Sometimes you have to be ugly to be noticed. These guys fall right smack dab in that category. Haggorym entered into Arduin pretty quick and you’ll find traces of them hiding out and kicking the snot out of players in the early AGs. They catapulted to being a player race candidate around AG II (1977 for those counting). After all, who wouldn’t want to play a powerful brute with heavy muscle, a lot of shaggy hair and no nerve endings to feel pain? Sign me up! Better than ogres any day of the week — no hangups with size, feelings of vulnerability towards their small features or ugly teeth. Haggorym don’t take any of that shit; they idolize their brutish looks and punch out anyone who disagrees!
I’ve had a lot of folks ask me where they came from. Well, one obvious item is they resemble cave men though the name is different. So, lets talk. As one person noted to me in the past, DH loved movies and often pulled things out of movies into this games. In this case, the person thought that he may have used the movie, “Quest for Fire”. Well, its a good movie (for its time) but came out in 1981, well after Haggorym entered the fray in Arduin. A lot movies could have inspired them as well as a myriad of novels. I’ve never heard a definitive link to where they come from so we’ll have to guess. I’ve heard a few ideas proposed from DH’s close friends and gamers. They have all been different and prone to arguing over it so I’d say that route is also closed to a definitive idea.
Anyway, here’s the official stuff.
Outlook: Haggorym don’t worry about tomorrow, today or even yesterday. They live in the moment, fully, whether its fighting, f*ing or dancing. A few wiser heads remember that they should plan and those with enough strength to go with that wisdom become the leaders and movers in their world. Otherwise, its as emotion or bodily needs strike. Given that they are foul-tempered and ornery, even to one another, its often. That has driven their cannibalistic tendencies, not to mention they can pretty much digestion anything they can get a bit out of (100% immune to p/v and toxins).
Appearance: Very blocky and muscular, with nearly no forehead and stubby little ears. They are considered a cross between cavemen and goblins (really?). Did I mention they stink? I mean, really reek and foul up the place.
Yes, I am still posting follow up on this question. You can find the original and some additional information at the Facebook Arduin Grimoire group ran by Andy Action.
Raiding in Hyrkhalla is expected and traditional. Not just on each other but on the countries that border Hyrkhalla. Raiding can take any form and be on anything but to be recognized in Hyrkhalla as successful, it must 1) be talked about; a hidden raid that no one knows about or isn’t talked about never happened. 2) have an impact on the enemy in a way that is provable.
Raiding has some tradition to it. Raiding done against Hyrkhalla targets is expected to be done quietly and well. A well executed raid should be done so quietly that the target doesn’t even know it happened until word comes floating back to them along with the boatload of ridicule that’s commonplace. Exceptions exist, of course. A raid that succeeds against a highly superior target is considered well done even if it’s not stealthy, as long as it succeeds. Failure for that type of raid tends to lead to expulsion or worse.
Raids outside Hyrkhallan borders are special. Since not everyone lives along the border and normally transiting another lord’s lands is a battle call for blood, raiders fly the silver wolf blade pennant to let others know they are moving through their lands to attack an external foe. The sanctity of the pennant is something no Hyrkhallan breaks, no matter how vile or pure, else they suffer the wrath of moon, fang, and sword*. It’s what makes the raiding externally doable in an otherwise chaotic culture. Not only is it psychologically empowering but also religious and tangibly powerful. The ceremony is performed by Tyl-Rhaen priests and bestows power on those that participate in it. Enough that it has more than helped enforce the reputation of the feared “wolf” soldiers of Hyrkhalla!
Just a note on food distribution. The majority of the harvest is moved from the plains of the Creeping Corridor by wagon to the Succubi River and then farther south on the Silver Boar River by barge and boat. The rest proceeds overland. How much changes every year as the 4th Wolf nobles adjust it to keep down raids, loss, etc.
Also, having issues with food is one of the reasons why Hyrkhalla doesn’t own more of the world. Their own culture complicates the type of food they raise, how and where they raise it and even the distribution of it. Both Zirhaine and Viruelandia have cut Hyrkhalla’s supply lines successfully in the past to stop their campaigns of “aggression”. Hyrkhallans are not fools – they know it’s an issue but it’s a cultural and religious one that can’t be solved by just saying, “let’s not do that anymore”. Its changing but only slowly. When and if it does get resolved expect the world to see the dawn of a new wide ranging series of wars for land.
