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The world of Gods & Minions

“In the dawn of the sixth age, the sky itself descended – for the world as they knew it, was coming to an end. The Mortals strived for eternity long ago and built a kingdom of high magic, technological advancement and cultural treasures. Of course, as Mortals do, they squandered it, fought over it, and, finally, lost it.

The Gods imposed a final test of dignity upon their children in order to prove them worthy. Now, while the Mortals struggle to succeed in their test, their once great empires are falling apart. Anarchy reigns over the known world and new leaders are vying for power as the false prophets proclaim the end of known civilization. The end times are now, and this is where our story begins…”

Welcome to the world of Gods & Minions

(Please note that the Gods & Minions project is defunct. The game is neither available online nor offline. All artworks and text are copyrighted).

Gods & Minions – dark fantasy wargame & RPG background world

Welcome to Gods & Minions, a fast paced wargame set in a world of dark fantasy. In this dynamic game, players simulate small skirmishes or even epic battles between the various factions of a world called Ascendallion. The game takes place after the Fall – a historic event that dispossesed the world into a age of hostility and turmoil.

In Gods & Minions each player will command one of the many factions that take part in the conflict. Before choosing an army, you should read the history of the world and the background information provided for the various races. After you have done this, select the faction that suits your passion as well as your style of play most. Each nation features unique units and special abilities that allow you to vary the composition of the army further.

After selecting your faction its time to construct your army that you will lead into battle. Although there are very powerful individuals in Gods & Minions, a battle is never won due to the strength of one hero or beast. Instead its important to choose all army components wisely, so the the arrangement of warriors is as efficient as possible. The clever use of the right combination of infantry, cavalry, monsters and war-machines sparks synergy effects that lead you to victory. Whatever design you select, you will populate your forces with beautifully painted cards that describe their strengths and weaknesses.

The cards will mirror your style of warfare and represent troops on the battlefield. Each card shows a painting of the creature or war-machine it represents, as well as a detailled description of the troop type together with its name and vital statistics. You will also need a bit of table space that represents the battlefield where the game takes place. The battlefield is divided into different zones and your cards can move freely across them, unless the terrain or other circumstances hinder them. The zones allow your units to charge at your enemies, attack them with melee or missile weapons or retreat to more secure zones to recover. Finally, you win the game by controlling game zones or fulfilling special objectives.

As mentioned above, every Gods & Minions player maintains a deck of cards to represent the heroes, minions and gods of his army. Each card represents a squad or individual creature whose statistics and abilities are defined by numbers and rules text. During his turn, the active player brings new cards into play and activates groups of cards (units) that are already on the table. When a unit is activated, all cards in that unit will get to make a number of actions. With these actions, the cards may charge, shoot their ranged weapons, continue to fight in melee combat, cast magic spells or perform many other actions. In this manner, Gods & Minions gives the player complete control over what every unit in his army does. By the skillful use of your armies strengths, you attempt to outmaneuver and outfight your opponent. In the end, only one player is victorious!

“And, as if we had foreseen the coming cataclysm, we dug deeper into the bowels of the earth and sealed ourselves away. Knowing that our civilization was safe far below the surface, we awaited the end. Centuries passed. And whilst we fed our children with cave fungus and drank water from the subterranean sea, strange horrors from the abyss below assaulted us and our numbers dwindled. Thus, we opened the great gates of Torgmar-Banor and emerged once more to the surface. What we set foot on was a world very different from that of our ancestors. The once green valleys and rolling hills of yesterday are now twisted into deserts of sulfurous ash and polychromatic salt.”

– From the diary of Grak, Son of Orak

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Eszmeria – the Humans

“As high councillor and advisor to the king, i sometimes think that I, Ospin Miere, am the only honest person within this state of office. I have no hidden agenda, no devious plans to assert control. No, I am here to ensure that others with such ideas and leanings are kept well away from the King. Others, wether they are listening just a little too closely to the church or basing their decisions on which trade route will most benefit them, do not have the best interests of Eszmeria in mind. I do and I shall do everything within my power to make sure that Eszmeria remains the greatest kingdom in the world. You would like an example? Then I would remind you of the disastrous alliance with the Hadab that lesser councillor ABC and his cronies tried to foist upon king Bardolf! That alliance would have cost us dearly and I had to argue non-stop through seven sessions, without a single rest or draft of water to soothe my throat, to crush the proposal and bury it. That shows my dedication. And was I justified? The prosperity we currently enjoy is answer enough for that question.

