Tuesday, January 29, 2019

More Tales from the Cutthroat Inn

The same adventurers who took the magician Salassim to the Pylon - that is to say KhurshidSweetleafAnnapurna, and The Pact is Sealed - met with Ion Skamos on the 20th day of the month of the Snow Leopard and decided to investigate a rumor they heard about the Heirophant_of the Spider God hiring bravos for some unwholesome task. On the way to the temple they were accosted by a strange Constable who asserted Sweetleaf and Khurshid were spies, due to their greenish hue. They were soon separated from the constable by the thronging crowds of Regal Street.

Meeting with the Heirophant, they discovered he was offering 500 pieces of gold to whoever could slay the misbegotten Son of the Spider God. They agreed to this and he instructed them to follow the Conqueror's River north until they came to a tripartite fork. Then they were to take the eastmost one into the Dearthwood until they found a ridgeline. It is there, he asserted, that they would find the abode of the Son of the Spider God. He assured them this offspring was from an ill-made trist and it was better for all concerned if he was slain. They agreed to this and set out immediately, exiting from the Gate of the Gods and rounding around the Redoubt of the Dead before heading due north along the river.

Khurshid the Contrarian

Khurshid, acting as their scout, was able to help the group avoid a group of orcs led by an Amazon a few miles north of Woe. Just after taking the eastmost fork, they found a great bell that had sunken into a bog and shone a golden hue. About it was a large group of orcs and a few ogres. They argued over the best way to remove it. Despite desiring the bell, the party decided it was best to avoid fighting and instead moved a few miles away - far enough, they hoped, that the orcs would not see their campfire. They rested without incident and then made their way further into the Dearthwood. Khrushid, again ahead of the party, noticed first the location of a black structure on top of a hill which he knew instinctively to be the abode of the Son of the Spider God, and second that at the base of the hill was a skeleton of a dragon turtle that seemed to be the den of a group of lions. He returned to the party and ably led them downwind of the lines so as not to be found, and up to the structure.

After descending a long set of stairs, the group found an antechamber closed with a large, bronze door in the shape of a spider. Inside this chamber a strange illusion caused them to feel like the door was floating in space, held up by an immense, moving web. Pressing on, they found a room with six large pillars, one of which had hidden treasures inside. Finally, they found action as a group of moonraker servants of Yezud attempted to block their way. This initiated a running battle, with Ion blasting them with the sandstorm-fury of Set and the others loosing arrows. Their foes fled into a great chapel, where more of their kind waited along with an acolyte of Yezud. After a few rounds, the moonrakers abandoned this room too, and the party decided it was better to rest than to press on just yet.

After regaining some of their lost stamina, they followed the moonrakers north, only to find an empty chamber. Beyond were seemingly more empty chambers, but these were trapped with poison darts and pressure plates. While testing for a way to get rid of the darts or cross the floor, the Pact is Sealed was attacked by a flameskull, which set about him with magic and gouts of flame. The party was able to destroy it through use of Pact’s famous air punches, the “Finger Guns of Set,” and good old fashioned arrows. While the arrows were the least effective in general, it was one of Annapurna’s that finally ended the creature’s magical unlife.

At last they came to a great hall which contained even more moonrakers, though this was to be their last stand. After a tough battle, in which the Pact is Sealed was nearly slain and Khurshid, himself injured, retreated to cower and hope the battle would go the right way, Sweetleaf, Annapurna, and Ion were able to slay the last of this strange cult. However, they were spent, and elected that after a short rest they should head back to the City State of the Invincible Overlord. During their rest, they saw a grim visage of a specter covered in the webs of a spider, but they were able to dissipate it before it could harm anyone.

On the way back, Annapurna found a shortcut that returned them quickly to the great bell, which was now free of orcs. To big to move by itself, the party took measurements in hopes of fashioning a wheel to attach to it to make it easier. Khurshid believed it to be worth about 1000gp intact.

