A Brief Introduction

Welcome to the Heroes of Godrage, the planet Cyrus is the setting for the happenings in the game. I have prepared this guide in hopes that it will make your journey easier and more easily understood. The guide assumes players are already familiar with role-playing in general and the AD&D system in particular. In the future the game will be slowly transformed to use a system and mechanics that are world specific but as they are reminiscent of AD&D, this system will suffice for the time being. Presently, most rules you will need are still found in the AD&D 2nd Edition PHB but the contents of this guide supersede material in published TSR and WotC sourcebooks. In other words, in the case of conflicting rules; the rules in this guide are supreme.

If you are unfamiliar with the AD&D and D&D systems and mechanics, I will advise that you play a standard race and class combination; like a human warrior or thief of your own gender for your first character. These race/class combinations will be easier to play and will make your experience much more relaxing and enjoyable. Once you feel you are comfortable with the system, feel free to play whatever you think will be most fun or challenging.

World specific information is there for whoever wishes to read it, but certain information will have to be gained through gameplay. That said I will not horde information your character should have but if it is not easily available through this guide, there is a reason I feel your character doesn’t have it. I am not infallible, feel free to ask questions about whatever you want and supply reasons why you feel your character should have that information. I, in turn, will judge what your character should realistically know on the topic. I will not let your personal unfamiliarity with the world and the way I run things hurt or affect your character.

Regardless of the appearance of this guide, it is still a work in progress. Changes will be made from time to time, so please refer back to it occasionally. I will try to let players know about any changes that might be made and any changes to the rules specific to your character can and will be applied retroactively, with no ill effects. If you feel something additional should be included in the guide please let me know about it. If you find information which seems contradictory or anything you feel is an outright mistake, please note where you found it and tell me about it.

That being said, I am human so I do make mistakes. I try to make judgments that are consistent but there is nothing precluding me changing or reversing a judgment once I am in possession of all the facts. I will correct myself when needed. I am not the enemy even though I play the enemies. Remember, I play your friends too. I want all of us to have fun and that is the only reason I play this game.

Basic Information

Cyrus is the fifth planet from a sun which is much like our own, though it is much more massive. Cyrus is a super-earth, meaning it is much larger than earth (over twice the size and mass) but in most other aspects it is nearly identical. It has the same type of climatic zones, though they are much larger, and the same type of weather patterns. The most glaring difference is that Cyrus has 5 moons.

The largest moon is called Da’Larna, which means “Worst Friend.” It has a highly elliptical and angular orbital pattern and its orbital cycle ranges from 1205 to 1095 days. The next smaller moon is called A’Larna, which means “Best Friend.” It also has an angular and elliptical orbit but like earth’s moon, other than a slight variation in size, it is hard to notice if you are not studying it. Its orbital cycle lasts for approximately 28 days and its orbit is much closer. The next smaller moon is called Shatka’Re, which means “Wrath of the Gods.” Its orbital path is shared with a field of dust and debris which cuts a swath across the sky when it is visible and gives Cyrus a visible ring if the planet is viewed from far away. This moon’s orbital cycle lasts for approximately 924 days. The fourth and fifth moons are smaller. Though one is actually larger than the other they both appear the same size due to their relative distances from the planet. They both have basically circular orbits. Mephit is soot black in color and the closer and smaller of the two. Its name means “minor demon.” Its orbital cycle lasts approximately 3 days. Oa is white in color and is the further and larger of the two. Its name means “light.” Its orbital cycle lasts approximately 8 ½ days.

Years are 365 days long (plus a smidge). Modern calendars on Cyrus divide the year into 13 months. The first and last 6 months have 28 days. The middle month (or the 7th) has 29. Each day consists of 24 hours. The year is broken into four seasons, each consisting of 3 ¼ months. The progression of seasons is; Seedtime (spring), Midyear (summer), Hearthlight (autumn) and Frostfall (winter). The year begins on the first day of Seedtime and ends on the last of Frostfall. The climate of the planet is exactly like earth’s. There are artic, sub-artic, tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones.

A Post-Fantasy World

Magic Saturates Everything during the Age of Destiny because religious priests and guild wizards are so highly organized and have had so long to advance their arts. In fact magic is so widely used it has supplanted many of the advancements and technologies that were made on our earth. This is primarily why the use of black powder never became prevalent and why actual medicine is practiced by so few. In many cases, magic simply is technology and it can be as innocuous as a continual light rock used in a street lamp or as ingenious as utilizing a summoned fire elemental to heat the boiler in a paddle boat’s steam engine.

