26 August 2010

Eiru: Part 5 - Setting

We're nearing the end of the Eiru series. This post will introduce the general setting of Eiru: magic and technology. The previous four posts will be useful in understanding the information below.

This being designed for GURPS 4th edition, it will of course describe everything in GURPS terms. Thus, the GURPS Basic Set will be useful in deciphering the gibberish below, as well as the 4th edition version of GURPS Magic. And of course, the disclaimer:

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

Technology in Eiru

Eiru is a TL 2 world, but their technology is retarded in the areas of construction and warfare. With the exception of the Fir Bolg, who know how to create any of the items crafted by the other races but simply choose not to do so in most cases, all the people in Eiru have the same weapons, buildings, farming techniques, and so forth.

Iron is the metal most commonly used, with copper and bronze still in use for certain applications or to make cheaper versions of items normally made from iron (it is possible, though rare, to find someone making bronze swords, for example). Copper is the most common metal for personal adornments, such as arm-bands, torcs, and brooches, though gold is preferred by those who can afford it.

Cattle are used as draught animals as well as food, and horses are common for use with chariots. Bareback riding is possible, but generally seen as lower-class and reserved for those who can't afford a chariot. Dogs (specifically hounds) are extremely common, and used primarily for hunting. In addition to animal power, the races of Eiru are known to build water mills for grinding grain.

The Danu live in subterranean cities dug from the earth, and the Fir Bolg tend to build simple wooden structures (often in the branches of trees, but sometimes on the ground as well). The other races build round wooden houses with conical thatched roofs, or occasionally they will build a house from stone.

Small sailing vessels are known, but cannot withstand the rigors of extended voyages, and are generally pulled onto the shore at night. Usually, a boat will be powered by oars.

Two-course crop rotation is the norm for those people who make common use of agriculture, although hunter-gatherer lifestyles are still popular in some places (especially with the Fir Bolg). The Danu usually have farmers who live above ground, or sometimes in domiciles very near the entrance of the sheeher. On occasion, they will have a seperate residence in a nearby hill; a sort of 'mini-sheeher' that is just large enough for a single family. Alternately, a few sheehers have harnessed the power of magic to maintain underground crops, with enchantments to provide light and water in enormous caverns of grains and vegetables.

Magic in Eiru

The entire setting is a high-mana area, and spells are cast using runic magic. Use the rules for Symbol Magic as detailed on pages 205 to 209 of GURPS Magic, with the following exceptions:

  • Symbol Tokens do not exist. The symbols must be inscribed every time.
  • Finger Tracing exists, but is not a case of tracing the symbols in the air with a fingertip. Instead, the symbol must be drawn on parchment or vellum, or traced in the dirt. This replaces the normal system of Parchment Symbol Casting.
  • The 'symbols' are not single runes, but words of power. Learning a symbol is not so much practising a specific 'letter,' but a set of words related to a specific subject.
  • Any use of magic requires the use of clanasolse. Finger Tracing involves using the soft metal as a sort of pencil to inscribe the words on parchment or on the ground, and magic items created with Symbolic Inscriptions must have the runes inlaid with a small amount of clanasolse.

The language used for magic is, in a sense, a complete language in itself, but its words carry such power that it is never used except in casting spells or enchanting items. The Symbol Drawing skill represents knowledge of the words and grammar used in specific applications of magic thought. However, this does mean that bards, if properly trained and empowered, can use the skills of Musical Influence and Enthrallment. Note that Enthrallment is used via music rather than public speaking, and as such, has the prerequisite changed to Singing 12+, instead of Charisma 1 and Public Speaking 12+. Furthermore, the subset skill of Persuade can be used for satire, causing the victim of a bard's ridicule to suffer social stigma. In game terms, rather than using this skill to grant the bard a bonus to reaction rolls from his audience, the same amount is instead applied to the subject (only one person at a time) in the form of a penalty to reaction rolls.

I do hope you have fun exploring the world of Eiru. If you do, please let me know how it goes! I would be very pleased to hear that people are enjoying this setting that I have created. Tell me about it in the comments, and until next week, I bid you a fond

Game on!

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