Go Forth and Conquer (Inactive)

Game Master Arythain

The Dragon has sent a picked group to unite the lands of the Gelkrosh region under her own banner.

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Hello all, welcome to the second phase of recruitment for the kingdom-building campaign Go Forth and Conquer set in my homebrewed setting of Eldreon. I've re-copied the info spoilers into this post, but for additional info you might want to read through the Captain recruitment thread (especially my replies) here: Captain Recruitment Thread. You can also ask any further questions here.

We will be selecting 3 or 4 additional party members.

Campaign Info:


A generation ago, the Gelkrosh region - in the midst of an economic and population boom - was struck by disaster: prehistorical monsters dubbed mantids were unearthed from an ancient slumber beneath the vast coal and tarpits of the central badlands and spread rapidly, driving people away from a vast swath of the area and cutting off travel and trade for even more. But this was before the lands of the Dragon bordered Gelkrosh. She has had her alchemists devise a antidote for the most powerful weapon of the mantids - their paralytic poison. With this, she believes she can begin to make inroads to taking the region and its mines and farms for her own.

But how to do it? She is already at war with the giants to the north, and has no interest opening another front in the combat. She wishes to take the region more subtly. Picking a small number of her loyal followers, she directs them to subdue the region as much as possible before revealing her involvement.

There are many paths they can take to victory, by stealth, intrigue, and assassination, by the steady grind of clever economics, by sheer bold brutality, or by these and others mixed in a deft combination. All possible, and legitimate, paths to domination. But there will be worthy and clever opponents at every turn, and should they fail in their charge they'll have no refuge back in the Dragon's lands...

This campaign will begin with 3-5 players (one being the acknowledged leader, appointed by the Dragon herself) along with a company of around a dozen 'soldiers' (a motley crew of brutes, fit for fighting but not much else) being dispatched to the region known as Gelkrosh. They will decide on how and where to enter the region, how they'll go about building up a power base, how to deal with the other factions and threats, and how they'll rule the lands they control. It is entirely possible that they'll get in over their heads and end up assassinated, defeated in open battle, or simply deposed by an unruly populace.

Furthermore, after the players have established the "kingdom" aspect of the game, they'll be able to roll up secondary characters. These characters will be controlled as NPCs (but be available to inhabit kingdom roles that need filling, if desired) unless and until their corresponding player's primary character dies (a very real possibility), in which case they'll take over the secondary character.

In General, How I Run My Games:

I like high roleplay focus, low loot-focus games. I've created Eldreon to be a world where magic is rampant but magic items are rare. You won't be getting wealth-by-level, and even powerful characters might not have much in the form of permanent magical gear.

On Alignments: You can be any alignment. Generally speaking, I treat the alignment of any mortal character as "light." They have some leanings in that direction, but obviously are not embodiments of the alignment. The exceptions being divine spellcasters, other extremely religious people, and characters who single-mindedly fulfill their alignments tenets (mass-murdering psychos or feed-the-hungry philanthropists, to pick extreme examples). This extends to the use of Detect Evil/Good/etc spells: most regular people won't show up as anything in particular.

Also just a heads up, the economy is silver-based instead of gold based. Mostly that just means we transpose "gold pieces" to "silver pieces" and leave gold for much larger sums of wealth.

What I Want From You!:

I don't want full-on character builds! I select players based on their ability to dream up and role-play a personality first and foremost. What I want to see are character concepts. Use the details about the Dragon's Realm below, sketch in a few details of your own, and run with it. You will be playing a character hand-selected by the Dragon (or at least, her top lackeys) to subjugate a region and add it to her lands. What skillsets do you have that aid that goal?

You SHOULD include at least one tidbit of history - what you have done to bring your name to the Dragon's attention. Have you worked for her directly up until now? Were you merely a notable resident somewhere in her realm? The scion of another loyal servant? Whatever. Give me some of that history.

You can include thoughts on crunch if you like, but the fluff/background is what I'm really interested in. Once characters are selected, we'll do character builds and such in the discussion thread before beginning the campaign.

As far as race/class choices go:
Race - this region of the world is highly diverse. With all sorts of races living alongside each other (though not always peacefully).

Human - common, many human cultures both sedentary and nomadic live in the area.
Hobgoblin - just as common and varied as humans (fun fact, hobgoblins in Eldreon have no native concept of gender and reproduce asexually).
Halfling - The halflings in this part of the world tend to be more rough-and-tumble than elsewhere.
Goblin - Goblins tend to be short-sighted and prone to violence, but their communities are still tolerated in some places due to their surprising industriousness and their willingness to do dirty, dangerous jobs.
Ogre - Ogres tend to be quite dumb and violent, but they're also incredibly strong. Found frequently as bodyguards and laborers when their employers have the talents and means to keep them under control.
Elf (and half-elf) - Elves are generally disliked by the other races of the region (and vice versa) due to myriad old grudges as well as the tendency for elven communities of this part of the world to "cause trouble" (freeing slaves and such). However, some elves have managed to carve a place for themselves (often by matching the violence and savagery of their neighbors). Half-elves are more common, but also frequently the subject of bigotry.
Orc (and half-orc) - Several orc tribes exist in the area and are often found in martial trades.
Kobold - Kobolds tend to stick to themselves and don't often interact with other races, but in a kingdom ruled by a Dragon several of them have risen to prominence.
Dwarf - Dwarves found in the region are usually outcasts from their holds, or the descendants of outcasts.
Gnolls - Gnolls are uncommon in this part of the world, but not unknown.
And finally, a homebrewed race called the Drecna which you can read about here. They're uncommon here as well, but are famed travelers.

Classes: You don't actually have to decide on one now, but I'm open to considering any class except barbarian, monk, and alchemist, and psionic-types. (Barbarian and monk 'flavors' can be worked into other classes if desired). I tend to favor people who work within the basic classes (fighter, ranger, wizard, etc) and their archetypes.


This campaign sticks to the region of Gelkrosh, and the players don't need to know much about the world-at large. If you would like to read a bit just to see if I'm a terrible or passable world-builder, I threw some stuff up on a blog awhile back (including some things about religion, which might be useful). The Blog Is Here.

Information you'll actually want to know is in the spoiler marked "The Gelkrosh Region" or in the attached documents.

The Gelkrosh Region:

In this folder you'll find a map and a document with some initial information on the various notable settlements.

Gelkrosh is a hinterlands region bordering The Dragon's controlled lands and a couple other regional powers, one of which (a nation ruled by giants) the Dragon is engaged in a border war with. She believes the time has come to claim it, but she wants to start things off quietly by building up a base of support so that she doesn't anger the other nations before her control of Gelkrosh is already a done deal. That is where the players come in.

General History:

In the distant past, the region was very sparsely populated, with mostly nomadic populations of humans, halflings, and hobgoblins living and warring over the grazing regions. More recently burgeoning populations to both the east and west drove settlers into the area, mostly displacing or assimilating the original tribes. Once the river floodplains were found to be incredibly fertile, the increased food production began a population and expansion boom in the area. Discovery of the tar pits and coal seams in the eastern badlands region only accelerated this. However, disaster struck early into the process - coal mining opened up a cavern which held some dormant monstrosity from earlier times, enormous venomous insectoids that were dubbed Mantids. Awakened, they erupted from their cave, slaughtering most of the nearby mining town overnight and spreading rapidly. Over the coming months they caused nearly the entirety of the badlands regions populace to flee or die, and even threatened the farming towns to the north. Furthermore, they made travel so dangerous that it choked off most of the region's trade.

Almost 25 years later, the region has reached a sort of stability. The central portion is still mostly deserted, and dominated by the mantids. Gelkrosh still provides food to the rest of the area, but must transport it along a threatened route in heavily guarded caravans. Hafton has survived on its own surrounding lands and trade from unthreatened routes to the north and west. Swampside has remaining largely cut off from the rest of the region except for a small trade in magical and alchemical goods, small enough to be carried by more highly-mobile merchants who skirt the mantid's territory or pass through it by unknown means.

And finally:

Mercy's Pledge:

As a GM, I may beat, burn, rob, abuse, and kill your characters – but I will never abandon them. I have been in several dropped games on these forums, and so here is my pledge to you as players: I will never, ever abandon a game if even one player wants to continue. We will find other players or make it a solo adventure. Due to real-life reasons, games may be delayed and they may slow down – but so long as I have players, my players have a game.


I'm kicking around some ideas in my head, leaning towards a kobold. Is there a tribe of kobolds that serves the Dragon (does said Dragon have a name, or does she simply go by titles?) directly, or is it more that kobolds in her territory tend to give her tribute/volunteer to serve her?

There are both kobolds which serve the dragon directly, as well as kobolds who simply live in her domain. Naturally, the tribes who hold her in adulation tend to be the largest and wealthiest.

She does have a name, but because I've never been able to decide exactly what that name is I've decided that to the many 'lesser' beings in her realm, she is known as simply The Dragon. Her progeny, of which a few act as agents for her, are known by their own names.

I'm thinking of going with a tracker/monster hunter. An elf more focused on satisfying her curiosity about how things work rather then chilling around in the elf home for decades.

How tough are the mantids?

I recon having a dead one or two might improve ones CV. Or it could be one of those fun things to work towards.

Roughly what level range are we starting at? I don't want to write an extensive backstory with lots of accomplishments only to find out my character is supposed to only be level one. XD

Party members will begin at level 5, the equivalent of fairly seasoned veterans in their chosen class. Their leader, Surtur, begins one level higher.

I know I included that info somewhere, but obviously not prominently enough as I can't even find it myself.

