Honed Edge

Introduction

ankrat.jpg
The Village of Ankrat. A hundred yards from edge to edge.

This is the tribal village of Ankrat. With a population of seventy eight, it's a fair size — nothing to sniff at. Your people hunt in the hills to the north-west, and fish in the lake. Life isn't easy, but it could be much harder.

This is not a time of steel and castles and wizards. Those times are yet to come. Nor is it a time of bronze and statues and great temples of stone. That's still on the way. This is a time of flint and fire-hardened sticks. People are eaten, often people you know. There is no difference between a shaman and a cleric, a god is to be appeased, not worshipped. Spirits sit in every part of the world, and their assistance is the difference between starvation and comparative prosperity. There is no difference between a rival and an enemy — there is not enough to share.

This Spring, a number of children have come of age. They will lead… interesting lives.

The Ankrat tribe is your home. You may not have been born here, but this is where you grew. You know everyone, and everyone knows you. There are seventy-eight people here, most of which are human, and most of the remainder being dwarven. The tribe is led by the chieftain Cherrag, advised by the shamans Mara and Taman. Everyone in the village is a hunter or a gatherer, although many of the women spend more time napping flint or building huts than actually getting food.

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A typical house for an Ankrat family of five or six.

The Land

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The Land. Twenty miles from edge to edge.
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A view of the Land.

The land surrounding you has no name. It is the Land, but that's about it. Travelling, exploration, trade… these are all concepts for another time.

The Land is a fair place. A bit cold and a bit arid, the Land is nature at its most natural. There has never been human habitation here beyond these tribes, at least that you know off. Mammoth and sabre-tooth roam the plains, both of them being food and threat in equal measure. The forests are closed-in, claustrophobic places, filled with bracken and bramble. They are not a place you want to go.

Worth Noting: The idea of a "compass" is beyond the Land. However the cardinal directions do still exist, in a sense. They are, starting with the top and going clockwise, Nightward, Dawnward, Noonward, and Duskward.

Tribes of the Land

Ankrat

The Ankrat are you. Settled hunter-gatherers, all Ankrat are good folk, honest and true, devout worshippers of the gods. Alright, some of that might be a lie, but you're a nice enough lot.

Mendiloe

Ah, the Mendiloe. If there was a time when you weren't constantly testing and being tested by these folk, nobody you know can remember it. Settled hunter-gatherers, the Mendiloe are pretty similar to you. They have a claim to everything between the cliff, the river and the hills. Of course, this doesn't stop them from occasionally hunting above the cliffs, which is completely unacceptable and totally different from when you hunt below them. There are maybe fifty Mendiloe? Maybe more? Who really knows or cares.

Vorel

The first and so far only tribe in the area to take up farming, the Vorel are a generally kind and peaceful people. Indeed, they venerate the god of Peace above all others. As farmers, the Vorel can support a larger population and more specialised individuals, but have a lower quality of life and work much harder than you do. That doesn't seem interesting to you. There are more of them than you can count.

Vormar

A sister tribe to the Vorel, the Vormar are good folk, and good friends. What little trade you perform is almost entirely with them — usually for the parts of more dangerous or uncommon creatures in exchange for a few days of specialist labour. Like the Vorel, the Vormar are farmers, and although there are fewer of them than there are Vorel, there are still probably twice as many as there are Ankrat.

Shilf

It has been a long time since anyone went to see the Shilf. To get to their lands you have to travel right through Mendiloe territory, which is not something you can be bothered to do. From what anybody can recall, they're nice enough. They don't like the Mendiloe either, but they probably wouldn't like you if you were closer.

There are probably a fair few Shilf. Maybe 60? More? Once again, nobody cares.

Bessolk

It has been a long time since anybody showed the slightest interest in the Bessolk. Routinely left out of any lists, the Bessolk are nomadic orcs who are slowly being out-competed in every regard. Nobody has any idea how many Bessolk are left, or even if they still exist.
The Bessolk turned to new, strange gods. They drove out or killed a significant portion of their population, and a lot died in a recent altercation with a group of Ankrat fighters. Most survivors are adult males. The tribe will not survive this.

Vorsolk

Vorsolk is a new tribe, seaward of where the Bessolk used to roam. Most of the survivors of the Bessolk live in Vorsolk, along with a large number of former Vorel. There are around fifty of them.

Thorus

Nobody you know has been to the Thorus lands. They're a long way away, and through places you'd rather not go. From this far-off land of twenty miles away, very little news arrives, but most of it is bad.

Races of the Land

Humans

Like a cockroach infestation, humans get everywhere. They are by far the most common race in Honed Edge.