There are many cultural centers where the arts are well cared for. Many technologies (like those for printing and farming for instance) were still created, perhaps in spite of any easy magical fix. For every cultured mega-city there are hundreds of decaying old cities, thousands of rising towns, tens of thousands of villages and hamlets, and vast expanses where populations see no value in advanced society. For every person who believes they are living an idyllic lifestyle at the dawn of an age of enlightenment, there are 2000 whose lives know only war and famine, fear and oppression, or sorrow and pain. There are unknowable numbers of ruins from antiquity, dark corners of superstition and hate and there are always schemers in the shadows.

Only three Mega-cities exist in the world, but more are being built. Mega-cities are centers of vast populations, where nearly everything is available for the asking. Only the vastly rich and those who feed off of their extravagance can afford to live in these cultural centers. The technology level in these “new cities” far surpasses that of the remainder of the world. Things that are normal facets of everyday life here would still be considered supernatural or frightening to more common folk. These cities represent what their world’s societies are headed for in a future, something some might describe as a period of decadence due to a stalled and over-extended renaissance (or “post-fantasy”).

Traditional, big and little cities are the cultural centers of a lifestyle that seems to be coming to an end. The inhabitants of these “old cities” have only just begun to realize that their way of life is endangered. Any artists or artisans worth their salt are in the process of moving to one of the mega-cities, leaving behind crumbling walls and towers. Troubled nobles are scrambling for any leverage they can find to keep their places in the world. Populations in these centers are declining sharply due to the mega-cities’ ability to house so many people. In turn their demand for products is leaving less and less for the old cities. Technology in old cities is about average for a fantastical, magic-medium, renaissance era Europe.

The life common for people in big and little-type cities is starting to carry over into larger towns. These towns are becoming equally as important as the cities, or perhaps it is just that those cities are becoming less important. Citizens of towns are finding that there is more demand for the products they produce and thus are starting to experiment with methods for increasing the rate at which they can be produced. They are also seeking more advanced methods for transporting their goods because they are providing more and more for places that are further and further away. The technology level in a town is far lower than that of even an old city, but they are advancing at an alarming rate or at least that’s what townsfolk think. These areas are about average for a fantastical, magic-lite, late middle-ages to early renaissance era setting.

Villages and hamlets in outlying areas are not quite as advanced and still reflect the traditional characteristics of a fantasy setting. People in these areas pay little attention to the goings-on in what they see as far-flung areas of the world. The demand for products from the new and old cities is felt even this far into the country but this only serves to put a little extra coin into the pockets of inhabitants. The average technology level in these areas more reflects the early middle-ages but could be flavored to be reminiscent of periods of the late bronze age or the iron age. Magic is still present (as nearly every village or hamlet will have at least one resident priest and/or wizard) but it is not quite as in-your-face. Of course that is the societal norm. You might find that there are places that are far more (or less) advanced as you travel further into the wild.

Traditional Fantasy Races exist on Cyrus but for the most part they are changed from their standard selves. Humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs are all present but they are for the most part, races in decline. The ages of elves and men have come and gone. These established fantasy races are now at low points in their power and some are in danger of fading away entirely. That is not to say that these races are not present and still somewhat powerful, it just means that their days seem to be waning. The world has many other sentient life-forms. Aluft, Amurians, Centaurs, Cyclops, Eurynomos, Faerie, Half-giants, Half-dragons, Goblins, Lizardmen, Mulls, Sirens/Tritons and Tabaxti are all races hoping to fill the vacuum of power.

An important aside: in the context of this guide “race” does not refer to the color of one’s skin. More scientifically, “race” determines your genus and species (example: humans are collectively known as Homo Sapiens, thus elves might be known as Homo Aldarus and so on). There are certain places in the world where you can rub elbows with members of every race and everyone is at ease. This does not mean that racists and bigotry do not exist, but expressions of racism are normally reserved for people of other races, and then only the races you don’t like. The two rules of thumb are; 1) places that have diverse cosmopolitan populations usually have few racists. 2) Tight knit societies of closed thinkers, where only one race is represented (or just a few), tend to have more.

Life in Post Fantasy Societies

Fantasy settings represent a very antiseptic view of life in medieval and renaissance europe. Even what I have written above seems like it was steam cleaned before I put it on the page. Life is messy and society is even more-so. The medieval and renaissance eras were perhaps some of the most unfair and grimiest times in the history of the word. It was so bad in fact that even the existence of extraordinary amounts of magic could not hope to right every wrong or wash away all of the dirt. While certain parts of the world are heading towards a more enlightened age, they seem to be doing so while standing on the back of other parts.

The snippets of information below represent the standard flavor of life on Cyrus and are intended to help you immerse yourself in the muck of the world. They are overall truisms of the campaign but exact details will vary from one culture to the next. Cyrus is not earth but many of the standards of culture are very earthlike. You must balance your understanding of a world that is still gritty and savage while it maintains vast amounts of magic.

