For a thousand years the horned god ruled from his throne in the great towers of Aufstrag. Shaped in mockery of the Great Tree, Aufstrag lorded over the kingdoms of man, elf and dwarf and its master, Unklar, ruled with his iron mace. But time swept him away and into the Void; and upon the ruins of his dark memory new kingdoms have risen, a new world born. An age of heroes is begun, where adventuring crusaders ride forth into the wilderness to reclaim it through the iron in their veins and the magic they too control.
But memories run deep and the stain of Unklar’s reign is not so easily rooted out. His minions haunt the dark places of the world. They occupy forgotten temples, ruined dungeons, castles on the borderlands; from these bastions they plot the return of their horned master, or at the very least, the terror of men. Here evil resides and thrives; treasures abound, hidden magic lies unused and forgotten.
There is perhaps no greater bastion for the refugees of Aufstrag than the lands south of that fated tower. The Blacktooth Ridge dominates the country, jutting out from the southern hills like a finger pointing to Aufstrag. Beneath it flows the slow moving, dark Hruesen River and beyond those banks are the Lands of the Barren Wood and west of it all the Blighted Screed. These lands rest upon the Northern Marches of the Kingdom of New Aenochia and the few towns that are here, Botkinburg and Ludensheim, lie on the very edge of civilization. These lands are a Wicked Cauldron of desperate evil.
Here adventure abounds, for the Empress has called a Crusade to root out all the evil that hounds her northern domains. Wealth and bounty are promised and land and title for those so interested. In these twisted woods in the Shadow of the Great Tree begins the Call for Crusaders!
This particular adventure has the potential to develop into an Epic Campaign of Role Play, Hack n Slash and Dungeon Crawls.
As the Castle Keeper I will be using the Castles & Crusades Siege Engine System with a party of Eight  Pre-Created Second Level (2 Level) Characters.
Each Character worships or serves a Special Deity assigned by the Castle Keeper from the Castles & Crusades book “Of Gods and Monsters” by James M Ward.
For example, I will be playing a Halfling Fighter whose deity is Preston Tallfellow the Halfling Deity of the Sword.
Each assigned deity has an Avatar that may possibly manifest himself or herself to provide aid or direction either prior to or during the course of an adventure in behalf of the PC Character and the Party.
There is also the possibility of Avatars of other deities either aiding or opposing the Party during their quest.
Real Life Players may select one of the following PC Characters with their deity on a first come, first served basis.
You have the liberty to provide a history, background story and description of the character you choose in addition to the information provided by the Castle Keeper.
You may also choose Lawful Good, Neutral Good or Chaotic Good as your character’s alignment.
Role Play, Hack N Slash and Dungeon Crawls will challenge each player as they answer the call from Empress Pryzmira for Crusaders to come and rid her kingdom of the ilk threatening the borders of her Empire of New Aenochia that are mustering forces in the north from the midst of the sprawling remains of the Horned One's Dark Empire.
In the southeastern corner region of Aihrde the cities of Heimstadt, Barachia, Dundador, Ascalon, Aesperdi, Kourland, Vilshofen and Meteira rebelled against the tumbling might of the Empire in 00awd (After Winter Dark). These cities had lived under the shadow of Aufstrag for a thousand years.
During that time they grew wealthy through control of the overseas trade routes and they suffered little from the hand of Unklar. In consequence, a powerful, educated merchant class came to rule these cities.
When the time of war finally came to the Empire from among the remnants of Aufstrag, the lords of Aenoch banded together in a loose confederation and prepared to rebel against them. Pryzmira, last daughter of the House of the Old Empire of Aenoch, came to them and promised the wealth and power of the Council if they would support her claim to the ancient lineage.
She bore the dagger mark on her shoulder and they believed her. They agreed to league with Pryzmira under the stipulation that each of the seven lands: the Duchies of Aesperdi, Dundador, Kourland, Barachia and Meteira plus the city states of Heimstadt and Vilshofen be given the rights to elect the Empress and her heirs to the throne.
