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(TFT) Thoughts on Thoraz

In The Thorsz' Service
Game Master notes on the city of Ardonirane and surrounding areas. (C) 1997 By Rick Smith

Our distinguished editor has called for us to write solo adventures set in the world of Death Test. Metagaming published 3 adventures about the Thorsz: Death Test 1 & 2, and Orb Quest. Now it is easy enough to write more adventures but there is a basic difficulty in producing adventures useful to our fellow readers. How can we make an adventure that will fit in to the game worlds of all the other readers when virtually every TFT game world that is in existence has its own city of Ardonirane with unique geography, and surrounding politics?...This article will talk about what has been published about Ardonirane, and will go on to speculate what the area around the Thorsz' city is like.

What is known: Ardonirane is a powerful city ruled by a war leader Dhallak m'Thorsz Carn. He is ruthless, and has gold (lots of gold). The Thorsz is actively hiring mercenaries so obviously there is sufficient danger locally to require high quality troops. Specifically we know there are ruins in near by Quercim, and some where there are Red Plains complete with orks. He is not the first of his line, he is just one of a dynasty of Thorszes. The first or 'youngest' Thorsz must have been quite the mage for he created the orbs from Orb Quest and distributed them to his wizards. The nameless mage in Orb Quest spoke of the youngest Thorsz having to civilize and tame the surrounding wilds with independent wizards armed with orbs. A few orbs were lost or stolen and are now being collected by some one and are actively threatening the Thorsz.

Geography: There is very little known about Ardonirane. A city must have water so it is likely located on a river, thus any adventure written could talk of the ports. If it is on a sea or ocean then trade could account for some of the wealth that the Thorsz can spend. However water travel is never mentioned in any of the books and they speak of merchant caravans requiring troop escorts, so we can be confident of at least one overland trade route. I suspect that the area is mountainous because: a) There is no shortage of gold and it is rare to find gold deposits in plains. b) In Orb Quest they speak of the 'realms' (plural) of the Thorsz and yet it seems as if his kingdom is centralized enough that all the recruiting of the army is done thru the Death Tests. This would only be possible if travel times are relatively short. Yet the geography is varied enough that it is meaningful to speak of different regions all under the control of the Thorsz. c) Lastly the Red Plains are presumably red because a large number of battles have been fought there. If the terrain is completely flat the fights could happen any where. If the terrain was sufficiently rough that transportation routes would stick to the plains and valleys, it could well happen that a strategic choke point would be the location of many battles.

Political Geography: The Thorsz does not seem to be fighting a vast empire. On the contrary he seems to be in competition with other states for quality fighting men. In Orb Quest it speaks of the "youngest Thorsz" sending out trusted wizards with the orbs to soften up the wilderness before he went conquering. Some of these wizards betrayed him, presumably to enjoy independent political power. Lately the areas surrounding the Thorsz have grown increasingly "darker, more foreboding, and more dangerous". They mention border patrols going outside of communications and then one in five returning wounded or not at all. Therefore the edges of the Thorsz' realm are not peaceful civilized regions with politically stable boarders, but wild areas requiring scouting by small groups. Now some wizard (who can travel and communicate far faster than normal folk) has started rounding up the orbs that are scattered in all directions around the Thorsz' kingdom, and is starting a policy of deliberate harassment.

The nameless wizard in Orb Quest speaks of the missing orbs being aligned towards evil ends. This may be mere hyperbole and or propaganda but it may be that the Thorsz is a relatively benign over-lord in an area where such things are rarities. I tend to believe that the Thorsz is an ok guy, because in DT 2, he shows that (tho bad tempered) he treats his underlings with respect and courtesy.

Guesses about the Thorsz: The Thorsz seems to be new to this ruling business, as he is still setting up the Death Tests and working the bugs out of that procedure. Also his system of awarding rank based on fighting prowess, while no doubt giving him brave officers, will tend to put people with no experience of command or knowledge of strategy, in positions of power in his military. This seems the act of a man whose family until recently was more at home with fighters and heros rather than advisers and grandiloquent courtiers. I would guess that the youngest Thorsz was the Grandfather of Dhallak m'Thorsz Carn. The current Thorsz is likely the first to rule from the city and is just discovering the joys of economics, guild politics, and the subtle web of influence that has grown around him.

Military Structure Of The Thorsz' Army: This is somewhat confusing, because in DT 1 & 2 they give 5 ranks, namely Recruit, Warrior, Sergeant, 100 Leader, and Thorsz' Guard. But in DT 1 in paragraph 167 they talk about Privates, and in the introduction of DT 2 we meet Captain Ayoch. We could claim that these last two modernisms are simple mistakes, which is what I did when Ardonirane was part of my campaign. But let us look at the structure presented. Recruits and Warriors are grunts, while I assume that a Sergeant, then like now, is a Non Commissioned Officer who has the job of taking care of the details when an officer gives an order. Even if we assume that the Sergeant commands a squad sized group of 10 men with out aid, there are no other ranks between him and a 100 leader which is hard to believe. Lastly I thought that a Thorsz guard would either be a personal body guard, or a member of an elite unit rather than someone in the Line of Command.

