Straßen, the Game of Kings

Straßen is played on a square board with even spaces not unlike a chessboard. Though there are variations, the most common boards used in the court of Morgstadt from whence the game originates are 7×7 spaces. At the start of the game the board is empty, and in a standard game each player is given 40 common stones and 2 schloss stones.

Starting Play
Players alternate turns throughout the game. You must play on your turn – there is no option to pass. Straßen is played with only orthogonal movement and connection; squares are not connected diagonally and diagonal movement is not possible. On each player’s first turn, they will place one of their stones flat on any empty square of the board. Play then continues with players placing new stones or moving existing stones they control.

On Your Turn
On each turn, you can do one of two things: place a stone on an empty space, or move stones you control.

Placing Stones
On your turn, you can opt to place a stone from your reserve onto any empty square on the board. There are three stone types that can be placed: Flat Stone – The basic stone, laid flat on its face. This is what you use to build your straßen, or road. Standing Stone​ – The basic stone, but standing on an edge. Also called a wall. This does not count as part of a straßen, but other stones cannot stack on top of it. Schloss Stone – This is the most powerful piece. It, like a flat stone, counts as part of your road. Other stones cannot stack on top of it. The capstone also has the ability to move by itself onto a standing stone and flatten the standing stone into a flat stone. You can flatten both your opponent’s and your own standing stones in this way.

Moving Stones
The other option on your turn is to move stones that you control. If your stone is on the top of a stack, you control that entire stack. All three stone types (flat, standing, and schloss) can be moved, and moving is the only way to create stacks. There is no limit to how tall a stack can be. When moving stacks of stones, you cannot move more than 7 stones.

Stack Moves
Pick up any number of stones up to 7. Do not change the order of these stones. Move in a straight line in the direction of your choice – no diagonals and no changing direction. You must drop at least one stone from the bottom of the stack in your hand on each square you move over. You do not need to leave a stone in that stack’s starting space. You may not jump over walls or schloss stones. The schloss stone, if on the stack, may drop by itself onto a standing stone at the end of a move to flatten it.

The object of Straßen is to connect any two opposite edges of the board with your flat stones and schloss stone, creating a road. Any square or stack you control can count as part of a road (except ones with walls on them), but stones in a stack controlled by the other player do not. A road does not have to be a straight line; it can zig-zag across the board as long as all squares in the road are adjacent, not diagonal. If a player makes a single move that creates a road for both players, then the player who made the move wins. In the event that neither player creates a road and the board is either completely filled (no empty squares) or one of the players places their last piece, a secondary win condition comes into effect. When either of those cases is met, the game immediately ends and the winner is determined by counting who has more flat stones controlling the board. Only flat stones on the top of stacks or solely occupying a square are counted. The player with the higher flat count wins. A tie in the count results in a tie game.

Etiquette & Variants
As this game has been declared by many to be the Game of Kings, proper manners whilst playing have become an integral part of the game. That said, what constitutes good manners varies based upon the context of the game, and some variations have become standard for different rules sets.

The most commonly used etiquette is what is known as Court Manners, a style of play that is intimate and deferential, and is most closely associated with the game in its standard 7×7 variation. When threatening a road win on the next move, you must declare “Straßen”. Undoing your moves is both permissible and acceptable.

There is a variation of the game popular with the underclasses for its ease of transport played on a 5×5 board with 21 stones and one schloss per player, commonly known as Tavern Manners Straßen or derisively as “The Game of Merchants”. It’s a rowdier game than one played with Court Manners, and is prone to spectators, boasting, and betting. The goal is to win at any cost; as such declaring “Straßen” is considered to be against the spirit of the game, and taking back moves is not allowed.

A less common variant is known as Mage’s Manners Straßen, and originates from the halls of the Infragilis Vigilo in Scrow. Played on an 8×8 board with 50 stones and two schloss to a player, with the goal being to prove one’s cleverness and foresight. Moves can be taken back, but asking to do so means admitting a mistake. “Straßen” isn’t called; rather, when a player completes a road through an oversight of another player, it counts as a win, but the move is then taken back and the game continues. The player who wins three times first, or else orchestrates and inescapable win, is the one considered to have properly won the match.

A simple variant rule that can apply to any game variant is known as the Peasant’s Rule, which states “A player may not play their schloss stone until an opponent has played a wall or a schloss stone”. Though simple, this variant creates a clear delineation between two phases of gameplay: one where only flat stones may be played, and a second phase where anything goes. This variant rule is growing in popularity, as it grants the early game a unique flavor, opens the door for interesting strategy as to when one might wish to place the first wall, and leads to a dramatic ramping of tension throughout the game.

