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The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated

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I love the setting and was curious if there's anyone else on these boards who do too?

 

Steve did and amazing job with the book and I think it deserves more supplements.  Although the base book is very detailed in terms of races, geography, theology, etc, I think there's tons of room to expand on.  The setting has such good bones that it feels criminal to not expand on it.

 

Also, an update to 6th edition would be fantastic although strictly not necessary.

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I agree 100%.  My son wanted to run a campaign when he was in High School after playing in my campaign for a while.  I got him a copy of TA and it worked very well.  There was enough detail that the world felt real, plus a ton of space so he could make it his own.

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I'm currently reading through my copy of The Forgotten Realms campaign setting for D&D 3. TA has it beat on all counts -- even Steve's attempt at an olde worlde voice in his writing (which I find hard to stomach at times, especially in Tuala Morn) is better than what the FR authors tried to pull off.

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TA is my go-to fantasy game setting: Recognizably "generic" yet with a number of distinctive elements; broad and detailed but with plenty of room to elaborate; almost every location having plot seeds ripe for development. Admittedly, I've made a large number of modifications to the history and geopolitics of Ambrethel to suit my own priorities and preferences, but I couldn't and wouldn't have done so without having been given such a solid frame to hang them on.

 

Previously I posted to the forums what I would suggest if I were a GM (or writer) looking to further develop a place in the Turakian Age world as home base for my campaigns. I would look for a spot with plenty of story hooks built in, but also lots of unspecified room to expand upon. I'd want the home base to be large enough to be interesting, but small enough to be manageable. I would prefer it to be able to support a variety of adventure styles without going very far afield: wilderness exploration, city skulking, dungeon crawling, monster fights, political intrigue, military conflicts, etc. But I'd also like there to be ready potential for PCs to travel to other interesting places, as their abilities and ambitions grow.

 

On the largest continent of Arduna there are two enormous bodies of water which are the centers of vast geographic regions, with multiple kingdoms on their shores engaging in trade and political interactions: the inland Sea of Mhorec, and Lake Beralka. These two bodies are linked by the long Shaanda River, navigable along its entire length, making it one of the most heavily trafficked trade routes in the world, potentially bringing people from almost anywhere. There is no single state dominating the Shaanda; pairs of rival kingdoms are at each end, but the central stretch contains several independent small cities and large towns. The largest of these cities, Ishthac, is smack-dab at the middle of the river (according to the included map).

 

One would expect the larger kingdoms at the ends of the Shaanda to vie for control over the strategic central river. One of those kingdoms, Valicia, is ruled by a powerful wizard with ambitions of conquering the whole region (and who makes for a fine "big bad" for a campaign). But the cities of the Shaanda are described as too independent and clever to be ruled. To me this implies that they probably cooperate to defend themselves and play the kingdoms against each other; but that doesn't preclude rivalry among the cities themselves. Otherwise the Shaanda cities are given little further definition -- nothing about city layout, population, society, government, or the like.

 

Ishthac lies at the south-western edge of the huge, rugged Valician Hills region, said to be populated by "monsters" which sometimes raid the river settlements; as well as independent-minded "hill folk" with only a few other clues as to their nature. The Valician Hills also rest above one of the largest regions of the "Sunless Realms" (TA's analogue to D&D's Underdark). Somewhere within the hills is a hidden coven of powerful witches whose agenda is unknown. Chonath, a large ancient ruined city once the home of mighty magicians, and now monster-infested, is perhaps a hundred and fifty miles west of Ishthac.

 

Traveling a couple hundred miles along the Shaanda River in either direction from Ishthac will take you into the territory of the larger kingdoms, and the dangers and intrigues they feature. From there it's a relatively short trip to the Sea of Mhorec or Lake Beralka, and ready transport to half the continent.

