Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fading Suns 3 Game Master's Guide: Grail



The following text was written by Vidar Edland and myself as the final chapter for the FS3 Game Master's Guide. Because I do not have the written permission of HDi to reproduce their material I have had to cut some of the text related to the bestiary. Otherwise the chapter text remains intact.

Grail

House Keddah has ruled Grail since its first discovery.  The fortunes of this world and the fate of House Keddah are inexorably bound together. With Keddah’s loss of Major House status (4488), so too was Grail almost forgotten, relegated to the backwater of the Jumpweb with little of interest to anyone but the pilgrims of the Sanctuary Aeon. Recent events have brought a startling reversal of fortunes to both the house and Grail itself. Now the eyes of the Empire are focused on Grail as it dominates political debates and the intrigues at the Imperial Court.

Grail Traits
Star: Taliessin (yellow star)
System: Ember (0.2AU), Solem (0.7AU, 2 moons), Grail (1.1AU, 2 moons), Merwin (5.7AU, 5 moons), Mabs (6.4AU, 2 moons), Kleam (17.42AU, 27 moons), Jumpgate (77.54AU)
Jumps: Pyre, Rampart, Rimpoche
Capital: Sangreal
Resources: forestry, minerals, stone, agriculture, tourism
Exports: lumber (Baryana hardwood), minerals (Keddite metal and Blue-veined Marble), politics

[Sidebar] Culture (Keddah)
Keddah culture is one of seeming contradictions, simultaneously both conservative (or perhaps ‘anachronistic’ is more accurate) and liberal. The stereotypical Keddah mindset is one rooted in the rustic traditions of Grail, they simultaneously hold radical ideas about equality for “safe” aliens and civil rights for serfs, yet harbor no republic sympathies, being suspicious towards freemen. They favor feudalism as a form of government, although with weak central rule and near-independent local lords. The house has a very positive attitude towards the Phoenix Throne, almost sycophantically so, and a deep respect for the Universal Church even though they favor the Sanctuary Aeon over the Urth Orthodoxy. Their relations with the Merchant League are strained, associating them with technosophy, monopolism, and enslavement of those less fortunate. The Keddah strategy to achieve political power is consolidation and growth through supporting more powerful entities (especially the Phoenix Throne and the Universal Church), latching onto ruling factions and riding on their successes.

Keddah typically greet each other with a sturdy handshake and the “nose kiss” – a gentle bow that touches lightly upon the tip of the others nose and often forehead as well (if deeply acquainted). They are comfortable with close contact and they tend to touch each other while conversing, with friends of both genders commonly holding hands in public or maintaining handshakes for prolonged periods.
There are few social norms or rules of decorum in Keddah society, as they prefer individual expression to social rote behavior. Critics often claim that theirs is not a noble society at all, and that Keddah conduct reminisces of a relaxed middle-class society. The Keddah favors ideals such as hospitality, righteousness, and mercy, and tend to be forgiving once a penance has been served, even with repeat offenses.

House Keddah members speak straight forward, some would say crude, form of Urthish with a high emphasis on intonation; subtle meaning and sophistication in this “singing language” is expressed through tone of voice rather than intricate wording and allegorical speech. This may be why there are few recognized Keddah poets, but many who are known as great singers. In addition, Keddah have developed a secret language of whistling, inspired by, but bearing no resemblance to, Etyri language. This whistling language is surprisingly sophisticated, and will when performed by a practiced whistler, carries much further than speech, especially in valleys and mountainous areas. This whistling speech is often used on the battlefield to relay orders rather than trusting to runners.

Politically, House Keddah tends to ignore matters that do not much concern them, and they remain indifferent towards barbarians and the Vau. Being the first among the Minor Houses, House Keddah tries to cultivate relations with all its peer houses. One should never ignore the fact that the Keddah were Decados allies for centuries (however unwillingly) and have learned a great deal from way that Mantis House conducts itself and its affairs. The house is split between those who favor continued support for the old patron-by-proxy, House Decados, and those who desire a new patron.
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[Sidebar] Culture (Grail)
The Grail culture is rooted in rural thought and strong regional loyalties, with members of the local community being regarded as extended family. In general, Grailites hold their lords and parish priests in high esteem, though guildsmen are often viewed with suspicion. Amalthean’s are held I particularly high regard, and even those from beyond Grail will offered trust and friendship almost without question. Nobles or householders of the Decados are on the other hand, distrusted although they will be treated with courtesy and respect as befits their station.

Expressions of racism, sexism, and similar discrimination are rare on Grail, locals will often react badly to husky people. Obesity is regarded as a sign of laziness, dishonesty, and decadence, which has lead culturally astute factions to adopt a policy of sending only lean ambassadors, specialists, preachers, and representatives on missions to Grail. Grailites also harbor a deep-seated distrust of outsiders in general (usually defined as anyone not from Grail although regional rivalries also exist), but once mutual trust has been established, lasting friendship follows no matter the background or culture of origin. Grailites tend to hold nothing against aliens in general, although they distrust alien outsiders as much as the Human ones.

Socially, the population of Grail mirrors the behavior and conduct of House Keddah, but with a more rural interpretation of norms and decorum. They will, in the spirit of hospitality, offer food and lodging to any visitor, but might unashamedly post a guard or lock newcomers in their room at night. The people of Grail value honesty and usefulness in people, as well as an honest day’s work; many rural lords spend a couple of days a year working bare-backed in the fields beside his serfs, traditionally this usually occurs around Harvest time, and will receive the unquestioning loyalty and love from his subjects who can see no wrong in their lord. Interestingly, and actually quite heretical, a common sentiment on Grail is that physical labor is a greater cleanser of one’s soul mirror than the dispensation of sacrament by priests of the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun. Although the sentiment is innocent enough, for both serf and liege lord benefits from the hard work of the common man, the theological implications that serfs possess the means to absolve their own sins is far from acceptable. And as a matter of fact, Grail has a lower than average church attendance for an agrarian world, even though the population isn’t necessarily less pious.

As serfs go, Grail serfs are not particularly skeptical towards technology, although they often fail to see the wisdom in replacing honest labor with a gadget of convenience. They generally also accept that it is not their place to affiliate with high tech – it is best to leave such matters to the martyrs.
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History

The Keddah family has ruled Grail (once name Damascus, then Byblos) uninterrupted since it was first discovered in 2519. Although House Keddah claims ancestry from the Middle East zone cultures of Urth, some have claimed that the initial settlers of the planet were in fact nomadic descendants of the Sathraists who escaped the zaibatsu purges after the failed Sathra Revolt of 2490-2500. These claims have never been proven however, and such accusations are likely to provoke duels and even bloody vendettas when voiced in public. Regardless, the House Keddah serfs who first settled the world assumed that the Zhuil’hishtu, uncultured hunter-gatherer reptiles with a Neolithic technology, were the dominating native species, and they were not far from right. For the Etyri, although possessing a rich culture, had only developed a Paleolithic technology and were dwindling in numbers following centuries of competing with the Zhuil’hishtu, and were in fact standing at the brink of extinction. House Keddah diplomats were met with apathy or guarded hostility from the Zhuil’hishtu, and the human settlements faced increasing attacks from the reptilian raiders. After watching the newcomers from a distance for nearly a decade, their mimics having learned to copy Human speech, the Etyri made their first overtures to the visitors from beyond the sky in 2528. An alliance was quickly formed, and the Etyri assisted House Keddah in fighting the Zhuil’hishtu, and in the early 2600s the reptilians had been driven off the face of the world – presumed into extinction.

St. Amalthea and the Cup of Healing

During the 27th century, Grail received an influx of off-world visitors attracted to the tropical climes and a vibrant tourism and catering industry grew up on the Chirikiti Archipelagoes (named after the Chirikiti sub-species of Etyri that dwells there). As the population grew however, the tropical environment incubated many foreign diseases that crossed the species boundaries and spread to native life forms and ecosystems. The mid-part of the century was characterized by a number of virulent plagues that swept through both the Human and Etyri populations, causing a pandemic hysteria that annihilating Grail’s lucrative tourism industries. The worst affliction was the Cathan Fever (named for the tiny island to suffer the first outbreak) that killed tens of thousands of locals and visitors, and it was this disease brought St. Amalthea to Byblos in 2837. She came with medicines, compassion, and guidance to alleviate the suffering, and it is believed that this was where she formalized her compassionate ethics. St. Amalthea and her followers set up a field hospital in the shadow of Mount Siddik, on the mountain side at the inner end of the Sul Valley on the continent of Tapal. St. Amalthea and her followers heard talk of another healer, called the “Outlaw Preacher” by the local nobility, and one night a harrowed man was brought into the hospital by his two companions, who begged St. Amalthea to heal him. This was the Prophet Zebulon and his two disciples, the Saints Paulus and Lextius. The Prophet was suffering the Dark Vision and Soul Pain following a confrontation with an entity of Darkness on a frontier world beyond Grail. For three days and nights St. Amalthea nursed the Prophet, until finally he was strong enough to face his demons. She gave Zebulon a cup of pure mountain water to drink, and together the two managed to exorcise and banish the fiend back into the Below.

Amalthea’s cup, from which the Prophet had drunk, is now a treasured relic kept in the Santa Amalthea Monastery close to the spring not far from where the original field hospital once stood. This cup became the emblem of the Sanctuary Aeon and, and in time inspired the population to give their planet a new name, “Grail”. Though Amalthea left Grail to follow the Prophet, her legacy remained and the Sanctuary Aeon has maintained close ties to the world ever since. Every year, many devout followers make the long pilgrimage to the Santa Amalthea Monastery to pray at the site where the Prophet was healed.

The Second Republic (3500-4000)

With the rise of the Second Republic, interstellar mercantile interests began exploiting the rich natural resources of Grail at a scale never seen before. The Etyri were happy with this as long as their territories were largely left alone, and they benefited as much as the Humans from the influx of capital and goods. Some restrictions were placed on Grail development however, but when House Keddah mineral surveyors, sounding for Blue-veined marble and Keddite ores beneath the Etyri Summit in 3558, a discovery was made that resulted in near unlimited Human exploitation of Grail’s resources. An extensive subterranean cavern complex was found under that most important of Etyri Mountains, and what was more, the place was crawling with the Etyri’s ancestral enemy, the Zhuil’hishtu. The Etyri then awarded House Keddah extensive harvesting rights throughout the world, in exchange for the Humans pledging to take the war against the Zhuil’hishtu underground where the Etyri would not venture. An extensive extermination program was sent in motion and within a decade House Keddah claimed to have eradicated the six-legged reptiles. Just how complete this genocide was has sometimes been questioned throughout the centuries, although House Keddah has been able to discredit every witness account of living Zhuil’hishtu that has cropped up; Still, rumors insist some Zhuil’hishtu escaped the Keddah slaughter in a stealthy exodus, and today the reptiles rank among the most popular bogeymen monsters in Grail culture.

The extensive concessions that the Etyri awarded House Keddah had an unfortunate consequence a century later, when the Baryana hardwood lumber industry exploded and House Keddah, backed by a liberal interpretation of the earlier agreement, greatly intensified and expanded their resources exploitation. Up until then, the logging industries had been limited to coastal zones of Habari, but now they move further inland to harvest the most ancient Baryana trees, threatening the Etyris’ cultural sites, nesting grounds, and their very way of life. Ignoring Etyri objections, House Keddah brought in a massive Harvester-factory capable of stripping, processing, and transporting the valuable wood to the markets.

In desperation, the Etyri intensified their protests and when that failed they took direct action, capturing the logging leaders and their families and forcing their hostages to watch a magic lantern projection of the Harvester in action. Unable to harm the massive Harvester directly, a thousand Etyri warriors sacrificed themselves by diving into the massive engine vents so that their bodies clogged up the machinery and brought down the mighty Harvester-factory.