In turn, she demanded that their borders be permanently fixed, that they give her the city of Ascalon to rule from, plus that they grant her wide privileges of taxation and expansion.
In 10awd, the 30 year old Pryzmira became Empress of New Aenochia. The Empress then turned to the western lands and called for a crusade promising land and wealth.
The summons generated wide enthusiasm in the west and hosts of men came to carve holdings for themselves. Though the coming years saw many victories and some expansion, the Empire failed to expand much beyond its original borders.
The worship of Ore-Tsar, however, came with the crusaders and the seven lands became powerful supporters of the new religion. Heimstadt is ruled by a Bishop in the church of Ore-Tsar.
This deity covers the province of Peace, Nature, Agriculture, Home and Revelry with a Neutral or Neutral Good alignment featuring Feasting and Dancing in villages, towns, cities, stables and pastures. Preferred weapons include Club, Staff or anything wooden and Armor includes Leather, Studded Leather, Laminar and Cuir Bouille.
As for a Taboo, the followers of Ore-Tsar must stay clear of sandy areas.
PC Characters will worship one of the assigned deities chosen from the Pantheon of their Race or Lineage as published by Troll Lord Games titled "Of Gods and Monsters" by James M Ward.
Pryzmira still rules in New Aenochia. She is the last of the rulers who emerged from the wars of the Winter Dark. The last two decades of her rule have seen little in the way of military expansion.
She struggles with increasing the commercial power of Ascalon in the face of the seven lands, maintaining the worship of the elder gods in the face of the church of Ore-Tsar and ensuring her daughter Neratite's elevation to the throne.
New Aenochia promises high adventure and quick wealth. The political and religous unrest cause constant feuds between the seven lands and the Empress, between the old and new gods.
The continuous calls for crusaders to rid the lands to the north of wild orcs and remnants of the horrors of Aufstrag make New Aenochia a beacon for would be glory hunters.
Players will be given poetic/literary license when creating an interesting history for their PC Character as they answer the Call for Crusaders by Empress Pryzmira to travel to the northern town of Botkinburg upon the Hruesen River to aid the Baron of Botkinburg.
Not only is the Baron of Botkinburg having trouble with his neighbor the Lord Dietmold of Ludensheim, but beyond the Hruesen River the country rises into a series of ridges singularly named Blacktooth Ridge where goblins, trolls, ogres and other nasties threaten Botkinburg.
The Blacktooth Ridge actually represents the furthest reaches of the Empire of New Aenochia where the threat from the remnants of the Horned One's Dark Empire will be encountered over the course of the campaign as the party of Crusaders answer the call from Empress Pryzmira with the promise of a better life, adventure, spoils, glory and gold.
1. Dwarf Cleric [Male] worships Steel the Dwarven God of War. He is located at the beginning of this adventure northeast of Ascalon in the foothills south of the Aratock Mountains where a strip of plains separates the foothills from the Aenochian Sea. He hears about the Call for Crusaders in the town of Mithric east of the foothills. In addition to his assigned Cleric Spells, he also may cast the Dwarven Cleric Spells from his Dwarven Pantheon [1 for each level]. ***Character played by malek04***
2. Half Orc Barbarian [Male] of Human lineage worships Hino (Iroquois) Thunder God. He is a mercenary who also hears about the Call for Crusaders in Methric. He travels and fights in an area from the foothills west of Mithric to the southwest base of the Aratock Mountains north and east of Methric.; across the southern Usedom Steppes to the Odes River and along the coast overlooking the Aenochian Sea. ***Character played by Nomad D2***
