The Orc Gathering

Some humans experience the fun, filth and fury of an orc gathering. This is a description of the gathering and does not detail and specific role playing events.

From a distance it looked like a plan filled with bushy terrain that stretched on towards the horizon. Details became clearer as they neared, movement could be discerned on the plain. Cresting the brow of a small hill, there was a sharp intake of breath as the vista before them came into view.

They had been looking past the low hill – more a high area on otherwise flat landscape than a true hill – regarding what could be seen on the following, distant incline. Before them, across could be loosely referred to as a valley, the land was blanketed wit a moving mass or orcs.

The orcs thronged like ants, moving apparently randomly amongst tents, fires, livestock and wagons. What few trees may have previously been resent on the plain had long since disappeared to be used for shelter or firewood.

The noise, smell and energy of the great orcish gathering washed over them as they neared. They noted that the odd human merchant had set up for business on the periphery, risking life and livelihood for the chance of trading with the orcs for their (often plundered) gold. They received looks and grunts of greeting or challenge as they entered the periphery and began to make their way into the gathering proper, but for the most part they were left alone. Any serious challenge to orc safety had been met and dealt with leagues away, before the gathering proper began. A small band of humans posed no threat to what appeared to be thousands of orcs. Any larger threat that may approach the gathering would have been dealt with the none too friendly orcs who had pulled patrol duty.

“No boasting rights may be claimed for killing at a gathering. Orcs adhere to a special truce at their gatherings. Humans at an orc gathering are the safest humans in all Gaia.” They repeated these words like a mantra, desperately calling upon whatever gods may be listening to uphold their truth.

Yet their sources appeared to be correct. While here they could still die at the hands or an orc, the changes of dieing at the hands of the same orc elsewhere were considerably higher. They watched the orcs fight, feast and fornicate with equal enthusiasm as they walked unmolested amongst those violent people.

Slowly they made their way inward, accepting the an ale here, or an offer to gamble or wrestle there, all the time learning more about orc culture and language. Hours spent here would teach them more about orcs than they could learn in years of pouring over dusty scrolls and tomes in great libraries of Chakar and Draskor.

Though most knew of, had met and spoke the language of the plentiful Darketa, or even the vicious, aloof Nar-Haaz, few knew of the Mâal. It was now that they marked members of this third nation of orcs, this sub species who hailed from the far south, making their home among the great southern peaks. The Mâal they saw looked at them in a way that chilled their human souls and reminded them just how precarious their situation was.

The wiry, mottle skinned Mâal sneered and spat at them and thought not verbalised, the looks on their faces threatened death. A drawn out painful death for sure if you were to become their prisoner a passing Darketa explained helpfully, laughing at their own joke. Fortunately most of the Mâal who were in attendance had congregated to the far southern side of the gathering and kept to themselves for the most part.

For that matter the Darketa and Nar-Haaz did not appear to socialise much with the Mâal. Darketa and Nar-Haaz also kept mostly to their own kind, but tended to mix better with each other when occasion permitted.

It started to rain. A steady summer downpour that continued into the night. Filth that had lain on the ground or in shallow trenches washed together into rivulets as the rain cleansed the field. Rivulets fed streams that became choked with filth which they disgorged into bigger streams and rivers which all headed west, down an indiscernible gradient and would eventually empty into the Sylmar river. River fish choked on water fouled with the effluent of twenty thousand orcs, but as the rain continued to fall and the cess trenches washed clear, fresh water entered the rivers and the fish breathed again.

Through the night and rain the orcs fought, fornicated and feasted. Bonfires spat and sizzled as all manner of beasts were roasted on them. A vast bonfire, ten times the size of any other was visible towards the centre of the gathering. They heard talks of the great beast roasting there: A dragon said some, a stoorwyrm said others. The tale of whom and how it was slain changed with each telling.

The orcs fought, feasted and fornicated. Their fighting was not usually lethal, and not always physical. They boasted and haggled, argued, wrestled and brawled in the mud. At times one would need to look twice to see if two orcs rolling in the mud were wrestling or fornicating. The concept of privacy and tents among orcs, although understood, were not always contextualised together. While an orc may use his tent to keep his armour and sword dry from the rain, or conclude a sneaky deal out of the eyes of his fellow orcs, he or she would fuck in public so as to make it easier to refresh their beer, boast of their prowess and speak to their mates at the same time.

As the night progressed and became an even more drunken orgy than the day had been most of them received sexual proposals from various orcs. Food was plentiful and willingly shared, with the smells of freshly roasted meat mingling with spicy stews bubbling in cauldrons and oneesha bread baking over low fires.

By morning the rain had slowed to a light drizzle. While masses of hung-over or still drunken orcs milled about, others could be seen oiling weapons and muscles. The few humans traders who had come to the gathering had long since departed with heavy purses and empty wagons. Slowly the populace began to make its way west, towards what appeared to be a small copse of trees still left standing. Beer still flowed. Spilled wine looted from Sylmar valley farmers ran in red rivulets between their feet as they joined the orcs making their way west, winding between tents, horses and comatose orcs.

Food was still plentiful and it was easy to slice a snag off of a cooling roast, or appropriate a mostly un-gnawed haunch or if not careful, find oneself eating a spicy mouth burning stew out of a scooped out hunk of hard oneesha bread – the consequences not fully understood until later.

