Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Great Paths

Astral Sea

Best known and most used of the Great Paths, the so-called Astral Plane surrounds the Wyrld.  Anyone with knowledge can open a portal (known as color pools) from a planar realm to the Astral Plane, and from there to another realm. 
No deity has dominion over the Astral Plane, and its infinite expanse has allowed individuals, organizations, and even entire races to settle there.  It is the most commonly used of the Great Paths because of its lack of divine affiliation, and accessing it is slightly easier for arcane casters than reaching the other four Paths.

City of Brass

Sometimes called the City of Doors, reaching planar realms from the City of Brass is a matter only as complicated as opening a door.  With keys, codes and tokens, nearly any door, arch, or gate in the City can be made to reach a desired destination.
The City of Brass is in the hands of the efreeti, the fiery geniekind.  Travel from realm to realm is faster here than on any of the other Great Paths, but travellers are also the favored prey of the efreeti slave-traders, and many planar adventurers never manage to exit the City.  The efreeti are currently embroiled in a civil war between factions loyal to Umoth and those loyal to no divine power, but normally only druids and clerics of a fiery or metropolitan power use the City of Brass as one of the Great Paths.

Gray Road

Also known as the Path of the Dead, the Gray Road leads from the center of the Wyrld to the palace of the Lord of Souls in the Outer Realms, with smaller tracks leading to anywhere a creature has died in the entirety of time.  It takes the appearance of a time-worn, cobblestone road atop a grassy bank.  Because of the unusual nature of the road, anyone walking directly away from it soon (within a hundred paces) finds themselves approaching it from the other side, as though they had just walked around the outside of a cylinder.  Smaller paths and trails lead off of the Gray Road at intervals; much like color pools in the Astral Plane, these allow travellers access to and from other planar realms.
The Gray Road is travelled by the souls of the dead, (escorted by minions of the Lord of Souls), druids, and clerics whose god possesses an affinity for earth, roads, or travel by walking or riding.  Arcane spellcasters can access the Gray Road, as they can access any of the Great Paths, but most prefer the unaligned Astral Plane.  Portions of the Gray Road are regularly patrolled by guardian spirits, but others are lawless and unsafe for the ordinary traveller.

The One Tree

The One Tree is rooted in the Well between Worlds, and the highest of its branches reachs the outermost of the Outer Realms.  Travelling the One Tree is more taxing than walking the Gray Road or sailing the Wyrldflow, but most destinations can be reached in a day or two, instead of the week or longer common to the less trying Paths.
The One Tree is most frequently used by druids and clerics aligned with air, plants, or nature.  Some sections are the domain of a self-appointed guardian, and the safety of those branches is entirely dependant on the guardian’s good wishes.

The Wyrldflow

The Wyrldflow is a great river, flowing from a  thousand thousand headwaters in the Outer Realms together into a vast torrent that plunges into the Well Between Worlds.  Sailing the Wyrldflow is the calmest and most sedate way of travelling the Great Paths; many creatures have taken up lives as ferrymen and offer comfortable passage to anyone able to meet their price.
The Wyrldflow is used by druids, and clerics aligned with water or sailing.  The Wyrldflow supports a vast ecology, and many races spend their existence sailing its waters.  Most of these are friendly, but a few are tyrannical pirates more interested in plunder than trade.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Off The Map 0

Back in my early days, I spent a lot of time drawing maps. Large maps. 24"x36" maps. My dad was (and is) in construction, and there were a lot of house plans around. Different iterations, bad copy, whatever. But they were all blank on one side.

The first map I ever draw was the island "continent" (it's really just a big island) of Raem. I'm still proud of that map. For my second map, I wanted something that reached beyond the edges of the paper. That was the Shadowood (36x24). Followed by the Eastern Shadowood (18x24), and Southern Shadowood (36x24). Then the Shadowend (36x24), and the Eastern Shadowend (18x24). Amk'hilur; Dranamar; the Middle Lands; the Lost Kingdoms. (For those keeping track at home, from north to south is Shadowend, Shadowood, Southern Shadowood, Amk-hilur. A solid 6' of map top to bottom. I literally ran out of wall space.)

I think I'm missing a few, but they all connected.

I'd always intended to run a campaign in the Shadowood, but when it actually happened, I suddenly veered north and set it in this little throw-away corner of the Shadowend map, in a country called "Larenyss" (which I'd named after the book "Lavondyss", itself derived of the mythical city of Ys.)

That big map wasn't really suitable though, so I drew a regular page size version, 8.5 x 11, but at the same scale as the big map. Every map since then has been a version of that narrow view.

Which is a very long way of saying, there's an awful LOT "off the map"

When this quarantining and all is overall, I'm going to take them in and get them scanned. It'll be cool.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dwarven Greathalls

I found a small stack of index cards recently detailing the various dwarven greathalls. I think they're circa 1990-1992, but could be a little earlier or later. I'll fully transcribe them later, but here's a fast rundown. This is straight off the cards; I'm going to move some around eventually, and smooth out the names. The full shadowend map has two great mountain ranges, the Kamuerhorns and the Southern Peaks, and dwarves were slowly driven north by dragons. Ariendrellur was the cradle-hall of the dwarves; Dolnare, Fadreisil, and Nobrildain its successors.

