It's only two more weeks until the release of Jackals: Travellers on the War Road! Author John-Matthew DeFoggi is back on our blog to give you a sneak preview of what's new for the remaining two playable cultures, the Trauj and the Melkoni...
Iiwey, Jackals. Today we head with Akraiatos into the Luasa Sands for our second look at the cultures of the Zaharets, the fierce horse lords of the Trauj. The Trauj have their cultural roots in the Bedouins of Arabia, with a bit of Atlantis, the Sea Peoples, and the Scythians thrown into the mix. The Trauj declare to the world that they are the descendants of giants, and their height lends credence to this tale – the average Trauj stands nearly a foot taller than the Luathi, Gerwa, or Melkoni. Another aspect that makes them unique amongst the people of the Zaharets is their horses. While other cultures have ponies and or plow horses, only the Trauj breed and raise the nisakean, the finest and fastest horses in the Zaharets. For an outsider to own one is either a mark of great honor… or the sign that they are being hunted. The Trauj hate the Takan with a ferocity and tenacity unmatched even by the Luathi. Very few non-Trauj understand this hatred, but Akraiatos will pull back this veil for his readers.
Akraiatos’ caravan takes him to Anahaluf, the sacred oasis of the Trauj, where he is welcomed to learn and share stories with Rezkakou, one of the mystical Yahtahmi story-keepers. Rezkakou, sensing a kindred spirit in our chronicler, shared many tales and secrets with Akraiatos. Though some think the Trauj to be only desert warriors with little use for beauty, here Akraiatos learned that appearances are deceiving. The drab tents and camps of the Trauj conceal a flurry of passion and color.
In this chapter you will discover:
- More of the mystery of the Trauj’s origins – learn about the great movements of the Trauj tales – the Drowning, the Liberation, The Investment, and the Scouring.
- The stories of the Four Western Clans of the Trauj – the Ashans Mudi (Arrow Clan), Haluzanrab (Dream Flower Clan), Tasanizanrab (Blooming Flower Clan), and the Tamataka (The Well Dweller Clan) – and cultural virtues unique to each.
- The importance of salt and horses to the Trauj.
- A look at Trauj Jackals, and why they would take to the War Road.
- More insight and information on the Yahtahmi and the Alkitar, including the Dream Roads and Dream Prisons.
- New rites for the Yahtahmi and the Alkitar, such as Rezsem Opens the Doors of Hatred, which allows a Yahtahmi to inspire in their allies a deep hatred of the Takan, and Soul of Giants, which protects an Alkitar from fear effects but prevents them from leaving combat.
- New gear specifically for Trauj Jackals, such as the Bow of Seven Fountains or the sacred Haluzanrab Seeds that induce visions.
- New seasonal actions and usage for Fate Points, such as Inscribe Glory, which allows a Trauj Jackal to permanently bind the mavok or glory of their deeds to their name:
When a Trauj Jackal spends a Fate Point to gain mavok (see above) during a season, they gain access to the ‘Inscribe Glory’ seasonal action (for that season only). The Trauj may take this action to inscribe the glory of their feats into their skin, creating a record of their deeds. To do so, they must spend 250 ss per point of mavok they wish to inscribe to purchase the necessary inks and haluzanrab for a tattoo. The player must describe the tattoo their Jackal receives. After they spend the shekels, they receive several benefits. First, they increase their kleos by 1d6 (+1 per glory). Second, they increase their Fate Point maximum by one for every five glory they gain, as their ancestors begin to take notice of them. Finally, should the Trauj accumulate 20 glory in this way, they are guaranteed a place among the Yahtah. When they die – assuming they die in a lawful and glorious way – the Yahtahmi immortalise the Trauj in song. The Loremaster should work with the player to create a rite that grants bonuses to the Yahtahmi and targets that is in line with the Trauj’s life and story.
Bidding the desert tribes farewell, Akraiatos journeys to Kroryla, and returns to his own people, the Melkoni. Here he studies the eastern colonies, with the plan to return to the west with his book.
The Melkoni are heavily inspired by the Homeric Greeks of The Iliad and The Odyssey, but with influences also drawn from the Sea Peoples, Plato’s Republic, and Atlantis. The influence of the Grand Kingdoms of the Hulathi draw several of our cultures into this Atlantis-like story, as you may have noticed. In the final chapter of Travellers, Akraiatos arrived in Kroryla, the easternmost colony of the city-states of Melkon, and the westernmost city of the Zaharets. For him, it is the start of his journey home, for he is once again surrounded by his people. He finds, however, that home is not as he remembers it, for the colonies are very different from his city of Escanoi. Colonies must change to adapt to their new environment, and Kroryla has existed long enough to come into its own.
For Akraiatos, he is chronicling these differences for posterity and to expand his home city’s understanding, approaching the colony of Kroryla with familiar, yet fresh, eyes. While in the city he stays with Kalisto*, priestess of Lykos, who gives insight into the cult as well as the differences between Escanoi and Kroryla. Akraiatos gives us a taste of what life is like in Western Melkon but stays focused on the Melkoni colonists in the Zaharets.
In this chapter you will discover:
- A look at the history of the Melkoni, including references to the Gigamachiad (the epic poem about the ancient war against the giants) and the stories of Ajax and the Kyklops, Ceenon.
- An exploration of the Melkoni in the Zaharets, with hints of what the main city-states are like and an expanded look at the members of the Pantheon of Stewards, as well as the hero and cthonic cults of Kroryla.
- A look at the Melkoni colonists who live in Kroryla, as well as insights into Melkoni Jackals, and why they would take to the War Road.
- City virtues, a new type of cultural virtue a Melkoni Jackal may take based on why they are in Kroryla.
- More insight and information on the Rylareia and the Warriors of Lykos, including new rites, such as The Secret Fire, where a Rylareia can gain access to Ryla’s secret insights, or the Trial of the Walls, with which a Lykosian can emulate Lykos and create inspired items.
- New gear specifically for Melkoni Jackals, such as the Bolts of Araton or the Epsilon Axe.
- A new Fate Talent:
Warriors of Lykos, Stand!
Any Lykosian may take this talent as a Fate Talent (see page 117 of Jackals). Like the demigod they swear to, the Lykosian may endure trials beyond that of mortals. When they spend a Fate Point to survive after being reduced to 0 Wounds, the Lykosian recovers 1d8 Wounds and 2d8 Valour.
And so, Akraiatos finishes his work. He sends copies to his patrons, before he takes the strange Ship of Delmos back home to await his fate. Rounding out the book is an appendix filled with a new glossary of terms, two new patrons, the rules for a quiver (thanks, Kevin, for pointing that out!), and a terrifying new monster, the Kyklops of Melkon! I hope these blog posts gave you a taste of what Travellers on the War Road has in store, and that you enjoy reading and using it at your table as much as I did writing it. Safe journeys as you travel the War Road, Jackals, and may all your rolls be crits.
* Jackals fans may recognize Kalisto from the streamed game The Cult of Ceenon, which will be available for free as an adventure on Osprey’s website. In this adventure, the Warriors of Lykos suffer an assault from the Cult of Ceenon. Akraiatos’ visit is set after the events of this adventure.
That's all for these design blogs, but watch this space for new Jackals resources - from form fillable character sheets to a new free adventure!