Centrus - Post-apocalyptic fantasy in a wasteland filled with death and opportunity.
This game is a homebrew campaign run off and on through many years. It has its own history and unique perspective. The setting is bleak and dangerous but the themes are positive as heroes travel about trying to make the world a better place.
The world of Centrus is one of an old man getting out of bed. Its been laying awake too long, wondering if it is just going to fade out in the night or try to bring itself out of the darkness for one last chance at living. Centrus is old, abused, worn out and has spent the last several centuries creeping towards death.
However, centuries ago things began changing. Ancient empires that had used up the land in intractable wars toppled, stagnant societies fell apart, the earth shook and opened up and destruction rained from the sky. But these events, normally the foreshadowing of the end, heralded the coming of a time of hope. The fire that rained from the sky heralded the return of the elves. The earthquakes that tore holes in the earth allowed the Dwarves to come to the surface. And the trials of old society brought forth a new generation of people who could make changes for the better and trade the shackles of oppression for the wings of freedom.
Called Human by scholars, these olive skinned peoples span most of the world. Once consummate traders and hagglers, they have earned a reputation as being cheaters and skinflints. Due to their widespread nature, Cretians are generally regarded neutrally in most first encounters.
Dwellers of the Under, the dwarven peoples “discovered” what they call the Underworld, the surface world when the ground split open and fire escaped from below. They consider their world to be the surface and ours to the Under. The new dwarven settlements are in the desert wastes and, having no ores to work with, they have mastered the arts of turning sand into glass. Glass is used for structures, weapons, eating and drinking utensils and whatever else the crafty mind of a dwarf can find for it. Though few can acquire metal armors, the chitin of desert creatures serves for armor and whatever else they need.
All elves currently reside in the city of Corellia in the center of the Sanjir Desert, a vast expanse of wasteland that the elven colony ship crashed in 1000 years ago. Most elven subtypes live in peaceful, though fragile existence there. Though they have a remnant of advanced technology and magic, the elves have lost the means to build or repair their technology. Elves traveling abroad may bring only traditional elven tools in sync with the world’s level of technology.
The orcs have a varied and diverse history in the world of Centrus. They have seen highs and lows and have played villain and slave to many. As such there have evolved several different subraces that can all be called orcs.
1 Deep Orcs
The deep orcs represent the closest to the traditional orc. They are the bearers of orcish tradition and harbor fierce warriors who worship Gummsh. Little needs to be mentioned apart from the Monster Manual Entry except to note that they are largely subterranean and rarely venture from their warrens. They struggle to hold their territories from invading races at the Great Threshold.
These mixed race orcs are somewhere between orc and half orc. They were once subjugated and enslaved by the Vanestai Elves during the second age of elvendom. When the Vanesti Empire was overcome by the Fungal Blight they rose up against their elven oppressors. Already used to wearing “Aesthetic Veils” from their enslavement and having access to the deep mining equipment used by the empire they constructed spore filters for each and every member of the race. This prevented them from being changed by the spore. After the elves fled the world they laid claim to the old empire’s borders. Since no one could enter the border lands without their filtering technology, this claim was undisputed. However, after time passed, dependence on the masks changed them. Now, even in areas without the spore, ferrans cannot survive for long with out their masks. The exposure to direct sunlight causes severe sunburn and they are especially susceptible to disease.
The orcs that lived at the base of the Shard Mountains bore the brunt of repeated wars with The Thunderstaff Empire to the east, The Trading Coalition to the south, and the Tribes of Urse to the North. They became nomadic every several generations simply due to the life cycle of the orc. The pattern followed, 1 establish camp, 2 grow in size, 3 dominate the territory, 4 make war on neighboring lands, 5 get slaughtered and move the remains to another territory. They could not become strong enough to hold their own before they provoked some powerful nation. Then came a visionary leader. Most orc warlords ruled through strength and mass murder. The orc chief Shurgen did so as well, but followed his rule with wisdom. Unlike most orcs he could read and was a humanoid of great learning. It is possible he was only half orc, but orc legends don’t include such trivialities. He set about redesigning an orcish society from the ground up. Everything was ritualized from the drawing of blood to the order of meals. If an orc understands anything it is ritual. Rituals don’t require a why or deep thought to follow. This evolved into a society that is much like that of Feudal Japan. The barbarian is gone replaced by the focus warriors of the Shotokai. Orcs still have rage and fury but it is bottled and contained with well-designed stoppers to release it in carefully measured doses.
Fierce warriors, the Masai stand a full head taller than the average Cretian. Their skin is as black as coal and their hair varies from shades of grey to shades of red. They come from the deep desert originally, but now frequent the coastal regions surrounding the deserts.
Also known as halflings (a derogatory term) Tartans are traditionally a nomadic, wild people. Civilized tartans have taken on the trappings of other civilized peoples, but wild tartans still live in the wastes. Wild tartans have extensive body art and ceremonially pierce steel rings into their backs to hang ribbons from detailing their victories in combat.
