The Hudan Technocracy - Magic and Machine
The Hudan Technocracy is a small, young nation, rising fast as a power in the Southern Sea. Using technology long abandoned by the Empire of Splendour, fuelled by unique minerals, Hudan is quickly carving a niche for itself amongst the powerful nations of Conclave.
Hudan is formed from two allied countries. The nation of Hu is a former Imperial province, a small land nestled on the southern side of the Vorsheeva peninsula. Surrounded by mountains, it is only reachable by sea. Formerly the Imperial Nome of Distant Abundance, Hu was originally settled as a stop-off point for traders heading east around the Inner Continent, bound for Mopendor or the Ssth-Gar lands. As the Empire shrank this role became less important, but Distant Abundance maintained its Imperial identity. For unknown reasons, perhaps because of its relative independence from the rest of the Empire, perhaps because (as rumours say) the inventor Beraphol was born there, Distant Abundance maintained and developed many of the technological wonders that were devised and abandoned by the Empire. Clockwork, printing presses, gunpowder weapons, advanced metallurgy; all reached the peak of their development in Distant Abundance. When news of the Llazan Secession reached the land, the ruling Magisters of Distant Abundance threw away their links to the Empire and renamed the nation Hu, after a local dialectical word for "home".
The island of Or, the other half of Hudan, had a somewhat different beginning. Or had long been home to three distinct cultures, overseen by a god-spirit known as The Shao. In return for fealty, the Shao protected the land from invaders, repelling many enemy fleets with magical storms. Eventually, Imperial wizards uncovered a way to destroy the Shao, but in doing so they changed the nature of Or. Magic no longer worked there. Magicians of all traditions who attempted spellcasting found an unpleasant, even fatal, void, that became known as The Shadow. Not only that, but the loss of the Shao very nearly caused a breakdown in its carefully wrought Orrian society. Having wrecked Or, the Empire decided it was no longer interested and withdrew.
About 50 years ago, a Hu explorer and natural philosopher, Ocris, discovered that the magic of Or had not gone, it had merely become locked away in the rocks, the soil, plants and water. Ocris spent the rest of her life discovering how to unlock this power, that she called the Principles, producing the foundations of Ocrisian Alchemy. Treaties were made between Hu and Or. With the alchemical compounds of Or, and the technical know-how of Hu, it was possible to create new machines and devices previously unheard of in Conclave.
Politics of Hudan
Although it calls itself a Technocracy, Hudan actually uses a variant of the Imperial system with Magisters Administory and Judiciary running things. The difference is that the magisterial exams also test knowledge of alchemy and engineering as well as the legal and bureaucratic tests of traditional magisterial exams. Hudan has two Grand Magisters and two Magisters of the Twelve Rivers, the highest ranking Magisters Administory and Judiciary, respectively, one for Hu and one for Or. There is no overall ruler of Hudan, which is instead governed purely by the collective Magistracy. Hudan has three informal social castes formed along lines of education: the Magisters, who oversee projects, those who physically build and repair the machinery, known colloquially as the Techs, and those who have no technological expertise, known derisively by Magisters and Techs as Users.
Despite presenting a united front to the rest of the world, Hudan is a divided nation. Many Orrians resent Hu using what they see as a purely Orrian resource to further themselves, and many Hu resent the stranglehold that Or has on the Ocrisian Principles. Both sides exercise an uneasy truce for now, but the growing Orrian independence movement cannot be ignored.
The Ketwari people, the main non-human race of Hudan, are considered something of an underclass, and they smart at this treatment. Long ago, before the Shao arrived on Or, the main Ketwari society had exiled a more violent offshoot of their society to the north of Or, who were the forced further into the hinterland of the Palu Palo desert byt the development of Hudan society. These Black Ketwari occasionally form raiding gangs that steal from the more civilised parts of Or, and sometimes target the mines, factories and machines with the intent to destroy them.
The Merchants League has a small presence in Hudan, mainly in Hu, but the Technocracy is holding the League families at arms length as much as they can. Naturally, the League is looking for any opportunity to increase its presence in the region, and to break the Hudanese monopoly on Ocrisian Principles.
