Mass Combat in Ghastly Affair Part II – Cavalry Units

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Meissonier - 1814, Campagne de France

See also: Mass Combat in Ghastly Affair Part I – Infantry Units

Some Notes on 18th Century and Napoleonic Cavalry

The typical Cavalry of the 18th Century and Napoleonic era were called either “Dragoons” or “Carabiniers”. In earlier centuries the term “Dragoon” had referred to Infantry units that rode into battle but dismounted to fight, but had come to designate general-purpose or (“Line”) Cavalry capable of fighting both in open and close formations. The term “Carabinier” on the other hand, made reference to the short-barreled musket (carbine) that was the main artillery weapon of most Cavalry units. Other, more specialized types of Cavalry included “Hussars” (light raiding units that wore Hungarian-inspired uniforms and mustaches), “Lancers” (which carried long lances that made their charges especially formidable) and Cuirassiers (heavy units who wore steel breastplates and helmets). Whatever his designation and primary weapon, every cavalryman also carried a pistol, and some kind of sword or saber for hand-to-hand combat

Serving in (or officering) a cavalry unit was considered much more prestigious (and romantic) than service in an infantry (or artillery) unit. Because they frequently had to provide their own horses and pay for their own training, cavalry tended to be drawn from higher up the social scale than the infantry. Cavalry officers had an especial reputation for arrogance and imperiousness, which was particularly notable among “Hussar” units. Besides the overall unit commander, every Cavalry unit had a Bugler or Trumpeter, who communicated orders and help maintain morale by playing their horn. A minor officer called a “Cornet” (comparable to the Ensign of an Infantry unit) carried the flag or banner of the unit. Often, the Cornet also assumed the duties of the Trumpeter.

Not only would the soldiers in a unit wear a distinctive uniform, but it was also common for all the horses in a Cavalry unit to be the same breed – and often, the same color.

ScotsGreys

CAVALRY COMPANY

60 to 120 soldiers mounted on horses and acting as a unit.

Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 – 3
Initial Impression: About a hundred mounted soldiers in uniform, accompanied by occasional blasts from a bugle.

Size: Large (150’ x 20’ in Line, 60’ x 60’ in Wedge, 150’ x 100’ in Skirmish Line)
Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Captain) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 7,200 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 12

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 30
Attacks: 1 (carbines and pistols; or sabers, lances, pistols, and trampling) [½ Damage when in Wedge or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Troops, Charge, Form Line, Form Wedge, Form Skirmish Line, Immune to Single Target Magic, Multiple Attacks, Trample Infantry.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical.
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished.
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)

Level: 10

An 18th Century Cavalry Company is approximately 100 mounted men commanded by a Captain. Two Companies joined together form a Cavalry Squadron.

A Cavalry Company reduced to 0 Hit Points becomes two Cavalry Troops in Skirmish Line formation. A 300’ diameter area around the center point where the Company broke will be filled with dead horses, slain men, and scattered equipment. All movement through that area is at half Speed, it cannot be Charged through, and any other Military Units within that area (other than Infantry in Square) are forced into Skirmish Line formation.

Cavalry Company Special Abilities.

Charge: If a Cavalry Company in Line or Wedge formation gallops at full speed towards a target or unit for at least one full Round, the Company does double damage (1d6 +Damage Bonus, times 2) on its first Round of hand-to-hand combat (except against an Infantry unit in Square formation). The Company can make no attacks during the Round(s) spent galloping towards its target, however.

Dissolve into Troops. A Company can be broken up into 4 or 5 independent Cavalry Troops.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of horses in two rows, nearly shoulder to shoulder. A Company in a Line inflicts full 1d6+30 damage on each attack. It takes 10 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Wedge: A Wedge is a triangular formation of horses attacking with its apex pointed at its opponent. A Cavalry unit in Wedge formation does only half damage on a successful attack, but any defending Infantry Units in Line or Column must immediately check Morale or involuntarily devolve into a Skirmish Line (and allow the Cavalry to ride through them it if wants). It takes 10 Rounds to form a Wedge.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an irregular and open formation that allows horses maximum freedom of movement, and makes the unit harder to target with cannons. A unit in Skirmish Line can also occupy the same area as an opponent. However, a Company in a Skirmish Line only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 3 Rounds to deliberately Form a Skirmish Line from any other formation.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because a Cavalry Company is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Company can attack multiple targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Company makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

 

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+30

2

+15

3

+10

4

+8

5

+6

Trample Infantry: A Cavalry Company does double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) when engaged in hand-to-hand combat against Infantry units (except those in Square formation).

Cavalry Company Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After its first volley of pistol or carbine fire, a Company in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Company spends a full Turn not firing its guns, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy: Almost all Cavalry units are –2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore pistols and carbines. Furthermore, smooth-bore pistols are completely inaccurate past 225 feet, and carbines past 350 feet.

August Querfurt - Schlachtenmotiv

CAVALRY PATROL

10 to 20 soldiers mounted on horses and acting as a unit.

Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: About a dozen mounted soldiers in uniform, accompanied by occasional blasts from a bugle.
Size: Large (20’ x 20’ in Line, 20’ x 20’ in Wedge, 50’ x 30’ in Skirmish Line)

Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Sergeant) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 1,200 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 12

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1 (carbines and pistols; or sabers, lances, pistols, and trampling) [½ Damage when in Wedge or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Troops, Charge, Form Line, Form Skirmish Line, Multiple Attacks, Trample Infantry.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical.
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished.
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit).

Level: 6

A Cavalry Patrol is the smallest unit of Cavalry, typically encountered while performing reconnaissance for a larger unit. Typically it consists of about a dozen cavalrymen commanded by either a junior Lieutenant, or a Sergeant.

A Cavalry Patrol reduced to 0 Hit Points breaks up into 5 or 6 mounted individuals. A 40’ diameter area around the center point where the Patrol broke will be filled with dead horses, slain men, and scattered equipment. All movement through that area is at half Speed, it cannot be Charged through, and any other Military Units within that area (other than Infantry in Square) are forced into Skirmish Line formation.

Cavalry Patrol Special Abilities.

Charge: If a Cavalry Patrol in Line or Wedge formation gallops at full speed towards a target or unit for at least one full Round, the Patrol does double damage (1d6 +Damage Bonus, times 2) on its first Round of hand-to-hand combat (except against an Infantry unit in Square formation). The Patrol can make no attacks during the Round(s) spent galloping towards its target, however.

Dissolve Unit: A Patrol can be broken up into individual cavalrymen and horses.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of horses in two rows, nearly shoulder to shoulder. A Patrol in a Line inflicts full 1d6+6 damage on each attack. It takes 10 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an irregular and open formation that allows horses maximum freedom of movement, and makes the unit harder to target with cannons. A unit in Skirmish Line can also occupy the same area as an opponent. However, a Patrol in a Skirmish Line only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 3 Rounds to deliberately Form a Skirmish Line from any other formation.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because a Cavalry Patrol is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Patrol can attack up to 4 targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Patrol makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+6

2

+3

3 – 4

+2

Trample Infantry: A Cavalry Patrol does double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) when engaged in hand-to-hand combat against Infantry units (except those in Square formation).

Cavalry Patrol Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After its first volley of pistol or carbine fire, a Patrol in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Patrol spends a full Turn not firing its guns, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy: Almost all Cavalry units are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore pistols and carbines. Furthermore, smooth-bore pistols are completely inaccurate past 225 feet, and carbines past 350 feet.

Battle of Vauchamps by Reville

CAVALRY SQUADRON

120 to 240 soldiers mounted on horses and acting as a unit.

Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 – 3
Initial Impression: About two hundred mounted soldiers in uniform, accompanied by occasional blasts from a bugle.
Size: Large (300’ x 20’ in Line, 80’ x 80’ in Wedge, 300’ x 100’ in Skirmish Line)

Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Lieutenant Colonel) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 14,400 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 12

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 60
Attacks: 1 (carbines and pistols; or sabers, lances, pistols, and trampling) [½ Damage when in Wedge or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Companies, Charge, Form Line, Form Wedge, Form Skirmish Line, Multiple Attacks, Trample Infantry.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical.
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished.
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)

Level: 10

A Squadron of Cavalry is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, Major, or Chef d’Escadron. Two Squadrons make a full Cavalry Regiment, commanded by a Colonel.

A Cavalry Squadron reduced to 0 Hit Points becomes a Cavalry Company in Skirmish Line formation. A 500’ diameter area around the center point where the Squadron broke will be filled with dead horses, slain men, and scattered equipment. All movement through that area is at half Speed, it cannot be Charged through, and any other Military Units within that area (other than Infantry in Square) are forced into Skirmish Line formation.

Cavalry Squadron Special Abilities

Charge: If a Cavalry Squadron in Line or Wedge formation gallops at full speed towards a target or unit for at least one full Round, the Squadron does double damage (1d6 +Damage Bonus, times 2) on its first Round of hand-to-hand combat (except against an Infantry unit in Square formation). The Squadron can make no attacks during the Round(s) spent galloping towards its target, however.