Friday, January 25, 2019

A Quick Guide to the Roglaras

1. The City State of the Invincible Overlord - The nasty, pus-covered jewel of the Roglaroon. Lankhmar away from Lankhmar.  You live here now [if you are in my campaign]!  A city full of adventure, intrigue, and gonzo weird shit.  The overlord is currently out on campaign, raiding the disputed territory between the City State and Viridistan.

2. The Dearthwood - A great cedar forest filled with orcs and other nasties.  The chief group of orcs is the Orcs of the Purple Claw, ruled by group of Amazon warriors - daughter of a priestess who was slain by the Overlord in an ancient time.  Their citadel is hidden somewhere inside the forest but no living man has seen it.  Other dungeons in the Dearthwood that y'all know about include the Aerie of the Snake-Maker and the Halls of the Black Spider.

3. Modron - Modron was once a glittering jewel of a city.  Back in the time of the Orichalcans it was the richest city on the Roglaras, but a Ghinoran pirate named Glaukos the Impious raised it and hauled its treasures to his island fortress.  The island was later destroyed by the goddess Modron.  Some say the spires of his old citadel still stick up from beneath waves, beckoning adventurers.  Modron was rebuilt by Alryans from the City State and acts as a client state and port.  It also is home to a large temple of Mitra.

4. Kingdom of Lightelf - A kingdom of gnomes, half-elves, and a few elves and men that stretches from Lightelf to Ashenshaft (just east of the estuary).  The folk there are good, but harassed by Skandik reavers, Altanian raiders, and riders of the City State, so they have learned the craft of arms.  They were eventually subjected to the Skandiks of Ossary, who take their tribute in timber and forest products.  Since they are subject to Ossary they are now de jure subject to the Invincible Overlord as well.  Old ruined gnome warrens dot the area, sealed during a bout of madness by the first king of Lightelf.

5. The Pagan Coast - This land was taken from the Alryan and Altanian natives by Skandiks long ago.  It is now the domain of Skandik reavers and shield maidens supposedly loyal to either the kings of Ossary or Croy.  They fight among each other, but the ascension of Bjorn the Mighty to the Overlordship of the City State also united these kingdoms.  Racial tensions between skandiks and Altanians are high.  Old Orichalcan fortresses and newer Skandik burial mounds can be found along the coast.

6. Thunderhold - A kingdom of surface-dwelling dwarves who live in a large citadel and pay tribute to the Invincible Overlord.  They are mostly good-hearted, but often greedy and jealous.  They wish to return to their mountain home, taken from them by the Flame of Norvi-Ridge, an ancient dragon with juvenile tastes.  The dragon was destroyed by a dwarf demi-god and companion to Bjorn in his adventuring days, but the old fastness is still too full of monsters for the dwarves to move in.  Also nearby are the Sunstone Caverns, which are often mined by the dwarves but are reputed to themselves be haunted by monsters.

7. The Majestic Fastness - The ruins of an ancient dwarf kingdom from which Thunderhold descends.  Once the home of an ancient red dragon, now it is full of minor monsters carving his loot amongst themselves.  The dwarves of Thunderhold offer gold for relics retrieved.

8. Warwick - A rival to the city state founded by some foreigner from a strange world who was abandoned in the Wilderlands long ago.  The current power in the city is made up of Alryan exiles from the City State.  They plot ways to bring the City State to heel, but are currently too weak to enact their plans.

9. The Moonraker Moorlands - a blasted area that, under the light of the stars, almost seems like the surface of the moon.  It is frequented by "moonrakers," degenerate descendants of the ancient Orichalcans who hold the place sacred for some unknown reason.  What was there, and why it would be destroyed so utterly is unknown to all and only the silliest sages would hazard a guess.