Edit: Ah, I'll bet this is circa the release of the Dwarves Handbook for 2e from TSR. I think there was a dwarven settlement generator in there that I used to flesh out entries.

Ariendrellur (Hearthhome) - Southern Peaks - Dragon-held
Arthringlaur (Diamondsdelve) - Kameurhorn Peaks - Mountain dwarves
Baidruck (Dragonsden) - Kameurhorn Peaks - Hill dwarves
Bersinagul (Silverdeep) - Shadow Peaks - Dragon-held
Dolnare (no translation) - Dolnare - Hill dwarf nation.
Breodoghin (Starsdeep) - Enchanted Hills - Originally mountain dwarves, now a gnomehold.
Dansreldane (Goldendelve) - Southern Peaks - Originally hill dwarves, now mind flayers.
Fadreisil (Sorrowshome) - Southern Peaks - Dragon-held
Kadrinamur (Dimmersdelve )- Southern Range - Destroyed by dragons.
Nobrildain (Hall of the King) - Shadow Peaks - Mountain dwarves
Rogunsur (Gemsdeep) - Seer Mtns - Dragon-held
Sammisthur (Ironsheart) - Banrigh Mtns - Originally mountain dwarves, now duergar.
Shordrugin (Summersfall) - Shadow Peaks - Moulder dwarves
Taeghamor (Hammersfell) - Tyger Peaks - Hill dwarves
Tarandrellur (Hollowhome) - Grey Peaks - Mountain dwarves.
Tamathedra (Darkinghalls) - Kameurhorn Peaks - Originally mountain dwarves, now duergar.
Tundacendran (Fallenstar) - Southern Peaks - Mountain dwarves

Other Halls/Later creations/Alternate names
Rimenghur (Gemsdeep?)
Svorndriel (Whitemine) - Smallhall of Arthringlaur
Tamathdrellur (Darkhome) (initially/originally Tamathedra)
Ordinglaur (Trollsdelve) - Smallhall of Arthringlaur
Zelazghur (Silverdeep?)

 - Den Aejarndril (Citadel of Broken Swords)
 - Den Nedandjor (Citadel of Cloven Shields)
 - Den Tiadis (Citadel of Sundered Axes)


Dranakedbenur the Wyrm

Yegsoderim (deceased)

Mawligraxbenur (Black dragon in the Shadowend; see Shadowend Folio)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Maps and Mapping Stuff, aka the hexcrawl writing game

I've finally done the thing I've been meaning to do for decades, which is assign a functional scale to the Shadowend map. I did this to break it into a hex map of 25-mile hexes, and break those into 5-mile hexes (the 5-mile hexes can be broken again to 1-mile hexes, and then to 1056 ft hexes (352 yards if you want to be really granular).

The point of this is to, hopefully, get back into the groove of writing by detailing hexes. First a general overview of the 25-mile hexes (909: The North Coast hex), then each 5 mile hex within it.  The specificity appeals to me, and a 5-mile hex is still a lot of territory. You can put a mountain in it, or several villages, or a city, or a bunch of things. There are 21 of those in each large hex, plus 12 half-hexes.

No schedule on this, no strict guidelines or word count. I'm going to be as detailed as I want. It's an exercise in writing what I want to read. I'm enjoying it. A deep dive into the Shadowend.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Life and its happenings

I am slowly and gradually getting back, I think, into a writing sort of headspace.

I've been separated from my wife for 2+ years now, and we are amicable. We're not in a rush to divorce because I like having health insurance and...I'm just not in a rush. It's not going to help me in any way, and she doesn't seem to care. Things have more or less settled into a stable routine.  Out of all the separation/divorce scenarios I could think of, this is about pretty close to optimum, and I mean that with total sincerity.

I'm transitioning, over the next 9 months, back to NH. I've been in upstate NY for 10 years, and I want to go home. I haven't ever had steady employment here, and I can get it there and live rent free until the lease on this apartment expires in July. I'll travel between NY and NH frequently, and can move at my leisure. My dad's barn has plenty of room for my workshop space (particularly since he's moved his workshop into his basement).

On the bad news side of things, my dog of 14 years was hit and killed by a vehicle this week. I was away on business in Iowa, and I've never felt so helpless and incomplete as when my ex called me to tell me. I could hear my daughter hysterically sobbing in the background as M. told me what had happened and that she was going to go get Pippi off the road and take her to be cremated.  I couldn't do anything, and there's no closure. Whatever hit her didn't stop, but a tractor trailer stopped immediately after and moved her body - there's no question that she died instantly.