 

I also previously posted a set of plot seeds set in one area of Ambrethel which IMO is particularly well suited to a campaign inspired by A Song of Fire and Ice/ Game of Thrones, emphasizing politics and diplomacy more than fighting and looting: Besruhan Intrigues.

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34 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

I also previously posted a set of plot seeds set in one area of Ambrethel which IMO is particularly well suited to a campaign inspired by A Song of Fire and Ice/ Game of Thrones, emphasizing politics and diplomacy more than fighting and looting: Besruhan Intrigues.

 

If you like that campaign style you will find the Pathfinder adventure path War for the Crown to be particularly interesting.

 

It thoroughly mixes in royal balls, senatorial intrigue, exploration and a modest chunk of combat.  It is a very nice change of pace from dungeon crawl heavy runs like Dungeon of the Mad Mage.

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I would say that it is not merely underrated, it is woefully under-served (in terms of support and follow-on material). But other than Champions, Hero Games has never been known for providing extensive supplemental material for any of its other genre books.

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4 hours ago, zslane said:

I would say that it is not merely underrated, it is woefully under-served (in terms of support and follow-on material). But other than Champions, Hero Games has never been known for providing extensive supplemental material for any of its other genre books.

 

I don't disagree with you, in terms of building up locations in the world. But DoJ did make an effort to support TA, with supplementary books tying directly into that setting, such as Monsters Minions And Marauders (bestiary), Fantasy Hero Grimoire I & II (spells), Nobles Knights And Necromancers (NPCs), Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds (adventures), Book Of Dragons (dragons and other really big monsters), and Enchanted Items (um, that).

 

Ultimately it was sales that determined the fate of the Turakian Age. Generally speaking, Hero fantasy material just didn't sell as well as Champions. At one point Steve actually put Aarn, City Of Adventure on the publication schedule, and expressed eagerness to write it; but it ended up being pulled due to the performance of the whole line.

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6 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

TA is my go-to fantasy game setting:

 

Ditto.  Well, sort of.  Mimeograph!  There.  That should do it.

 

For all the published fantasy settings I've seen from any company, TA is the one I enjoy the most.  Is it because it has the least Tolkien?  Maybe.  Is it because it has the least medieval England?  Possibly.  I suspect it's because it has the most "not like everything else."  So until someone publishes a John Carter setting (or, at least, until I find they one they published), it will always get my vote as "best published fantasy setting."

 

5 hours ago, zslane said:

I would say that it is not merely underrated, it is woefully under-served 

 

Perhaps because it's not (ugh) "Dark Champions."

 

No; I kid (sort of.  I understand that DC is pretty much the source material and suggestions, etc, that go with "Heroic" campaigns, but the emphasis on urban dystopia and psychotic villains and anti-heroes gets really old, really fast)).  As LL pointed out, Supers are the company's bread and butter with a pickle on top.  And fantasy-- well, the most successful fantasy settings will, for whatever reason, always be, as someone else on these boards once coined: YATRO.

 

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On 1/18/2019 at 12:15 PM, Lord Liaden said:

One would expect the larger kingdoms at the ends of the Shaanda to vie for control over the strategic central river. One of those kingdoms, Valicia, is ruled by a powerful wizard with ambitions of conquering the whole region (and who makes for a fine "big bad" for a campaign). But the cities of the Shaanda are described as too independent and clever to be ruled. To me this implies that they probably cooperate to defend themselves and play the kingdoms against each other; but that doesn't preclude rivalry among the cities themselves. Otherwise the Shaanda cities are given little further definition -- nothing about city layout, population, society, government, or the like.

 

That's a very tempting location I must admit.  I'm currently planning a 1-shot set in Aarn for a group of D&D players but if that goes well and there's interest I would totally look at that region for a campaign :)

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4 hours ago, sentry0 said:

 

That's a very tempting location I must admit.  I'm currently planning a 1-shot set in Aarn for a group of D&D players but if that goes well and there's interest I would totally look at that region for a campaign :)

 

Cool. Should you ever decide to do so, feel free to hit me up for more observations and suggestions about it. :angel:

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Crossposted from RPG net

 

Quote

Panorama of a lush rolling plain, scattered groves thick with trees, a river gleaming in the distance. The camera pans around to show a mounted group of typical adventurers who have obviously just come over the crest of a ridge – an obvious female Elf and male Human armed with bow and sword, and a male Dwarf in plate armor with an ax on his back.

