Earthdawn Setting Information
Formerly a trading post at the junction where the Neise River joins the Great Ocean founded by orc traders from Mountain's Reach looking to expand their routes to the sea, Mercato has grown to a bustling city in its own right. While city politics is dominated by the wealthy orc merchant houses, the city population is increasingly filled with the other badlands peoples as well as those arriving from the west in a time of growing exploration, interconnection, and trade.
With the city's wealth and power rising, the newly-selected merchant prince Kurduuumm Kurank claimed his office on a platform of bringing Mercato out from the shadow of Mountain's Reach to engage in diplomacy of its own, and has wrangled the corresponding funding for the blood bowl team necessary to his ambitions.
The charismatic young merchant grew his family's fortune with a full embrace of the metahuman population of Mercato, expanding the Orcidas clothing brand to include products for centaurs, dwarves, skaven, ogres, and even a line of athletic shoes for snotlings. Having leveraged his newfound fame into politics, he's promised to bring the same sort of forward thinking to his administration.
A talented offensive assistant coach with the Mountain's Reach blood bowl team, Morga was recruited by the newly-selected Kurduuumm to build and lead Mercato's squad. Dedicated to proving herself, she's reaching out to retired players she thinks still have some more games in them, current members of the Mountain's Reach team she might be able to poach, and raw talent in Mercato and the badlands in general that with the potential to be shaped into a blood bowl player.
The dwarven calendar has largely been adopted for tracking time. It is divided into twelve thirty-day months:
The following information is from the perspective that Raifwise the Half-Elf might have provided to the players over the course of one or more of their social gatherings.
|Race||Patron||Elf-voice||Enclave||Home City||Enclave Language||Lifespan Multiplier|
|Centaur||Khorne||Gennermain||Iranna Mountain||Ka-Sahan (Lost)||Khazalid||1.75|
|Dwarf||Earthroot||Riellair||World's End Mountain||Silverhome||Khazalid||2|
|Troll||Alamaise||Maelyrra||Mountains of Mourn||none||Potwor||~|
|Human||Vestrivan and Vasdenjas||Illelis and Illanmaen||Sky Point||Thera||Therian||1|
|Ogre||Usun||Iyralbeth||The Great Maw||Ul||Ulish||1.25|
|Orc||Mountainshadow||Gaessandror||Dark Tooth Mountain||Mountain’s Reach||Or’zat||1|
|T'skrang||Aban||Lanulthir||The Mist Swamp||Niall||(telapathic)||1.5|
~ Thanks to regeneration, trolls may, in theory, live indefinitely. However, in practice, trolls have lifespans similar to goblins due to the risks of misadventure and violence.
|0||Humans emerge from Sky Point|
|18||Skaven emerge from Skavenblight|
|19||Dwarves emerge from World's End Mountain to both west and east|
|19||Centaurs emerge from Iranna Mountain|
|19||Trolls and goblins emerge from the Mountains of Mourn|
|20||Orcs emerge from Dark Tooth Mountain|
|24||T'skrang emerge from the Mist Swamp|
|26||An incident within World’s End Mountain severs eastern dwarves from western, rumored to be the awakening of a buried Great Horror|
|45||Fort Amazonia establishes a permanent human presence in Lustria|
|63||The Bronze Fortress is constructed, in what will ultimately be the southernmost advance of the chaos dwarves|
|74||The Southern Horde arrive in the Waste, beginning a shift in power from the dwarves to the centaurs|
|80||People living along the shoreline of the Aras Sea witness a night-long series of violent explosions of light and sound on Atlia, one-time home of the draconic senate, with the island missing, apparently destroyed, come the morning|
|82||The dragons withdraw to their enclaves and produce the elf voices to appear in their stead|
|96||Human sailors make contact with the island of Iverna and the halflings and treemen living thereon|
|114||The Mercato Council is formed independent from Mountain’s Reach by orc families growing wealthy from the development of deep-water sailing and the associated fishing and transportation industries|
|117||The centaurs rebel against Khorne and attempt to kill Gennermain. In retaliation, Khorne destroys Ka-Sahan, breaking the backbone of the centaur empire|
