Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Paladins of the Blue Kite

There are 77 orthodox orders of paladins in the Hesayan Church.  They include:
  • The Sons of Saint Arquette, who use cannibalism to fuel their gigantism.
  • The Order of the Moth, devotees of Saint Caldi, who each swear to spend 50 years fighting the undead.  Those who die in service are raised as undead to continue their duty.
  • The Order of the Red and Blue Rose, who are wrestlers and swordbreakers.

There are at least 3 heretic orders that are in hiding.  They include:
  • The Winged Legion, who followed the Simurgh after her divorce from Zulin and subsequent excommunication.
  • The Order of the Shepherd's Crook, who seek to bring the kingdom of Hell to earth.  Not literally, but they do want to use enslaved devils to police the world.  (Officially, they are condemned by the paladins of hell and have no affiliation.  They're just fans.)

And although the Celestialist Hesayans of the north do not have paladins, they have schools of swordsmanship that often serve the same function.

Anyway, this post is about one of the orthodox orders.

The Order of the Blue Kite

They're also known (somewhat mockingly) as "those naked paladins".  This is a little misleading.

Zulin's divine divorce caused quite a few shockwaves throughout the Church.  One of the secondary or tertiary effects was the relaxation of quite a few nuptial laws.  These were mostly sensible, good things.  Farmers no longer had to have their horses married before siring a foal, for example.

In this new marital climate, one vocal personage was the North Wind.  He had many lovers, and sought to make his trysts honest and open.  After a long period of debate, this was granted to him, and in less than a year, he had taken his first three wives.

Although the North Wind, the Windwives, and the House of Miraculous Windmills originally set itself up to be a religious power center similar to Concrayda, but it eventually failed at this task.  After being marginalized for half a century, the Blue Kites reinvented themselves as a martial order.

The first set of Windwives (now retiring into old age and death) were soft things, full of poetry and expensive wine.  But in the decades that passed, the North Wind's amorous tastes changed.  His newest brides are all warrior women and lawyers.  The formation of a paladin order was inevitable.

His newest bride is a man: Thornis Oglafar, possessor of a magnificent mustache, dyed a magnificent blue.

There are many members in the Order of the Blue Kite.  The Windwives are merely the ones that tend to occupy most of the high positions (but not all of them).

Can a starting PC play a Windwife?  I don't see why not.  Perhaps a Windwife just starting out, or one who has fallen from favor for some reason.  Have fun DMing the inevitable sex scene when hubby visits.

Crusades of the Blue Kite

There are two:
  • To catch the rebellious South Wind and either bring it among Hesaya's faithful, or kill it.
  • To protect the sanctity of marriage.  There's a lot of debate about what this actually means, though.  The North Wind has a fairly lax interpretation of marriage, but he isn't in charge of the Blue Feather.  His wives are--and their opinions are as varied as the clouds. 
And so the paladins sometimes work with things like domestic abuse, reconcile estranged spouses, and investigate claims of infidelity.  I mean, they fight dragons, too, but dragons aren't one of the official crusades, so. . .

like this, except with swords instead of brooms
and also they're the good guys and you can play one
by Luis Falero
Class Abilities

Originally, I was going to put them all in a little level progression for you.  But fuck that--there's too many systems, and too many scales of power level.  I'm just going to list them all here, and you can assemble them however you want.

Okay, fine.  I'll type something up, just so people can refer to it if they want to a FLAILSNAILS game I'm running or something.

Level 1 - Wind Squire, Speak with Wind, Gust of Wind (1x per day per level), Armor of Wind
Level 2 - Throw Arrow, Immunity to Wind
Level 3 - Negotiate Windstorm, Lightened Body
Level 4 - Flight, +1 Attack

Wind Squire

You travel with a squire wind.  It mostly hangs on you, messing with your hair and making sure that no one ever smells your farts.

Speak with Wind

Each day brings a new wind.  At a minimum, this functions similar to gathering rumors.  You should also roll a d10 to see what direction the wind is blowing from, since the wind will bring news from that direction as well (and not only the stuff that is visible from the sky).

You can talk to your squire, of course.

Gust of Wind

As the spell, gust of wind.  You'll get a lot of castings of this.

1 - North
2 - East
3 - South
4 - West
5-10 - The predominant wind direction in the area.