House Keddah refused to bow to terrorism and a Human-Etyri war broke out in the 3660s that would kill hundreds of thousands on both sides, raging on till 3689 when House Juandaastas diplomats and Sanctuary Aeon mediators managed to broker a peace. Tired of war and swayed by the wisdom of neutral negotiators, the Etyri and House Keddah returned to a mutually beneficial coexistence in which the Etyri promised to stop their guerrilla war in return of House Keddah pledged to replant harvested timber fields and respect the territories and cultural sites of the winged natives. A long-term global plan for the conservation and cultivation of Grail was instituted, called the “Habari Accord”, which has served both Keddah and Etyri well to this day. By the 39th century, Grail was recognized as an ecological preserve and attracted scores of scientists and naturalists interested in studying the varied flora and fauna of the lush world. This was the time when the famed xeno-anthropologist, Shamus al-Dubhai moved to Grail to study the complex Etyri speech. His life’s work, the 17 volumes “Etyri Studies”, is still the seminal text of its field.

The Fall and the New Dark Ages (4000-4964)

Grail was spared much of the chaos that followed the sundering of the Second Republic, as its agrarian society, low population levels, and the presence of Sanctuary Aeon aided in a smooth transition to a less technologically dependent existence.

House Keddah expanded and became a Major House in the 43rd century, having acquired the world of Aylon from House Torenson in 4119, and Shaprut, again from House Torenson, in 4299, as well as expanded their spheres of interests on other worlds. A mutual defense alliance was formed between houses Torenson and Keddah, which in time would include House Masseri as well. However, in the year 4434, Rahimat al-Malik – the Lion of Shaprut – conquered Shaprut for House al-Malik and House Keddah was forced to consolidate its remaining power. Internal strife and division followed on Grail and Aylon both, and in 4438 the house leader, Sheikh Sahar Keddah, relocated from Grail to his homelands on Aylon and allied with his former enemy, Rahimat al-Malik against his Grail brethren.

The Grail Keddahs rebelled and the Sheikh’s cousin, Earl Habiru Keddah, was declared Sheikh of Grail. House Keddah was now in effect divided into two rivaling houses, one based on Aylon and the other on Grail. In 4487, the Grail Keddah took steps to unite the house, enlisting the aid of minor houses Torenson and Masseri, and declared war on House al-Malik. Istakhr was quickly conquered and plans were made to dethrone the Aylon Sheikh Sahar and unite the house, but House al-Malik answered in kind and re-conquered Istakhr the following year and immediately moving to grab their allied world of Aylon as well. In less than 11 months, the once Major House had been isolated on Grail, and its allies were back-broken, easy pickings for patronage by House Decados. The Keddah war with House al-Malik continued, but Grail managed to withstand every al-Malik advance.

Grail was rich enough that the now Minor House Keddah existed in relative comfort, but new venues of income were much sought after. Several attempts to recreate the resort tourism industry of the Second Republic were made, but little came of it. More success was made with expanding pilgrimage tourism although revenue remained below expectations. Then, in the late 4580s, a small jumpkey manufacturing facility was reclaimed from the ruins of the Abidean City university settlement that had fallen into disuse after the Fall. The then Sheikh Yacob Keddah secured Decados investors to begin jumpkey production on Grail, challenging the Charioteer monopoly. The Charioteers’ Guild took House Keddah to court, but the Regency was not yet a stable and strong government and little progress was made. The Guild then offered to purchase the technology from House Keddah for a generous amount, but Sheikh Yacob refused. House Keddah had harbored bitterness towards the Charioteers’ Guild since 4552, when Grail’s system defense forces attacked and seized a merchant ship suspected of smuggling, only to suffer the wrath of a mighty merchant flotilla a few weeks later that waylaid Sheikh Rubarayah’s (Yacob’s 2nd cousin) starships and demanded reparations, and this likely contributed to Sheikh Yacob’s stubborn refusal to concede the jumpkey technology to the Charioteers’ Guild. Whatever the case, in 4591 restorations were completed and jumpkey production begun on Grail, but within a week the facility suffered a catastrophic explosion that left a mile-wide blackened crater in the center of the university city, destroying once and for all any hope House Keddah had of making money on infringing the Charioteers’ Guild patent. Although never proved, it is generally accepted that Killroy agents were behind the attack.

Grail has experienced its share of dissidents and heretics and in 4871 the heretical prophetess Zegai al-Uzza (4844-4891) beheld the “Three Fold Vision” and devised a philosophy for refining the Self into a perfect “I” through struggle and destruction. “Many an I must die before I arrive”, she declared, and followers quickly gathered around her. She brought her band deep into the Hamada du Aswad (The Black Rock-desert) desert region south of the central Tapal scrublands where they tested and refined themselves into a dreadful fighting force. Zegai reemerged in 4887 with an army that existed only to experience conflict, and began attacking pilgrims and the Santa Amalthea Monastery. Initially, the Knights of Saint Yara lead the defense against the heretics, but their resources were insufficient to oppose them alone. What began as a local uprising, turned to a war against the planetary government in 4889 when the Brother Battle and Temple Avesti sects were asked to assist, and House Keddah was also soon involved. Impressively, the rag-tag army of warrior-philosophers held out for almost two years against the combined forces of noble and church fighters, until the rebellion was finally put down in 4891 at the “Battle of Madness Mountain”, on the high slopes of Mount Kulko in the Keran Mountains. Zegai’s army had composed of many different groups of people, and among them were a band of former Penitent psychics who had turned against the Universal Church, of which 23 escaped the onslaught and fled to Hazat Space where they became the start of the very efficient Hazat Dervish legions program.

The Emperor Wars (4964-4995)

Grail saw little fighting during the three decades the Emperor Wars raged, although it suffered its share of conscription and resources claimed by the House Decados war effort and enemy privateers seized many a Grail freighter ship. Together with houses Torenson and Masseri, House Keddah became but an extension of Mantis rule.

The Phoenix Empire (4995-present)

With the dawn of the 51st century, House Keddah had been at perpetual war with House al-Malik for over five centuries, spurred in no small way by the ever-growing House Decados manipulation. The Mantis had asserted increasing control over its vassal houses; Torenson and Masseri, and exploited the defensive treaty between them and House Keddah to make sure the minor house continued their hostilities with House al-Malik. Though the Keddah, Masseri and Torenson forces had seen action against the al-Malik during the Emperor Wars, this hot war had again largely died back to a cold war with little more an few exchanged insults. In truth the minor houses were little more than an irritation to the mightily House al-Malik. Then in 5008, House Masseri unexpectedly signed a peace treaty with House al-Malik, thereby effectively ending any obligations House Keddah had to continue fighting, and a new era of freedom and prosperity began for Grail and its ruling family – much to the annoyance of the Mantis House.

Solar System

Ember: (0.2AU) A small rocky world with an elliptical orbit. At its closest, Ember is only 0.1AU form Taliessin and the tiny world becomes visible from Grail as a bright glowing ember. Its surface has the look of melted wax. During the Second Republic, a monitoring station designed to study the star was build deep into the crust, what has become of that station since is unknown.

Solem: (0.7AU, 2 moons) A small world with a thick atmosphere. The planet is mostly covered in liquid water.  The strength of the gravitational field of the planet is disproportionately high for a world of its size and without which its atmosphere would have long since bled away. During the solar eclipse visible from Grail, Taliessin appears to grow in size and intensity to form a burning corona around Solem. The Etyri refer to this event as Mihanoom’s Eye, and it is a day of portents and mystery for the winged folk.

Grail: (1.1AU, 2 moons) A large world with a stable orbit and climate. The axial tilt is only 3.2 degrees giving less seasonal variation than Holy Terra and great climactic stability. The two moons act on the oceans Grail to make the seas treacherous at certain times of the year.

Merwin: (5.7AU, 5 moons) A large gas giant of swirling blues and greens. Merwin and Mabs pass in close orbits to each other, their gravity fields displace each other’s satellites causing strange orbital eccentricities in each-others’ moons and weird lop sided debris rings.

Mabs: (6.4AU, 2 moons) A large gas giant world similar to Merwin, but with additional pink hues in its atmosphere. Astronomers believe Merwin and Mabs used to have had many more moons, but the two gas giants’ gravitational pulls have torn most satellites them from their orbits and sent them adrift as rogue planets in the void.

Kleam: (17.42AU, 27 moons) A medium sized gas giant world, Kleam has a dense murky atmosphere. A court of satellites orbits the world. Many Second Republic mining facilities have recently brought the Scravers to Kleam to salvage what remains.

Jumpgate: (77.54AU)

People & Places

The Sheikh of House Keddah rules throughout Grail space, sharing his power with the Sanctuary Aeon (the largest non-Keddah landowner), and the Sheikh traditionally holds court at Sangreal. He delegates power and responsibility among his closest nobles who rule in his stead over one of the four Grand Duchies. These Grand Duchies are the continents of Habari, Harak, and Kaval, in addition to the Grand Duchy of Stellar Grail (encompassing all territories in Grail space outside of Grail proper). The Grand Duchies are again sub-divided into lesser realms run by vassals of the (Grand) Dukes, or the vassals of their vassals. Two Marquisates (border realms) stand out for the vast tracts of lands they encompass, and these are the Marquisate of Tapal and the Etyri Marquisate of Ko’Aka. The Sanctuary Aeon owns land throughout Grail, including much of Tapal, although this is largely underdeveloped wilderness. The sect leadership holds court at the Santa Amalthea Monastery, its power and responsibilities on Grail divided between the Master Doctor (overseeing administration, politics, and medical facilities – although rarely called so, the Master Doctor is also the planetary Archbishop of Grail) and the “Little” Ketcharch (in charge of theology, ceremony, and education). The largest urban areas on Grail are bishoprics (that is, for the most part ruled by nobles but with autonomous clerical control of Universal Church interests and territories), while parish priests in most other settlements represent Universal Church authority; a few minor bishoprics exist as well. The relationship between Sanctuary Aeon and Keddah authorities is friendly and cooperative for the most part, neither side encroaching on the other’s territories.

The Keddan people are uniquely tolerant of outsiders and aliens. The Etyri are free to come and go and are treated with an equality preserved in the Habari Accord. Keddan serfs will typically show great deference to the Etyri, treating even lowborn Etyri as though they were nobility. A few are even venerated as local Saints and protectors. Traditionally, the Etyri are seen as winged protectors and are often given positions of responsibility, such as town marshal or local sheriff in rural human settlements. They have a reputation for being fair, wise, and impartial.  Other aliens are rare on Grail, but are treated as any other foreigner. A curiosity of local Keddan law is that slavery is illegal within the Grail star system, and a slave brought through the Grail Jumpgate is therefore legally a freeman. Though slavery is illegal, Keddah law does allow for fixed term indentured servitude, in lieu of paying debts. Although not a secret, this local tradition is little known beyond Grail, but has led to diplomatic tensions between House Keddah and pro-slavery elements of the Muster Guild.

The general tolerance of Keddah society should not be mistaken for permissiveness or an indication of a lack of moral guidance. Many of these attitudes stem from the presence of the Sanctuary Aeon Sect of the Universal Church and its influence on Grail mindset and ethics. Many of the laws on Grail have been shaped by a combination of civic necessity and Amalthean ideology. Amalthean priests are also the most common confessors and advisors to Grail courts, which ensure that Amalthean sensibilities and values infuse the attitudes of local nobles and guildsmen.

