines have been seen.

Environment/culture:True Men hold the largest diversity of cultures among humankind. From the deep south savage and noble tribes of the Uteem to the wild and exotic Nomads of the Emerald Velds, True Men challenge the very notion that the Wynterians are in fact the First of Men. Of all the Cultures it is the vast Empire of the Golden Cities that rival most powers on Ganth. This Empire stretches thousands of miles across the northern portion of the continent of Ifran. It is a Empire steep in ancient power and diverse politics and faiths.

Other Modifiers & Abilities: None
Available Classes: All
Class Level Limit: None
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Uteem Warrior, Celestial Guard of the Golden Cities, The Sha'Zhar of the White Prophet, Mercenary of the Green Vulture

Religion: As many cultures that make up the whole of the True Men, so there are religions. However the largest faith among the true men is the White Prophet. The White Prophet is a messianic figure that rose from the Eastern Empires. He teaches a life of sacrifice, honor and the teachings of the Sha, or Way. The Sha'Zhar are the Maiden of the White Prophet, Holy Women that spread his word. Only the Sha'Zhar can become clerics and it is honor and respect for the woman that is upheld the most. An older faith among the True Men is that of the God Emperors and their Four Thrones Gods. In the lands of Kemesh or Tawny as the inhabitants call it, the Four Thrones Gods rule over the immortal God Emperors. Among the Uteem deep to the south past the Golden cities and the lands of Kemesh dwell the varied Demon Cults and Animist of the Sun Lands, these faiths wage wars against each other for centuries.

Men of Jhaphi, The Men of Plains
Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: None

Physical features: The Japhi have dark hair, blacks or browns, stunning pale colored eyes and olive or tanned skin. Jhaphi, both male and female tattoo their bodies with family markings, honors to the titans and marks of victory in struggles. only soldiers tattoo with red marks while other profession use blue inks. Never is the face or head tattoo as this is left for slaves taken in war.

Environment/culture: The Men of Jhaphi are the bulwark against the hordes of Orcs that roam the Plains of Pyrnn. They have fought for decades against the orcs keeping them from invading further south into the more civilized lands of the south. It was the Jhaphi that witnessed and allied with the Vjorn when the Orcs laid waste to the Storm Lords, gods of the Vjorn. the Jhaphi are born to war and conflict. They have fought the Autumn elves for centuries, being called Turl'Ghi by the Elves a name meaning Hated Enemy. They have built some of the most beautiful cities known to man, the Grand Towers of the East Marches alone even make the master dwarven architects smile.

Other Modifiers & Abilities: None
Available Classes: All
Class Level Limit: None
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Elf Slayer, One of the Clans, Lancer of the East, Immortal Warrior

Religion: The Men of Jhaphi worship an old and ancient pantheon, not of gods but powerful titans. These titans are the children of a long dead race of god like beings that traveled to Ganth far in it's distant past. These god like beings were slain by their children the titans in a rebellion when it was discovered that the god like beings wished to consume the titans to replenish their energies or life forces. The twelve titans rose up and slayed the god like beings, claiming their power but not consuming them, instead place them in deep slumber and burying them beneath the depths of Ganth. The telve then turned their attention to Gath and saw a group of men, these men waged a depreate war against giants, the titans saw a kinship in these men and in their struggle and in turn assisted the men. Thankful the men offered honor and praise to the titans. Even to this day the titans care for the Jhaphi, living among them in secret helping a protecting them eternally.

Vjorn, Men of the Great North
Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: None

Physical features: Vjorn are large is size, fair skinned with a wide range of natural hair colors but prominently reds or browns. Vjorn favor clan tattooing, the inks used are gathered from regional flowers of each clan. No to clans share the same clan marks, each represent one of the Storm Lords the Clan once favored. Recently tattooing has fallen out of favor among younger clansmen. Instead young warriors will brand the symbols of the Orc clans they have warred with, believing the blood and flesh loss is a true sacrifice to the dead Storm Lords.

Environment/culture: Vjorn are a proud and noble race of Man, struck with a deep melancholy born from the death of their gods the Storm Lords. The Vjorn share much of their culture with giants and have known to have interbreed with some of the more human like giants, the Norn. The Vjorn also have a deep friendship with the Jhaphi who have fought with them against their hated foe, the Orc. The Vjorn are prolific explorers and have been known to explore much of Ganth in the pass, however since the death of the Storm Lords they have become more and more isolationist and xenophobic. 