Notes from Monster Hunter Meeting

Monster Hunter Meeting
Winter 405
Father Ansel presiding


Reasons for Meeting
-gathering knowledge on monsters
-storing knowledge
-teaching knowledge
-using knowledge
-not everybody will do all of these

-Family was monster hunters in the past and is supposed to have a hidden library full of knowledge and weapons that could be found
-Would require a distant trip by those willing to try and retereive them

Rogalian Family
-There is a Rogalian family that is dedicated to using mechanisms for fighting monsters

-Those with contacts in the Shariqyn Empire or with the Carvansarai should check to see if they can bring in books with lore on monsters to Stragosa

Aid with gathering lore
-seeking people willing to draw monsters
-seeking people to aid in direction and study of corpses

Monster Types

-Cursed by Vecatran
-can only be kept down with silver
-using a silver coin inserted into a wound on a downed werewolf will keep it from raising
-curse can be cured

-there are true vampires and vampire spawn
-true vampires cannot be killed


Specific Monsters

-tall as a house
-screams, rarely talks
-left over from the time of the witch kings
-Shariqyn origin, or at least referenced in Shariqyn legends
*Malific of a witch called R_____ N_____ (name should not be spoken lightly)
*Stragosa is her death place
*killed the Lazarine that was controlling her in Stragosa

-Night Malific
-has horns like a ram
-Woman that was caught in the Church district who ran butcher shop but in time of starvation fed her children human flesh, but was thrown on a fire by her neighbors who also survived and killed when district was freed
-wants food, but do not give it to her
-named Selena
-will threaten but if not threatened back or run from, she will not attack
-if you threaten or run, she will see you as a threat or prey to attack
-if downed in combat, she will disappear and reappear later
-talk to her as if she was human

Bear Spirit
-has sword
*Can be lulled to pacivity with lullabies
*once passive, food can be thrown down and it will deal with food while you can flee
*it has been pacified and is no longer a threat

-girls giving flowers in the day
-will come at night and want to play, but games will be dangerous, possibly include stabbing you
-if downed, they will turn to ash and reform later

Meri Lyw
-not heritical to deal with
-Tall ghostly figure with horse skull for a head
-appears in winter
-will laugh and sing
-sing or rhyme to it
-if you win, it will bless you
-if you offend it, it will enter your abode and drink all your liquor and eat all your food

Stragosa and Its Peoples; Prologue

It is my hope that this book survives to tell the world of the subject of its title, namely the mysterious city of Stragosa and the people that dwell within it, but if history is any indicator I am indulging in a futile exercise of vanity. The city has existed for an unknown period of time, but no records exist of a settlement in that northwestern corner of Gotha, either at the Parliamentary University of Port Melandir or anywhere else in the Throne to my knowledge.

Reports coming out of the city indicate the ruins are very old, and perhaps with an unknown number of layers of ruins beneath the surface. Is it possible that a city so unknowably old could escape notice for all of recorded history? I think such things impossible, save for either divine intervention, malign urgings, or sorcery. Human nature indicates curiosity would discover such a place and make a note somewhere for it to be found by others were it not somehow protected from such pryings. Which does beg the question: why now? What powers have allowed this place once hidden to be discovered in this time, and to what end? Has it happened before? I’ve a notion it has.

Perhaps such questions, too, are futile to ask but I intend to ask them all the same. If this book ends up like doubtless so many others on some pyre for containing dark secrets not meant for man to know I will rest easy in my grave knowing that I lay my fingers upon fate and tried to move her. I am on a mission to document Stragosa as it is and was in the past without obfuscation, that others might understand it clearly.

For me to accomplish this with any efficacy you must trust in me, my intentions, and my ability to accomplish the task I have taken up. I, Narcisse Lamothe, was born in the lands Bouclair in Capacionne and raised by agents of the Guild Dextera Inflammatio, as my father was among the paragons of that order of magicians. I was issued a stellar classical education to rival the finest noble tutelage in hopes that I might follow in my fathers footsteps, but I was instead taken by the arts and moved to Port Melandir to expand my education. There I excelled, completing the Trivium and Quadrivium in a mere two years, and earning the title Master of the Seven Liberal Arts. For another year I taught basic courses to the newest students while pursuing my own interests, primarily the studies relating to the human mind and human behavior both individually and in groups.