<sidebar>I actually have an old map of Centerra with all of the prevailing winds drawn on it.  I used it to figure out which side of the mountain range got all the rain, and which direction the trade winds blew the caravels.  I was much more interested in simulating a realistic world then.  Nowadays, it seems like useless fussing--pointless unless you want to publish a gazetteer.</sidebar>

Armor of Wind

This is the reason why so many of the Blue Kites walk around naked.  Those who have always trusted the wind will be protected by the wind.  This benefit is lost as soon as the trust is betrayed: i.e. the paladin willingly wears conventional armor at any point after they take the oaths.

Make your own level chart, but here's an example:
  • Level 1, AC 11, AC 13 vs small projectiles (arrows or smaller)
  • Level 2, AC 12, AC 14 vs small projectiles
  • Level 3, AC 13, AC 15 vs small projectiles
  • Level 4, AC 14, AC 16 vs small projectiles
  • Level 5, AC 15, AC 17 vs small projectiles
  • Level 6+, AC 16, AC 18 vs small projectiles.
A sacrifice now for a payoff later.  And not all of them are naked.  Many wear simple robes.  And others just wear armor like a normal person.

This ability is useless against really big things.  At a minimum: a boulder hurled by a giant, a dragon's claws.

Throw Arrow

You don't need a bow to fire an arrow.  Your squire accelerates it for you.

At high level, you can use this to fire around corners, as long as your squire can see the target.

Immunity to Wind

Lame now, but useful later on when you can summon a windstorm.

Negotiate Windstorm

You will need to negotiate with a local wind in order to do this.  Probably a wind duke, actually, since most minor winds don't have the ability to call in a windstorm.  (Military actions are regulated among the winds, just as they are among us.)

Windstorms are environmental, usually last for at least an afternoon, and only work outdoors.  Arrows are impossible.  Speech is difficult.  Shoving people is very easy (+4), and everyone gets -4 to attacking and defending (which usually cancels itself out).  Flight is impossible.  Shoddy buildings will be torn apart.  

Expect pissed off treants to show up the next day, cradling broken limbs.  They usually wish to repay one broken arm with another.

Lightened Body

By controlling their breath, a Blue Kite Paladin can make their body much lighter. This lets them walk across water and stand on tree branches that are normally too small to support them.  This doesn't let you jump any further, since the lowered mass also means that you have less momentum.

It also makes you immune to fall damage.  Fun!

"Flight"

It's not quite the same as the fly spell.  It's more like being picked up by a huge wind and carried through the sky in a horrifying vortex of deafening winds.  Expect bruises from your clothing as it flaps around (unless your clothing is tied down tight).  It's like skydiving, while the wind teases you and tries to crack jokes.

You can bring your friends with you, of course.

Not coincidentally, skydiving is a popular past time among the Blue Kites.  

You can fly large distances (miles) but not small ones.  Small hops of less than half a mile are out of the question.  And you will take 1d6 fall damage when you land, unless you can find a decent spot of water to land in.  (By default, 50% chance that your Wind can find one in time.)

Many Blue Kites wear an enormous silk scarf tied up around their waist.  Enormous, as in 30' long.  You might think that it's a swordswoman wrapped up in a weird, bulky burka, but then the wind unfurls it and BAM it's this huge scarf tied around their waist, shaking like the arms of God.  

The giant scarf makes sense: it means that the Wind will pull you through the air by your center of mass (your waist/ass) and not by the part of your body that has the greatest wind cross-section.  This prevents you from spinning uncontrollably as you fly through the air (a common blunder among first-time flyers).

This is their love token.  It's given to them by the North Wind as a sign of his favor.  And it serves a function: it allows you to make an attack for double damage upon landing.

Blue Kite strike teams usually blow in the window, and open up with an attack like that.

This also requires talking to a powerful local wind, and negotiating the cost.  What does the Wind want?  See below.

Other Stuff

Swords of the North Wind

If the love token scarves were a sign of approval, then a sword is a full-fledged admission of love.  If you aren't already a Windwife, you will probably be one soon.

These are +1 swords given out by the North Wind only after some seriously big favor has been earned.  They can be used to attack anything within 50', since they "throw" their slashes through the air.

Every Paladin of the Blue Kite aspires to own one.  The magic of the blade is dwarfed by the immense prestige it confers.

The House of Miraculous Windmills

This is your home base.  It's a cross between a church and a mansion, and it is covered with short towers that are themselves covered with windmills, large and small.

