Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Folio Project

I mentioned previously that I know very little about the Greyhawk setting.  After getting some excellent recommendations, I decided to pick up the original folio in order to see what all the fuss was about.  I went with the folio since it was a bit skimpier on details than later versions.

Anyway, my copy came in the mail yesterday and I'm very impressed with it.  The folder itself is rather scuffed up, but the booklet and maps are immaculate.  The maps live up to their reputation, and pictures on the internet truly do not do them justice.  The Folio is exactly what the doctor ordered.

So I've decided to start a new project for my blog.  It'll be roughly in the style of sirlarkins's Grey Box Project or Scott's Wilderlands of Darkling Sorcery.  Essentially I'll try to develop a version of Greyhawk that appeals to my tastes using only this folio and some version of D&D I like (likely LL + AEC).  

I would say I'm approaching Greyhawk with fresh eyes, but I think that would imply that I'm somewhat familiar with the setting.  This is literally my first contact with the World of Greyhawk so I have no preconceptions.  I don't know if I'll come up with anything new or extremely radical, but I hope to have something I'm happy with.

Proper work on this project will have to be stalled until after next week, since I still have a mountain of work to do before the semester is over.  I'll still have Dark Country and Uz posts fairly regularly.  In fact, I have a number of ideas for those two settings swirling around in my head right now, but it'd take too long to write them up and I can't justify doing that with this work load.  Still, you can look forward to more material on those settings in the near future.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Someone Make This their Campaign Map

Sadly, this one doesn't include the names of the sons of Noah, but it's pretty representative of a Mappa Mundi.

I myself am thinking of basing the planes in the Dark Country off of the Spheres

Ok, back to my blogging break.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Break Interrupted to Bring You a Dream

This morning I awoke after one of the strangest nights of my life with the end of a dream tugging at my mind.  For some -- D&D related -- context, that afternoon I had finished stocking a level of Nightwick Abbey.  I was worried that the level was all too random in it's contents, but I have very little time this week and since I needed to spend my time writing and grading papers I decided to leave it in its current "sucky state."

Then I had this dream.  I literally only remember two things about it.

  1. I was reading ChicagoWiz's blog.
  2. In that blog was the following sentence "It's the kind of stupid dungeon that makes total sense to stupid me and my stupid players after the fact."
I have no idea what the hell else was in the dream, but I think there is some wisdom in that line.  I know I'll certainly be looking at this level that way when my players get to it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taking a Blogging Break

The end of this semester is looking to be a rather rough one for me, so I desperately need to cut my blogging time.  I'll resume some time around the second week of May.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Useful Tool For the Name Challenged

Mythmere of Swords & Wizardry fame has posted a guide on how to Gygax Your Name.  I've often have difficulty with this as my first name doesn't give me a lot to work with and my last name has, under all previous efforts, turned into an pronounceable mess of consonants.  My middle name is simply Van, which is equally hard to deal with.  However, using this system I've gotten some neat results.

Below are the results when applied to my first, last, and middle names repsectively.

Ann (this one is the strangest one to me)

And here are some miscellaneous others: 

I wouldn't be surprised if my players come into contact with the Dread Sorceror Vennax if I were you.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Woeful Ignorance

I've played in and run quite a few campaign settings in my time.  During high school and very early college -- and arguably even know -- I suffered from an acute case of Gamer ADD.  My old flames includes the Forgotten Realms, Rokugan (the 3.x version), Eberron, Ravenloft, The Wilderlands, and Warhammer's Old World.  With the exception of WFRP, I used 3.x to run all of these settings, since that was the system I was most comfortable with at the time.  There are other settings I've read but never run or played.  I've read a smattering of Dark Sun, EPT, Blackmoor, Harn, and a few others.

However, there is one setting I have neither run no read anything about: Greyhawk.  Aside from vague references in 3e, such as the deities and spells like Mordenkainen's Shit Covered Hovel, I don't really have any grasp on what Greyhawk is and what makes it tick.  If there is a single D&D topic I'm ignorant of it's Greyhawk.

There are multiple reasons for this.  First of all, there wasn't a very clear "buy this product to learn about Greyhawk" for 3e.  Sure there was the D&D Gazetteer, but at that time I was more interested in making my own milieus (read: filing the serial numbers off of Erathia).  It also isn't terribly clear from the title that it details the World of Greyhawk.

The other major reason is that whenever I do go through my periods of Gygax idol worship, I'm more interested in emulating what he did than playing in his world.  He made his own milieu, so the the most Gygaxian thing one can do is not play in Greyhawk but make your own damn Greyhawk.  This is obviously an overzealous and flat out stupid opinion, but it's one I hold on to nevertheless.

Due to comments to my recent post, I can't help but feel that I may have missed something.  While the game I run is more or less based on B/X D&D, there is a certain ineffable quality to 1e that attracts me.  It is both highly fantastic and gritty and dirty all at the same time.  Perhaps that's why the Dark Country campaign has incorporated an ever increasing amount of AD&D material in recent weeks.  Something in me thinks that looking at Greyhawk would help me get closer to defining the je ne sais quoi of Gygaxian AD&D in a way just the core books do not.

Of course, I don't really know where to start.  So I ask you gentle reader: is there some product or place where I might find out about Greyhawk in its most interesting form?

Friday, April 22, 2011

What is Vanilla Fantasy?

Aside from finding out that Orcs have no genitals, last session my player also had a very brief discussion on the definition of vanilla fantasy.  One of them used it in a fairly derogatory fashion to describe a campaign setting that will not be named.  One of my other players was quite confused by this as he had never heard the term.

Then I discovered something.  Though I know what vanilla fantasy is it's rather like pornography: I know it when I see it.  I was completely unable to give a definition for "vanilla fantasy."  So I ask you, what makes something vanilla fantasy?  Is it necessarily a bad thing?  Does it need to be self serious?  Can it have rayguns in it?  Does Tolkien count?

When someone says vanilla fantasy to me, I immediately think of Might & Magic.  Of course that's a rather screwed up view of vanilla fantasy, since M&M is secretly a sci fi setting, but it's what I think of none the less.

An Orc is an Orc of Course of Course...

The players in my Nightwick Abbey game recently discovered (i.e. last session) that Orcs in the Dark Country have no genitals.  Since Ffraid was technically a character in my short lived Keep on the Borderlands game, she was able to inform them of the horrible manner in which Orcs reproduce.  

One of my players asked how the hell you have Half Orcs then, but of course there are no Half Orcs in the Dark Country.  He seemed fine with that answer, but his question got me thinking: have I changed some of these monsters too much?

Why the hell do I still call the bestial things which breed with witches' spells and magic pools Orcs?  What is the point?  Of course this is a slippery slope since at some point you start to say "well why am I using D&D since I've made all new monsters?" and that way madness (or T&T) lies.

I'm not really sure what to do about all this yet.  It mainly shows up in the way that I have to avoid all the Gygaxian naturalist sections of the MM because I have my own explanations for those sorts of things -- though Goblins and Hobgoblins mate in the usual manner.  I will say that what little tension there is between my gaming group and the setting -- and it is very little tension -- comes from how bizarre the setting can be.  If I had to do it over again I'd probably go with a more "beer and pretzels" set up, but I didn't do that and Nightwick Abbey has been loads of fun so far.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Despite the efforts of the Church, most of the inhabitants of the Dark Country pay homage to the Old Gods in some for or another.  Even those who claim to follow the God of Law, and indeed even the most ardent supporters of the Church, will make a small sacrifice to those primordial beings who aided humans in their earliest attempts at civilization.  Such beings do not offer aid without a price, and it is for that reason the first Clerics of the Old Gods learned their arts.