The concept of penance is universal in Grail culture and ideology, and according to local legal practices, almost any crime can be atoned for with the application of corrective action. As a consequence, capital punishment is reserved for the most heinous crimes although even in such circumstances death penalties are frowned upon. In most cases of criminal behavior, the culprit is expected to make up for their action by deed, working to restore that which has been damaged or better the victim’s life through labor and servitude. Although personal penitent actions are preferred, if there is a significant social gap between culprit and victim the offender might be able to get away with merely a monetary compensation.

The Keddah holds a small standing defense force, composed of professional soldiers sworn to the service of the Sheikh. This core fighting force is small, but well trained in Decados military tactics. In addition, they may call upon additional man-power by conscripting men-under-arms from the fiefs of every Keddah noble, and the Etyri can provide a large number of rank-and-file warriors and the elite Air Commandos. The Sheikh himself is known to have an Etyri honor-guard (the “K’alliee-Ak”) that swears an oath to serve him in death, these Etyri are easily distinguished from others of their kind by their bleached head-feathers (the color white symbolizing death in Etyri culture). House Keddah also operates a small star navy, though it is no match for the space forces of a Royal House. Primarily involved in system patrol duties and anti-piracy actions, most Keddah starships are patrol corvettes. The pride of the star fleet is the Fionn, an ancient Second Republic Era Destroyer. In addition, House Keddah also owns a number of refitted Decados ships purchased during the Emperor Wars.

Habari

Habari is the largest continent on Grail, dominating the planet’s northern hemisphere, with the Tapal sub-continent jutting from southern Habari and crossing the equator. From orbit, the distinctive Baryana trees wrap the continent in rust colored foliage punctuated by great white ribbons of snow peaked mountains, the most important being the Etyriani and the Keran mountain ranges. Human settlements are mostly limited to the tropical, sub-tropical, and the coastal zones. Usually human domains extend inland only a hundred kilometers or sometimes further where wide rivers or artificial canals allow for easy access to the continental interior.

The Etyriani Mountain ridge dominates the western reaches of Habari, trapping weather systems on the western shore that drench and fertilize the human lands there. The western slopes of the Etyriani Mountains are scared with age-old mine workings that are still worked for its various metals, include nickel, tin, and precious keddite. Its highest peak is Mount Char’reesh at the heart of that great mountain range, crowned by the Etyri Summit where the Etyri lords and elders meet in council. Mount Char’reesh is the Etyri species spiritual center where great minds come to discuss, research, and auger about religion and philosophy, and where the greatest ceremonies and rituals of the Etyri culture is conducted. The many rivers that flow down from the Etyriani Mountains make riverboats the primary mode of transport for goods through the human domains. Hundreds of small rivers feed the mighty Tyrus River that flows to the Lahore Cliffs and the coastal port of New Lahore where it thunders into the Bay of Bokal. Some logging, strictly controlled by the Habari Accord, is permitted in the vast Baryana woodlands to the east of the Etyriani Mountains. Every tree felled here must be replanted and a rotation of lumber fields preserves the integrity of the Great Habari Forests.

The Keran Mountains divide Habari from its sub-continent Tapal to the south, and the still raising mountains are formed by the Tapal landmass pushing against the continental plates of Habari. The lazy Amoat River flows from the high slopes down the northern face of the mountains, past the capitol city of Sangreal, gathering hundreds of tributaries on its descent through the lowlands where it snakes across the fertile Sarat Plains, the ‘grain basket’ of Grail, before finally emptying into the sea. The Keran mountain range is home to both Mount Siddik (with the Santa Amalthea Monastery) and the notorious Mount Kulko (aka. “Madness Mountain”), lying on the southern foothills of the range.
During the Fall a small number of House Thana nobles received the protection of House Keddah and settled in the area around New Lahore, reminiscent as the climate was of their lost homeworld. Since that time, they have extensively intermarried with the Keddah nobility of the region to the point that they have almost ceased to be a separate noble lineage. Most have forsaken the name Thana, so as to avoid the scrutiny of the Inquisition, but the longevity and psychic talents that are the heritage of Thana genetic engineering can be seen in many of the noble families of that region. If rumors are to be believed, House Keddah has actively promoted the development of their own dervish program that recruits primarily form the 2nd and 3rd children of this regions nobility. Supposedly called the “Bright Ones”, the program is said to focus on intelligence gathering capabilities rather than overt military applications of psychic talent.

Eyrie Summit: The sheer slopes of Mount Chak’arraka make the summit inaccessible to those without wings, a stark demonstration of the Etyri fliers’ superiority over their flightless cousins. The mountain peak was wrought by many hundreds of Etyri stone crafters before the coming of mankind, protected from the hated Zhil’hishtu. The Stone crafters sculpted the stark mountain peak in to a work of art that mixes defensive fortifications with Etyri aesthetics. The Summit is carved with many levels, flowing interlocking structures of high vaulted chambers and great archways, the acoustic design enabling those within to speak privately while keeping an eye (or rather, ear) on the world outside. Here the Queen of all Etyri (a hereditary position) rules the species with the aid of an august council of “earls”. The summit is the center of Etyri politics, though it also occasionally host to lesser councils.

New Lahore (population c. 3,250,000): The mighty coastal city of New Lahore stands tall on the impressive Lahore Cliffs, straddling the Great Falls where the Tyrus River spills into the Bay of Bokal. It’s a prosperous city, earning revenue from fisheries and agriculture as well as taxation of the many mining operations in the western Etyriani Mountains. Although much of the city is constructed in drab but durable maxicrete, the greater buildings, including the Citizens Hall, the Sanitation Guild Headquarters, and the domed Chapel to Saint Jivanta (a nurse charged to watched over Zebulon while he rested in Amalthea’s care), are clad in beautiful blue-veined marble that gleams in the sun. New Lahore is divided into two sections, for the main port, often called “Lowhore” by the locals, is a city in its own right and is located below the cliffs on both sides of the Great Falls. The Caravan Guild holds a great deal of power here, as they are responsible for unloading the mineral wealth from the upper city and transporting it to the large marine docks for export. New Lahore lies in the middle of monsoon weather system, but the city is protected from the annual rains by an extensive range of canals, aqueducts, and monolithic storm drains. Both halves of the city stand atop numerous ‘islands’ divided by canals and streams, and water-travel is the backbone of New Lahore’s infrastructure and communication. But during the rainy season New Lahore comes to a standstill, the watercourses are too dangerous to navigate and anyone falling in risks never being found. The thundering sounds of the torrent surging through canals and storm drains drown out most other noise and the vibrations caused by the waters passing can be felt in all parts of the city, and is somewhat disconcerting to those visiting for the first time.

Sangreal (population c. 7,400,000): Sangreal is one of the few Grail cities located far inland, lying on the banks of the Amoat River which connects it to the sea. The city began as little more than a starport for off-world pilgrims en route for the Santa Amalthea Monastery south of the Keran Mountains. During the Second Republic however, Sangreal benefited from Republic urbanization programs and the Master Architect Dominic Russel incorporated elements of traditional Keddah timber architecture, blue-veined marble paneling and tiles, and Etyri aesthetics of seemingly impossibly tall fluted spires. The Old City district is primarily of traditional timber frame construction and clad with stone quarried from the Keran Mountains. The original settlement was built entirely wood but a great fire destroyed it in 3974, and since then local laws ensure that sturdier construction and increase street widths minimize the risk of a repeat of the tragedy. In 4122 the planetary administration formally relocated to Sangreal, and today Sheikh Haroun Keddah’s court, filled with dignitaries and diplomats from across the Phoenix Empire, resides here. The upper stories of the great sky-reaching spire structures are mostly given over to visiting Etyri of importance. Much of Sangreal’s industry is centered on the vibrant pilgrimage tourism to the Santa Amalthea Monastery, offering a wide range of accommodations and services from the luxurious to the austere. The favorable climate and fertile fiefs surrounding Sangreal ensure a wide variety to even a serf’s diet, including olives, chestnuts, an abundance of spices, fish and meats, and most staple foodstuffs. The local vineyards also produce fine wines in great quantities. The Order of the Knights of Saint Yara, maintain a large Chapter House in Sangreal. The order is charged with guarding the pilgrimage routes, Amalthean healers, and running the Hospice of Saint Marta (a chain of budget hotels for pilgrims). In times of conflict, the knights are also obliged to assist in the defense of the Sangreal itself.

Tapal

The sub-continent of Tapal, or Diyarbakir, which is its official but little used name (named after one of House Keddah’s ancestral lands on Urth), is notably different from the rest of the Habari continent. At the meeting of the tectonic plates where Tapal continues to collide with Habari, there rises the Keran Mountains, a range of relatively new mountains that still grows today. On the southern side of the Keran Mountains stands Mount Siddik, with the Sul Valley below it. Furthest in, where the valley meets the foothills of the Mount Siddik, sits the Santa Amalthea Monastery on the site where Amalthea healed the Prophet Zebulon in 2837. Further to the east lies Mount Kulko, locally known as ‘Madness Mountain’ after the battle which took place here in 4891 between the self-proclaimed prophetess Zegai and her heretical army (some of whom can best be described as proto-Dervishes). Beyond the arid scrublands lies a desert known as Hamada du Aswad (The Blackstone Desert), populated by simple hunter-gatherer bush tribes (collectively known as the Khoesaan people). They are a peaceful people and welcoming of strangers, but are fiercely protective of their sources of water and traditional water finding techniques. The Khoesaan tribes are heretical but sympathetic to the Sanctuary Aeon, and they tend to mix Universal Faith saints and myths with their own totemic pantheism and folklore. The most powerful tribes are the Builder-Ant tribe, the Desert-Evik tribe, and Skywater tribe. The seas around the southern cap of Tapal are some of the most treacherous on Grail. Cool waters from the depths of the Calern Ocean mix with the warm waters of the shallow Kerem Sea, in the strait between the tip of Tapal and the continent of Ko’Aka. Here, great undercurrents can pull the unwary to a watery end. The storm season makes the already treacherous cape completely impassable to shipping. At certain times of year, the migration routes of the mighty leviathans (giant sea serpents) takes the great beasts to these waters where they feed on krill-like crustaceans and other nutrients dredged up by the storm season, before engaging in breeding frenzy.

Santa Amalthea: The Sanctuary Aeon sect controls much of the Tapal continent, although most people and settlements are left to govern themselves. Sitting on the sloping foothills of Mount Siddik, overlooking the Sul Valley and the shantytown ‘Gloria’ (population ranging from 100 to 4000 or more), is the Santa Amalthea Monastery - the spiritual heart of the Sanctuary Aeon sect and their base of operations on Grail. Though the sect’s leadership is situated on Artemis, many pilgrims in need of relief travel instead to Grail rather than facing the more expensive and restricted route to Artemis through the heavily guarded Holy Terra system. The Santa Amalthea Monastery is an imposing tiered pyramid structure with a great outer wall to ensure the privacy of those within. On the valley floor, at a respectful distance from the monastery, sits a semi-permanent shantytown (Gloria) that carters to the many tourists that follow trail from Sangreal here during the pilgrimage seasons. Gloria is all but abandoned in the winter when few pilgrims come and the sane withdraw to the warmth of the monastery or retreat to other settlements. Several neighboring noble fiefs also offer boarding rooms for wealthier pilgrims. The Knights of Saint Yara maintain a presence in Gloria and are responsible for maintaining law and order. In 5004 Don Diego de Huelva established relief community for Hira veterans in the pilgrims pass in the Keran Mountains through which the pilgrim route from Sangreal runs. The community was moved on the following year by the Knights of Saint Yara; following several attempts to extort a toll from travelers heading south to Santa Amalthea. Don Diego and his men then relocated to Gloria where they established a presence, the man’s dealings seem to border on criminal, provoking complaints from many quarters. Despite this, Don Diego gathered support from some quarters, his men putting down an upsurge of criminal violence that occurred in 5007. By 5008 Don Diego had gathered sufficient popularity that he was able to declare himself mayor of Gloria and his veterans seem to be intent on taking over policing duties from the Knights of Saint Yara. As mayor, Don Diego has undertaken a program of ‘civic improvements’ but some believe this is just a cover for his less than legitimate enterprises.

