Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barbarians of the Southlands

When most people of the Southlands hear the word "barbarian," they inevitably think of the tribal peoples of Dellumea. While many Dellumeans do take up the path of rage and power, they are not the only ones.

In Taahvaair, the half-ahvaiyru feiyin typically serve as warriors of varying kinds. Whether they are janissaries in the ahvaiyru armies or gladiators in the arena, fighting is often a way of life for these half-breeds. While some gladiators fight with skill or cunning, there are those who channel their anger and frustration at their captors into a powerful fighting form.

Barbarians also exist among the swampers who call Kalretia home. These powerful warriors face the harsh environment head on rather than learning to cooperate with it as rangers and druids do. Among the pirates and scoundrels that raid on the Velakhuran coast, there are a number of them who display astonishing power and incredible ferocity in their attacks on other ships. In Ta'araen, there is a saying that goes "You can accomplish more with a big stick and a kind word than you can with a kind word alone." However, there are some in that country who forgo the kind word altogether and simply wield very big sticks.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ki'vali aren't orcs.

They're the "stouts" of the setting, and should have something of a "proud warrior race" feel going on.  But they're not orcs.

Apsuri aren't halflings.  Nor are they gnomes.  The way that they look—or rather, the way that they used to look before I changed some details—was slightly influenced by hobbit knock-offs created by an author I don't even particularly like.  But that's about it.

Ahvaiyru are not elves, although they may be something of a deconstruction.  Neither are turéhu, although one could probably stretch a point and call them wakyambi.

Tíraleth are...well, they're just purposely weird.

And yes, I did decide to elaborate somewhat upon the subject matter here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

*Cue Portal Theme Song*

I'm still alive, and I certainly haven't run out of ideas.  However, compiling my ideas into a presentable format is proving a slightly bigger task than I'd predicted.

Rest assured that there will be new material here in the near future.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Velakhura makes up most of the eastern coast of the Tirin Peninsula, sharing borders with both Ta'Araen and Tahvaair.  It takes its name from a human tribe that migrated north from Dellumea, from whence most of its human inhabitants are descended.

Much of Velakhura is forested or mountainous, making travel by foot or by the usual conveyances dangerous or impossible in some regions.  Crops and livestock tend to be those that thrive in the shade or on hillsides.  The native turéhu, with whom the humans have a truce, have the final say on logging and quarrying throughout most of the nation.

Velakhura's capital city, Martauthri, is also its main seaport.  Any rumors that the King of Velakhura—who was also among the nation's founders—has extended his lifespan by way of necromancy should be ignored as the basest slander.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Tahvaair, to the west of Ta'Araen, is ruled by an unknown number of ahvaiyru families; all non-ahvaiyru in Tahvaair are slaves of one clan or another.  These clans are known to feud amongst themselves in a manner said to be all the more vicious for being so genteel.  

Of more concern to outsiders, however, are regular sorties against neighboring Ta'Araen, by the ahvaiyru and their feiyin janissaries, in attempts to annex parts of it.  As diplomatic relations and legitimate trade with Tahvaair are nonexistent, little else is known.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Ta'Araen is the most diverse, and in many ways the most cosmopolitan, nation in the Tirin Peninsula.   Most of its human denizens are the descendants of several different tribes known collectively as Tirins, and the vestiges of many distinct cultures still survive.  

Approximately half of the nation—centered roughly around the capital, Araenkeep—is given over to farming.  Further south, along the border mountains that separate the peninsula from Dellumea, mining for various metals predominates.  The remainder of the nation is prairie and light forest.  Here, due to all-too-frequent attacks from Tahvaair, there are few settlements aside from military garrisons.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Kalretia (or, more formally, the Kalretian Archipelago) is located to the northeast of the Tirin Peninsula.  Its thirteen islands have approximately the same total area as Ta'Araen.

The true natives of the islands are apsuri and lizardfolk.  But in recent generations, humans from a northern continent have established a colony on the largest island.  As a result, two distinct major cultures have sprung up:  "Islanders," centered around the main seaport on the largest island, are primarily influenced by the human colonists; "swampers," denizens of the brackish swamps of the northeastern islands, are primarily influenced by the apsuri.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The Tirin Peninsula is separated from the rest of the southern continent by a steep and treacherous mountain range.  Few safe passes exist through these mountains.

