Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Order of the Elk

The Order of the Elk is a holy order of knights dedicated to the Church of Law. They view themselves as protectors of the race of Man, regardless of their wards' religious affiliation. The universalizing of this mission has caused a stir among the more conservative members of the Church, who believe that pagans and their ilk should be slaughtered or at least left for the waiting jaws of their own "gods." Currently, Pope Palapatinius endorses them, though only meekly. Due to this controversy, the order lacks the prestige and resources of their brother organizations the Knights of the Dragon and the Knights in White Satin; however, recently they have gained some power in and around the Bishopric of Lychgate, and currently pursue war with Arnawald the Black Eagle.

The eyes of the sheep are ever on the shepherd.

  • The God of Law seeks to extend his protection to the whole of the race of Man.
  • Valiant deeds of arms will win converts to the Law.
  • Fighting the Old Gods is but a distraction from the true war against the Pit.
  • Establish strongholds that can defend against the forces of Darkness.
  • Defeat agents of the Pit in open warfare.
  • Clear a ruin that may be rebuilt into a castle for the order.
  • Slay a vicious monster terrorizing a village.
  • Defeat a diabolist knight in a duel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Patreon Update: Six Months In

A preview image by Chris Huth

We're starting our sixth month over at the Nightwick Patreon and I thought I'd discuss what's happened so far. Either this month or the next will see the completion of Level 1, after which we (due to a vote by significant patrons) will move right into level 2a and the horrors that work in the Sunless Gardens!

The first month is available for free as well as several preview monsters including this week's entry: the infamous Devil-men! For those of you who have read about them on the blog before there's a faction write up to go with it that discusses the specifics of them in Nightwick Abbey!

I'd like to thank those of you who have supported us so far for doing so and encourage others to join them in bringing Nightwick Abbey to hideous unlife!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: Two Knights and Two Ghosts

Sir Sander of Lychgate

Characters Present
Stavros, Fanatical fighting-man and devotee of St Deodat [only in the first session]
Abraham Nermal, graverobber turned landowner
Kozel, Novgovite cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Eastern)
Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Western)

Uein of "Nordovulgaria" (actually just a part of Vulgary), folk hero and fighter
Istvan Melles, pagan barbarian and foul changeling (also from Vulgary)

