Continuing with a post and description of my own gaming milieu and world, that of Iÿarlðma, or The Other World.
Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons
Being a brief and basic political and organizational history of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers. and Dragoons and a basic Organizational description of Dragoon Commands, Motivations, and Goals.
General Information/Basic History: The Cavaliers, Originally the Cohort of Holy Cavaliers was formed as a special guard for Pope Boniface I, the Pontiff of Rome in the year 419 AD. The Cavaliers served faithfully and were recruited from famous horsemen and officers drawn from the various provinces of the Roman Empire.
The Cavaliers were allowed to secretly exist by the emperors, who on occasion also employed them as personal guards or as special agents for various military, political, diplomatic and espionage missions. In time they came to be seen as a very powerful organization and elite military force in their own right. Many began to fear them, especially in the halls of civil government where the Imperial Guards considered the Cavaliers as a threat and a dangerous competition.
Eventually in the year 498 AD the Emperor Anastasius turned a blind eye to events in Rome as the Imperial Guards, some seditious prelates and the governor of Rome set up their own anti-Pope, Laurentius. This new pope threatened the existing pope Saint Symmachus, whose successor upon Symmachus’ death was forced to flee first to Sicily and then eventually into Gaul. Some of the most loyal Cavaliers then at Rome also fled with the newly elected but unordained pope Palladius (after whom the Paladins are named) as he left the city. Many others were arrested in secret by the Imperial Guards at night and executed. Some of the leaders of the Grand Cohort, as the Cavaliers were popularly known escaped initial arrest when the Italian Garrison refused to detain them, and fled the city accompanied by the remains of the Theban Legion (Thundering Legion) who had survived the pagan revival massacre and had continued to exist as an underground organization in service to the pope. Those who fled took ship and made their way first to North Africa and eventually east coming to Alexandria and then to the eastern Capital at Constantinople. Those Cavaliers serving along the frontiers, after hearing of the dissolution of their order and of the fate of their comrades deserted their ranks and melded into the local population or joined mercenary patrols under false names and backgrounds. The anti-Pope then formed his own personal guard of hand-selected Imperial soldiers as well as deserters and traitors from the ranks of the Cavaliers who were eventually to become known as the Dragoons. These Dragoons acted as a virtual Praetorian guard for the anti-Pope Laurentius and for several anti-popes to follow.
Goals & Ideals of the Dragoons: The annihilation of the Cavaliers and the destruction of any organization which might be considered a splinter group of the Cavaliers, such as the Paladins of the West, the Palademes of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Rangers of the West and the Vigilantes of the Eastern Empire. They also intend to depose the current Pope and install their own Anti-Pope. The basic history of the group is as detailed above, and their origin as a result of the Cavalier Purge is well known in educated political, military and church officiate circles, and among some few in the higher social classes. The more secretive history, as detailed in the Inner Workings section below is far less well known and is a closely guarded secret known by few. The Dragoons of all ranks and commands are a very secretive group, go to great lengths to hide their activities and have also gone to great lengths to make it appear as if their group has disbanded or simply faded out of existence in the past 100 years or so. Many of the Paladins and Rangers they hunt to death are not even aware of their existence until they are ambushed, poisoned, captured, tortured, or murdered. The Dragoons are less active in the East, being more numerous and driven in the West but do also occasionally send hunting parties into the Eastern Empire and even as far East as the Middle East and Persia. No matter where they operate their goals are the same.
The Dragoons have also spawned much smaller tactical operation teams and parties such as the Consociatio and often work in partnership with barbarian kings and even with organized crime syndicates such as the Keishon (the Black Hand) and with pirates and brigands. They tend to support their activities secretly with an underground financial organization of minor nobles, corrupt military and civil officials, and by engaging in various criminal activities, such as arms smuggling, tax interception and theft, and kidnapping/ransom/extortion operations.
Despite the vicious reputation of the order and despite the fact that by most every objective standard the group is indeed inclined towards evil and self-promotion the members of the Dragoons consider themselves completely justified in their actions and actually think of themselves as working for the good. They consider their Anti-Pope to be an ideal leader and they consider the eradication of the Paladins and Rangers to be a Holy Objective and Divine Purpose.
Leadership: The top ranks of the leadership of the Dragoons remains a secret and is unknown to any except the leaders themselves. Every rank has a leader as does every overall Command. These leaders also operate in secret with assignments and missions being passed down from higher level operatives and leaders through a secretive transmission and code/messenger system. On the local level the Dragoons are divided into small tactical commands which undertake missions, hunt Cavaliers and their descendants, steal tax monies, engage in criminal activities, smuggle weapons, corrupt and bribe officials and surveil any target of interest. The name of the current Antipope is unknown, as his identity is an enigma, however it is believed by some he may be a high church official stationed either at Rome or in Ravenna.
The names of the leaders of certain splinter groups, such as the Consociatio are known (his name is Leticus Cambrius) and such people and groups are even famous and well respected, however nothing is known about the shadowy and covert activities of these groups and men. The Consociatio is publicly known but is not known to have any ties to the Dragoons and the Dragoons intend that all such aligned groups are fronts for other activities and that their true intentions remain secretive and hidden.
Inner Workings: The antipope and the Imperator (Supreme General) of the Imperial Praetorian Guards for the Western emperors were unsatisfied with the initial purge of the ranks of the Cavaliers. Fearing that the survivors who had escorted the pope into exile and that those who had escaped to Africa would rise again to power and take revenge decided upon a hunting pogrom to fully eradicate any surviving Cavaliers and their families and associates. They also intended to capture and imprison the deposed pope. Those Imperial Guards who had best known the habits, training, and numbers of the Cavaliers, along with Cavaliers who had been tortured and disaffected from the pope’s service were formed into a new unit, officially known as the Cavaleem, whose public duty was to apprehend and arrest the outlawed Cavaliers. However their real duties were to hunt down and kill the remaining Cavaliers, as well as kill their families and seize any possessions they might have as tribute, and to capture and imprison the pope in exile.
The most powerful arm of the Cavaleem were organized at a secret training base in Hispania where they divided themselves into special units devoted to particular kinds of work and assignments. These Cavaleem, who called themselves the Dragoons were to become the most famous of all Cavaleem and eventually, would give their name to all Cavaleem, as the popular name for the Cavaleem soon became the Dragoons.
