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The Ninety Nine

One of the most famed, and yet most reculsive, mercenary groups are the Ninety Nine. Despite their name, there are actually one hundred members. The Ninety Nine is comprised of the champions of the Ninety Nine Isles, one champion from each island. The one hundreth member is the champion of all champions, their island having two members in the group.

The Ninety Nine are unsurpassed when it comes to their prowess on the battlefield, even the Crimson Brotherhood’s best pales in comparison. The Ninety Nine also stand out becuase they do not work for money. Many have tried to hire them, but always to no avail. The Ninety Nine will pick and chose which cause they wish to support, whether or not they are asked.

If a member falls in battle the surviving Ninety Nine will do anything to make sure the body is not left on the battlefield. There are tales of an enemy that once took the body of a fallen Ninety Nine and held it for ransom. In a frenzy the remaining warriors of the Ninety Nine slaughtered nearly three thousand of the enemy troops before the body was surrended.

Every five years the Ninety Nine return to their sea bound homes and a new tournament determines who shall be named to the Ninety Nine. In the last two thousand years, there has only once been an island without a champion. A current member of the Ninety Nine may be challenged for his spot at the tourney, but if there are no takers, the current member retains his position. It is extremely rare for a member of the Ninety Nine to willingly step down from their position.

The Ninety Nine Isles

Far to the northeast, further than most dare to travel, lay the Ninety Nine isles. Each island is independently governed, though they all form an alliance of sorts. Each island is home to a mix of races, both mortal and Faye, though none are densely populous. The largest of the isles is Barin, home to almost 300 souls. The smallest would be Inis Cor, a small outpost so far north it isn’t even on any map, and it boasts a population of seven.

The isles are not very rich in resources, most exist solely by fishing and whaling. However, once every three years the seas swarm with a small red fish, the Honkel. The Honkel is highly prized, both for it’s delicious taste, but also for it’s restorative properties. The oil of the Honkel is used in the creams and ointments desired by the wealthy and the vain. All of the isles join together in harvesting these desirable fish, which must be done within three days before the fish disappear for another three years. Once the harvest is complete, hundreds of ships make their way south to Wayfarers Way to sell their precious cargo. The ships then load themselves with metals and other goods that cannot be obtained in the Ninety Nine Isles.

It is rumored that the Ninety Nine Isles are surrounded by the drowned remains of one of the greatest cities of the earth that was. If that is true, no one from the isles is talking about it. Also, if it is true, the waters are very deep and very cold, so it would take some rather impressive magic to find out if the rumors are true. The University in Wayfarers Way has sent out several expeditions over the last century or so, but they haven’t turned up anything yet.

 

The Husk

Along the trade routes between Wayfarers Way and the settlements of Dardus is an inn. That in and of itself is nothing special, there are many inns and lodging houses along most trade routes. What makes the Husk so different is that the inn itself is located within the withered remains of an old earth that was building. History books say such things were called skyscrapers, and most of them were either destroyed during the Reckoning or dumped at Mikon-Groa by the Faye. This one remains though, albeit missing all but ten of its original floors. In truth, aside from the exterior walls, there is little of the original structure left.

Hobb has been the proprietor of the Husk for the last dozen or so years, having taken over from his uncle. The Husk has been operated by the same family of innkeepers for more than years than anyone can remember. Hobb is also not the real name of the proprietor, it is an honorary name that is handed down in the family to whomever runs the establishment, for stability sake it is said. Hobb isn’t alone either, his extended family helps him run the inn, consisting of nearly thirty other Chareks ranging in age from his grandson who is three up to his great grandmother who is old enough for you not to ask.

There is always plenty of room at the Husk, each of the floors above the first boasts more than twenty rooms, except for the top which is reserved for special guests, normally Faye. There is also a contingent of Arbitrators stationed here, those responsible for keeping the trade routes safe. Because of the constant watchful eye of the law, the Husk is a peaceful enough place despite getting its fair share of mysterious strangers that pass through.

