Savage Rifts: The Rising Sons
What most folk know of the world is only what they've seen with their own eyes – muddy, dirty hovels and towns linked together by rough dirt tracks or, in some lucky places, cobblestone roads left by an ancient kingdom vanquished by some forgotten rival, or even simply their own decadence. These roads crisscross the countryside, very occasionally linking to a huge, walled city that is even muddier, dirtier, and more dangerous than the towns and the wilds combined. Commoners toil and scratch to earn a living, paying tithes to the local lords in exchange for the merest hope that, should bandits, orcs, or other untold horrors burst forth from the darkness of the forests and mountains, their pleas for help will be answered.
The known world has a coast to the West and impenetrable mountains to the East. The North is a frozen wasteland, slowly giving way Southward to tundra, then vast forested regions where the majority of human, dwarf, and elven lands are. Further South lies the steaming twisted jungles of the Ghult raptor men, and beyond that the burning dunes of the Trackless Sands.
The North is home to the recently established wolfen empire, a massive conglomerate of the most powerful wolfen tribes united into a single, massive horde under the self-appointed Emperor Skuldvar Ironfang. The wolfen, no longer fighting amongst themselves, quickly conquered and enslaved the humans, dwarves, and elves that lived in the Northern reaches. From them, they learned finer aspects of commerce, literature, and society, combining it with their own natural inclination toward pack cooperation and cunning. For the next several decades, wolfen society advanced, grew, and flourished. Their tribal, pack hunter culture grew and assimilated foreign ideas, becoming a strict code of honor that all wolfen are bound by. Wolfen society places the utmost value on courage in battle, maintaining personal honor, and the superiority of wolfen over all other races.
In the last ten years, however, the empire in the North has begun to expand Southward once again. No longer content to remain in the snow-covered pines and mountains of their homeland, the wolfen armies stirred and began conquering and enslaving the tribal people of the Razorpine Forest
As they pushed further South, they continued to enslave and conquer scattered and disparate tribes of various humanoids – ogres, orcs, goblins, kobolds, gnolls, and others were crushed and incorporated into the Empire's vast hierarchy of thralls.
A race of honorable wolf-like humanoids, the wolfen are one of the greatest threats to human domination of the world. Often called “barbarians” by southern humans, the wolfen of the north have slowly built a vast empire that rivals the sophistication of any human land. Though wolfen disapprove of the cruelty of the sub-human races, they will gladly enlist their aid against humanity—after all, there is always time to correct their behavior when the empire is whole and victorious.
• Code of Honor: Wolfen are raised in an extremely militant and rigid society, taught from birth about the value of courage in battle and personal honor. Their pack mentality makes them “team players” who do their best to uphold their society’s expectations. Wolfen have the Code of Honor Major Hindrance. A wolfen who violates his people’s moral values replaces this with the Wanted and Outsider Minor Hindrances, suffering a –2 penalty to Charisma with other wolfen.
• Keen Senses: Wolfen can identify others by smell as easily as by sight. Also, because of their keen senses, wolfen gain a +2 bonus to Notice checks.
• Strong: Wolfen are powerful and muscular. They start with a d6 in Strength instead of a d4.
The wolfen pushed further south into the lands of powerful human, dwarf, and elf kingdoms of the more forested, temperate lands and found that one of the things that helped their rapid expansion was their ability to resist the bitter cold of the frozen North. Without this advantage, the armies of the Southerners were able to force a standstill that has lasted several years as an uneasy peace, with only border skirmishes and incidents occurring regularly.
Within the last few months, however, an increasingly steady flow of refugees from the North has begun to flood the Northernmost cities of the humans, elves, and dwarves. Some kingdoms welcome them with open arms, such as the free port of Kaladar on the West coast, which has become a melting pot of all races since the imperial invasion of the Northern forests several years ago. They've paid a heavy price, as their food stores are rumored to be running empty as violence within the city escalates and the streets are clogged with the starving and homeless. Other city-states, such as the fortress city of Qampur, have exploited the orcs, goblins, and ogres as they flee certain death and enslavement at the hands of the wolfen. Forcing them to disarm and enacting draconian laws to limit their rights, often separating families or refusing entry to those too old or sick to work. Having suffered centuries of raids and atrocities at the hands of these tribes, or more commonly simply having been frightened as youngsters with tales of their savagery, few people shed tears for the plight of the greenskins. Still some kingdoms, like Falcursius, the Northmost outpost of the dwarven kings, were outright hostile to the refugees, barring the gates and greeting them with crossbow bolts.
It is in these troubled, dark times that you step into. Veterans of the First Wolfen War, as scholars are calling it – already certain that there are more to come, you have managed to carve out a place among a small, hundred-man mercenary outfit known as the Crimson Hounds. Made up of men, elves, orcs, ogres, and even occasional wolfen, the Hounds are led by a half-dwarf named Grugnir Granitehammer and known to take nearly any job that pays.
You are a member of his elite cadre of soldiers, the Breakers, named for the group's first mission – a deep strike behind wolfen lines that broke the seige of Zhentai City. The Breakers are often tasked with jobs that are too important, sensitive, or complicated to assign rank and file troops with.
Grugnir has called you into his tent, lavishly furnished by a soldier's standards – though the old warrior had earned it. He sits behind a heavy oak desk, a map spread before him, stroking his greying, braided beard and puffing on his pipe, the wisps of half-folk pipeweed hanging in the still air of the tent, somehow helping the tent feel warmer as the flap closes, keeping out the stinging cold, the winter air still managing to carry a few flakes of snow inside. His steel-grey eyes, thick, long beard and heavy build betraying his dwarven ancestry just as the chipped, slashed, and dirty suit of plate mail he wore stood as a testament to his years as a battle commander.
His gaze lifts to each of you in turn, arching a bushy eyebrow as he points a thick, calloused finger to the map, "Look lads, this 'ere refugee situation has the whole of the North spinnin' round like a pup chasing its tail. These lords don't know what to do, but they all have coin and need able swordhands. There's plenty 'o work and we can only choose one. Ye know I've come to trust yer judgement so let's hear it. The dwarf king Petrus Battlehand has one hell of a job for us, but has promised to open their smiths' armory to equip us. We're talking the best magic weapons in Falcursius." The half-dwarf's eyes narrow as he watches you all, letting the information settle like a fog before continuing, "Of course Kaladar wants help, what with the stake they’ve tied themselves to, openin’ the gates to that lot. The place is overflowin' with refugees and Gods know what else, too many starvin’ mouths makes for a lot of snatched purses and robbed merchants. Their watchmen can't handle it. From what I heard, the council is willing to pay up for anyone who can help restore order. Still, they're stretched thin and can't pay much beyond promising spoils from any criminals killed." The aging warrior sighs heavily as he finishes, rolling his eyes at the thought of such a paltry offering, "And then there's the contract from Qampur." Grugnir's eyes gleam in the candlelight, his dour face cracking into a smile as he continues, "If you like the idea of hefty sacks of gold for guarding a caravan of wagons heading South… then ‘yer a damned fool. Everyone knows that’s too good to be the truth of it." The sound of his battle-worn fingers drumming on the map's parchment repeating a few times, "So what say ye?"
For character creation, use the core Savage Worlds rules + Fantasy Companion. Most any race is on the table, just run it past me. We’ll also be using the “gritty” Savage Worlds damage rules, so any wound means a Vigor check vs being taken out.
Starting funds are 1,100gp.