Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plateau of Gnaeun

The great Plateau of Gnaeun is thick with old woods and stands bordering Vamarine. It is a place where it is taboo for all men to tread. Those foolish enough to enter tell tales of Halfling womenfolk mounted upon bearcats who hunt down any in their terrain, fossilized statues of strange creatures which stand as they would in life, and diamonds that fall from the sky. In truth the Plateau of Gnaeun is home and refuge of the Cult of Ainiatri, an all female sect of Halflings with a strong warlike heritage. They are well known in Halfling folklore but relatively unheard of by other races. The Halflings consider them somewhat of a stain upon their name and rarely offer information willingly – and when they do it is often simply to say that they are the killers of men. What they do not say is that these women see nothing but strife and death in all men with their presentient vision.

The Cult of Ainiatri is hardly so simple, but they do indeed slay those who tread in their territory without question. They follow matriarchal principles and have no male members to their tribes. These women will often cauterize and stunt the growth of their right breast so that muscle and sinew grows strong there. Thus, most of Cult of Ainiatri is dominantly right handed and have powerful right arms and chests. A few non-Halfling women are members of the tribes, usually orphans or other young women they have came across and raised.

Outside of their hunting parties, the Ainiatri are very similar to other Halfling villages. They grow crops, make goods, and socialize in large groups. The older women are dour and sullen creatures, often wicked and mirthless in the best of times. The young Ainiatri on other hand are mischievous and not quite as ready to slay at a moments notices. Some lost travelers are said to wander into a group of young Ainiatri who are rather more curious about the interlopers than ready to kill.

Every spring the Ainiatri will trek into the domains of their neighbors and seize any males that they find. Half of which they slay in the hunt, as it they believe ‘no girl shall have a child until she has slain a man’, and the remaining they will copulate with under the full moon with unwilling partners. These men are released unharmed but warned to never stray into their territory. The male children produced from these rituals are raised for 2 years then released onto the great wilds around the plateau to fend for themselves. Few survive but a few tales exist of feral men raised by spirits and beasts.

Female children are raised as a part of the Ainiatri and taught their secret rituals, survival and of battle. Those under age leave their right breast exposed to show that they are not yet a warrior - although they can be quite vicious if one expects them to be docile. Older women who have slain before wear modest armor of leather and hide. They battle with sturdy short spears with uncanny skill and ferocity. The Ainiatri employs a variety of animals in their villages and when they hunt. Bearcats, wolverines, a giant raccoons have all been seen with their hunting pacts. Giant snails, turtles and other forest dwelling animals work along side the women in their daily life. The Ainiatri do not trade or negotiate. They have a simple policy to repel invaders or seek aid from other tribes if a force is too strong to repel.

Most villages of the Ainiatri are centered on large glacial stones that have a layer of perpetual frost upon them. Most of these stones have large of amounts of scripted text engraved on every imaginable angle. It is told that if one reads the text, the surrounding fossilized creatures will come to life and once again walk the earth. Of course this is mere speculation but in the deep recesses of the plateau many of these strange creatures do indeed walk the soil, and even the Ainaitri avoid these places.

The Plateau of Gnaeun is also a magnet for meteorites which routinely fall form the sky. Why they are attracted to this place is unknown but it is common to see several falling stars per night, some of which land in noisy and in precarious ways. Fires, explosions and debris are common places. Luckily the forest has little brush and the muddy and rocky soil does not spread fire well. The meteors are highly sought after, as their metals are incredibly hard and rare. The Dwarves in particular risk expedition into the plateau for this very reason and pay very well for such meteors.

Map Creation

Creating maps is easier than it looks and really it is more about technique rather than raw talent. This was 100% done in (free). The most difficult part is a sketch. I usually start with an outline of the land mass and fill in the terrain, ala 3-dots for plains, curly forests, and brusk mountains. After that it is straight forward:

1 - Sketch scanned, made 2 color. I pixilated the drawing to remove any smoothing.
2 - Apply semi-transparent layer parchment, full map
3 - The basic parchment background I used
4 - Apply another semi-transparent layer of the parchment, darker, for water
5 - What I used for forests
6 - Apply semi-transparent layer of forest for greenery. Erasing the unneeded bits. Manually paint in the small areas with green.
7 - Last semi-transparent layer, clean up colors - buildings, coasts, plains, badlands, etc.. Font it up (Treasure Map Deadhand) and stick a fork in it.


I will probably do a map or two soon so I do not confuse myself with contradictory locations. I am fairly pleased with the Ilim map I did last year (left) and will likely use the same style. The main limitation is since things are disproportionate, it is not a good style for a lot of locations. So, it may end up being 2-3 separate maps with close up views or perhaps 1 broad-view map with a few other small detailed ones.

I am feeling lazy I may use the Ilim blank template and just use my the Valley of Blue Snails lables. After all, Ilim is no longer being used and probably will not be anytime soon.