This season, as the snow settles the ground, the Pagan are striking us again, torching our towns and settlements in the north. They claim that it is revenge for the attacks we made last summer but they were not attacks. We travelled to their lands to trade and preach; they are the ones who attacked us! Our forces were just defending themselves. Look closely at the robes I am wearing – the material for this garment was traded to us by the Barbarians before they took umbrage at our presence. We would have paid with silver but they gave us no choice but to pay with cold steel. We gained some pretty cloth and they lost their lives. Hardly a fair exchange from their point of view.

Eszmeria is a great land and our warriors are forging a new world, moving our borders even further in all directions. While the kings guard and the holy templars do not always see eye-to-eye, they have the same purpose on mind. There will come a time when this entire land is ours, from sea to sea, and we must make others ready for this.”

Eszmeria – the Church State

The inhabitants of Eszmeria are almost exclusively human. The sprawling, landlocked kingdom of Eszmeria is an enigma to many. To some, it is clearly ruled by King Reynard Bardolf and Queen Beatrix; to others, the Church (led by the Arch Bishop Francis Whyte) is the controlling power. They are both right, to an extend, but the subject is not open to debate – at least not in public. The relationship between Bardolf and Whyte is unique – Whyte accepts Bardolf as the ruler and bows to his decisions but Bardolf, as a god-fearing man, is highly influenced by Whyte and lets him know that. The Queen, on the other hand, accepts Bardolf as the ruler and distrusts, some might say dislikes, Whyte and the power he has over the king. She has built up quite a clandestine following devoted to her and opposed to the church and its heavy-handed ways. it is a strange, and immently volatile situation.

King Bardolf’s appetite for conquest (along with the well oiled propaganda machine within his court of trusted advisors) ensures that the armed forces loyal to the crown are forever growing. It is considered a position of honour to serve in the military, to be a part of things in this grand continuing quest for glory. The King and queen live in seperate cities within the kingdom and each controls an army on its own. While each army is, of course, loyal to Eszmeria, they are devoted to their leader first, be it king or queen. The church on the other hand, sees this as an excellent watering-down of power as the church army answers to Whyte alone – with no divided loyalities to worry about.

The Church, headed by the Arch Bishop Francis Whyte, maintains a military force for its own defense. Their religion, which features the worship of one all-powerful god and the concept of heaven for those who lead pious, caring lives and hell for those who don’t, is very important to Eszmerians. All aspects of daily life are infused with religious temperament to some degree. Non-believers, be they Eszmerians or Outlanders, are dealt with by the Church-controlled Yruton, a particularly savage brand of holy inquisition. If it becomes common knowledge that one does not truly believe (and no one will protect you if this is indeed the case), he is urged to go and explain his-self. These regular sessions held before a high priest in the  black chamber are not a pleasant experience. The only redemption for non-believers is to be tortured to death for the sake of their immortal soul.

Eszmerians holy Templars, the heavily armored elite knights who crusade against the dark triad and others they see as evil, are answerable to the Church rather than the king or any member of the royal family. They are a particularly vicious opponent as they have no fear of death, believing that they are fighting for the one true cause, and that if they die in battle they will go to heaven as heroes.

Important Places

There are six major city-fortresses within Eszmeria, each important in its own right, and each controlled by a member of the royal family. The well-protected city of Vaitev houses not only the palace of king bardolf but also the magnificent cathedral that represents the supreme headquarters of the church. Radiating out from a grand central square, this city more than any other in the kingdom is indicative of Eszmerian tastes and styles. From the grandeur of the palace to the intricacies of the architecture found in the buildings and houses, this city is a veritable showcase. Aclashane also has its poorer areas of course, where the style of architecture is limited to the amount of plaster one can spread over straw, but this aspect of the city is hidden and not so brightly lit, you might say.

The central castle, home to queen beatrix, is situated in the centre of Miza. Although outsiders think its strange that the king and queen do not share a single palace, the royal family feels that it is better to not “keep all their eggs in one basket”, as it were. Recognised as an Eszmerian centre of learning, the queen supports many universities and colleges within the sanctity of Miza’s fortified walls.

Aclashane is perhaps the most neglected of the Eszmerian cities and is beginning to suffer. Home to the templar training grounds until they where moved to Misthaven together with all church representatives. Aclashane is a city in the far north and controlled by the youngest of the royal heirs. Prince Krafwood. he is resentful of this posting, considering it a punishment of sorts being forced to rule a city which has lost its main industry – taking care of the templars and their needs. The marketplace catered primarily to the tempalrs, along with their household staff and retainers, the pubs and brewhouses served the market traders (and retainers), the blacksmiths served the templars, and so on. Aclashane has definitely seen better days and Krafwood’s ruling abilities are not instilling a great deal of confidence in the townsfolk. The king and his advisors are considering a replacement, without telling the queen of their plans.

