Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pamphlet Dungeon Jam: Labyrinth

My submission to Nate Treme's Pamphlet Dungeon Jam is live on and ready to be downloaded, printed, and played!

Here's the gist of the thing:

"The great Wizard Cull is a hero to the peasants and nobles alike, a man of honor who saves all those in need.

Little do they know, he has a darker side. The Magic User is a worshipper of Chaos, and uses his immense power and wealth to play games on unsuspecting travelers. The Labyrinth is his oldest game.

Discovered underneath his tall tower in the Hinterlands, the dungeon has been stocked with many terrible foes for Cull’s endless games.

If you can escape, great riches will be your reward. But if you cannot break free of this terrible place, your corpse will become just another on the pile!"

And here, take a look at the first page of the trifold dungeon! Available now as a PWYW title on!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Barony of New Tower

At the Battle of Terric Hills, a skirmish between two quarreling Nobles, Duke Estone d'Lombard(Fighting-Man 13) was saved by one of his soldiers. A peasant from some far-flung village of his. In a moment of gratitude, he swore to the man that he would make him a lord for his actions!

Carrying out that promise was harder said than done, Duke d'Lombard may have no issue with granting just rewards to all, but his vassals didn't like being on equal footing with one of their subjects, and thus objected to every fiefdom with the Duke tried to grant him.

The Duke knew he could never grant a true fief to the man who saved him, but also felt a burning desire to keep his word. And so he found a compromise. Yorick(Fighting-Man 1), the peasant in question, would be granted a tiny plot of land from within the Duke's own domain, but would fall under the vassalage of the neighboring Duke Islay(Fighting-Man 9)so as to assuage d'Lombard's own vassals.

Duke Islay

That spec of territory to be given to Yorick was barren save for a village with less than thirty residents who barely eked out an existence farming the inhospitable climate for what food they can and selling the strange baubles they create in their small thatch huts.

To try and ease his mind about saddling Yorick with this excruciatingly poor land, so poor in fact that Duke d'Lombard had never once collected taxes from it, he had a tower built for him right outside the village. 

Thus the name of the fief, New Tower, the tower itself is a simple structure. A mere two-story building with a hall for attending to the Laird's business as well as a kitchen on the first floor, a trio of bedrooms on the second floor, and a ladder to the roof where lookout can be kept.

To help the Laird Yorick transition into his new ruling authority, he was given a small stipend from the Duke, as well as the aid of three competent men-at-arms. As well, a traveling knight by the name of Sir Colin Byrus(Cleric 4) swore himself to the young Laird out of respect for his heroism and is now teaching Yorick his letters, which he had never learned being a poor miner.

Sir Colin Byrus. Ladies everywhere curse his vows of chastity.

Usually, this small valley, nestled deep into a low mountain range, would be quickly forgotten by all involved. But, as he surveyed the lands for his Laird, Sir Colin discovered a cave, not on any maps, and none of the locals would dare speak of it. While Exploring the place, he quickly learned that there was far more to the cave than meets the eye.

He left the cave, not willing to risk leaving Yorick alone to rule without training, and with some danger bearing down on him. Instead, he sent word to the nearest town to the alert the Duke who would, in turn, alert the Prince at the capitol, Makara, who will then create a Quest and allow the Adventurer's Guilds to dispatch parties to inspect and deal with the menace.

Of course, this bureaucracy brings with it only more bureaucracy, and already Inspectors, Assessors, and even a Banker looking to set up shop have arrived in New Tower. It looks like this dungeon was just what the village needed to bring it into the world...

Monday, March 18, 2019

Silver Swords PDF live on Drivethrurpg!

Stronghold Press Games' first major product, the 40-page zine titled Silver Swords which contains over a dozen articles covering all aspects of role-playing games! You can find the zine here!

If you'd like a sneak peek of the contents of the zine, take a look at this free two-page PDF containing a side quest, a new monster, and four new magic items!

All backers of the Silver Swords Kickstarter should have received their PDF of the zine and of Maverick! through Drivethrurpg!

