Why is it interesting?

Campaign preparation with ADHD can be challenging. Especially when circumstances keep delaying the start of the campaign and you have plenty of time in which you can’t keep your creativity occupied by building and expanding upon what’s happening in the current adventure. Instead, thinking of alternative ideas that you could use becomes a very inviting creative outlet.

When I started working on my “current campaign” (whatever that might actually mean at this point?), I wanted to make it a Classic Dungeon Crawl West Marches sandbox running Old-School Essentials, because that’s a very simple campaign structure to apply. The PCs go to places holding old treasures, overcome the obstacles in the way, carry out the treasures, and gain XP to become more powerful and able to go into more dangerous and fantastical places to search for even greater treasures. It’s very much a game structure. The mechanics of the game provide the incentive for the players that makes engaging with the obstacles attractive. But three months ago, Dragonbane was released and it turned out to be just the kind of game that I had wish existed before I settled on starting an OSE sandbox campaign. And with not being able to get a campaign launched for still two more months at least, exploring how a potential Dragonbane campaign in Kaendor could be set up is just something that I literally have to do.

Among the many differences between Dragonbane and OSE is that Dragonbane does not have the mechanical incentives that OSE does. Characters advance their skills by using them and may gain an additional Heroic Ability whenever the party has completed a significant goal. This does not in any kind suggest or incentivize any kind of objectives for the players to pursue. When anything you could do is as good as anything else, then nothing is inviting to engage with. And at the start of a new campaign, especially when playing in a new setting, the players don’t really know anything about the world and what kinds of activities are even feasible or will lead to interesting and fun outcomes. When starting a new campaign, the players need to have some kind of guidance which goals and activities will be the most likely to lead them to the most interesting and exciting parts of the setting. In a Classic Dungeon Crawl, that suggested starting point is to look for old ruins and search them for treasures because of how the game mechanics work. In a Dragonbane campaign, and many other games, you have tell the players how they can set out to find the most interesting things in the world that you have prepared.

This reasoning led me to my first question to pursue to hopefully lead me to an answer on how to reach an overall concept for a campaign: “Why is any of this interesting?”

Why would players want to play a campaign in the Kaendor setting? What are the elements of the world that are the most interesting to engage, explore, and interact with? Now I can’t read the minds of players I’ve not even pitched the campaign to yet, but instead I can ask “What are the elements of the Kaendor setting that I find the most interesting?” As these will of course be the elements that get by far the most attention and details during its ongoing creation. The things that I find the most attractive in my concept for the world are the old ruins of the various ancient civilizations, the different typed of spirits and demons that lurk beyond the borders of civilization, the mysteries and possibilities of sorcery, and the numerous secret societies and cults.

Playing RPGs, and what makes them so fascinating and unique as a medium, is all about interacting with things. Questioning and negotiating with other people. Poking at things to see what they do. Opening doors to see what’s behind them. Investigating what the enemies are doing and interfering with it. So after having identified those most interesting elements, a logical next question to ask is: “How can the players interact with these things?”

All these elements have in common that they are things that the people currently inhabiting the world really don’t know that much about. They are mysterious and either inherently supernatural in nature or strongly influenced by it. So the very first thing to do on encountering them is to find out more about them. What is it that players could learn and would want to know about these things:

  • What is inside this ruin?
  • What was this ruin originally build for?
  • What is this unknown creature?
  • What is this creature doing here?
  • What does this magic item do?
  • Where does this magic item come from?
  • Who is this secret cult?
  • What is this secret cult trying to do?

And looking at this list, a possibly very interesting and compelling campaign concept already suggests itself. This is a world that very much lends itself to provide a lot of interesting material to engage with for characters who are a combination of demon hunters and archeologists. Which really isn’t that different from the typical Classic Dungeon Crawl PCs. They go into ruins to explore, looking for relics of ancient civilizations, and confront the supernatural horrors from the past.

But the incentive structure is rather different. It’s not so much to personally enrich themselves and gain a life of luxury, but because the PCs believe that it is important to learn the secrets hidden in the wilderness and understand the supernatural forces and entities at work in the world. They can be motivated by being worried about possible threats to the mortal peoples, or a deep personal curiosity about the supernatural unknown. Or, if a player wishes so, by the fact that the powerful NPCs who also share these motivations are willing to pay a lot of money to anyone who can bring them such knowledge.