* I don’t expect that everyone is as cognizant with Hyrkhalla history as I am. This tale, however, is bigger than Hyrkhalla. It’s part of the triangle of history between Megalon, Tyl-Rhaen, and the Silver Lady. You know, during the time when the demon cults seemed to own Arduin and the war goddess Lyrra walked the lands in a cloud of blood and rotting flesh, carrying war in one hand and undeath in the other.
Want to make your game better? Arduin Grimoire has your answer.
In gaming you see a lot of memes repeated. How many times have you rescued the princess? Subdued the latest pug ugly tearing up the local area? Fought Giants, Orcs, Bugbears, Goblins, Dark Elves or whatever else is lying around trying to eat the same food you need to feed your gob? At the end of the day it can be a tough sell to get the players to buy into fighting the Orcs (yawn) for the 100th time. Here’s three ways that Arduin can give you hand in combating boredom.
Arduin is full of unique content.
Being around for awhile means Arduin has, quite literally, seen damn near anything. Being a game that hits most genres (horror, fantasy, sci-fi,etc.) Arduin has room for everything and has managed to fill the corners with everything. Want something quirky? How about some Thunder Bunnies, anyone? Go see Dancing with the Valpyrs – happens every Triangularus, guaranteed if you somehow make it Crossplex of Limbo. Or, perhaps the Winds of Change for a little, er, change? Want something more exotic? Care to pet a Kill Kittens? Find out what demigod Froggy has in his soup pot? Find out what lies at the end of a Hell Spiral?
Let’s say you have a cool, awesome world filled with everything exotic and cool – I said that already, didn’t I? Let’s say your world is as cool as Arduin – it’s the Multiverse, so anything is possible – wait, what? You don’t know the Multiverse? That’s the idea that everything can and has happened. Let it bleed over a bit. Arduin did and has never regretted it. Arduin has scfi elements right next to fantasy right next to horror. They are neighbors with the historical and modern guys and down in the south some of those superheroes guys…what? Wait, didn’t I mention that Arduin was cross-genre? It’s a jaded monster that has seen it, played and it and like the borg wants to assimilate it. It also doesn’t mind sharing either. Some of the mashups Arduin has created are unique, both in their composition and in their originality. Grab a piece.
Arduin looks at the World differently.
If it wasn’t obvious from the previous point, Arduin looks at the world differently. Arduin started fantasy but quickly asked the question of “why just stay there?” and found ways to work in other elements to transform, update and blossom. That was the thought that said no reason exists for why technology, magic, psychics, spirits and more can co-exist and work without devolving. Even mechanically Arduin applied this thought. Level limits? Nah, GMs or the game can balance things out to be workable and fun. Oh and if you have the guts for the long haul, here’s rules to get to 100th level. Expectations? Want do you mean you weren’t considering godhood? I thought everyone wants to get there if they play long and hard enough…Want to throw spells and shoot a gun? Sure. Turn minds to jelly and explode hearts? Go for it. Play a monster? Oh yeah! Be the monsters? Mwhaaaa. Absolutely! Get it? Arduin said throw away the rules when they impede fun (but stay consistent), open the door to let any element in, and challenge everyone to be more and do more than they ever thought possible. Not in a pushy way; just leave the door open and make the possibility of something happening – well, possible!
Arduin is about risk
Arduin was not only the original over-the-top gonzo game but it also had a deserved reputation of lethality. The virtues of permanent character death are a major point of contention for some players but for Arduin it’s the rule. In being an adventurer, you, theplayer, are playing a losing game of dice with death. It’s only a manner of time before death comes knocking. While dying doesn’t necessarily mean character death, it can and frequently does if you do not have the resources or ability to bounce back. That kind of thought is reflected in the high danger of Arduin and can be an element that can spice up your own game. Again, the idea of character death is such an anathema to some, so you’ll have to keep that in mind. You wouldn’t want to upset someone so much that they create fake Facebook accounts and stalk you afterward when their character dies. Just like in real life, people die in the fantasy realm. Not the walk-down-to-the-temple-get-resurrected death either. Character death can be used to create something wonderful, something epic or something eternal. Ask any of my groups in the 90′s about Jolin Twinleft and his death during the Trek to Jade Gate of Fallen Dreams. It’s been more than 2 decades of real time for the lot of them and I guarantee any of them can still tell you about his embattled fall through the Maelstrom of Dreams and his sacrifice, not just of himself but of two other of his companions to save the rest of them. It was an EPIC 3-hour slice of a 9-hour session that still lingers in my memory. The players determination to win and choice to permanently end his character are what make that long scene echo. They were outgunned, outmanned and nearly annihilated but they pulled victory out of the teeth of defeat and won. It was risky as hell but they took the chance and became legends. You don’t get that without risk. Borrow it from Arduin if you don’t have it. You’ll find it fun.