Other Modifiers & Abilities: None
Available Classes: All, except Clerics
Class Level Limit: None
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Son of the Storm Lords, Berserk, Kladish Radier, Skald of the Old Ways

Religion: The Vjorn have no religion, that is not to say they never did, but when the forces of Chaos, mainly lead by the Orcs, killed their gods, the Vjorn have been at a loss. The Storm lords are dead, and because of this no Preists or clerics have any spellcasting ability. The Vjorn are slowly slipping into a malaise they may never recover from. However among some young warriors and clansmen a cult of sorts has risen, promising the return of the Storm Lords id enough is sacrificed in their honor. In doing so the Vjhorn Brand their bodies with the symbols of orcs they have slain, this act has given rise to what many Vjorn call the Beserk, and ancient practice long forgotten, but seemingly on the rise.

Hestian, Men of the Isles
Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: None

Physical features: Hestians tend to have pale skin colors, with brown or black hair, rarely some Hestians of the Emerald Isles are born with the mark of the Old Gods, a deep green eye color unknown among the rest of Man kind or his kin. 

Environment/culture: Bitter, broken and war weary the Men of the Isles have struggled in war with many nations and peoples around their Emerald Isles, their greatest foes the Men of Wynter and to a lesser extant the Elven nation of Serith. The Hestians have known no other life than a life of hardship and struggle, the Old Dominion of Man wanes and the Hestians know it. The Old Dominion was once the inheriters of the glory Wynter once held, but arrogance and pride brought about it's down fall. Now the Old Dominion is broken and divided with several squabbling nobles fighting over the scraps of a battered empire. Hestians currently are divided in to five large countries, each waging internal civil wars and warring with each other. The largest country, called The Dominion, was a one time the seat of the True Emperor Octavio Lars, after his death the Dominion split and each general formed a new nation. Lars' son Lucretius seized the Dominions Throne and now does all he can to maintain an appearance of stability in the Emerald Isles. 

Other Modifiers & Abilities: None
Available Classes: All
Class Level Limit: None
Thief Adjustments: None

Background Options: Pirate of the Raging Sea, Knight of the Grand Crown, Guildsman of the Fit, Fallen Noble of the Old Dominion

Religion: Hestians are deeply religious, many are Followers of the Way and the Light, called the Lightbearers a monotheistic faith. The Old Dominion frowns on this faith and still hold to the Old Gods of the Green, a faith Emperor Lucretius holds dear. The Hestians of the Mainlands and the other four countries of the Old Dominion have all converted to the Way and the Light, this has only increased their struggles internally and externally. It is common to see the Knightly Orders of the Lightbearers waging battle against each other simply because they where founded in a different country of the Old Dominion. Lightbearer witch hunters are the only known sect that will work with others of another country.

Under-Urth: Inspiration and Resources

Books I own that I am going to be using as I build the setting.....

Some Art that will inspire me....



Originally written in 2011 and then again later one weeks before I shut the old blog down, this article discusses the concepts I originally thought about alignment and how it would shape my setting of Ganth. I still value this concept but feel in needs to be refreshed and updated. And so here is the article new and refreshed. I know it's been a while and to be honest i'm cheating but I have been a bit busy and well I just ready to get my family up here to Indiana so things feel "normal" again.

To be honest I have always struggled with alignments in my games. More often than not alignment seemed to be a roadblock for the players and their ability to roleplay a character in
the way they thought their character should act. Perhaps this was the intention, I really don't know. In the original edition of the game we are presented with three alignments, Law, Chaos and Neutrality, Gygax supposedly drew these from his "Appendix N". The choices are very general and they were generally accepted as guide posts. I think it was after much complaining or maybe suggestions that the nine where released, and so adding to the Law, Chaos and Neutral axis we have Evil, Good and then of course Neutral. 
Alignments do little in game to me, but hamper roleplay, and instead should be a tool to encourage rolepaly. There is value in them as a standard or base to develop a character. Thinking about this I have over the years came to this conclusion; Alignment and Morality.