The house uses minor Winds as servants.  But since Winds have a hard time clearing the table after dinner, they mostly just turn the windmills and sing mariner's work songs all the damn day.  Expect a high level of automation within the house.  Crudely automated dishwashers, that sort of thing.

Nabba Sunbeam runs the house.  She's 55, a Windwife, and an inventor.

The most interesting room is the Flight Room, stocked with skydiver's wingsuits and with several ways to take to the sky.

Generating a Wind NPC

Roll up starting attitude and personality normally.  You may want to use this altered goals table, though.

This Wind NPC wants. . . [d6]
  1. To punish a particular piece of the earth, which has offended it.  Please roll this impudent boulder into the ocean, explain the Wind's displeasure, and sink it someplace cold and lonely.
  2. A wife, like the North Wind.  Not only does this mean finding a willing bride, but it also means convincing the Church to perform the ceremony.
  3. Less smoke.  Get these people--those ones over there--to stop burning fires.  I don't care how you do it.
  4. To go on an adventure.  Take me with you!  Expect to have a very difficult time lightning a campfire, having a quiet meeting in the library, and having all of your arrows miss.  Remember that Winds can't go underground or in confined spaces.  (Or more accurately, they can, they just risk dying if someone shuts a door and traps them in a space too small for them to circulate.)
  5. To kill some noxious creature.  Perhaps a monster that controls wind, a wizard that captures wind, a roc, or a sky whale.
  6. A vacation!  You'll have to do the wind's job for it.  Turning the windmill, spreading seeds, drying laundry.  Expect bewildered villagers and hilarious complications.  The Wind will probably bring you a souvenir from wherever the fuck it goes.  Probably something stupid, like 800 pounds of snow.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sky Executions

Shitty Fiction

They had found his victims tied to stones at the bottom of the pond.  And so, for irony’s sake, they tied him up as tight as they could.  The coarse twine made red valleys of his flesh, crisscrossing his limbs like rings on an aspen, and it was still not tight enough.

The wind was picking up.  Even with all the dried blood weighing it down, the murderer’s hair was a tempest.  It thrashed in the gale as if striving to escape his head.

One by one, the people came up.  Each carried a kite, each string taught in the wind.

While the paladin took the kite and affixed it the condemned, the person recited their condemnation.  Their tears dried in the wind.

By the time they were done, the crucifix was covered in over a hundred kites, straining at their leashes like sled dogs.  The wood groaned; the murderer was silent.  He was watching the sky.

And then the crowd marched down the hill, the paladin following.  The condemned was alone on the hilltop with the priest.

A few words were exchanged.  No one heard them, not with the wind roaring like an angry sea.  No one read their lips, not with their eyes squinting against the stinging dust. 

And then the priest raised his arms.  The wind cracked like thunder.  The trees bowed their heads.  The crowd knelt, or fell.  On top of the hill, they could see the unruffled priest, untouched by the hurricane.

And the crucifix, it was gone.  Like a stone fired from a sling, they watched it arc out over the patchwork of pasture and farm, bleeding torn kites all the way down.  When it landed in the Sinner’s Field, they could see splintered wood tossed out from the dust of the impact.

The paladin wasn’t watching.  He was calming his horse down.  In a couple of minutes, he would ride down to the Sinner’s Field, confirm the execution, and ensure that nothing was buried where the vultures couldn’t find it.


It didn't take long, but by the time the paladin got returned, most of the crowd had drifted away, scattered like clouds in the wind.

If No Priest Is Available

In that case, the condemned is merely thrown off a cliff.  It is considered more respectable to walk off the cliff yourself, and those that request it are allowed to do so.

If no sufficiently high cliff is available, it's a journey to the nearest one.

Weaponizing the Wind

What kind of spells do you think high-level wind clerics have access to?

In the War Against Heaven, Emperor Tamerian's entire army was picked up and hurled, like chess pieces swept off a board.  They found dead soldiers up to four miles away.

Of course, the Nivian elephants and horses were too large to be thrown, so the wind merely rolled and dragged them for about half a mile.  Scavengers reported that their meat was quite tender, being well pulped by all the pounding and abrasion.

Emperor Tamerian's body was found on what is now called the Emperor's Hill, pierced by over a hundred swords that had been stripped from his honor guard and thrown in the tempest.  

While the emperor's corpse was removed, the swords remain.

Thursday, March 2, 2017