So, I had nearly forgotten about these wonderful fellows when someone reminded me that I hadn’t spoken about them when I did the post for Dwarves a few weeks ago.
Anyway, I remember when first saw them in the AGs it had me wondering if he (David Hargrave) had adapted them from the show of the same name. *Shrugs* Could be. I see some similarities but in the same way you might think he adapted Arduin Bloody Arduin from Sunday, Bloody Sun or deodanths from the demodands talked about in Jack Vance’s works. Could be. Maybe. Who knows? I’ve talked to more than one “guy who gamed with dave” and have gotten such a bewildering mix of responses that I’ll just leave it to the mystery of the past. Origins are interesting, but never as much as how and what they evolved into before being “final”.
All that fluff, aside, these guys are the nasty equivalent to Dwarves. They were also welcome! For a while you couldn’t turn around without tripping on some kind of Elf variant out there, from flying versions to shiny glittery ones…it was getting stupid as everyone tried to shove a custom variation of them into some new package that gave them all the edges without the hindrances. Anywaaaayyyyy, Dwarves had been long stuck in the hill, mountain, valley, gully and other variations and nothing really distinct had been done with them in a while, or worth noting (IMO). These guys were a nice expansion, especially when you play up their paranoid, suspicious nature and downright nasty nature. I mean the last one we had in our party had us sleeping with metal collars so we didn’t get our throats cut in our sleep…which still played into his plans since he sold us all as slaves…which was kinda the plan, ala against the slave lords style module gaming for a while except he wouldn’t help us get free after we killed the guy we were after…
Took me 7 years to get free of the galley that I ended up being shackled to as a slave. Took another 2 to track him down and pay a pair of trolls to eat him. Slowly. While I watched. Er, wait, was that a dream…? Shit. Got to pull on this oar before the guy with the whip comes again. Damn your eyes!
Outlook: This is a branch of the prolific Dwarven family known as “Bloody Dwarves”, or evil ones, who typify everything a Dwarf normally is not: sneaky, cruel, untrustworthy, nasty, and murderous. These Dwarves hate caves, underground areas, mining, metalworking, and all the traditional Dwarven expertise. Conversely, Red Dwarves are expert workers of leather and cloth, making some of the finest materials in Khaas. Whereas most other Dwarves have a gold greed, Red Dwarves do not. Instead, they have an extreme jealousy of any and all who have even the slightest bit more of anything, or who are better than they in any way, shape, or form. This type of Dwarf is rarely seen as a warrior, much preferring the sneakier professions. To fool another is to make a Red Dwarf very pleased! Red Dwarves dislike just about every race but their own, even considering all non-Red Dwarves as inferior. They really hold Hobbitts and Kobbitts in utter contempt, and have a hatred for Orc kind that borders on the pathological. Still, for some odd reason, they get along well with Centaurs, and even like them to a degree. They can’t drink worth a damn, getting drunk easily and rapidly on just about anything alcoholic, yet simply cannot believe this is so. Thus, they are always attempting to drink others under the table, and consistently find themselves there instead! Like their cousins, Red Dwarves see in the dark, but couldn’t sense a mechanical trap or stonework until it fell on them. They prefer throwing knives, long daggers, or short swords in a fight; they will wear only leather armor (if at all) and only such made by their people. Metal armor they heartily disdain as ‘ironmongery for little folks who haven’t the smarts to fight a proper fight’! They think ‘stand up, toe to toe battles are for fools soon dead’! Never turn your back on a Red Dwarf. They prefer warmer climes and dry places such as deserts or similar locations. Humid, wet, or jungle environment they detest with great fervor, and even cool green forests make them feel uneasy and disquieted.
