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Asornok - An Arctic Realm


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Over the last few days I have converted my Asornok setting from a medieval pseudohistoric

setting into one for the classical Call of Cthulhu period.

The Asor are a tribe of thirteen clans of arctic hunters, somewhat similar to Inuit. They live

on Baffin Island, which they call Asornok, "Land of the Asor".

According to their legends, the Asor originally lived in the border region between China and

Siberia, from where they migrated to the American arctic region about 4,000 years ago. Af-

ter many years of wandering they finally arrived on Baffin Island, which they conquered in

a long and bitter war against the "Demon Worshippers", probably either a remnant of the Hy-

perborean civilization or a tribe of Inuit that had learned the worship of Tsathoggua from the

last Hyperboreans.

The culture of the Asor remained unchanged while they slowly expanded across the more than

500,000 square kilometers of their new homeland, the first major changes came when Norse

settlers came to Greenland.

After a series of often quite brutal conflicts the two cultures finally settled into an almost

friendly relationship, and even began to learn from each other. The Norse learned how to

survive better in the arctic environment, the Asor became familiar with the European's metal

based technology and medieval scientific thought. When the Norse colony failed around 1350,

some of the last surviving Greenlanders even joined the Asor and married into their clans.

For the next about 200 years until Frobisher's expedition to search the Northwest Passage the

contacts between Asor and Europeans remained rare, but with the European conquest of North

America came French Jesuit missionaries and the British traders of the Hudson's Bay Company.

The Anganoka, the female shamans who rule the Asor, managed to negotiate treaties with the

Europeans, who were interested in the narwhale and walrus ivory and the furs the Asor had to

offer, but unwilling to govern the remote frozen island.

Asornok finally became a semi-autonomous British protectorate, and with the Great War and

the decline of the British Empire came the opportunity to gain even some more autonomy, so

Asornok signed treaties with the United States and joined the Leagua of Nations in 1926.

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"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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"Today" (ca. 1926) Asornok is a semi-independent nation still ruled by the Anganoka shamans

and the Clan Elders, but with a British Political Agent as their "adviser".

Most Asor still live as semi-nomadic hunters, wandering in summer and living in settlements

during the winter. Three such settlements grew into permanently inhabited small towns, one

of them is the nation's capital Nan Asor, where the British Political Agent resides, the Hudson's

Bay Company has its trade post, and the Jesuits run a school and a small hospital.

Christianity did not win the hearts and minds of the Asor, mainly because of their very strong

cultural taboo against any kind of cannibalism and the missionaries' early blunder to explain

the "wine to blood and bread to flesh thing" during Christian ceremonies.

Therefore Asornok's true power is still the Asor's highest Anganoka, who lives on the island of

Nuk Hurom at the nation's only permanent temple. The "Southerners", as all Europeans are

called by the Asor, consider the High Anganoka as either the Queen of Asornok or a kind of

heathen witch, but all who had to deal with the Asor are well aware that she makes all the im-

portant decisions.

However, she is also known to delegate her power wisely. When conflicts between the Asor and

the Southerners became a serious problem, because the Southerners refused to accept Asor

law and Asor justice, the High Anganoka negotiated a treaty with the newly established Domini-

on of Canada, and now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has an outpost at Nan Asor and is

responsible for all legal dealings with Southerners.

All in all, Asornok is a country with a low technology level, but a technology that is perfectly sui-

ted for the environment (the Southerners even copy parkas and kayaks ...), and a highly deve-

loped social organization based upon the shared power of the female shamans and the usually

male clan elders.

Oh, and like all my fictional nations it has a flag, depicting the Owl, one of the Asor's totem

animals - the Asor call themselves the People of Owl and Wolf.

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"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I will use the Mythos very sparingly, and I will definitely not use the Sanity rules, but there will

of course be some nasty creatures.

The "Ice Demons" worshipped by the tribe of "Demon Worshippers" when the Asor arrived on

the island do still exist. They are Voormis, descendants of the proto-human inhabitants of the

region, semi-intelligent creatures very similar to Yetis or the big, white, carnivorous apes de-

picted in some fantasy games. The Voormis inhabit the remote mountain regions of Asornok,

but they occasionally come to the coast to attack lone travellers or even to raid Asor camps.

Since the Asor are mostly a coastal and maritime culture, hunting seals and small whales, the

other "monsters" are aquatic ones: A kind of giant crab that inhabits the shallow waters along

the coast and a kind of aquatic dinosaur / giant sea turtle that lives further out to sea. Both are

very rare, but also very dangerous for those who have the bad luck to encounter them.

I will perhaps introduce other creatures later on, but I think for a start this is sufficient.

As for magic, the Anganoka know some few spells useful for healing, for visiting the spirit realm

Inguanok and for calling, taming and commanding some types of animals, especially their totem

animals Owl and Wolf. Some of the experienced hunters also know a few spells useful for hun-

ting.

These spells are only comparatively weak ones, their results could easily be explained with the

skillful use of herbs and psychology for healing, with the shamanistic trance or with a truly ex-

cellent knowledge of the native wildlife. They are not "flash-bang" and cannot be used in com-

bat, but they give some credibility to the religion, folklore and beliefs of the Asor.

The spirit realm Inguanok, the home of animal and totem spirits as well as the other nature spi-

rits and the spirits of the Asor's ancestors, is a specific region of the Dreamlands of Earth. It is

much like a fantasy version of Asornok, with talking animals, clans of the dead Asor wandering

and hunting, and all that.