Here's a look at the articles contained within the zine itself! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Banking in Makara

Everybody uses the Royal Bank of Makara to secure their funds and change their money. With branches in every town and countless villages, it is by far the largest bank in the country, even making it's presence known worldwide.

The Royal Bank offers a few different ways to store your wealth and get something back from it.

The first is that any money you deposit into an account will be used to fund dungeon delves and other profitable endeavours that will bring dividends back to BoM. All accounts receive a flat 1% guaranteed yearly return on investment.

The next is government Trust Certificates. Essentially, this is investing in the Royalty itself. This money goes directly to the Prince who uses it to fund many worthwhile acts. TCs receive a 1.5% yearly RoI for periods of 5, 10, or 30 years. You cannot request your money back before the end of the period.

In addition to these safe and insured savings methods, BoM also offers more aggressive, and dangerous, investment methods such as Plunder Funds: An investment in a number of dungeon delves with a 4% average RoI, but with some risk.

As well, Direct Plunder Investments allow people to purchase their own shares of dungeon delves. This method is reserved for those with lots of capital to start with.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Agriculture in Makara

While Makara's main export is trade goods, it also proudly grows enough good to provide for itself without the need to import food from another foreign power, who could then use it against them.

Makara has no singular main crop, instead choosing to diversify its agriculture to provide security against famine or crop blights. The three major foodstuffs grown are corn, wheat, and potatoes. These three crops make up the majority of Makaran farmland.

In addition to these, lemons and oranges are a very common cash crop grown to be sold at the nation's ports to sailors for their long voyages.

In the Northeastern Highlands of Makara another cash crop is grown, Tabak. The leaf of the Tabak plant, when crushed, packed, and smoked, causes a feeling of euphoria among those who use it.

The many minor highland lords who dot the hills and valleys of the inhospitable terrain often set their peasants to farm as little food and as much tabak as they can, so that it may be sold in the cities and towns of the Western coast and provide the noble with a much higher income than they could ever hope to earn otherwise.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Makaran Census and Excise Office

An oddity in the world of Emberfell, the Makaran Census and Excise Office is a bureaucratic agency made to handle all issues relating to trade and census data. Including, but not limited to, levying tariffs, inspecting trade goods, recording immigration and emigration data, and detailing the total number of houses and inhabitants across the nation.

Every city and major border entrance is equipped with a Census and Excise Office, or CEO, and anybody coming through that location must make an appearance in the office before attempting to do any business.

"Manic Scribe" by Matthew Stewart

The first CEO was established in Makara shortly after trade with the Wood Elves was established and the volume of travelers entering Makara exploded to uncontrollable levels. The newly crowned Prince Raket Algot tasked some of the best and brightest minds with finding a solution to this problem. Thus the Office was born, and continues to serve a similar and important duty to this day.

The impact of the CEO should not be taken lightly, some estimates says that it raises tax revenues by almost double due to properly valuing and taxing all commercial goods which come through, as well as more adequately documenting every citizen of Makara, thus allowing taxes to be levied against them.

In addition to this, the CEO employs a large number of Makarans, providing them with work and a decent living, which allows them to contribute to the society in which they live.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Transportation in Makara

In a country as reliant on trade and commerce as Makara, roadways and adequate forms transportation is a necessity. This is why so many of the long roads across the country are paved. The main highway of Makara leads from the border with the Wood Elves in the Southwest to the Settled Lands in the North, and likely sees millions of travelers per years across the breadth and width of the long road.

The most common sight along the roads is the Road Vigils, Makara's own branch of law enforcement dedicated to patrolling and guarding the long stretches of highway and defending against the ever-present scourge of banditry which plagues any wealthy nation. Following them, the average traveler, whether wealthy or poor, on foot or horseback, are a common sight traveling for business or for pleasure to and fro the many destinations Makara has to offer.

