The Labors of the Forgotten

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Labors of the Forgotten


Setting

You were all born and raised in the Forgotten Vale, a quiet little town at the edge of The Empire. The village is in the center of a wooded mountain valley that has been cleared enough to provide enough farmland to feed the village and pay its annual tribute to the Empire. It is a bit of a small scale melting pot, mostly consisting of a few dozen human families, a handful of elven families, a dwarven family, and a few members of other races.

You have all been away from home for a period of time varying from a few months to a few years depending on your character, but are looking forward to arriving in time for the harvest festivals. Perhaps you were a member of the Legions, a travelling merchant, away studying magic, or something else.

The Empire

Emperor Darius Maximus VI rules over a vast empire that is reminiscent of the real world Roman Empire with the exception that it was never evolved from Monarchy to Republic to Empire. It has always been a Monarchy, even when it was a simple trading village.

The Empire was founded in The City of Three Rivers (commonly called Three Rivers) by Emperor Maximus I. Originally just a small town, it became a major trading post for the region due to the three rivers converging at its location. Due to this others began raiding it so the city was forced to adapt and build stronger defenses. Eventually this led to the formation of a permanent military that evolved into the Legions. Soon as its trading partners became targets by the same raiders that used to attack it, they called upon Three Rivers to defend them. This led to stronger relationships in which the other towns paid tribute to Three Rivers as well as given them preferential treatment when it came to deals in exchange for defending them.

Over time this would evolve into Three Rivers absorbing the towns into their fledgling Empire. As time went on, rather than simply driving off raiders, the Legions would pursue them to their homelands and conquer it, establishing it as a part of the new Empire. This process has continued for several hundred years to the present time.

Citizenship

Citizenship is conferred to all who are born of at least one citizen parent. Those not born as citizens can only attain citizenship by serving 20 years in the Legions.

  • Imperial Family - All within the top 25 of the Order of Imperial Succession are considered to be within this class. Life Expectancy: 80
  • Nobility - All other nobles fall within this class. Life Expectancy: 80
  • Citizen - Citizens with full rights including the right to vote on various items. Life Expectancy: 75
  • Freemen - Non-slaves. Life Expectancy: 65
  • Slaves - See below. Life Expectancy: 55 (diverges if freed)

Legions

The Legion is formed of Freemen and above. Nobility are never given less than an officer's position due to their "better" birth. Through service one automatically becomes a citizen after 20 years of service. Citizens that join and excel frequently end up being appointed to nobility or end up marrying into noble families through the connections and popularity that can be gained over the course of a career.

Members typically enlist at the age of 14 into the Legions, spending 2 full years training and building the necessary body strength (See Legionnaire "class" below). After training they are assigned a unit, rarely being transferred between units, serving in a single legion for life more often than not.

A surprisingly high percentage of 80% of all Legionnaires survive to see their retirement after 20 years of service. This is due to a large number of factors including better health care, cleaner living environments, and superior battle tactics and equipment on the field of battle. Upon retirement they are all granted their citizenship, an acre of land, and 500 gold to start their farm and (presumably) family.

Slavery

Author's Preface: This section is necessary and does NOT in any way shape or form endorse slavery in any context in the real world.

Slavery is commonplace within the Empire, though it is more like late Roman slavery than deep south slavery. Slaves have rights that have evolved over time due to slave revolts that have taken place.

  • Right to Comfortable Housing (includes heat)
  • Right to Food & Water
  • Right to Clothing
  • Right to Personal Property, including money.
  • Right to file grievances in court against their masters.
  • Protection from cruel and unusual punishments.
  • Right to purchase freedom at a reasonable profit to the master (can include work that has been done). A cap is generally set at a maximum of triple the purchasing price.
  • Children of slaves are not automatically considered to be slaves. They are "freedmen", but not citizens.
  • A form of retirement for elderly slaves that can no longer fend for themselves, to prevent elderly slaves and those crippled while a slave from being "freed" and dumped on the streets to fend for themselves.