10. The Troll Fens -  Fens full of trolls (and crocodiles).  The trolls from the fens sometimes come into the city state looking for work as bouncers or unskilled labor, but most are too brutish and murderous to go for that sort of thing.  Just south of the fens, along the Twilight Road, is the village of Darkfield, where an evil wizard who is a senator in the City State plots against a rival group of wizards in a nearby castle.

11. Mermist Marsh - Another set of wetlands along the Estuary of the Roglaroon.  Unlike the Troll fens, these are brackish.  This has not stopped it being inhabited by a large number of toads and the servants of the Toad, said to be god of the marsh.  Many Orichalcan ruins and relics have been found here, perhaps more still yet exist.

12. The River Hargost - This river, bordering the sphere of the City State as well as the Kingdom of Lightelf, is home to many gangs of pirates.  They are mostly Alryan and Altanian, but use Skandik style boats capable of both river and sea travel.  They sometimes attempt to harass shipping along the Roglaroon, but a great sea monster in service to Bjorn has destroyed their ships when they sought to do so.  Now they busy themselves capturing travelers and harassing Ashenshaft.

13. Plain of Cairns -  A plain sacred to the Altanian nomads who live around it.  It is where they set up the tombs of their dead.  They will fiercely fight any who seek to defile them.  Many say there are Orichalcan tombs in the plain as well, but it is unknown if the Altanians defend these as fiercely.

14. Witches' Court Marshes - These marshes lie at the heart of the debatble land between the City State and its chief rival, Viridistan.  Around the end of the month of the Silent Scream, hags and human witches and warlocks of evil bent from around the Wilderlands gather here to worship their devils and plot their plots.  Some believe they are at the root of a conspiracy to undo the City State and Viridistan, but hags and witches seldom get along enough for such plans.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ruins & Relics of Sartar

When I ran my ill-fated Glorantha Openquest game, I used the Ravaged Ruins tables from the Ready Ref Sheets/The Wilderlands of High Fantasy to populate some hexes of my hex map of Sartar, as is my tradition with all fantasy games.  The results are described below.  Maybe somebody out there can use them.  Maybe I'll use them one day.

0202 - A group of six tusk riders are trying to figure out how to get two tuskers to drive a chariot they found.  It is not going well.

207 -  Brontosaurus herd.

0314 - Two Sky Bulls hover near a javelin thrust into the ground.  The javelin has the air and movement runes, allowing the wielder to cast skybolt using their own MP.  The ground about the javelin is scorched.

0401 - A dragonewt who was performing a strange ritual here has turned his body into precious stones worth 1600 Lunars. About him are foul smelling chemicals, that are mildly poisonous to the touch - Resilience test or -25% to all actions for 2d6 hours.  If taken back to the tula or sold the dragonewt (now a tailed priest) will come looking for it.

0516 - The broken skeleton of an enormous bird, at least the size of a dream dragon, lies here covered in ashes.

0707 - A stone statue of a noble long forgotten from the Empire of the Wyrms Friends lies tumbled on the ground, covered in dust.  Those who linger too long near it will be attacked by three Ancestor Spirits who will attempt to possess the victim to make them sing a dirge for the noble until their death.

0711 - Ruined Duck village haunted by the undead of Lunars who died destroying it.

0805 - Ankylosaurus herd.

0808 - An inhumanly large man with humakti tattoos and gleaming armor stands between two flocks of sheep, one black and one white.  He says the white sheep feed on the truth while the black sheep feed on death. “Speak the truth and both my sheep shall eat. Speak a falsehood and only the black sheep will.”  He will refuse to let anyone pass until they have spoken, and will attack anyone who says a lie, after his white sheep die dramatically.

0904 - A group of 6 ghouls feasts on the remains of a food pedlar and his wares.  If searched the pedlar has 5 lunars on him, but all his food is spoiled.

0911 - Centaur bros having a rad/shitty party.

1003 - A dragonewt stands at a ford in a river demanding a duel to anyone who would cross in halting trade talk.  He says that it is his time to Ascend and that anyone who would help him may keep his sword (as a warsword but with the dragon breath spell set upon it and it always injures those injured by iron weapons).  He asked that his body be guarded by the winner until he can recover it.