The Dragoons divided themselves into four Commands; 1) the Emeralds, who served as political police for the emperors and various other high officials in the civil government, and as Special Bodyguards for the antipope, 2) the Crimson which served as city detachments of political and civil police, both at Rome and in frontier cities, 3) the Argent who were a unit assigned to the regular legions as officers and informers to keep the civil authorities and the emperors informed of possible intrigue or insurrection, and 4) the Ebone, who served as special forces agents, usually operating alone or in small detachments. The Ebone Command were the most well trained unit of soldiers in the secret Cavaleem force, being experts at weapons, horsemanship, tracking and hunting, and unarmed combat. Often they were also trained as assassins proficient at killing men in secret, and in the uses of poison. The Ebone unit was the detachment assigned with the hunting down of and the eradication of the escaped or exiled Cavaliers. Because of their dedication in fulfilling this assignment the Ebone were also called the Cavacaedere, the Cavalier Killers, but they earned their most famous nickname later because of the enmity that developed between themselves and the Paladins. They became most popularly known as the AntiPaladins. After the official line of popes were restored some AntiPaladins, especially the Ebone agents, began to sell their services to others who wished to seize the papal seat and become new antipopes, or to those who wished to seize Imperial crowns or foment rebellions among the barbarians. Some even went to hire for the Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and others in the Orient where their reputations for ruthlessness and for espionage and insurrection were unmatched. A secret core of Dragoons remained in the Western Empire however, operating from Sicily, Hispania, North Africa, and Ravenna, determined to forever eradicate any remains of the Cavaliers and their descendants and to reestablishing an antipope favorable to themselves so that they might rise again to power in the West.
Those Cavaliers who escaped into exile with the pope would eventually form the basis of the Paladins of the Holy Roman Empire of Charles Martel (The Hammer) and eventually of Charlemagne in the West. Those Cavaliers who escaped to Africa and eventually to the east became the champions of the Eastern Church, the Palademes and War Monks of the Orient. Those frontiers Cavaliers who had deserted their post or who had become mercenaries also became very famous, especially in the Eastern Empire, as the legendary Rangers. The Rangers were often employed by the Eastern Empire and by the emperor as frontiers’ sheriffs, spies, infiltrators, bounty hunters, anti-insurgent operatives, and anti-raiding outpost defenders. Whereas the Paladins gained great public prestige and eventual political power as the servants of the church and the defenders of the civil order, the Rangers, because of their background, preferred to operate alone or in small groups and often in secret and/or in disguise. The Paladins became the new public face of the Cavaliers and were considered the champions of public law and the authorities and of urban life, while the Rangers became the heroes of the poor and the oppressed along the frontiers, the defenders of the land, and the champions of private justice. Eventually the Rangers in the East would take on a new title, the Vigilantes, and would keep law where no official law existed and the hand of no army could reach.
Whereas the AntiPaladins became almost fanatical in their hatred of and hunting of the Paladins, because they greatly feared the rising political and civil power of the Paladins, the Rangers never forgot the original purge of the Cavaliers and held a fierce and secret hatred for the Dragoons, of all commands, but especially against the Ebone Dragoons. So while the AntiPaladins covertly hunted the Cavalier survivors and the Paladins, the Rangers and Vigilantes, with their own secret plans, hunted the AntiPaladins.
These are some of the characters that appear both in my gaming worlds (which are in some ways practice worlds and scenarios/situations for my fictional and fantasy/mythological writings) and my fictional writings. Now, that being true even my gaming worlds are pseudo or proto-historical, or might be thought of as an alternative historical environment or milieu. They are not merely entirely fanciful or fantastic. Nevertheless they are also not entirely fictional, but partially fictional and partially historical. That being said here are the characters and the various parties or teams those characters belong to.
The Basilegate and the Consociatio are mortal enemies.
CHARACTER PARTIES AND BACKGROUND MODELS
THE BASILEGATE (The Emperor’s Legate)
Vlachus – a former Armenian missionary, who was called by the Patriarch of Constantinople to assist with the attempt to Christianize the Balkans. He attached himself to the Monastery of Myrelaion where he has served as both priest and missionary. Recommended by the Prelate of the Monastery for the Basilegate assignment. Known for his toughness and dogged determination, for his forgiving nature and his amazing success as a missionary to the East. Single, with two younger brothers, Largus, a leatherworker, and Klemis, a smith and soldier of the Armenian theme. Both parents are dead. His insignia is the Holy Star and he is of the Gold Deme.
Luthemia Casel Venetia – a Latin nun of Venice, sent to Constantinople as an official delegate and representative of the Pope. Widely rumored to be a Wizard, in addition to being an unofficial Cleric, and appointed to the Basilegate because of her extraordinary reputation as both a Saintly and miraculous nun and a Scientae. Single, an only child, and considered a prodigy as a youth. Her father is dead but her mother Sandra still lives. She was once married but now never speaks of her former husband and it is unknown whether he lives or is dead. Her insignia is the Cross and she is of the White (Foreign) Deme
Drakgarm – a former Viking of Gotar who traveled south into the Russian lands and eventually passed through the Iron Gate into the Balkans. While nearly dead from wounds received on a raid he was rescued by Orthodox monks who healed him and converted him. Upon recovering he traveled to Constantinople where he entered the monastery of Studios and became a fighting monk for the Empire. Recommended by the Abbot of Studios for his devotion and enormous physical strength and power. He had one brother, Braedon, and one sister, Yvette, but their whereabouts are unknown. His parents are both dead. Single and childless. His insignia is the Rose and he is of the Red Deme.
Larmaegeon – a Welsh Bard of Caerlean in the British Isles he was trained by the High Bards of Britain, the poetic descendants of the Druids. He was converted when a young boy by Roman Christians, but continued his studies among the Bards in Wales and Ireland. He claims that his mother was Aelfish and that therefore he is Haelfla. He has one half brother, Cimmeus, who considers himself Roman and British, rather than Celtic and Welsh. Cimmeus’ father was killed in battle with the Picts and Larmaegeon was said to have been sired by an unknown person after his mother Eponia became pregnant by a stranger she refused to speak of. Very worldly and unattached he will woo women freely. His personal insignia is the Holly Leaf and he has adopted the Green Deme. Chosen for the Basilegate due to his extensive language capabilities, his diplomatic skill and his knowledge and travels in the West.