@Lessah: Killing mantids is definitely work for the skilled and daring, given that even the smallest of them delivers a paralytic venom that can reduce even a strong warrior to a helpless sack of meat. There are known to be a couple larger, stronger castes of the insectoids, as well. Furthermore, they exist in fairly large numbers. (Suffice to say that dealing with the mantid problem is very much part of the initial campaign difficulty).

For the time being, going to be throwing myself in the ring with my previous submission. I will probably need to work with Arty to modify the backstory, such that Wolfgang is chosen by Surtur rather than by the Dragon herself.

For convenience, here's what I had previously submitted:

  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5'9" (175cm)
  • Weight: 179lbs (81kg)
  • Skin Tone¹: Jasper Orange (#de8f4e)
  • Iris Color¹: Olive (#808000)
  • Hair Color¹: Bistre Brown (#967117)
  • Hair Length¹: 4"
  • Hair Style¹: Wavy. Combed back.
  • Facial Hair Color¹: Bronze (#cd7f32)
  • Facial Hair Length¹: Clean-to-less than 3/20" (4mm)
  • Facial Features¹: Square jaw. Hooded eyes. Strong nose. Leathery skin.
  • Physique: Toned in a way that emphasizes practicality, not aesthetics.
¹I'll be looking at Paizo avatars if selected, and may change these to reflect what I choose.

  • Might makes right.
  • People lack intrinsic rights; they have the right to only what they can protect.
  • A person's life has a quantifiable value.
  • Will harm or kill others when doing so is more convenient than not.
  • Will steal or vandalize when doing so is more convenient than not.
  • Will lie, cheat, or manipulate when doing so is more convenient than not.
  • Revels in being strong, but not necessarily in inflicting harm.
  • Is not capricious; consistency through risk-reward evaluations.

(Dorf Fort)

  • Does not respect the law.
  • Values loyalty.
  • Sees power over others as something to strive for.
  • Finds blind honesty foolish.
  • Greatly respects the shrewd and guileful.
  • Values eloquence.
  • Sees life as unfair and doesn't mind it that way.
  • Values decorum, dignity, and proper behavior.
  • Finds artwork boring.
  • Values cooperation.
  • Treasures independence.
  • Finds those that deny their impulses somewhat stiff.
  • Prefers a noisy, bustling life to boring days without activity.
  • Truly values merrymaking and parties.
  • Has a great deal of respect for worthy craftsmanship.
  • Believes that martial prowess defines the good character of an individual.
  • Really respects those that take the time to master a skill.
  • Values hard work.
  • Sees sacrifice (for others) as wasteful and foolish.
  • Views competition as a crucial driving force in the world.
  • Greatly respects individuals that persevere through their trials and labors.
  • Sees war as a useful means to an end.
  • Values knowledge.

  • Generally outgoing; puts on a show for others.
  • Tends to trivialize acts of cruelty in casual conversation, rather than making ominous threats or the like.
  • Open-minded; willing to hear others out and try new things.
  • Tries to plan ahead, but capable of improvising as necessary.
  • Hates when people ask for what they're not entitled; loathes when people snivel or beg.

(Dorf Fort)

  • Does not easily fall in love and rarely develops positive sentiments.
  • Does not easily hate or develop negative sentiments.
  • Often feels envious of others.
  • Is often cheerful.
  • Almost never feels discouraged.
  • Has a calm demeanor.
  • Often feels lustful.
  • Can handle stress.
  • Is very greedy.
  • Occasionally overindulges.
  • Would never pass up a chance for a good fistfight.
  • Doesn't mind a little tumult and discord in day-to-day living.
  • Is a friendly individual.
  • Could be considered rude.
  • Is generally quite confident of his abilities when undertaking specific ventures.
  • Is please by his own appearance and talents.
  • Is very ambitious, always looking for a way to better his station.
  • Takes offered help and gifts without feeling particularly grateful.
  • Doesn't mind wearing something special now and again.
  • Finds the humor in most situations.
  • Doesn't tend to hold on to grievances.
  • Is sometimes cruel.
  • Tends to share his own experiences and thoughts with others.
  • Doesn't cling tightly to ideas and is open to changing his mind.
  • Is quite comfortable with others that have a different appearance or culture.
  • Does not generally respond to emotional appeals.
  • Does not go out of his way to help others.
  • Finds obligations confining.
  • Sees others as selfish and conniving.
  • Enjoys being in crowds.
  • Has an overbearing personality.
  • Likes a fast-paced life.
  • Seeks out exciting and adventurous situations.
  • Has an active imagination.
  • Does not have a great aesthetic sensitivity.

Attached Worldbuilding
  • equitorial archipelago east of Golm, Volligluck²
  • Volligluck initially colonized by dissidents from Inzeldrab; semi-autonomous due to distance
  • minor port city on equitorial peninsula, Arglos²
  • maritime trade opens up between Golapor and Inzeldrab, results in Arglos becoming major trade hub
  • Volligluck too far south for Inzeldrab to reasonably govern; insurrection
  • pirates begin praying upon naval trade between Golapor and Arglos
  • pirates support Volligluck insurrection in exchange for commission and safe harbor
²names subject to GM approval or alteration

Backstory Outline³

  • Wolfgang is born on Volligluck to a prostitute, father is absent and unknown
  • mother cannot support him, proprietor has no work for him, but does not put him out
  • at 14, Wolfgang is leased to privateers to pay the debt he has incurred being housed and fed by his mother's proprietor thus far
  • serves on the Red Fox as cabin boy
  • at 17, Wolfgang wins his freedom from the captain of the Red Fox through gambling; Wolfgang cheated
  • the captain refuses to honor the bargain regardless, and Wolfgang slits his throat in the night
  • the new captain, on a whim, grants Wolfgang his freedom, provided Wolfgang stay on as a privateer
  • Wolfgang agrees, and is nicknamed the Blood Wolf by the captain
  • at 23, the Red Fox is led into a trap by fellow privateer, and captured by the Inzeldrab navy
  • much of the crew is executed by hanging for piracy, but Wolfgang is spared
  • as a man with little prestige and no loyalty to the pirates, he could be useful
  • the Dragon knows that Wolfgang will act on her behalf, if that is in his own best interest
  • she demonstrates her power for Wolfgang, demonstrates the price of failure, the absence of possible escape
  • Wolfgang has no intrinsic loyalty to Inzeldrab, but he is loyal to himself, and serving Inzeldrab keeps him alive
³obvious alterations need to be made, particularly to the end, since I'm no longer applying to be leader

And here's some new stuff for our GM:

Thoughts on the Build:
No longer being the leader, I may deviate from Swashbuckler to something that emphasizes INT over CHA, probably Fighter multiclassing into Duelist. The general feel of the character should remain the same - I still intend to play a light swordsman emphasizing precision and tactics over raw strength - but where I was previously looking at being off-damage and party face, I'll now be looking at being off-damage and skill monkey.

Wolfgang is a moral nihilist, believing that the very notion of morality, of inherent right or wrong, is ridiculous, that the concepts of "good" and "evil" are just arbitrary constructs pushed onto people by those stronger than them. In place of morality, he subscribes to a sort of social darwinism, believing that the strong will naturally supplant the weak - a sort of "might makes right" mentality - and so seeks to be strong. Mind that "strong" here is not necessarily a reference to physical prowess, but also to mental wit; to be strong is to be capable of exerting your will upon others, through whatever means available. Just as he does not believe in inherent right or wrong, neither does he believe that bravery is always superior to cowardice, or otherwise draw arbitrary lines in the sand that dictate behavior. He does, however, acknowledge lines in the sand that others have drawn, insofar as his crossing those lines will have a demonstrable affect on how other people treat him: he's not going to overtly use underhanded tactics if doing so will alienate an otherwise important ally, for example. He's still subject to social pressures; he just views them cynically as things he needs to do to maintain social relationships, rather than as ironclad guidelines, and so he will cross those lines when doing so is more beneficial than maintaining the relationship that doing so might break.

On the Good vs Evil spectrum, Wolfgang assigns no inherent sanctity to sapient life. He believes that there is a value to life, but treats it as something that can be measured like any other resource, rather than something that is intrinsically invaluable. This means that Wolfgang has no qualms about killing, any more than he would have qualms about theft or vandalism, because that's all killing really is to him: an advanced form of destruction of property. Right away, this precludes him from being Good-aligned, in my eyes. Likewise, he does not believe that anyone has any inherent rights. If you are not strong enough to protect your own life, then you do not deserve that life. The point is that if someone can kill you, they have earned the right to kill you. Likewise, if you are not strong enough to protect your property, you do not deserve that property. If someone can steal from you, they have earned the right to steal from you. To Wolfgang, there is no should or should not - no right or wrong - only can and cannot. That said, Wolfgang is not a sadist; he takes no pleasure in causing harm in others. He steals when it is convenient, and he kills when it is convenient, but he does not revel in the act of stealing or killing itself, only in his capability to do so when necessary. Whether this is Evil or Neutral I think depends very largely on where you draw those lines, whether Evil is defined as simple a lack of moral compunction, or as deriving explicit pleasure from harming others. I generally define it as the former, but many people seem to define it as the latter.

