April 2024

  • Playing a Priest Type of Character in SAKE TTRPG

    Playing a Priest Type of Character in SAKE TTRPG

    In the Asteanic World, there are many gods and various religions.

    Gods are divided into two types: major deities and lesser deities.

    Major deities are associated with larger, overarching concepts, such as the god of death, the god of trade, the god of the sea, or the god of war. Lesser deities, on the other hand, are either nature gods linked to specific locations, like the god of that lake, forest or swamp, or ancestor-gods associated with specific human groups, such as our tribe’s ancestor god or the ancient god-king of this city, and so on.

    Major Deities

    Major deities are characterized by their elusive nature to humans. There is no specific place where they reside, no clear understanding of their appearance, and no direct way to communicate with them. Therefore, their nature is largely the domain of theological debates.

    Major Deities of Asteanic Culture.
    Map of the holy sites mentioned above.

    Blogpost about The Doctrine of Eternal Waters, also known as the Temple of the Divine Ocean or just Asteanic Polytheism: https://sake.ee/religions-in-the-asteanic-world/

    One can make pacts with as many major deities as they wish, as pacts with major deities do not come with any taboos that need to be written on the Character Sheet. To make a pact, one must summon the major deity’s totemic being or visit a sacred place where a major deity’s totemic being resides. The totemic being assigns a task to the priest. These tasks are complex, and completing one task can be a whole adventure.

    Lesser Deities

    Lesser deities are actual beings in the game to whom the Game Master can assign Health Points, Skills, and Abilities.

    All lesser deities belong to a certain deity class or portfolio, which determines the spells that can be acquired by a priest who enters into a pact with them. The classes of lesser deities are wind deities, water deities, forest and earth deities, mountain deities and ancestors.

    Establishing a pact with lesser deities necessitates initial contact with them, which can be achieved through a Theology Ritual: Prayer (only effective when the character is in the same region as the deity) or physically seeking out the deity.

    To formalize a pact, a priest must fulfil the task assigned by the lesser deity and adhere to the lesser deity’s taboo or principle which has to be written on the Character Sheet. Tasks set by lesser deities are typically less complex than those imposed by major deities.

    Priests have the capacity to enter into pacts with up to ten lesser deities, as each new contract requires the adoption of one of the deity’s principles or taboos, and characters can possess a maximum of ten principles and other personality traits.

    Playing a Priest

    To use priest spells, a PC must purchase the skill: Channelling, which is not initially present on the Character Sheet. Channelling is an Instinct skill.

    However, characters can forge contracts with gods without possessing this skill. For instance, if they plan to become a priest later or wish to earn favour with a local nature deity through a contract.

    There are two ways to acquire the Channelling skill:

    • Purchasing Theology Ritual: Prayer
    • Purchasing Self-Powered Spell: Divine Aid

    Technically, Channelling works the same way as other magic: the priest selects a spell to cast, makes a Channelling check as indicated in the spell description, and the spell consumes Spellpoints.

    Channelling Spells

    Priest spells are categorized into three groups, all utilizing the Channelling skill:

    The first group consists of Self-Powered spells. These abilities are not specifically linked to any particular deity, meaning they can be acquired even without forming a pact with a god. Characters can attribute increased strength or a more potent strike to a deity, but in reality, it’s their own faith and soul’s energy at work. These spells only affect the priest and do not influence anyone else without additional abilities.

    Self-Powered spells are simple and straightforward.

    The second group of spells originates from contracts with lesser deities. These spells can influence the external world more realistically than other magic. These contracts are tied to a lesser deity, and the priest channels the world-altering energy of that deity. A priest can form contracts with up to ten lesser deities, but in return, they must perform deeds for the deities and embrace the taboos or principles of those deities. Breaking a lesser deity’s taboo may result in the contract breaking (50% chance). Additionally, it is possible to kill lesser deities, in which case priests lose their spells.

    Spells from lesser deities are more intricate.

    The third group of spells comes from contracts with major deities, which can be made by receiving tasks from and fulfilling them for the major deity’s totemic creature. Spells received from major deities are powerful, and acquiring them requires significant effort to please the deity. Once a contract with a major deity is established, it never breaks.

    Extremely powerful ritual from a major deity – Wind Control.

    Additionally, there are theology rituals that do not require the Channelling skill at all.

