The Risen Lands

An RPG setting in progress, by Paradoxdruid.

The Risen Lands is an RPG setting I occassionally add to, which I have some affection for. The rules are currently for the BESM roleplaying game, but that could be stripped out and redone. Mainly, I like a world with a lot of magic, and a lot of stuff happening.

Table of Contents

The Geography of the Risen Lands

The Risen Lands is a world of islands and chains of islands.

At the center of the world is the island-continent Eresh, the largest of all islands. Eresh is too large for any one statement to hold firm, but several general statments can be made. The mountains at it’s center are traditionally known as the abode of the Dwarves, though Trolls and Minotaurs also make them their home. The East tends to be dominated by Human culture, though there are notable enclaves of Ogres and Goblins.

Surrounding Eresh are all the other isles of the world, with some small isles so close to river deltas of Eresh that fresh water bridges the gap between them. To the South of Eresh is Yemev, the second largest island of the Risen Lands. Yemev is dominated by thick tropical jungles, and is not a civilized place, filled with Orcs, Goblins, and Kobolds. To the Northwest of Eresh lies Jamal, the third largest island. It is an unnaturally cold island, and home to many Giants, as . A fourth isle, Thrassa, has gained importance in the modern Age. Thrassa is somewhat smaller than Jamal, and is located to the East of Eresh. Thrassa has become the unofficially capital of human and elven life, and the mightiest human institutions are located there.

Besides these large islands, there are probably several hundreds additional isles, from tiny atolls to islands that almost rival Jamal in size.

Prelude to the Risen Lands

In the beginning, there was void. Then came the one: Ungakway of the Deeps, the Serpent of the Waters. A primal, chaotic force, Ungakway filled the void with the waters of the World. But Ungakway grew lonely, and fashioned two companions from her own flesh, each half as powerful as she was. The first of these companions is known to modern scholars as Areth-Akaton of the Many Veils, the Lord of the Air. A fiery, passionate Lord, it was Areth-Akaton who would eventually fashion the races of Man. The second of these companions is known as Garl-Ghanren of the Darkness, the Lord of Earth. A harsh, slow Lord, it was Garl-Ghanren who would fashion the Gods of Man.

As Areth-Akaton and Garl-Ghanren came into existance, the waters of the world were split asunder: the rich Earth of Garl-Ghanren rose from the depths, and the twisting winds of Areth-Akaton pushed down the waters, creating the world as it is now known, the Risen Lands.

The world exists, suspended between the winds of Areth-Akaton, the soils of Garl-Ghanren, and the ever-swifting waters of Ungakway. It is impossible for the races of Man to properly comprehend the actions of desires of these, the Old Lords of the World. A second’s blink for them could seem an enternity for our races– Indeed, they are not quiescent now. We simply have not been around long enough for their eternal gazes to have taken notice of our actions yet, nor for us to see their movements. They do know of us, however.

We know this much: Areth-Akaton took the lightning from the storm, the water from the oceans, and the dirt from the land. The Lord molded these disparite forms together, forming the first races of Man. But he did not form all his creations equally.

The Elves were the first race of Man that Areth-Akaton formed. He had not learned how to add water to his creations properly though, so they had very little of the Deep One’s changing nature within themselves. They were nearly eternal and unchanging, on their scale.

The Dwarves were the second race of Man that Areth-Akaton formed. By this time, Garn-Ghanren had taken notice of Areth-Akaton’s game, and encouraged the Lord of our Creation to fashion a race rich in Garn-Ghanren’s soils. The Lord of Air did so, forming the stout, dour dwarves.

The name of last of the early races of Man is now lost in the sands of time. It is remembered that Areth-Akaton formed them with too little of the soil, after feeling unsatisfied with the dwarven race. All that remains in our memory of them is the name the Elves still refer to them by: Purulac-Namen, the formless ones.

Garn-Ghanren saw the work of Areth-Akaton, and desired creations of his own. But rather than create the many members to found the races of Man, as the Lord of the Winds had done, Garn-Ghanren created only a few creatures with his hands.

With his gnarled hands, Garn-Ghanren fashioned the Gods of Man, giving them an enduring connection to the soils, but for reasons lost to modern scholars, winning the hatred of Ungakway. Thus were the Gods made– powerful, but nearly unable to cross the waters.

Thus were the Risen Lands created, thus were they populated by the early races of Man, and thus were the Gods of Man created. This marked the beginning of the First Turn of the Wheel of Ages.

The First Age of the Risen Lands

The Elves were the first race of Man, and they populated many of the Risen Lands, including Eresh, the largest island of the world; Jamal, the gateway to the frozen lands; and Yemev, whose jungles swarmed with life. They created many wonders, and learned to harness the natural forces of the world though many forms of magic. The Dwarves did not spread as far, but they spread far deeper, especially on Eresh, which contained more caves than any island should. The Dwarves claimed that Eresh was the resting place of Lord Garn-Ghanren. The Purulac-Namen lived in the jungles of Yemev, and on many other islands, but were never as organized as the other races.