|123||The first blood bowl match is played. Introduced by the elves as a method of resolving disputes with reduced bloodshed, the humans and orcs fought for the right to settle the land where the match was played, in what is now Bretonnia.|
|135||Previously only inhabited in the warmer months, permanent settlements of hunters, trappers, fishermen, and miners develop at Kislev and Norsca|
|141||Ogre emigrants arrive in the Badlands from the east|
|159||Maelyrra begins releasing hobgoblins into the Badlands from the Mountains of Mourn enclave|
|174||First appearance of a player with a mutation in a blood bowl match. While rumors of their existence had circulated for years, Khutan Snakebringer (chorf blocker, tentacles, foul appearance)—who, in an interview with Jim and Carl, proclaimed his mutations a gift he received after a dream visitation from Khorne—proved their existence to the world.|
|176||Maelyrra ceases production of hobgoblins and establishes her independent domain north of Alamaise’s enclave|
|183||The first airship launches from Kavzar. Initially used for aerial scouting, while limited in number due to their great expense, they spread skaven influence across the Waste|
|208||Khatan Stonehoof, one of the last surviving Bloodletters from the days of the Southern Horde, takes control of the Bronze Fortress to worship the supposed minotaur prophet Bloodthirster living within|
Dragons and Their Wards
Earthroot of the dwarves exercises the most direct authority of any of the dragons, involving itself in the day-to-day management of Silverhome, which exists more as an expansion of the dwarven enclave than a distinct city. In conjunction with this, Earthroot makes less use of elves than many dragons, delegating to dwarves whenever possible. The dragon's elf-voice, Riellair, serves more as an external diplomat to other races than as Earthroot's voice to its people. The chaos dwarves, severed from this relationship, were left to find their own way in the waste.
Vestrivan and Vasdenjas fancy themselves the gods of the humans, with Illelis and Illanmaen their seniormost angels. While they leave the details to their human subjects, Vestrivan and Vasdenjas provide the "Ivory Path" for the Theran empire from within Sky Point. Illelis and Illanmaen are commonly found in the royal court observing that the dragons' decrees are carried out.
While Mountainshadow humbly labels himself as merely the 'teacher' of the orcs (and, of course, anyone else wise enough to embrace his lessons) he nevertheless remains actively involved in the affairs of his wards. While refraining from directly commanding any particular course of action, the lectures his elf-voice Gaessandror delivers in Mountain’s Reach's Pride Hall are rarely unrelated to the issues facing the dragon's people.
Rathorn holds herself just far enough apart from the skaven to be able to send her elf-voice, Ulsinlis, in as an impartial arbiter when the great clans are unable to settle a dispute. While she possesses a philosophical style somewhat similar to Mountainshadow’s, she’s less inclined to offer a steady stream of gentle advice than to intervene strongly at key moments for the skaven people as a whole.
Prior to the rebellion of the centaurs, Khorne was a fickle leader. He might spend a month personally directing the preparations for a minor battle—in early years in person, in later years through his elf-voice Gennermain—then spend a year ignoring his people as they waged a costly war. When the dragon attempted to reassert control halfway through a protracted campaign, undermining years of work, the centaurs turned against him and his avatar. In retaliation the dragon destroyed their home city of Ka-Sahan and withdrew completely from the centaurs. Following a brief appearance in Mountain’s Reach by the elf to prove his regeneration, neither Khorne nor Gennermain have been seen in nearly a hundred years.
While a generous patron during the Scourge, Alamaise divorced herself from any leadership of her wards soon after the trolls and goblins left the Mountains of Mourn, encouraging them to find their own way in the world. Apart from the magical experimentation of her elf-voice Maelyrra, including the creation of the hobgoblins, Alamaise has made little public contribution to the world since the time of the emergence.