Clerics of the Old Gods oversee the rites and rituals needed to appease these capricious deities.  They know when to perform the sacrifices, and the type of sacrifice needed in order to bring the community back into accordance with the will of the thing living in the woods.  This is a useful skill for a society living on the brink of catastrophe, such as the barbarians in the Dark Country.  The humans of the West have been softened by civilization -- in the opinion of the barbarians anyway, the men of the Desert Lands and the city of Zenopolis can barely tell the difference between Westerners and their barbarian neighbors.  They have forgotten what one must do in order to survive, the bargains one must make.

It is the Clerics that oversee these bargains, but these men and women are not true Druids.  Druids are only those Clerics specifically chosen by an Old God to serve as the elect leaders of their cults.  They alone are privy to the true mysteries of the universe, or at least what their gods claim are the true mysteries of the universe. They are few in number, but their power is great, and they have proven to be a thorn in the side of the Church since the Sword Brothers arrived.

However, the Druids' powers are waining.  Not in the magical sense, for Druids' mastery over the natural world grants them powers beyond the comprehension of most mortals.  No, it is the political power of the Druids that is waining. As more and more settlers trickle in from the West, the old order is supplanted by the new.  Though most men and women who profess the new faith of the God of Law still visit the shrines of the Old Gods, their children do not.  Who knows how much longer the old faith can survive in the face of this onslaught.


In my campaign, neutral Clerics become Druids at level 9 a la the Rules Cyclopedia.  This may seem odd given the increasingly "advanced" nature of my campaign, what with a Paladin* and a Dwarf Fighter in the mix, but that is how I decided it should be handled before I purchased the AEC.  My wife, who plays Ffraid the Cleric of the Old Gods, has insisted we stick to that most likely because she likes the healing available to a Labyrinth Lord Cleric.

*On a related note, I had originally intended for Paladins to be level 9 Lawful Fighters, but I forgot to mention that to the player of Roger Le Douche when he started making his character.  Oh well.

The Whole Dark Country (Unstocked)

click to embiggen

It occurred to me that my previous efforts at mapping sections of the Dark Country only dealt with the sections as discrete units.  That struck me as a bad idea so I decided to map the whole thing in one, big go.  I haven't stocked it yet, but right now only the places the characters have gone are canonical, and the rest is likely to be completely restocked.  I'll post an updated version when I'm done with that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nightwick Abbey Session 13

Archibald the Malevolent (deceased?)

Last night's session, while not as much of a landmark as landmark as session 11, was immensely enjoyable.  Barley Brownbeard's player was absent and therefore the party consisted of...

Ffraid -- the quiet cleric of the Old Gods
Roger Le Douche -- Uptight Paladin and scion of the Le Douche family
Pillsen -- egotistical and cowardly magic user
Slimey -- brother to the deceased Slick and thief extraordinaire

I was, for the first time in a long while, able to observe the rule of one game week paces for each real week that passes between forays.  During that week, Pillsen used his last bit of coin to party like it's 999, but unfortunately he was unable to pay his debts and landed in a cell in the reeve's manor.  Unfortunately for Pillsen, a number of mercenaries from Lichgate have taken over the town in order to weed out the pagans who have been causing the recent disturbances in the region (read: the party).  They refused to release him until a ransom of 6,000 gold coins was payed to Eckhard, the new governor of the village.  Since none of the party members could afford such a hefty fine, they decided to pursue other methods of freeing their companion.

Ffraid sought out a few hirelings to bolster their numbers, and she took on a simpleton named Fred as a linkboy and a magician named Archibald the Malevolent.  This immediately concerned Roger Le Douche who went about getting references from the townsfolk for this nefarious character.  He discovered that Archibald was also known as the baby basher and the guard boiler, which concerned the paladin even further.  He decided to rally the guard to capture this fiend.

In the meantime, Slimey was planning with Archibald to both rescue Pillsen and to make it appear as though Eckhard and the captain of the guard were more than close friends (thus compromising the two men in the eyes of the Church).  Ffraid, for her part, ended up with Roger when it became clear that Archibald was nothing but trouble.

Unfortunately for Slimey, Roger was able to uncover his plan and foil it before Pillsen could be freed.  Archibald received an arrow in the throat for his trouble.  For his help, Eckhard released Pillsen into Roger's company on the condition he pay his fine with any gold pieces he finds in the dungeon.  Roger managed to negotiate the fine down to 300 gold pieces, since it was quite obvious that 6,000 was far more than the crime warranted.  Roger now worries that Eckhard may be corrupt.  Slimey was not taken into custody, as Roger believed he would be a good influence on the thief if they were allowed to adventure together.

The party then set out for the abbey, noting that the alien weeds that grow in the surrounding bog were gaining new life, despite the fact that it was only the end of January.  They decided to investigate a number of passages Slick had explored on his own before meeting his untimely end.  There they found a tomb containing a number of sword brothers.  Roger said a prayer over their bodies, but when he did so a horrible moan echoed from further down the chamber.  They soon found that the tomb was guarded by a sentient undead creature who called himself simply "The Guardian of the Tomb."

Luckily for the party, they were separated from the Guardian by a large pit trap that Slick had triggered during that earlier expedition.  Roger asked why, if the creature was here to guard sacred relics, why even the most basic of prayers injured it.  The creature responded to Roger's question by noting that Roger knew little of the Sword Brothers if he thought their possessions were sacred.  This confused Roger's player, and I clarified by saying the Sword Brothers had descended into devil worship before the destruction of the Abbey.  I wish I hadn't done this as I could have let it come through as they explored the structure, but what's done is done.

While talking with the Guardian, the party discovered that a number of bandits had gathered nearby and were spying on them.  The party asked what they were doing and the bandit leader said "We're robbin' you!"  Roger kindly asked if they would wait until the party had dealt with the Guardian, and seeing the wisdom in that the bandits kindly left the party to their business (reaction rolls are odd things).

At this point, Roger stated that he was doing a better job of guarding the tomb than the Guardian himself.  This prompted the Guardian to say "why don't you come over here and say that."  "Well why don't you come over here?" Roger responded.  At that point Slimey began relieving the tombs of their contents which caused the Guardian to teleport to their side of the pit and initiate combat.  The combat was short and fierce, but Ffraid was able to sever his head with her as yet unnamed magical sword.  Fred had fled into the pit, and it was quite difficult to coax him out without scarring him, but after some convincing he rejoined the party.

Roger then discovered that Slimey had tied his feet together using twine, which greatly irritated the paladin, but Slimey assured him he had done this before combat was initiated.  If he felt that they were in danger he never would have done such a thing.

The party found that the tomb ended in a dead end; however a comment the Guardian had made caused the party to search for secret doors.  They found one which lead to a passage that either traveled above other passages they had been exploring or revealed inadequacies in their current map or both.  Upon coming to the end of the passage they found it connected to the alchemist lab they had discovered earlier, and they decided to go and investigate a passage they had left alone on their previous expeditions.  Slimey also took this time to use some of the decaying goblin corpses to torment Fred, much to Ffraid's chagrin.

While preparing to go down that passage, a number of deer-headed Orcs erupted from a neighboring hallway, but they did not seem immediately hostile.  We left the session with the party in intense negotiations (Roger and Slimey could both speak the orc's vile tongue), and we will pick it up there next time.

