Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cleric role

here's a rough draft of the cleric role. My intent is to make roles largely "class-neutral": the character could be a warrior cleric, an adept cleric, or an expert cleric (not happy with expert as a class name), though there will be clear advantages. Adepts get poor attack bonus and 1d4+1 hp/level; experts get medium attack bonus and 1d4+2 hp; warriors get good attack bonus and 1d4+4 hp. Adepts get the best spellcasting abilities; other classes, if they take a spellcasting role (one with a spell list) get a bare-bones ability to cast spells. Obviously a number of things need to be fleshed out, including tweaks to turning undead (& channelling power in general) and exact spell lists.

Considering using James Mishler's cascading d6 for Turn Undead (aka channel power) http://jamesmishler.blogspot.com/2009/12/cascading-d6-system-for-bx-etc.html

First-tier, second-tier, and so refers to the first tier at which a character takes on this role. A character that starts off as a cleric would be an acolyte at 1st and 2nd level, a friar from 3rd-5th level, and so on, while a character that becomes a cleric later in life (a fighter gaining religion, for instance), would start the first tier at a higher level, perhaps 3rd, 6th, or 9th.

With races becoming roles, this means demihumans will always lag behind humans in general roles, and won't ever reach the fifth tier in anything but their racial role, without level limits or penalties.

Clerics are holy warriors and scholars invested with divine power. They are more martial than most temple priests, and often undertake divine quests to defeat evil or chaos (or cause it!). They may wear light armor and wield blunt weapons.

First Tier: A first-tier cleric is known as an acolyte.
• Ascetic Life: Due to their regimented lifestyle, clerics gain +1 hit point each level they advance in the cleric role.
• Channel Power: Clerics can “Turn” the undead, making them flee from the Priest’s holiness (or, in the case of an evil Priest, bringing them to heel as servants and minions).
• Spells: Acolytes can learn the following spells:

Second Tier: A second-tier cleric is known as a friar, and expected to go out into the world to fight the enemies of her faith.
• Warrior-Priest: Friars gain a +1 bonus to damage with blunt weapons, and the ability to wear medium armor, thanks to their martial training.
• Spells: Friars can learn the following spells:

Third Tier: A third-tier cleric is known as a curate, and begins to take responsibility for the well-being of lesser clerics, as well as her religious faith.
• Power of Faith: Curates continue to increase their martial abilities, and gain a +1 bonus to hit with blunt weapons and the ability to carry a shield.
• Acolyte: The curate gains an acolyte student to assist her. Should the acolyte die, another will replace him the next time the curate gains a level. If too many acolytes die, or die under suspicious circumstances (ie, not in the cause of their faith), the cleric is likely to face investigation and repercussions.
• Spells: Curates can learn the following spells:

Fourth Tier: A fourth-tier cleric is known as a clerist. Clerists often lead a stronghold of their faith.
• Establish Stronghold: At the fourth tier, a cleric character may establish a stronghold and attract a body of loyal (or perhaps even fanatic) men-at-arms who will swear fealty to him.
• Staff: The clerist gains two acolyte assistants, and her former acolyte becomes a friar in her service.
• Spells: Clerists can learn the following spells:

Fifth Tier: A fifth-tier cleric is known as a high clerist, and typically is the head of, or embodies, her faith in the campaign world.
• Resurrection: A high clerist gains access to the resurrection ability. This ability acts as a raise dead spell, with the following differences: the person resurrected must be on good terms with the cleric’s faith, must have died since the cleric’s faith became established in the campaign world, and only be used once per month. The subject incurs no ill effects or penalties from the resurrection, but is expected to undertake a quest to benefit the high clerist’s faith at the earliest opportunity.

Darkwater RPG, take...three. Or four.

(reposted from a thread here http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2284&start=0 )

I've been mulling over "my" rpg for some time, and had a burst of thought (and mild inspiration) in the past few days. So, I'm just going to sketch out some ideas here.

To make one thing clear, though, I'm building on S&W as the core framework, but it's not intended as retro-clone in any shape or form. It's a S&W + 3e + True20 hybrid. Simplicity with choice.

Abilities: I'm really mixed here; need more thought. I'd like to swap Charisma for "Presence", which I think is clearer and more in line with my take on it, but is it worth the confusion?

Classes: Classes are broken up into "Classes" (or maybe Roles), and "Aspects" (or maybe Classes"). Classes are more or less mechanical: warrior, adept, expert. Or warrior, mystic, rogue. Classes are "what" a character does (hit things, cast spells, other); Aspects are "how" they do it. Elf would be an aspect, as would Fighter, Barbarian, Knight, Wizard, Cleric, Druid, and etc. As characters progress, they can take on new aspects, or develop existing ones, so an Elf could become an Elven Wizard by taking on the Wizard aspect, or a High Elf, by taking on the High Elf aspect. See levels & tiers below.

Races: Subsumed into aspects, so a first level elf would be an Elf, while a 1st level human would be a Fighter, or Wizard, or Thief, or whatever. The Elf could take Fighter at third level, but will always lag a little bit behind in Fighter abilities.

Levels & Tiers: This is my eureka moment; I realize it may be not all that exciting to many people, however. I'm going to squish the game into 10 or 12 levels. Characters will get a new aspect at first level, third level, sixth level, and ninth level. Possibly 12th, if I go that high. These match up to the tiers: Adventurer, Heroic, Champion, Legend, (Epic?). Aspects will get new abilities, or refine old ones, at higher levels; other aspects will only be possible at higher tiers: Archmage at Legend, for instance.

Multi-classing: not sure of this. Have to think about it. I could ditch multiclassing if aspects brought certain abilities with them, so a Wizard warrior had some ability to cast spells or use magic, albeit at a much lower level than a Wizard adept.

Spells: Higher level spells are going to get seriously sorted and cut. I'm going to try and squish the levels down, but not necessarily spell power. Wish is pretty much out. Spell lists will be linked to aspects, with a base of "common" spells, so an elven adept will get common + elf spells, while a (human) wizard adept gets common + wizard spells.

Saves: probably a single flat save with bonuses/adjustments.

Damage: damage by class rather than damage by weapon.

Experience: one chart. Or, possibly, no chart. Use whatever chart you fancy. Or maybe using Achievement points, a la Engines & Empires.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I came late to a civil (but crude) discussion on Circvs Maximvs (thus the crude) about older game editions, and the topic of nostalgia came up. I'm not claiming this is great literature, but I think it's worth reposting. I have no problem with nostalgia (quite the opposite; my thesis is likely to try and capture it), but the goal to which it is directed is inherently unachievable.

Why is nostalgia seen as "bad"?

Because it has connotations (and more than connotations) of looking at the past with rose-colored glasses; eg arguing that "X" (in the past) is superior to "X" in the present while ignoring or discounting that "X" in the past involved large amounts of animal waste, infectious diseases, or the fact that 50% of the children born in Britain in 1823 died before their 21st birthday (that last courtesy of National Geographic & arguments for/against human evolution).

I'm alternately enthralled and horrified by how landscape architecture (which I'm studying for a masters degree) has become entangled with sociology and..."cultural studies", but it has reinforced the fact that everything we do is a product of our times, including nostalgia. Thus, I don't see OD&D as an "precursor" to 4e (though it is), but as two concurrent game systems that create two different styles of play.


The thing is, you can't recreate the past. You can create something contemporary that draws inspiration from the past, but you can't copy it wholesale into now. The whole OSR is built on a) the OGL, b) the educated understanding of copyright the OGL engendered, and c) the online D&D community built, in large part, in reaction (positive or negative) to 3e and 4e. Our understanding of Gygax's core literary & genre inspirations has changed as we assimilate or reject Shannara, The Wheel of Time, The Black Company, and Harry Potter, not to mention movies & games.

I read a short story a number of years ago about a musical prodigy raised in isolation but constantly recorded, with his compositions made public, until someone managed to sneak him some recordings of past composers. His "benefactor" warned him not to tell anyone, but the "monitors" realized it anyways, as suddenly the prodigy's compositions lacked the (musical flourishes) he'd heard from Mozart & Bach. He'd gone from pure inspiration to artifice. D&D isn't quite on that level, but the sentiment is there. OSR nowadays reject ideas they may have embraced twenty years ago, because now "wizards must use wands" sounds like 4e or Harry Potter, and "using minis" is a 3e/4e-ism...never mind the fact that many people gamed with miniatures or something similar (I used a chalkboard during college) to provide a visual representation of the encounter area during play.

So, if you want to reject those things, that's fine...but don't pretend that's how "things really were", or that your game is "better" because it's "older".

Nostalgia is about a condition and a feeling -- you equate a sense of pleasure with a condition that existed in the past. You cannot, as outlined above, recreate the exact condition, so the goal is to/must be to recreate the feeling with current conditions..which likely utilize similar elements as in the past, and thus invoking both pleasurable feelings and memories of pleasurable feelings.

I'm all for that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Knockspell #3

Knockspell #3 is out, and I have a few monsters in it, and an author bio mentioning this blog.

If you came here after reading that, I apologize for the lack of posts - grad school is kicking my ass. The regular irregular posting will resume around December, run through most of January, and then go quiet until sometime in May. If it's any consolation, trust me, it's not a voluntary vacation from RPGs. ;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sammineth [3e]

+3/+1 eagle totem quarterstaff

Sammineth is a curved oak staff, just under six feet tall. The staff is engraved with images of eagles and feathers, and a magically hardened egg is bound to the head of the staff. The engravings are skillfully done, and depict a variety of eagles in flying, hunting, and perched. The base of the staff bears a worn iron cap shaped like a closed bird’s foot.