The Elves discovered many forms of magic, including:

  • Spells that invoked the powers of Nature through sheer force of will (Natural Magic)
  • Symbols that invoked the powers of the Gods of Man (Diabolism)
  • Spells that called the attention of a God to the caster, to use his force through them (Godly Magic)
  • Mighty spells that briefly roused the Lords of the Risen Lands (Lordly Magic)

The Dwarves never mastered magic to the same extent as the Elves, but they too practiced Diabolism, Godly Magic, and Lordly Magic… but they discovered a secret: how to combine the symbols of Diabolism with the rousing of the Lords of the Risen Lands, crafting the secret Runes of Power.
Nothing is known of the Purulac-Namen’s use of magic, but one thing is known without a doubt–

Using trickery, the Purulac-Namen precipitated a war between the Elves and the Dwarves. The Elves were made enraged beyond reason that the Dwarves would not share the Rune magic, and the Dwarves were made jealous of the powerful, immortal Elves. Perhaps the Formless Ones intended to play both sides and profit, but instead they were ground to dust by the war.

When the war of the First Age ended, the Formless Ones were utterly destroyed, banished even from the after-life by the Gods of Death of every known isle. The Dwarves were nearly destroyed as well, and Rune magic was forever forsaken as the new Dwarven Kings came to benevolent power. The Elves had fared the best, but their spirits seemed crushed. From that day onward, the Elves retreated into their castles and parapets– they would never found an Elven Empire again. This change in the world may have caught the attention of Areth-Akaton, or the Gods may have acted. Whatever the reason, a new Age began with the creation of the second races of Man.

The Second Age of the Risen Lands

The second races of Man were legion, and no man may fully know from whence they all came. Even some races which claim to know their origin may have manufactured it for themselves in ages past. So it goes.

The second races of Man included:

  • the Giants (created by a mighty earth-God)
  • the Trolls (who claim to be the earth itself, brought to life by the potent blood of a God of life)
  • the Goblins
  • the Orcs (who claim to be descended from elves- a fact the elves dispute)
  • the Kobolds
  • the Minotaurs
  • the Ogres (who claim to be a varient of human)
  • the Humans (who claim they were created by Areth-Akaton itself)
  • the Ellyl
  • and the Kin (their claim that they are the favored children of Ungakway is supported by the fact that they can walk across the waves themselves)

The Second Age was a chaotic time, dominated in large part by the Gods, who openly ruled society on all the large isles… But Gods are unchanging, and as the mortal races allied, they toppled the rule of the Gods. This alliance of many races of Man was the end of the second age, and the beginning of the Third Age of the Risen Lands.

The Third Age of the Risen Lands

The Alliance of Man lead to a powerful, noble empire known as the Ereshian Empire. The Elves were its leading members, but they included many of the races of Man in their empire, giving them a near equal voice in the government. The Dwarves, of course, refused membership on principle, but engaged in a great deal of trade with the empire. The Goblins were fervent supporters of the empire, as were the fledgling humans. Trading missions established a unified language and civilization across the isles, and trading posts were even opened on Jamal, to trade with the giants, and a geat city of magic was founded on the island of Yemev.

Not all was perfect, of course. The Elves engaged in a quiet war against the Orcs, disadvantaging and cheating them whenever possible. Meanwhile, the Trolls turned their stony gazes upon the capital city of Lurat-Halorrow, claiming it was built on their ancestral burial ground. Constant Troll attacks were normal, and kept the city guard sharp. Most disquieting of all was the breaking of the Kin. Once strong supporters of the Empire, they lead their Barrikas, their floating cities, away from the lands of the Empire, claiming that they were the chosen of Ungakway of the Deeps. The Kin claimed that they had no need for lesser races.

Despite these problems, the Ereshian Empire was still vast and noble, and the Third Age is remembered as a golden age.

The Third Age ended among many scandals… It was a reality that many had known that the Elves were slowly weakening. The greatest Elven scholars claimed that their time as the first of the races was drawing to a close. The Elves chose Humans as their successors to the Empire, causing bloody revolt by the other races, who were not chosen, despite their obvious advantages over the Humans. Worst of all, it was discovered that the Purulac-Namen, the Formless Ones, were not truly erradicated. Horribly worse- it was found that one of the Three Elven Lords who ruled the Empire was a Formless One who concealed his true nature from all.

The Ereshian Empire dissolved into chaos. The Humans, proud successors, fled to Thrassa, where they founded the new capital of the empire, calling it now the Thrassian Empire. The Trolls destroyed Lurat-Halorrow, and rebuilt their funeral mosques atop its ruins. The ports of call on many islands were abandoned, all sembelence of a unified government dissolving, leaving many islanders poor and helpless. The port at Jamal declared it’s independence, allying with a God of the North to rule the city now known as IceHold. The great magic city of Abaydos in Yemev was overwhelming by the jungle, and vanished from the sight of mortal men. The Orcs claimed the west of Eresh as their own, forming a loose union of tribes known as the Protectorate. So began the Fourth Age of the Risen Lands.