On the Law vs Chaos spectrum, Wolfgang believes that laws are just arbitrary rules put in place by individuals or organizations strong enough to do so. He will follow a law only if he believes that the individual or organization that created that law is strong enough to either prevent him from breaking it, or to discover that he broke it and ensure he pays the penalty. He might also break a law if he believes doing so and paying the penalty is more convenient than not doing so. The point is, he does not hold the law as intrinsically sacred in any way. Laws are just particularly powerful entities imposing that strength on others, and if they are strong enough to impose them on him, then they will. He has nothing in particular against the order created by civilization - it can certainly be convenient at times - but he views it as the weak falling into line, rather than something he himself must work to uphold. This immediately precludes Wolfgang from being Lawful. However, Wolfgang isn't really actively fighting against order; he just doesn't pursue order for its own sake. And his actions certainly aren't capricious. Doing anything just for the sake of it, he believes, is a waste of time and effort. He is ultimately pragmatic. Indeed, he finds the excessive application of otherwise unnecessary cruelty to be rather distasteful. I generally would describe this as Neutral, but the lines in the Law vs Chaos spectrum are a lot more erratic from person to person, because Law vs Chaos isn't as clearly defined, being a sort of catch-all for what could be three or four separate, unrelated spectra.

Thus, I need to know where you draw those lines. I know you said that a lot of the mechanical impact of alignment is going to be house ruled out except for extreme examples, and I definitely appreciate that, but I can see interpretations of what I've just described viewing it as extreme in nature, so I want to have a clear understanding of how you feel about this description, so we're on the same page.

Regarding Submissions:
In my time playing D&D, my general approach has been to create a character, and then continue attempting to play that character until I get to run them through a campaign that reaches a satisfying conclusion, only creating new characters when an existing concept doesn't suit a campaign. I've had absolutely terrible luck finding campaigns, having participated in only two in the decade I've been playing D&D.

As a result, I have a number of character concepts in various stages of depth that I am interested in running. Several of them have higher priority over Wolfgang, but I previously passed over because they weren't suitable for leadership. In this case, the absence of leadership as a prerequisite opens up two additional character concepts that I'd consider running.

Some GMs have a one-submission-per-potential-player rule, so I wanted to ask before mocking up additional submissions: would you be amenable to multiple character submissions? If not, I'll probably cease working on Wolfgang (unless you really like the concept) and shift my submission to one of the other concepts, because Wolfgang is still fairly nebulous in my mind and that will make it a lot more difficult for me to roleplay him in a consistent manner.

And for our glorious leader, Artemis P:

Regarding Backstory:
If you wouldn't mind glancing at the backstory outline I've provided, I'd love to hear recommendations for how to alter it to better reflect Wolfgang as a subordinate. The core character (as described in Philosophy/Personality) is mostly set in stone, but I have very little attachment to the backstory at this stage. Having been a pirate at some point is really the only element that I would strongly desire to retain.

Based on what your backstory provides, and what Surtur would likely know about him (Privateer from Volligluck, no loyalty to the pirates such that life is spared, possibly that he slit the throat of former captain, if someone mentioned it to the Dragon) he seems like a good 'subordinate' in our cast of characters. Our glorious GM Mercy has final say on everything, but I don't see Surtur wanting to work with a bunch of "Yes, sir!" saluting types (one or two? Not a problem. But he would value independent thought). That being said, anyone Surtur can't out- manipulate, bully/blackmail, or trust to not betray him is a liability, in Surtur's eyes. Based on the bio he'd be provided, Surtur would probably look at you as a lackey, initially, but I'd just be careful that Wolfgang doesn't get so ambitious that Surtur feels like he can't trust him/channel Wolfgang's ambition into positive force for the Dragon. Was there anything in the backstory about why Wolfgang might want to serve the Dragon, beyond "she is strong, and I can reap the benefits?" Certainly, that's something Surtur could work with, but he'd probably be more inclined to work with someone with more of a motivation than profit. If you want my recommendation, I'd add some motivation for Wolfgang to be working with the Dragon beyond profit. Just me. Otherwise, I like it!

It's difficult to write in motivation for Wolfgang that isn't intrinsically self-motivated because he's fundamentally a purely self-motivated individual. He doesn't hold any external concepts like honor, contracts/promises, compensation/debt, etc as being sacred. He abides by them when doing so is more convenient than not. I do want to emphasize that he takes a much longer view of things; when I talk about convenience, I'm not meaning to convey that he is impulsive or short-sighted, but merely that his actions are entirely intentionally self-motivated.

That said, I'm not too concerned with this lack of grander motivation. In order for Wolfgang to betray the Dragon, what he stands to gain must be greater than what he stands to lose, and what he stands to lose is everything. Not only would he would need the patronage of an entity strong enough and willing to protect him from reprisal should he defect as a baseline, but he'd also need to gain something to make up for the increased anxiety and disruption defection would cause. Betrayal isn't nearly as convenient as some would believe. Unless you can assure that the party you intend to betray, and anyone with misplaced loyalty toward them, is going to be dead afterwards, there is a ton of inherent risk.

All that said, I suppose a lot of this doesn't necessarily apply to his relationship with Surtur. Surtur is likely to be much closer in strength, and it's possible to undermine Surtur without losing the approval of the Dragon, perhaps to replace him as leader. Wolfgang is very much a carrot and stick guy, so we'd probably want to work out what carrots and sticks exist that allow Surtur to keep a fairly tight rein on Wolfgang. The presence of party members with more scruples would probably help.

Worst case scenario, I have other characters that I am considering submitting, either alongside or in place of Wolfgang, that I passed over before because they weren't suited to leadership, so if we can't figure out a way to make Wolfgang fit well as a subordinate, I'll just shift to one of these other character concepts. I do hope Surtur doesn't mind yes men too much, if that's the route we go. :P

Does the Dragon have half-dragon children? I feel like you'd mentioned her having some but I can't find where it was.

So I tinkered up a rough and quick outline of my characters recent backstory, the one that actually relates to the Dragon and her new project. I also decided on a name (reused from another similar character of mine because I'm lazy like that) - Jhaelwyn.

Live mantids would have been useful for antidote testing & development.

Therefore dragon sends hunting parties to capture some.

Jhaelwyn is a competent monster hunter, thus taking this job.

Initially it goes well, party captures some smaller specimens.

Then party tries for a bigger fancier one.

This of course goes poorly.

Trauma and lots of running and/or playing dead.

Jhaelwyn manages to live trough the encounter.

Queue Moby Dick inspired loathing and desire to hunt down said mantid.

There aren't that many people actively looking to hunt big scary mantids just because, so efforts to organize hunting party fails.

Time passes until now-ish.

Dragon/Surtur organizes their expedition and feel that they could use a tracker.

Picks Jhaelwyn because she has previous mantid related experience and is highly motivated.


Now the main flaw I see is that there might not actually be any motivation to hunt down mantids. But then it could just be a personal quest. And there's really no need to tell the grunts *everything* right? What's a little lie when you can get cheap and motivated labour ... :P

Mhhh, I like world-building campaigns and the setting sounds promising....
And ... oh look at that ... OGRES!
Long time since I played 'the big strong dumb dude' .... and if Ogre doesn't actually scream to be played like this, I don't know what does.

*** WARNING: Crazy thoughts detected. Read at your own risk ***:

OGRE PALADIN. (or cavalier because of alignment or Brawler - hugging people to death by accident?)
Riding on an elephant (or some other Huge animal).
Wearing full plate and wielding a massive tool of faith-shifting (read: something heavy, 2-handed and very deadly).

Reasons to go on this mission:
- There are Mantids to smash.
- In his (low-witted) faith, he believes the dragoness to be a god (which she certainly wouldn't deny?) and intends good for her people in this dark times (well she intends good for herself at least)
- There are Mantids to smash.
- If Once they succeed in building the new country, he can preach the teachings of his visions to even more people!
- And finally: There are lots of Mantids to smash!

Why pick him?
- It is hard to overlook someone like him!
- Maybe the dragoness simply wants to get him off her realm so he stops with all that mad rumbling about his visions of good, her being the bringer of a new paradise and all that nonsense?
- He is a notable hunter of the Mantids
- Somehow his brubble motivates people to follow him into danger

What can he do?
- Hit things hard
- Be a frigging meat&metal shield
- Hit things harder
- Blubber all kind of funny things and maybe motivate small fries through religious (sounding) sermons to do things
- Hit things hardest
- Carry heavy stuff

Okay, well that was interesting.
Any thoughts or immediate vetos against that idea (before I continue with that madness)?

Do Hobgoblins in the region have a standard preference for pronoun in Common? I'm thinking along the lines of a Hobgoblin Lore Shaman (possibly Speaker for the Past Archetype.) I've got a couple ideas for backstory and what-not kicking around and I'd like to be consistent with how Hobgoblins would present themselves when writing it up.

They/them, each chooses she/her or he/him case by case (possibly changing when desired, possibly very fixed,) some other option? I could even work with it/its, but that seems more likely to be what others would use rather than the Hobgoblins themselves.

-Zorblag R`Lyeh

I've been working over a backstory for my character. Not terribly happy with it right now, but I haven't quite figured out what I want to fix, so, here it is in its present form:

Drekisal backstory:
Drekisal doesn’t come from the largest and most prosperous of kobold tribes, but his tribe, the Iron Scales, still lived fairly comfortably thanks to dwelling in the heartland of the Dragon’s realm. Like most kobold tribes in the area, the Iron Scales recognized just who was responsible for their prosperity and showered the Dragon with adulation. When Drekisal hatched, his unusually draconic features were viewed as a blessing upon him (though there was some muttering about how his scales were not of the Dragon’s color).

For his own part, Drekisal’s attitude toward dragons was… different. Perhaps it was because of the reverence his blue scales, horns, and breath, and wings won him. Perhaps it was because of the magical power he swiftly developed. Whatever the case, Drekisal looked at dragons… and he hungered. Hungered for their strength, their power, for the respect they commanded, for while he was honored by his tribe, yet he was all too aware of the disdain the other species in the Dragon’s domain held for kobolds.