 

Narrator: It is a world in many ways comfortably familiar….

 

Striding uphill behind the group, and soon looming over them, appears the gray and rocky figure of a Stone Giant. The Elf looks back and up and asks “What do you see ahead, and what is the land telling you?”

 

Narrator: Yet holding endless surprises.

 

Cut to a scene of a fantastic city, the camera closing in on a building consisting of six great stone domes in a circle and a flat roof in between on which a crowd stands.

 

The Giant speaks in a voice deep as a mountain’s root, “We have passed the old border. Long, long ago, this land was held by the People of Fire and Power.”

 

As the camera approaches the richly dressed crowd, it becomes obvious how inhuman they are – they are essentially anthropomorphic dragons, without wings but with claws, fangs, and heavy tails.

 

“You know them as Drakine” continues the Giant’s voice, “The Dragonfolk. They named this land Korlothia. It was the most powerful Drakine kingdom.”

 

In the midst of the crowd is a clear space around two figures, one a muscular Drakine of golden scales clad only in loincloth, the other robed in red and presenting on a tray a headpiece reminiscent of both a helm and a crown, topped with a golden dragon shape. The golden scaled Drakine takes up the crown and puts it his head; the dragon shape throws back its head and shoots flame skywards.

 

“Their kings ruled for centuries unchallenged” continues the voice over “When Humans came to this land, they were at first regarded as no threat. A single Drakine armed by nature with claws and scales was more than a match for three or four Humans. Armed and armored in bronze, they felt invincible compared to these smaller, weaker creatures.”

 

Cut to a scene of several Drakine in bronze armor confronting a family of Humans in an ox drawn wagon followed by a small herd of swine. One Drakine seizes one of the pigs and scares the others into bolting; the angry Human male draws a knife and advances on the pig-thief, only to be casually slapped away with one hand, the other throwing the pig over an armored shoulder.

 

“But Humans did not stay few and weak. Where Drakine were arrogant and held themselves above other peoples, Humans were ready to learn. Magic from the Elves, forging of steel from the Dwarves, and on their own they had mastered the horse.”

 

Cut to a scene of a handful of spear armed Drakine in a meadow facing a line of Humans in chain mail, mounted on horses, couching lances; A single mounted Human raises a sword and lowers it pointing at the Drakine. The cavalry charge begins.

 

“A single Human warrior mounted and armed with enchanted steel was a match for any bronze armed Drakine.  But the greatest thing the Drakine had overlooked was how much they would be outnumbered, for whereas a Human woman may bear a dozen children in a lifetime, the most prolific Drakine mother bore but five, and many bear but a single child and die in bringing forth that one. The secrets of steel and horsemanship could be stolen, Drakine wizardry could match the Humans spell for spell, but even as sporadic warfare wore away at the Drakine numbers, Humans replenished themselves faster than they fell.”

 

Cut to several quick scenes of chaotic battle, ending with one scene of a Drakine being borne down by a half dozen Humans by sheer weight of numbers.

 

“And few beings other than the demons of Mordak can hate as Humans can hate. When they overran this region, every last Drakine they caught was put to death, regardless of age or condition.”

 

Cut to an armored Human seizing up a small Drakine child by the tail and swinging it hard against a stone wall.

 

“But if Drakine did not comprehend the power of Human fertility, Humans too failed to realize much about Drakine. It is not just for tradition’s sake that Drakine always burn their dead promptly. No Drakine remained here to burn their dead, and the Humans were too ignorant to do it.”

