Follow TV Tropes


Tabletop Game / Banestorm

Go To

"Welcome to the land of Yrth, a magical realm of incredibly varied races and monsters — including people snatched from our Earth and other worlds by the cataclysmic Banestorm! Whole villages were transported — from such diverse locales as medieval England, France, Germany, and the Far East. Now humans struggle with dwarves, elves, and each other. The Crusades aren't ancient history here — they're current events!"

That sales pitch very much sums up the setting of GURPS Banestorm, by Phil Masters and Jonathan Woodward. This setting book is the latest presentation of Yrth, the oldest fantasy world originally designed for GURPS, which was originally detailed in the first edition of GURPS Fantasy (though technically it first appeared in Orcslayer as the setting for nine combat scenarios). GURPS Banestorm revises the setting material from that book, advances the setting date in parallel with the real-world publication dates, and updates the rules material from GURPS 3rd edition to 4th edition. Additional information on Yrth has appeared in various published scenarios, magazine articles, and secondary supplements.

To expand on the story mentioned above, Yrth was originally populated by elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs, and ogres. But a faction of the elves, deciding to rid themselves of the destructive orc race, designed a powerful magical ritual called the "Orcbane". It did not work as planned. The resulting magical catastrophe, known as the Banestorm, brought countless people and creatures to Yrth, including humans from medieval Earth. And as humans tend to do, they soon expanded to take over most of the continent of Ytarria, displacing the native elves and orcs (the dwarves remained safe in their mountain fortresses).

Nearly a thousand years later, Ytarria is now more or less a Standard Fantasy Setting, dominated by The Empire of Megalos, surrounded by various other nations on all sides. Technology is maintained at a relatively low level by the Ministry of Serendipity, an Imperial office which hunts down rogue technologists and victims of modern Banestorm incidents, in order to brainwash them and erase dangerous information from their minds.

The company gives the book a Web page here.

This setting provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Boss: Many of the Dwarven Kings are this, due to dwarven views on leadership. They're all immensely skilled craftsdwarves, but they leave most of the work to their governors while they make stuff or pursue other projects. The exceptions are dwarves who put as much effort into governance as they do into craftwork, making them exceptional leaders.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Yrth trolls are fairly generic monsters, perhaps most resembling a much-toned-down version of Grendel and his mother from Beowulf.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Even the best minotaurs are genetically hardwired towards berserk, murderous violence - it's not something that can be acculturated out of them.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Exemplified in two distinct nations: the kingdom of al-Haz, founded by Shi'ite Muslims, and the kingdom of al-Wazif, founded by Sunni Muslims. There used to be a third such kingdom, al-Kard, but after it was conquered by Megalos and subsequently became an independant nation, it became the culturally diverse nation of Cardiel. al-Haz and al-Wazif are primarily divided over the nature of magic and its acceptability according to Sharia law; the Wazifi Sunnis see nothing wrong with the use of magic for bettering human lives, though they require wizards to serve two years in service to the government, while the Shi'ite Hazi consider magic dangerous and morally dubious, and barely tolerate its use for good, with many mullahs wanting it outlawed entirely. Only the need to counter Megalos' use of magic in war keeps these radicals in a minority.
  • Ban on Magic: No nation on Ytarria has managed a general ban or even a "restriction to the aristocracy," because magic is just too important. Al-Haz would really prefer that mages not exist, but even they have to keep some mages handy "for defense of the faith," that is, to counter Megalan wizards. That said, there's groups that try to ban it, usually on religious grounds.
  • Barbarian Hero: The Nomad Lands is essentially where most of them come from.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The point of the original Bane spell was to summon "something that will deal with the orcs". In a manner of speaking, it did: it summoned humans, who promptly set about exterminating the orcs, but the elves swiftly realised that to deal with the orcs, they'd summoned people that, while marginally more friendly, posed a far greater long-term threat to them.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Implied but then, as a twist, averted, during the Throne Room Throwdown in the snippet of Flavor Text fiction at the top of chapter 7:
    "What harm?" he cried. "Ten long years ago, your orc pets burned a village on the coast of Araterre. Perhaps you have forgotten; they were just another few deaths among many, for a necromancer. But that village was home to the woman who owned my heart. Since then I have followed your trail across deserts and seas, and foiled a dozen of your schemes — today, you will pay for that murder."