For he was not content to stay underground with his tribe, but rather started working his way up in the Dragon’s nation. While his skill with magic and cleverness allowed him to find a place in the nation’s service, it was his silver tongue that proved to be Drekisal’s greatest gift. By its careful application he steadily climbed in rank and influence until he came to the attention of one of the Dragon’s scions, a half-dragon half-human woman by the name of Maelikovari.

She recognized in Drekisal a kindred spirit--one ambitious enough to have potential, while cautious and cunning enough to avoid getting himself killed. For while Drekisal was ambitious, he had no desire to rule--crowns drew too much attention, after all. No, he would rather be highly placed but not at the top, wielding power without the attention (and hatred) those in charge tended to draw. This suited Maelikovari well. She called for him and gave him an offer--serve her, and she would see to it he had the power and wealth he desired, so long as his ambition served hers.

Drekisal took this deal eagerly, and swiftly proved himself valuable to Maelikovari. His silver tongue was well-employed in building deals and alliances, or sometimes smoothing ruffled feathers. Once he negotiated a settlement between a kobold clan and a humanoid village that left both thinking they’d gotten the better deal, while really they’d all ended up owing Maelikovari (and himself) a favor. Not all of his work was with his words, however: his magic was also useful in providing protection to Maelikovari’s other agents.

Hence, when Maelikovari heard of the efforts to build up a base of power in Gelkrosh, she put forth Drekisal as a possible member of the team. After all, they would need a diplomat in their efforts… and a diplomat who is also a wielder of magic is a powerful asset.

The basic idea is that he's either a sorcerer or oracle (depending on the needs of the party), who uses his high charisma to fill most of the social needs of the party while having a lot of useful control/support magic. He's ambitious, but doesn't want to be a leader--he likes being a power behind the throne, so to speak, and would rather be a favored servant with considerable influence (and wealth).

Boop. Lessah here with my application alias. I've added some stuff about Jhaelwyn (including the previous outline for easy access/editing) here.

I am of course still curious about what people think about the little that exists so far. And really interested in what people are missing. I'm currently planning of turning the sketch outline thingy into a proper ministory and using that as a primary character exhibit. But I'm going on a trip tomorrow for a week, so I'm unsure of how quickly that will happen.

@Almonihah: No, no half-dragons. I haven't even decided if they exist in Eldreonm, but if they do they'll be exceedingly rare. The Dragon's actual children are actual dragons, but there would be people with draconic bloodlines (I imagine it's somewhat more common in this realm than most others). Or perhaps Maelikovari could simply be a full-blooded but young and ambitious child of The Dragon? Anyway, definitely like the concept!

@Lessah: Solid character, and the 'Elves of the Vale' are an interesting addition to the Dragon's realm. And even without the fleshing out story I think we have a firm understanding of the character, so no worries if you can't find the time.

@Swordwhale: Love it, I was certainly hoping to see a few ogre submissions. I also love the counter-type with one as a Paladin wannabe (I think Cavalier might fit best, unless we shoehorn in a way for the Ogre to be an actual paladin). Maybe this ogre heard stories of Paladins or something and liked the sound of it. I dunno.

@Zorblag: I don't imagine they are likely to develop much in the way of preference. In their own languages they don't have gendered pronouns, and the world probably applies whichever seems to fit best. So basically, pick whichever you like, or maybe even go with something like Xe/Xim to reflect the inherent genderlessness of their native language.

That's nice to hear. And do feel free to come up with a real name for them if you can, I know I have a hard time naming things : )

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How Gork became the first and only ever Ogre-Palarin:

It was a fully normal day.
Gork and his tribe (the Bone'Gnaws) had just pillaged a settlement of those weak pinkys and he was happily bashing their leaders head against the ground. He could already smell the fine taste of bone marrow he would soon suck out of this weaklings thin bones.
Then ... bright, blinding golden light struck him from the sky!
Andthen he heard the voice of HER for the first time in his life. A voice that would change his life forever....

It was a busy day for Merry the Golden Maid.
Being a good deity, in a realm of selfishness, war and death is hard - by definition.
But this day was particularly saddening and troublesome.
One of the few small villages that was revering her, was attacked by a small group of the dumbest but strongest creatures this side of mindless vermin: Ogres.
They just happened to stumble over their village on their fools errant and proceeded to slaughter and eat (!) a decent amount of her already few followers.
She couldn't allow that to proceed any further!
Summoning a decent portion of her divine might, she aimed for the strongest, most faithful remaining soul in the village ... and threw it!
Her target was the village's strongest warrior and currently in a fight for his life with a particularly big brute, maybe the leader of the Ogres.
But as soon as her ray of divine ascension would hit the man, he would find all the powers he would need to change the date of his village and drive off the brutes.
He would have HER power and would do good, raising her population and gift her with more followers soon.
After all, this day may not be as bad as she had thought before. It was the beginning of a better time, that was for sure!
And then ...
The ray of divine ascension hit the Ogre...

The first thing Gork heard from the unearthly beautiful female voice in his head, was an enraged exclamation of surprise - immediately followed by cursing of such profanity that it actually made Gork blush.
While this was strange and new, he didn't though much of it at first.
He just wanted to proceed with bashing in the hummies head and suck out his marrow.
Actually... No. He did not want to do that.
That would be babaric. Evil. Not to mention gross.
Theman did not do anything to him nor to anyone else. He just wanted to life his live.
Like all of these pinkies.
Why did he wanted to kill this man in the first place?
The Bone'Gnawers had enough sheep and goats near their mountain hideout to supply them.
They did not need to go pillaging and eating poor souls in the valleys.
He stopped the assault on the man and stepped back. The pinky was totally out of it and only barely alive.
That made him ... sad?

[I]Slowly calming down, Merry decided to give it a shot.
He ascended after all.
She couldn't do a thing against it anyway.
Aaaalthough, this would be a LOT of work to mold ... this ... Brute into an ACTUAL paladin.
Using her new connection to ... Gork - really? what name is Gork by the stinky socks of Turag?! - he said:[\i]
"What you feel, is regret and you pity him.
Because you were responsible for this.
And unrightfully so.
Because you did him wrong.
I am the Golden Maid, protector of the innocent and you will serve me and undo and repent what evil you did before."

And this is the beginning of the story of the first and only Ogre Paladin known to this realm.

Haha, that was too good of an though to keep bottled.
Curious how you think about it.

- "Gooooork, that kills people!"
- "Öhhm, yes so what..?"
- "Killing people is bad! Don't do that."
- "Oh, I didn know that. Sorry."
*** later ***
- "Gooooork, what are you doing?! Kill that evil guy there!"
- "Buuuut, you said that killin hummies is bad and I shouldn do it!"
- "Arrrghhh, just kill him. He's a bad guy!"
- "Ohhhkay.... Time to SMASH!!!"

The ogre story struck a chord with me. I played Dominions yesterday and accidentally turned the wrong unit into my prophet so I feel Merry's pain.

And I'm sure it will be a blast to have Gork around :P

After some thought, I've decided to resubmit Cuneo, the character who I submitted for leadership. I'll tinker around with his backstory slightly to reflect his lowered power level, but mostly he's going to be the same.

My personal life has calmed down a little bit, and I'll have plenty of time to do a whole bunch of revision/addition tomorrow and on the weekend.

If anyone would like to review what I've got so far and provide feedback, I'd welcome it and be willing to provide feedback on your own submission.

Cuneo Danetha:

Cuneo’s mother died in childbirth, his father left with a cold bed and a second son to warm his shrinking heart. The same full moon which watched unblinking as he was birthed had born witness to the long and slow downfall of a once great house, his father becoming ever more bitter as the years rolled on. There was little love for Cuneo within the stony walls of the keep, what little was left of the family fortune set to pass on to his older brother.

Instead, he found delight in the highlands and forests outside the crumbling walls of the estate. Cuneo always loved to wander in the woods, especially on stormy days, when the sound of rain on the leaves above filled the forest with roaring noise, and thunder could be felt far off on the mountaintop. Lurking then beneath the dense canopy, watching those at the castle whose attention was fixated on the wind and the rain, he felt safe. Then he could laugh without fear that he would be heard, and could behold the majesty and wrath of the heavens undisturbed.

Though his father payed little attention to Cuneo, it was arranged that he would receive training befitting a Donealian noble. He received instruction in grammar, spelling, and mathematics, although he found it difficult to concentrate on these subjects, mind wandering to distant trees and old forgotten pathways. He was trained, too, in archery and in swordplay, for which he showed a great propensity and love. It seemed that so long as his body was in motion, Cuneo was satisfied to focus on nothing but his immediate surroundings and the challenges he had to overcome.

As he grew older, Cuneo began to spend much time with an aged herbalist of tenuous family connection. Here too, he showed talent, categorizing and sorting plants patiently and precisely, and watching intently as tonics and tinctures were prepared. The old man would bandage wounded returning from fearsome forays and Cuneo would watch with wide eyes. He always showed a keen interest in matters of life and death.
When Cuneo was thirteen, the herbalist began to speak of moving away from the castle, to serve under a different lord. The man was thinking of Cuneo, wishing to bring the boy with him and rid him of his father’s influence. His father thought it a fine idea, hardly wishing them well as they set out on the old road that led away from the castle.

As they traveled through the countryside, Cuneo saw firsthand the horrors of long and bloody fighting. He had heard about the plight of his countrymen from tutors and teachers, but payed it little mind, content instead to think on crimson sunsets and rain in the forest. Now, as starving villages pulled their dead from bleak fields to salvage what few crops had survived the burning, Cuneo understood what true suffering meant. Twice they had to hide in the undergrowth beside the road as troops of soldiers passed by. It didn’t matter whose side they were on, they were rough men and the herbalist would not risk something bad happening to Cuneo.