This was the first session that saw the use of miniatures on a large scale, and the players seemed to enjoy it.  Slimey's player owns literally thousands of minis (every one WotC produced before 4e came out and even a few from after).  It may have slowed things down a tad, but I think the players liked it and so we will continue to use them.  It'll be an excuse for me to paint some, and that's always a good thing.

I've also fallen back into my groove as far as being a hammy DM goes, and I did quite a bit more voices than I have in previous sessions.

EDIT:  I'm not sure how many more times the players are going to use the carousing table, as they've seemed disappointed with it both times it's been employed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Inspirational Pictures for Mutant Future

One thing I like about these pictures is that they still have vegetation, unlike a lot of post-apoc stuff. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

This post is not about the Star Trek episode; sorry to disappoint. 

In the responses to my recent poll, I’ve seen a number of people who are fine with Science Fantasy, as long as it is presented as such.  However, if a hypothetical DM were to pitch a high fantasy setting, only to rip off the curtain at the end to reveal aliens or weird computer-gods, I get the feeling these individuals would be a tad pissed. 

I must say then that I am public enemy number one for these people, as about 90% of the settings I make are ostensibly high fantasy (or sometimes low fantasy) with quasi-science fiction explanations.  While my presentation of Uz makes it very clear from the start that the setting is a post-apocalyptic Earth, IRASS is by design a more subtle creature.  My goal would be that any players who had not read this blog would think of it as simply a fantastic planet until the hypothetical end game.

This is not the first time I've thought about doing this.  My version of the Wilderlands was actually a ring world colonized by Star Trek's Federation (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and got separated during some war with the Markabs (demonic entities).  Even my first game, which was a railroady mess, was really just the collapse of the Roman Empire with magic, but the "angels" the main church worshiped were really the aliens who colonized the planet.  Indeed, this seems to be my wheelhouse, with the Dark Country being a tad out of the box for me.  That's probably not entirely accurate, but I've done way more "high fantasy with secret ray guns" than "middle ages with a fog machine" settings.

Part of this is undoubtedly due to the Might & Magic series.  They were the height of fantasy gaming to me at age 12.  The typical course of events in an M&M game begins with you trying to take down an evil wizard or cult, and ends with you descending into an alien hive-fortress with a blaster rifle.  While the Heroes series largely lacked these elements, they were almost included in Heroes III, but apparently fan outrage kept this from happening.  (I find this odd, since it's a natural continuation of M&M 7's plot, but I'm sure you don't really care about that).

There is obviously some precedent for this sort of thing in D&D:
from the first module published by TSR: Temple of the Frog

this one should be obvious

Both of these include saucers and ray guns in what are otherwise typical Tolkienian (in Blackmoor's case) and Gygaxian fantasy.  Neither of their respective settings state on the box "this has fucking rayguns in it!" so I suppose I'm participating in a long D&D tradition.  Of course, thats not why I do it.  I do it because I like it.

One thing I'm interested to know, though I got some ideas from the response to my poll, why do those of you who don't like this particular embodiment of the mixture dislike it?


Two tangential notes:  First, I've often wanted to run a Star Trek game in which the away team gets stranded on the Wilderlands planet and has their ship stolen.  They have to find a spaceship and get it operational again while fighting the Orcs of the Purple Claw and a myriad of other Wilderlands threats.

Second, most of my early campaigns were very railroady, but almost without exception they crashed and burned really quickly.  Then, rather than running the game "I most wanted to run" I decided to run the game I would most want to play.  Thus I started running sandboxes and thus I learned that I was wrong about what I most wanted to run to start with.

Another Player Gets a Blog

I've already mentioned Chris of The Polyhedral Dicebag has played a litany of Magic-Users who've met their fates in Nightwick Abbey.  I'm happy to say that Barley Brownbeard's player has started a blog chronicling the side game he DM's.  Head over there and make him feel welcome!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Poll

I was wondering how other people feel about the mixture of sci fi and fantasy in various campaign settings.  Personally I'm a huge fan, and I know that lots of Old Schoolers think it's the bee's knees.

The Dark Country doesn't really have any Sci Fi stuff, but Uz and IRASS are explicitly designed to include scienc fiction elements.

Dark Country Region 1 Mystara Version and Encounter Tables

click to embiggen

With this version of the Region 1 map I tried to stay a bit closer to the style present in the RC for Mystara.  I think it loses something, but I thought I'd try it anyway.

All encounter tables use 1d8 +1d12.  Encounters in regions not covered in the tables below use the generic tables from the Monster Manual 2.

The Swamp
A cold, wet swamp that dominates this section of the river.  A popular haunt for bands of outlaws.
2 -- Greenhag
3 -- Death, Crimson
4 -- Zombies
5 -- Mongrelmen
6 -- Larvae
7 -- Worgs
8 -- Wolves
9 -- Centipedes, Giant
10 -- Men, Pirate
11 -- Orcs
12 -- Toads, Giant
13 -- Ogres
14 -- Ghouls
15 -- Will-O-Wisps
16 -- Men, Bandit
17 -- Irish Deer
18 -- Men, Merchant
19 -- Haunts
20 -- Mites

The Fog-Bound Forest
The great forest that rings the Southern Mountains.
2 -- Zombies
3 -- Spiders, Giant
4 -- Shadows
5 -- Worgs
6 -- Hobgoblins
7 -- Bugbears
8 -- Men, Bandit
9 -- Wolves
10 -- Orcs
11 -- Bears, Black
12 -- Goblins
13 -- Bats
14 -- Trolls
15 -- Rats, Giant
16 -- Irish Deer
17 -- Lycanthropes, Werewolf
18 -- Harpies
19 -- Gnomes
20 -- Winter Wolves

The Witchwood
The home of the White Lady and her minions.
2 -- Displacer Beasts
3 -- Hangman Trees
4 -- Giants, Firbolg
5 -- Owlbears
6 -- Lycanthropes, Werebear
7 -- Sprites
8 -- Owls
9 -- Orcs
10 -- Ogres
11 -- Stags
12 -- Boars, Wild
13 -- Bears, Black
14 -- Boars, Giant
15 -- Bugbears
16 -- Choke Creepers
17 -- Elves, Wood
18 -- Shadows
19 -- Gnomes
20 -- Dryads

The Barren Hills
Treeless hills in the North.  Home of a ruined imperial fort.
2 -- Mites
3 -- Skeletons
4 -- Perytons
5 -- Volts
6 -- Goats
7 -- Rats, Giant
8 -- Settler Patrol (Bandit stats)
9 -- Ravens, Normal
10 -- Wolves
11 -- Lycanthropes, Werewolf
12 -- Giants, Hill
13 -- Bears, Black
14 -- Ghouls
15 -- Bats
16 -- Worgs
17 -- Goblins
18 -- Norkers
19 -- Zombies
20 -- Berserkers