Dissolve into Companies. A Squadron can be broken up into 2 independent Cavalry Companies.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of horses in two rows, nearly shoulder to shoulder. A Squadron in a Line inflicts full 1d6+60 damage on each attack. It takes 10 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Wedge: A Wedge is a triangular formation of horses attacking with its apex pointed at its opponent. A Cavalry unit in Wedge formation does only half damage on a successful attack, but any defending Infantry Units in Line or Column must immediately check Morale or involuntarily devolve into a Skirmish Line (and allow the Cavalry to ride through them it if wants). It takes 10 Rounds to form a Wedge.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an irregular and open formation that allows horses maximum freedom of movement, and makes the unit harder to target with cannons. A unit in Skirmish Line can also occupy the same area as an opponent. However, a Squadron in a Skirmish Line only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 3 Rounds to deliberately Form a Skirmish Line from any other formation.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because a Cavalry Squadron is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Squadron can attack multiple targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Squadron makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+60

2

+30

3

+20

4

+15

5

+12

6

+10

Trample Infantry: A Cavalry Squadron does double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) when engaged in hand-to-hand combat against Infantry units (except those in Square formation).

Cavalry Squadron Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After its first volley of pistol or carbine fire, a Squadron in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Squadron spends a full Turn not firing its guns, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy: Almost all Cavalry units are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore pistols and carbines. Furthermore, smooth-bore pistols are completely inaccurate past 225 feet, and carbines past 350 feet.

Peterloo Massacre

CAVALRY TROOP

20 to 40 soldiers mounted on horses and acting as a unit.

Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 or 2
Initial Impression: Approximately thirty mounted soldiers in uniform, accompanied by occasional blasts from a bugle.
Size: Large (45’ x 20’ in Line, 30’ x 30’ in Wedge, 80’ x 40’ in Skirmish Line)

Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Lieutenant or Sergeant) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 2,400 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 12

Armor Class: None
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 1 (carbines and pistols; or sabers, lances, pistols, and trampling) [½ Damage when in Wedge or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Troops, Charge, Form Line, Form Wedge, Form Skirmish Line, Multiple Attacks, Trample Infantry.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical.
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished.
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit).

Level: 10

A Cavalry Troop is approximately 30 mounted men generally commanded by either a Lieutenant or a Sergeant.

A Cavalry Troop reduced to 0 Hit Points becomes a Cavalry Patrol in Skirmish Line formation. A 60’ diameter area around the center point where the Troop broke will be filled with dead horses, slain men, and scattered equipment. All movement through that area is at half Speed, it cannot be Charged through, and any other Military Units within that area (other than Infantry in Square) are forced into Skirmish Line formation.

Cavalry Troop Special Abilities

Charge: If a Cavalry Troop in Line or Wedge formation gallops at full speed towards a target or unit for at least one full Round, the Troop does double damage (1d6 +Damage Bonus, times 2) on its first Round of hand-to-hand combat (except against an Infantry unit in Square formation). The Troop can make no attacks during the Round(s) spent galloping towards its target, however.

Dissolve into Patrols. A Troop can be broken up into 3 independent Cavalry Patrols.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of horses in two rows, nearly shoulder to shoulder. A Troop in a Line inflicts full 1d6+10 damage on each attack. It takes 10 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Wedge: A Wedge is a triangular formation of horses attacking with its apex pointed at its opponent. A Cavalry unit in Wedge formation does only half damage on a successful attack, but any defending Infantry Units in Line or Column must immediately check Morale or involuntarily devolve into a Skirmish Line (and allow the Cavalry to ride through them it if wants). It takes 10 Rounds to form a Wedge.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an irregular and open formation that allows horses maximum freedom of movement, and makes the unit harder to target with cannons. A unit in Skirmish Line can also occupy the same area as an opponent. However, a Troop in a Skirmish Line only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 3 Rounds to deliberately Form a Skirmish Line from any other formation.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because a Cavalry Troop is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Troop can attack up to 4 targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Troop makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

 

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+10

2

+5

3

+3

4

+2

Trample Infantry: A Cavalry Troop does double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) when engaged in hand-to-hand combat against Infantry units (except those in Square formation).

Cavalry Troop Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After its first volley of pistol or carbine fire, a Troop in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Troop spends a full Turn not firing its guns, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Pistol and Carbine Inaccuracy: Almost all Cavalry units are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore pistols and carbines. Furthermore, smooth-bore pistols are completely inaccurate past 225 feet, and carbines past 350 feet.

Grande Armée - 10th Regiment of Cuirassiers - Colonel

Specialized Cavalry Units

Cuirassiers: These heavy unit wear steel breastplates and helmets that give them Armor Class 5. However, they are slower than other units, moving at Speed 11, rather than 12.

Chasseurs: These light units are faster than others, moving at Speed 13. They are often used for reconnaissance, or to harry supply lines.

Cossacks: These Russian units are especially brave and hardy, having Constitution scores of 11 (rather than 9), and the Asset “High Morale”. However, they have the Weakness “Hard to Control”, so all attempts to issue battlefield orders to Cossacks incur a -3 Penalty on the Charisma Check.

Hussars: These elite units ride especially fast horses, wear faux Hungarian costumes, and sport long mustaches. They move at Speed 13, and have the Asset “High Morale”, conferring a +3 Bonus on all Morale Checks. The culture of Hussar units actually encourages them to plunder and commit atrocities against civilians, however, so they have Perversity 14 rather than 13.

Lancers / Ulans/ Uhlans: These units carry long lances, which are typically embellished with colorful pennants. For the first Round of Hand-to-hand fighting after a Charge, Lancers automatically win Initiative, and receive a +1 Bonus on their Attack Check. German Lancers are called “Ulans”, while the famous Polish lancers are “Uhlans” (with an “h”).

Mameluks: These Egyptian mercenaries are especially skilled with their sabers, enjoying a +1 Bonus when engaged in Hand-to-Hand fights.

Mass Combat in Ghastly Affair Part I – Infantry Units

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Battle of Waterloo 1815

The lack of Mass Combat rules in Ghastly Affair might seem glaring in light of its default setting, the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon. What follows is an attempt to rectify that omission. It makes possible scenarios such as a Company of British infantry cut off from its Regiment and facing down revenants in the Tabernas Desert during the Peninsular War, or a Troop of French cavalry from the Grande Armée attempting to flee Russia while threatened by werewolves and General Winter alike.

The tentative method of mass combat here presented is to treat whole military units (Battalions, Companies, etc.) as single beings (much as Ghastly Affair does with Angry Mobs). Fights involving military units therefore use exactly the same rules as those involving individual adversaries – including determining Initiative , and checking Morale at appropriate times. In general, units with more members should have higher Hit Points than those with fewer, but a relatively underpopulated unit might have high HP on account of its good health, or exceptionally thorough training.

There is, of course, a great deal of abstraction assumed in the presentation. The composition of military units could, of course, vary greatly from nation to nation – and even in the same nation across the assumed time period of 1765 to 1820. This is particularly true in the case of France, where the semi-private pre-Revolutionary army was very different from the fully nationalized military commanded by Napoleon. Therefore, the treatment of units that follows is fairly generic – good enough to figure out what happens when an Infantry Platoon faces off against a family of crazed cannibals, or a Battalion battles a dragon that has been slumbering for centuries, but admittedly inadequate for realistically recreating Waterloo. Doubtless, any experienced war-gamer could probably find innumerable faults with my presentation of 18th century military units and tactics as it relates to any specific historical military unit.

An Overview of 18th Century and Napoleonic Infantry

The ordinary rank and file infantry of the 18th Century were often called “Fusiliers”, especially in the French army of the late 18th century and Napoleonic era. They are typically armed with a smooth-bore musket, a bayonet, and possibly a straight-bladed sword (although in many units only officers carry swords). Each Infantryman carries his own bedroll; a canteen; and a supply of black powder, wadding, and bullets. Spare clothing and personal items (such as a shaving kit and playing cards) are carried in a backpack. The uniforms of ordinary Infantrymen are colorful because 18th century battlefields are blanketed with obscuring gun smoke, and drab clothing will inevitably result in friendly units firing on each other frequently. Before the French Revolution, most Infantry units wore tricorn hats. In the Napoleonic-era, this changed to the cylindrical “shako” hat, usually embellished with a plume.

Specialized infantry units include “Grenadiers” (prestigious heavy infantry armed with grenades), “Chasseurs” (light infantry who march ahead of other units), and “Sappers” (demolitions experts).

On the battlefield, it is usual for only half the members of an infantry unit to fire their muskets at a time. This allows the other half time to reload their single-shot guns.

Infantry officers are distinguished by their more elaborate uniforms (which they often have made for themselves at their own expense), and different headgear (often a bicorn hat rather than a tricorn or shako). Sergeants carry spontoons (wide-bladed spears), which they use for signaling, to correct the aim of line soldiers, and as a weapon in hand-to-hand combat. A minor officer called an “Ensign” is in charge of protecting the unit’s flag or standard. Besides the ordinary men and officers, units larger than a squad will also have a drummer and fifer (flute-player), who help to keep time in marches, convey orders on the battlefield, and keep up morale. The drummer may be a boy, but is usually just a young enlisted soldier.

It was common in the 18th century for Infantry (and Cavalry) units to be raised, trained, and equipped not by the national government, but by individual noblemen. The nobleman who raised the unit would then either command it himself, or give command to his son. It is very common for units to be comprised of foreigners and other people who first loyalty is to their commander and fellow soldiers, rather than the sovereign of the nation they nominally serve. Other units may be composed of forcibly conscripted or “impressed” men who would, if any real opportunity presented itself, either desert, or mutiny and become brigands. Such conscripted men are likely take out their frustration at their predicament by committing atrocities against civilian populations.