The Anganoka use trance, drugs and spells to enable their own spirits to visit this realm in or-

der to communicate with the various spirits and ask them for informations, advice or help. If

necessary, an experienced Anganoka can also take the spirits of others with her to Inguanok,

which gives me the option to locate fantastic adventures there.

Talking of options, I think I will also design some few truly Cthulhoid locations for Asornok, for

example old Hyperborean temples of Tsathoggua, where the Voormis still celebrate their rites,

and where the characters could have to deal with some really powerful Mythos creatures.

But this will be a climax of a long campaign, for example the final and decisive battle to end the

"Demon Worship" of the Voormis and turn the Voormis into creatures that can be left alone in

their mountain habitats because they are no longer more dangerous than the normal wildlife,

for example the polar bears.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I like the sound of this very much, and I appreciate your subtle approach to magic and the mythos. I especially like the shamanic spin on Earth's Dreamlands. It seems to me you've created a setting with a highly distinctive flavour. Shades of Trail/Curse Of Tsathogghua, of course, which I've just dug out to reread (and maybe run again if I can rustle up some interested players). Anyway, good stuff. Keep it coming!

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Thank you very much. :)

I have now begun to design the introductory adventure for the Asornok setting, an adventure for

a group of Asor or a mixed group of Asor and Southerners.

The professions available for Asor characters are Anganoka (female shaman), Craftsman and

two varieties of Hunter, one for Asor who hunt on land (caribou, musk oxen, etc.) and one for

those who fish and hunt along the coast and at sea (seals, small whales, etc.).

Southerner characters have some more options, for example Hudson's Bay Company Factor, Je-

suit Missionary and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.

Here is the basic idea of the adventure:

The Gift of Janus

Germany has been a pariah of international politics since the Great War and the Treaty of Ver-

sailles. This year, 1926, the German government wants to join the League of Nations, and it is

looking for potential friends and supporters among the smaller nations that remained neutral

during the Great War.

One of the targets of this foreign policy initiative is Asornok. The German government has deci-

ded to send Asornok a small herd of yaks from Berlin's zoo as a gift of state, with the idea that

yaks might well be able to survive the extreme climate of Asornok and become the Asor's first

domestic food animals, a potentially most important addition to the economy of Asornok.

Since the Asor are unlikely to be able to handle the yaks and to know how to breed and to use

them, some German zoologists and animal handlers will accompany the animals and stay with

them for a while to teach the Asor.

The British government mistrusts the German intentions, but to prevent this gift would alienate

the Asor and also not go down well in Britain, so the British Political Agent in Nan Asor was told

to keep an eye on the Germans' actions, and he in turn asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Po-

lice to watch the events closely.

The Anganoka welcomes the gift, but she is also not convinced of the altruism of the German

government. She has decided that the animals and the German experts will have to stay on Re-

solution Island off the coast of Asornok itself, officially because she wants to make sure that the

animals and the Southerners do not introduce any disease to Asornok.

The British and the Anganoka are of course right. While the German government really wants

to make friends, the people who proposed the gift and some of the people who accompany the

animals have other plans. Like the god Janus, Germany currently has two faces, one looking to-

wards democracy and peace, the other towards totalitarianism and war, and both movements

are involved in this operation.

The Reichswehr, Germany's military, is already secretly preparing for the next war. It wants a

meteorological station in Asornok, which would be most useful for naval operations. It has the-

refore instructed the zoologists to sabotage the training of the Asor, making it necessary to es-

tablish a permanent base with a German team in Asornok "until the Asor have understood the

concept of animal husbandry", and this team will include some navy meteorologists posing as

unimportant support personnel, for example the team's cook.

Far more dangerous is the second group that hides behind the gift, the Thule Order, an extre-

me right wing group of occultists that is convinced that Asornok hides ancient secrets of the Ur-

Aryans who once inhabited the far north, secrets that could be used to lead the Aryan Race to

greatness again.

Unfortunately these madmen have learned of the Anganoka's library, where the Asor keep hun-

dreds of scrolls written in Asor glyphs on leather, beginning with the White Book of An Madol

written by the Anganoka White Cloud Walking around 800 AD, and including treasures like the

Book of Freydis Styrkarsdottir from around 1290 AD, which describes the life of the Norse sett-

lers in Greenland. However, the library does not contain any material about Ur-Aryans, which

of course never existed on Asornok.

The library is kept on Nuk Hurom, where the Anganoka and her small staff of less than 50 fe-

male Asor live, so the library is almost unguarded, and the Germans' ship - crewed mostly by

members and hirelings of the Thule Order - could take them there within a few days, enabling

them to raid the library and kill all witnesses before the return voyage to Germany.

The death of the Anganoka and the theft of the library would be a lethal blow to the culture of

the Asor, beheading their political and religious structure and deleting their history.

To avoid this desaster, the characters have to find out whether some of the Germans who ac-

company the yaks really have hidden motives and plans, what these plans are, and then to put

an end to those plans - preferably without causing a diplomatic crisis, especially because the

yaks really could prove most valuable for the Asor.

Well, so far the basic idea of the adventure. :)

And here is a plan of Nan Asor, the capital of Asornok:

post-246-14046807489_thumb.png

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Shades of Trail/Curse Of Tsathogghua ...

After you mentioned this, I downloaded the PDF from Drive Thru RPG to take a look at it and

see whether I could borrow some ideas. I was quite surprised to see that it is indeed almost

exactly the plot I had in mind, I only have to change some details and move it from Green-

land to Asornok to be able to use much of the material. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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