The dragon Aban is known to dwell within the deep mire of the Mist Swamp, her elf-voice Lanulthir an advisor among many in the court of the t’skrang. Due to the telepathic nature of the lizardfolk, little is known to outsiders of what advice she provides.
The halflings claim that Iverna houses neither dragon nor elf, and that while the horrors may have roiled the ocean they made no effort to come on land. The treemen only talk to the halflings, who refuse to translate a question they claim to have answered satisfactorily.
The names of the dragon Usun and of its elf-voice Iyralbeth are known only from the stories of the ogres. They have never been seen in the known lands. As little is known of ogre interactions with the patrons as is of the rest of their civilization.
Magic Primer (1 of 2)
A Brief Primer on the Study of Magic Within the Known Lands, Part One of Two
Prepared by Raifwise the Half-Elf
Printed in the Badlands Bulletin, 12th Raquas, 213
While I do not claim to be an expert in the magical forms, having never taken up their practice myself—a reaction, perhaps, to the considerable inherent superiority that the full elves possess in this regard—I have nevertheless been exposed to various information regarding their exercise, whether in person or through information relayed via those with more immediate experiences than myself. I prepare this primer in the hope, therefore, that this information proves valuable, or at least a distraction, to those who chance upon it.
On Orc Rituals
My first home was with the orcs and I found myself in position to view a number of their rituals given my perceived connection to the dragon Dark Tooth. (That is, Mountain Shadow, though the orcs prefers teeth to shadows and adopted for him the name of the mountain he sleeps beneath.) I did inquire one time to Gaessandror regarding the Mountain’s thoughts on this substitution among his people, and was informed that the dragon likely gave little thought to the details of mortal language, that being a detail he left to the person of his elf-voice. An observation that an opinion might have formed in the period prior to the creation of the elves received a terse response that the dragon would not be pestered with a mater of historical trivia.
Though this connection is more a half-connection, in truth, I was included in all manners of community ritual, from harvest celebrations involving a significant percentage of the city population (quite fun, orc rituals always involve a good deal of sport, food, and drink) to smaller rituals such as welcoming a new birth (in which my presence in the birthing chamber was despairingly expected during those early years of novelty in which every highborn in Mercato needed to be blessed with the presence of the city’s almost-elf).
That this is the form of magic provided to the orcs is, I think, one of the great wisdoms of Dark Tooth. We see, as will be discussed below, the extent to which the individual collection of power has led to the greatest abuses of it. By grounding the practice of magic in community and family, orcs have been shielded from the worst excesses of spellcasters. Which is not to say that an unscrupulous ritualist cannot betray his people. Ritual politics are still politics. But the dependence on the voluntary participation of others provides a recourse for a community that other traditions of magic lack.
The great Shadow describes the heart of the orc ritual as the “communal demand.” In a sermon delivered in the thirty-second year since the orcs’ emergence, “Magic is a claim pressed upon the world. From the hand of stability, to the fist of change, it is what would not but must nevertheless be. That the rain will fall; that the crops will grow; that the children will be strong. That your mount will not tire, that your step will not falter, that your axe will cleave shield, that your blade will find your enemy’s throat, that your hands will claim what once was theirs. Demand these things. Demand them of yourself, of your fellow orcs, of your leaders, and of the gods. For what all demand together, what they will not accept otherwise, is the call that reaches even to the highest.”
The shaman Ard’ed Ironhide contextualizes this directive in his commentaries, noting the expansion of the humans in the west, contrasting the prayers of the humans (“the mewling of kittens,” in the words of the shaman) to the ritualized claims made by the orcs. Whatever the invocation of claims before the gods, there would have been no question at the time whose throats these demands would truly have been pressed upon.
But in this, a certain safeguard of the people against their leaders. The rituals can only provide what is insisted on by the aggregate, with the shaman a conduit for this claim, not the originator of it. Who commands the land the rain falls upon, who leads the axes against the enemy, the rituals cannot collectivize these questions. But if there is to be war strengthened by the magic of the people, it is the people must be driven to demand it of the gods themselves.