Military units more than a day’s march from a fort are almost always accompanied by numerous “camp followers” – private food merchants, cooks, entertainers, seamstresses, washerwomen, nurses, and prostitutes who provide much of the actual logistical support for the army. Among the camp followers will also be the wives and children of soldiers, who are (unless they are the commanding officer’s family) expected to help with cooking, washing, cleaning, and repairs. There can be as many camp followers as there as soldiers in the unit.


Napoleons retreat from moscow

INFANTRY BATTALION

360 to 720 soldiers on foot, acting as a unit.

Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Initial Impression: Several hundred armed and uniformed men, marching to the sounds of drums and flute.
Size: Large (500’ x 10’ in Line, 10’ x 500’ in Column, 60’ x 60’ in Square, 500’ x 50’ in Skirmish Line)
Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Lieutenant Colonel) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 5,400 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 6 in Line, 9 in Column, 3 in Square, 9 in Skirmish Line
Armor Class: None (+2 if wreathed in Gun Smoke, +2 if in Skirmish Line)
Hit Dice: 150
Attacks: 1 (musket volley; or muskets, bayonets, and swords) [½ Damage when in Column, Square or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Companies, Form Column, Form Line, Form Square, Form Skirmish Line, Immune to Single Target Magic, Multiple Attacks, Set Bayonets Against Charge.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Musket Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)
Level: 10

An 18th Century Infantry Battalion consists of 5 or 6 Companies of Soldiers, generally commanded by an officer with the title of Lieutenant Colonel, Chef de Batallion, or Major.

Two Infantry Battalions together form an Infantry Regiment commanded by a Colonel.

An Infantry Battalion reduced to 0 Hit Points devolves into three surviving Infantry Companies. The Presenter should assume that half the casualties suffered by the formerly intact Battalion are dead, and half are wounded to the point of incapacity.

Infantry Battalion Special Abilities

Dissolve into Companies: An Infantry Battalion can be dissolved into 5 or 6 Infantry Companies of 60 to 120 soldiers, each commanded by a Captain. This might be done in order to encircle an enemy, for example. It takes 10 Rounds to Dissolve into Companies.

Form Column: A Column is a narrow formation of soldiers in several files (usually about 5). A Battalion in a Column moves quickly at Speed 9, but it inflicts only half damage on a successful attack. Column form is therefore usually employed for marching, but seldom offensively. It takes 6 Rounds to Form a Column.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of soldiers in two rows, standing and firing shoulder to shoulder. This is the default formation for battle in the 18th century. A Battalion in a Line moves slowly at Speed 6, but inflicts full 1d6+150 damage on each attack. It takes 6 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Square: A Square is a tight and compact formation just 60’ to a side. A Cavalry unit charging a Square loses all advantages (enjoying no bonus to the attack, and doing normal damage). A Battalion in a Square can only move at Speed 3, and inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 10 Rounds to Form a Square.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an open formation that allows soldiers to hide behind trees and walls, shoot from prone positions, and otherwise take advantage of available cover. A Battalion in a Skirmish Line enjoys a +2 AC, but only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 6 Rounds to Form a Skirmish Line.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because an Infantry Battalion is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Battalion can attack multiple targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Battalion makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+150

2

+75

3

+50

4

+38

5

+30

6

+25

Set Bayonets Against Charge: An Infantry Battalion that spends a full Round preparing to meet a charging Calvary unit will inflict double damage (1d6 + 150, times 2) on the first Round of Hand-to-Hand fighting against it. The Battalion cannot attack, move, or take any other action while preparing to meet the charging unit, however.

Infantry Battalion Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After firing its first volley of musket fire, a Battalion in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks, but also enjoys a +2 on its Armor Class. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Battalion spends a full Turn not firing its muskets, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Musket Inaccuracy: Almost all Infantry Battalions are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore muskets. Furthermore, their muskets are completely inaccurate past 450 feet.


Butler Lady Quatre Bras 1815

INFANTRY COMPANY

60 to 120 soldiers on foot, acting as a unit.
Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 – 4
Initial Impression: About a hundred armed and uniformed men, marching to the sounds of drums and flute.
Size: Large (100’ x 10’ in Line, 10’ x 100’ in Column, 15’ x 15’ in Square, 100 x 50’ in Skirmish Line)
Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Captain) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 900 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 6 in Line, 9 in Column, 3 in Square, 9 in Skirmish Line
Armor Class: None (+2 if wreathed in Gun Smoke, +2 if in Skirmish Line)
Hit Dice: 30
Attacks: 1 (musket volley; or muskets, bayonets, and swords) [½ Damage when in Column, Square or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Plattons, Form Column, Form Line, Form Square, Form Skirmish Line, Immune to Single Target Magic, Multiple Attacks, Set Bayonets Against Charge.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Musket Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)
Level: 10

An 18th Century Infantry Company consists of three Platoons of soldiers, and is typically commanded by an officer with the title of “Captain”. Five or six Companies typically form a Battalion.

An Infantry Company reduced to 0 Hit Points becomes two Infantry Platoons.

Infantry Company Special Abilities

Dissolve into Platoons: An Infantry Company can be dissolved into 3 Infantry Platoons of 20 to 40 soldiers, each commanded by a Lieutenant. This might be done in order to encircle an enemy, for example.

Form Column: A Column is a narrow formation of soldiers in three files. A Company in a Column moves quickly at Speed 9, but it inflicts only half damage on a successful attack. Column form is therefore usually employed for marching, but seldom offensively. It takes 4 Rounds to Form a Column.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of soldiers in two rows, standing and firing shoulder to shoulder. This is the default formation for battle in the 18th century. A Company in a Line moves slowly at Speed 6, but inflicts full 1d6+30 damage on each attack. It takes 4 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Square: A Square is a tight and compact formation just 60’ to a side. A Cavalry unit charging a Square loses all advantages (enjoying no bonus to the attack, and doing normal damage). A Company in a Square can only move at Speed 3, and inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 6 Rounds to Form a Square.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an open formation that allows soldiers to hide behind trees and walls, shoot from prone positions, and otherwise take advantage of available cover. A Company in a Skirmish Line enjoys a +2 AC, but only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 4 Rounds to Form a Skirmish Line.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because an Infantry Company is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Company can attack multiple targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Company makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+30

2

+15

3

+10

4

+8

5

+6

6

+5

Set Bayonets Against Charge: An Infantry Company that spends a full Round preparing to meet a charging Calvary unit will inflict double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) on the first round of Hand-to-Hand fighting against it. The Company cannot attack, move, or take any other action while preparing to meet the charging unit, however.

Infantry Company Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After firing its first volley of musket fire, a Company in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks, but also enjoys a +2 on its Armor Class. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Company spends a full Turn not firing its muskets, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Musket Inaccuracy: Almost all Infantry Companies are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore muskets. Furthermore, their muskets are completely inaccurate past 450 feet.


The Bloody Massacre

INFANTRY PLATOON

20 to 40 soldiers on foot, acting as a unit.
Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1 or 2
Initial Impression: Approximately thirty armed and uniformed men, marching to the sounds of drums and flute.
Size: Large (35’ x 10’ in Line, 5’ x 30’ in Column, 10’ x 10’ in Square.)
Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Lieutenant) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 300 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 6 in Line, 9 in Column, 3 in Square, 9 in Skirmish Line
Armor Class: None (+2 if wreathed in Gun Smoke, +2 if in Skirmish Line)
Hit Dice: 10
Attacks: 1 (musket volley; or muskets, bayonets, and swords) [½ Damage when in Column, Square or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve into Squads, Form Column, Form Line, Form Square, Form Skirmish Line, Immune to Single Target Magic, Multiple Attacks, Set Bayonets Against Charge.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Musket Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)
Level: 10

An 18th Century Infantry Platoon consists of twenty to forty soldiers trained to fire their muskets together in a single mass. A Platoon is typically commanded by a Lieutenant. Three Platoons form a Company.

An Infantry Platoon reduced to 0 Hit Points becomes an Infantry Squad.

Infantry Platoon Special Abilities

Dissolve into Squads: An Infantry Company can be dissolved into 2 Infantry Squads of 10 to 20 soldiers, each commanded by a Lieutenant. This might be done in order to encircle an enemy, for example.

Form Column: A Column is a narrow formation of soldiers in two files. A Platoon in a Column moves quickly at Speed 9, but it inflicts only half damage on a successful attack. Column form is therefore usually employed for marching, but seldom offensively. It takes 2 Rounds to Form a Column.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of soldiers in two rows, standing and firing shoulder to shoulder. This is the default formation for battle in the 18th century. A Platoon in a Line moves slowly at Speed 6, but inflicts full 1d6+10 damage on each attack. It takes 2 Rounds to Form a Line.

Form Square: A Square is a tight and compact formation just 60’ to a side. A Cavalry unit charging a Square loses all advantages (enjoying no bonus to the attack, and doing normal damage). A Platoon in a Square can only move at Speed 3, and inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 3 Rounds to Form a Square.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an open formation that allows soldiers to hide behind trees and walls, shoot from prone positions, and otherwise take advantage of available cover. A Platoon in a Skirmish Line enjoys a +2 AC, but only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 2 Rounds to Form a Skirmish Line.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because an Infantry Platoon is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Platoon can attack up to four targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Platoon makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+10

2

+5

3 – 4

+3

Set Bayonets Against Charge: An Infantry Platoon that spends a full Round preparing to meet a charging Calvary unit will inflict double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) on the first round of Hand-to-Hand fighting against it. The Platoon cannot attack, move, or take any other action while preparing to meet the charging unit, however.