Appearance: Red Dwarves are similar to their cousins, but less blocky and muscular. There are more blondes than red haired types, though the general run is brown eyes and hair. Red Dwarves have smoother complexions, and are somewhat better looking overall. They tend to dress in rather flamboyant and colored garments, preferring silks and satins. They don’t wear their hair long or grow beards or mustaches, preferring to be clean-shaven to contrast with other Dwarves.
Its turning into a series but I’m sure that’s more than okay.
I wanted to talk about the Creeping Corridor. This portion of land is held in care by trusted nobles for the wolf king. That’s not new. What’s important is they are landless nobles otherwise. The king chooses the best from the landless nobility every cycle (15 years) and appoints 30 of them to watch over these green lands. Each is given a portion of the land, troops and control over some of the only heavy fortifications in Hyrkhalla. They are also given the title of 4th Wolf, an indication of station as they are each considered four steps away from the wolf king himself! No 4th Wolf can hold land, herds or riches outside of that given by the king to enact their duty and remain pretty stationary to the domain they are given to protect and run.
No herds are allowed in this area and only a few, very well maintained roads exist, exclusively reserved for crown troops. No other movement is allowed, excepting bringing in fertilizer and seed and taking out crops. Movement of non-crown troops in the area is a punishment of death, especially overland. The fortification exist along the wooded river banks of the Great Wander Lonely and on manmade hills on the plains. The Hyrkhallans long ago stole Great Owl eggs from the Hohenare Elves and have raised their own, though they use them primarily for defense. The owls constitute what they have for aerial cavalry and are used to sweep the area and provide support and recon.
Now, the ban on travel through this area also means that trade from Hyaen and Araxes must go north through Yram and Clyra or south through Hyrcania and Hyraco before going east. Zirhaine is a rather off and on trading partner anyway so it’s considered no great hardship.
All trading entities must purchase a wolf mark to conduct business in Hyrkhalla. Its cost varies based on the type of goods sold. Individual traders are exempt from the requirement unless they sell herd animals. Then its required.
Trade in Hyrkhalla is conducted just as fiercely as battle. As seriously, too. All trade can be challenged, to be decided by blood and steel when satisfaction is not found by words. Something savvy traders research to know. Then when they come to trade they do so ready to back up any accusations of cheating with righting capability. Either their own or someone they nominate. In fact, an organization exists just for that purpose so foreigners or anyone else for that matter can call on their services. Known as the Wolf’s Left Hand, they have outposts in every city and near every town.
Just a note on Tyl-Rhaen.
For all his faults and demon nature, he’s fiercely protective of his nation Hyrkhalla. It’s been under his banner since the time of the prominence of the Demon Cults. Its driven more than one decision to an end that otherwise might have taken a different turn. Take the goddess Lyrra, for example. Before she was smitten by her son Megalon and pre-empted as the war god, she was a power to be reckoned with in the land. When one of the Blood Circle decided to annihilate Hyrkhalla in an orgy of blood and destruction, it put them in firmly opposing camps. At one point the two divine beings came to blows on the battle field though they did not reconcile their differences that day. In fact, it was his constant warfare with Lyrra that led him first to the arms of Geasyia and the River Gods and then to his current patron, Shug-Niggurath. Lyrra’s eventual downfall at the hands of her son Megalon ended the warring though those two hold no love for one another.
Previously I touched on the importance of food, the Creeping Corridor region, and the herds of Power Horn, Boruu, Vexureye, and Oxulsu. Now, let me hit on those in a bit more detail. The Wolf Lords that hold the Creeping Corridor do so for the current Wolf King in power, a position held only by those strong enough to keep it. For most Hyrkhallans, that means by might of arms though a few sneakier or brighter ones have managed to hold kingship by pure intellect. They are just overwhelmed by the more militant and low brow version that happens to dominate historically.
