Where Davou is Cirsova’s gate to the north, Daaln is the empires gate to the south.  Daaln has the distinction of being the first imperial city founded outside of the heartland under an imperial charter and not built on the site of an earlier Cirsovan or Pre-Cirsovan settlement.

Emperor Orwen Gladus was the first to recognize that Cirsova needed to look beyond the Heartlands to secure her fortunes.  It was his son and successor, Orwen Akana, fifth Emperor of Cirsova, who would see his ambitions realized.

Daaln was built far to the south of Gatia, within sight of the borders of Karkuras, and fortified during the first years of Orwen Akana’s reign, some 90 years after the founding of the Imperial City.

When Karkuras faced invasive migration from Paelnor, leading to the Second Great War of Unification fought by the Cirsovan Empire, Daaln was used as a principal base of operation for Orwen Akana’s southern legions. Today, it stands as a reminder to the military might which subdued both the horsemen of the Plains of Karkuras and the rampaging nomads of Paelnor.

While Daaln is not at a crossroads, its strategic point as the only city connected by road to the southern provinces has ensured thriving markets and trade, though it does not benefit greatly from the northern Crystal trade; the finished Crystal that arrives in Gatia usually makes its way throughout the rest of the empire by sea travel.  Karkuras, still inhabited largely by nomads, has less demand for finished crystal, and the civilized port of Corineaus may receive such shipments directly from Syflanis.  That does not mean that Polaran crystal is unheard of in Daaln; it simply finds its way into the hands of the local aristocracy, rather than making its way further south by overland routes.

Skitis, another borderwatch town, lies southeast of Daaln and is connected by Imperial road.  The main road leading southwest out of Daaln eventually reaches Doan, at the crossroads of Karkuras.

Second Great War of Unification

The Second Great War of Unification refers to the period roughly 100 years after the founding of Gatia, during the Reign of Orwen Akana, Fifth Emperor of Cirsova, during which Paelnor and Karkuras were added to the Imperial Dominion.

Late in the Reign of Orwen Akana’s father, the hostile Kingdom of Sabrio sought to expand their domains, challenging the young kingdoms that had taken seed in the future provinces of Karkuras and Paelnor. The nomadic horsemen of Karkuras, find their ranges threatened, both fought against the incurring Paelnorans, and moved their roaming grounds north, into southern Cirsova, and west, into the more settled parts of Karkuras.

Cirsova responded first by building up Daaln and Skitis to act as a ‘borderwatch’ against  the encroachment from Karkuras. Orwen Akana raised the imperial legions and marched south. The Emperor quickly realized that the problem lay further south, not with the horsemen, but with those who had attacked and threatened to displace them. The Prince of Athdaelda sent word to the Cirsovans that he was willing to commit arms against the neighboring horsemen, if the Emperor could but aid him in his defense against the expanding Kingdom of Sabrio.

Orwen Akana agreed and managed to travel quickly by the old roads from Skitis to the Orshiano valley. In Korsha, he raised a great fleet, which landed at the mouth of the Sabrio River (the eventual site of Diirdec). As he lead a force of marines up the Sabrio valley, the southern legions pushed back against the nomadic horsemen before joining with the Prince’s standing armies. The horsemen were eventually contained to the eastern plains against the Legion to the north, Athdaelda to the west, the Sabrio river (and the Emperor’s marine force) to the south, and the Dawnsea to the east. The flotilla from Korsha eventually laid waste to the entire kingdom of Sabrio, of which nothing remains today.

Almost a decade of relentless campaigning utterly destroyed Cirsova’s first true rival to primacy, secured the alliance by marriage to the most powerful surviving state (which would eventually become the Seat of the newly annexed province of Karkuras), established a new port from which the Empire could exert naval dominance of the Dawnsea, and so cowed the princes of Kieab and Xeln, that both abdicated their seats, lest they face the fate of the Kingdom of Sabrio. In time, the empire would be able to appoint autocrats to oversee the full annexation of Paelnor. The events of the Second Great War of Unification would ultimately double the size of the Cirsovan Empire by adding her first two provinces and secure Orwen Akana’s divinity in the eyes of the people, lesser only to the majestic Ga Akana.

More crazy dreams!

Last night I dreamed I was in a high school Latin class.  The first part of why this dream was crazy was that the class was full (like with 20-30 people).  The less crazy part was that the class was being taught by Derek Jacobi, who, judging by his outfit, was reprising his role as Father Cadfael for the purposes of this dream.  I showed up late on test day, and no one was there.  Cadfael told me not to worry, that most of the class was taking a different test (because they’d apparently combined multiple classes), so I’d be fine, since I was taking my test later.  This still wasn’t any real reassurance, because my Latin is awful (as reading Name of the Rose reminded me), and I felt really bad because I knew that I’d be letting Derek Jacobi/Father Cadfael down!

I actually made A’s in my Latin classes back in school, but I’ve gotten very rusty in the 12 years since.  The transition from Jr High & reading/learning from the Cabridge Latin readers to high school, plunging headlong into the old red-bound Aeneid, was too much of a radical shift for me to keep up (combined with the teacher retiring a week before school started and having no instruction other than ‘translate’) Somewhere along the way, the 4 of us broke into a box full of 1st ed copies of ‘The Student’s Catullus’, which we stole and read instead, since it was, by and large, sex and toilet jokes with a sketch of a Roman lady wearing a see-thru dress on the cover.  We also grabbed copies of a very nice hardbound complete Odes & Epodes of Horace.