Infantry Platoon Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After firing its first volley of musket fire, a Platoon in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks, but also enjoys a +2 on its Armor Class. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Company spends a full Turn not firing its muskets, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Musket Inaccuracy: Almost all Infantry Platoon are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore muskets. Furthermore, their muskets are completely inaccurate past 450 feet.


Francisco de Goya - The Horrors of War- The Same - 1922.519 - Cleveland Museum of Art (cropped)

INFANTRY SQUAD

10 to 20 soldiers on foot, acting as a unit.
Creature Class: Antagonist
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: Approximately a dozen armed and uniformed men.
Size: Large (15’ x 10’ in Line, 10’ x 20’ in Column, 8’ x 8’ in Square,)
Perversity: 13
Disposition: Aggressive
Charisma: 11 (or same as commanding Sergeant) Intelligence: 9 Wisdom: 9
Strength: 150 Dexterity: 11 Constitution: 9
Speed: 6 in Line, 9 in Column, 3 in Square, 9 in Skirmish Line
Armor Class: None (+2 if wreathed in Gun Smoke, +2 if in Skirmish Line)
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1 (musket volley; or muskets, bayonets, and swords) [½ Damage when in Column, Square or Skirmish Line]
Special Abilities: Dissolve, Form Column, Form Line, Form Square, Form Skirmish Line, Immune to Single Target Magic, Multiple Attacks, Set Bayonets Against Charge.
Weaknesses: Gun Smoke, Musket Inaccuracy.
Possible Assets (+3 Bonus): Brilliant Commander, Marksmen, Seasoned Troops, Fanatical
Possible Afflictions (-3 Penalty): Poorly Equipped, Incompetent Commander, Sick, Malnourished
Preternatural Powers: None (Unless a Magician or Mad Scientist is part of unit)
Level: 6

A Squad is half a platoon. On the battlefield, one Squad of a Platoon will typically fire a volley of musket fire while the other one reloads. A Squad will rarely be separated from its platoon, but in such a case it will typically be commanded by a Sub-lieutenant or Sergeant.

An Infantry Squad reduced to 0 Hit Points breaks up into 5 or 6 individual survivors.

Infantry Squad Special Abilities

Dissolve Unit: An Infantry Squad can be broken up into its individual soldiers. This might be done in order to encircle an enemy, for example.

Form Column: A Column is a narrow formation of soldiers in two files. A Squad in a Column moves quickly at Speed 9, but it inflicts only half damage on a successful attack. Column form is therefore usually employed for marching, but seldom offensively. It takes 1 Round to Form a Column.

Form Line: A Line is a wide formation of soldiers in two rows, standing and firing shoulder to shoulder. This is the default formation for battle in the 18th century. A Squad in a Line moves slowly at Speed 6, but inflicts full 1d6+6 damage on each attack. It takes 1 Round to Form a Line.

Form Square: A Square is a tight and compact formation just 60’ to a side. A Cavalry unit charging a Square loses all advantages (enjoying no bonus to the attack, and doing normal damage). A Squad in a Square can only move at Speed 3, and inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 2 Rounds to Form a Square.

Form Skirmish Line: A Skirmish Line is an open formation that allows soldiers to hide behind trees and walls, shoot from prone positions, and otherwise take advantage of available cover. A Squad in a Skirmish Line enjoys a +2 to AC, but only inflicts half damage on a successful attack. It takes 1 Round to Form a Skirmish Line.

Immune to Single Target Magic: Because an Infantry Squad is an aggregate of individuals, it is effectively immune to Preternatural Effects that affect just a single Recipient. Unfortunately, this also means that Curing and Healing effects that only benefit individuals are wasted as well. Effects that target as area (such as Fireball), work normally.

Multiple Attacks: The Squad can attack up to four targets or units instead of concentrating on a single one. The Platoon makes a normal Check for each attack, but its Damage Bonus is reduced as shown below:

Targets

Damage Bonus per attack

1

+6

2

+3

3 – 4

+2

Set Bayonets Against Charge: An Infantry Squad that spends a full Round preparing to meet a charging Calvary unit will inflict double damage (1d6 + Damage Bonus, times 2) on the first round of Hand-to-Hand fighting against it. The Squad cannot attack, move, or take any other action while preparing to meet the charging unit, however.

Infantry Squad Weaknesses

Gun Smoke: After firing its first volley of musket fire, a Squad in any formation other than a Skirmish Line suffers a -2 Penalty on all further attacks, but also enjoys a +2 on its Armor Class. This is due to a large cloud of smoke enveloping the unit and obscuring sight. This Gun Smoke will last until the Squad spends a full Turn not firing its muskets, or moves 50’ from its current position.

Musket Inaccuracy: Almost all Infantry Squads are -2 on Attack Checks against targets further than 50’ distant, due to the inaccuracy of their smooth-bore muskets. Furthermore, their muskets are completely inaccurate past 450 feet.


Grande Armée - Light Infantry Chasseurs

SPECIAL INFANTRY UNITS

Chasseurs : Light infantry that move at Speed 10 in Column and Skirmish Line. They can also Form Line (Speed 7), but cannot Form Square.

Grenadiers: Elite units comprised of the tallest and strongest soldiers, well-trained, and armed with grenades. Grenadier units have Dexterity 13 (rather than 11), and have the Asset “Intimidating”. Once per battle they can lob grenades for double damage at a target or unit 50’ – 60’ distant.

Mamluks: Egyptian mercenaries serving under Napoleon. They are skilled with their scimitars, and attack with a +1 Bonus in Hand-to-Hand fights.

Rangers / Jagers / Riflemen: Light infantry armed with rifles. They move at Speed 10, and do not suffer from the Weakness “Musket Inaccuracy”. They attack only in a Skirmish Line, however. Their guns are accurate to 750’.

Sappers: Units armed with axes, picks, and bombs to destroy obstructions and sabotage enemy fortifications. They have the Special Ability “Damage Structure”, which allows them to inflict full damage against things as reinforced doors, stone walls, buildings, and terrain features.

Skimishers / Voltigeurs: These units fight only in a Skirmish Line (like Rangers). They are specialized for rough terrain, and trained to use cover effectively. They have Dexterity 12 (rather than 11), and are AC 2.

Windbüchse Units: Elite Austrian units armed with cutting-edge Girondoni Air Rifles that use reservoirs of pressurized air rather than gunpowder, and can be reloaded in a second from a built-in 20 shot magazine. Their guns have the same range as muskets, but Windbüchse Units do not suffer the Weaknesses of “Musket Inaccuracy” or “Gun Smoke” (but don’t get the benefit of cover from the smoke either).


About Player Characters in Military Units

Player Characters serving as soldiers in military units are never killed or wounded in combat while part of the unit. If a unit is reduced to 0 Hit Point (and thus broken), any Player Characters are generally assumed to be part of a surviving sub-unit. For example, if a Infantry Battalion is reduced to 0 Hit Points, and thus reduced to three surviving Companies of soldiers, the PCs belong to one of those Companies (unless they indicate otherwise).

Player Characters offering a military unit in combat must make a successful Charisma Check for each command they issue. Failure means the command is either not heard, or ignored that Round. The choking gun smoke, incredible noise, and general panic of the troops makes it extremely difficult to control forces on an 18th century battlefield, and carefully laid strategies tend to break down quickly unless officers are exceptionally skilled. (One of the reasons Napoleon’s army was so effective was that his officers needed to actually demonstrate ability to get promoted – rather than just purchasing their commissions, as was the rule elsewhere in Europe.)

A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons – PDF Available Now!

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THEY’RE ALIVE! ALIVE!

Let history, literature, and folklore come alive with A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons !

Inside the virtual pages of this macabre PDF you will find such Terrors and Wonders as:

  • Ghastly Affair stats for Carmilla Karnstein (from Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”), Count Dracula (from Stoker’s “Dracula” and “Dracula’s Guest”), and Lord Ruthven (from Dr Polidori’s “The Vampyre).
  • The Clockwork Impostor (inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman”), Victor Frankenstein (from Mary Shelley’s immortal classic “Frankenstein”), and a book-accurate rendition of Frankenstein’s Creature – in all his fast, agile, and literate glory!
  • The Amorous Revenant (inspired by Goethe’s “The Bride of Corinth”), the Reclaiming Revenant (inspired by the classic folktale “the Golden Arm”) and the Woman in White (inspired by folktales of ghosts such as La Llorona).
  • The Fire King (from the writings of Matthew Lewis and Walter Scott), the Hell Beast (a template for creating folkloric monsters such as Hell Hounds, Hell Horses, and Hell Cats), the Pact Devil (inspired by both medieval European and American Hoodoo lore), and the Seducer Devil (inspired by medieval demonology, and Lewis’s “The Monk”)
  • A writeup for Deacon Brodie (the real-life Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), Ghastly Affair stats for Heathcliff (from Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”), and stats for none other than the Marquis de Sade himself!
  • Ghastly Affair stats for three giants of early 19th century Gothic and Romantic literature – Lord Byron, Doctor Polidori, and Mary Shelley!
  • A complete system for randomly generating villages filled with strange inhabitants and dark secrets.
  • A fun set of table for randomly generating the baroque (and bizarre) titles of 18th century Gothic Romances.
  • A complete discussion of converting Ghastly Affair creatures for use with other OSR systems.