The strongest of all Eszmerian cities, due in part ot the fact that it is now the home of the famed templar training grounds, is Misthaven. Situated close to the Scar, it protects the Garnuk pass through which the dark triads tries to invade. Within the fortress walls, Whyte has established a central seminary to lead initiates through his own particular style of preaching and below the grand courtyard, the Vonah sect maintains a black chamber where inquisitors are trained.

Off to the northeast, and the nearest to Hogor and Khor territories, is the city of Ericaport, a craftsmans paradise. Although still well defended, with a large number of soliders stationed there, it is here where the Eszmerian culture is defined for others. Bleridge is the northernmost city in the Eszmerian kingdom and closest to the holdings of the Goriath. Although quite small, Bleridge is well defended.

Partly due to Bardolf’s efforts to expand his borders, and partly due to the horror stories about the Inquisition which filter out, Eszmeria has many enemies – Goriath and Pagan to the north. Hogor and Khor to the northeast, Hadab to the south, and the many evils that represents the dark triad to the east.

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Hadab – the Desert Empire

“Why am I wetting my blade? I am preparing it for tonight and one slip of the wrist and I’ll be dead. It’s as simple as that. This poison, which I – Abbad Sadi – personally developed for the Jy’fa from the sap juices of the Khayegha plant, is so deadly that if my stained blade were to even scratch my skin, I would not have the chance to utter a word before I dropped to the ground. I dip the blade in the juice and allow the sun to dry the droplets upon the steel. Then, when it enters the body of my enemy it is not merely the steel which kills! I once killed four of my enemies by dropping my scabbard into their meal pot! The powder which had gathered there from the knife blade was ufficient to dispatch them all! I always chew my special herbs when I do this for to face this task without their soothing qualities would be impossible and I would quake with fear.

Don’t misunderstand me, though. I’m not afraid to die but I shall die in battle as my father did and his father before him. When my time comes I shall take my seat with them alongside Abu Sa’ha Beelaa al-Qud, the God of the Jy’fa. To die in a foolish accident would be unthinkable and would bring shame upon my family and my guild.

This past week I spent time with our falcon handlers of Mahma Siry, watching in silent amazement as they practised with the newly-acquired northern breed of bird. Faster and more vicious than the southern Falcons, they are trained to attack the faces of mannequins outfitted to resemble Sun Elves and Dwarves mostly, ripping and gouging at the eyes before swiftly flying off and circling for another attack. I would not like to taste their wrath. We rule the skies now with our falcons and Dune Riders. No one else can touch us.

We are a proud, god-fearing race, rich beyond imagination in both gold and culture. Our lives are simple, though, and our homes humble and welcoming. Lustre and ostentatiousness we save for our temples and places of worship; strength and simplicity we save for our city walls. And it is strength we need for the walls as, sadly, it is getting increasingly difficult to trust our former allies. it is as though promises of peace and signed documents mean nothing to them. Especially for the dwarves, they are not just short of stature – they are short of honor!

A storm is brewing, a war approaches which will involve us all and should I die, my place by the Gods is assured. Can my enemies say the same?”

Hadab – the Desert Empire

The Hadab are very different from most other humans who inhabit the world of Ascendallion, with quite unique codes of honor and valor. Females have little or no standing in their society and it is the rare woman who is allowed to excel at anything. Hadab are deeply religious, worshipping many different gods, and praying several times a day. Punishment oftten fits the crime as thieves have their hands cut off, seditious rebels have their tongues cut out, etc.

The Hadab are at home in the desert and their way of life, and costume, reflects this. Although they wear armor when the battle calls for it, their standard outfit is usually composed of light colored fabrics, often with brightly-colored sashes and adornments. They also wear veils across the lower half of their face, primarily to shield themselves from the harshness of the desert sun but also to identify the guild to which they belong. Their textile artisans have also developed an incredibly sheer silk which can be used to veil the entire face, without obstructing vision or breathing. This veil, which is most commonly worn by their fighters during sandstorms, gives them the upper hand over their enemies when the forces of nature join the battle.

Their once stable realm is now fragmented, consisting of the westernmost part of the Djasim Peninsula, Estrean island, and the provinces to the south of Tulmarun. They are aware that their lands bordering the southern seas are quite desirable and their fortress cities of Yar’Hala and Matab (on the Eszmerian border) and An’pha and Yagrah (on the Sun Elf border) are fully manned and well-defended.