1014 - A group of 3 dark trolls and 4 trollkin squat in a cave, praying before a fresco to one of their dark goddesses.

1115 - A group of 4 Broos are tearing apart a dead harpy with their horns and swords while braying mournfully.  Examining the remains of the harpy if the broos are driven off reveals skeletal little broos in her rib cage. The broos have 50 lunars worth of goods.

1205 - A ruined stead destroyed by the Lunars has now become the home of 40 rubble runners.  If anyone disturbs the ruined interiors the creatures will rush out and attack in full numbers.

1214 -  A dragon snail haunts a pool near a warning stone set up by some lazy Storm Bulls.  It attacks anything that comes near.

1211 - T Rex hunting grounds.

1310 - A small cairn has been erected for a dead duck warrior.  He has a shortsword marked with the Death Rune (casts Hand of Death using the wielder’s magic points), a tiny fetish of himself (used as a 4 point magic point store), and a gilded helmet worth 125 lunars.  If the items are taken it will arrive as a mummy at the characters’ stead next season to claim its revenge.

1307 - A Lunar Priest and 5 members of the Beryl Phalanx are setting up a telescope for better moon viewing in front of a number of nonplussed Satarite peasants.  The telescope is presumably extremely valuable, but unlikely to find a buyer.

1406 -  A set of burned and smashed urns lie on the ground hear.  They were destroyed by the Colymar tribe when they discovered these ancestors followed Arkat the Betrayer.  

1508 - A group of Lunars were ritually destroying a piece of road paved by Sartar, but they were attacked by 6 giant wasps.  The lunars fled after the deaths of two of the Tarshite light infantry. The wasps are laying eggs in their victims. The tarshites have 2 lunars on their dead bodies, as well as their gear.  If the wasps are cleared away and the PCs rest at the location there is a 30% chance the Lunars will return to finish their work, this time with reinforcements.

1511 - The house of a tanner, set away from a nearby tula, is apparently unoccupied.  Investigating the interior will reveal a number of deer have gored the tanner to death in front of his tanning rack, and trashed the house, leaving the floor slick with gore and rendered fat.  The deer act normal in the presence of the PCs.

1604 - A group of Dark Trolls are defacing a small stone dedicated to a king of Sartar’s coronation.  They are are currently spitting upon it, but have done worse things to it previously.

1615 - The crystalline corpse of a mostali is buried in a small mound on a rocky cliff.  Hovering nearby are 3 wasp riders wondering why the mound is there. The crystalline skeleton may fetch up to 190 Lunars from an interested sorcerer.

1710 - A giant laughs over the bodies of Wasp Riders he has smashed out of the air.  One of the wasp riders has a guilt saddle with Animal Whisperer cast upon it (only works on insects).

1716 - A small step pyramid, meant to be an observatory by the Lunars, was being constructed on this site.  However, the workers were attacked by a walktapus who now lairs in the foundation of the building. The local authorities are offering 2500 Lunars to clear out the creature.

1813 - A giant puzzles with a box carved with Heortling script and the Stability and Disorder Runes. The box says “We Are the Doom of the Clever.” Anyone who recites a poem of their own invention over the box will release the five disease spirits trapped inside.

1909 - A lunar official is overseeing a mostali carving an image of a Lunar victory into a cliff face. They are guarded by twelve tarshite light infantry. The official has a small bronze whip which allows him to cast Madness as a divine spell, as well as two potions of Heal 3.

2010 - A broken stone table lies in a crater.  In it is carved a sorcerous ritual to place chaos spirits into stone.  Set about it are three iron constructs who will kill any non-mostali who approaches.

2103 - A group of 5 Telmori hunters have been using this area to clean their kills.  Deer are hung up from the trees as a warning to intruders. 2 of the Telmori can turn into wolves at will.