Slaves in the Empire are typically taken by way of conquest, though selling oneself into slavery to pay off debts is not uncommon. It is also common for criminals to be sold into slavery.

Dwarven City-States

The known Dwarven "nations" are in fact what would be known in modern vernacular as City-States. None of them are unified though there are alliances (and wars) between the 15 known dwarven cities.

Zardu

The great-halls of Zardu are ruled by Queen Hasslefrau II. Hasslefrau is the only known Queen Regnant of a dwarven city.

At the time that Zardu met the Empire, they were considered the poorest of the dwarves. Once upon a time this city-state was considered the poorest of all of the dwarven cities and it was looked upon with disgust by the other cities. They had an excellent iron mine, but little else to go with it including a lack of renowned smiths to work the iron. That all changed when the great King Hasslehoff I went into exile seeking out new trading partners that would better respect his city and provide economic opportunities that otherwise would not be available to his people. He vowed only to return upon finding such a partner.

He first encountered the Empire nearly 900 years ago and immediately saw the potential of the humans. The Empire at that time consisted of 7 cities and was only considered to be a regional power. He met with several military leaders, showing off his armor and battleaxe. At first the Empire only showed interest in his armor but wasn't open to a permanent relationship based solely upon armor. This led to Hasslehoff forging a sword in the same style as the existing Legion swords of the time. The steel that he forged was vastly superior to the bronze swords that were in use and left the commanders in awe.

Hasslehoff left the Empire with an order for 10,000 swords, shields, and armor. He returned home triumphant for his people had gathered massive amounts of iron during his 8 year exile. The order was fulfilled within a year and the fortunes of his city had seemingly turned. 15 years later Zardu had become immensely wealthy to the point that the other dwarven cities got jealous and were convinced that they could provide better equipment to the Empire. They were right in that they could provide better quality but they could not produce on the mass scale needed by the growing Empire which led to the other cities providing equipment for the officer classes within the Empire.

Zardu was not content just producing for the common soldier, despite it being much more profitable, and sought ways to return to being a virtual monopoly trading with the Empire. They went so far as to lure House Zardu from another city to migrate into the city that now bear's the house's name. House Zardu was widely respected as one of, if not THE, best smiths known for the legendary quality of their goods. Stealing them for their city would be considered the ultimate message to the other cities that looked down upon them. This migration and name change were accomplished by a joke during negotiations. In the negotiations the city pledged to fund the construction of the new household complex for the Zardu family, provide a massive lump sum payment, and the king jokingly said he'd even rename the city after them if they moved. The Zardu agreed a second later with the king not realizing that they took the joke seriously. A few short years later the family threatened to leave the city, prompting the king to officially change the name of the city. The old name has been lost to the ages.

About 600 years ago a coalition of 8 other cities aligned themselves against the Zardu fearing their quickly changing fortunes, and active recruitment of houses to migrate to the city. They launched a war on Zardu, but the Zardu managed to get a messenger to the Empire calling for their aid in exchange for requipping all current Legionnaires with a newly designed sword that would become the standard Imperial Sword to this day, the Gladius. The Empire jumped at the chance to, if nothing else, double their number of weapons in exchange for battling a dwarven army on the surface. Three Legions were dispatched to handle the warring city-states. Though better equipped, the dwarves were not accustomed to surface warfare and were routed by the Legions. The Legions split up and followed three of the dwarven cities home and laid seige to the cities for two years. During this time Zardu and the Empire negotiated a mutual defense pact that has persisted to this day.

Today the city is immensely wealthy and shows off its wealthy in every corner of their great halls. They are considered the pinnacle of dwarven civilization.

Religion

There are two main religions in the world, with the Triumph being recently declared the official state religion of The Empire.

Triumph

The Triumph is a recent religion based on a triumvirate of gods.