Surrounding the island of Estrean, their Corsairs are poised and ready. Estrean, the first in a string of islands extending westwards from the Djasim peninusla, was the former home of Grand Palace of the Caliph, Sovereign of all Hadab. After the Fall, the Dark Triad encroached the island as well as the Eszmerian and Lauron who took the chance to expand their territories by wrenching it from the weakened Hadab. For centuries, the Caliph’s palace was located on the Estrean island, the former capital city of the Hadab kingdom. The proximity of the invaders, though, made it an unsafe place for the emperor and his familiy and Zumal was chosen as their new home.

But Hadab pride is unbreakable and so they moved their political and cultural center onto the main land and rebuild the Caliphs palace in Thaamira-Huda near the Zumal Oasis. This opulent, glittering royal residence is visible from miles away as the sunlight reflects from the millions of multicolored mirrored tiles which decorate it’s walls and towers.

Hadab are skilled warriors in many areas and are justifiably proud of their horsemaen – the Abu Qaar Ajinkis and Riya’ma Sparhis, their assassins – the Jy’fa, and their sky troops – the Abu Neesa Dune Riders.

The Alith Ibn Elite Lancers are covered head-to-toe in chainmail and carry a light spear, while the Abu Ni’mee are more heaviliy armored and are easily recognisable on the battlefield in their black and white uniforms and blood-red shields. Jy’fa, their fanatically dedicated assassins, are superbly skilled, ambidextrous killers. When they are on a covert mission, they are almost always clad in black but in open battle, they are very distinctive, almost blatant. Their white flowing uniforms, adorned with red or gold sashes, are designed to show their arrogance and contempt for their opponents. It boosts the morale of the surrounding troops and causes fear in the approaching enemy, or so they say.

And finally, riding their flying carpets into battle from their protected mountain fortresses, Dune Riders will often take attacking forces by surprise by coming up behind them… making no noise whatsoever.

Sorcerers are revered in Hadab culture and will often have wealth and power only slightly below that of the Grand Caliph. They are the ones who have given the power of flight to the Dune Riders so the army respects them and pays them well for their services. Their manner of magicry if connected in almost every way to the elements, with the spells they cast and the creatures they summon being of the earth, air, fire or water variety. They will often combine elements in their spells and it is in this way that they create their blinding sandstorms, for example. There are followers of black magic as well, with evil intent behind every spell, but they are publicly reviled. In private, the Caliph has frequently called upon their services to take care of a particularly difficult situation regarding the Formorians. But these encounters are never conducted with a middleman so no one else knows… at least, that is what the Caliph thinks.

Yet another side effect of the Formorians and their magical tampering throughout the southeast, Giant Scorpions are now a common sight throughout Voran. While they cannot be trained or easily handled, they can be captured and used against Hadab enemies. The Sun Elves and Eszmerian who regularly invade Voran through the Djasim peninsula prefer to simply destroy the scorpions and their nests instead.

The Hadab are almost always in conflict with either the Lauron or the Eszmerian (or both…), but their greatest enemy are the Formorians as well as their foul creations in form of the Mongrelfolk and Ratkin. Other than the Slavers whose fleet the Corsairs share, they feel no need for allies but are cordial with most races.

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Formoria – the Serpent Kingdom

The desolate, forbidding land of sand and sun-baked cliffs stretched out as far as the eye could see behind the Formorian standing on the hillcrest, her staff adornments fluttering in the dry wind. Vultures and other carrion-birds floated above in the hot currents, black silhouettes against the azure sky. Throwing her arms wide, the Formorian Priestess stood proudly between the massive sandstone lions which served as sphinx-like guardians to the valley of the inner sanctum, and began her speech to the assembled crowd of young formorians their mentors.

“Look around you. Is this valley not grand? Can there be any doubt that we are meant to rule the world? As Salisehk, Priestress of the seventh circle, it is my honoured task to adapt the land we conquer, eleminating the cold and rain, bringing forth the sun to bake the land. It has taken me several decades to transform the valley of the inner sanctum but it is now a place of peace and solitude, of blowing winds and shimmering obsidian shards, of blinding sun and shellack cactii which reach for the sky. It is a place worthy to receive the tombs of our royal family”. She stopped to pause and kneel at the mention of the royal family and the audience followed suit. It was quiet for such a large gathering but the youngers and lessers were aware of the proper procedure when in the presence of a Priestress and they made no sound. Salisehk stood and continued her speech.

