Homebrew 5e Homebrew Setting: Malebolge, Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
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  1. #1

    5e Homebrew Setting: Malebolge, Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy

    I'm a little worried about starting this thread, but I figure that it can't really be that problematic... To make a long story short, I've been trying to build up a homebrew setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition - I don't have any gamers to run in it, I jus like the idea of world-building based on the theme that's stuck in my head. The problem is, I've never really world-built before, so I was hoping for advice, opinions, and other forms of brainstorming assistance.

    Malebolge was born out of my enjoyment of two setting genres; high fantasy, and post-apocalyptic. Although the latter is more readily associated with science fiction or "realistic" RPG settings, the two do crossover. Post-apocalyptic fantasy settings of the "the magic comes back - disastrously" variant are more common, from the game of Rifts to 80s cartoons like Visionaries and Thundarr the Barbarian. What I'm going for, however, is the rarer "fantasy world suffers an apocalypse"; one example of this is the Dragonmech setting from 3rd edition, which is this plus fantasy mecha.

    The setting's basic concept is that a magical world inhabited by humans and dwarves (also dragons, but they pulled their D&D standard "too cool to bother with humanoids" schtick and achieved nothing) is visited by alien elves on magical plant-based ships, with a culture revolving around magically controlling and reshaping life and death (flesh-crafting, animal-control, plant-control, necromancy) to suit their needs. Although the elves are allowed to settle, they provoke a war with the native dwarves that eventually destroys everything; a magical "nuke" barrage not only devastates the sides, but also triggers arcane disasters (planequakes, necrotic energy storms, transmutative fallout, etc) that ravage the world, completely ruining the old world empire and physically reshaping everything. Generations later, new races struggle for survival and dominance in a much-changed world, surviving amidst the horrors of that long-ago magical war. Sort of an Eberron meets Fallout with a dash of Rifts, for the obvious inspirations.

    Essentially, the war provides an excuse for all of the standard D&D tropes; magical beasties/plants as leftover living weapons from the war, or mutated by the "fallout", destroyed cities and forgotten military complexes as dungeons, etcetera. Plus an excuse for the more "exotic" terrain features that 4e promoted; floating islands, living fortresses woven from still-growing vegetation, monolithic ruins, etc.

    I do have a "history of the world" in complete outline, although not fully written up into "history book format", and I can post that if desired. But, I think I'll settle for just posting the "keys" of the setting, something I dimly recall 4e making use of, and let you all chew me out over how stupid this is now.

    The World Was Broken: The mighty empires of human, dwarf and elf have fallen, and the world suffered with their fall. In many places, the laws of nature, however loose they may have once been, have been shattered utterly, creating unnatural phenomena or rifts between the planes. Magical fallout can mutate, corrupt, infect and destroy the unwitting and the unlucky. Monstrosities designed as living weapons or perverted through the sundering of old laws abound in the wilderness. The great nations are gone, and none have yet succeeded in retaking their mantle.

    The World Is Reborn: But life goes on. Survivors of the old world and children of the new grow, live, fight, make peace, explore and otherwise seek to thrive in and master this world they have inherited. That which has fallen may be renewed, for life follows death as surely as death follows life. From the ashes of the old, the new is born and grows to its own glorious heights.

    No Gods: Divinity never touched Malebolge, even when it was known as Eden. Mankind lifted itself to power on the strength of sorcery and wizardry, as did their elfin cousins from the stars, whilst dwarves turned their attention to mastery of metal and then magic. Though there are planes beyond the physical, the most powerful of the entities that dwell there are not the mighty gods of other worlds, but serve as the patrons to warlocks, or are studied and invoked by theurges for their unique powers.

    Magic Is Everywhere: Arcane magic is the life's blood of the world. In the days before the Black Dawn, the societies of old built everything they had on the backbone of magic, and in days since, magic has been the key to surviving and taming the arcane wastes of the world. Eldritch knights and arcane tricksters, living shadows and aliens from otherworldly realms stranded here by the upheaval of reality, these are the kinds of champions seen in the lands of the Malebolge.

    Relics Of The Ancients: The old empires may be gone, but their legacies remain. Some races were born out of the Great War, others were shaped by the Black Dawn. Ruined cities and ancient mysteries abound, and powerful magical relics from the time before are eagerly sought after for the power they may contain. A blasted city may be filled with terrible monsters, but is also a potential treasure trove of items that could be essential to survival.