Dwarves

The second most common race, there are two kinds of dwarf. The forest dwarves are resilient folk who are only now emerging from the woods and embracing the technological advancements of mankind. The Mountain dwarves are all migrants from a far-off land to the west, driven from their homes by a migration of dragons. They are much more rare, but are the only race in the known world that has reached the level of mankind.

Forest dwarves use the rules for hill dwarves.

Elves

Elves are bizarre creatures, about whom very little is known. Flitting through the woods, creating and leaving nothing, cheating their way in the ecosystem through the use of magic, elves lead almost entirely solitary lives, except for a point once every thirty years when they are capable of bearing or creating children. An Elf that cannot find a mate will generally go to a human village to create a half-breed offspring, which is normally the only time a person will ever see an elf.

Orcs

Orcs were once a common sight in the Land, but are slowly dying out. Slow to adapt to new advancements in technology, orcs have been reliably out-competed by humans for many centuries now. The intelligent orcs have integrated into human societies, and the stubborn ones cling to their nomadic ways.

Goliaths

Goliaths have been present in the mountains to the south for as long as anyone can remember. They are slowly dying out due to starvation, with very few left in the current age. The advent of farming may save them, it may not.

Merfolk

Merfolk are uncommon, but have a community off the shore by Vorla. The Vorla do a good trade with them, exchanging various equipment for large quantities of fish.

Gods of the Land

There are only five gods known to the Land. They are the only game in town, and refusal to play their game never goes well. Gods in Honed Edge are much less prayed to than appeased, and the difference between their areas of influence and their actual individual existence is a blurred line.

Deistic shamans will one day be known as clerics, and worship all five of the "good" gods, offering obeisances to each as appropriate, although they will inevitably have their preferred god to whom they devote themselves. Spiritual shamans will remain largely as they are, eventually becoming known as druids, and are primarily focused on consulting and communing with the spirits.

It is not unknown for an individual to attempt to enter a covenant with a god, although this will typically require a great personal sacrifice as they look upon the true face of the god. Individuals who do such a thing are referred to as Warlocks, and are further explained below.

No god has ever spoken to a priest. Warlocks sometimes claim to hear the voices of the gods, but the truth of this is unknown.

Deity AL Domains Symbol
Aasie NG Life, Light Dagaz.png
Thum CN Life, Nature Isa.png
Crella LN Tempest, War Crella.png
Aagrid CN Knowledge, Trickery Pertho.png
Dark LN Darkness, Death Kaunan.png

Aasie Dagaz.png

The mother goddess of the sun, Aasie is a giving figure whose presence is only of benefit. She takes nothing, and gives only warmth and light. Shamans pray to Aasie for warm summers and long days. Aasie is Neutral Good. Her domains are Light and Life. She does not involve herself in Warlock pacts.

Thum Isa.png

The father god of the earth, Thum really does not care for you. Thum is nature at its most natural. He is both the berry that grows on the tree and the glint on the edge of a claw. He takes the lives of the careless, slovenly and weak, but gives good prosperity to the thoughtful and hard working. Sometimes. He is Chaotic Neutral through-and-through. His domains are Nature and Life. He does not involve himself in pacts.

Crella Crella.png

The daughter goddess of storms and the sky, Crella is judgement and anger against the unjust. She will be the end of this world when its sins grow too great, and she will ride in at the head of a great storm that will block out her mother's light. People pray to Crella to apologise for whatever brought the storms, and to ask for strength to punish the wrongdoings of others when going to war. Her domains are War and Tempest, and she is Lawful Neutral through-and-through. Crella's pacts use the Fiend pact rules, but replace any instance of fire damage in fiend-only spells with lightning damage.

Aagrid Pertho.png

The son god of water and deception, Aagrid flows like a river — intangible and impossible to pin down. Even held water vanishes when placed on the ground, and even the deepest puddles vanish into nothingness over time. Aagrid snuck the moon into the night, snuck the seas into the land, snuck the fish into the waters, and snuck water into many spirits so they would depend upon him. Aagrid gives a future when asked… but the future may not be the one you wanted. People pray to Aagrid for bountiful fish harvests, and for foreknowledge against the tricks of others. His domains are Knowledge and Trickery, and his alignment is Chaotic Neutral. Aagrid's pacts use the Fey pact rules.

Venelline Berkanan.png

The child goddess of peace, Venelline is the patron of farmers and those who do not wish for conflict. Venelline gives just rewards for the hard working, and does not punish the lazy. Her presence in non-agrarian societies like Ankrat is limited. Her domains are not worth noting, as they focus largely around irrelevant subjects for a community such as Ankrat. Her alignment is Lawful Neutral, edging into Lawful Good. She does not perform pacts.