History: With the fall of the Amerite Empire and the final withdrawal of troops from the Shadowend, bandits, brigands, and worse came to the Hundred Kingdoms. Trade on the Great Road between Triumport and Blackgate  slowed to a trickle, and none of the towns along the route cared to patrol more than a few miles, at best, beyond their walls. Caravan guards were as likely to rob their charges as the brigands they were hired to fend off, and the rude keeps of bandit lords dotted the kingdoms and highlands like carrion crows on a battlefield.

Veraza dauh’Izolla was the daughter of an Amerite footsoldier and a Keirumark tribesman. Blessed with her mother’s rigid sense of duty and order, and her father’s intuitive bond with the land, she swore to drive the brigands out of the Keirumark Highlands. She united the Kierumark tribes behind her, and forged an alliance with the great eagles of the Highland peaks. Sammineth was a symbol of the bond between the tribes and the eagles.

When the Highlands were finally cleared, Veraza gave Sammineth to the eagles, and urged them to remember the alliances they had sworn. The eagles have acted as guardians and caretakers of the staff since then, gifting it to worthy druids and rangers who swear to protect the Highlands.

Properties (3e rules): +3 enhancement bonus to attack and damage / +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage. Sammineth’s wielder can speak with animals three times per day as a druid of the equal level; gains a +3 circumstance bonus on all reaction rolls when dealing with eagles; and gains a +2 enhancement bonus to her Strength oncer per day. The bonus lasts a number of minutes equal to her level, and activating the bonus is a free action.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dalerain VI: Guardian of the Dawn [3e]

The Oathtaker, Guardian of the Dawn, Promised Lady

Demi-power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Honor, Oaths, Pacts, Dawn
Minor AoC: Hope, Promise of Better Things, Faith
Symbol: Rays of light coming over a horizon, a golden hind, a padlock with no keyhole, a golden handprint
Allies: Brigit, Kaduv, Madate
Enemies: Kajalla, Malis
Avatar: Wizard 20 / Cleric 5

Ashara takes the form of a half-elven female when she creates an avatar. She has dark brown hair and grey eyes, and she radiates an aura of respect and determination. The Promised Lady carries a magical staff called Leithendau, or Light in Darkness, the properties of which appear to be under her complete control. She sometimes leaves an imprint of her hand in gold as a sign; much time and energy has been devoted to unravelling the prophetic secrets of these divine relics.

Ashara is a youthful deity, only recently ascended to the ranks of the Dalerain. Her companions include Fistine, the only other prominent half-elven Dalerain, and Brigit, the Bright Lady of fire and poetry. She loathes the malicious falsehoods of Malis and Kajalla, and takes every opportunity she can to thwart the objectives of the two older divinities. She frequently involves herself with her priests, granting council, aid, and even intercession if necessary.

Ashara is worshipped by those hoping for improvements in their life, and good and honorable sorcerers, wizards, and bards, and her favor is sought by nearly everyone at one time or another. Her faithful trust that poor circumstances will get better, and those that keep faith and honor are rewarded. They are vigilant against the undead, holding that undeath is a promise of repose frustrated, and that to free the undead to pass on is one of the greatest gifts they can give.

Domains: Glory, Good, Law, Magic, Spells
Favored Weapon: Quarterstaff
Suggested Prestige Classes: Contemplative, Hunter of the Dead, Sacred Exorcist, Templar

Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, compiling my old writings has obviously taken a little more than a week. I'm up to 99 pages at the moment, and expect to add a few more (honestly. I'll be surprised if I hit 110...in this incarnation). I'm pretty well up-to-date on formatting and that sort of stuff, but the monsters still need some work (updating stat blocks, adding small bits of information that I was too lazy to do the first time around). Illustrations will probably wait for the next go-round with this manuscript.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Smith's Wife

As it was told to me, so do I, Cheven os'Wend os'Kyulun, tell it to you. This paper is my tongue, this ink my voice. These facts were given to me by Scios Argentstone, called The Little, sage of the kingdom and scribe to Wesinol, King-in-Waiting of the noble realm of Thurinfel, Bulwark of the Misting Lands, the Jewel in the Horns.

In years long gone by, before the dragons were bent to the will of the gods and the giants fell, the Smith labored in the Underhalls of the Fortress of Tige, the citadel of the gods. In the expansive darkness, lit only by solitary torches and the flagrant illumination of the forge, he crafted wonders. The shield Culm was born in that echoing place, and it is said the thunder of that bulwark, that can send an army into retreat, is no more than the palest reflection of the sounds of the Smith at work.

The Smith had little patience for the vagaries and whims of other beings, and sought no company for himself. In solitude he labored, and in solitude lived his life. From time to time he bound demons or elementals to his service, but found the value of their assistance lessened with time, and the gratingly inflexible nature of their beings. Elementals shunned each other, and only those of fire and earth would willingly work the forge, but shunned the touch of water or the breath of the bellows. The daemonic servitors were even less successful; some shunned iron, others silver; on those occasions the Lord of the Forge had visitors the fiends were often unable to approach, or handle those instruments which the powers of weal had commissioned (indeed, it is rumored that the Chalice of Tears, that spiteful tool of chaos, was first corrupted by the errant touch of a fiend in the Underhalls, and it is for this reason it was so easily turned against the worshipers of the Gentle Goddess).

Likewise was the Smith dissatisfied in other matters. In his dreams, the restless and troubled creations of a sleeping god, he imagined a woman, one skilled in many arts, companion, helpmate, and lover in one. Long he considered this in his dreams, and then in his waking moments, until finally he took up hammer and tongs, and began to work.

She was cast from the purest silver and mithril, with diamonds for eyes and heart. She had knowledge of all the arts a woman should know, and those of the most skilled smiths as well. Her breath was frost and her skin no warmer than ice, and she took no notice of either heat or cold because of it. Her hair fell in platinum locks to her knees, and the Lord of Hammers wove her gowns and robes of gold and silver. She shone like the winter moon on a field of snow, and the darkness of the Underhalls was lessened.

It is not know how long she labored there, in the company of her husband and creator. She assisted Catil in all he did, and crafted great workings of her own; the Tapestry of Merlighol; Daishaironuoth, the enchanted jewel of the Fallen Kings of Throllier; and Iedain, the Crown of Songs, are all reputed to be creations of the Smith's Wife. She made no complaint to her lord that she never left the darkness of the Underhalls -- her own luminance was most familiar to her, though she had seen and was made most curious by the glimpses she had of starlight and sunlight that the Smith brought in for his work. She labored uncomplaining, satisfied to be in the company of her who had made her, and filled every need she had ever known.

The creation of the Smith's Sword was unknown to her; the God of Hammers had labored long and in solitude on that which he believed would bring him immortality greater than his undying life. Likewise was his punishment unknown to her; He Whose Name is Lost was cast from the Vale of Andÿn long before anyone thought to relate his passing to her, a construction of silver and mithril.

She sat without moving for many days after she was told, and then arose and left the darkness of the Underhalls of the Fortress of Tige. She left the forge unstoked, and the hammer where it lay, and entered into the sunlight. She traveled across the world, and saw the sun and the moon and the stars, and knew the feel of rain on her skin and sunlight on her brow. And where she traveled, she asked, until she heard of a man with no name, who knew not what he did or what he was, and she sought him out.

Tears of diamond fell from her eyes at the sight of her lord, and she rushed to him in pleasure, embracing him. But her heart turned inside her silver chest when his skin burned at her touch, for the Lord of the Dead had cursed the Lord of Smiths that his skin burned at the touch of metal, and there was no part of her that was not shaped from that substance. "I cannot touch you", he said to her. "Your skin is too cold, and it burns me," for he could not know what had been done to him, and she was colder than ice. And with these words she turned from him and left, for she knew she could bring no comfort to him.

The Smith's Wife sought the oldest wizards, and begged their council. "There is naught we can do", they said, after casting many spells over her. "The arts that have shaped you are far beyond our working." She sought out the priests and priestesses of Aeva, the Goddess of Life, and pleaded an audience with the wisest of them. "There is naught we can do", they said after much prayer. "You are no more alive than a coin of silver, and the arts to make you otherso are well beyond our ken." Finally, she sought out the deepest of the dwarfen folk, and bargained with them, gifting them with all the knowledge that was hers. "There is naught we will do," they said. "You have nothing left to bargain with. As you have given us knowledge, so shall we give the same to you. A heart of the purest gold will turn your skin to flesh and warm it with blood. A draught of the elixir of life will bring breath to your lips and motion to your limbs." This filled the Smith's Wife with despair, for she knew that she could never shape a heart to beat in her chest; only those who already know the beatings of such a thing could work such a wonder.

She withdrew unto herself, retreating to a desolate place to live apart from the living races she was no part of. In time the land around her grew cold as she was, and it was always winter. She received travelers with good cheer and willingness, but travelers were few and grew fewer as the frost retreated less before the summer. Now, the place of her dwelling is forgotten and her existence beyond the sphere of learning that most wise men inhabit. Only, perhaps, the dwarfen folk still pay her tidings, for it is from them that this tale is told, and it is from them that the greatest workings come in this age of pale miracles and withered wonders.