“You were brought here today to show what we can achieve and to prepare you for your own challenges once you reach maturity. You are adepts of the first circle and soon you will cross the threshold and enter the next phase of your being. As you shed your skin, so shall you shed the last vestiges of your former life. The tangible magic will come and you will enter the cult, ready to face any challenge! And there is no challenge greater than that of ridding our land of invaders! For many years we have been clearing our homeland of the soft-skinned Hadab. They proved a worthy challenge, more so than any other foe we have faced in the years and we will miss them when they are finally expunged from our land. It is only a matter of time before the palace cities in the west will fall to our overwhelming forces and we cleanse the land. You must now go with the blade masters of J’Ram-Lei, supporting them as they join our forces in the Djasim dessert. Go! It shall be glorious and our legend keepers will tell the tales of this conquest for our children.

Formoria – the Serpent Kingdom

The Formorians are a large snake-like race, generally considered by the majority of the world to be manical killers and slavers who play with magic and who have no interest in anything beyond what they can take from it. This is not that far from the truth. Their magical abilities are still rough and untested and their belief that they are the only true rulers of the world has lead to some very harsh treatment of the Sun Elves and Dune People who formerly shared their land. During a secret alliance in the past, details of which are still unclear, Shadow Elf Sorcerers came to the Formorian homeland and offered to teach their ways of magic to the Formorians. They set no price for this service; rather they seemed satisfied in the knowledge that with these new talents, the Formorians could inflict suffering on the Humans and Elves, who shared their lands. After the Shadow Elf mentors left, Formorian Priests began to experiment and found that, with practice, some of their new spells could alter weather patterns and strip moisture from the lands. So, armed with these new powers, the fledling Priests pushed back the flora which bordered the deserts and the Estrean Wilderness was born. This new land of sand, rock and heat, was in a word, perfect.

One thing they didn’t expect, though, as the spells wreaked their havoc with the land, was that the magical force would mutate certain things rather than eradicate them. In the central area of the Nabor Thaan Wilderness, in the region formerly known as the Eterra Oasis, a new creature appeared. Transformed by the spells which washed over them, the rats which had flourished in the area not only grow in size but also in intelligence. Realising what must have happened, the Formorians took advantage of this new slave labour which they called Ratkin and added them to their armies or set them to work in the new cities which were springing up in the desert. The Formorians chose to ignore the Dune People’s cities which now lay empty in the sun-baked land, preffering instead to pillage and destroy them instead, using pilfered stone and brick to build glorious new Formorian cities.

While some Ratkin seemed to enjoy their new roles, fitting in well, others proved rebellious and deserted or escaped the Formorian work camps. Tasked with creating more, the Priests found they could not recreate the effects of the earlier spells. They started from a different direction, working with larger animals and their human slaves, and the Mongrelfolk (Beastmen) was born. Again, it was not a complete success as many of the new beings were more intelligent than hoped and fought against their captors. As with the Ratkin, though, some Mongrelfolk enjoyed their new roles and remained with the Formorians.

Formorian magic is wielded by priests of progressive strengths, starting at lower levels with the first circle who are able to control and use minor invocations. As their power and training regime intensifies, they move up to the second circle and so on – until finally joining the most powerful magic users of the seventh circle. It is these priests who experimented with the enviroment changing spells with varying degrees of success. The creation of the Estrean Wilderness could be considered a success; the creation of Ratkin and Mongrelfolk perhaps not.

As ferocious carnivores and serious slavers, the Formorian find it difficult to ally with anyone who is warm-blooded and treat most human races as slaves…or cattle. Each birthing season their brood females will yield hundreds of births to each tribe. The sheer number of successful births provides a justification for their incessant need to spread out over the land – they need the space.

There are three distinct racial castes of Formorian: Greater Formorians, Formorians and Lesser Formorians (the last caste is often also reffered to as Xeal). The three types vary in size, number of arms, heads and even legs or tails. Most Formorians are snake-like, they move using their tail – but some of them also feature legs like a lizard or dragon.
The individual size determines their social standing, with the Greater Formorians ruling and dominating all others. There are strict codes of conduct to be followed by the three distinctly different castes and to break the code is to risk banishment.

Indigenous to the Estrean Wilderness are several snake-like reptiles as well. One of them is the Snapper, a waist-high reptile seemingly composed of theeth, claws and little else. The snappers are used by the Formorians in close combat and are fully capable of inflicting large amounts of damage on the other side before they are stopped. The snapper handler also functions as a breeder, maintaing a large herd at all times, so that losses on the battlefield can be made up rather swiftly. However, without the strict control exerted by a handler, the snappers will run rampant around the battlefield attacking everyone … including other Formorians … so the handler needs to be protected all times.