Dark Kaunan.png

Dark is the taker, the destroyer of everything you hold dear. If it were not for Aagrid, Dark would rule half the world. It is the Dark that takes, the Dark that kills. Do not trust the Dark. Do not pray to the Dark. If you choose to ignore this advice, Dark's domains are Darkness and Death. His pacts use the Great Old One pact rules.

Spirits Jera.png

Spirits are a fact of life, permeating every aspect of the world. It is known that a mortal is just a spirit inhabiting a physical body for a brief time, and that their spirit will return to the world on their death. It is known that if a body is not destroyed through consumption or cleansing flame, then the spirit may be trapped inside, or perhaps another spirit will enter when the original one leaves. This is considered a great torture. The appeasement of and communing with spirits is the repsonsibility of the villages spiritual shaman.

Legends of the Ankrat

"You don't actually believe any of that, do you? A man goes out and fells an old, weak mammoth with a single shot, by the time he gets home it was the strongest mammoth he'd ever seen. Give it a week and he killed a saber with the same shot. Three years and it was a prophecised event, and in fifty he was the son of Aagrid and a virgin mother. People like stories."

Languages of the Land

Whilst the Land is your world, it is not a very big place. A limited number of tongues are spoken, and most are extremely specific.

PC languages:

Tongue

The language spoken by all inhabitants of a named tribe, Tongue has slight regional variations but is otherwise identical from the plains of the Vorel to the mountainous slopes of the Thorus. All player characters can speak Tongue. It takes the place of the Common language.

Derov

The language spoken in the dwarven homelands, Derov is a language heavy on glottal stops, multipart words and hard consonants. Many western dwarves speak this language.

Aether

Aether is a sibilant one, and cannot be pronounced properly unless whispering. It is said to be the language of the spirits themselves, and is used by spiritual shamans when communicating with them. It is not taught to any who do not need it. It takes the place of the PHB druid language.

Holy

The holy tongue is a common bastardisation of Aether spread by the Vor across the Land. It has its roots in the language of the druids, and many claim it is the superior language for using when communicating with the gods. Anyone can use it, but doing so for anything other than praying or appeasement is looked down on. All Clerics are allowed to take this language for free. Holy does not allow the speaker to comprehend Aether, although a speaker of Aether will be able to get some information from someone speaking Holy.

Forest Dwarf

Not a language per se, the speech of the dwarves who live in the forests is comprised largely of whoops and howls designed to mark territory and carry over long distances. The language contains approximately forty words, plus the occasional name or title. Comprehend languages does not allow understanding of this language, but speak with animals does. Dwarves of forest descent can choose to be able to speak this language. It is very hard for non-dwarves to get the proper volume and carry to their whoops.
Nightward Bark has revealed that the language is in fact incredibly complex, and has huge nonverbal components. This has only compounded the difficulty of learning it.

Other Languages:

Derill

Spoken by merfolk, this tongue is largely unpronounceable above the waterline.

Valoe

The elves appear to have at least one word of their own- Valoe, which means "elf". No other words are known.

Calendar of the Land

The Land has no calendar. Whilst phases of the moon are noted, there is no real use for a measurement of time longer than a day but shorter than a season. The changing of the year is noted by the presence and passing of the shortest day, known as Darksday.

House Rules

  • Player characters use the following base ability scores: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8.
  • When creating a character, please ignore the PHB backgrounds.
  • Players are encouraged to give their characters one of the names from the Player's Handbook. Humans have Damaran names, by and large.
  • Humans use the Human Alternate Rules found in the Player's Handbook.
  • With the exception of elves and half-elves, every player race in the game has at most a 120 year lifespan.
  • All characters must be just entering adulthood, whatever age this is.
  • All characters automatically have proficiency in Wisdom (Survival) and Intelligence (Nature). If a character would already have these proficiencies, they may choose another Wisdom or Intelligence proficiency.
  • Characters that would have proficiency in Intelligence (History) can exchange this for another Intelligence proficiency.
  • Be prepared for the DCs for some knowledge and skill checks to be SIGNIFICANTLY higher than normal.
  • Equipment will be re-flavoured, but not given new stats. Yes, this means a well-made stone weapon will use the stats of a steel one.

Certain races are restricted, as follows:

Certain classes are restricted, as follows:

Characters

Player Characters

Name Player Race Class
Amoth lurkd Human Druid Amoth.jpg
Kara Bunton Human Wizard Kara.jpg
Eridid DiePotato Elf Ranger Eridid.jpg
Halor Nanoro Dwarf Fighter Halor.jpg
Amanika Nemi Human Bard
Oskar GraemeCracker Dwarf Cleric 2pdjcaE.jpg

Non-Player Characters

Cherrag

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"I'm not telling you to step down, I'm recommending it. The telling will come later. And you'll wish you took the recommendation."