    Whimsy And Splendor: As twisted and scarred as the Malebolge has become, it is not entirely hellish. The world may bear its scars, but they have sealed its wounds, and life does continue. Innocence and playfulness are not forgotten, and there is both hope and beauty to be found here. From endearing and inoffensive creatures like the butterfly-dragon to the stunning beauty of a crystalline forest, the Malebolge is still a world worth living in and fighting for.

    Glory And Madness: The loss of the old world gives potential to become anything in the new. Will you become a builder of empires? A king? Will you raise civilization further from the dark age and bring on the enlightenment? Or will you become a monster; a blood-soaked tyrant, a ruthless raider, or a raving beast? Your choices are yours, as are the consequences.
    Last edited by QuietBrowser; Wednesday, 5th October, 2016 at 08:26 PM.
    XP Fanaelialae, Herobizkit, Satyrn, MonkeezOnFire, Gwarok gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Just to tell you Malebolge is taken. It's the 6th layer of Hell in D&D Cosmology.

    Not that that stops you from using the name or anything for your setting just felt you should know.

  3. #3
    Yes, I know what it's called in core D&D Cosmology. Since I'm not using... well, almost anything from said Cosmology, I think I'm free for it.

    Got to say, I'm disappointed in the lack of responses here. But... I figured I might as well share the setting bible as it stands so far.

    Malebolge Setting Bible (Incomplete):
    The world of Eden was once a beautiful land of majestic, fantastic vistas. Magic flowed in the wind and water, and pulsed from deep beneath the earth; it was the essence of Eden's soul, and it gave birth to all life on Eden.

    In the beginning, there were two races of note.

    The dragons were, in their eyes, the true children of Eden; great and powerful beings who drew upon and manipulated magic in their very blood and bones. Carefree and confident in their supremacy over all, they wheeled through the skies, content to live as beasts.

    The other race was smaller and, at the time, seemingly insignificant. In the shadows of the great trees on the borderlands between forest and plains arose a species of naked ape that walked upright - a species that came to call itself "man". They too were touched by Eden's soul, giving them intelligence that they used to master their surroundings, forging tools from stone, wood and bone. But more importantly, they bore within them the spark of magic, and this is what propelled them into greatness.

    At first, those who bore the spark - Sorcerers, they came to be called, meaning "The Gifted" - could only tenuously grasp the power of the WorldSoul. Their magic was raw and wild, a chaotic force that could not always be tamed. It served its uses, turning man from simple clans of primitives to fledgeling kingdoms, a budding empire, but man was not satisfied with it.

    Man came to study the world around itself, and the magic within itself. In this, it turned inevitably to the dragons, studying how they used their powers until, miraculously, their sorcerers learned how to mimic the specific energies of draconic magic, rather than the wild magic they had wielded before. Though this permanently altered the way in which the sorcerers used their powers, it still provided a world-shattering truth: that magic was mutable and multifarious.

    Almost as if a dam had broken, other studies of magic's aspects began to bear fruit. New forms of sorcerer, such as those of shadow, began to emerge - and the foundations were laid for more practical, practiced magic. Thus was born the art of wizardry; "The Learned Ones".

    Humanity forged its first empire, but for all its magical marvels, it still used only the tools that nature provided them. Until the fateful day that they traveled to Nidavilir, the land of burning mountains, where they encountered the Sonnlinor - or, as they are still known today, the dwarves.

    Whilst man had roamed the plains and forests, the Sonnlinor had dwelled in Nidavilir, mastering the stone and fire, enduring the storms that lashed their homes, and discovering something new to humans. They had discovered metal.

    Humans had seen some forms of metal before, but it was the humblest and most easily worked forms; copper, silver, and the occasional piece of bronze. But the Sonnlinor had mastered iron and steel, creating weapons unlike anything humanity had seen.

    But if the metal arms and armor of the dwarves were alien to humans, so too was the magic humanity wielded alien to dwarves. In their drive to master the gifts of the earth, the Sonnlinor had deafened themselves to the music of the WorldSoul. An individual Sonnlinor warrior was typically superior to his or her human counterpart, but they had no defense against the power of sorcerers and wizards.