    "Ah, yes. I do remember." Suddenly the voice was no longer calm or even; it was amused...
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Only sort of foreign, but the True Dragon Legion fit the trope by virtue of being quasi-civilized reptile men who are vassals of Megalos, and they serve as the Emperor's Guard. Their loyalty is assured in part by the tradition that they can eat anyone who tries to bribe them.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": From their descriptions and the book's illustrations, bushwolves, paladins, treetippers, and milkfish (native non-magical animals) sound like thylacines, glyptodonts, giant sloths, and manatees.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Conall VI, king of Caithness, has fallen madly in love with Bronwyn, baroness of Durham and supporter of his rule. Unfortunately, he isn't able to properly convey his feelings, and ever since her last husband died of cancer, she's only had her mind on the Civil War, making her totally oblivious to Conall's attempts to get her attention.
  • Cherry Tapping: Sahud ninjas are quite skilled at this; since honor is paramount in Sahud culture, they often trip their victims, dump fertilizer on them, or otherwise embarrass them. This makes the victims look vulnerable and leads to a loss of face and power. It should be noted that the ninja are also quite capable of using lethal force, if necessary.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Invoked in-universe by the Curia, which decided, upon hearing news of the Protestant Reformation and the turmoil it brought from Banestorm victims, to stop Protestantism from ever taking root in Yttaria, forcibly converting Protestants brought by Banestorm, mind wiping them, or killing them. It is however noted that Protestantism still survives underground (or openly in Cardiel and Muslim countries), with the Huguenots being the largest tradition.
  • Church Militant: There's a lot of these.
    • The Knights Templar are the most famous, using magic and steel to war against the Muslim infidels.
    • The Knights Hospitallers are another order, governing the fief of New Jerusalem and being even more eager than the Knights Templar to kick Muslim ass. They differ from the Templars primarily in being bigoted against nonhumans and in rejecting magic.
    • In Megalos, the Michaelites are an Expy of The Spanish Inquisition, and serve as the Secret Police. Outside of Megalos, they're secular law enforcement organizations for Caithness and Cardiel.
    • The Olybrians are a downplayed version. They're a mendicant order dedicated to preaching the gospel and opposing heresy, but this isn't limited to peaceful debate. Many are quite deadly foes with their staves.
    • On the Muslim side, there's the Ghazi Orders, who are Muslim copies of Christian religious knights and are recognized as knights by Christians, and the Kharijites, a sect of fanatics who live only for jihad.
  • City of Adventure: Tredroy, which is divided between al-Haz, al-Wazif, and Cardiel, is a Merchant City, and to some degree a City of Spies. It would be more of a City of Spies except for the fact that the three kingdoms are more likely to be allied than enemies, because of the mutual fear of Megalos.
  • Code of Honour: There are several in addition to the default list from GURPS, as honor is expected of all noble individuals (and many non-nobles try to adhere to some code as well).
    • The Arab Code of Honor, expected of all Muslims, is distinct from Western chivalry in a couple of ways. There's more emphasis on kinship than protecting the weak, ambushes and tricks are honorable in wartime, and above all, Sacred Hospitality must be observed and repaid.
    • The Elven Code amounts to "don't harm nature needlessly, and live stylishly."
    • The Halfling Code is almost entirely about Sacred Hospitality.
    • The Northman's Code demands Sacred Hospitality for one night, I Gave My Word, and that revenge be pursued openly and without subterfuge.
    • The Sahudese Code stresses clan honor, obedience, and the Sahudese crazy-quilt of rules.
    • The book also discusses knightly honor. The Chivalric Code is an ideal, but in practice, a lot of knights adhere to something more like the Pirate's Code or the Soldier's Code. Religious knights are expected to adhere to religious vows, though some are also chivalrous. And some knights are just thugs with swords.
  • Culture Chop Suey:
    • Sahud is what you get when you take peasants from Mongolia to Japan who only have a limited understanding of their own cultural standards, then throw those standards into a blender and set it on "frappe." Their society is a patched-together mess, and outsiders are perplexed at how functional it is.