2109 - A cave here serves as an ancient shrine to Ernalda, built even before her marriage to Orlanth.  It is guarded by a single guardian spirit - once immensely powerful now weakened by time. To interact safely within the cave, the spirit must be convinced of the character’s reverence to Ernalda, but will be confused by myths postdating Orlanth’s wedding.

2202 - Triceratops herd.

2205 - Four Telmori and three Wolfbrothers are picking over a wagon of a tarshite merchant and the guards they killed.  150 Lunars worth of salt and fish are in barrels in the wagon.

2206 - Hill of Orlanth Victorious

2214 - Half buried in the sand is what appears to be a toy sized golden chariot belonging to Orlanth. If someone handles it, it is actually a magical trap set by the lunars and will burst into a poisonous gas (as Walktapus poison).

2301 - A long, straight tunnel goes several hundred feet into the side of a hill.  At the far end are 4 krarshtkids waiting to scurry out and attack anyone who comes within. They have accidentally accumulated about 160 lunars in coins and goods and a gold torque worth 60 lunars.

2308 - A group of 3 Telmori are digging through the remains of a temporary arsenal set up by the Lunars during their initial invasion of Sartar.  So far they have outfitted themselves in scale hauberks and with bronze khopeshes. One of them has the ability to turn into a wolf at will. A Wolf Brother guards the entrance to the ruin.

2405 - A small shrine dedicated to Telmor Father of Wolves lies in a copse of trees.  Lunars and axe orlanthi are hung around it as a warning to trespassers. No Telmori are currently present.  On the altar is a hatchet made of iron marked with the Beast rune. Anyone using the axe may cast Berserk upon themselves, but it must be returned to the altar before it may be used again in this fashion.

2506 - A lunar guardpost has been overrun by 30 broo, lead by a broo priest of Thed.  They have a cage where they hold some impregnated captives. The guards have had their viscera torn out and thrown over the walls. From the small garrison they have gathered 400 lunars, 17 wheels, a darra happan shortsword formerly wielded by the commander made of iron and blessed by the sun rune (spells are Fanaticism, Fireblade, and Leap 2), a necklace with a one time use of fire arrow, and three potions of Heal 4.

2516 - Discarded linen scraps lie on the ground.  Touching them has a 30% chance of attracting a disease spirit.

2603 - A small shrine to Uralda lies abandoned except for a perfectly maintained stone fence - in the style of a wicker fence - and the 12 magic cows whose hides shimmer like gold as they graze.  Stealing the cows will either bring the blessing of Uralda, if they are to serve as milk cows, or her vengeance, if they are slaughtered. Having them on the tula may prompt more cattle raids from jealous neighbors.

What the Roglaras is Like

Precis:  A brutal wilderness filled with the ruins of past civilizations, idolatrous warlords, and small communities huddling against the perils of the wilds and the treacheries of men.

Conspectus: The vassals of the Invincible Overlord lording it over tiny villages; the dreaded pirates of Hargost, kept at bay only by the Overlord's sea serpent ally; the scheming lords of Warik, exiles from the lands of the City State; Battleplain Gwalion, where the dead men of a thousand wars rise from their cairns to fight the living; the Moonraker Moorlands, blasted wastes haunted by the degenerate remnants of an ancient empire; the ruins of that empire - might Orichalca whose pyramid tombs and might temples stretched across Barbarian Altanis; the roaming Altanians, who act as mercenaries, hunters, and raiders; the Skandik reavers of Ossary and Croy who seek slaves and enemy chieftains to sacrifice to their gods; the great cedar forest of the Dearthwood, and the bloodthirsty orcs who lie within; the Mermist Marshes - home to strange toadlike creatures and the degenerates who worship them; Alryan city-dwelling merchants always out for a swindle; the Dwarf fortress of Thunderhold and the ancient mountain home they left behind; the raiders of the Tharbrian Coast, wild horseman and archers; prehistoric animals who hunger for the blood of man; hobbits, elves, and gnomes under the heel of cruel Alryan or Skandik overlords; good-natured warriors or priests trying to better the pirates they rule over; the volcanic spray of the Cloudwall Mountains; the Isle of the Twelve, where Hephaestus himself set up the statues of the Gods