    Fortunately for all, humanity did not want to fight. They were too amazed to find they had kindred born of the WorldSoul, and were eager to make peace. Tentatively at first, diplomacy formed ties between the two races. Exchanges of material goods - acts of sorcery in exchange for forged metal - ultimately led the way to exchange of knowlege. Humans learned to work metal, and dwarves learned the arts of magic; through their own distinctive perception of the WorldSoul, dwarves focused their mastery on elemental control, favoring storm, earth, fire and metal, the elements that had given them life. They pioneered the arts of runic binding and of alchemy, building their own take on the arts of entrapping and exploiting the natural energies of the world around them.

    And, in the process, humans learned from their dwarven kin, shamelessly assimilating these new discoveries into their own greater understanding of magic's many forms and arts.

    The first of the Mulzhennedar were born from this era, unions of respect and admiration between man and dwarf leading to the mingling of blood and the surprising development of half-breeds. Though hardly expected, the Muls were welcomed and honored by both races, a living symbol of the fundamental kinship between the two races.

    As the empires of humanity and the Sonnlinor spread across the world, inevitably, mages of all kinds looked outward, seeking to discover if Eden's WorldSoul sang alone in the cosmos or if its music was part of some aetherical choir.

    The results were amazing. Through trial, effort and immense patience, the denizens of Eden began to slowly map out the cosmos around them.

    Alternate planes of reality, places even more strongly steeped in magical energy and defined by its nature, were revealed. Although scholar-mages postulated the existence of others and eagerly sought, their findings in the modern day are mostly lost. But several major planes became firmly entrenched in the common knowledge of arcanists:

    The Twisting Nether: This strange void-like realm, a place of swirling multi-hued mists, ghostly voices, and weird "bubbles" of abandoned reality, was the first alternate plane to be discovered, and is most well-known for its unique ability to allow one to literally walk to any other plane in existence. As a "transitive plane", many sages argued the proposition that is a spiritual reflection of the physical space in which Eden and other worlds orbit. It is no place for the unwary or the weak to travel; beyond its own native hazards, many strange and unearthly extraplanar beings dwell here.

    The Feywild: A weird and mystical land, a place of maddening beauty and terrifying glamor. This primal realm seemed to be the very incarnation of life, a place where plants, animals and magic all thrived with an intensity unmatched on Eden. Its denizens, the fae, operated by their own peculiar rules and rituals, making them unpredictable and driven by extremely intense emotions.

    The Maelstrom: Believed to be the raw building blocks of creation, the Maelstrom or Elemental Chaos is an infinitely vast plane where elemental matter and energy twists and shapes itself in fashions alien even to a magical world like Eden and to a degree even the Malebolge cannot claim. Moving forests of iron, rivers of lightning, floating continents drifting icy anti-lava, and other such wonders are born from the turbulence, sometimes lasting for thousands of years, other times barely lasting an hour before being dissolved into the next miraculous display of elemental majesty.

    The Shadowfell: Least understood of the various realms, the Shadowfell is the dark counterpart to the Feywild. Here, in what are sometimes known as the Lands of Eternal Darkness, death is all. The souls of the dead make their final journey, vanishing to whatever mysterious fates await them, and strange entities of death, undeath and madness dwell in the endless night.

    The Infernum: The sages of Eden were never able to satisfactorily discern if this strange, awful realm was in fact a plane in its own right or some particularly dismal corner of the Shadowfell or Twisting Nether. Its inhabitants refer to themselves as demons, grotesque beings caught up in an eternal war against both their own kind and against the denizens of the Paradiso - a race that the fiends claim were their progenitors, eons ago.

    The Paradiso: At first glance a beautiful realm of crystal and precious metals, Paradiso hides a darkness behind its gilt. Like its dark mirror the Infernum it's unclear exactly where this realm lies in the cosmos. Its proud and haughty denizens, the angels, are known for both their absent-minded contempt for most mortal beings and for their eternal feud against the demons.

    As studies of the worlds beyond grew, magical rites of summoning, binding and controlling were codified, founding the mage's school of conjuration.

    It was also learned that more powerful extraplanar entities could offer strange bargains to willing mortals, imbuing those who had previously lacked such talents with unique magical abilities in exchange for service, creating the concept of the "warlock", the "oath-mage". Such mystics were never greatly popular, as it was seen as an admission of laziness or ineptitude to turn to an outside source for power instead of studying or honing one's internal power, but the art was never made illegal.

