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.