I didn't mean to end on that note. Maybe I'll come back and edit or remove this post later, but right now I needed to write something about this stuff and I'm not ready to deal with Facebook or anything.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Persons of Power: The Shadara

I am digging through old notes and files, and came across this little tidbit. Seriously, The Shadara is OLD. Not just in-game old, but her creation came early on in the whole development of the Shadowend. (That said, I also know she owes a clear debt to the Simbul of the Forgotten Realms, box).
The Shadara

More myth than person, the Shadara is the embodiment of magic among the faerilven. Rumors say she has never Retreated, and that she is the only living ilvenkin with living memories of the Arrival, when the dansí led their great host into the Wyrld. The Shadara’s name is sometimes invoked by ilven and ha’ilvenkin when dealing with powerful and mysterious magic. She is reputed to be aware of such invocations, but takes action in only the most powerful and dangerous of circumstances.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Looking forward

For reasons apparent to anyone that follows this blog, or checks my posting schedule, I'm very wary of making any future commitments, statements, or pretty much anything. However, I've come to two decisions recently.

1) I'll do up the random Arthurian characters tables (as taken from Culhwch & Olwen in the Mabinogion) as an issue of Secrets and put it as PWYW on RPGNow. I'm really taken with it, but I think it'd actually sell like shit and the audience of people that would actually be amused by it is probably limited to me.

2) I'm going to play around with Swords & Wizardry Light (visit Tenkar's Tavern for info on this). There's not a lot I like more than creating variants, alternatives, and additions for a game, and the skeleton of SWL is so slight it just seems like a (to be honest) low-investment way to scratch my itch. I like the idea of doing themed supplements (Forest Light, with barbarians, bards, druids, and scouts plus "forest" races"; Shadow Light with Shadowend specific material) or just setting out variant stuff like sets of races for different settings (ie forest, as above; Norse; Greco-Roman; Mars; Underdark; etc).  Plus, y'know, more monsters.

Not (3) A month or two ago I was playing around with creating different monsters that matched up to existing ones statwise. Ie, what might fill the role of a skeleton without being a skeleton? I've come up with at least two answers to that particular question that I'm kinda pleased with, and might explore it more via SWL and more developed game systems.  :)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In which I wallow in nostalgia

I'd give my right leg to have not sold the 2e material I sold. And frankly, I wouldn't mind having the 3e material either. PDF is just not the same. I had shelves and shelves and shelves.  I understand why I sold it, and it still makes sense, but doggone it....

I'm (re)reading the Dragonlance Nexus's Adlatum gazetteer, a 300-page work detailing Krynn's 3rd continent. It's probably the most impressive fan-work I've ever seen, matching up to TSR & WotC in quality and readability, and ADDING new material to the setting, not simply rehashing old things.

I strongly and sincerely miss the setting-development TSR did back in the '80s and '90s. Nowadays it seems like it's all mechanics and systems, with page after page on the various internet sites filled with optimal builds and other crunchy tastelessness. OR, it's sniping at "modern" game systems and extolling the virtues of minimalism. Don't get me wrong; I love me some classic Greyhawk gold box, but sometimes it's nice to have meat on the bones. I'm a heretic - Carl Sargent's work was the high point of GH for me.

I guess I'm a grognard. :/

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I moved out of my house about 8 months ago, first into a sublet and then into an actual apartment with a roommate. Ironically, my roommate and I now seem to have -less- time to do things than we did when we lived separately. I consider her an on-the-go sort of person, but during one conversation she said she was amazed at how busy I was, bouncing between two households and my job and helping out other friends.

One of the things I'm working on is getting books out of boxes and onto shelves. It's a long process, because I don't want to fill every wall with books (at least not yet), but it's nice. I'm rereading a lot of material, including the First Law trilogy.

In the world of the First Law books, the Northmen have a concept of Named Men. Named Men are, literally, well-known fighters with established reputations. They don't have titles, but people follow them, and they in turn strike up alliances with other Named Men, or serve under them as de facto warchiefs.

Black Dow, Dogman, Caul Shivers, Glam Golden, Rattleneck, Crummock-i-Phail, and Harding Grim are all prominent Named Men. The Bloody-Nine is prominent enough to have a band of Named Men - those he's defeated in combat, but spared - as his followers.

It's essentially a literal, and more evocative, reading of reaching Name Level in D&D. Characters become famous, or infamous, enough to become a Name and attract followers. Most Named Men are fighters, but Dogman and Harding Grim are probably rangers, and Forley the Weakest could be a thief. (Forley was sent against the Bloody Nine by a village that wanted to send a champion, but knew it was hopeless - so they sent their weakest.)

I enjoy the First Law books a lot, but the appeal is really in the characters, not the world. Fading magic, burgeoning science, and weird-Earth history mashup cultures don't do much for me unless they're really well played. Top-notch writing, though.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

So now then....

Last year was....well, I separated from my wife and moved out of my house. Got a full-time+ job and lots of stress (seriously, the job is way more stressful than moving out. Probably a bad sign.) So...interesting year. I'm still eyeing this blog and it's slowly working its way back up the list of things to do.

There's a whole process of figuring out what I actually enjoy and still want to do that's ongoing. And how to occupy time now that I'm alone a lot more often.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

(I'm actually doing really well. The separation thing is going about as well as I could ever ask; I've got a great apartment and a great roommate; I just need to figure out how to cook for just myself...).