It has always been bothering me a bit that the generic oldschool treasure hunters are only motivated by getting rich, which doesn’t lend itself to interesting social complications. And the typical adventuring heroes who constantly risk their lives to fight evil for strangers out of a sense of compassion or chivalry don’t very much lend themselves to players being proactive and determining goals for themselves. Such characters are kind of compelled to help every possible person in need they encounter, which doesn’t leave them much choices in setting out their own path. But PCs whose guiding motivation is to learn about the unknown and to determine if something might be a possible threat that could cause great damage in the future seems like a nice middle ground between those two extremes. They are characters who you can simply let become aware of a secretive society existing and it’s something that they might want to investigate. You don’t need to have them see the cultist murdering people or stealing a magic artifact to make it clear that they are an evil that needs to be smited immediately.

It’s an interesting approach to what PCs could be and how a campaign could be structures that I am eager to explore further. Any maybe it will be useful to other people to develop a concept and structure for new campaigns by asking “What about this world is the most interesting?” and “How could the players be interacting with it?”

Return to the Forest Moon

Looking proudly at the sandbox map I made over the last two weeks from first rough layout sketch to mostly finished version, I made the disappointed realization that I had once again prepared a D&D campaign. Despite my joy at having found a game in Dragonbane that is free of the underlying mechanical framework shared by all D&D versions and with a bit more substance than Barbarians of Lemuria, and writing a whole post about needing to approach sandbox preparation differently, I was still falling in the old established patterns that I’ve trained myself to adopt for the last ten years or so. Trying to fill the new sandbox with all my favorite D&D dungeons that I always wanted to use one day and taking a new shot at the old Forest of High Adventure concept surely didn’t help with that.

I feel a cleaner break is in order. To really approach a Dragonbane campaign with a fresh perspective on Kaendor.

Seven years ago, I wrote Project Forest Moon, a list of new design principles that I wanted to put at the center of the worldbuilding for a Sword & Sorcery wilderness setting. Which I still consider a huge success and my biggest breakthrough in really finding the right focus and tone for my following work. I think writing down a similar updated concept paper might be really quite useful for me now. When I think of new ideas how I can manifest the style I am aiming for in concrete setting elements, I often remember that I already did come up with something great a few years ago, but it somehow slipped from my mind at some point and I didn’t do anything with it. This post is a collection of many of these ideas for myself, to look up again when I’ll inevitably get lost in the weeds again.

From Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer.

Tone and Style: One thing that has always been core and center of all my worldbuildilg is that I wanted it to be a big forest setting from the very start. And it soon developed into a desire to give it somewhat of a pulpy lost world style. Influences have come and gone over the years, but I think a really good foundation for my own mental image as I further develop environments and cultural elements is “a Sword & Sorcery jungle world collaboration by Frank Frazetta and Moebius”. If they had painted and drawn such a world, how would I translate what I see into descriptions and scenes? Another huge influence I mention all the time is of course Morrowind, which really set the standard for me for fantasy settings that feel like different worlds than slightly rearranged versions of European folklore. And more recently, Kenshi has become a major influence on what I want to accomplish with the setting. While not actually a fantasy setting and very much a desert world, it’s such a fascinating example of small warlord societies on a desolate alien planet.

The Forest Moon: The term Forest Moon comes of course directly from Endor in Return of the Jedi. The visuals in that movie and The Empire Strikes Back have left a giant impact on my imagination since I saw them for the very first time. There are no sci-fi elements in Kaendor, but a lot of classic pulp art blended fantasy and space elements together with no clear separation, and the idea of Kaendor being an alien world around a huge gas planet really resonates with me to evoke that amazing pulp style. It means very little in practice since conditions on the moon are identical to Earth and nearly any fantasy world, but one way in which such a setup would logically manifest itself is in frequent and long-lasting eclipses. I did work out a complete 16-year cycle calendar with 24 months of 16 days and three leap years of 23 months, that also indicates likely eclipse days at some point. I think I need to make renewed efforts to incorporate this into the culture of the world. At least the eclipses that can happen multiple times per year should have some dramatic impact.

Permian Pangea: Dinosaurs are extremely cool. But they also kinda on the nose. Barbarians riding on dinosaurs can be great pulpy fun, but they don’t really evoke a sense of a plausible alien world. I found that a great solution to this is to instead populate the world with animals from the Permian and Paleocene periods directly preceding and following the dinosaurs. They are still very realistic animals, because they actually did exist, but are mostly unknown even to people who can name dozens of dinosaurs on pictures. They seem like they are made up to most people and a bit alien, but nothing exceptionally weird. I think I worked out the main predators and livestock animals for Kaendor years ago and still don’t feel like there’s any more work to be done. Just make frquent mention of drohas and krats as pack and farm animals in places that the players are coming through. I only need to stat them for Dragonbane, which is really quick and simple.