As it was told to me, so do I, Cheven os'Wend os'Kyulun, tell it to you. This paper is my tongue, this ink my voice. These facts were given to me by Scios Argentstone, called The Little, sage of the kingdom and scribe to Wesinol, King-in-Waiting of the noble realm of Thurinfel, Bulwark of the Misting Lands, the Jewel in the Horns. May the sun ever ride in the sky, and the moons ever follow. May the Lord of Words take notice of this tale and remember it.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Posting will be light

Posting will probably be light for a few days. I've been contributing some of my old d20 material to the DM Sketchpad (http://grandwiki.wikidot.com/dm-sketchpad) over at the Grand OGL Wiki, and in doing so realized that I've actually got quite alot of finished or nearly finished material sitting around. So, I'm pulling it all together with the intention of releasing it as a free pdf in the near future. I'll have all the templates together and more or less formatted shortly, then I'll pull the monsters in, and then the remainder (spells, feats, magic items, & etc). I'm planning on updating the monster formats to the most recent standard, but if I get bogged down I'll ditch it. Then I'll add art (I used to buy a lot of the publisher art packs on RPGNow), and hopefully be done! Some of this will be really quick (spells, feats, magic items), so I'm hoping this will be all done in the next week or so. The hardest part will be unearthing all the little bits from the various files in my computer.

I'd be happy to have people look it over before "final" release; just drop me an email or leave a comment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monsters in the Shadowend, Tome of Horrors (A)

One of my many incomplete projects was to go through the Tome of Horrors (from Necromancer Games) and write a quick sentence describing where a creature might appear. I haven't gotten very far yet, but someday....

Adhererer: Adherers are sometimes found in the Hundred Kingdoms, particularly between Chollor and Starfell, and southwards.
Algoid: Algoids often arise around the periphery of the Glimmering Plain, as magically-tainted waters leave the Plains and broaden into small marshes and stagnant pools.
Al-mi’raj: Al-mi’raj, and other mi’raj creatures, are often found on the Glimmering Plain and surrounding lands. They are also encountered around the Wall Wood.
Archer Bush: Archer bushes can be found in most secluded woodlands around the Shadowend. They are often eradicated near large settled communities, but numerous woodland people use them as guardians, leashing them in place with a stout rope.
Aurumvorax: Golden gorgers are found in the Near North from the Middurplanz to Kameurgard and north into the Horns, where they are zealously hunted by the dwarves.
Axe Beak: Axe beaks are found on the Glimmering Plain and around the periphery, in Chollor, Romagna, Everglass, and Asavar.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dalerain V: Lady of Vengeance [Dalerain]

Lady of Vengeance, The Feuding Goddess, the Viper Who Bites Twice

Demi-power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Humiliation, Revenge, Spite
Minor AoC: Plotting, Ironic Justice
Symbol: A black banner, a snake consuming it's own tail, a twisted arrow or crossbow bolt
Allies: Kajalla, Talabas
Enemies: Madate
Avatar: Rogue 16 / Sorcerer 8

Adosil takes the shape of either a woman or a man, with curly black hair and green eyes. She carries a crossbow in any form, and can bestow it as a gift upon anyone who has won her favor with a particularly appropriate or long-held revenge (it is a hand or small crossbow +3, and creates it's own missiles when cocked). Her own crossbow is known as Blessings Returned.

Adosil is one of the younger Dalerain, and nurses many grudges for real and imagined slights from the other powers. Her only allies among the powers are Kajalla, who is doubtlessly friendly with the Lady of Vengeance for her own reasons, and Talabas, who enjoys the opportunities for destruction Adosil brings him.

She is sought out by those who feel they have been wronged and long for vengeance, and appeased by cautious people who seek to avoid offending others. Her priests and followers never forget a slight, whether real or imagined, and will nurse a grudge for years, plotting revenge. They are dangerous in their tenacity and unforgiveness -- the followers of the Feuding Goddess neither forgive nor forget.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Alorm Peak

Alorm Peak: The highest and westernmost peak of Sarn, Alorm Peak is a slender spired edifice of stone. Its uppermost reaches gleam with snow and ice throughout the year, (though taller peaks to the east are bare by Midsummer), and the lower slopes are a treacherous maze of bare-shouldered ridges and densely forested vales. Many people believe Alorm (from Elven, ashail al lorim, or “Point to the Sky”) a sacred site, and ancient tombs, cairns, and crypts abound around the mountain. The natives (human, humanoid, and otherwise), avoid the mountain out of respect for (and fear of) the dead.

The many tombs lure a few treasure seekers, but most look for pickings closer to Shalaen or Larenyss proper. Nonetheless, a number of bands are drawn by the promise of untouched magics. Known and rumored complexes include the great funerary maze of the archmage Isadollin, famous for her staff of power won from a great red wyrm; the Haunting Halls of the Herald-Lords, masters of musical magery; a series of crypts used by the Autumn Kings, who ruled a small but rich kingdom for several centuries; and the final foul resting place of a high priest of Nevias, who terrorized the populace as a vampire after his first death, and whose malignant spirit was finally imprisoned by Biedon Houl, Clerist Arcanist of Ados, at the cost of his own life.

High Hills

High Hills: The High Hills have drawn the interest of adventurers, explorers, and monsters for centuries. The steep terrain and labyrinthian valleys are natural defenses against intrusion, providing a certain guarantee of solitude to those seeking seclusion or protection. The valleys are filled with mature woodlands, well-watered and fertile, but the hills are stark places, with many expanses of bare stone where travellers are exposed to watching eyes, and stony slopes where the slightest misstep can trigger a rockslide. Even in the narrowest portions, no safe trail leads through the High Hills.

The spine of the High Hills is marked by five mountains. Mount Tathallar is the highest and best known of these, but Ruandir’s Crown (in the south), the Twins, and Kiend Peak (in the north) each have their own secrets and threats. Wyverns and dragonnels are found along the length of the High Hills, as are other high-flying creatures, including perytons, manticores, and giant eagles. Fhmor, ogres, athach, and other giantish races make their homes in deep regions of the Hills, including a powerful tribe of fire giants who have settled an ancient dwarven hold deep in the roots of Kiend Peak.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Brief (Real) History of the Shadowend

I was introduced to the D&D books in 8th grade, but didn't actually play until college. Between those two times, I spent alot of time drawing maps. My father is a builder and contractor, and there were an abundance of construction plans around to draw on - 24" x 36" sheets of paper.

My first "setting" was the island of Raem. In many ways this continues to be my most successful design; 25 years later I'm still happy with the actual map, and the locations are, for the most part, unique enough to still be notable. It's one of the few maps I haven't plagarized or edited out of existence. Unfortunately, as an island I mapped out in one go, there wasn't much room for expansion.

My next effort was the north-western portion of a continent. The major feature in the area was the Shadowood Forest, and so the region was named. My ability to come up with decent names dropped to an all-time low here; I still don't know what I was thinking with "Seerlawn". And the Tiger Moors aren't bad, but the Tiger Forest and Tiger Peaks were just getting silly.

Eventually I added another sheet to the north, and at least 2 to the south - at 2' per sheet, that's 8' of map, plus eastern expansion - the maps, all together, probably achieved something like 8' x 9'. They are not often all laid out. ;)

So college came around, and a conversation with someone I barely knew led to a discussion of D&D, at which point a rather scary looking dude behind us turned around and got interested. Ten minutes later I'd been selected to DM a game I'd never even played, mostly on the basis that I had all the books.

For the past 5 years the Shadowood region had been the focus of my interest and development, so when I reached for a spot to put my first adventure, I naturally ignored it and went to nigh-totally undeveloped spot in the northernmost map, the country of Larenyss, tucked under the eaves of the Shadowend Forest. I started with "The Inheritance", from Dungeon magazine, as the adventure, but pretty swiftly went off-track. I threw the PCs back and forth across the continent, and tried to introduce some kind of meta-plot, which only marginally succeeded. Nonetheless, the PCs survived and, over the course of 4 years, went from 1st to 14th or so level, and became Important. Most of the action focused around Kestrel's Keep, but ranged.

Midway through this I started a "junior" campaign for people who hadn't been around when I started the first one; I started this one with a Dungeon adventure also (Moorwall?). The party started in Bridgeton but soon ended up in the ruins of Shalanholt. It lasted about two years (at which point I graduated), and didn't really end, but I keep the characters in mind for Positions of Importance as NPCs.

I also ran a short Faerie campaign that mingled players from the two groups, and a short campaign in a setting I called NewLands; I'm quite happy with this design also, but it never quite jelled and I ended up stopping the campaign.

Post-college begat several years of no-play, and my most prolific creative spurt - I contributed to Dragon magazine, edited the Oerth Journal, and assembled the Best of Greyhawk on AOL, a compendium of posts from the Greyhawk message boards on TSR at AOL.

Around '98 I started the Fallen campaign, my first attempt at a cohesive, quest-style campaign. I'm still pretty happy about it, but player turnover proved a problem - it's tiring to have to repeatedly give out clues because players have left. I bumped up xp and rocketed the pcs up to 12th level or so before closing the campaign - they did get to whack a number of immortal, regenerating wizards, so that was a pretty good finale! This time the action centered around the Hundred Kingdoms and north, with trips to Arthringlaur and beneath the Kameurhorns (and beyond!) to unravel the secret of exactly how to kill the Fallen.

I briefly ran a campaign set north of the Shadowend, in the Winterfall region, but folded it after 6 months; too many commitments, I think. I moved many Winterfall elements south to the Shadowend (Tuonela and the Black Sorcerers thereof; firjotun; leshii; domovii; Aesar and Vanar; the Talven Alasen) since I wanted to keep using them.