On Goblin Tinkering and Troll Good-Thinking
Mercato is also, of course, home to practices of magic other than orc rituals. You can find a number of goblin tinkerers here, both master creators with full apprentice workshops and the lone inventor, and you see their handiwork throughout the city, from the gear-work traffic directors keeping our busiest intersections running smoothly to the sewage dissipation system making Mercato one of the cleanest cities in the world. As the saying goes, if you shit in Mercato, at some point a goblin got paid, which has given their union (the GFA, Goblin Farmer’s Association, named for an earlier time when goblins were appreciated merely as cheap farm labor) considerable influence that they’ve eagerly taken advantage of (and reasonably so). But tinkerers produce more than traffic signals and toilets, well known to anyone who has seen a goblin-equipped team take the blood bowl field.
While their ingenuity has made goblins an invaluable addition to Mercato, few would welcome the arrival of a trollish spellcaster, the much-feared good-thinker. I’m reminded of a play I saw put on by a travelling skaven crew of performers in which they portrayed a group of drunken dwarves hunting a good-thinker. With the first half of the performance meandered through an excessive number of bawdy drinking songs, the second half provided a compelling portrayal of a troll magic-worker, the good-thinker using its telekinetic powers to dismember and decapitate the members of the hunting party. This portrayed through an ambitious application of pouches of fake blood secreted beneath the performers costumes, much space being made available through their attempts to convey the impressive stoutness of a dwarf, a dedication of effort much appreciated by the orcish audience in attendance as the removal of a limb would result in blood arcing across the stages. To which point, the chaotic and violent nature of troll magic has led to it being poorly understood, as any emergence of it is responded to violently by anyone with the means and the sense to nip a potential disaster in the bud.
On Skaven Sorcery
During my time at Kavzar, I did have the privilege of befriending a number of skaven sorcerers (who, incidentally, are not exclusively located within Clan Moulder, despite their well-earned reputation for excellence in that area of study). The fundamental principle of skaven sorcery, as I understand it, is in the formation of what they call “imago," a mental construct embodying the spell. This imago persists in their mind until such time as it is released, imposing the spell upon the world. Most of the time this is a one-and-done sort of thing, with the imago having to be reconstructed again for the spell to be used again. However, imago can also be impressed, through repeated application, on material devices, enhancing them.
This requirement of mental focus does put its practitioners in an unfortunate spot that, once an imago is forming in their head, they must maintain a certain level of discipline lest they lose control of it. This results in many of them spending much of their time in semi-isolation amongst their peers, limited in stimulation, until such time that they emerge to cast their spell upon the world. In an incident I’m familiar with, an unfortunate young skaven sorcery apprentice (whose name I will withhold as he now holds a position of some importance with his clan’s magisterial council and I would not want to embarrass him for some youthful indiscretion), lured into a tryst at the compound library, found himself in a position of heightened distraction among the book stacks, leading to a most indecorous burst of what I was later informed was a partially-constructed imago of Dancing Lights.
Some skaven scholars consider this instability a beneficial part of the schema of sorcery, that it is their embodiment of the protection against power-mad spellcasters. If successful sorcerers require peace and quiet to operate, a community can disrupt their schemes through little more than a collection of noisemakers. A spellcasting caste that must live in isolation is one that inherently must have outside support, as the thinking goes. Though this would, in comparison to the orcish solution, seem to miss the circumstance in which a sorcerer’s skills might allow them enhanced ability to fulfill the obligations of their craft without the support of their fellow skaven.
In regards to the practice of skaven sorcery, an opportunity to correct a common misconception. Warp stone (the green, glowing elements you’ve seen sticking out of skaven throwers’ throwing arms on CabalTV) powers skaven engineering, such as the airships they use to supply their outposts, the rock cannons they use to defend their city, and such relatively minor feats as the aforementioned ball launchers. While sorcerers may chose to use their magic to manipulate or study warp stone, so may such manipulation and study be applied to any other element of skaven life, with no particular connection between the two other than the obvious interest in warp stone given its prominent use elsewhere in skaven life.