Finally, after two weeks of travel, they arrived at their destination, another castle, this one nearer to the bloody border. Kneeling before the lord, they placed themselves under his service. Together, they set bones and sawed off limbs, preparing potions and picking herbs when there were none to care for. Cuneo found he missed the little woods of his childhood home, and the view from atop the mountain. He could not wander alone in a place as dangerous as this, and it never rained when they went out.

Instead, he focused on those other things which had kept him occupied, archery, swordplay, the toughening of his body and of his mind. Though there was no one to tutor him at his young age, he still remembered the drills he had been given, and executed them ceaselessly. By the time he was fifteen, he was able to bend the heaviest of hunting bows, and to drill his footwork for hours at a time. The soldiers and guards sparred with him regularly, and he found great delight in learning from them. So long as his limbs were sore and his breathing sharp he felt he was becoming better, preparing for the day when he could venture beyond the walls of the castle and shepherd those who could not defend themselves through their valley of darkness.

When he was sixteen, he was given arms and made a soldier of Doneal. Now he was the one to tramp noisily through the roads, and the one who everyone feared. But soon they were beneath the northern forests, and all was forgotten save the ceaseless warfare against the orcs. Many wounds were suffered, and much blood was shed beneath the broken boughs. Cuneo felt companionship, the soldiers far better than his real brother at making him feel safe and strong. This life lasted until he was twenty one.

At that he fell on the field of battle and was nearly killed. The other soldiers had saved him, but he was grievously wounded, and his life hung in the balance for several days as they marched back to the castle to lick their wounds. It was only when they arrived and the grey haired herbalist of his youth began to tend to him that his condition improved, and he began a long and slow recovery. By the time he had recovered from his wounds those soldiers who could had already ventured north once again, the orcs not waiting for them to recover. Cuneo found that, though his wounds were healed and his life saved, his old strength was gone. He strained his weakened body as often as he could, but it would be a long time before he could shoot a warbow again.

Feeling then weak and alone without the brothers he had made on the battlefield, Cuneo spent much of his time with the herbalist who was more of a father to him than his real father ever had been. But now the old man was bent and wizened, and could only shuffle about his patient’s bedsides, old wrinkled hands shaking as he changed their bandages. Then he began to cough, and it was not long before it was he who lay on the bed while Cuneo administered herbal teas and old forgotten remedies. It was to no avail, the old man died in his bed, leaving Cuneo tearful and isolated.

Feeling grief, despair, and anger, Cuneo returned at last to his childhood home, where he found his father and brother, still struggling to maintain their slipping grip on the mountainside. He thought perhaps the old woods and paths he had found in his youth would do him some good, and that he could again climb to the mountaintop and gaze across the lands below. Another, more sinister motivation lay beneath his journey, which he came to realize as he walked again across the countryside. Perhaps, he thought, if he could confront his father and learn why the man had always treated him like was worthless, perhaps then he could renounce the man and move on. Perhaps then he could learn to love himself now that the only man who had ever shown him unconditional love was dead.

He arrived during a feast, marching in through the front doors and taking a seat beside his father. The man was old, now, and his greying beard reminded Cuneo of the herbalist, though they could not have held more different places in his life. They spoke for some time, his father unapologetic about his loveless treatment of Cuneo. That was the hard reality of the world, he said. Like his fortunes, his love was finite, and had to be portioned in careful measure. Quaffing his wine, Cuneo left, sleeping on the hard ground outside the castle walls, which had become more comforting to him than a soft bed. He took comfort in the thought that there was nothing for him here. Though there were still soldiers he would have liked to see, his brothers in blood, but he knew that he did not need them. Lying beneath an ancient tree, rain beginning to fall softly, Cuneo knew that, above all, he needed nothing from anyone to survive. His hand rested easily on the hilt of his sword as he fell asleep.

The morning sun rose on a castle in turmoil. His father had been found stabbed to death in his bed, window shattered, a note signed with Cuneo’s name on the pillow beside him. His brother now in control of the family estate, the guards left in search of Cuneo, and found him, unaware of what happened, on the road towards the castle gates. Their captain took pity on Cuneo and told him to run, run through the woods he knew so well, run far beyond the end of the mountain, and run till the borders of Doneal were long behind him. Then he marched onward, his troop averting their eyes and following their captain’s lead.

Within a few weeks Cuneo was in Chadreal, his childhood home behind him, his old life in the northern forests a dim memory. With money he had saved from his exploits against the orcs, Cuneo was able to rent a room in a small from an old couple. For a month he relaxed, staying up late to tell the stories of his scars with their daughter, who listened with eager ears. Like many of the folk from that land, her past was simpler and brighter, her life more full of love. Like many who have a long and hard past, Cuneo kept himself emotionally distant and reserved.

After a month of soft hills and small forests, Cuneo found himself utterly bored. There were few matters of life and death here, and few things which held his interest. He found that he had less motivation to go and shoot his bow, and that when he drilled with his sword people looked at him strangely. Bidding the old couple and their daughter goodbye, Cuneo went south once again, all the way to the coast and over the sea, going far away to strange lands in search of something he could not find in this land of peace and plenty.

Across the rocking waves of the Sea of Stones, Cuneo arrived in a small city towards the western edge of the Belshiran Federation. There he heard tales and stories of the Vurkane forest, the many whispers and rumors surrounding its trackless interior stirring him like a wounded man stirs a healer. He found three likeminded souls in a tavern beneath a gibbous moon, and together they discussed plans and intentions. Allustan was in search of magical sources of power. Borris wanted to test himself and prove his might. But it was Arodel whose mind was most like Cuneo’s. Arodel had come from a wealthy family and had been well looked after, he had no need of money or of power, or anything else that could be found in the Vurkane forest. Arodel, like Cuneo, was in search of a purpose. Some men are like dogs: they must find something to sink their teeth into.

For three years they wandered through still hollows and sun spattered groves, returning occasionally to the city to gather supplies and consult ponderous tomes. Cuneo found himself totally and completely engaged. His body hard like a steel spring, his eyes open and his breaths quiet and short, he could think of nothing but that which was around him. They quickly learned that they were in over their heads, and had to avoid many fell and terrible things which creept silently through the still leaves. It was strange for Cuneo, so used to being a predator, but exhilarating all the same. And he found comfort, as he had since youth, in the smooth boles and high crowns of many high and ancient trees. They were straighter and taller here, in the dense forest, crowding tightly against one another with no humans to cut them down.

Soon after returning from a trip to the city, Borris was killed. They had to wait till the creature was done feasting before they could salvage what was left of his carcass. His family would be waiting. When the thing finally left, only a few meagre bones remained, shredded flesh still hanging off them, skull missing the jawbone. They each kept a knuckle, and brought the rest back to the city.

It was then, on the journey back to lay his bones to rest, that each of their lives was changed forever. They had a small boat which they used to move quickly back and forth, and as they sailed back along the coastline they were attacked by pirates. Surrendering immediately, they were placed at the mercy of rough men who live dangerous lives. Cuneo and Arodel were clapped in irons and sent belowdecks, Allustan was killed and tossed overboard.

For a few weeks, life was hell. They rowed each day from before sunup until after sundown, and if they slowed they were whipped and then returned to labor. Salt water made it’s way into the ship pooled at their feet, making their skin peel after the first day. They were given a meagre ration of bread and rat meat, not quite enough to keep them from starving. Manacles chafing, boat rocking, drums pounding, there was no comfort and no hope.

Land was sighted on the sixteenth day, southeastern Golm. They had come to the shores of Iskendal with a cargo full of stolen goods, ready to deal with a people who had few allies and few alternatives. Then came thunder in the heavens, and raindrops falling hard and fast like daggers from the sky. The ship was tossed about like a child’s plaything, turning and spinning in the wind and froth, the sea rolling and boiling like a witch’s cauldron.

A red sun dawned over a battered ship and a broken crew. For a day they merely drifted, moving ever to the south through unknown waters. Another ship was spotted on the horizon, flying a strange flag of green and white. It sailed next to them and hooked up, elves in armor holding bows, pikes flashing in the sky. They fought on the decks till blood ran down the sides of the ship, but in the end, the pirates were victorious and the elves defeated.

There were now only a few crew members left, barely enough to maintain order over the slaves. There were whispers of mutiny, and of one who could pick the locks with a fishbone and his fingernails. Then disease struck, and the whole ship was laid low in agony and despair, unable even to limp to the shore. And then the locks were picked, and the manacles flew open, and righteous revenge was exacted.

Only twelve slaves survived out of a group of nearly fifty, and all the crew now slept beneath the waves. The ship’s riggings had been damaged in the storm, and they were too weak to row, so they drifted at the mercy of the currents. For nearly twenty days the boat rocked gently, their food now gone, their water running out. Then land was spotted.

They had arrived on the northern shores of Mirem, land of excess, at a busy harbor, ship still full of cargo. Cuneo was weak as a kitten, but he put on the erstwhile captain’s hat and did his best to sell their stolen wares. The storm had come and gone, and they were still alive.
After three months in the harbor, the ship was freshly painted, and a new crew had been recruited. Cuneo and Arodel had spent many nights talking, and had decided they would venture further south, to Durnauc, where they could patrol the waters outside Cathuili beside enterprising merchants. Cuneo found that the hot sun and dense jungles of southeastern Golm were very much not to his liking, and the Vurkane forest now a dim and distant memory. Perhaps, in time, they could return to those lands and venture once again into the still and ancient airs beneath the trees. But having listened to Borris scream as he was eaten, Cuneo had realized that the horrors of that land were far beyond what he could face down with sword in hand.

