Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Cultural Touchstones
We’re continuing Worldbuilding week with a look at little cultural notes or “touchstones” that GMs and players alike can use to build on Merothian themes. We already did a brief history of Merothia here, and discussed Merothian traits characters could take here. While the history was pure prose (with no rules to speak of), and the traits were solidly in the realm of rules (though with flavor text, of course), these cultural touchstones include elements of both.
Merothian Cultural Touchstones
There are some common elements of Merothains society that cross the boundary of a single village or group. Some are tied to specific rules elements, but others are just ideas a GM can hang a story or encounter on, of a player can use to craft a particularly “Merothian” background.
The legendary Free Knights of Merothia carried a distinctive blade known as an “arming sword.” Similar to a longsword, an arming sword has a shorter handle with a cruciform hilt and a large lozenge-shaped pommel. Classically, Merothian knights carried an arming sword for use with shields, and had a greatsword for use in situations where heavier blows were required. This set them apart from most other sword-using elite warriors of the era, who carried bastard swords and adjusted their grip as needed.
Arming swords act like longswords with the following exceptions:
*A Medium arming sword deals 2d4 damage (and arming swords were not normally crafted in any other size)
*Because it is designed to work best with one hand, attacks using two hands with an arming sword suffer a -1 penalty to confirm critical threats.
*Because it is so well balanced and offers a firm grip with one-handed attacks, critical hits with an arming sword deal 2 additional point of damage (after all other calculations).
Community Granna and Granther
Generally every Merothian community has an elder woman and elder man respectfully known as “Granna” and “Ganther” respectively. These are often, but not always a married couple, and some communities have more than one of each (generally resulting in using the gran honorific as a title, such as “Granna Maeth” and “Granna Hilde”). They often act as receptacles of oral lore, teachers and babysitters of the very young, and impartial, unofficial arbitrators of minor community arguments. Though not officially in positions of rulership, these are seen as town elders, and are generally included in any community planning meeting so their opinion is heard (though traditionally they don’t then weigh in on the right course of action, just give historical context and opinions based on their own experiences).
For Merothians being a Granna or a Granther is not explicitly about age, which is why they don’t automatically accord the same title to any centuries-old dwarf or elf they encounter. Instead, Granna and Granther are revered because they continue to survive despite having lost the vitality of their prime, and must now act with the knowledge they are closer to death and less able to save themselves. This distinction is well understood by most dwarves, but is often lost on elves of Te Astra and Te Essar who often feel they should all be treated as even more revered than the eldest of humans.
Whenever anyone hunts, farms, butchers, kills, weaves, tans, or otherwise crafts or gathers materials, scraps are given to Granna and Granther. If the scraps are edible, they are generally turned into a soup by one of the these two elders. If they are a fabric or covering, they are sewn or weaved into a quilt or shawl. If they are wood, they carved into something useful, or if metal adapted to a new purpose with a stick and rawhide.
Granna and Granther uses these items for their own upkeep, but also give them out as needed to families having trouble, or call for an event where a segment of the community comes and enjoys these patched- and stewed-together offerings.
Both the tradition of giving scraps, and the materials made from them, are known as donnersop, a uniquely Merothain word. When offered up to a segment of the community for communal enjoyment, this also becomes a time when tales are told, history recited, old songs sung, and initial long-term plans discussed.
While character’s can’t normally “buy” donnersop, they can receive goods worth 1-5 gp or less as donnersop if they seem sufficiently destitute, and worth aiding. Meanwhile a character who donates as little as 1 sp a week of material to a community’s donnersop stores gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy checks to gather information in that Merothian community.
Merothians often inscribe letters onto their weapons, a practive that dates back to the Free Knights of Old Merothia. These are usually letters in Celestial, though older traditions use letters in Fey. The letters are generally just the first letter of several words that are a phrase or motto important to the weapon user. Many famously use CMAS which refers to the ancient knight’s cry corie meroth aeter sang, Celestial for “The Heart of Merothia Bleeds Eternally,” a promise that the Free Knights would suffer any hardship to fight for freedom and justice. Current Merothains often don’t speak either Celestial or Fey, and may ask an Abthanian priest or a druid to translate a phrase meaningful to the individual into letters.
Those familiar that own an heirloom arming sword with such an inscruiption consider it an object that must be maintained, and given to a family member who has proven the willingness and ability to use it. Since Merothians communities often can’t afford to make new swords, the inscription tradition has been extended to the more common axes, spears, bows, and knives poorer Merothians depend on to protect themselves.
While most inscriptions are not magical, for 15% above the normal cost of a scroll, a magical inscription that functions precisely like a scroll can be etched onto a weapon as an inscription. This is normally only done by Merothian spellcasters with strong ties to Old Merothia, most often druids, Abthanian priests, and witches.
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Posted on February 22, 2017, in Adventure Sketch, Game Design, Microsetting, Orroc, Pathfinder Development and tagged Development, Game Design, gaming, Merothia, Pathfinder, Worldbuilding. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.