Bladelands - Personal Impressions

Copyright Sheila Herndon 1999

Let me introduce myself. My name is Sheila and I had the pleasure of meeting with Herodotus to study some of his notes on the Bladelands. I'm here today to report what I've learned. He insisted on being here to make sure I leave nothing out.

Herodotus is a Daan. This is a race of men from the north of the Valley of Tears. Herodotus, do you want to tell these people who you are?

Who are we? We are a great nation descended from the true stock of the ancients. We strive to uncover their great works to be able to bring true civilization back into the world. I travel the lands, studying ancient remains and buying what relics of the past I can. Maybe one day I'll even figure out what caused the Maelstrom. I report on my findings to my Lord in Daan every year! No one appreciates my genius, otherwise my Lord would send me more money and supplies! Every year it gets more expensive to live here. No merchant truly appreciates the demands of my studies. If they did they would not charge me so much for ink and paper. When I can't afford to buy relics from them, they look at me suspiciously when I ask to at least make a simple sketch of the things. Once some stupid merchant even called a guard to have me escorted off the premises! Can you believe the troubles I have to endure!

...OK Herodotus, I think that's enough of an introduction. You have to understand that he's a bit grumpy right now because he has just run out of money to buy the ancient trinkets he so loves. Allow him to rant a little.

Humph.

The City of Hope (Do you remember how it's spelled in the common tongue? No! I don't remember the Nadiri spelling! Be quiet, I'm trying to study!) was the first city built in the valley after the Maelstrom. The Pulaar took charge of the construction. There are two or three churches here. The followers of Grimbold aid in providing military protection for the city. The followers of Lady Hope are historians and bearers of hope and light. The followers of Lady Hope maintain a library and archives in the cities...Psst. Those stingy priests won't let me study for more than one day a week! You tell the people that. What? Stingy! I'm not going to say that. They were gracious to allow you study in the library for even one day...I thought you were trying to study. What are you doing eavesdropping? Sheesh! If you don't think I'm telling the story right, tell it yourself! It's bad enough I have to read your chicken scratch notes.

Ahem. Let me tell this tale then.

Our world was devastated by a huge maelstrom that ended 300 years ago. Most of the civilizations were destroyed, except for the Urdaan (those are the true blood of the Daan. My Lord is of that stock.). Most peoples were not as fortunate as the Urdaan and are only just now recovering from the storm.

The City of Hope is a city of mostly Nadiri. These men are common to the Valley of Tears. The city was raised with the help and labor of many Pulaar who had escaped from their Gorlu masters in the north.

I see you don't know who Gorlu are by the lack of repulsion in your faces. Take a look at a Pulaar; note his noble and tragic bearing. Now envision this same Pulaar all twisted and driven insane by a lust for power, totally devoid of nobility. That's a Gorlu.

Before the maelstrom the Lo'ar and Gorlu lived underground. You might think that below ground they'd weather the storm well, but during those days the Gorlu waged a great war with the Lo'ar. The sad result was the destruction of the Lo'ar culture. Their imprisoned descendents become the Pulaar. Some Lo'ar escaped, and their descendents became the Shulaar, the merchants of the river. The Shulaar inspire their Pulaar cousins to escape the yoke of the Gorlu.

All of the descendents of the Lo'ar retain their sturdy and clever nature. The Shulaar build amazing paddleboats the likes of which most men could never design. I had a Shulaar friend who could paddle a loaded down boat for four days at top speed without stopping. I myself saw this same Shulaar swim underwater without coming up for air for longer than ten minutes! ...and the Pulaar, well, the Pulaar built the City of Hope, see the results for yourself. I'll attest to their steadfastness.

Of course, in Daan, we have many cities like the City of Hope, but this is understandable, since we have the tradition of our ancient fathers for the Urdaan to build on. Nevertheless, the City of Hope is an amazing accomplishment for a culture that has to rebuild from nothing.

A few of the Dy'rnthar also live in the City of Hope. They come every year to lend aid to the people of the valley. The Dy'rnthar are very strange people whom some say use the hue itself for working magic. They're a stringy, hardy race and live in the harsh desert to the south where no one else goes. I can tell you one thing. Don't ever let a Dy'rnthar get close to even a spoonfull of ale. The one I traveled with could not hold his drink and that crazy Dy'rnthar almost burned a whole tavern down with his antics. I swear to you, he was dancing in the fireplace!

There aren't many shrines in the City of Hope. I think I should explain to you the place of religion in our lives. There were once many religions and places of worship in the land. Now? There aren't as many religiously devout people as in the ancient past. Why? Because the gods were silent before the storm! Where were they when the maelstrom came? Some gods they turned out to be. I'm going to return us to the golden age of the ancients by recovering all that was lost. But this time around, I think we should stand on our own merits. We've had to survive on our own merits, and that's how I see it.

