Friday, July 26, 2013

Visit Klort!

Before Klort Visits YOU!
As I've mentioned on here before, my party has, on more than one occasion, risked certain death, chosen to fight dragons, added days to their journey, outright abandoned quests (which, gee, sure won't ever come to haunt them), and done everything possible to avoid ever, ever going anywhere near Klort. This includes those players who never even had characters who went to Klort. It's the site of my first and so far only TPK.

The land of hide and smoke, Klort: less a kingdom, more a permanent barbarian camp that simply stretches out in different directions like an ameoba depending on who they feel like sacking or conquering that day. The Klort are basically at war with everyone all the time, the better to keep its population too busy to resort to infighting and power struggles.The Bone and Skull King, Bloodlord of Klort, personally eats through the bellies of those who might sire heirs to challenge him for the throne. He is an aged, withered monster, and spends his life nude surrounded by barbarian concubines.

Klort has one traditional structure, the wizard's tower, and all else is leathery buildings made from the tanned, stretched, and skeletal-supported remains of dead creatures. The entire 'kingdom' is dotted with enormous fires, with flame-bronzed youths using muscles like old battleships to haul and constant stream of firewood through the streets. The more they burn, the angrier the forests become, and the more they must burn, for the fires keep away the forest guardians, as well as the harpys and other monsters. The sting of smoke anywhere near the Tanglethorn means you're easily a day's ride closer to Klort than you wish to be.

Children are abandoned in the street shortly after they finish nursing, and run in packs like feral dogs. They are cannibals. Most Klort are, come to that, but the grown-ups usually have the discretion to eat their enemies instead of their siblings and parents.

Weapons are made in Klort, ugly blocky heavy swords axes and spears, uniform and deadly effective, no-nonsense pieces. They make no armor because they wear no armor. Klort smiths are far more fond, however, of using captured weapons, particularly those of Minumon ambersteel, because it looks like gold and holds a ridiculous edge.

Klort has no use for reading and writing or any education apart from that of warfare. They have no culinary traditions beyond burning food, which even that is considered just as good as raw most times. They have no history or oral storytelling traditions because talking about something someone else did instead of what you did is considered weak, cowardly, and childish. They have no fashion beyond "nude" and "barely un-nude,"  because again, they prefer their enormous fires for warmth and give no thought to protection.

Klort does have those among them who have learned how to use magic at the feet of the wizard whose tower they surround. The wizard himself can enlist Klort to do things for him but, usually, Klort and the Bloodlord are the ones who make the demands. The wizard is a prisoner in his own tower. The magic-users he trains are despised by other Klort and referred to as "Bookfuckers." Klort respect power and results, so a Bookfucker who helps kill a lot of people and helps the Klort sack a village or something has a bit of respect. Other Bookfuckers spend their days barely avoiding being challenged to the death at every turn.

Any Klort can challenge any other Klort to the Pit. Most crimes (including being born an outsider or being ugly or hiding loot) are punishable by the Pit. We won't talk about the Pit. We will talk about the Cave, a dungeon sealed behind a massive stone. Any Klort who commits a crime in the eyes of the Bloodlord has the worship to cry like an elf and beg for a sentence of Trial by Riddling Cricket, at which point they're sealed into the cave and left to their own devices. Klort don't respect Bookfuckers but they respect things that are good at killing and they covet the power of magical things, so they're big fans of the Cave. The wizard's forefather knew the secrets of the cave, but the Bloodlord uses his skull for a shitbucket.

Why Klort? I wanted one human kingdom of unrepentant badass motherfuckers in the world of Arcis Enumre, one of my players wanted to be a Muscle Wizard, and I randomly generated a puzzle dungeon five minutes before we sat down to play. I built a society that would produce spellcasters built like Sgt. Slaughter and still be as undesirable as possible to give these individuals as much reason to wander away and be adventurers as I could. The Klort themselves are a slightly tweaked, larger than normal, fleshed out horde of Berserkers from the Basic monster chapter. No fancy attacks, no deep wells of hit dice, no magical mumbo jumbo, no big twist. My players are most afraid of a scorched little county full of gold-hungry corpse-fucking steroid racists ruled by a 7HD geriatric.