Religion of Hudan
The Hu part of Hudan predominantly follows the Imperial religion, of the Ten Thousand Immortals. Although Or has nominally adopted this religion, things are more complex. The old priesthood of the Shao still exist, although bereft of a god they are a fractured and lost group. Some seek ways to attempt to resurrect their old deity, others attempt to fill the void with temporal power. Few have much respect from the common populace. Other religions have grown up to fill the void, including the Goddess of the Lake, whose followers worship the vision-granting mists of the lake at Shao's Well; the secretive Cult of the Devourer whose cannibalistic followers venerate a giant maggot god, and the Machine Cult who worship the devices created by the Technocracy.
Ocris discovered that, following the death of the Shao, the magical energy of Or had become infused within the physical structure of the land. She described what she termed the five Principles - fundamental energies that could be harnassed or unleashed by various alchemical procedures.
- Sun is fiery, full of strength and vigour.
- Moon is elusive, fluid and mysterious, with power over water.
- Earth is everlasting, resistant and able to support life.
- Sky is distant, airy, of the mind.
- Shao is an overriding principal that binds the others together.
Sun and Moon are known as the Planet Principles, Earth and Sky are the Domain Principles. The Principles do not exist as seperate physical entities (except in rare, legendary cases). Instead, they are part of the physical structure of Or, as an integral part of what Ocris named the Three Forms.
Primarily, the powers of the Principles are contained in rocks, metals and gemstones, a form collectively known as Mineral. In the Mineral Form, the powers of the Principles are purest and most powerful. Some types of mineral dissolve in water, and the Principle within them does so too. The Water Form of the principles is weaker than mineral, but more easily extracted. Plants that grow in soil or water that contains Principles also pick up some of the Principles. Thus the Vegetable Form exists. Here the effect is weakest of all, but also the easiest to extract.
The Forms can be processed in various ways to release or harness the Principles contained within them. Some can be used in their raw form, for example the wood of the Thirsty Tree makes an excellent dowsing rod. The tree is a Vegetable Form containing Moon Principle. Other Forms contain mixtures of principles that can easily be released, such as the leaves of the Kamundu Tree which, when boiled in water, produce an infusion that cures fever. The Kamundu tree is a Vegetable Form containing Earth and Sky Principles (for power over healing and mind, respectively). Other Forms need more complex treatment, and the Shao Principle assists the combination of disparate Forms.
Matra and Grodes
Matra is the term given to the waste products of Ocrisian Alchemy. In a way it is a sixth Principle, the remains of a Form that still contain magical power that is not usefully aligned. In small quantities matra is harmless, but large accumulations can cause strange magical effects and mutations in creatures exposed on a regular basis. Animals affected in this way are collectively known as Matra-Beasts, such as the Thunderbugs of Tingarra Swamps. These are midge-like insects that are capable of giving off a spark of energy if threatened. Individually the effect is minor, but thunderbug swarms can be deadly.
In humans, and a few ketwari, who work the mines and furnaces of Hudan, the build-up of matra can turn them into Grodes, a derogatory term for mis-shapen outcasts, the sad human detritus of technological progress. Grodes are ignored and rejected by Hudan society, left to rot in shanty towns on the fringes of furnace towns, a problem that the government refuses to acknowledge. Most grodes have a short life, living out their few remaining years addicted to matra-dust.
The Hudan Technocracy is a good excuse to dig out whichever steam-punk type supplement you like and bring in new and wondrous machinery. Since there are already so many of these third party products out there we haven't replicated rules for steam-punk machines, inventors or codified Ocrisian Alchemy. For the most part it should remain a mystery to adventurers, something produced by a strange and closeted land. A good, free, starting point would be the Technology PDF by Monte Cook. The Technology Domain given in this supplement would also work well for the Machine Cult. Hudan jealously guards most of its devices, but a few have found their way into sale to the rest of the world. The alchemical items listed in the PHB are amongst such creations. Sunrods and tindertwigs are Hudanese inventions for example but other alchemical items, such as acid, could have many places of origin.
The grodes and matra beasts are a good opportunity to bring in any twisted humanoids and aberrations that you wish. For a simple grode, use orc or grimlock statistics. There are many different product with mutant rules that can also be used for the unfortunate grodes (Monte's Chaostitech supplement is quite extensive in this regard, or the OGL parts of d20 Future are freely available) and so we don't give any further rules here.
