Arslan cursed, his heart-felt words torn from his throat by the demonic wind. His small bay mare reared and plunged about in terror, threatening to bolt, as her master struggled to retain control. ``Keep watch on the prisoners!'' he shouted, but his men had their own troubles with terrified mounts and it was doubtful he could be heard over the wind's roar.
Whatever this demon wind was, it had come upon them without warning. In a matter of moments, the sky had turned black, as though filled with a plague of locusts. The wind whipped sand and debris into his eyes and stung his face with bits of gravel. Unseasonable rain pelted down, the wind-driven drops stinging as much as the sand. His mare suddenly stopped bucking and stood, splay-legged and trembling, as the very earth began to shake.
Arslan spared a glance about, and saw his concern for the prisoners was groundless - the fat merchant of Constantinople, the only Christian prisoner he could make out in the near-total darkness, had his belly to the ground and was moaning in as much terror as Arslan's horse. Someone - perhaps a Turk, perhaps a Christian - screamed in fear, the sound barely rising above the combined thunder of demon wind and earthquake. Or perhaps it was one of the horses. The storm ended as suddenly as it had begun. The earth shuddered one last time, and subsided. The wind died, leaving behind comparative silence in which the sobs of frightened men - and the two Christian women held prisoner in the ox cart, atop the rich treasures bound for the Sultan - could plainly be heard.
It was then that Arslan saw something that made his blood run cold. Beneath the still-trembling hooves of his mare, the road was as it should be - though now several men, both Turk and Christian, grovelled in its dirt in abject fear. But a scant few horselengths beyond where Arslan's mare had halted, the road vanished. Where, a few moments before, it had wound its way through dusty hills, the road simply stopped. Beyond - and, indeed, all around them - were the impossibly dense tree trunks of a forest that had not existed mere moments ago.
Before his men could realize their officer was as bewildered and frightened as they were, Arslan snapped out commands to restore order. His men jumped to obey, making sure all prisoners were secure and the horses calmed. Arslan took a deep breath, pondering their next move. ``Great Allah,'' he thought; ``what is this place?''
Most Yrth campaigns are set in the equivalent of the current Earth year, well after the Banestorm. But there's a wealth of adventure possibilites to be found in a different type of Yrth campaign - one set during the immediate aftermath of the Banestorm.
This time period is covered only briefly in GURPS Fantasy. With just a little work, the GM can flesh out this setting and create a campaign focusing on the struggles of humans newly arrived on Yrth. At first, the characters must focus simply on surviving and learning to deal with the strange new world in which they find themselves. Once past the initial problems of finding food and shelter, the characters may set about exploring their new surroundings - and establishing the communities that become the foundations of the human nations of Yttaria. The player characters may very well become the leaders and shapers of Yrth's future.
Yrth at the Time of the BanestormAccording to GURPS Fantasy, the dark elves critically failed their Orc Bane spell in the year 1050. The result was the Banestorm which ravaged space-time and transported beings to Yrth from at least three different planets: Earth, Gabrook, and Loren'dil (p. F8). GURPS Fantasy covers the next 200 years in a sentence or two, mentioning that powerful human leaders quickly attracted followers and acquired territory.
A ``Banestorm Aftermath'' campaign may be set any time after the first occurrence of the Banestorm in 1050. The PCs may be among the very first humans to arrive on Yrth, or they may be transported with later arrivals. GM's have a bit of leeway in developing a banestorm aftermath campaign. Simple adjustments in such things as the time and place of arrival allow the GM to tailor such factors as terrain, animals, sentient races, and other refugees from Earth to focus on the specific campaign flavor desired.
Here are some questions to consider before beginning a banestorm aftermath campaign: Did the PCs come with their entire village, or just themselves as a small band? Do they have an overlord or are they their own bosses? What are the local terrain, flora and fauna like? How far is it to the nearest humans, and how are they likely to be greeted there? What other beings from other planets are in the vicinity? And so on.
The MapFor campaigns set in the first decade or so after the Banestorm, the map of Yttaria is identical to the map in the back of GURPS Fantasy, except:
1) All those human cities, towns and political borders don't exist; and
2) There is a lot more forest than shown. The elves didn't build cities, so none exist in their territories. Elven territory, however, is enormous: most of Eastern Yttaria is forested, and any forested land is dotted with elven villages.
The dwarves, of course, do have cities, and they are probably in the same places as listed in GURPS Fantasy.
