Over a thousand years ago, the armies of the Achaean Empire pushed deep into the terrifying untamed lands of the Southwestern Wilds and established a great fortress there, in hopes of expanding their borders into the peninsula. They gave their great new keep a simple name, meant to inspire fear in the natives of the land: Castle Blood. Made of dark volcanic stone and seated atop a great hill, the castle kept watch over the Imperial border for many years, until the reign of the despised Mage-Emperor Ildrius.
Emperor Ildrius put one of his Mage-Kings - a man known as Albador the Twisted - in charge of Castle Blood, with instructions to capture and experiment on the beastfolk of the Southwestern Wilds, to discover the source of their strength so that they might harness it. During the fall of the Mage-Emperor years later, the castle came under siege from its own Legions, as they attempted to overthrow Mage-King Albador. The warlock unleashed his magic and some of his terrifying creations upon the soldiers, decimating them... but he was unprepared for an attack from another front.
The beastfolk of the Wilds, united under the leadership of the Minotaurs, took advantage of the Empire's infighting to attack the castle while Albador was distracted. As the Mage-King stood atop his tower, confidently raining spells upon the Imperial soldiers like a living god, a Seiren assassin swooped down from above and drove a spear through his back, and then let his corpse fall deep into the pit of his own dungeon. Then the rest of the Beastfolk army charged in, slaughtering the weakened Imperials along with the Mage-King's servants.
On that day, the Minoan Alliance succeeded in pushing back the Imperial border almost all the way to Heliora. But they never were able to hold Castle Blood. For when the Mage-King Albador fell, his terrible magical creations and slaves and prisoners within the keep were set free. And while they could not leave the castle due to the mage's powerful wards, they slaughtered any who set foot inside. Stories talk of a secret power deep within Castle Blood, waiting to be seized by any brave enough to delve into the castle dungeons. But of all the beastfolk tribes and adventurers who have tried, none have ever made it back out alive.
Now, the winds are once again changing. Now, the Achaean Empire's vast Legions have once again marched into the Wilds, trying to retake the old border, and have seized control of Castle Blood. Their troops have surrounded and fortified the hill, and they are sending in knights and heroes to slaughter the mage-creations that still guard the interior, in hopes of cleansing it even to the depths of the darkest dungeon.
But they are not the only ones. Fearing what power the Imperials may find within, and wishing to prevent the Imperials from pushing deeper into their Wilds, the Minoan Alliance has called for heroes from all those who dwell on the peninsula. The bravest and most capable will be selected to form a team to slip past the Imperial ranks and rush deep into the castle dungeon, to steal the power within before the Imperials can reach it.
Whether driven by patriotism for your home in the Wilds, or by lust for the power and riches that might lie within Caslte Blood... YOU are volunteering to be part of that team.
This will be a good old-fashioned dungeon romp, heavy on stats and skills and combat, although there will still be plenty of story and lore to be found within the dungeon. The Minoan leadership will be selecting around 8 to 10 individuals to form the strike team that the Minoan Alliance is sending into Castle Blood. Each character is expected to have useful skills that will fill a role in the group. Since this team is being assembled by the Minoans, beastfolk characters are favored, and some races are restricted. You may NOT sign up as a male human, an undead, a giant, or any of the chaos races, and only certain elf and dwarf races are allowed. Also no dragon-kin, for balance reasons. Details follow:
Minotaur: As the founding species of the Minoan Alliance, they are highly favored and most likely to be group leader.
Centaur or Satyr: Also highly favored as founding members of the Alliance, likely to be leader or second-in-command.
Any other beastfolk: Favored above non-beastfolk.
Dryads, Trolls, Pixies, and Vargs: Are considered friends/members of the Minoan Alliance and defenders of the Wilds.
Human: Only female humans of the Amazon tribe are allowed, as they are the only human members of the Minoan Alliance. Males of the Amazon tribe would never be sent on such a mission, so they're out.
Elf: Only the local wood elves are considered part of the Alliance, but other types of elves might be tolerated as hired adventurers.
Dwarf: The Minoan Alliance has worked with sea dwarves and hill dwarves, although they are not considered members of the group. Other types of dwarves will be viewed with great suspicion.