Kanton (population c. 2,200,000):  The third largest city on Grail, Kanton is an enormous seaport built in a series of tiered districts; today, the lowest and busiest being the docks and trading district. The tier above house mostly serfs and freemen, with the nobility and city administrators operating from the top tier. Kanton was founded in the late Diaspora as a city of pirates who preyed upon the shipping lines moving through the Tapal-Ko’Aka strait. For protection, the city was built onto the face of the sea cliffs, giving it its unusual tiered appearance as it hangs above the shore. The pirate port grew in power during the early Second Republic, when it could no longer be ignored. House Keddah, supported by Second Republic soldiers and Etyri Air Commandos, stormed the hanging city in force, and the Etyri proved decisive in conquering Kanton. Thereafter, Kanton came under central Second Republic administration and much of the port was rebuilt, including the massive ceramsteel sea-gates that can be closed to protect the harbor from violent surges of the storm season. Nowadays, the harbor is a thriving shipping port capable of handling everything form bulk cargo to dry-dock repairs and ship construction. The local Mariners guild holds considerable sway over the running of the harbor and wharfs, and to a lesser degree the running of Kanton as a whole. The Mariners Guild also provides naval police force services, policing the harbor and hunting the pirates who operate out of the secluded Chirikiti Archipelagoes and the remote island chains of the Calern Ocean.

Ko’Aka

Ko’Aka is about a third of the size of Habari and appears roughly triangular from orbit, and was joined to the southern tip of Tapal till the quite recent geological past. Only a 50 km wide stretch of treacherous water separates the two continents, allowing the warm Kerem Sea and the cold Calern Ocean to mix in the Tapal-Ko’Aka strait. Ko’Aka is conserved by the Habari Accord; making it off limits to Human development and reserved for certain flightless variant races of Etyri. The continent is predominantly covered in dense jungle canopies, the primary destination for those Etyri who continue to follow the annual migratory routes between Habari, the Chirikiti Archipelagoes, and Ko’Aka. The climate of Ko’Aka spans the sub-tropical and temperate bands, and brushes the sub-arctic regions close to Grail’s southern pole. Here there exists a rare race of flightless Etyri, the Tua’tahi, who have adapted to a marine lifestyle and are excellent divers and underwater fishers although they are rather clumsy on land. However, these tribes for arctic non-fliers are considered lowborn even by the standards of flightless Etyri, a throwback to an earlier primitive age of Etyrikind.

Harak

Harak is a similar continent to Ko’Aka and forms the third major landmass to bounder the Kerem Sea that protects its warm shallow waters from the deep ocean beyond. Harak once had an ecosystem of dense jungle vegetation similar to Ko’Aka, but these have been shaped by humanity’s logged and replanted efforts, and the coastal areas have hosted Human settlements for almost 25 centuries. Although the deep jungle interior remains almost untouched, there are pockets of lumber sites even here, together with a few permanent settlements and the ruins of the former university city of Abidean. House Keddah lords on Harak are mostly depending on fisheries and aquaculture, with the logging business dominated by a handful of powerful magnates. The abundance of wild life in the continental interior has opened a lucrative game hunting and trapper business in the post-Emperor War era. However, there is a persistent rumor of primitive hunter-gatherer reptiles living in the deepest recess of the jungle, although no hard evidence exists to support this claim.

House Juandaastas has a number of holdings on Harak, these were awarded to that house after the negotiation of the Habari Accord. Relations between the Keddah and Juandaastas lords are usually cordial, though there have been tensions in the recent past. Inter-marriage between the two houses is quite common, though by tradition any Keddah noble marring a Juandaastas heir is required to adopt the Juandaastas name regardless of the normal gender naming traditions, this helps to keep the fiefs under Juandaastas lineage.

Abidean (population 0): The remains of the Abidean City rests on land once reclaimed from Lake Arden and is now all but over-grown. The city was built in the mid-38th century as a massive university campus to support the Arden University, which taught a variety of subjects but specialized in xenological studies, Anunnaki technology, sports, and botany. The data purges ordered by Universal Church during the Fall of the Second Republic destroyed almost all of the knowledge that Abidean City once held, but occasionally scavengers locate scraps of interesting information. One notable example was the discovery of the jumpkey manufacturing facility in the 4580s, which was summarily destroyed in 4591 – today only a slightly radioactive blackened crater a mile wide remains of the facility and its grounds. House Keddah nobles occasionally sponsor salvage teams to search for something of worth in the ruined university city, but little of value have been uncovered in the last century.

Kaval

This is a frozen waste of a continent, devoid of all but the hardiest of life. Straddling the southern polar region, most of Kaval is uninhabitable and rarely visited. Strangely, there remain ancient records indicating that some of the earliest landings on Grail were in this remote region, but for what purpose none can now say.

Sample Grail Domains

Grail is a large and many-facetted place, as rich in cultural diversity and local customs as any major world. Below are outlined three Grail fiefs for the Game Master to use and explore. The Game Master is encouraged to alter and customize the domains as she sees fit, possibly making one fief the ancestral home of a cadre character or even the realm of the cadre’s patron.

The Halite Barony (population c. 650)

On the southern tip of the Tapal, and about 4 days travel east of Kanton, exists one of the few noble residences on the sub-continent. There are few resources of interest to nobles on the arid Tapal, and although Kanton holds all fishing rights in the area, the mining and refining of salt is a lucrative industry. Baron Ramish Halite Keddah is a rural noble with little political influence, although wealthy enough to afford several technological conveniences. Salt is harvested from salt fields on dried out lakebeds, as well as mined from the hills throughout the barony. Most of his salt is sold to merchants in Kanton to ship abroad, but Baron Ramish also regularly sends caravans north though the Hamada du Aswad (Blackstone Desert) to the settlements in the Keran Mountains and Sangreal beyond. These journeys are dangerous and strenuous but the gain is higher than selling to the merchants of Kanton, and during the storm seasons the Dromart caravans are the only transportation option available. Baron Halite is vassal to the Markiz (Marquis) of Tapal, who oversees the sub-continent in absentia from his estates in Sangreal, and the baron is left alone as long as he pays his taxes. Neighboring realms are either Sanctuary Aeon-owned wilderness or House Keddah estates often overseen by stewards.

Relations between the people of the Halite Barony and the bushmen of the Khoesaan tribes are mostly good. The Dromart caravans often employ Khoesaan guides to safely navigate the Hamada du Aswad, and the desert dwellers sometimes travel to the barony to trade skins, craft wares, and the occasional precious or semi-precious stone found in the desert in exchange for Dromarts, fish oils and dried fish, and metal tools. It is usual for the baron to sponsor celebrations in the hamlets on these occasions, encouraging his subjects and the desert neighbors to mingle and socialize. Legends are shared and gifts exchanged, strengthening the ties between the two groups, although both sides distance themselves from the other to preserve their cultural uniqueness. Even though, the long nights of celebration and merriment occasionally result in inter-ethnical pregnancies, the offspring of which is always raised in the barony for both groups agree that the arid lands north of the Halite Barony are too harsh for a half breed. Consequently, there are many people of mixed ethnic background among the baron’s serfs, easily distinguished by their smaller stature and darker skin. Despite the good relations between the barony and the Khoesaan people, it is rumored that some tribes are opposed to the Halite Barony, especially the Dust Lizard tribe who claim to own certain waterholes and land within the barony. Also, the Khoesaan legends often speak in fear of the Water-thieves tribe who dwell underground like Zhuil’hishtu and ambush lone bushmen and raid communities and waterholes for the precious liquid – often leaving booby-traps and poisoned wells behind.

The Halite estate sits on a hilltop where the midday breeze is channeled through the manor. Built in a style reminiscent of pre-reflective Urth aesthetics of the Near East zone, the manor and annexes are of a monumental yet delicate design, with tall arched ceilings and meticulous decorative details, and terraces, pavilions, and domes. Colors range from red through terracotta to brown, complimenting the surrounding yellowish-red sunbaked hills, and a small but impressive garden sits in the center of the main courtyard, complete with chilled water fountains and imported flora.  The surrounding hillsides are a maze of aqueducts, cisterns, and irrigation systems, some of which carrying water up-hill. Three small hamlets sit in nearby valleys, mirroring the architecture and decoration of the manor. One hamlet lies close by the shore of the Calern Ocean and operates a small lighthouse. All the valleys are connected to the Halite estate by tracks and a closed system of telephone lines run by an operator servant in the manor. Every hamlet can call its neighboring hamlets as well as the estate, and there are also isolated end-of-the-line telephones on the borders of the realm (by a well, a bridge, in a mountain pass, and in the lighthouse), but there is no connection to the outside world. The barony has a decent stock of Dromarts that are bred in the nearby hamlets and the manor also host a stable of 4 hoverbikes, each over a millennia old. The “Sky Destriers”, as the hoverbikes are called, are used for personal transportation and escorting caravans. There is no mechanic on staff to maintain these vehicles, but every year the Baron sends for an Engineer to come maintain them.

The barony has passed through history without attracting much attention. The land was originally owned by the Sanctuary Aeon, but Baron Ramish’ ancestors acquired it in 4720. During the Emperor Wars, the Halite Barony did its part for the House Keddah war effort, straining itself to deliver the war industry’s demand for valuable salt while its troops for the most part partook in the planetary defense reserves, although some saw battle on Criticorum and Istakhr. In 4984, an al-Malik saboteur operating in Kanton was found out and fled into the wilderness north of the Halite Barony, where he was promptly captured by the baron’s men – a major feather in the baron’s cap. In 5000, Halite Barony troops distinguished themselves again in joining the city of Kanton fighting off a shore landing by pirates of the Calern Ocean whose loyalty had been bought by House al-Malik.

Baron Ramish Halite Keddah (born 4965): Baron Ramish is a down-to-earth ruler with few of the eccentricities commonly associated with the nobility. He inherited the land in 4997 when his father (Baron Hashem) was thrown from a bucking Sky Destrier and plunged to his death. Although never proven, Baron Ramish is convinced his father was assassinated, either by agents of House al-Malik or one of its lackey houses. Three years later, Baron Ramish lost his young wife Ruya and fist born in childbirth, and he has not yet remarried. The only other high-borns currently in his household is his mother, Lady Ischa (née Masseri), and his 30 years younger sister, Lady Aylin.

Seneschal Tjaty Wazir (born 4967): Tjaty comes from a long line of Halite servants and was raised as Baron Ramish’ playmate. He gradually inherited his father’s job as seneschal in the 4990s when Tjaty, Sr. began sliding into dementia. He has never married, and his only close relative is his cousin Vahid Wazir (born 4989), a bookish boy with a penchant for languages and desert ecology, but able enough around the estate.

Men-at-arms: The Halite Barony can call upon a good 100 peasant militia in times of need. In addition, Baron Ramish enlists six professional warriors; three of whom make up the Halite Manor guard and three of whom each serve as bailiff in one of the hamlets (the positions rotate each year). Two of these (Samir and Arash Halitey – cousins) are local middle-aged yeomen farmers who distinguished themselves as squires in the Emperor Wars; Another two (Sulili Kantony and Goran of Sharazor) are young men originally trained as law enforcement officers in Kanton; One (Sandor Nagy) is an aging soldier of fortune (former Muster Guildsman) who befriended the old baron while fighting for House Keddah in the 4970s, and who retire to the Halite Barony after the Emperor Wars; And the last man-at-arms (Segen Akiva ben Kosiba Keddah) is a Keddah bastard in his 30s with extensive fencing schooling and a distinguished career as a professional duelist-second and stand-in – he is also the Segen (lieutenant) of Baron Ramish in all martial matters. All the men-at-arms are accomplished hoverbike riders (Segen Akiva is the undisputed hoverbike champion of the realm), equipped with common Manfeed Hunting Rifles, Drexler Firehunter medium revolvers, Rapiers, Plastic Scale Mail armor, Binoculars, Squawkers, and MedPacks.