    Some wizards instead approached these "patrons" from a different angle, creating an alternative form of conjuration that was close to, but different from, the art of the warlock; these were the theurgists.

    As humanity looked outward into the cosmos, ultimately, they found something looking back.

    From a distant sphere that they refered to only as "Aelfheim", they came on ships that had once been plants, only to be refashioned into vessels that could sail the sea of stars. Tall and eerily elegant, these alien humanoids called themselves the Aelfar, although humans and Sonnlinor alike tended to corrupt that into the name of "elf" and "elves".

    Contact with these aliens was tense and difficult, hindered by Aelfarian arrogance and subtle nuances in language. Humanity managed to piece together that Aelfheim had been a world without its own soul, instead caught between the fluctuating energies of the Feywild and the Shadowfell, and that though this turmoil had given the Aelfar life, it had ultimately destroyed the world and forced the survivors to flee in search of a new home to claim.

    Fittingly, the Aelfar had developed their magic around the principles of power inherent in life and death. But unlike some warlocks allied to fae patrons, the Aelfar did not consider themselves servants of the natural cycle, but its masters. Aelfar magical traditions exploited and controlled, dominating life and death alike. Plants, animals and fungi were shaped through magic into forms useful to Aelfar civilization, whilst even the bodies of the dead could be made to work until the Aelfar saw fit to release them.

    Humanity had already grasped the principles of wood elementalism, but it was from the Aelfar that they learned the concepts of necromancy.

    Despite the chilly superiority of the Aelfar and their oft-disturbing culture, humanity strove to be a good neighbor and welcomed the Aelfar to settle on Eden. After all, their world was large enough for all, and these cousins from another world had lost their home - it was seen as the height of bad manners to reject them when they were so in need.

    Unfortunately for all, the Sonnlinor were not so welcoming. Dwarf and elf took a seemingly instant dislike to each other. Aelfar arrogance and dismissal of the dwarven-prized arts of stonecraft & metalwork as "lifeless" incensed the Sonnlinor. Meanwhile, the dwarven disgust for their practices of necromancy and flesh-shaping to create living tools infuriated the Aelfar.

    Such distaste would have led to nothing more than a footnote in the history books, the two races simply holding each other at arm's bay, had it not been for the presence of hotheaded fools on both sides of the racial divide.

    The names of those who ultimately fanned the flames that became the Doom War are unknown, and some humans just roundly curse both races for being idiots. What is known is that Aelfar and Sonnlinor began to clash.

    At first, it was seemingly by accident; Aelfar colonists would unwittingly claim territories already possessed by Sonnilinor clans, or Sonnlinor expeditions would harvest minerals and reagents from fledgling Aelfar settlements without realising they were robbing their new neighbors.

    As the years went by, though, such incidents became and more brazen, leading to acts of open sabotage, banditry and finally brushwars. Human diplomats strove to try and bring the two races to peaceful accord, but no sooner would one incident be smoothed over than another would occur.

    War was the inevitable result, a cycle of vendetta that spread further and further, until both races were openly at arms against each other. Humans still upheld a neutral policy, but their diplomatic efforts were in vain. To this day, rumors persist of human war profiteers and spies taking advantage of the bloody conflict still linger.

    The elfin/dwarfin conflict is now officially considered to have blossomed into the Doom War with a single incident; the Pestilence of Clanhold Urdinnar.

  4. #4

    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)

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    So this is post-post-apocalypse? (There needs to be a better word for that)

    The Plant-ships of the elves are rather interesting. But I have to ask how clerics and paladins work, if at all.

  5. #5
    Doesn't post-apocalypse sort of imply any state after the apocalypse happened? I mean, Fallout 1 is set about 200 years after the bombs dropped, but it's still as "post-apocalyptic" as Eberron's Mournland, where the Reckoning happened... what, a couple years ago in-universe?

    Fun fact; the plant-ships are actually taken from the Elf Navy (or whatever the hell it was called) in Spelljammer, where all "elfin jammers" were magically bred and reshaped living vegetation.

    In essence, there aren't any. An abundance of healing potion-equivalents plus Life Domain Theurgists and borrowing a leaf from 4e and letting the most "essential clerical rituals" (Raise Dead, etc) be castable by NPC ritualists serve for magical healing in this setting. Warlocks and Theurgists are the closest thing you get to a "belief-caster" in this setting.