    SAKE Full Book at Kickstarter: LINK

    Free Basic Edition at DriveThru RPG: affiliate LINK

  • Tauric Trade Region (Temperate Zone)

    Tauric Trade Region (Temperate Zone)

    This post is an example of how Trade Regions are depicted in the SAKE Full Book.

    Each of the 12 Trade Regions covered in the book will have similar pages, including:

    • Base stats such as population, area, etc.
    • Description of the trade goods of the region and a small random table when pirating them.
    • General description of the region, its inhabitants, their culture, religion, important NPCs, etc.
    • Map of the region.
    • Something else of interest in the region, such as the Mist for Tauric region (which is a separate blogpost in this case: https://sake.ee/the-mist/ )

    Tauric Trade Region (Temperate Zone)

    The Tauric people inhabit the shores of the Gilden Sea, comprising two distinct groups: the mountain tauri and the plains tauri. Mountain tauri, untouched by the Asteanic Empire, reside in mountain forests practising permaculture and hunting. In contrast, plains tauri were under Asteanic rule for centuries until recently gaining freedom with the use of a natural air force – Wyvernknights. They have adopted the Asteanic alphabet for their written language.

    Taurics are renowned for their martial prowess, excellent metalworking, bravery, and melancholy captured in epic poems by their bards. Tauric people lacked the strict social hierarchy present in Asteanic society. All Taurics had the right to bear arms, own land, and move freely. However, this is changing in the Wyvernkingdoms, as these crucial military animals, an assurance against a more powerful Asteanic Empire, require an ungodly amount of food.

    Asteans and Tauri share parts of their polytheistic religion, albeit with some differences in understanding their pantheons. The Taurics hold a great fear of the world’s end, prophesied to come from the east in the form of a massive fog inhabited by terrifying creatures, including Mist Dragons. This ominous fog is foreseen to consume Tauria and the entire world, signifying humanity’s end.

    In the present day, mountain Tauri are organized into small mountain kingdoms, with numerous mountain kings due to their size. Many Taurics still live under the La Mepho-Delagrua’n Asteanic Empire, while those freed by the Wyvernmother reside in one of the six kingdoms ruled by her sons.

    Sons and Kingdoms of Wyvernmother

    (From oldest to youngest)

    Wyvernkingdom of the Shadowking

    Curstag the Shadowking is in his late seventies. Surrounded closely by the Mist, swamps, and forests, Curstag’s kingdom is the oldest Wyvernkingdom, its independence from the Asteanic Empire dating back to the time before Wyvernmother. When the once significant region of the empire’s gold mines, Mistgold, fell into the Mist over a hundred years ago, the local Taurics fought for their independence without much resistance from the Asteans.

    Wyvernmother initiated her campaign against the Asteans right here in this kingdom, venturing into the Mist to the Mistgold region, from where she brought out great wealth to finance her first military campaign. Inspired by this, adventurers still venture into the Mist to reach the Mistgold gold mining area and bring out treasures – but few of these adventures succeed.

    The Kingdom of the Shadowking has only 15 000 inhabitants and no real towns or cities – the king and only one company of Wyvernknights reside at the ruined old Asteanic river fortress Goldwatch.

    Wyvernkingdom of Lorient

    The second son, Dormac the Soulsmith, also known as “The Smith of Gods,” rules as the Wyvernking of Lorient. The king is renowned throughout the Tauric lands and beyond for his exceptional soulsmithing abilities. Dormac is so revered that when people wish to offer an exceptional gift to a god, they commission a magic item from him.

    The Kingdom of Lorient, with a population of 100 000 and covering an area of 40 000 km2, is centred around the old Asteanic city of Lorient, which has a population of 12 000. The kingdom’s primary exports are tin, metalworks, and other Tauric trade goods. In recent years, relations with the Asteans have been peaceful, leading to flourishing trade.

    In the south, the kingdom encompasses an empty desert plateau, particularly favoured by dangerous phoenix birds whose ashes are used to make a special makeup highly prized by the Asteanic nobility. Young Wyvernknights and other adventurers venture into this area to hunt these massive otherworldly birds made of fire – an extremely perilous undertaking.