While the tundras and boreal forests that lie beyond may have any number of names among their inhabitants, most of the Tirin Peninsula knows the land only as Dellumea.  It's the home of tribal humans—some friendly and some much less so—wild beasts, and things largely unknown in the Tirin Peninsula.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pantheon of the Tirin Peninsula

Amareth, called Dame Justice, is the goddess of justice and righteousness.  Her symbol is the couatl, and her favored weapon is the bastard sword.

Arevashti, called the Ancient Mother, is the primal over-goddess, said by some to represent the world or even the universe.  Her symbol is the ouroboros (the serpent that devours its own tail), and her favored weapon is the quarterstaff.

The Dagger in the Night, whose true name name has been forgotten, is the god of murder and treachery.  His symbol is a dagger—his favored weapon—that drips with blood or venom.

Dejunath, called the Magelord, is the god of magic and invention.  His symbol is an ornate wand, and his favored weapon is the crossbow.

Eresh, called the Reaver, is a deity of random mass destruction.  Its symbol is a tearing claw, and its favored weapon the morningstar.

Ertrael, called the Plague, is the god of the less gentle side of nature.  His symbol is a wolf’s skull, and his favored weapon the scythe.

Juratei, called Lady Luck, is the goddess of good fortune, the wind, and the sea, and said to be the patron deity of the apsuri.  Her symbol is a scallop shell, and her favored weapon the trident.

Khernos, called the Stag Father, is the god of the wild and the hunt, said to be Ertrael's more pleasant twin.  His symbol is a leaping stag, and his favored weapon the spear.

Ki’Ahaara, called the Fierce Mother, is the goddess of protection, said to be the patron deity of the ki’vali.  Her symbol is a shield marked with a double-bladed axe, and her favored weapon the greataxe.

Ravana, called the Tyrant, is the god of domination and conquest.  His symbol is the crown, and his favored weapon the whip.

Skatha, called the Warqueen, is the goddess of luck in battle.  Her symbol is the falchion, which is also her favored weapon.

Sulaudhra, called the Lady of Dreams, is the goddess of sleep, dreams, and peaceful death.  Her symbol is a cat’s eye, and her favored weapon the unarmed strike.

Surya, called the Lord of Light, is the obligatory sun god and the consort of Sulaudhra.  His symbol is the sunburst, and his favored weapon the mace.

Question for the readers:  Any comments, complaints, or suggested additions?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bonus Post Three: Bog-Standard Fantasy Bogs Down Fantasy

As most if not all of you will have noticed by now:  The Tirin Peninsula is not the standard Tolkienian (or Gygaxian) fantasy setting.  Unless you're house-ruling, you're not going to find elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, or halflings here. 

Now, mind you, this wasn't always the case.  But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that the standard fantasy setting came with altogether too much baggage.  For all that writers may go out of their way to put a twist on the standard, there are stereotypes attached to just about every aspect of it:  Elves must behave this way, orcs must behave that way, and nothing can be any too far removed from the works of Tolkien.  If the rules get bent too far, the readers complain—or jump to conclusions based on how things are in The Lord of the Rings.

Long story short?  Although I know that you can't really blame the setting for what the readers infer, I didn't want that baggage or those stereotypes.  And I really didn't want people jumping to Middle Earth-based conclusions about the Tirin Peninsula, because the Tirin Peninsula is not Middle Earth.  It's also probably best not to presume that what applies to medieval Europe (or some idealization or exaggeration thereof) necessarily applies to the Tirin Peninsula, either.

I'm aware that, in light of this, it may be a bit odd that I intend to make it Pathfinder-compatible.  Pathfinder, after all, is a D&D spin-off with a loosely Tolkienian core setting.  But it’s also got three strong points in its favor:  The basic rules are open content (meaning that I won't have to pay any fees or get written permission to use them).  I'm sufficiently familiar with the system to write for it with some degree of confidence.  And last but not least, it saves me the (tremendous) hassle of designing my own system.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Races: The Turéhu