Although the Estrean Wilderness is ruled by the grand Formorians and their Royal Family, its size and geographic position makes it impossible to control well and the armies of the Formorians are constantly under attack. Furthermore, the once so great Formorian Empire is nowadays divided into several smaller provinces, each ruled by a landlord. This patchwork turns ruling their own land into a challenging task, that requires lots of attention of the royal family. The continent of Voran, where the Formorian empire is located is an open and lawless place with a subculture of bounty hunters and lawkeepers who maintain their own form of justice.

The Formorian Royal Family is an enigma. Not only are the greater Formorians and the family treated as Gods by their subjects, they themselves firmly believe that they are gods. They valley of the inner sanctum in the eastern reaches of the Estrean Wilderness is the repository of many royal tombs. Guarded by ancient reptilian beasts, who kept in place by immensly powerful spells. No other race has ever entered this area. Rumor has it that the royal family also guards a dark secret about the origin on the Formorians and their place in the balance of power of the world.

“The Day of Convergence approached and the Formorian Priestess carved one more notch into the retribution staff. Soon, the stones will sing once again, she thought as she brushed away the ebon whittlings and replaced the staff in the ceremonial holder above the mantel. Soon…”

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Mongrelfolk – the Beastmen

“There is no waste after a battle. He is finished with his fine boots, isn’t he? He has no need for them now and I can use them to barter with, at one of the many stalls in the Zandu marketplace. They have a trade value and I want something fancy to eat. The harshness of the sands has exhausted me and I refuse to eat any more cactus flowers! They are all I have eaten for days and they stick in my gullet, the mere thought of their texture makes me retch. I want some ale and some real food, some meat for now and a haunch to carry with me.

There is safety in numbers and our herd is large, but we have to keep moving. The battle has ravaged this land, the food is gone and our leaders say that the south is where we should go. Our herd numbers in the many hundreds and we can eat anything but sometimes there is nothing. When the threat of starvation hangs over our heads, then we serve the Formorians as we do now. They feed us and our families and we survive another season, but it is not all good. We are forced to fight in the front ranks and we are the first to fall. I accept that it is as it should be. If we are destined to fall then we shall fall but why was it ordained that my clanbrothers should die on the first day of the Khalsastra campaign? I continued alone, my anger stronger than ever before and the axe in my hands turned into a death machine. I survived my clanbrothers to avenge their death’s, one life at a time, but victory did not erease this loss I felt. I feel that still.

I run with the pack, alone and strong with no brothers and no family. I am strong and I live, I roam the world with my pack and my life is in the killing of those who would confront us. There will come a time when we will have a homeland of our own, when we can create a new history for our people, but for now, we fight for the reptiles and my family eats.”

Mongrelfolk – the Beastmen

Beastmen were created by the Formorians to serve as slave labour and to function as mindless mercenaries. While some function in this capacity within the realm of the Formorians, many broke away from their despotic rulers and made the desert their home. These nomadic outcasts now wander the land, bitter and resentful, fighting for food and survival and attacking the Formorians at every opportunity. They are most angered by the fact that they have no realm to call their own and no land to lay down their roots despite a tiny enclave in Marmundi, a harsh scrubland in the northern part of the continent Voran. The Hadab avoid this part of the continent, as it is a inhospitable place without any resources worth to exploit. Mongrelfolk especially despise the Ratkin, laying them blame for their creation and exploitation firmly at their feet. While the Ratkin had nothing to do with it – as it was their accidental creation which led the Formorians trying again and the Beastmen know this.

A visual mishmash of horrible half-beasts, covered in the armor of history’s fallen, their scavenging is second in scope only to the Ratkin and their armories feature weapons and tools from every known race. Although vicious and deadly, Mongrelfolk warriors never really become attached to any specific weapon, preferring to have skills in many different types. For this reason, it is difficult to gauge what to expect, or which style of combat to prepare for, when you confront a contingent of these mongrels. They will steal weapons from the dead, swapping their maces and axes for polished steel, if they think it will improve their chances in the next battle.

Mongrelfolk Warfare
Since the days of their slave revolt and escape from the clutches of the Formorian, the Mongrels have been looking for a fighting style which suits their physical build and state of mind. Function tends to follow form and in this way, the Centaurs used by the Formorians as beasts of burden have become the Mongrelfolk army’s mobile force. The prsence of a Minotaur, the powerhouse of a Beastman force, on the battlefield will inspire and motivate heroes and champions to follow them. Mongrelfolk warriors are fast and vicious but will not stand up well to a long fight. This has been compensated for in recent times with the training of new legions who fight in deeper formations with the added sting that they throw javelins into the oncoming contingent just before contact. Mongrelfolk Berserkers, who have lost all sense of reason and now exist just to fight, are herded into units for use as shock troops. These Fanatics almost always die in the attempt to demoralize the opponent army, but not without taking a dozen of their enemies with them. It is said that those Berserks kill themselves after their bloody rampage if they run out of targets.

Mongrelfolk Military
To come across a battlefield after it has been gone over by victorious Beastmen is a gory and disturbing sight. Any piece of intact clothing or footwear and all weapons and shields are gone, stripped from the corpses. While it disgusts the other races, angry as they are that the Mongrels show their dead no respect, the Beastmen themselves have no qualms about ransacking the losers – or even eating them on some occasions. It is not an evil act to them but rather a logical progression of their belief that it was their victim’s time to die and that the dead have no further need of equipment, clothing or gold.

Occasionally, a Mongrel will emerge from the ranks who is considerably sharper than his comrades and it is this intelligence which pushes them into the role of a leader. They realize that the better they are at commanding their forces, and the more successful their skirmishes and battles, the more they will be rewarded. Consequently, Leaders will do almost anything to remain at the top and will amply reward those who follow them. Large tribes will only gather if they have a particularly strong and charismatic leader. These gatherings rarely last, though, and while you will see tribes numbering in the thousands, it will be very rare indeed to find an army composed entirely of Beastmen.

In the past, Minotaurs more often than not were solitary creatures who kept to themselves, hating even the company of their own kind. When the Mongrelfolk appeared in their world, they were encouraged by the opportunities to bully and control them. They gradually came out of their shell, as it were, as they realised that they could use the easily manipulated Beastmen to their own advantage. Being excellent fighters themselves, the Minotaurs discovered that they were very effective in combat and with a little help, the Mongrels were too.

The only problem was that their style of fighting didn’t lend itself to military tactics. A tactic they developed in early battles which they still utilize is the so-called Horns tactic. Basically, a main mass of Mongrels in a centre field of battle would slowly march towards the enemy. To each side of this main block would either be Boar Riders or Centaurs. The idea being that the main block would engage and swarm into the enemy and the flanks – the Horns – would close in about the rear. While the tactic worked, it was not a tactic they could use repeatedly and they are continually developing their military skills.

Wizardry & Religion
Fatalism, the Mongrelfolk religion is a dark, clouded subject and is never discussed or openly practised outside their own ranks. They believe that all events are predetermined and controlled and that the individual can do nothing to change it’s destiny. This belief structure makes them formidable opponents as they do not panic if a campaign goes wrong, or a battle is lost, and they waste almost no time on grief for fallen comrades. They just keep thundering on. The fact that they are a created race, and they know it, probably has a lot to do with their choice of faith.

Although from the opposite side of the battlefield, they might appear to be allied with the Formorians, they have no allies and desire none. They will serve as mercenaries for the duration of the campaign, the ones paying them are their allies. However once the battle is concluded, so is the alliance…until the next time.

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Norlon – the Shadow Elves

“Yes, it’s true. I am a first order scout of the southern reaches and I wear the black rose cluster. I took my first token of flesh at the battle of Areon plains and I wear it still, encased in silver around my left wrist as it is the fashion. They call me Imuril Derabel and the Zanimar labyrinth is my home, as it was my father’s and his before him. The markings you see on the wall, the intricate patterns and outlines, tell the story of when we first made these caves and others like them our home. This is our history, as place of beauty we have shared with the earth spirits for a thousand years. Do not believe this forest dweller, the pale-skinned wild elf, when he tells you that we were cast out of the forest. Hah! We were not cast out, we left by choice, stifled by the woods and leaves and animals! We knew that if we stayed with them we would never advance, never be a true power, so we headed out on our own to write our own destiny. A destiny of accomplishment and adventure! What hope did they have? Hiding in the trees, afraid of their own shadows and talking to men made of wood. Were we wrong to desire a more structured life, a world surrounded by the strength of impenetrable stone, a world of glorious darkness? I think not.

And their magic users, the Naru? What can they do if they have no wood to play with, no leaves from wich to make their poultices? Nothing! Our sorcerers can strip the flesh from a man’s bones and then reduce the bones to powder, all with a sideways glance and a flick of the wrist! They are nothing and we are everything!