Leftember 26th - Quintember 1st 1396
  • Long has the party planned on traveling to Blackleg and dealing with the following hook, which they heard about last Duodecember:
    Perhaps in anticipation of needing to pay for this, or perhaps just knowing that with a war on he is likely to need the Iron, the Bishop has also let it be known that he is offering a knighthood (or 200gp if the person is already a knight) for any who can restore the mine in Blackleg to its proper activity. What precisely stopped the workflow is up to debate, but most agree that knockers are involved and some dimly whisper of a creature called "the Old Man of the Mountain."
  • In the meantime, Bishop Notker had appointed a knight named Sander of Lychgate to take over the wardship of Anne of Waldheim, thus making him the de facto Count of Blackleg.
  • He had arrived some time ago in Nightwick and had discussed making the journey to Blackleg with Abraham and Stavros in order to "meet the neighbors." A member of his entourage, Witchsmeller Hertel, made friends with Kozel during a drinking bout Kozel had with Osperant of Prattle. He had assured Sander that rumors of Stavros and Kozel's heresy were untrue.
  • Johanna had spent the past month deep in prayer attempting to dedicated a ruined church near Frogguts to St Santa Claus and the God of Law. Upon finish her prayers she was able to change Uein back to flesh after he had been poisoned by a basilisk in the Great Swamp. They arrived a few days before the party was set to leave.
  • Fingers, the lieutenant of the Howling Kommandos, had informed Stavros that the leader of the Corbies had become good friends with Sir Sander. Not yet sure what to make of Sander, Stavros decided he should leave the Corbies behind in Nightwick while the Kommandos traveled with Sander's small army.
  • Fingers also informed him that Sir Sander had met with a strange group of men and women under mysterious circumstances, though he did not know the content of the meeting.
  • Abraham elected to take the Loyal Toads (a group of frogling infantry) and the Company of Devil's with him on the journey, planning to leave the Toads in Frogguts where they could bolster the new trading house Fredrick Bull was running there.
The Journey from Nightwick to Blackleg normally takes about 3 days
  • They left on an overcast morn with thunder threatening the oncoming deluge that marked most of their journey. 
  • By the evening they had made it to the outskirts of Knightpath, where they found a man who claimed to be "the Knight of Knightpath" and demanded that those wishing to pass into the village must joust him before doing so. 
  • Kozel, in one of his characteristic acts of zealotry, conjured part of the storm to bring down lightning in order to invite the God of Law and Saint Santa Claus to view any such joust.
  • Stavros was able to goad Sander into doing three tilts against the knight noting that "it seems like your sort of thing."
  • Sander bested the knight in the joust but took several hard hits in doing so. Kozel healed Sander and Johanna offered to heal the Knight of Knightpath. The knight took some persuading but ultimately was convinced by the logic that if the God of Law had not meant him to be healed then he would not have sent two clerics.
  • Curious as to why the knight felt that only those who were good at jousting should enter Knightpath, Stavros queried him on this topic. The Knight of Knightpath responded that he meant to keep out frogling caravans, which he felt came too often to the village. This soured everyone's mood greatly, as the Howling Kommandos are known friends of Froglings.
  • In Knightpath they discovered the lord of the village - a member of the Order of the Elk - was embarrassed by the storybook antics of the Knight of Knightpath, noting that he was a new recruit into the order.
  • That night the leadership of the Howling Kommandos, along with Sir Sander, ate in the manor of the lord of Knightpath.
  • During the dinner, Abraham attempted to recount the time he and others of the Howling Kommandos had saved Knightpath from a group of dreaded varkolaks. His storytelling was of poor quality, and soon their host and Sir Sander began to nod off.
  • However, when he mentioned the name of Martha the Black, who had been the acting lord of Knightpath at the time, they heard screaming erupt from where the Howling Kommandos were sleeping.
  • They rushed out to find that Martha's shade was attacking them, her head lolling around the gaping neck wound she had been allegedly delt by the mercenary Badder some years ago.
  • Abraham had prepared for this eventuality, and removed from a sack the porcine head of Badder, who had been captured and turned into a pig-man after the Battle of Vollage. The Howling Kommandos had slain him during their retaking of the Witchfort.
  • Upon seeing the black fur and white streaks atop the disembodied pig head, Martha's shade knew who it was and that his fate was far worse than hers. She let out a wheezing laugh as her head rolled back (again exposing the wound) and the spectre descended down into the earth - no more to ever trouble men.
  • During the next day Sander proposed hunting in the Fog-bound Forest, but the torrential downpour and the fear that he might need silver weapons for such an endeavor put him off the idea.
  • The party then made their way to Frogguts with little issue, left the Loyal Toad's there and found that one of the froglings in the service of Fredrick Bull had been convinced to worship St Santa Claus.