On Human Thaumaturgy
My experience with human thaumaturgy is more limited, gained during a chance few weeks of a visit to Mountain’s Reach at the time of a Blood Bowl match against the Amazonia city team (a dispute regarding control of a vein of silver discovered on a coastal mountain range). One of their players (who, incidentally, introduced me to the delicacy of smoked tegu eggs) spoke of her opinion of religion as practiced in her own city as well as the cities of Thera and Bretonnia, though, as the information regarding the latter is now doubly removed, it should be absorbed with care.
In regards to the Amazonian, she eagerly displayed the sanctified tattoo their war priest had inscribed on her left flank (a benediction of stamina, blissfully) and spoke of the painted markings used for temporary blessings that she had received in the past, their location and design, which I have recreated to the best of my ability on the included drawing.
She was quite critical of the apparent recently-adopted Theran practice of the consumption of bread as part of the weekly blessing provided by their priests. Presented as a symbol of the bounty provided by so and so, she chastised it as a sop to halflings in an attempt to convert them to human religion, which she suggested might be more successful if they replaced the piece of bread with a full McMurty’s sandwich (in regards to which’s founder she intimated a torrid forbidden romance some years back, with a refusal to elaborate despite the utmost efforts on my part, the truth of which I cannot vouch for but most truly personally believe).
But this pattern reflects the nature of human magic. As with the orcs, an empowered few perform blessings upon their communities, but rather than the magic powered by a group ritual, the power bestowed in the individual minister (whether Amazonian war priest, Bretonnian cleric, or Norse goði). This has resulted in a disparity of access to these benefits excess in that seen in Mountain’s Reach and Mercato, such that the bulk of society receives a brief touch or a splash of paint granting some measure of grace while a small number receive the full might of Vestrivan’s strength or Vasdenjas’s wisdom.
I set aside my pen now for the moment, but I promise you, whoever might be so charitable to have read so far, that I will continue my overview of the study of magic with haste, in which we will discuss the rumored delights of halfling gastrology, the mysteries of t'skrang psionics, the utility of dwarven arcane engineering, the lost (and rediscovered) practices of khemri necromancy, and the sad story of the true loss of the art of centaur kinematics. Until then, I bid you farewell.
Magic Primer (2 of 2)
A Brief Primer on the Study of Magic Within the Known Lands, Part Two of Two
Prepared by Raifwise the Half-Elf
Printed in the Badlands Bulletin, 10th Sollus, 213
To those who read my previous writing, welcome back. To those others, a brief introduction. This primer is an attempt, based on my various travels and experiences, to provide an objective assessment of various schools of magic. In my first entry I shared some portion of my knowledge orc rituals, goblin tinkering, troll good-thinking, skaven sorcery, and human thaumaturgy. In this I shall provide an overview of what practices remain.
Editors note: the previous entry may be found in our 12th Raquas, 213 issue of Badlands Bulletin.
On Halfling Gastrology
The central object of worship to the halfling is the ent—the treemen that you have seen on cabal screens. Which is not a unique form of life, but, instead, a state of being into which any tree on Iverna may enter into or out of. The protectors of Iverna and the halflings thereon, the ents are credited by the halflings with keeping the island free of the Horrors during the time of the Scourge. Considered by them to be demigods at least on the par with full elves, if not the dragons themselves, it is as much the trees that form the center of halfling religion and magic as food itself.
A halfling master chef’s magic is composed in the cook-pot, the saute pan, the broiler dish, but the source of the magic is the wood of the cook-fire. Halfling fires, at least on Iverna, are built on shrubbery and other lesser woody plants—still periodically mobile, but without any sign of sentience—because no live tree may be felled and those that die naturally are used preciously. It’s with the addition of entwood to an otherwise-mundane fire that the halting master chef works, powering the boon provided to all those who consume their creation.
