Malar, 'The Shattered Empire'


Round 2: Design a country

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RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

I'll try to have the rewrite up by Thursday morning. Work is taking up a lot of my time. I also plan to make a more detailed explanation of thought process and what I was aiming for.

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

As promised, the rewrite. Please tell me what you think.

Spoiler:

Kunrasha, “The Shattered Empire”

Introduction

Two hundred years ago, the powerful Kunrasha Empire crumbled in a bloody year of conflict. The empire had begun when the tribal hobgoblins of the Myra Hills began to organize around a cleric of the goddess Kunra. She was a harsh and jealous goddess who demanded complete devotion; but in return she gifted her people with knowledge and power. Her clerics became powerful leaders amongst her followers who began to call themselves the Irkunri, Kunra’s Children. As their confidence in their own power grew, the Irkunri began to raid their neighbours. Raids soon became wars. Kingdoms fell. The Empire grew until it covered a third of the world. Conquered lands were forced to follow Kunra’s teachings, abide by her clerics and speak her language.

Many of the conquered peoples despised the tyrannical Irkunri, praying secretly to their old gods. It was these prayers that sealed the fate of the Empire. It is said that the gods approached Kunra and demanded she release those that she had so harshly enslaved. She refused, stating that if the gods could not protect their people, then those people deserved to be conquered. Enraged by her arrogance, the other gods slew her. She fell from the sky as a great burning orb, impacting with the Myra Hills in a shower of debris and flame that destroyed her. Deprived of their god, Kunra’s clerics became powerless. Leaderless and confused the Irkunri faltered as the other gods rallied the conquered peoples. The Empire fractured and collapsed as Kunra’s faithful fled to the place where she had died.

Today, Kunrasha is a shattered empire stubbornly clinging onto the old traditions of a dead deity.

The Peoples

The Irkunri are mostly hobgoblins, though humans, goblins, orcs and half-orcs also call themselves Kunri’s children. They are a sullen people, blunt and stand offish, but hard working with a driving need to prevail. Their pride is evident when dealing with others. They adhere stubbornly to tradition and are reluctant to change their ways, even if it means that they may be saved.

The Land

Kunrasha is a barren, rugged, and rocky scrubland, bordered by the Borund Ocean to the west, the Wyrmhewn Mountains to the north, and the desolate Akthelan Plains to the east. Armies of the once conquered realms march across the Akthelan Plains to finish off the Irkunri, but none have succeeded yet. South of the mountains in the Myra Hills, the great Kadabora Crater resides. It is here that the goddess fell. The crater has become the most holy of sites for the Irkunri. Those who are loyal to the memory of the dead goddess visit the crater.

The Cities

Kunrasha’s few settlements are port and mining towns or defensive strongholds. Most Irkunri live in rural areas as nomadic herders. Four great cities still remain. Bashkeran, a coastal city, was the capital of Kunrasha at the Empire’s peak. Once housing over 300,000 people of all races; it is now but a mere 20,000, its great estates and temples lying in ruin. The expanding port city of Kulkeran holds an estimated 17,000. It is a cosmopolitan city of merchants and traders from every kingdom, intent on trading for the superior Irkunri steel. The stronghold of Tarkimet has a garrison of 4,000 that defend the Novkor Pass, the only route into Kunrasha through the Wyrmhewn Mountains. Finally, the capital city Kadaboran, a massive ramshackle city of over 200,000, that has grown around Kadabora Crater’s edge to house the influx of pilgrims to the crater. The city is sorely lacking in amenities and infrastructure.

The Government

The immortal Bropok (Widower) Undard Volorkis, the last cleric of Kunra, rules the Irkunri. He is a serious and focused individual, festering with the hatred of the gods that had killed his beloved Kunra. He is the final authority on all things. His advisors are made up of the Kovor (Governors) and the Hepar (Generals). The Kovor rule the cities and the settlements in the cities’ immediate vicinity with a firm hand, while the Hepar rule the strongholds with strict military efficiency. The rest of Kunrasha is split into tribal districts, each ruled by the most prominent local family. The general alignment of the realm is lawful evil.