Human Civilization is new and small: I don’t really believe in the idea of lost golden ages and actually find the concept somewhat offensive. It’s the conservative moaning about a better past that never was, and a rejection of change as a matter of principle. But impressive ancient ruins are really cool, and post-apocalyptic anarchy can be a lot of fun. To eat my cake and still have it too, I very early came up with the idea that the past great empires that build monumental castles and made the magic treasures were otherwise actually really terrible and their disappearance a good thing for the world and its people. Kaendor is full of ruins and treasure hoards from the naga and shie who enslaved the early humans or drove them into the most remote regions of the wilderness. Now that they are mostly gone, humans can build civilizations of their own, but they are way too small to fill out the vast territories ruled by the elder peoples, and so numerous huge, empty ruins still cover what is now again wilderness. Still largely untouched and unexplored. Human civilization consists only of a handful of relatively minor city states, separated by vast stretches of wilderness full of terrible beasts.

Nature Always Wins: People always seem to think of themselves as the masters over nature who have taken control over the world they live in. But that perception is simply the result of a limited perception. They see the changes to the environment within sight of their homes and think of history on the scale of decades and centuries. But on the global scale, and the cosmic scale, none of the works and accomplishments of mortals mean anything. Eventually, everything will be reclaimed by the wilderness and forgotten, leaving behind only a few mysterious traces that hint of something that came before. And even those will completely fade away eventually, when the mountains still stand and forests still grow.

Bronze Age Technology: Bronze age weapons and armor, and architecture and administration. Because it’s a cool style.

A World of Demons: Unlike many other fantasy worlds, Kaendor has a clear separation of the natural and supernatural. Creatures are either ordinary animals, even if huge and deadly, or they are supernatural monsters. For many people, the common term for the later beings is demons. They don’t come from some other dimension or realm and are creatures of flesh and blood that are born, need to eat, and can be killed. But they do have magical powers and age very differently, if at all. Another class of creatures does exist that are pure spirits without physical form that come from another world, and they are typically referred to as demons as well, but they are actually a completely different type of beings.

A World of Heroes: Just as there is a clear difference between ordinary animals and monsters, there is a clear distinction between heroes and ordinary people. Like monsters, heroes are in some way connected to the supernatural. There are countless different beliefs of what makes a person a hero, from being blessed by the gods or chosen by fate, to circumstances of birth and the heroism of ancestors, or that it is something that can be attained through devotion to the divine or a form of enlightenment. None of these might be true, or all of them might. What is clear is that all heroes are destined for greatness, be it for good or for ill. And it usually does not take long for people to recognize heroes for what they are. All PCs and mages are always heroes, as are many kings, chiefs, and warlords. Rulership is often inherited in the lands of Kaendor, but close relatives who show the traits of a hero are almost always seen as more legitimate successors than those who do not. (In Dragonbane game terms, all PCs and all NPCs who have Willpower Points are heroes.)

Sorcery is corrupting: Magic is a power that does not come from the natural world but from outside of it. It is not inherently evil or destructive, but it is not bound to respect the natural laws that govern and sustain all living things. In the presence of poorly controlled magical energies, living things become corrupted and warped from the inside out until they become sickly and twisted and eventually die, or continue to exists in a state between life and death, sustained by the very magical forces that are destroying them. Even rocks and metals can become brittle and crumble after long exposure to extreme corruption. The spells most commonly known and taught by most mages are the result of many centuries of careful study and research and dangerous and costly experimentation to minimize any unintended corrupting effects on their surroundings and nearby creatures. But those with the ambition to explore and discover new and greater magical powers rarely take the caution to have the care and patience to keep their work from corrupting their surroundings and themselves. Making ambitious sorcerers seen as very dangerous and rightly feared.

Everything is a Cult: In the lands of Kaendor, every gathering of people with a common purpose prays to one or several gods to protect them and bless their efforts. In some places, all groups, factions, and organizations might pray to the same god worshiped in the local temple, while in others there might be dozens of different gods and spirits, which might be so obscure that barely anyone outside the group has ever heard of them. But every group has some kind of altar in their main gathering place, and members show their status as initiates with talismans displaying the symbols of their cult.

Gods are not People: I have still not yet fully decided on the actual nature of gods in Kaendor, but while they might be depicted as such in iconography, they are definitely not people or even individuals. They are more like divine forces or powers that are believed to have a real influence on the world and who can be influenced through worship and rituals, but they are not beings with a defined shape or who exists in precise locations, and won’t directly communicate to mortal creatures through words. Ultimately, priests with magical powers are mages who have studied and mastered spells just like sorcerers do, but who pursue the advancement of their magical skills within the teachings and philosophies of their faith.

FHA Advanced and Improved Map

I hadn’t been quite happy with how the first draft of the map for the Forest of High Adventure campaign came out and so I did some big revisions to it that still mostly stuck to the original sketches.

It’s still a 10-mile hex map, but the area it covers has now been reduced to one quarter the original size. This is still a very sizable area about the size of Northern Germany, but I feel that the density of major settlements feels now much more plausible at this smaller scale. It’s still a 300 mile journey up the river from the coast to the northwestern mountains. Going there and back again could easily turn into a two month expedition. It’s not Lewis and Clarke scale, but actually still a really major undertaking when you think of it.

The black dungeon markers now look much more dense as well. This sandbox feels packed. There’s a pretty empty region on the eastern side of the coast, but that area is supposed to be the region that’s been somewhat settled by civilization, so there’s not being a whole lot of exploration adventures to be done there doesn’t seem like a problem.

And so far this really is just the big impressive ruins and cave systems with a backstory. I have not even added any regular small monster lairs yet. With so much stuff going on, I feel I’m probably not even going to need to skip over the middle part of long journeys. One random encounter check for every hex of travel still shouldn’t result in an overwhelming amount of encounters when traveling between any two hexes.

Dragonworld: A Dragonbane Fantasyland setting outline

Around the same time that I started reading the Dragonbane rules, road constructions made me take a different route back from work in the evening, leading to me driving through the fields and forests of East Holstein during sunny summer afternoons.

And even though I’m neck deep in setting up a Sword & Sorcery style campaign in Kaendor and frequently tinker around with my Iridium Moons Space Opera, I keep having lots of inspirations for a classic, straightforward Fantasyland setting for Dragonbane. That game very strongly comes across as a good old Fantasy Heartbreaker, but one that actually strikes me as having found a really great balance between oldschool B/X D&D and the Basic Role-Playing system, and incorporating influences from contemporary D&D and the Year Zero system, resulting in just the type of game system that I think I’ve been looking for the last decade. And it’s generic Elfgame style for illustrations is kind of charming. Charming in the same way as I remember first reading the 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms campaign setting box.

I’ve been thinking for a long time how I find it disappointing that few fantasy works seem to have any interest to draw on actual medieval history and culture for their settings anymore, and how all Northern European style fantasy is really just Viking stuff and nothing else. And another thing that’s been on my mind last winter was how the Heartlands and Unapproachable East regions of the Forgotten Realms have a couple of interesting ideas, but feel too sparse and thin for me to consider running campaigns in them. But there could be some potential by combining the more interesting parts of both regions into a single region. And then really dialing up the 13th century reference, which the first Forgotten Realms box actually referenced but were then very quickly forgotten and discarded.

And I still think that could work: 13th century Baltic Sea region, with countries shamelessly ripped off from the Dalelands, Moonsea, Impiltur, Rashemen, and Thay. Do I have anything meaningful to add to generic Fantasyland or anything to say on the subject that hasn’t been said before? Not really. I can’t think of any. But there’s still the thought that generic Fantasyland could be done better than it has before, and that I know what it would look like.

Will this go anywhere? Probably not. Will I have interesting pieces to share in the common months? Maybe, but probably not many. Might I actually run a Dragonbane campaign in that setting? Possibly, but I still have a big Kaendor campaign that is in the final preparation phase, which will hopefully go well enough to keep my fantasy cravings fed for the next few years. But maybe, in four or five years, I might find myself in the situation that I feel like running a somewhat different flavor of fantasy. And then, maybe, I might think that this Dragonworld concept I had in 2024 might be worth getting my full attention.

That’s the kind of worldbuilding work you can expect coming from this.

The Lands of Dragonworld

The landscapes and cultures of the setting are very much based on the Baltic Sea region about the time of the 13th century. Temperate to sub-arctic climate and home to various Germanic and Slavic peoples. And the main cultural force that is shaping society throughout all the lands is sea trade. A long an narrow sea protected from the worst weather of the open ocean serves in many ways just like a river for the transportation of goods, but unlike a river there is no way for any powerful lord to block all ships at a strategic choke point and gain control of all trade through huge tolls and taxes. There is even a theory that this open access to a convenient transportation network was the foundation for more egalitarian social structures that eventually made Skandinavia in particular the birthplace of modern Social Democracy, and northern Europe extremely wealthy despite modest to poor conditions for agriculture. (But I digress.) The Baltic Sea became home to many very powerful small merchant republics that ended up playing in the same political and military league as the actual kingdoms of the region. Forgotten Realms also has a very strong presence of free cities and merchant lords, which always reminded me of Northern Europe. I think this is an environment that is really much more interesting than the typical Fantasyland with their English and French kings.

The Imperial Marches are the northern borderlands of a great southern kingdom that fancies itself an Empire but in truth is no more powerful or larger in size than its other neighbors to the south and east. The Empire has long desired to further expand into the lands of the North but has seen almost no successes in the last few generations. The Imperial Marches are home to some of the largest cities in the North and can field large and powerful armies, but most of their excursions into the rest of the region are undertaken by merchant ships trading with the cities of the Narrow Sea.

The Western Duchy is an old and proud nation of herdsmen and farmers sitting on the coastal plains below the Woodsmen Hills. The position of the Duke is a largely ceremonial title as the cities and towns of the country are highly independent, but holds the responsibility of a common leader of the city’s armies in times of attacks by neighboring realms. While the current Duke has sworn fealty to the Emperor as his vassal, in practice the Duchy remains a sovereign nation in nearly all ways that matter.

The Woodmen Hills are a region of densely forested highlands that are inhabited by numerous barbaric tribes closely related to the people of the Western Duchy. While they share very similar languages and worship the same gods, their culture is very different from the plains dwellers down on the coast. Since the Western Duchy has nominally accepted the sovereignty of the Emperor, the Empire has focused its attempts at expansion to the north into the Woodmen Hills, but so far has found very little in the way of success.

The Tyrant Cities are a number of merchant cities with a reputation for lawlessness and the rule of cruel and uncaring despots. They are typically each other’s worst enemies, but also frequently harbor pirates and are busy markets for slaves. Occasionally one tyrant or another attempts to take control over nearby towns in the Western Duchies or Forest Dales, but these conquests are typically short lived as their soldiers are pulled out to defend their cities against rival lords who sensed an opportunity to attack.

The Cold Steppes are the westernmost edge of a vast plain of frozen grasslands that is said to stretch east for thousands of miles. While there are no major settlements in the Steppes, trade caravans from the East occasionally reach the Tyrant Cities or the Western Duchy, and in years of hard winters raids of horse riders from the plains are a common occurrence come spring.

The Forest Dales are a vast region of woodlands on the western shore of the Narrow Sea, though nearly all of the noteworthy towns of the regions are within a few days travel from the coast. There are no significant cities in this part of the northern lands, but it produces much of the special lumbers sought highly by shipbuilders all across the region.

The Merchant Kingdom used to be considered part of the Forest Dales for a very long time until it was settled by merchants from the Empire several centuries before the conquest of the Imperial Marches. Each city is ruled by a council of merchants, and the leaders of each city elect one of their own as their king. A position that is usually assumed for life, but may be revoked by a vote of the grand council. The title of king exists mostly for the merchants to assert their claim to independence from the Empire, which has long desired to incorporate the wealthy and important cities. The merchants of the kingdom gain most of their wealth from trade in lumber from the Forest Dales, iron and copper from the hellish foundries of the Tyrant Cities, and the occasional exotic goods from trade caravans crossing the Cold Steppes, which they sell  in ports in the Imperial Marches and lands further south.

Heroes and Monsters

In much of fantasy, particularly RPGs and videogames, both hero and monsters are very generic terms, typically applied to any protagonists and fictional creatures. But historically, in ancient myths and medieval tales, the concepts of a “Hero” or a “Monster” have much more specific meanings that give them a greatly heightened significance on a metaphysical scale. Heroes and monsters are not merely exceptional people or creatures, but typically unique individuals that exist outside the common rules of the natural world. They are supernatural beings that break the rules of ordinary life.

Conan the Cimmerian fighting the ape-beast Thak in the mansion of the Red Priest Nabonidus.

While I was looking at the spells available to mages in Dragonbane and how their existence would impact the worldbuilding of a campaign, one spell in particular that stood out to me was Resurrection. It is of course a very powerful ability to raise the dead, but under the rules of Dragonbane, an animism mage focusing on healing powers could get access to it very quickly after just two advances in the Animism skill. And there are no limits on who can be resurrected other than the time that has passed since the target has died. To counter this potency, each casting of Resurrection permanently reduces the Willpower attribute of the mage, which can not be recovered.  If we take the rules of the game as they are written as the internal logic by which the campaign world operates, then any mages with healing spells find themselves in the situation where they could save any 8 to 16 people brought to them from death by sacrificing their own mind. How would they even make the choices which people to bring back to life and to which ones they refuse this service to? And even if a player playing a mage with this spell comes to a decision, this would be a philosophical problem with gigantic implications for the worldbuilding of any Dragonbane campaign. Which I am pretty sure the writer of this spell had no intention to be relevant. There are surely many ways to work around that, but something that came to my mind is that perhaps the Resurrection spell does not work on most ordinary people and can only be used to resurrect a small number of exceptional individuals.

Which brings us back to Heroes. At the most basic level, classical heroes of myth are larger than life individuals who have an exceptional impact on their society and regional history. Quite often their exceptional cunning and wisdom and their superhuman fighting skills and resilience are attributed to a divine heritage, being the children or grandchildren of gods. They are not just brave or lucky or unusually well talented and trained, there is something about their inherent nature that is supernatural. This supernatural quality could be what is necessary for the Resurrection spell to work in a Dragonbane campaign. It can work of course on all PCs, but also on powerful priests and sorcerers and even kings and famous knights. And as it happens, there already is a mechanical element in the Dragonbane rules that establishes such a difference between minion and boss NPCs. Willpower Points are something that only PCs and boss NPCs have, but minion NPCs don’t.

Similarly, not every creature in Dragonbane is a monster. A dragon, manticore, or giant is a monster, while orcs, goblins, skeletons explicitly have the Non-Monster trait. The rules for monsters are quite different from those of non-monster creatures and ordinary animals. They never have to make attack rolls and can not be parried, so any PCs attacked by a monster have to either use their action for the round to attempt to dodge or automatically take damage. Monsters also typically have several actions per round, a table with several different special attacks that usually has at least one fear effect, and players can not use the Persuade skill on them. Monsters are clearly something very different from large and ferocious animals.

I really like this approach to super-human people and supernatural monsters to create a stronger feel of Sword & Sorcery in a campaign. It encourages to use “Monsters” more sparingly and have each of them be at least a major setpiece of the adventures they appear in, rather than as a simple way to avoid too much repetitiveness in long stretches of repeated fights. Dragonbane is not a system meant for classic dungeon crawls like B/X, where going from room to room to deal with a new threat behind every door and corner is the name of the game. I’m really looking forward to see how this will play out in practice and how it will impact the feel and presentation of Kaendor.

The Eternal War against the Serpents

The defeat of the Naga and conquest of the South by the God-King marked the beginning of mortal civilization and the rise of the first kingdom. But though the serpents were driven back beyond the great river, their threat to the mortal realms was never completely broken. It is by the might of the God-King and his royal guard that the southern realms are being kept safe and their people are protected from being enslaved or devoured.

With the divine power of the God-King, no serpent armies have crossed the river in living memory, but in the jungles beyond the eternal war has never ceased. The sacred duty of protecting the realms of mortals from the snakes is given to the royal guard, masked soldiers of the greatest skill and might who hail exclusively from an ancient caste of warriors fanatically devoted to the service to the God-King. Regular soldiers are given the dreaded assignment of guarding the river and prevent the crossing of raiding parties that managed to slip by the royal guard engaging the main armies of the serpents in battle. Typically these consists of barbarian warriors from deeper within the jungles who have become thralls enslaved by the insidious magic of the snakes, but all people have heard stories of patrols that were ambushed by naga warriors and sorcerers and slain or devoured to the last man.

Soldiers of the God-King patrol the northern bank of the great river to prevent anyone but the royal guard from crossing, to prevent any snake cultists from revealing information about their enemies to their terrible masters. And no lone wanderers or stragglers are allowed to return, as the serpents use their dark magic to enslave the minds of prisoners and send them back as spies and agents to spread false rumors and trick the watchful guardians to become complacent and underestimate the threat of another naga army crossing the river to retake their ancient lands.

Since the day the God-King ascended to his reign over the people of the southern realms, he has led them into battle against the serpents and to victory.  And it is by his might alone and the valiant struggle of the eternal war that the lands of mortals are kept safe, and for the people of the south, this alone is proof enough of his divinity.