The Fourth Age of the Risen Lands

The Thrassian Empire was not, sadly, as wise nor as benevolent as the great Ereshian Empire had been, and a great corruption festered throughout its extent. In the Southern Seas, cut-throats were hired as privateers to forcably “extract” funds from small islands that had once been members of the empire. These Crimson Barons would eventually betray the Thrassian Empire, joining the Kin on their endless treks across the waves.

The Orc Protectorate engaged in a great war with the Dwarves, which devestated both sides, until the Minotaurs allied with the the Dwarves to drive the Orcs away from the mountains. It was during this time that Rissen-Pok, the greatest of the Minotaur warriors, was gifted with the Rune Ax StormRaiser. Using it, Rissen-Pok called forth a great flood that not only defeated the last great Orc army, but accidently drowned an entire region of the island, killing thousands of innocents. Overwhelmed with grief, Rissen-Pok confronted the last of the Orc Chieftans. Rather than fight, however, he allowed himselrf to be overtaken and captured. He was hung from a high tree, and it took him 4 days to die. StormRaiser was claimed by the Orcish Chieftan Jarel Thornsfoot, who reunited the last of the Protectorate, and made a lasting peace with the Dwarves– though no Orc feels entirely safe in the mountains, even in the modern day.

The Ogres allied with the Orcs, making the Protectorate stronger than ever, and providing a Navy, for Orcs have no great love for water.

The Goblins formed a great trading society that, if not entirely honest, was at least somewhat fair. Never referred to by a name, the Goblins simply called it “the trade”, or “the company”, or “the caravan”. Regardless of title, they managed to spread the influence of the Thrassian Empire across Eresh once more, though the empire was still riddled with corruption.

Despite this, the Empire recovered some of its past glory, though many folk of the smaller isles still fear and distrust representatives of the empire.

Five years ago, the current Emperor died in his sleep and his son Charles GreatFeather, who was raised by the Elves, came to power, wielding the ancient Rune Shield Ferall, the Bladestopper. He appears to be a noble and just ruler– a return to the empire of old.

Many feel that under his careful guidance, the Wheel of Ages approaches another turn. However, no man may know the truth of that claim yet.

Current Events

World Events: 5 years ago, Charles GreatFeather succeeded his father as Emperor of the Thrassian Empire. The first of the great Elven Lords dies, 3 years ago. The number of Kin converts increases greatly, but the majority of Kin are never sighted by land-dwellers.

Ereshian Events: A year ago, Trolls begin migrating south across eastern Eresh, claiming that an “Evil Thing” has returned in the North. Their presence precipitates much conflict with the humans of the region. The Dwarves began another “Throne War“, a sporting competition to choose their next King.

Thrassian Empire Events: Formal alliance made with Goblin Trading Caravan to carry Imperial Messages and Funds across Eresh and the Eastern Isles. Bandits prepare to reap a geat return, while the Goblins sharpen their wits.

Jamal Events: Navy begins using Golem crews to minimize loss of life, since Giants are much less prolific than other races. King Wallach begins wielding a Rune weapon, which causes unrest among his citizens, many of whom believe it is cursed.

Yemev Events: Kobolds and Orcs dominate the isle, living in small tribes. A large portion of the Orcs worship a mysterious god who claims to live in the lost city of magic, Abaydos.

Southern Isles Events: The Great War between Auberon of Fey and Titania of Fey (located on nearby isles Arcadia and Nevera) re-erupted several months ago, after a 20 year peace, devestating the recently rebuilt Human and Kobold villages on the isles.

Eastern Isles Events: Thrassian Empire continues to regain dominance over the Eastern Isles, but a restistance group known as the Fellowship of the Shores challenges the Imperial Navy with guerilla raids. The Kin begin prosetylizing among the isles.

Western Isles Events: Ogrish Navy, under the Guidance of the Orc Protectorate, begins raiding Western Isles, prompting the Navy of Jamal to begin preparations for battle. The small isle of Rey-Anan rises from the waves, populated by the Undead.

Northern Isle Events: Very little is known of the Northern Isles.

Current Factions

  • Thrassian Empire
  • Imperial Thrassians
  • Crimson Barons
  • Church of Areth-Akaton
  • Orc Protectorate
  • Kingdom of Jamal
  • Dwarven Guilds
  • The Magic of the Risen Lands

    The easiest magic to learn in the world of the Risen Lands is Natural Magic. Natural Magic is a will-power based effort that is fairly flexible, since it does not rely on a God or Lord for power, but it is very taxing for the caster. Most villages have at least one shaman or wise-woman who knows a few levels of Natural Magic.