3. Elf Ranger [Male] worships Betula the Elven Divine Master of All Combat. He is located in a Betula Temple at the edge of the Heimstadt Forest south of Heimstadt (a city on the northeast shore of Lake Asfral). The Temple is located north of the city of Barachia (where the Ans River empties into the Gulf of Barachia) on a road that follows the Ans River from Barachia to Heimstadt. The Elf has his weapon training in the Longsword which is why he gravitated to the Betula Temple which is more like a Weapons Hall where strangers can come in for aid and teach weapons skills to the students and clerics. ***Character played by Gandalf the Smooth***
4. Halfling Fighter [Male] worships Preston Tallfellow the Halfling Deity of the Sword. He is located due east of the city of Ratsdorf in the Kourland Forest southeast of the city of Gunz which is west of Lake Asfral and southwest of the city of Heimstadt and northwest of the city of Barachia. He served in the Temple of Preston Tallfellow (a sword studio) specializing in the Shortsword. ***Character played by Hammer ***
5. Half Elf Bard [Female] of Human Lineage worships Brigit (Celtic) Goddess of Poetry and Weapons Skills. She is located in the city of Asperdi which is west of Ascalon on the west side of the Hruesen River. ***Character played by Ayrn***
6. Human Shaman/Druid [Changed from Female to Male by Special Permission!] worships Atira (Pawnee) Mother Goddess. She is located east of Gunz and roams the forest lands where the Gunz, Ans and Voer Rivers flow into the Ans River and the Ans River into Lake Asfral. She sometimes wanders from Gunz in the forest to the plains separating Lake Asfral and Lake Goudy, sometimes drawing near to Heimstadt. She is a Healer who answers the Call for Crusaders from Heimstadt. She uses the Long Bow and will fight when necessary, but she is primarily a Healer. In addition to her Druid Spells assigned by the Castle Keeper, she also may cast the American Indian Pantheon Druid Spells [1 for each level]. ***Character played by Odyson and changed from female to Male by Special Permission!***
7. Human Rogue [Female] worships Coyote (Southwestern Indian) Deity of Pranks and Thievery. She is NOT a common thief as she uses her skills to play pranks and tricks on people. She is an adventurer who uses her skills to plunder dungeons, unravel riddles and steal treasure from the forgotten places of the world. She also uses her talents and abilities to fight evil and will use weapons to Kill Evil Humanoids. She has plundered the forest regions west and north of Ratsdorf and northwest to the Gunz River. Coyote speaks to her in a dream to go to Heimstadt to embark on a great quest where she learns of the Call for Crusaders. She is given an artifact which is a Coyote Armband that protects its wearer. The armband prevents missile weapons from striking the wearer when a worshipper takes up a great quest that could easily end up in death. A Turquoise Armband with the Head of a Coyote in the shaped blue stone. ***Character played by Luthor***
8. Human Monk [Female] worships Ocasta (Cherokee) the Deity of Magic of All Types. Ocasta (he) comes in spirit form and in dreams and grants either Wizard or Illusionist powers (only to females) who feel the need to revenge their families. She goes to Barachia to develop the discipline of the Monk after her sisters are slaughtered by a raiding party in the Foulwooth Wood on the north shore of Autumn Lake. She manages to escape and journey to Barachia to try to forget about the Foul Humanoids that slaughtered her sisters and to meditate and find a way to avenge their deaths. Ocasta appears to her and tells her the source of the evil is linked to the Call for Crusaders that she hears about in Barachia. He grants her (level 5) Illusionist Spells and also leads her to a Flint Worker who prays to Ocasta and makes one Flint Spear Head per year for a worthy follower of Ocasta. She kills a bear and gives the hide to the Flint Maker who makes her a +4 Flint Spear Head that never dulls and never breaks. *** Character Played by Brianna ***
The town of Botkinburg lies far from the settled lands of the south and the fabled Kingdom of Outremere. It sits upon a bend in the Hruesen River in the shadows of the slopes of the rugged hills of the Blacktooth Ridge, in a land known as the Barren Wood.
However, it was not always referred to in such dour tones. In happier days this land was a wild forested country, named the Hruesen. The forest was of an exceedingly large expanse and filled with many beasts as well as settlements of man, halfling and elf.