The form of the boom is shaped by the recipe used, which I’ve been told depends not just on the base formula, but must be adapted to the particular quality of the specific ingredients being used; no two heads of garlic or chicken are the same. I have only once dined on the infused creation of a halfling master chef, but in that instance was fortune enough to watch the maestro at work in the kitchen. The occasion was the Feast of Founding, in regards to the capture of what was once the tabaxi settlement of Chioptl—known now, of course, as Mountain’s Reach—and we were fortunate enough to have Chef Chef Harpregar Bonnfast, a recent hire of the Magnus Lurglum, pull a chip of wood from the pouch at his belt, a disk no larger than a Mercato silverpiece, and toss it into the fire as he finished the sauce he was preparing for a fleet of hens. Upon entry of the chip, the fire turned from red-orange to a rich green, at which point the smell of mushrooms, wine, peppercorns, garlic, tarragon, and other fine things, already quite pleasant, grew immensely more immediate and intoxicating.
Beyond the sensuousness of the meal, which was beyond describing, it instilled in each of us that consumed it a sense of fullness, not just of satiation, but of satisfaction that, upon a night’s rest, led to a pervasive strength for our chimera hunt the next day. All those I spoke to of the hunt brought up the same sense of clarity that I experienced: the brightness of colors, the lucidity of sound, of the softness with which one tread the forest floor. If it is to be believed that life on Iverna is such at all times that I will admit some regret that I was not born a halfling.
On Dwarf Arcanistry
We might ask, what distinguishes dwarf arcanistry from goblin tinkering? Both produce mechanisms of seeming mechanical function but with capabilities beyond those of mundane manufacturing. Why do we say a goblin tinkers while a dwarf engineers? To sum it in one sentence: goblin tinkering is the extraordinary use of mundane materials while dwarf arcanistry explores the practical use of extraordinary materials. A goblin may make an iron songbird to sing an uncanny song, while a dwarf may make a mithril knife that never dulls.
The products of a goblin tinkerer are, where they’re not bespoke, unique to the workshop of the tinkerer in question (consider D'glish Boundfoot’s gliding boots, which he has half a dozen assistants turning out to meet the demand from the young and adventurous sportsman set of the Mercato highborn). In contrast, dwarves organize themselves into guilds—the printer’s guild, maintaining printing presses, built on a common spec, in every major city; or the arbalest guild, whose crossbows use interchangeable core parts whether manufactured in Silverhome or Mountain’s Reach. The closest the goblins have to this widespread organization is, through necessity, the coordination required in their monopoly on the production of cabal telos-vision equipment, and even that is organized by the assignment of regional contracts to independent operators, many of whom devise their own designs, subject only to the limitations enforced by the elven architecture of the medium of communication.
A particular dwarf smith may belong to multiple guilds and may be of differing ranks in each. In Mercato, Molazina Athninsdotr is a full master of at least half a dozen among the various weapon and armor smith guilds, while—with a persevering interest in new experiences that I can attest to—she has only recently attained apprentice rank in locksmithing under the tutelage of a local practitioner, the Journeyman Leotan Steelbender, her junior in ever other respect. It is a mindset of continual self-improvement well-suited to the long life of the dwarven people and one wonders if the goblins would find themselves as similarly organized if they had the time in their lives to build such structures.
On T’skrang Psionics
I have never, myself, met a t’skrang, nor even met anyone who has. Notoriously private beyond their isolation in their swamp, their public face has, for many generations, been hired Amazonians rather than their own kind. Beyond the glimpse of one at the sideline of a blood bowl match—the field occupied, of course, only by their client races—few t’skrang allow themselves to be seen by outsiders. Masters of reading and manipulating minds, they have little regard for those who cannot do the same.
On Khemri Necromancy
Khemri necromancy, an art named after those who no longer practice it except in the fears of every sensible person. A people thriving to the east of the Earthback mountains, their kind was lost to the Scourge—said to be the result of a failed attempt to use their death magic to protect themselves from the Horrors.