Using Baron Ramish as an patron: Times are busy at the barony, for not only is a salt caravan due to leave for Sangreal, Baron Ramish is about to embark for Istakhr with his mother and sister to attend the wedding of some distant relative. Against the advice of seneschal Tjaty, Baron Ramish wishes to hire the cadre to escort the Dromart caravan northwards. Tjaty suggested giving the job to his cousin Vahid, but the baron felt the man too young for such a responsibility (the cadre won’t be told this). Tjaty, who is starting to demonstrate signs of his father’s dementia, has decided to orchestrate the cadre’s failure so as to strengthen his argument that such work should to be assigned to the trusted Vahid. In addition to the dangers of the Hamad du Aswad, the cadre must overcome attacks by Khoesaan tribes whom Tjaty has enlisted through threats and bribery in equal measures. Tjary will attempt to cast aspirations that a group of well-armed dark-robed men, speaking with Shaprut accents, are lurking about in Blackstone Desert and pestering caravans.

Using Baron Ramish as an adversary: Baron Ramish is competent and clever, a merchant noble to the core and is not above displacing a Khoesaan tribe to gain access to their salt-rich lands. Khoesaan elders have asked the Sanctuary Aeon for help, who in turn sends the cadre to investigate and defuse the situation (“without resorting to violence, please!”). Baron Ramish possess documents indicating that the Khoesaan tribe’s land is in fact his, while the Khoesaan claims their totem spirit received the land as a blessing from St. Amalthea, and was charged to bring the adoration of the Pancreator to this arid region where no people then lived. But why does the tribal chieftain wear the war-helmet of the old Baron Hashem (a Battle Energy Shield hidden in its construction), and how come the tribe’s crude representation of the Dust Lizard Spirit bear the House Gloucester emblem on its breast?

The Haramathaim Earldom (population c. 580)

The Haramathaim Earldom is an urban fief in Sangreal, run by the Countess (no official title for a female Earl exists and “Countess” is the traditional denotation, although the constructed “Earlina” is sometimes used) Jozefina Haramathaim Keddah. The fief encompass four city blocks in a down town lower middleclass district, made up by factories and shops for heavy industry production (machinery and parts mostly) and some residential areas for serfs and staff. The Earl of Haramathaim (sometimes “Earlina” but never “Countess of Haramathaim”) is the largest mass-producer of mid-tech (TL3-5) machinery, engines, tools, and parts on Grail, and the fief is very wealthy. She has encourages a small community of Engineers’ Guild designers and mechanics to work within her realm, overseeing productions and developing new designs – these are simultaneously revered as tech-oracles and feared as technosophists by the common population. A closely guarded secret is that Countess Jozefina is running a secret, very profitable, and quite illegal munitions factory in lieu of her legitimate business. She supplies ammunition and slug guns to black market entrepreneurs, and others in need for discrete arms purchases (including Don Diego de Huelva, the self-appointed Hazat mayor of Gloria).

Countess Jozefina is on very good terms with Sheikh Haroun, although she vehemently opposes dealings with House al-Malik. She appreciates the peace treaty between her house and House al-Malik, but wishes Keddah not to become the bedfellows of their ancestral enemy, exchanging vassalage to Decados for vassalage to the al-Malik. In addition, she is often critical of the Sheikhs economic politics, which she finds too unprogressive and stagnant. Countess Jozefina is a strong supporter of Emperor Alexius I and has in the past produced goods for Questing Knights of the Order of the Phoenix at considerable discounts to try to establish herself in the Imperial economy. She is rather indifferent to the Universal Church although she admires many of the social programs and charity work, especially of the Sanctuary Aeon, and she is a vocal supporter for a crusade against the Kurga Caliphate. The Earldom of Haramathaim is on mixed terms with the Merchant League, having strictly professional (i.e. rather good) relations with the Engineers’ Guild but is at odds with the Sangreal Scravers’ chapterhouse for refusing to pay their “social charity taxes” (i.e. protection money) and to use the guild as brokers and middlemen in underworld dealings. The Earldom is on excellent terms with the Charioteers’ Guild counting them, in addition to lesser smiths’ guilds (Vehicle Smiths, Weapon Smiths, Volt Smiths, etc.) among her best costumers.

The Earldom composes of four roughly square city blocks with wide stone paved streets for vehicular transportation and functional maxicrete and brick building that house factories and human resources. Many side streets and roads are bricked up at the border of the realm, making the Haramathaim fief akin to a walled town within the city. The population is divided according to ethnic group, standing, and faction affiliation, each dwelling with their peers on assigned streets or buildings. There are no churches or temples within the fief, although several chapels and churches are available just a few minutes’ walk beyond its boundary. Likewise, there are few stores or cultural features within the fief, although it has a coffeehouse tavern, The Steel Claw, which functions as a town hall of sorts. Countess Jozefina’s manor is a converted early Second Republic museum building, built in a monumental classicist style, although its dimensions are quite modest (three floors with adjacent wings, and a central round tower reaching one floor above the rest of the building). Much of the building and furniture still bears the Musæum Universitas Sangrealensis logo, depicting a woman carrying a scroll with parts of her hair forming horns on her forehead. High technology is limited to the manor and its staff, although the guilders often possess their own pieces of tech. Automation and vehicles are very rare, except for those belonging to the various factories and the Countess’ and her retinue’s personal street cars, bicycles are the primary modes of personal transportation in the Haramathaim Earldom. That said; lower tech gadgets (TL3-4) are reasonably common, including squawkers, basic household appliances, tools, and low-tech (volt rather than fusion) lanterns. There is little in the form of tech infrastructure though, and the fief lacks phone lines, a proper power grid outside of the factories and the manor, and the streets are lit by gaslight at night

The Haramathaim Earldom was part of an area of Sangreal built in the 3560s as part of a new cheap educational district expansion of the city. This district was aimed at educating the lower middleclass population and was built for function and efficiency rather than aesthetical concerns. With the Fall, education of the masses became both obsolete and regarded with suspicion, and much of the district was re-developed for cheap residential areas and low tech industries. The Haramathaim family came into possession of the district around the time of Vladimir I’s death, and the fief was re-developed again, many residences moved off the land while the buildings and workshops were converted for mid-tech mass production. The fief was instrumental in supplying Sheikh Yacob Keddah with the tech needed to rebuild the Jumpkey manufacturing facility in the late 4580s. With the outbreak of the Emperor Wars, the Haramathaim Earldom soon adapted to the wartime economy, producing specialist parts for the Grail armed forces. In 4989, Earl Lorentz of Haramathaim accompanied a squad of battle engineers into combat against House al-Malik troops who invaded Grail’s two moons and he has been missing in action ever since (most of his squad confirmed dead). His young wife, Jozefina, inherited the Earldom and continued in her husband’s footsteps.

Countess Jozefina Haramathaim – Earl (“Earlina”) of Haramathaim (born 4968): Countess Jozefina has developed into a powerful industry magnate, sometimes derogatorily referred to as zaibatsu by her rivals and enemies. She was a struggling businesswoman for most of the Emperor Wars, being forced to produce wares and parts with little gain, sometimes even at a loss, but after adapting to a post-war economy in the mid-4990s Countess Jozefina has steadily amassed a staggering wealth. Most wouldn’t realize this though, for she has not spent her money on demonstrating her wealth to the world, preferring rather to reinvest in her business for greater profits later. Her only action that might betray her wealth is the Vagabond Class Trader starship, Starsteed, she acquired in 5005, a tired old vessel that has been in space dock since it was purchased, being refitted and repaired (and also lacking a crew). Countess Jozefina inherited the Haramathaim fief from her husband in 4989, and she is convinced that Earl Lorentz is a prisoner of war, incarcerated by the hated al-Malik. Some day she plans to put her wealth and Starsteed to use in locating and rescuing her husband, although she currently has no clue as to his supposed whereabouts. In 5007, Countess Jozefina adopted the newly born twin girls Hawwá and Mahshid while on a pilgrimage off world. Common court gossip speculates, however, that the twins may in fact be Jozefina’s illegitimate children as she was conveniently away for almost 7 months before she returned to Grail with them.

Novh’jen (born 4942): This aging but elegant Obun woman is portrayed at court as a trophy courtier, an exotic singer and converser to boost the prestige of the Haramathaim estate. In reality, she serves the Countess as an accountant, a personal physician, and a mind-guard. She is a master of the psychic path of Turning and is also adapt at FarHand. Novh’jen has served with the Haramathaim family since before the birth of (the former) Earl Lorentz and she enjoys her position. In 4982, Novh’jen defended Earl Lorentz life from an Ur Ukar brainwasher and would-be assassin, presumably a House al-Malik agent, and the encounter with the hateful mind and energies of the Ukari left Novh’jen shaken to her core. Since then, she has developed an acute, bordering on irrational fear of the Ukari kind.

Alexandros Black (born 4964): Black is a freeman who has served as guard and lieutenant for the Haramathaim estate since 4983. He has no close relatives and Countess Jozefina and her household is the closest thing he has to a family. He is both the Countess’ bodyguard and troubleshooter, and it is he who manages the fief’s contacts with the underworld. Although he isn’t a leader of troops, he oftentimes coordinates security and expeditions with the Medjas. Black has a passion for street cars and much of his spare time is spent working on his beloved vehicle that he is building from scratch out of spare parts of other vehicles and original parts manufactured locally.

Men-at-arms: There is no militia in the Haramathaim Earldom, for the workers and specialists who make up the Countess’ serfs and staff has no time to waste on training for war. Instead, the realm employs a family of freemen warriors, the Medjas Clan heralding from the East African zone on Urth, as guards and enforcers of law and order. The Medjas count around 60 individuals, a good 40 of whom hold positions as men-and-women-at-arms in the Earldom (the remaining are non-fighting clan members). They have access to an armory with Martech Cobra vz. 81 submachine guns (the Martech Guild is a major customer) and wear ancient Stiffsynth armor left over from previous masters of the district, which still carries the Musæum Universitas Sangrealensis name and logo. They are also equipped with Low-light goggles, Flash Bang grenades, Squawkers, and MedPacks.

Using Countess Jozefina as a patron: Many unexplained things have happened in the Haramathaim Earldom of late, and Countess Jozefina is convinced she’s the victim of industrial espionage, or worse. Noble spies, both domestic and foreign, are suspected, as are Scravers gangsters, Imperial Eye agents, and rival industrial magnates. Even worse, Lady Jozefina suspects there might be an inside collaborator in her household, which is why she has decided to hire outside help to take care of the situation. People have been seeing strangers about at night and someone broke into a factory office two nights ago. And now a steel foundry is a week behind in delivering its quota, while space-dock authorities report an attempted burglary on the Starsteed. Or is it as the old Avestite zealot, Orbos of the Flame, claims that everything is a ploy by the Countess to divert attention from her own vile technosophy?

Using Countess Jozefina as an adversary: The local Scravers’ Guild has had enough. They want to know what is going on in the Haramathaim Earldom and why the Countess grows richer than expected without their underground assistance. The Scravers’ can’t send their usual enforcers of course, for they are all well known within the fief, so outsiders will have to be contracted to investigate the situation. There have been disturbing occurrences in the Earldom of late, for the Charioteers’ have been bringing in secret shipments that bypass the planetary customs authorities. And who, or what, is attacking people in the streets at night, dragging them into the ancient sewage and drainage tunnels beneath the city, leaving strange footprints and tail tracks behind?