    Wyvernkingdom of Bloodfields

    Railbert the Bloodeye, who is in his early sixties, arguably holds the greatest of the Wyvernkingdoms – the Wyvernkingdom of Bloodfields. Railbert’s kingdom is the largest (approximately 100 000 km2) and most populous (with around 300 000 people, 15 000 of whom live in the city of Orthon). The Wyvernkingdom of Bloodfields has a fully developed feudal system with Wyvernknights at the top, Landsknights second, and commoners and serfs after them – quite similar to the Asteanic system, just a bit simpler (and replace samurais with Landsknights). Also, the Wyvernkingdom of Bloodfields has somewhat normalized relations with the Asteans, with many Asteanic merchants living in Orthon (which is an old Asteanic city). Bloodfields exports a considerable amount of iron, all sorts of steel products, and other Tauric region trade goods to the Asteanic World trade system.

    The city of Orthon is a self-governing city governed by local trade and craft syndicates and representatives of the king.

    Railbert holds his court at Mistfort – a huge mountain fortress built to house 200 wyverns, Wyvernknights, their families, servants and all sorts of officials. Railbert is known to be the only king who takes the threat of the Mist more scientifically and is actively trying to find a solution to the encroaching Mist. He regularly sends adventure parties into the Mist and has hired a great number of mages and metaphysicists from all over the world to find a way to stop it.

    For reasons unknown to the public, the local nature god – The Bloodeyed Leshy – hates the king and his dynasty and has cursed him and his children with blindness and blood running from their eyes.

    Wyvernkingdom of Urgill

    Wyvernking Wynter the Singer rules over the small Wyvernkingdom of Urgill, with a populace of only 25 000 and just three companies of Wyvernknights protecting it. Wynter conquered his kingdom from some Asteanic landowners around 40 years ago with a small band of Wyvernknights. The kingdom is situated on the western coast of the Gilden Sea and is far away from the lands of his brothers.

    Currently, Winter enjoys somewhat normal relations with nearby Asteans and rarely takes part in his mother’s military campaigns. Wynter resides at Wyvernfort Urgill, loosely governing the local lands. His wyverns pose a significant challenge for the local populace, who must make their living farming the poor, swampy soils of the area. The king and his knights are hated and feared, but they themselves are not malicious – the wyverns simply have voracious appetites for meat.

    As the king is somewhat impoverished and faces no imminent threats to his power, it may be possible to convince him to hire out his Wyvernknights as mercenaries or even to conquer his kingdom from him.

    Wyvernkingdom of Dun Hun

    Wyvernking Urrigan the Warrior rules over the Wyvernkingdom of Dun Hun, which has been at the forefront of the war against the Asteanic Empire for decades. The kingdom has endured cycles of destruction and reconstruction, leaving it now dotted with duns – circular fortified hilltowns.
    The plains Tauri of Dun Hun have adopted a warrior culture akin to that of mountain Tauri. In Dun Hun, everyone is free and expected to take up arms when the king goes to war. Despite its population of 240 000 and a land area of 60 000 km2, the kingdom can muster an army of almost 20 000 warriors – a considerable force relative to its population.

    How is this possible? Firstly, Dun Hun receives substantial subsidies in the form of food and arms from other Wyvernkingdoms. The kingdom has been the primary battleground in the fight for independence for decades, and supporting Dun Hun has helped to maintain the integrity of other kingdoms.
    However, there is also a darker aspect to this situation. Many farms in the kingdom are operated by slaves, with Dun Hun being the main customer for Morag the Skypirate and the pirates of Caveport in the slave trade. They even purchase slaves from Rastlaskhan in the Zuharic lands. The slave raids around the Gilden Sea are solely attributable to the Wyvernkingdom of Dun Hun. Warriors from Dun Hun frequently conduct raids into Asteanic territories and even Tauric mountain kingdoms to procure slaves.

    Wyvernkingdom of the Skypirate

    Wyvernking Morag the Skypirate rules over a Wyvernkingdom despised by all Asteanic and Tauric merchants, as well as by his own people. There isn’t much one can do when wyvernpirates descend from the sky to your ship, plunder everything, and sell you into slavery – and Morag doesn’t discriminate – the days of freedom fights against the Asteans are over for him, now everybody is fair game.

    Skypirate isn’t a good king, as he treats his subjects just as poorly as his victims. Although the region he rules over is large (approximately 30 000 km2) and historically populous (though today only about 90 000 inhabitants), in reality, he resides with 200 wyverns, 100 wyvernpirates and their families, and numerous other lackeys in isolation within his impregnable Wyvernfort, which is brimming with plundered wealth. His wyverns roam freely over his lands, raiding the herds of local farmers or even killing them outright – such a horde of wyverns requires a vast amount of meat every day. Life in the Wyvernkingdom of Skypirate is like hell on earth, but at least nobody collects taxes.

