Land of monks and mountains
Ut'Bharma, Mountain Province, Northern Province, Land of Calm. The Imperial Province of Ut'Bharma lies in the north of the Empire, in the valleys and terraces of the Throne of Heaven Mountains. It is a land of remote villages, towering monasteries, quiet herders and mystical warriors.
People and Culture
The typical Ut'Bharman is of nekuuese origin, and is a herder or farmer. The Ut'Bharmans tend to practice tranhumance farming, driving their herds up into the higher pastures in summer and returning to the valley floors in winter. Yaks are kept in the higher villages, deep in the Throne of Heaven Mountains, but the predominant animal is the dependable little noyaki, a sheep-sized creature with goatish tendencies and the shaggy fur of a yak. Noyaki are reared for meat, milk and fur, but they are fiercely protective of their herd (which includes human herders) and also make good guard animals. Noyaki fur is used to stuff the quilted vest known as a pentesh, a ubiquitous item of Ut'Bharman clothing that has become popular throughout the Empire as a fashion item. Tea is a common crop, grown for export as well as local consumption.
The people of Ut'Bharma overall follow the standard Imperial culture. Although by reputation they are serious, laconic and frugal they are also very hospitable to strangers, finding great honour in generosity. They have a superficial spirituality, playing lip service to many Immortals in return for protection in their hazardous mountain environment. The typical Ut'Bharman, however, has little time for complex religious ritual since they feel that the monks with whom they share their land perform these acts on their behalf.
A fairly new sub-group to the Ut'Bharman population are exiles from the Imperial heartlands. Political troublemakers and threats to the Imperial status-quo are often shunted to quiet posts in Ut'Bharma to keep them away from the Imperial Court and the centres of Imperial power. Many join the monks or take up the life of a noyaki-herder, but there are many who still plot to return to the heartland and regain their former power.
A characteristic feature of Ut'Bharma are the great monastery complexes that are scattered throughout the land, known as narvindas. These great temple complexes are usually attached to a small village and enjoy a symbiosis with the villagers. The monks provide spiritual welfare, healing, teaching and protection, the people provide food and fuel. Both sides produce finished goods of various types; the woven cloth of Narvinda Rashmanjaan is particularly valued.
The narvindas all follow a similar design, but vary in their philosophies. Most of them are tall white-walled complexes built on higher ground, often gold-roofed and brightly decorated. A true narvinda exists in three seperate locations. Following the transhumance agriculture there are three complexes to each narvinda - low pasture, middle pasture and high pasture. There is usually a metaphorical progression between the three, with novitiates starting in the low pasture complexes and only those who have 'climbed the mountain of enlightenment' allowed to progress to middle and high pasture complexes.
Some narvindas are monasteries, some nunneries and others are mixed. Some follow a harsh ascetic lifestyle whereas others are more open and wordly. Some follow the teachings of Manrupashnar, others revere a particular Immortal or group of Immortals from Imperial religion, but the majority follow an Ut'Bharman philosophy known as the Way of Six Energies (see sidebar). This is a teaching of reliance on inner strength in order to focus and direct the world around oneself. It is as much a practical tool as it is a way of thinking, and masters of the Way of Six Energies, known as yana, are prized members of an Ut'Bharman community. A couple of hundred years ago, the more physically-focused yana served as elite warrior-protectors of the narvindas, but this practice has been discouraged by successive Emperors paranoid about private armies. With the decline in Imperial authority, these ibhesh-yana are seeing something of a rebirth.
Places of Note
There are many unusual locations hidden within the mountains of Ut'Bharma. At the headwaters of the Nine Spirits River, that flows through the Imperial capital Reflected Glory, stands the mighty Dam of Sepuraabi. Sepuraabi was an Imperial priest who opposed the ascenscion of a pretender Emperor and precipitated the War of Many Blessings. The matter was finally decided when Sepuraabi called upon the spirits of Earth to raise up a great dam before the Pretender Emperor's hidden city of Tifur. Sepuraabi then called upon the spirits of Sky to bring a deluge. Tifur was drowned beneath the reservoir that still bears its name. The dam is still maintained and used to control the water supplies to the Imperial heartland. Somewhere beneath the waters lie the great riches of Tifur, but terrible ghosts and spirits protect them.
The Throne of Heaven Mountains border the Great Glacier, a land of great Concordance where even air and time are said to be frozen. Despite this, pockets of extreme Chaos remain this close to the centre of Concordance. Such a place is the hidden valley of the Oracle of Kulaban, a place where red-robed priests tend to an insane oracle in a place of boiling mud and geysers. Folk stories say that the priests of the Oracle sometimes head out into the world to kidnap a new victim to become the Oracle.