    • Megalos is what you get when the expatriates from Western Europe were led by a brilliant mastermind who set up a system based more on the Byzantine Empire than Western Christian kingdoms. It's an open question whether a noble you meet is a feudal lord or a mercantile court aristocrat.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • Banestorm actually averts this, believe it or not. Since the humans of the setting were initially yanked from The Crusades-era Earth, the major human religions are Christianity and Islam, with most nonhumans having converted. The Lazarite cult of Abydos is this trope played straight.
    • Uunkuy, the ancient god of civilization worshipped by the goblins, fit this well enough that goblins smoothly accepted Christianity, treating it largely as their old faith under a new name.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ogres are bigger and smarter than gorillas but less than humans. Minotaurs and orcs likewise are thuggish, strong and not too bright.note 
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • It is implied that the old gods of Olokun, the world the merfolk and the shark men came from, are eldritch and abominable. The merfolk seem to have hated or feared them so much that they are mostly atheists with a few Eternal worshipers mixed in and a natural distrust of religion, while the shark men worship their deities the same as always, hoping to be able to one day draw them over to Yrth, which the book describes as a bad thing.
    • It is implied that the massive slime-drenched tree growing in the center of the Blackwoods also belongs in this category.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: More in the sense of contrast between each race's preferred philosophy than in the sense of actual hatred. Elves prefer harmony with nature and dwarves emphasize craftsmanship. Although dwarves also hold the elves as a whole to be responsible for the Great Bane, to the occasional consternation of most elves who don't like to be lumped in with their wayward, fanatically racist and militant Dark Elf cousins (the ones actually responsible).
  • The Empire: The previously mentioned Empire of Megalos, which dominates much of the continent of Ytarria.
  • Fantastic Racism: It rarely reaches the level of policy, but it exists. Dwarves and elves don't get along too well, and nobody likes orcs, ogres, or reptile men - though in human lands, civilized members of the latter races have legal rights. On the other hand, both major religions of Ytarria consider nonhumans to have souls - those races that are considered soulless, like gargoyles and medusae, are in deep trouble if caught in Christian lands. Then there's the Purifiers (who everyone else calls Dark Elves - the difference between them and regular elves is solely cultural though), who hate everyone who isn't them - and everyone else returns them the favor, of course.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: Being transported to Yrth along with numerous non-human races raised significant theological issues in the major human religions:
    • For Islam, it was the question of where do Muslims pray to. They are Trapped in Another World: they cannot go to Mecca or face towards Mecca in accordance to the qibla (direction of prayer), and they have no idea where they are geographically in relation to Earth either. Solution? They have a city called Geb'al Din in al-Haz, which acts as a substitute Mecca. According to the legend, it was founded on the site of the miraculous discovery of a large black rock with passages from The Qur'an carved upon its surface, guarded by an old man who claimed to have been waiting sixty years for people to find it, and that here was where a new Holy City should be built. Regardless of the story's veracity, the Muslims of Yrth now make the hajj (pilgrimage) to Geb'al Din, and orient the qibla towards its central rock.
    • For Christianity, it was the question of who's in charge of the Church in Yrth. They can't contact The Pope, and no cardinals were transported. A few priests came through, so they've maintained apostolic succession (sort of), but they're completely out of contact with church hierarchy. They muddled around in confusion for centuries, dealing with sporadic religious strife as they did so, until the emperor of Megalos got fed up, had his troops abduct the most prominent Christian leaders he could find, sealed them all inside a cathedral, and demanded they work it out. Eventually they settled on establishing the Curia, a council to act as the Church's ruling body in Yrth, made up of the Grand Master of the Hospitaller Order, Grand Master of the Olybrian Order, Grand Master of the Templar Order, Grand Master of the Thomasite Order, an archbishop from Caithness, three archbishops from Cardiel, and five archbishops from Megalos. It theoretically governs in the Pope's name, but since they have no idea who the Pope is and no ability to contact him anyway, in practice they govern autonomously.
    • And, of course, there was the thorny question of whether non-humans could be converted or not. The Muslims noted the Djinn in their Sacred Literature and figured "if a spirit of fire can be a Muslim, so can a goblin". Christians had more trouble, since The Bible doesn't say much on the topic of non-humans, but they eventually concluded that it would probably be wrong and definitely be very impolite to ignore the possibility of conversion. Theologians even have theories about parallel evolutions from Adam pulled through dimensions and such, or that they're outcasts from a different Eden, or somesuch. Another theory is also basically the premise of West of Eden: Adam and Eve left Eden and travelled east. What was on the other side?