Hobb also maintains a small collection of old earth that was trinkets and relics. The most prized piece of the collection is something called a Buick. It was once a self powered wagon, propelled by old earth technology. It has long since ceased to function, but it is still fairly intact, preserved, as is the entire the collection, by layers of magic to prevent decay. Old tech scholars can often be found here studying the Buick in the hopes of learning how the ancient technology works.

 

Heldings Hold

There is little left of this once mighty keep, the outer walls have long since crumbled, and only one of the original sixteen towers still stands. The main building itself is nothing but a pile of rubble, but the dungeons below are still intact. There are also a smattering  of wooden buildings huddled around the lone tower.

The Crimson Brotherhood maintains this out of the way post as a training grounds for new recruits. Not just any recruit gets invited out to Heldings Hold, only those that show true promise and the prospect of rising in the ranks. Despite the outward appearance of the main building, the dungeons beneath are well maintained. There is almost always the clang of steel of on steel emanating from the underground hallways as soldiers train day and night.

Recruits here often take excursions out into the Mists, west of the Evenstar. Dark and vile things reside that far out, and it is common for half or more of a recruit class to never make it back. Recruits are never sent out alone, there are always senior members and a highly skilled Mistrunner along with them, but even with the backup, bad things happen.

Those that are not members of the Crimson Brotherhod can pay to join a recruit class,  but the fee is hefty and there is no special treatment, no matter how many Soverns they may have anted up. It is a unique opportunity for many though, and most consider it worth not only the cost, but the risk as well.

Lady of the Hounds

There is a hunt going on, a hunt that has been going on for thousands of years. Long before the days of the Reckoning there was an Alfar, she and her hounds were known by all the Faye, and her prowess as a hunter was renown over all the lands. The name of this huntswoman has been forgotten, all records and knowledge of who she once was have been removed from existence. For as long as anyone can now recall, she is known as the Lady of the Hounds.

The Faye are not known for their emotions, and yet, jealousy is something they often fall prey to. The Lady of the Hounds wasn’t only known for her skills in the hunt, but also for her beauty, and the combination of the two was enough to turn the heads of even the most noble of the Sidhe. The tales tell that even King Auberon of the Seelie let his eyes wander more than once, and his on again, off again wife, Titiana was not one to let such things go unpunished. She could do nothing to her husband, but to the Lady of the Hounds she could do much. So, she cursed the skilled Alfar maiden, cursed her to spend the rest of her days chasing a white stag that she could never catch.

Every day she rises with the sun, her and her hounds, and the chase begins.  The white stag always eludes her, staying just ahead of her and the pack until the moon rises in the sky. At night the Lady of the Hounds sleeps deeply. Many have stumbled upon her over the centuries, both during the day as well as at night. Those that cross her path during the chase are best advised to stay out of her way, and those that have failed to heed this warning have often met rather unpleasant fates. Those that find the Alfar woman at night, asleep among her hounds, are often stunned by her beauty. Any attempts to wake her have always been unsuccessful, and any attempting to cause her harm are repelled by powerful Faye magic.

Only during the eclipse does the Lady of the Hounds have a reprieve from her endless torment. She longs for any contact with others and will welcome anyone that approaches as a friend. She has seen much in her travels over all the realms and is a font of knowledge. She will gladly share much of what she knows with any that ask, provided they give her something in exchange. What that is varies by the one asking the questions, it may be a story, a song, a bottle of wine, or in some cases, sharing an intimate moment. Once the eclipse is over though, it all goes back to the curse.

It is not known how the curse may be broken, except by the queen on the UnSeelie Court, and if there is one thing she holds on to more than her own throne, it is a grudge.

Perks

Perks were considered at the early stages of the game, but dropped for reasons of trying to keep the rules as light as possible. It was always intended that if there was a desire or demand for Perks, we would release a supplement at a later date. That time is approaching. However, what I thought to be a simple list of some little skill boosts has turned into an over 40 page document so far. Every skill will have a set of Perks available to choose from whenever a skill is advanced. Not every Perk will have a direct affect on the specific skill though. Some may aid other skills or even groups of skills. Below I have a few samples of some of the Perks we are working on.

