Friday, May 27, 2011

New Poll

I'm currently working on a hypothetical product and/or free download based on my Uz stuff for the White Box, and I was wondering how perturbed people would be if it had no options for non-human characters.  Leave a line if you have an opinion.

I should note that the Uz thing is very hypothetical, but I am currently working on a draft.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Someone needs to make these for Mutant Future

I especially love that not only does the crazy lizard thing have eye rays, but it also has a ray gun in a holster.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Anyone else ever thought about combining the Keep from Keep on the Borderlands with Stonehell?  All you'd have to do is switch out the box canyons.  Just sayin'.

Hold of the Sea Princes Encounters

All tables are 1d8 + 1d12.
2 -- Lycanthrope, Wererat
3 -- Gnoll
4 --  Hobgoblin
5 --  Goblin
6 --  Falcon, Large
7 --  Character Party
8 --  Bandit
9 --  Cattle, Wild
10 --  Merchant
11 --  Boar, Wild
12 --  Wolf
13 --  Falcon, Small
14 --  Pilgrim
15 --  Ogre
16 --  Bugbear
17 --  Troll
18 --  Oliphant
19 --  Snake, Giant Constrictor
20 --  Quaggoth

The Hellfurnaces
2 --  Hydra, Pyro
3 --  Lizard, Fire
4 --  Dragon, Red
5 --  Firenewt
6 --  Bandit
7 --  Manticore
8 --  Ogre
9 --  Orc
10 --  Small Prehistoric Reptiles
11 --  Gnoll
12 --  Spider, Large
13 --  Raven, Normal
14 --  Giant, Fire
15 --  Herd Animal
16 --  Gorilla Bear
17 --  Harpy
18 --  Quaggoth
19 --  Hellhound
20 --  Magmen

Hool Marshes
2 -- Dragon, Black
3 -- Kelpie
4 -- Norker
5 -- Ghoul, pseudo-undead
6 -- Hobgoblin
7 -- Buccaneer
8 -- Bandit
9 -- Centipede, Giant
10 --  Spider, Large
11 -- Rat, Giant
12 -- Toad, Giant
13 -- Vulture, Normal
14 -- Gnoll
15 -- Troll
16 -- Merchant
17 -- Goblin
18 -- Cattle, Wild
19 -- Bugbear
20 -- Anhkheg

Quick Greyhawk Related Question

Whats up with the countries that have the same names with different titles in front of them, like Ulek?

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Sea Princes

The gilded domes and spires of Monmurg are a testament to the Sea Princes one time profession: piracy.  The ancestors of the current princes ranged as far as Relmor Bay, taking ships, maidens, and other forms of plunder whenever they could find it.  Especially bold captains might even land near an isolated town and attempt to sack it, carting away wonderful treasures and many slaves.

Today the princes have mostly exchanged piracy for more "legitimate" enterprises.  Their ships still reach the same ports and even head to those beyond the Flanaess but rather than swordsmen they are filled with exotic goods and shrewed merchants.  This change occurred after the famed battle of Jetsom island, though one should not think that this put an end to piracy in the region.  The princes support privateers, issuing letters of mark to any who promise not to attack ships bearing the princes' coat of arms.  Many ships from the other nations of the Flanaess will often hang the Sea Princes' colors in order to avoid such attacks.  On rare occasions a Sea Prince might lead his personal fleet out on a raid if he believes some particularly lucrative prize might be won.

Though most of the princes' trade is fairly conventional, they are also the largest exporter of slaves in the whole of the Flanaess.  Most of these are taken in raids across the Hool Marshes into the Yeomanry, and sometimes even Keoland.  This has made the Sea Princes wildly unpopular in those areas, but their mercenary armies and massive fortifications are more than enough to stop most invaders.  Couple that with the fact that their fleet could easily prevent any sea based invasion, and the inhospitable nature of the Hool marches and it's easy to see why the Sea Princes still exist as a separate entity despite their nefarious nature.

Their capital of Monmurg is truly a sight to behold.  Despite it's small size when compared with cities such as Greyhawk, Monmurg's splendor may be without equal on the continent.  It possesses great onion domed palaces covered in turquoise and precious metals, many spired temples to the various gods whose cults the sailors brought with them after their many excursions, and slaves and citizens from all the four corners of the world.  Mahogany from the southern continent and precious metals from beyond the Sea of Dust fill its markets.  It is no wonder that so many adventurers make it here to find work or plunder.

Natives of the Hold dress in an ostentatious manner that is often made sport of by those from other kingdoms, especially Keoland and the Yeomanry.  Layers of silk, bejeweled turbans, jade masks, peacock feathers, and other even more bizarre wares find there way into these outfits, often all in the same one.  Still, the Sea Princes are fierce warriors, even if the bulk of their armies is composed of mercenary fighters.  This is solely due to the low population of natives rather than an inability to fight.  Some of the finest swordsmen in the world are from the Hold, and a person who forgets this is likely to lose a limb or two.