Demon-kin/vampire/werewolf/etc.: Although this is a "monster" group, they are still highly suspicious of beings they view as unnatural or cursed. While such beings as these might be tolerated, they will probably not be trusted.
Other Half-Bloods: Half-humans are tolerated only if they favor their non-human side. More human ones may be shunned and/or distrusted.
Some racial stat bonuses may be nerfed for balance reasons. I want this to be a difficult journey to survive. Some may not make it to the end.
A note about Factions: Your character will be either a member or an ally of the Minoan Alliance no matter what, so you can simply put your tribe here - even if it's a tribe you make up! If you decide to make one up, then feel free to include a short description. I'll list the major tribes of the alliance, however:
The Bulls of Minos (Minotaurs): The tribe of Minotaurs who lead the Alliance from their island capital Knossos. Their emblem is the Labrys, or double-axe. They have access to advanced armor, weapons, and education compared to most beastfolk. Technically, only members of this group may be called Minotaurs - all other bull-beastfolk are called Taurians.
The Burning Tree Tribe: The most violent and vicious tribe of Centaurs alive, these merciless raiders are masters of light cavalry hit-and-run combat. They fight against the Empire constantly, ensuring that the Legions never march too deep into the Wilds. They are known to enjoy human sacrifice. Their symbol is a tree surrounded by fire.
The Merry Free Folk of Cro-Cabra: A tribe of satyrs who dwell in the caves at Cro-Cabra, growing grapes and making wine there. Non-satyrs are also permitted to join the tribe, especially wood elves and dryads. They are a mostly pacifist folk who prefer wine, women, and song over fighting, but will defend themselves when necessary. They often butt heads (sometimes literally) with the vicious Burning Tree Tribe. Their symbol is an amphora or harvest jug.
The Amazons: The only humans in the Minoan Alliance, they live on an island along the northern cost of the Southwestern Wilds. A matriarchal society in which only women have any real power, and men are not even permitted to fight. Their symbol is a bow and arrow pointed downward to form the symbol of Venus.
MY DM NPC
(This is an example sign-up. This NPC will guide the players during the first few rounds of the RP, but afterward might be killed or separated from the group so that the players can take the reins.)
I will post a major DM update once a week, OR at any point after every player has taken an action. For the sake of the rules and such, I'm calling each week a "round." I will make smaller posts to react to minor actions, like conversation with an NPC or close inspection of an object. Major DM posts will be clearly marked as the beginning of a new round.
The area around and inside Castle Blood is thick with strange magic. The longer you stand idle, the more it seeps into your mind and soul. What this means in RP terms is that you will take 1d6 HP damage every time you fail to take an action this round. An action can be something major, like attacking an enemy, or something as simple as picking up an object or speaking with another player or NPC. An action does NOT mean reflecting inwardly upon your situation, or (for example) speaking telepathically with your animal companion. It has to be something that other players can react to, or something that will cause a reaction in the environment or advance the quest.
"Time" will also play a factor in this RP. You are in a race of sorts to beat the party of Imperial heroes to the bottom of Castle Blood's deep dungeons. The longer you take, the further the enemy party progresses, and this can cause changes in the planned encounters inside the castle and dungeon. With every major DM post, time advances 1 round. Within a certain number of rounds, the enemy party will reach the bottom, and then things will REALLY change. Also, every time any player remains idle during a round, not only is that player punished with HP damage (see above paragrph), but the entire party is also punished because 1/4 of a round will be added to the clock. So if 4 players are idle in a round, the timer will actually advance TWO rounds.
If you decide to drop out at any time, that's fine! But I will horribly slaughter your character and punish the rest of your team with a +1 round time penalty (and perhaps other difficulties), so they may resent you for leaving!
SPECIAL ABILITIES FOR RACES/TALENTS
Since I want this RP to rely heavily on cold, hard rules and numbers, I'm making a list of abilities and spells available for particular races and "classes" (talents). If you choose any of the following talents, you'll have access to the related abilities. The numerous passive advantages of most talents will not be listed here. So just because a talent is not listed here does not mean it is useless. Education, for example, confers lots of general knowledge.
Here is the list!:
Sign-ups will be open for probably a little over a week, since I may be on a vacation next week. So take your time, and feel free to ask questions! It's been a while since I tried running a forum RP, so suggestions from more experienced folks are welcome too. Thanks for looking!