As my year teaching there came to a close I realized that I could either remain there and make a good life for myself instructing others, or I could accomplish new feats in the studies of my passion. I decided on the latter, and so headed to Stromburg where I had several former students and companions who knew me well and could assist me in preparing for my journey. It was there in discussions with a good friend of mine, Robert of Stromburg, that the topic of Stragosa first arose and an interest turned to a drive to find answers.

Tales drift across the mountains of Stragosa as it is; a melting pot of cultures from every corner of the Throne and beyond it. No small number of Rogalian and Gothic Noble Houses have representatives there, but I hear tell of a Prince of Capacionne, a Princess of Hestralia, and even a son of the Padishah Emperor of Sha’ra. All dance upon the graves of thousands, perhaps unknowable millions that came before them, and so Night Malefic walk more commonly there than any other land on God’s Earth. And the reason so many come from so far and bear so great a burden of black sorrow? An artifact known as the Miracle, a slab of stone known to return the dead to life.

I come to this place with no preconceptions, and will record every aspect of my significant encounters with the people, entities, and places of Stragosa as I experience them to the best of my ability. I expect I will encounter individuals of every class and culture to garner their unique perspectives on the present state of the city. I will seek out those who have seen it at each significant event known to us, from its discovery and first settlement to the present day. Further, I expect if stories have traveled as far as the University of layers of ruins beneath the first, there are those delving into those ruins I could speak to in order to discover elements of the cities history before our involvement I would doubtless wish to encounter. Beyond that I will of course record any events of significance I experience in my time there, in order that this text may be not only a record of second hand tales, but a primary source written by a critical academic.

That said, I write this before I cross the mountains, and cannot say what adversity I will meet once there. They say the mountain pass is frozen over at this time of year, but I will not allow this to stop me. I have been told there is a trail guide that knows of a goat path they have used in previous winters to escort travelers to the city on foot. Though I am loathe to leave my carriage behind, adventure waits for no man and I will not be left behind for want of creature comforts.

One last note, and perhaps a somewhat morbid one. If you are reading this text and it comes to an end with no conclusion, only an abrupt stop with little in way of explanation, you must assume I have passed before completing my work. Stragosa is notoriously dangerous, awash in monsters, heretics, and wicked souls. If I fall to any such beast and do not complete my work, I ask you pray for my soul, and that someone else might take up the torch and finish my work. Let curiosity and a sincere desire for truth drive us into a more complete understanding of the mysteries of the world and our fellow man.

Grave Marker Translation for Freydis and Balthazar

“The sun shone, sweet golden

the day that Freydis died

torn asunder by Ghoul claws

there lay the undying

The moon shone, bright white

the day that Balthazar died

broken heart in cold hands

the day the pair became undying.”

“Sólin skein, sæt gullin

daginn sem Freydis dó

rifinn í sundur af klóm náæta

þar lá hið ódauðlegur

Tunglið skein, skærhvítt

daginn sem Balthazar dó

brotið hjarta í köldum höndum

daginn sem þeir ódauðlegur.”

The Arbiter, Sacred sword of House Sonnenheim

The Arbiter –
Sepharian bless the Noble, for it is his duty to guide those placed beneath them, his burden to withstand the temptation of power.

This sword, which is the most renowned of the Scheinende Sonne relics, is engraved with the symbol of Holy Sepharian. It was previously the blade of a Bishop Lucius of the Sepharahim who had earned a reputation as an unceasingly relentless seeker and destroyer of heretics, specifically those that had fallen in Apostasy to the Triumvirate. An apocryphal story is that the blade still echoes the Fire of Sepharian that lived within Bishop Lucius, imbuing the sword with purpose.

It was gifted to Sir Dietrich von Sonnenheim in Lion Age 417 when he was a Knight Protector (He eventually became the Knight Master of the Order in L.A. 439) assigned as a liason to the Retinue of the Bishop Lucius. Upon finding the hiding place of a Lazarine cult that had sprung up in the foothills in the Vigil, Sir Dietrich and Bishop Lucius had become separated from their forces during the skirmish. They fought their way into the den of heretics, side by side, killing the foul heretics until they reached the Cult Leader. The Unholy creature who continued to send undead creations at them until Bishop Lucius who feared they were becoming overwhelmed, threw his sword to Sir Dietrich and shouted the Lambast; destroying the lesser creatures en masse, while Sir Dietrich rammed the blade though the Necromancer, burning him with white fire from the inside out. Afterward the Bishop bestowed the sword on Sir Dietrich with the injunction: “to never suffer heresy to abide where the Sun’s light shines.”

