CIALYSYL (aka CIALYS): high-level, multiclass elf (fighter-magic user). He is the authoritative High Grafter of all the Lahallary clans living within the borders of the Marquisate of Galifianakos. He is the father of Nivea and father-in-law of Lasonyl.
ELFRONDYL (aka ELFROND, aka DIMGRAY): low-level multiclass elf (fighter-magic user – albeit more so the latter than the former).
Step-son of Lasonyl and Nivea, he was found almost newborn under a cabbage plant, held just above ground by a pair of out-stretched arms jutting from the soil.
Elfrondyl grew up to become a bright but hesitant and doubtful young elf, a trait that earned him the nickname “Dimgray”. He does not completely follow the “Elven Path” and is focused more on the study of arcane magical arts than on martial prowess. His dream is to one day to be able to herald a revolutionary approach to the way magic is expressed on Mystura.
INFASYL (son of Lasonyl, aka THE OUTCAST): low-level elf warrior, native of Western Lahallary, firstborn and heir of the High Pruner and the noble Nivea. In total disregard of the teachings of the “Elven Path”, he has devoted his full attention to the study of fighting techniques and has completely neglected the study of magic. He is a restless maverick for whom the strict social taboos of his people are utter nonsense.
He has recently learning the techniques of thievery from Sbotto, the Halfling, breaking yet another elfin precept. He has a love for comic books and “Tax, the Ranger”, a fantasy hero from another universe.
ISMIGENYL: high-level elf druid, High Irrigator of all the Lahallary clans and Keeper of the Tree of Life.
LASONYL: high-level multiclass elf (fighter-magic user), High Pruner of West Lahallary, husband to Nivea, father to Lasonyl and adoptive father to Elfrondyl.
LEMMONYL: chatty old elf and a resident of Ruffian. Inseparable partner of Mattausyl.
MAGHLIANYL: drunk old elf from Ruffian.
MATTAUSYL: chatty old elf and a resident of Ruffian. Inseparable partner of Lemmonyl.
NIVEA: high-level multiclass seh-elf (fighter-magic user), daughter of Cialys, wife of Lasonyl, natural mother of Infasyl and adoptive mother of Efrondyl.
PLASYL: high-level multiclass elf (fighter-magic user). 150 years before this tale he was rejected by Nivea and he harbors a deep resentment and hatred toward Lasonyl and his kin.
SBOTTO: halfling thief and owner of the only inn in Ruffian. He introduced Infasyl to thievery in exchange for the excellent Cannabis the young elf produces.
SMILZO: human thief from the city of Celsyum and a regular buyer of the Cannabis provided to Sbotto by Infasyl.
Chronicles of the Black Legion
LUCIUS GOTT (The Black General)
Fire Betatian and commander of the Black Legion, the military of the Vulkanite theocracy. Direct descendent of Teuton, one of the legendary first colonists to settle Vulkan Island almost 1,000 years ago.
ORION (The Black Lieutenant)
Fire Betatian, priest and commander of the First Company of the Black Legion, the Black General’s personal guard.
NUKLAV (High Priest)
Fire Betatian and patriarch of the Vulkanites. Childhood friend of Lucius.
Native of Ostenbier. Lucius slaughtered her family, abducted her and made her his own wife. She just gave birth to Lucius’s firstborn son and heir, Stephan.
Also native of Ostenbier and formerly a wife of a legionnaire lost at sea. She is now in the service of the High Priest, Nuklav.
powerful magic-user native of Betatia, a continent to the east of Vulkan Island and Antasia. Although his country is formally engaged in a thousand-year conflict with the Hantanys Empire, he was far more concerned with his own personal fate when he decided to travel west under disguise. Driven by boundless ambition and the burning desire to ascend to immortality he sought the hidden ruins of the fallen capital city of the Bronzoh Empire, Kaput. After locating the site somewhere in the Arubian Desert, he claimed it. In the dark recesses of Kaput he uncovered a vein of a mysterious green mineral with incredible magical and alchemical properties.