 

I Am Not Left Handed (One Handed):  This Perk grants a single Parry reroll at +4 once every combat.

Turtle (Shield): Anyone attempting to attack the possessor of this Perk with a ranged attack suffers a penalty of -4 to their skill roll.

Wait, Time Out (Perception): This Perk allows a reroll of any initiative roll. The second die roll must be taken, regardless of its result.

Bad Dates (Smell/Taste): This Perk grants the ability to detect poisons, toxins, and gasses by smell or taste automatically.

The Fly Swats Back (Acrobatics):  The possessor of this Perk may make an immediate unarmed strike when hit during combat. This action replaces whichever Step the character would have acted next.

You Don’t Need to See His Identification (Law): Bonus of +4 to all Forgery skill rolls.

Iocane, I’d Bet My Life on It (Alchemy): This Perk grants immunity to all poisons.

Dance of Steel (Dancing): This Perk grants a +4 bonus to all Parry skill rolls.

Penetrating Shot (Marksman): Ignore the first 2 points of armor when applying damage to a target.

I Am One of You (Style): This Perk grants a +4 bonus to Disguise skill rolls.

I Have the Death Sentence in Twelve Realms (Intimidate): Receive a +4 bonus to all Intimidate skill rolls vs criminals.

Weak at the Joints (Smith): This Perk grants a damage bonus of +4 against armored opponents.

Magic?! Bah! (Technology): Anyone attempting Magic skill rolls against the possessor of this Perk receives a penalty of -2 to all skill rolls.

Essence Mastery (Conjuration):  All spells cost 1 less Essence to cast.

Reboot (Control): This Perk grants an automatic reroll for a failed Control skill roll.  The second roll must be taken regardless of the result.

Read You Like a Book (Mental): This Perk grants a bonus of +4 when detecting lies.

Skin of Stone (Earth): This Perk grants a permanent natural AV4.

Leaf on the Wind (Air): The possessor of this Perk may levitate at will.

 

That is just a small selection, in total there will be over 400 Perks to choose from. The hope is that a PDF version of the Big Book of Perks will be available summer 2014.

 

Undeleth Weir

Deep within the Mists lies the burial grounds of the forgotten clans of the Alfar, the Undeleth Weir. Only a single clan of warrior priests, the Mera Nok, are allowed entry to the numerous warrens that house the remains of some of the most ancient Alfar clans.  Many of the names of these clans have been lost to the ages, not even the eldest of the Faye can recall them all. These are elves that died off even before the Reckoning, many believe that these were some of the first Alfar to ever walk the Mists.

Rumors abound of what lies buried in the tombs of Undeleth Weir, and given the traditions of the Alfar the entomb the fallen with their greatest possessions, it is likely the rumors don’t even come close to the truth. Many tomb raiders have tried to glean the secrets trapped here, a handful making it out. Those few that survive to leave the Undeleth Weir are almost always found and punished with rather gruesome deaths, meant as a message to any other would be trespassers. Baerd is one of the few to have supposedly made it out and lived long enough to tell the tale, though he has never admitted it himself he has also never denied it. It would explain some of the rarer items in his personal collection.

More recently it has been said that the Unseelie have been poking around the area and it has lead to some minor altercations with the Seelie Faye. Many fear that if the Unseelie push things too far it could lead to all out war between the Faye, and no one really wants that. Whatever it is they are looking for, it seems to be worth the risk.

 

Brezka Knop

There are plenty of gangs in the city of Wayfarers Way, and every gang has its leader. Some are cruel, some are crazy, some are strangely kind. Brezka Knop is an oddity among oddities. He leads one of the smallest gangs in the city, the Faceless Five. The Faceless Five are extraordinary thieves, completely in a class all their own. No one knows who any of them are, and the only name that is known is Brezka Knop.