Orcs must be ubiquitous, if the dark elves thought them such an infestation as to craft a massive spell against them. Orc ``villages'' will be scattered throughout the continent. As orcs are naturally contentious folks, their settlements are likely to be very small and crude.
Dark elf settlements are likely all destroyed in the Banestorm catastrophe. There may still be some far-flung settlements, perhaps even a large one in the area that is now called the Black Woods. There will also be wandering dark elves seeking a new home, of course.
Human SettlementsEuropean humans will arrive primarily in what is now Megalos, and Moslem humans in what is now Al-Haz, Al-Wazif, and Cardiel. Some Asians will appear in the modern Sahud, and some Vikings in the current Nomad Lands - these are up to the GM to run as he pleases. It's doubtful that there will be much contact with humans of different cultures for the first generation or so: each will be trying desperately to survive in their own new locale. Only once the land is cultivated, the orcs subdued, relations with the next village stabilized, and so on, will humans think of expanding. GURPS Fantasy puts this about 150 years after the first arrivals.
The GM can decide how far apart to set the human villages, and how large to make the groups that arrive from Earth. Setting them fairly far apart gives the PCs a chance to develop self-sufficiency. GURPS Fantasy states that some entire villages and ships were brought to Yrth, but that doesn't preclude such things as a small hunting or war party being snatched up, also. Or a merchant caravan, or even single wandering bard or poacher.
Also, it's not necessary to bring groups that were close on Earth the same distance apart on Yrth. Nor is it necessary for a village to be dropped in the same habitat as it occupied on Earth. A small Welsh village on the edge of forest might now find itself on the edge of the vast central plains of Yttaria - within walking distance of a village from the Italian Alps.
Non-Human ArrivalsWhile GURPS Fantasy only discusses the arrivals from three planets, it is possible to include many others. Perhaps the reason some alien races are not represented in GURPS Fantasy is because they were killed off by the year 1200. It is also very possible to include almost anything in GURPS Fantasy Bestiary or GURPS Space Bestiary as a Banestorm arrival.
Character Set-UpOne decision you must make as GM is how to present this new campaign to your players. A very good way to invoke surprise and confusion and wonder on the part of the players (as well as the player characters) is to set the players up for a ``historical'' European Medieval role-playing campaign. Let them design their characters with that type of campaign in mind. You may want to hint that in this campaign, the medieval world-view is actually true - that is, sorcerers and magicians and dragons actually exist, although they're very rare and the player characters have never personally encountered them. You may wish to allow characters to take Magical Aptitude, but no spells; you can hint that characters may be able to learn spellcasting later in the campaign. For a campaign focusing on pure survival, you may wish to have characters start at less than the normal 100 points - they can represent the peasants and other ``ordinary folk'' that were wrenched from their homes and deposited in Yrth's wilderness. A campaign focusing on the PCs as leaders and future history-makers should have characters starting at 100 points or more.
Non-Human Player CharactersIt's also possible to let the players take the role of non-human PCs. Of course, this means letting them know the whole plan of the campaign in advance: that they'll be playing at the time of the first humans on Yrth. This isn't necessarily bad, and does allow for non-human PCs. However, language differences among PCs can create extreme barriers - or great role-playing challenges, depending on your players' abilities.
Elves and Dwarves are native to Yrth, and are distinct possibilities for player characters in this case. An elf PC would have to be a very young elf to be only 100-points. This actually makes sense, though: only an adventurous young elf is likely to be open enough to befriend strange newcomers to their planet quickly. Since this is the first meeting between humans and elves, there are no half-elves as of yet.
Interaction between humans and dwarves in the first human generation on Yrth is unlikely: dwarven territory is too hostile for desperate folk to attempt to settle. But a case can be made for an exiled or wandering dwarf to join a group of newly arrived aliens if someone has their heart set on playing a dwarf.
Halflings are swept to Yrth from Loren'dil at the same time as the earliest humans, and are also a possibility.
Character Social StatusHuman PCs may be modeled after nearly any type of Medieval character, from peasant to lord. (As GM, you may wish to narrow the choices to better fit the particular campaign focus you have in mind.) Social Status is an important character trait, as it will greatly influence the interactions the PCs have with non-player-character humans - and even with one another. The deeply ingrained social customs involving status in Medieval Europe provide ample opportunities for intense role-playing, as PCs either attempt to enforce their status over peasants (who may be only too relieved to let warrior-types direct their fate in bewildering and dangerous circumstances) or break the bonds of social custom (if their overlords prove ineffectual in the new environment).