The Hold of the Sea Princes is ruled by Prince Medardo of Monmurg, Captain of all Fleets and Ruler of the Azure Sea.  He demands that the other magnates of the Hold spend most of the year within their palaces in the capital so that he might keep a close watch on them.  Most obey, but the Plar of Hool often ignores this command.  He spends his time in a fortress on the southern side of the Hool Marshes where he oversees the slave trade.  Some rumor that Prince Medardo would like to end slavery in the Hold, but that Plar Enrico is violently opposed to it.  There are even those who say the Plar is responsible for the recent attempts on Medardo's life, but this is utter nonsense.  Surely the Prince would have retaliated by now if this were the case.


And thus I present one of the other candidates for the PC's home base.  I don't really have much more to say about this entry, but I do wonder how closely this and my interpretation of Shield Lands mirrors the official one.

Nightwick Abbey Session 16

The past two sessions saw the party rescuing the reeve's daughter from a group of goblins who kidnapped her for some nefarious purpose, most likely a sacrifice.  This session though was the first one in which the returned to the abbey.  The characters present were...

Jöp -- A Frogling who was promoted from hireling status after the death of Barley Brownbeard in the goblin caves
Ffraid -- the Cleric of the Old Gods
Roger le Douche -- Paladin extraordinaire
Pillsen -- Cowardly Magic User

As of this session, all of the characters were above second level, with Ffraid and the absent Slimey being over level three.  It was Feburary 1st, which also meant it was the feast day of St. Martin Happy Pants, who temporarily drove all the giant centipedes out of Averoigne.  They quickly returned when the snow thawed, but it's the thought that counts.  It was a cold and miserable day, so the reeve's men, which had come down with him to restore order to Nightwick village at the behest of the Bishop of Lichgate, were celebrating inside the Medusa's Head tavern along with the PCs.  Jöp was busy cooking the Frogling version of the St. Martin's Day feast, giant centipede stew.  The other patrons declined his hospitality.  While there, they overheard a rumor that a great subterranean sea lies beneath the abbey, and that it's filled with "demonfish." No one -- including myself -- knows what the hell demonfish are, but they're most likely nothing good.

The party then made sure they had enough provisions and hired a pagan linkboy before heading to the ruined shell of the abbey.  They decided to fill in some areas on their first level map (meaning that after 16 sessions they have still not made it to the second level, nor have they completed a map of the first level).   They first encountered a small group of orcs at a four way intersection.  They quickly slew them, and soon discovered that what they believed at first to be a dead end actually contained  a secret cache where the orcs stashed their silver.

They attempted to enter through a door in the northern part of the intersection, but found the door was stuck -- even more so than the other doors in the dungeon.  Listening at it they heard a large number of meeping sounds, and the party smelled a very strange smell they identified as likely being bat guano.  They decided they did not want to tangle with that room yet and moved southward.

Here they found another group of orcs.   The three sickly creatures immediately tried to bargain for passage past the party.  From them, the party learned that in a chamber beyond the orcs was a tomb that "talks too much."  The party agreed to let the orcs by, and Jöp even offered to give them some of his stew as a token of peace.  Unfortunately for the orcs, a die roll had determined earlier that the stew was poisonous .  

The continued on towards the tomb, and soon found a large slab of stone with an effigy of a knight on it.  It seemed to all be carved from the same stone, and to lack a lid.  The "tomb" spoke to them, telling the party that he was Sir Roderick, a former Sword Brother who served the order before it degenerated into devil worship.  He told them that once a week they may each ask him one question, and so they did so.

Pillsen asked if he should go first, to which Roderick said "apparently not." The frogling asked "what's a demon fish," to which Roderick said "a large, but otherwise harmless fish."  Roger asked what was the cause of the disturbances in the abbey, and where did it come from.  Roderick informed the party that Orcus was shackled in some Stygian pit deep beneath they abbey, and the Sword Brothers mistakenly built the abbey on top of it.  He gave no reason for this mistake, and the party was quite confused by it.

At this, the party decided to leave the abbey for now, and the session ended.

Despite the little that happened, I had a blast with this session.

The Shield Lands

The Shield Lands are a fairly recent development, politically speaking.  To the outside world, there was no difference between this tract of land and the Bandit Kingdoms, and both terms were used interchangeably.  That was until the "Earl" of Walworth signed on with Furyondy as a mercenary.  He helped that kingdom fend off his own neighbors, and gained much of their land in the process.