A friendly and intelligent man in his mid-forties, Cherrag has the dubious honour of being the chieftain of the Ankrat, a position that is neither official nor particularly rewarding. He is in charge primarily because he's reasonably good at it, nobody else wants to be, and because people like having someone to follow, even if it's only so they have someone to blame. Cherrag is an accomplished hunter, and regularly leads his team to great success.

Cherrag is the father of Kara and brother-in-law of Mara. He was formerly married, but lost his wife whilst she gave birth to their first (and unsurprisingly only) child. He dotes on his daughter, and works extremely hard to keep her clothed and fed whilst she learns wizardry.

Thazar

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"I truly do not care. Please stop asking me."

The oldest man anyone has ever seen, Thazar was a traveller until about he realised that he wasn't getting any younger. That was about ten years ago. He revels in his position as a comparative outsider, and is largely tolerated thanks to his considerable arcane skills, and the fact that he doesn't eat much. The alcohol he makes also helps. Quite a lot, actually.

Thazar is the inventor of a special new kind of arcane magic, in which the spells of sorcerors are transcribed into runes based off those of the gods which he then tattoos onto his skin. In theory this will allow anyone to perform feats of magic, although in practice they must be sufficiently intelligent and devote time to the practice that few have. He is teaching Kara these skills, and she is proving an apt student.

Mara

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"I'm, uh, trying to gather herbs. Could you maybe, uh, leave me for a moment?"

Mara is the village's spiritual shaman, a position that will one day be referred to as a druid. She's the youngest full druid for a long time, a title she largely owes to the fact that the last druid vanished a few days after she completed her tuition. She's a good woman, kind almost to a fault, but secretly worries she's doing everything wrong, since she has to improvise and guess her way through any situation that was not taught in her all-too-brief period of apprenticeship. This happens a lot.

Mara is the sister-in-law of Cherrag, maternal aunt of Kara, and teacher of Amoth. She finds her niece adorable but irritating, especially when she asks questions that can't be answered. Her views on Amoth are more complex — she's proud of her student, but worried about his fascination with vermin. They are creatures that dwell outside the traditional light, and it would not be the first time a druid has fallen to Dark…

Mara is unmarried with no children. When pressed, she claims she does not have the time. In truth she is terrified about going the same way as her sister.

Taman

Taman.jpg

"Good, evil, the gods do not care. Our views on such concepts are so beneath them as to be laughable."

Taman is the deific shaman, comparable to a cleric. He's quite old, and acts older. He has held the position for a long time, largely due to his inability to find a suitable candidate to succeed him for many years. He married at a late age, a partnership that produced only a single daughter before his wife was lost to a smilodon attack close to the village, far from their normal territory. He was fast enough to save the daughter, Amanika, but the woman had bled long past the point where a cure wounds would be sufficient.

Taman often suffers crises of faith, not because he doubts that the gods exist (because that would be ludicrous), but because he truly does not know what they want. His relationship with Thum is strained, but not to the extent of his daughter's hatred of the Land god. Taman knows that regardless of his personal opinions, the tribe would not be able to survive the wrath of Thum if their shamans refused to respect him.

Taman is the father of Amanika, and the teacher of Oskar. He is also teaching his daughter to be the tribe's storyteller.

Woola

wulla.jpg

"Hungry. Hunting. Follow."

The Ankrat wolves are not dogs, and will not be such for a long time. They are wild animals who have the intelligence to see fire as warmth. not danger, and humans as partners, not competitors. Woola is one such wolf. He has grown up in the village, hunted with humans all his life. His best human friends are Cherrag, who he considers a competent hunter, and Kara, who makes a damn good hearthfire. To the humans, he is the best trained wolf, and to the wolves he is the one amongst them most suited to interacting with the Ankrat.

Woola's family consists of an unnamed bitch and a group of pups. They are as friendly with humans as can be expected.

Nightward Bark

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"This is not the way of my mothers, Halor, but it is a much better way."

The dwarves of the forest are, to the people of the plains, feral monsters incapable of speech who will hunt and eat anything foolish enough to enter their homes. This is only mostly true. Saved from the ankheg by the Ankrat after her actual family abandoned her, Nightward proved instrumental in the saving of Ankrat and the defeat of the Abomination. She lives in the village now, mostly welcome thanks to the knowledge she brings and how hard she works to earn her keep. She even keeps her beard shaved, the significance of which cannot be overstated.

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