The social status chosen by the players for their characters may cause some logistical problems, especially if there is an NPC overlord involved. PCs may look toward their overlord for direction, rather than deciding their own fates. Fortunately, if this situation detracts from the campaign you wish to run, overlords are easily removed from the game. There will be battles with orcs and other contentious groups, and leaders are primary targets. If you've established some bonds of loyalty and respect between the PCs and their NPC overlord - through some earlier gaming sessions concerning events before the Banestorm, or in the first adventures in Yrth - the NPC overlord can die a heroic death and, with his last breath, charge the PCs with getting the rest of his people to safety (or some such melodramatic speech).
The BanestormOnce you've set up the player characters as villagers, mercenaries, merchants, or whatever, you may wish to run an adventure or two set in the ``mundane'' world of Medieval Earth. This helps establish the player characters' personalities, and lulls the players into thinking that this really is going to be a mostly historical campaign.
Then the Banestorm comes.
At first, the Banestorm makes its appearance as a normal earthly storm. After a while, though, it becomes obvious to the characters that they have never seen a storm of this intensity before. The darkness is very frightening: visibility is cut to almost nothing. The winds are terrific, and at some point form an impenetrable wall. It feels as if an earthquake is accompanying the storm.
This will be the same, whether the PCs are in their village, out hunting, guarding a caravan, on shipboard bound for the Holy Lands, etc. Whole villages are swept up, ships at sea will never find a familiar port again, entire caravans - or perhaps just a segment of one! - are taken off to Yrth.
As GM, you should describe the Banestorm shift as dramatically as possible. The setting should be so starkly different from what the characters are used to, and the players convinced thoroughly of this, that they'll want to roleplay wonder and awe at everything they see. When the storm finally subsides, it should be late in the day. Unless the party is on a ship at sea, the first thing they'll notice is that their surroundings have changed drastically! A quiet village, formerly surrounded by pleasant fields, with two or three roads meandering off into the distance over low hills will now find itself surrounded by a deep, nearly impenetrable forest, without anything wider than a deer track in sight. Fields? Not any more. Hills? Maybe, but different: larger, steeper, and undoubtedly in the wrong places.
This may be worse for a caravan party: the road is gone. There are threatening noises from the woods all around. Perhaps there is a village in sight, but it turns out to be an orc settlement!
The CampaignThere are three basic stages to a Banestorm Aftermath campaign (although many variations are possible). They are: Survival (when the player characters and any NPCs transported with them struggle to survive the rigors of the wilderness); Scouting and Exploration (which may not occur in earnest until after the player characters and their companions have established a relatively stable settlement); and Carving Out Kingdoms (in which player characters may take an active role in establishing the communities that will eventually grow into the human nations known in Yrth's 20th century). Throughout the campaign, PCs will have to learn many new things. In a well-run campaign, players will feel as though they're learning with their characters. Survival skills and fighting skills will probably be the most useful skills at first, but the GM should reward any creative use of any other type of skill. Craft skills, social skills, even artistic skills can all come into play.
As GM, you should take advantage of the unfamiliarity of the player characters with their new environment. There are no established kingdoms, no laws to break, no ``next village down the road'' to replenish supplies at - in fact, no roads. The player characters (and any NPCs with them) are pretty much on their own, on a hostile planet. There are many real and ready enemies, many more potential enemies, and a few potential allies to be won. In the former category are the orcs, a few straggling dark elves, and various beasties. In the latter two categories are other humans player characters may meet.
SurvivalThe player characters' first concern on arriving on Yrth will be how to survive the night. Yttaria of this time period is very wild. The elves prefer a pristine habitat, and the orcs aren't organized enough to have cleared much land. Only the dwarves alter their environment radically, but they stick to their mountain strongholds.
Consequently, fierce creatures roam freely, especially if the Banestorm brought some orcbanes from other worlds. There will probably be orcs very close, if not right at hand when the humans arrive. (After all, the humans were summoned as orcbanes, so wherever a human settlement is plopped down, orcs shouldn't be too far away.) No sentient beings they meet will be able to speak with the humans. If they're lucky, they may eventually meet an elf with some Communication Spells, but until then, they're probably incommunicado.
Player characters and NPC companions will probably spend the first few days after arrival seeking adequate sources of food and water and protecting one another from predators (wild animals, orcs and possibly other sentient beings). Once some sort of routine is established, entire adventures can center around the need for food. Warrior-type PCs may find themselves protecting farmers while they clear the land, till it, sow crops (provided they can find seed), and reap the harvests. Other adventures may revolve around the search for a good site on which to settle.
Scouting and ExplorationThere may very well be scouting expeditions in the first few years, perhaps in an attempt to find an area more suitable to cultivation than a dense forest, or less orc-infested. Player characters make logical scouts, and such a setting makes a good campaign. The PCs may very well find themselves responsible for a large group of humans (the population of an entire village, for example), and be looked upon as leaders and protectors. In such a case, the player characters and the NPCs who follow them may need to uproot themselves and move to another site more than once before finding a truly suitable site for settlement.
Carving Out KingdomsEventually it will be necessary for the player characters to meet other humans. Most Medieval folk are fairly tough and self-sufficient, but few of them are leader personalities. There may or may not be many trained fighters; there may or may not be many who even remember many laws. After roleplaying the initial shock for a few sessions, there will come the inevitable time when someone says, ``Let's set up our own country!'' Many folk will greet this with relief, provided the PCs are honorable. After being threatened by unknown forces for a while, people are quite willing to follow someone skilled in warfare who promises protection.
Most human lands will have to be carved from elven territory. While most elves are not evil, they will not be delighted with the idea of humans cutting down large tracts of forest to plant crops. There is much potential for contention.
At the same time, the elves, being the kind and wise folk they are, will probably not actively oppose the struggling humans, whose lives have been shattered by the experience of the Banestorm. They may even train those humans with latent Magery, though that may not happen for a generation or two.
The dark elves won't be a major problem to humans at this time - their communities have been shattered by the failure of the Bane Summoning. But there may be some wandering bands trying to establish new villages away from their old lands, which are now largely a No-Mana zone. Dark elves are dark elves: they will be hostile to humans no matter what the year.
There probably won't be much contact with Dwarves at first. Their mountain fastnesses are not the type of land that humans would be trying to settle right away. On the other hand, they will need iron fairly soon: they only have a limited amount of iron goods that arrived with their village, ship, caravan, or whatever.
Orcs, however, should be everywhere. There will be instant hostility from the orcs, as such is their nature. Much of the campaign I ran consisted of small skirmishes with orcs: orcs scouting out human villages, and attempting to eradicate them, or vice versa. Fortunately for the humans, orcs live in small bands and are extremely disorganized. But they'll be almost everywhere the humans are.
Of course, not all campaigns will follow the progression of campaign focus detailed above (from Survival to Kingdom-Creation). Your own campaign may head in an entirely different direction. But we hope this article has inspired you to take a fresh look at Yrth - and to treat your players to the same.
Steffan's Yrth 1100 CampaignWhile I've run and played in many campaigns in the standard Yrth, one of the best games I ever ran was set in Yrth in the year 1100; the player characters were among the first humans to be transported by the Banestorm.
The date in the book for the Banestorm is 1050. Unfortunately, this was a bit awkward for my purposes: there were no English people yet in 1050, as we define the term. The Norman Invasion wasn't until 1066, and ``English'' usually refers to the mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Norman cultures. Likewise, it is before the Crusades. But I wanted the PCs to be English, with the tension of the Crusades, and also in the first group of humans arriving on Yrth. So I changed the Banestorm to 1100, which allows all of this to happen.
I didn't tell the players the game would be on Yrth. I said it would be a game set in Medieval England at the time of the First Crusade, and that the world view of Medieval people was actually true (there are dragons, unicorns, working magic, etc.).
I informed them that the local lord was going on Crusade, and the party could either accompany him to the Holy Lands or stay behind and be in charge of the village while he was gone. I told them I had some adventures planned either way they decided, so long as they all made the same choice. After some debate, they agreed to be those left behind in the village, and made their characters accordingly.
Starting characters were 100 points, and any type of historical Medieval character was allowed. A character was allowed to take Magical Aptitude, but no spells. I did hint that it might be possible to learn spellcasting later in the campaign. Only one player took Magical Aptitude, and only one level of it.
In the campaign I ran, the PCs' entire village was transported to Yrth. The PCs had the same social standing they had on earth: they were left in charge of the village when the overlord joined the Crusade. They were also the only fighting force worth mentioning - anyone else was merely ``militia.'' Consequently, most villagers were eager to take orders from the player characters, which made life . . . interesting, especially when the PCs bickered.
At first things were rough: lots of orc attacks, but no other human encounters. Eventually they learned how to fight the orcs, and took to making preemptive strikes against orc villages. However, they then had to deal with lots of problems with the villagers (NPCs). While the villagers looked to the player characters as protectors, they didn't go to them to settle disputes. Fights were breaking out, and people were getting hurt. Eventually, a player figured out that they need to start them farming to keep them happy.
So they organized a party to find the best possible fields, and helped to clear the land. Since they were in a forest, this meant there was a lot of wood available for something. Somebody wanted to build a castle, but the majority voted for a pallisaded wall around the village, instead.
This turned out to be a good idea, when a group of semi-intelligent reptillian carnivores swept to Yrth by the banestorm from who-knows-which planet attacked the village. There was no attempt at communication, from either side, and after some serious NPC losses, they managed to chase away the vastly reduced reptilian hoard.
The next few sessions dealt with meeting local sentient folk: Elves, a lone halfling, some Dark Elves, and a Gnome cleric. The players did fairly well with these encounters, being friendly enough not start open warfare, yet cautious enough to withstand the Dark Elves' attack.
About session eight, they rescued a half-dead elf from a wyvern. This was a turning point, though no one knew it at the time. This elf stayed with them, learning their language and acting as translator, for the rest of the campaign. He also taught the one PC with Magery some spells, as well as taught the farmers which plants were edible, which herbs had healing properties, and so on.
As GM, I decided at this point that they needed something like that. They had done well the first seven sessions, but were now ready to have the village become more self-sufficient, and learn a lot more about Yrth fairly quickly. I could sense the campaign was ready to shift gears: from the initial shock and scrambling for survival, to expansion and exploration.
By mutual agreement, we decided to speed the game up for a while, then return to normal play speed. I asked them to tell me what they wanted to accomplish in the next year, both personally and as a group. We then worked out much of that in individual sessions, and returned as a group one year later. The mage character knew a handful of spells now, they knew healing herbs and which denizens were dangerous and which friendly, and the village, protected by its pallisade, was surving okay. It was time to meet other humans.
The first other humans they met were a struggling village. They quickly opted to help it out, and merge the two villages. A road was built, grain was shared, a militia trained, and even a couple of weddings bonded the two villages. The player characters easily dominated the previous top cats of the new village, and some got the idea of starting a barony.
This was a bit quick for me, but the players seemed ready. So they next encountered a human village that was in better shape than theirs. It was larger, fortified, and had real knights with real metal armor protecting it. Gulp! This was more than they had bargained for!
They tried peaceful dealings, and found the local ruler willing - but willing that they should submit to him. He was a petty lord back on Earth, and had a higher status than the PCs. They wanted to be recognized as equals, and were laughed at and put into jail. Fortunately, the mage was able to get them out, and they made their way, weaponless, back to their own village, with vengeance on their minds.
The next few sessions dealt with preparations for war with the established ruler. It was a tough war, fought mostly on the guerrilla level, but eventually they won. It was a proud day when they got their first metal armor, as spoils of the victory.
At that point, the party intended to expand their domain, becoming rulers of all they met. Unfortunately, the gaming group broke up with folk moving away, so we never got to play any further. But I'll always remember the Yrth 1100 campaign as one of the most exciting settings that evoked some of the best roleplaying I've ever seen.
First EncounterActually, this can be many sessions' worth of gaming, as the concept applies to everything unearthly. The first encounter with the elves, for example, can make or break the party. The GM should be careful not to say, ``You see some elves . . .'' since the earthlings have never seen such a creature before. Remember that even the best players will bring their knowledge to their characters. ``Oh, whew! Elves. Thank heavens. We approach with our hands empty and palms out, peacefully.'' The GM should be careful to say, instead, ``You meet a group of people you've never seen before.'' At this point, he should wait for reactions from players, then add, ``You notice their eyes seem strange. They are extremely large for one thing, and very dark. You don't notice any whites in their eyes at all.'' At this point the party will get nervous, and possibly even ask about the ears - again bringing player knowledge to the table they should leave behind. They can't see the ears clearly - they're hidden by their caps, etc.
Likewise, orcs, dwarves, a dragon, a giant, even a group of Halflings can all be encountered as an evening's gaming session. Each experience should be set up so the players don't know right away if the strangers are likely to be friends or enemies. Remember that the characters have never met anything quite like any of these before. Always describe them somewhat vaguely, somewhat mysteriously, somewhat bizarrely. Anything like that would be vague, mysterious and bizarre to a human!
``Me Tarzan, You Jane''Roleplaying learning a language the hard way is actually a lot of fun, for those who enjoy such things. I was always disappointed by the ease of language acquisition in Edgar Rice Burroughs' writings, for example. While as a boy I loved his writing, it always seemed cheating somehow to skip the phase where Tarzan or John Carter learns to communicate with some totally alien culture. Let the players act it out, and don't let them put experience points into a language without at least some of the hard work that would go into earning it. (This is written by someone who spent two and a half years in Europe, and knows how challenging it is to communicate in a language you've never studied and have no translation dictionary for . . .)
First HumansAt some point, the party will have to encounter other humans swept to Yrth by the Banestorm. Will they link up or hate each other on sight? Perhaps the strangers will be hereditary enemies from Burgundy, or Viking warriors, or a helpless group of children, or even include the PCs' former overlord, after they've set up their own little ``kingdom.'' How will they react?
To Feed the HungryWilliam was sitting sharpening his sword. He felt content, for the first time in many days. They'd finally gotten the hang of how to fight these ``orcs,'' and he hadn't lost a man in over a week now. Things were going well. Therefore he smiled as a group of forlorn farmers walked up timidly to him. He'd been protecting these folk for a month now, and come to like them. William found them sturdy folk, willing to pitch in at tasks they'd never tried, in order to keep the village alive. Not a coward among them, and William admired courage.
He waved them over benevolently, and asked what was on their mind. The answer came as a bit of shock, however. ``We have no grain,'' they said. ``It's almost time to plant seeds, and we don't have enough for all the people that came here. We've cleared enough land for the village's needs, but we don't know what to plant.'' William's spirits plummetted as he looked the leader of the farmer in the eye. ``We'll all be dead by this time next year if we don't find some grain humans can grow and eat.''
While adventurers rarely concern themselves with such mundane things, consider the plight of a village which was swept up without its seed-storage sheds. A Medieval village lives or dies on the grain, bean, and vegetable crops it can grow. Most European villages of 900 years ago needed to plant four times what they could actually eat, in order to harvest enough for the village after birds, insects, varmints, and weather took its toll. If the community was brought to Yrth without its seeds, there may be trouble.
Of course, the GM can simply assume that there are native equivalents of wheat, lentils, cabbages, carrots, onions, etc. But how to find out which foods are edible? And how to get hold of a stock of seed in the planting season, since such seeds need to be harvested the previous autumn? Gnomes are the likeliest established agricultural community on Yrth, but the player characters aren't going to know this. Halfling villages brought to Yrth are another possibility: given the Halfling natural love of food, they'll probably be overstocked with seeds. But finding them and getting them to share the seeds can be a multi-session adventure.
Beginnings of PowerAfter a few months or perhaps years of campaign time have elapsed, the players might begin to think in terms of creating a political state, with their characters as overlords. They may already be accepted as leaders of their own little village, and perhaps have recruited some lost and lonely humans they met in the woods. The initial orc problem is under control (though it will be many years before orcs really cease to be a thorn), land cultivation is under way, and the characters can take a moment to relax and remember the perquisites of wealth that they only peripherally, if at all, enjoyed.
Expanding a domain means raising and training an army and a constabulary, learning diplomacy, political intrigue, judicial proceedings, setting up a civil service, and so on. This type of campaign isn't for every GM or player, but is ambrosia to others!
Lewis and ClarkEventually, the humans will want to know what's over the next hill. This may stem from dissatisfaction with their current conditions, or simply a desire to learn about any potential dangers. Exploring missions make great gaming sessions, and can be used to introduce anything ranging from a source of iron goods (the dwarves), Moslems, dark elves, a dragon, some alien race from GURPS Aliens - perhaps even with high technology!
The RivalAfter a while, the PCs encounter an unscrupulous, but powerful human who has begun to carve out his own empire. This can be before the PCs have attempted to do the same, in which case they will be treated very contemptuously: either forced to join or wiped out. Or it can be after the PCs have done the same thing, in which case there may be more diplomatic entreaties, which may include such niceties as poisoned wine or knives in the dark - or merely open warfare if their holdings look weak enough to subjugate easily. This person is determined to rule the whole continent, and a few PCs aren't going to stand in his way!
NewcomersRemember that the Banestorm is active for over a hundred years, according to GURPS Fantasy. This means that there will constantly be new arrivals. Not only is this a great way to introduce new players into the game, it allows for some interesting roleplaying situations. Not only can the newcomers include some types listed above under First Humans, but they may encounter old sweethearts, family members, or even descendants!