  • Fantasy Contraception: It exists, but it hasn't made much of a splash. It's not easy, there's a lot of con artists peddling fake charms and potions, and the local Moral Guardians take an extremely dim view of it.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Actually enforced by the Ministry of Serendipity.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: In opposition to the real-life human religions, the elven and dwarven religions native to Yrth don't have gods at all, but follow the Eternal, an animistic gestalt consciousness that pervades every piece of the universe's fabric. The elves worship the Eternal through animals and plants, while dwarves worship stone and metal as their chosen part of the Eternal. The other worlds of Gabrook, Olokun, and Loren'dil had their own pantheons as well, but few still worship the ancient gods, having converted to one of the human religions or turned to Eternal-worship, with the exceptions of the lizard men (those that didn't convert to Islam that is) mostly still worshipping the god of strength Bozdaag, the shark men wishing to bring their very active old gods over to Yrth, and centaurs being the only people of Loren'dil that fully kept their faith in the old pantheon (especially in Atallie, goddess of learning and wisdom).
  • Fighting for a Homeland:
    • Probably the majority of off-world groups who were brought to Yrth by the Banestorm ended up fighting for somewhere to live. They couldn’t get home, after all, and the place was in chaos.
    • One notable instance was the group of enslaved reptile men who were told by the human emperor of Megalos that if they could conquer a certain island, they could keep it. They did, and subsequently provided his dynasty with a ferociously loyal Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: The powers-that-be evidently believe that firearms would be revolutionary, because Fantasy Gun Control is being explicitly enforced by ... someone.
  • Gladiator Games: Megalos is a not-very-nice empire explicitly modeled, in setting, on Imperial Rome. Hence, it is completely inevitable that it will feature blood-soaked arenas hosting gladiatorial games.
  • Glamour Failure:
    • The Emperor of Megalos is actually a shape-shifting demon, who occasionally suffers minor lapses of concentration leading to brief displays of inhuman features. His horrific personal behavior may be a bigger clue to the truth.
    • Vampires on Yrth have a clutch of standard vampire flaws (a dread of running water, no body heat and a deathly pallor, vulnerability to sunlight), but can pass as human if they can hide these. One vampire mage, Lord Claudius Maskill, has achieved a position of political power using social skills and magic, but is in danger of being exposed by his vampire features, and at least one of his mind-controlled victims is going inconveniently insane under the strain.
    • "Medusas" in the setting appear to be female humans (or occasionally elves or orcs), but with a mass of serpents instead of hair, which can be concealed with difficulty.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Something of a running theme in the setting. Notably, the faction of Elves calling themselves the Purifiers, after a long time trying and failing to eradicate the Orcs, cast a massive ritual spell called "Orcbane" to finally be rid of them; instead, the spell (known afterwards as the Great Bane) ran amok, and devastated the continent of Ytarria (with unknown effects elsewhere on Yrth), ruining Elven civilization, bringing over more than a dozen new sapient species to compete for resources and land including Humans who'd soon come to dominate Ytarria, and forever tarring the Purifiers as reckless, genocidal fanatics, known forever more as Dark Elves.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: In this setting, members of the Medusa species typically have the Beautiful Appearance advantage.
  • The Heretic: The great conflicts between various splintered Christian and Muslim groups after the Banestorm lead to the appearance of many sects and cults:
    • The Penitentines were a sect that believed Yrth was Purgatory, all non-humans were demons, and that magic was Devilry rather than the strange science the Church came to see it as.
    • The cult of the Manites hold the belief that mages are actually chosen miracle-makers of God and thus holier than the non-magic members of society.
    • Lazarite Christianity in Abydos (or Lazarite heresy elsewhere), started by a heretical monk who supposedly discovered the lost books of Lazarus of Bethany, the Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead. Those books, called "the Renewed Testament" supposedly extol the raising of Lazarus, expose Peter and Paul as revisionists, and exonerate Judas (St. Judas, to the Lazarite Christians). Basically, the Lazarite Church preaches that raising the bodies of the dead to serve and aid the living is a righteous and holy act. While the mainline Ytarrian Church hasn't managed to expunge them, they've done their best to seal off the island city by wiping it off the maps and by denying its existence.