DM’s Secrets

When Kunra impacted with the Myra Hills, her essence was infused into pieces of the crater’s debris. Anyone possessing one of these essence stones gains the fiendish template.

The souls of the Irkunri no longer have a deity to guide them to the afterlife. They walk the world as ethereal undead, looking for a way to cross over. They feel compelled to go to their deity’s final resting place. Thus, the crater is full of the souls of two centuries worth of Irkunri dead and many undead are seen walking the lands.

The Bropok gains his immortality and clerical powers from the crater of souls. He must remain within a few miles of the crater or his power fades.

The Bropok’s head advisor, the Kovor of Bashkeran, Tragurn Kovolik has come to the conclusion that the essence stones may be able to bring the goddess back by placing them in the crater. He is trying to collect all the stones so he may see his plan through at all costs.

The Kovor of Kulkeran, Ravreg Vars is becoming more and more disillusioned with the old ways, and sees the Bropok as an outdated figurehead. He is hiring foreign mercenaries in a hope to defend the city when he secedes from Kunrasha.

Cults of foreign gods have begun to appear in Kulkeran and Ravreg is doing nothing about it.

The treasures of the old empire still lay buried in the ruins of some of the great temples in Bashkeran.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Spar wrote:

As promised, the rewrite. Please tell me what you think.

Kunrasha, “The Shattered Empire”

I think it's tremendously improved. Nice job.

I wonder, though, about your first DM secret. You now have anyone in possession of a shard gaining thedemonic template.

Even non-hobgoblins? Does the change happen instantly? Does it affect my alignment? Do I get rid of the template if I set the shard down, or have atonement cast on me?

I thought the idea that it would be a cleric's focus worked pretty well. This makes those shards super-charged.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Chris Mortika wrote:
Spar wrote:

As promised, the rewrite. Please tell me what you think.

Kunrasha, “The Shattered Empire”

I think it's tremendously improved. Nice job.

I wonder, though, about your first DM secret. You now have anyone in possession of a shard gaining thedemonic template.

Even non-hobgoblins? Does the change happen instantly? Does it affect my alignment? Do I get rid of the template if I set the shard down, or have atonement cast on me?

I thought the idea that it would be a cleric's focus worked pretty well. This makes those shards super-charged.

Good point. I saw them as slowly taking over the character. Also, because the character has the template, the Kovor of Bashkeran will be looking for people who seem to have gained the template. Who knows what he will throw at the characters to get the stone back.

That said, I have always felt that the DM secrets area should be suggestions, not hard and fast rules. Let the DM set the tone for his world based on the idea in the section. My two cents worth.


Yes, rewrite improved things considerably.

And I am still amused of the idea of restless dead souls. Are you by any chance familiar with shamanism in Siberia? Because I saw once a documentary of Nanai people who (believe they) have that very problem...

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder aka Robert G. McCreary

William, as a fellow hobgoblin devotee, I thought Malar had great potential. As others have said, the choice of Malar as a name was unfortunate, but of course you can't expect everyone to know about everything that's been published.

I also think the hobgoblins should have been mentioned right from the outset. I can see why you may have done it as a surprise reveal, and can understand the appeal of that, but since they provide the key context for everything else, it should have been clear from the start. (Of course, I don't know your real reasons for doing it that way, so feel free to ignore me if I'm completely off base.)

I did enjoy the new take on hobgoblins, and even better, this wasn't an obvious militaristic, expansionist, hobgoblin empire, but the remains of one. That was an inspired choice, and made it much more interesting.

I haven't had time to read your rewrite yet, but I definitely will. Good luck to you!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

SargonX wrote:

William, as a fellow hobgoblin devotee, I thought Malar had great potential. As others have said, the choice of Malar as a name was unfortunate, but of course you can't expect everyone to know about everything that's been published.

I also think the hobgoblins should have been mentioned right from the outset. I can see why you may have done it as a surprise reveal, and can understand the appeal of that, but since they provide the key context for everything else, it should have been clear from the start. (Of course, I don't know your real reasons for doing it that way, so feel free to ignore me if I'm completely off base.)

I did enjoy the new take on hobgoblins, and even better, this wasn't an obvious militaristic, expansionist, hobgoblin empire, but the remains of one. That was an inspired choice, and made it much more interesting.