Suegenius “The Dwarf” – a Galatian Slav, nicknamed the Dwarf due to his small statue and tough disposition. A very hardy man, very skillful in technical matters and an excellent spy and infiltrator. Raised a Christian in Galatia by his mother Yarlas who was also small, he is unaware of who his father was as his mother would never speak of it. He is unaware of any siblings or other relations, and also unaware of any children though it is possible he may have produced children with any number of women. Immigrated to Constantinople, briefly arrested and flogged for theft, escaped, recaptured and offered freedom and pardon for service in the Basilegate. Attached to no Deme, no personal insignia.
Klura – sometimes called “prav Sagae” due to her reputed powers of the soul, which she possessed form a very early age. She was a former Rus Barbarian who lived in the village of Kiev until traveling south with a caravan to Constantinople. While in the City she began to attend Mass and became a devout convert and briefly entered an unknown hermitage, where the hermitess there supposedly helped her refine her many gifts. Considered a witch and an outcast by her pagan sister Drexa and by her mother Rulliss, she is nevertheless loved by her father Sergei. Unmarried and childless, though she has a suitor named Theocytio, a Rhodesian sailor. Of the White Deme, her insignia is a White Rose. Chosen by her reputation for psychic gifts and her reputed ability to foresee the future.
Marsippius Nicea – originally from Nicea, and from a long line of distinguished and professional soldiers, he served a short time along the Western Frontiers and was then transferred to Constantinople by the Prefect of Nicea in order to honor the service of his father Marsimmius Stratus, a city Consul of Nicea and former Imperator of the Thracian Theme, and to give advancement to the son. Middle Son of a large family including; Marsimmius Duotus, a Centurion of the Thracian Legion and eldest son, Galinda, the eldest daughter, Talera, the youngest daughter, Marsippius, and Darinius an estate farmer and Senator of Adrianople. Both his father Marsimmius Stratus, and his mother, Lucia still live. His family also consists of many famous cousins, and nephews. Married to the noblewoman Celena they currently have no children. While in the capital he impressed one of the Sub Prefects of the Strategion with his intelligence and capabilities, and was recommended for the Basilegate. Family native of the Blue Deme, his personal insignia
is the Cross.
Edomios – a young Paladin who had served the Mayoral line of the Pepins in the West in Barcelona, Spain. Sent East to train and to learn the ways of the Oriental Palademes of the Byzantine Empire and to act as a liaison between the Court of Charlemagne and the Court of the Emperor Nicephorus. The village in which his parents lived was overrun by the Moors and both his father Emus and his mother Chiara are now missing and presumed dead. He has three young teenage daughters; Alisa, Elena, and Maria by his wife Doria, a Greek woman. His family is housed in the Venetian Quarter. Raised as a Latin Christian he has sworn his sword and service to the Church and to both Empires, East and West. Adopted the Green Deme, and his insignia is the Anchor.
Rhorric of Capadocia – a Vigilante’s Vigilante. For many years Rhorric served the Capadocian and Armenian themes as a Frontiersman, an enforcer of the law, an imperial Scout and a spy. Eschewing life in the cities, towns and villages, Rhorric grew up along the frontiers, intermingling freely with various barbarian tribes, Arab raiders, pirates and mercenaries, many of whom he secretly worked against after seeming to befriend them. His grandfather, Rhomarr was a Palademe who was eventually hunted down and ambushed by a group of Dragoons and slain after enduring horrible torture. His father, Calandus escaped with the help of his unmarried uncle, Lexemes, a Vigilante, but his father never became a Paladin or Ranger and forbade Rhorric to pursue Paladinhood or Vigilantism. After the death of his father, and his mother Rheda, Rhorric located his elderly uncle who trained him to become a Ranger and made him swear vengeance against the killers of his grandfather and against all Dragoons, but especially against the Antipaladins. Since then he has led a secret and disguised life assisting the empire, hunting criminals and searching for the murderers of his grandfather. Not an official or sanctioned member of the Basilegate he is nevertheless a trusted and secretive ally. He has one younger brother named Critius, a merchant, and a married sister, neither of whom he has seen in years and both of whom assume he is dead. Of no Deme, but with the personal insignia of a Fish intertwined by a Serpent.
Leticus Cambrius (Antipaladus) – an Ebone Dragoon whose family was wiped out during a Germanic raid into Northern Italy, he was the only member of his family to escape the massacre. He was taken in by an Italian nobleman at Ravenna who was secretly of the Dragon order. Raising the boy as his own and renaming him he enrolled him under the tutelage of a famous black Dragoon who gave him the nickname Antipaladus after he killed his first Paladin at the age of sixteen by ambush. Since that time Leticus has become a devoted, almost fanatical slayer of Paladins, mainly by treachery.
Seth ben Hamar – an Hellenic Jew and Rogue from Alexandria, his background is secretive. He seems to hire out his services in a mercenary manner to the highest bidder. He has been in the employ of Leticus for nearly six years.
Semius – a Latin Argent Dragoon, Semius is older and more experienced than anyone else in his party, having lived through 2 wars, several battles and numerous raids. Since the Dragoons are no longer an official or sanctioned group under the pope he has served his masters by infiltration of various military units where he has acted as both a spy and an agent of sedition.
Cedred – a Spanish Negro and former friend of Edomios, who helped free him from slavery, Cedred is also a secret member of the Hispanic clan of the Crimson Dragoons, whom he has been employed by since his first year of freedom. Cedred sees the Dragoons as a method of assuring his freedom for the rest of his life, and fears to detach himself from their service.
Austranul – a young Emerald Dragoon whose distant ancestor, Stranius, helped to establish the original contingent of Dragoons in Rome and who helped to persecute the original Cavaliers, Austranul is determined to make a reputation among his masters as a vicious and ruthless hunter of all of the offspring of the Cavaliers. He most desires to hunt down any direct descendants of the Cavaliers, as he still believes that the Cavaliers exist as a secretive group in exile somewhere in Byzantium or in the Balkans.