    • Islam has the Balikite sect. They are led by Balik Abdallah al-Firuz, a Shi'ite mullah from northern al-Haz who is extremely against magic and so consider mages infidels. While the Sultan of al-Haz hates the Balikites with a passion for their murder of one of his most trusted advisors and has put a hefty bounty on Balik's head, most Hazi mullahs are very apathetic towards the sect in spite of their murderous brutality. In al-Wazif, where magic is far more accepted, Balikites are treated as criminals and are sentenced to death by public torture if they are captured.
    • Played with by the Kharijites. They share the name and some of the theology of a rogue Muslim sect from Earth, and many Kharijites consider all non-Kharijites to be heretics (though the current leadership practices realpolitik with regard to the Caliph). However, the Sunnis of al-Wazif largely accept Kharijites as a holy order.
  • Horny Vikings: Invoked by some of the tribes of the Nomad Lands, which are in part descended from Norse settlers... at least, those tribes that aren't descended from Celtic warriors, that is.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Not a major theme, but this is a setting where humans are better at being orcs than orcs are.
  • Immortality Immorality: The Steal Youth spell allows a necromancer to remain young by absorbing someone else's youth. Abydos' rulers are necromancers, and slaves in Abydos have no rights, so they're often drained to death to give their betters a few extra decades.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The city of Tredroy has three different legal systems in force, since it overlaps Al-Haz, Al-Wazif, and Cardiel, so intersectional disputes can take careful negotiation to resolve.
  • Kill and Replace: The Emperor of Megalos was killed by a shapeshifting demon who's taken his place. Most people haven't noticed any difference.
  • Knight Templar: A mind-set that is far from unknown on Yrth, with at least two groups more or institutionalizing it:
    • Megalos has its own version of The Knights Hospitallers, who are rigid dogmatists and racists, barely considering friendly nonhumans worthy of protection, and rejecting any use of magic. The first Church Militant group to develop on Yrth from Banestorm immigrants, they interpreted the event as divine will, and founded the city of New Jerusalem. Eventually joining Megalos, they have since become infamous for their rigid conservatism and intolerance.
    • On the Muslim side, there's the Kharijites. Claiming descent from the original Kharijites, they're a subsect of fanatical jihadis. The Caliph tolerates them because they stay on the border and cause trouble for Megalos.
    • For a subversion, there are the actual Knights Templar of Yrth. While they're a Church Militant, they're very tolerant of nonhumans and exceptionally magical. In fact, they accepted magic and nonhumans so quickly, that some people suspect that they must have known about magic before coming to Yrth and that their arrival was not an accident.
  • Lady of War: Caithness has always been the only kingdom to allow female knights, ever since a noblewoman distinguished herself defending the independence of Caithness against Megalos and was knighted by the King. Numbers of female knights vary between knightly orders, but one order is mentioned having one female in five and another with one in ten. Also, a number of Caithness noblewomen prefer hawking as an entertainment to needlework. All of which works fine; Caithness is an easygoing country with room for all pursuits and interests.
  • Lizard Folk: The Reptile Men, a race of reptile people originally from the desert world of Gabrook.
  • Long-Lived: Many races (dwarves, gnomes, and half-elves among others) have longer-than-human lifespans. Thulin X of Thulin's Folk is a standout example even among dwarves, being 265 years old in a race where 200 is "old," and even the High King will stand when he comes to speak.
  • Mage Tower: Caithness is mostly lower in magical power ("mana") than other lands, but has some patches where magic works quite well. Its wizards tend to move into those to set up shop — often building towers on these sites, some of which have been detailed in published material.
  • Medieval Prehistory: The bestiary includes "bushwolves", "paladins", and "treetippers" — from their descriptions and illustrations, they're evidently thylacines, glyptodonts, and giant ground sloths by other names. "Striders" may be one of the many species of flightless predatory bird that appear from time to time in the fossil record.