For two years they sailed the high seas, Cuneo at the helm, Arodel at his side. The salt spray and gentle rocking of the ship held their own appeal, as did the elegant office Cuneo constructed, collecting curios on their many journeys. Cuneo found a stark beauty in the endless expanse of the ocean, the sparkling waves endlessly rolling on towards shores and coves left far behind. But, in time, Cuneo began to realize that a mariner’s life was not for him. Arodel remained his only real friend during this time, and though they had many long nights on the shore, and kept one another sharp and strong, he was not enough. Cuneo felt it was time to retire.

It was then that they sailed farther south and east, towards the remoter portions of Durnauc. There were many ships full of gems and precious stones, and many pirates which preyed upon them. Cuneo preyed upon the pirates. After several weeks without any luck, they heard tale of a particularly large and slow ship which had filled it’s hold with the contents of many merchants before sailing northeast along the coast. Cuneo set off at once after them, following as fast as they could manage. Many strange lands and small settlements fell away behind them before, finally, in the cold north once again, the caught their prize. A large ship indeed, sailing near the shore, decks full of scoundrels.

It’s crew proved to be few in number and weak of spirit, weakened by disease and by casualties sustained acquiring their cargo. Cuneo’s lads boarded the ship, captured the captain, and imprisoned the crew. Now master of two ships, they sailed onward, arriving in Inzeldrab in time for Cuneo to celebrate his twenty seventh birthday.
Cuneo took to the shores and began to relax for the first time since his brief stay in Chadreal. Arodel was still with him, and they found it was nice not to have to stay sharp. For a time. Then Arodel sailed off again, leaving Cuneo on his own in an unfamiliar city. Cuneo had decided it was time for him to retire, already his knees were beginning to feel a little stiff, and his bear had flecks of grey. A lifetime of stress takes it’s toll on the body.

Cuneo began to wander again in northern forests, as he had not done since his youth. But now things were different. He had seen the world and found nothing for him in it. Cuneo had relied on himself, as he knew he had to do the moment his father told him he didn’t have the love to spare for him. He had had adventures and tribulations. He had fought for his life on three continents and in two oceans, but he still wasn’t sure what he had accomplished. Cuneo began to drink heavily.
It was at this time in his life that Cuneo met the woman who was to become his wife. Elaine saw something in the hard glint of his eyes and the strange way he glanced around the room before sitting down and approached him to learn his story. He was distant at first, then confused. Why would anyone want to pay attention to him? The only man who had ever loved him was dead, and his only lasting friend had left for the call of the sea. She told him to come by her shop around closing time. It was an apothecary.

There is something about healing another person that is of inherent worth. Elaine found that Cuneo needed her skills, and Cuneo found that Elaine needed his. They moved far away from the city, to a small fishing village, and loved each other greatly for many years. It was strange, to have a place in the world and to feel another person’s unconditional love. Strange and wonderful.

Soon after celebrating his thirty first birthday Cuneo came home to find Arodel on his doorstep. The man had fallen on hard times, his ship’s spine had snapped, most of his crew died, and he had barely survived. He was working for the Dragon now, and he wanted Cuneo’s help. Cuneo promised Elaine he would be gone two months and set out to the northern borders of Inzeldrab, prepared to kill giants and take a small castle near the border. Meeting up with other forces of the Dragon, the successfully completed their mission through a mix of subterfuge, deception, and brute force.

Cuneo returned home to find that tragedy had struck the one home he ever had. Elaine had traveled north, upstream, to help soothe the slaves of a large farming settlement there. On her way, however, she had been killed by Mantids. There was no corpse to be found, only a heedless sun which scorched the earth until it there was nothing but dust. Dust, that was what she had become.

Cuneo went north. He had to get away. There was nothing left for him anywhere anymore, he was a broken man with only a hard glint in his eyes and a rough strength in his arms. The dragon would have work for him, perhaps, work he could set his teeth into and struggle with. He kept his wedding ring with his knucklebone, cruel reminders of past lives now lost. Perhaps Cuneo could add one more chapter to his life before the rest of his beard turned grey.


Cuneo’s two principal motivations are his need for a family and his need for a purpose in life.

Having no mother and a father and older sibling who never loved him, Cuneo has found that his life is much easier and more enjoyable when there are people who love him. The Herbalist, Arodel, and Elaine have all provided various degrees of love and support for Cuneo, and he hopes that, perhaps, he can find more people to fill this role in the future. Once he forms attachments, therefore, they are for life. However, Cuneo has always felt betrayed by his father and brother, and there are many dark patches in his past. He is therefore emotionally reserved and distant, forming bonds slowly and deliberately. Experiences are kept compartmentalized and discreet from one another, emotion felt, but kept distant from the things which cause it. Because of this, although Cuneo is emotionally distant and does not empathize with others easily, he likes talking with them about his past and learning about their stories. Further, he has learned that other people are often the most interesting things to learn about, and has found that people tend to like to talk about themselves.

Cuneo has spent his life training for something, but he’s not quite sure what. He’s been trying to stay strong and sharp, always trying to learn new things and increase his ever expanding skill set. As a result, Cuneo has become houndlike, always on the hunt, always looking for prey, never wondering why he’s doing what he’s doing, and never stopping to take a break. For a time, during his long marriage, he was able to relax and go about his business at a more leisurely rate, spending more time taking care of himself and less time taking care of business. But that’s behind him now, and he wants to get back on the merry go round.


Cuneo’s large frame is slightly thinner than he’d like, his hair a little whiter, and his knees a little stiffer. Once, he was over two hundred pounds of muscle and blood packed onto a six foot frame, but now he’s lighter and sinewier, though perhaps it makes no difference to a casual observer. His nearly black hair is short on the sides and long on top, slightly curled bangs hanging over dark, faintly green eyes and thin, gaunt cheeks. Not so thin as they used to be, though. His scraggly, greying beard is really just a few day of growth needing to be shaved, but a shaving kit is heavy and unnecessary. His leather boots are supple and well worn, perhaps they should’ve been replaced a few years ago, just like his scabbard and his belt, which he wears slightly too loose. Perhaps he hasn’t realized just how much weight he’s lost, after all. Drab and dusty, he stands weary from a long road, but he stands straight backed and stoic regardless.

Artemis, I know you've already read through my backstory, if you'd like to let me know how you think Surtur and Cuneo would form a relationship, that'd be helpful.

Anyway, looking forward to some revision.

Thank you, Lessah :-)
I had a good laugh while writing that one down ^^


I was thinking, maybe an archer type with horsemanship skills.
I'll have to think on it.

Do Tieflings exist?

Dotting. Will think and visit this tomorrow at work. I like the pledge. I have never abandoned a game either. My longest game on here is at 4 years and still going strong. :)

GM Mercy wrote:

@Almonihah: No, no half-dragons. I haven't even decided if they exist in Eldreonm, but if they do they'll be exceedingly rare. The Dragon's actual children are actual dragons, but there would be people with draconic bloodlines (I imagine it's somewhat more common in this realm than most others). Or perhaps Maelikovari could simply be a full-blooded but young and ambitious child of The Dragon? Anyway, definitely like the concept!

Ah, that's fine. Maelikovari can be a full-blooded dragon without changing much, I'll go ahead and say that's the case.

Need anything more as a submission?

Go ahead and play what you're going to play; I like the idea of Wolfgang, and if we need to work out a carrot and stick relationship, I'm sure we can work on something before game start! I'm sure the Dragon wouldn't be pleased her handpicked leader was killed (of course, she might not care, either, but that's besides the point)

I applaud you, sir. That was fantastic.

I think it would be pretty quickly established. They meet with the Dragon; now, Surtur has a purpose. Surtur's purpose in life, is, and has always been, to save his people from destruction, even if that meant leaving them for a time. He's very dogmatic about it; he went into the dragon's service purely on the chance that he'd have to go back there one day and save them. I picture Surtur being very loyal to those he needs, and will give whatever is necessary to see it. Well, Cuneo's seen a bit more of the world than Surtur has; even though Surtur's been hanging around the dragon's military for a decade, he's still not 100% up to speed on the intricacies of society. Cuneo seems like a very worldy man, from his travels; suddenly, Surtur needs him. And if Cuneo's willing to work with Surtur, help Surtur with his goals, well, then Surtur's going to back up Cuneo, no matter what. You mentioned relentlessness; well, that'll help Surtur respect the man more.

That's the basis of it; that, and I figure they'd both be able to swap stories of the great hunts and exploits they've had. And they both had influential herbalists in their lives! Crazy!

Anyways, that's my thoughts. Like I mentioned, I do think Surtur and Cuneo would get along well, and there's my justification. Any questions you have, let me know!

@Swordwhale: Great stuff, reminds me a bit of this great story about another ogre... conversion. (Great read for anybody!)

I keep meaning to write up this concept for a paladin-like class that isn't limited to any particular alignment but allows for them all, a divine warrior fittable to any alignment. I think I called it the Exemplar. That'd fit pretty well, cuz I honestly have trouble imagining a Lawful Good actual paladin type getting along well in this world or this campaign, ogre or not. But a Chaotic Good one? That might work.

@Spacefurry: This would be a pretty decent campaign to have a dedicated mount, which I feel like not a lot of campaigns are a good fit for. Tieflings exist but are exceedingly rare - I usually have my players roll 1d10 when we start building and only on a 10 are they allowed to use tieflings, undines, those sorts of things.