Turéhu are short, wiry, and long-limbed, with large pointed ears and semi-prehensile tufted tails. Their skin is medium brown with a gold sheen to it; their slit-pupiled eyes are usually green, blue, or violet.  Their hair tends to be autumn-leaf hues—from red-black to white-gold—or shades of green.
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom; -2 Constitution.
  • Medium: Turéhu are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Turéhu have a base land speed of 30 feet and a climb speed of 20 feet.
  • Fey: Turéhu are fey, not humanoids. This grants them low-light vision, proficiency with all simple weapons, and immunity to spells which only affect humanoids (such as charm person).
  • Woodland-Dweller: Turéhu receive a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics and Survival checks.
  • Keen Senses: Turéhu receive a +2 racial bonus to Perception skill checks.
  • Damage Reduction: Turéhu have damage reduction 5/cold iron.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Turéhu receive the Martial Weapon proficiency feats for the longbow and shortbow, and treat any weapon with “fey” in its name as a martial weapon.
  • Automatic Languages: Turéhu begin play speaking Sylvan and Draconic.
Challenge for the readers:  Turéhu are another race of "not-elves" with which I find myself needing a bit of cultural help.  They're forest-dwellers who count a lot of rangers and druids among their number, if that gives anyone any ideas.  And while they're not actively hostile, they're territorial.  (For the record: I had the idea before James Cameron did, I can prove it, and they're barely more than half the height.) 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bonus post the second!

I've recently gotten back preliminary sketches for some art commissioned for the project.  And while I really wish that I were better at descriptions, I certainly can't fault the skill of the artist.

Also, I've got another question for the readers: languages!  As it stands at the moment,  ki'vali have their own language, apsuri speak Aquan, and the fey races speak Draconic.  I'm wondering if this should change.  (Humans, by the way, will have access to several regional languages.)  And as far as tíraleth starting languages go, I'm not even sure what to do with that.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Races: The Tíraleth

The tíraleth claim descent from the ancient hero Talyll, who was said to be the champion of the war goddess and to have the blood of both fey and dragons. They are sleekly muscled and fairly tall, with skin that is marked with between three and five bright colors. Their ears are pointed, their eyes—which are usually primary-hued—have three to seven pupils, and their hair is dark at the roots, light at the tips, and usually red or red-tinged.
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma. Tíraleth are agile, and tend to have forceful personalities and exotic good looks.
  • Medium: Tíraleth are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Normal Speed: Tíraleth have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Darkvision: Tíraleth can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: Tíraleth can see twice as far as a human in conditions of dim light.
  • Observant: Tíraleth receive a +2 racial bonus to Perception skill checks.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Tíraleth are proficient with falchions and scimitars.
  • Sun’s Fury: As barbarian rage, with the following modifications: May be used for a number of rounds per day equal to 2 + the tíraleth’s Constitution modifier. The tíraleth’s increased body heat in Sun’s Fury adds +1 fire damage to unarmed attacks; opponents who make unarmed attacks against a tíraleth in Sun’s Fury take one point of fire damage per attack. The tíraleth receives a +2 circumstance bonus to Intimidate checks while Sun’s Fury is active. Sun’s Fury does not give a tíraleth without barbarian levels access to rage powers; however, a tíraleth barbarian may choose to add the effects of Sun’s Fury to his class-granted rages as a rage power.
  • Fire resistance 5.
  • Cold Vulnerability: Tíraleth suffer a -1 racial penalty to saving throws against cold effects and a -1 penalty to fortitude saves against damage from cold environments.
The tíraleth are my oldest race concept; as such, they've had the most work put into them.  As you might be able to tell, there's some Celtic mythological inspiration. 

Question for the readers:  What I really need here is Pathfinder-geek help:  How's the balance on Sun's Fury as a racial ability?  Any suggested tíraleth-specific feats (or even tíraleth-specific barbarian rage powers)?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Races: The Ahvaiyru

The ahvaiyru, haughty fey rulers of the western lands of the Tirin Peninsula, are tall and almost attenuated in build, with delicate, angular facial features, long pointed ears, and a pair of short, feathery antennae. Their skin is ivory, with a silvery sheen to it; their hair is either black or pale blond; and their eyes—which have slitted, feline pupils—are gray, amber, or violet.
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma; -2 Constitution.
  • Medium: Ahvaiyru are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Normal speed: Ahvaiyru have a land speed of 30 feet.
  • Fey: Ahvaiyru are fey, not humanoids. This grants them low-light vision, proficiency with all simple weapons, and immunity to spells which only affect humanoids (such as charm person).
  • Canny: Ahvaiyru receive a +2 racial bonus to Bluff, Sense Motive, and Perception skill checks.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Ahvaiyru treat any weapon with “fey” in its name as a martial weapon.
  • Hypnotism: Three times per day, as a caster of class level. Save DC is Charisma-based.
  • Spell Resistance: Ahvaiyru possess spell resistance equal to 5 + their class levels.
  • Damage Reduction: Ahvaiyru have damage reduction 5/cold iron.
  • Automatic Languages: Ahvaiyru begin play speaking Draconic.
Challenge for the readers:  Help me build ahvaiyru culture!  What I've got so far is that they tend to be meticulous, flamboyant, competitive, urbane, and meaner than rattlesnakes.  But although—as you might have guessed from that description—any number of less-than-pleasant elf stereotypes can apply, I don't want them to just be "drow," as it were.

Off the usual schedule...

...I present you with a minor update or two.

 The race formerly known as Tahvaaiy nobles or simply "Tahvaaiy" are now called ahvaiyru, which is now reflected in previous blog entries.  (I really had too many names beginning with the letter T.)  The ahvaiyru, however, are still meticulous, flamboyant, competitive, urbane, and meaner than rattlesnakes.

 Furthermore, Kalretia is now an archipelago.  The biome and culture are still about the same. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Races: The Ki'vali

The stalwart ki'vali are said to have sprung from the blood of an injured goddess. Tall and heavily built, with strong, blunt facial features that appear vaguely leonine, they have three eyes and a pair (sometimes two pairs) of short ivory horns. Their skin is usually dark blue, dark red, or a wide range of gray shades.
  • +2 Strength, +4 Constitution, +2 Wisdom; -2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma. Ki’vali are strong, perceptive, and incredibly vigorous, but ponderous and gruff.
  • Normal Speed: Ki’vali base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Medium: Ki’vali are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Darkvision: Ki’vali can see in the dark up to 60 feet.
  • Durability: Ki’vali receive a +4 to Fortitude saves against poison and disease.
  • Intimidating: Ki’vali receive a +2 bonus to Intimidate checks.
  • Poison Detection: Ki’vali are allowed a Perception check to detect any poisons they may come in contact with. The DC is 10 to detect the poison; if the check equals the save DC, the ki’vali can identify the exact type. This is an extraordinary ability.
  • Sharp Teeth: Ki’vali can bite for 1d4 points of damage plus their Strength bonus when involved in a grapple.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Ki’vali treat bastard swords and any weapon with “ki’vali” in its name as a martial weapon. Their size and strength allow them to easily wield these weapons one-handed.
  • Automatic Languages: Ki’vali begin play speaking Common and Ki’valan.
The original concept for this race was "big, imposing, and look like Japanese oni."  Other details emerged more or less at random.

Question for the readers:  If a race's origin is a bit more complex than is commonly known, how much meta-knowledge should players have at the outset?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Races: Humans of the Tirin Peninsula

There are three major ethnicities among the humans of the Tirin Peninsula.  

The Tirins are, as one might guess, descendants of the original indigenous human population. They are most commonly of medium height and build, with light brown skin. Their hair is usually black, and their eyes brown; however, the descendants of one tribe tend towards blue-eyed redheads.  Tirin body art often involves body piercing and polychromatic tattooing.

The Velakhurs were formerly a nomadic southern tribe. They are tall, large-framed, pale-skinned and pale-eyed, with hair that ranges from blond to dark brown. Velakhur body art is seen in the form of body-painting and monochromatic tattoos; piercing (apart from earlobes) is a fairly new phenomenon.

The Aldyrins' ancestors hail from a continent to the north. They are small, wiry, and dark-skinned.  Their taste in body art runs to elaborate hairstyles, body piercing, and decorative scarring; tattooing (introduced by paler folk) is less common.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Races: The Feiyin