  • The next day they passed an elf corpse that has lain unmolested on the road for many months now - seemingly incorruptible save for the mortal wound dealt to it by a bear trap.
  • Outside the town of Blackleg they found a number of men they believed to be from Anne's garrison (many clothed in the livery of Waldheim) attempting to desert. 
  • Abraham instructed the Company of Devil's to round up these men and they were subdued quickly. 
  • Kozel, Johanna, and Witchsmeller Hertel discussed how to properly interrogate these men once they arrived in Blackleg. Kozel was able to determine from Sir Sander's demeanor that, despite employing him, Sander may be skeptical of Hertel's powers.
The Town of Blackleg
  • The party arrived in blackleg during the worst part of a days-long storm. The town seemed to lack a garrison, and Sander was able to quickly get his men to occupy the military buildings both inside and outside the walls.
  • As evening turned into night the thunder and rain continued, but a group of soldiers in the livery of Blackleg came down from the castle in the south and announced to Sander that Anne of Waldheim wished to dine with him tonight.
  • The group opted to follow Sander, taking the Kommandos with them up the switchback trail into the foothills of the Nameless Mountains. The going was rough as the way was slick from the constant rain and the only illumination were the frequent bolts of lightning.
Castle Blackleg
  • Arriving at the castle around midnight, the party found that both themselves and the castle's guards were dead tired. Still, both groups remained awake in order to perform the courtesy of having Anne feast the new lord.
  • Their horses stabled and their soldiers quartered, the party was led to a dining hall of some size to meet with Anne of Waldheim. There they found her dressed not in the red livery of that city but in the yellow of Blackleg, and noted with some interest that she introduced herself as Anne of Blackleg.
  • Kozel, who had cast a spell on himself as they were led to this large chamber, was able to see an immolated corpse seated next to her - the ghost of her husband Arn of Waldheim. The party had known for some time that his ghost was rumored to haunt the towers, warning that previous appointees of the bishop were responsible for his slaying. It was the general consensus of those living in the town that the ghost would be heeded more if his pronouncements had been vaguer.*
  • During the dinner, Abraham and Kozel attempted to suss out the character of Sir Sander, as he had thus far been something of an enigma. Istvan, however, took opportunities to make Sander look like a city fop and to promote his own barbaric virtues.
  • Stavros made a comment about Kozel's ability to see "between worlds" and Kozel noticed that Anne gave a very subtle hand gesture that the invisible (to all but Kozel) shade of Arn took as a command to leave.
  • Anne shortly exited the dinner but offered to have more food brought up. It was clear to Kozel that this had to do with her husband but unclear if that meant she was a witch controlling him or merely a concerned wife unable to let go.
  • After convincing Sander he should go to bed in the quarters appointed for them, the rest of the group debated the nature of Anne and the ghost. Kozel and Abraham said they should wait outside the sleeping quarters and then rush in to save Sander when the ghost "inevitably" attacked him.
  • Johanna and Istvan had a different idea. They decided to sneak out into the courtyard of the castle and use the same magic Kozel had used to reveal the ghost in the first place to search for him. They found security to be quite tight, despite everyone in the castle being quite tired.
  • While Johanna and Istvan were trying to find an exit through the latrine, they saw the ghost was above them - in the very room where Sander slept!
  • Hearing Sander seemingly in the grips of a night terror, Kozel burst into the room. Seeing nothing, he placed Sir Sander under a hold person spell and then attempted to turn undead.
  • The ghost, now visible to all, appeared in its burned hideousness and flew through the walls away from the Novgovite cleric... right into the stairway Johanna and Istvan were making there way up!
  • A battle ensued with mostly Johanna, Istvan, and Uein battling the ghost.
  • Uein, seemingly terminally unlucky, was aged 30 years by the ghost's terrifying scream.
  • Abraham gave Sir Sander a silver dagger as Kozel announced that the "hunt [was] on," seemingly hoping to make Sander feel like an ally of the party.
  • Sander, still in his bedclothes and armed only with his knife, arrived just in time to see Johanna destroy Arn's spirit for good, shattering it with the bells of St Santa Claus and watching it destroyed in the spectral fire of the Pit.
Anne of Blackleg
  • The next morning, the absolutely exhausted party met with Anne once again, announcing to her the release of Arn's ghost from the World. She seemed saddened and relieved in a way that some of the kommandos compared to the reaction of someone who had been in an abusive relationship.
  • Sir Sander took some of the credit for the deed, irritating some of the party and seemingly all according to plan for others.
  • Some discussion of the ghost's attempt to possess Sander led many of the assembled to realize that the infamous fall that Baltzer the Bold had taken from the high tower of the castle to be an act of Arn from the grave.
  • With all these adventures now behind them, the party made ready to talk to Anne about Blackleg Mine...
Monsters Killed
Martha's Shade and Arn's Ghost