@Almonihah: Nope, you have a complete submission! You're all set.

Oh wow, that really sounds similar - I struggle to not feel like I stole from there (although I know I didnt) ^^
What about neutral good? Chaotic seems a ... difficult alignment in a kingdom building campaign, doesn't it?
If you go with weak alignments already, I think it isn't such a stretch to say that Merry is a neutral good one and since he follows her edicts ...
His alignment would be neutral-good-by-proxy? ;-)

@Spacefurry: I actually intend to go Shining Knight Paladin (Mounted Paladin Archetype). Although Gork would probably need an Elephant or something like that to ride into battle (actually even an elephant wouldn't work since he is only getting huge at lvl7...).
If it is worth bringing one Cavalry ... It is always worth bringing two. If one is an archer all the better.

@GM: I know you don't need crunch at this point, but would you be good with Gork riding an Elephant into battle? A huge elephant (without the lvl7 stat advances of course). Since ... There are non mounts available for a large rider...

@Swordwhale: Neutral Good also works. And yeah... a mounted charge into battle is harder when you're almost as big as most of the animals around. And intending to wear plate armor to boot. Hmm... I'm happy to handwave the 'one-size-larger guideline' (we'll just say your mount got a shot of divine mojo to help bear you) - but you'll have to ride something like an aurochs or a yak (appropriate to the area). And then I'd get to call the deity Merry the Golden Milkmaid instead.

Also, I'll warn you - part of the reason I'm happy to make these concessions in the event you are picked for the campaign is because that as a divine-caster character, I'm the one who controls the deity. What she's like, what her goals are, etc. Including what she commands you to do and not do. I imagine that's pretty standard for other GM's as well, but want to make sure it's clear.

@Size+ Mounts - Get the Undersized Mount feat and stack it with the Mercy's waiver. That way your ogre can ride a pony or something! Worth it purely for the visuals :P

@Artemis P. - If you got the time and will I'd be delighted if you could take a look at my notes too. If there's anything you'd like to know more about or would be critical to Jhaelwyn's recruitment I would like to know so I can focus my little moments there : )

I sat down yesterday and did a more refined, somewhat revised summary of Wolfgang's backstory, so if Herr Mercy and Arty want to give it a peak, it is below.

Revised Backstory:
Wolfgang was born in the squalor of poverty to a prostitute, with no father or father figure beyond his mother's proprietor. Despite Wolfgang having no way to earn his keep, his "father" did not put out on the street; instead, when Wolfgang turned 12, his "father" sold him to privateers to work as a cabin boy. He served on a privateer vessel for three years, before winning his freedom from the captain in a game of chance. Wolfgang had cheated, but despite not knowing this, the captain reneged on the agreement. The next time the vessel made port, Wolfgang slit the captain's throat in his sleep, set the captain's quarters afire, and fled the ship. He signed on with another vessel, the first vessel leaving port, only to discover he'd signed on with out-and-out pirates. Still, he was a free sailor now, not a slave, and so he worked hard at piracy, coming to value the crew. After eight years as a pirate, Wolfgang was now the captain of his own vessel, the Red Wolf, and part of a modest pirate navy of four ships. The group had successfully looted several merchant ships, including one vessel transporting gold specie for a local kingdom, and were mildly infamous as a result. However, when authorities cracked down on piracy, a member of Wolfgang's crew secretly took a pardon and, through Wolfgang, led the four vessels into a trap. Wolfgang was knocked overboard in the ensuing fight, and left for dead by the authorities. He awoke days later, having washed ashore amidst the wreckage and bodies, nearly dead of thirst, on the island he had once called home. The locals had picked the bodies, his included, clean of valuables, but had not even offered them proper burial. Wolfgang was furious at first, but as he knelt on that beach, too weak to stand under his own power, barely clinging to life, unable even to express his rage, something within him shifted, and he came to understand the situation. As a pirate before, he had sought to be a good person. He and his crew stole, but they did not rape or pillage, nor kill unnecessarily. He had killed in cold blood only once in his life, and thinking back, it was the only time his life was truly in his own control. It occurred to him in that moment, watching the children nearby stare at him but offer him no aid, that there was no such thing as "good" people and "bad" people, that no one owed him anything, and neither did he owe anyone anything. There were only those who took, and those who were taken from. Wolfgang survived, dragging himself from the debris-strewn beach to a river where he drank deeply. When he felt well enough to stand, he stole food from orchards and fields. A year later, mostly recovered, he <action to be determined>. He would become strong, and take from those weaker than him.

Still need to work out the particulars of coming into the Dragon's employ.

Out of curiosity, are you still recruiting for this game? I've wanted to play Kingmaker since I've heard of it, and haven't been able to get into a game. I'm willing to fit any missing roles to avoid stepping on people's toes.

Recruitment continues! It will continue for at least another week. However, it is not actually Kingmaker, but a homebrewed campaign that also uses the Kingdom Building rules (somewhat tweaked).

@Jhaelwyn/Mysterious Character:
I do have a quick question: was she part of a war party sent by her people, or was she part of a hunting party sent by the Dragon? Reading the Rough Outline, it sounds like she was sent by the Dragon, but after reading the Elves of the Vale/Jhaelwyn's thoughts section, it sounds like she was part of an Elven War- Party. Can you clarify that for me?

I will say, she sounds like a well- thought out character. On one hand, she's a savage, weather- bitten hunter out for revenge; on the other, she's a little kid on her first adventure, looking to get her hands on whatever shiny baubles she can. I really do like the contrast between those two images we're getting; people are complex and have various segments to their personality! About how old is Jhaelwyn? Might help give me a better idea of her experience level. Also, how many hunts has she been on?

Reread your backstory, and I like it. Just a thought: perhaps the Dragon might like having someone on the team she's had no prior contact with, as it gives her deniability if things go south? I don't know, just a thought.

@Artemis. P:
Hunting Party - Sent by the dragon. Now since the elves all work for the dragon, it could certainly be both. I'm not sure myself - but I think it makes sense that there's at least a small group of elves in there plus a few support staff and maybe an alchemist or two.

Age - I'm going for the human equivalent of 35-ish. Old enough to know which is the pointy end of the spear but not really anywhere close to those seen-it-all veterans.

Being an elf that means over a century and quite possibly thousands of hunts. Granted most would probably be [medium game animal] which aren't that impressive. Maybe a few dozen where there's truly risk involved and with notable prey. And that makes for only a handful of life or death situations where the bear escaped the trap or the bandit didn't hop into the pit as planned.

Hmm. Seems reasonable? I'm planning on mostly leaving the (non mantid) hunts vague and use it as anecdote fodder whenever Jhaelwyn makes the relevant knowledge check.

Thanks for the kind words and especially the question, they really help me think.

Okay, cool... dotting. I missed out in the other thread.

I love the idea of playing an ogre but I see there is already one ogre submission.

Maybe a warpriest? Bloodrager? Not sure.

Is there a deity that is a rough equivalent to Gorum in your universe?

What the heck, let's roll the bones and test my luck.

1d10 ⇒ 10

Holy... I'll be damned. :p
Does that count?

Well, if that's the case I'm gonna submit two character designs to see which one fits better. Granted, these are rough drafts

Backstory-Born in Zaw's Rock to a miner and his wife, Retiarius held his father's occupation in contempt, believing the true measure of a man to be held in the roar and din of battle. Even as child, the young boy was often found brawling with other children and play fighting rather than tending to the ore as his father wished. By the time he had started to grow as a man, one of the more quiet miners approached him with an offer. Leave Zaw's Maw to serve the Dragon in battle. With such an offer, the deal was struck and Retiarius was quickly transported to the front line alongside the Dragon's warriors. There, as he had always expected, he found his calling. Armed with only a buckler scavenged from the dead and a fishing trident he had wormed out of the quarter master, he quickly earned his title of warrior. Using the lightness of his gear he took to bleeding the giants with prodding strikes, and provoking them with taunts.
Personality-The Definition of a braggadocio, Retiarius is boastful and showy fighter, always eager to prove his skills. Retiarius has no concern for honor, and will do anything for the glory of the kill. However, he is quite accustomed to the general warriors of the Dragons army, and the respect is mutual between them. As such he was chosen to serve as a go between the common men and the leaders hand picked by her.As long as Dragon can promise him good fights, Retiarus serves her with devotion rivaling her cult. His brutal cunning and vicious style of fighting has served her well, and lends itself well to insurgency.
Appearance-A lean man, Retiarius is still in the prime of his life, and makes sure to show it. The pelts of trophy hunts are woven into his slapdash mix of leather and metal armor and serve to accent his physique earned in combat. His buckler is marred with the marks of the giants weapons. When his helm is off, the young man's face is angular and sharp, giving him an intense air that is only encouraged by the presence of a few scars, namely a scrawling angry mass running along his cheek. However, the energy in battle shows itself in his exaggerated, almost theatrical motions.
I was thinking the Daring Champion, or some sort of dex based fighter. Perhaps a focus on disarming.