He also, according to legend, received a vision from the god Mithras before a great battle with a number of bandit princes.  Mithras, the god of the new religion which was only then beginning to take hold of Furyondy, told him that he could unite all of the Bandit Kingdoms under his rule if he would accept Mithras as the Highest God and spread his worship among the heathens.

He then returned with newfound military experience to his island earldom.  So he started a policy of expansion, bringing several of the neighboring bandit princes under his sway.  He did this mostly through conversion, as the new henotheistic religion provided an ideology that helped to unify the area.  When this did not work, the Earl of Walworth would back up his ambitions with his army.  He utilized heavy cavalry, i.e. knights, in a way heretofore unseen outside the armies of the Great Kingdom and Furyondy, and few of the bandit lords could stand against him.  Still, he could not expand forever.  Eventually his supply lines ran too thin and the rough borders of the Shield Lands were set.

The current Knight Commander, king in all but title, is the son of this conqueror.  He spent most of his life consolidating the land his father gained, helping the Mithraian cult penetrate more deeply into the Shield Lands and making sure the local lords payed proper deference to him.  He is now growing old, and his son will, hopefully, take the throne.  Unfortunately his child is still in his minority, and the lords of the Shield Lands hunger for the times when they were more independent.  Add to that the ever increasing threats from the Bandit Kingdoms and the Horned Society, and one can see that the fate of this small earldom hangs by a thread.

Still, there is hope.  Many of the lords do have an ideological connection Adumnfort through their new religion.  Even more importantly, Furyondy enjoys having the Shield Lands as a buffer state, and will do much to prop it up.  During the reign of the current Knight Commander, Furyondy has provided troops for many attempted expeditions into the Bandit Kingdoms, and while none were too terribly successful they have helped to maintain stability within the Shield Lands itself.

Long before all this though, the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms were backwards within the Great Kingdom.  Chroniclers tell that it was here that Overking Vennax the Mad had prisoners construct the terrible dungeons of Stonehell.  Some say it was these prisoners who provided the stock that currently populates the area, though most within the Shield Lands would dismiss this.

Gods other than Mithras are worshiped openly within the earldom, but their cults are increasingly marginalized.  The new religion, at least as practiced within the Shield Lands, is more interesting in collecting converts than murdering unbelievers.  In this way they are quite different from the Theocracy of the Pale.


I'm not sure if the Shield Lands will be the focal point of a campaign within my version of Greyhawk, but I had a fairly clear idea of the area and wanted to put it down on (digital) paper.  The Hold of the Sea Princes and the City of Greyhawk will possibly get some similar entries soon, unless I for some reason just become smitten with this area.

I'm still not sure what to call the Knight Commanders, but I'm thinking Almaric might be a good name as would Drogo, both of which are medieval names that sound like goofy fantasy names.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Unfocused Thoughts on Greyhawk Folio

I've been sitting on these half-hatched ideas for over a week and I thought I needed to get them out in some form, so here they are.  Some of them will be elaborated on in more coherent and better formated posts as I continue to develop this project.
  • Based on the names on the map and a cursory skim of the book itself I've picked out a few places I may want to focus on.
  • The Shield Lands immediately jumps out at me due to its name, the fact that it neighbors the similarly awesomely named Bandit Kingdoms, and the description itself.  The Horned society sounds kinda lame, but I like anybody whose religion is described as "deviltry."
  • I also like the Hold of the Sea Princes, which I imagine as a combination of Venice and King's Landing as portrayed in the Game of Thrones HBO series.
  • On that note, I essentially want this setting to be one part Hyboria, one part Newhon, and one part Westeros, with some middle ages thrown in for flavor.
  • My other choice for the focal point of the setting is Greyhawk itself.  One thing I've been missing in my current campaign is urban adventures, which I'm a big fan of.    I'll likely be using Zak's urbancrawl system to flesh it (or any other city I have to detail) out.  Not sure yet what to do about the infamous ruined pile if I pick this location, but we'll see.
  • The Sword Lands is the one that is most obviously in my wheelhouse (knights fighting Satan), but that may be the best reason not to do it.  Still, I like knights... a lot.
  • Religion is proving to be an issue.  The original folio lacks any details on the Greyhawk pantheon that I know through the 3e core books.  I don't want to use those because that strikes me as lazy, but when reading the folio I get a very clear image of a society with a pseudo-Christian dynamic.  Theocracies, intolerant of old religions, sacred orders of knights who oppose the Adversaries, and so on populate the folio.  Unfortunately, I already have that setting.  I want something with paganism.
  • Maybe I could do some kind of old gods vs new gods thing a la Game of Thrones, where it's much less confrontational than the pseudo-Christian idea.
  • I also want to use some of the Newhon stuff from DDG in my campaign.  Kos, God of Dooms, is awesome.
  • Right now my rough equivalents for the different ethnic groups are as follows: Suloise = Phoenicians, Oeridians = Indo-Europeans (particularly Latins and Greeks but the farther from Aerdy you get the more they look like Germans), Baklunish = Turkic peoples, and the Flanae = Finno-Ugric peoples.  This breaks down in certain areas, particularly the Yeomanry, and I probably need to think about it a bit more.
  • I imagine The Great Kingdom as being rather like 6th century Byzantium, but more evil.
  • I may steal some ideas from my Might & Magic project, including making Oerth really be some kinda spaceship.  Not 100% on that, or really anything else on this list, though.
Well that's about it.