But thinking back, man those Cambridge Latin readers were great!  And pretty dark.  Volume 1 followed the comic misadventures of a family in Pompeii, starting with the family cook stealing food and being drunk on the job and ending with everyone dying in the fiery hell of Vesuvius’ wrath.  One lucky slave, Clemens, I believe, escaped, where, in volume 2, he joins the cult of Isis, and the son of book 1’s protagonist ends up in Londinium and meeting with the near mythic king Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus.  I wonder how hard it would be to find any of those?  I’d love to actually brush up on my Latin a bit!

Let no one say Chris Gonnerman is not an alright dude.

Several months back, I wrote a rather scathing polemic about violence against women in RPGs, and the BFRPG module Morgansfort was the unfortunate target of my fey mood.

I won’t say that I don’t have problems with Morgansfort as I read it, because there are some personal lines that it crosses for me with how it was originally written. The original post, however, unfairly hammers Chris Gonnerman’s work when there are far more egregious offenders out there, but my frustration reached a boiling point while I happened to be reading Morgansfort.

I like BFRPG, and enjoy the several modules I’ve read, and I even enjoyed reading Morgansfort. The modules are VERY well written and super easy to pick up and run. But what happened for me was what I’d consider an “Awww, man!” moment. Finding really good gaming material out there that is free from sexist tropes seems harder than it should be, and finding it in something that I REALLY LIKED kinda made me snap. I really think that if I hadn’t had every intention of running Morgansfort at some point, I wouldn’t have said anything.

Violence against women and victimization of females is commonplace in fictive fantasy of any media because it elicits such a visceral response, and it’s an easy way to shine a glaring bright spotlight on something or someone to say “HERE BE GREAT INJUSTICE!” (Insert essay on Women in Refridgerators phenomenon here.)   And I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past, because it’s such an EASY way to show just how evil and bad someone is. When I revisited my decade old notes on from Cirsova as a 3e campaign, one of the first ‘episodes’ ends with the kidnapped women & children dead at a bandit camp, because “aww, man, those guys are seriously bad dudes!” I’m glad now, that I never ran it, because it was using victimization as a cheap plot device to elicit a reaction from players.

Anyway, Chris found my post, but rather than flip out and start an internet fight, he came over, addressed and acknowledged points while making some of his own. In no way do I think that Chris Gonnerman is a gross sexist or racist dude; at worst, he slipped into an easy and commonplace (so much so that most people won’t even realize it unless it’s pointed out) narrative trap. And I think that if I didn’t enjoy his stuff, I wouldn’t have got all butthurt about it. One point he made was that I should’ve contacted him personally with any grievance I had so he could’ve dealt with it quicker. Having been an indie publisher myself, it should’ve occurred to me that, as an indie publisher, Chris would’ve loved to hear feedback. At the time, though, I didn’t make the mental connection.

In reality, there are only a few things that would have to be done to ‘fix’ the problems that I had with Morgansfort. Drop one word that makes the Orcs seem to be itching for a fight, not have the ‘wink’ in the DMs notes regarding surrendered Orc women, and maybe give some sort option to save the poor zombie girl… I know that wouldn’t be enough for people who are hard-set against inherent sexism of the ‘damsel’ trope, but those people are way harder to please than me.

I’d like to thank Chris for his feedback, and offer the above as apologia. To everyone else, please check these things out for yourself and reach your own conclusions. I’m a B/X person, but as far a system with lots of materials that are both free and easily adaptable, BFRPG is one of the best and one of my favorites.

Have you ever ‘dreamed’ a game system?

Last night I had a dream that I got a new board game. And I actually both dreamed and remembered it with enough details that I can recall the rules. And it’s a workable game! Normally, you dream, if it’s about a game, the rules would be roll the dice, and stand on your head because you rolled a 3 1/2.  This, on the other hand, could actually be turned into something sensible and playable.

The board is comprised of six large hexagonal boards (themselves divided into hexes). Each of these hexes represent a kingdom, and can be placed anywhere around a central piece which represents an impassible mountain.

Each board had a ‘capital’ city, some outposts and some ruins. At the ruins, there were randomly placed ‘treasure’ cards that gave your hero unit that found it bonuses. (I found a magic sword that gave my hero unit +2|+1 right before my 4|5 Castle garrison got overrun. Each player is given a handful of monster tokens to place around the boards to ‘guard’ locations (they can’t move these like they could their own pieces, and may fight them themselves).

Each unit had an attack rating and a defense rating, which determined how many dice they may roll in combat. For each 5 or 6 rolled, the opposing piece was given a -1 token, which subtracted from the unit’s dice pool. When the unit no longer has defense dice to roll, it is destroyed.

The goal is to control half of the kingdoms. In the case of fewer than 6 players, “neutral” kingdoms get standard garrisons in their towns (ala Risk).

There was some sort of economy for reinforcements and additional units, but I’ll have to extrapolate that from the rest of the rules.

I don’t remember how movement is determined, but I think it was a fixed 3 hexes for heroes.