  • Medieval Stasis: Ytarria has been kept at a late medieval level of technology and social development. This is in part due to the Megalan Empire's Ministry of Serendipity, a secret police force charged with hunting down inventors, technologies, and other ideas which threaten the status quo. The other nations of Yrth appear to have similar organizations. The unanimity of the world on the subject despite lacking a unifying force is suspicious; conspiracy theorists have pointed at the djinn, dragons, the Jesuits, and any other group that might be secretly behind a bunch of thrones.
  • Medusas: One of the races now found on Yrth, with the traditional features (including a petrifying gaze weapon — just looking at one is okay). They are always female; they interbreed with humans, elves, or orcs to produce more medusas (or occasional male babies with recessive medusa genes). Unfortunately, the petrifying gaze thing means that they are widely treated as monsters, which may in turn be enough to explain their mostly negative view of other races. One online article describes an island village ruled by a noble family whose womenfolk are all, unbeknownst to the outside world, medusas.
  • Mega Maelstrom: One is located off the southern coast of al-Haz. Its location means that ships heading from any of the regions to the north can enter al-Haz but can't make it further west to the Lands of the Djinn and beyond, nor can anyone from the west head eastward to al-Haz in that direction.
  • The Necrocracy: The necromantic citystate of Abydos, which is ruled by necromancers, liches, and the undead. The populace doesn't mind, as the rather ... odd sect of Christianity that the locals follow makes raising the dead a holy act.
  • New Neo City: New Jerusalem, founded and ruled by The Knights Hospitallers, and a semi-autonomous region of Megalos.
  • Not Always Evil: Most races of monstrous humanoid fall under this. They tend to be savage, barbaric and have a lot of common psychological traits that sum up as "don't play well with others," and many see nothing wrong with eating other sentient beings. But these traits are almost never universal, and "civilized" members of these races may avert them.
  • One-Gender Race:
    • The snake-haired medusas are all female. They mate (carefully) with human, elf, and orc males to produce offspring. Their children are usually medusas, but some are boys with a recessive medusa trait.
    • Word of God invoked says that Yrth also has euryales, a small all-female reptilian race, whose eggs are fertilized by eating their dead, and sthenos, a much bigger all-female reptilian race, produced by a virus that infects human (or orc or elf) women, and spontaneously transforms them if they are violently injured.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Yrth has fairly conventional (human/horse-like) centaurs. Loren'dil, their homeworld, has neither humans nor horses, so the mere existence of horses (initially seen as deformed or maimed centaurs) may confuse or horrify centaurs, and they dislike the paraphernalia of human horse-riding. They live in small nomadic herds across the plains of al-Wazif, al-Haz, Cardiel, and the Orclands. Most are brash, impetuous, footloose party animals, and not especially bright, but a few are highly intelligent and scholarly — thus reflecting both the Greek legends of thuggish centaurs (in toned-down form) and the atypical intellectual centaur Chiron.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Very much so, from the beards to the underground kingdoms. They are also well known as artificers and merchants. Some dwarven renegades actually end up becoming warlords in the Orclands, dominating orc tribes.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Yrth's once-formidable elves have clearly fallen on hard times since the Banestorm, and are essentially a Dying Race. They survive in villages hidden away in the various forests of Ytarria, with their largest communities being in the two massive woodlands known as the Great Forest and the Blackwoods. They are a little more dexterous, smart, attractive, and magically talented (and physically weaker) than humans on average, though, and they can be extremely long-lived. One truly different variety, albeit a culture rather than a variant race, is the Dark Elves, who are notable for being anything but Drow; they are actually a faction within elf culture, calling themselves "The Purifiers", with a philosophy of genocidal xenophobia, first against orcs, and then against anyone who isn't an elf.
  • Our Gnomes Are Different: These cousins of dwarves, noted for preferring the surface world, have more or less evolved into go-betweens between humans and dwarves, but are otherwise unremarkable as a race, harkening more to the pre-Dragonlance versions of D&D Gnomes then the modern gadget-loving versions. This is in part due to the Ministry of Serendipity's enforcement of Ytarria's status quo. Though it wouldn't be hard to imagine a hidden group of Gnomes experimenting with steampunk inventions...