My last campaign returned to Shalanholt, and resurrected a number of features from earlier campaigns. The Fallen came back, as did "lesser" Fallen, and The Smith's Wife. This was also going to be a "quest" campaign, specifically to find the legendary Black Legion and equip the forces of Shalanholt to withstand the armies of Brindish and the sinister Black Sorcerers of Tuonela, but work, school, and life intervened once more.

Since then I've begun a real effort to detail, describe, and flesh out the Shadowend region. The timeline, such as it is, has jumped forward a hundred years - some NPCs have died, some of simply been moved forward, and some have actually had to live it (the Queen of Larenyss& Shalaen being the most notable example of this, as she dropped into Faerie and lost 60 years or so...)

Someday I'll run another campaign. Until then, I've got this blog!

Places of the Dark Below

This is a counting rhyme usually used to pick someone as "it" in a game.

Places of the Dark Below

Five realms of stone in darkness deep
Five vaults beneath the mountains steep
Four great halls from the times of old
Four cities fallen dragons hold
Three plunging pits of endless thunder
Three labyrinths of loot and plunder
Two kingdoms lost to undeath foul
Two havens kept for lightless cowl
One prison under watchful lord
One throne of chaos and discord

Places of the Dark Below
Who will find them…YOU will go!

Ten Old Wizards

Old Wizards Rhyme

Ten old wizards, asleep beneath the hill;
Far from Grim Lord’s icy touch, yet they feel his chill.

Nine old wizards, in barrows 'round the land;
Each is sealed in earth & stone, marked with emerald brand.

Eight old wizards, with terror they did reign;
Wake them in their stony beds, and power they'll regain.

Seven old wizards, truenames long since dead;
Raise them up from ancient bones, and then strike off their heads.

Six old wizards, feared beyond the sea;
All of them crossed over, back came only three.

Five old wizards, brought from lands afar;
Masters of strange magics, mages without par.

Four old wizards, rebellion they did plot;
Freedom from their lady's call, this is what they sought.

Three old wizards, siblings from the womb;
Far apart they do lie, each in their own tomb.

Two old wizards, married in the morning dew;
If one rises up, the other one will too.

One old wizard, dark queen's heir;
Many men she's led to death, with her looks most fair.

No old wizards, from sleep they have been led;
The Fallen have been loosed, and now we are all dead.

Society of the Oerth Dragon [3e] [Greyhawk]

The Greyhawk content is special for grodog.
This was the start of an article for the Oerth Journal detailing 4 martial arts societies in Greyhawk. However, I never finished the Society of the Bear, Fellowship of Empty Hands (Kurell), or Brothers of the Wolf. The martial arts benefits are based on the 3e Oriental Adventures book. The file date on this was 7/4/04, so it's been a few years...

Oh, and the complete pdf, including the prestige class and suggested multiclass advancement tables (which are not below), is available here: http://shadowend.pbworks.com/f/Society%20of%20the%20Oerth%20Dragon.pdf

Society of the Oerth Dragons
The Society of the Oerth Dragons is dedicated to the rise of the Flan people and gods as the principal powers in the Flanaess. A widespread and secretive organization, the Society promotes social upheaval and the overthrow of the “illegitimate (non-Flan) rulers” of the kingdoms of the Flanaess. They believe the tactic of quiet acquiesence and withdrawal has failed, and have formed close ties to the priesthoods of Incabulous, Nerull, and Obad-hai to widen their influence and range of activities. The Society also worships a host of primal nature spirits known as oerth dragons they believe have been lulled into slumber beneath the Oerth. They hope to awaken the spirits to inspire the Flan to rise up against the Suel and Oeridians.

The Society of the Oerth Dragons is spread thinly over the Flanaess. It seeks supporters in countries striven by war and civil dissent, avoiding strong racial prejudices, but preaching to the peasants and common folk of overthrowing their “illegimate” ruler and instituting the true, natural, and just ruler. Exactly who is illegitimate and who is not is often vague; the Society prefers small steps to grandiose gestures. They may agitate against a baron and promote his cousin; neither being aware of the Society or allied to its goals, but useful to the Society in the larger game of swords and thrones.

Full members of the society take on different roles in accordance with their talents and inclinations. Those with a flair for inspiration and leadership move through the countryside as the leaders, instigators, and motivators of dissension. Others find places in courts across the land, influencing policy and encourage instability. Those least inclined to deception and intrigue live life as bandits and pirates, disrupting trade and safe travel.

The goals of the Society of the Oerth Dragons are the dissolution of the current kingdoms of the Flanaess (with the possible exception of Tenh and Perrenland), the return of civilization in the Flanaess to a more pastoral state of interlinking villages and the abandonment of cities, and the ascendency of the Flan pantheon (Allitur, Berei, Beory, Incabulous, Iuz, Nerull, Obad-hai, Pelor, Rao, and Zodal) and spirits (the Oerth Dragons) to the preeminent place in the hierarchy of the deities. They do not agree with Iuz’s tactics or wish to live under his rule, but they acknowledge his place in the Flan pantheon and his right to rule his kingdom as he wishes. A few leaders of the Society have reached out the the remants of the Horned Society in hopes of garnering their aid.

The Society grows in areas torn by strife and war, particularly those that have undergone traumatic changes in rulership. Their efforts are currently concentrated in the former Great Kingdom and the western lands of the Sheldomar Valley, two regions where many people have been uprooted and are desperate for anything to lend a sense of stability and security. To these people, regardless of race, the Society promises safety and protection under a new ruler. At the same time, agents in the courts undermine the authority of the current rulers, often working with bandits to disrupt the flow of money and trade (often diverting it to commoners in the region, buying their support). As trade becomes more difficult and money scarce, the Society forments rebellion, and finally, if all is successful, places a ruler on the throne more amenable to Society goals. These puppets are usually not even aware of the Society’s existence.

The Society also opposes the Scarlet Brotherhood at every opportunity. Though they often have similar methods and tactics, the two are irrevocably at odds. The Society’s greatest amusement right now is their success at placing agents within the ranks of the Brotherhood government in the Hold of the Sea Princes and Onnwall.

Full members of the Society of the Oerth Dragons (as opposed to the pawns they use), are split evenly between monks, wizards, and clerics, with many multiclassed members. The Society is led by an inner cult known as the Stone Dragons; these powerful characters combine spellcasting with unarmed martial skill and mastery of a fighting style unique to the Society. Most clerics of the Society worship the host of nature spirits known as the Oerth Dragons, and believe these spirits to have been imprisoned beneath the Oerth by an assemblage of Suel and Oeridian divinities at the beginning of the great migrations. Most of these spirits remain trapped, though a few have sundered their bonds or escaped imprisonment in the first place. The Oerth Dragon of the Drachensgrab Hills is the best known of these.

A dragon coiled beneath a mountain

Stone Dragon Mastery

You have mastered the martial arts style of “Stone Dragon” – a hard/soft form emphasizing immobility and defense.
Prerequisites: Dodge, Combat Reflexes, Hold the Line*, Combat Expertise, Defensive Strike*, Improved Trip, Defensive Throw*, Improved Unarmed Strike, Earth’s Embrace*.
*Starred feats are found in the Complete Warrior.

Mastery Benefit: Once per day, you can make yourself unmovable. You automatically win an opposed strength check when an opponent attempts to bull rush you. A creature with the improved grab ability must move into your space to grapple you, since it cannot pull you into its space. No spell or other effect can force you to move. If you become frightened or panicked, you suffer the full effect of the fear but do not run away. You cannot move, even to make a 5-foot step, while this ability is in effect. This ability lasts for 1 round per character level, but you can end it at any time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Signing in and out

So, anytime I click a "sign in" link, I go to the Dashboard and find myself already signed in. But if I go back to my blog, I've still got the "sign in" message in the corner and I can't comment. I can post without a problem, I just can't comment. I've tried via google and via livejournal, and both just delete my comments.

update: I just signed out and in, and same deal. I can post and edit, not comment. Even viewing my own blog.

Back to substantive posts tomorrow. :)

Bàdrül (Dragonsden)

Bàdrül (BAY-drool)
Won from a clutch of dragons, Dragonsden was intended to extend the dweorhin’s reach even further into the depths of the earth, but the maddening nature of the shimmering ebony caverns proved stronger and more intractible than the wyrms it had housed. The dwarves fell to fighting among themselves in bitter conflicts that grew more and more depraved, until one clan sought an alliance with the duergar of Temâthdrêllur. The coordinated dark dwarves swiftly conquered the fractured smallhall, and have held it against repeated assaults from Diamondsdelve. The original dweorhin clans survive, though many among them secretly believe they are no longer worthy of life. The fact that they have become duergar themselves is meaningless beside the knowledge what they did in madness.

Hammerscale – Smallest of the Dragonsden clans, the dwarves of Hammerscale resisted corruption in vain. Their skill in manufacturing weapons and armor from the bones and scales of powerful creatures is steadily turning to necromantic avenues, avenues first ventured upon with the bones and teeth of their fellow dwarves.

Izakorn – A minor clan in Darkhome, saddled with tasks of administration and accounting, the trueborn duergar of Izakorn clan grabbed at the opportunity to move to Dragonsden. They rule Dragonsden in the name of Temâthdrêllur, taking every opportunity offered to flaunt their power over the native clans and the Darkhome duergar soldiers stationed here. Few will admit that the transformed dwarves of Bàdrül frighten them, and fewer still will confess to the twisted thoughts that come more and more frequently in their own minds, tortured thoughts of blood and madness.