    Natural Magic System: treat as Dynamic Sorcery with a cost of 3 points per level. It uses a Soul based stat check to activate, and can affect most natural things, such as weather, animals, and the self. Natural Magic is incredibly draining; The energy costs for any spell are doubled.

    The next most common form of magic in the Risen Lands is Spells of the Gods. It is a versatile Magic, but is dependent upon knowledge of the Gods of an island, and how htey prefer to be invoked. The basics of God-Magic can be taught to almost anyone, but institutions dedicated to its study (such as priesthoods) are common. When a practitioner journies to a new isle, he will be powerless until he learns of the Gods and how to invoke them.

    Magic of the Gods System: treat as Dynamic Sorcery with a cost of 4 points per level. It uses a Soul based stat check to activate, and can affect anything that falls under the domain of Gods that the caster knows of (fire magic from a fire god, etc). It is suggested that starting characters know of two Gods per level of this attribute, and gain additional Gods in play. Optionally, characters may be charged one advancement point for each additional God they learn to invoke (not suggested for campaigns that feature much travel across the oceans).

    Less common but more desired due to its universal utility is the magic of Diabolism, the magic of symbols and circles. Diabolism is a huge academic undertaking, with the basics taking most students years to learn, and decades to master. Most diabolists come from one of the few wizards academies or were trained as apprentices by a Diabolist who did train at one. Trained diabolists are always in demand to affix lasting wards of protection to ships or houses, summon spirits, and other tasks.

    Diabolism System: treat as Dynamic Sorcery with a cost of 4 points per level. It uses a Mind based stat check to activate, and can affect most anything. The only limitation is that it can not be cast on-the-fly, it is only active through inscriptions and prepared magic circles. As a general rule (which should be waived as drama dictates), inscriptions take one minute to two minutes per energy point spent activating them. All Diabolism is lasting… treat the duration of any Diabolist spell as if it were one level higher.

    The last type of Magic still known to the races of Man is Magic of the Lords. Much like Diabolism, learning Lords-Magic is a primarily academic undertaking, requiring years or decades of study to master. A large part of that training is learning whole books of true names, of objects and classes of objects. The Lords will only bestow their power if addressed with the true names of those things that would be affected. It is important to note that you can affect someone if you simply know the true name of his race; it is not necessary to learn the individual true names of every enemy you make. By the time any practitioner of Lords-Magic has learned enough to practice his craft, he has learned practically all the true names he will need.

    Magic of the Lords System: treat as Dynamic Sorcery with a cost of 5 points per level. It uses a Mind based stat check to activate, and can affect most anything.

    The art of Rune Magic has been lost for ages of the world, ever since the Dwarves abandoned its practice and attempted to eradicate it from the World. However, any item that was crafted with the true Runes becomes indestructible, and many of these powerful items still exist today, as legendary weapons, shields, and other items. Rune magic involved (among other things) binding Gods and other powerful entities into the very items themselves, leaving most Rune items with at least a trace personality.

    Rune Item System: Rune items are built as powerful Items of Power. All Rune weapons must possess Rune Invincibility, a 5 point attribute available only to Rune items. They must also possess at least level 3 Artificial Intelligence, though most have level 4 or higher. Note that many have the defect Free-Willed [-1] or Corrupts Owner [-3]. Rune Items can possess almost any power, from creating a flaming sword or shield to changing the form of the user.

    Gods of the Risen Lands

    Balasta of the Wastes, a depraved god of the western slopes, is feared rather than worshipped. She and her servants, the bone-hags, pray upon travelers who let down their guard. She appears at a sickeningly thin, pathetic hag… but can grow mighty claws and fangs, dripping with venom, at a moments notice.

    Lord Yentash, a noble god of Protection and Blood… he appears as a tall human, glowing with an impossible radiance, astride a pale horse that bleeds from it’s eyes and hooves. His knights are renowned for their courage and strength, but also for their brutality toward their enemies. He grants his priests the ability to protect the weak, and weaken the blood of his enemies.

    Welar-It-Tik, a god of darkness and smoke worshipped by a blood-thirsty Orc tribe on Yemev. Usually appears as a swarm of locusts with glowing red eyes, and creates servants that look orcish out of ash.

    Racial Templates

    This section is just rules mechanics, with no descriptions for now. It will be revised.

    Humans [3 pts]: Divine Relationship 3 [3 pts]. Racial Average Stats: 4 body, 4 mind, 5 soul.

    Elves [8 pts]: Special Defense (agingx2, disease) [3 pts], Heightened Senses (vision, hearing) [2 pts], Unique Attribute: Magical Aptitude (+1 on all check values using Magic) [4 pts], Features: Appearance [2 pts], Nemesis (dwarves, orcs) [-2], Cursed (dying race) [-1]. Racial Average Stats: 5 body, 6 mind, 5 soul.