Core classes are acceptable, others negotiable. Special note below on Cleric and a full caster version of Monk
The old concept of 'gods' is a matter of derision and hatred among most people. The gods are blamed for whatever cataclysm befell the world in ancient times and thus worship is derided as foolish and backwards. However agents of lesser powers have sprung up and spread their influence while receiving special blessings in return. The cleric will serve a specific terrestrial power, whether it is a demon, a dragon, an elemental or some other supernatural power. They don't serve ideals, but the baser and more material interests of their hosts. Some clerics can be good if they serve good or neutral powers.
Monks have long labored in solitude perfecting the ways of the body and spirit. The Mantric Monk has focused on forging his soul into a wellspring of power. Through the regimens of meditation and focusing mantras the Monk marshals great divine power. Though they are proficient in all the traditional Monk weapons, the Mantric Monk traditionally carries a staff adorned with brass rings at the top whose jingle announce his way.
This is a crossbow style weapon that fires small saw blades. While it does not have the range of the traditional crossbow the style of the ammunition allows them to be placed in cartridges that are easily reloaded. Each cartridge holds five blades. The weapon works similarly to the repeating crossbow but does slashing damage instead.
Dwarven Bolt Gun
The bolt gun is a black powder firearm capable of spraying an area with iron rivets. It is a hand held machine gun that uses two hoppers to feed both black powder pellets (called Pells) and iron rivets into a chamber and firing the metal in a roughly forward direction. They are difficult to manage and not accurate in any sense but they kill monsters.
This blunt weapon is one class larger than the Maul presented in the Adventurer’s Guide and is strictly a two handed weapon though you still need the exotic weapon proficiency to wield one effectively.
This is an iron throwing bar that is specifically designed to circumvent shields. Its about 2 feet long with a handle and branch-like spines each ending in a small blade. They are thrown and as they impact the shield the spinning motion leverages the bar around the shield to strike the target behind. In essence, it ignores any shield bonus to armor class. The base damage is 1D6 and the range increment is only 10’.
Shotokai Shock Blade
This weapon looks like a heavy sword, but functions more like an axe. It has a large straight blade, with a long handle running along the back. The wielder holds the traditional hilt of the sword with one hand and the handle in the middle of the blade with the other. As it is swung the hands are brought together just as in the use of a lumber axe for maximum force. It chops rather than slashes.
This blade is similar to a Chinese longsword however it has a hook mid-length of the blade. On a successful critical hit this blade does an additional 1D3 points of Con damage as the hook shreds and pulls out entrails. The weapon does not have a damage multiplier.
This is a fully ranged saw weapon. It is a two handed weapon with a long handle and two curved parallel bars with gear teeth along the inside edge. The missiles are circular saw blades on short-geared spindles. The blade is inserted in between the two parallel bars with the gear teeth interlocking with the teeth on the bars. As the bar is swung overhead or sideways the force propels the disk outward while the gears set the saw spinning at a great speed. The weapon requires timing as the thrower must have leveled with the target at the same time the blade reaches the end and flies free. If they hit successfully the blades impact ferociously. As a two handed weapon you apply 1.5 times strength bonus to the ranged attacks. Sling saws are most notable for their distinctive sound as the blades wind up and spring free whistling through the air. Setting another saw in the weapon is a move action. This time can be reduced with the rapid reload feat.
Tartan Spindle Saw
This is a melee reach weapon with a 15' reach, though you don't threaten the area into which you can make an attack. You can use it against foes anywhere within your reach except adjacent foes.
Using a spindle saw provokes an attack of opportunity, just as if you had used a ranged weapon.
It is essentially a saw bladed yo-yo, with double saw blades on a spindle, a palm sized receiving handle (to keep your fingers intact) and a cord connecting them together. It can also make trip attacks similar to a whip but if even the attempt is made the spindle must be rewound before more melee attacks can be made. Winding or rewinding takes a move action and does provoke attacks of opportunity.
Tartan Spindle Saw, Large
Similar to the smaller version this is simply a larger saw. The receiving handle is a rod about the size of a short sword and can leverage the spindle out farther despite the larger size. It is, however a two handed weapon as you must keep one hand free to manage the cord effectively. You may still attempt trip attacks and in so doing require the weapon to be rewound. However due to its larger size, master work quality versions will have a wound spring inside the saw head to rewind itself once per combat.
The smiths of the dwarven outpost of Ottsix have perfected the art of glassmaking. It is used in place of metals wherever possible since ore is so hard to find. A weapon made from dwarven glass is designed to chip and break along very steep angles. A blade will constantly chip from use but maintain its razor sharp edge. It will wear down and must be replaced on a regular basis.
On an attack roll of natural 20, the glass blade shatters doing an additional 1d6 points of damage plus 1 point of bleeding damage per round until the target recieves some form of healing. The head is rendered useless except as a club of appropriate size however. A magical weapon made of dwarven glass will regenerate a shattered head in one hour.
The world as a whole
The world is flat. If you sail to the edge of Centrus, you will most likely fall off. The great disk of the world hangs in the celestial void with its oceans running off it in great waterfalls into the oblivion... or the underworld depending on who you ask.