 

Cut to a group of three Humans sleeping about a campfire. The corpse of the previously seen Drakine child creeps into the firelight. The Undead child sinks claws into the throat of one of the sleepers, who jerks and then is still. Then it moves to the next, trailing blood….

 

Cut back to the Giant, kneeling with one hand pressed to the Earth, moaning. “Terrible the hate, terrible the suffering, terrible this bloody land where armies of the dead carry on war against each other and against all who venture here!”

 

Cut to a scene of a half dozen Unburned Drakine, monstrously clawed, one crouched and looking at the ground. That one rises, points, and all begin to move.

 

Cut back to the Giant, swiftly standing and pointing in the direction the party just came from.

“A pack of Unburned have found our trail. They will be upon us in moments. Be ready. We are in their realm now, the Haunted Land.”

 

Title card appears in the flames:

TURAKIAN AGE

The Haunted Land

(Brought to you by Hero System)

 

 

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

This preview has been approved for all palindromedaries

 

 

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Also crossposted from rpg.net

 

Panorama of a lush rolling plain, scattered groves thick with trees, a river gleaming in the distance. The camera pans around to show a mounted group of typical adventurers who have obviously just come over the crest of a ridge - an obvious female Elf and male Human armed with bow and sword, and a male Dwarf in plate armor with an ax.

 

Narrator: It is a world in many ways comfortably familiar....

 

Striding uphill behind the group, and soon looming over them, appears the gray and rocky figure of a Stone Giant. The Elf looks back and up and asks "What do you see ahead, and what is the land telling you?"

 

Narrator: Yet holding endless surprises. A world of Dragons ...

 

Cut to a scene of people fleeing a burning town. An enormous green dragon lands right in their path so heavily as to knock them from their feet, before unleashing a blast of flame that conceals and presumably consumes them.

Cut back to the Giant and companions. The Giant speaks in a voice deep as a mountain's root, "This land was cut by the plow, long ago, and then fell the heavy tread of a Dragon. We are closer. There is....something else...."

 

Narrator:  ...of Dungeons...

 

Cut to a man framed from the waist up, chained to a wall, ghastly pale and unshaven, leeches clinging to his bare chest. His eyes open and focus on someone outside the camera view. "Why don't you let me die?"

A cultured voice responds "Very well. Here is a vessel of poison....I am content for you to die now."

All that is seen of the speaker is a scarlet sleeve and a pale hand holding an earthenware bottle covered in script resembling insects and crawling worms, presenting it to the lips of the victim, who drinks thirstily, then chokes, gasps, and goes limp as the leeches fall away. His head then begins to melt, before reforming into something slimy and grey and mostly featureless, the mouth becoming a circular and obscenely pulsing sucker. The unseen voice continues "Die...and rise again to feed upon the blood of the living."

 

Cut back to the Giant, still speaking "...in hidden places under the earth, foul things are done. The Dragon, Skarm the Desolator, is not the only evil thing in this land."

The Human says "Sounds like we came to the right place. Tell me again why we're here?" The Dwarf answers "Because Dragons always have gold." The Elf responds "Because we're heroes."

 

Narrator: ....and of Demons

 

Cut to the courtyard of a ruined castle.  The archers are firing into a looming inky black form with spidery legs and long snaky arms looming at the far end of the courtyard. The arrows simply strike the blackness and vanish into it. "No gold is worth this" declares the Dwarf. "We must be heroes then" answered the Human, drawing a sword and charging, followed by the Dwarf as the Elf continues to ply the bow. The Demon seizes and hurls one of the great stones fallen from the ruined wall, which the Human evades by dropping prone. Black fluid sprays as the Dwarf strikes, then he is seized and held aloft. Close up shows the ropy black tentacles exuding a slime that corrodes the armor and eats right through the ax haft until the ax head falls away. Cut to the Elf apparently whispering to an arrow before nocking and loosing it; there is a burst of light when it strikes, and the Demon shrieks and drops the Dwarf.