The Khree’Khree Barony (population c. 1,200)

The Khree’Khree Barony is a rare House Keddah fief in that the Lord of the Realm is an Etyri – Baron Kite. Baron Kite, whose given name is Khree’Khree, was adopted into House Keddah in 4995 in recognition for his extraordinary service to that house the year prior (on a mission for their then patron, House Decados), during the Final Battle of Byzantium Secundus. To mark his initiation into the ranks of Mankind (so to speak), Khree’Khree changed his name to Kite, an Urthish loanword he thought suited his character well. The arrangement has not been without its critics, but nor is it without precedence. The newly ennobled Lord Kite joined the Grail nobility, granted a fief in the Chirikiti Archipelagoes, a common hiding place for outcasts, pirates and other assorted societal dropouts that has long been beyond Keddah rule. It is hoped that by establishing a domain in the heart of the archipelagoes, law and order might be brought to bear upon on the local inhabitants. With the new realm acting as a foothold from which to establish further fiefs in the near future, and swell the tax revenues of the House.

Lord Kite is now vassal to the Markiz (Marquis) of Tapal, who operates out of the Sangreal court of Sheikh Haroun Keddah, and the baron takes care to run his barony according to Human standards and traditions. The Khree’Khree Barony is a rich in natural bounty, heavily invested in the local fishing industry, and employs several tribes of maritime Etyri freemen to collect the bounty of the sea. No less than 7 fisher communities (populated by Etyri freemen) dot the coastline of the three islands that compose the baron’s fief, but that is not the extent of Baron Kite’s fishing empire, for the realm’s darkest secret is the that the Lord keeps a tribe of flightless Tua’tahi in bondage, using them to harvest the deeper oceans. The baron has established strong trade connections to Kanton and his daughter, Aquila, is currently receiving education at the Tabrast School on Criticorum, an al-Malik funded boarding school for young aristocrats. And all of Baron Kite’s four sons, Caracara, Falco, Osprey, and Harrier, are receiving a military education on Malignatius. A lot of pressure is currently being applied to have the eldest of the nest-siblings, Osprey (now an adopted ne-Baron of House Keddah), accepted into the ranks of the Order of the Phoenix as a true Questing Knight. Should his application go through he would be the first non-human to be granted such an honor. So far, Lord Kite has managed to stay in favor with the Universal Church as the baron has built a small chapel to St. Lextius on a hill just outside his manor and paid for a young Sanctuary Aeon priest, Mother Yemaja Orisha d’Togo, to run the parish. The Muster holds a number of vested interests in the Khree’Khree Barony, being in charge of packing and transporting the fish harvests to the Grail markets, security operations, as well as running the Tua’tahi slave ring on behalf of Baron Kite.

Khree’Khree Barony lies off the western coast of Ko’Aka, in the temperate weather zone where life is pleasant and resources plentiful. The realm stretches across three islands, the largest (named Khree’Khree after the barony) is the site of the baron’s manor and four fishing communities; the second largest island is Ara’Kakt, about 1/3 the size of the Khree’Khree island and home the remaining three fishing communities; while the smallest is Tuk’Alit, which is officially uninhabited though the Musters’ Guild has established a base of operations for their soldiers here in addition to their slave ring. The vegetation is predominantly jungle covering the mostly hilly and mountainous terrain (the mountains are more sparsely covered). The manor, as well as the largest fisher settlement (I’arahi), is located in a small fjord. A large and ugly pre-fab fish-processing factory is located in one of the southernmost fjords of Khree’Khree, and this is where surplus fish harvests are brought for packing and prepared for transportation. The island of Tuk’Alit is over-grown with jungle, but an unassuming fjord leads deep inland, finally ending at a high security compound – the Muster base and Tua’tahi slave camp. The slave camp is concealed from the air by heavy foliage from trees planted for just this purpose, although the hovercraft landing pad, communications masts, the hydropower facility harnessing tidal currents of the fjord, and outer security fences are easy enough to spot. A continuous squawker message is broadcasted, proclaiming on all channels to anyone passing that: “You are now trespassing on Musters’ Guild property, bestowed by Baron Kite Keddah and governed by League law. Turn away immediately or risk injury or forfeiture of freedom.”

Up until 4995, the fief of Lord Kite was unclaimed land, often used by descendent human groups living beyond the reach of the law. Since being assimilated into House Keddah, the Khree’Khree realms have suffered from raids and sabotage perpetrated by the human outlaws that claim the archipelago as their own. The baron has received some support in dealing with this threat in the form of tax dispensation from House Keddah, allowing him to hire mercenaries from the Muster to counter these attacks and from Maritime Police in Kanton. The migratory routes of many Etyri also pass through the archipelago and the expansion of the human interests; even those with an Etyri face. While technically not a breach of the Habari Accords, for which the Chirikiti Archipelagoes have no special status; some of the Etyri lords of Ko’Aka point to history and the exploitation of Habari prior to the negotiation of the Accords, and question if human greed has begun to swell again. The fact that Baron Kite is Etyri has quelled the dissent of many, but ruffled the feathers of others. Some go so far as to insist that the Chirikiti Archipelagoes is in fact a part of Ko’Aka and that establishment of the Khree’Khree Barony is a breach of the Habari Accords. Since Lord Kite’s ennobling into House Keddah the Chirikiti Archipelagoes has become a busy place with outside investors fueling expansion of the fishing industry and Muster Guild operatives set up a permanent operations in 5002. Neighboring Etyri lords have begun arming themselves in case the humanized Baron Kite has also embraced that too familiar human endeavor, conquest. The slave camp was set up in 5004 and Chainers soon filled it to capacity with several hundred Tua’tahi slaves from down south, they have also begun to export their captives to other markets off world. From 5005 onwards, the Khree’Khree Barony has increased its profits manifold, but as long as the baron is loyally paying his taxes to the Markiz of Tapal in Sangreal no one is going to ask any questions.

Baron Kite Keddah de Khree’Khree (born 4958): Baron Kite is a Huar’raughq (Eagle-like) Etyri, tall and powerful in stature. After his adoption into House Keddah, Kite has made measures to humanize himself and his household, and has taken to wearing conservative noble attire and speaking with an overdone ‘Keddah’ accent. Like many convertites, Baron Kite has taken to adopting human philosophies and ways with such passion that he has become more ‘human’ than most true Humans. He has even adopted many less celebrated human qualities and is now strongly critical of non-Etyri aliens whom he regards as lazy or inferior. He has become a strong critique of House Juandaastas and their pro-alien ways. Assuming Human ambition, he has started looking into all manner of business models and endeavors, and the possible expansion of his realm.

Baroness Angah de Khree’Khree – Lady of the Seeing (born 4957): Angah is Baron Kite’s life-mate, and like her ‘husband’ she has taken an Urthish loanword as a name since Lord Kite’s acceptance into the ranks of House Keddah – her given name being A’heeyah-yah-yee. That she is not the leader of the barony is quite rare in Etyri terms, for Etyri society is highly matriarchal, but this suits Angah fine since she is a powerful Oberiomancer with far better things to do than concerning herself with the politics and administration of a noble fief. Lady Angah is beginning to fear that joining House Keddah was a mistake however, for now she finds herself and her prophetic counsel shunned by many of her own people, and the Humans are unlikely to allow her to ply her trade amongst the entrails of their dead.

Mother Yemaja Orisha d’Togo (born 4988): Mother Yemaja is a young ebony beauty who looks out-of-place in her priestly garbs. She completed her seminary just last year and was very grateful when her superiors granted her a Keddah parish to administer shortly thereafter – a great opportunity to be sure! Now, she is not so sure, for although the Etyri are polite and respectful, they do not attend her services and she feels ignored. Mother Yemaja also suspects that something is amiss in the barony. She can’t put her finger to it, but there are strange people and wares passing through and a veil of secrecy hangs over the place. The Muster Captain Vaclav is pleasant enough though, but she is convinced that some unwholesome business is going on between the guilders and the Baron. Also, the vile goings-on up in the manor, where the Lady of the Seeing practices her ceremonies, her pet skells always by her side, makes Yemaja fear the rumors are true that the Etyri ‘priests’ are in fact antinomists. The young Mother Yemaja, having no-one to preach for, has taken up spying as a hobby, hoping to piece together what is going on in Barony Khree’Khree in hope that the place can be put aright and/or herself be relocated to another mission.

Captain Vaclav Svoboda of Gwynneth (born 4977): Vaclav is a career Muster, following in the footsteps of more ancestors than he’d care to count. He is tall and handsome, with masculine features and a pale complexion – a man that looks striking in his uniform. He grew up on Gwynneth, in a Muster colony primarily engaged in the security business, but received his training on Bannockburn, Vaclav sought to travel the Phoenix Empire and accepted jobs that took him from one planet to the next. When House Keddah suddenly arrived onto the political stage in 5008, Vaclav, then a newly promoted Captain, traveled to Grail to establish himself in this burgeoning economy. He soon took over the operations in the Khree’Khree barony from the former Captain Deek De Smet, who sought to retire from active service. He quickly found his place here and has since improved and expanded the operations considerably. But lately things have not been so easy, for Captain Vaclav has a secret weakness. Much against his wishes, he has found himself infatuated by the young Mother Yemaja, his perhaps most dangerous adversary in the Khree’Khree Barony. Vaclav has cautiously approached Yemaja a couple of times and found her easy to talk to, even though she is suspicious of the guild’s operations within her parish. In time she might come to appreciate him and his work more, especially if something were to threaten the Barony, and if she doesn’t come around? Well, there are other ways to acquire the girl’s company…

Men-at-Arms: Baron Kite has only 8 soldiers on his payroll (called the AirGuard), most of them veterans of the Emperor Wars or other conflicts with few non-martial job-offers waiting for them on their return home. They wear specially fitted, very expensive Synthsilk fatigues for armor – light enough that it doesn’t interfere with flight, the Keddah heraldry proudly displayed in bold colors. They used to carry rather plain Manfeed Hunting Rifles, but last year Baron Kite invested several months’ worth of profit to buying a case of Veteran model Imperial Rifles for his force, as well as a dozen Phoenix Handguns. The Khree’Khree soldiers see a fair amount of action and conduct regular aerial patrols to safeguard against raids by pirates and outlaws. For the most part, however, security in the barony is contracted to the Musters’. With the baron’s aerial patrols acting as an early warning, the Kanton Maritime Police also cooperate by sharing intelligence and offering assistance against mutual threats. Most of the AirGuard respect the Muster and they are also aware of the “worker colony” on the south island, but who cares about the primitive Tua’tahi savages anyway?

Using Baron Kite as a patron: Baron Kite has his fingers in a great many pies, and is always on the lookout for competent helpers and bold investors. He is toying with the idea of forming a treasure hunting team to investigate the ruins of Abidean, or forming a hunting party to bring down some of the more spectacular wildlife of Grail. In time, his eldest son Osprey might need a retinue of capable individuals as well, and Baron Kite is always thinking ahead. There is also the Captain Vaclav and his Muster guildsmen who are slowly expanding their influence on his realm, and although Baron Kite appreciates the work they do for him, keeping an eye on them and their businesses can’t do any harm. And finally, his Etyri neighbors are now shunning Lord Kite, and some of them are even arming themselves above and beyond what is needed to protect their Ko’Aka fiefs. The Baron would very much like to know what is happening on the mainland, to gather intelligence in case he needs to strike first to prevent his former allies rising up against him.