An ancient sign of Chaos, Art by ERIC!
Excerpt from the Book of Darmuc the Philosopher, First Chapter "The Order and Rebellion of Existence" 
Alignment is a cosmic force a person, culture or species chooses to align itself with, or to enforce on it environment. Alignment is a cosmic force of nature, a power in itself, mindless as any other force in nature but at the same time bound by a Balance, called Neutrality. Law and Chaos are in constant struggle, the universe spins and "want" to fly blindly into oblivion, but Gravity holds it in place, a tug of war on cosmic scales. Law is this binding stagnate force, never changing never progressing. Chaos however is the wild desire to rip free of Gravity to be flung out into the vastness of space and time, it is ever changing, growing living and dying.
Neither force is inherently "good" or inherently "evil" and Neutrality, a product of the war between these forces, acts as a mediator. A Balance on could say that naturally keeps both forces in check, both forces balanced and in harmony.
In Ganth this all changed, with the creation of the Eldar gods, the Old Ones, the forces of creation that the All Father, Adon used to forge existence. The Elder beings where the tools to create all the stars, the worlds and the realms of the All Father, then cast down they soon grew board and created, life, slaves to serve them much in the same way they served the All Father. These first beings, Gods as they were soon rose up and locked away their task masters and creators. And the looked around for the first time with new eyes.
Untold worlds and realms lay across the vastness of eternity for them to live, work and play and that's what they did, however their "noise" soon drew the attention of the All Father. He commanded them to silence and forced them to draw lots, each now being assigned roles to fill in creation. They where each given responsibility over different worlds and realms and intern shared some of these worlds and realms with other Gods. The All Father then raised his Sickle and cleaved the time and space creating the mostion of the realms and celestial bodies.
From this action shards of the Sickle broke free and crashed into the realms and Worlds, on Ganth seven great shards landed burning bright in seven different colors, from them the Seven Great races rose and looked around at the world laid before them.
The Gods saw this and in awe wondered what these beings could be, what was their purpose, they where weak, dying off in the blinking of a Gods eye, they where hardly intelligent, but seemed to learn rapidly. They questioned the All Father and he smirked, ignoring the pleads of the Gods.
Some of the Gods turn towards these new creatures, and began to watch them, help them and care for them, it was soon evident that as the influenced the lives of these creatures, the Gods themselves grew in strength. Other Gods, ignored them, tormented them or manipulated them in horrid ways, also these Gods learned they grew strength in this. Worship was the answer and soon the Gods, learned methods of encouraging worship.
Morality was introduced to creation, Good and Evil. But nature as always abhorred a vacuum, and a vacuum was created, and that age old Balance moved in to stop a bloody and ageless war. The Gods waged a war in the heavens and in the Realms and in the Worlds of all off creation. On Ganth this was called the God Slayer Wars, Seven swords crafted from the Shards of Adon's sickle were made and used to wage a war between the Gods of Good and the Gods of Evil. The War lasted eons, and life all but dwindled into nothingness. But the Balance moved slowly, steady to stop this, it had to "learn" and as a force of nature this was new to it's, not really existence, but "way". The Balance created it's own Gods, servants of Balance and Protection. They could resist the weapons of Good and Evil and brought about the First Accord. Laws that bound the Gods to equal footing. 
And so with Balance came morality. The Gods now bound by the First Accord where no longer allowed to wage an open warfare across the Realms and Worlds. A long existence of  shadow wars began, covert undertakings to increase the powers of the Gods, using the newly developed followers, worshipers devoted to Law or Chaos, Good or Evil.

Alignment works much like the traditional alignment of older editions, like Basic D&D. Alignment however does not allow for much leeway. Once a player picks an alignment it takes extreme measures to change ones alignment.

Morality however may shift and change over a characters life. Shifting from good to evil and maybe even back again. Of course a character may still be penalized for shifting morality on the fly, this may be even reason enough for an Alignment shift.
What we have then is Alignment which describes your allegiance to the cosmic struggle and Morality, how you fight in the cosmic struggle. A Lawfully aligned character may be Good, Evil or Even Neutral in Morality, but they find it very difficult to shift from Lawful to Chaotic. Even more rare is what is called True Neutral. Few if any characters should choose this alignment. Lawful and Chaotic Characters would find serious issue with a True Neutral.
 Alignment most often is chosen at a characters 1st level of advancement, Adventures are unique individuals and represent counter points to Fate and can radically alter Destiny. A True Neutral Character finds it difficult to deal with the Adventuring life, believing to be bound by the Balance, Fate and Destiny. True Neutrals also have issue with Morally Good or Evil characters seeing them a betraying the Balance.
0-Level  NPC's as such rarely ever choose an Alignment other than True Neutral. They tends to be Morally Good or Evil, this being considered Neutral Good, or Neutral Evil. Leaders, like Kings or Guild Masters may choose to be Alignment either Lawfully or Chaotically, but this rarely happens without gaining Character Levels in some class.
More so a Lawful character may only be Good or Neutral while a Chaotic character may be Evil or Neutral. Neutral characters may be Evil or Good.
Which now brings up the issue with Chaotic Neutral and Lawful Neutral characters. These Characters are on the forefront of the battle between Law and Chaos. They are extremely radical in their paths, stubbing their nose at Morality either Good or Evil, all that matters is the war for dominance between the Ancient forces of Law and Chaos. Rarer than even True Neutral Characters these characters are limited in class choice and are only chosen by Adventurers. 
So while all the 9 traditional alignments are represented, let me make it claer, Law, Chaos and Neutrality out weight the Morality of a character. Good and Evil tend to be an ends to a mean, different species, cultures and kingdoms will view Good and Evil differently. Local Tabbo's and customs influence Good and Evil, along with the War Gods face with each other and their Churches. 
Characters through play will develop Morality, and find it easy to drift from one to another, However Alignment is difficult to change and should be penalized per standard Original Rules. I know it may seem I'm putting a lot of restrictions here but I'm attempting to devalue Good and Evil and emphasize the Law and Chaos axis. This becomes more important as we start to explore Ganth's Mages, Paladins, Clerics, Monks and Crusaders.


