Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Feral Fey

 There are lots of homebound fey spirits in mythology and folklore. Lots and lots and lots. Which makes sense; that's the most important place and most occupied place in everyone's life. But how do they translate into an RPG, which is (lets face it) generally about conflict?

There are a lot of ruins in D&D and similar games. And a lot of ruins in real life. Without modern building materials, buildings decayed and fell apart. Streams moved, families died out or went elsewhere. What happens to the fey of those places?

They go feral. Spriggan. Redcaps. Buckawn. Field fey that are left with gifts and a good-bye party might dwindle and become grig or pixies. Those abandoned become will-o-wisps.

Neutral or good fey might be domesticated or reclaimed if people return, but fey that have "gone sour" must be removed before a field or foundation may be reclaimed. And that is an adventure. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Planar Domains I: Broken Emr

 Broken Emr, The Domain of Enyo the Leveller

Emr  is a land of rubble and ruin, of shattered cities and tumbled walls. Scrape the ground anywhere in Emr and you’ll uncover a road, or patio, or foundation. Carvings and writings are worn to indecipherability; paintings and murals little more than scraps of color hinting at what they might have been. Springs flow from broken fountains, forming streams and rivers that course through canyons of worked stone. Trees break through cobbled streets, and vines pull inexorably at the remaining walls.

Enyo seemingly takes little notice of who lives in Emr, and it is relatively safe by most standards. Its principal inhabitants are scavengers, hunter/gatherers, and beasts of all sorts. These live by their nature, ignoring visitors unless hungry, or tempted by something they’ve brought from outside. Building and constructing is the only taboo in Emr; erecting any sort of permanent structure immediately draws the attention and wrath of all nearby natives, who will attack and destroy any such attempts.

Artificial and worked materials more complex than leather, pottery, or simple knits degrade quickly in Emr. Even iron, if worked, rusts to uselessness within a decade. Spells and magic items that create or preserve physical items (including structures) do not operate, and may lose puissance and become wholly powerless if they remain in Emr too long.

Entering Emr is achieved from within a ruined structure, where the appropriate spell must be cast. and each person seeking entrance must destroy an object of value. There is little traditional treasure in Emr, but it is believed that every ruin there is the mirror of one in the Wyrld, and searching one can give clues to the other. Broken Emr can also serve as a shortcut: two ruins many miles apart in the real Wyrld might be adjacent in Emr, and travelers can enter through one and depart via another. Finally, no few people have found Emr a useful place of exile or seclusion. The One Tree, Gray Road, and Wyrldflow also touch upon Emr.

Encounters in Emr

Emr can be considered a stereotypical wilderness, except fey and undead are very rare and there are no organized societies beyond small tribes.
  • Orbin Scalmon (hm F7) and his surviving retinue (2 guards, 1 sergeant, and a cleric of Adosil who is secretly Orbin’s bastard sibling). They are searching for clues to the rumored treasure-laden subterranean vaults beneath his deposed family’s ancestral castle, slighted nearly two centuries ago. They’ve been here a month without success supplies are gone, clothing in tatters, and desperately want to get out. They are being followed by a pair of ogres who are anticipating a good meal or two.
  • The Vermilion Locket, a cog-type ship that travels the myriad branches of Wyrldflow, has gone aground in Emr. Ships travelling the Wyrldflow are typically immune to Emr's deleterious effects, but the Vermilion Locket is aground and Emr has begun to shift the channel of the Wyrldflow away from the stranded ship. The characters are dispatched to locate the ship and its Very Important Passenger (which might be a royal bride; an evil cleric; a powerful magic item being sent as a bribe or payment...). They're not the only party searching: the owners are looking for the ship, and a faction opposed to the characters' is also closing in (who is looking to rescue the passenger, and who is looking to stymie any rescue, is left up to the GM).
  • A mongrelfolk hunting party, with 3d4 members and 1d4 hyena companions. The mongrelfolk aren't interested in eating them, but a bit of robbery is fine. The hyenas have no such compunctions and may circle back once the party is weaponless and devoid of armor....
  • 1d4 stinking leucrota, screaming and shrieking at each other. They aren't particularly hungry, but absolutely won't pass up a chance to torment the party by following them for a day or two.
  • A regal leonine lamia and her two sniveling jackalwere servants. The lamia is finding it hard to live in the luxury she prefers, since everything keeps rotting, and is willing to bargain in exchange for a way out of Broken Emr. The jackalweres like it here, and may not support their mistress's plans to leave.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Typhos I: The Leveller



The Leveller, Scatterer of Stones

AoC: Destruction of Cities & Civilization
Symbol: A foot crushing a building
Allies: Tamati, Talabas, Samaan
Enemies: Ados, Kaduv, Madate, Palanar
Avatar: Barbarian 20/Fighter 10

Enyo takes the form of a heavily armored woman of near-giantish height, or a thick-plated monstrosity large enough to topple towers and city walls. In humanoid form she uses her powerful fists to smash opponents. In ancient days she sometimes appeared as a woman carved of stone bearing a two-handed greatmace called Nem, or Breaker, but that avatar has not been seen in many centuries.

