Sunday, 27 July 2014

5e SAVAGES Hunter Class

So my four classes for SAVAGES were going to be Fighter, Thief, Hunter and Shaman. Fighter and Thief should remain relatively unaltered. Shaman is a mish mash of Cleric and Magic User. Here is my first attempt at a Hunter Class.

HD d8
ARMOUR Any non-metallic
WEAPONS Simple, Simple Ranged, Martial Ranged, Shortsword, Scimitar, Trident, Whip, Bolas.
SKILLS Three from, Animal Handling, Insight, Nature, Perception, Stealth, Survival, Medicine

EQUIPMENT, choose either

a Net              or b Whip
a Mace           or b Trident
a Blowgun       or b Sling
a Hunting Trap or b Spyglass
a Manacles      or b Caltrops

A Trident or Whip can entangle if you use it. It requres an opposed roll between you and a hit target to maintain this.

Bolas, thrown (30/120) d2 Damage, entangles as net, one target only.

In a natural environment you can track creatures. This is either a WIS or INT roll to which you add your proficiency bonus.

The total amount rolled is the distance you can see into the past. The first digit is the number of words  the DM must use to tell you what you have found. If you find anything at all the DM must always give you a direction.

So if some Orcs have passed in the last ten hours and you roll '13' the DM would simply say 'Orcs, North'. If you roll '35' the DM might say 'Five Desperate Orcs, North'. 

When the environment allows it, you can build traps. Describle the actions it will take for you to build one to the DM. You roll using either yout INT or DEX, whichever is higher, plus your proficiency bonus.

The total of your roll is the difficulty for the target in spotting your trap.

The DC is 10+ the die size of the damage you would like the trap to do. So a d3 damage trap has a DC of 13. A d10 damage trap has one of 20. It takes minutes equal to the die size for you to build the trap.

Roll with disadvantage to trap anything at least two size catagories larger or smaller than you.

If you take the full time required you roll the DC check yourself. If you are cut short by any period, the DM rolls the check and does not tell you the result until the trap is triggered, spotted, or fails.

Lvl 1:  Tracking and Trapping.
Lvl 1: You count as having Stealth if you are in a natural environment, hiding and still. If you already have Stealth, take advantage on the roll under these circumstances.
Lvl 2: Birdsong. In a natural environment where birds are present, your passive perception check includes up to a mile radius if you have it in sight.
Lvl 3: Add an extra attack if at least one of the weapons you are wielding entangles.
Lvl 3: Climbing no longer costs extra movement.
Lvl 3: Add your DEX or STR Mod to the distance covered with a Running Jump.
Lvl 4: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 5: Beastmaster. You gain the ability to tame and train the following creatures. If Orc - Boars & Dire Boars. Gnoll - Hyenas, Hyenadrons and Trolls. Goblin - Wolves, Worgs and Spiders. Mantis Man - Giant Insects. The creatures must be found, captured, tamed and fed in-game. You can naver have more than HD worth of creautures equal to your CHA bonus tame at any one time.
Lvl 6: Expertise. One more Proficiency.
Lvl 7: Entangler. Enemy saves against your entangling attacks with disadvantage.
Lvl 8: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 9: You know what the weather will be like tomorrow.
Lvl 10: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 11: Monster Language. Learn one monster language and add your Prof bonus to any test you ake to communicate with them.
Lvl 12: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 13: You can now track incorporeal creatures like ghosts.
Lvl 14: Blindsense 10'
Lvl 15: Proficiency: Wis Saves
Lvl 16: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 17: You can calm or tame any natural unintelligent creature with half your HD or less. Only one at a time. They may not obey but will not attack.
Lvl 19: Ability Score Improvement
Lvl 20: You can track Death. If Death has passed nearby you can follow her path and find those recently dead. Be aware, if you overtake Death and find the target alive, the real target may be you.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Savage Races

+2 CON 
VISION, you have darkvision
SKILL(S) Intimidation
ADVANTAGE on any save caused directly by man.
WEAPONS Simple bludgeoning weapons
LANGUAGES Orc, Savage Common

CARNIVORE. You can farm beasts and prefer to eat those or hunted game.

FEATURE Hard to kill. You roll Death saving throws with Advantage.

Race Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight  Weight Modifier
Orc           4'8"               +2d6            110 lb.     × (2d4) lb.

You grow an half an inch and add d6 pounds every level. If you grow to over 8 feet high, change your size to Large,

AGE 3d6
Average lifespan 40 years

You are  BRUTAL ORC (+3 STR)
You can never raise your INT by any means. It never go above what you roll in character generation.

You are CUNNING ORC (+1 STR)
You are proficient with Simple ranged weapons and have the Stealth skill.
You understand, but do not speak another common racial language. Orc, Gnoll, Goblin, Human Common, Elf, Dwarf or Halfling.

+2 INT 
SIZE Small
VISION, you have darkvision
WEAPONS Simple Light Melee Weapons
LANGUAGES Goblin, Savage Common

OMNIVORE. You can survive on almost anything.

FEATURE You can move through creatures one size larger.

Race   Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight  Weight Modifier
Goblin          2'7"        +2d4                   35 lb.        × 1 lb.

AGE 4d6
Average Lifespan 50 years.


You are a CREEPY GOBLIN (+1 DEX)
You gain proficiency with blowguns, nets and whips.

FEATURE Hamstrings. If you inflict lethal damage on a humanoid creature  one size larger than you and are holding a bladed weapon, you may convert this into a slash that cuts their hamstrings, crippling them but leaving them alive.

You know two more languages of any race, and can imitate the voices of those races to a fair degree.
You are skilled in Performance and Deception.

+2 STR
ADVANTAGE You roll against fear with advantage if a failure would mean letting down your group or exposing them to danger.
WEAPONS You are proficient with Polearms, Swords and Leather Armour.
LANGUAGES Gnoll, Orc, Goblin, Troll

CARNIVORE. You actually prefer eating intelligent creatures.

FEATURE Smell. You are skilled in Perception when it comes to smell. If you gain the Perception skill from any other source your bonus when you smell is doubled.

Race Base Height Height Modifier Base Weight  Weight Modifier
Gnoll     6'6"                +2d6               130 lb.     × (2d6) lb.

Average lifespan 35 years


You are a HUNGRY GNOLL (+1 CON)
Like most Gnolls, you like eating more than you like killing
Your speed is 40. You are proficient with the longbow.
You have a Halberd OR a Longbow with 3d8 arrows.

Also called a 'Flind'. Unlike most Gnolls you like killing more than you like eating.

You have a Unique Gnoll weapon called a Flindbar, in which you are proficient. This is a pair of chain-linked iron bars which you spin at high speed. With this weapon you can attack twice per round for d4 damage. In addition any target of equal size holding a one handed weapon must make a DEX save or have their weapon torn from their hands.

This weapon is a sign of high status amongst Gnolls and other Gnolls will respect it, if not you.

+2 DEX

CARNIVORE You seldom hunt other intelligent races for food. You do find Elves utterly delicious though.

  • You never wear armour.
  • You never need to sleep.
  • Your antennae mean you take no penalty for fighting at close range in darkness.If unarmed you can attack five times, four claw attacks and a bite attack.
  • If holding a weapon you can attack with the weapon and a bite attack. You can only ever hold up to two weapons.

You always begin at two years old. As you get older more of your natural abilities become active. This happens as you age, not as you level up.

  2           13                         d2               
  3           13                         d3                                   leap
  4           15                         d3
  5           15                         d4                                venom
  6           17                         d4                           dodge missiles

LEAP You can leap 20 feet straight up or 50 feet forward. You cannot leap backwards.
VENOM This bite causes parylisation for rounds equal to the extent by which the victim failed their save.
DODGE You can dodge physical missiles by successfuly rolling your unmodified DEX against the To-Hit roll.

LANGUAGE Neither your strange mind or your insectile jaws are well constructed for understanding or using the language of others. In a time sensitive situation you must make a standard INT roll use or understand spoken language.

Race          Base Height Height Modifier Length Length Modifier Base Weight  Weight Modifier
Mantis Man     6'6"              +2d6              10             2d6               130 lb.         × (2d6) lb.

Average lifespan 35 years.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Maps of the Mermen

The road is the geography

On the surface of the earth the hills, rivers and valleys are important to us mainly because we walk everywhere we go. The exact height and incline and the condition of the ground, anything that makes it easier or harder to get where we want.

If we were birds, how would we think about geography? Well, it would be pretty complex. They live their lives in close connection to the ground, they eat and sleep there and most of their threats come from there so they would certainly keep a close eye on what’s happening. They probably wouldn’t care about short but steep shits in inclination that can define human life. They would notice a hill but a fence, wall, or a fortress, would be nothing to them really.

What's really going to fuck up a birds day is the wind. If the wind is in the wrong position or going the wrong speed or at the wrong height or full of hail or whatever then that has a massive degree of control over where the bird can go. So the mind of the bird is split. It has a huge degree of choice over where it goes, and it needs it because its probably burning a huge amount of energy to do anything and is only ever a day away from starving to death in most cases, but that freedom is based on the condition of another element of as great complexity as the earth yet less predictable.

If we could move though space in our dreams and wake up on the other side of the world yet could never fully control exactly how those dreams would go then we might begin to understand a little of the life of the bird. Two worlds, fluxing, interlinked.

But the key point here is that shit on the ground matters because we are on the ground and it matters to birds because they also interact with the ground.

Now, do fish fucking land at any point?

Not really. A few live on the surface of the bottom of the sea. Most float and swim. Several interact with that surface. Almost none that I know of land on the bottom of the sea.

And in the sea, food doesn’t come from below but from above, or all around. The system of the sea is that generally stuff comes from above and is collected in larger and larger animals and at some point, if you are a fish, one of the will interact with you by either being eaten or trying to eat you.

We would have to say that as much as birds interact with the surface of the earth then fish must interact with the bottom of the ocean much less.

So we come to the maps of Mermen and Tritons. How much would these maps show the bottom of the ocean?

The answer is not that much. An earthbound fortress has much less utility if anyone can attack from the 'air'. Walls are almost meaningless. Hills and valleys have some effect. There are various complex and interesting things happening on the ocean floor that must be accounted for. Lava flows, rivers of ultra dense saline water etc.

It’s the other way round from on the surface, in the sea, civilization is a pattern of movement, poverty and rebellion are still because stillness is bad. If you are trapped in a still piece of ocean then nothing is brought to you and getting anywhere is as hard as it is going to get so pirates and the Orc equivalents of the sea will hang out in flat still central patches of sea where there is not much going on, the deserts of the oceanic world. They will raid from there because its always going to be difficult for an organised people to reliably project force outside its accustomed routes.

In addition, on land we would consider the nature of the soil and environment as of prime strategic significance because that decides how much life it can support and what your population density might be, but in the sea the ocean floor has very little effect on that, what matters is the salinity, density, temperature, light levels and any confluence of currents, along with the migratory habits of any animal life, these are the source of your crops and these will define your population base.

On a coast or in a reef this might be different but think how small these places are when compared to the great deeps of the ocean.

What really matters is the speed and direction of the current because more than anything that decides where you can and will go. In a strong North-heading current any attack moving north will be rapid but almost impossible to retreat from, any attack moving south will be very difficult and unexpected but super easy to retreat from if you need to.

Add to this that probably everything is moving. So what matters is not position but vector.

Forming a local, or global 'loop' in which a current feeds back on itself is  of tactical and strategic value because if you control the whole thing then you can reinforce yourself from any point by simply feeding military force into the loop. In the same way, breaking or interrupting such a loop would be something wars were fought over.

A small coastal or in-ocean loop is a duchy or nation, a gigantic global one is an empire. The emperor of the Mermen has, not a palace, but a migration. Actually he probably has a migrating palace in or around a migrating city.

(The city will be modular and the high status parts of it will be towards the 'front' or head of the flow so everything they drop and discard will drift past the lesser areas, the slums are at the back and rubbish and bits of crap from the whole life of the city drifts past there in a continual stream.)

If two great interacting oceanic loops are in a state of conflict, then the area where they meet may be a chaotic 'border princes' area with tiny bubbling kingdoms carved out in the midst of disorder.

So if there are ruins, they might be built on the ocean floor, or moveable cities that have sunk, but they are probably still floating around somewhere, far far away from the civilised paths, or deep in the cold zones.

The maps of the mermen will have ocean floor features mainly as navigational aids, in the same way we use mountaintops, or stars, as means to make your position, not as places to go or the means to get there.

Probably, considering the difficulty of producing even basic 3d maps the oral culture of mapping will be much more powerful. The song lines will give linear routes exactly as they would for non-literate human cultures and the shifting intersections and layers would be given by changing ‘decision points’ in the structure of the song. Information about depth, salinity, light, current etc could be given by rhythmic and tonal variations and shifts in poetic construction, which can pack a huge amount into a very small cognitive space and still be remembered and transmitted.  (So, for instance, a shift in oceanic depth for a route could be signalled by an actual shift in tonal depth in the song describing that route.)

And that is why mermen and mermaids and whales are singing all the fucking time, they are trying to work out where they are, running through the map of a complex shifting three dimensional environment in their heads.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hwæt Mike Mearls

Ok, Mike Mearls here is a way to manage the inevitable crushing system bloat of 5e without it making the whole thing both byzantine yet also somehow bland.

We all know player options sell more than GM options. So any corporation is going to end up overproducing these and jamming out splatbook after splatbook with crap you can add to your character. This will both increase the amount of complexity and powergaming and yet also, somehow, make everything a bit more vague and woolly.

A game where everyone playing is a weird living crystal of some kind might actually be kind of good. But a game where a living crystal teams up with a Minotaur and a Doppelgänger  and a Hill Dwarf probably won’t be. It takes a kind of pressure off the creation of the world. None of these things can be truly strange or 'other'. The charge of their discovery is lost. The fusion-like power you get when you introduce something utterly unpredictable into a coherent world system is lessened.

But this is a tide in the hearts of men and especially in the hearts of Americans. Because in America everybody must have access to every choice. Taking away or limiting choice can never be considered a good thing. Oh, small groups of individuals might cling together on a temporary basis to play games with highly-focused limited options. But doing this makes them perverts and they know it. They will always be the minority for such a thing works against the spirit of the land. Why can't you be a Ninja in FauxEurope? WHY? THIS IS AMERICA AND YOU CAN BE ANY DAMMN THING YOU WANT.

In the same way, for a variety of reasons, people, and  Americans in particular, will never be entirely comfortable with the 'Other' as a powerful presence in serial fiction. The Borg can be terrifying once, but then you get a sad Borg, and a sexy Borg and a conflicted Borg who feels odd about being a Borg and Borg babies.

Can Orcs be 'evil'? It’s a stupid question in some ways but it will never ever be gone from the communal mind, partly because its the West* and partly because its America and you just said that an entire race/species can be evil. And it doesn’t matter how far the representation gets from reality, it nudges a wound in the nations soul. It will never be an entirely comfortable idea. There will always an exile Drow, there will always be a Noble Savage Orc there will always be a bad guy that it-turns-out-has-a-point-and-who-are-the-real-monsters-anyway-could-it-be-MAN?

And the corruption, or, in this case, blandification, or humanising of the 'other' makes for bland boring stories of adventure because the whole point of adventure, its central charge, is to come face to face with Something Else, something from Outside.

So, to recap.

1. Hasbro will be producing lots of Player-Facing stuff.
2. Everyone must have MAXIMUM CHOICE because FREEDOM.
3. The charge of the Other will always be lessened.

This is a way to ride that wave in the least frustrating way. Instead of turning the wheel of liberalism half-way round to its customary middle-volume position. Spin that motherfucker 360.

Instead of producing books about other worlds or realities where the Player Races are different but the Others are the same array, produce books from other moral worlds and cultural realities. Produce books from the perspective of these cultures where they are the heroes and we (and elves, dwarves and hobbits who are our aspirational shadow selves) are the other.

Lets look at how this might go.


Player Races;
Orcs, Goblins, Gnolls, maybe Thri-Kreen

Normal D&D is the points of light pressing out into the surrounding darkness like a spider web.  Instead, this would be a collapsing natural world. A world of tundra, mountains, forests and ancient sacred deeps slowly being strangled by an encroaching and consuming civil order. The races that live here are not reaching out, but being pushed back in irregular patterns. They are martial, vital cultures who, yes, might eat a guy but it’s nothing personal.

Adventures are, instead of going into dungeons: breaking into villages and towns, and even cities in the end game. As well as dealing with monsters and all the usual D&D stuff. Treasure could be food or land. There could be multiple civilised peoples with different attitudes and a patchwork of old/new lands with different challenges.

'Monsters' sneaking through a semi-civilised area is like Heroes sneaking through the wilderness.

(If you want to be extra-sure to not offend the parents, make the evil empire extra evil, fascist, racist and nasty even to its own so when you take it on its all right really dad.)


Player Races;
Drow, Duregar, Svirfneblin, Myconid, Olm, Kua-Toa? Quaggoths?

Ok even with a lot of fudging this one is going to be a bit evil. But, all you need to do to make it acceptable is have the players face off against things that are even worse and do it in ultra-dangerous circumstances. World-conquering daemons, Mindflayer Crusades.

Cunning members of ancient hidden cultures battle and destroy immortal evils deep beneath the surface of the earth. Decadent but brilliant badasses pull mad intrigues against even-badder scum. Or just: a mixed group of low status adventurers put aside racial resentments and, to everyone’s surprise, become ultra-competent league of problem solvers. It would be a bit like mid-run Breaking Bad crossed with the A-Team.


Player Races;
Skeleton, Vampire, Revenant, Ghost? Lich? Mummy?

Skeletons level up into Skelton warriors and Death Knights, or become Liches if they get good enough at magic. Non-corporeal is tricky but could give them increasing abilities to affect the world as they get stronger. Basic spirit can level up through poltergeist, to shadow or ghost.

A city of the dead like Mievilles High Cromlech. Obsessive ritualised timeless society.  Missions based on memories or sorrows or requests to retrieve particular relics and fragments of the dead. Down time periods take place over centuries, not years. Char Gen could be you are all made in the same dungeon by the same necromancer, then heroes attack.


Player Races;
Tako, Triton, Merman, Sea-Elf?
(Ok I read through all the 'good' underwater player races and they are rubbish.(Except maybe Tako))
Ixitxachitl, Sayhuagin, Locathah.

No-one ever does the ocean as it is meant to be done and that’s because they treat it as a big dish. Like an alternate map, but underwater. It's a complex, fluid three dimensional flowscape. The real continents and nations are not the shape of the land beneath the sea but the currents and layers of the seas itself. The different trophic zones are like bordering countries, the great oceanic flows that bring warmth and cold around the globe are like continents.

Different races and cultures dominate different vectors and layers. Many of the cities move. Everyone underwater thinks of it as the 'real world' not as an addendum to the land. Because you would if you had access to the majority of the planet.

There are numerous deep-sea caves, so that solves that problem. Missions could be to the ruined palaces carved upside down under the arctic ice, to the lightless trenches, to the undersea volcanic borderlands where fire and water meet. Plus, numerous sunken cities. Floating cities built underwater and lost or abandoned, drifting, full of ghosts and a thousand years of accumulated clumped together history. Like undersea Space Hulks. The cursed city of Repak-Noh appears drifting silently on the borders of the Troposphere, before it inevitably falls back into the midnight zones and is lost for another millennia. Who shall investigate its gleaming portals? You. You shall. Underwater D&D, not as a holiday, but as the main game.


Player Races
Ehhh, Githanki aaannd the other space/psionic ones? Shardminds? Ok this ones a bit of a reach.

I suppose your base is the realm of madness and dreams and reality itself is the dungeon. A nest of freezing time knotted space inhabited by strange beings.

Anyway. To sum up.

The point is that you could have all of these in the same world, but they would remain different and powerful to each other because the each inhabit a different kind of moral and experiential universe. Yes, you can do crossovers, but the dead are always strange to the living. The sea is always strange to the land. The 'savage' is always strange to the civilised.

They are all heroes but they are heroes inside their own worlds like everyone is, and the difference between those worlds lets you have difference and diversity whilst keeping them strange to each other, so when they show up in each others stories they are still reasonable monsters.

Kids are used to this because they know it’s from Warcraft and its ilk where everything is playable, yet separate.

Each would be a different kind of game, but all you would need for each one is a new players handbook. The basic engine underneath would remain the same. Maybe new ideas for missions and xp. And your items and treasures from one book can be the treasures and monsters for every other book.

*Yes I'm sure they have this kind of thing in the 'East' as well and that 'West' and 'East' are troubled concepts, thank you Richard.

** I know Richard, I know.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

5e Underdark Background

Here is an experimental 5e Underdark background that might actually be useful to someone.



You are proficient in Athletics when the test is for a climb. If you are already proficient in Athletics, you are doubly proficient (count your bonus twice) but only when the test is for a climb.

You are proficient in Survival and doublly proficient when deep underground.

You can never become skilled in above ground Nature, it will always be alien to you.

You know the Silent Speech and can communicate with another who knows through subtle gestures that are not obvious to others.

You have Darkvision but are always at disadvantage in sunlight unless wearing special goggles or some kind of occluding device.


A small tool or object of your choice, made from human bone.

A small but powerful lamp, made of strange metals.

Strips of a dried but unidentfiable meat.

A secret tattoo showing a specific underground route known only to you.

A fine, strong silk rope.

Any of the weapons acquired through character generation that possess parts of wood, instead have parts of metal or bone. The hilt of your sword is bone, your arrows are thin steel etc.

You have one clothing item of deep blue-black silk. This is regarded as high quality above ground, though you think of it as normal. If anything you are wearing is leather, it is the cured skin of a particular sentient race, you think of this as normal.

Click or look under the break and roll.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Egyptian Queen

On the fourteenth day, as they broke the door to the chamber, there came
a soft gonging from somewhere deep; the ground beneath their feet

rippled, enough to coat their boots with dust. And, touch by touch,
   the light...
Canoptic jars, grave dolls, small flasks that once held honey. The

cracked under their hands; and, when they shifted the lid, a cloud of bees
came out, although...came forth...was what she wrote, the only woman

to see this: unmarried, a known hysteric, soon sent home to 'rest
and repair' , her journal somehow lost. The gateway stela gave clues:

[lacuna]...TEARS OF RA...the locals knocked up a basic counter-
   weight gantry,

then worked through the night by Tilley-lamp to crate
the smaller stuff, before chiseling the image of Anubis off the frieze.

The flasks were etched with a hieroglyph depicting a bee,
which does mean 'bee'...came forth the queen, dark-eyed and tremulous.

- David Harsent

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It was now necessary for the country to die.

Black Lamb & Grey Falcon

Page 582

“But the Austrian Empire had numbers. It had at this moment little else; it had so little virtue or wisdom or even common sense that again and again the student must marvel that this was the same state as eighteenth-century Austria. But what it had it used, and it sent back its armies in September. This time they enjoyed a certain disgraceful advantage. During the first invasion they had laid waste to the country, pillaging the crops, burning the houses, murdering the civil population: at least three hundred and six women are known to have been executed, as well as many people over eighty and children under five. So the Serbian Army had this time to retreat over a devastated countryside which could give it no food and offered it much discouragement, not diminished by the floods of civilian refugees, some Serbian, some from the Slav parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, all hungry and footsore and with tales to tell of the enemy’s malign brutality. There might have been panic had it not been for the spirit of the Karageorgevitches and the higher command. King Peter hobbled up to some troops that were wavering under an artillery fire to which their army had no answer, and said to them, after the manner of a Homeric general, “Heroes, you have taken two oaths: one to me, your king, and one to your country. From the first I release you, from the second no man can release you. But if you decide to return to your homes, and if we should be victorious, you shall not be made to suffer.”

They did not go. To lead them General Mishitch, the grave and reluctant regicide whom King Peter had refused to dismiss, now appointed fourteen hundred young students as non-commissioned officers. Of these boys, who before the war had been studying at Belgrade, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Paris, one hundred and forty survived the war. Arms came suddenly to this army, sent from England. These men who were so spent that they no longer lived by their experience but what is known to our common human stock, these boys who had no experience at all and therefore were also thrown back on that same primitive knowledge, alike they forgot the usual prudent opinion that dying is disagreeable, and valued death and life and honour as if they were heroes who had died a thousand years before or gods who were under no necessity to die. They flung themselves again on the Austrians. By the end of December they had retaken Belgrade. They took down the Hungarian flag that had floated above the palace and laid it on the steps of the Cathedral when King Peter went with his generals to the mass of thanksgiving for victory. They had to thank the Lord for a real suspension of natural law for when the Austrians had withdrawn over the frontiers there remained behind rather more Austrian prisoners of war than there were Serbian soldiers.”

Page 584

“In September the invasion began. By October the Serbian Army which now numbered a quarter of a million men, was faced with three hundred thousand Austro-German troops under the great strategist Mackensen, and as many Bulgarians. It was now necessary for the country to die. The soldiers retreated slowly, fighting a rearguard action, leaving the civil population, that is to say their parents, wives, and children, in the night of an oppression they knew to be frightful. Monks came out of the monasteries and followed the soldiers, carrying on bullock-carts, and on their shoulders where the roads were too bad, the coffined bodies of the medieval Serbian kings, the sacred Nemanyas, which must not be defiled. So was carried King Peter, whose rheumatic limbs were wholly paralysed by the cold of Autumn; and so too, before the retreat was long on its way, was Prince Alexander. The internal pain that had vexed him all year grew so fierce that he could no longer ride his horse. Doctors took him to a cottage and he was operated on for appendicitis. Then he was packed in bandages wound close as a shroud, and put on a stretcher and carried in the procession of the troops. It is like some fantastic detail in a Byzantine fresco, improbable, nearly impossible, yet a valid symbol of truth, that a country which was about to die should bear with it on its journey to death, its kings, living and dead, all prostrate, immobile.”