More Thoughts on M&M Inspired Setting

  • Definitely going with IRASS.
  • I would probably use Labyrinth Lord and the AEC plus the DMG and no other sources.  I thought about using the RC instead, but M&M definitely has a race/class split.
  • Three point alignment: Good, Neutral, Evil.
  • I like how small the map is.  The whole world is only 1250 miles across.  I think it makes it a great deal more fantastic than most of my worlds.
  • The Demons are totally modeled after the Slayers and the Beast from Krull.  Some may look like more typical demons.
  • The Realm was only recently unified by a strong willed lord.  He recently died of old age (or perhaps he was poisoned...) and his two sons are gearing up to fight eachother over the throne.  Various lords have used this as an excuse to assert their indpendence.
  • Some of these lords are warlocks and necromancers.  Most of them are just plain old knights.
  • The Demons live in a pyramid made out of a bizarre, cobalt-colored metal.  It is impervious to magic and mortal weapons.
  • Clerics venerate the Star Lords as a big group rather than individual deities.  I won't be describing the religion much more than that.
  • Druids worship a strange entity which taught the first sorceress the arts of magic.  It claims to be the deity that even the Star Lords worship.
  • Some clerics get their powers from demons, or various petty gods.
  • The elemental planes are actually strange generators created by the Star Lords.  Elementals and various other such creatures evolved inside of them.
  • The Star Lords are pale, hairless humanoids of enormous stature.  Their eyes appear to be fields of stars.  None of the clerics know this.
  • Cyclops are the degenerate descendants of another star-faring race.
  • The horrible monsters the Warlocks employ are actually summoned from the dark side of the planet.
  • There was a Roman style empire that existed long before the realm but was destroyed by some sort of catastrophe/invasion.
  • Wizards still dress like they're members of the empire, only with more pointy hats.
  • Most elves have skin colors similar to humans, but this is due to inter-breeding.  True elves from this side are blue with white hair, while ones from the dark side are red with white hair.
  • Mixture of passive and active sandbox: there are several baddies pursuing badguy goals, but the only one who threatens to destroy everything is the one the PCs get tangled up with.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


click to embiggen

Heres another attempt at a map of the "planet" of IRASS.  This one is more closely based on the World of Xeen maps, with each of the corner being associated with an element.  In this case it's because the Star Lords (what I've decided to call the Immortals) erected gates to the elemental planes there.

I haven't really assigned the locations for the various factions yet, but I like where the map is much better now. 

Xenroth and/or Irass Continent Map

click to embiggen

Heres a map to go along with my earlier idea.  The Volcano in the center is the giant central mountain.  The souther area is the Realm of Man, with the other regions as yet being unassigned (besides the really obvious fairy realm in the West).

I haven't started working on a smaller scale map yet, but I may sometime today.  Each hex is 50 miles in size.

Unfocused Thoughts on Might & Magic Inspired Setting

This has been kinda running around my head for a few days, and I thought I'd get it out of my system.  It's unlikely I'll end up doing much more with it than making a map or two, but it might make a cool place to adventure in if a TPK happens in Nightwick Abbey.  That'd depend on the players of course, and I rather like the Dark Country (obviously).

  • The world is flat with two sides that are unaware of eachother.  There is a massive web of underdark style tunnels that ultimately connect the two, but the core is thick enough and the path dangerous enough that it is extremely rare that someone make it from one side to  the other.  The players will most likely do this at some point.
  • The world was created thousands of years ago by a group of Immortals using both science and sorcery in order to examine how life ultimately develops and other such inscrutable things.
  • In the center of both sides of the world is a giant Mountain that contains two computers (one for each side) that make sure everything is working right.
  • The most holy artifact of [insert lawful religion here] is actually a key card that allows access to the computer.  No one in the religion knows this.
  • There is one Lawful kingdom of Humans (called the Realm of Man) ruled by a king or queen.  It uses a fantasied up version of the feudal system that still allows for social mobility.  Individual lords are whatever alignment is most appropriate for them.
  • At least one lord is secretly working for [insert badguys here].  Most likely it's more than one.
  • Other kingdoms include: a fairy realm, a land ruled by wizards, a land ruled by warlocks, a stinking mire controlled by necromancers, and a barbaric wilderness
  • The fairy realm is ruled by a (perhaps the) Sorceress.  It includes both Elves and Dwarves as well as a number of other creatures in a manner similar to the way the Narnians are portrayed in the second move
  • Humans can be found in all the realms, including in leadership positions
  • The Wizards, Humans, and Fairy races will occasionally team up to defeat especially arbaric Barbarians, especially warlock-y Warlocks, and especially dead Necromancers
  • Evil lords rarely work together, but they often employ lots of different types of evil minion
  • One Warlock knows about the computers and wants to destroy them.  He believes this will cause clerical magic to disappear
  • "Demons" are actually invaders from space who want to turn the world into a base from which they can take on the Immortals.  (Thats possibly why the Warlock knows about the computer)
  • Halflings are a servitor class for the Wizards.  Many have escaped into the Realm and made hillside villages there.
  • Orcs were created by some Wizard who really liked boars before he decided to become a Warlock instead.  The ones who are friendly with the Barbarians escaped captivity.
  • Necromancers don't like anybody.
  • PCs who are awarded Immortal status get to live on their kickass spaceship.  They have a foosball table.  It's totally rad.  The Demons are jealous.
  • The world is positively littered with gates that transport you to other areas, other worlds, or even elemental planes.
  • The worlds name is probably Xenroth, but may be Xerathia, or Irass (I.R.A.S.S. -- It's Really a Space Ship).
  •  The Realm is possible having a succession crisis when the campaign starts.
  • Lands surrounding gates to the elemental planes are obviously affected; covered in lava, crystaline, filled with permanent storms, that sort of thing.
  • Most adventure locales will be discrete things, but I might through Stonehell on there for shits and giggles.
  • I'd try to do something similar to Jeff Rients's Epic Sandboxery.  Mostly a sandbox, but if your cleric wants to keep their magic it wouldn't be a bad idea to knock that Warlock over the head and take his stuff.
  • Possible name for the concept: Steel & Sorcery
Well, there you have it.  Again, at most I'll make a map for this thing, but I thought I'd ruminate on it anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nightwick Abbey Session 12

So last session ended with our ne'er-do-wells...

Big Bad Barley Brownbeard, etc. etc. -- swarthy Dwarf "noblemen" and Fighter
Ffraid -- indignant Cleric of the Old Gods
Roger le Douche -- Noble scion of the le Douches of Mount le Douche and overzealous Paladin
Pillsen -- Craven and arrogant Magic-User
and Slimey -- greasy and cunning Thief, twin brother to the late Slick

found themselves lost in the twisting tunnels beneath Nightwick Abbey.  Low on spells and hit points, they tried to make their way to the entrance, but simply made a great circle back to where they started.  Desperate, they made a nearby room into a temporary shelter, barricading the doors and letting the fighters stay up to keep watch while Ffraid and Pillsen rested.

During their 3 hours into their 4 hour rest, those who were awake began to hear a pounding on the door.  3 hours and 50 minutes in, the creatures -- zombies it turns out -- burst through, and Slimey was forced to awaken his companions to face the onslaught.

As the zombies entered, they moaned "Paint!"  Each was carrying an empty paint can and a number of paint brushes that they used to surprising effect in the battle.  Still, the party managed to actually route the creatures.  Slimey herded them into a nearby pit trap they had discovered earlier, and once they had landed they began to paint with their paintless brushes.  Oddly, they seemed to be making very intricate designs, though no one could tell what they were due to their lack of paint.

They then settled in to rest once again so that the spell casters could gain their spells again, since the interruption had awoken them before that was possible.  Luckily, this time their sleep was undisturbed.  They then struck out down an Eastern passage.  It ended in a strangely shaped chamber with seemingly no exit.  They decided it must contain either a secret door or a trap, and since one of those may lead to the exit, they took their chances and investigated the room.

