Choice of Rebels: Stormwright (XoR2 WIP)

Not sure yet – we’ll see as those games come together. It might be possible to end G5 with it still a secret.

It would certainly be time-consuming, and since the bullets are made of the non-rare metal lead (and aren’t Theurge-forged to make them all-penetrating) retrieving them wouldn’t be worth it.

Flying mountains were used for mass troop transport, but their fairly limited maneuverability makes it unlikely that they’d be useful as a flying fort for Theurges. As for a WMD function, it’s only been achieved by crashing the mountain (i.e. what the Death Star should have done to Endor, rather than what it did to Alderaan). You can’t focus a Xaos-storm; while you can set it going in the right general direction, the likelihood of hitting any “distant target locations” decreases quickly over distance.

And a Xaos-laser would actually be something of a contradiction in terms; lasers gain their power by turning scattered light into something coherent and directional, the opposite of Xaos. And no one in the gameworld has discovered lasers anyway… so no, no Death Stars.

She strongly wants to see Erezza remain united within its current borders, as the only way to prevent future Halassurq and Karagond takeovers. A ruling elite based in either Avezia or Cocenza might be tempted to discount the risk at the other end of the isthmus, so she thinks Soretto is the natural capital of united Erezziano government. If Shayard collapsed, she’d be friendly to the idea of annnexing the currently Shayardene western coast of the Aveche Sea (with its relatively underpopulated farm districts) to securely feed the more urban eastern and northern coasts – but she wouldn’t want to go to war with a unified Shayard or a strong Coast-based state to take it.

I don’t think she’d go for that. We’ll see how the games go, but she’s not the type to easily accept puppet status. I’m also not sure yet how a Shayard-Karagon diarchy could work.

An MC who ends the game as a continuing rebel or small-state leader should be able to have allies and proxies unsettling the continent’s major powers, yes…especially if they’re a religion-founder/Eclect.

No, this isn’t something that Cerlota would accept just because the head of Erezza gets to call themself a “prince/ss” and have a little more sovereignty. And adding a top-tier Shayard-Erezza marriage alliance would markedly worsen the situation; elevating one Erezziano family to be unquestionably closer to the would-be imperial power than all the others would trigger a stew of murderous and rebellious counter-balancing by those demoted families. It’s hard enough to build a coalition of top families that can hold the country together, let alone trying to make a single family truly dominant (which has never happened in Erezza’s history).

In the fourth game, with the Thaumatarchy pulling back much of its strength to focus on the defense of Karagon and Aekos, your faction will have had the chance to start trying to build an actual rebel state around your main base of operations somewhere in the provinces. Before the siege of Aekos, you’ll have the chance to consolidate local loyalty by out-governing whatever late-stage Hegemonic authorities and rival rebel factions are in the neighborhood of your “capital.” (That will be a lot easier in some potential capitals, like Rimmersford, than other more contested ones like Aveche.)

At the start of the fifth game, with the Thaumatarchy shattered, you’ll have the opportunity to try to consolidate and/or expand from whatever base your faction managed to achieve in G4. That will likely bring you into conflict with one or more neighbors; even if you’re not expanding, they will be, and the choice to stay small-and-beautiful will attract opportunistic invaders. So you’ll need to defend yourself (militarily, diplomatically, or otherwise) against efforts to crush your faction. Throughout the game, you’ll have different opportunities to move your faction’s capital from your G4 base of ops, e.g. if you take over Karagon and want to rule from Aekos, or if you lose ground and have to retrench to the Southriding/Rim.

Various interrelated resources – tax money, state admin capacity, population, food supply, anarchy, army size, Theurgic capacity – will affect a new G5 state’s ability to consolidate (including rollout of new institutions), expand, and defend itself. Those three dynamics will be the main overarching challenges of G5. The first three chapters will each involve phases of consolidation, expansion, and defense involving all of your (quite likely changing from chapter to chapter!) neighboring factions. Plus interventions by powers that might not directly neighbor you but have an interest in the outcome.