The feiyin, hybrids of human and ahvaiyru, resemble both parent races. They are tall, with strong, lithe builds and slightly elongated ears that come to blunt points. Their skin is generally paler than that of their human lineage, and their eyes have oval pupils.
  • +2 to one ability score.
  • Medium: Feiyin are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Fey Blood: Feiyin count as both fey and humans for any effect related to race.
  • Low-light vision: Feiyin can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
  • Observant: Feiyin receive a +2 racial bonus to Perception skill checks.
  • Magic-Resistant:  Feiyin receive a +2 bonus to saving throws versus spells and spell-like abilities.
  • Damage Reduction: Feiyin have damage reduction 2/cold iron.
  • Automatic Languages: Feiyin begin play speaking Draconic. 
Question for the readers:  Ahvaiyru treat certain exotic weapons as martial weapons.  Should feiyin—who are often raised as slave-janissaries for the fey nobles—receive this benefit as well?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Races: The Apsuri

The inquisitive apsuri are small—rarely topping four feet in height—with comparably short arms and legs, but long necks and torsos. Their skin is light brown and almost always freckled, and their hair is usually a mixture of blond and green. Apsuri have large green or gold eyes and fan-shaped, highly mobile ears; their hands and feet are partially webbed.

  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Strength. Apsuri are both nimble and resilient, but their small size makes them physically weaker than other humanoids.
  • Of Two Elements: Apsuri base speed is 20 feet. They have a swim speed of 30 feet.
  • Small: Apsuri are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus to their attack rolls, a -1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks
  • Low-Light Vision: Apsuri can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, and similar conditions of poor illuminations. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • Hold Breath: An apsuri can hold his breath for a number of rounds equal to three times his Constitution score before he risks drowning.
  • Agile Climber: Apsuri use their Dexterity modifier instead of their Strength modifier for Climb skill checks. They are at home both in the forest and on the rigging of a ship.
  • Languages: Apsuri begin play speaking Common and Aquan.
Apsuri are the obligatory "small race." I was attempting to make them somewhat reminiscent of both gnomes and halflings (although Dennis McKiernan's Warrows had some influence on their original look), but sufficiently different that they couldn't be outright confused with either. Hopefully, I have succeeded by making them vaguely otterish.

Question for the readers:
Should apsuri also receive a skill bonus?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lands of the Tirin Peninsula

Dellumea is the name given to the lands of the antarctic continent, separated from Ta’Araen by a mountain range. It is generally cold and inhospitable, and inhabited by tribes of varying degrees of friendliness.

Kalretia is a large island off the northeastern coast of Velakhura. Approximately half of it is forested; most of the rest is brackish swamp or salt marsh. There are two different distinct cultures: “islanders” (based out of Natira, the capital city) and “swampers.”

Ta’Araen is nearly landlocked and mostly grassland. It is probably the most diverse nation of the Tirin Peninsula.

Tahvaair, to the far west, is the homeland of a race of tall, arrogant, magically-adept fey.

Velakhura was settled by the migratory Dellumean tribe whose name it bears. As its coastline is mountainous, flight is commonplace. The human population have a truce with the turéhu and are ruled by a singularly long-lived king.

The Scar is not so much a region as the fallout from the ancient war between the Tirin humans and the Tahvaaiy. From above, or from outside, it appears to be a roughly circular desert; however, the entire area is actually a huge dimensional gateway.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Welcome to the Southlands Project!

Back in the early '90s, I got the idea to create a fantasy setting. Over the years, it picked up momentum. And in the process, it took lessons in "weird" from countless sourcesJack Vance, Jo Clayton, Meredith Ann Pierce, Talislanta, and any number of cartoons and video games.

It's finally coalescing into this: the Southlands Project.


In the distant past, the native humans of the Tirin Peninsula and the fey nobles of Tahvaair constantly skirmished with each other. At times, this descended into outright war. Finally, after centuries of conflict, one side or another unleashed the ultimate weapon.

The weapon's nature is as lost to history as the identity of its makers; however, powerful magic would have to have gone into its creation. At the epicenter of its effect, a massive impact crater (known to this day as "the Scar") still remains, and reality itself has been altered in the vicinity.

In the current era, much of this exists only in the dusty tomes of scholars, or has been transformed from fact to myth. But old fears, and old hostilities, die hard.


Eventually, this will become a RPG campaign setting (I'm currently working it up for Pathfinder, but migrating it into other systems in the future would be absolutely incredible). As of now, I've got a basic idea of the geography, a pantheon, and some races. Expect teasers in the future.

This blog will ideally be updated on a regular basis; I'm going to shoot for bi-weekly. Feedback and suggestions are, of course, highly appreciated.