But I don't begrudge people their faith in the new gods. Some choose to worship these new gods even if I don't. Their followers are not half bad folks. The Bright Lady's followers let me use their library. OK, I take back what I said about them being stingy with their library, but it would make my life a lot easier if they gave me the run of the place. They will when they finally realize how truly brilliant I am, and what I'm going to do for us all.

Ugh, Herodotus, no one wants to listen to you make boasts about yourself. Why don't you go back to your studies? I'll tell these people about the Hues.

The Hues envelop the land forming a buffer between it and the Maelstrom of the past. No one really understands their workings and the strange effects they cause in the races of the land. Each culture has a different explanation for where the hues came from and what they do.

The veil of hues interacts with magic in strong ways. Everyone has a hue, for many it is the day they were born. People often exhibit strange abilities on their hue day. Some races, such as the mannish races of the Nadiri and the Daan, have a secondary hue. If you practice, you can look at a person and tell which hue they have. I've been told there is a pattern to the hues of the land, that given enough time one can even try to predict what Hue will saturate tomorrow's day.

I never learned how, but some of my comrades claimed to be able to do this. I was skeptical at first, but many of their predictions bore out. I have an idea of how it's done. It has something to do with staring at the sky, or the air, or something. And you have to do it before the sun goes down.

And if you want to tell these people about the hues, you have to tell it right! You forgot to tell them about hue strength. On some days the Hue is heavily saturated and causes more effects than on others. On powerful red days I can sometimes move objects as though I were a lodestone and everything in the world was a ferrous rock. I am connected to everything. I can handle anything! Lady fortune is kind to me on my hue day. Magic jumps from my hands and lips with alacrity. I'm even more brilliant, if you can believe that!

On violet days I feel like an idiot (though of course I'm not!). It's as though I can't do anything right. I feel like the fates scrutinize my every move just waiting for me to make one tiny mistake. Then they'll laugh at me, the butt of all jokes.

a hue its opposite
red violet
orange indigo
yellow blue

A person's opposing hue is determined by his primary hue. Green is a special hue because it has no opposition.

There are 7 hues and each day has a hue. The hues are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (ROYGBIV). The hue a day will wear has a random design, but there are a few patterns that an astute observer can pick out.

I've only noticed a few. The day after a hue cannot be followed by its opposing hue. Sometimes there will be many days of the same color back to back. Green days can occur on any day. My Dy'rnthar friend told me this. He could predict hues like no other. He was always looking for the signs of a green day because he was of that hue.

Some days have a stronger hue than others do, and if hue days occur contiguously the strength cumulates. Hue days of great power have been known to attract bladestorms, so people often seek shelter on strong days. Many talents are only exhibited on days with sufficient hue strength.

Hue influences the fates as well. Characters are extremely lucky on their hue day. The flip side of that is that they have terrible luck on their opposing day.

You don't truly know how loudly a Shulaar can yell until you've heard Rolo stubbing his toe, beneath decks, and startling the birds on the shore. Indigo is definitely not his day.

Hue days affect spell casting. On a character's hue day, the strength of the hue allows the caster to cast higher level spells than normal. Additionally, a person doesn't have to worry about the adverse affects of using magic on his day. Opposing hue days, on the other hand, cause all spells to require a SCSM at -10.

A static casting spell maneuver increases the danger of magical dependence. Spell use is a tricky endeavor because magic is highly addictive. Once a person starts done that path, it's a slippery slope to drooling insanity.

I see you have been talking to my Dy'rnthar friend. He forever lectured me against the frivolous use of magic. He thinks he knows it all because of his so-called highly developed discipline of magic. I don't pay attention to him. I don't think there's a reason to get paranoid about magic. I use it all the time and haven't suffered any ill effects. Just use common sense. Besides, if you start feeling addicted, your hue will have a palliative effect.

Well, I'd love to stay and chat but I don't have all day. I heard about a shopkeeper with an ancient teapot for sale. I have to track down the venal fraud. I'll be seeing you...

Now that Herodotus is gone, I can talk a little about the playability of the mechanics that form the framework of his world.

I found the hue mechanics easy to learn. The hue rules didn't take up too much game time. The subjective feel of hues in the game lent mystery to the use of magic.

All of the RMSS and RMSS companion professions are not available in the Bladelands because of how young civilization is. There are no illusionists or seers, for example, though some small spells for the creation of illusions do exist, and people often consult with fortunetellers.

The sagas have a very quick character building system. You choose a profession, a background, then a number of training packages depending on the amount of training available for your character. For example, for my Daan mystic, I chose an artificer background with the adventurer and hedge wizard training packages. Different training packages are restricted according to race or profession.

There are many more aspects of the Bladelands to discuss, but I'll leave that for someone else.

Thanks to everyone who played in the Bladelands games at the ICE Breakers and John for running them. I had a great time.