The early game will inevitably involve grappling with big emergency problems of post-Hegemonic collapse, like famine, refugees, and widespread banditry. That won’t leave a lot of space for fine-tuned institutional design. A player who successfully navigates those early-chapter challenges, successfully and sustainably provides for their defense, and is willing to spend more of their remaining resources on consolidation/institutional innovation rather than expansion should be able to enjoy a G5 Ch3 that’s more about rolling out and adjusting sociopolitical institutions than anything else.

The final chapter will bring your struggles to their culmination, give the final status of all the major factions and characters, and then jump a decade or two into the future to show what follows from the world you’ve helped build.

As for the idea of a fully Industrial Revolution/post-industrial sequel, I don’t think I’d set it in this world:

I think the Karagonds would call them aerovolites, “air-shooters,” though readers familiar with Greek can tell me if that fails any laugh tests. :slight_smile: Southern Shayardenes would probably go with chasseurs, for hunters.

Everything is indeed vulnerable to Theurgy’s “bombard it from the air” function, if the Theurge has got their oil of vitriol and enough blood to keep themselves airborne and ignite the fireballs. But my thought was that cavalry has the additional vulnerability that for a horse mid-gallop, tripping it badly enough to break its legs is trivial Theurgy, requiring very little blood.

So even if a cavalry squad went after an ill-equipped Theurge, or one who’d already spent their phials, or one who was too distracted to manage a big Theurgic effect – i.e. the kinds of vulnerable contexts where archers, or (as at the Fourth Harrowing) a sufficiently big swarm of peasant infantry, would have a shot at actually bringing down a Theurge – the cav would still probably get wiped out if they tried to charge, or retreat, or any kind of maneuver that involved the horses running. Which is most things you want cavalry for!

When an airborne Theurge spots enemy infantry, the infantry unit has some chance of survival if it rapidly disperses, finds shelter, and everyone does their best to return fire (draining the Theurge’s blood supply faster, even if none of the infantry gets in a lucky shot). Because infantry can make better use of concealment opportunities, Theurgic mop-up of an infantry unit is likely to take longer (using up more blood) and leave more survivors. Cavalry will find it a lot harder to find concealment/shelter, and if they try to run, the horses get their legs broken. So yeah, it still seems to me there would be a real vulnerability gap there. Does that make any more sense?

All gameworld armies to date have a limited number of Theurges, and need non-Theurges to supplement them for lower-priority tasks wherever possible. But cavalry skirmishers would only be used in contexts where you were almost totally confident you weren’t going to be facing Theurges – like nobles or Alastors putting down helot revolts. Recon by cavalry would be valuable on the warfront but extremely high-risk; any light cav scout who was spotted by an enemy Theurge almost certainly wouldn’t be coming back.

Which I think is how it’s been depicted so far. Your chance at horse-riding in G1 is on an Alastor captain’s mount, and nobles (who are expected to deal with most internal unrest) are big fans of horses.

These are all plausible factors that could temporarily lead to wider use of cavalry in the G5 wars. But the superiority of Theurgy will I think still be decisive as a new order emerges from the wreckage. Cavalry is expensive to maintain for a combat arm that is going to fail pretty much every time when it finds itself facing Theurgic opposition.

And while I definitely like the idea of surprising the enemy by new uses of combined arms –

– I’m not sure that “Theurges plus cavalry” would always beat “only Theurges,” any more than “Theurges plus janitors” would? If running horses aren’t a particularly effective platform from which Theurges can wield their magic against other Theurges (and I don’t think they are, at all) then it seems to me that the cavalry isn’t necessarily adding value, even if under some circumstances you could have effective combined Theu-cav tactics.

But I’m always open to being talked out of my misconceptions, especially military ones. :slight_smile:


We know how Diocletian’s plan to split imperial administration between two Augusti each with a designated successor fell apart as soon as he retired, so I tend to think any dyarchy would be short-lived.