The Ganthian Guide to Elves

The Book of Elves and their Kind and Kindred
 "The Ganthian Guide to Elves"

     New Notes: On the old blog this post belonged to a Swords & Sorcery appreciation day post, it was exciting to be a part of that event, however things have changed and my eternal quest at designing Ganth continues. One of the major changes was deciding on Labyrinth Lord for my rules of choice. that should have little effects on my article, however I have taken the liberty of changing some points to the article. Pfft, I do what I want.
      Design Notes: What follows is a collection of elven subspecies, loosely based on myth and legend. It of course will become a part of my own homebrewed campaign setting of Ganth. I did remove the special characters from the scandinavian and germanic words, more because I honestly have no idea how to correctly pronounce them, and because chances are when I further adapt these races to Ganth I may rearrange their spellings.   In my attempt to create stats and such for each race I am looking more into the folklore behind each race, then attempting to put my own twist on each. Some of the elves below may be more non-traditional when it comes to our common look at elves in fantasy gaming. I am hoping that is a good thing. Some of these elves have appeared in other articles I have written, and as of this writing, it supersedes past articles lore wise. Least of all, it is important to know that I have built each race or subspecies with level limits and racial restrictions in mind. I understand that some may not favour this and it would seem there is a movement among some in the OSR to abandon this concept, but I feel it is important not only to game mechanics but also it makes each race feel more unique. 

"It may be said that the true origins of elven kind are lost, each of the Houses claims different paths to their distant forebears, and each arrogantly charges, they are the true form of Elven Kind. What the most learned scholar knows however, is each of the Houses may each hold bits and pieces to the Elves true Origins. But the Elves are unwilling to allow anyone to explore these possibilities."

                                                                         Surge Cheskin, Scholar of the White Robes

Design Notes: Of all my creations I think I love the Meadow Elf the most. The Satyr is also a love on mine, I love the race and I really enjoy playing these types of characters. The lore behind the Sayr seems to really mesh well with what I did with the Meadow Elf, it seems a natural blend of two mythical races into one. Another aspect of Meadow Elves is the Wayward Wood, a very old adventure site I have used for decades. More or less inspired by any other "enchanted" wood, the Wayward Wood could be considered the heart of my Ganth Campaign Setting, Gath is the Wood and the Wood is Ganth.

The Angsalvor (Meadow Elf) 
"Elves of the Court of Spring and of the Houses of the Glades and of the Groves, Queens of the Wayward Wood, and the Beastkin, Lovers of the Satyr and the Faun"

The Meadow Elves live among their final refuge, the vast and enchanted Wayward Wood. Reaching from the Swamps of Nender and streching to the World Spine Mountains the Wayward Wood has been the domain of the Meadow Elves for untold millennia. The Meadow Elves themselves, like their name suggest build small villages and hamlets among the many meadows hidden and scattered throughout the Wood. Unique amoung elf kid and many other races of Ganth is the fact that Meadow Elves are all female, they however court with and marry Satyrs. The offspring of these pairings are either Meadow Elf if born female or Satyr if born male. 
Druid of Spring

Meadow Elves average at around four to four and a half feet tall. Lithe in build and shape, Meadow Elves skin color vaires in shades from light greens to pale yellows. Their eyes reflect the colors of spring and hair colors can be striking as well.

Meadow Elves share much with Fuana, Flora and Fey, being very much tied to the natural and supernatural elements of the Wayward Wood. Staunch protectors the Meadow Elves are quick to call on the support of the many creatures of the Wood. 

The Lifespan of a Meadow Elf is a strange thing to understand. It has been known that some Meadow Elves like the Queen of Spring, Aria of the Great Tree, have lived since the First Age. But some Meadow Elves have chosen to give over to their fey sides and become more or less apart of the Wayward Wood. This is why many scholars believe Dryads are one in the same with the Meadow Elf, and why Dryads have such a close kinship with Meadow Elves.

Meadow Elves are Ruled by the Court of Spring and the Houses of Glades and Groves a druidic order that at one time rivaled the size of the Great Order of the North Star and Human fellowship of Druids. The Court of Spring is ruled by the Maiden Queen, Aria of the Great Tree an ancient Meadow Elf believed to have lived since the First Age. Aria is a kind leader of almost god-like power, she has never taken a spouse and refuses the advances of Man and Beastkin alike. Aria is advised by Bitter Root a Elder Treant that may be as old as Aria. Bitter Root is the only one of the Court that can change Aria's mind or advert her wrath. The rest of the Court is made up of many of the Noble inhabitants of the Wood, to include Bevery the Bold a giant of a Satyr who has long wish to bed the Maiden Queen.
The Spring Queen

Meadow Elves tend to dress in flowing gowns of many colors. The material is spun from silk worms raised in some hidden place by Dryad seamstresses. When called to war the Meadow Elves craft Leaf Armor that shares the strength of hardened Leather.