As if fitting for such a mysterious group, rumors abound. Brezka is a ghost, the Faceless Five are all Faye, they actually work for the city watch, and so forth. None of those have ever been proven true, nor have a thousand other guesses as to the origins and identities of the thieves. What is known is that they only prey upon the most wealthy, but don’t let that fool you, these aren’t one of those rob from the rich and help the poor types. This is where Brezka Knop and Faceless Five prove to be stranger than just about anyone else in a city full of strange. The treasures they steal, they don’t fence them, they don’t spend them or give them away. The wealth they obtain is destroyed. Precious gems and jewelry are melted into slag, painting and tapestries are burned, anything of value is rendered worthless.

Both the Arbitrators and the City Watch have a hefty bounty on Brezka Knop and any of the Faceless Five. There have been a few that have tried to collect, but apparently thievery isn’t all Brezka and his fellows are capable of. Anyone that gets too close is left as an example for everyone else, their bodies displayed in grotesque fashion for all to see. Even so, a bounty of nearly 5000 Soverns for Brezka alone can make many a person consider the risk worthwhile.

 

Yaktha’s Pit

Deep in the depths of the swamps of Aerdmoor lies a lonely hut. There is but a single resident here, a creature known only as the Crone. Many think she was once a member of the Seelie Court, a full bloodied Sidhe, but what she is now is a bent and twisted thing. She also has a fondness for flesh, any flesh will do fine for her cooking pot. Despite this, there are those who seek out this place, not for the company of the Crone, but for what lies far below her home. Of course, the Crone won’t just let anyone inside. To gain entrance requires a sacrifice, one of flesh and blood. It doesn’t need be sinister, but the Crone is fickle, and she might just eat the sacrifice and those that brought it.

Yaktha was a powerful demon that ruled over part of the earth that was, and it is said that he was bound in blessed iron and cast into a deep pit. The entrance to that pit is inside the Crone’s hut. Bound though he is, Yaktha still wields incredible power and his knowledge is vast and unsurpassed by any being still alive. Those brave, or foolish, enough can seek his aid, though the price is often higher than most would willingly pay. It is always different for each that seeks his guidance, and it is never pleasant.

If Yaktha concedes to give aid, he will answer any three questions. He will not lie, but how he interprets the question is up to him. It is best to ask questions that can’t don’t allow Yaktha to dance around the answers, though fooling him will be difficult. Over the centuries many have sought out his help, most end up in either the Crone’s pot or consumed by the pure malevolence that is Yaktha.

Storm of Souls

South of the rugged peaks that make up the surrounding environs of the Evenstar is one of the largest and most fierce Mist Storms.  Unlike most storms in the Mists, it hasn’t dissipated over time. In fact, it has appeared to only grow stronger.  Anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the storm faces a fate much worse than mere death. The storm seems to tear the very soul out of anyone caught in its furious grasp, leaving an empty husk of a being behind. Animals seem to be unaffected by the storm, but anything sentient is gobbled up by it.

Since the storm first appeared, roughly ten years ago, many magical experts have studied it, some at the highest cost. Both Faye and mortal alike are stumped by the storm. There has been a single breakthrough by a member of the UnSeelie Court, a petty noble named Variss who is well known as one of the greatest Mist scholars the Faye have ever seen. He has been able to communicate with some of those unfortunate souls that have become trapped within the storm, or at least what remains of them.  It seems that the longer a soul is trapped within the soul, the less it retains of it’s original sense of self.

The storm itself has a consciousness of its own, able to stalk victims by moving itself through the Mists. It does seem to have a limited range though, never straying further than 200 miles from the Evenstar. This restriction has lead many investigators to believe that the storm is somehow tied with the mystical mountain, though what that tie may be is still unknown.  There are many handsome rewards for anyone that can figure out how to free those trapped inside the storm, and many that have tried have only joined those they tried to help.