I haven't had time to read your rewrite yet, but I definitely will. Good luck to you!

You're right, I went for the shock value of the nation being hobgoblins. Very sloppy I realize, but I thought it might work. It was a gamble.

As for the hobgoblin nation, my players have played in a similar area where the crumbled empire wasn't elven or dwarven or human, but goblin. I had set up a world that had been conquered and reconquered by the hobgoblins a number of times, and all the great ancient ruins were to the hobgoblin pantheon. It made for a fun game and I wanted to try and catch some of that here. Oh well. Looking forward to your take on the rewrite. Thanks for sharing.

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

magdalena thiriet wrote:

Yes, rewrite improved things considerably.

And I am still amused of the idea of restless dead souls. Are you by any chance familiar with shamanism in Siberia? Because I saw once a documentary of Nanai people who (believe they) have that very problem...

Thanks for giving the rewrite a read. As for the Nanai, I know a little bit(heard the name in a gaming supplement called Frost and Fur) but not a lot. Looks like I may have to look a little further :)

Thanks Magdalena,

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

I just wanted to say thanks to those who did vote for Malar. I hope you have fun with the rewrite and enjoy the other countries. If any of the Top 16 read this, Good Luck. If the Judges read this, Thank You. This has been a blast all.

WC

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Thanks, the rewrite reads well.

I agree that the wandering souls are a highlight of both versions.

I thought the essence stones were more interesting before. It's probably a Spelljammer and Planescape-derived interest in different ways that physical keys can work for clerical powers.


Spar wrote:

Thanks for giving the rewrite a read. As for the Nanai, I know a little bit(heard the name in a gaming supplement called Frost and Fur) but not a lot. Looks like I may have to look a little further :)

Main idea is that Nanai, shamanist people in eastern Siberia, have a ritual called Kasa Taori where the shaman guides the spirits of the dead to Underworld. The problem is that Stalin had qualified Nanai shamans killed in mid-30's (same happened with many other people around the same time) so after that spirits of dead have walked among the living and world is generally going to worse, their lifestyle is failing, more and more people commit suicides etc.

(even though Kasa Taori was performed to specific dead spirits, all the dead were supposed to follow when it was performed so it wasn't done separately for every dead person).

Makes me wonder, why there isn't more ancestral worship in RPGs, it comes in many interesting flavors...

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

magdalena thiriet wrote:
Spar wrote:

Thanks for giving the rewrite a read. As for the Nanai, I know a little bit(heard the name in a gaming supplement called Frost and Fur) but not a lot. Looks like I may have to look a little further :)

Main idea is that Nanai, shamanist people in eastern Siberia, have a ritual called Kasa Taori where the shaman guides the spirits of the dead to Underworld. The problem is that Stalin had qualified Nanai shamans killed in mid-30's (same happened with many other people around the same time) so after that spirits of dead have walked among the living and world is generally going to worse, their lifestyle is failing, more and more people commit suicides etc.

(even though Kasa Taori was performed to specific dead spirits, all the dead were supposed to follow when it was performed so it wasn't done separately for every dead person).

Makes me wonder, why there isn't more ancestral worship in RPGs, it comes in many interesting flavors...

Very interesting. This is a lot closer to the original concept I had for my country. As for the ancestor worship in RPG's, I have a world that I have been working on for a while that has a major empire that is nothing but ancestor worship. Their whole society revolves around lineage and knowing one's ancestors. They believe the only way to be immortal is to be remembered, and that their ancestors are the foundation of who they are. They are a VERY traditional people who use necromancy to talk to dead relatives and make sure they stay true to the path their ancestors had founded.


Love the rewrite. Nice work.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

@Starglim and Mythfish

Thanks for reading the rewrite, glad you liked it.

Starglim, I agree, but I had so much feedback that the item was 'unbalanced' that I changed it. My point for the stones had always been that the goddess was dead and that because a bit of her essence was in the stones, the stone GAVE the power of cleric levels. Hence, if you lost the stone, you lost the connection to the goddess. It made for some cool role playing stuff, but I guess I was the only one that saw the stones that way. Oh well.

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