Taste; Sound; Image: Goat milk and venison,  Basil Poledouris's "The Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom," the above still from The Story of Joseph and His Brothers

Friday, January 18, 2019

What the City State of the Invincible Overlord is Like

My player apparently found yesterday's post somewhat helpful, but asked me to do another one of these for the CSIO (I'll do one for the Roglaras tomorrow).

Precis:  A decadent and barbaric city of hard men, loose women, and strange wonders. (or maybe hard women and loose men).

Conspectus: Bjorn the Mighty, the Invincible Overlord of all the Skandiks; the golden pews and idols of the Temple of the Spider God; assassins and thieves fighting in the sewers by night and day; lumbering trolls serving as bouncers, bookies, and pitfighters in local taverns; attacks by an armed cabal of weirdos over a case of mistaken identity; strange and disturbing screams coming from beneath the street on certain nights near the Three Temples of Thoth the Terrible, Odin the Ruler, and Hamarkhis the Deadly; monsters descending from the sky to pick up a merchant and carry him to who knows where; goblin workers allowed in the city by day but forced out at night;  those same goblins sneaking through the sewers to perform general malfeasance; kangaroo courts and "litigation tricksters" who engage in strange trails before the gods; Senators of the city and its outskirts screaming at each other in their black robes; the sinister cult of Pegana and the dreaded beast of Mung; Naughty Nannies and other strange "shops" catering to perverse or arcane tastes; the Orcs of the Purple Claw and their Amazon queen who raid the settlements around the city; the Beggar's Guild that trades in information as well as alms; knights of the city state in portly pomp riding down the street, jeered at by their mercenary cousins; strange meals and stranger rumors at dubious inns; the Tomb of Banefire and other dungeons beneath the city; the occasional flailsnail falling from the sky

Taste; Sound; Image: Rat on a stick,  Basil Poledouris's "The Mountain of Power Progression," Mike Mignola's Lankhmar

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Wilderlands and Me

Have I done this post before?  Oh kinda!  But I want to handle this a little different.  This is kind of a combination Appendix N for my current campaign and my history with the Wilderlands.  This is partly a response to friend of the blog and longtime online group player Huth's statement that he didn't quite "get" what I was going for.  This post is meant to either help him get it or explain why it's difficult to get.  I won't be sure which until people read it.

I first found out about the Wilderlands my freshman or sophomore year of college.  I was not sure what to run for my college group so on a whim I looked up the wikipedia page for fantasy RPG settings.  I saw the name The Wilderlands of High Fantasy and thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard.  It was so dumb I had to know why someone would name something that.  In reasearching it, I found out there was a 3e version of the setting, and since that was the main RPG I ran at the time (it's the one I started with) I looked into it more.

What I found was a lot of people talking about how it was more Swords & Sorcery than a modern D&D setting.  It hearkened back to the Old Days, when fantasy and science fiction were not so separate.  The days of pulp magazines and bronze age four color fantasy.  The days of pulp fantasy.  Now at the time I actually had fairly limited experience with the actual texts involved in these statements.  I was familiar with pulp sci fi and horror through my love of spaceships, the works of H P Lovecraft, and the book the Art of Imagination, which I was given for Christmas once in high school.  I still treasure that book.

Image result for infant island mothra

I was also familiar with the successors of these forms of adventure fiction, though I wouldn't have recognized the connection at the time: 1950s sci fi and mid-century adventure films.  The idea of a setting that felt like that and the appeals to a nostalgia for a past that I never lived in set my mind afire.  I was also intrigued by the type of gameplay it promoted that the OSR now calls the "hexcrawl," because it matched the video games I actually liked to play but I had only experienced and run fairly linear storyline stuff before this time.