While doing so, a number of Mites appeared on the opposite side of pit trap they had passed over earlier using a rotted table from the alchemist's lab.  The party and the creatures exchanged missile fire, and eventually they Mites fled into the darkness.

Searching the room further did, in fact, reveal a secret door.  The party soon found the opening mechanism was a finger shaped hole they were loathe to test.  Still, Roger finally worked up the courage and managed to open the door to the chamber beyond.  Unfortunately, this chamber was filled with Mites, and a fierce battle broke out.

Due to the wounds they suffered, the party was forced to flee, and the Mites decided not t give chase.  At this point, wounded and tired, they decided to consult the skull to see if it could help.  Edrick was able to reveal the general direction of the exit, though not any more particulars, and the party attempted to make their way there as best as possible.

They came to a chamber containing two statues, dressed in the habit of the Sword Brothers, pointing at each other.  They decided this could only be trouble and left it for a future expedition.  Nearby, they found the burnt library where the zombies had previously been shelving books.  Since this now connected to the rest of the map, they were quickly able to find their way out.

In the torture chamber that lies just before the exit, they were molested by a large number of bats, but there were ultimately able to by pass the creatures by crawling on their bellies towards the stairs.  Once they had made it up, they were happy to see the dawn, and the glad party made their way back to the village of Nightwick.

Since Slimey's player was absent the previous session, he technically would not have been in the dungeon, but I wanted to move things along quickly.  There are bound to be one or two minor incidents I'm leaving out due to the span of time thats passed since Tuesday.  Still, this was more or less what happened, and despite the fact that it was a short session, it was a fun one.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Now That's a Map!

click to embiggen

From Might & Magic V: Darkside of Xeen.

HoMM for HoTT

Thanks to the magic of Good Old Games I was recently able to repurchase my childhood.  By that I mean the Might & Magic (VI and VII)* and Heroes of Might & Magic (the first three) games each of which I spent much of my prepubescent and adolescent life engrossed in.

They really defined what "vanilla" fantasy meant for me well into my 3e days and my earliest days as a DM.  Anyone familiar with the games will know that this is a strange standard to measure things by.  M&M has about 100% more ray guns than most "vanilla fantasy,"  which may explain my love for the Wilderlands, Blackmoor, and similar settings.  Still it usually stayed in the realm of high fantasy, with the end game being the only place where blaster pistols and such appeared.

Anyway, due to the fact that I couldn't think of something better to do with my time here are Hordes of the Things army lists for the major "alignments" of Heroes of Might & Magic 2.  I've incorporated some material from 3 to fill in gaps, but I've tried to stay as close to HoMM 1 and 2 as possible.   I've provided a variety of possible troop types in order to allow for a wider selection.

Goblins (Horde)
Orc Spearmen (Spears)
Orc Archers (Shooters)
Hobgoblins (Blades)
Wolves (Beasts)
Wolf Riders (Riders)
Ogres (Behemotha)
Trolls (Behmotha)
Cyclops (Behemotha)
Barbarian (Hero)

Example Army
Crag Hack (Hero General) x 1
Goblins x 2
Orc Spearmen x2
Orc Archers x2
Wolf Riders x 2
Hobgoblins x 1
Cyclops x 1

Peasants (Hordes)
Pikemen (Spears)
Archers (Shooters)
Swordsman (Blades)
Cavaliers (Knights)
Griffins (Flyers)
Monks (Clerics)
Paladins (Paladins)
Knight (Hero)

Example Army
Roland (Hero General) x 1
Pikemen x 2
Archers x 2
Swordsmen x 2
Monks x 1
Peasants x 1
Paladins x 1

Sprites (Hordes)
Dwarf Axemen (Blades)
Dwarf Spearmen (Spear)
Elves (Shooters)
Druids (Magician)
Unicorn (Knights)
Phoenix (Flyer)
Ranger (Hero)
Sorceress (Cleric)

Example Army
Gem (Magician General) x 1
Sprites x 4
Dwarf Spearmen x 1
Dwarf Axemen x 1
Elves x 2
Druids x 1
Phoenix x 1
Gem (Cleric General) x 1

Centaurs (Riders)
Gargoyles (Flyers)
Hydra (Behemoth)
Beholders (Shooters)
Troglodytes (Spears)
Minotaur (Blades)
Dragon (Dragon)
Overlord (Hero)
Warlock (Magician)

Example Army
Kastore (Magician General) x 1
Troglodytes  x 3
Centaurs x 2
Beholders x 1
Hydra x 1
Dragon x 1

Halfling Spearmen (Spears)
Halfling Slingers (Shooters)
Golems (Blades)
Boars (Beasts)
Rocs (Flyers)
Titans (Behemoths)
Magi (Magicians)
Genie (Flyers)

Example Army
Falagar (Magician General) x 1
Halfling Spearmen x 1
Halfling Slinger x 2
Boars x 1
Titans x 2
Magi x 1

Skeletal Spearmen (Spear)
Skeletal Swordsmen (Blades)
Skeletal Archers (Shooters)
Zombies (Hordes)
Vampires (Sneakers)
Vampire Lord (Hero)
Wraiths (Lurkers)
Lich (Magician)
Death Knight (Knight)
Bone Dragon (Dragon)

Example Army
Sandro (Magician General) x 1
Skeletal Spearmen x 2
Skeletal Swordsmen x 1
Skeletal Archers x 2
Lich x 1
Zombies x 1
Wraiths x 1
Bone Dragon x 1

Well there you go.  Tell me if you have any thoughts on the representation or the balance between armies.

Theres a chance I may have some more thoughts on Might & Magic in the coming days, but I'm still a bit busy.

* The M&M VI pack actually includes I-V as well, which I hope to play also.  I remember seeing adverts for them as a kid and they played upon my imagination.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sorry for the Recent Slowdown

I've been a bit busy, and it's not likely to let up soon.  I should be able to post fairly regularly, but it looks like I'll have to abandon the A-Z challenge.

In penance, I give you an awesome thing:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

F is for Flood

None know the precise reasons for the flood that destroyed the great civilizations of man.  Most of the literati -- i.e. priests -- believe the Old Gods visited their wrath upon an ungrateful mankind who had ceased to worship them and instead built idols to themselves.  Some, more secular scholars claim that the "magic" and technology wielded by antediluvian humanity was so great that they could bend the very elements to their whims.  Unfortunately, they over exercised this power and the resulting imbalance of the elements caused the Deluge.

According to legend, for it is now in the dim recesses of Antiquity, Uz of Uz, First King of Uz, was an antediluvian man who managed to survive the flood by constructing a great ship.  Eventually the water dropped low enough for him to land his ship on what would eventually become the site of Uz, First City of Men.  Here he found a manifestation of the god Moloch who helped him to craft his city and to make the world safe for civilization once again.  In return, Uz and his followers offered sacrifices to the Old God. It is whispered that Moloch still dwells beneath his temple in Uz, but only his priests know the truth.

Uzites claim that all the peoples of the world are descended from men and women Uz of Uz allowed on his great ship, but most other peoples find this offensive.  Many have their own identical myths, and some are even stranger.  Some say creatures such as Morlocks and Deros are the descendants of humans who sought refuge in great caves and other underground places, and who were driven made by their subterranean prisons.

The Official Band of the Dark Country

I hereby officially declare Pagan Altar to be the Official Band of the Dark Country setting.  Make of that what you will.