Murkhelm – Miners and delvers, the Murkhelm dwarves fell furthest into depravity, slaughtering members of the other clans and feasting on the corpses. Now Murkhelms have withdrawn into their own clan, avoiding all contact. The few Murkhelms that still venture among the other dwarves don’t speak, and wear sealed great helms of black iron. A sinister aura surrounds them, and even the trueborn duergar of Darkhome give Murkhelms a wide berth.

Woestone – Loyal guardians and protectors, the Woestone did their duty too well – in their madness, they sealed their children and elders in impenetrable vaults of stone for protection. When the duergar arrived, only withered corpses and gnawed bones remained in the vaults – while the Woestone fighters had gone to war to protect their children, the children had starved to death. The Woestone clans guard the vaults as sacred places, and leave living sacrifices for the hungry ghosts.

The Ebony Vault – The last dragon of Bàdrül fell here in darkness, and the vast cavern is the heart of the Dragonsden smallhall. The vault is imbued with malefic inhuman power, and is a node for the Path of Madness. Draconic casters may access a different path, but the nature of that path is unknown.

The Woestone Tombs – Imbued with power by the deaths of the Woestone innocents, a few Woestone casters have turned the tortured stone to their advantage. The Woestone Tombs are a node of the Revenant's Path, a fell tradition of necromancy and death.

Feedback! (please!)

First, a question: I've had a horrible time commenting on other people's blogs. I write a comment, pick a profile (google), click submit, and it disappears in to the aether. Solutions?

Second, I'm guessing I've got more than 5 regular readers - I follow about 30 blogs via google, but only "follow" 2 or 3 via blogger (I actually read them on google also). So, just for kicks, if you read this blog, drop me a comment!

Third, in that comment, please tell me what you'd like to read about. More divinities, more background or overviews, more monsters, more geography, more (any) sociology, languages, NPCs, mechanics, races, classes, spells, The View, random list entries, dungeons, what? What are you less interested in?


PS - If you're having trouble commenting, or simply prefer a message board, here y'go: http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1492

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Troldfolk (3e)

I had been saving this post for a special occasion, but I also wanted to get something up tonight, and this was the first thing I came across. I'll have to search out the 2e rules for these guys. ;)

Bridge trolls live side by side with humans, in the barely settled marchlands where they easily escape notice by the larger folk. They dwell in ditches and hedgerows, catching rabbits and chickens, or living off of the fruit of the land (and the orchard). Bridge trolls are considered pests and vermin by those around them, but rarely cause enough trouble to make it worthwhile to hunt them down.
Personality: Bjergfolk are curious and inquisitive, prone to sticking their large noses where they don't belong. They move quickly from one interest to another, as the latest bauble catches their fancy, but are resolute in pursuit of something they really want. They enjoy the earthy delights of simple living, and eschew the cultured ways of other races (including such sophisticates as goblins, orcs, and ogres.)
Description: Bridge trolls, often call bjergfolk or common troldfolk, are a diminutive, unattractive race. They stand 3 1/2 to 4 feet tall, and weigh 40 to 70 pounds. They are lean and lanky in frame, with long arms, knobby joints, and gnarled fingers. Their hair is dark brown or black, and skin color may be dark green, brown, or black. Skin color is individual, and members of the same family may have differing skin colors. They are rough-featured, with large brows, broad cheeks, and low, flat noses. Most troldfolk have little clothing, and dress in rags and cast-offs from the larger races.
Relations: Bridge trolls are despised by dweorh and domovii, disliked by korrigan, ignored by jotunar, and disdained by humans. About the only race to respect bridge trolls are goblins, and then only when the trolls are close enough to beat the goblins.
Alignment: Bridge trolls are unabashedly chaotic neutral. The central concern of a bridge troll is the bridge troll, and the rest of the world lags far behind. They rarely seek to harm other people, but they rarely help them either.
Bridge Troll Lands: Bridge trolls live in places unclaimed by other races, usually near a source of water. They prefer overgrown riverbanks and tangled fens, but lair in bramble-covered hillsides and dense woodlands as well. They are uncomfortable living in stone structures and almost never inhabit ruins or old structures, preferring to dig their own lairs (troll-holes) into the hillside or to construct mud-and-stick huts with a concealed entrance. These dens are universally damp, dark, and foul-smelling.
Bridge trolls do not have their own realms, and most trolls seek out settlements of other races (preferable human) to den near.
Religion: Bridge trolls are not a religious race, and only two bjergfolk gods are known. Rumbletrolgskil is venerated by male bridge trolls as a god of eating, stealing, and hitting, while female bridge trolls worship Mormua, the goddess of food, earth, and telling off male trolls.
Language: Bridge trolls speak a guttural, glottal language. It has certain similarities to Goblin, but qualified researchers note strong links to the Sylvan language. Troll has no written form. Nearly all bridge trolls know the most common local language.
Names: Bridge trolls have given names and family names. Trolls value their family lineage, and often add honorifics and descriptive titles to their family names. Their given names often have a "wet" sound, like something thrown into the water.
Male Names: Borbon, Flod, Glabbin, Horb, Norpin, Thombolundolf.
Female Names: Anda, Apelo, Dorga, Eota, Murga, Ploshie.
Family Names: Fluir, Gulgo, Nolsh, Porpin.
Adventurers: Bridge trolls rarely crave adventure; instead they seek what adventure can give them, usually riches and land. Young bridge trolls in particular are dissatisfied with their circumstances and take up adventuring to get out of the family hole.
Troldfolk Racial Traits

• +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma: Troldfolk are quick and agile, and their fortitude rivals that of the dwarves. They are also rude, ignorant, and unattractive.
Small: As small creatures, troldfolk gain a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus to attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but they must use smaller weapons than humans use, and their lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of Medium-sized creatures.
• Bridge troll base speed is 20 feet.
Darkvision: Troldfolk can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and troldfolk can function just fine with no light at all.
• +2 racial bonus on Climb, Hide, and Move Silently checks - troldfolk are experts at getting into places they're not wanted.
• +2 racial bonus on saving throws vs spells and spell-like effects: The fey heritage of troldfolk grants them a small measure of immunity to magical spells.
Bonus Class Skill: Knowledge (local)
Automatic Languages: Common and Troll.
Bonus Languages: Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Sylvan.
Favored Class: Thief.. Troldfolk survive by sneaking and thieving, the hallmarks of the thief class. Troldfolk who pursue the path of a thief gain a bonus skill point at each level.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

White Hills

White Hills: These chalky hills are threaded with gnomish warrens, and the White Hills form the center of gnomish power in the Woodmarches. Travel here is swift and pleasant if the little folk are pleased with you, and nearly impossible if you have offended them or worse. A number of giant owls nest in the hills, and the gnomes have alliances with them, granting them the ability to fly swiftly and safely over the terrain to warn other gnomes or seek reinforcements if necessary. Gnomish control is not complete here, however, and a number of warrens and dungeons have been abandoned or lost over the years, primarily to magical or underground forces.

Volgabaern Warren
- The goblins and their allies hold this vast warren (once the gnomish winterhall Cynwualf) in a strategic location in the center of the hills. Attempts by the gnomes to regain the winterhall have met with defeat as the goblins have called upon powerful allies from deep beneath the earth.


Orcs are a violent, chaotic, and fecund race of brutes that livein great cavern complexes, periodically spilling forth in massive hordes to threaten nearby lands.

Mountain orcs, or high orcs, are the more feared and more dangerous orc species. They dwell in great communities under the mountain roots, places that make the most vile slums of the surface look clean and safe. Here they fight and brawl and breed, until the population pressure grows too great and they find themselves compelled to go to war. Occasionally an orc warlord or king arises and forges a great horde; thankfully these times are few and far between. A few races use mountain orcs as shock troops, but it is rarely worth the effort and difficulty, as the orcs will turn on their allies or each other at the slightest provocation. Mountain orcs also continue to grow throughout their lives; most adult high orcs are no more than human-height, but an exceptionally powerful and lucky orc might become as powerful as an ogre, assuming he survives to the advanced age of thirty or so years. Mountain orcs cooperate with other races only under threat of extreme force; they may keep slaves for a short time, but these invariably are eaten before long. Despite their appetite for flesh, mountain orcs almost never resort to cannibalism - this, perhaps more than anything, accounts for their ability to rapidly expand their numbers in the harsh environments they inhabit.

Common orcs, also called hill orcs or pig-faced orcs, while still violent and brutish, are far more civilized than their mountain cousins. They can live with other races, and often cooperate or serve ogres, hobgoblins, goblins, and amoral humans. They are often found as soldiers, guards, or soldiers, as they relish fighting and will work for less than a human soldier or fighter. They are slightly shorter than humans, but stockier. Common orcs are also a fecund breed, but not nearly as much so mountain orcs, and like most races they do not grow after adulthood. Their appetites are also broader than high orcs, and they will eat virtually anything, including each other, without hestitation or without ill-effect.

Half-orcs are the result of unions between orcs and other races, usually humans, but occasionally ogres or other monstrous races. The child of a mountain orc and a human is known as an orog; they are as intelligent as a human, but as powerful as a mountain orc - and accepted by them as well. Many high orc warlords were actually orogs. Ogrillons are the offspring of orcs and ogres. They are stronger and more powerful than orogs, but far less intelligent.