Meadow Elves will never willingly leave the Wayward Wood, to do so, it is believed dooms an Elf to a mortal's death. When a Meadow Elf dies they fade into the earth and soil to rise the next spring as new sapling tree.

The Court of Spring offers little heed to the coming and goings of gods and man, they worship the Wood and all the Wood offers. Deep within the Wayward Wood spring never ends and the safety of its enchantments protects and nurtures the Elves. In their hearts they are true isolationist, they do not fear the outside world, they just don't care about it. The Court of Spring will only support the Court of Summer, and then only when the Wood is threatened. 

Racial Abilities:
Meadow Elves can see in the dark to a range of 60 feet. They can move through undergrowth as Druids, and never leave tracks in a natural environment. Meadow Elves will never be attacked by animals of the natural world unless they attack first. Meadow elves have a 2 in 6 chance to discover hidden paths or tracks in natural environments.

Racial Alignment: Neutral

Classes Allowed & Level Limits:
Druid-Unlimited Class Levels
Fighter-8 Class Levels
Thief-12 Class Levels

"It is a common misconception that elves have pointed ears. No my students, they do not. For even with their ties to the Fey and that wild kind, they very much mirror man in shape and form. From the fingers on their hands to the toes on their feet. Even their internal organs are mirrors of each and every one of us. Student's know this the elf is tied to the fey but they are not it's children."
                                                             Surge Cheskin, Scholar of the White Robes

 The Dokkalfar (Dark Elf)
"Elves of the Court of Winter and of the Grand Marches of the East, the Lords of the Fells and the Loyal Servant's of Pitch and the Kingdom of Nender"

The Dark Elves, one of the Cursed of their kind, doomed to a life eternal. While one may see this as a blessing, Dark Elves and the Court of Winter is cursed with Undeath. They find no rest in life or the grave. Cursed for the betrayal of their King, the Dark Elves have bore with them undeath into the realms of Ganth. Before the Curse the dead remained in their graves, now the dead walk, spread by the Curse of the Winter Court. As the Dark Elf grows in age and come closer to his end of life, he is judged. Spirits, powers or what it is none can say but or as to which the elf is judged. But at the moment of his death he is "born" the next day and on of the Undead. Ghouls, Ghasts, Vampires and even the Lich are all the product of the Dark Elf. Even the lesser forms of undead are the sole product of the Dark Elf Curse.

Proud but utterly bleak in their existence the Dark Elf stands at an average height of five and a half feet to six feet tall. Born more likely than not with ashen colored skin that reflects the bogs and fens of the Nender the elves of the Winter Court have only one feature that remains as it was before the Curse, the Eyes. The eyes of every Dark Elf are the deepest of royal blues, appearing almost black in low light. Before the curse the Dark elf was born with white almost alabaster skin, long locks of blue tinted hair and blue lips and fingernails, all these features reflecting the Realms of Ice and Snow they believe they hail from. However now that is all changed.
Nender Swamp

Weather through the curse or by dark pacts the Undeath nature of the elves has spread to all races and creature of Ganth. Because of this they are fear as well as hated among all. Even their own kind of the Other Houses and Courts turn the hand of friendship away from the Dark Elf. This has made a bitterness grow over the centuries, and if not for their King's own wishes they would rage across the face of Ganth tearing the world apart.

The Dark Elves worship no gods of man or beast, they offer no satisfaction to any deity at all. They like the Orcs of the Prynn hate the gods. However small sects of "Light Bearers" as they call themselves preach and teach of the return of the Betrayed One, who will one day lift the Curse and lead the Dark Elves out of their punishment. These sects tend to be hunted down and destroyed, but as with most cults they have a way of always returning.

Racial Abilities:
The Dark elf is a master of the dark, able to see as well at night as they can in the day. Dark elves can sense a living being within 30 feet of them on a roll of 2 in 6. They also are never attacked by undead unless they attack first. Intelligent undead always show themselves friendly to a Dark Elf unless the Elf in question is known for his behavior.

The Curse and its effects:
The Curse effect all Dark elves, period, end of story. This of course creates a situation in which a GM may not feel comfortable. Upon the death of a Dark elf, regardless of means he will rise in the swamps of Nender the next day as one of the undead. Regardless as to how he is destroyed or where he is. The Curse has lasted for several hundred years and has had a severe effect on the mentality of the Elf, they see no glory in death, no happiness in life. Children of the Dark elf are mourned and the elderly cast away. They are proud and noble, but are bitter to the end. No one knows how an Elf is judged but all know they will be. 