Following their emergence, their techniques have been adopted by a variety of races, though its most notable practitioners have been existing skaven and human magic-users, their spellcasting techniques seemingly the most adaptable to the khemri practices and most useful for recovering its lost knowledge. My own secondary familiarity comes from a Therian thaumaturgist studying khemri necromancy techniques in association with his position as clerical prosecutor enforcing church law in the practice of magic. Fringed, as I was, with a portion of the divine aura the humans place on their elves—almost beyond anything I experienced in Mountain’s Reach or Mercato even during my earliest days—he spoke, perhaps, more candidly than he might have otherwise, assisted, I think, by an intellectual interest he clearly took in the material.
According to the cleric, all magic—even, cautiously proposed, what he called the magic of the higher forms, elves and dragons—is a transfer of potency from one place to another. Sorcerers, in his reckoning, draw on the vigor of their own mental strength. Shamen draw on the strength of their people. Thaumaturgists, to his pride, draw on the strength of their dragons. Necromancers draw on that which lingers on beyond death, that which does not ascend to the gods.
It is understood that the spirit rises after death, but that some shadow of the mind and the body linger on. This is what the necromancer calls on. The latter for the simpler undead, the zombie, the skeleton. The addition of the former for the knowing undead, such as the wight or golem. A mind might be recovered intact, or partial so, in a wight or the mummies of old. A mind might be remade, as in the golem.
It is the sleeping minds that present the true danger of necromancy. A zombie or skeleton obeys its master, or lacking one drifts without aim. Even most wights, intelligent as they are, present no more serious threat than a mortal man. What men must fear is the lich, the undead necromancer, a wight made from the mind of a khemric spellcaster. The last such known instance of this, the Lich Emperor Untep-Bakar, reborn in 103, had his undead legions defeated only by the combined forces of Bloodletters Slaveback, Zzhagrakh, and Htandian.
The thaumaturgist had spent much of early adulthood in the eastern wastes, exploring the ruins of the Khemri Imperium, where he saw first-hand the dangers of the study of necromancy. In days before, it might be possible to scavenge some book of necromantic lore, some folio of undead study, in the great fallen cities. But in the hundreds of years since the emergence, the known ruins have been picked clean. While those who study necromancy understand the danger of allowing even the gift of speech to a reanimated khemri mage—the risk that they might gain sufficient independence to engage in their own enhancement and advancement—many find themselves in the position that these are the only avenue for learning left to them. With no great armies in reserve in these times—the merciful benefit of Blood Bowl—one must wonder what would happen if a living necromancer were to lose the leash of their undead tutor.
On Centaur Kinetics
While, unlike the khemri, the the centaur race is still with us, they find their magical art of kinetics to be even more deceased than that of the necromancers. Preserved only by the long life of the centaur people, no new kineticist has been trained and no existing kineticist has learned a new technique since the rebellion of 117.
To those who do not know the legends, centaur kineticists were masters of the body. A centaur warrior who devoted a few fine kills to Khorne might find themselves blessed with strength, with speed, with a freedom from pain or weariness. Those who proved themselves and dedicated many strong sacrifices would move beyond the limits of their bodies, to not just strike a foe harder than mere muscle allowed, but to strike an enemy beyond the range of one’s reach, or to walk through fire, or run for days on end, to move beyond their limitations. Bloodletters, those who provided not just the bounty of their own sword but of a whole army, would then be granted strength for their army at their command. Blood paid for blood.
This ended with the rebellion of the centaurs. While those who had been strengthened retained what they had gained, no more would learn or improve. It seems inevitable that, as the last generation of centaur kineticists pass—we note the fall of Bloodletter Khatan mere months ago—this art will disappear from the world. Those who have heard the stories of the great armies of the Bloodletters, driven to a furious stampede for weeks on end as the badlands fell before them, may not lament this fading. But I cannot help but feel for the loss of an opportunity for a centaur kinetics apart from Khorne’s demand for the endless expansion of the centaur empire.
On Magic and Race
A coda on an important point, alluded to in the discussion of necromancy but deserving to be brought to the fore. While these traditions are described in reference to their cultural context, they are not necessarily tied to a specific race. In simple terms, then, what does it take to learn each school of magic?
Orc rituals may be practiced by any who master them and can move their people in their performance. Though non-orcs being trained are an exception, near Mercato we have seen the success of the centaur shaman H'zhakh Rainfist in the village of Osgar. Further, while there is certainly an element of talent or skill in the performance of rituals, it is not akin to some forms of magic in which raw practitioner must show some innate aptitude in order to be entered into train.
In contrast, goblin tinkering appears to be an inborn trait of a limited portion of the goblin people. No non-goblin—including, to my knowledge, hobgoblins—has expressed the ability to reinforce and enhance goblinesque devices, and within the goblin race only those touched with the copper hand, as they say, are able to practice the art. Such talents are identified at a young age so as to find their placement as a tenderfoot of a senior tinkerer.
Troll good-thinking, to the extent it is understandable, is a malady exclusively of the trolls, inflicted as if a random curse, unteachable and unlearnable. Whether this curse manifests at birth or might strike later in life, I do not think anyone knows.
Human thaumaturgy is a boon from the dragons Illelis and Illanmaen, provided and retracted at their whim. There is skill in its practice, to be sure, but the most powerful practitioners are, without exception, the dragons’ most favored clergy and holy warriors. The recipients of this power are mostly humans, but a number of dwarves have joined their ranks, and the recent appearance of halfling priest Gropit Clumpthistle at a Theran church in Mercato for the holy day of Kalenya’s Ascendence shows the reach of the human’s teachings outside their own ranks.
Dwarf arcanistry is an advanced application of dwarf smithing techniques to the working of mithril, adamantium, orichalcum, and other rare materials. They do not exclusively keep their knowledge within their species—there is a notable pair of centaur smiths, the brothers Dourhakk and Jezakk Madbull in Mountain’s Reach, that work with hihi'irokane from Dark Tooth Mountain and Master Athninsdotr in Mercato has been training an orc apprentice in the same.
Skaven sorcery is an intellectual practice, the academic counterpart to the social practice of orc rituals. Jealously guarded as a rule, and improved by talent and skill, but learnable by anyone. Entry into a sorcery apprenticeship or the Moulder magical academy in Kavzar is generally limited to intellectually gifted youths, but the presence, I’ve been told, of various cases of nepotism show that raw talent is not needed for at least modest success in the art. To their credit, the skaven have shown an openness to teaching outsiders, with orcs, humans, dwarves, hobgoblins, and others having made names for themselves as sorcerers.
Halfling gastrology is, to my knowledge, known only to the halflings, but, as I was told by the chef mentioned above, in theory learnable by anyone. Anyone interested in developing the art would be advised to apply on Iverna and hope that one learns how to master the cooking pot rather than dwell within it.
T’skrang psionics is a development of the natural telepathic abilities of the t’skrang, so I believe any would-be practitioner would need to acquire those first.
Centaur kinetics were bought with blood, a currency Khorne once accepted only from his chosen people and now from none.
While not discussed above, as they do not represent a true school of magic to my understanding, worth mentioning as an aside are Khorne’s mutations—if that is who is truly responsible for them—which appear somewhat randomly, though limited to the races of skaven, dwarf, goblin, troll, and human (as well as, it would seem, at least some number of higher animals, such as minotaurs), and intensified in some areas (such as among those who work with warpstone or its associated materials). If they are from him, the backhand to the centaurs is obvious enough and hobgoblins we might imagine were excluded due to some quirk of their creation by Maelyrra, but it does raise questions as to his disregard for orcs, halflings, t’skrang, ogres, and snotlings. Questions I, unfortunately, cannot answer.
And with this, fine reader, I have taught you what I could in the space and time allotted to us. I thank you for following me on this discussion and hope that, someday, I may find an excuse to write to you again. Fair you well.