In my cavalry vs artillery analogy there is a similar tradeoff at play. A man on a horse running at full speed is a much larger and vulnerable target. Cavalry is also much harder to conceal than infantry. If you wound a percentage of the men or horses you can disrupt an entire cavalry formation causing some horses to trip over corpses in front of them, get spooked and throw their riders, and become unresponsive to rider commands. All of that isn’t something an infantry unit is vulnerable to, but we still used cavalry extensively, why? The speed and attendant surprise a successful cavalry action confers far outweighed the increased risk.

That’s what I meant by lack of capability vs vulnerability. I still think the no cavalry logic makes sense on the battlefield though because cavalry can’t use its speed and surprise (i.e. shock) against the thing it is meant to since it is airborne. It has become a trick play or an economy of force measure rather than a vital arm of decision. Like fossil driven industry, the Hegemony isn’t going to invest in duplicative and “outdated” technology it has a ready response to in theurgy.

To expand on this the developments in gunpowder technology caused a major revolution in the tactics, equipment and styles of cavalry over centuries of European warfare, but it never changed the logic of its employment (perhaps debatable with the decline of heavy cavalry) until it progressed to the point that cavalry couldn’t get at its primary target during WWI.


Can you think of any examples?

By which I mean, the scenes from ASoIF where a horse trips from a thrown dagger are not really a good example of how battle horses really work. In history there’s examples of horses charging through artillery and gunfire, into the wall of pikes and through several ranks of infantry without ever stopping.

I don’t see any tricks short of injuring horses’ legs beyond mechanical functionality that would stop proper cavalry. And breaking horse’s legs with theurgy doesn’t seem trivial. It’d be what, 4-5x as hard as breaking human bones? If it’s trivial, why carry oil of vitriol at all, and not just turn enemy skeletons into mush?

On second thought there’s probably a way to mess around with the thing in the head that does balance (forgot it’s name). Blinding wouldn’t work, but the balance thing possibly might.

Yeah the balance thingy.

Do horses have the balance thingy in their ears? They probably do, right?


I think the big thing to remember about cavalry is that it is so expensive.

Each cavalryman requires multiple horses, and horses require ~15,000 calories per day just as a maintenance diet. More than that when they’re working hard. They need the proper saddlery and tack. They need weapons that can be used from horseback without endangering themselves, their horses, or their fellow cavalrymen. The horses need training and acclimation so they don’t just throw their riders and bolt the first time they go into battle. And on top of that expense, cavalry is a specialist role that requires a lot of training.

It’s a lot of expense for something that’s so weak to theurgy.

A horse at a run is already producing all the force you’d ever need to snap their legs, all you’ve got to do is hit them properly to take advantage of it.


I think it may be more the manipulation of the fire telos they use for levitation. They just need to get the horse to miss its stride.


Sounds an awful lot like the families are part of the problem. It seems desirable to have a unified, strong Erezza to resist Halassurq aggression and hedge in any attempts at Karagond resurgence — if the top families threaten that, then perhaps it’s time for their entire system to be toppled…

Of course, speaking from the perspective of a helot-driven rebellion, this is a case where having a hammer, all problems seem like nails. And supporters of the families would probably argue that this is less a surgical removal and more a disembowelment of Erezza as a concept. It’s all quite hard to say at this stage of the game, so far out from meeting people like the Marchesa Cynezza (if she still exists) who might offer a different point of view.

As for cavalry, just brainstorming potential future scenarios, their mobility might offer an interesting (albeit temporary) advantage if Xaos-storms become a fixture on the battlefield. It’s probably easier to outrun a storm on horseback, and to maneuver around existing ones, which would be useful even with the presence of other Theurges on the field. There’s also a potential tactic of using Xaos-storms as a shield for an advancing cavalry charge to limit enemy Theurges’ ability to directly interfere, and to try to immediately exploit any opening a Xaos-storm necessarily creates.

Which, bringing things back to Irduin, does make one wonder how much progress Cerlota (and us) can meaningfully make on harnessing and understanding Xaos-storms back on the sane human sacrifice side of the Ward. Seems like it’d be harder to hide and a far greater risk of drawing unwanted attention. For all its faults, the Xaos-lands really were a great place for experimentation in the dark arts.