For the general scope I am looking at something like this (below). Former Ladoga in the center of the map, now split into the 3 large realms of Vamarine, Kabdoria and Orobia. There include the independant realms which are not delinated yet. For now yellow, blue and orange are 'human'. The purple/pink areas are generally elf/dwarf or halfling territory, and tend to be smaller than the human realm. Green is essentually deep wilds. The far east and far west of the map are mostly unexplored.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Warring Seasons

The Elves appear to be a chaotic lot with little in the way of a structured society but it is misleading to say that they lack leaders. Indeed they have their own legendary figures to direct the local population. The main difference between Elves and other societies is that they live such vast lengths of time that they eventually forget what came prior. With this in mind they appear content with the status quo. If a leader is present and is doing a competent job, well that is just the way it is and there is no reason to change. Elves do not lust for power, they have no have theological clashes like the Dwarves, and they have no guiding mission like the Halflings. And so upheaval was is exceedingly rare and those in power often remain so for as long as memory lasts.

This changed 180 years ago when the 9-year summer of Estaoculus wrought many families of Elves with the Oculus. It changed these Elves to be more than they once were, and in some cases not just physically. Some of these lines found themselves better than their peers and sought to place themselves in the proper role. Not because of a lust for power, but because it was a simple truth. Some Elves agreed with this, some were forlorn with the aspect of change being thrust upon them. Those powerful families of the Oculus eventually left, not wanting an open conflict and those who wished to follow them did so.

In a relatively short time, at least for Elves, this radical change took place and divided many Elven villages from those who followed the Oculus families and those who maintained their old way of life. Some of these Oculus families banded together and formed new powerful villages, sometimes resentful of those who did not follow them. About 90 years ago the first open conflicts took place between the Elves, notably those to refuse to the join the Oculus lines and those who deemed the Oculus lines as unnatural. Each side became more disparaging of the others and small skirmishes occurred over minor issues such as trade, territory disputes and marriages.

These inter-race conflicts were very new to the Elves and they mostly lack any sort of large organized military. Rather each village created a small but elite group of warriors who operate in stealth, sabotage, and assassination. They fought battles which were rarely large and usually very brief once one side or the other pulls their small force back. Although Elves fighting Elves is aberrant to most of the even-minded, there can be no doubt that those involved that both sides to a war seem to enjoy the revelry in the conflict. It is a bit of an odd conundrum to both despise the death, but enjoy the war, and so that appears to be the case. Some surmise that the revelry that Elves enjoys in life also carried onto the passion of war and conflict. Some of the more learned sages point out that Elves were likely war-like in the distant past and that all of this is cyclic.

In the past few decades many of the Elven villages have taken to hiding away from the martial conflicts and often move their locations around their territory. Also many seek to learn the ways of war from other races, notably that of men who seem to be masters of the art. Elven warfare is indeed on a much smaller scale, but it is most often carried about by the most skilled and most deadly hands. It is rare for an entire village to be wiped out, but this has occurred in the last few decades when conflict have escalated to unpresended levels. This has caused a race-wide panic among the usually benevolent Elves, and some are becoming increasingly xenophobic towards outsider-Elves. Many of their populace have beseeched the wisest of the Elves to find a solution. These Elf-sages mostly find the violence to be completely against their nature and teach the old ways of peace.

One of the wisest of the Elven Lords, Yondamo ¹ oddly enough takes the approach that these new conflicts to be an overall boon of the race. In fact Yondamo personally leads his village to skirmishes that are deadly in their effectiveness. It is perhaps no coincidence that Yondamo is among those who attained the Oculus.

Yondamo ¹

Although most memories of Elves eventually fade away over the centuries, a few legends either make a page in one of the rare Elven tomes or are recorded through song. One of which is the tale of Yondamo and his mother Vansisa, an Elven maiden of a powerful village who was said to be courted by the sun the moon and the stars. She eventually chose the star after successive trials among the celestial bodies. There the stars took a mortal form, that of a soulless golden man whom she found difficult to love. She took this golden man to the birthplace of life, a sacred grove beneath the world tree and which rendered him into flesh and there they copulated. In doing so they had unknowingly desecrated the holy grove. Infuriated, the Haasi spirits of the grove demanded that the couple sacrifice of their nine offspring to cleanse it.

The couple naturally ignored the wayward spirits, but quickly found that they and their people became much more susceptible to the harsh seasons than before. Their crops died in fall, they froze in winter, and they were forced to toil in spring and summer to survive. After the urging of their people, Vansisa and her husband gave the grove their first eight children. Vansisa could not bring herself to give the grove her last child, Yondamo, a child of supernatural wisdom and vision. Yondamo scolded his mother for giving in to the spirits and went to the grove him self where he slew the manipulating Haasi. He claimed the holy grove as a home for the Elves and told them the toil of the season was a gift rather than curse. And so the Elves adapted and embraced the seasons lustfully.