Galtostelain – with Christianity under Charlemagne threatening to convert or tame most all of the Germanic tribes and the descendants of the Celts, Galtostelain, a Germano-Frank who considers himself one of the last of the Druids, hopes to both take vengeance on the Christians and most especially the Paladins, and to follow the ancient migration of the Celts to Galatia. Once in Galatia he hopes to lead a new pagan rebirth of Druidism and desires to raise an army to return to the West and crush Charlemagne and the Latin Church.
Mucheria – an Italian Stregas (Witch) Sorceress known for her great beauty and cunning, as well as her Elturgic skill, she has sworn vengeance against all holy men of the Church. While still a small girl she was abducted and violently raped by a traveling heretical monk who eventually tired of her and abandoned her, believing he had strangled her to death. She survived and vowed vengeance. Eventually she located an old pagan witch to teach her Elcraft and has used her charms to lure many monks and priests into her bed where she has then used magic to kill them and disgrace their parish. She eventually left Italy and briefly became the lover of Seth ben Hamar in north Africa before going to work for Leticus.
Cargis and Tellos – two Macedonian brothers and highwaymen, taught to murder and steal by their father and uncles. They have lived most of their short lives as Barbarian mercenaries and robbers and have gained a vicious reputation for torture and murder.
Iodamas – not attached to any particular party this strange creature nevertheless despises Christian clerics and their soldier champions, the Paladins. Said to be the offspring of a woman who was raped and carried away by a hideous and vile, but extremely cunning monster or spirit, she often wanders deserted cliff areas or wilderness caves where she lures men to death with her song and illusions. She is said to be able to use her formidable powers of soul to appear as a ravenously beautiful woman or handsome man until a person is close enough to look into her eyes, and then the person realizes he is looking into the misshapen face of a horrid, daemonic countenance with hair and mouth covered by the tentacles of a sea creature. Some swear that she is none other than the sister of the ancient Greek goddess Athena, and that she was turned to stone when she accidentally saw the head of the Gorgon, Medusa. But that Athena begged Zeus to bring her back to life, but that when he refused Athena went to Plutus who did resurrect her, but only as a hideous monster who could mimic the illusion of her former beauty, not as her real self. Because of this, or perhaps because of the fact that she is said to engorge herself on the flesh and blood of her victims while they still live, eating the hapless soul alive, she is called “the Gorge” by those who know of her.
THE EASTERN HOSHI (Foot-Bridge)
Namamitu – Traveling to China from Japan with a delegation lead by the Bhiksu Kukai, the Japanese Shoensa Namamitu is chosen by Kukai to accompany the newly formed party of the Hoshi into the West, to discover the source of the strange visions and dreams simultaneously seen by Kukai, Saicho and the Shugenja High Priest Shun Lo Tzu. Namamitu escaped from the court of the Lord Kaida as a young boy after having been falsely accused of spying for another Lord, and lived for several years off the land as a wandering robber and laborer before being accepted as a groundskeeper for the Shrine of Tamo. Kukai, having seen the young man and glimpsing his potential had him transferred to the court at Nara where he was instructed in the new legal reforms as a Shoensa. Namamitu was then returned to Kukai to serve as his personal bodyguard and attendant. Assigned by Kukai to travel west with the Hoshi to provide an armed escort for the monk Sentoku Asamura.
Sentoku Asamura – A Shugenja Monk assigned by Saicho to accompany him to China to study Chinese Buddhist scriptures. His two brothers, Nikaida and Matu died in the two ships that foundered on the trip from Japan to the mainland. Seen by many as Saicho’s most loyal attendant and most faithful friend, when the visions and rumors begin about monsters invading the World from the West Sentoku Asamura is asked to lead the secret Hoshi expedition into the West to find out what might be the cause for the invasions. Reluctant to leave his master Saicho and anxious to stay in the Orient he nonetheless consents to be the overall spiritual leader of the party and to go West as far as is necessary to determine the cause of the invasions. Known as particularly powerful spiritually and magically he is reputed to be able to speak with animals and to understand what they think and know.
Han Shu – As a young boy Han Shu lived near the Eastern Trade routes for the Silk Road. He spent many hours among Greek traders from the West and became fascinated by their culture and their peculiar religion. Eventually he learned the Greek language and spent many hours reading any material he could locate in Greek, including Christian scriptures. As he aged he applied for and was accepted into a Shaolin monastery as a Monk where he quickly gained a reputation as a brilliant linguist and scholar, as well being very good at hand to hand combat. He learned to speak several Chinese dialects, and learned to read Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit, as well as to read and speak both Japanese and Greek, among other languages. When his master Po learns from his friend Shun Lo Tzu of the party to be sent West he recommends Han Shu as a translator. Han is anxious and eager to accompany the Hoshi into the West, wanting both the see India as the birthplace of Buddhism, and because he knows that the original Buddhist missionary efforts went West instead of East, which only increases his curiosity to see the West. He hopes eventually to travel as far West as Greece and to meet
Christians he has read about in Greek stories.
Dama – An older man when he decided to give up court life in Vietnam and move into China, he became attached to an old hermit and shortly thereafter himself became a Taoist Priest. For many years afterwards he remained the devoted disciple of his hermit-master and after his master’s death he rejected his given name of To-bah and took the new name Dama. Dama wandered from place to place living off alms and begging as if a monk, but occasionally he would offer priestly assistance to any whom might obviously need it. He never provided assistance if asked to however; he would only spontaneously volunteer assistance. Gaining a reputation as a sort of people’s champion, and as an old sage, he was also said to have strange visions and would often sit in meditation for days unmoving. At the age of nearly fifty he wandered into the presence of Shun Lo Tzu, announced he knew all about the mission of the Hoshi party and demanded to be allowed to accompany the party. Lo Tzu consented without debate and Dama joined the group becoming an instant friend and mentor to Han Shu.