Plus, OSR-compatible stats for the Clockwork Impostor, Amorous Revenant, Reclaiming Revenant, Woman in White, Fire King, Hell Beast, Pact Devil, and Seducer Devil.

Guaranteed not to drag your soul down into awful and eternal torment. At least, probably not. Unless the man with that odd black book was misrepresenting the terms of our agreement.


A Ghastly Companion to Gothic Icons contains some material intended for mature readers.

The Five Peoples of Panzoasia, Part V: Humans

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About Humanity in Panzoasia

As Dwarves are known as the “People of the Caves”, Elves are the “People of the Forest”, Gnomes are the “People of the Hills”, and Halflings are the “People of the Fields”, so the Humans of Panzoasia are considered the “People of the Sea and Stars”. Before the Invasions, all the large city-states above ground were located on rivers or shorelines, and inhabited by Humans. During the Reign of the Monsters, the Humans who lived in those cities took to the seas in great arks, living there for two generations. Some Humans still live a nomadic, sea-based life. These “Sea Folk” are allied with the Saganic Undines of the ocean – and sometimes even intermarry with them!

Humans dominate the national governments of all but two realms of the Ultimate West – Bythebia and Auddisland. In Bythebia, the interests of the Human population are represented before the Senate of Gold Dragons by a popularly elected Tribune. In Auddisland, a semi-hereditary Voivode (elected by the resident Human nobility) advocates for the Human population before the Dwarven King, and governs the northeastern region (which is majority Human).

The Appearance of Panzoasian Humans

Humans native to the Ultimate West usually have pale to olive complexions. Their hair can be blond, brown, black, or red, and their eyes can be brown, blue, green, gray or hazel. In the Ultimate North, Humans tend to have pale complexions, with light hair and eyes. Humans of the Ultimate South usually have complexions ranging from very dark brown to tan, with eyes and hair that tend towards dark colors. In the Ultimate East, Humans tend to have complexions that range from pale amber to deep tan, also with a tendency to dark eyes and hair. Many in the Ultimate East have uncreased, almond-shaped eyes (especially in Amikura, Hian, and Xidu), as do some in the Ultimate South (especially in Tezaca). Because they are all one People and freely immigrate, however, Humans from any region of Panzoasia can actually have any possible skin tone, eye color, and hair color. There are dark-skinned Fjaldarheimers, as well as some Tezacans with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Distinctive Characteristics of Human Culture in Panzoasia

Because the Invasions killed off many male warriors and leaders, the Human societies of Panzoasia are more egalitarian and inclusive than similar societies were on our Earth. No human society of Panzoasia currently practices slavery, although many did before the Reign of the Monsters.

Humans tend to glorify Elves (despite the fact that Humans had actually achieved a much higher level of technological advancement before the Reign of the Monsters). Having an Elven lover or spouse is regarded as a status symbol. Adopting Elven clothing, make-up, jewelry, and manners is considered high class – or pretentious, depending on the social setting. Wealthy Human children are often taught to speak Elven – albeit in a manner that native Elven speakers find archaic and stilted. Elves, for their part, generally find Humans interesting and attractive – and are especially fascinated by the way Human men and women can look so different from each other. Most Humans have at least one Elf somewhere in their family tree – and most “pure” Elves have at least one Human in theirs!

In modern times, most Human cultures consider burial at sea (or on an island in the sea) to be the most desirable. Burial in the ground on the mainland is definitely less prestigious. In the Ultimate West, those of Good Alignment considered it an especial honor if the boat that carries their corpse to its final watery destination sets off from the Sacred Isle of Albelon. The corpses of wealthy and important people are often embalmed where they died, and then shipped to Albelon.

Every Human culture enjoys ball games, board games, dice games, and card games. Humans are also known for their especial love of gambling and betting. Every Human culture endows their games with spiritual and philosophical significance – but also employs them as means to gamble. In the Ultimate West, the most common ball games somewhat resemble Field Hockey and Gaelic Football from our Earth; the common board games are essentially Backgammon, Checkers (Draughts), and Chess (with many local variations); the most common dice game closely resembles Craps; and the most common card game uses a pack that is oddly similar to the Tarot.

Humans keep a wide range of animals as pets. The close relationship between Humans and dogs is particularly noteworthy, approaching the level of affection the exists between Gnomes and burrowing mammals. Most dogs (other than Elven Dogs) will seek out Humans for companionship, in preference to any of the other Peoples. Additionally, only Humans among all the Five Peoples keep fish (and other aquatic life) as pets.

Throughout Panzoasia, Humans completely dominate the maritime trades (including sailing and fishing) and every other trade that requires long-distance travel – especially the spice trade. They also do most construction above-ground, as well as most large-scale agriculture. Humans are the primary practitioners of astrology. Humans invented glass, and human-made glass is prized particularly by Elves (who often trade it in turn to the Saganic Sylphs) and Gnomes (who employ it for lenses).

Alignment and Religion Among Panzoasian Humans

Before the Monsters invaded the lands of the Five Peoples, those Human societies who did not build cities worshiped at the Stone Circles which still stand in many places. Most of these Stone Circles had been sacred to the Neutral Powers of Life. In modern times, however, adherence to other Alignments – and worship of the corresponding Divine Powers (especially those of Destiny and Light) – is prevalent. Most of the ancient Stone Circles now stand abandoned, with only a few still being active religious sites.

The original Depradators were all Human. The humanoid Bogeymen – Goblins, Orcs, Gnolls and the like – actually tended to be Neutral in Alignment before the Depradator evangelists spread the worship of Darkness to them. In fact, the Reign of the Monsters was also the reign of the Evil Human Depradators – a fact that the Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, and Halflings do not forget.

While there is much social pressure in modern Human societies to profess allegiance to either Good or Law, in actuality the Good, Lawful, Chaotic, and Neutral Alignments are about equally represented among them. Unfortunately, a full 5% of Humans are Evil – the highest rate among any of the Five Peoples.

The Human Languages of Panzoasia

While all the Humans across a particular Region of Panzoasia (West, South, East, or North) may share a common language, each nation within that Region also has its own distinctive dialect (and accent). For example, the dialects of Human Common in both Corthis and Maeland are heavily influenced by Elven – and both the place and personal names in those countries are often Elven in origin. To a traveler from our Earth, the basic vocabulary of Western Common otherwise suggests a combination of Latin, Greek, Welsh, and German. Southern Common’s vocabulary seems to somewhat resemble a strange mix of Swahili and Nahuatl. The vocabulary of Eastern Common is oddly evocative of a mixture of Sanskrit and Mandarin Chinese. Northern Common’s vocabulary mildly suggests a mixture of Swedish and Russian words. The non-Human Peoples of Panzoasia also use the regional varieties of Human Common as trade languages.

Each of the four Common languages of Humanity uses a different writing system. Western Common is written in the same alphabet as Western Gnomish. Southern and Eastern Common shares pictograms with the corresponding varieties of Elven, and the runes of Northern Common are identical to those used by Northern Dwarves.

Mysterious Road Exits off the Uncanny Highway

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There are many unmarked exits off the Uncanny Highway of U.S. Route 28. Should anyone be curious (and foolish) enough to follow one, roll on the following table.

d100

This mysterious exit off the highway eventually leads to…

1 – 2

a volunteer firehouse.

3 – 4

a roller-rink.

5 – 6

a machine-gun firing range.

7 – 8

a brothel. (5% likely to actually be a part of a C.I.A. mind control experiment.)

9 – 10

the clubhouse of a motorcycle club (or gang).

11 – 12

a “gravity hill” (Place were objects appear to roll uphill.)

13 – 14

an abandoned hospital. (30% chance that all equipment was abandoned and left in place.)

15 – 16

an abandoned asylum. (30% chance that all equipment was abandoned and left in place.)

17 – 18

an abandoned drive-thru.

19 – 20

a Native American Reservation.

21 – 22

an abandoned house. (50% likely to be filled with Satanic graffiti.)

23 – 24

a strange house. (d8. The strange feature of the house is its: 1 = unusual architectural style. 2 = unusual materials. 3 = strangely colored windows. 4 = complete lack of windows. 5 = lack of any apparent door. 6 = holiday decorations kept up all year. 7 = obvious lack of electricity or telephone wires. 8 = odd paint-job.

25 – 26

a bizarre sculpture made of discarded items.

27 – 28

a working farm. (25% chance the farm is worked by a cult.)

29 – 30

an abandoned farm. (10% likely it is now a criminal hideout.)

31 – 32

a farm stand selling fresh produce. (Abandoned in winter.)

33 – 34

a lone, abandoned windmill.

35 – 36

a deserted town.

37 – 38

a mine.

39 – 40

an isolated, but functioning town. (25% chance the local “festival” is occurring)

41 – 42

a forgotten state (or national) park.

43 – 44

a factory. (10% chance all signage is in an unidentifiable language and alphabet, and it is impossible to figure out what the factory is producing).

45 – 46

an abandoned factory. (50% chance it is used teenagers for drinking and sex).

47 – 48

a well-maintained cemetery. (10% chance the tombstones are inscribed in a foreign, or unknown language.)