 

The head and long sinuous neck of a Dragon - the same one seen earlier - rises over the castle wall to glare at the Demon, which cowers down and then sinks into the ground. The dragon turns its gaze to the adventurers and opens its maw.

 

Dissolve to flame.

 

Title card appears in the flames:

TURAKIAN AGE

The Desolation of Skarm

(Brought to you by Hero System)

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

This preview has been approved for all palindromedaries

 

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On 1/18/2019 at 6:36 PM, zslane said:

I'm unclear on how those books--which I regard as generic genre material--were tied directly to the Turakian Age setting. Could you elaborate?

 

Sure.

 

All of the NPCs in Nobles Knights And Necromancers are explicitly drawn from the races, cultures, and locations of Ambrethel. Many of them are elaborations on specific people mentioned in Turakian Age. The adventures in Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds are all set in identified locales within Ambrethel. The creatures in Monsters Minions and Marauders and Book Of Dragons often include background for representative individuals of their kind, linked to a particular location and/or group within the Turakian setting. The two Fantasy Hero Grimoire(s) detail the spells that make up the "arcana" of classes of magic identified in TA.

 

All of these things are "generic" in that they'd easily fit into almost any "D&D-esque" fantasy game setting; but they all refer to the Turakian Age world as their default.

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That's interesting. It sounds like Hero Games took a page out of early TSR's book by making their fantasy supplements connected to their default "house" setting without explicitly saying so on the product covers.

 

I think it might have helped the Turakian Age brand if those books had the connection to TA right in their titles. Turakian Battlegrounds instead of Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds, Turakian Grimoire instead of Fantasy Hero Grimoire, and so on. I mean, I know that the Hero System is traditionally sold on its merits as a generic system, but I sorta feel that if you're going to put out a campaign setting as a product line, then don't try to straddle this line between generic and setting-specific with the support material. In trying to serve both audiences, the Turakian Age brand suffers, IMO. Thanks to the titles of those books, I never knew they were connected in any way to TA, and so I never bothered looking into them. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought TA was lacking support material and dismissed it because of this.

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I love the Turakian Age and it is where I've set all of my numerous Fantasy Hero campaigns. 

If I ever get off my butt and finish writing it (I'm actually about 50% done the first "book") (and figure out how to get some decent art for it) I'd start third-party publishing some mini-linked-modules/campaign for the setting. It has all been "playtested" a few times now, I just really need to devote more time to trying to finish writing it (well writing out the first 3-4 linked adventures that would be the start of the campaign). 

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25 minutes ago, mallet said:

I love the Turakian Age and it is where I've set all of my numerous Fantasy Hero campaigns. 

If I ever get off my butt and finish writing it (I'm actually about 50% done the first "book") (and figure out how to get some decent art for it) I'd start third-party publishing some mini-linked-modules/campaign for the setting. It has all been "playtested" a few times now, I just really need to devote more time to trying to finish writing it (well writing out the first 3-4 linked adventures that would be the start of the campaign). 

 

Did someone say artist?

 

Theron Painting_SM.jpg

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18 hours ago, Lucius said:

Also crossposted from rpg.net

[awesomeness...]

 

TURAKIAN AGE

The Desolation of Skarm

(Brought to you by Hero System)

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

This preview has been approved for all palindromedaries

 

 

See, if this had been the back cover copy I might have bought the thing.  

 

Is this really what TA is?

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3 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

See, if this had been the back cover copy I might have bought the thing.  

 

Is this really what TA is?

 

All drawn from what's in the book, yes. With Lucius's distinctive style added, of course. ;)

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2 hours ago, zslane said:

Is it a good idea to crib so obviously from Tolkien though? (The Desolation of Skarm? Really?)

 

Well, if anyone had the right to, it's Steve Long. He wrote extensively for Decipher's LOTR game line, including their core book.

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