Treasure Gained
10 suits of splint armor

XP Per Player for both sessions

XP for Stavros

* Famously he screamed "Baltzer murdered me, you fools!" before an assembly brought before Baltzer the Bold when he was lord of Blackleg.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Aquelarre: Nigromante

What follows is a new profession for Aquelarre, the Nigromante (black magician or "necromancer"). When I did my graduate-level work in medieval studies, I did a great deal of research on the figure of the nigromanticus in 13th-century texts. My knowledge leads me to believe they'd be rarer by the time Aquelarre takes place but extant texts certainly hint at their survival. My favorite historical example is Eustace the Monk, though Michael Scot is probably a more prominent example. Philip the Bloody's name was taken from a nigromanticus from the works of Caesarius of Heisterbach.

Note that the nigromante uses the default rules for professions rather than the stricter rules for invented professions. This is because it is invented by the GD and not by the player. Those wishing to include it in their games should allow a character of the lower nobility class who has rolled cleric for their occupation to choose this instead or perhaps assign a second die roll to determine which it is (1-7 cleric, 8-10 nigromante).

This profession can be followed only by male characters.

The nigromante is a specialized form of cleric (almost always a canon) who has decided to devote his energies to studying demonology. While many insist that they begin such studies in order to perform exorcisms, they are usually viewed as something like the educated version of a bruja. Toledo is infamously their training ground, due in no small part to its school of Arabic translation. Because of this, the nigromante is something of a combination of the Christian cleric and the Muslim mage. In the 13th century, they were shockingly common throughout Europe, but crackdowns and book burnings have left them much rarer in the time of Aquelarre.

Minimum Characteristics: Culture 20, Perception 15

Primary Skills: Language (Latin), Magical Knowledge, Read/Write, Theology

Secondary Skills: Alchemy, Discovery, Language (Arabic), Astrology, Medicine, Memory, Teach, 1 Arms skill of Noble Category

Monthly Income: 350 maravedies, but may opt to add their % in Magical Knowledge at the risk of suspicion of sorcery.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

7 Kukoshi Hexes

1. An abandoned house within this forest possesses a well that is reputed to be haunted.  The mother of a changeling who lived here drowned her in the well, throwing the treasure given to her by the yosei father in the well with her. The villagers in Uzo remember the tale and often young hotheads head to the house to get the treasure from the well.  Supposedly the spirit of the murdered changeling slays anyone who takes any of the treasure, and anyone who trades with them for part of it, returning it to the well. In reality a troop of 10 yosei in the shape of men with the features of the carp - relatives of the changeling girl - are the murderers and responsible for returning the treasure. The treasure consists of a coat of golden fish scales (as plate armor), and 200 gp.* The carp-men can identify the coins through some means not known to man.

2. This tiny namazu village is the site of a bloodbath. A group of 7 veteran samurai, all gravely wounded (use only 1d4 to generate HP), have butchered the namazu believing them to have stolen a magic sword from their lord. They have turned the village over, turning up only about 100sp, 5 drums (10sp each), and some jars of fermented fish. They are resting, blaming both themselves and the namazu for not finding the sword.

3. A shrine maiden (as vicar) defends her mountain shrine from a group of 15 bandits who lair in the same hex. She and the bandits have been in a protracted war of attrition for several days, and both have gone without food for that time. What has set them in spite against each other is unknown to both parties. The bandits have only 13 arrows between them now, but the shrine contains a red jade statue of a bull, believed by the shrine maiden to be a kami.

4. The remains of a small castle are the private battleground between two supernatural monsters - a bakeneko (the spirit of a family pet of the Tsuru clan people who lived here) and a gashadokuro sent by the Genbu clan in ages past. Their struggle has been at a standstill for many decades, with the bakeneko protecting the corpses of the family who starved to death in the cellar. If the gashadokuro is destroyed, the bakeneko will reward the destroyers with a charm allowing them to speak to cats 3 times in their lives. This would ideally be used to determine if a cat is a bakeneko and to achieve its loyalty and aid (since the charmed person has aided another of his race). With this done the bakeneko will perish of exhaustion. Upon the corpses of the starved family is enough remaining fine silk to fetch 3000sp.

5. Below these sea cliffs, on a small beach, is a manor made of enormous seashells. It is home to a goblin spider who often climbs the cliffs to go to the nearby road and feign helplessness as an old woman. She uses this to trap young women and men who she spirits back to her palace. There she forces the young women to weave fine clothes from her silk, and she devours the men. She has several tapestries worth 1000gp in total (most depicting the perfidy of men), and 3 suits of silk cloth that are hard as mail and would fetch a price equal to plate armor if sold.