The Physics of Mystura
What if the “physics” of our universe were nothing more than the rules of a game created by some supernatural being with the power to shape our perception of reality? The adventures of Mystura explore that absurd notion and in this fantasy universe “physics” and everyday reality coincide with the rules of a role playing game (RPG) and, in particular, with that of a retro-clone of the original 1983 “basic” edition of Dungeons and Dragons (by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and Frank Mentzer), developed and used as a rules-system by the authors in their role-playing endeavors.
What for us is no more than ink on paper in colorful RPG manuals is much, much more on another plane of existence, that of Mystura. In fact, those rules make up the inescapable and annoying facts of life for every creature living on planet Mystura.
To better understand the peculiarities of this unique setting an introduction for the reader to a few important concepts is imperative.
Mystura is inhabited by a number of races, including humans, dwarves, gnomes and halflings.
Elves are quite common and have pointy ears, keen senses, very long lifespans and a natural predisposition towards magic. Traditionally they follow a mystical credo that teaches the balance between fighting prowess and mastery of arcane magic. Those who stray from this conventional model are branded as outcasts, with the single exception of each clan’s Keeper of the Tree of Life and his attendants, who follow the path of the druid.
Helfmath is the ancestral fatherland of the elves, north of the Sidmaior Magocracy, even though isolated clans live throughout the continent of Antasia. The Marquisate of Galifianakos is home to two clans: the reclusive Malinconya and the laid-back Lahallary. While very little is known of the former, the latter, worshipers of the god Lahallaryl, their mythical founding father, have to some extent integrated with the human authorities of the Marquisate.
The Lahallary are an ancient civilization, fiercely proud and reluctant to open up to other cultures and races. Their motto is: “Study, Obey, Fight”. They live in a large forested area that carries their name and they are divided into 5 separate communities: four to the East and one to the West. Their leaders include the High Grafter, the supreme political leader, the High Irrigator, a druid and the Keeper of the Tree of Life, as well the High Pruner, who is the second-in-command for geographically distant areas, such as the one westernmost community.
The Compromise signed between the humans of Marquisate and the Elves in year 969 of the Hantanys Empire calendar recognizes Lahallaryn autonomy in exchange for the formation of a permanent elven cavalry regiment known as the Marquis or Elven Guard under the exclusive command of Marquis Stephanos Galifianakos. The compromise also dictated the establishment of an experimental mixed elf-human settlement to further the coexistence of the two races. This settlement is the village of Ruffian, three miles east of the elven community of West Clearing.
The “physics” of the world of Mystura distinguish commoners from adventurers. While the former conduct relatively normal, uneventful lives, within the limits of a fantasy world of sword and sorcery that is, the latter choose the excitement of adventure over the comforts of the ordinary life of the commoner. Adventurers live with the desire to perform great feats, acquire fame and power, become immortal and even eventually aspire to divinity.
Those who follow this dangerous path can be divided into 4 main groups, known as classes: fighter, thief, cleric and magic-user. Druids, essentially clerics of nature, make up the fifth class. While fighters rely on their military prowess and thieves on their stealth, clerics worship one or more of the dozens of divinities of the Mysturian pantheon and are rewarded through divine miracles. Magic-users, on the other hand, dedicate themselves to the study of ancient texts and the almost forgotten truths of the universe’s physical laws to shape reality around them according to their own will. Each class has an exclusive set of skills: thieves have skills such as pickpocketing and backstabbing while druids have the deep knowledge of nature. Strict social rules outline the conditions of pursuing a career in more than one class at the same time and the price for violating those conditions is banishment and social stigma.
Levels and Prestige
The progress of each adventurer’s career is marked by specific benchmarks or levels with associated prestige, power and titles. This system is based on the acquisition of practical knowledge and skills represented by Experience Points, called XPs. The adventurer levels-up when a specific XP benchmark is reached. With each new level a new Hit Die is gained to represent the increased level of vitality and the ability to withstand punishment. The system starts at the lowest level, Level 1, and goes up to Level 36, which represents the pinnacle of mortal perfection in that specific career. Above that level the only possible further progress is the quest for immortality. Each level of each class has a title for daily use. Some examples:
- A 1st level thief is an Apprentice.
- A 5th level thief is a Cutpurse.