Now a point needs to be made before I go into some of the trade and economic points of the country. Firstly, the Hyrkhallans revere Tyl-Rhaen. For those unfamiliar with this divine being, he’s the right hand and herald of Shub-Niggurath and a Greater Demon. He took upon divine status when he devoured the past herald. Shug-Niggurath seems to favor him since Tyl-Rhaen provides it a hand in the world the Black Pantheon deity is otherwise denied. Tyl-Rhaen in turn gains a lot of power in the bargain and was able to break out of the power struggle in the 21 Hells among the Greater Demons. Not that he gave up his lands and dominion there. Indeed, his children, the Ymrskir are the scion of his own body and he releases these demi-demons upon his other children in Hyrkhalla every year via hell-touched portals on the Succubi Plains. They mate with the Succubi wolves that thrive there and the Hyrkhallans, hunt the Ymrskir and the wolves as a rite of manhood — in their nascent form the Ymrskir are not much more powerful than oversized wolves with slightly above normal intellect. Ymrskir grow up by devouring souls and spirits, especially those of martial import, which provide the highest growth benefit for them. Its a wolf-eat-wolf environment that plays an important role in Hyrkhallan life. One, for example, is rarely considered a warrior of any import if a Succubi wolf or Ymrskir has not fallen to their weapons. Those Ymrskir that do survive the annual hunting tend to become powerful in quick order and become powerful menaces. Ones that can bind into packs and terrorize the herds, trade caravans and even military units if they are small enough.
So, let’s pivot back to trade and the herds. The Ymrskir could care less about the Creeping Corridor but the herds that make up the wealth and power in the nation are prime hunting, even if the meat provides no powerful souls. They are a constant menace anywhere on or near the Succubi Plains and even farther abroad as they mature. This problem and the incessant warfare that is the normal life blood of Hyrkhalla means their herds are in constant movement. It also means that trade among herds is constant as well, since losses by beasts or battle must quickly be replenished to maintain social status. The herds are moved with the seasons and by the pulse of warfare.
Back to trade. Lots of herd animals and a focus on them as wealth means the Hyrkhallans value the herd and land higher than they value much material wealth. Gold is good but a herd of Boruu is golden beyond the glint of its metal equivalent. The wealth in the Sardonx Mountains is a great gain and worthy of fighting Viruelandia Zirhaine to gain but stealing prime flat lands away from Morvaen or the north of Viruelandian is magnitudes more valuable. So, how does that affect trade? It means the focus for Hyrkhallans is on land and animals and they freely trade out other materials to gain them. Not that they are no less wily than any other trader, just that culturally they will value those above other things and tend to focus on it.
Lots of herd animals means lots of shit. Literally. What fertilizer isn’t applied to their own fields is exported along with bone, horn, meat, feathers, hide, fish from their streams, and good quality weapons and armor that they produce. What they produce militarily may not be the highest standards or outperform Gray Mountain equivalents, but it will get the job done and they make a lot of it. Another high end export is mercenaries. Hyrkhallans fight a lot. If fact, it’s an understatement to say that and as a culture, they are among the most experienced in battle due to it.
Not that they don’t import goods. They do. They import a lot of luxury items, especially foods, furs, silk, porcelain and “softer” things they will not craft at home. They also import what technology, especially siege weapons and firearms, and magic they can as well. Hyrkhalla is full of spirits and their primitive roots are still strong, so they retained a powerful shamanistic core. One that cohabitates pretty well with the Tyl-Rhaen priesthood, though less so with the purist Shug-Niggurath religion.
As a point on trade. Hyrkhalla has bad roads. Really bad roads. The roads between Clyra, Groth, Hyaen, Tylmak and Araxes in the north are okay. Most have some stone in them in places but are primarily cleared dirt. The Succubi and Silver Boar Rivers are often faster to traverse, especially in rainy times or for long travel. Each city along the river has a form of lock and canal system to divert and control river trade. Barges ply the water ways expressly because it’s safer and faster than running the plains and the King’s law prevents any wolf lord from taxing trade flowing on the waterways (beyond the king’s taxes, of course). Not that they don’t push those boundaries and find ways to take advantage anyway.
Anyway, some points and more to come on Hyrkhalla. Until then, enjoy the weekend.
Most of this is an answer to the question posed on the Facebook Arduin Grimoire group ran by Andy Action. If you haven’t been there or don’t know of its existence, be sure and drop by.
When Vorange invades Hyrkhalla they traditionally do so through the north border of Hyrkhalla. That drives them into the blades of the northern wolf nobles and armies garrisoned in the cities of Groth and Yram. It happens on a regular basis and it leaves the lands north of the river pretty barren. Which is a problem since Groth has a population of around 12k and Yram 15k. That’s a lot of people to feed, especially soldiers. While they raise some food in the fields around the city and some from the rivers, most of it comes from elsewhere.
