Monday, February 20, 2023

Minor Planes

 I posted about 17 years ago on ENWorld, in a thread describing minor planes in a paragraph. (Note: It's wicked cool this stuff is still around and discoverable; I re-found these when someone posted new stuff just the other day.)

Asath: This wasteland bears a striking similarity to another isolated plane, but those who assume everything is the same are in error. Here, powerful dragon-kings, their exemplar servants, and the arcanist Filers are the protectors of life and civilization against the Servers and druids, minions of the mindless, fecund, chaotic Green. Without their constant erosion of the Green's energy, Asath would be overrun in a matter of years, all of its inhabitants absorbed, and the Green would subvert the reality of Asath itself, extending tendrils into the multiverse itself.

Azult: Light permeates this orderly realm. Fields of crystalline emerald grass shimmer under the white sun, while the stars are radiant beacons in the silky-black sky. Golden-skinned humans, opalescent elves, bright steel dwarves, and silver-hued halflings all rule prosperous and peaceful nations, but judge good and evil by how reflective and bright one's skin is.

Edge: This lonely and desolate realm is like no other, rising out of the silvery Astral like the dark shore of a unknown land. No more than ten miles wide, but infinitely long, a harsh wind endlessly races from the Astral, over the stony wasteland, and into the lightless abyss on the other side. The inhabitants here are the cast-ashore detritus of the Astral plane; lost travelers, abandoned victims, and a thousand thousand others. The unchanging, unending timelessness of it drives many to despair and suicide, and they cast themselves over the edge of existence and into oblivion.

Minos: This lush, pastoral world is the domain of the minotaurs and related bovine races. Despite its gentle features, many travelers are uncomfortable here. The native humans, gnomes, dwarves, goblins, and similar races never developed past an animal intellect, and are treated as animals by the minos races. Ogres draw ploughs in the fields, humans do lighter duty in the cities and towns, and halflings are kept as pets for the elite. Dwarves and gnomes are feral diggers, sometimes domesticated for hunting rare roots or valuable gems, while goblinoids are exterminated as pests wherever they can be found.

The Web: Massive strands of silken webbing interlace this twilight void. Smaller webs festoon each strand, or drift softly through the air. Spiders of all shapes and sizes hunt throughout the realm, devouring victims brought in by countless natural transient portals. Native areana sometimes rescue inadvertent travelers, ransoming them or demanding a period of servitude. Drow have recently found their way into The Web and established several powerful beachheads; some areana have become allies, while others seek to exterminate the invaders. What the drow are only starting to realize, however, is that humanoid creatures mutate in the arachnoid plane, and many susceptible drow have already become driders.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Dragons are a pain

 It makes me nervous to say this, but I appear to be writing again. It's been itching at me for a while (my gf can tell you about the endless stacks of RPG books that pile up by the bedside as I "research" things, but I think things have finally stabilized enough to let me do it. I've been in this apartment for almost 4 years, and since it's family-owned, I have no intent of moving for at least another 10. I've made enough room for a workshop (, so I get to scratch that itch whenever I want (it's directly downstairs!). Spotify provides music. And my gf, bless her, bought me an under-desk foot warmer.

Generally I get consumed with woodworking from about August-December, and writing from December - March/April. This is the first time in a long time I've been able to DO both of those (I didn't get to do much woodworking, but I CAN now), and it's funny how the switch gets thrown. Also, I love winter but working IN the cold sucks.

But after a bit of December and all of January, I've got "monster manual" that's currently at 55 pages of creatures and another 20 of notes, plus a lot more lists and jottings. I need things to LOOK right, so there's a fair amount of goofing around with layout, but it worked out pretty quickly. The system though - that was the big hurdle.

I default to S&W in writing nowadays, but it's a little barebones for my taste. to run anything. And OSE is eating up all the word-of-mouth space, or was, and it's...fine. B/X reformatted. I did a sort of dual-stat block for a while, but while OSE xp calculations are fiddly, they actually don't come out much different than S&W. Then a brief exchange with Dan Proctor on FB and the WotC OGL shenanigans led me to what I felt like. 

I forget what Dan said exactly, but it was basically "do what you want and your audience will come to you". 

So the core is S&W, with extras. I got pissed about treasure and threw together something I actually really like in about 30 minutes. Intelligence is back in as a guideline, as is morale (2d6) despite the fact I never used it - I've formatted it like intelligence, so there's a descriptor word and a (number), so zlatorogs are Cautious (6). No. Appearing and Movement might still get some adjustment, or maybe Movement will just get a conversion chart.

In many senses this has been a work-in-progress since the 1990s. I went through all my old files and threw it all into the pot. The mreen and tarikik from 2e; paija & aev from 3e; etc. The core was a Bestiary of Heraldry Creatures I had intended as an OSR supplement, but that was a LOT of "head of X; body of Y, tail of Z; forelegs of Q". I also have pretty good mythology/folklore references and have a working list of at least several hundred creatures from there. Plus reworking concepts from other sources that I find interesting or fun. (I'm NOT reworking things that are already in common parlance - I'd rather present something new.)

I don't know when or if this will see the light of day. I have a cover, because I commissioned one in 2002 (yes, you read that right) and it's still awesome. 

Today I decided to work on some dragons. Do y'all know how many different "schemes" for dragons there are out there? Oof. Sometimes there's a clear standard for something, and other times...dragons.