The Arbiter was also used in L.A. 483 by Knight Commander Sir Amelie von Sonnenheim. She had been working for months to corroborate rumors that a minor member House Heimdall in the Engel Court had become a Tarrantist. After finding damning evidence, Sir Amelie confronted the Tarrantist, with the sword she resisted the Wiles of the seductively terrifying noble and was able to maneuver him into a Judicial Duel, during which she Killed the Heretic, exposing and destroying his foul schemes.

For a time it was lost in the fall of L.A. 506 with the death of Knight Commander Sir Victor der Apfelstadt to an ill fated attack on a Lazarine cult operating on the border of the Bosewald and Wieterland, and was recovered in the summer of L.A. 507 by Knight Protector Sir Kaspar von Sonnenheim in a Quest to stamp out the vile Heretics. It was found in the spoils and immediately inspected by the Inquisitor accompanying Sir Kaspar. The sword was found to be untainted after close inspection and was returned to the Order’s armory in Sonnenberg.

It was last carried into battle by Altgraf Sir Berthold von Sonnenheim against Rimelanders in L.A 568. Lord Bertold had been a childhood friend of Graf Einslan and had offered his support to the Graf upon his appointment to Markgraf of the Cold Throne. During the successful campaign Lord Sir Berthold led the final crushing charge of Scheinende Sonne Ritter. It was reported that it looked as if he were holding a glorious flaming white sun at the head of the thunderous wave of Cavalry.

Ancestral Moorswords

Ancestral Moorswords are ancient blades of hardened steel, most forged during the Age of Heroes or Age of Witchkings, and are involved with the founding stories of the clans. They are incredibly hard to break, and each one has been carefully engraved with various designs, patterns, and symbols relating to the story of the Dunnick clan that they come from. The swords were handed down from father to son for hundreds of years, never losing their edge or rusting. Possession of these ancestral moorswords is considered a crime in Dunland, and so the native population keep them hidden in cairns, tombs, and other secret locations when not in use.

Her Lover’s Bracelet

Isolde grew up in the Dunnick highlands, a shepherd with a large herd. She was her father’s favorite and given everything he had to give. He traded for beautiful blue dresses, sweet fruits, and soft pillows so she could live happy and carefree.

But she could not remain her father’s little girl forever. She met someone, a handsome woodsman named Eric. They met while she rested under a tree, and that’s where he found her napping. The herd had spread wide, and she awoke in a panic, but Eric helped her gather them all again. They worked together til sunset and she came home late that night. In her excitement and relief, she told her tale to her father and did not see the bittersweet sadness in his eyes.

She saw Eric again the following week. And the next after that. And then almost every day. They talked of life and their dreams. Slowly, she noticed that his dreams became her dreams. And that hers became his. They talked of a life together. And one day, under that same tree they met under, he knelt down and asked to be her husband. He presented her with a bracelet of wooden beads, carved from a branch of that very tree.

Their plans were not to be. When the Rennets came with their press gangs, Eric was scooped up while looking for Isolde. But her father had already hidden her beneath the floorboards, clutching her bracelet and praying to any god that would hear her.

She’s tried to live on since then, but she remembers the lover that was taken every time she looks at the wooden beads adorning her wrist. She will find him one day.

-Curia Rectus Archive

The Silver Brooch

“She wore it every day my mother did. It was beautiful. Shiny and silver. The center of it was a rectangle. A square blue sapphire in the middle. Crossing through it top to bottom were 3 lines that jutted out to different lengths. Each ending in a teardrop shape on the end. All capped with pearls.

My father had brought it home for her when he came back from the front in Sha’ra. He said he’d had it made special by a merchant that traveled back with his battalion. She loved that brooch.

Every night she’d kiss it on her way to bed, and have us kiss it also to remember him. She’d hold it, or stroke it when she spoke of him.

A year ago as she lay on her deathbed wheezing. As the priest came in she said, “it’s yours now dear. She took it off and placed it gently in my hand. “She smiled then coughed then smiled again, “now both your father and I will be with you always.”

Those were her last words. I stood there gently stroking it with my thumb and told her I loved her. I’ve carried it ever since.”

-Curia Remedia Archives, Lion Age 602
Sample taken at Uberhof, outside city wall after raid.