    With the copper mining area of Azure Hills abandoned, the city of Dun Loch (with 10 000 inhabitants) constantly fighting for survival, and the kingdom essentially rulerless, this area could be a good place for adventurous types to start their own kingdom – if only they could eliminate the pirate king. Of course, if successful, revenge or some backlash from his brothers is to be expected.

    The youngest son Wyvernprince Fergus the Thundersinger is in his fifties and doesn’t have a kingdom jet(!).

    Wyvernmother herself visits each of her sons in turns, living with them as she travels in the form of a Gigantic Quasicorporeal Wyvern.

    Autocracy of Kasoob

    The Autocracy of Kasoob stands out in the Tauric region as a peculiar entity – it is primarily settled by the Acamonic people who migrated there hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago from their homeland across the Acamonic Sea.

    Ruled by the priesthood of the Acamonic fertility deity, Kasoob, the state appears to thrive under its leadership. Despite the swampy terrain and poor soils, the Autocracy of Kasoob enjoys prosperity and a sizable population (400 000 inhabitants, with 75 000 of them residing in the city of Rotmaar). Essentially functioning as a large city-state, the hinterlands serve primarily to support the grand temple-city.

    The Autocracy of Kasoob remains largely isolated from the outside world. Trade with them is monopolized by the Asteanic Great House La Severin, which controls The Grand Factory Rotmaar. Consequently, there is little room for other merchants, and it is known that the state is not particularly fond of tourist travellers.

    Mist is a separate blogpost in this case: https://sake.ee/the-mist/ 

  • The Mist

    The ever-expanding Mist looms over the Asteanic World. As long as humans remember, it has always been there – albeit a bit smaller than now. The Mist expands by around 1km per year at present – but its growth is not consistent, seeming to accelerate as it enlarges. Nonetheless, the process is slow enough that amidst their internal conflicts, and the rise and fall of empires, people do not pay it too much attention. Thus, inhabitants of the Asteanic World find themselves in a situation today where a giant spot of emptiness stares back from the map – nearly as vast as Thefna Archipelago – yet surprisingly little is known about its nature and origins. In terms of the Asteanic cultural sphere, the Mist is distant – it has only reached the Ocean, traversed by Asteanic merchant ships, within the turbulent past few centuries. Consequently, Asteans allocate relatively little time and resources to its exploration – the nations and lands getting shrouded into the Mist are distant and inconsequential to them.

    In the early 16th century, the Mist engulfed the small Forestside tsardom in Tserkeššia. Adventurous Asteans from Nileen conducted the evacuation of the Forestside people, but they had their own more sinister motives. Subsequently, the Forestside tsar and his warriors were drawn into the La Mepho-Delagrua’n Asteanic Empire’s civil war as mercenaries, while the remaining populace was abandoned in the outskirts of Ehnation – expanding one of its slums – Strugglefield, as a result.

    The Mist – What Do We Know?

    However, not everything is entirely mysterious, and the peoples around the Mist actually know quite a bit about its workings and how to avoid it – to be fair, it’s not that difficult – just don’t walk into it.

    The Mist merges the Otherworld and the human world into one; in areas covered with Mist, there is no separate Otherworld, and astral travellers cannot journey there. In the rest of the world, there exists some form of Otherworld everywhere, but not in Mist-covered areas. Just as the Mist consumes the human world, it also devours pockets of the Otherworld – melding them with the human realm or erasing them completely. This has a side effect – areas surrounding the Mist are teeming with all sorts of Otherworldlings, as they too must retreat from the Mist.

    As the Mist is essentially the Otherworld, the laws of the Otherworld apply there too – nature cannot thrive in the Otherworld. Plants wither upon contact with the Mist, gradually replaced by Otherworldly flora over time – a grotesque distortion of the natural world, in which fruits neither nourish nor quench thirst. This makes navigating the vast area filled with the Creatures of the Mist and poor visibility (due to the mist!) even more challenging, as all provisions must be brought along.

    Those who perish in the Mist meet a dreadful fate – since their souls have nowhere to go (no separate Otherworld!), they remain trapped in the Mist and transform into terrifying Creatures of the Mist that loathe all living beings.