49 – 50

an overgrown, abandoned cemetery. (50% likely the deceased were members of an obscure religious cult.)

51 – 52

a natural cave. (30% likely to be a state park, or operated for profit.)

53 – 54

a pond or lake.

55 – 56

a field where a trailer or RV is parked.

57 – 58

a clearing where 1d4 unoccupied tents are pitched. (10% likely to find blood spattered inside the tents)

59 – 60

an active hobo camp.

61 – 62

an abandoned train depot.

63 – 64

an abandoned garage.

65 – 66

a utility complex. (Electric generator, sewage treatment plant, etc.)

67 – 68

a garbage dump.

69 – 70

a toxic (or radioactive) waste dump. (Save versus Constitution each Turn or become sickened.)

71 – 72

a bomb shelter.

73 – 74

an isolated church. (5% chance the religion practiced here isn’t Christianity at all.)

75 – 76

a Christian shrine. (25% chance the Saint honored is otherwise unknown.)

77 – 78

a pagan shrine.

79 – 80

a secret germ-warfare laboratory.

81 – 82

A C.I.A. (or K.G.B.) safehouse.

83 – 84

a solitary artist’s studio.

85 – 86

an active military base. (5% chance the soldiers are not American.)

87 – 88

an abandoned military base. (25% chance the evidence of a strange experiment is still here.)

89

a secret military base housing a U.F.O.

90 – 91

a dry well shaft. (5% chance a child is currently at the bottom.)

92 – 93

a serial killer’s dump site. (1d12 bodies)

94 – 95

an abandoned car (or truck). (Determine vehicle characteristics as you would for a car on the road.)

96

an abandoned plane (or helicopter).

97

literally Nowhere – it continues on infinitely.

98

Hell.

100

Heaven.

The Five Peoples of Panzoasia, Part IV: Halflings

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A Gnome-kin Halfling Woman of the Ultimate West.

About the Halflings (or “Humblekin”) of Panzoasia

Halflings (or “Humblekin”, as they call themselves) tend to have the same skin, eye, and hair colors as the majority of the local Human population. Whether they have dark or light skin, however, their complexions tend to be ruddy. A Halfling’s facial features are generally  proportioned very much like those of a young Human – with large eyes, a short face, and a high forehead. They tend to have dimples, and short, “button” noses. Most male Halflings can grow long sideburns, but no other facial hair. The noses of older males with pale complexions also tend to be distinctly reddish.

Halflings often dress in patchwork versions of the local costume – and may take pride in remembering how they obtained each individual scrap of their outfit. Once, Halflings made patchwork because of their poverty, but nowadays they wear their patches as a symbol of their People’s resourcefulness. Halflings of the Ultimate West are particularly fond of tartan and cheque patterns, and keep their pants and skirts up with suspenders, not belts. Halflings are also known for their distinctive hairstyles, with exaggeratedly large curls held in place with pomade. Some dye their hair pure hues of yellow, red, green, or blue. They often make jewelry out of old coins, or small objects discarded by Humans, Dwarves, Elves or Gnomes.

There are four Halflings “Kins”, each of which had associated with a different People before the Invasions. The Man-kins (or “Robins”) have a noted preference for patches (or patterns) in various shades of a single color, and always live in above-ground houses. The slender Elf-kins (or “Huldurfolk”) have pointed ears, prefer clothing of many colors, and traditionally live in the same manner as Elves. The dexterous Gnome-kins (or “Dobs”) have hairy feet, and traditionally live inside artificial earthen mounds. The stout Dwarf-kins (or “Knockers”) have attached earlobes, traditionally live in mines underground, and are the only Halfling Kin whose men can grow mustaches. Gnome-kins and Dwarf-kins do not commonly wear shoes, but Man-kins and Elf-kins do.

Halflings do not have their own languages, but speak the tongues of the other People associated with their Kin. Halfling dialects are full of unique slang, however, and may be nearly incomprehensible to the speakers of the regular language.

Halflings love to sing, often mocking the pretensions and failures of their enemies (and even friends) through improvised lyrics. These songs frequently include strings of nonsense words. Other songs are often sad laments for the oppression, disrespect, and tragedy that Halflings have historically suffered – covering such topics as being abducted and forced to work in a Orcish factory, having your husband-to-be run off with a Elf woman who will grow tired of him in just a week, or being stuck in a collapsed coal mine and realizing that your Dwarven employers only care about saving their own kind.

Halflings of every type traditionally use cairns as markers and memorials, but most of the ancient cairns were vandalized and destroyed during the Reign of the Monsters. Halflings prefer to bury their dead directly in the ground, with the grave marked only by a cairn. It is still traditional for newly married couples to build a cairn together on the day after their wedding. While ancient ones were made exclusively of stones, modern cairns can incorporate any items that are important the Halflings the build them (or the people they memorialize).

During the Reign of the Monsters, those Halflings who were separated from the Human, Elven, Gnomish, or Dwarven communities they once served survived by hiding in underbrush, lurking in ruins, and otherwise living at the margins. There the Halflings became adept at scavenging, and re-purposing objects discarded by others. Other Peoples notice that their Halfling friends never throw anything away. They will even incorporate found objects into the construction of their homes.

A male Man-kin Halfling of the Ultimate West.

Humans and Elves have a tendency to call all Halfling men “Bill”, and all Halfling women “Cutie” – regardless of their actual names. While these Humans and Elves may think they are being affectionate and endearing, most Halflings actually regard the practice as patronizing and insulting. Increasing, younger Halflings are standing and up and demanding that the “Bigs” refer to them by their real names.

Halfings ride ponies, and keep small cattle, sheep, and goats half the size of those raised by humans. Halflings love milk, cheese, and butter, and their dairy livestock are extremely important to them. Very small dogs are most popular pets among the Humblekin.

About half of the Humblekin are Good in Alignment, and they are among the most fervent devotees of the Lord and Lady of Light. Their worship is notable for its many choral hymns of praise. Many older Halflings are Lawful, but younger Halflings are increasingly embracing Chaos to rebel against their history of subservience to the other four Peoples. Chaotic Halflings often sport spiky hairstyles, or shave the sides of their head and stiffen the remaining strip of hair to stand on end. Less than 1% of Halflings are actually Evil; they often lurk near burial grounds, robbing graves and waylaying visitors.

Halfling communities of the Ultimate West are traditionally governed by a Sheriff or Headman, who is nowadays elected, but historically had been appointed by the leader of other People with whom the Halflings live. Despite being otherwise generally Good in nature, Halflings seem to express their resentment for their historical exploitation by electing Sheriffs and Headmen who make a point of being aggressively obnoxious towards non-Halflings.

In mixed communities, the predominant trades of Halflings will be weaving, herbalism, the growing of high-quality produce, distilling, beekeeping, and the making of candy. They take also pride in succeeding at hard and dirty jobs nobody else wants, such as cloth dying, cleaning, charcoal burning, and trash reclamation.

The Five Peoples of Panzoasia, Part III: Gnomes

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About the Gnomes of Panzoasia

Gnomes from every part of Panzoasia tend to have deeply tanned complexions, with blue, green, or gray eyes. Male Gnomes have gray or white hair from birth, while Gnomish women (or Gnomides) have the same range of hair colors possible for Humans. Gnomes of both sexes stand about 3 feet in height. Male Gnomes typically have pot bellies, while female Gnomes tend to be pleasingly zaftig. A Gnome’s face is generally roundish, with the eyes, ears, and nose much larger in proportion than those of a human. Their lips are full and expressive, while their eyes are wide and round.

A Gnome considers their hat to be the most important article of clothing. A Gnomish hat can range from fanciful to bizarre in design – and can be almost as tall as its wearer! It is common for a Gnome to place objects under, or in, their hat. Gnomish hats of a practical nature include the large pincushions and baskets worn as headgear by many female Gnomes at home, and the Lantern Hat often worn by Gnomish adventurers. Gnomes considers themselves “exposed” if their heads are uncovered – and removing one’s hat is an expression of the strongest emotion. Although stereotypically associated with Gnomes, pointed hats without brims haven’t been fashionable since before the Reign of the Monsters.

Beyond their outrageous hats, Gnomes tend to dress in the most colorful and whimsical version of the local clothing. As footwear they prefer clogs, which are often fancifully decorated. Gnomes are also noted for their love of striped patterns. Among Gnome of the Ultimate West, formal wear always includes tassels and small bells sewn into the garments.

The Gnomish sense of humor is legendary, and they tend to make jokes even on serious occasions – particularly funerals. Unfortunately, since Gnomes are also more prone to actual insanity than any other People, it can be hard to discern whether a Gnomes strange behavior should be cause for laughter, or genuine concern. Among Gnomes, it is said that one must sometimes act crazy, to avoid going crazy.

Before the Invasions, the Gnomish people built and lived inside artificial earth mounds called Hollow Hills, or Tumuli. After the Invasions, they survived by hiding their homes behind magical illusions. They burrowed deeper, and formed a close alliance with the Saganic Gnomes of the Chthon. Traditionalist Gnomes continue to live inside Hollow Hills, but in modern times those places are far more open to the larger world.

Despite the small stature of the inhabitants within, the burrows inside a Hollow Hill are always at least 6 feet to the ceiling. While Gnomes say that it is so even Humans feel welcome, the actual reason is to accommodate the tallest possible hats!