6. A pond in this hex is visited daily by a ponderously fat foul changeling who comes here to devour frogs. He is dressed only in tattered rags and does not know how to speak to humans, who he fears greatly. He has the ability to turn invisible once per day and will use this to flee from anyone who approaches.

7. This spot of forest was once home to a battle, with arrows still stuck in trees and the occsional bit of armor or shaft of a spear poking through the dirt. The craven servant of an Okami clan mahotsukai is searching here for a "heavenly armor." He is under a geas to find it here as punishment for some perceived slight. Unfortunately for him, the armor was looted years ago and currently resides in the treasure of a Byakko clan samurai some miles away. Even more unfortuantely, the wording of the geas would mean it would have to be recovered, brought to this battle site, and then found by him for his mission to be successful.

*The World of Nightwick uses 1sp = 1xp.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Kommando Kronikles: Against the Eye

Fumbling in the dark...

Characters Present
Stavros, Fanatical fighting man and devotee of St Deodat
Frederick Bull, Fighting frog in the service of the van Toad house
Abraham Nermal, graverobber turned landowner
Kozel, Novgovite cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Eastern)
Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Western)Janos Balazsfi, Vulgarian changeling dedicated to St. Gax

Gregor von Hexenzitsen, Realmish "wizard" (he's got a book and everything!)

Elders 17, 1396

  • I have been neglectful in keeping up to date with the play reports for both groups, so know that among the Kommands, Frederick Bull and Johanna d'Ligne have recently established strongholds in/near the abandoned village of Frogguts. However, in the process of helping them, Uein was turned to stone by the poison of a basilisk.
  • Since then they have returned to their excursions into Nightwick Abbey, focusing on the second level.
  • Last session they destroy a creature they had long heard rumors about - the Fungal Brain! They also found a knot of devil-vine that seemed to go both upwards and downwards into the earth and was well over 50' wide.
  • The aim of this expedition was to experiment with that vine.  Some debate was had about attacking it with Johanna and Kozel's ice powers from the surface; however, knowledge that the physical exterior of the abbey and the interior of the dungeon are not necessarily related to each other in euclidean space made the party decide it would be best to deal with the vine from within.
  • Their journey to the stairs for level 2 was interrupted by a troop of blind dead. These were defeated fairly easily, but there was some difficulty as Johanna had moved ahead of the group in her eagerness and the darkness of the abbey threatened to separate them.
  • Once on level 2, Kozel assaulted the vines with a magical sleet storm. They retreated, opening the ceiling up to the outside and opening a shaft below that terminated in an eerie, purple mist.
  • They then entered a room filled with mummified remains - apparently mummified using herbs grown on the garden level. Johanna elected to leave the party and head to the surface to give them a proper burial.
  • After poking around a the few remaining rooms on the garden level, the party made its way to level 3, where they elected to tackle an encounter behind a set of double doors they had passed over on many previous occasions.
  • The doors had behind them a massive cult and a warlock the party had previously tackled with - one that had burned off Johanna's arm!
  • The party made sure to focus on the warlock, with their best fighters wading into the fray and slaying him (though not before he had done significant damage to Stavros). 
  • The rest of the combat was kind of a drag, as the maneuvering to take out the leader meant that many of the PCs were now stuck in the middle of a mass of cultists. Still, they were able to overpower these without being taken down themselves.
  • Seeing two chests in the room, Abraham quickly determined they were neither locked nor trapped and contained a sizeable sum of gold.
  • On the way out there was a bit of tension as there was some disagreement over which exit would be easiest to access and therefore which way to go. Not wanting to be trapped in the abbey, they eventually decided the best way would be to go out the very hole they had made earlier in the session.
Monsters Killed
3 Blind Dead, 22 Cultists, and 1 Warlock of the Fiend

Treasure Gained
1000gp in two chests

XP per player

Unfocused thoughts on Immer

Recently, for reasons not entirely within my own understand, I've been reading about Minaria, the setting of the board game Divine Right. Just a cursory glance over the material gave me a slew of ideas for a game, particularly for a region in the kingdom of Immer called the Wildwood/the region of the Gorpin Woodsmen. This post will cover what attracted me to the area as well as my own ideas for the tone, adventures, stuff like that.