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Here, goblins are short, green humanoids originally from the mostly arid desert world of Gabrook. They are intelligent, civilized, and naturally curious, produce slightly more mages per capita than humans, and actually fit well enough into human society. Hobgoblins are their larger, dumber cousins.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: Banestorm kobolds are small-ish blue humanoids, related to goblins, who are not very bright, tend to live downtrodden and sordid lives — and are vicious practical jokers.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: Minotaurs look like outsize humans with bull heads, but eat other sapient species and are extremely violent Blood Knights who often go berserk in combat. Some, however, manage to overcome their brutal nature towards other lifeforms enough to instead turn Psycho for Hire.
  • Our Ogres Are Different: The ogres are technically among the Elder Folk of Yrth, but are by far the least advanced race; even the orcs are cultured and intelligent compared to them. Their only saving grace is that they're stronger and tougher than pretty much every other species (except the big, rare races like giants and dragons).
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Banestorm orcs are located somewhere between Tolkien and Blizzard orcs. Another race native to Yrth, they were once spread across the continent of Ytarria, before being pushed back away from the more fertile regions by the only race to rival them in aggressiveness, stubbornness, and constant breeding: humanity. Now existing mostly in the more arid region of the Orclands, they are divided into numerous tribes which wage war on one another when they don't gather to threaten their neighbors.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Averted. Banestorm vampires are pretty much the Dracula sort.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: People afflicted with lycanthropy turn into actual wolves. It's not contagious; either you or an ancestor has to have been specifically cursed.
  • Pirate Girl: Dame Catherine "la Noire" de Méliés, formerly The Mistress of the Prince of Araterre before he dumped her, resulting in her becoming a Woman Scorned and a pirate queen with a small fleet in her quest to take revenge on the Prince and his wife.
  • The Plague: The Holy City Geb'al Din is subject to frequent outbreaks of "Pilgrim's Plague" (bubonic plague) in the city, which have never been quelled due to the fact that wizards aren't allowed into Geb'al Din and thus can't magic away the problem. So far, outbreaks haven't occurred in tandem with a call to pilgrimage in fifteen years, but since it happened once it can surely happen again.
  • Schizo Tech: The Powers That Be suppress gunpowder, but many minor technologies and concepts have become common, including the germ theory of disease, some experiments in vaccination, heliocentric astronomy with elliptical orbits, the modern novel, stagecoaches with suspensions, sloops and brigs, fingerprinting, and the use of perspective in art.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: It's popular to "pay fines" to avoid punishment in Megalos.
  • Shapeshifting: The Emperor of Megalos and the chief adviser to the governor of East Tredroy are examples of this power; the former is a demon who wants to cause as much chaos and destruction as he can for as long as possible, while the latter is a dragon working to make Tredroy independent as part of a decades-long experiment in affecting human politics. There are also a few werebeasts and suchlike, especially in the Nomad Lands.
  • Shark Man: The setting has a whole race of shark men, who aren't explicitly evil, but who are definitely scary to humans, and who worship gods who are pretty clearly not good news at all.
  • Single-Biome Planet: None of the old worlds seem to have had environments as diverse as humanity's Earth or as Yrth itself:
    • The homeworld of the goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, and reptile men, Gabrook, is an arid desert planet.
    • Olokun, the merfolk and shark men's homeworld, is an ocean planet where all but small islands is covered by water for most of the time, save for violent daily tidal shifts that briefly turn small islands into large landmasses before covering them up again.
    • The centaurs, giants, halflings, and minotaurs from Loren'dil remember their world as a verdant Ghibli Hills, made of plains interspersed with swathes of dense forest and thick meadows, with trees tall enough to reach the clouds.
  • The Soulless: Church canon accepts that most races such as goblins and reptile men have souls and are thus subject to the original sin and salvation, but declares that demons, spirits (which are considered demons by the Church even though they aren't), medusas, trolls, and vampires are beings explicitly lacking any souls. Lycanthropes are the most complicated subject, as it is believed that they have a soul but can have it disappear and become soulless if they act too much like animals compared to people.
  • Standard Fantasy Races: The setting finds space for most of the standard races in one form or another, seemingly as a design goal.
  • Stealth Insult: The honor-obsessed Sahudese culture considers direct insults to cause both the insulted and the insulter to lose face. Therefore, they have elevated the Stealth Insult to an art form; the standard form is to compliment the target on everything except his most obvious flaws. For example, at a meal consisting of a rice dish, fish and somewhat inferior cakes for dessert, a hostile guest might elaborately praise the rice and fish, but say nothing about the cakes. Thus, the cook will be shamed for their poor quality.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: In effect, the original Banestorm invoked this trope on a continental scale, and residual banestorm surges and other magics can always repeat the effect on a smaller scale.