Wu Lee – The middle son of a famous Chinese military hero Wu Lee distinguished himself only by his reputation as a womanizer and as a drunkard. Often in trouble with both his family and his superiors he was considered reckless, a ne’er do well, and a braggart. Sent to the capital to study under a famous sword master and weapon smith he was nearly killed when he fell from his horse in a riding accident, which left him mildly paralyzed in his left leg. At first he seemed completely paralyzed but after months of convalescence, he recovered. Suddenly serious he became the most devoted and favored pupil of his master and after returning to arms he gained a new reputation as both a fanatical fighter and an honorable and heroic champion at war, being honored with the new title, Tang Xia. Considered handsome by women, he is nevertheless very self-conscious about his lameness of movement. Impressing his father, however, with his new studiousness he was sent to study for one summer at the Sho Lee temple where he was so impressive at self-discipline that he was sent onwards to the Shugenja. Recommended for the Hoshi party by Lo Tzu’s master of discipline, Hong.
Sumisara – Sumisara’s father was a wandering Bon shaman, reputedly from Tibet, and her mother was a minor Korean courtesan. Sumisara began to display unusual powers when very young which were nurtured by her father who taught her both Shamanic arts and to be a Mantrikai, a Witch Hunter. While still young her fathered wandered away into the forest and never returned, Sumisara and her mother uncertain if he was killed, lost or had simply abandoned them. Because Sumisara knew that her father was a shaman and witch hunter she refused to believe he had simply abandoned the family. As Sumisara grew she impressed local officials with her skill at poetry, some of which was often bizarre, and for her ability to tell other people very accurate details about their long dead ancestors. She gained the title Winter Blossom Maiden for her strange abilities and poetic skill. Possessing very unusual and striking features she also gained a reputation for physical beauty. After becoming an adult she went into China to look for any trace of her father. While in the capital she learned of an expedition headed West, which needed servants, cooks and porters for the supply train. She applied for, and was accepted, as a cook and porter for Dama, but secretly she is in search of her father, who once predicted that strange beasts and creatures would come from the West and that he would have to go and meet those creatures because some of them would be dangerous Witches and Demons. So Sumisara acts as a cook and servant while leading a secret life in search of her father, and while acting covertly as party Shaman and Mantrikai for the people she accompanies.
THE MIDDLE HOSHI
Paravasi – Considered a great sage and spiritual leader in addition to being a Yogi, Paravasi was raised to be a Brahmin but decided to forgo family precedent in order to become an aescetic and practice Raja Yoga. At the age of fourteen he retreated into the local forest and found a Yogin under whom he could study and learn. Years into his practice Paravasi began to exhibit strange powers that his guru told him to suppress as being a distraction in the pursuit of Samsara. Paravasi could not suppress these abilities however and one night while in meditation he had a vision of a Deva who visited him and told him that he was to use his Yogic powers in the future for a great mission to the West. Paravasi continued to try to suppress manifestations of his abilities and to hide them from his guru but as time passed he continued to fail to do so, and the vision of the Deva continued to recur. His guru finally told him he had to leave and seek out the reason for his strange powers and the source of his visions. Moving north he studied ever more deeply, at this time from written works and scriptures rather than under the guidance of a guru. Hearing of a strange desert monastery along the Silk Road he decided to head into the desert. While bathing along the headwaters of the Indus River in Hindu Kush Paravasi happened upon the Eastern Hoshi and was able to converse with Han Shu in the Sanskrit language. Discovering the destination of the party and that they have come West in search of supernatural events Paravasi abandons his idea of visiting the Silk Road monastery and instead joins the party in hopes of discovering the purpose of his own visions.
Sraddnayar – Raised in the Warrior Caste the Kshatriya Sraddnayar served with distinction in parts of Northern and Western India. Often employed on diplomatic missions due to his loyalty and intelligence he began to desire more and more solitude as he aged. By his twenties Sraddnayar had gained a reputation of service which included the ability to operate alone, and in difficult conditions far from support and far from shelter. Eventually he gained a reputation as an outpost runner, serving as a lone messenger between posts scattered from each other by great distance. The more dangerous the assignment or position the more enjoyable Sraddnayar found the work and in time he began to operate as a scout into distant and foreign lands; Nepal, Sri Lanka, north as far as Tashkent, and west as far as the Persian-Afghan border. Into almost every land he traveled he learned the local languages, at least well enough to communicate with the natives, and could soon speak Pali, various Indian dialects, Afghani, Persian and various tribal tongues. He worships Vishnu and considers himself a lone defender of the helpless, especially against criminals and highwaymen. By his thirtieth year Sraddnayar gave up his official caste position, becoming a wandering warrior, and turned East deciding to explore in that direction as far as he could possibly reach. Turning north around Tibet he made it as far as Lop Nur where he was attacked at night by a strange and vicious creature, which almost killed him, leaving him all but mortally wounded. Greek merchants following the Silk Road west discovered his body and rescued him from death. Three weeks later the Greek merchants sold the still recovering Sraddnayar to the party of the Hoshi who desire an Indian guide to help them with their progress through unknown lands.
Namahra – As a young boy Namahra was raised among a nomadic tribe in Persia. Every night his tribe would build a huge bonfire for purposes of warmth, with which to cook and for religious fire ceremonies. Often the tribe would linger in mountainous areas, where Namahra would explore what by even that time were ancient ruins left by the original Zoroastrians. One night while exploring by himself in these ruins the boy fell into a pit, which led him into an underground area, which had obviously been sealed for some time. Severely injured with a badly broken shoulder and elbow the boy could not escape and fell into a stupor. Namahra’s family searched for him for two days but finding no trace of him they eventually abandoned the search assuming he had been killed by mountain lions. On the third day he was discovered by an heretical Christian hermit from Syria named Prolistus who lived in the ruins and had moved east into Persia where he had discovered an unknown sect of fire worshippers. The hermit rescued Namahra and raised the boy as his own son, teaching him both the Nestorian Christian heresy and how to perform the rituals of the Zoroastrian religion, making him a Zot Priest. After the death of Prolistus Namahra cremated his stepfather’s body and began to travel from ruin site to ruin site in Persia seeking answers about his past, his lost family and about the secrets of both Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Eventually while exploring ruins near Mount Ararat Namahra met the Sufi Mystic Dab-al ar Zaid who was himself traveling north from Baghdad and was also in search of ancient secrets. Forming a strong bond of friendship the two eventually traveled to Persepolis in search of ancient manuscripts and ruins to help them with their various endeavors. It was at Persepolis that the two friends encountered and joined the party of the Hoshi.