- A 3rd level fighter is a Swordmaster.
The ninth level, or Name level, represents the point in the career of an adventurer where the fame acquired is universally recognized. This universal recognition is marked with a special group of titles for each class. For example, a fighter must reach the ninth level in order to merit the title of Baron or higher, a thief becomes a Guildmaster, a cleric earns the title of Patriarch while a Magic-user earns the title of Wizard.
Reviviscence is the actual rite of leveling-up. Upon reaching the required amount of XPs for leveling-up, the adventurer is required to take a momentary break from their questing life so as to interiorize the lessons learned and become aware of their new skills. The rite of Reviviscence calls for a minimum of 24 uninterrupted hours of meditation and/or prayer to the gods. At the end of this time the adventurer advances to the next level. During this ritual rest the adventurer is not allowed to engage in tiring physical activity, such as a fight, or to cast spells or somehow actively participate in any adventure or quest. Violation of these conditions will cause the clock to reset to 0:00 and the 24-hour Reviviscence period will start all over again.
Immortality is the condition of the gods and the aspiration of mortals, who can only attempt to acquire it after reaching Level 36. A god must be willing to challenge the mortal to go on a quest. If the quest is completed in way that is pleasing to the “patron” god then the mortal can achieve immortality.
Moral alignment reflects the ethical and moral values of every sentient being on planet Mystura and is classified with a combination of two adjectives. The first, Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic, reflects one’s ability to identify with the surrounding normative-social environment while the second, Good, Neutral or Evil, reflects one’s natural inclination toward others. Anyone who is Neutral in both fields is also called a “True” Neutral.
Moral alignment is of quintessential importance for clerics and druids. In order to use their supernatural powers they must be of the same precise moral alignment of the gods they revere.
Legend has it that the supreme god and creator of the universe, the Mighty Gygax, has long since abandoned Mystura, disappointed by the outcome of his creation. His seven offspring: Crom, Arneson, Inkiostro, Arsenion, Alfio, Arnold and Uan are the oldest and most powerful of the gods of the Mysturian pantheon. Below them is a plethora of lesser divinities representing various combinations of moral alignments with various degrees of power and influence. An example of a lesser god is Balkan, who was a bronze-clad fighter who long ago founded Balkania, a lost kingdom more or less corresponding with the current-day Marquisate of Galifianakos. According to his worshippers, Balkan became a god after slaying his archrival Sblaar and Sblaar’s deformed offspring. Sblaar is the almost forgotten god of the Kaane, a mythical civilization of dog-headed humanoids who shared the ancient lands of present-day Galifianakos with the Balkanians. Legend has it that, when he was still a mortal, Sblaar was slain along with his son by Balkan, who achieved immortality by way of this victory. But the details are murky at best. Faiv is one of the halfling gods who chose the career of the thief. He also is the patron deity of the city that bears his name in the halfling nation of Penta Union, west of the lands of Galifianakos. Lahallaryl is the founding father and protector of the Lahallary.
Magic and Spells
Magic and spells are a fact of everyday life with which the inhabitants of Mystura must live. Magic can be either arcane or divine. Arcane magic draws its power from the intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the physical laws of the universe and its powers are acquired by magic-users through the study of ancient texts and tireless experimentation. Divine magic is instead derived from the supernatural powers of the gods, who are constantly meddling in mortal affairs for their own mysterious agendas. Divine magical powers are acquired by clerics and druids through the faithful and constant observation of the teachings of their chosen divinity. Magic and spells have different degrees of power; those at the first level being the weakest while those at the prestigious ninth level are the most powerful. Therefore magic-users, clerics and druids are all able to cast increasingly powerful spells as they progress in their careers. For example, both Charme and Sleep are first level spells, accessible to magic-users early on in their studies while increasingly difficult and powerful spells such as Wall of fire (Level 4) and Teleport (Level 5) can be performed only at higher levels. There are some spells that can only be cast by more experienced divine spellcasters, such as Commune (Level 5). Some spells are common to both kinds of magic-users, such as Hold Person, but require a higher level for arcane (Level 3) magic users than for divine magic users (Level 2).
The career of an arcane spellcaster is long and arduous. Only those with a natural predisposition for study and dedication to the memorization of ancient texts and treatises are able to pass the various exams required to become a first level magic-user. In fact, few of those who attempt to pass the most feared of the introductory exams, Intro to Magic I, manage to actually do so.
Becoming a divine spellcaster is no joke either and requires the willingness to devote one’s entire life to becoming the embodiment of the teachings of a particular god or to those of Nature herself.
Mystura is also home to a third kind of magic called technomagic. Technomagic is neither arcane nor divine, but rather a mysterious, lost art that was all but abandoned when the great empires that practiced it collapsed, falling into oblivion. Ancient lore has it that it is the only alternative to the more “conventional” kinds of magic for those who aspire to manipulate the physics of Mystura. It is said that gnomes conserve what is left of this otherwise almost forgotten kind of magic but use it only for recreational purposes. The contraptions to be found in the backroom of Sbotto’s Inn in Ruffian are a good example.
Saving throws is the innate ability to avoid punishment and resist spells that grows with experience and the advancement of level.
Equipment, Money and Treasure
Adventurers keep a set of professional instruments specific to their class on hand. A good example are the tools of the thief, essential for opening locks, or the spellbook, where magic-users take note of the precious formulas to be memorized in order to cast a spell. Adventurers, regardless of class, also have access to other equipment or substances such as the herbs wolf’s bane and ash-bourne weed. Wolf’s bane is an aromatic, dried grass whose smell is particularly unwelcome to were beasts, while cannabis is a plant that can be dried and smoked to stimulate creativity and relaxation.
Adventurers always accumulate treasure as well as earning precious XPs. The standard monetary unit of Mystura is the Gold Piece (GP) but also the Silver Piece (SP) and the Copper Piece (CP), also known as Copperelle, are widely used. One GP is worth 10 SPs and 100 CPs. Although each major nation on the continent of Antasia mints coinage with their distinctive seals and symbols, they all respect a set of standards that make virtually all currencies on the continent interchangeable. The most trusted and recognized coinage however, comes from the Republic of Batticonio, north of Galifianakos.
Comics and the “Sixth Class”
Comics are the universal mass media in a world were literacy is minimal. Most of them don’t even contain text, using illustration to communicate meaning to the ignorant masses. Some, however, are more complex and include text. Comics constitute the main platform with which news and ideas are spread throughout Antasia and are a force to be reckoned with. The comic Tax the Ranger details the fantastic adventures of a hero from another galaxy and has grown to become the most popular comic among young elves. Incidentally, this comic is what prompted Infasyl to speak up and articulate the idea of the need for a “sixth class” or rangers.
Chronicles of the Black Legion
Continent that spans most of the surface of planet Mystura.
An arid and inhospitable desert home to warlike nomadic shepherds.
Continent to the east of Antasia. Originally inhabited by a fair-skinned and almond-eyed nomadic people. Currently hosts the powerful Betatian Empire, a thousand years old nation founded on the study of arcane magic. The Betatian Barrier, a screen of magic energy, separates the Empire from the rest of the planet. Rumor has it that only Betatian-blooded creatures are able to cross it.
Ancient and mysterious race. Two lineages are known. The Fire Betatians originally settled Vulkan Island. The Air Betatians settled the continent to which they gave their name.
region of the eastern coast of Antasia to the north of Arubia. Inhabited by a fair-skinned and blue-eyed kin with a shared passion for beer and piracy. Centuries ago it was part of a united northern kingdom with Ostenbier and Vestbier.
Military unit of Fire Betatians composed of ten companies of heavy infantry. Its ferocity and discipline are legendary even though its numerical composition is rumored to be extremely limited. The First Company is its crack unit and acts as the personal guard of the Legion Commander, the Black General.
Holy site on Vulkan Island, composed of two buildings. The first is used for public ceremonies, while the second, known as the Inner Sanctum, is reserved for the high ranking members of the clergy. The Inner Sanctum resembles an odd flying ship partially hammered into the volcanic rock of the island.
term the Vulkanites use to describe women abducted during foreign raids by the Black Legionnaires with the only goal of generating additional Fire Betatians.
A cluster of islands off the south-eastern coast of Antasia famous for its savage natives and the black juice of its indigenous berries.
Council of the Exarchs
The six senior members of the Fire Betatians. They share with the High Priest judiciary powers and act as a consultative Senate.
Nation occupying the south-eastern portion of Antasia. It is locked in ancient and bitter rivalry with Betatia. Founded upon the cult of the god of the same name, it rose from the ashes of the collapsed Bronzoh Empire. Its calendar is standard on Mystura, year zero corresponding with the ascension to immortality by the First Emperor.
Ancient and mysterious race originally inhabiting Vulkan Island.
Monstrous humanoid creatures with the lower part of the body of eagle and the upper part of the body of feral woman.
High Priest of Vulcan
Highest ranking member of the Clergy of the Fire Betatians and ruthless executor of the fiery will of Vulkan.
Mythic capital city of the collapsed Bronzoh Empire. It is rumored that its ruins lie somewhere in the middle of the dunes of the Arubian desert, ripe with uncountable riches and lost knowledge.
Orcs (Experimental) Battalion
Special unit of the army of Betatio equipped with magic collars crafted from the mysterious glowing green mineral mined in the caves below Kaput. Once craven and undisciplined, their special trappings turned them into the elite of the wizard’s forces. Loyal, ferocious and disciplined, their presence on the battlefield is enough to cause any foe to panic, rout and flee.
Nation occupying the eastern half of the large island due east of Bierfjord.
Elven (Rapid Reaction) Battalion
Hand-picked fighting force commanded by the powerful wizard Betatio. Its members are from a black-skinned clan of Elves inhabiting the underground tunnels of Kaput.
Sacred Book of Vulkan
The holy text of the Vulkanites. Each religion has its now Book of Wisdom that is entrusted to the care of the High Priest, who shares its content to his/her own discretion.
Mythic Fire Betatian. Legends chronicle his quest to save Spokon, the son of the divine Vullkan.
Nation occupying the western half of the large island due east of Bierfjord.
Militaristic and tyrannical divinity of unknown origins worshipped by the Fire Betatians.
Remote volcanic island. Barren and devoid of any natural resources, its inhabitants have long been forced to a cruel and frugal existence based on piracy. Such unforgiving characteristics have contributed to the militaristic fortitude of its modern settlers.
Fire Betatian’s Full Plates
Unique sets of full plate armor covering head to toe vulcanite fighters. Some of them are rumored to be centuries old. The helmet of each set is unique, bearing a distinctive visor. Albeit the real meaning of the ancient signs on each visor is perhaps a secret that only the yellowed pages of the Sacred Book of Vulkan can unveil, losing a helmet is considered a grievous infamy.
The Atlas of Outcasts
Outcasts is set on planet Mystura or, more precisely, on the south-central tip of the continent Antasia. With long hot summers and short mild winters separated by rainy spring and autumn seasons, it is a veritable paradise.
In order to better understand this unique setting, it is necessary to introduce the reader to a few important concepts and places.
The Hantanys Empire
Most of Antasia’s southeastern sector is currently occupied by the Hantanys Empire. Both this mighty nation with its aspirations of conquest and its capital city take their name from their mythical founding father. This empire is both secular and religious. In fact, the Emperor is not only the deacon of Hantanys and therefore supreme religious leader, but he is also the autocratic ruler of both institution and military. Hantanys occupies the ancient southern portion of the former Bronzoh Empire, long ago fallen to ruin. The present-day Hantanys Empire inherited from the now-extinct Bronzoh Empire its Lawful-good moral alignment in addition to its highly-centralized government and aspirations for expansion. The Common Language of Mystura comes directly from the ancient Bronzoh tongue, which the Emperors of Hantanys have systematically imposed upon the rest of the continent as the sole international and diplomatic language. The conventional calendar of Mystura starts from the year zero, which marks the ascension of Hantanys to divinity and the founding of the continental empire. Currently it is the year 999 of the calendar of the Hantanys Empire.