  • Balsa - Is the beautiful mother of the world, mother-nature in the true sense in the triumvirate. She is responsible for all beauty, fertility, nature (except destructive storms). Trivia: I was struggling with a name and saw a bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette.
  • Vlad - Sometimes called the Impaler, he is a warrior deity portrayed as wielding a spear as his preferred weapon. The Empire being warlike venerates him more than the others.
  • Zombor, sometimes referred to as the Man-Eater, he is a devil like figure that it is said will devour the world and destroy everyone should the mortals misbehave themselves too often. Uses a pitchfork as a weapon.

Paganism

The paganistic religion has a great many gods and variants of gods in different cultures. The closest real-world equivalents are the old Roman and Norse Pantheons. Similar enough to make arguments that they are the same even though there are some significant differences between the two. The Roman variant is more common than the Norse, but then again you are on the frontiers where the Norse tends to be more common outside the Empire.

Super-Tech

In terms of gameplay the following are some super-tech that are being used.

  • Steel is fairly widespread (GURPS TL3+), but only dwarves understand it and know how to forge it. Humans don't know the process and work plain iron.
  • Exclusive to retired Legionnaires
    • Boots (TL2), you read this right.
    • Legionnary Helmet (TL2)
    • Roman Scutum (TL2)
    • Lorica Segmentata (TL2)

Character Creation

  • Points: 100 (might increase)
  • Equipment: $1000, can bank whatever is left.
    • Talk to me if you intend to play a now retired Legionnaire as there is more to be had if you can't guess from the Legion section above.
    • Required:
      • Personal Basics
      • The weapon you are capable of using
      • Somebody needs group basics
  • Source Books:
    • Basic Set
    • Low Tech
    • Fantasy
    • Marttial Arts
    • NOTE: Your starting culture is very European, I will disallow anything that doesn't fit that setting at least at the start of the game.
  • TL: 1
    • There will be some TL2 and possibly 3 items showing up in the campaign as super-tech. You may not buy a higher TL at this point in the game.
  • Realm Magic? No.
  • Magic? Build advantages and I'll more than likely approve of them. For instance make an equivalent of burning hands and I'll allow it.
  • Skill Requirements for All:
    • 1 or more weapon skills at an effective 12+ (not including bonuses from items)
  • Skill Requirements for Group:
    • Survival of one or more category at 10+. Your home is wooded, surrounded by mountains.
    • Reading, somebody has to be capable of reading.
  • Roles Recommended:
    • Meat Shield
    • Ranged Striker (magic or weapon)
    • Somebody with some basic healing skills or powers. This could be skill like first aid and alchemy for brewing potions, or powers, whatever.
  • Talents: May have 1 talent, no combat skills in talents.
    • EXCEPTION TO COMBAT TALENTS: Legionnaires can take combat skills in talents if, and only if, the talent consists solely of skills from their chosen Legionnaire "class".

Classes

You are not required to take a class, its just a form of template to give you ideas on what certain classifications of people were like in the Empire.

NOTE: All skills listed must be 12 unless otherwise indicated.

Centurion

Pick another Legionnaire type and add the following:

  • Skills: Leadership, Tactics

Upon retirement Centurions were usually set for life through wealth and/or political connections that they had accumulated throughout their career. This was a path to diplomatic, managerial, and even nobility in some cases.

Legion Specialist

NOT a Legionnaire, but still a member of the Legions but in a specialist type role typically immune from combat duty.

  • ST 11+
  • HT 11+
  • IQ 12+
  • Skills: First Aid, Housekeeping (10), Soldier
  • 4 of more of the following skills are 12+: Alchemy, Armoury (Body Armor, Melee Weapons, or Missile Weapons), Carpentry, Leatherworking, Smith (Iron), Professional Skill (Distiller or Tanner), Pharmacy (Herbal), Physician (Human-like), Surgery (Human-like), Veterinary

Upon retirement the specialists typically returned home to become merchants of one sort or another.