Friday, April 8, 2011


To be honest, I couldn't think of a good E entry; however, due to sheer coincidence the vast majority of coins found in the Uz test sessions were electrum.  Electrum also happens to be what the first coins in history were made out of, so I imagine that Uz works off the electrum standard.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Look

Tell me what you think.

D is for Deros

Deros are a race of horrible, degenerate humanoids that can be found both in the undercity of Uz and in other underground areas throughout the Desert of Demons and the Lands Beyond.  However, they are not confined to these areas and will often gather together into small bands to raid the surface for potential victims.  Few know what horrors await these men and women who are dragged off by the Deros.  Even fewer return from such an ordeal, and those that do tell horrid tales of torture and less pleasant things.

Deros appear as completely hairless humanoids with metallic blue skin and glowing red eyes.  When they enter light the red light of their eyes dims.  The innards of a Deros are composed tight coils of yellow cords.  These cords pump the white liquid that serves as the creatures' blood throughout their bodies. Though Deros tend on average to be stockier than most humans, they vary greatly in height and weight.

Deros are created by strange machines that lie deep within the ruins of the antediluvian world.  What the original purpose of these machines was, few can say.  Now they capture any humans that stray too close to their great bulks and convert them into the monstrous Deros.  What this process entails is shrouded in mystery, but it does drain any feelings of compassion, love, and empathy from the newly created Deros.  Deros are therefore violent in the extreme, and will seek to torture and kill any creature it encounters other than another Deros.  The only exceptions are those poor victims who are taken to the great machines to suffer a fate worse than death, and the pallid lizard-things they ride on the surface.

Due to their savage natures, they rarely are capable of using anything more than simple spears and scavenged armor.  Still, occasionally some are intelligent enough to use antediluvian technology.  The most famous technologies they wield are the strange saucer-craft seen flying over the desert and the metal rods they use to produce crackling beams of painful energy.

The Real Nightwick Abbey Session 11

This was a landmark session.  Perhaps the reasons while will become apparent in the report.  Slimey's player was absent so the party consisted of...

Barley Brownbeard etc. etc. -- the infamous Dwarven noblemen
Ffraid -- a quiet and indignant Cleric of the Old Gods
Roger le Douche -- Paladin and scion of the House of Mount le Douche
Pillsen -- egotistical and cowardly Magic-User

The game began with Ffraid still in the stocks and Barley Brownbeard still recovering in a peasant's hut.  Slimey had left to try to find some food, and so the wounded Barley was alone.  He spied to figures coming up the road, and quickly became aware they were not simple peasants or guards.  One was debating with the other about the nature of the universe.  Perhaps debating is the wrong word, it was more of a lecture.  Pillsen, as Barley would latter learn he was called, was "educating" Roger on the orbits of the spheres and how these allowed the summoning of the "pixie people."

For his part, Roger was uninterested, but during their conversation he mentioned that he was a paladin dedicated to the God of Law.  Barley, knowing that such people could heal him, approached the pair and asked the paladin to render his services.  Roger, thinking the Dwarf was some sort of mutant peasant, at first declined, but decided to help the needy.  Pillsen attempted to inform Roger that Barley was in fact an infamous Dwarven noble whose wanted posters hang in taverns across the Dark Country (particularly in Braxley Barrow).  Pillsen blinked uncomprehendingly, and the trio preceded on to the city of Lichgate.

They found that the city was still under lockdown.  While waiting outside the walls, Barley found Ffraid who had been moved to an uncomfortable gibbet for her paganism.  Roger was originally glad to see her in such a predicament, as if she was in a gibbet she clearly did something wrong.  She pointed out that she had the only map of Nightwick Abbey in existence (whether or not this is a lie has yet to be seen), and since the good le Douche had come to this country in order to cleanse the Abbey he agreed to try to free her.  They managed to get a meeting with the commander of the town guard, a corpulent man of some wealth.  Pillsen gave him his last 100 gold (while Roger wasn't watching) and the commander agreed that something must be awry and let the pagan free.

Since Pillsen had no money with which to enter the city, they decided to head to the village of Nightwick.  Barley left a note for Slimey, hoping that he would be able to make his way when he had returned from foraging.  Not wanting to get molested en route, they decided to travel with a group of Froglings who they convinced to head to the village to sell there wares.

Upon arriving, the Froglings set up their fair (which caused one player to imagine them as greasy, bemulleted carnies), and the characters resupplied before delving back into the dungeons of the abbey.  They then went into the abbey itself, and decided to venture in a direction they had neglected until then.  They Fought a number of giant rats, found a strangely small pile of treasure with a very elaborate defense system, and did battle with a few skeletons.  Roger attempted to use his detect evil power, but immediately passed out due to the inherent evil of the place.  When he awoke, he told the rest of the party that the abbey itself seemed to be a demon, and he could not differentiate the monsters within it from the thing itself.

At some point, Barley noticed that the hall they were traveling down had totally changed.  The stones that made up the structure were completely different, to a Dwarf's eyes anyway, from those that had previously made up the hallway.  Disturbed, he searched the area and found a secret door.  The chamber beyond did not conform to the map they had been making so carefully, but they could only deal with the reality in front of them so Ffraid tried to render this as best she could.

Soon they found a group of chambers that seemed to have once been a laboratory of some kind.  One section of this laboratory was sealed off with a trap that the party found quite difficult to pass over.  Only Barley and Roger had the bravery to charge into the chamber beyond, and Ffraid and Pillsen waited for them to return.

In the chamber, Roger and Barley found a golden skull with jewels for eyes.  They were incredibly nervous about such an item and Roger, despite his earlier experience, attempted to see whether or not it was evil.  He did find that the skull possessed a malevolent intelligence, and this intelligence was awakened by his spell.  It immediately communicated with Roger and Barley telepathically, explaining that it was the trapped soul of a wizard whom the Sword Brothers betrayed.  When asked the circumstances of this betrayal, the skull simply cursed in Yosemite Sam fashion.

The skull, whose name was Edric, told them that he wished to find the rest of his body, which should be scattered throughout the rest of the abbey.  Barley and Roger were unsure what to do with the thing, so the left it for the time being to return to their party members.  Unfortunately, at least from Roger's perspective, they could still hear the skull's voice in their heads.  They also discovered that it could hear them, but only when they spoke aloud.

In an adjacent chamber, they found a small rally of Hobgoblins who seemed to be looking for something.  One of the party asked them what they were looking for to which one responded "a sku--" before being cut off by the leader.  After that, battle was joined.  The goblins and hobgoblins were overcome quickly, and they made sure to only incapacitate the leader.

They tied him up and waited for him to awaken.  Exploring a tad bit more, they found a room with stairs leading down.  There they were attacked by a number of mites, who the players have grown to hate immensely.  They slew these easily but only because we decided that Barley was no ordinary Dwarf, he was a Dwarf Fighter.  This further cements the increasing AD&D-ness of the Nightwick campaign.  At this point, Ffraid's being an RC style Cleric until level 9 and three point alignment are the only things keeping it "basic."

About this time, the hobgoblin awoke, and Barley began interrogating it.  They got very little out of the creature, since he so loathed Dwarves that he flew into a rage.  They killed him unceremoniously and returned to the room containing Edric.  Edric revealed that he neither knew why the goblins were looking for him, though he did express he would not like to be found by them, nor precisely where he was.  He knew it was somewhere on the first dungeon level, but little else.