Hantanys has long been engaged in open rivalry with the Betatian Empire, a magocracy controlling the continent of Betatia to the east. Hantanys is a highly militaristic state and exerts open control over its neighboring nations and protectorates. In this sense, the Marquisate of Galifianakos, to the west, is nothing more than a fief of the empire, although a largely autonomous one.
The Marquisate of Galifianakos
Marquis Stephanos Galifianakos, albeit formally a vassal to the Emperor, has shaped his lands distinctively. He succeeded his father at a very young age and in doing so inherited a Marquisate with many grievous problems. He and a small minority of aristocrats, ethnically and religiously Hantanysians, were hated and feared by the vast majority of his Balkanian subjects. But the ethnic, political and religious challenges he faced were not confined to the human race. The large and influential elf minority lived in hostile isolation and undermined any real progress toward a true conciliation of differences. There were few cities in an otherwise untamed ocean of wilderness and barbarism. Stephanos launched a sweeping process of integration between the Hantanysians and Balkanians and started sending colonists to establish new settlements throughout his domain. He also promoted a renewal of the high echelons of the Hantanysian clergy, appointing clerics keen on recognizing the needs of those they were charged to enlighten, thus taking a tighter rein on the otherwise unlimited powers of the aristocracy. An ambitious new road network was implemented to promote trade and travel and to better connect the various communities. He even went so far as to create a hybrid private-public system of coaches to connect the main cities called the Marquisal Rapid Transport system, or MRT.
The linchpin, however, of the political success of Stephanos Galifianakos is, without a doubt, the Compromise signed with the Lahallary Elves in the year 969 of the calendar of the Hantanys Empire. According to the treaty the Lahallary were to play a more active role within the Marquisate in exchange for the formal recognition of their local autonomy. The Compromise also required the creation of a special cavalry regiment of Lahallary elves called the Elven or Marquis Guard with the specific duties of serving as the personal guard of the Marquis, keeping civic order in the capital city Ymaginos and patrolling the MRT system. Last but not least, the compromise mandated the creation of an integrated community of elves and humans known as the village of Ruffian. The village was to be settled on the site where the Compromise was signed to commemorate this important event.
Ruffian and West Clearing
Ruffian lies just outside the western edge of the Lahallary forest and is located on the western shore of the Prong River. Ruffian is crossed by the section of MRT system (Marquisal Rapid Transport system) that connects the cities of Celsyum, to the south, to Zerbinon, to the north. The settlement came out of the Compromise between the Marquis and Cialys, High Grafter of the Lahallary, as the first attempt at coexistence of the two races. Elves are naturally very reserved and conservative and interacting with the more dynamic and iconoclastic humans is not always easy for them. The elf clan that has to deal with the lion’s share of this change is headed by High Pruner Lasonyl, whose stronghold, West Clearing, lies only three miles west of Ruffian.
The next stage of the ambitious plan reached by Marquis Stephanos and High Grafter Cialys calls for a new round of urban development to connect Ruffian to West Clearing. Doing so requires human workers to clear a portion of the forest ground to make room for the terraced houses that are to host more new human colonists. Lasonyl opposes the plan on the grounds that it is a desecration for humans to settle their holy forest, but his protest is purely moral and for show and the High Pruner has no real intention of antagonizing his father-in-law Cialys or the Marquis. The three notable features of Ruffian are all in the central square: the local stop of the MRT System, the Inn run by Sbotto the halfling and a memorial equestrian statue commemorating the Compromise between Stephanos Galifianakos and High Grafter Cialys.
West Clearing itself is neither a city nor a village by any human standard but hosts a small elven community that lives in harmony deep within the ancient forest.
The Elven Path, Non-Elves and Outcasts
The Path is the mystical discipline of the elves on Mystura and has been followed as long as can be remembered. The guiding principle is that one can best forward the collective interests of the community and achieve one’s full potential by finding the perfect balance in the practice of martial and magical arts. This is so deeply rooted in the elf psyche, along with the conviction of elven moral superiority in relation to the other “”less enlightened”” civilizations, that elves have developed a strong bias against non-elven customs. Those who ignore or disrespect the teachings of the Path in any way, shape or form are immediately branded as outcasts, stripped of any rights or protection by the law and banished forever.