(Design Notes: It is of the opinion of this GM that players expecting to be rewarded in death as some form of undead instead be punished. Dark Elves were not created in this manner to reward munchkins.)

Roll on the table below to discover what the dying elf will be reborn as.
1  Skeleton
2  Zombie
3  Ghoul
4  Shadow
5  Wight
6  Wraith
7  Spectre
8  Vampire

Racial Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)

Classes Allowed & Level Limits:
As per standard elves in the S&W Complete Rulebook
Special Classes (with GM approval):
Clerics of the Betrayed One-6 class levels

"Elves have never been to religious  Not like Man. So it was astounding to discover that the Elves of the Court of Summer have so embarrassed the Church of the Holy Daughter. The elven kingdom of Serith is even the home to the Grand High Bishop of the Church. As to why this happened, why did the Elves turn from the Fey? I do not fully understand." 
                                                                   Surge Cheskin, Scholar of the White Robes

The Ljosalfar (Light Elf)
"Elves of the Court of Summer and of the Temples of the Church of the Holy Daughter, Lords of the Eastern Kingdom of Serith"

Noble and arrogant the Elves of the Court of Summer stride across their marbled halls, whispering prayers to the Holy Daughter and blissfully ignorant of their lost nature. The Court of Summer once ruled much of Ganth, the Elves controlled so much that it was near impossible for the King to handle the day to day needs and events of an empire its size. 

The Kingdom of Serith, founded by Disciple of the Holy Daughter is all that is left of an empire that spanned the whole of Ganth. Serith and it's capital city of Terrinth now hold the palace of the High Bishop of the Church of the Holy Daughter. The Summer King is no more a power in Serith than any other merchant of beggar prince. Long lost is the ancient ties to Fey and the Wild. Mocked by many other elves these High Elves or City Elves no little of what it once was to be "Elf".
Hall of the Summer Court

So tied to the Mortal realm and Man the Summer Court now has little authority to Fey and Fairy. Even in appearance the Light Elves appear more and more "Mannish". Grace hais slip them and though they still have an unearthly beauty  it to is dimmed when in the presence of the Meadow Elves or even the Black Elves a courtless lot.

It has even been rumored that the Great Fey Lords of that Other Realm have moved to strip the Summer Court of it's immortality and give it over to one of the newer races. And still the Light Elves show little or no care. They have in Heart and Mind given all to the worship of the Holy Daughter, the Daughter of Man.
Noble Ladies turn from the Fey

Taller than most elves and many other races in Ganth the Elves of the Summer Court shine with an inner glow when in the summer months. Calling it the Light of the Daughter, the Summer Elves dye their hair black to reflect what many believe the Daughter hair color was. Summer colored eyes and a summer color hair is natural for them but in these things, either through mundane means or arcane arts they change. No longer do they move as elves or even sleep as elves, they grow more and more mortal every few generations.

And nothing changes, except for a hatred for Nender and the Dark elves. A blight they believe and a cancer to be removed from the world. Light Elves pity the other elven races for their ignorance in the light of the Holy Daughter. It was also the Light Elven Crusaders that spear head the attempts to kill the White Prophet. 

Witch Hunters are common among their kind as well as Clerics of the Daughter and mighty Crusaders. A small group of Light Elves dabble in the arts of Illusion, but often more for cosmetic reasons than anything else, this of course has angered the Gnomes and the Order of Fitt.

Racial Abilities:
As Per the S&W standard Elf, except Light elves have lost there resistance to sleep and charm spells.

Racial Alignment: Lawful

Classes Allowed & Level Limits:
Fighter/Cleric-12/Unlimited Class Levels
Cleric of the Holy Daughter-Unlimited Class Levels
Paladin (Crusaders)-Unlimited Class Levels
Illusionist-12 Class Levels

"To see the dark heart of an elf, to know that it was these creature that brought about the mad kin, the slavering hunger of goblin and troll. The once mighty and noble Alvor, defenders of the Realms both above and below, now a bigger threat than anything Man has ever done."
                                                               Surge Cheskin, Scholar of the White Robes

The Alvor (Forest Elf)
"Elves of the Court of Autumn, The Fallen and Forgotten, Goblin Lords of the West, Eater of Man and Beast"
The Kin Falling

The Blasted Kind, the Tainted of Chaos and Goblin Brood Lord, these are the Elves of a court so entrenched in the chaos of the fey they have not only bowed knee to Chaos and the Fey they breed with it. And in so doing they have brought the Goblin and the Bugbear and the thousand and thousand hordes of the Wicked and Wily terrors of Chaos.

The Fell-Gods, the Rotting Lords, the groping, maddening elements of madness shaped the Court of Autumn. They promised power and savagery, what the court received was twisted forms, mutant children and a hatred greater now than ever before for all Humanity is and represents. The Autumn Court love the Rotting Lords and regardless of the coruption done to their race they are fervent worshippers.

The Autumn Court rules the Bronze Felds, a large and twisted forest, prone to fires and plaques east of the vast plains of Prynn. It is here the last few nobles of the court struggle against their now inherent taint of Chaos to maintain the purity of the race. Powerful masters of the Arcane arts the Forest elves delve into the secrets of the inner workings of creation, either changing their forms or restoring bits and pieces lost to the taint of Chaos.

Some, the most high in the courts and the Red Lord himself, have forsaken their ancient name, Alvor and instead have named themselves Gobeline an elven word for retribution, revenge or recklessness. This shift is only one of many things that has slowly caused the other courts to pull from the Autumn Court. Even the Black and Vile Winter Court has little to do with the Gobeline.
Bugbear of the Shadow Heart

Bugbears, hobgoblins and even trolls all owe their existence to the ancient Rotting Lords and the Pacts drawn up during what is called among elves the Kin Falling, a war that has been all but forgotten to the other races of Elven Kind except the Gobeline.

Most High Born Gobeline or members of the Court, and those that have attempted to turn from the Courts Chaotic Lords, appear as tall seven to eight foot tall elves. Slender of build and with strangely angular features, almost bird like. Their skin ranges all the colors of autumn with hair that appears burt or brittle like leaves during the fall.

Goblins are hated by the Elves and are hunted without question, even though Goblins owe their very existence to the Autumn Court. Humanity is enslaved or killed as well as many other races. Elves of other courts are tolerated but not the Courtless tribes, which are treated as severely as humanity. The Orcs of the Prynn have taken on a special liking to the Autumn Court, alliance are common even though the Orcs despise most of Goblin King  This is made even stranger by the fact that the Autumn Court openly worships the Rotting Lords.

Last of all are the Azure Mages and the Arcane Rite. A small group of powerful mages divided into to schools of thought. The Azure Mages are a group of Forest Elves that have rejected the Rotting Lords and the rest of the Autumn Court. They wage a type of guerilla warfare against the Court. The Arcane Rite is a group of mages with a similar calling but have allowed other races to join their cause. They currently are engaged in a war of sorts with the Orcs of Prynn.

Racial Abilities:
As Per the S&W standard Elf

Racial Alignment: Chaotic

Classes Allowed & Level Limits:
Fighter/Magic-User-12/Unlimited Class Levels
Magic-User-Unlimited Class Levels
Thief-Unlimited Class Levels
Illusionist-12 Class Levels

Other Notes about Elves from Ganth in General:

New Notes and Design Thoughts: The following was edited to fit more of my new direction rules wise with Ganth. Labyrinth Lord appeals to me as more of a "OSR" system, I am not saying S&W is a lesser system, it's just Labyrinth Lord reminds me more of the game I played as a 8 year old, all those decades ago. I really long for the feeling you had that first time you cracked open those old boxed games and delved into Dungeons Deep and Dark....
  • True Iron: All Elves of Ganth except the Elves of the Autumn Court have a severe reaction when they come in contact with True Iron. True Iron is a metal mined deep within the very bones of mountains, mostly by dwarves. True Iron seems to affect all Fey and Fey related creature to include Goblin Kind, Bugbears and Trolls. Merely touching True Iron causes severe burns that always scar unless magically healed. This touching causes 1d4 points of damage. This is in addition to any damaged received by a weapon crafted of True Iron.
  • Level Limits, an Optional Look: I understand some folks problem with level limits. However, I not only think it is important to balance but to the general feel I and the original game designers were looking for when dealing with Demi-Humans. Ganth, for all its magic and weirdness is very, very Humancentric. Because it is I believe racial limits are important. Humanity gets it's "edge" from it's unlimited class advancement. Humanity has no other edge. Remove class and level limits from Demi-Humans, stifles this "edge" and makes Humanity a worthless race to play except to the most dedicated role-player.
That being said, for those wishing either to use these races in your game or wanting to play using the Ganth campaign setting as a backdrop you can simply ignore the class and level limits. 
You can use this system however. Each race requires a certain attribute stat minimum to be rolled before a player can pick this race.
  • The Angsalvor (Meadow Elf) Requires a Wisdom score of 16 or better.
  • The Dokkalfar (Dark Elf) Requires a Constitution score of 16 or better
  • The Ljosalfar (Light Elf) Requires a Wisdom of 16 or better and an Intelligence score of 14 or better
  • The Alvor (Forest Elf) Requires a Intelligence of 16 or better and a Constitution score of 14 or better
  • Attribute Adjustments and Optional rule: In truth I can understand the reasoning behind not using Attribute modifiers in a Swords & Sorcery Game. This author does not fully agree, and while I did not include attribute modifiers in the design of each elf above, I will give my suggestions below. (Now that I have change my core rule set to Labyrinth Lord, here below has become the Standard.)
  • The Angsalvor (Meadow Elf) +1 to Wisdom, -1 to Strength
  • The Dokkalfar (Dark Elf) +1 to Constitution, -1 to Charisma
  • The Ljosalfar (Light Elf) +1 to Wisdom and Intelligence, -2 to Strength
  • The Alvor (Forest Elf) +1 to Intelligence and Constitution, -2 to Charisma
  • Using these Subraces in a non-Ganth Campaign setting: To be truthful I have designed each sub-race in such a way as to tie them as close as I can to Ganth. I have used Lore I have already written as a foundation. But it really shouldn't be that hard to adapt the rule mechanics to your own setting. Like any setting specific race, a designer has a reason behind the development of a race and it's lore. Ganth is a very "High" magic setting, and even though this may not be feasible with the Swords & Wizardry rule, set I feel that the simplicity of the rules allows this author to adapt it to Ganth. To be honest would suggest simply adapting the lore of each race to your own setting. Because not doing so, would be silly. Why you ask? Because why waste your time creating new lore when you could simply just use these as models or just create your own! (This still applies even now, Old School Play seems to "frown" on the concept of High Magic, Ganth changes much of this. I will soon be writing an article that cover much of what High Magic means to me and how it fits in Ganth.)
The Courtless Elves:

What follows below is a list of three tribes or clans of elven subraces  They each have a varied background and origin. They also are so small in numbers it is believed by this author that as of right now they need not be fully covered.
  • The Huldufolk (Ice Elf) "Elves of the North, Giant Friend, Faithful to the Storm Lords, The Hidden Ones and Those That Watch Over Us"
  • Wilde Leute (Wild Elf) "Children of the Wild, The Alien and Outcast, Lords of Moss and Wood, Stalwart of the Old Gods and the Old Ways"
  • The Svartalfar (Black Elf) "Elves of the Deep, the Courtless and Unbound, Kings Under the Stone and the Mountain, Dwarf Friend and Gnome Brother.
Remaining thoughts, and Why I have chosen Swords & Sorcery* for Ganth's future:

   Wow, This was tough, and I still feel I have not done you, the reader justice. This is one of the longest articles I have ever written. It will also shape the future when I continue to cover Ganth. Ganth is and will always be mine. It is my creation, although several years ago I discover I was not the first to use the term "Ganth", and as such I would say it's my goal to create something I like. No I am not here to please a mass market, I am here to share my creation with you, my readers. I understand some folks would disagree, with things like campaign settings or even doing what I do by sharing my thoughts on my campaign setting but you know what, bugger off, I don't care.

   In the end, is this gonna be something my players like, I would think that at least one of them will get a kick out of it. I would hope that local readers would be inspired to drop me a comment if they want to join in my game, I have the room. An no, I don't think I could handle a "Online" game, not at this time.

Last of all my choice of Swords & Wizardry. S&W wasn't an easy choice. I really struggled with it. I truly love and am very loyal to Goblinoid Games, My kids love Mutant Future and to me Labyrinth Lord feels more like "D&D" to me. Was that rude? I hope not.

But why Swords & Wizardry? It is very much what I would consider a tool box type of rule set, plenty of optional rules and very rules lite. So rules lite that it is very easy for me to adapt whatever idea or game mechanic I need to the rule set.

I Love S&W for this. I love the fact that at it's very core it is zero edition type of game. Your can see the core of gaming here, all gaming, and how it can be built upon. It begs the question, Why do I need a "Modular" edition of the World's Most Popular Game. Why with S&W and the rest of what comes out of the OSR and it's community I can glean any amount of optional rules. From Skills to Feats, to Powers and Tactical Miniature Combat. It can all be built upon this one single ruleset. It would be nothing to emulate any of the "editions" using S&W as a core foundation. Sure as you add more, you would create more work for yourself. In the end I will state this a little more clearly, "Why do I need a Modular Edition of the World's Most Popular Game, when I have the OGL, the OSR and Games Like Swords & Wizardry?"

*New Thoughts and Ideas that only reinforce the comments above:
Don't get me wrong, I love S&W, but as I have mentioned early on in this article and even above Labyrinth Lord "feels" more D&D to me. Does that mean I have put S&W to the side, of course not, each rule set in the OSR seems to reflect a "feel" to its designer, their thoughts or outlook of how the game should be played. Labyrinth Lord is what I feel in love with many a year ago when that old blog Grognardia introduced me to the OSR. I love the OSR and I love the work that has been done in it, the community is great and I am happy to have been a part of a little bit of it's evolution, mostly through my art.
Gaming is more of a way of life for me, than a hobby, it how I lok at the world, recharge and just deal with the crap reality throws at us. I hope that my writing in the least inspires my readers to creative or thoughts and I hope it encourages play.