The party then debated what to do with Edric.  Barley wanted to keep him as a little buddy in his backpack, while Roger wanted to bury him in a whole and forget he ever existed.  Barley ended up getting his way, and the party attempted to leave.  Unfortunately, they found that the hall that brought them here didn't take them back to the entrance.  Now they are lost somewhere on the first level, and running low on both hitpoints and spells.

I'm sure I'm missing some minor humorous events, but thats the long and short of it.  This session really made me enthusiastic about the Dark Country again, though I must admit I've had a hard time getting some of the darker tone across.  Still, I'll keep on trying, and I hope to run many more sessions in the demon-haunted abbey.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

C is for Creatures

Very few members of the typical D&D monster list make their homes in the Desert of Demons or in Uz's Underworld.  Those that do are, with a few exceptions, are changed to be unrecognizable to the player.

Below is a list of the monsters that appeared beneath Uz when I ran it in Hattiesburg.  I would obviously have to add more before I have anything close to a complete milieu, but it served me well enough for three sessions.  Some of them may receive more treatment in future posts.

Acolytes (Varies) No. Enc. 1d8 (1d20) AC 14 HD 1 Move 12 HD 1 Treasure III (XXII) HDE/XP 1/15  Initiates in a cult.  Usually tasked with guarding specific areas.  Can cast one level 1 spell.  Usually wear heavy armor.

Carrion Worms (N) No. Enc. 1 (0) AC 14 Move 9 HD 2 Treasure None HDE/XP 3/60  Weird-looking maggot thing that causes paralysis on a bite (save or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds)

Dero (C) No. Enc. 1d6 (4d6) AC 14 Move 12 HD 3+1 Treasure III (XIX) HDE/XP 3/60  Degenerate robots created by antediluvian machines acting on human victims.  Delight in torture of all kinds. Have metallic blue skin and milky blood.  Usually use bronze or iron weapons, but occasionally employ antediluvian technology.

Devil Bats (C) No. Enc. 1d10 (1d10) AC 13 Move 6/24 HD 2 Treasure None HDE/XP 2/30  Pallid Bat-Things from the demon moon.  Summoned to Earth by sinister cults.

Fanatics (Varies) No. Enc. 2d6 (0) AC 12 Move 12 HD 1+2 Treasure III (XIX) HDE/XP 2/30  Crazed devotees who guard religious sites.  Seldom are they spell-casters.  Attack infidels with +2 to hit rolls.

Ghourii (N) No. Enc. 1d6 (3d6) AC 13 Move 12 HD 2 Treasure None HDE/XP 2/30 Silent, hyena headed humanoids.  Eat only carrion or living sapient beings.  Surprise humans on 1-3 on 1d6.

Jewel Lizards (N) No. Enc. 1 (0) AC 16 Move 12 HD 2 Treasure XXI HDE/XP 3/60   Appear to be made out of gemstones.  Can hypnotize (save or be paralyzed for 1 round).  Likes the taste of human flesh.

Lizardmen (N) No. Enc. 2d4 (6d6) AC 14 Move 12 HD 2 Treasure II (XIX) HDE/XP 2/30  Reptilian humanoids who live in the desert or in underground areas.  Some varieties can also breathe under water.  Typically use stone or bronze weapons, usually spears.  Leaders have 6 HD.

Maggotmen (N) No. Enc. 4d6 (6d10) AC 12 Move 6 HD ½ Treasure I (XIII) HDE/XP <1/10 Small creatures resembling a combination of humans and maggots.  Use stone spears and daggers.  Live in damp places or where carrion is found.  Build huts out of mud, spittle and feces.  Leaders have 3 HD.

Magicians (Varies) No. Enc. 1d4 (2d4) AC 10 HD 2 Move 12 HD 2 Treasure III (XXII) HDE/XP 2/30  Magical practitioners of various sorts.  Usually unarmored.  Wield knives or staffs.

Men-at-Arms (Varies) No. Enc. 2d6 (1d4 x 10) AC 12 Move 12 HD 1 Treasure III (XXII) HDE/XP 1/15  Various types of armed men and women.  Usually wear leather, sometimes carry shields.  Usually use spears but other weapons are also common.  Leaders have 4 HD.

Morlocks (C) No. Enc. 1d12 (5d10) AC 13 Move 12 HD 1 Treasure III (XX) HDE/XP 1/15 Degenerate descendants of modern man.  Use stone tools, but occasionally can be found in antediluvian finery.  Leaders have 4 HD.  Take a -1 penalty when fighting in daylight.

Rat-Lizards (N) No. Enc. 3d6 (3d10) AC  12 Move 12 HD ½ Treasure XX HDE/XP <1/10  Strange, furred mammals.  Hate light and take a -1 to hit in daylight.

Rot Fiends (C) No. Enc. 1d4 (0) AC 12 Move 9 HD 2 Treasure XXV HDE/XP 3/60  Demons who cause wood to rot on touch (save allowed).  Appear as grossly decomposing old men of no taller than 4’.

Scarabs, Giant (N) No. Enc. 1d8 (2d6) AC 15 Move 12 HD 1+3 Treasure None HDE/XP 1/15  Giant carrion eating beetles.  Found in underground places.

Scorpions, Giant (N) No. Enc. 1d6 (1d6) AC 14 Move 12 HD 1+3 Treasure VII HDE/XP 3/60 Giant scorpions that have a deadly poison (+1 to saving throw).

Shadows (C) No. Enc. 1d8 (1d12) AC 12 Move 9 HD 2+2 Treasure XVII HDE/XP 3/60  Incorporeal, undead creatures.  Only harmed by magical and silver weapons.  Appear as mere shadows.

Skeletons (N) No. Enc. 3d4 (3d10) AC 12/13 Move 12 HD ½ Treasure None HDE/XP 1/15  Remains of long-dead warriors animated by foul magic.  Typically armed with ratty weapons and armor.

Spitting Lizards (N) 1d8 (2d6) AC 14 Move 9 HD 1 Treasure None HDE/XP 2/30 Small, bipedal lizard with strange frill that flings acid.  Causes 1 die of damage and victim takes a -1 penalty on all to hit rolls for one day or until cure light wounds is cast upon them.

Statues, Animate (N) No. Enc. 1d6 (1d6) AC 15 Move 6 HD 3 Treasure XX HDE/XP 4/60 Statues animated by one of many sorts of magic.  Never check for morale and are immune to all magic not cast by their creator.

Swarms of Bugs (N) No. Enc. 1 (0) AC 11 Move 6 HD 2 Treasure None HDE/XP 2/30  Flesh eating insects that treat all targets as AC 10.  Deal 1 die of damage to all targets in 20’ x 20’ square (1 in 6 chance of being poisonous).  Takes 1 damage from normal attacks, but fire does full damage and scares it.

The Tormented (C) No. Enc. 1d6 (0) AC 11 Move 9 HD 1+1 Treasure I (XXII) HDE/XP 2/30  Strange creatures born of Moloch’s hate.  Glow as a torch but pale green.  Regenerate 1 Hit Point each round.  Constantly scream in anguish over their terrible lives.  Never surprise opponents.

Warriors (Varies) No. Enc.  2d4 (2d6) AC 14 HD 3 Move 12 HD 3 Treasure III (XXII) HDE/XP 3/60  Hardened fighting-men.  Motivations vary.  Outfitted according to the situation.

Zombies (N) No. Enc. 2d4 (4d6) AC 11 Move 6 HD 2 Treasure None HDE/XP 2/30  Freshly dead humans reanimated by foul magic.  Use whatever they had available in life.


This posted by accident.  I'm not quite finished with the report yet.