  6. #6

    Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)

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    Quote Originally Posted by QuietBrowser View Post
    Doesn't post-apocalypse sort of imply any state after the apocalypse happened? I mean, Fallout 1 is set about 200 years after the bombs dropped, but it's still as "post-apocalyptic" as Eberron's Mournland, where the Reckoning happened... what, a couple years ago in-universe?
    Well yes, but that's way too broad of a definition to be of any practical use. Some industrial world could have an apocalypse, just to have another species become dominate and go out to explore the stars, and it would still be considered "post-apocalyptic" despite the new civilization being far more advanced than the old one, and the old one not really mattering anymore. After the point where civilization is back up and running on it's own two feet, there should be a new term (or terms), and this line of terms should only be used if the old civilization is pertinent to the setting.

    Fun fact; the plant-ships are actually taken from the Elf Navy (or whatever the hell it was called) in Spelljammer, where all "elfin jammers" were magically bred and reshaped living vegetation.
    One of these days I'm going to have to delve deep into Spelljammer.

    In essence, there aren't any. An abundance of healing potion-equivalents plus Life Domain Theurgists and borrowing a leaf from 4e and letting the most "essential clerical rituals" (Raise Dead, etc) be castable by NPC ritualists serve for magical healing in this setting. Warlocks and Theurgists are the closest thing you get to a "belief-caster" in this setting.
    That's divergent enough that it could stand to benefit from different healing mechanics than the core rules. Have you considered a wounds/vitality system with doctors being "ritual healers?" Also, are Druids and Bards still around?

  7. #7
    :shrugs: Well, the collapse of the old world literally reshaped the new one, so I guess it's still post-apocalyptic on that. They are still living in the ruins of what was.

    Honestly, no, I hadn't considered tinkering with the healing mechanics. I mostly stick with 4e's view from one of the source books that the bulk of HP is "thematic immunity". It's not until you're bloodied (half or less of max HP) that you're actually being physically struck.

    I hadn't thought about either class, but, honestly, I'm inclined to say no to Druids. Can't decide either way for Bards.

  8. #8

    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    I'd like to suggest this:
    take out Wizards and Clerics
    Keep Bards and Druids.
    Druids become the shamanesque "plant guys" that learned their magic from the Elves and want to keep the Old Ways (New Ways?) by balancing tech with nature.
    Replace the Bard's spell list with the Wizard spell list.
    Bards become the "Technomancers"/keepers of Magic Lore.

  9. #9
    Eh, I appreciate the suggestion, but I don't think that works.

    The big reason I figure that druids don't exist in this setting is because it has a strong theme of "look inside one's self for the power you need". Humanity built its first empire on the ground of arcane magic, and never found a need for the divine. Druids, being essentially "the nature priest", don't make sense as a human development. As for the Aelfar...

    I'm reminded of an article on magical plants from Dragon Magazine, where it explicitly noted that such things are near-universally the creation of wizards, as druids see them as abominations and their creation amongst one of the greatest atrocities one can commit against nature. The Aelfar's entire culture was based on using magic to control, transform, mutate and create both plants and animals to suit their needs, from their spelljammers to living weapons, and adding necromancy on top of that so that even death was not an end to servitude. Does that sound even remotely like a druidic philosophy?

    Bards as they exist actually do make a pretty good class that developed after the apocalypse, as scriveners and jacks of all trades who scavenge all kinds of lore from the past, and I thank you for reminding me of that. But Druids proper... I'm probably going to stick with just homebrewing various "plantomancer" branches for the Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock to represent the mastery of plants - I already have a Wood Elementalist Wizard, I'm sure I can make something for the others.

    Thank you for taking an interest, and I do hope that this doesn't come across as personally attacking you. I just don't quite think that these suggestions work for me, I'm sorry.

  10. #10
    Alright, so, I don't know if I should post this here, but I figured it can't hurt. This is the first of a "Voices of Malebolge" set of fluff articles, inspired by RuneQuest/HeroQuest/Glorantha's "Voices" fluff - just a way of showing off an "in universe" glimpse of the setting. This is my first time ever doing something like this, so I'm well aware that there's going to be mistakes, shifts in tone, spots of lackluster detail... So,please, let me know how I can elaborate, enhance and otherwise fix this up. The more lessons I learn here, the better I can make future voices.