You want to hear of our victories? They are many – have you the time? During the battle of Mal Yei we fought the Orcs of Goriath for the first time. That was a welcome challenge. The caves below Kirek ran bright scarlet that autumn morning, the ice and snow stained with orc blood, so we now wear a crimson crest upon our shields. That morning was like no other and while I feel great pride in having been there, our losses were great. I am positive that the Goriath knew we were coming! There is no other way they could have surprised us on the beach like that as we emerged from the cave mouth. If we ever find out who sold us over, they will feel a wrath like no other they have every experienced. But I cannot dwell on that. There is Voran to consider and we only have a few days to prepare. We are to accompany Lord Azarfar on what is referred to as a “diplomatic” mission. The mere thought of diplomacy is distasteful to my clique but we shall honor the assignment, riding the hidden, underground river to the meeting place so that no spies may report on our progress. There, Lord Azarfar will work on strengthening our alliance with the Hadab, supportend them in their fight against the Sun Elves. Although we appear to have similar goals, I still don’t fully trust them. They seem overly friendly and I feel they may have something up their sleeves. Or on those carpets their Sorcerers ride through the air. They spook me with their silent approach and I shall keep my hands near the hilt of my blade throughout the meeting.

I cannot say that I am entirely comfortable with these recent overtures at “friendship” with other races. We do not need them, they do not appreciate or respect us, so where do we go with this? It is better that we stay as we are, sequestered in our places of strength. Let them come to us, that’s what.”

Norlon – the Shadow Elves

With harsh features and a reputation to match, Shadow Elves are a particularly nasty race who believe that they are the only true elves. They do not see themselves as nasty or evil, their view is simply that it’s the other races which have strayed from the right path. A popular Shadow Elf saying which succinctly explains their philosophy is “those who allow others to pass will soon be left behind”. Suffice it to say that Shadow Elves are continually pushing forward.

The Norlon despise Humans and their ways and feel that the other elvish races are far too Human in their outlook, at times ignoring their elven heritage. This statement is actually not true, in any sense of the word, but that doesn’t stop the Shadow Elves from believing it. It is rumored that they cut the tips off the ears of elves they capture, “humanising” their appearance to match their actions, but this is believed to be apocryphal. While it is true that there are subtle and not-so-subtle color variations in the skin tone of every race, there are none so extreme as the difference between the Norlon of the south and those who live in the northern regions. Southern earldoms have deep-red skin like the color of molten lava while those of the north have blue skin and often dark-blue or purple hair. There is no clear reason for this regional difference but it is believed to date back to the time of the first age. No record exists which details what happened back then, but cave drawings and pictographs deep in the Zanimar cave system, as yet undeciphered, may hold the key.

When actively engaged in war, they enjoy inflicting as much terror and death as possible in their efforts to rout the enemy. Their Sacrificers follow them on every campagin to ensure regular offerings to the gods of war. They have been known to torture captured scouts and slaves en masse before a battle, using their terrified screams and agonising wails as the precursor to a disturbing battle chant of howls and shrieks. This caterwauling is sure to strike a nerve in even the most battle-hardened opponent.

Although they would better be classified as sadistic torturers, Shadow Elf scouts are very successful at finding out information from the other side, by whatever means necessary. They don’t bother to disguise their profession and will often have various implements of pain-infliction hanging from their belts, dangling from their saddles, or attached to an captive. Their arrogance is perceived to be one of their strengths as they exhibit no fear or dread regardless of the severity of the situation. They wear blackened chainmail and dulled partial plate, often adorned with bright red or blue flashes, and carry blackened scimitars and longbows. Norlon are proficient with a variety of contact poisons and paralyzing agents and their herbalists will pay highly for new plants and grains from distant places, hoping to create unique new potions of liquid wickedness.

Although Shadow Elves are known to use many different animals for their mounted troops, they tend to shy away from horses in favor of giant reptilian creatures manipulated and changed by their sorcerers. These beasts have been bred with a craving for human flesh and once they enter a battlefield, human opponents have as much to fear from the mounts as from the riders. Sorcery is a powerful element of Norlon culture and the several sects are highly revered. Witchcraft, although rare, is also practised by Shadow Elves, their Sorceresses and Witches are exceedingly beautiful, their spells making them irrestibile to males of all races, with two notable exceptions: Eszmerian Knight Templars and Undead.

As with all elven races, the strategies and tactics of the Norlon forces have been tried and tested over many centuries of constant war with most of the races which make up the world of Ascendallion. Thier standard formation will include a wall of warriors mixed with crossbowmen who fire home the charge when an enemy becomes disorganized. Labyrinth Guard will often leave their underground posts to either lay in ambush or to seize a dominant terrain feature. Beast Riders and Sacrificers are normally held in reserve and used to finish off a broken opponent.

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