Dab-al ar Zaid – Dab-al ar Zaid was born Said Massa, a peasant boy from a small family of carpenter craftsmen. Firstborn, and well loved among his family, he gained a personal reputation as a precocious lad, extremely intelligent and inquisitive. Possessing enormous mechanical skill he also soon gained a popular reputation as an inventor, able to create small devices and mechanical contrivances that earned him a certain degree of wealth. As a young man, and pooling the money he had made from inventing he was able to become a moneylender and became even wealthier. Known as a scrupulous and fair man, by his mid-thirties he was able to purchase a merchant caravan and was able to profit immensely from trade along the Silk Road, trade with India and trade with the Byzantine Empire. Eventually moving to Baghdad he helped use his money to establish a large library and center of learning. Hearing of Wise Men named Sufi he went to meet one, a certain Bali-al Gwazi and started studying under him. Soon Said became a very serious mystic himself and received the new name Dab-al ar Zaid, or Dabal as he is called for short. Hearing many fantastic stories of the past from his master Bali, Dabal soon began to finance missions of exploration, hiring special agents to accompany his caravans wherever they went. After having had delivered to him several artifacts from various parts of the world Dabal decided to undertake his own personal missions of exploration. Learning over time that it is often easier to penetrate foreign lands alone, and dressed as a beggar in disguise, Dabal came to travel alone, gaining the nickname, Beggar of God. On one personal mission near Mount Ararat Dabal met the priest Namahra and the two became fast friends due to common interests. By the age of forty Dabal found himself in the city of Persepolis where he encountered and joined the party from the Far East, the Hoshi.
Addo – born and raised among the tribes of Ghana it was noticed early among family members that the name Addo fit well with the boy’s personality and his desire to travel. Often family or friends would discover Addo as a small boy out late at night, wandering by himself, sneaking off from the village or silently stalking animals that he loved to track and follow, but would not kill. Even from a young age the boy refused to eat any kind of meat, saying it was still inhabited by the spirit of the dead animal and he absolutely refused to touch or drink blood. At the age of seven Addo began to have strange visions, often seeing spirits or ghosts floating in the air at night, and he would speak of these experiences to his friends who would often flee in fear. At the age of ten Addo fell gravely ill, from no known cause and lay comatose for nearly six days, unable to eat, drink or move. He could not be forced to eat but his mother poured water down his throat every few hours. On the evening of the sixth day of the coma a strange old man appeared and roused Addo, then asked his parent’s permission to train the boy as a Shaman, saying the boy had called to him while sick. After three days of recovery, and debate with his parents, Addo was allowed to go live in the mountains to the north in order to train with the old man. The old man, Chewe, trained Addo in how to hunt, live off the land, see and speak with spirits, how to steal, how to track, how to speak to men and how to be a powerful Shaman. On the day after Addo’s sixteenth birthday Chewe died, and after burying his teacher under a tree Addo lived alone for four days. On the fifth day he had a dream that instead of returning home that he should head east towards unknown lands. Eventually Addo reached Karnak and there he joined the Moonshadow.
Erasto Qwara – born in Axum, the third of six children, Erasto grew up following his family tradition of soldiering. At fifteen he became a Christian Soldier and rose quickly through the ranks, so that local officials were soon sending him as an escort and emissary to foreign lands, such as to the courts at Egypt. Smart, driven, and self-educated Erasto learned six African tongues and was soon able to read and write Koptic, Greek and Latin as well. Because of his linguistic skills and general education by the age of 19 Erasto was made commander of a unit formed to escort diplomatic missions throughout the Nubian kingdoms, along the coast of east Africa, into the tribute states of the Arabian Peninsula, into the Near East, and also into Egypt. The farther afield Erasto roamed the more types of people he encountered and he soon discovered that he loved to mix freely with people of different nations and races. Developing a personal interest in trade Erasto also was soon gaining experience as a trade representative in addition to his diplomatic and military skills. Born into a devout Christian family Erasto nevertheless had no interest at all in religious matters until traveling in Egypt he discovered an early copy of some of the works of the Philokalia written in Koptic. Reading it eagerly Erasto became a devout Christian and returning to Axum began to study under Aksumite Christian Masters. Erasto remained a solider but also developed a strong interest in interpreting scriptures from a Monophysitic point of view, and became such a skillful writer, fluent interpreter, and powerful debater on Christian doctrine that he soon earned the nickname, Qwara, the Cushite Christian. At the age of 25 Erasto was assigned to escort a trade and diplomatic mission to the Byzantine Empire by way of Egypt and the Mediterranean. At sea his ship, along with several others, was attacked by Sicilian pirates and many on his ship were killed. Erasto was severely injured in combat and had to return to Egypt, where as a result of his injuries he was retired, but allowed to retain the rank of Commander as a Christian Soldier. While recovering in Egypt he studied with Kopts in Alexandria to become a Christian Cleric and within two years was ordained. After ordination he was returning to Axum but stopped at Karnak where he met Addo and the other members of the Moonshadow.
