Friday, April 14, 2023

Crystal Frontier - Ongoing Campaign Note: Templars of Blackacre

To the North and East of the Crystal Frontier, beyond the Bay of Fallen Stars or across the Maiden Tombs over the Road of Dead is the Province of Blackacre, sometimes known as the Blackmash. Grey salt marshes rising from the Silt Straights and beyond deep, wet forests of colossal evergreens and ancient malice. Blackacre was the last Imperial Province settled, and never much beyond wilderness. A wealth of lumber, fish and the rare dyes of found in the vast tidal pools along its shores provided impetus for settlement, but the climate, old sorcery and (according to heretic scholars and false prophets) the dogged resistance of the “old people'' who once lived in its forests has made it difficult to find voluntary settlers. The majority of residents in Blackacre are prisoners or the descendents of prisoners, sent to toil in the lumber towns fisheries and dye pools.Even the Imperial soldiery abhors Blackacre, long considered a dangerous punishment posting, and its 5th “Battle”, the Larks, who have been charged with Blackacres’ defense since before the rise of the Successor Empire, now exist only as a few hundred residents of canal and border forts subsisting on transit taxes. With the typical logic to Imperial governance, Blackacre, one of the few provinces that produces a surplus of wealth, trade goods, and raw materials is almost devoid of official protectors and most in need of them. The shores of Blackacre are directly across the murky shallows of the Narrow Sea from the Mud Isles … the Ghoul Kingdoms, now almost united under vile White God.

Bickering over resources between the elite of Dawn Rill and the Imperial Cult, mean that no colossi or lesser war machines have been redeployed to Blackacre, and the Cult’s fear of increasing the power of the military means that recruiting the 5th up to strength cannot even be discussed. Instead Blackacre’s coasts are protected from the raft fleets that come each autumn to reave and kidnap by penal templars. Sects of “Sword Saints”, devoted to Emperor Isacco Hydria, saint of tribulations and protector of the imprisoned, falsely accused, and repentant.

From five huge monastery-prisons, geomantically sculpted spires of sea basalt, and numerous smaller gaol hermitages, the penal templars watch the sea. An army of fanatics and felons that defend the shoreline’s dyers and fishers, but also extract dues and taxes in the form of food and raw materials. Those who have lived in the spires describe them as hellish. A cruel hierarchy, layered from top to bottom, where the newest prisoners or those of the lowest status live on a diet of kelp and barnacles in the half flooded galleries at the base. The cold seas seep and flood regularly into these dark vaults and the threat of drowning is as constant as that of the predatory gangs. Children of the galleries and the strongest fighters who survive the yearly gladiatorial contests are allowed into the dry stone above, where thousands of rock cut cells are home to a cruelly excessive creed of asceticism and martial training. When the training monks deem these unfortunates properly tempered and disciplined, they become part of the templar host, and move up to the temples, meditation halls, arenas, refractories, training halls, forges, and armories of the spire’s upper levels.

Old Games

Let’s talk about old tabletop roleplaying games - specifically the kind of games played in the 1980’s and recently depicted in the nostalgia...