Using Baron Kite as an adversary: Success breeds suspicion and contempt, and Baron Kite’s mounting wealth and rapid financial expansion has left some to wonder just what is going on in the Khree’Khree Barony. Reeves financiers are starting to ask questions, and would like to send agents to investigate the barony – preferably outsiders whom they can wash their hands of should dirt be unearthed. Also, Sanctuary Aeon authorities are starting to get curious as the resident parish priest, Mother Yemaja, has sent some odd, half rambling reports to her superiors. Perhaps the young priestess is just lonely, but it might be worth investigating – especially the incredible claims that an “alien antinomist is at work in the Khree’Khree Barony”. And finally, some traditionalist Keddah nobles are complaining about the house allowing an alien to rule a Keddah fief, especially one so prosperous. Perhaps it would be better for all involved if a proper Keddah landowner took over the fief, through political maneuvering and/or martial force? In any case, political support must be raised for such a venture, and military intelligence acquired through overt or covert means, or both.


[Sidebar] Oberiomancy
The Etyri religion seems base and morbid to civilized Humans, and the form of theurgy practiced by the ritual specialists of the faith do dangerously resemble certain antinomian practices. The Oberiomancy, or Death Divination, seems to be an echo of a primitive stage in the Etyri’s evolution when special insight into death and fate was a boon to surviving as a scavenger. Not only does this art cultivate an infinite affinity with dead organisms, but the probabilities and likely ways that living organisms may die in a given situation is also a matter of the Oberiomancers’ inquiry.

Oberiomancy will be developed fully in a future sourcebook, but for now the Game Master can assume that such characters have access to rites similar to the following list: Nekiya (Necromantic rite); Danse Macabre (Improvidence rite); Divine Revelation (St. Horace rite – questions must regard things the dead might know); Rending the Veil of Unreason (St. Ven Lohji rite); Stench of Evil (St. Maya rite – works to sniff out impending murder and death only); and “Final Sight”, a rite with effects similar to the PSI path Omen’s power Shadows Gone By but applied to a deceased character. Exceptionally powerful Oberiomancers may also know and Operations similar to Extispicy (Improvidence Operation – questions must regard the manner, time, and cause of the subject’s death).

Except for their religion’s morbidity, Etyri moral is not too far removed from that of most civilized Humans, and it can be assumed that Etyri Oberiomancers follow much the same rules for Hubris as humans. The gamemaster should use common sense and personal judgment in each individual case.
[/Sidebar]

The Wildlife of Grail

As with most worlds of the Phoenix Empire, Grail’s ecosystems are populated by both native and imported species. The diversity of life is comparable to that of Holy Terra, but mammal-analogy animals are scarcer on Grail as they never outmaneuvered land reptilians here as they did on prehistoric Urth. On Grail, reptile and bird-analogies dominate the fauna while mammals occupy certain niches in nature where superior adaptability allows them to compete with the more numerous reptiles. Since the evolutionary trend on Grail has favored a six-limbed design rather than the more Urthish four-limbed one, tool-using behavior by even non-sentient creatures much more widespread than on most life-bearing planets.

Dromart

Dromarts are a native mammalian species, commonly called a six-legged camel, found only in desert areas and certain dry and freezing mountain plateaus on the Keran Mountain range. As a form of transport they are invaluable in the deserts, where they have been domesticated almost since Humans first arrived on Grail, but they do not thrive in lusher environments. Little effort has been made to export Dromarts to other planets, since, for unknown reasons, they tend to get stressed when moved off world, losing their fur and stopping eating. The Etyri regards Dromarts very positively, seeing as Dromarts were a favored prey species for the Zhuil’hishtu in ages past. It is also believed that some Etyri Oberiomancers burn specially prepared Dromart dung incense during their oracle workings.

Dromarts resemble Urth camels only at first glance, although they have developed many of the same solutions to living in inhospitable and arid environments. They are specialists at surviving in desert environments on Grail, both hot and cold, living on poor-quality food like shrubbery and twigs. So efficient are they in desert survival that Dromarts are among the most successful mammals on Grail, and even domesticated individuals many generations removed from their wild cousins thrives effortlessly if released back into the deserts. Every growth in their natural environment is part of their diet, and once in a while they even consume dried up hide or bones of creatures claimed by the desert. They are usually solitary and individual, although the scarcity of water and food makes them gather around water holes and feeding grounds – for the most part without trouble. During the mating season males fight fiercely over mating rights, the most successful males gathering large harems of females, but these communities never outlast the season. Dromarts live about 45 years, with females reaching fertility around the age of 4 or 5, giving birth after 10 months of pregnancy.

Description: Dromarts have a large body supported by six legs, a long thick neck and a long hump-ridge on their back for storing fat similarly to Urth camels – another fat reserve is the fatty bag, sometimes called the “extra chin”, along the underside of their neck. Unlike the camels, the fat ridge on Dromarts’ backs does not form distinctive humps, instead filling out into a flat cushion-like structure that spills out over both sides of its back, forming a kind of cargo bed. Dromarts are covered in thick fur that insulates both from heat and cold with the hairs grow much longer in cold environments than in hot – the color ranges from light beige to light brown. The muzzle is long and narrow with heavy articulate lips, concealing a long dexterous tongue adapt at browsing through sharp thorns and in between branches and twigs to get to the fruits and leafs that are out of reach to other animals. Their three pairs of legs does not grant Dromarts more speed compared to camels, although it makes them capable of carrying loads up to 25% heavier than camels of equal size. Also, they have superb footing and balance, making them excellent climbers, and the padded feet make gives them a ghostly stealth similar to camels.

Dex: 4        Vig: 14            Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 4         Wil: 5               Resolve 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 3           Pre: 2                      
Skills: Athletics 6, Dodge 1, Fight 2, Observe 3, Sneak 5
Blessings and Afflictions: Low Nutrition Diet (Thrives on poor-quality food); Efficient Digestion (Needs to consume only about 1% of its body weight in food per day); Efficient Water Storage (Can store enough water to go up to 5 days without drinking);
Movement: 20 m
Sustain/Sprint: 30/55 km/h
Load: 250 kg
Cost: 1,500 Firebirds
Type                        Goal            DMG            Note
Kick                        16            3 (I)            -
Bite                        10            1 (I)            -

Keran Ibex

The Keran Ibex (pl. ibex), also known as Gralsteinbock, is a species of Urth Alpine Ibex imported to Grail during the Second Republic. It lives primarily in the Keran Mountain range, and is one of the staple food sources for the Santa Amalthea Monastery and other mountain settlements. Since the females tend to dwell higher up the mountainside and the males occupying lower meadows and even coniferous forests, male Keran Ibex have a reputation for being selfish womanizers who drive the females from the best feeding grounds. Although little evidence exists to support this idea, (it is uncertain why the sexes are thus distributed), “Ibex” has become a slang term for a bad and bullying husband on Grail, having spread with the pilgrims throughout the planet. Another legend explains their extraordinary ability to climb with them having sticky hoofs, or even the ability to fly, and a common image in folklore is the ibex carrying witches on their backs to mountain peaks to perform acts of antinomy (probably a reference to the Oberiomancy of the mountain dwelling Etyri), and in some Grail cultures the ibex is considered an agent of the misfortune.

These creatures inhabit alpine areas, feeding on mountain growths sprouting on ledges and outcroppings, while sometimes migrating down to the tree line to feed. They are perfect climbers and can reach growths unavailable to all other non-flying herbivores. It is common for the Keran Ibex to form groups for mutual protection and company, usually consisting of either young males, females with kids, or large mixed sex family groups – although males tend to break off from groups in the winter. There is a male hierarchy, often transcending local group dynamics, and male ibex know their place in the order of things. Fighting between males, for fun and status, is very common though, especially in the mating season. Horns grow throughout life, and horn size is a clear indication of age and status.

Description: Keran Ibex look very similar to Alpine Ibex on Urth, males standing up to a meter in height and 170 cm in length, and weighing up to 120 kg. Females are considerably smaller, standing up to 80 cm in height and 140 cm in length, and weighing only 1/4th that of a male. The horns of Keran Ibex are enormous and backwards curving, growing to a meter in length and as thick as an arm in males, while females have horns roughly 1/3rd the size of males of the same age. Their fur coat is a dull dark brown with pale abdomens, displaying subtle dark patterns, with a thick woolly undercoat in the winter.

Dex: 6                        Vig: 6                        Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 3                        Wil: 2                        Resolve 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 5                        Pre: 4                      
Skills: Athletics 6, Dodge 4, Fight 6, Observe 5, Sneak 2
Blessings and Curses: Perfect Balance (+6 Athletics while climbing)
Movement: 10 m (although they can out-climb almost any predator)
Type                        Goal            DMG            Note
Horns                        12            2-4 (I)            DMG depends on size of the ibex
Horn Charge            12            4-8 (I)             must be used from an Aggressive stance; DMG depends on size of the ibex

Leviathans

Leviathans are huge sea serpents native to Grail, living out in the open oceans. Although they definitely exist, so little is known about them that many fanciful theories and legendary tales are spun about them. The Etyri, curiously enough, have not a single story about these creatures; with the possible exception of ocean Etyri of low status that no one has ever asked. Although they rarely come close to shore, costal peoples tend to blame any occurrence of fishermen disappearing at sea or waves carrying people or livestock into the deep, on attacks by Leviathans. Not surprisingly, Leviathans are frequently associated with the great serpent, Levayath-Nidhaugg – the Beast of the Depths, who supposedly separates the Abyss of Gehenna from the ‘upper’ hells, their names sharing an etymological origin. And it is often claimed, even by some theologians, that the Grail Leviathans are spawns of the Levayath-Nidhaugg.

Leviathans, being reptiles, breathe air and thus usually dwell near the surface where they feed on everything from fish to ocean birds to sea mammals. They are, however, capable of diving to incredible depths (3 or more kilometers) to hunt the larger fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, and other Abyssal giants. When capturing larger prey, Leviathans use their enormous strength to crush and wrangle the corpse apart, swallowing individual chunks. They are solitary creatures, except for during the mating seasons (late spring) when great shrills (so called because of the keening wail they produce) of Leviathans gather in shallow waters near reefs, caves, rifts, and rocky shelves in a frenzy of breeding. The best known area is off the coast of Ko’Aka, especially in the Tapal-Ko’Aka strait, where the waters are made too dangerous to travel for even the bravest of sailors. Once the mating is over, the males return to the open ocean while the females retreat into the warmer Kerem Sea to lay their eggs in shallow water caves, where they will remain to protect the eggs for 8 to 13 weeks before they hatch.

Description: Leviathans are large aquatic serpents that can grow up to 30 meters in length, with females usually 2/3rd the size of males. Although they have three sets of small fin-limbs, they can clearly be categorized as serpents on the basis of other biological criteria. Their heads are large and heavy, their mouths wide but housing only (relatively) small teeth used for navigating food down the throat rather than biting. They are usually of a dull dark grey color, although brownish and even dark red have been sighted. Both sexes have a bony ridge along their skull, although this is much larger in males.
(Leviathan traits depends greatly on its size)

Dex: 6                        Vig: 1 per m            Vitality 0 0 [two for each meter in length] -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 1                        Wil: 2                        Resolve 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 4                        Pre: 5                      
Skills: Athletics 3, Dodge 2, Fight 4, Observe 4, Sneak 8
Blessings and Afflictions: High Pressure Tolerance (Can dive down several kilometres to hunt)
Movement: 1 per meters in length
Type                        Goal            DMG                        Note
Grapple            10            1 per m (I)            -
Bite                        10            1 per 6m (I)            -

Starships of House Keddah

House Keddah has only a relatively small military fleet, near insignificant next to the might of any Royal House. But for the longest time Keddah have focused mainly on defending their single realm, which has been of little strategic importance up until now. The Keddah also possess a great deal of strategic knowledge about their own solar system, including the presence of celestial objects that are not on regular orbital charts. The Keddah Fleet is believed to have a secret base on a rogue planetoid that wanders the Grail System in an erratic orbit pulled by competing gravitational eddies.