It'll be on later.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

B is for Bronze

Bronze is the most common metal utilized in the Desert of Demons.  This was not always so.  It is said that Uz of Uz, First King of Uz, had not yet lost the secrets of making steel and the other strange alloys utilized by humans in the antediluvian eons.  He made metal men from strange silvery stuff and imbued them with life.  Other such works of wonder can be found throughout the Desert of Demons, though whether or not they are antediluvian or products of this new world is debated heavily.

No one knows precisely how the Desert, or indeed other civilized lands, came to possess bronze.  Of course there are veins of it in various mountains and other locations throughout the world, but according to scholar's reconstructions of ancient times there should be no metal left within the Earth at all.  So great were the mines of the antediluvian kings, if indeed they were kings, they took all the metal that could possibly be gathered by man.  Still bronze exists.  Whether or not this "bronze" is the same bronze used by the peoples of our antiquity is difficult to say.

For game purposes, most melee weapons presented in the White Box also appear in Uz, but they are all made from bronze.  I will possibly make an exception for Ilionians, who I imagine are more Archaic Greeks than Bronze Age ones. I admittedly use an abstract system where large weapons deal 2d6 (take the highest), medium weapons do 1d6, and small weapons do 2d6 (take the lowest).  The most common weapons are spears and stabbing swords such as the xiphos, but khopeshes are still in some use, especially in Almodad. If a person wielding a bronze weapon fumbles against an opponent using an iron weapon, their weapon breaks.

There is no mail or plate armor in this setting.  Instead they are replaced by bronze scales (used over leather or a linothorax) and a bronze breastplate or similar armor respectively.  A warrior wearing "plate" would be wearing something like this:

the helmet is made out of boar tusks

Someone wearing scale would have something more like this:

More fantastic metals likely exist, but I'll save that for later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Poll: A Weird Question

Pierce of The Rusty Dagger (I see what you did there) commented earlier that "I'm a huge Dark Country fan. I would be running a game there if my players would let me."  My question to you: is that possible?  Could you run a game set in the Dark Country with just the information on this blog?  If you couldn't, what other kind of info would you need?

EDIT: Poll removed because I got an answer from the person who prompted it.

A is for Almodad, the Jewel of the Desert

Yes, I am aware this is an anachronistic picture.  No, I don't care.

Almodad, the Jewel of the Desert, is one of the six great city states which were founded after the Great Deluge.  It's glittering spires and golden domes can be seen for miles, and it is said that even the men of Uz are jealous of the quality of their architecture and the excellence of their craftsmanship.

The traveler who arrives in this fabulous city will not only be assaulted by its colorful vistas but also its myriad of smells.  Almodad is one of the largest trading cities in the Desert of Demons and - likely - the world as a whole.  Any manner of spices, dye, textiles, foodstuffs, drinks, weapons, armor, dyes, textiles, slaves, or any other sorts of goods may be found in its raucous markets.  This excludes items possessing magical properties, though even they might be attained if one knows the right person.

In fact, knowing the right people is very important in Almodad.  Little can be done without the approval of the king, but since the king of Almodad is a notorious recluse one must work through other channels in order to meet their ends.  Almodad has a powerful bureaucracy that all but controls the Crown.  This bureaucracy is largely staffed by priests of various sorts, though secular scholars, nobles, and warriors also  have a hand in organizing and running Almodad's byzantine system of government.

The God of the Almodites is Kothar, the Opener of the Way, the Key and the Gate.  He is a god of the forge, craftsmen, merchants, thieves, male magicians, and scholars.  He is a distant god, but he does seem to impart his favor on a select few.  His favored weapon is the khopesh, which his fanatics forge within a great furnace in the temple itself.  He supposedly hates women of all sorts, but often Almodites capture the women of other cities to involve them in strange rites that make them the bride of Kothar.  Why the female citizens of Almodad are not used for this purpose is a mystery to all but the most wizened priests in the temple.

Despite it's focus on Kothar, most of the gods of the Desert of Demons have temples in Almodad.  Even Mot, the One Who Pulls Into His Gullet, is represented.  Few other cities possess a temple to Mot, and no cult of Mot is more active than the one present in Almodad.  Moloch, Dagon, and the other usual sorts also have their own shrines or petty temples.  The only exception is Lilit, whose worship is outlawed and punishable by death.  Still there are rumors that even the Mistress of the Night now has a small following in the Gleaming City.

Almodad's military is notoriously weak.  They are a city of traders and masons, not warriors.  Though many Almodites fight in the wars it wages, most troops the city uses are mercenaries of various sorts.  It is particularly fond of using Thulians, whose hatred of women rivals their own.  Many point to this as the reason they were so recently defeated by the warrior women of Jerah, but the Thulians have been effective in their other wars.

Adventure is common in Almodad, as it is everywhere in the Desert of Demons.  Its internal politics are rife with intrigue. Its incense shrouded alleys are filled with mystery.  It even possess an underground network of tunnels, mazes, and chambers.  While it pales in comparison in both size and antiquity to Uz, the First City of Men, it possess a grandeur which cannot be toppled.


I know I'm a bit late on the A-Z thing.  The reasons for that are explained in my earlier post. However Mike's comment and my wife's enjoyment of the setting convinced me to continue work on Uz and it's surroundings.  I'll try to squeeze in some Nightwick Abbey/Dark Country material, but those posts will be in addition to my A-Z posts on Uz.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Uz, the Underworld, and other Updates

I'm probably going to stop developing Uz and it's surrounding territories.  This was a hard decision for me because I enjoy the ideas quite a bit, but the Ugarit project at Sword +1 is so similar that I don't want to steal his thunder.  I started working on Uz after he started his work on Swords of Abandon so I'm the late comer.

Of course the problem is that Uz filled a niche in my brain-space, one that was left empty by my many conceptual problems with the Underworld.  For lack of a better, shorter term I call this niche Sword & Sorcery Science Fantasy.  It's one part Hyboria, one part Zothique, one part Shaver Mystery, and one part Harryhausen movie.  Mix well, serve hot over rice.  But I haven't figured out the right admixture that works without any mental dissonance in my own noggin (or hasn't already been thought of by someone whose doing a perfectly good job already).  So I'm left to wander in search of an appropriate project to act as a funnel for those urges.

Thats more or less why I'm not doing the April Alphabet thing.  I was going to use it to express some of my thoughts on Uz, but now I'm without a project.

There are two reasons you haven't seen Dark Country material as much lately.  First, and most importantly, most of my time spent developing the Dark Country is spent stocking dungeons and making sure I'm ready for the next session.  Theres less high conceptual stuff I need to get out of the way.  What does need to be dealt with usually gets dealt with in play, and thats the way it should be.  The other reason is that I'm feeling a bit of ennui in regards to that setting, for reasons I may discuss in another post.  Still, it's unlikely to go anywhere for a long while.

It's unlikely I'll be able to do my one page dungeon version of the abbey.  The way the Abbey is structured in my notes is just too different from the format, and I'd essentially be creating a wholly new dungeon.  Since that  more or less defeat's the point of using the abbey the project is effectively dead.  It's also unlikely that I'll seek another form to publish it in because I rely too heavily on monsters which aren't available in the OGL.  I can't imagine Nightwick Abbey without Mites for example.

I hope to work on the community megadungeon some more, but just as I was finishing my level, cola got spilled all over my map.  I'm going to try to redraw it so that it looks nicer, but there will obviously be a delay.