The Leveller is a great and ancient Typhosian power, strong enough to surpass most Envidier and rival many of the Dalerain. She is the child of Tamati and Samaan, and serves both of them when they wish it, destroying cities and towns, scattering people, and erasing their works. She is capable of subtlety and patience, particularly when serving the Forestlord, whose plans tend to grow slowly but steadily, like trees, but better known for the devastation and destruction she brings in the Bloody Queen’s service.

Enyo’s own goals are hard to discern. Unlike most Typhos, she serves her parents willingly when called and otherwise keeps to herself. In keeping with her nature she has no dwelling or court but simply travels the wild places of the world, sleeping under the trees and stars like the force of nature that she is.

Enyo occasionally creates monstrous beings or races devoted to destruction; certainly the bulette is hers, but also the rust monster and disenchanter. She may empower ogres and giants; those touched by her wrap themselves in armor or chains and set out to destroy. She is a scholar of siege machines and siege warfare, and sought for that information (although those seeking it try not to draw her attention to their own castles and cities). She is equally often called upon by nihilists, vengeance-seekers, and zealots of nature.

Cult Servitors: Servitors of Enyo summoned by her cultists appear as heavily armored monstrosities (see Bulette, Monstrosities pg.54; CL varies*) or statuesque women of bronze or stone (see Chalkeion, Monstrosities, pg.64; CL 5, 6,7, or 11; or Caryatid Column, Tome of Horrors pg.83; CL 7) and can have the following special abilities: Extra Attack (+1 CL), Improved Armor Class (+1 CL), Improved Damage (+1 CL), Magic Resistance 25% (+1 CL).

 *The bulette’s Challenge Level is increased by one for purposes of summoning as a servitor.

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 by Dranakedbenur
Arthringlaur (Diamondsdelve) - Kameurhorn Peaks - Mountain dwarves
Baidruck (Dragonsden) - Kameurhorn Peaks - Originally hill dwarves, now duergar
Bersinagul (Silverdeep) - Shadow Peaks - Originally mountain dwarves, now goblin-held
Dolnare (no translation) - Dolnare - Hill dwarf nation; renamed Dolnaur
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 by Velgrenidbenur; also goblin-held
Kadrinamur (Dimmersdelve )- Southern Range - Destroyed by sidhe fighting svartalfar(?)
Nobrildain (Hall of the King) - Shadow Peaks - Mountain dwarves
Rogunsur (Gemsdeep) - Seer Mtns - Hill dwarves
Sammisthur (Ironsheart) - Banrigh Mtns - Originally mountain dwarves, now duergar/dragon-held by Nendremor.
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
Mathedrellur (?-home) - unknown
Rimenghur (Gemsdeep?) -unknown
Svorndriel (Whitemine) - Smallhall of Arthringlaur - mountain dwarves
Tamathdrellur (Darkhome) (initially/originally Tamathedra) - duergar
Ordinglaur (Trollsdelve) - Smallhall of Arthringlaur - mountain dwarves
Zelazghur (Silverdeep?) - unknown

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

Named Dragons

Dranakedbenur the WyrmAttacked & took Ariendrellur, driven out; attacked & took Dansreldane;  later abandons it for reasons unknown; retakes Ariendrellur
Kadisrothirin (deceased) - Attacked & slain at the city of Olph
Kadrisbenur (offspring of Dranakedbenur; deceased) - Attacked & took Fadreisil; later killed
Kalavandremor (deceased) - Attacked & slain at Sammisthur
Mawligraxbenur - (Black dragon in the Shadowend; see Shadowend Folio)
NendremorAttacked & took Sammisthur
Pagrixlur Svar'xilyed, aka Painsdeath (deceased) - Attacked & slain at Rogunsur
Tesardremor (deceased) - Attacked & slain at Sammisthur
Velgrenidbenur (offspring of Dranakedbenur) - Attacked & took Fadreisil
Yegsoderim (deceased) - Attacked; lair transformed in Baidruck

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.

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 poo 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 SW 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. :/