That’s a good point. But from what I recall making alastors blind was easier (cheaper?) than making someone fly. So I assume putting a horse out of balance (kinda deaf in the ear balance thingy) would be easier too?


By the way, is it possible to implement reforms regarding conscription, the national army, officer training ,and nationalism?


I think that would work best - I might have suggested something like the Greek word for ‘rifleman’ but such were the circumstances when rifles appeared in our world that the word for rifle is one not Greek at all (merely a phonetic borrowing of the Turkish one). I suppose they’d be calling the gun an aerovolo as well.


I just had a thought about the physics of XoRiverse. Do things such as potential energy, kinetic energy, gravity, momentum and the whole Newtonian shebang exit in XoRiverse?

And if they do, do they apply to theurgy? The bits where we “see” alternative physics (Aristotelian?) are written from the character’s pov. So we don’t really know if that what it is or if that’s what it ‘seems’ to be.

Is levitating one small object just as difficult as levitating 100 large objects? Is it a factor if those objects are in motion? Could a theurge levitate a hail of pellets from airguns and make them miss the mark? Is theurge’s hardened cowl completely impenetrable or just hard to penetrate?

I’m probably overcomplicating. But it is interesting to think about.


As uber-powerful undead Theurges, do the Unquiet Dead have the power to unleash plague/pestilence/“engineered super-blights”?
(And if so, is that ability exclusive to that faction? Or would the ability start out exclusive with the Unquiet Dead, but then get taught to the Unquiet Dead’s client states/allies, such as Tsagir)

How’s this for a non-empire-building G5 outcome for high-INT MC: travel the high seas and/or distant uncharted territory in search of new spices/Theurgic superfoods to bring back home? Could this be a plausible motive for an MC who absconded with pirate/corsair allies? (aka MC already won the post-Hegemonic war for his allied faction(s), and now that the dust has settled, has repurposed his allied pirate/corsair fleet into a “League of Explorers”)

At what estimated troop amount threshold would an MC start considering the use of flying mountains as mass troop transport? (instead of relying on Theurge-run barge trains)

Wouldn’t it be delightfully ironic if Earlund-aspiring Cosmo MC asked for the support of coastal elites (Erezza) in MC’s efforts to secede from/war against other coastal elites (Brimlund), whom he will probably come to despise during Game 2 and beyond? :wink:
(And then Erezza and Earlund “feast” upon Brimlund, as the spoils of their post-Hegemonic war)
FYI, my definition of “feasted” is: “because you’re the losing faction, you’re the new colonial periphery to our imperial metropole, and are first in line to get Harrowed if the situation calls for it”

And separate, but related question: is archonty-borders Erezza plus Earlund (Rim plus Westriding) a sustainable size for a hypothetical post-Hegemonic imperial metropole, or would said metropole have to be something considerably tinier?

How amenable is Cerlota to the prospect of (humbled/desperate after the Siege of Aekos, but deliberately/mostly left intact by MC) Karagon being welcomed into MC and Cerlota’s envisioned koinon? (especially if MC made an argument that post-Hegemonic Karagon could be pragmatically tolerated as an ally of convenience (or at least repurposed as frontline fodder) against Halassur (“heretic Xthonists can be reformed and negotiated with, and then pointed towards our shared heathen enemies”).
And what if MC promised Cerlota that a Phaedra-led Karagon that squanders its MC-granted second chance (aka attempting to overthrow/subvert the koinon with a reborn Hegemony) will not be given a third? (aka MC will personally kill/make an example of Phaedra)

1- Spartan model: two monarchs from two different royal families (theoretically) balance each other’s power, lead the army in times of war, and have religious and judicial roles in peace
2- Austro-Hungarian model: dual monarchy, with the two halves of the empire functioning independently, each having its own government and capital (Aveche or Grand Shayard in MC/Shayard’s case, and Aekos in Phaedra/Karagon’s case), but with a shared monarch and common foreign and military policies.
3- Roman Republic model: the consulship was a form of diarchy, right? Assuming that MC and Phaedra could legitimately win (or sneakily rig) a theoretical post-Hegemony election together, perhaps the two of them can share power equally and have the ability to veto each other’s decisions?