The copse of trees was not what it had appeared to be from a distance. An orc made quadrant of raised earth was flanked on three sides by the “trees” which now that they were closer, could be seen to be a myriad of war banners on long poles. The western side of the quadrant which was furthest from them was empty of banners. The banner poles were made of various materials, though mostly wood some were of bone and some even of bronze and whale ivory. Each banner represented a specific clan, while each side of the square, barring the empty western side, represented a specific nation of orcs, Nar-Haaz on the north, Darketa on the east and Mâal on the south.

This was the square, the main reason for the orc gathering. The place where the three nations put down their weapons and met in peace to boast, affirm alliances and feuds, demonstrate skill at arms and make orc policy. The gathering was a rare occurrence, few orcs saw one, a very small number ever saw two.

They were of a select small group, daring, human and perhaps very stupid. They were of a fraction of a percentage of humans ever to behold the wonder of an orc gathering – in all its fun, filth and fury.

This article was originally published on VI April MMIX

Illium Cromia

Illium Cromia is an island with an ancient and powerful civilisation. Forming part of the Western Isles, its once invincible legions conquered most of North Western Gaia. Now, centuries later, many a Dalatian, Slavinian and Aquatinian can trace their roots back to the Island.


This is not Troy, Illium was just a nice sounding name for the Isle of Cromia.


The largest and most densely populated island of the group simply known as the Western Isles, it is also situated far south of the other major islands. Indeed if Illium Cromia were any more distant it would not have een considered as part of the island chain.

Illium Cromia is also separated from the path that the submerged mountains, which form the rest f the island chain, follow. Cromia is unique in that its origins are volcanic, vis-à-vis, it is not formed from the peak of a submerged mountain thrust from the ocean by the tremendous pressures caused by tectonic movement. Being volcanic, is not only an older island, but is also growing relatively faster than the other main islands in the group: Valatia and Fornudia.

The volcanic origin of this island has led to it being a virtual paradise in places, with much of it covered in thick forests, which have risen from rich volcanic soil. Verily the only places on the island that are not covered in ancient deciduous forests are the areas where volcanoes are still active and lowland areas, which are the home to vast green meadows of various grasses and grain. The lowlands make for excellent farming and a large part of is cultivated, producing a wide variety of crops.


Due to its relatively remote situation off the coast of Gaia, favourable currents, warm climate and fertile soil, the people of Illium Cromia have never been lacking for food. Crops which practically raise themselves allow for hands to be employed in other occupations. Time that would otherwise be spent trying to survive from day to day could be spent on other activities, such as art, philosophy, invention and war. As such, Illium Cromia fast became a cradle of civilisation in the northern hemisphere. Over time the various tribes on the mainly human populated island were able to settle their differences.

Chieftains from the most powerful tribes set up a council that met annually to settle disputes. Ianjoora, a small town on the southern coast with no real value, was chosen as a neutral place to meet. As the decades wore on and the island prospered, a growing population demanded more of the council. Tribal leaders were replaced by representatives of burgeoning city states. The city states had their own agendas and were often in competition with each other.

Eventually, in order to preserve peace between the major city states, the council took a decision to disband in favour of establishing a formal government to whom the city states would answer. The government was first known as the Cromian Conference, after the extensive and turbulent talks which were common in its first few years.

Ianjoora had grown over the years and grew further when the Cromian Conference decided to govern from there. The Conference most notable improvement in structure over the old tribal council was to include a mix of representatives from the six provinces – thereby allowing fair representation for all the cities – as well as merchants, priests, guild masters and military within its ranks. Together they took an oath to strive for the betterment of Illium Cromia. Thus was the Cromian Confederation was born.


The Cromian military developed mainly from a need for an engineering corps. As the once barbaric population of the island slowly became civilised, warrior types found work as city guards and such. Each city had its own idea of what was required of its guard, different uniforms, styles of armour, weapons and pay. Local efforts to better city infrastructure were made, including the building of roads and bridges within their sphere of influence. Roads outside cities surrounds were non-existent however, making inter city travel an arduous affair.

One of the last big changes made by the council was to establish a central engineering corps. The Engineers Corps was tasked with formalising road links between the cities. As time passed, the engineering corps gained prestige. They were seen to be doing things, erecting marvelous viaducts and aqueducts to link the major cities together with stone roads.

With the advent of roads came the requirement for policing of the roads from bandits and wild animals. The corpse expanded its activities to include special policing units. Their splendid uniform and superior pay soon had many city guards transferring to them. The police units ranks swelled. The corpse enjoyed a large degree of popularity as a result. Being a member meant prestige, both to the member and his family.

It came to be that during the formative years of the Conference, the city state of Thejora, being by far the most powerful and feeling that the government was not acting in their interests, announced that it was not interested in being part of the Cromian Confederation. Relations between the Confederation and Thejora deteriorated rapidly and war erupted between the powerful city and the Confederation. Cities were hesitant to allocate their forces to the government, fearing that they would be left with no means of defense should the Thejoran army turn their way.

The only alternative was to make use of the engineering corps police. After a few skirmishes, a combined force of engineer corps police and city state guards defeated the Thejoran army at Etra, in the Agripinian province. A settlement was reached between the Confederation and Thejora, resulting in Thejora joining the Confederation.

As a result of the war, military representatives (being city guard captains and the chief of the engineering corps police), insisted on the formation of a standing army. The corps police were reinvented as the First Cromian Legion, taking a crossed pick and spade as their standard, a reminder of their engineering heritage. They also retained their blue uniforms and plate armour as opposed to subsequent legions who were issued scale armour and had green uniforms.

Seven legions were established in all, one garrisoned in each province while the First legion continued its duties of policing the extensive road network which eventually linked all the cities.


Having mercantile and military representation in government proved to be a big step for the Cromians. Eager to open new trade with neighbouring islands and the Gaian mainland, with whom there had previously been little contact, small vessels made their tentative way to foreign lands. While most trade envoys were warmly received and firm routes established, there were always exceptions. Shipyards came into being (notably along the coast of heavily forested Mungar Province) to meet the demand for bigger, faster and more seaworthy trading vessels started to receive orders from the military.

Illium Cromia used to be a far bigger island. Some five hundred years before, the island extended seventy kilometres further south west. A huge volcano, whose legendary eruptions would send earthquakes through the island and cause tidal waves along the coast of Gaia, marked the furthest extent of the island. Due to the volcanoes temperous nature, the population of that part of the island was minimal. This was fortunate, for one fatal night, Mount Kralium as it was known, bellowed outs its defiance to the world for a last time. Vast clouds of superheated rock and ash were spewed high into the atmosphere, while its slopes came alive with rivers of molten lava. Sometime near dawn Mount Kralium collapsed in on itself cracking the earth as it did so, to allow the oceans water to rush in.

The resulting explosion has become a part of legend, passed down from Cromian father to son. The earth shook with such force that whole buildings fell to the ground, galleys sunk in the harbour and a huge wave swept along the coast, washing away whole villages. Thousands died that night, not all of the Cromian for the resulting tidal waves had ravaged the coasts of all the western isles as well as western Gaia.

Within a day of the disaster, Cromian legions were marching west, while its navy, still reeling from the swath of destruction the wave had cut through its galleys, was working throughout night and day to sail west. What they found when they got there was so horrifying that some witnesses were driven mad. A whole piece of Illium Cromia had disappeared beneath the waves, hundreds of leagues of land had simply vanished overnight. The land that remained, between where Mount Kralium had stood and the Whitestone Hills had been seared clean of any life. Not a blade of grass or a buzzing insect remained.

In the five hundred years that followed, life would slowly return to what became known as the scoured lands. Yet the lands remain windblown, inhospitable and still for the most part, blackened rock with only the occasional clump of grass or low stand of stunted trees. The only sign of civilisation is Fort Kralium, erected in the coast to defend against any landing by Valatian forces.

The death of Mount Kralium has a resounding impact upon Illium Cromia. Until then, the isles navy and legions had held sway over the western isles and much of the Gaian seaboard. With its navy all but destroyed by the tidal waves, the isles remaining galleys were overwhelmed by those of the Valatian navy. The change of power was swift and had far-reaching effects.

Until then Illium Cromia had enjoyed dominance in the area for centuries. Trade and technology exchange with the Gissian Empire had provided them with far superior galleys, tactics and methods of arming their legions. As a result, their navy had never seen defeat against Valatia. As time went by, Cromia’s sons began to colonise Gaia, in what is now knows as Southern Dalatia and Slavinia while Valatia was blockaded, receiving little new technology. Envy grew to enmity which grew to hatred.

Subsequent to the Mount Kralium disaster the whole balance of power in the isles changed. While Forundis remained more or less neutral, the Valatians seized the opportunity handed to them and turned the tables on Cromia. Some disastrous attempts to invade and conquer Cromia followed. Numerous battles followed wherein the Cromian legions prevailed, but at a terrible cost. The loss of life was so great that some cities devastated during the war were abandoned and a whole portion or north eastern Cromia, where many of the battles took place, reverted to the wild as the populace was too diminished to tend the land.

Illium Cromia was first detailed on IX May MMIII

An old map of Illium Cromia

The Shadow Legion

Out of the ashes of Tau, at the dawn of this new age birthed in fire and chaos a warrior arose and brought forth a new era in warfare throughout Gaia.

The annals record Rocheval the Red, once personal friend and confidante to General Tiberius breaking through the chaos siege of Tau with a few dedicated men and seeking aid to bring back a force to attempt to break the siege.
Rocheval did not return. Tau was raised and General Tiberius disappeared without a trace.

The few survivors of Tau tell of the betrayal of Tiberius and Rocheval in their hour of need, but Rocheval did return to the ashes with a handful of good men, all that was left after fighting his way back through the Vale of Osria.

With the great walled city of Tau destroyed the Chaos forces dispersed into the countryside and their tyrant – the bitch queen Tanjha was never seen again. Without leadership the looting chaos hordes ravaging the countryside were easy prey for an organised defence and counter strike which Rocheval immediately recognised and organised. The black and red banner was raised and the sons of men gathered under it. Using unconventional guerrilla tactics, traps and surprises Rocheval led the resistance and systematically eradicated pockets of Chaos spawn. Caught like a headless beast without direction the scourge was wiped from the north.

Once again the banner was raised and the Shadow Legion was born. Many warriors gathered to join the quickly growing (in fame and size) legion, mostly people who had nothing to lose, who had lost families to the war or those who had scores to settle.

With it’s numbers swelled the legion spread forth and grew from strength to strength, becoming the most feared and revered mercenary company on Gaia.

Their fame grew and spread far and wide, as Chaos retreated and man’s greed flourished the legion had many employers and has struck fear into the hearts of many a general and king who have found themselves on the wrong side facing the legion.

The Rievers of the shadows, the Harbringers of doom, the Black death, the legion has had many a name which they have earned over and over. Rigorous training and standards make the legion what it is as well as the unconventional tactics envisioned by Rocheval. Generals have been surprised to find unarmoured charcoal smeared warriors appearing behind their lines; viscous ambushes and traps as well as “dummy” warriors and armies. The legion has always stayed one step ahead and has changed the way Gaian generals see a battlefield and a foe.

Now the legion has upwards of a thousand elite warriors including five hundred heavy cavalry and many skilled archers. Although the legion accepts men and women with no questions asked about history, any prospective legionnaire must prove their skills in rigorous testing and combat trials.

“Strike like a daemon, fade like a shadow” ~ legion motto.

This article was originally published X December MMII

Bridge Trolls

A slightly whimsical look at an alternate type of troll to the standard (cave) trolls found on Gæa.

Trolls on Gæa

The trolls of Gæa are secretive creatures who have a tendency to dwell deep in rocky mountains although on rare occasions, they can be encountered in other terrain. Little is known about their behaviour, mostly due to the fact that anyone attempting to engage in a study on the subject finds themselves eaten in relatively short order. There is only one kind of troll on Gæa, which for game purposes, is the cave troll from the RuneQuest monster book.

Other types of troll such as mistress race, dark, trollkin etc are endemic to Glorantha, which is not Gæa.


Too cool not to share. Bridge Troll by Gido @ Deviant Art

No one is aware how the bridge troll phenomenon started. Trolls being dim-witted creatures at best are usually unable to comprehend even the simplest of barter concepts. It would appear that sometime in the distant past a troll settled at the site of a bridge in order to avail itself of the easy pickings to be had in the form of travellers who wished to cross the bridge.

Trolls, being lazy beasts are want to settle near a reliable source of food. What is strange from this case was that somehow, over time, the troll was able to curb its appetite and learn to barter for passage over the bridge. Perhaps it was the innate troll laziness which allows it to identify with the benefits of not having to catch its food. Over time, other trolls of above average intelligence learned of the benefits of being a bridge troll and sought out to take up residence at other bridges.

While the benefits of being a bridge troll are relatively obvious, there are also some drawbacks. At times, prospective bridge trolls have met with untimely death through, inter alia:

  • Taking up residence on a bridge too close to human or orc territory with the result of the local residents setting about slaying the troll.
  • Attempting to build their own bridges with disastrous consequences.
  • Losing their place to a stronger bridge troll.
  • Starving after taking up residence at a disused backwater bridge. This is either through stubbornness, or just plain stupidity.

Bridge trolls are further noteworthy insofar as some have actually, although very rarely, been able to construct rudimentary yet strong bridges. Of further note is the fact that some have learned to band together for mutual benefit – unheard of for normal trolls and still very rare for bridge trolls. Some bridge trolls have even gone so far as to set up working ferries across broad rivers.

Where one will be likely to encounter a bridge troll

Bridge trolls are unlikely to be encountered within proximity to lands which are more than sparsely inhabited by orcs or humans as the inhabitants of these lands will usually drive them out. Even so, there is a small chance of coming across a troll bridge in such lands in areas or times where there has been little presence of any local warriors.

Troll bridges are more common in the wilds and on backwater roads with little traffic. Areas where there is a above average population of normal trolls usually have an inverse population of bridge trolls. It is assumed from this observation that normal trolls and bridge trolls do not get along well.

What to do when you come across a troll bridge

Most importantly, have something – preferably a decent supply of food – to barter. If one does not have food to barter, remembering of course that food to trolls is basically anything meaty, one may:

  • Try to barter something else.
  • Run away.
  • Try to discuss the matter with the troll in a fast talk kind of way (discouraged).
  • Try to fight the troll (also discouraged, unless one has brought a reliable number of warrior friends along).
  • Mosey along and hope to find a crossing elsewhere.

The World

An overview of the world of Gæa.

The world map is bound to change a lot as continent shapes have been drawn from memory and only three continents currently have names.

Gæa circles a yellow sun, slightly larger than the earth’s own sun. In size, Gæa is larger than the earth but temperatures are much the same due to it orbiting a bit further away from the large sun.

Gæa spins on its own axis much like earth, although at a slightly faster rate. The faster rate of spin and larger size combine to allow a day length comparible to those of earth.

As such, a Gæan year is 427 days long and is split into 13 months, most or which have 33 days. The number of days per week differ between cultures.

Due to the length of the year, many cultures have adopted a concept of six seasons, where the Summer and Winter are of such length that they are divided into two sections each, First Summer – from the end of Spring to Mid Summer, Second Summer – from Mid Summer to Autumn. The same would apply to Winter.

Gæa has two moons, a shiny white moon which orbits nearby and affects the tides and seasonal cycles, and a dark moon, which appears as a small surly green globe on the horizon if it is seen at all. Its orbit is further out than the yellow moon and is also elliptical. Thus the green moon is invisible for most of the time. Many believe that its cycle has an affect on the spirit plain and can be used to channel magic.

A modern world map
An ancient world map attempt

Life in the Empire

Class structure among the Lizard Men.

Class Structure

The inception of the alliance of primitive gissian tribes, which would eventually knit together to build a vast empire, resulted in certain thought processes becoming engraned into the culture of the lizard men. The very nature of the first alliance resulted in an “us and them” class division. The tribes who joined the alliance began to benefit from the pooling resources and, in time, the giss who had stayed apart realised that the grass was indeed greener on the other side. Initial petitions by Jarak (outsider) tribes to join were granted but, as time went by, the population began to grow too fast. Surplus giss resulted in the first fights over food and other resources since the alliance began.

Jarak tribes were no longer welcomed and over time, the term grew to encompass any non alliance member, giss or otherwise. The giss had begun the climb to civilization. The tribes had become houses, each of whom belonged to the Gissian Federation. Each house supplied young giss to serve in the defense and administration of the federation. As borders expanded, it became apparent that the houses could not supply enough giss to meet the expanded administrative needs of the federation. New laws were passed, allowing for individual Jarak to become citizens of the federation upon application. In order to gain their citizenship, they had to serve a term of duty in the service of the federation. By this time, the giss had been in contact with the humans from the north and a human word was coined for these non-house citizens – the Foederati.

Another concept which the giss inherited from their human neighbors was that of slavery. The giss had long followed a strict, yet simple, code of law. If anyone acted to place themselves outside the law, punishment would be severe and in most cases, deadly. As time progressed, the concepts of lenience and lesser punishment for lesser offences made its way into gissian law. Lesser criminals were given the opportunity to repay society for their offences. Stripped of any rank, they were named as slaves and forced to work for the federation until their debts had been repaid. Later on the concept of selling slaves became more common and a slave industry developed. As the demand for slaves grew, raids into neighboring lands became common. These raids were often followed by wars of retaliation and once again, new legislation was drafted. Only criminals could become slaves. These criminals included prisoners taken from any enemy the federation was at war with. Slaves who had paid off their debts or had been freed via some other mechanism became Jarak. The children of slaves were born as Jarak, to all intents and purposes, free.

Thus a four tier class system became entrenched within the federation and later the empire. On top are the Kaderasti, those born to or who had been accepted into one of the great houses. The emperor, ranking officers, officials and senators are all Kaderasti. Next are the Foederati, citizens who may hold land and who had served the federation and empire, yet had not joined a great house. Although freemen (freegiss), the Jarak are lowly and may not own land. In certain times, they have been hated and persecuted. Last come the slaves. So low that they may not even entertain the idea of joining the Jarak auxiliaries in the legion. Giss despise slaves as the lowest form of life. an old Giss proverb recounts “Better it is to die than a parasite be,” referring to preying on ones own kind like a criminal. Slaves and criminals are equated as one in Gissian culture.

The Great Houses

The great houses are not simply what the tribes became over centuries: Lizard men are ovoviviparous and the females usually give birth to a brood numbering anything from one to nine infants. The female will usually care for its young for a few weeks before they are placed in a nursery with other young, pooling their resources to find food and protect the young from danger. This is still the practice among the primitive Jarak giss who inhabit the jungles and islands off the southern coast of Araktor. Among the civilized giss, these nurseries later became the basis for a clan, where youngsters raised within the nursery usually remained together, until they matured. It became the custom for females who reached maturity to leave their birth clan and seek another clan to join. Young that were born to a clan nursery inherited the maternal clan name, vis-a-vis the name of the clan who had accepted their mother, not that of her birth clan. Thus, even though the father may have belonged to a different can, the young would belong to their mothers clan. Over time, the riverside nursery pool of the clan was replaced by an enclosed nursery house. The word clan fell out of use, as giss would ask each other in which nursery house they were raised, and later on, which house they belonged to. As adults, some male giss change their house allegiances, although most will stay with their birth house. Very rarely will a female remain with her birth house. In the cases where this happens, it is usually because no male child has been born to their mother.

As the empire grew, so too did the wealth and honor of certain houses, so that today there are some extremely powerful and ancient houses. Pride in ones house is the backbone of gissian society, no matter whether born or adopted by ones house. The head giss of the most powerful house is usually the most influential giss in the senate, which in most cases ensures that he or she is emperor or at least that the emperor is of the same house.

Currently house Udrak rules the senate, but the emperor is old and his house is weakening. Before them, house Glanhas was the most powerful house for over two centuries, until Mimbrus I lost the sword of Gorgoth, causing house Glanhas to loose its honor and with it, its influence.

Welcome to Araktor

A geographic introduction to Araktor, the continental home of the Onyx Empire.

Araktor is a large continent which straddles the Gæa’s equator. Situated to the South-East of Gæa (the continent), Araktor’s northern most tip is only a few degrees in latitude south of the Wika-Waka wetlands, Gæa’s southern most point. It is a warm continent covered for the moist part by lush grassland, forest and jungle, bar an arid lowland region which spans much of the north west “horn”.

The equator bisects Araktor a few degrees south of its widest point. As such, much of the area it lies across is highland terrain, including the towering Cimmerii Cloud peaks. As a result, the vegetation is mostly very dense forest with only small tracks of equatorial jungle near the coast. Further south, once the highland plateau drops off, the vegetation rapidly becomes a dense, impenetrable jungle. The land to the north of the equator is separated into two “horns” by the Tranquil Bay, so named for its glassy waters, calm air and lack of storms. The two horns could not be more different. In the east, the dense forests from the equatorial highlands continue, gradually changing from the evergreen hardwoods further south to deciduous hardwoods the further north one travels. The woodlands north of Lake Kyror are all deciduous and are the last place left on Araktor where elves can be found.

The western horn is very different. The highlands north of the Cimmerii Cloud peaks continue for some time before an escarpment is reached. A great rift valley extends from the escarpment to Water Town, in the far north. If the valley were any lower and if the range of hills along the Tranquil Bay were not present, the land would have been sea bottom. The climate of the valley is hot. The hills to the west and highlands to the south and east block all but the most persistent rain clouds from bringing their moisture to the interior. Certain areas still support the fragile grassland that once covered lowlands, but in the most part, it is desert, some natural, other man/giss made.

The warm jungles of the south are the ancestral home of Lizard Men, a race of intelligent bipedal lizards who, over many centuries, have carved a vast empire, spanning the entire continent of Araktor as well as parts of Gæa and Vasniss.

This article was last updated XX August MMII

Ancient map of Araktor

White Eye (Bianoc Sapiens)

They are called White Eye due to the very light colour of their irises. Most adventurers will run like hell when faced with even one.

The White Eye is for all intents and purposes a barbarian elf. They typically stand at least 6ft tall, have pale blond hair and an eye colour so light it is considered by many to be pure white, creating the image of no iris or pupil.

They hail from the northern regions of Gæa, sharing their domain with the likes of the Northice Mountain Great Orc, various human barbarian and primitive tribes and polar bears.

Their society and culture is strongly combat oriented, their sense of humour non-existent and they strongly believe that
mercy is for the weak. Truly, it is a great honour to be slain by one so great.

Like human barbarians, they generally shun civilisation, making the sighting of a White Eye in a city or town a very rare occurrence.

It is unclear whether they are at all related to elves. They refuse to talk on the subject. Pressing a White Eye for his racial origins will soon have one regretting such curiosity.

Yet the White Eye and Elf have some very similar traits. Their females are thin and well muscled, indeed it is hard to differentiate between female and male. They are also able to move in absolute silence and have extremely keen senses. Differences are also noticeable – White Eyes are pale of skin, having no green tint and stand taller than the average human.

From a distance, they appear to be albino in their paleness, yet up close, the faintest trace of pigmentation can be seen.

This solitary race has few friends and many enemies. They will war upon Elves and Goblins (their own distant relatives?) as readily as on human or orc. Befriending a white Eye is extremely rare and there are no tales of anyone gaining their trust.

This article was originally published XXVII November MMII

White Eye

STR3D610-11Move 4
CON3D610-11Hit Points 12
SIZ12+1D614Fatigue 20
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg01-0401-030/4
L Leg05-0804-060/4
Abdomen09-11 07-100/5
R Arm13-1516-170/4
L Arm16-1818-190/4
Stone Bow1/MR25+111D6+210+56
War Maul720+111D10+220+512

Skills: Agility +5; Climb 50; Dodge 25; Jump 45; Communication +10; Knowledge +8; White Eye Lore 15; Mineral Lore 20; Manipulation +10; Conceal +10: Listen 40; Track 30; Stealth +6; Hide 18; Sneak 30.

Armour: White Eyes may wear may armour, but tend to stick with leather based armour, usually cuirbouilli.

Magic: Only spirit magic is allowed and only battle spells.

Orc (Orca, Orcanthropus Piltdowni)

Orcs have been defined in nearly every fantasy setting in one way or another. This is the RuneQuest.orc take on orcs.

Orcs are burly, well muscled humanoids. Although somewhat squat in nature, they are roughly the same SIZ as humans with a tendency to be broader in the shoulder and chest. Their skin generally appears light yellow in colour, although a vaguely green tint is evident under sunlight. Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the green tint in the skin, and a much tanned orc may appear to be bordering on dark green in colour.

Orcs have elongated lower canines which are sometimes confused as tusks. These canines differ from orc to orc, some being barely visible while other specimens being large enough to support the tusk theory. Their ears are elongated and pointy, more like that of a dog than an elf. (Never tell an orc he has elf ears unless you are suicidal.) As with the canines, ears differ in shape and size from orc to orc. Ears are also the subject of body modification in many tribes and are oft clipped and pierced to such an extent that they no longer resemble olfactory organs at all.

The orcs of history may have at one time been a nocturnal species. The habits of the modern orc are however generally diurnal. The evidence that they were once a nocturnal species becomes evident in the darkness, where their sight is far keener than that of a human in the same circumstances. In the case of utter darkness where there is no source of light at all they are equally disadvantaged with humans.

Orcs are wily, cunning creatures. In some ways they are almost human in their mannerisms and actions, in others they are brutish, barbaric and unfathomable of motivation. They are boastful creatures who enjoy nothing more than having the last say on any matter. Beware the adventurer who gets embroiled in an orcish boasting session! (Boasting is a specific communications skill that orcs learn as a matter of course).

While orcs have quarrelsome nature and are constantly on the lookout for how they may gain from any given situation, they also possess a keen sense of self preservation. An orc who feels threatened in a situation will not hesitate to turn tail and retreat if such an opening to save his skin exists.

Orcs use a varying array of weapons. Certain tribes may prefer certain weapon types. One item which unifies all orcs is that only the females will use a bow. This is possibly why orcs think that all elves are females, because the concept of a male using a bow is very alien to them. Males of certain tribes have been known to make use of crossbows although they do face ridicule and the occasional thrashing by less broadminded orcs.

The origin of orcs is unknown. Orcs are NOT related to elves in any way! What is known is that they are mammals whose ancestors were non simian. Apart from a non common ancestor, orcs share many anatomical similarities with humans. Internal organs are in roughly the same locations although orcs tend to have larger hearts and lungs, which accounts for their greater resilience in tasks that require muscular activity.

The female has a gestation period of roughly 170 days and gives birth to a small orcling which she will initially suckle at one of two tiny teats, one of which is located below each breast. These secondary breasts are usually hidden from sight beneath the bulge of her main breasts and secrete and thin, clear substance which sustains the newborn orlcing during the first days of its life. Gradually the orcling is weaned from the small secondary breasts onto the more regular milk of the main breasts. Due to the short gestation period it is not uncommon for a mother to have two or more orclings of varying ages on the breast at the same time.

Newborn orclings are far smaller than their human counterparts and require a larger degree of care from their mother than a newborn human. Although less robust at birth, an orc grows fast and is soon more robust than a human of the same years. Once weaned (one and a half to two years old) an orcling grows fast and may reach the same height although be less bulky that an adult within nine summers. While they may look like adults physically, they are however still children and lack worldly experience. Although orcs may grow quickly, their bodies only mature sexually many summers later – in fact humans reach sexual maturity earlier than orcs do. On average an orc will be ready to start breeding after twenty summers.

The bodies of young orcs (both male and female) produce large quantities of testosterone during their adolescent stage. Adolescents compete fiercely between each other and differentiation between male and female is difficult. The females even possess an enlarged clitoral sheath that resembles a penis during this stage of development. As sexual maturity approaches the clitoral sheath shrinks and breasts develop as the female’s body replaces testosterone production with oestrogen as it readies itself to bear children.

It is during the adolescent stage of development that many young orcs are encountered. As they compete to establish themselves within society they will journey into other lands to raid and do battle with whomever they believe that can win an encounter with. This is not to say that older orcs do not do the same – the adolescents just tend to go further and take more risks in order to establish their rank.

Orcs are not great believers in magic and most have no time for it. Those who do use magic tend to tread the divine path although the occasional shaman practitioner of spirit magic may be encountered. This is not to say that orcs do not recognise and respect the gods just that they do not rely on them very much. Sorcerers are reviled and anyone found to be practicing the dark arts will be expelled population if they are lucky. The less fortunate will simply be killed.

Orcs can be divided into three main types. These types can interbreed but usually do not due to clannish ways and geographical separation.

Common orcs are the most prolific and widely spread of the three and are thus the most likely to be encountered. The common orc has a greater tendency to bear twins than the other two types. They prefer to settle in habitable lands, the same as humans which as often as not brings them into conflict for resources. Fortunately common orcs are least hostile of the three types and peaceful trade is as possible as war between them and their neighbours. Their culture is barbaric but civilised populations are encountered from time to time.

Great orcs tend to live in more hostile regions such as mountains, apparently by choice. They pride themselves in their fighting prowess and look down upon the other orc types as inferior. A tendency towards isolation means that they are rarely encountered outside of their mountain strongholds unless it is raiding season. Their hostile homelands necessitates that they breed slower than their common orc cousins. Twins are also a far rarer occurrence. The great orcs have a barbaric culture. Those who do leave their homeland and journey into the world generally end up selling their sword for a living. In an army situation, great orcs will invariably be in some sort of specialised unit as they do not co-operate well with others. Do not think that great orcs are stupid, they are as cunning as their common orc cousins.

Mottled orcs are a rarity in many regions. As their name implies, their skin is usually blotched in appearance, some blotches being natural, others scar tissue. Their culture is usually primitive or barbaric. They have a lean, wiry build and are known for their aggressiveness toward strangers. When not fighting among themselves they have been known to make the occasional raid. Mottled orcs are the most sadistic of the three types. They enjoy inflicting pain on their captives and are the least likely to flee an adverse situation. They breed as fast as their common orc cousins but have been known to abandon their infants when food becomes scarce.


Orc (common)

STR4D614Move 3
CON3D6 + 110-13Hit Points 11
SIZ2D6 + 311Fatigue 25
INT3D610-11Damage Bonus 1D4
POW 2D6 + 3 10
DEX 4D614
APP 2D67
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-34/4
L Leg5-84-64/4
R Arm13-1516-174/3
L Arm16-1818-194/3
Fist825 + 71D3 + 1D4
Gladius733 + 71D6 + 1 + 1D425 + 710
Spear (1H)725 + 71D8 + 1 + 1D425 + 78
Target35 + 712
Dagger830 + 71D4 + 2 + 1D430 + 76
Sling &#97943/930 + 71D8
Composite Bow &#97923/930 + 71D8 + 17

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 20, Swim 10, Drive 20,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 30,Knowledge +2; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 20,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Devise 20,Perception +7; track 35, Scan 20, Stealth +8 ; Sneak 40.
Armour: Mostly bezainted with a stronger helm, usually scale or plate.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Orc (Great)

STR4D6 + 316Move 3
CON3D6 + 314-16Hit Points 16
SIZ2D6 + 817Fatigue 31
INT3D610-11Damage Bonus 1D6
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-33/6
L Leg5-84-63/6
R Arm13-1516-175/5
L Arm16-1818-195/5
Head Butt835 + 71D4 + 1D6
Bastard Sword (2H)740 + 71D10 + 1 + 1D635 + 712
Naginata (2H)640 + 72D6 + 2 + 1D635 + 710
Whip330 + 71D46
Sai/Dirk725 + 71D6 + 1D625 + 710
Javelin &#97943/930 + 71D88
Long Bow &#97923/930 + 71D8 + 16

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 25, Climb 50, Jump 45,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 40,Knowledge +2; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 20,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Devise 20,Perception +7; track 35, Scan 20, Stealth 0 ; Sneak 15.
Armour: A mix of ringmail, cuirbouilli and lamellar.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Orc (Mottled)

STR3D610-12Move 3
CON3D610-13Hit Points 10
SIZ2D6 + 29Fatigue 22
INT3D610Damage Bonus –
POW 2D610
APP 2D66
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg1-41-34/4
L Leg5-84-64/4
R Arm13-1516-173/3
L Arm16-1818-193/3
Fighting Claw825 + 71D4 + 1
Kukri935 + 7 1D4 + 325 + 78
Long Spear (2H)740 + 71D10 + 135 + 710
Buckler35 + 78
Knife930 + 71D3 + 125 + 74
Bolas435 + 7 1D4
War Boomerang430 + 71D86

Skills: Agility +7; Dodge 35, Climb 30, Jump 20,Communications +7; Speak Other 15, Boast 20,Knowledge 0; (X) Lore 10, First Aid 15,Manipulate + 7; Conceal 25, Torture 30,Perception +7; Track 45, Scan 20, Stealth 0 ; Sneak 45.
Armour: A mix of bezainted, cuirbouilli and lamellar, oft with a chain coif.
Magic: Orcs respect the gods but rarely call on them. Any divine magic will be cult specific.

Giss Lizard Folk (Saurus sapius)

Common to many worlds, Lizard Men / Folk (hereafter referred to as the Giss) are the founders of a great empire on Gæa.

Giss lizard folk are large bipedal reptiles which resemble humans in certain aspects. While their countenance from tip of snout to tail is lizard, their pelvis and shoulders are similar in certain ways to those of a human and they stand erect, on their hind legs. They have a protruding jaw, which houses a mouth lined with canine teeth, much like that of a crocodile, although shorter. Eyes are set much like that of a lizard. They have a four fingered hand (three fingers and a thumb) and a five toes foot.

The Giss are considered to be poikilothermic (cold blooded), but their physiology has developed to a stage where they are able to maintain their own body temperatures for moderate lengths of time. Thus, one may be able to survive a short snow storm and the cold weather associated with it without having to hibernate, but will most certainly not outlast a protracted cold winter.

They are ovoviviparous, but not give birth to many young. A mature female may produce up to nine infants at one time, but numbers of three to five are more common. Their gestation period is one hundred and fifty days, which means that a healthy female can produce two broods per year.

Like humans, Giss differ subtly through their genetic coding. Some have yellow eyes while others eyes may be red, green or blue. Their skin may vary from a light green, through deep green, to a muddy, brown-green. Some may have a small crest on their head and/or down their back while others may possess a pair of small, blunt vestigial horns on their head.

They are highlly intelligent creatures who are skilled in many of the crafts and lore that humans know. Although generally civilised, small numbers of primitive and barbaric tribes may be encountered. They are most prolific in warm environments, such as deserts, plains and jungle and tend to clothe themselves accordingly, favouring loose togas and loincloths.

Although they are carnivorous by nature, some Giss have been known to eat fruits and vegetables in desperate times.

The Giss may be one of the first creatures i ever defined. RQ 3rd ed never defined Lizard People, although later on once i got my hands on the Glorantha Bestiary it was evident other similar concepts ad been considered, such as the Newtling and Slarg

Giss Lizard Folk

STR2D6 + 1218Move 3
CON2D6 + 1016Hit Points 15
SIZ3D6 + 215Fatigue 30
INT2D6 + 613
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg02-0502-042/5
L Leg06-0905-07 2/5
R Arm15-1616-171/4
L Arm17-1818-191/4
WeaponSRAttack%DamagePARR% PTS
Claw/Fist830 + 51D6 + 1D4
Bite1030 + 71D10 + 1D4
Bastard Sword625 + 151D10 + 1 + 1D4 25 + 1012
Trident325 + 152D6 + 3 +1D425 + 1010
Scutum1D630 + 1018
Whip130 + 5 1D415 *6

Notes: Giss lizard folk will use any number of weapons. The ones listed above are what some of them may choose to use. Due to their nature, they can bite, (where a human may head but).
* Entangle
Skills: Agility + 2, Communications + 7, Knowledge + 3, Manipulation + 8, Perception + 10, Listen + 3, Ride/Drive Chariot + 15, Evaluate + 5, First Aid + 5, Animal Law + 8, Jump + 2, Climb + 2, Devise 3.
Armour: 1 to 2 point scales in certain places and may wear any armour, preferring a plate cuirass with leather skirts and greaves.
Magic: LGiss disdain sorcery, but many use divine magic. Some of the primitive ones may use spirit magic.