  • Immer is a kingdom of two ethnic groups who settled in two waves - initial human settlement and then conquerors. However, now the native population is allied with the monarchy as a way of having a balance of power against the powerful dukes.
  • The monarchs of Immer are often puppets of a group of magicians called the Eaters of Wisdom, who have done what they can to make sure the monarchy is both strong and under their control. Most monarchs of Immer now study wisdom at the School of Thautmaturgy before ruling.
  • Despite a strong monarchy, Immer is definitely feudal - with dukes and horseman set up across the kingdom to respond rapidly to threats from goblins, barbarians, and elves.
  • The Gorpin Woodsmen are the descendants of the servants of a rogue duke who was defeated (along with his elf allies) during an attempt to make himself independent.
  • The Eaters of Wisdom remind me of multiple factions from the First Law trilogy, and having them act as kind of jerk-ass merlins is real appealing to me.
  • My idea is that the Wild Wood is currently being reenforced by the queen of Immer due to its position along the gold-possessing River Rapid and the border with the goblins of Zorn. She is being advised in this matter by the Eaters of Wisdom.
  • I have access to a copy of the boardgame through Tabletop simulator, and using that I distributed personalities to the factions I thought might come into the game in one way or another, that is Immer, the Eaters of Wisdom, Zorn, Elfland, Muetar, and the Dwarves (who I included because this would be a D&D game and it'd be useful to know what's up with the kings of all the available PC races). What I got was...
    • The Queen of Immer is starry eyed and looking to prove herself in combat. Which works out real well because...
    • The Eaters of Wisdom (or at least the ones advising her) are military geniuses.
    • The Goblins of Zorn are led by an extremely gullible king. Perhaps he too is being manipulated by an Eater?
    • The King of Elfland is "known for his lack of valor." Because I'm currently reading the Corum series, I'm going to borrow from that and make him not a coward so much as so aloof he doesn't realize how fast wars happen.
    • The King of Muetar is money grubbing. I think that's a good dynamic for their closest human neighbor - he can be persuaded to aid for huge sums or may foil the planes of the Queen of Immer to gain gold.
    • The Dwarves are ruled by a king as "irascible as a dragon." Sounds like dwarves.
  • There's also a religious tension in Immer, with the monarchy promoting "patriarchal worship" and the original religion of the region (and the conquering ethnic group) being a triple maiden-mother-crone goddess.
  • The region also borders the Temple of the Kings, which only allows kings inside and serves as the chief temple for the strongest gods of Minaria. I may also make parts of it accessible as a dungeon to any PCs.
  • The ideas I have swirling in my head relate to a faction of the Gorpin seeing the Queen as someone who can reinvigorate the goddess worship, the Eaters attempting to manipulate  her not to, and the queen herself's desire to win military victories in order to enter the Temple of the Kings.
  • PCs would be the standard types of freebooters and cutthroats, but hopefully the adventure hooks lead them to siding with one faction or another.
  • Dungeons would include the aforementioned temple of the kings, goblin pits, old elven ruins, the ruins of pre-kingdom Immer, and the strange wreckage created by the Invasion of Abominations/Invasion of the Things that Crawl and Things that Fly.
  • The aforementioned Abominations, their invasion, and their disappearance will probably feature as a big campaign mystery and maybe relate to the goals of the Eaters of Wisdom.
  • Aesthetically I imagine the setting as kind of... pre-D&D fantasy art; especially the covers of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.
  • I imagine the men of Immer as having a kind of Rurkidi vibe - layers of viking, slavic, and steppe peoples, though I may make it more of a Saxon/Norman thing. Either way they need to have cavalry, and they like green, gold, and garnets.
  • I think the goblins of Zorn represent the full range of goblinoids but probably expressed more like Tolkien's varieties of orcs.
  • I want to figure out a size for the map hexes above, but I'm also trepedatious about doing a zoomed in map on the area I want to cover because the original map used the cursed hex alignment of absolute columns.
That's all for now.  I got other posts about other things coming up though so stay tuned. Oh also check out my patreon where Huth and I continue to put out Nightwick Abbey stuff.