The great ridge offered hunting aplenty and was called by men the Highlands and by the elves the Avishean Ridge. There was peace in the country and little troubled the folk who lived there. But the world's ages turned and so with it the fortunes of those in that wondrous wood.
Long ago, beyond the memory of most in the Barren Wood, a power arose in the north and the whole part of the world fell under the rueful eye of a great and evil lord, The Horned One, as he was named.
In those days, the Horned One's shadow hung over all the world and he ruled from the great fortress of Aufstrag. When the Horned One first conquered these lands many aeons ago, it was restless and troublesome as its inhabitants, fay (fairies and elves) of many type and stalwart men of noble bearing, did not easily bend to his will.
So it was, after many a rebellion and uprising, the Horned One turned his armies loose upon the lands of the Hruesen. A great many orc and goblin issued forth from the foul pits of Aufstrag and laid waste to the lands of the Hruesen, driving the inhabitants south into the sea, enslaving them or scattering wide the free peoples that had been living there.
His evil emptied the forest of its inhabitants and razed all the regions' cities and towns. For centuries after, the woods and vales of the Hruesen lay abandoned and empty. The ridge now stood forth from the wasteland as a great black scar as the orcs occupied it and made it a fortress of sorts.
They tunneled beneath it and built squat towers upon it. They carted folk to the Ridge as slaves and there they became lost to memory. The ridge was called anew, now the Blacktooth Ridge, as it devoured all that entered it and the lands about were renamed the Barren Wood for little remained of that once great forest.
The fortunes of those lands changed only with the passing of that malicious monarch and the dissolution of his kingdom. Aufstrag was made a shell of its former self, if not wholly destroyed and the evil hosts of the Horned One scattered to the winds.
For many years the lands knew peace, though they never flourished again. The evil which had resided here passed into memory or vanished into the deep recesses of those hills. Thus the world stood for many years.
In time elves, in search of ancient homelands and shrines, plus men in search of fertile and peaceful lands to farm, returned and settled in the Barren Wood; quickly forgetting, or choosing to forget, that each new age fosters new challenges and past evils often haunt the hopes of the future.
As the elves and humans returned, so too arrived remnants of the Horned One's armies; for the Blacktooth Ridge lies in the shadow of Aufstrag and the fell pits of that horrid place are a never-ending source of foul creatures hungry for the easy pickings of the world of man and elf.
Now many creatures long away from this land find its fresh fields and peaceful inhabitants easy filling for their gluttonous desires. As for Botkinburg, it was one of many new towns and thorp (villages and hamlets) that were settled after the fall of the Horned One.
Several fishermen, hunters, traders and foresters along with their families founded the village, building near where an ancient stone bridge crossed over the Hruesen River. In those early days, the village consisted of little more than makeshift houses and hovels huddled together along the banks of the river.
The settlement became permanent as the clean and meandering Hruesen River proved an abundant source of fish and the pastures about very fertile. Few creatures or maleficent beasts roamed those parts as the town took shape.
They named the town Stoneway and it quickly prospered, attracting more settlers and later folk wishing to escape the meaningless wars and petty uprisings in the south and west of the world.
So arrived Clement Botkin, the third in line of a large noble family of Outremere. Clement Botkin chose to make his own way in the world and after many travails and adventures, arrived in Stoneway where he decided to retire and claim this place as his own.
He brought with him several knights and some soldiery and built a tower in the town. As time passed, the dangers increased and Clement built a stone wall around his tower and enclosed a wide bailey to protect the villagers in times of war.
For two generations his family provided protection for the village that eventually bore his name. Through his wisdom and strength, Clement kept the town and its folk safe for many years, until time robbed him of both his wits and his son, who died at the hands of orcs while exploring the Blacktooth Ridge.
Clement's grandson, Volkmar Botkin, has now taken the charge in his father's stead as Clement has grown too feeble of mind and body to do more than moan in pain and eat soup.