My suggestion is that at the time of the first 3 adventures, the way the army is classified IS somewhat disorganized. As well as the 5 ranks from the Death Tests, there are any number of people with odd ranks and different responsibilities. This results in increasing amounts of confusion.
Eventually the military is reorganized to fit the system below. The new people entering his service will fit into these neat catagories, but the old gaurd of the Thorasz' cronies, may well have 'funny' ranks and far more infulence than might first be suspected.

Rank Ideal
# of Pay Job's
Att's $ / wk Risk
Private's Listings:
Recruit 36 $ 100 4 / 16
Warrior 39 150 4 / 15
Veteran 42 250 5 / 15
Campaigner 45 500 5 / 14
Thorsz' Gaurd 52+ 1,000 6 / 13

Sergeant's Listings:
Logent 40 150 4 / 15
Sergeant 44 250 5 / 14
Padrone 49 500 5 / 14
Sergeant of Gaurds 55+ 1,500 6 / 12

Captain's Listings:
Decathon (Leader) 43 250 5 / 14
(Decathon) Prime 45 250 5 / 15
Hundred Leader 48 500 5 / 15
Hundred Prime 50 500 4 / 15
Captain 52 1,000 4 / 16
Captain of Gaurds 60+ 2,500 5 / 13

To use the above tables in DT 1 & 2 any body that makes it thru may gain any rank in the Private Listings which are directly proportional to the 5 original ranks given in the DTs (tho those that ran away from their friends once will not get a rank above recruit). The leader of a well managed party will be put on the Sergeant's list (either as a Logent or a Sergeant). To get on to the Captain's List, you must be on the Sergeant's list and then distinguish yourself as a leader.

The column entitled Ideal # of Attributes is a guideline showing what the testers are aiming for. A character should never be given a promotion to Veteran because he has just reached 42 attributes, nor should a promotion be denied because some one is short. This if you wish, is the ideal average capability of people entrusted with that much responsibility. (The actual average attribute totals would be about 2 to 5 points lower in most of the higher ranks.)

Notes: The (Deca)thon is a group of men theoretically 10 in number but with a great deal of variation. Guard thons have either a Sergeant (if small) or a Captain, but not both The parts of the names in brackets are usually not used in speech so a Decathon Leader would just be called a Decathon.

It is rare to see a Veteran or Campaigner because by the time the individual is that capable he is expected to at least be on the Sergeant's List. Some heros that have proved to be such terrible commanders that after the reorganization they were moved into these new ranks (and they are really pissed about it because of the loss in status).

The ranks of Prime, and Hundred Prime are semi official. The officers stay at their old rank and rate of pay but are given responsibility over approximately 3 times as many men. These semi official ranks are much desired because it is an acknowledgement that you have earned the right to be groomed for promotion. Normally a person will only be in one of these ranks for 6 months to a year. If the candidate is not ready to be moved up after that time, he is 'sent back' to his old rank for at least 6 months. This is to let others try the position. There is theoretically no disapprobation attached to being sent back, but of course the people sent back are disappointed, and in fact they are less likely to be considered for this semi offical promotion a second time compaired to new blood.

Personalities: The individuals that we know of are:
The first, youngest Thorsz (now dead)
Dhallak m' Thorsz Carn
Captain Ayoch (a Red Plains ork)
Captain Trevare Spell Sword (a wizard)
Irrissee (a wizard and advisor)
* Dimholt (dwarven architect)
* Zennorre (elf, chief of intelligence)
* Ahram t'Topeck (local lord of a realm)

* Not offical, my own invention.

The Orbs: Before much more than a treasure hunt can be written about the orbs, we have to deside what they do.

What is known about the orbs: The orb we saw in Orb Quest had the following spells on it: Stone Flesh (self powering), Reverse Missiles (s.p.), and Immunity to Sleep, Freeze and all controlling spells. I assume that other orbs could have other spells on them, but even the mundane spells on them are very expensive

Large numbers of orbs were made. These were entrusted to a number of wizards. Some of the wizards betrayed the Thorsz. The orbs seem to be highly valued by wizards. The orbs are kept in towers on the mist plane.

Questions about the orbs: As well as the normal spells mentioned in the Orb Quest adventure, do they have any powers? Do they become more powerful when they are collected together? Who built the towers that the orbs are kept in? What is their relationship to the mist plain that they were stored on for so long? (Were they stored long on the mist plain, or have they just receintly been moved there?) Are the hostile orbs being left on the mist plane by the hostile wizard? Are the orbs on the mist plane friendly (or at least neutral) and they are being recovered so that someone else doesn't get to them first? Do the orbs affect mana? Do the orbs affect the minds of creatures, spirits, people, etc.? Why did the youngest Thorsz trust other wizards with the orbs? Was there some great danger that the youngest Thorsz could reasonably expect to force these wizards to fight it and not him?

I don't have good answers to these questions, and would love to see some debate about just what the orbs are. I don't think they are just another magic item and I feel that their being placed in towers on the mist plane is not a coincidence, but the exact story of their power eludes me.
Future Adventures: The Thorsz has several problems that future adventure writers can exploit. Most of his troops are there for the money so there should be officers that have taken bribes, which can put the players in hot water. His borders are growing more dangerous so small groups could run into trouble on patrol. Of course the Orbs are a major concer. Lastly the Thorsz would be in trouble if his income is threatened, groups could be sent out to gain vast treasures and then would be tempted to run off with them.

Write and tell us about your Ardonirane so a consensus (if any) can be reached. Do you disagree with this article? Say so! Rick.

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