    With Mist, the boundary between the human world and the Otherworld is clearly visible to the naked eye – a colossal wall of mist. Like the Otherworld, it also contains the creatures within itself. It is impossible for the Creatures of the Mist to simply walk out from it – they will only end up on the other side of the Mist or in another smaller Mist pocket. The Mist and its pockets are akin to a separate plane of existence – but only for the creatures of the Otherworld. Humans and animals can traverse this otherworldly border at will.

    If a Mistdruid summons a pocket of Mist, they can call Mist creatures into it, even if the real Mist is hundreds or thousands of kilometres away. Only when such a temporary Mist created by a Mistdruid dissipates can Creatures of Mist enter the human world, as they do not disperse anywhere.

    The Mist and the Taurics

    Tauric people have always lived next to the Mist and have lost countless kingdoms to it over centuries. Therefore, the Mist has a significant influence on Tauric culture.

    Taurics understand very clearly that the Mist expands and there is nothing to stop it. This means that inevitably, at one moment, the Mist will cover the entire world, and the entire human world, as well as the Otherworld, will come to an end – only the Mist will remain.

    This inevitable predestination makes Tauric culture highly fatalistic, and Taurics believe in predestination in other aspects of the world as well. In the Tauric religion, there is also a significant role for the end-of-the-world gods, aka the Mist Gods – deities who, according to the Taurics, reside within the Mist and have become Mist deities because their Otherworldly domains have fallen under the influence of the Mist. These Mist Gods grant their Mistdruids the ability to summon Mist wherever they please, thereby calling forth Creatures of Mist – a hazardous power – even for the Mistdruids themselves.

    The Mist Gods are revered for their other aspects:

    • Lugh is the god of divination and the weaver of fate.
    • Maat is the ruler of the Otherworld and the commander of banshees – clan spirits that can warn against misfortune.
    • Only Grybrog, the god of winter, death, and all things evil, generally finds no worshippers among anyone, unless someone truly wishes evil upon another.

    The next among the gods destined to fall under the Mist is the war goddess Morrigan, upsetting the balance as Mist Gods outnumber the benevolent ones. This sets the world on a path towards its end, with the Mist rapidly expanding across the land, unleashing all the terrifying creatures hidden within.

    Although the Mist Gods are somewhat revered, Mistdruids are not – they are feared and seen as a cult of doom-bringers who physically invoke it. This fear has grown into paranoia. In Ehnaiton – the northernmost metropolis of the Asteans, whose inhabitants are largely Taurics – a plethora of conspiracy theories circulate about how Mistdruids are behind all the evil that happens – a scapegoat that even PCs may find useful or, conversely, they are accused of being Mistdruids themselves.

  • Just had a very enjoyable interview about SAKE with Mildra The Monk

  • EXP System

    EXP System
    Click to download the Character Sheet

    SAKE is a (levelless, classless) point-buy system, all Skill Ranks, Abilities, Spells, etc are bought with EXP. So where does the EXP come from, for that let’s go to character creation. When creating a character, the player chooses personality traits, principles and goals of the PC. Pacts with lesser gods and madnesses – we come back later.

    At the end of each game session players journal every encounter/event/scene that was played through. Evaluate, whether was it dangerous for them, did they discovered something new, did it tested their skill and so on, getting 1 EXP from each tick. They also write down, did any of their personality traits came up in the scene, and did they move closer to achieving their goals (also 1 EXP).

    This simple journal serves two purposes:

    1. It is the way to get EXP.
    2. SAKE, as a medium crunch system, is meant for longer campaigns. Campaigns sometimes have pauses, and people just forget things that happened half a year ago. So, the journal’s purpose is also – a journal.

    Coming back to Madnesses and Pacts with Lesser Gods. When a character wants to use spells powered by a lesser god, they must at first form a pact with the god. As part of the pact, they must embrace a taboo or conviction. Depending on god, it can be something simple like protecting forests from over-forestation or more complicated like never fleeing from battle.

    At the same time, mages studying magic, have to deal with unseen forces of the Otherworld that can change their Soul and personality. Every time a character learns a new spell, there is a chance that they have to take a new madness. These madnesses, named after the gods of the Asteanic World are serious business for two reasons. First, they come with penalties, second, they start to clutter the personality traits section of the Character Sheet. So, the mage runs a risk of having to delete their personality traits to replace them with madnesses.

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