Mountain orcs are common in the mountains of Sarn and the Kameurhorns. Pig-faced orcs are found throughout the Shadowend, but are most common in the Scarlet Peaks and the Stormhall Peaks. They are employed throughout the Hundred Kingdoms, in Blackgate, and in lesser numbers by nobles in Larenyss and Arramor. They are less accepted in regions that have experienced orc hordes, and generally killed on sight in Dore, Keldru, and Kameurgard.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hasty History

From Long Ago to Now

* ? Elder Host enters world, everything starts, etc, etc.
* -3000? Sidhe create the Sundered Sea.
* -2000 Height of "Old Power"; Doradin, Illendia, Honduar, and allied kingdoms face down the Far Ice and similar great evils and defeat them...for a time.
* -1500 Illendia (elves/Shadowend Forest) come into conflict with Nekiarn (magocracy/Glittering Plain); House Lands (half-elves/Greenvale) lie between them.
* -1300 Honduar fails and is lost to the Far Ice.
* -1200 Illendia and Nekiarn collapse; Glittering Plain is formed; elves abandon Illendia.
* -1000 House Lands slowly fade; minor kingdoms start to form in the Greenvale.
* -800 Amerite Empire and the Black Legion enter the Shadowend region; Greenvale falls under Amerite control; beginnings of the Hundred Kingdoms.
* -500 Dorandin begins to weaken.
* -400 Amerite Empire collapses; Greenvale/Woodmarch kingdoms emerge.
* -200 Dorandin falls; becomes Dore & Innergild
* -125 Height of Greenvale/Woodmarch kingdoms; Larenyss & Arramor
* -100 Te speaks for the second time since the beginning of the World, loosing great evils upon the world.
* -85 Queen of Larenyss disappears.
* -75 Greenvale/Woodmarch kingdoms splinter; Roane, Guanes, Kestrellar, Everglass, Romagna, Asavar
* -50 Fall of Asavar; establishment of Celadan
* -15 Queen of Larenyss reappears amid chaos and conflict; flees east and establishes Shalaen; current rulership of Larenyss refuses to recognize her legitimacy. Larenyss splinter-states stay neutral.
* 0 Current day.

Armor of the Autumn Kings [3e]

(Due to time constraints and a two-year old sitting on the sofa with me, this entry will be slightly revised and enhanced to S&W style...later.)

Armor of the Autumn Kings
+4 chain mail armor of strength.

Properties: +4 enhancement bonus to Armor Class; +4 enhancement bonus to Strength (one point of enhancement bonus to Strength becomes an inherent bonus to Strength each time the wielder is reduced to –1 hit points or lower as a result of melee combat and subsequently regains full hit points. Conferred inherent bonuses are retained if the armor is lost or destroyed.)

Description: The Armor of the Autumn Kings is a full suit of chain armor, including leggings and coif. The armor has the properties of fine steel, but the metal is colored a dark, rusty red-brown. Repairs made to the armor take on the distinctive coloration within a week. An amulet fashioned into the symbol of the Autumn Kings, a longsword point downwards superimposed over an oak leaf, likewise pointed downwards, is fastened to the right shoulder and cannot be removed.

History: The Autumn Kings first ruled a small kingdom in the Shalanwode, near present-day Shalaen, in the years between the retreat of Illendia and the beginning of Amerite rule. Amatheir invested the line of the Autumn Kings with governorship of the existing domain during its rule, and when the Empire withdrew from the borderlands, the Autumn Kings took up their former title with nary a blink. Sadly, the Autumn Kingdom lasted only another century before falling to an orcish horde from the Sarn highlands.

The Armor of the Autumn Kings was forged late in the kingdom’s life, by the half-elven crown prince Mierillinar Forestforge. Mierillinar dedicated his life to uniting the nature-oriented, independent druidic traditions and practices common to the Autumn Kingdom with the metallurgic skills and feudal structure of the growing Woodmarch kingdoms. His quest was cut short by an early death, and his armor was passed onto his son, Anturaen the Red, the last of the Autumn Kings, who fell in battle against the orcs.

The armor has circulated throughout the Shadowend region since that time, appearing periodically over the centuries. The armor is rumored to be drawn to descendants of the royal line; certainly it has shown an uncanny knack for remaining in the region, despite being acquired, at various time, by a Vanar raider, a prince of the Hundred Kingdoms, and a Behrunian merchant-adventurer. Whether this is more than coincidence, however, is still a mystery.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Map of the Shadowend

And the map as it currently stands. Since it's hand drawn and hand colored, the geography isn't likely to change much, but I'm gradually filling in names.


Moonwood: Just south of the Open Halls, the Moonwood is a thick and verdant woodland. Like Wythin Wood, the Moonwood has survived as an independent realm, unclaimed by any outside ruler. The principal inhabitants of the Moonwood are the Moon Tribes. Many tribesmen are lycanthropes, but fortunately for the surrounding realms, the Moon Tribes believe lycanthropy to be a blessing reserved only for the truly worthy. They recognize the fox-folk of Bellarane as common kin, but relations between the two are tense at best. A clan of faerilven also lives in the Moonwood, and a small number of leshii.

Greenbind Castle: This ancient keep, overgrown with vines, is rumored to still conceal at least one vault full of weapons enchanted against lycanthropes.


Tefplanz:This fertile floodplain is the exclusive domain of Innergild. Canals and dikes criss-cross the landscape, controlling flooding and providing turning the marshy land into arable fields. The border between the Tefplanz and the Middurplanz is heavily fortified and humanoid threats are rare, but ankheg attacks are increasing.

Sign of the Three Pigs: This massive, sprawling hostel lies on the Cilnoc-Narnigar road a short distance from the Middurplanz border, and is well known as a place of rest, refuge, and information. The owner, Odlef der Groot, brews his own ale, and has won numerous brewing competitions.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dalerain IV: Evergreen King [Dalerain]

Lord of the Green, Evergreen King
Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Forests
Minor AoC: Animals, Primacy of Nature over Civilization
Symbol: An oak tree or leaf, a wolf of leaves and branches
Allies: Alaron, Eial
Enemies: Umoth, Ragavar, Urjin
Avatar: Barbarian 5 / Druid 15 / Ranger 15

Samaan usually appears as a eight-foot tall man with a long, stern face, antlers, grey hair and beard, and ragged clothes. In this form he carries a quarterstaff called Soltreow, or One Tree. He may also appear as a antlered dire wolf, or a wolf with leaves and branches in place of flesh and bone.

Samaan spends most of his time in the Wyrld, wandering the forest lands he holds dominion over. He visits Alaron and Eial in their sacred places in the Wyrld, but otherwise prefers to keep to himself. Any divinities seeking council with him must locate and travel to him. His relationship with Uller is respectful but cautious; both powers are dislike interference in their domains, and have clashed on occasion, though these conflicts are rare and brief. He neutrally regards the other elemental powers, notably Aela, Eides, Larril, Tamati, and Linon. He appreciates both destruction and growth as natural and necessary aspects of forest life, but opposes their support of mortal endeavors towards taming the land (or, in Tamati’s case, filling it with bloodshed). The Forest King’s greatest wrath is reserved for deities that twist and destroy the woodlands, most particularly Umoth, Ragavar, and Urjin the Rotted God.

The Lord of the Green is worshipped by those who live in, or make their living from, woodlands and forests. Rangers and barbarians often worship him, and forest druids may leave offerings at his shrines and holy sites in addition to their own worship of the Wyrld. Undead are regarded as unnatural, but only singled out for destruction when they become a hazard to the forest life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Eltplanz: Rocky, cold, and desolate, the Eltplanz lies on the north bank of the River Ylg, between Barvanigar and Coldstone, and north to Kaulderzhun. It was once a frequent battleground between the forces of Doradin and the orcish hordes of the Kameurhorns, but the fall of the Highhold ended human occupation and the hordes now pass through it at will. Orcs driven from the Horns have dug out warrens beneath ruined villages and keeps, and packs of gnolls skulk in the tumbled ruins.

Kaern Torn – Between the Gonenfall Forest and the Shrouded Peaks, Hill Castle was one of the anchors of Dorandin defense. The fortress eventually fell to a monstrous horde of orcs, ogres, and giants, but none of Kaerzin Torn’s notable treasures or weapons have ever been recovered or even seen in the centuries since then. Much of the fortress was destroyed, but the central keep and curtain walls still stand.

Kaern Mus - Castle Mouse overlooks the River Yls near Barvanigar and is kept in good repair by the orcs and brigands of the area. Tunnels and caverns in the bluff below Kaerzin Mus reportedly include passages below the river and possibly into Barvanigar itself, a serious threat to the security of the town.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Notable Spellcasters

Alnin Stoneshield: A member of House Aeliden, Alnin Stoneshield was a powerful ha’ilven spellsword, with compelling good looks and a easygoing manner. He researched many battle-magics, both offensive and protective (most notably stoneshield), and died well into old age, battling a great linwurm in the Kameurhorns.

Azequor: Today a name of terror and fright-tales, Azekor was a ha’ilven wizard in the last years of Sieriven. A pupil of the wizard/priest Beirhn Rosemantle, Azequor rejected her gentle teachings later in his life, striving to accumulate power in a mad drive that culminated in his transformation to lichdom. His skeletal form dwells somewhere in the fastness of the Fhmòr Hills, using his minions and servants to continue gathering magical items and spells.

Gray Dashain: Once an apprentice of Erabor the Caller, Gray Dashain specialized in summoning, binding, and compelling outsiders. Despite the obvious dangers, Dashain lived into his twilight years before disappearing from his secluded tower. Various whispers and rumors over the years suggest he is not dead, but imprisoned on another plane, perhaps by a powerful devil or genie lord.