At the opposite end of the Chaos-Concordance spectrum is the Order of the Seventh White Mountain (although that is just a fraction of the full name). The Order have a narvinda deep in the mountains and are particularly devoted to Concordance of all kinds. They are obsessed with ritual and are reclusive, dealing with outsiders only when masked. They are rumoured to be capable of all manner of strange magic, and the wisest members are said to be immortal, but at the price of maintaining the same rituals and routines every day of their lives.
The Clockwork Army of Rashiman is a vast army of mechanical warriors said to be stored beneath the Narvinda Rashiman. Rashiman is one of the larger and more powerful of the narvindas, and its abbot one of the more wordly and political of the yanas. The clockwork army may just be a metaphor for his (not so) hidden desire for power, or there may really be an army, created by the great artisan Beraphol for a day when it will be needed.
The yana mystics of Ut'Bharma utilise an form of internalised magic, different to the ritualised 'resonant magic' of the Path of Water and Mountains, the intrinsic 'will magic' of sorcerers or the 'spirit magic' of shamans. In game terms, it is best represented by the psionics system, using the psion class (of the varying subtypes) for the more mentally-inclined yana, and the psychic warrior class for the martial ibhesh-yana. Because the Way of Six Energies it is the result of careful training, the wilder class is not appropriate, and because it tends not to manifest in a physical sense, the mindblade is also unlikely as a type of yana mystic. Yana using the psion class may use psicrystals, but the physical form is often a talisman of some kind rather than a crystal, even though the game statistics remain the same.
A typical yana can be expected to be able to manipulate all of the energies in some form, but the different psionic disciplines can be used to represent a focus in a different energy:
Clairsentience represents Rabhesh, the energy of the soul.
Metacreativity represents Bhaash, the energy of coherence.
Psychokinesis represents Eshun, the wild energy.
Psychometabolism represents Ibhesh, the energy of life.
Psychoportation represents Bitesh, the energy of movement.
Telepathy represents Eshra, the energy of thought.
Note that the Way of Six Energies is still considered a form of magic, rather than a seperate subsystem even if in game terms it works differently to the magic of wizards and sorcerers. In this case, it is best for the GM to use the 'psionic/magic transparency' method, whereby things that affect psionics affect magic, and vice versa. Because of the nature and feel of the Ut'Bharman monasteries, the yana may also multiclass with a few levels of the monk class (with all of the different fighting styles being found somewhere in Ut'Barma).
Extra Discipline [Psionic]
Your knowledge of the disciplines is wider than most.
Prerequisite: Able to use psionic disciplines.
Benefit: Pick a discipline that you do not already know. You may now learn powers from that discipline.
Special: You may take this feat multiple times. Each time you may choose a new discipline.
Notes: For flavour purposes, when a practitioner of the Way (or Wheel) of Six Energies learns this feat they name it after the energy learnt. For example, a character who choses psychokinesis would call this use of the feat The Way of Eshun. Strictly speaking, characters following the Way of Six Energies ought to learn them in the order given in the side-bar, but this is needlessly restrictive for player characters. There are many variants to the philosophy, after all.
Human; Psychic Warrior5: CR 5; Medium Humanoid (Humanoid); AL N
Abilities Str 14 (+2), Dex 15 (+2), Con 13 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 8 (-1)
Initiative +3; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 17 (+3 Dex, +3 armour, +1 shield) touch 13, flat-footed 14
Saves Fortitude +5, Reflex +4, Will +2
Hit Dice 5d8+5; hit points 27
Base Attack/Grapple +3/+5
Melee Flail +5 (1d8+2)
Ranged Dart +5 (1d4+1, 20 ft.)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities Psionics (Ibesh-yana)
Skills: Autohypnosis +5, Climb +6, Concentration +5, Jump +6, Ride +6, Tumble +4
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Expanded Knowledge, Mental Leap, Psionic Talent, Up the Walls
Languages: Low Imperial, Ut’Bharman
Possessions: Red robes, masterwork studded leather, masterwork buckler, flail, 5 darts
Power Points: 11
2nd level (Save DC 13, 3 points) – body equilibrium, hustle.
1st level (Save DC 12, 1 point) – biofeedback, burst, empty mind, precognition (defensive).