So I bought the 3e box set.  I also bought some of the fiction people said it resembled - most notably the Conan stories of Robert E Howard (specifically the collection with illustrations by Mark Schultz, whose art still defines the Hyborian Age to me).  I also picked up the Conan movie because people said it was good, and while I found them very different I enjoyed both immensely.  

The box set took some time coming in so for a long while I relied on the free Lenap chapter that was hosted online.  Its jungle climate with barren hills and volcanic islands reminded me of Infant Island from Mothra, which made me love it all the more and makes it still one of my favorite areas of the Wilderlands.  In fact, it is the basis for a large part of Yavana.  However, this campaign ended in a TPK and by then I had gotten a hold of the box set and moved the action to the City State of the Invincible Overlord (with a brief excursion into Tarsh).

An important thing to note, then, is that the Wilderlands was in many ways my introduction to pulp fantasy, though reading Grognardia a few years later would greatly increase the amount I read.  It was easier for me to deal with the fact there were weird D&D races that wouldn't normally be in Swords & Sorcery fiction because I didn't yet have a developed enough taste to recognize it.  My primary science fantasy D&D alike exposure was the Might & Magic series, and that had elves and dwarves and even minotaurs and vampires in some games and you ended most of them by shooting the boss with rayguns.  Heck, in some of the games the elves were even blue, which made it easier to understand the funny colored wilderpeople.

Another thing to note is that I started running the Wilderlands during my college career, where I majored in history and minored in classics (and eventually went on to get an MA in Premodern History).  To the Retro Stupid Wilderlands setting I added a great deal of Pretension.  The difference between the Skandiks of Croy and Ossary became many of the differences between Vikings and Saxons.  The armies of the City State became late Roman in character.  I knew enough about Persia to make the connections to the magic archers and name of Viridistan.

A mock cover created by Trey Causey that I think gets the tone Exactly Right

My history with the Wilderlands certainly makes it my most maximalist setting.  It is a jambalaya of influences that developed as I ran the setting.  My interest in "precious shithole hellscapes" developed after finding Huge Ruined Scott's original Wilderlands OD&D blog and through that the rest of the OSR.  That blog is why this blog exists.  The tastes I developed through reading OSR blogs led me to trying to decide from the ground up why OD&Disms would be the way they are, based on my own proclivities, which is what led to Nightwick Abbey.  I don't design settings the way I did for the relatively blank slate of the Wilderlands material anymore, and I would never put elves in a Swords & Sorcery setting now.

But the Wilderlands is enough part of my D&D DNA now that I can run it without chaffing too much at its contradictions.  Things are sometimes the way they are because that's the way they are in the Wilderlands.  Elves and Hobbits go steal the jewel from the Tower of the Elephant.

Anyway I mentioned an Appendix N at the beginning so I should probably do one of those.  This represents both what I was reading for the original campaign and what I've read since that has been incorporated into my imaginings.

Geary, Patrick - Before France and Germany
Howerd, Robert E. - Almuric, Conan Series***
Jordanes - History of the Goths
Leiber, Fritz - The Sword Series***
Lovecraft, H. P. - "The Mound," At the Mountains of Madness, and other Cthulhu mythos stories.
Smith, Clark Ashton - The Hyperborean and Zothique Cycles*, "The Abominations of Yondo," "The Maze of the Enchanter"*
Moore, C. L. - Jirel of Joiry Series, Northwest of Earth Series
Tolkien, J. R. R. - The Hobbit*

Atlantis: The Lost Continent
Conan the Barbarian
Deathstalker 2 (and some of the visuals from 1 but man does 1 have too much rape).
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad*
Hawk the Slayer
Hercules in the Haunted World
Jason and the Argonauts
The Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete
The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad***
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger**