Most of Hyrkhalla gets its food from the large fields planted in the Creeping Corridor. By King’s Wolf Law the Creeping Corridor is off limits from any internal warfare and lies in the Wolf King’s domain. The king’s most successful lord of the year rules over the area, gaining great prestige since the area feeds much of the kingdom. In addition to food grown in the corridor, large herds of Oxulsu, Boruu, Vexureye and Powerhorn are kept for meat.
Before we get too much farther, lets talk about the herds. Powerhorn are large flightless birds similar to ostrich but about the size of elephants and thick bull necks and a large, horned head they use to ram foes. Vexureye are another land-bound bird similar in feeding habits and ecology to a quail but larger, more aggressive and striking, startling eyes of brilliant hues. Boruu are oversize, armored bulls with aggressive, horrible tempers. Oxulsu are called the half-bull but are more like a heavily muscled goat, no milk, just meat.
Keeping the herds is important business. Stealing them is too. Hyrkhallans practice a very lose form of possession, where having it in hand is 9/10 everything. Thieves have to be caught in the act, or cannot be charged with anything.
How do you make something epic? So memorable that its talked about years, no, decades later? How about being able to do it more than once? Well, if you are looking for answers to the above, read on, I’m about to give you an earful. Arduin is full of epic, over-the-top still talked about shit that happened decades ago. Hell, I meet gamers at conventions that still talk about the early Grimcon run when David Hargrave stood up in the middle of the con and yelled out, “The first 6 Valpyrs hit the door!”. Anyone that has even a shred of knowledge
about what a Valpyr is shivered with that bellow and
pitied the poor fools that had to face one, much less 6 of them! That’s kinda the point and just as much not — people remember the scene. The fact that someone survived is legendary – you know who you are and if you, the reader, don’t, then back to the AGs for you! Still as awesome as that run was, is it truly repeatable? Could we redo the magic? Probably not. Six Valpyr at the door is pretty epic but if repeated a few times it loses its luster.
So, just throwing out dramatic and powerful scenes doesn’t seem enough. Yes, throwing six Valpyr falls under dramatic and powerful; don’t believe me? Try fighting them. They are smart, tough, use magic, weapons, items and are about EL 20 equivalent each. Try 6 of them working in tandem to kick your ass. Good luck surviving.
No, its going to take something a bit more. While that scene is riveting and memorable, it falls into the same league as the massive battle fought at Fort Blood during Triangularus back in those hoary days (back to those AGs for you if you don’t know these gem!) or the slaying of the mighty black dragon with the single arrow known to be cast from Kyrrad – need I say more, okay, a hint this time, AG 5…but no more than that! Okay, enough. I’m sure you get the point. Its bigger than throwing out a dramatic or intense scene or game session. No, to be truly epic it has to span several game sessions. It has to build up and amplify as time proceeds until the procession of events culminations in something so massive, so overwhelming that its impossible to forget.
So, I humbly submit the idea of an Epic Quest. A goal or objective so grand that it eclipses the mundane and sometimes, even the players involved. I talked about one previously, you can grab it here: Maruk’s Seven Seven’s Quest. Such a thing has to have a couple of elements to qualify:
Incredible story. It can have a humble beginning (its just us, against the horde or giants or goblins or the Silveel Legions of the High Snow Marshal) but it must grow in power and effect until it culminates in a spectacular conclusion.
Include everyone. Anyone can be the focus of the story but it has to be engrossing enough to keep all the players at the table involved. This may seem easy but its by far the toughest part. Everyone has to be in the limelight at some point and often enough maintain interest even if the quest/story pivots off a single central figure.
Element of Travel. Its rare to be legendary and never leave home. Another simple sounding item but people tend to get really attached to a location and don’t want to leave it. Sorta like real life…
Powerful Scenes. One of the easier pieces. Every session doesn’t have to be a part of the quest. Equally, not every session has be a legendary jot to be remembered. Those quickly become the mundane. Gauge it off the interval you play and your players (of course).
Growth. Every great story has character growth. I don’t just mean ELs either. It has to be more than just level growth to qualify. The character in front of the player has to grow and change. Don’t worry about the player; they’ll be dragged right along with them.
Now, here’s the trickiest part of all. It has to be formalized so it can be repeated. Remember my reference to Maruk’s Seven Seven’s quest? That’s a formalized version of what I’m talking about. Its a worlds-spanning quest that only madman and the insane undertake but whose rewards are eternal fame and power to make the gods envy. Here, in fact, is a list of the Seven Sevens.