Erabor the Caller: Architect of the Endless Dungeon, Erabor the Caller is a whimsical archmage. Perpetually young in appearance, though of uncommonly tall height, he studied attractive magic (drawing monsters and adventurers both to his home) and planar effects. Erabor disappeared nearly a century ago, and is thought to have settled in a demiplane from which he keeps tabs on his former home, keeping it supplied with monsters and treasure both, and viewing the resultant mayhem for his amusement.

Gereint the Dark: An apprentice of the Ninestars Council, Gereint eventually eschewed their company for a solitary existence of research. Meglomania and paranoia led him to hide many caches of magic items (mostly scrolls and potions) in various “safeholes” around the Shadowend, often in a secure portion of an occupied dungeon. He disappeared nearly three centuries ago, along with his tower and the nearby village he ruled, but legends maintain he simply transported himself and his subjects to a secure realm, deep in the Dark Below.

Menioth Turimath: One of the most gifted students of the Moonstone Guild in Triumport, Menioth is the foremost expert on the Positive Material Plane and its attendent energies. She rarely adventures, preferring to “field-test” her spells through allied wizards. With straw-colored hair, fair eyes, and unlined skin, Menioth appears much younger than her fifty-six years, a possible side-effect of her long exposure to positive energy.

Raliard the Spellsage: More famous than powerful, Raliard makes his living uncovering caches of magic and spell lore. A skillful diviner, Raliard’s command of magic continually uncovers new treasures for him, and warns against those who would take it. The secrets the Spellsage uncovers invariably makes their way into common practice as he sells or barters away his findings. He lives in the small village of Tenmensport, but is more often found on the Glittering Plain.

Whisper: A member of the Fallen, Whisper helped rule the Dread Queen’s empire for half a century before being captured and bound into slumber for seven-hundred years. Freed only recently, the diminutive, leather-wrapped wizard has wasted no time exerting his subtle influence across the Hundred Kingdoms once again. His knowledge of lost and hidden spellcaches provided a quick and solid base of power, and the hidden knowledge they contain has been slowly leaking out as Whisper takes apprentices.

Asavar - A Very Rough Draft

This isn't even a rough draft, really - it's incomplete, and mostly going to disappear into the background. These entries aren't supposed to be long essays on history; they're short snippets of "where is this/what makes it different/interesting". It was useful in working out the outline of some history, and I thought people might like to see an "early" version. Someday there'll be a "later" version to compare it to.

The Cloven Kingdom
Once little more than a pastoral backwater, Asavar has became a symbol of the waning power of human civilization in the Shadowend. Sixty years ago, a great horde spilled out of the Glittering Plain and overran Asavar, decimating its population and driving the survivors into the neighboring kingdoms. Roen and Larenyss were able to marshall their forces and stop the horde at the Greenflow, but the toll on Roen was particularly steep. With the horde subdued, King Ethelren of Larenyss sensed an opportunity and attacked Roen. The move proved disastrous in more ways than one – Ethelren died near the end of the first day’s fighting, and his heir, Carron, was stubborn, short-sighted, and diplomatically blind. The duchy of Gaunes, linked to Roen through marriage and family, promptly withdrew their troops, as did the duchy of Shalane and the duchy of Kestrellar. Carron, who held Roen responsible for his father’s death, saw these as treasonous actions of the highest degree and summarily executed a number of nobles linked to those duchies – nobles who had, ironically, stayed loyal to their king. King Carron died only a few years later, but the damage was done – Larenyss, once the power of the Shadowend, shattered into feuding kinglets.

Asavar and Roen forces eventually regained a small portion of Asavar, the duchy of Celadan, but most of Asavar remains in monstrous hands. Brindish, Asavar’s capitol, is held by the Three Sisters, a covey of powerful hags who have bred an army of bastard creatures and make frequent raids into neighboring lands to capture slaves.

Aithelighin - The Many-Colored Field

The Rainbowed Pavilions, The Many-Colored Field

Symbol: A green pennant on a white field
Ruler: Eira Quileannithal (ef F6/W6)
Major Settlements: Aithelighin*
Population: Elven, gnome (rare), half-elf (rare), human (rare)
Resources: Horses, cloth, mercenaries (cavalry)

Aithelighin is the closest large fair elf settlement to the Woodmarch in the Shadowend Forest. It is set in an area of open woodland, where the great trees form vast, vaulted halls of wood and leaf. The elves have set their tents throughout the halls, each tent festooned with banners, flags, and pennants identifying the tent’s owner, occupants, guests, or nearly anything else one is inclined to display. All of the civilized races are welcome here, and free to participate in any of the tournaments, jousts, and competitions that occur daily. The Many-Colored Field is also the chief stronghold of elven cavalry, and combat from horseback is one of the most tested and valued skills here.

Adventures & Encounters
* Travellers near Aithelighin occasionally encounter elven knights looking for adventure. Most knights travel with a small retinue that includes a minor wizard, a healer or cleric, and several squires and pages. Many knights consider a joust or duel with any worthy opponents they come across a requirement of their honor.

* Aethelighin’s greatest threat comes from Asavar and the Glittering Plain. Goblinkin from the plain frequently raid into the Shadowend. The goblins are considered a relatively mundane threats, but several tribes include worg riders or hobgoblins with giants boars, and others have dangerous allies, including ogres, hill giants, and athach. The fractious powers of Asavar are less aggressive but make travel near their dominions troublesome at best, endangering the Rainbow Pavilions’ link to the Shadowend region.

More Unsubstantiated Musings

There was a comment, possibly in the Comments section, possibly at Grognardia (which I'm not going to link to, because if you're reading this blog and not reading Grognardia, you, my friend, are Screwed Up, and no amount of commas in this sentence will fix you), which noted a "decrease in neighborhood activity and an increase in parent-organized activities" (paraphrased, and poorly).

Or in other words, spontaneous play down, organized activies up. Parents who don't play D&D, by and large, don't encourage their kids to play D&D. They play soccer. Or take ballet, or, if they want to be "different", stepdancing and lacrosse. The gangs of neighborhood kids roaming the suburban streets of Middle America is, in my understanding*, greatly reduced from twenty or thirty years ago.

I think getting retro-clones into gaming stores is a good step, but it's not going to ignite the populace or shoot sales into the stratosphere. What would be more interesting, more useful, and more appropriate today, based on what I see in the bookstores, would be a nice, ultra-cheap (MSRP $9.99, I'm thinking), manga-sized copy of Swords & Wizardry sitting with the manga books in Borders and Barnes & Noble.

And speaking of ultra-cheap, the cost of RPG books concerns me. I'd like to see more exploration of variant packaging methods. Is 8 1/2 x 11 really the most cost-effective? What if RPGs were printed as comic books, with a 64-page "core" and a monthly 32-page adventure/supplement? Could we get it into comic spinners? The precedent is there for cross-over - Knights of the Dinner Table & Nodwick for two.
What about newspaper/newsprint? Not as durable, but maybe the goal should be to get the game into the most hands for the least cost.

*In my rural country childhood, my brother and I were the entirety of the neighborhood gang, unless my cousins were up at their weekend house, but they were girls and not quite as apt to roam and wander.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Turning back?

I know this blog isn't about philosophizing or opinionating, but I'm going to say this anyways: I don't like the sentiment that gamers are "turning back" to "OSR" games.
1 - If the OSR relies solely gamers that started with 0e-1e games, it will fail. Period. Full stop. Those young hooligans that so many grognards seem to relish disdaining are the future of gaming. Suck it up.

2- You can't "turn back" to something you never experienced. See #1. A 16-year old that discovers the joy of a vintage car isn't "turning back", he's discovering something.

3- the phrase and sentiment "turning back" implies a linearity; that game design proceeds from simple to complex. I don't believe that. It might -appear- that way, but at this point, 0e and 4e aren't two versions of the same system; they're functionally two different systems, with different strengths. Playing 0e isn't "turning back" any more than playing True20 is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I've been mulling over skills recently, and while I haven't made any stunning breakthroughs, I have come to a personal realization.

Adventuring is a job.

Or, in other words, adventurers aren't blacksmiths. D&D skills, in my game, should reflect something characters are likely to need and be a skill they are likely to develop. Craft is not such a skill; neither is profession, or appraise, or forgery (well, maybe a little). Swim and Climb, yes

And skills should be simple. More complex than yes/no, perhaps, but still simple.

And, in a bit of tired sarcasm, I'd like to dedicate this post to the overly extended conversation that wouldn't quit while I was trying to write this, totally destroyed my train of thought. Better luck tomorrow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dalerain III: Queen of Celebration [3e]

Lady of the Grape and Bottle, the Whimful Goddess, Queen of Celebration

Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Wine, Impulsiveness, Acting, Drama
Minor AoC: Vineyards, Drunks, Fools, Actors
Symbol: A flagon overflowing with grapes, an upside-down rabbit.
Allies: Gwydion, Linon, Tlazis
Avatar: Bard 25
Maebd appears as a small woman, with long, dark, curled hair, flashing green eyes, and rosy cheeks. She favors low-cut gowns that threaten an explosion of bosom with every move she makes, and always carries a flagon, tankard, flask, cup, stein, or goblet. She also carries a small knife, usually concealed beneath her skirts. The goblet is known as Solesus, or One too Many, and the knife is Jolinfil, or Joypricker. Maebd does not dally in faint emotions; she is overwhelming in her joy, towering in her anger, drowning in her tears, and exhausting in her passion.