Any monster with a form of energy attack or defence can be used as a matra-beast (shocker lizards, for example). All creatures affected by matra, be they grode or matra-beast, have the Matra descriptor added as a subtype. The Matra descriptor has no effect in itself, but spells and effects may be included that affect matra-creatures specifically (Protection from Matra, as an example).
Tigarran Thunderbug Swarm (Matra, Swarm)
Hit Dice: 3d8 (13 hp)
Speed: Fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Armour Class: 23 (+8 size, +5 Dex), 23 touch , 18 flat-footed
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/-
Attack: Swarm (1d6 electricity and 1d6 sonic)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Distraction
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., swarm traits, vermin traits
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +1
Abilities: Str 1, Dex 20, Con 10, Int -, Wis 11, Cha 1
Environment: Tigarra Swamps
Organization: Solitary, cloud (1-3), or infestation (4-24)
Challenge Rating: 2
Level Adjustment: —
Tigarran thunderbugs are tiny flies that live in the Tigarra Swamps of southern Or. They are generally innocuous creatures, but their bite causes a minute electrical discharge due to the high levels of Sky and Moon Principle that can be found in their bodies. A single thunderbug bite smarts a bit; when they swarm the electrical discharge and the accompanying thunder can be deadly.
Like most vermin swarms, thunderbugs attack without fear or provocation. Anything in their way suffers a barrage of crackling, popping thunder and lightning.
Distraction (Ex): Anything engulfed in a thunderbug swarm must make a Fortitude DC 11 save or be nauseated.
The group known as Retrievers are agents of the Hudan government charged with tracking down and recovering stolen technology. Retrievers cover an array of abilities, and quite often travel in groups to allow for specialities to be used, but the archetypal lone retriever would be a ranger. The example below uses the variant ranger where the fighting style feats are exchanged for fast movement and wild shape. The wild shape ability has been replaced with the aspect of nature ability.
Human Rng5: CR 5; Medium Humanoid (human); AL N
Abilities Str 11 (+0), Dex 13 (+1), Con 12 (+1), Int 14 (+2), Wis 15 (+2), Cha 8 (-1).
Initiative +1; Speed 40 ft.
Armour Class 14 (+1 Dex, +3 studded leather) touch 11, flat-footed 13
Saves Fortitude +5, Reflex +5, Will +3
Hit Dice 5d8+5; hit points 27
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple +5/+5
Melee Masterwork longsword +6 (1d8, crit. 19-20)
Melee Masterwork punch dagger +6 (1d4, crit. x3)
Ranged Masterwork light crossbow +7 (1d8, crit. 19-20, 80 ft.)
Special Attacks Favoured enemy (humans +4, constructs +2)
Special Qualities Aspect of nature 1/day, fast movement, favoured enemy, wild empathy +4
Skills: Climb +5, Handle Animal +8, Heal +13, Hide +10, Listen +11, Move Silently +10, Search +11, Spot +11, Survival +13, Swim +4
Feats: Dodge, Endurance*, Mobility, Self Sufficient, Track*
Languages: High Imperial, Low Imperial, Orrian
Possessions: Masterwork studded leather, masterwork longsword, masterwork punch dagger, masterwork crossbow, 20 bolts, backpack, 20 ft. silk rope, sunrod, manacles, pombi companion
Spells per Day: 1
Spells Typically Prepared:
1st level: Pass without trace.
Pombi Animal Companion
Lizard: CR -; Tiny Animal; AL N
Abilities Str 3 (-4), Dex 15 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 1 (-5), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 2 (-4).
Initiative +2; Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Armour Class 14 (+2 Size, +2 Dex) touch 14, flat-footed 12
Saves Fortitude +2, Reflex +4, Will +1
Hit Dice 1/2d8; hit points 2
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple +0/-12
Melee Bite +4 melee (1d4-4)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities Link, low light vision, sense Principles 500 ft., share spells
Skills: Balance +10, Climb +12, Hide +12, Listen +3, Move Silently +4, Spot +3
Feats: Stealthy, Weapon Finesse*
Trying to use magic in Or is a difficult and dangerous business, but not impossible. Anyone casting a spell, of any discipline, upon the soil of Or or within 1 mile of its coast, faces the draining effects of the magical void known as the Shadow.