The Seven Ineffable Beasts
The Seven Warped Sixteens
The Seven Impossible Paths
The Seven Dancing Dooms
The Seven Wailing Women
The Seven Darkling Towers
The Seven Mindfilled Torrents
Each the crux of the Seven Sevens is you must leave your “mark of blood” on each being or place mentioned, in a way outlined once a specific one of the 49 quests is undertaken. This isn’t beginner level stuff we are talking about but big league, heavy hitting, quake in your boots style play. Anyway, the quest can only be gotten from the shrine of legend, one of the 99 shrines that dot the stretch of the mountain known as the Beryllium Manticore in Chyrsolia. The shrine in high on the mountain, perhaps the highest one. Its a simple affair, the changes at a whim, reflecting the minds of the Arduinian multitude, their belief in the incredible and mythic. No reflection is required to enter, only that you have the courage to walk into the unknown. Inside, you are stripped to the core, everything but your heart, mind and soul within your reach. Each of these is tested in a way specific to you (insert GM: you know your players and their character. Test them accordingly) before you are allowed to begin. Before you go, you must define what item, and yes, it must be “something” that will bear your mark of blood. This will be the item that you use to mark the object of each quest, whatsoever it may be.
Once completed, you begin the legendary quest. You may choose from any of the 49 quests but once selected, your mark will not work for any other, even if you should possibly complete it. Choose carefully, then, which you begin. Once chose, your mind is filled with a cacophony of images relating to the subject of the quest and what you must do. The word, cacophony is specific: the first test of the quest is to determine the meaning behind the images and figure out where/when/how to go to do it.
Intrigued? I’ve had a dozen players snap at this one epic quest over nigh 18 years real time. Only one had a character get very far (Maruk) and most didn’t make it beyond the first of the 7 x 7. I don’t usually let someone even try until around EL 20 just so they have a chance of success.
Anyway, before I quit, here’s a couple of more that I have ran/are running recently:
Thousand Battles (Currently ongoing; been running nearly 2 years of real time)
Futsuconni’s Iron Sword Glory (last player just died after collecting only 88 of the required blades)
Three Fragments from the Corners of the World (Svien has completed only corner and has attained a single fragment.)
Seven Oceans (Sultrani has learned the Orichchalcum Ocean and is confronting the master of the Misty Sea for his martial techniques.)
Hobbitts. You know, the other other short guy. No, no, no not a Gnome! Or, that horrid looking Kobbitt you’re pointing at and giggling. Yes, he looks weird with the blue skin and vestigial horns but he can’t help it – he was born that way. Hobbitts, now, they don’t have that issue. Yes, yes, yes they are cousins but so what? Do you feel embarrassed by who your past ancestor’s cousin’s sister’s best friend twice removed mated with? Even if they look like some odd shambling of the worst traits of both?
Yeah, I thought so.
Hobbitts are tough, the stuff of legends big and small and as popular a race as any in Arduin. You can find them doing the damnest things, from fighting with Vroat because it took their lunch to getting drunk and roaming around town daring the nearest Urukk to call them names.
Hobbitts, no matter how puny they look, have more sand and more balls than any dozen Orcs in a group. Or, at least the Arduin version does.
Now for the formal stuff.
Hobbitts are a happy, sometimes frivolous race, very partial to parties and eating. They prefer sweets of all kinds, but anything will do, so long as it’s fresh and tasty and there’s a lot of it. The typical Hobbitt eats five square meals a day, plus snacks.
Hobbitts are noted for their stealthiness, their ability with slings, and their dislike of water. While they bathe regularly, they simply refuse to swim in the horrid stuff. Even convincing a Hobbitt to get on a boat can take a long time, and probably numerous promises of food.
While an honest folk by nature, those Hobbitts who leave their nice safe homes to go adventuring tend towards the profession of thief. This isn’t necessarily out of any larcenous inclinations; they simply prefer to live by their wits, using stealth and guile to bypass enemies rather than trying brute force.
Hobbitts are a small folk, seldom exceeding four feet in height. They tend to be either very slender or very plump, and rarely have facial hair. As a result, Hobbitts are sometimes mistaken for Human children. The majority of Hobbitts go barefoot; the soles of their feet are as resistant to damage as the sturdiest boot-leather. Hobbitts live to roughly 150 years, reaching their majority at 30.