Guedado – born of an unwed mother, there were strange rumors surrounding the birth of Guedado. It is said that she was raped by a strange man, slim and tall, very muscular who had jet-black skin, white eyes, and strange, straight long hair. Some believe that the father of Guedado was a malevolent ghost. In addition the boy was born with a withered and malformed right hand, which meant that as he grew he had to use his left hand for nearly every action. Because of these bizarre circumstances few people would associate with the child, or even his mother Sali, and so she named the boy Guedado, “Wanted by Nobody.” Like his purported father Guedado’s hair grew straight but it also grew white, only adding to the strangeness of his appearance. His eyes were gray, his skin dark and almost glistening, and he appeared slimmer, taller, and more lean than most of his family and village members. He was also possessed of almost animalistic capabilities of sight and hearing which further alienated most people. Born a Mali in a small village he was never accepted by the other villagers and after the death of his mother he moved to Jenne. Even there however he was considered an outcast and so after spending nearly twelve years in Jenne he wandered away again and settled on the banks of Lake Chad. There an old woman told him that he must travel north and become strong for what he must later do in other parts of the world. The old woman also spent three years instructing Guedado as a Griot and her son taught Guedado to fight with wild, barbaric abandon. After this Guedado went north and eventually reached Libya where by determined and relentless physical training and by constant boxing and wrestling became immensely strong and an excellent combatant, despite his withered hand. After several attempts by Arab slave traders to enslave him Guedado eventually wandered east far enough to reach Karnak, having heard of an African Christian kingdom near Egypt where he would be safe from slavery. While in Karnak and Luxor he visited the legendary Temple of Amon and was immensely impressed by the huge hall, colonnade and hypostyle columns. While standing near the huge Obelisk which still stood guard over the temple, out of impulse Guedado struck the obelisk with his withered hand. He heard a strange, melodic hum and ringing, like a bell striking underwater, which continued to vibrate for several minutes. Few other people seemed to notice the sound but three other people approached the spot and spoke with him, eventually forming the Moonshadow.
Aza Zahra – born deaf and mute Zahra was the child of a Chinese father and an Azani Swahili mother. Unable to speak until she was ten years old because of her inability to hear, Zahra nevertheless was taught to control her voice and to speak by the patient efforts of her mother. In time Zahra learned to speak Chinese, Swahili and Arabic. At fifteen her father sailed back to China with a merchant fleet, promising to return within a year. He never returned. By the age of seventeen Zahra’s mother had died of plague and the same plague nearly killed Zahra as well, who fell ill for over two weeks but managed to live. After fully recovering Zahra was given the nickname Aza, or Powerful, for her ability to survive. Known for her great physical beauty, almond shaped eyes and long straight, jet black hair she was also easy to distinguish as being of mixed heritage so that many people considered her of possible noble birth. In time she went to work for an Arab shipping, mining and merchant concern, inventorying and tracking cargo. Because her father had been Buddhist she was allowed to live as a Buddhist minority and was not forced to work as an Arabic slave. At night and on her free time she began to Vad throughout the port of Mombasa and in other trading or port cities such as Zanizibar, Kilwa, Kismayu and Barawa. Because of the contacts she made in these cities and because of her ability to speak Swahili, Arabic and Chinese she was often employed as a sort of free agent for interpreting and trading affairs in various cities. At the age of twenty Zahra became the lover of a Greek Vigilante named Costos who came to love her very much. At her insistence Costos trained her as a Vigilante (Ranger). Like Zahra’s father, Costos sailed out with a merchant fleet and failed to return. While she waited Zahra learned the art of Nyama from a young female Nyamakalaw immigrant from the West. By twenty three Zahra was fully trained as a Nyama and had given up waiting, and next moved north, hoping to find word of her former lover in one of the other coastal port cities. Unable to gain any information she continued north into Axun territory and encountered Christians. Knowing that Costos had also been a Christian she searched throughout the Axun territories and then discovered information on the Byzantine Empire. Desiring to go there to search for Costos she made her way through Egypt, stopping at Karnak where she heard the ringing of the Obelisk struck by Guedado. Being the first real sound she had ever heard in her life she was confused by what the sound was or where it came from but eventually discovered the obelisk along with two men and a boy who stood nearby. Following their conversation by reading their lips she eventually asked if she could join them when she discovered they intended to head north. They all agreed to travel together as far as they could and noticing that they had talked throughout most of the night so that the obelisk now blocked the light of the late risen full moon, she called the group Oro, or Moonshadow.
Continuing with the description of The Other World…
II. Briefing on the General Setting of Terra Ghanae (Earth/ Iÿarlðma) – Terra Ghanae is actually two worlds. The first is our world (Terra), where most of the gaming activity takes place. The game and campaigns themselves are set primarily in Terra (the Latin term for Earth), the time frame being around 800 AD and the geographical and national setting is the Byzantine Empire. The common base of operations is Constantinople.
Our world, Terra, is as it was in the era of 800 AD, historically, socially, militarily, and so forth. However recently several strange things have occurred which have severely concerned the Emperor and the leadership of the Eastern Orthodox Church. These strange events have prompted the Emperor and the Orthodox Church to band together to form a secret team that is charged with discovering the cause(s) of these weird and uncanny events, and to put a stop to these strange events, if possible. Most of the players play characters in this team, or in one of the related teams. This main team is called the Basilegate, or translated, the Emperor’s Legate.
At about the same time a group of Buddhist Monks (and others) in the Orient has been having visions about these same disturbances and has formed a team of their own to travel to the West and investigate the same phenomenon. That team is called the Hoshi, or The Footbridge.
What is actually occurring on our world at this moment is that our world is being invaded by beings and creatures from the other world, that world being named Ghanae (though various languages render the term differently), and the people who inhabit it. No one in our world knows how these creatures are coming here or exactly from where they originate, and this information is also hidden from the players, who must discover these events for themselves. At about the same time (slightly later in time frame actually) another group of beings from this other world are also trying to find a way into our world and eventually succeed at their efforts, and are then able to come to earth. These beings are what would normally be referred to in the game as elves, dwarves, giants and others of their kind. None of these people or creatures is indigenous to our world and no humans are indigenous to their world.
These peoples are collectively called the Eldeven peoples and consist of the Jukarn (Dwarves), Sidelh, also called the Caer (Elves), Lorahn (Eladarin), Gheriks (Halflings), Avafal (the “New Ones” or “Fallen Ones,” literally the offspring between Men and Eldevens), and so forth. These creatures are more akin to various human races in that they can all intermarry and interbreed (though the rate of intermarriage is no higher than on our world at that time period), than they are to separate species. There are also other beings who are allied with the Eldeven, such as the Adharma, who are a race of Demi-giants, and their half-brothers, the Gabar (Renown Ones, offspring of the Sidelh and the Nephili). Though the Adharma and the Gabar are not considered Eldevens.
There are two reasons that the Eldeven peoples desire to come to our world, the first is that they are seeking to hunt down and recapture or destroy most of the monsters that have escaped to our world from their world. The second I will explain later.