The continents are centered on the surface of the world joined by the Shard Mountains. The north-western continent, called Sanjir,is primarily a desert wasteland that sees little annual rainfall. The southern continent, once called Arboria, is now dominated by the Toxic Jungle. Its known inhabitants huddle at the edges next to the sea where the fungal blight does not spread. The Western Continent, called Empiria, is made up of plains and light forests. The land is filled with ruins and the evil lingerings of fallen empires. The primary landmass to the north of the Mountains is dense forests followed by frigid wastes until you reach the frozen sea.
This spindletop is held together by the celestial cord tied to the peaks of Mount Crom... or it is held up from below by Crom himself. The details... they are less than certain.
The great desert dominates this continent. It has been said that this is the crawling desert as it did not always cover most of the land, but it now borders the floodplains along the southern coast, the mountains to the north and east and the coastal plain to the west. It was once the home of the the Masai, who are perhaps the best suited to the climate, but now it harbors mostly monster life. There are two notable exceptions, that being the Elves and the Dwarves. The elves exist in a settlement in the northern expanse known as Corellia. The city itself is said to have fallen from the sky and they now trade with and provide a valuable oasis for caravans that cross the deep desert. In the southern expanse a dwarven outpost has been set up around a crevasse that leads deep into the ground. They came up from the below and have since forged a settlement there. Their primary building materials are stone that they bring from below and the glass that they forge from the sands above. The Masai, once masters of the desert now live on the southern coastal plains. They are hunters and fishermen.
The town of Farfax is a frigid place and inhospitable to even those who call it home. It would be another dying blip on the map if not for it's primary industry: Whaling. The coastal waters are the primary breeding ground for the Narwhal. While the meat of the great beasts provide food for the region, the horns are especially prized as a component in weapons, armor and magical components.
A town built in the shadow of a great cliff, Shadowmar is protected from the ravaging sands that would otherwise overtake it. The cliff itself is part of a great mesa complex that forms a shadowy maze. The cliff is carved with many niches and caves that is home to the wealthy and affluent, and part of the face is carved in the likeness of some great bird, though the features have long since been worn away. The poor live in a sprawling shanty town made of mud stretching between the great mesa and several smaller mesas. Shadowmar serves as a meeting place for those fishermen along the region to trade their wares, the caravans that make the trade route through Corellia, the elven city and traders from along the coast. It is also a meeting place for salvagers, men who survive combing the deserts for lost artifacts to sell.
The Coastal city of Taridian is a major port, and a city state ruled by a Sultan. The landscape is rocky and barren varying from sparse vegetation to dry grasslands. The area is a confluence of races and cultures creating an air of social renaissance. The culture is Turkish, with a mix of old influence and new enlightnenment. You will see Cretians in turbans and desert gear, Tartans (both wild and civilized varieties), Masai warriors, dwarven traders and elven envoys. Ferrans trade slaves and plunder at the docks, unwilling to come in to the city but not forced to leave by the Sultan's Knights of Darken Flame. The city is wealthy by most standards but there is a swath of poverty at its outskirts.
The Toxic Jungle
While this continent surely had a name, it is now known solely by it primary feature. The jungle is an expanse of fungal forests that span the width and breadth of the landmass, stopping within a mile of th coastline. The interior is both toxic and hostile to all animal life. Struggling to survive at its edges are small communities and villages. The majority of these are the Ferrans who are among the few who can survive the poisons of the jungle. The Ferran population itself is varied. Some are fishermen, some are raiders and pirates and some are seafaring traders. There are some few who maintain the hereditary obligation of fighting the jungle but most have given up and live what lives they can. Unfortunatly, the Ferrans that most outsiders encounter are the raiders and the merchants who deal in slaves. Because of this the Ferrans have a very poor reputation with most people.
Centuries ago, this was the domain of the Thunderstaff Empire. Since then the throne has fallen and the empire has shattered. Now the land is composed of isolated baronies struggling to maintain control of their lands while the wilderness has resurged and reclaimed most of the land. Now hidden within temperate forests and among the grassy plains are the ruins of that empire. Most dangerous are the towers of the ruling magi elite. Some have already disgorged their hold of unnatural beasts that were the fodder of countless experiments, while others still keep their secrets and their horrors waiting for curious eyes to free them.
The Trading Consortium
At the crux of the continental mass, south of the Mountains of Crom and at the apex of the three subcontinents is the Trading Consortium. An ancient trading complex grown into a vast city-state, this is where the compass points meet. It is a walled city filled with towers and glorious architecture. It was beautiful... once. Decline and decadence has left this vast city a veritable ghost town. A full third of the structures lay vacant and no new construction has been seen in centuries. Powerful clans entrench themselves within their towers eyeing each other while the city crumbles around them. The birth rate does not exceed the death rate and only immigration accounts for the stable population. Here anything can be had for the right price, but keeping it is difficult. In the vacant sections fierce creatures that love to feed on the baser instincts of sentient beings thrive and the city crubles quietly waiting for the last tower to topple.