    • One example NPC used to be an accountant from 1990s Chicago before being dumped in Caithness. He is strenuously averting the "hero" part of the trope, though, being fully aware that he isn't qualified and would likely just get killed or mind-wiped.
    • A somewhat more deliberate example of this trope appears as a suggested plot hook in the Abydos supplement; a professor at a magic school attempts to summon an archangel, but gets the PCs — humans from modern Earth — instead.
  • Summoning Ritual: The original Banestorm was essentially the result of a vast but tragically under-specified summoning procedure.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The Acid Swamps of Solfor first appeared in an earlier treatment of the setting. They lie in the southern Orclands and are, as the name hints, dangerously acidic; they are also infested with acid-resistant monsters called "caustiguses". In other words, they are a bad place to visit.
  • Temporal Theme Naming: The advisers to the Heavenking of Sahud are known as the Eyes of Heaven. They are named Vision of Budding Flowers, Perception of Bountiful Growth, Glimpse of Falling Leaves, and Sight of Bone-White Snow, thus corresponding to the four seasons.
  • Threatening Shark: Subverted. Shark men look scary but they're no more evil than any other race as a whole - though they don't mix with humans often, and the bad ones tend to consider the surface races to be prey. Also, their lost gods seem to be rather nasty.
  • Throne Room Throwdown: The snippet of Flavor Text fiction at the top of chapter 7 is built around this trope.
    The doors of the throne room burst open, and Varlak the Northman led his band in at the rush. An ogre guard charged from the shadows, axe raised high, but fell with a pair of elven arrows in its heart...
  • Transplanted Humans: The basic premise of the setting, with the magical Banestorms picking up people and whole villages from other worlds (including Earth) and depositing them on Yrth.
  • Trapped in Another World: Anyone who isn't one of the Elder Races (Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Gnomes, Ogres, Dragons) is this, or at least their ancestors were; they've acclimatized since, though it's entirely possible for more people to be deposited. Enforced even in that most forms of dimensional magic work at a huge penalty on Yrth - GURPS Infinite Worlds classifies it as a "quantum sargasso" (you can get in as easy as anywhere else, but good luck getting out), and expands the difficulty even to technology and world-jumpers, the latter of which usually have an easier time than anyone else to travel between worlds (even other quantum sargassos).
  • Upper-Class Twit: Downplayed by Sultan Mamoun al-Mansur of Al-Haz. "The Victorious" has never actually been anywhere near a war, and largely focuses on poetry, sports and his harem while his viziers run the country. However, he's not actually an idiot, just lazy and reflexively conservative, and he's smart enough to trust his (loyal and mostly competent) viziers, avoid flatterers and do his best to crush the Balikites.
  • Undead Laborers: In Abydos, the eponymous city of necromancers, they use zombies for work—including executing murderers with the reanimated corpses of their victims. Slightly Deconstructed, as the health hazards of having numerous walking corpses as a part of daily life is discussed.
  • Universal Universe Time: The setting totally coincidentally happens to stick closely to its sources' publication dates, having the same calendar as ours and a 12-month year. Strangely, Yrth seems to be using the Gregorian calendar, despite the fact that they where transported there before its institution and should really be using the Julian calendar.note 
  • Worthy Opponent: The Christian knights of Megalos and the ghazis of the Muslim lands have fought for centuries, and have developed a strong respect for each other's honor and martial skill. Any taken prisoner by the other can usually expect treatment as fair as if they were both the same religion.
  • Wutai: The nation of Sahud, a definitely Japanese-inspired kingdom with strong Chinese, Korean, and Mongolian elements. This is justified in that, like all of Banestorm's human cultures, Sahud was founded by humans from the cultures it now resembles — but most of those transported were peasants who recreated their society based more on rumour than knowledge. In this case, tried to do the same as the Europeans but ended up with a society that looked less like any actual Asian nation of the period and more like The Mikado on acid, as written by Monty Python.

Alternative Title(s): GURPS Banestorm