The Eldevens come to our world in disguise hoping to accomplish their various missions without being discovered. They encounter humans (us) however, as they must in our world, and eventually some men begin to understand that the Eldeven party is not human. There are various reactions to this discovery, some believe the Eldevens to be demons or devils come to invade our world and that they are somehow allied with the monsters who are also invading our world. Some believe them to be angelic messengers sent from God to assist mankind against the invasions of monsters, and to help stop the plagues and the disasters wracking the world at that time. Some believe them harbingers of the Apocalypse. There is a schism between both those who are in government (the Court of the Emperor), and those in the Church, with either group being divided into two camps, those who oppose the Eldevens and consider them enemies, perhaps even demons, and those who want closer relations with the Eldevens and consider them helpful, perhaps even Agents of God.
The Eldevens themselves send a scouting, expeditionary, research, and monster hunting party called the Caerkara, or the Expeditionary Force into our world. Once it is discovered that this party is composed of non-human creatures the decision is made in Constantinople to send out the Basilegate to hunt for and try to make contact with the Caerkara, and to discover the true nature and motives of this Eldeven party.
While these monster invasions are in the process of occurring and shortly before the arrival of the Eldeven team, various plagues, earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters begin to afflict our world. Some people connect these calamities directly to the monster invasions, and some directly to the arrival of the Eldeven party. Still others see the Eldeven group as possible allies with whom they can work to help combat both the monster invasions and the various natural disasters. Eventually the Court at Constantinople comes to believe that the Eldevens may be the people of the legendary Prester John. The Patriarch of Constantinople and the Church remain more skeptical.
Samarkand (The City of Samarl): The city of Samarkand sits in exactly the same geographic point as the city of Samarkand on our world, but resides in Ghanae (properly called Iÿarlðma by the Eldevens). Both cities also share the same name. However all similarities end there. Samarkand was designed by the Sidelh but was built by the Adharma. Both races share a similar view of architecture in that they encapsulate information in material objects. Books or written materials are rare among the Sidelh and completely absent among the Adharma. The giants instead are excellent masters of mnemonics, and therefore pass history thousands of years old down orally with very little variation or embellishment between transmissions. They also weave information into every building, statue, column, piece of furniture and art, and physical device they create. The entire city then is one huge library of historical, arcane, and mythological information if one knows how to read the text.
Samarkand is the capital city of Kitharia, the most populous and powerful nation known among the Eldeven peoples. Since the Sidelh are slow to reproduce they have invited many other races of Eldevens to dwell in their city and the Sidelh are actually often outnumbered by the non-Sidelh living there. Nevertheless the non-Sidelh are often granted citizenship after a time, as are their families, and so often easily integrate into Kitharian society, to become stout defenders and loyal citizens of their adopted homeland.
The ruler of the Samarkand, and by extension Kitharia, is the individual known as the Samareül. He is elected by a secret group of individuals and once elected he takes no public name other than his title of Samareül, which means Priest-King. The Samareül is elected for life, and is rarely deposed. The Samareül is the supreme judge, most influential political leader and chief priest of Kitharia, being considered the living representative of Samarl, or God. Strangely enough however the Kitharians and most Eldevens for that matter have no formal religion or religious beliefs, and most seek no relationship with God at all. Instead the relationship between Samarl and the Eldevens is considered the de-facto representative relationship and chief obligation of the Samareül. (The current Samareül is looking to change this state of affairs wishing to make a religious and spiritual relationship among the Kitharians and eventually all Eldevens to be a matter of personal relation between the individual and Samarl. This has led to strained cultural, societal, political, and in some cases racial [such as between the Sidelh and the Lorahn] relationships among some parties, and to the establishment of a strange interlinked alliance between the courts of Samarkand and Constantinople on religious and spiritual matters. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later posting.)
The city is dominated by an acropolis into which is carved (in the fashion of the Adharma who carve their homes into mountainsides) the Palace and administrative houses of the Samareül. The acropolis is also said to contain numerous secret passages into which the Samareül and his officials keep stored many ancient and secret artifacts and devices, including weird machines which are said to be able to peer into other worlds and through time. This acropolis is called the Jlæthÿlîrel. There is also a rumor that the passages themselves have created a sort of scrying channel and that the channels may be decorated with glyphs of unknown design. This acropolis is sometimes called the onŵl-Samarkando, or, Helm of Samarkand
The city also has numerous districts in which various Eldeven races mix rather freely, but it also has segregated districts. These are most evident between the Sidelh (the elves) and the small enclave of Adharma (who rarely take citizenship) who prefer to live there for periods of time as trusted resident aliens. Politically the situation is stable at most times, except during periods of war. There is a large public gathering area called the Msýthariørl where public elections, entertainments, athletic events, public rites, demonstrations of arcane force and skill, and debated counsels are held. It can hold nearly one-half of the entire population of the city at any given time.
There are also a number of industrial and manufacturing districts to produce and market goods, the Eldarik Houses, the Armories and Internal Towers, the Plarshoel (or, Walking Houses – the giants built the city so that certain buildings can move around the city on tracks, allowing the city to be reconfigured for both ease of trade and transport, and for periods of war and self-defense – unknown to most the city walls can likewise move allowing them to be “interlocked” in various defensive configurations as needed), the sa-Elturaere (the Temple for the study and practice of Elturgy and Elturael – Arcane magic), various markets and domestic areas, the Jmyatŗ Skella (the Crafting District), the Tĕna (Quarters of the Peace Officers), the Nhil (the Warband Quarterings), and the newly created Praşklyřt (the Hall of Investigation – to study and counteract the creation of monsters, discussed later).
As mentioned above the entire city is also a sort of architectural library. However many believe that actual Elturgy was used by the Sidelh to recast the work of the giants so that a secret code now also lies hidden within the structure of the city foundations. To what purpose no-one is really sure.
The River Qira runs through the city (including partially underground) and the river Qala now runs completely around the city in a near perfect circular moat, and then runs away through artificial channels so that the river approaches the city from the East and leaves by routes facing due West, South, and North.
The city is composed of seven plateaus, or levels, the highest being the Jlæthÿlîrel, and the lowest section being an underground area of hot springs and baths called the Myņil.