Legionnaire, Archer

  • ST 12+
  • DX 12+
  • HT 12+
  • Skills: Shortbow (or long range magic attack equivalent), Fast-Draw (Arrow), First Aid (10), Housekeeping (10), Shortsword, Soldier

Legionnaire's that failed to achieve higher ranks during their careers typically retired as farmers on their land grants.

Legionnaire, Cavalry

The spear is typically used in the same manner as a lance.

  • ST 12+
  • DX 11+
  • HT 12+
  • Skills, Shortsword, Shield, First Aid (10), Housekeeping (10), Soldier, Spear, Throwing Weapon (Spear), Riding (Equine)

Legionnaire's that failed to achieve higher ranks during their careers typically retired as farmers on their land grants.

Legionnaire, Infantry

  • ST 12+
  • DX 11+
  • HT 12+
  • Skills: Shortsword, Shield, First Aid (10), Housekeeping (10), Soldier, Throwing (Javelin)

Legionnaire's that failed to achieve higher ranks during their careers typically retired as farmers on their land grants.

Legionnaire, Scout/Gatherer

Typically not used in a combat role, but rather for scouting and resource gathering

  • ST 12+
  • DX 12+
  • HT 12+
  • Skills: Shortbow, First Aid, Housekeeping (10), Soldier, Navigation (Land), Cartography (10), Climbing (10), Herbalism (10), Observation, Stealth, Swimming, Tracking

Scouts rarely, if ever achieved the rank of Centurion due to rarely being in combat situations that would prove combat leadership skills. Upon retirement, they like those that failed to become more than a Legionnaire, typically became farmers on their land grants.

Races

Taking suggestions here for races and features of races listed, don't outright steal from D&D please.

Human

I don't need to explain this...

Elf

Pointy eared bastards. Better than normal hearing and eyesight. They make their homes in the forests of the world. About 75 years ago the Empire conquered a major elven nation, enslaving its people. Over that time many have earned their freedom and even citizenship. The overwhelming majority of elves living within the borders of the Empire are quite happy to be living under the protection of the empire, though the older generation disapproves of the younger generations becoming "Imperialized".

  • DX 11
  • Acute Hearing [2]
  • Acute Vision [2]
  • Genetically compatible with humans.

Dwarf

Shorter, but not enough for SM -1, kickass beards (men & women). Very few dwarves are citizens or even slaves within the Empire. Their lands are within the mountains, where the legions have not been very effective. The Dwarves for their part have always maintained a very cordial relationship with the Empire due to its need for weapons and armor to equip the Legions. This makes them a major trading partner and has led to a strong mutual respect. There is even a common defense pact between several dwarven cities and the Legions further cementing a bond. Many speculate that at some point the dwarves may apply to join the Empire as full citizens in a process similar to how the neighboring towns once did when the Empire officially grew out of Three Rivers.

There are dwarves living in the Empire, mostly working as craftsmen and traders.

  • HT 11
  • All talents (if any) must include at least one crafting skill
  • Capable of reproduction with humans and elves, but the offspring are hybrids in the true sense in that they are sterile and incapable of reproduction.
  • Unlike other fantasy settings, the dwarves prefer picks as their weapons instead of battle axes. Battleaxes make zero sense in caves.

Skills

Alchemy

I will not require Magery and mana for this in this game.

  • Greek Fire
  • Healing Potions
  • Fatigue Potions (Harder)

Magic

Magic exists and is fairly widely utilized throughout the world. It isn't as powerful as in other fantasy settings (GURPS Advantage based powers). Many of these are as simple as basic known advantages flavored as magic.

Known magical powers, by no means exhaustive:

  • Alternate Form
  • Burning Attack
  • Chameleon
  • Corrosion Attack
  • Detect
  • Duplication
  • Mind Reading (considered black magic and is forbidden but known to exist)
  • Regeneration (NOT measured per second)
  • Regrowth
  • Telecommunication (Telesend)