Volkmar, however, has neither the wisdom nor intelligence of his grandfather or father and so (despite the advice from his loyal servants) has failed to notice and act upon the recent events along the Blacktooth Ridge, events that presage significant trouble for the people of Botkinburg and the whole of the Barren Wood.
Hammer aka Halfling Fighter [Male]
Brianna aka Human Monk [Female]
Malek04 aka Dwarf Cleric [Male]
Nomad D2 aka Half Orc Barbarian [Male]
Gandalf the Smooth aka Elf Ranger [Male]
Luthor aka Human Rogue [Female]
Ayrn aka Half Elf Bard [Female]
Odyson aka Human Shaman/Druid [Male] (changed from female by Special Permission!)
Posted on 2010-10-26 at 19:38:37.
Edited on 2010-11-07 at 04:15:16 by Hammer
Half-Elf Bard of Human lineage [Female] worships Bridget (Celtic) Goddess of Poetry and Martial Arts
Celtic warriors are guerilla fighters who are able to take the concept of hit-and-run to the farthest degree in their battles against relentless foes.
Celtic worshippers all wears some type of neck torc. They invest as much of their gold and treasure in their torcs as they can. The most powerful Celtic characters will have spent time and gold investing magical abilities in their torc including anything from protection and defensive magics to attack spells. The most common torcs are large twists of metal that form a horseshoe shape around the neck. The best of them are studded with many jewels at their ends and are made of the rarest of metals.
It’s an interesting device of war. You chop off the head of your enemy and you take six days to coat it in several layers of lime. Sometimes, if the head has long hair, you leave the hair out so that it can be used to better hurl the sphere. When the Tathlum is dried to rock hardness, you use it as a missile weapon, but only toward the cousins and other relatives of the head. In this way, you are taunting the dead persons relatives and doing damage all at the same time. In game terms, the weapon does 1d4 against non-relatives, 1d8 to cousins, and 2d10 to sons and brothers of the Tathlum.
Note from the Castle Keeper
She is a Poet Warrior and Lore Master able to inspire others to greatness!
Whoever chooses to play this character will have plenty of role play writing poems and inspired orations from both the Bard and her goddess Bridgit (at times), especially in your backstory history of your character as well as during the course of the adventure!
I'll give my time for the Bard role. Can you send me the game mechanics information (i.e. her character sheet) and a bit more background on her diety and I'll see what I can put together. I imagine it will be Sunday evening or Monday sometime.
There is still an opening for the female Shaman/Druid and you can find all the particulars in the Recruitment and QnA threads.
Also, the Backstory/Histories should contain a description of your character and some references to your deity etc.
Just refer to The Crimson Crusaders thread where I have posted the description for my character the Halfling Fighter Drogo Tulk of the Short Swords to get an idea for your character!
You have some literary license in describing the city or area where your character is from!
I am waiting on the pdf file for the new Players Handbook that is supposed to be Emailed to me later this afternoon, so in a couple days I should have all the info posted in the Crimson Crusaders QnA that will be needed for character descriptions!
Also note that age ranges have been included in the Race entries in the QnA, so please consult the QnA regarding your race to help flesh out your character!
I will be closing the registration for The Crimson Crusaders on Sunday, November 7.
If no one has come forward to play the pre-generated Human Female Shaman/Druid then I will either develop a history and play her along with my Halfling Fighter, or just drop her from the adventure entirely.
But I am leaning to keep her in the adventure!
I would also like the Histories/Backstories of everyone to be posted in The Crimson Crusaders by Saturday, November 13.
That would give me time to write up a post (which I am working on now by the way!) to get the action started and the plot development rolling along before I do some travelling with my laptop and adventure accessories!
My next post as Castle Keeper is nearly typed and ready to tweak and post once all of the Histories/Back Stories are posted at The Crimson Crusaders game thread.
Once my next post is typed and saved in my laptop I will begin typing my next Castle Keeper post to help catapult this adventure into the unknown!
Posted on 2010-11-05 at 18:50:12.
Edited on 2010-11-06 at 02:53:36 by Hammer