Brae Class Corvette

No one knows for sure exactly when this design was commissioned or entered service, some anecdotal evidence suggests that the design dates from around the time of the Sathra Insurrection (c.2500). The ship’s architecture has undergone numerous revisions over the centuries and it may be a precursor to later hulls produced by both the al-Malik and the Decados. The current vessels employed by the Keddah navy were likely manufactured c.4430, around the time that the Torenson – Keddah Alliance warred against the al-Malik over ownership of Alyon and Shaprut.

The basic hull of the Brae Class is disk-shaped, slightly elongated towards the fore but not so much as to be tear-dropped. Engines are mounted to the rear of the frame, tucked-in to protect them from frontal attacks. The bridge is mounted in the center of the structure, with the crew accommodations and non-essential systems in front. The architecture reinforces the concept that this is a pursuit vessel that can expect to take damage to the fore as it approaches its target. From the rear the inner workings are somewhat exposed, the essential systems vulnerable to fire from the aft and sides. The dorsal and ventral turrets are above and below the bridge, the gunners seated on the bridge, to the right and left of the flight crew.

Hull Size: 3
Structure: 40                              Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (2 months), Jump Drive (3 jumps)
Crew: 2 command crew, 3 personnel, 2 gunners
Sensors: 5 AU
Weapons: 2x Light Battery (1x Turret-Ventral Fore, 1x Turret-Dorsal Fore), 1x Grapple Gun (Fixed-Fore)
Shields: 1/1, 1x Battle Shield
Cargo: 15 tons
Passengers: 6 (1 bunkroom) usually carrying Marines.
Power               Signature               Acceleration               Shields            
Standby               -1               None               0/0            
Port               +1               Standard               0/0            
Cruise               +3               Fast               1/1            
Attack               +5               Fast               1/1            
Maximum               +7
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Decent) [5], Fire Control (Short) [5]
Benefit Cost: 55pts

Evark Wing, modified Brae Class Corvette

The Evark Wing has served in the star fleet of House Keddah since it was salvaged and refitted in 4505. The ship was intended as a patrol and customs ship in the Grail system with relatively short duty tours. Possibly because House Keddah had only a single star system to defend, or perhaps the systems were beyond salvage and repair, the Evark Wing has no jumpdrive. Though some might consider this a deficiency, the vessel has benefited from the extra space that not having this system makes available.
Where the Evark Wing has seen notable improvement is in its surprisingly resilient shields. Very few ships of its size carry as many energy shields, allowing the Evark Wing to use its acceleration and high envelope to out-maneuver slower vessels, while also resisting a withering assault of enemy fire.

Hull Size: 3
Structure: 37                              Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (2 months)
Crew: 2 command crew, 3 personnel, 2 gunners
Sensors: 5 AU
Weapons: 2x Light Battery (1x Turret-Ventral Fore, 1x Turret-Dorsal Fore), 1x Grapple Gun (Fixed-Fore)
Shields: 3/3
Cargo: 20 tons
Passengers: 6 (1 bunkroom) usually carrying Marines.
Power               Signature               Acceleration               Shields            
Standby               -1               None               0/0            
Port               +1               Standard               0/0            
Cruise               +3               Fast               2/2            
Attack               +5               Fast               3/3            
Maximum               +7
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Regular) [3], Fire Control (Short) [5]
Benefit Cost: 46pts

Delila, modified Brae Class Corvette

The Delila is a privately owned Brae Class Corvette, purchased at considerable expense from the Scravers Guild by its current Captain, Ashan Vo Ren. Paid for with a sizable inheritance, the Obun merchant is beginning to wonder about the wisdom of his investment. The ship was only partially refitted before looming bankruptcy forced Ashan to put her to immediate use. Unfortunately, it hasn’t all gone to plan and Captain Ashan is having trouble making ends meet, never mind carrying out additional work on his ship. He has recently tried to attract outside investment by selling shares in his ship but this has had a negative impact on his own business plans, taking him places he would not otherwise have gone and forced him to deal with people who are shadier than he would like. Still, there are some perks to being your own master and having a ship of your own, and Captain Ashan can hire whichever crew he likes. Though his intention to have an all Obun crew has not worked out, thankfully the Gannok engineer is both efficient and reclusive.

Hull Size: 3
Structure: 34                              Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (2 months), Jump Drive (2 jumps)
Crew: 2 command crew, 3 personnel, 2 gunners
Sensors: 5 AU
Weapons: 2x Light Battery (1x Turret-Ventral Fore, 1x Turret-Dorsal Fore)
Shields: 1/1
Cargo: 15 tons
Passengers: 6 (1 bunkroom)
Power               Signature               Acceleration               Shields            
Standby               +1               None               0/0            
Port               +3               Slow               0/0            
Cruise               +5               Standard               1/1            
Attack               +7               Standard               1/1            
Maximum               +9
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Poor) [1], Fire Control (Short) [5], Poor Jump Capability  [+3], Leaking Drive [+3], Low Thrust Drive [+15], Part Owned [+5]
Benefit Cost: 12pts

Rhobuck Class Escort

The design for the Rhobuck extends back to the First Republic; it has a distinctive void frame hull with the modules held in place by a ceramasteel lattice. The original designs used armor and did not carry a jumpdrive, but the architecture was modified when superior technology became available long ago. The ship was intended as a close escort for colonial transports but these days it is primarily used for system defense and customs duties. The vessel also has space for a contingent of marines, and should not be considered a lightweight despite the age of its design. Rhobuck Class Escorts were once frequently used in the old core systems, especially Holy Terra, where they have served for generations on end. These days the largest complement of these ships rests in the hands of House Keddah. This class has a reputation as a stalwart and most crews quickly fall in love with it. Capable of inflicting considerable damage, they are however no match for a dedicated military warship.

Hull Size: 4
Structure: 50 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (1 month), Jumpdrive (2 jumps)
Crew: 2 Command Crew, 9 Gunners, 4 Personnel
Sensors: 7 AU
Weapons: Grappling Gun (Single Turret—Dorsal Fore), 8×Medium Batteries (4×Port Gun Decks, 4×Starboard Gun Decks)
Shields: 1/1
Cargo: 15 metric tons
Passengers: 18 (3 bunkrooms)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby 0 None 0/0
Port +2 Standard 0/0
Cruise +4 Fast 1/1
Attack +6 Fast 1/1
Maximum +8
Benefits/Afflictions: Void (0), Advanced Sensors (4), Maintenance (Decent) (5), Fire Control (Medium) (10), Poor Jump Capability [+3]
Benefit Cost: 73 pts

Katana (modified Rhobuck Class Escort)

Salvaged from a debris field in the Rampart system, this ship was little more than a broken hulk. Recovered and towed back to Rampart, initially to be sold as scrap, it was instead purchased in whole by a Count Hiro Nakata Li Halan to be refitted as his personal starship for his intended voyage to see the sights of the Phoenix Empire. The vessel was refurbished to incorporate more appropriate accommodations but at the cost of some of the ship's armament. Count Hiro Li Halan now tours the Known Worlds, stopping frequently to visit the sights of each world. Some believe that this has to be more than a mere sightseeing trip and are wary of the man they believe might be a Li Halan spy. So far, the noble lord has used it as a base for entertaining his many new acquaintances. Some speculate that he has spent his fortune outfitting his own private world so as to escape the austerity of Li Halan existence.

Hull Size: 4
Structure: 50 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (1 month), Jumpdrive (2 jumps)
Crew: 2 Command Crew, 9 Gunners, 4 Personnel
Sensors: 5 AU
Weapons: Grappling Gun (Single Turret—Dorsal Fore), 8×Medium Batteries (4×Port Gun Decks, 4×Starboard Gun Decks)
Shields: 2/2
Cargo: 40 metric tons
Passengers: 10 (4 luxury staterooms, 1 bunkrooms)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby 0 None 0/0
Port +2 Standard 0/0
Cruise +4 Fast 1/1
Attack +6 Fast 2/2
Maximum +8
Benefits/Afflictions: Void (0), Maintenance (Decent) (5), Fire Control (Short) (5), Poor Jump Capability [+3]
Benefit Cost: 59 pts

Sovereign’s Right (modified Rhobuck Class Escort)

The Sovereign’s Right was formally a museum piece that was returned to service during the early years of the Emperor Wars. The vessel was in poor condition, mothballed in an ancient collection of spacecraft on Byzantium Secundus. When Darius Hawkwood’s gambit to become Emperor failed, he used his powers as Regent to salvage and relaunch every fighting ship he could find. The Sovereign’s Right was one of three ships that were salvageable from the Museum of Star Flight, but it required heavy lifting to raise the vessel back through an atmosphere it was never designed to endure. The Sovereign’s Right has seen better days; although the ship is functional she is in sorry need of a full and proper overhaul. These days the ship is part of the Imperial Fleet and usually stationed close to the Byzantium Secundus jumpgate.

Hull Size: 4
Structure: 38 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (1 month), Jumpdrive (2 jumps)
Crew: 2 Command Crew, 9 Gunners, 4 Personnel
Sensors: 3 AU
Weapons: Grappling Gun (Single Turret—Dorsal Fore), 8×Medium Batteries (4×Port Gun Decks, 4×Starboard Gun Decks)
Shields: 1/1
Cargo: 15 metric tons
Passengers: 18 (3 bunkrooms)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby +1 None 0/0
Port +3 Standard 0/0
Cruise +5 Fast 1/1
Attack +7 Fast 1/1
Maximum +9
Benefits/Afflictions: Void (0), Maintenance (Inferior) (0), Fire Control (Short) (5), Poor Jump Capability [+3], Archaic Sensors (+2)
Benefit Cost: 55 pts

Fionn, modified Second Republic Era Destroyer

The Fionn was once part of the Second Republic Star Fleet, an unremarkable vessel for its time. In the New Dark Ages, the technology aboard the Fionn represents a considerable threat to other space vessels, but much of this has been lost to wear. Though the Fionn’s turret mountings still carry some of its relic tech weaponry, the gundecks have seen some of its destructive arsenal salvaged over the centuries to keep the remaining weapons in working order.
As the pride of the Grail Fleet, the Fionn sees little active service, instead being used as a deterring symbol of Keddah power. These days, it is mainly used as a venue for diplomatic meetings or to transport Sheikh Haroun to the Imperial Court on Byzantium Secundus.

Hull Size: 10
Structure: 100               Armor: 0
Drives: Standard (3 months), Jump Generator (10 jumps)
Crew: 6 command crew, 30 personnel, 12 gunners
Sensors: 8 AU
Weapons: 4x Medium Meson Cannon (2x Turret-Ventral Fore, 2x Turret-Dorsal Fore), 8x Medium Batteries (4x Starboard Gundeck, 4x Port Gundeck)
Shields: 4/4, 2x Battle Shields
Cargo: 40 tons
Passengers: 28 (4 staterooms, 4 bunkrooms), Usually 24 marines.
Power               Signature               Acceleration               Shields            
Standby               +4               None               0/0            
Port               +6               Standard               0/0            
Cruise               +8               Fast               2/2            
Attack               +10               Fast               4/4            
Maximum               +12
Benefits & Afflictions: Atmospheric [2], Maintenance (Regular) [3], Fire Control (Long) [15], Enhanced Shields [2], Shielded Core [5], Advanced Sensors [6], Sophisticated Sensors [5], High Thrust Drive [100]
Benefit Cost: 301pts