A respected Gnome is buried directly within the ground inside a barrow, without a coffin, and never with any valuable objects. A wicked Gnome, however, will be buried in an elaborate “dungeon” filled with tricks and puzzles intend to entertain their restless minds, and treasures to sate their undying greed. The tunnels will feature elaborate death-traps to keep out tomb robbers. When Gnomish engineers started to be employed by human wizards to create subterranean treasure vaults, they naturally relied upon such tombs as models.

About 60% of Gnomes are Good, and approximately 30% are Neutral. Lawful and Chaotic Gnomes represent just under 5% of the population each. Only about 1% of Gnomes are truly Evil.

Gnomes of the Ultimate West love fruitcake (which they sometimes call call “gemcake”) above all other foods. They regard it as the symbol of a life well-lived – enduring, very sweet, a little boozy, a little nutty, and filled with jewels! Western Gnomes will even bake fruitcakes in the shape of hats, periodically breaking off pieces for the occasional snack.

The favorite pastimes of Gnomes across Panzoasia are various forms of bowling, and other lawn sports.

Gnomes employ a special breed of four-horned sheep as their primary mounts and beasts of burden. Rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, badgers, and hedgehogs are the most popular animal companions among Gnomes, and such animals will roam freely within the burrows of every Hollow Hill. Cats, however, are generally hated and despised by Gnomes.

To a traveler from our Earth, the Western Gnomish language sounds vaguely like Dutch; Southern Gnomish seems to somewhat resemble ancient Aramaic; Eastern Gnomish is oddly evocative of Malay; and Northern Gnomish mildly suggests Finnish. Gnomes from one End of the Earth often have names typical of another, however. Each Gnomish language is written with its own alphabet.

Gnomish communities have always been governed democratically. A Traditional Hollow Hill is led by an elected Mayor, advised by a council of Elders. Traditionally, several Hollow Hills would be joined together in a “Commonwealth” headed by an elected Chancellor. Nowadays, in countries other than Auddisland, Chancellor is just a ceremonial position – and Hollow Hills function like any other communities within their respective nations.

Wherever they dwell with other Peoples, Gnomes predominate in the intellectual trades. They often become bureaucrats, sages, jewelers, bankers, engineers, local merchants, and toymakers. As everyone knows, the best gemcutters are Gnomish, but it is the hatter who holds a special place of honor among their tradesmen.

The Five Peoples of Panzoasia, Part II: Elves

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About the Elves of Panzoasia

An Elf’s hair, skin, and eyes can be any shade of any hue – including pink, purple, green, and blue. Elves of the Ultimate West, however, tend towards either pastel shades or Human-like tones in their skin colors – while those of the Ultimate East often have skin that is deep blue, green, or red. In the Ultimate North, the Elves often have skin and hair that is the palest blue, or even pure white, with deep blue or purple eyes. Elves of the Ultimate South tend towards dark reddish brown, deep amber, and golden hues in their skin tones – and can actually have hair that glitters like metallic gold!

Panzoasian Elves of either sex tend toward a slim, lithe build, and stand just over 5 feet tall. Both males and females are of the same height and general build. Elven women tend to have only slightly wider hips than males. Elven faces are androgynously attractive and usually heart-shaped, with high cheekbones and relatively large, almond-shaped eyes. Elves cannot grow beards. While the hair of most Elves is straight or only slightly wavy, very curly hair is sometimes seen on those from the Ultimate South. The ears of Panzoasian Elves resemble those of deer, and are similarly mobile. Elven ears are always in motion – pitching forward to express interest, sweeping back in anger, standing up in joy, or drooping in sorrow.

While Elves can live for a thousand years or more, they can only actually remember the last 30 years (or so) of their own life. A five-hundred year old Elf knows how old she is, and may be surrounded by mementos of her previous exploits, but cannot consciously recall what she did, or where she was, two hundred years ago. An Elf can even forget their own parents, siblings, or children. One of the best known Elven songs, “The Wheel of the Wind”, concerns a triad of Elven lovers whose life journeys cause them to constantly become separated and forget each other – only for the three of them to be repeatedly reunited so they can fall in love all over again.

Elves completely stop aging around the age of eighteen and don’t age any more until the last decade of their natural lives. A thousand-year-old Elf dying of extreme old age would have a face no more wrinkled than a Human of about thirty. With their ever-youthful bodies and short memories, Elves never experience the world-weariness or emotional trauma that can affect aged members of the other Peoples. Perhaps for that same reason, however, Elves are often dismissed as impulsive and emotionally volatile.

Traditionalist Elves tend to wear the most colorful, frivolous, and diaphanous version of the local costume, and prefer silk and lace as fabrics. They often wrap themselves in capes patterned after the wings of butterflies, moths, or dragonflies. In colder weather, the capes will be of fur, feathers, or velvet. Elves in every region of Panzaoasia love to decorate their faces with glued-on spangles of precious stones and metals, often wear body glitter, and like to wear feathers, ribbons, and insect wings in their hair. Elves feel completely free to dress in typically “masculine” or “feminine” manner as they desire – a male Elf is apt to wear a silken gown while lounging in his home, while a female Elf will often cut her hair into a short “pixie” style and don trousers when she goes off to adventure.

Before the Invasions, the Elves lived as semi-nomadic bands that frequently raided the other Peoples, and periodically retreated to the the vitrified forts which still lie in ruins atop hills across Panzoasia. Large geoglyphs were carved from the turf on the sides of those hills, in the shapes of people and animals. Sometimes the geoglyphs were actually the symbols for rude and insulting words in the local Elven language.

During the Reign of the Monsters, most of the surviving Elves fled to the woods and jungles, where they allied (and occasionally intermarried) with the Saganic Sylphs who dwell in the clouds. In the Ultimate West, the massive Zoswood Trees (or Beharbres) were hollowed out and turned into refuges. Some Elves, however, actually took the fight to the Underworld itself, and settled in the caverns they captured from their enemies. These lost Chthonic Elves are effectively a fifth division of the Elven People, but are almost never seen by surface dwellers.

All Elven cultures allow any number and combination of adults to be married to each other. Traditional Elven marriages last only a year, unless renewed. There is no expectation of monogamy, even among those who consider themselves married. Traditionally, Elven children are raised communally, and most never know the identity of their biological father. A Good-aligned or urban-dwelling Elf who who loves someone from another People will probably make an effort to conform to that person’s expectations about proper behavior in a relationship, but most other Elves will become indignant if told that they must remain faithful to single partner for more than a month.

Panzoasian Elves prefer to practice sky burial of their dead. A deceased Elf is places on a platform in the highest tree, (or else atop a tower or pole), and scavenging birds are allowed to devour them. The remaining bones are pulverized and scattered (a job traditionally done by Elf-kin Halflings). Elves value change and renewal, so fixed monuments naming the dead are considered to be in extreme bad taste.

The worship of the Lord and Lady of Light was completely unknown to the Elves of Panzoasia before the Reign of the Monsters. Now, however, many Elves are of Good Alignment – although most are still Neutral or Chaotic. Lawful Elves are social misfits who usually live away from others of their own kind. Only about 1% of surface-dwelling Elves are actually Evil. The Chthonic Elves of the Underworld, on the other hand, are rumored to be largely Evil – but that might just be a baseless slander.

Elves enjoy mushrooms and fungi of all sorts, both as food, and as sources of intoxicants. Elves can safely eat species of fungi that are lethal to other Peoples – even such deadly mushrooms as the Death Cap and Destroying Angel. They can also derive nourishment from tree leaves, and eat ferns that would be indigestible to others. Traditionalist Elves have no prejudices against consuming any kind of animal meat – and particularly relish insects such as grasshoppers, wood-grubs, cicadas, and caterpillars.

Fencing and archery are the the great Elven pastimes, but Elves also love to play variations of “Hide-and-Seek”. Also widely popular is a sport called “Nêbata” in the Western Elven language, generally similar to Lacrosse.

Elves prefer special breeds of deer, elk, and antelopes as mounts and beasts of burden. They have also domesticated the giant Zoswood Cicada as a flying mount. Sylvan Unicorns and Winged Unicorns will sometimes allow Good-Aligned Elves to ride them, and some Elves of the Ultimate North even ride polar bears into battle! Birds and foxes are popular pets, as is the green Elven Dog (or Cooshee). They especially love the phosphorescent Hercinia bird, whose glowing plumage illuminates many Elven communities.

To a traveler from our Earth, the Western Elven language sounds vaguely like a strange mixture of French and Irish; Southern Elven seems to somewhat resemble a combination of Yoruban and Taino; Eastern Elven is oddly evocative of Vietnamese; and Northern Elven mildly suggests Sami. All Elven languages are tonal, and those who lack perfect pitch can find them hard to understand or speak properly. Additionally, the vocabularies of Elven languages are very fluid, with new words constantly being invented, and old words changing meaning. Elves are apt to ridicule those who cannot pronounce their languages properly, or use outdated words. Each of the four known Elven languages is written with its own variety of pictograms.

A traditional Elven Commune is nominally led by an elected Princess (who can actually be of either biological sex), who chooses a Prince (of either biological sex) to be responsible for the security of the group. A group of Communes will collectively elect a Queen, who then selects a King to oversee the security of all the Communes who accept her leadership. As with Princesses and Princes, Queens and Kings can be of either biological sex. All Elven leaders must be reelected every year, and are often chosen on the basis of their good-looks and fashion sense. Their actual power is extremely limited, and most of what they do in modern times involves organizing games and parties. Princesses and Queens wear attire and cosmetics that look very “feminine” to Human eyes while attending to their governmental duties, while Princes and Kings wear more “masculine”-appearing attire.