The Clockwork Army of Rashiman
The clockwork army was built by an unknown artificer, possibly Beraphol, for an abbot of Narvinda Rashiman many years ago. It is rumoured to be hidden in catacombs somewhere within the narvinda, although which of the three complexes it is supposed to be in is unknown. Whether or not it truly exists is also unknown.
The army is said to consist of hundreds of humanoid warriors armed either with spear and shield or with shortbows. This equipment is part of the warrior's construction and so they may not be disarmed. The warriors present little threat individually - their strength lies in their numbers. However there are also great lion-beasts among them who are more dangerous opponents. These may originally have been designed to deal with cavalry or powerful warriors, or merely to strike fear into opponents. Finding, activating and controlling the clockwork army are all actions worthy of adventurers.
Clockwork Warrior;CR 1; Medium Construct; AL N
Abilities Str 16 (+3), Dex 12 (+1), Con -, Int -, Wis 10 (+0), Cha 1 (-5)
Initiative +1; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 15 (+1 Dex, +3 natural, +1 shield) touch 11, flat-footed 14
Saves Fortitude +0, Reflex +1, Will +0
Hit Dice 2d10+20; hit points 31
Base Attack/Grapple +1/+4
Melee Spear +4 (1d8+4)
Ranged Shortbow +2 (1d6, 19/20/x2, 60 ft.)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities Construct traits, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
Possessions: Spear or shortbow plus 20 arrows, medium shield
Clockwork Lion;CR 5; Large Construct; AL N
Abilities Str 21 (+5), Dex 17 (+3), Con -, Int -, Wis 12 (+1), Cha 1 (-5)
Initiative +3; Speed 40 ft.
Armour Class 17 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +5 natural) touch 12, flat-footed 14
Saves Fortitude +1, Reflex +4, Will +2
Hit Dice 5d10+30; hit points 57
Base Attack/Grapple +3/+12
Melee Claw +7 (1d4+5)
Full Attack 2 Claws +7 (1d4+5) and bite +2 (1d8+2)
Special Attacks Pounce, improved grab, rake (1d4+2)
Special Qualities Construct traits, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
(c) 2008 The Creative Conclave.
Beraphol and the Barking Dogs
Empire of Splendour
War of Many Blessings
Ut'Bharman still exists as a language, although Low Imperial is in common usage. Certain sounds peculiar to Ut'Bharman are often displayed in local dialect, and the name of the province is a showcase for two of the most common. The 'Bh' represents a labiodental fricative somewhere between voiced and unvoiced - that is to say a sound somewhere between 'f' and 'v' in English. It is a subtle distinction that most non-Ut'Bharman natives cannot replicate (to further confuse matters, Ut'Bharman also uses an 'f' and a 'v' sound). The apostrophe represents a kind of glottal stop, although more accurately it is a sub-vocalised short 'u' (as in 'dud'). The correct way to pronounce 'Ut'Bharma' would therefore sound something like 'UTT-(er)-FVAR-ma'.
The Way of Six Energies
The predominant magic philosophy in evidence in Ut'Bharma proposes that the universe works through the progression of energy through different states, and that through training and meditation a person may manipulate those energies. It is a philosophy that emphasises control of the self over reliance on outside forces like gods and spirits. In some extreme cases the practitioners, known as yana, refute the existence of gods, stating that these are merely further manifestations of energy that have been anthropomorphised by mortals. There are two major variants to the philosophy. The Way of Six Energies states that each form of energy builds upon the one before, and each is greater than the one before. The Wheel of Six Energies, on the other hand, states that all are equal, and each form of energy inevitably becomes the next, in an endless cycle. The types of energy are the same in both schools of thought. They are:
(Esh-un). This is energy in its purest form, wild and untamed, what others might call Chaos.
(VARSH). If eshun is focussed, aligned and given direction it becomes bhaash, the energy of coherence.
(bee-TESH). With direction comes the possibility of movement, and so the energy becomes bitesh, the energy of motion.
(ee-Vesh). Movement leads to purpose, which leads to life, and so bitesh becomes ibhesh, the energy of life.
(ESH-ra). Life leads to thought and intelligence, and so ibhesh becomes eshra, the energy of thought.
(ra-VESH). Intelligence and thought allow the spirit to grow, and so eshra becomes rabhesh, the energy of the spirit.
According to the Wheel, spirit becomes free and returns to the great unfocussed pool of eshun energy that permeates the universe, whereas in the Way, rabhesh is the ultimate form of energy and the yanas seek to free their spirits and become beings of pure rabhesh.