A character attempting to cast a spell must make a Spellcraft check, DC = 15 + spell level. If successful, they manage to cast the spell. If the check fails, the spell fails and the slot or preperation is wasted. The character also gains one point of Shadow per spell level.
Once per day, a character with Shadow points must make a Will save, DC = number of accumulated Shadow points. If this fails, they suffer the loss of 1d6 Constitution. A character who reaches 0 Constitution due to this loss dies, and may return as a shadow or other insubstantial creature.
Spell-like abilities, supernatural powers, psionics and other magical disciplines are also affected by the Shadow, and the character must similarly make a Concentration, Psicraft, or other relevant check to prevent the accumulation of Shadow. If in doubt, use Concentration. A character may deliberately take on Shadow points to boost the chances of casting a spell, manifesting a power etc. Each point of Shadow taken voluntarily reduces the DC of the casting check by one.
Some items can provide protection against the Shadow, usually articles strong in the Shao principle. These can either reduce the DC of the casting check, add a bonus to the saving throw to resist the effects of Shadow, or in some cases remove points of Shadow. Accumulated Shadow points will gradually decrease if the character stays away from Or. One point of Shadow is lost for every month that the character remains outside the boundaries of Or. There are also rumours of powerful healing magic that can remove Shadow.
(c) 2008 The Creative Conclave.
The Empire of Splendour
Khazarate of Vaarta
People of Hudan
Hudan is a kaleidoscope of different human races. Hu originally featured the typical Imperial mix of Nekuuese and Asharan, but Or had a character all of its own. The native race was an offshoot of the Edraldi, known as Ketwari. Ketwari are for all intents and purposes the same as the Edraldi found in the Empire, but of a slightly more slender build, and with darker skin tones. Two human races have settled on Or in the past. First to arrive were the tall, pale-skinned Carrawa, similar to Vaartans or Obrenje, and they may possibly have sailed from the western parts of Perfection. The Carrawa settled in the north of Or, below a vast cliff known as Gao Break. To the east of Or came the green-skinned Atala folk, remnants of a lost civilisation. Ketwari, Carrawa and Atala were kept in harmony by being kept apart by the Shao, but with the death of the Shao, the three groups are beginning to intermingle more, with a further influx of many other races from Hu.
The Black Ketwari, so-called, are an offshoot of the Ketwari race, exiled from the rest of their kin for violent ways. The Black Ketwari were originally pushed to the centre of Or, but with the arrival of the humans, and later the Shao, they were further driven into the Palu Palo desert. Black Ketwari raiders still trouble some settlements in central Or, and many disgruntled Ketwari have taken to calling themselves Black Ketwari, forming small rebel gangs who attack or disrupt production of Principles and creation of machines. Despite the name, Black Ketwari are physically indistinguishable from other Ketwari.
Hudan sells many smaller items produced using the Ocrisian Principles, but jealously guards most of its creations, particularly the secrets of black powder. The Retrievers are an arm of the military charged with seeking out stolen technology and either bringing it back, or destroying it. Non-Hudanese found in possession of Hudanese technology tend to suffer a quiet yet mysterious death.
Retrievers tend not to carry much in the way of technology themselves, in case of capture. They have been known to train rust monsters, and they also use a small species of Orrian lizard called a pombi (singular and plural). Pombi are capable of sensing the presence of Ocrisian Principles from up to 500 ft. away, and the Retrievers use them to sniff out caches of stolen technology or Principles.
Hudanese Giant Insects
Hudan is also known for its use of giant insects as beasts of burden. Most of these species originate from Or, but have been transported to Hu and exported to other nations. They require specially produced sets of pheromone vials to control them. Luggers are giant beetles used as pack animals, with a natural propensity to travel in a caravan following a leader. Hoppers are giant flea-like creatures used as combat mounts, capable of leaping into battle. Shield-heads are also used as combat mounts, these usually have a howdah mounted on the back as a weapon platform. They have large chitinous plates on their heads that form a natural shield against frontal attacks. Tickers are about the size of a small dog, and are used as guard animals or for carrying small loads.