Next are the freight and passenger wagons that, as their names would suggest, carry people and commerce across the realm. Horses are rarer this far south than they are in the Settled Lands, and are therefore more expensive. Causing wagons to operate by mule or oxen, instead. Many poorer merchants ply their trade with only a single mule to their name, thus the common moniker of "One Mule Business" often being used to denote a poorer businessman.

Art by David Lewis Johnson

Next to horses Elk are an even rarer sight. The species is closely guarded by the Wood Elves and it is rare to see any other race riding them, lest they be well respected by the Elves. An Elk can easily cost a wealthy merchant his whole fortune just to obtain one.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Makara and the Dwarves

Courtesy of Photobucket
While it would seem that most of the foreign relations of Makara revolves around the Wood Elves, Hobgoblin Empire, and the Humans and other ilk of the Settled Lands. The relationship between the Principality of the Dwarves beneath their very feet is very important to the defense of the small nation.

The few outposts of the distant Dwarven Homelands that dot the subterranean corridors of Makara represent the end of the influence of the short-statured, underground dwelling folk. The "Great Highway" for which the Dwarves are famed does not even reach the borders of the Principality. Instead, the only Dwarven settlements here are distant military posts, here to guard against an incursion by the vast Kobolds, Troglodytes, and Lizardmen who dwell in the caves and underground of the Southern Reaches.

It wasn't until years after the founding of Makara that these scant few Dwarven Soldiers made themselves known to the City. The Dwarves enjoyed the passive relations with the Makarans, and even the small amount of trade which took place between the two peoples. But it was quickly apparent that the Dwarves had little of value to trade, having brought very few of their miners with them to these faraway lands, they had very little by way of wealth and so made a new agreement with the City-state.

In return for food, money, trinkets, and entertainment. The Dwarven Veterans would establish a new outpost directly beneath Makara where they would build a forge to craft equipment from the Soldiers and Sailors above, as well, they would assist in training Makaran Soldiers in the ways of Dwarven warfare.

This agreement served to strengthen the Makaran Army at a crucial point in time, leading the quick conquests of the surrounding territories which make up the Principality today. And it has only brought the Dwarves and Makarans closer together. They both enjoy very close relations and have agreed to assist each other in their times of need.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Makaran Elections

Elections in Makara are a simple process and are decided by a simple totaling of votes. Whichever candidate has the most votes in their favor wins the election. There are no parties, officially, but people of like ideologies tend to stick together and support each other.

Who can vote?
There are no restrictions on who can vote according to race and gender. Instead, restrictions are placed on residences. Two individuals may vote per established Home of Record. Residences are left to decide who their two voters are

Common Houses represent fewer votes per capita. With only one out of every ten of the residents, decided by the common house administrators, being allowed to vote.

Royalty and Nobility are forbidden from voting or from endorsing/supporting political candidates. Instead, they have important duties during election time. In Makara, it is the Prince's job to oversee all elections to ensure there is no corruption or lying taking place.

What's a Home of Record?
Well, I'm glad you asked! An "H-O-R" as they're more commonly known, is a residence of any sort(House, Apartment, Hut, top floor of a bar) that has been officially recorded in the Census and Excise Office and has taxes paid on it every year. Those H-O-R's with unpaid taxes are not allowed to vote come election day.

How do they vote?
Citizens vote by having their vote recorded at the voting booths placed in the City Hall of their respective city. The votes are recorded and the names checked against the list of people in each HOR and, should discrepancies arise, the first two votes from any Residence are taken as the official votes and the rest thrown out.

Who tallies the votes?
The Prince's Office of Elections handles the collection and tallying of all the ballots. The Prince himself than announces the election winners one week after the initial vote was held.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Nobility in Makara

The Noble Lords and Ladies of Makara occupy an important place in the societal table. Despite the very advanced and, in many ways democratic, nature of the Principality, old ways still hold value.