Sorry about the light posting recently, but I kinda went into a coma after the semester was over.  It should pick up more in the coming days before returning to normal.  

Next week I'll be in Hattiesburg running another quick side game.  Not sure what it's going to be yet, but I need to figure it out shortly.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Greyhawk Folio Project Ground Rules

  • If it's in the 1980 Folio it is canon.  I have to think very very hard on something before I change it, and I'll try to remain as close as possible to the original folio while still giving my own spin on things.
  • It's the only thing that is canon.  I will under no circumstances look at any other Greyhawk products for inspiration.  Anything not in the folio must to be invented by myself.
  • The only possible exception to this is the Village of Hommlet module which I have and like quite a bit.  I might not use it for inspiration, but I might.  All other Greyhawk products are off limits though.
  • I will be using some other material for inspiration, such as the CSIO and other Judges Guild products.
  • If I ever run this I'll use Labyrinth Lord plus the full litany of class and race options from the AEC.  However, in building the setting I'll most often be referencing AD&D material such as the DMG, the MM, FF, MMII, and DDG.
This project is designed to give me a nice meat and potatoes fantasy* setting that still has a firm Evan stamp on it.  I was a bit worried at first that Greyhawk was a bit too close to my wheelhouse (medieval Europe) but now I'm starting to think that may be a blessing.  I'm still not sure which region I'm going to detail first, but it will undoubtedly have a big city in it since I miss city adventures.

More to come soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gether, The City of the Slavers

Though all the city states in the Desert of Demons traffic in slaves, none do so to the degree that Gether does -- except maybe Phut.  Gether is a society built on the backs of slaves, and a strange society it is.  Unlike the other city states, which more or less all have three classes, Gether only has nobles and slaves.  Nobles in Gether tend to do little physical activity, and many are sorcerers of some ability.   Slaves serve a wide variety of functions, including some who have roles in the military and government; however, most perform grueling physical labor or some deplorable task given by their decadent masters.

The only thing approaching a free class in Gether is the large number of mercenaries who serve in its army.  While most Getherian troops are slaves, many units are made up of elite swords-for-hire who are doggedly loyal to the slaver house they serve.  Gether differs from Almodad in that most of its mercenaries are hired from within the Desert of Demons rather than from foreign cities.  Phutians and Uzites are common, and Jerite archers occasionally appear in the hosts marshaled by a particular slave lord.  These men and women are usually wolfs-heads in their home cities, and they are often noted for the particular cruelty they show towards those from their native lands.

Gether has no king or queen, rather the "government" is made up of several competing houses who will unite if under attack from another state.  Still, there exists much strife between the factions in Gether and assassinations, brawls, and even small battles are fairly common place.  It is for this reason that displaced mercenaries often make their way to the City of the Slavers.

Gether does not look like a typical city.  Rather than being a huddled mass of houses of varying stories with a few instances of monumental architecture, the "City" of the Slavers is a close grouping of fortified compounds ruled over by a slave lord.  These compounds have temples, markets, palaces, and markets; however, they are not heavily populated.  The bulk of the society, that is the slaves, live between the compounds in small, smoke filled huts.  Occasionally mercenary forces from one of the compounds will venture out into this periphery and capture a few of the slaves to sell in foreign cities, or possibly even to kill for sport.

No single god is worshiped in Gether more than any other.  Each house has its own patron deity, some of which are venerated nowhere else.  The temples the slavers build are unusually lavish.  Even impoverished houses will spare no expense when building a temple since the houses often use the opulence to compete with one another.  To build a bare temple is to lose face.

For those of You Who Have Been Enjoying A Game of Thrones

Heres some metal.

I should be back to blogging very soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Little Something for CoC fans

I don't know if you've already seen Sandy Petersen's "The Lazy Man's Guide to Constructing a Call of Cthulhu Adventure" but if you haven't you should.  It has served me well each time I've used it.

Still trying to work diligently.  I should be back about Tuesday of next week.

[funny thing, chrome's autocorrect changed my misspelling of diligently to "negligently"]