Background-Hailing from the land of Verrath, Audgisil was born under one of the numerous villages that served the dragon lords, living on the border between the tundra and the forests. Following the path of his family, he practiced the magic of old, marking himself with the ancient symbols of powers, sin magic. His family, using an ancient trick of sealing the sin marks in stones, keeping their heads calm Seeking the balance of nature, Audgisil began to master the elemental arts, tossing about fireballs or freezing bolts of ice with a careless whim. At the age of twelve, he was given to one of the lesser dragon lords, Iranos, as tribute. There, his education to magic continued, his lessons often accented with battlefield support. Unlike many mages, Audgisil lived for the frontlines, dodging blades as he responded with bursts of arcane death. For many years he served Iranos faithfully, serving as his magical specialist and right claw man. Due to recent events however, he found himself with a new master, the Dragon.
Personality-Calm and collected, Audgisil is lacking the stereotypical fiery temper or cold hearted personalities of elemental masters. He has accepted his place in the world is to serve the dragons who rule the world, and often works to keep the balance of the nature safe in doing their bidding. His age has him often giving pithy advice despite the lack of asking. In battle, his face maintains the same placid expression even as he burns men alive, or raising a wall of ice to protect the troops under his command. Those believing him to be weak in physical combat will soon find themselves facing a foe more than willing to bury his blade in their guts.
Appearance-A man in his mid thirties, Audgisil has the broad and solid constitution of a forgemaster. Nearly every inch of his skin is covered in arcane marks, often glowing as he exerts his will upon the world. His hair and beard are both long blonde affairs, small runic totems and artifacts woven into the strands.
I was thinking either a runesage mage or tattooed mage.

I was thinking multi-classing something/wizard and taking Arcane Archer prestige class.
I'm not too keen on ranger though. I was thinking rouge/wizard or druid/wizard and just burning a feat to get proficiency in longbow.
Or maybe just do fighter/wizard.

After looking at it a little more, don't think I'm gonna go after Arcane Archer.
Maybe fighter/rogue?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm going for Gnoll, still coming up with a character concept but definitely dotting for interest!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

It seems a hot-headed half-elf sorcerer might fit well into this campaign. I'm thinking cross-blooded elemental/draconic was hand picked by the Dragon. Possibly even going into dragon disciple, but unsure.

@Peet: There is now - a god named Akallin, for most intents and purposes the same as Gorum until I flesh him out more. :)

@Spacefurry: Heh, sadly I have the selected players roll in discussion (or rather, I roll for them). You're welcome to come up with a concept for a tiefling, but just know that you might have to modify it to be a non-tiefling. And cross-classing is perfectly fine - as you might have read above, I don't like powergaming and don't build worlds for powergaming, so cross-class characters have plenty of room to shine.

A short snippet:

Brianna never truly fit in her home town, she took to long stretches of riding and hunter in the wilds. She honed her strength and skills against men and beasts. She learned early on stealth was just as important and brawn. Brianna also learned that her best ally in these times was her horse, River. Strong and loyal, River stood beside her through many troubled times.

Snow falls gently across the woods as Brianna straps another fox pelt to the back of River’s saddle.
”Well River, looks like we have a full pack. Guess it’s time to head back to the trading post.”
River snorts and shakes his head and Brianne just smiles.
”Yes, yes. You can stay in the stables tonight.” The girl sighs ”A night in a room with a hot bath certainly does sound appealing.” She relented.
”I suppose we should get going then if we want to get there before night fall.” Brianna steps into the holster and swings herself up into the saddle.
With a silent command Brianna turns the horse towards civilization and begins the journey back to the post.

GM Mercy wrote:

Also, I'll warn you - part of the reason I'm happy to make these concessions in the event you are picked for the campaign is because that as a divine-caster character, I'm the one who controls the deity. What she's like, what her goals are, etc. Including what she commands you to do and not do. I imagine that's pretty standard for other GM's as well, but want to make sure it's clear.

Oh certainly!

It would be way too schizophrenic to do that all the time.
Plus it give me the opportunity to really play the dumb ogre.
The motivation and goals are set "from above" so he has no need to think about them for himself (that's arduous you know?!)

GM Mercy wrote:

(...) but you'll have to ride something like an aurochs or a yak (appropriate to the area). And then I'd get to call the deity Merry the Golden Milkmaid instead.

Mhhh, both animals are a bit ... unheroic? What about a mammoth or a wool rhinoceros? Could there be any left in the mountains?

@Merry the Milk Maid: Wow, that sounds ridiculous.
I mean ... MORE ridiculous than an Ogre Paladin-by-chance riding on an ochs into battle o.O

Backstory for Histrok:
When the Mantids first emerged, one of the dispersed communities was mainly populated by a small Hobgoblin tribe that had worked the iron into weapons to sell to other, larger war bands, or anyone in the region who would buy them. Skilled artisans, they were mainly left to their ways by their neighbors as an asset to the region. The Mantids, of course, had no respect for their skill at all, and so they fled to the East to find what shelter from the mindless assault they could.

The tribe wandered for some time before being taken in by the community which had formed around a monastery of worshipers of Finn. These mostly human warrior priests and their supporting villagers welcomed the arrival of the Hobgoblins who could smith the arms and armaments that would help bring them glory in their quests for their God. The transition wasn’t seamless of course, as different cultures will always clash some, but the two groups quickly found an equilibrium which left both better off than they had been before.

Histrok was the first Hobgoblin born into the tribe after this move. Raised among both Hobgoblins and Human, this one learned the traditions of their tribe as well as the new ways of their hosts. The strange bifurcated nature of the humans and their sexes wasn’t a mystery for the one who grew up seeing its implications from birth, so Histrok was often the one to explain implications that their tribe would have merely dismissed as irrelevant or nonsensical. The tribe leaned on Histrok’s understanding to get by even before the spirits appeared.

It was in Histrok’s 13th year that the sprits of their ancestors first began to appear to them. It was subtle at first, and Histrok took it in stride. Already used to being asked more than their years would normally justify, Histrok simply passed on what the spirits had to say as part of their duty to the tribe. The wisdom displayed far exceeded that of a typical youth, but as the tribe had already been seeking it, Histrok’s source of knowledge wasn’t questioned.

When the Orc raiding party swept through the region and killed or enslaved the entire joint community, Histrok was gone. The spirits had led them away to a secluded spring to share their wisdom, and when Histrok returned to the village there were only ashes and bodies. Without any living tribe to show the way, Histrok followed the advice of the spirits and moved further to the East.

It was the Sprits that guided Histrok into the Dragon’s territory. It was the spirits that helped Histrok settle outside of Twinford, the large, diverse community that Histrok would eventually come to think of as home. It was the spirits that guided Histrok to contact the local judge Torm “The Fair” Wilthrop and offer their services as a truth teller. With the help of the sprits Histrok was able to provide evidence in cases brought to Torm which allowed just settlements that would have otherwise been arbitrary. Histrok could hear the “truth,” and this, once verified, was recognized as a useful talent.

Twinford residents who Histrok spoke against didn’t always take the truth kindly, and there were times when Torm had to assign deputies as a protective escort, but Histrok was soon established as a valuable asset to justice in the region. When Torm’s Magistrate, Malcolm Syllistrum needed to review a major case from a neighboring territory, Torm sent Histrok as his representative to help. Malcom, seeing Histrok’s skill first hand help the Hobgoblin close after that.

It has been 2 years since Histrok joined Magistrate Syllistrum’s staff. They have toured the region, hearing and sharing the “truth” and gaining the trust of those in the Dragon’s hierarchy of command. When the Dragon sent word that a band was being formed to “civilize” the Gelkrosh lands and bring them under the influence of the Dragon Histrok petitioned Magistrate Syllium to recommend them as part of the expedition. The spirits guiding Histrok would see their people returned to a position of prominence in the region, and Histrok, as their representative had a chance to make this happen.

Magistrate Syllisturm and Judge Withrop both sent their recommendations to include Histrok as an advisor to the expedition. The practical experience surviving on their own, and their ability to sense the motives of those around them should both prove valuable skills for the party. For their part, Histrok hopes to follow the lead the spirits have provided and reclaim a home that their people once populated, driving out the Mantids and making the Gelkrosh region again safe for Hobgoblins to inhabit.

I envision Histrok as a Hobgoblin Lore Shaman who would provide divination support for the team as well as whatever combat and utility magic might be needed. Histrok doesn’t seek personal glory; they are the servant of the spirits of their people, but they would be competent and ambitious in-so-far as restoring a sustained, stable Hobgoblin presence to the Gelrosh region goes.

Let me know if that backstory jives with your history of the region or if there's anything that would need changing to make the story work. Clearly all the names are subject to GM discretion, and the regional details can be switched to keep the world consistent.

-Zorblag R`Lyeh

Swordwhale wrote:
GM Mercy wrote:

(...) but you'll have to ride something like an aurochs or a yak (appropriate to the area). And then I'd get to call the deity Merry the Golden Milkmaid instead.

Mhhh, both animals are a bit ... unheroic? What about a mammoth or a wool rhinoceros? Could there be any left in the mountains?

The crazy thing is that had I gone with my Hobgoblin Cavalier/Paladin/Cleric (I call it a Clavaldin) idea I would have been asking to use a Yak as a mount as it fits just right for the concept. Good to know that's what's in the region!

-Zorblag R`Lyeh

Hmm I was thinking about a Hunter, but with a Giant Mantis as an animal companion. I know you don't want to discuss much about builds, but Animal Companions are kinda central to Hunters and it would be remiss to not mention it in a backstory. Would it be possible for such an animal companion to exist though?

@Yak - What do you mean?

They are clearly fierce and majestic beasts! :P

@Giant Mantis Hunter - There's an archetype that might work?

@Yak: That's a nice pic. But would it be big enough? I mean, yak/aurochs start with medium size. So my mount would be SMALLER than me rather than BIGGER (or equal-sized by GM handwaving).
Smaller animal is rather ridiculous.
Image your off-the-mill half-orc riding a cat.
No, not a full-grown lion, an off-the-shelf house cat.
That's how it would look, if Gork would ride on a not-yet-grown aurochs/yak o.O

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