Social Hierarchy
The social hierarchy in Makara is in many ways the Feudal table of hierarchy that we all likely know well from grade school. The only real change is that Guildmasters and Merchants in the Lords and Knights cross-sections, respectively.
Courtesy of
Makara has no king, but it still has royalty. The Prince of Makara is the latest in a long line of men and women who have ruled the country for the last 80 years. Succession is typically by primogeniture, with the ruler's first born child becoming the next Prince or Princess. But it is possible for a Prince to nominate another member of their dynasty to succeed them, although it is rare.

The Nobility of Makara mostly exist in two places; as courtiers to the Prince, living in the capital, receiving an income from the Royal Court, and serving the Prince how he deems fit. Or as landed Lords across the country, mainly the rural areas. Landed Lords rule over vast domains of sparsely populated farm or borderlands that provide, respectively, food or protection to the rest of the country.

Marcher Lords
The Margravates, Lords, Stewards, and Knights of the "Marchlands", or the uncivilized borders, are very important to the defense of the realm as a whole. Constantly engaged with raiding tribes from the Orcish Wastes, or angry border Governers from the Hobgoblin Empire, these lands are always ready to fight, and the men and women levied from the towns and villages have far more military experience than their fellows in the more peaceful interior of Makara.

The most well trained and experienced soldiers in Makara are the Knights. These heavily armored men and women are employed by Lords, Guilds, the Army, and even the Prince at times to lead the rank and file soldier of the realm and carry out precision surgical strikes against valuable foes.

A knighthood can be granted to anyone by any knight, but the rank and respect of the person who knighted someone carries a lot of influence into how that new knight will be treated and respected by others. A poor knight from the country who can barely afford chain armor is not someone you'd prefer to be knighted by. But the Prince himself knighting you? There is no higher honor.

Some knights, especially in the Marchlands, can be granted rulership of a village or even a small town in order to gain income from the settlement while also organizing it into a more defensible and competent military asset.

The vast majority of Makaran citizens are commoners. Men and Women who are free to make their own way in life but, also, not entitled to any power or wealth. Merchants, Guildmasters, Lawyers, Politicians. They all come from this level, which just goes to show how far up the social ladder an average person can rise in Makara.

Peasants and Serfs
Serfdom and Peasantry are not common in Makara. The only real holdouts of these old acts are in the Marchlands, where Lords can argue the need for absolute servitude by those whom they outrank. Many Peasants and Serfs make a break for the cities and towns where they find their freedom as Lords are not allowed to hunt down these deserters from their lands.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Makaran Education

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Higher education in the Principality of Makara revolves around the Makaran Academy. A famous institution which specializes in the study of things relating to money and law. Some of the world's great scholars of the last few generations have been educated here. But that does not mean it is the only school in Makara.

Public Institutions
There are not many locations offering free education to the citizens of Makara. In fact, there are only two, and they are both in the City itself.

The first such institution we will discuss here shall the "Makaran Grammar School for the innocent youth of the City" more commonly known as the Grammar School. This location offers free education to all Makaran children between the ages of 6 and 12, after that, children often assist their parents working and can no longer attend the school. It does not teach the children many subjects, but any education, no matter how rudimentary, has value in this world. The list of subjects taught includes literacy, basic mathematics, and even some history.

The next, and final, location of public education in Makara is the "Grand Museum and Library of the Prince of Makara" also known as the Library. This dual-purpose structure houses thousands of books which have been collected by the Royal Family over the decades of their power. The Museum wing also contains many of the treasures which the city-state has acquired over the years. It is quite a source of pride for Makara, and many diplomatic interactions take place in the Museum simply to show the power and wealth which the nation possesses.
Wikimedia Commons

Private Colleges
There are a further three Private institutions of higher learning. These locales are operated by the wealthy and for the wealthy. The poor average Makaran is not welcome within the walls of these selective institutions. Both Chartered Makaran cities have a college, the third college is in a more unique settlement.

Chaeport - Bards' College
Chaeport, the coastal city which borders the Wood Elven lands and handles most all trade from them, is home to the Bards' College the only institution for hundreds of miles offering a robust education in all things Bard. Any instrument known to the world can be learned here, the library has a vast collection of Epic Poetry and Wood Elf Sagas, classes in seduction and charm are often packed to the fullest, and very desirable by all the wealthy young nobles and merchants' children.