The majority of people work very hard. Most people who live outside of the mega-cities earn their living as some kind of farmer, even if they live within only a day’s travel. More scientific (or magical) methods of farming are used in those farms just outside the new cities but beyond that you will see more traditional farms. In these areas the power needed to work a farm can be supplied by wind and water but most often it is due to the strength of animals, and the power of the farmer’s back. The crops on an average farm still don’t yield much more than what the farmers need to survive. Huge plantations with massive workforces are needed to feed the population centers.

Most people do not have all they want to eat. Even in a mega-city, commoners only have the means to provide enough food for their families. They very rarely have more and most often have less. Only the very rich have all the food they want, and in hard times even they might have to tighten their belts. This is one of the main things which magic has a major effect on. Priests and shaman are so ubiquitous that crushing famines are all but unheard of. Similarly, droughts, crop plagues and infestations are usually easily handled by clerics.

There are nearly no doctors to treat ailments. Even in the new cities, the practice of medicine never became popular due to the existence of priests and shaman. People still have plenty of ailments and diseases but doctors are nowhere to be found. Most religions still expect tithes for services rendered, so common folk can still expect to have to live with their imperfections. Diseases and plagues are very rare though. Priests and shaman are expected to act within the best interest of the populous mostly because it is in their best interest to remain in the public’s favor. Outbreaks of a communicable nature are usually taken care of before they get out of hand. But, a few diseases and plagues have proven to be beyond the power of these holy men to cure by magic alone.

The world is still pre-industrial. There are no off the rack fashions. Each piece of clothing and each tool are still handmade one at a time, there are no assembly lines. While there will always be stores and shops where you can go and buy things, there is never a guarantee that what you want is available everywhere. Even though the means to make things has become much more available in more civilized areas, craftsmen and merchants are not foolish enough to flood the markets. Each drop of sweat still has its price but consumers are not so foolish as to overpay for common items.

Even clothing is a luxury. Most people own one outfit. While it is easier to produce finished clothes due to innovations like the magical spinning wheel, common folk still cannot afford to own a normal spinning wheel let alone something so luxurious. A rich person might own a variety of clothing but they hardly ever produce them themselves. Most commoners are too poor to be able to purchase a second set of clothes unless they get them from the rag man or a used clothier. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is it still takes the same amount of time to produce the amount of raw material needed to make just one shirt.

Most people do not travel. Most common folk usually live their entire lives never having traveled more than 20 or so miles from the place where they have lived since the day they were born. While advanced, magical forms of travel exist they are still rare and expensive, and seldom travel to places other than; between large population areas. For the most part, travel is still accomplished in the old fashion ways; rowing or sail boats, horses, animal powered wagons, and most often with a person’s own feet.

There are still few roads worthy of a name and those that are, only allow travel between the largest cities. Even these roads become less advanced the further you travel from the more cultured areas. There were many old roads that connected ancient population centers but these have fallen into disrepair and become more and more neglected as their destinations become less important. Even important, well-kept roads are little more than overland trade routes. Most travel is still accomplished utilizing minor roads, caravan trails and paths.

People are provincial. In addition to never traveling far from home, common folk seldom know about things that happen outside their local area; unless it happened long in the past. While rumors will abound about happenings in far off lands and people who have never been seen, the facts contained in such rumors usually bear little resemblance to the truth. The world is populated with the ignorant. Strangers and wanderers (like PCs) are viewed with suspicion, especially in places that seldom see visitors.

Most maps are created by people who have not seen the world and are doing so using what are at best, second hand accounts. “Here be Monsters!” is usually less a statement of actual known monsters, than an admission that "we have no idea what lives here.” That being said with the end of the Age of Destiny rapidly approaching, there are few areas left that are unexplored; or at least that is what is believed. Again, the world is populated with ignorance.

Nearly all nations on Cyrus are armed societies and as such are polite. Very few places require one to surrender or not carry their weapons. There may be an area, a specific place or a particular event where the carrying of a certain type of weapon or weapons (or any weapon) might be outlawed or disallowed but this is not the norm. Even the downtrodden are rarely complacent enough to allow themselves to be disarmed by those in power.

People are respectful of each other, even those they don’t know or trust. Those who make a habit of being disrespectful and rude to others rarely live long. In even the most civilized of nations an insult might be dealt with through a duel or simple vengeance. Eventually even the supremely powerful will run into that one person they just shouldn’t have messed with. Honor is one’s only true claim to respect, and the poorest wretch will defend it with his dying breath.

A Brief Introduction

Heroes of Godsrage Molotdet Molotdet