    Dwarves [6 pts]: SuperStrength 1 (restriction: not for damage) [2 pts], Mechanical Genius 1 [2 pts], Special Defense (aging) [1 pt], Features (night vision) [1 pt], Damn Healthy 2 [2 pts], Nemesis (elves, orcs) [-2 pts]. Racial Average Stats: 5 body, 4 mind, 4 soul.

    Orcs [2 pts]: Special Defense (disease) [1 pt], Combat Mastery 1 [2 pts], Unappealing [-1 pt]. Racial Average Stats: 4 body, 3 mind, 4 soul.

    Minotaurs [6 pts]: Super Strength 1 [3 pts], Damn Healthy 2 [2 pts], Natural Weapons (horns) [1 pt], Awkward Size 1 [-1 pt], Not So Fast 1 [-1 pt], Light Armor 2 [2 pts]. Racial Average Stats: body 6, mind 3, soul 4.

    Goblins [3 pts]: Stealth 2 [2 pts], Features (night vision) [1 pt], Not So Strong 1 [-1 pt], Heightened Senses (taste) [1 pt]. Racial Average Stats: 4 body, 4 mind, 4 soul.

    Ogres [2 pts]: Super Strength 1 [3 pts], Damn Healthy 2 [2 pts], Awkward Size 1 [-1], Awkward 1 [-1 pt], Unappealing [-1 pt]. Racial Average Stats: 6 body, mind 3, soul 5.

    Kobolds [4 pts]: Stealth 2 [2 pts], Features (night vision) [1 pt], Not So Strong [-1 pt], Not So Tough [-1 pt], Unique Attribute: Cannot Be Bound [3 pts]. Racial Average Stats: 4 body, 3 mind, 3 soul.

    Trolls [8 pts]: Super Strength 1 [3 pts], Damn Healthy 3 [3 pts], Awkward Size 1 [-1 pt], Features (night vision) [1 pt], Unappealing 2 [-2], Heavy Armor 1 [4 pts], Not So Fast 2 [-2], Special Defense (disease x 2, poison x 2) [4 pts], Sensory Impairment (poor vision, poor hearing) [-2 pts]. Racial Average Stats: 5 body, 3 mind, 4 soul.

    Giants [8 pts]: Super Strength 2 [6 pts], Damn Healthy 4 [4 pts], Awkward Size 2 [-2 pts], Light Armor 3 [3 pts], Phobia (claustrophobia) [-2], Special Requirement (4x human amount of food) [-1]. Racial Average Stats: 5 body, 4 mind, 4 soul.

    Ellyl [4 pts]:Diminutive Size 1 [-3 pts], Stealth 1 [1 pt], Flight [4 pts], Heightened Senses (vision, hearing) [2 pts]. Racial Average Stats: 4 body, 4 mind, 4 soul.

    Kin [0 pts]:Marked (jeweled third eye) [-1 pt], Special Movement (water-walking) [2 pts], Contamination (willing, takes months) [1 pt], Bane (contact with Soil) [-1 pt], Owned by the Kin [-1]. Racial Average Stats: same as base race. The majority of kin were human, and have 4 body, 4 mind, 5 soul.

    Adventuring Occupations

    Note: these templates are to encourage ideas, and should be modified freely.

    Note: these templates are for larger-than-life heroes, not common folk

    Water Witch [20 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +1 mind, +4 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Natural Magic 4 [8 pts], Energy Bonus 3 [3 pt], Highly Skilled 1 [1 pt], Aura of Command 2 [2 pts], Sixth Sense (magic, spirits) [2 pts].
    Defects: Owned by a Trading Company [-1 pt].

    Swords-Master (with Rune Blade) [20 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +3 body, +2 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Combat Mastery 2 [4 pts], Extra Attacks 1 [4 pts], Focused Damage (sword) 2 [2 pts], Jumping 1 [1 pt], Melee Techniques (lightning draw, precise stroke) [2 pts], Item of Power (basic rune sword is Rune Invincible [5 power pts], AI 3 [3 power pts], though most possess addtional magic powers) [4 pts], Features 1 (appearance) [1 pt].
    Defects: Girl/Guy Magnet [-1 pt], Marked (scarred face) [-1 pt], Nemesis (some part enemy) [-1 pt].

    Famous Pirate [15 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +2 body, +1 mind, +1 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Aura of Command 4 [4 pts], Combat Mastery 1 [2 pts], Flunkies 5 [5 pts], Heightened Senses (vision) [1 pt], Special Defense (disease) [1 pt], Highly Skilled 1 [1 pt].
    Defects: Girl/Guy Magnet [-1 pt], Wanted (thrassian empire) [-1], Marked (one eye, or similar) [-1 pt].

    Druid [23 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +1 body, +3 soul.
    Attributes: Godly Magic 3 [9 pts], Animal Friendship 2 [2 pts], Damn Healthy 1 [1 pt], Energy Bonus 1 [1 pt], Precognition 2 (no control) [2 pts], Servant 3 (familiar) [3 pts], Sixth Sense (magic, spirits) [2 pts].
    Defects: Attack Restrictions (willnot harm animals) [-1 pt].

    Wizened Old Magus [25 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: -1 body, +4 mind, +2 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Lordly Magic 3 [12 pts], Divine Relationship 2 [2 pts], Energy Bonus 2 [2 pts], Heightened Awareness 1 [1 pt], Highly Skilled 2 [2 pts], Place of Power 2 [2 pts], Sixth Sense (magic, spirits( [2 pts].
    Defects: Inept Combat 2 [-2 pts], Nemesis (rival wizard) [-1 pt].

    Honest Thief [18 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +1 body, +2 mind, +2 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Divine Relationship 2 [2 pts], Heightened Awareness 2 [2 pts], Highly Skilled 2 [2 pts], Item of Power (cloak of invisibility, requires concentration) [2 pts], Jumping 2 [2 pts], Sixth Sense (danger) [1 pt], Stealth 3 [3 pts], Special Movement (balance, cat-like) [2 pts]..
    Defects: Easily Distracted (loot) [-1 pt], Skeleton in the Closet (thefts before becoming a good guy) [-1 pt], Not So Tough 1 [-1 pt]..

    Knight [24 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +3 body, +1 mind, +1 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Animal Friendship 1 [1 pt], Aura of Command 2 [2 pts], Combat Mastery 2 [4 pts], Damn Healthy 1 [1 pt], Features (appearance) [1 pt], Flunkies (squire) [1 pt], Massive Damage 1 [2 pts], Highly Skilled 2 [2 pts], Organizational Ties 2 (thrassian empire) [4 pts], Servant 5 (trained war-horse) [5 pts].
    Defects: Attack Restriction (willnot attack women or children) [-1 pt], Nemesis (rival knight) [-1 pt], Owned by the Empire [-1 pt], Skeleton in the Closet (illicit love with royal lady) [-1 pt].

    Wandering Cleric [22 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +1 mind, +4 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Animal Friendship 1 [1 pt], Art of Distraction 3 [3 pts], Divine Relationship 2 [2 pts], Godly Magic 3 [9 pts], Energy Bonus 1 [1 pt], Highly Skilled 1 [1 pt], Organizational Ties 1 (church) [1 pt], Sixth Sense (magic, spirits) [2 pts].
    Defects: Attack Restriction (will fight only for self-defense) [-2 pts], Skeleton in the Closet (horrible secret) [-1 pt].

    Demon Summoner [26 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +4 mind, +2 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Diabolism 5 [20 pts], Highly Skilled 2 [2 pts], Sixth Sense (spirits, magic) [2 pts].
    Defects: Owns Favors to Hell [-1 pts], Skeleton in the Closet (sacrifices before change of heart) [-2 pts], Marked (demon-claw scars) [-1 pt].

    Priest of the Light [24 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +2 mind, +3 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Art of Distraction 4 [4 pts], Godly Magic 4 [12 pts], Highly Skilled 1 [1 pt], Organizational Ties 2 (church) [2 pts], Sixth Sense (magic, spirits) [2 pts].
    Defects: Not So Fast [-1 pt], Owned by the Church [-1 pt].

    Berserker [21 pts]

    Typical Added Stats: +4 body, -1 mind, +2 soul over racial averages.
    Attributes: Combat Mastery 2 [4 pts], Damn Healthy 2 [2 pts], Extra Attacks 2 [8 pts], Massive Damage 1 [2 pts], Heightened Awareness 1 [1 pts], Melee Techniques (two weapons, blind fighting) [2 pts], Speed 1 [1 pt].
    Defects: Girl/Guy Magnet [-1 pt], Cursed (loses control in combat) [-2 pts], Unskilled [-1 pt]..

    Magical Denizens

    Besides the Races of Man, many magical creatures exist in the worlds of the Risen Lands. Most are created by the active manipulations of a God, though unlike Gods they may cross the waters of the world. Some few, however, exist as either the creations of a mortal sorceror, or as direct manifestations of natural magic.

    Among the countless variety of creatures, some common types exist:

    • Elementals: much as men cast shadows, the Lords of the Risen Lands cast Elementals into the world, reflections of their nature
    • Elementals of Areth-Akaton: Wind, Fire, Light
    • Elementals of Ungakway: Water, Darkness
    • Elementals of Garl-Ghanren: Earth, Stone, Silence
    • Faeries
    • Half-Men
    • Centaurs
    • Winged Folk
    • Mermen

    Allowed Attributes and Defects


    Animal Friendship Art of Distraction Aura of Command
    Combat Mastery Contamination Damn Healthy
    Divine Relationship Natural Magic Godly Magic
    Lordly Magic Diabolism Energy Bonus
    Extra Attacks Features Flight
    Flunkies Focused Damage Ranged Attack Techniques
    Heavy Armour Heightened Awareness Heightened Senses
    Highly Skilled Insubstantial Invisibility
    Item of Power Jumping Melee Techniques
    Light Armour Massive Damage Mechanical Genius
    Meld Metamorphosis Natural Weapons
    Organizational Ties Personal Gear Place of Power
    Precognition Regeneration Reincarnation
    Servant Shape Change Sixth Sense
    Special Defense Special Movement Speed
    Stealth Super Strength Unique Character ASttribute
    Weapon Attack


    Ageism Attack Restriction Awkward
    Awkward Size Bane Cannot Talk
    Cursed Diminutive Easily Distracted
    Girl/Guy Magnet Inept Combat Involuntary Physical Change
    Magical Restrictions Marked Nemesis
    Not So Fast Not So Strong Not So Tough
    One Arm/No Arms One Way Transformation Owned by a Megacorp
    Phobia Unappealing Red Tape
    Sensory Impairment Significant Other Skeleton in the Closest
    Special Requirement Unique Defect Unskilled
    Vulnerability Wanted

    BESM Rules Primer — Character Creation

    BESM is a fundamentally simple game engine, but it works excellently for cinematic play.

    Character creation is point based, with point expediture reflecting game utility (thus, an ability that might be very useful in the real world, but nearly useless in the game, would have a low cost).

    Character points are spent on two things: Stats and Attributes.

    Stats reflect the base characteristics of a character. They cost 1 character point per level of each stat. There are three stats:

    • Mind: This represents your character’s mental abilities. High values indicate intelligent, technically skilled, and witty characters.
    • Body: This represents your character’s physical abilities. High values reflect strength speed, health, endurance, quickness, manuel dexterity, and the like.
    • Soul: This represents your character’s “spiritual” abilities. High values indicate high willpower, determination, and empathy.

    Attributes reflect your character’s specific abilities and talents. For example, a mage-character would need some form of the Magic attribute (such as diabolism, and a fighter might have mastered the ability to quickly deliver Extra Attacks. Each attribute has a cost per level associated with it, with each level providing increasing power, talent, or proficiency. These are listed in the BESM Core Rulebook.

    Defects are disadvantages that your character must suffer. They generally give 1 and sometimes 2 bonus points to spend on your character (or, to view it differently, have costs of -1 or -2 character points). It is important to note: In General, defects (and their bonus points) are not awarded for disadvantages that the willpower of the character can easily overcome. For example, you will find no Defect for a Lazy, Honest, or Lecherous character. These traits, if they fight your character concept, sould definitely be roleplayed, but since a player can choose whether they apply to their character in a given situation, they are worth no bonus points.

    Skills can be considered a sub-set of Attributes. Each character, by default, has 20 skill points to spend. Each skill has a listed cost per level. Important Note: Stats reflect base skill levels. A high-Mind character is assumed to have proficiency in many mind-based skills, such as scientific skills. Similarly, a character with a high Body stat is assumed to has knowledge of sports and similar activities. Skill points, by and large, should not be spent on these. Skill points should instead be spent on skills that either do not fit the stat pattern (a low mind character who is nonetheless a genius at linguistics) or skills that a character knows extraordinarily well (a undisputed master swordsman would put additional points into Melee Combat, even though he already has a high body stat). Extra skill points can be gained by taking the attribute Highly Skilled or lost by taking the defect Unskilled

    BESM Rules Primer — Rules Mechanics

    The BESM Rules Mechanics are very simple.

    All rolls are fundamentally a contest vs. a Check Value. Two standard (6 sided) dice are rolled, then added. Lower results are preferable. The Check Value is either the value of a Stat, the value of a Stat plus a Skill Value, or the value of a derived Combat Stat plus the relevant combat skill, if any. A roll lower than the relevent Check Value is considered a success. Note: Stat check are often made against the averaged value of two Stats (see exmaple, below).

    +1 to +4 bonuses or -1 to -4 penalties are assigned to the Check Value by the GM, based on the difficulty of the task in question. Note: Skills also add an additional +1 bonus beyond their level if the skill specialty fits the task (see example, below).

    Two rolls of the dice are special: A 2 is always a success, if the GM rules that the character had any chance at all. Similarly, a 12 is always a failure… even experts make mistakes!

    Example: A doctor attempts to perform tricky field surgery on a wounded soldier. He has a Mind stat of 6, a Soul stat of 6, and the skill Medical (surgery)-3. The GM calls for a Mind/Soul Surgery Check, with a -3 penalty for the rushed field conditions. The doctor finds his Check Value by averaging his Mind and Soul Stats, yielding a 6, then adding his skill (+3, +1 more for the correct skill specialty) yielding a 10, then minus 3 for the penalty, leaving a 7. The doctor would then roll 2 six-sided dice, hoping for a seven or less.

    Another Example: The same doctor from above is performing routine diagnosis at a hospital. The GM calls for a Mind based (the GM thinks that since the situation isn’t stressful, the soul stat doesn’t apply) Diagnosis roll with a +2 bonus. The doctor finds his Check Value by adding his Medical Skill (+3, not +1, since this is diagnosis, not surgery) to his Mind Stat, then adding the +2 bonus, yielding a 12. The doctor will only fail on the roll of a 12, since 12 is always a failure.

    Combat is handled in much the same way, but in this case, two “calculated Stats” are important.

    Attack Combat Value is the average of all three of your stats. It reflects your raw physical abilities, your determination, and your knowledge of technique and weak points, yielding your overall combat ability.

    Defense Combat Value is your Attack Combat Value minus 2. It is your defensive ability.

    In Combat, the attacker rolls against his Attack Combat Value plus any relevant combat skill. If the roll is below this Check Value, the attack succeeds.

    However, the defender may roll against his Defense Combat Value plus any relevant defensive combat skills. A success indicates a successful dodge, parry, or block.

    5 Responses to “The Risen Lands”

    […] story. But more often than not, I end up writing bits and pieces of roleplaying games. One such is The Risen Lands, a vaguely Earthsea-esque fantasy game with a truly over-the-top number of races, nations, and ways […]

    Paradoxdruid’s Rants » Blog Archive » The Risen Lands - March 22nd, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Wow, thats one hell of a world you wrote up there. No wonder you are a bomb GM. (Yes, bomb. I was feeling nostalgic.) I really do like having a LOT of races intermingling, with no insane amount of human dominance. It does add a good sense of “realism” to the whole setting.

    Doesn’t BESM use a “roll over target number” mechanic though?

    CloneBot2350 - March 24th, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I’ve been meaning to reply to this for a while now (I did read it all!) but only just got to it. What a lot of work, PD! I’m really impressed! (But then again, I knew you could/do things like this, so I’m not that surprised 🙂 ). I know you’re really busy with work, but you should think about fleshing out the Risen Lands a bit more.

    What I enjoyed most were actually the creation myths of the different races — this is probably playing off of my love for Greek/Roman mythology in general. But it was interesting thinking of the different amounts of water, earth, etc., each race would be made up of (in a pseudo-scientific manner). And about the races — I noticed they’re all pretty “standard” fantasy races except I’m not familiar with Ellyl or Kin. Doing a google search, I found Ellyl in some mythologies being faerie-like creatures — is this what you were thinking of? Also, did you make up the Kin race completely, or was this based on something? (Also, would be really nice to have descriptions of at least these last two not-so-standard races — you say in text that they will come, but looks like you didn’t get around to it 🙂 )

    If it were me, I would probably get into the races even more (because biology interests me) and make some more non-humanoid types, like lizard-people or mer-people or such… though I realize that wasn’t your interest. In my mind it just makes it a more “complete” fantasy world — why would all of the sentient beings be humanoid anyway?

    I also enjoyed the world history a lot too, though the current time kind of snuck up on me — I thought it’d be set in a time more like our present time, though the time you picked does make more sense. One off/unrealistic feeling from the current events I got was that there are too many clashes/battles/wars going on or immediately anticipated… though I realize you want lots of conflicts (or about-to-be conflicts) going on to draw upon when making your campaign, it seemed a bit forced. Basically, I was surprised that there weren’t more nations _not_ having bad things going on with them or preparing for bad things to come.

    Nice simple character creation and stat-checking system! Yay!

    Overall I really enjoyed your sharing Risen Lands with us. Have you thought about running a campaign using it? I think it’d be a lot of fantasy, adventurey fun! If you ever want to flesh this out more, I’d love to try and help 🙂

    teisha - April 3rd, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Teisha and CloneBot.

    One off/unrealistic feeling from the current events I got was that there are too many clashes/battles/wars going on or immediately anticipated…

    Here I’m following in the tradition of Tolkien and many other fantasy writers of having a “time of conflict”, when the whole world seems poised on the brink– it’s a deliberate decision to create a world where Heroes can change everything, for good or ill, through their actions.

    If it were me, I would probably get into the races even more (because biology interests me) and make some more non-humanoid types, like lizard-people or mer-people or such…

    Part of the exercise in the Risen Lands is writing to justify existing fantasy tropes. If I re-wrote it now (and I may), I’d probably ditch some of the bog-standard races and add some variety. I’m a fan of radially symmetric species, myself. 🙂

    I really do like having a LOT of races intermingling, with no insane amount of human dominance.

    Me too, me too. Though having humans be the up-and-coming race solves a lot of “well, why do they allow humans/follow human customs/etc here?”

    Paradoxdruid - April 4th, 2008 at 9:26 am

    CloneBot2350: I really do like having a LOT of races intermingling, with no insane amount of human dominance.

    PD: Me too, me too. Though having humans be the up-and-coming race solves a lot of “well, why do they allow humans/follow human customs/etc here?” ”

    Me: I have to say I really hadn’t thought of that! That does make some of those problems a lot easier to deal with… or you could just say everyone has very similar “human-like” customs 🙂

    teisha - April 4th, 2008 at 10:11 am

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