The Queen of Celebration is the daughter or Linon, the Lord of the Fields, and half-sister to Noluan, the Lord of Sails. She is on good terms with her father, but relations between her and Jaerana, the goddess of the hearth, are restricted to the proper preparation of brewing ingredients. Reunions with her half-brother are boisterous revels. She is likewise on good terms with the Temptress, Tlazis, and is fervently, flagrantly, in love with Uller…except when she’s not. Few of the gods find her worthy offensive or dangerous enough to consider an enemy.

The Whimful Goddess is worshipped by vinters, bartenders, drunks, enchanters, actors, thrill-seekers, daredevils, and party-goers. Her priests are flamboyant and outgoing (and even more so after a few morning drinks to get the day started). Evil priests may be malicious in their actions, selling fouled or tainted bottles of wine, but most clerics are innocent of any true darkness (though, to be warned…the darkest of her priests are the best at hiding in the light).

Domains: Charm, Chaos, Luck, Madness, Plant.
Skills: Bluff, Profession (farmer, winemaker).
Favored Weapon: Club
Bonuses: +2 class bonus to saves vs nonmagical poisons.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Zephyr [Monster] [0e]


Zephyrs are minor spirits of elemental air. Some sages describe them as young or immature air elementals, though it is unclear whether this is accurate or even possible. Zephyrs are naturally invisible, detectable only as a slight breeze contrary to the existing winds. They are smart enough to understand and speak languages, but are impulsive and prone to mischief. Zephyr naturally manifest in areas of chaotic winds, and can be conjured with a monster summoning I spell. They have a natural ability to cast suggestion (as the spell, except the effect only lasts 1 turn), which they often use to cause difficulty or create embarrassing situations. A zephyr summoned by a monster summoning I spell can be commanded to use this ability, but is released (though not necessarily dispelled) from the summoning after using this ability once.

Zephyr: HD 1d4, AC 2 [17], Atks 1 strike (1hp), Move (Fly 24), Save 18, CL/XP A/5

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Banekin [Monster] [0e]


Banekin are sallow-faced, wizen humanoids with dark hair and tough, leathery skin. They stand no more than eighteen inches tall, and wear crude clothing sewn from ratskin. Banekin with access to woven cloth will sometimes make finer clothes from that. They prize flash and glitter, and will ruthlessly plunder anything or anyone of everything shiny and bright, from hand mirrors to gemstones.

Banekin live in hordes of up to a hundred or more individuals. A solitary banekin is usually a dead banekin, and so they live, eat, sleep, and fight in groups. A banekin alone will seek out whatever companionship it can, recruiting rat packs or even tagging along with adventurers.

Banekin infest dungeons and ruins, creating intricate networks of small tunnels through which to travel. These tunnels are usually no more than a foot in diameter, and heavily patrolled by banekin and rats. Unused tunnels are blocked off or trapped to sound alarms in populated areas, giving the banekin time to mount defenses or flee.

Banekin can communicate with rats, and almost always live with great numbers of them.

Banekin hordes can also be treated as a single monster by DMs. Banekin hordes treated this way take only 1/2 damage from any non-area attack.

Banekin: HD 1d6, AC 6 [13], Atks 1 weapon (1d4), Move 9, Save 18, CL/XP B/10

Banekin Horde (10 banekin): HD 2, AC 6 [13], Atks 1 weapon (1d8), Move 9, Save 16, CL/XP 3/60, Special 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Banekin Horde (30 banekin): HD 4, AC 6 [13], Atks 1 weapon (3d8), Move 9, Save 13, CL/XP 5/240, Special 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Banekin Horde (50 banekin): HD 6, AC 6 [13], Atks 1 weapon (5d8), Move 9, Save 11, CL/XP 7/600, Special 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Squeaker [Monster] [0e]


Squeakers are attractive, chincilla-like animals named for their devastating sonic attacks. About the size of a house cat, squeakers roam in packs through deep forests and caverns devouring whatever crosses their path.

Squeakers are named for their disorienting vocal calls. Anyone hearing the rapid, high-pitched sound of a squeaker must make a saving throw or become confused and dizzy for 10 rounds. Creatures that fail their save are too confused to take any action other than stumble away at half-speed, and must make a second save every round they move. A failed save means the victim has fallen. For every 10 squeakers in a squeaker pack, a character takes a -1 penalty to their saving throw. Squeakers are immune to the effects of other squeakers.

Deaf creatures, or creatures immune to sonic attacks, sometimes accompany squeakers to finish off stunned victims. Squeakers are also frequently kept as guards and watchbeasts.

Squeaker packs can also be treated as a single monster by DMs. Squeaker packs treated this way take only 1/2 damage from any non-area attack.

Squeaker: HD 1d4, AC 8 [11], Atks 1 bite (1 hp), Move 6, Save 18, CL/XP B/10, Special stunning squeak

Squeaker Pack (10 Squeakers): HD 1, AC 8 [11], Atks 1 bite (1d6), Move 6, Save 17, CL/XP 3/60, Special stunning squeak (-1 penalty to save), 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Squeaker Pack (30 Squeakers): HD 3, AC 8 [11], Atks 1 bite (3d6), Move 6, Save 14, CL/XP 5/240, Special stunning squeak (-3 penalty to save), 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Squeaker Pack (50 Squeakers): HD 5, AC 8 [11], Atks 1 bite (5d6), Move 6, Save 12, CL/XP 7/600, Special stunning squeak (-5 penalty to save), 1/2 damage from non-area attacks

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Piscidine [Monster] [0e]

This bizarre creature looks like a giant orange goldfish the size of a horse. Its fins wave gently as it swims through the air, and rainbow-colored threads of light trail from its gills. Two long tentacles hang from its mouth.

Piscidine trawl through caverns and dungeons looking for food. Their tentacles cause vivid psychedelic hallucinations (treat as a confusion spell), and the piscidine slowly eat their prey as it stands dazed and baffled. Piscidine quietly follow prey that show an initial resistance to the hallucinations, waiting for their endurance to flag. They generally avoid combat, preferring quiet, peaceful meals. Piscidine are 50% resistant to magic.

Piscidine: HD 6; AC 4 [15]; Atks 1 bite (2d6) and 2 tentacles (1d4+poison); Move 1 (Fly 18); Save 11; CL/XP 9/1,100; Special Hallucinatory poison, magic resistance.

The Black Legion

The Black Legion
aka, the Fourth Amerite Legion
Motto: Nos es Nex (We are Death)
Patron: Orod, Lord of Souls
Animal: Raven

Summation: The Fourth Legion had a long and accomplished history before entering the Woodmarches, where they easily defeated the local forces (homegrown since the fall of Illendia a few hundred years before) and establishing a local government accountable to the Amerite Empire. The Autumn Kings were invested as the governors of the region, and the Fourth Legion continued into the forest through their territory, and disappear from history.

What's Known to the DM:
- The Black Legion disbanded after the Woodmarch campaign; most recruits and conscript were filtered back to society via the Autumn Kings. The core of the Black Legion was wooed and won by Pyritheus, a powerful Typhos known as the Herald of Umoth. Pyrtheus promised the Legion veterans unending life, an offer they found attractive after years of dealing death.

- The Legion had established a camp near the gnomish village of Wyl Arden; they excavated a number of large vaults with the aid of summoned pech, and entombed much of their equipment therein. The equipment included a large quantity of iron ingots, weaponry, 50 clockwork steeds, and a number (10?) of iron-clad minotaurs.

- Despite, or because of, the Legion's divine patron, the Legion had no dealings with undead or necromantic magic beyond the mundane. Instead, dealings with the semi-divine Smith's Wife gave the Legion arcanists considerable knowledge of constructs, including clockwork steeds, iron-clad creatures, animated suits of armor ("armors", aka helmed horrors), and possibly/probably early "proto-type" Fallen (aka relentless).

- The Black Sorcerers of Tuonela. They have begun creating Fallen, but flawed and weaker than the true Fallen. They have part of the Fourth Legion's notes/instructions, and are looking for more. The Black Sorcerers have goblin minions in the Shadowend, implying an alliance (manipulation) of the goblins of Sarn, and possible alliance with the Three Sisters of Brindish.
- The Three Sisters of Brindish are looking for anything to bolster their forces. Weapons, ore, and iron-clad creatures are all welcome. Their army includes many crossbred humanoid creatures.
- The iron dwarves/duergar are allied with (?) the azer. The azer are followers of Pyritheus, who has become more active following his release and Umoth's arising.
- The city of Shalanholt is looking for anything it can find to help against the Brindish army.
- The "priestess" of the Smith's Wife wants any Black Legion information on creating constructs destroyed.
- The Fallen archmage Whisper wants something, and opposes the Sorcerers of Tuonela.

Assorted Thoughts and Ideas:
- The Nightwatch in Shalanholt are "armors" left or gifted by the Black Legion to the Autumn Kings. A "Daywatch" is rumored to exist, but has not been found.
- Pyritheus was imprisoned shortly after his bargain with the Black Legion; he was released twenty-years ago, at the Second Speaking of Te, as was Umoth.
- Pyritheus did hold up his end of the bargain; the Black Legion veterans are immortal, not undead (though they may not be properly living either). Their trail leads to the Underdark and ends at a gate of iron and silver.
- An aspect of Pyritheus (or Umoth?) is somewhere near the gate; this may be a goal of the azer.
- The duergar have, or are looking for, Black Legion material on constructs, for obvious reasons. The Black Sorcerers may have acquired their partial notes on creating Fallen from the duergar, who could have gained their information from pech.
- The Sorcerers of Tuonela are linked to the original Black Legion? A splinter group? Links to the Hielarn?