I will rephrase/adapt my inquiry accordingly. Would multiple mid-tier Shayard-Erezza marriage alliances (brokered between the MC’s preferred Shayardene elites and Cerlota’s preferred Erezziano elites) be a better idea for holding together a monarchical koinon (or outright empire)?


So I think it’s important here to distinguish phenomena from description/explanation. Blood magic is like a new set of phenomena weaved into a world that otherwise behaves like our own — but that also means that where blood magic isn’t at play, the world probably is still like ours. “Nature”, so to speak. Things fall; wheels turn; wind blows: such simple ideas in everyday life emerge from more fundamental principles of the universe, and this makes imagining a wholly different universe constructed from entirely new principles (not just, say, alterations to scale) rather difficult. Those fundamentals likely persist even in a fictional setting like this because they’re rooted in how we experience the world, but that common experience is also why I think there’s rarely a need for an underlying mathematical description of a setting’s physics.

The enduring power of Newton is reflected in the name of his seminal work: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The mathematics describe motion as observed at the time, from what we see in everyday life to the motion of celestial bodies. They are incomplete explanations but highly useful descriptions. The fundamental nature of, say, gravity could remain mysterious even while its description as a central force worked, and one could say it’s little different for the mathematical description of gravity as curvature in spacetime. What matters for science is whether these descriptions are falsified by empirical observation — and fictional settings are inherently limited in what we can observe. Our rebel protagonists have far different priorities than trying to, say, find out if the speed of light changes depending on the motion of the earth relative to a hypothetical luminiferous aether, or what pattern light forms shining through two slits; we’ll likely never find out for sure what those observations would be in the XoR setting, and we wouldn’t need to. And consequently, ‘science’ need not apply.

Like, Aristotelian physics was also a model of the world and its motions, albeit one where the boundary between empirical description and philosophical thought is extremely blurred. The world wasn’t different; it’s the descriptions that are different (and for Aristotelian physics, incongruent with modern observations of our universe). One can only ultimately equate the world and our descriptions through literal Word of God; otherwise, we’d need to prove that there can exist nothing that contradicts a hypothetical perfect theory. Our understanding of the world is perpetually left in what

So that brings us to the mechanics of blood magic.

The impenetrability is a bit of hyperbole. We can Theurgically hurl a Plektoi-killing boar spear at one such magecloth cowl during the battle of the Whendward, and the result is…

Barely half an inch of the spearhead has pierced that black woolen coat. Of course, that’s enough to have him thrashing in agony, and he’s cut his hands badly on the crescent blades trying to push the weapon back. This was never made just for boar, or Plektoi hounds, you think in a moment of icy clarity.

Success! It might only be half an inch but he still felt that inside him.

Blood magic seems to require the perception of a purpose (telos) in the blur of a Theurgic trance, which can make finding something challenging to begin with. I suspect this is the core vulnerability a Theurge would have to a bullet, or even an arrow. In theory, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to perceive the structure of a bullet and slightly alter its motion: levitation is a basic act of Theurgy, after all. But in the heat of battle, you don’t know when or where the bullet will come, and you’d only have a split second to react while simultaneously having your attention divided among everything else that needs to be done.

We can infer that aether costs scale, but the principles that Changes aligned with a telos are significantly easier than Changes opposed may mitigate this scaling to some extent. In the winter, we can temporarily sharpen our rebels’ weapons in battle, but those weapons are said to “shine starkly in a world of blurry complexity”, and the Change made is just a sharpening of their existing telos. That is to say, while this Change was simultaneously performed on multiple entities, each was highly identifiable and in alignment. In contrast, we can see how floating a mountain is such a gargantuan task that Halassur’s mages haven’t figured it out for centuries (because it’s reliant on a secret resource/technology of the Thaumatarchy’s), while levitating a stone slate is something a self-taught blood mage cutting their hand for the first time can accomplish.

