It's three weeks until Jackals: Travellers on the War Road is out! We talked to the author, John-Matthew DeFoggi, about the new depth and detail the supplement adds to the four major player cultures in the world of Jackals. On our blog today hear about the first two, the Luathi and the Gerwa...

Iiwey, Jackals. Welcome to the launch of Travellers on the War Roadthe third book for JackalsThis is a book I have wanted to write for a while (thanks, Osprey!) because it explores the four great cultures of the War Road in depth. Within, you will find an examination of the daily lives, gods, and strongholds of the Luathi, Gerwa, Trauj, and Melkoni. At the end of each chapter, you will also find four new rites for each of the core ritualist paths found in the main book, as well as new talents, traits, and weapons. For the Loremaster, new patrons, a new monster, and adventure hooks are scattered throughout each chapter to provide ideas for new stories in the Zaharets.

Over the next two posts, I will share what is in the book, and what you can expect from it. The framework for Travellers is that of a series of scrolls written about the experiences of one Akraiatos of Escanoi, a Melkoni scholar who travels the Zaharets, learning about the cultures and recording his discoveries. This approach chronicles the changes in the land of the Zaharets after the Unification War and is an homage to Herodotus, for whom I have an abiding respect.

An illustration of an old woman in elaborate robes holding a decorative staff

The Luathi

The first culture he examines is that of the Luathi. Akraiatos is an exile and comes to stay at the court of Ameena Noani, learning of the culture and traditions of the Luathi during his time there. The Luathi are inspired by the biblical Hebrews, Canaanite peoples, and the myths of Atlantis, with a touch of Celtic myth and history worked into their DNA. As Akraiatos writes, the Luathi find themselves in a time of change, forcibly unified by a new king after the events of The Fall of the Children of Bronze and struggling to find their new place in the Zaharets*.

In this chapter you will discover:

  1. An expanded history of the Luathi, although only hints exist before their slavery under Barak Barad.
  2. The links between the judges, kahars, and throne, the three main pillars of Luathi society.
  3. More details on why a Luathi would become a Jackal.
  4. The major tribes of the Luathi, and options for cultural virtues that represent specific tribes.
  5. New rites for the Hasheer and the Kahar, such as ‘The Fate of the Risen’, which allows a Hasheer to heal their allies at a cost to themselves, and ‘Purity of the Sun’, which allows a Kahar to bolster their allies’ resistance to poisons and diseases.
  6. New gear specifically for Luathi Jackals, such as the Omri Tribal Sling.
  7. New seasonal actions and Fate Point usage for Luathi Jackals. One example is the Oath of Refuge seasonal action:


The Oath of Refuge

If a Luathi Jackal accidentally slays a fellow Luathi, they may use their seasonal action to take the Oath of Refuge. This action must take place before a Kahar and an altar of Alwain. A sacrifice of 250 ss is part of the requirement of this action. The Jackal in question reduces any Corruption gained from the murder to 0, gains the Oath of Refuge Ability (see below) and must take to the War Road for three years. So long as they remain outside Luathi-held cities, any kin of the slain will incur 8 Corruption for slaying the Jackal. However, should the Jackal enter a Luathi settlement, the kin of the slain will incur 0 Corruption for slaying the Jackal. This Oath lasts until the end of the same season three years after taking the Oath.

* Do not worry if you have not finished or will not play The Fall of the Children of Bronze – the material in this book is still a useful look at the details of the Luathi society and culture.

 An illustration of a man in a headdress and leopard-skin surrounded by the glowing aura of a cobra

The Gerwa

Based on the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, the Gerwa have an ancient society that stretches back unbroken (at least in their tales) further into the recesses of history than any other culture in the Zaharets. While strange kings have ruled over them, the Gerwa were never enslaved in the way the Takan dominated the Luathi, nor fractured like the city states of Melkon. For the Gerwa, the Kingdom of Ger has always existed and always will. This does lead to a haughty attitude toward the rest of the Zaharets’ cultures, for how can any of them compare to the glory, refinement, and power of the lands of the Six and the Eight?

There is a duality to the Gerwa, extending out from their two main groups of gods – the Six and the Eight – an outward and an inward face to their culture, kingdom, and daily lives. The outward face is unified in the face of Ger’s adversaries. Ger stands against the Ungathi tribes of the desert and all Gerwa aid each other along the War Road. To those outside Ger, there are only the Gerwa. Within the kingdom, however, the caste system rules as established at the dawn of time by the first Kiani and the gods. Each Gerwan city hosts the grand temple of one of the Eight, and the cultists of the Six exist as a shadow on the land. Political intrigue between castes, temples, and nobility is the norm here, and the Adepts of Anu accept coin to send rivals to the Courts of the Dead. Akraiatos shares what he learned about the Gerwa at great peril to himself. He records the secrets of their cities, castes, and culture for our benefit.

In this chapter you will discover:

  1. A detailed history of the Ger, from the Age of the Six – nearly four thousand years ago – through today.
  2. A look at the Six and the Eight. Who they are, what they want, and why the Ger worship their bifurcated pantheon.
  3. The castes of the Gerwa, split between the Divine, Earthly, and Water levels. Each of these castes have new cultural virtues for players to select in place of the ones in the core Jackals book.
  4. Mote details on why a Gerwa would become a Jackal.
  5. A look at the Hekas, including why anyone would want to become one.
  6. New rites for the Hekas and the Hem-Netjer/Hemet-Netjer, such as the horrific Rentic Doll or the Hippopotamus Rites, which grant the warriors of Henumehut the speed and the power of the sacred hippo.
  7. New gear specifically for Gerwan Jackals, such as the Scepter of the Ruling Caste and the Mace-Axe of the River.
  8. New talents and ways to use Fate Points for the Gerwa, for example invoking the aid of the Six and the Eight:


Extenuating Aid

Gerwan Jackals may spend a Fate Point to invoke the protection of the Eight. They MUST select which god they are invoking and explain how their prayers are appropriate to the situation. Should the Loremaster agree to this invocation, the Gerwa gains a new trait for the scene appropriate to the invocation.

From Ger, Akraiatos boarded a caravan east, perhaps fleeing Gerwa wanting to prevent others from uncovering their secrets. He traveled into the Luasa Sands and there stayed with the Trauj. Bidding the desert tribes farewell, Akraiatos will journey to Kroryla, and return to his own people, the Melkoni. Here he studies the eastern colonies, with the plan to return to the west with his book. Next time, our final post, we will look into what his book tells of them both.


Hear more from John-Matthew DeFoggi here on our blog a week today, Tuesday November 10th.

Jackals: Travellers on the War Road is out November 24th and available for pre-order today.


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