Very rarely, the College can convince a Wood Elf, masters in charm, to teach a course or two for an exorbitant fee. Despite this, it's not hard to find a Wood Elven Advisor to the Faculty.

Oakmont - College of Agriculture and Engineering
The College in Oakmont offers full courses in the study of Agriculture, as it pertains to managing vast farms, and in Engineering, as it pertains to both Civil and Military pursuits. The price of attendance at Oakmont is very high, so much so that many wealthy patrons of the school instead offer up their land or privileges in exchange for the honor of their child attending.

Graduates from Oakmont tend to find themselves working outside of Oakmont or even beyond the borders of Makara itself, as they are well sought after by other nations the world over for their talent in both raising crop yields and thus staving off famine and in improving the defenses of great fortifications. Whatever work an alumnus finds for themselves, it tends to mean large amounts of wealth flowing back into Makaran banks, as they are so well trusted that you can likely find a branch of a Makaran bank in every notable capital city in the Settled Lands.

Brennaburg - College of Military Theory and Strategy
Brennaburg's College is a much different beast than the others discussed on this list. After the Noble citizens of Oakmont began demanding more and more privileges than were granted to any other resident of the City and were refused, things almost turned to bloodshed and violence. Things were on the verge of chaos before a wealthy merchant offered to help the Nobles found their own city on the caravan routes between the Settled Lands and Makara, where Oakmont also lies.
Art by Windfall Designs

This solution was not beloved by many, but it brought peace to a dangerous situation, and that is all that was required at the time. Since then, Brennaburg has grown up in the shadow of Oakmont. The merchant who helped found the city was granted a Noble Title himself and now rules a small fief close to the city walls. Brennabrug is still overshadowed by the wealth and influence of Oakmont, but still, as Nobles do, the city aspires to greatness. It is attempting to gain a City Charter from the Prince himself, but that is a complicated situation to be discussed another time.

In the aftermath of unrest in Oakmont and the founding of Brennaburg, all Noble students were banned from attendance at the College of Agriculture and Engineering. As a result, Brennaburg founded its own college. Being a Noble institution, it was quickly influenced by the often violent and militaristic nature that Noble society is well known for. The school now educates the world's best Tacticians and Strategists, sought after as advisors and leaders of Mercenary orders across the Settled Lands. Although, there is quite enough to keep them busy here, with the Hobgoblin Empire of Ukredia right across the border, often sending probing parties of raiders into Makaran lands...

The Makaran Academy
Too much to be discussed here in this small article, the Makaran Academy is deserving of it's own article and will, eventually, receive one.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Taxation in Makara

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Makara's government is supplied via a plethora of taxes. There are many wacky taxes that are common in any early renaissance society. From the Salt tax to the Window tax, Makara finds many interesting ways to pay for their basic upkeep. But to fund their more enterprising endeavors, the Princes have found many wealthier sources of income, three of which we will discuss here.
Art by Luigi Castellani

"The Dungeon Tax"
Dungeons generate a massive pile of coins, without a doubt. For the first few years of Makaran history, the wealth from these adventures went untaxed by the Government. But that only gave rise to a country where the guilds were far wealthier than the country itself. That had to be remedied, and so the Dungeon Tax was put into effect.

The terms of this tax are that when a haul is recovered from a dungeon, a representative from the government must be called to assess the value and then take 3/10ths of the assessed value as the Prince's cut. After this, the nearest settlement to the location has the right to take 1/10th of the haul, as a result of having to live with the danger.

This tax is likely the single largest income stream for Makara, as there's no such idea as an "income tax" at this place and time. Although the idea of a wealth tax has been passed around, as the old Empires taxed their citizen's wealth directly.

The "Lone Adventurer Tax" applies to any person or group who enters a city with a suspected dungeon haul in tow. Seeing as how most valuable dungeons are claimed by a Guild as soon as they are discovered, any dungeon which is unclaimed is fair game to any adventurer who wants to take the risk. These smaller dungeons tend not to have as much wealth as larger, claimed ones.

This tax is not very heavy, expecting the contents to be quite light and these Individual Adventurer's not being so wealthy, the Prince lays claim to only 1/10th of the wealth of these hauls, with the settlement closest to the dungeon receiving 1/20th of the wealth.
Art by David L. Johnson

Sales tax
It may not come to mind as a large revenue stream for a government but Sales tax is quite valuable when you take into account the fact that wondrously enchanted magic items are sold for thousands or tens of thousands of gold coins.

Sale tax is placed at 1/20th the value of any item sold, and the Prince is very aware of those who would claim false sales to then pay less taxes so he has an agency of people who go around inspecting the contents of every store in the city and then later comparing that to the listed value of items sold.

Monday, March 4, 2019

On Alignment

In the world of Emberfell, people are morally aligned in different ways. Anyone who has played an RPG in their time will understand the three alignments. Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. The three tenets set forth by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the original 1974 publication of “Dungeons and Dragons” has caused strife in the role playing community ever since. But this article isn’t for RPG history, I’ll save that for another time. This article is for a dissection of alignment in the campaign setting “Emberfell”.

The people of Emberfell will recognize that someone is a more chaotic individual, or a more ordered and lawful personage. But they will not look at this as some part of a person’s basic info. Instead, they will judged people on those traits the same way we today would judge someone with those traits.

Instead, the idea of alignment, even as it pertains to  in-game religion, is a mechanic to help the readers understand the subject. Not as a calculable in-world factor. As such, players in the world of Emberfell should never be defined by their alignment. A character who defines themselves as Lawful may, at times, do chaotic things. And vice versa. That being said, players should thoroughly think through their character and how they would behave before they select an alignment.

The purpose of alignment, for me at least, is to help a Dungeon Master tailor an adventure to the players. An adventure would obviously be handled differently for Chaotic characters than it would be for Lawful characters.

As a side note, regardless of the ruleset used with Emberfell, characters can speak their alignment language and this is a common way for distant cultures to communicate. Alignment language is tied to Religion. Any follower of a Lawful god can speak Law. Same goes for Neutral and Chaos.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

On Religion

Religion is an important factor of life across all of Emberfell. It can act a uniting or dividing element in many squabbles. People have a tendency to be at odds with those who do not share their beliefs.

As such, warring for religious reasons is all too common. The three main gods, to be further explored below, all have cults and churches dedicated to them who possess vast military, political, and economic power.

There are many gods in this world. Dozens, if not hundreds, of minor cults are spread across the land, some are good, some are evil, but many just exist without affecting the world around them.

There are many gods who represent Law, Order, and Goodness in the world. Chief among them is Jalidar the first god. Jalidar is believed to be the most powerful god and possesses the most populous followers. But she does not condone using power for personal gain, and as such will disfavor subjects who abuse their influence to obtain some unneeded reward such as wealth or positions of power.

The gods of Neutrality represents those who are out neither to do good or to do evil. Those who merely wish to survive and thrive in the world. Gamblers, many politicians, lawyers, merchants. They are people who desire success but are just as often met with failure. The Chief god of Neutrality is Dorason, the Trickster god. He encourages his followers to play fast and loose with the rules. He doesn't encourage pranks, tricks, or deceptions for the sake of them. He desires his followers always act with a purpose to their behavior.

Art by Earl Geier

The gods of Chaos desire, quite simply, chaos. They rejoice in seeing a world turned on it's head. When rules are broken and pacts betrayed, it is likely that these powers are the force behind them. Those who follow Chaos are typically those who desire power, wealth, and personal gain at the expense of all those around them. The chief god of Chaos is Ravik. Ravik was a disciple of Jalidar before he was expelled from the ranks of her followers for abusing his power and position for his own nefarious reasons.

Religious War
As a general rule, the cults of Chaotic Gods are more powerful as a military force than the cults of Law or Neutrality. A major reason behind this is the use of Golems by Chaotic armies in both attacking and defending.

Art by Luigi Castellani
Yet, Law tends to win the many wars waged between the religions. The reasons for this are twofold. First, Chaotic cults have a tendency to self destruct once they near victory due to the fact that they all vie for individual gain, and can't work well for long. Secondly, when all things are dire, and the end is nigh for the cults of Law, Jalidar will intervene. Her power is unmatched by that of any other god, and her influence can turn the tide of any war. Ravik hates this, and will often attempt to stop her by bringing himself to the field of battle and committing atrocities against his foes. When this happens, Jalidar will reveal herself on the field, and dispatch of Ravik, not by destroying him, but by banishing him back to his own realm, where he must rebuild his power over decades or centuries.

Race and Religion
Religion knows no race in Emberfell. And often is used as a unifying trait that people can share. Although people may be prejudiced against another race, perhaps seeing them as uncivilized or weak, but Jalidar does not. Nor do Dorasan and Ravik. All the gods bestow their gifts on their subjects as they are deserving of them. A Goblin is just as likely to become to high Justicar of Jalidar as the Prince of a great Empire.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Dungeons of Makara

They have. for some time now, served as a major source of income for the city. Makara is not the first settlement to inhabit this area. In fact, countless times over the millennia peoples have tried to tame this land, yet the Makarans seem to be the first to accomplish the feat, so far...

When a dungeon, or similar valuable location, is discovered the Adventuring Guilds of Makara will make a claim with the Prince for ownership of the Dungeon. Whoever owns the dungeon is then expected to hire adventurers to go out and clear the delve of any dangers. After this is done, the Guild then sends representatives, accompanied by Government officials, to retrieve the plunder and divide it up fairly among all invested parties.

Whatever loot can be retrieved by the adventuring party, up to 500gp in value per level per character, is there's to keep. Typically, the agreement between the Guild and the Adventurers will limit this number and instead offer the heroes a portion of the loot instead.

This is a list to provide a small number of dungeon seeds, their guild owners, and their difficulty levels. These dungeons may or may not be made into modules for the Emberfell Campaign Setting.

Summerhome Ruins
These ruins were once the beautiful, immaculate palatial retreats to Emperors of a fallen, forgotten Empire. Their ruins still contain massive amounts of wealth and many dangers. There are multiple underground levels to this complex, as well as multiple above-ground levels. Within this dungeon are many foes that would threaten a low-level party's life.

Threat level: Medium
Ownership: Makaran Ventures
Expected Treasure level: Medium

Caverns of Carnage
These caves are a massive, sprawling, undergound complex containing many, many foes that would endanger parties of all levels. The first few entrance way caves can be explored by relatively low leveled adventurers, but the level of difficulty quickly rises to untenable levels where only the best and most prepared explorers would have a chance to clear them. It is for this reason that many parties and Guilds have attempted to clear and loot these caverns but they have never been fully explored.

Threat level: High
Ownership: Makaran Ventures
Expected Treasure level: High

Hobb's End
The Village of Hobb's End was a peaceful settlement, inhabited by simple farmers who made a living selling their produce to the larger settlements of the Principality of Makara. Many of these peaceful farmers were themselves retired soldiers and adventurers who wanted to put those days behind them. Sadly, this was not to be, as foul necromantic magics found their way into this calm, quiet, settlement. The dead rose and quickly infected those around them. The people were competent enough to hold off the undead long enough to erect a makeshift wall which they have been adding to ever since. A small contingent of these warriors and their families hold the dead at bay still, having yet to receive aid from Government forces due to the claim by Guilds that wish to make a profit off the suffering of the inhabitants.

Threat level: Medium
Ownership: The Last Chancers/The Dark Spears
Expected Treasure level: Low

On Golems

Golems are dangerous creatures. One or two of them can easily turn the tide of battle at an important moment. They are known to guard ancient crypts or even Chaotic cultist strongholds.

The creation of a Golem is no simple task. To create a Golem, one must either be an expert in all things magical. Willing to drain themselves of power for weeks afterward, and willing to risk their own lives in the creation of the beast.

Alternatively, darker minded souls can much more easily create a Golem. All they must do is make a sufficient sacrifice to their chosen Chaos or, rarely, Neutral God. The problem with creating a Golem through sacrifice is that it is not only the one who bound the soul to the Golem who will have control over the beast. The god to whom the sacrifice was made will also be able to exert their control over the creature.

The first Golem was created through the murder of Jolm son of Jalidar, the chief God of Law, by Ravik, the chief God of Chaos. He was tricked into believing he could attain peace between the two factions of Gods and was instead ambushed and butchered. His soul trapped within the beast Golarathon, where it still remains now, hidden from the world and still serving Ravik's will. But Jolm's soul still resists, and he awaits his release from the eternal prison where he is yet held.

Many Paladins of Jalidar make it their quest to find the tortured God and free him.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Literacy in Makara

Makara is, on the world scale, a well-educated city. Almost half of the citizens are capable of reading and writing. No other city in the world can make that claim, and it certainly gives Makara something of an edge.

The many sailors, foreigners, and merchants that come into and out of this massive trade port all need some way to understand each other. While an interpreter is typically enough in most settlements, the vast scale of contracts and important documents that must be read to do business in Makara sometimes make it hards to trust an interpreter over your own ability to read.

The "City of Lawyers" has always had a need for contracts to confirm the contents of any agreement. And ever since The Algot Princes took charge this need has only intensified. No trade deal is valid unless the government maintains a copy of the agreement in their records.

The Makaran Academy has also helped improve the city's literacy. Offering workshops and open classes where individuals can learn to read and write, many of these classes are required of those who live in one of the city's many common houses.

Sellswords' Bureau

Mercenary work has always been a staple of the culture of Makara. The city was founded by the use of mercenaries. It's a very common profession, so much so that the Prince has recently announced the formation of the "Sellswords' Bureau" as a way to offer support to these disparate mercenaries who, due to the nature of their profession, may not work for months at a time.

The idea of social welfare is not exactly new to Makara, as a wealthy, bustling city, it is common for some to fall down and be unable to get back up. Not wanting to see all that potential squandered, the Princes have often provided some support to these poor souls by way of housing, food, and employment.

Many common houses have been built across the city, these establishments often provide poor living quarters to those in need by way of a large, open area with many beds crammed into them. Often each bed will have a small footlocker with a cheap lock to secure the individual's personal effects.

These common houses do not provide food, though. So many of the poor who live in them will find themselves at a soup kitchen to get one of their two free meals for the day. These are not very nutritional or filling meals, but they're free. And they're just enough to keep some people going.

As for employment, the Prince often has recruiters scour the common houses and soup kitchens to find workers to build the roads and bridges of the country. Oftimes, these men and women find work in the Army, as well.

The Sellswords' Bureau provides all of these in one. The skills necessary to become a Mercenary are not to be squandered on road workers or as rank and file soldiers. Instead, these people are provided with a place to live in conditions similar to that of the average common house, but the downstairs is a tavern providing decent meals at a low price to those carrying Sellsword Cards, or low-quality free meals to those mercenaries who haven't the money even for a pint of ale.

Whenever the Prince, or other figures of note, need people to carry out a job for them, they send a note to the Sellswords' Bureau, where it will be posted on the Job Board in the Tavern. The note will show the task at hand, the duration of work, the price offered, and will have tearable slips of paper at the bottom equal to the number of mercs needed. The slips give directions to the job.

Some believe that the Bureau is a waste of the Principality's funds, while others yet see the value in such an establishment. Still, the debate goes on. Prince Markos believes that the value of such an establishment will be shown to it's full potential when war next breaks out in Makara, having such a readily reached force of combat trained mercenaries could mean the difference in dire times.