Conan and Savage Sword of Conan by Marvel
Conan by Dark Horse
ElfQuest (currently by Dark Horse)
Godzilla by Dark Horse

Video Games
Elder Scrolls - Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim
Heroes of Might and Magic 2
Might & Magic 1 - 8**
Legend of Zelda - Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time
Sid Meier's Pirates
Wizardry 6

Special Mentions: Basil Paledouris's soundtrack for Coanan the Barbarian, which I listened to while both prepping and running, and My Barbarian's "Unicorns LA" which gives me some of the same weird Nostalgia for Past Times of D&D feels.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Wilderlands: From the City State to Ashenshaft

James as Tancred (Half Giant Fighter 2)
KC as Namira (Altanian Warlock 2 disciple of Mycr)
JP as Velor Silent-Stream (Half-Elf Druid 1)
Chris as Burgell Timothy Kanoodle Jonjon Karrawak Ningel (Gnome Wizard 1)

Two adventurers from Lightelf, Velor Silent-Stream and Burgell the Gnome, had made their way to the City State in order to seek the aid of other bravos and sorcerers.   They knew that an evil wizard and a band of goblins was searching through the ruins of an old gnome warren that had been sealed by the first king of Lightelf after he had gone mad from plague.  A bounty hunter in Lightelf was offering 300gp for the wizard's head, and so the pair thought they could do the world a good and make a fair bit of coin if they had help from allies.

In the City State they met up with Namira and Tancred and thus did the two become the Fumbling Four again.  On the fifth day of the month of the Snow Leopard the four set out along the Old South Road, resting a night at Caravan Crossing, before making their way along the southern bank of the Estuary of the Roglaroon.  On the second night they camped near a bend in the Estuary which had a small island in it.  This island was about a mile out but even in the light of dusk the human in the party could make out a set of elven ruins and a high, gothic arch no longer attached to any buildings. 

That night, when the four was done hunting for food, Tancred observed a fire in the center of the arch.  Waking his companions, they elected to wait and see.  Shortly two large iron cauldrons came down from the stars and joined the fire near the arch.  The fire began to change through a rainbow of colors, as the magically inclined among the party noted this was likely some sort of Witch's Sabbath.  Despite Tancred's desire to slay the potential witches, the party decided it was best to leave well enough alone and continued sleeping.

Over the next few days they made their way to a ford in the River Hargost.  Burgell, who was scouting ahead, noticed that a large number of men were hidden in trees, with crossbows aimed at anyone trying to cross the ford.  Casting sleep caused a number of these men to fall from their perches but also alerted a great number of men he had not noticed on ground level.  Realizing there were about 20 men on the far bank, and that they were a band of notorious Hargost pirates, Burgell fled to inform the party.

A great debate ensued.  Tancred and Velor wanted to attack the pirates, hoping to bait them into trying to cross the river, but Namira and Burgell thought they were too outnumbered.  The debated ended with Burgell remembering another crossing, more difficult to get to as it lied in a forested region, but only a short distance from where they were.  That night they camped in the forest and the next day, at sundown, they had made it to Ashenshaft.

Ashenshaft was familiar to Burgell and Velor, but Namira and Tancred noticed some strange things about it.  The bulk of the population were half-elves and elves, with a few gnomes and an armed contingent of men.  These men, almost all Alryans, had been sent by the Overlord to hunt the local pirates, but their chaotic and evil ways were grating to the native half-elves.  The four informed some human guards that their were pirates at a nearby crossing, and the guards organized a posse - headed by the town chief - and left soon after.

The party decided to push on into the dusk to find the ruined warren and they did so in the hills north of the town.  A group of four goblins was watching the entrance, and the party decided the best course of action was a direct attack.  They stormed down, catching the goblins by surprised, and used rocks as cover to move up on them quickly without incurring ranged attacks.  The goblins were slain, but the party realized it was too dark to explore more - and the goblins in the warren would have an advantage - so they returned to Ashenshaft to spend some weeks planning their next move.