    Also, "rodushi" is very much a placeholder name; I just wanted something that sounded more believable as an "internal" racial name than Ratfolk, and would deeply welcome a discussion to create something better.

    The Duties of the Palatine
    (What My Mother Told Me)

    Who Are You?
    I am Palatine Thikka T'tep'mok, guardian of Hope's Vale, shield-queen of the Clan T'tep'mok. Wih righteous will and by the oaths of the Clan, protector of my people.

    Who Am I?
    You are Rissi T'tep'mok, my daughter, the first to claim that honor and that responsibility. I bore you amidst a litter of ten new souls, but of them all only you had the strength to remain in this world, with all its sorrows, pleasures, pains and joys. Know that your littermates' souls watch over you now, and that if your example is true, then perhaps they will deign to join you in turn, and you shall be elder sister to more children of the Clan T'tep'mok.

    Who Are My People?
    The Clan T'tep'mok of the rodushi, whom others know as "ratfolk", are your people. We bear the emblem of the blossoming blue rose, and wear beads of carved jade in our honor-locks. For this reason, others sometimes call us the Flower Rats or the Green Jeweled Clan, typically because they cannot speak our tongue.

    But do not forget that the rodushi are all one people, at the heart. All our many great Clans are united in our calling, and share the same burden. Give respect to others of our kind that we meet, unless they are the scalp-shorn honorless, for they are kin, however distantly.

    And remember always that the Clan is open to those who are worthy. Though they may not be rodushi-born, some outsiders have souls worthy enough to be counted as members of the Clans, and so they too are your people. They deserve your respect and your kindness, for kin must always stand by kin.

    Where Do We Live?
    We dwell within Hope's Vale, our ancestral home, and a living example of our oath as rodushi. Your great-grandmother, the Palatine Kubi, earned this territory for our Clan by slaying a fearsome beholder, which had carved out a demesne for itself amidst the barren wasteland. By watering the blasted earth with its unholy ichors and cleansing its corruption with her own strength of will, she wrought a change from the land itself. That which was once desolate bloomed with lush greenery again, the earth becoming verdant once more as a new spring bubbled forth from whence its heartblood had eaten into the rock.

    That oasis is the heart of Hope's Vale, symbol of our Clan's strength and our people's great calling. With each generation that has lived here, working for, bleeding for, dying for, the bubble of life has grown slowly outwards, until it now stretches across acres of life amidst the deathlands around us.

    We will keep this oasis until it has swallowed up the wasteland, or until the last drop of our heart's blood has been shed to preserve it against those who would destroy it.

    How Do We Live?
    That is a spear with two heads, my daughter; it asks "how does the Clan live?" and "how does my family live?"

    The Clan lives through the efforts of our workers. Those good and forthright souls who, not having the taste or talent for battle, instead dedicate their lives to the tasks necessary for the Clan's survival as a whole. They work the land, sowing and reaping crops of hardy grains, edible tubers, root vegetables, fungi, and nut- and berry-bushes to fill our bellies, and tending to herds of goats for milk, wool and leather. They craft storehouses and homes from wood and stone, and dig tunnels for defense - and offense. Through all their myriad labors, are people are fed and clothed, given shelter and support, and all else that they need to survive.

    But such is not the lot of your family. You are born to the Palatines, the warriors of the rodushi, and our lot is different.

    Our calling is to do battle against all evil in the Malebolge. We may lend our strength to the tasks of the workers if need be, and shameful is the Palatine who does not cultivate some talent that can be used outside of war, but our purpose is to slay.

    All Palatines must learn to fight. How, is not so important. Some master the arcane, honing the powers in their blood or decoding the secrets of the ancient to weave righteous punishment and purification through sheer act of will. Some turn to mastery of the arts of combat; whether they wield sword and shield, or spear, or axes, or many arms at once, their wrath imbues them with the strength to cleave through the unholy. Others seek to bring body, mind and soul together as one, becoming living weapons who can scourge and kill with hand and foot and tail. And yet others seek other paths still. But all do so for the same purpose.

    To be a Palatine is to walk the path of sacrifice and blood. That is how your family lives.

    What Makes Us Great?
    The rodushi are great because we have a vision, a true calling. We look out into the darkness of the Malebolge, and we dare to light a torch. In this tumultuous world where raiders will slay the peaceful for the food in their stores, where blood will be shed for a mouthful of clean water, where a person may eat their own sibling's flesh for the strength to survive another day, we dare to say "this shall not stand". We hold these to be good and true; the right of all people to live in peace, the brotherhood of all whom will stand together, and the need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

    The Clan T'tep'mok is great because we are true to the ideals of our people. Your great-grandmother slew a mighty beholder and created Hope's Vale with its death. Your great-grandfather gave his life to slay a poxrider that threatened to unleash a plague upon dozens of innocent villages throughout the Cradlelands. Your grandfather brokered a peace between clans of gnomoi and ork that remains unbroken to this day... but, you will learn of these deeds and many, many more in the teaching halls. Suffice it to say that we are noble and true; our lands are peaceful, are people are well-fed and happy, we defend our lands, and we do our duty to spread light to the lands beyond.

    What Is Important In My Life?
    Honor, justice, valor, strength. These are the principles by which all Palatines must live, by which all rodushi should strive to live.

    You are still young, yet. Your days ahead are filled with study, learning how to walk the path of righteousness. You must learn to summon the strength of wrath, but temper it, lest you be consumed by fury. You must learn to think before acting, to be a shield first and a sword second - but to strike swiftly and decisively when you must. You must learn to recognize the minions of darkness, and to aptly judge when to share mercy, and when to bring them a clean end.

    Then, when you have matured enough that you teachers judge you fit to learn, you must find your Art of Blood. You will be tested as you grow, rained in the basics of self-defense, but it is when you are judged honorable enough, and wise enough to avoid dishonor, that you will be taught the true secrets of the combatant.

    Honor, first, foremost and always, is your life. The rodushi cannot light the darkness with a flame fuelled by blood and cruelty. As you commit great deeds, your mane will be tied into long tails to show your commitment to path of honor, decorated with our Clan's tokens to commemorate your accomplishments. Foul your honor, shame your Clan, and your honor-locks will be shorn from you. Should you be shaved bald, then you will be driven from our clan, your name stricken from its register, never to be considered kin to us again.

    The crusade is an endless quest... but, it is not a path you need walk alone. When the time is right, you will find a mate. He may seek to attract your interest first, or perhaps you may show him that you desire him; we Palatines understand that there can be no indecisiveness in our members, no matter their gender. When that blessed time comes, the two of you shall handfast; you may join his Clan, or he yours, depending on whose lineage is more noble. If fortune smiles, you will have strong children, who will go on to bring further glory to the legacy of your Clan.

    And when you die, your deeds will be celebrated. Your achievements told and songs of glory will usher your soul to the Shadowfell. Your greatest honor tokens will adorn the Clan's halls, commemorating you forever in the tales of the clan, and your body burnt, its ashes rubbed into the pillar of names that commemorates all of the clan's Palatines.

    Who Rules Us?
    In a rodushi Clan, it is a chosen Palatine who rules. They are the shield-king or -queen, the one who has tempered their urge to deliver justice to the wastes ad now seeks the modest path of ensuring the Clan's survival. They forsake the quick and easy road to glory, vowing instead to focus solely on the good of the Clan.

    This ensures that only those Palatines who truly care for their people will aspire to their rule. It is a method that has served us well for countless generations.

    And if they do not serve well? Then it is the duty of an honorable Palatine to challenge their authority. And to make them step down by force if they will not admit their inadequacy. But such a shameful situation is truly rare in the histories of our people.

    What Is Evil?
    Evil is to make others suffer for your own ease or pleasure. It is to destroy that which is valuable to others simply because you cannot own it yourself. It is to take from others by force what you cannot or will not earn through honest communication.

    Evil is the raider, who terrorizes and murders because he feels his strength and viciousness gives him the right to do as he pleases.

    Evil is the trickster, who manipulates others and takes what they own without giving anything back, because she considers herself better than those who are willing to toil for their living.

    Evil is the monstrosity, which knows only pain and can know no peace save that found in the blood of the innocent or in its own merciful death.

    Evil is the defiler, those creatures warped enough to seek to pervert what wholesome life remains in this world.

    These are only some of the things that make up evil. You will learn of these, and many more, in your studies to come.

    What Is My Lot In Life?
    To walk the long and difficult path, that should be your lot in life. To have the strength to uphold your honor, the courage to seek glory, and the wisdom to recognize which value to be true to.

    The path of the Palatine is arduous, and I do not lie; some are not suited for it. If it is the path you cannot walk, then the tutors of the Clan will convene. You will be given the choice to leave the path, and seek a quiet life amongst the workers of the Clan.

    There is no shame in doing this. In truth, some of our greatest Palatines have stepped from the path at some point, only to return when their souls had been properly tempered and quenched.

    But, if you are given the choice, and choose to remain, only to falter again and again... then, you may bring shame upon you.

    Learn to understand your limits, little one. That is one of the greatest secrets of all.

    How Do Men And Women Differ?
    Amongst the outsiders, males and females may pursue very different roles, but in the clans, both sexes are equal. Females may serve as great warriors, and males may devote themselves to the rearing of children, and no shame is there in either path.

    How Do We Deal With Others?
    First, one must establish if one is dealing with a kin or an outsider.

    Kin are welcomed and trusted, for we are all rodushi on the same great path, even those kin-under-the-skin. When a travelling kinsman comes to our land, they are welcomed and shown only our greatest hospitality. If at all possible, we celebrate, for the lands beyond our borders are harsh and dangerous, and a traveler is an uncommon event in any case, never mind one who is kin. They are allowed to eat of our food, drink of our water, sleep in our halls, and replenish their supplies from our stocks. In return, they share with us what they have seen and heard, letting us know what they know.

    For an outsider, though, we must be wary. We rodushi would rather be friends with all, but we know that in this world, we cannot trust that those outside of the Clans are friendly to us. First we must greet them with caution, to make sure that they are not enemies feigning friendliness to take advantage of us; a trick that evil is ever willing to try. Those who prove themselves peaceful, we hold at arm's length. With time and effort, we may build trust with outsiders, but until they do, they shall always be those we watch, keeping ready to defend ourselves should they strike.

    And woe indeed to the outsider who dares to pass themselves off as kin, for that is a crime that can scarcely be forgiven. To commit a wrong against the Clan whilst wearing the guise of someone to be so trusted? That is an evil that can be cleansed only with blood.

    Who Are Our Enemies?
    In truth, we rodushi would rather be enemies with none, but that is a luxury we do not have.

    In simplest terms, all who embrace evil are our enemies. Species has nothing to do with it. I have known noble orks and wise calibans, and also gnomoi who sought to engineer foul perversions of life, and humans who sought to exterminate all life that was not their own kind.

    Those who seek to fight us are our enemies. That is the simplest maxim of we Palatines. Here in Hope's Vale, we are truly blessed, for relatively few would consider us foes to battle.

    The kobolds of the Magmascald tribe are one such group, for they oppose our opposition to their mad experiments in engineering reptilian monstrosities from their own unborn children.

    Likewise, the caliban clades of the Red Wind, a barbaric conclave of blood-crazed, murderous cannibalistic rapists, are our bitterest foes, for they see our land's existence as a blight upon their "beautiful" desolation. Again and again their crazed, drooling hordes crash against the walls of our villages, and again and again we beat them back. Several of our Palatines have sought to slay whatever deranged monsters hold this band of lunatics together, but none of them have returned successfully as yet.

    What Is There To Do Around Here?
    Much! Studies and training will take up the bulk of your time, young one. You must master the lore, master your body, and master yourself.

    ...Do not look so distraught. There is more to life than training! Discipline is essential, but a mind that is never given release turns inwards on itself, twisting and warping into something vile and unnatural. Even a Palatine must have time for the simple joys in life.

    In truth, many of your training activities will be games you shall play with the other young Palatine-aspirants. When you have not the energy to scamper, climb, burrow, slink and otherwise scurry hither and yon, there are games of skill and foresight on which to hone your tactics, and contests of mental agility in which to compete. To say nothing of pursuing personal skills, such as music, painting, sculpture or calligraphy.

    And, of course, there are the festivals! We celebrate the days on which Palatines of our Clan achieved great feats, with stories and music, with feasting and drinking, and with other entertainments suitable for the young - and, *chuckle* more private amusements for the mature.

    Who knows, my daughter? Perhaps, one day, we will be celebrating a festival in your memory...
    Last edited by QuietBrowser; Thursday, 13th October, 2016 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Trying to fix these stupid extra paragraphs.
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