Which brings us to this question, and where I lean most into guesswork. My sense is that basic levitation is largely independent of lateral motion, but that it might be possible to achieve something similar to levitation solely through manipulation of existing motion, akin to flying:

“To levitate is a matter of basic elemental manipulation, exploiting the natural motion by which things seek out their place in the cosmos,” Cerlota explains. “To move laterally in the air requires an understanding of violent motion–of impetus and its causes–which are not nearly so evident to the senses, even in trance.”

It takes weeks of both explanation and practical effort to truly learn what she means, and how you can enhance the thrust of an arm into a far stronger impetus affecting your whole body. At last you manage to coax your flights into wobbly, unstable curves rather than mere ascents and descents.

The kind of flying we’re able to accomplish seems limited to scalar multipliers on impulse, but even this could potentially mimic levitation if provided with that first push. Suppose we toss a rock up in the air: could a Theurge, using similar principles to flight, identify that ‘violent motion’ and enhance it to gain altitude, then inhibit it to only just enough to counter its natural tendency to fall? It doesn’t sound out of the question to me.

And, of course, could a stronger mage manipulate not just scale, but direction? That would be more like telekinesis in a traditional sense, and in general an ability to manipulate vectors conceptually is incredibly powerful. I’m not sure if anything in the mechanisms of blood magic prevent this outcome.

But in the end, there really is still a lot that we don’t know about blood magic — some that’s yet to be unveiled, and some that we’ll never know because it’s not part of the story to be told.


Ya know I just thought
Could a wizard detect if we had permanently changed ourselves like the abhumans? Just realized if we go wizard route and meet a mage we could be discovered real quick if that’s the case


With the number of new names I’ve had to have in Ch 2, I finally went back and made a comprehensive list of all names in the games so far, to reduce the odds of having too many characters with too-close names (or outright repeating myself).

There was only one letter unused for first names, which I’ll shortly be amending. And I have WAY too many names starting in Al-, a problem I’m compounding in Ch 2 because I like Alasais and Alac too much to give them up now.

With 250+ names mentioned so far – many of them trivial one-offs, but still – I’m wondering at what point I’ll need a Wheel of Time-style index of character names, to go alongside the existing glossary.

Anyone having trouble following the cast so far?


I am always fine in the moment, but if there has been a bit of time and a call-back, etc is used, I at times am lost.

I don’t think you’ll need a listing like in War and Peace, but perhaps a short synopsis of the main NPC cast would be helpful, especially as the series advances.


Lol i will admit will half to do fresh playthroughs anyway so not likely to have a problem with it but if i do will let ya know down the line.

:: grins :: in anycase you just might want to get that list handy anyway cause your still in the early stages and will be bound to have hundreds more names.


The MC might need to get an assistant just to help them to remember everyone at some point. I enjoy really large castes though.


For fun, I wondered which letter this was and the answer seems to be W (since Wolfbait is a nickname). So now we can place bets on who gets the whonor of winning the W.

In any case, between the names starting with Al- and the names ending with -en (the latter apparently making it a “Rim-sounding name” — incidentally @apple observed a while back that it also appears to be common across gender-neutral names such as Callen, Breden, and Teren), we can construct the Most χoR name… Alen…


Yeah, given how (intentionally) common that feature of “Earlunder” Shayardene names is, one of the main functions of today’s comprehensive name list is to keep me from accidentally writing e.g. a second Fellen, or a Felen, into the script. I realized today that I’ve already ended up with a Kellen and a Killen, though as one-off mentions some distance apart that echo shouldn’t be too noticeable. :slight_smile:

Perhaps inevitably, Robert Jordan ended up with a few characters whose names echoed each other closely enough that I struggled to keep them straight; and Melanie Rawn’s world where families passed along slight variations of their names led to a massive cast of Andr- s and Chay- s and Sion- s that I remember finding really hard to digest by the end. (Until she started slaughtering them all to get the cast back down to a manageable level.) I’m going to try to keep the names a little less confuseable. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, not to spoil the betting, but longstanding placeholder “[NAME] Striker” from the Irduin Stannary got named Whern today. :slight_smile: