Thursday, 29 December 2016

More Thyato-centric world-mapping

Following on from a post some months ago about re-mapping Mystara as if the main map is like Ptolemy's and drawn from the point of Thyatis, I've started pulling it apart.

The top is what Thyatians imagine the world is like. The bottom is what they actually know fairly well, with the disconnected bits that they know about existing in an existential quantum void-soup somewhere beyond what is 'known'.

They know the sea-lanes around their kingdoms but not much land (except the areas where, in my version of history, the ancient human Empire united what is now the Grand Duchy, Thyatis, Ylaruam and the Soderfjord Jarldoms).

This dislocation actually helps with things on the map that don't make sense. For example, how does the 3,000 mile Streel River rise in hills maybe only a few hundred feet tall near the NE coast, then flow through the Broken Lands? It doesn't have to now, it might rise in the mountains of Glantri, but the rivers in the Ethengar Khanate can now flow west from the Broken Lands to the east coast, exiting via the NE fjordlands if that makes more sense.

But, perhaps, I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe, it's simplest if the top map is 'real', and I now mess around with the bottom map to produce the map of the world as seen from Thyatis. That doesn't solve the problem of stupid geography ... but perhaps we can live with it.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A new world... and a new campaign

Some colleagues and I are starting a  gaming group - we played our first game on Saturday gone and are planning to get together perhaps on a weekend every month or so. I won't be running this game, as someone else has volunteered to be DM, so for the first time in ages, I'm actually playing a PC!

My character is Sir Darlan of the House of Vong, a minor noble who is also a Paladin. I've never played a Paladin before, and I've never played 5th Ed either, so it's all new to me. There will be a report at some point soonish.

Meanwhile, I'd done a bit of work on a setting for a game if I ended up running an old-school game (we only worked out who was DMing about 9 days ago). As it won't see action in its current form in either of my other campaigns, I thought I might post it up here. This was the basis for a campaign I was planning...

Iriond 1411336555

The plan was to start simple - a location, with a few encounters round it, possibly with a vaguely oriental feel - somewhere with plains-nomads and ancient and empires. Something away from my normal generic western/northern Europe setting anyway. Perhaps I can utilise some means of generating adventures from the pdf I just downloaded - the Swords and Wizardry scenario generator pdf, which though its more geared to a faux-Japanese setting is close enough to what I'm after I think.

I rolled 4 4 8 4 9 10

So the party meets in a Tavern
with a Sensei (Senior cleric?)
They hear of a Kidnap
by a Ninja (thief/assassin?)
Which they can foil by going to a Dark fortress
and Winning a contest.

I could have just taken it from there, though of course the players might not.

Except that I got a bit carried away with a hex-mapping technique from - though in line with the hex-maps of the Known World from BECMI, I'm not using the very sensible 1-5-25 mile hex-progression suggested, but the slightly-more-difficult 1-6-24 mile progression.

Anyway this is the 6/24 map I came up with, based on a small area of the far north-west of the Iriond map, in the area between the Bladegrass Plains, Tumunzar Spires mountain range, and Forest of Thorns, all of which seem like excellent adventuring locales to me (I started making icons for the hexes, but then decided on colour-coding instead):

The marker is for settlement for the PCs to begin in; the area is mostly mixed plain and forest, with some hills and a few little bits of other odd terrain thrown in - a few lakes (one of which is large enough to make it onto the Iriond map if you look really hard), some hills and swamps, and some odd bits of desert, which I'm thinking are more like dust-bowl type areas than proper desert.

I've subsequently started keying in the hexes with encounters (a few individual hexes have changed since I started so this doesn't quite represent an accurate map), and pretty rapidly populated the area, as least in outline. I also spent far too long playing with the random generators at Chaotic Shiny...

The hex with the settlement and the six surrounding large hexes are done - at least in terms of keyed encounters. That's pretty much an area with a radius of 36 miles around the town. There are 49 keyed encounters in that zone including a dozen settlements of different types, a few monster lairs, 6 different terrain types and some locations where frankly weird stuff is going on.

I also had a blast thinking of various themes and stuff that I wanted to include. Not sure where it's all going in the end, perhaps it'll be used somewhere!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Oldhammer Giaks

Every so often, something floats across my consciousness that isn't to do with D&D. Sometimes, it has to do with another facet of my nostalgia for fantasy gaming in the 1980s - Oldhammer.

Some time ago I was talking about Giaks in Warhammer/Oldhammer. That post included a link to a Giak Army ('Orgar') list of 9 units that goes something like this:

Orgar Rekenar (Rekenar = 'Scouts')

Name of Regiment    Colour    Regiment Symbol    Special Notes

Gorakim                          Red           Fanged Jawbone          Gourgaz leader
('The Animals')

Konkorim                       Yellow      Bow crossed by            All armed with
('The Hunters')                                 3 arrows                       short bows

Kaggazheg                    Orange       Flaming                        Leader wears
('Fire-Dogs')                                      Dog's Head                 a Doomwolf Pelt

Moggador                      Dark           Crossed                        No Edged Weapons
('The Hammerers')         Blue           Warhammers

Nadul-Nak                     Black         Black Flag                    Dressed in Black

Lajakann                        Grey          Grey Heart &                Gourgaz leader    
('The Stonehearts')                           Scimitar

Ogshashez                     Purple         Serrated Dagger          No Blunt Weapons
('The Throat-                                                                         No Pole-arms

Nanenrakim                    Light            Black Arrows             All armed with
('The Life-stealers')       Blue                                                 short bows

Orgadak-Taagim            Dull             Human Head            All armed with
('The Humankillers')      Red              on a pole                   Pole-arms

There are no Gourgaz (Giant Troglodytes) in other games, but perhaps were I ever to field a 'proper' Giak Army, for WH 2nd Ed using these rules, I could get something to stand in for them (using Heroquest Fimir perhaps).



Merely using this as a template for organisation however, I've decided that (at least for the moment) 'Giak' isn't a particular kind of Goblin; I'm going to assume that any kind of O&G type can be slotted into this list. A concession to later editions? Probably. However, I'll still play by the stipulations of the list - no more than 25% of troops may be archers, and they can only use short-bows. This means, in effect, that I have to use Goblins or Night Goblins as archers. Obviously, the plan is to eventually do these units as armoured Goblins, but in the meantime, I think I can be a bit more flexible (while I work out what would be a decent source for 'Oldhammer' style Goblins with different weapons, as there are only really two Goblin foot units, Common Goblins with spears or bows, and Night Goblins with spears, bows or slashing weapons - now all called 'Grots' apparently).

So - how best to field these units as an O&G army?

Gorakim                      Red         Fanged Jawbone        Gourgaz leader
('The Animals')

I think their 'animal' nature is probably a reference to their ferocity. So, they're likely a close-combat unit. Probably Orcs then, let's say with axes or other slashing weapons. Maybe they could have two hand weapons, as opposed to the more usual slashing weapon/shield combo.

Konkorim                    Yellow    Bow crossed by          All armed with
('The Hunters')                            3 arrows                     short bows

This unit could be Night Goblins or Common Goblins, as both can use shortbows. Night Goblins are cheaper (points-wise) in later editions, so maybe they're the way to go here. But given that the ultimate aim is to field (Common) Goblin units corresponding to the units on this list, maybe I should go straight for that and cut out the middle stage.  As the point of this unit is to stay out of the way and just shoot, having slightly better fighters makes no real sense from a points-based point of view, but it does in terms of eventual development of the list.

Kaggazheg                  Orange    Flaming                      Leader wears
('Fire-Dogs')                                Dog's Head                a Doomwolf Pelt

This is best as a close-combat unit, and in general that would mean an Orc unit I think - again axes seems appropriate.

Moggador                   Dark         Crossed                      No Edged Weapons
('The Hammerers')      Blue         Warhammers

Orcs with bludgeoning weapons is I think the best way to go here. Of course, bludgeoning or slashing weapons have the same profiles in 2nd Ed, they're all 'hand weapons'. But there are 3rd Ed (? I think) plastic Orc minis with mace-type weapons. However, I also have a bunch of Dwarf hammer-heads (alternate weapons from the old 60-to-a-box white plastic figures) so if I can get some Goblins with weapon-grips maybe I can add the hammer-heads myself.

Nadul-Nak                  Black        Black Flag                 Dressed in Black

This is almost designed for Night Goblins I think, with hand-weapons or spears, it matters not.

Lajakann                     Grey         Grey Heart &            Gourgaz leader  
('The Stonehearts')                       Scimitar

I have a few small 'Goblin' shields with a heart & sword motif. Perhaps, if I can get about 30 more of them, they can be the shields for a unit of Night Goblins, who at least can have hand weapons.

Ogshashez                   Purple       Serrated Dagger        No Blunt Weapons
('The Throat-                                                                   No Pole-arms

I think, a unit of Orcs armed with slashing weapons. Or possibly Night Goblins again with slashing weapons, but Night Goblins are nothing like as good at fighting.

Nanenrakim                Light           Black Arrows           All armed with
('The Life-stealers')     Blue                                             short bows

As with the other bow-unit, the choice is between getting a Night Goblin unit and eventually replacing it or going for a Goblin unit from the start.

Orgadak-Taagim         Dull           Human Head            All armed with
('The Humankillers')   Red            on a pole                  Pole-arms

Well, this is a bit tricky as 'pole arms' per se aren't a viable option but two-handed axes might be. I'd settle for that as an alternative - I think this was an option for some Orcs back in the day. Otherwise, Goblins with spears might be a basis for some conversions using large blades attached to the spear-shafts.

That would get me my 9 units. Whether this actually gets anywhere as a project is a bit more difficult to tell at the moment though...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Ruins by the Lake Part III, being the 9th report from the Tower of Zelligar campaign...

It's been a long time in the gestation this post; even  longer than it took the boys to arrange another session of their campaign. Yes, they finally ventured back into the catacombs under the ruins, in October last year.

The previous session - back in May 2015 - saw Josef the Thief sliced up by a scything blade trap. So we rolled up another character, and waited for an opportunity to introduce him.

The rest of the party made their way into the room with the trapped door, mostly by trusting their insanely high Armour Classes to keep them safe from the blade. Inside was a small Kobold guard-post. The two Dwarves speak Kobold of course, so a very shouty fight developed with a mixture of threats and psychological warfare.

After a messy bloodbath, the two surviving Kobolds surrendered. Once again the Chaotic Dwarves decided to torture the prisoners in order to get 'information' (though what they think they're going to learn, I'm not so sure), so this time, I had the Kobolds realise what was going on and take up the fight again, but to no avail. The party butchered them and searched the bodies. Some small treasure here, but the party is failing to get anywhere because they're not necessarily using their heads. They still haven't searched the Goblins properly that they encountered a few rooms ago.

Frustrated by the lack of progress they search again wherever they've already been - and hey presto, in the room where the Goblin-corpses are they find the key to the stone door they couldn't smash down.

Venturing through that door, they come into a room that seems to have been some sort of Goblin headquarters: and here was one of the few times I've seen the guys in real fear for the mayhem that might be about to break loose. Rising from the jumble of furs in the middle of the room was a figure. Not a Wraith or a Vampire or even an Ogre, no, but something that, even on its lonesome, was enough to put the frighteners on these burly lads (four of them, anyway, Josef's player hadn't managed to get his new character introduced yet). The figure that arose, sleepily burping and scratching itself, was an Orc.

OK, we're Old School, and we've all read all the monster stats a gazillion times. We know that in practical terms the difference between an Orc and a Goblin is not much. And four Goblins are certainly more troublesome than one Orc. But the players genuinely seemed nervous and tense.

The combat was brutal and swift. The PCs took the Orc apart in pretty short order, and seemed mightily relieved at how lucky they'd been when they did. I mean, really, maybe they just don't know. It seems that they think Orcs are much tougher than they actually are.

A bit of looting followed, part of which involved finding a chest containing four clay figurines in the shape of dragons. Around this time, as (former) Josef's player had been hanging around a while, and the party showed no signs of moving on, I told them that an Elf (for that is what Josef's player had rolled up, an Elf called Ronoc - he's been separated from the rest of his party) had approached them down the corridor on the other side of the room to the door they'd entered..

Bromeen's player decided that he was going to be a dick. "I attack him!" he shouted; a look of dismay passed across Ronoc's player's face. So Bromeen rolled to attack (it took Ronoc by surprise - hell it took everyone by surprise) and the result was that Ronoc took a battle-axe (or was it a longsword?) to the face. Cue, collapsing and having to make a CON roll to survive as the rest of the party tried to staunch his wounds...

Players can be massive twerps on occasion.

Deciding that they'd fortify the room and wait it out for a while led to them to start examining the clay dragons more closely. This included Bromeen taking one and smashing it into the floor. Not throwing it at the wall, mind, but taking it and pounding it into the floor without letting go.

The dragons should perhaps have given them a clue. These figurines are actually vessels for an alchemical concoction that resembles dragon-fire. Cue Bromeen bursting into flames (his hand anyway) and losing the majority of his hit-points...

That's where they left matters when they packed up to go. They may soon organise another evening as exams have finished and I've finished work on my thesis for the moment. So we will see ...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Isle of the Fountain

I thought I'd share another of the Fortunate Isles - further to my thinking about 'Gatekeepers' recently, this isle indeed contains such an NPC.

Island 008 - the Isle of the Fountain - small isle

This low-lying isle is pleasant, wooded and quite unremarkable, except for an enchanted fountain standing at the island's highest point, in itself a hill that would be insignificant elsewhere. The fountain spills water into a pool, which overflows into a stream that flows to the sea.

The water in the stream is perfectly normal, but the water in the pool has magical properties. Imbibing it on the island (it loses any magical properties once removed from the island) will grant either of the following properties, depending on the result of a Save against spells, and the race/class of the person drinking it.

The point of drinking the water from the pool is to gain access to a specific spell. The PC must name this spell in advance. The ability to cast the spell (once per day, should the PC in question obtain it), will last d6 days.

For Elves, Magic Users and Thieves, a successful Save will allow the PC to cast a named spell from the First Level MU spell list. If the PC throws the actual number that is listed for their Save, they do not gain access to that spell but a random spell from the list. An unsuccessful Save will replicate the effect of the named spell cast against the PC.

For Dwarves, Halflings, Fighters and Clerics, the spell must be from the First Level Clerical Spells list; otherwise, everything about acquiring the spell in the paragraph above applies equally to these classes.

The fountain has a guardian. This is currently Sir Varek, also known as Varek Dragonslayer, the Red Knight of Ilan Veryon (Isle of the Fountain in the local lingo), who spends his time sharpening his sword while sitting by a red-and-gold pavilion pitched by the pool, and will challenge anyone seeking to drink to a single combat.

I hate pinterest. Google 'red armour' - this comes up. Yup, I think it looks cool. Even if his armour isn't red.

Sir Varek is still quite young, perhaps in his late 20s or early 30s, He is handsome and generally pleasant (though somewhat old-fashioned in regards to racial tolerance and sexual equality), issuing challenges in a courteous manner. He is friendly towards Dwarves, Halflings, Fighters and Clerics, but distrustful of, and a little rude to, Magic Users, Thieves and Elves, all of whom he regards as without honour. He will ask the name of his foe, and say that the name will be recorded for posterity; this is true, in his pavilion is a scroll with the names of hundreds of combatants, including, some years ago, Sir Varek the Dragonslayer, who replaced the previous guardian after defeating him in single combat.

His shield (gold with a red dragon, because he really is a Dragonslayer) and sword are perfectly normal; however, he wears the Armour of the Red Knight.

He is particularly keen to fight the strongest male PC, preferably a Fighter or Dwarf, but he'll be happy if it's martial Cleric; if his opponent is a woman, a Halfling or an Elf, he will try to decline but not too much. He isn't a coward, it's just he thinks that it's less of a challenge to fight a woman, Halfling or Elf, and will be less interested in doing so as his sense of self-worth relies on defeating strong opponents. There's no glory in defeating the weak.

However, he is generally courteous about this, especially to (male) Halflings. He will praise the bravery, resilience, resourcefulness and agility of the Halfling race, but claim his longer reach gives him too much of an advantage. He is being honest, he does admire these qualities of Halflings, but still thinks he's better in a fight. Female Dwarves will leave him in a quandary - does his respect for Dwarf-kind overcome his sense of superiority over females?

He will reluctantly fight a woman, claiming at first that it is not to be considered, but will eventually (d6 rounds +/- CHA adjustment) agree, sighing all the while. Essentially, the prettier Sir Varek thinks the PC is, the more reluctant he is to fight her.

Elves, because he thinks them dishonourable, he will not be happy to fight, but will consent to do so after some barbed comments about how he will be content if his opponent fights honourably (by which he means, without using spells).

He won't be keen to fight a Thief for similar reasons of honour, though he will reluctantly accept, and he really won't want to fight a Magic User of either sex (but then what MU would want to fight a knight in single combat anyway?).

If Sir Varek is in the position where a single successful hit will kill his opponent, he will ask them to yield rather than go on with the fight. If he reaches a point where one hit could kill him, he will ask his opponent for quarter and surrender the field, allowing his foe to drink from the pool. He will also offer to surrender his place as Gatekeeper of the fountain, as well as his armour. If an opponent has acted dishonourably, however, by using magic against him, he will fight to the death, using the powers of the Armour of the Red Knight to assist him.

If the PC is killed (unless magic has been used) Sir Varek will be melancholy - "alas! Such a brave and noble warrior died today... I offered quarter, but noble (insert name of PC) would not yield, and fought to the last. Truly, a great hero is no more" and such like.

If Sir Varek is killed, four Bugbears will emerge from the pavilion and take his body inside. They will not fight the PCs unless prevented from carrying out this duty. If the party sticks around, one of the Bugbears will later emerge and, in broken Common (or whatever other language is understood by the party), offer Sir Varek's armour to the PC who defeated him, and ask them to become the new guardian of the fountain. If the PC accepts, then they can take up this role, but they are free to decline. If this happens and the PCs return to this locale on any subsequent occasion, they will find Sir Varek alive, but forgetful of their previous presence.

BECMI stats for Sir Varek:

 Str 13*; Int 9; Wis 9; Dex 13*; Con 13*; Cha 15: 4th level Fighter: hp 24: Att 1 or Special: Dam weapon (N Sword) + STR*: Save Cl 10 (due to effect of Armour of the Red Knight): Mv 40' (120'): AL Lawful (and both charming and irritating at the same time): N Sword, Shield, Armour of the Red Knight
*stats subject to change due to effects of the Armour of the Red Knight

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Seascapes, myths and the Thyato-centric view of the world

I didn't know about the 'Sea of O'SR' project when I wrote the first of my 'Fortunate Isles' posts and invited other people to contribute - if I had known, I'd probably have just added my input to the Sea of O'SR. The basic motivation (though not necessarily the execution) seems very similar. It's a shame that the Sea of O'SR didn't attract more entries - I think it was a great idea! I now want to play a whole Legend of Zelda: Windwaker/Odyssey-style campaign where the PCs visit loads of islands.

A particularly lovely version of the Zelda: Wind Waker map from

Odyssey map from here:
A big chunk of the mythology and history of my version of Mystara is derived from Greek myth. Several analogues of Greek gods exist in the Thyatian-Minrothad-Karameikos area. A giant minotaur lived  in a maze under the city of Minrothad, until it was slain by the Duke of Kerendas, who resembles Theseus in many ways (and I'm considering calling minotaurs 'minrotaurs' in this campaign); a young nobleman exiled from Tel Akbir has sailed to the ends of the earth to bring back a powerful healing artefact from a distant city-state; the Emperor of Thyatis is on the point of declaring war on Ierendi, using as an excuse the fact that the son of the King of Ierendi has kidnapped the wife of his brother, the Duke of Biazzan (she went willingly, the real cause of the war is the campaign of piracy that Ierendi has been unofficially conducting on Thyatian and Minrothadi shipping - and I'm sure, at the end of the war, a clever Duke from an insignificant Thyatian island will find it very hard to get home).

In short, in my campaign-world, the northern part of the Sea of Dread and the sea to the east of Thyatis, Ylaruam and the northern kingdoms are the Mediterranean and Black Sea - only they run the other way round: Greece is in the south-east, but the lands of the 'west' (Gorgons/Medusae, Sirens and Circe) are north-east, and those of the 'east' (Troy, Colchis, Persia) are to the west. Clear? Probably not...

Maybe I need to do a map like Ptolemy's
Ptolemy's map from here
or even the the reconstruction of Herodotus's world-view  - only it would be the world as seen from the Imperial capital. Or is that what the Mystara map is? Accurate for Thyatis, Ylaruam and the immediate islands, more and more speculative as we get further from the Imperial City? That could be fun, if when they get to the northlands the players find they look like northern Harn or the map from the Thomas Covenant books...

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Who was it who was asking about destroying their campaign?

A while ago, I was reading on someone's blog a post about what it would take to (potentially) destroy the campaign-world. I can't now remember who it was, unfortunately, but it did get me thinking. Then, after thinking, I did nothing about it for ages, but I've now decided to dust down this post and put out.

Obviously, the idea of the DM just delivering an apocalypse and the PCs watching helplessly is a nonsensical one. The PCs must have some agency in all of this. So, I took the question to be about the sparking of a series of events that would, without the PCs' intervention, potentially lead to the destruction of the world.

There could be many reasons for this. A colossal being (ur-dragon, star-god, whatever) might be awakening at the centre of the world and the PCs need to put it back to sleep (or kill it). A crazed cult may be trying to melt all the ice and flood the whole world for stupid and/or nefarious purposes (or is that just too preposterous?). But, partly because I'm a big fan of the Zelda games on Nintendo, I went with imagining a D&D spin on the classic Evil-Moon-Crashing-Down-and-Killing-Everyone plot as used in Majora's Mask.

The Moon is falling
If you do nothing, the World will soon be destroyed

In three months a cataclysm will engulf the World as the Moon crashes into it, and 90% of all animal life will die within 1 week of that event
Either evil moon-beings are deliberately manoeuvring the Moon closer to the World in order to destroy it on the whim of their Mad God, or conspirators on the World are attempting to lure the Moon closer to make it crash into the World for broadly similar reasons

Courses of action:
1 – military – fit out a mission in ‘space ships’ to go to the Moon and stop the Moon-beings’ evil plan – wreck their bases, kill their Priest-Kings, destroy their diabolical Dark Energy engines etc, or find the (presumably well-hidden, far away, on the other side of the world/inside a volcano/in the Hollow World etc) sites where the Moon-worshippers in this World are trying to attract the Moon;
2 – magical/alchemical – find out what will repel the Moon and build it as a giant Moon-guard;
a)      Repulsion – find the opposite of ‘Moon’ and collect/manufacture it to push the Moon away (the PCs can discover that the opposite of ‘Moon’, alchemically, is ‘Blackfire’– Moon is silvery, lightweight, brittle and flying, Blackfire is dark, heavy, sludgy and seeping underground: ‘Moon’ equals 40% Air, 30% Earth, 20% Water and 10% Fire, so the opposite is 40% Fire,  30% Water, 20% Earth and 10% Air);
b)      Balance – perhaps there is too much Blackfire on Earth, and the Moon is being drawn to it to balance it out, so it is necessary to destroy some/a lot of Blackfire – perhaps it’s even ‘Black Pudding’ and the world is becoming infested
3 – religious/folkloric – consult the oldest myths (or Elves or Dragons) to find out if and when the Moon (-god/dess) came to the World, and how they were chased/persuaded away – then try it again

Who will be opposing the PCs:
1 – Moon-deity cults – some evil (ie they want the World destroyed, as above), others merely obstructive (it is, quite literally, their deity’s ‘time to shine’ and they’re blowed if they’re going to let some crazy adventurers stop the glorious arrival of their Benevolent Moon-Master/Mistress who would no way harm anyone, especially Believers);
2 – Lycanthropes – they’re all getting more powerful and they aren’t going to want to go back to the situation before (this might be a good way in, the PCs may over the course of some months start encountering unusually-powerful lycanthropes giving them the first clues that there’s something wrong with the moon, which will require a longer time-frame, eg 6-9 months);
3 – perhaps some rather stoical Elves who think that the Moon is rather groovy and anyway, who cares if metric kilotonnes of humans die, they’re vermin: as long as the Elves survive that’s all fine;
4 – general Chaotic/apocalyptic cults who think that the destruction will be good;
5 – maybe some Druids, for similar reasons to the Elves – wipe out the stain of civilisation and start again;
6 – some aquatic monsters (Lizardmen, Mermen, Sahaugin etc) who may figure it’s mostly the air-breathers who are going to suffer, and might actually like higher tides.

Who doesn't believe it:
1 – Rulers (who would rather not have panicked populations);
2 – Sages (who insist that it’s all happened before and it’s perfectly natural, the Moon will merely pass close to the World, silver will become more easily-available as it bubbles to the surface in sympathy, and more girl-babies will be born for a few months, but that’s all);
3 – people in general (who don’t want to worry about stuff they can’t do anything about: “Yer, well, them Wizards down at the Omniversity, they won’t let it ‘appen will they? Them’n’the High Theolect’ll sort it out, you’ll see”/”St Nogburga will preserve us, all we have to do is eat our shrews and pray a lot”).

Who will help:
1 – Alchemists (who may prove useful and earn the gratitude of Princes for once);
2 – non-Lunar cults (who quickly get sick of the Moon-mad devotees smugly proclaiming the superiority of their deities/get worried by the flocks of believers converting to Moon-cults);
3 – some military types who might be happy to launch a war with another world.

They were my notes for the idea. Perhaps if I run out of other inspiration I can start to weave some of this into it. The idea that the PCs become aware of unusual lycanthrope activity and this leads them to the conclusion that the moon is falling is one I like. I'm sure I can introduce this to my PCs at some point in the future.

It also got me thinking about how I could take the game to another world. The idea of travelling to the Moon got me thinking about the kinds of beasts that might be there, and how it might be an opportunity to use some of the monsters that don't get much love that are nestled in my rule-books and through the pages of old White Dwarfs.

Which in turn led me to consider making a list of all the monsters I have stats for and which ones actually get used... and that's when I abandoned this post first time around. That's a pretty mammoth job, going through the monster lists in Basic and Expert and Companion and 50 or more WDs of Fiend Factory (old monster showcase in WD that led ultimately to the Fiend Folio), and all the scenarios for ones that introduce new monsters, and any official scenarios that introduce new monsters like B4 and X1, and any subsequent materials I've picked up from the OSR to make a master-list... then going through again and checking which of them are actually used in all those adventuring locations and finding the ones that aren't to populate the Moon. Too big a job at the moment. One thing I do have however is an old WD scenario based on War of the Worlds that might provide a way in... and I can try and re-skin some monsters: I can re-skin Sabre-Toothed Tigers to be big fast white 6-legged moon-lizards or something. I can also start making a list of monsters that I know don't appear in any existing scenarios - Fiend Factory has loads that are only going to appear if I make them, so maybe I can make them appear on the Moon.

All that aside, another thing that made me lose interest was that there's a problem with the alchemy as well, The opposite of 'Air' in classical alchemy is 'Earth'; so another way to slice the alchemical cake (opposite of 40A-30E-20W-10F) would be 40E-30A-20F-10W. But this doesn't actually produce something opposite to 'Moon' (more or less, equal to silver). It's something heavier and shinier than 'Moon' that doesn't influence the tides as much. Platinum maybe.

Perhaps the problem is that 40/30 along one axis and 20/10 along the other doesn't work. Maybe the axes need to be balanced, in that both axes must add up to 50. Is the moon 'mostly' airy, or earthbound? Obviously, as it lives in the sky, it's mostly airy, so maybe 40/10 Air/Earth is a better split. Then, is it mostly shiny, or does it mostly attract water? I'd say, it is mostly shiny, but it's tricky in that it hides, and it still seriously affects water, so maybe 30/20 Fire/Water is a good split. In which case, the opposite is 40% Earth, 30% Water, 20% Fire and 10% Air. So something sludgy, and a bit burny. Could still be Black Pudding, I suppose.

Pretty sure I can source some moon-maps for a wilderness (I might use the one below, actually a map of Mars from 1830 I think) and perhaps I can get some weird architecture for locations... then map out a lunar hex-crawl for the party.

Just google 'beer mars map' and this poops up

Ah well. Someday, some of this might find its way into my campaign.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Random thoughts about Clerics

Using DDG

The myths that the players know are real. There was (or is) a 10-year war between Heroic Kingdoms. An Adventurer-turned-King was engaged in an epic struggle with a Legendary Monster. The Emperor really does command the Sun. Omens predict unlikely outcomes for orphaned children. Touching the Rainbow takes you to the Plane of Legends. There is a Monster in that Cave.

Regional powers of gods

Only gods worshipped in that area are powerful because reasons (psychic power, spirits of the land etc); journeying far decreases Clerical power (is this curtailed from the top or the bottom? Do high-level spells fail and only simple magic remain, or vice versa?). DDG lists Greater, Lesser and Demi-Gods; if Demigods are local deities, Lesser Gods are revered through regions, and the worship of Greater Gods spans … continents? This would imply that it is the upper reaches that would be lost due to distance (lack of contact with local cult power-centre).

Clerics must take care that proper devotions are made to sustain their own powers, especially when far from home. Conversely, at their home Temple their power would be greatly increased (perhaps only in the Temple they Build Themselves).

Greater/Lesser/Demi- Godhood related to number of major temples; level of grantable Clerical spells is therefore also related to number of temples. This means, spreading the word of your god/dess will help to increase their power, and ultimately the Cleric's too.

Technologist as analogue of Cleric

Maybe ‘Scientist’?

Re-skin all Clerical abilities as Scientific Skills (healing/first aid, synthesising food and water etc).

Turning – against Robotic or Electrical Effect Zones; robots and computer security systems instead of undead – Holy Symbol is…

… hang on isn’t this Dr Who? If so, are we talking about Dungeons and ... Daleks?

Oh, that’s an interesting point. If the players live in a universe where Dr Who happens (semi-divine high-level clerics wandering about trying to ‘right’ stuff) that implies that the people who do that will come after the party. Because if the average party = Dr Who (as in, the parties are the 'heroes' in world-historic terms, not just in their own narrative), then the universe is in trouble.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Armour of the Red Knight (magic item), and speculations on the notion of 'Gatekeepers' as game-fodder

The Armour of the Red Knight (also known as the Armour of the Gatekeeper) is a magical suit of plate-mail. Whether there is a single suit like this or several, is not known for sure. It was made by Dwarven artificers in the distant past and has had many owners. It seems to expand, contract and change to fit whoever is the current owner, providing protection for an Ogre or Centaur as comprehensively as for a Halfling. Down through the Ages, the wearers of the Armour of the Red Knight have tended to be solitary warriors guarding some mystical site - sacred springs, ancient tombs or similar, though they may be encountered at more prosaic locations such as fords and outside town gates.

Image from
fantasy_art_armor_castlevania_artwork_white_hair_swords_1920x1080_wallpaper_38304used without permission but I thought it looked cool. The address is so long I had to break it; you need to put an underscore back between 'alucard' and 'fantasy' to visit the page
The armour conveys the following abilities:

1 - allows the wearer to Save as a 10th-Level Cleric (this is the case whatever the PC/NPC's actual Level, even if this would provide better saving throws);

From also used without permission but again, it looks cool
2 - in the event of an attack on the wearer by any magical means, magical flames (as Fireballs, DAM: d6+1 x the wearer's Level) will shoot out at any being, friend or foe, within 30' and will continue to do so every Round until the targets move more than 30' away or are killed;

3 - every successful hit on the wearer that does not reduce her/him to 0hp allows her/him to increase the following statistics:
Level/HD +1, including hp adjustments, up to 10th Level/10HD;
STR +1, up to racial maximum;
DEX +1, up to racial maximum;
CON +1, up to racial maximum.

This hasn't been playtested as both my gaming groups are having sabbaticals; but I liked the idea of an antagonist that increased in power the longer the fight went on (EDIT: and it's similar to an idea I was kicking around for statting The Hulk, that I was kicking around some time ago). It has a mythic and Arthurian ring to it, like the mystical powers of Sir Gawain (link), whose strength increases and diminishes during the day. Thinking about Gawain, Arthuriana and challenges also suggested the idea of a knight as a guardian. This I think is a little-explored part of the 'source material' for D&D - we're used to the 'questing knight' theme where the hero(ine) goes to kill a dragon or find a holy/magical object or even rescue her/his lost love, but there is a large amount of Arthurian and other 'heroic' literature that mentions warriors who are fated or otherwise compelled to stand guard over something and issue challenges to those trying to pass or access it - to act as literal or figurative 'gatekeepers'. In the 1981 retelling of Morte d'Arthur, John Boorman's film Excalibur (link), Launcelot du Lac guards a ford and challenges those who want to cross to single combat. He duels with Arthur, is defeated, and swears allegiance to Arthur. The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is (justly in my opinion, it's a great scene) one of the most celebrated examples of the type. The Old Man at the Bridge could also be counted in this category. Gandalf at the Bridge of Khazad Dum, maybe not.

All hail the Black Knight

Gatekeepers make most sense as NPCs - an obstacle that the PCs have to overcome to continue on their journey (whether that is to, or already in, the dungeon). There is little 'gameable' adventure in this for a PC I think, which is why D&D is more geared to the 'questing knight' approach - wander about and have adventures, instead of staying put and seeing what the world throws at us - but it is something to consider perhaps.

What if... instead of 'hexcrawling' (for example) the PCs were forced through magical or legal means, such as working off a Curse, or punishment for a misdemeanour (my sell-check doesn't like that, I don't know why), to spend a period as Gatekeeper at a sacred or other important spot? In the legend of Diana Nemorensis (link), the successful challenger of the priest/king/guardian of Nemi took his place. This perhaps could be a danger to PCs whose general approach to NPCs is to murderhoboerise them, if the result of defeating that Gatekeeper and taking his magic weapons/armour, or generally doing the thing the Gatekeeper was trying to prevent, is to find yourself under a Curse or Geas, or just ordered by the Temple hierarchy/Town Council, to stand guard at the same place and challenge the next comers - maybe, even members of your own party.

Of course, like Lancelot in Excalibur, it could be a way of acquiring a follower - defeating the Knight of the Glade in some non-fatal way means s/he decides that the PC is a hero worth following and offers to serve as a hench-person, in perpetuity or until some specific time has elapsed or some event has been completed ('why, if you journey on to the Shrine of Artemis, I will accompany you there and offer thanks to the Divine Lady, and ask of Her where next my quest should take me').

This could all equally be in a dungeon context. If Room 3.16 has a fountain that dispenses water equivalent to a Healing potion, but the PCs need to defeat a Gatekeeper to access it, then they may find that one of their number (the highest-hp warrior, the PC that delivered the death-blow, the first to drink from the fountain, the one who fails most spectacularly to make a Save against spells) is Cursed or Geased to become the new Gatekeeper, either until defeated in turn or for a set period (a year-and-a-day, a month, a night) - or maybe the Keeper of the Fountain is released from the Curse that binds them, and is free to accompany the party for a time. This could all be tied to rumours known about the dungeon - legends that there is a healing fountain guarded by a succession of knights, or a single knight that never dies, or that a specific knight was cursed to serve as the Gatekeeper of the fountain.

I feel there is a certain amount to explore here, especially as it relates to the Fortunate Isles (a place rife with such things in my gameworld-in-my-head) and in general to Arthurian and Greek legend (which is basically the mythic background to most of the southern part of my game setting anyway).

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Obsidian Knife (magic item)

This knife has a blade made of obsidian and has a bone handle (what bone is not immediately clear), bound with copper wire. It is vastly older than most of the items in the campaign world, pre-dating the rise of civilised humanity by many millennia.

Adapted from here:
The Obsidian Knife has been used over thousands of years to kill sacrificial victims and is Cursed. A PC who possesses the Obsidian Knife will not want to part with it, and must contend with its baleful influence. It is usable as a normal dagger, which has no bonus to hit but does d4+1 damage; a PC who has the Obsidian Knife will want to use it in hand-to-hand combat (make a roll against WIS to use a different melée weapon).

It is not in combat that the Obsidian Knife shows its most insidious power however. If a PC is in a position of having a helpless human, demi-human or humanoid victim in her/his power (a bound prisoner, an unconscious enemy or even a sleeping friend), then the PC must Save v Spells or be compelled to slay the powerless individual with the Obsidian Knife. If the victim is a friend (another PC or NPC member of the party) they can Save at +2.

Should the Save be failed (or, if the PC just wants to kill the helpless individual), the PC automatically succeeds in killing the victim. The PC temporarily gains 1hp for every HD that the victim possessed, even if this takes the PC above their current maximum. Round to the nearest HD (ie, 1/2HD, 1-1HD, 1+1HD all equal 1HD; 5+5HD and 6-4HD both equal 6HD). These hp are the first to be lost in combat or through other injury and cannot be Healed. At the next dark of the moon, the PC will fall unconscious (and unable to be revived) at sunset, and lose d4hp (no Save is possible). When they awake at sunrise they will have a cut on their body as if from the Obsidian Knife. If by any remote chance they are naked and being observed during their catatonic state, a gash without any visible cause will appear on their skin during the night. The next night, the same thing will happen, and every night following until the full moon, or until they have lost twice the number of hp that they gained from the magic of the Obsidian Knife, whichever is sooner, even if the extra hp have already been lost. Because the 'attacks' happen every night, there is no respite allowing regular healing to take place. In order to heal properly, some healing magic must be used over the days after the dark of the moon - unless the PC can tough it out and let the Obsidian Knife's magic run its course.

Example: Jord the 2nd-Level Fighter (11hp) has used the Obsidian Knife to kill a captured Minotaur which has 6HD; he gains 6hp, taking his total temporarily to 17hp. He looses 5hp in a fight before the next dark of the moon three nights later, and is then on 12hp. Having gained 6hp in total, he 'owes' the Obsidian Knife 12hp. That night, he loses 2hp. The next night, he loses 3hp. The following night, he loses 1hp. The night after, he loses 4hp. He is now down to 2hp, and could die the following night. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A System from Bits, part II

The early versions of D&D are deadly for low-level characters, and characters stay at low levels for longer than in later iterations of the rules. By and large, the OSR clones have kept this deadly aspect of gaming, with some attempts to mitigate things slightly. In D&D (not AD&D) PCs died at 0hp, and at low levels Resurrection and suchlike spells are almost unknown. When a Thief or MU can likely be killed by a stray arrow, a single spear-thrust from a Goblin, or an undetected blade-trap; Elves, Halflings and Clerics only have a 50:50 chance of surviving the same; and Fighters and Dwarves only slightly better than average chance, there is perhaps a case for making some provision for character survival to be slightly less difficult.

I originally came across this rule on one of the many, and wonderful, OSR blogs; however, having lost a load of links due to a fried hard-drive a few years ago I've been unable to find the original source. If this is your rule, I’d like to thank you for making the PCs in my groups (both my 'New Old Campaign' group and my 'Naked Gaming' group) a little less fragile, and I'm sure my players would be similarly (perhaps even more) grateful. Also, please link to it if you recognise where I found this - I make no pretence that this is mine, and would happily give credit where it's due.

The point of this rule is to make combat just a little more survivable - but not infinitely so, and  at a cost. One of my players, who was careless enough to die twice in three sessions, saw his CON drop from 11 to 9 and suddenly realised that the next time he reached 0hp (he only had 3hp as I recall) he was more likely to die than survive. So even with this rule, players should still be cautious.

Elementary Staunching, or surviving at 0hp

This rule is designed to provide a mechanism that gives a PC a chance of survival when they reach 0hp. It is based on the following principles:
1.                   CON is a direct measure of physical resilience and used for all calculations using this rule;
2.                   surviving comrades can administer emergency first aid to a 0hp character;
3.                   surviving a traumatic injury will have a permanent effect on a PC’s future health.

Can't remember where the image is from, but it's Beowulf.
When a character sustains an injury that causes them to reach 0hp, to give them a chance of survival, the party may attempt ‘Elementary Staunching’. The application of the rule follows three steps. First, CONx10 is the number of seconds before the PC actually dies of blood-loss (easiest if using 10-second rounds but not exactly hard in any case). If combat goes on too long or the rest of the party cannot quickly reach the stricken character – or are themselves killed or incapacitated – then there is no-one to administer first-aid and the PC dies in CONx10 seconds.

If other characters are available to perform battlefield first-aid in time, then the player of the injured PC must roll a d20. If this number is greater than the PC’s CON stat, the PC has died of system shock or blood loss in any case; if it is equal or less than CON, then PC has survived this major injury. One point of CON is permanently removed, and converted to 1hp. Healing may then take place as normal.

Additional suggestions:
Negative hp: The amount of damage the PC took in excess of the amount to take them to 0hp (so, if a character with 4hp takes 7 points of damage they are conceptually on ‘-3hp’) is the number of hours before the character comes round and begins healing (ie in the above case for 3 hours the PC would be still on the point of death). If this number is greater than the PC’s CON, another CON roll must be successfully passed, or the PC still dies.

Permanent Injury: the PC or DM determines a body-part to be permanently injured. This may involve a penalty on any ability score (due to injured limb, hideous disfigurement, brain injury etc) or a permanent penalty on ‘to hit’ rolls for either melée or missile fire.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Building a system from bits

Eric Diaz over at the Methods & Madness blog has opened a new and interesting challenge - designing a game-system in modular fashion, one page at a time, and letting the user chose which rules to incorporate, so each person's 'rulebook' is a personal collection of hacks, mods and house-rules (in this post here).

I rather like it. I will be submitting some things I think including the rules for 'Elementary Staunching' that I use with both my gaming groups. Which means, I will have to write them up in a logically-organised and coherent fashion. Watch this space...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Imagination training 2

This followed the first by a couple of days: I certainly didn't stick to any timetable, and nor have I done any more. I'm not sure they're any better than the first lot - but of course, I was supposed to do this every day six days a week and that was just the first exercise in the training regime.

Results - finding out I'm not very disciplined, which is no surprise really.


Str 11
Int 6
Wis 13
Dex 9
Con 6
Cha 9

This tall cleric is earnest but not very clever. He always wears white robes and sings hymns to his god almost constantly.

Magic User

Str 11
Int 16
Wis 11
Dex 11
Con 8
Cha 9

This MU is always seen carrying a large tan-coloured sack, from which an improbable collection of things emerge.


Str 14
Int 12
Wis 12
Dex 13
Con 10
Cha 15

Dark-haired and always smiling, Elorius carries a distinctive curved sword that he claims he won from a Southland champion.


Str 7
Int 16
Wis 17
Dex 15
Con 7
Cha 12

Young and beardless, Ornferill wears takes his devotion to his deity very seriously. He carries a long staff with blue feathers tied to the head.

Magic User

Str 7
Int 13
Wis 8
Dex 9
Con 12
Cha 13
Jaren delights in fire-magic; her red robes are decorated with flames worked in gold thread.

Magic User

Str 4
Int 11
Wis 9
Dex 8
Con 5
Cha 12

Essuran is a dour, pale-looking fellow with surprisingly piercing eyes. Many have wondered what terrible sorceries he has performed for he seems weakened by unnatural forces.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Threshold Calendar and Calendar of Issek redux

Just been over at Tower Of the Archmage for the Sunday Inspirational Image which, as it's a temple, reminded me that I need to do some work on my Church of Issek Calendar.

The Church of Issek is a development of a cult found in Deities and Demigods, from the Nehwon Mythos of Fritz Leiber. Issek's is a martyr-cult; all his avatars are people who have died while being tortured. In the original work, this is limited men on the rack; in my iteration, it can be men or women and any kind of torture. The illustration over at Tower of the Archmage is perfect as a giant cult statue of a female Saint of the Church of Issek, as far as I'm concerned.

The reason it needs work is that I've downloaded some more of the lovely Labrynth Lord stuff and gotten a lot more info about the Church of Law and Order that I'm patterning my Church of Issek on. Specifically, because I've now got the guide to the City of Dolmvey, I have a calendar for the city that conflicts in major ways with my putative calendar that I published when I only had a list of names of Saints derived from Brave the Labyrinth 5.

I will produce a hybrid. Where the difference between the two calendars is small, I will probably stick with what I have; where it is large, I will generally go with the 'official' calendar. This is because I suspect I'll be using other LL products in the future, and therefore sticking to what is already established seems more useful. But I can get away with minor variations I think. It's a long way from Threshold to Dolmvay (probably though not definitely the model I'll use for Specularum, which in my version of the Known World, is the seat of the Church of Issek in the same way Dolmvey is the seat of the Church of Law and Order), and Saints being celebrated a week adrift is not significant I think.

So; the Saints that have conflicts (not all the Saints I've used are listed for major festivals in Dolmvey, in fact only 12 out of my 48) are as follows (in the format Name: Official Date; My Date)

St Klaus: 20-27 Dec; 25 Dec - keep
St Johanna: 1-3 Feb; 15 Oct
St Valen: 1-31 Mar; 6 Apr - keep; in Dolmvey, festival lasts for month leading up to St Valen's Day
St Mari: 1 May; 26 Apr - keep
St Leandra: 21 Jun; 14 May
St Meschil: 28-30 Jun; 17 Aug
St Poul: 1 Jul; 26 Aug
St Aleena: 14-20 Aug; 14 March
St Ronand: 5 Sep; 1 Feb
St Garan: 26 Sep-3 Oct: 18 Aug
St Harald: 1 Nov; 27 Sep
St Lucilla: 10-17 Nov; 21 Jun

All the others will have to move I think. Some can possibly swap with others, and there are of course the 36 lesser Saints still on the calendar.

St Aleena can replace Sts Meschil and Garan on the 15 & 18 Aug (24 & 27 Lion by Threshold calendar) as her week-long feast last approximately from 14-20, and St Garan can move to replace St Harald at the end of Sep; St Johanna can replace St Ronand at the beginning of Feb. St Aleena can replace St Meschil in the middle of Aug. St Leandra can replace St Lucilla.

Having done the necessary replacements, I'm now left with 5 Saints (Aleena displaced 3 with her 5-day festival) and 3 days, so I'll generate another two days of religious holiday. These will be 3 Cow and 2 Twins (days 123 and 152) and will be sacred to St Luwagen of Castell and St Jon of Naponek respectively.

So the new calendar looks like this, for the religious calendar of the Church of Issek.

1 – Winter Solstice & New Year: Offerings to Issek
3 – Feast of St Klaus
17 – Feast of St Gregor of Carech
20 – Feast of St James

1 – Feast of St Josep
11 – Feast of St Johanna
20 – Feast of St Wallis of the Hood
27 – Feast of St Margaret of Calesto
29 – Feast of St Bando

21 – Feast of St Sha-Un of Corrland
24 – Feast of St Callor
30 – Feast of St Pater of Willemsburg

13 – Feast of St Valen of Vay
23 – Feast of St Beatrix

3 – Feast of St Luwagen of Castel
5 – Feast of  St Mari of Galask
23 – Feast of St Seth
24 – Feast of St Clarissa the Wild

(Month of the Twins)
2 – Feast of St Jon of Naponek
23 – Feast of St Kristoff

(Midsummer – 5 days)
3 – Feast of St Leandra the Lady of Blossoms (Summer Solstice)

7 – Feast of St Meschil the Prophet
9 – Feast of St Poul of the Shield
23 – Feast of St Carmichael (St Mikael the Victor)

8 – Feast of St Timhart of Paratime
24-30 – Festival of St Aleena the Beautiful

4 – Feast of Sts Mincival and Tara the Sailor
13 – Feast of St Ronnad of the Flagon
30 – Feast of St Emiliana the Red

6 – Feast of St Garan
13 – Feast of St Raymont
21 – Feast of St Walden

5 – Feast of St Lucilla the Kind
10 – Feast of St Harald of Plenty 
18 – Feast of St Brandon the Navigator
26 – Feast of St Cuthbert (St Keth)

7 – Feast of St Alfar
14 – Feast of St Giles

In addition, there are various festivals which have some quantity of church approval, without necessarily being theologically or liturgically sanctioned. Some are connected with particular Saints, others with historical events or folk superstitions.

The whole month leading up to the Feast of St Valen of Vay (14 Fish to 12 Sheep) is a festival in Dolmvay, as well as a period especially important to the judiciary when courts are held across the Grand Duchy.

King's Tournament (21-27 Sheep) ending on King's Day is a week-long tournament in honour of the old Kings from before the dark times of the Slave Lords, who invaded the Grand Duchy from Southern Ylaruam around 200 years ago.

The Spring Festival is celebrated as part of the Feast of St Mari on 5 Cow, with betrothals, the gathering of flowers and decorating the home.

The Festival of Planting takes place at the Summer Solstice, and is regarded as part of the general Midsummer celebrations connected with St Leandra of the Flowers.

Liberation Day takes place on 20 Twins, celebrating the defeat of the Army of Slave Lords.

Harvest Festival takes place - hopefully! - on 13 Maiden, to coincide with the Feast of St Ronnad of the Flagon. It is regarded as bad luck if the harvest is not gathered by this date.

Ancestor Night on 9 Scorpion is a celebration of deceased family members, who it is believed can influence events in the family for good and ill.

The Night of Blood on 10 Scorpion, coinciding with the Feast of St Harald, is the traditional time for slaughtering the stock before winter. It is also a time when executions are especially likely.

Midwinter (27 Archer- 3 Goat), culminating in the Feast of St Klaus, is a week-long festival of gift-giving and jollity.

So now I need to go back and do the Threshold Calendar... but not tonight.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Imagination training

Over at Monsters and Manuals, Noisms has proposed an exercise regime for imaginations to aid DMs in flexing their creative muscles (post here).

Some of it, I think is a little impractical (though, also, it isn't I think intended to be entirely serious). For imagineers without much time, the recommendations (if I understand them correctly) are to spend ((5+10)x6)+(5x5) minutes making up characters, 6 days a week. That's basically two hours a day just rolling up characters.

I know there's absolutely no way I have that kind of time. But I did about 15 minutes on Sunday, and may manage some more tonight.

These will all become NPCs, though when I'm going to be able to have another game I really don't know.


Str 10
Int 9
Wis 9
Dex 6
Con 15
Cha 10

Worked in the docks as a porter. Clumsy but tough, he has a shaved head and tattooed face.

Magic User

Str 6
Int 14
Wis 9
Dex 7
Con 11
Cha 8

Bookish rather than imposing, she always caries a lamp to symbolise the enlightenment she brings.


Str 14
Int 7
Wis 7
Dex 13
Con 15
Cha 15

Otherwise gregarious and affable, this dwarf has taken a vow to speak as little as possible. Her quiet generosity however wins hearts and minds.


Str 15
Int 9
Wis 11
Dex 6
Con 11
Cha 8

This bearded fellow looks very striking in a long yellow tunic and purple cloak.


Str 10
Int 9
Wis 14
Dex 17
Con 15
Cha 17

This charming rogue wears a many-coloured scarf at all times. At times, it serves as a mask when he is engaged in his audacious robberies.

Pod Larvorn

Str 17
Int 10
Wis 12
Dex 14
Con 15
Cha 10

This Hobbit’s nose is rather long, and he has taken to decorating it with small gold hooped nose-rings.

Magic User
Str 9
Int 12
Wis 10
Dex 11
Con 10
Cha 8

Stick-thin, this MU always appears in public surrounded by clouds of incense, which he insists help with his rituals.