In mixed communities, Elves will predominate in the fine arts, perfumery, the making of cosmetics, the crafting of luxury goods, silk and lace production, music, mushroom gathering, fine carpentry, and the cultivation of tree crops. Many realms of the ultimate West have special orders for knighthood for Elves sworn to use both sword and spell in defense of the nation. These include the “Order of the Unicorn” in Corthis, the “Order of the Griffin” in the Free March, the “Order of the Golden Stag” in Maeland, and the “Order of the Dragonfly” in Ombratia.

The Five Peoples of Panzoasia, Part I: Dwarves

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A Dwarven Lady wearing ochre in her hair. The face-paint on her jawline, and her chest-wrap of Dire Wolf fur, denote her high status.

Some Things to Know About the Five Peoples of Panzoasia

The overall population demographics of the Five Peoples in Panzoasia is roughly 50% Human, 20% Halfling, and 10% each Dwarf, Elf, and Gnome. The exact figure varies greatly from place to place however.

The universal symbol of the Five Peoples is a pentagram with the point upwards, while the upside-down pentagram symbolizes the evil Monsters and Depredators.

The Five Peoples (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes) all originated in the fabled Terrestrial Paradise, but left it for Panzoasia thousands of years before the Monsters came. The physical location of the Terrestrial Paradise is unknown – most claim it to be a now lost and inaccessible Corner of the Earth, while certain others claim it actually lies ruined somewhere in the Wasteland in the center of the continent.

The Five People all reach adulthood at the same rate – although Elves regularly live to be a thousand, Dwarves three hundred, Gnomes five hundred, and Halflings one hundred and fifty. Most Peoples who live longer than a human lifespan can still only remember the last 70 years or so of their lives, however. For Elves, the forgetfulness is even worse – they can only remember the last 30 years they have lived.

All Five People have always recognized the same Divine Powers. They do have not separate “pantheons”. Each People has their own set of traditions for honoring the Divine Powers and Immortals, however. Humans tend to build large, permanent structures for mass worship, while the other Peoples tend to prefer smaller-scale, or more informal, expressions of piety.

Intermarriage is most common between Elves and Humans (who are notably attracted to each other), but almost every other combination also occurs. Although less frequent, there is also a fair amount of intermarriage between Gnomes, Dwarves, and Halflings – and almost every larger town has at least one Human / Halfling couple who seems to “make it work” despite every challenge. All the Five Peoples are in fact capable of having children together. Generally, people of mixed heritage tend to have the height and general build their mother, although they frequently possess at least one feature typical of their father. For example, a man of mixed Gnomish and Dwarven parentage might mostly resemble any other Dwarf (and follow the Dwarf adventurer Class), but have the white hair and large nose typical of a male Gnome.

The cultural differences between People are generally most pronounced among “traditionalists” in rural and isolated settlements, and minimal among town dwellers. The urban population of Panzoasia tends to freely mix cultures. A Dwarf that lives in a settlement with Humans and Elves, for example, will still wear some distinctively Dwarvish body paint, but less than his subterranean kin – and will probably adopt Human-style clothes. Elves who live among other Peoples will dress and act more modestly than they otherwise would, and may even form stable nuclear families – something almost unheard of in more isolated Elven Communes. Gnomes who live outside a Hollow Hill will still sport outlandish hats, but they will be nowhere near as bizarre as the ones they don inside their own burrows. Urban Humans are famous for freely adopting cultural practices from other People – sometimes dressing in typically Elven outfits, wearing Dwarven body paint, or donning headgear of Gnomish make. Halflings, on the other hand, have always lived with other People – so their cultural ways are the same whether they live in the countryside or the largest town!

A high-status Dwarven man, wearing ochre in his hair and beard.

About the Dwarves of Panzoasia

Panzoasian Dwarves are noted for their distinctively broad and prognathous faces, with prominent brows, wide noses, and low foreheads. Both males and females are muscular and squat in build, and both stand about 4 ½ feet tall. Both male and female Dwarves tend to be more hairy than their Human counterparts, but Dwarven woman are not actually bearded (despite constant jokes to that effect). Dwarves tend to have the same skin and hair tones as nearby Humans, but a full 20% of the population are albinos with white hair and skin.

Dwarves across Panzoasia use body paint made from clay earth pigments, chalk, animal fat, and charcoal on their skin and hair – the most common patterns varying from region to region. Dwarves considers themselves “naked” if they are not wearing some body paint or hair ochre, no matter how many (or few) articles of actual clothing they are wearing. The jewel-like irises of Dwarven eyes can be the color of any gemstone – blue, green, red, purple, or orange are all possible. Because of their eye colors and body paint, there is a popular rumor/joke that Dwarves are actually made of earth and stone.

Most Dwarves prefer to use leather, skins, and fur as clothing wherever possible. They particularly love reptile skin, and the most prestigious garments are made from the hides of evil dragons and giant serpents. The only cloth they use is wool. They like to set stones and jewels directly into their clothing as decoration. Traditionalist Dwarves dislike cloth of vegetable origin so much that in hot conditions they may may wear nothing more than a leather loincloth (and chest-wrap in the case of women), otherwise covering their body with paint. In any event, Dwarven men are extremely proud of their hairy chests, and will dress to expose them as much as possible.

In the Ultimate West, Dwarven women in positions of authority often wear a face-paint design made by dipping the fingers in dark pigment, and dragging them vertically down the cheeks and chin. This the reason for the joke that Dwarf women have beards. High-status Dwarven women will also wear corset-like, fur chest-wraps – leading to another frequent jibe that they actually have hairy chests also!

Dwarves are the “people of the caves”, and prefer to carve and sculpt their settlements from solid rock. When they must build above ground, they use carved megaliths. After the Invasions, Dwarves retreated into deep tunnels, where they met and formed alliances with the Saganic Salamanders (also called “Vulcani”) who live in fiery rifts underground.

A dead Dwarf is cremated, as a symbolic return to the “Forge of Creation”. As an especial honor, a Dwarf’s charred bones may be used to help make steel for an heirloom weapon or piece of armor.

Every Dwarven culture is extremely fond of smoking pipes. These pipes are generally made of clay, or carved from various minerals – even precious and semi-precious stones! Pipes are smoked for leisure, and shared to seal deals and agreements. Much of Dwarven trade with the other Peoples is for the purpose of obtaining various herbs for smoking – particularly tobacco from Ha’wakun.

Dwarves are overwhelmingly Lawful or Neutral in Alignment. A sizable minority are Good. The small number of Chaotic Dwarves are widely despised by others of their own kind, and form a secret subculture. About 3% of Dwarves are Evil.

Dwarves use goats, mules, and cave dogs as mounts and beasts of burden, and have an especial affection for bears. They are the only people who dare to herd the Hrycus goat, whose fiery blood is needed to forge Adamant.

To a traveler from our Earth, the Western Dwarven language sounds vaguely like German; Southern Dwarven seems to somewhat resemble Zulu; Eastern Dwarven is oddly evocative of Tibetan; and Northern Dwarven mildly suggests ancient Norse. Each of the four Dwarven languages is written with its own set of angular runes designed to be easily carved into stone or wood.

The most common governmental form among isolated, traditionalist Dwarves remains hereditary monarchy, with the eldest child of either gender inheriting the title. A Dwarven Clan is headed by a Boss, whose position passes to their oldest child after their death. The Clans of a particular area will generally owe their allegiance to a Lord or Lady. If the Dwarves are living inside a nation not dominated by Dwarves, the Lord or Lady will be responsible for representing the interests of those Dwarves in the government. In the Ultimate West, only the monarch of Auddisland holds the title of “King” among the Dwarves.

Wherever they dwell with the other Peoples, Dwarves will naturally dominate the trades of mining, quarrying, masonry, and metalworking. Their armor and weapons are considered the best (and most expensive) throughout Panzoasia.

The Point of All This

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It can feel strange, even irresponsible, to write about fantastic worlds when reality seems so dire. Some part of me chides the rest, insisting that I should focus only on this world of pandemic, conflict, and oppression. But, perhaps it is precisely now that we need fantasy the most. Fantasy is the exercise of the imagination, and it is imagination that we will need if we are to transcend our problems. We must imagine a better world, where society is not predicated on exploitation and racism; where the law can be enforced without brutality; and where government represents all the people – not just those born into a privileged race, class, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. Without the ability to imagine something better, we may just trade one oppression for another, as has happened too many times throughout history. Without the courage to imagine, we might revert from our current insanity, back to the same system that ultimately resulted in the madness now standing in place of true governance.

The poet (and prophet) William Blake posited the Poetic Genius as the true God, and Imagination as the Savior. Who am I to argue with Blake? So I will write fantasy. I will write fantasy because Hope flows not just from Faith, but also Imagination. Our ancestors entertained each other with stories of fantastic worlds and beings, while dealing with diseases for which they had no cure, disasters for which they had no warning, and wars that seemed endless. The stories they told sustained them in their darkest hours. We exist because those who came before us could imagine a better future, and that imagination gave them the hope to endure.

Fantasy is serious business, for the most serious of times.