Yondamo’s eight brothers and sisters still lived and were raised by the twisted Haasi. The siblings were schooled in the ways of treachery and each ingenious in their own way. Collectively they sought to bring Yondamo down low and perhaps sacrifice him to the holy grove where he now lives. Throughout the centuries Yondamo is the center of many tales associated with him outthinking, and thwarting his sibling’s ingenious plans to capture or kill him. Yondamo always seems to come out ahead, and is compassionate enough to merely humiliate his wayward siblings and teach them a lesson of virtue by their failed plots. One by one, the siblings learned from Yondamo and each returned into the fold of Elves, although often uneasily.

Each sibling is now a leader of their own smallish clan spread throughout the lands. Yondamo himself still lives in the holy grove beneath the world tree. Only Yondamo claimed the Oculus during the 9-year summer which has caused a rift between him and his siblings. Yondamo has ignored them in recent years, growly increasily obsessive with is own Oculus, much to the chargin of his once twisted but redeemed siblings. Perhaps it is time that they show him true virtue rather than the other way around.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Caphias and Kabdoria

The wizard Caphias Mennoc played a pivotal role in the downfall of Lodoga. The scheming eunuchs of the emperor’s court had long since sewn the seeds of discord by dismissing many prominent and well-meaning nobles. Overall the government was corrupt at the highest levels leading to widespread deterioration of the empire. The wizard Caphias Mennoc was well aware of this and sought to thwart the corruption in his own meager way, although he had no inkling of how widespread his teachings would eventually become. Caphias traveled Kabdoaria as a wandering alchemist curing the sick of mild ailments while secretly inciting them to revolt against the local corrupt lords.

The small revolt was left unchecked for several years by greedy and apathetic lords who were simply more interested in gold. Those energetic enough to thwart the rebellion often included the more moral lords who instead turned to Caphia’s teachings and eventually gathered to his cause to leads the peasantry. Several key members of the Kabdorian corrupt lords begun to collapse and the imperial city sought to deal with the matter personally. The rebellion was brutally snuffed out under the weight of a well trained military, although war was far more costly than empire would have ever guessed. A war of attrition, magic, guerilla warfare and subterfuge leaned greatly on the side of Caiphas and they caused a good deal of logistical damage before the rebellion was eventually put down. Moreover the natural spirits seemed to work against the imperial army and it seemed one natural disaster after another plagued them.

In the aftermath the Lodoga nobles succeeded. They left in their wake a great void of law and a great deal of resentment. Many of the government infrastructure was damaged or totally destroyed. Many of the lord were dead or joined the rebellion and were in hiding. Homes, farms and trade routes were sacked during the war of attrition. Banditry took a sharp rise after the troops left and general anarchy reigned for several years. Eventually the Kabdorian population found more meaning in Caphia’s teaching than ever before and the revolt quickly swept back into place - although in more hushed tones. After the emperor was assassinated and the Ladoga began to break apart, many began to speak of independence and several powerful lords isolated themselves into tight knit sects, ignoring the greater lords of the lands. After the great war ended and Ladoga dissolved, these lords consolidated their power and formed new realms, often using the popular teachings of Caphias as a pretext to do so (although not always buying into it themselves). With all of the large armies in shambles, there was none to stop them.

Although Caphias was said to be slain during the upheaval, his teachings against corruption have stubbornly held on among the population. Even the Halflings and Elves which border Kabdoria started to take an interest before the empire began to disintegrate. His teachings are based on the simple, yet foreign concepts of fairness, collective responsibility, and not overburdening the working class. Naturally many lords found such non-sense threatening, but many also found it a welcome change from the weary corruption. These teaching live on today in much of Kabdoria, centered on the realm of Cias Lynnm on the western fringes. There a boy with supernatural wisdom an insight spurs on the teachings of Caphias and bases the law of the land upon them.


I’m deciding on wither to keep Caphias as living figure or not (luckily I can leave it be for a while). If he is alive I am aiming him to be a well-meaning instructor, but his teachings are far out of his control at this point. I figure him to have been bold enough to do something about the corruption after watching it for years, but definitely not brave enough to follow through with his words when it came down to war. He is probably as surprised as anyone that his little rebellion actually worked. In fact I would like him be a bit of coward and really not all that interested in upheaval and riots anymore. When the first real blood started to spill, he was likely scared out of his gourd, guilty as hell, and fled to the hills. Being a somewhat legendary figure now, he hides from his reputation as much as those who wish to see him dead. I would image him as somewhat of a hermit sage now, not all interested in the affairs of the world. If news of him being alive became known, it would likely change a good deal in current Kabdoria.


The lands between Orobia and Kabdoria I want to be particularly unsavory due to the forbidding wilderness and the large battles recently fought there. I plan to call these the Midrealms, which should stretch a good 200 miles between the two realms, and can be as long as 30 miles wide. The basic terrain would be a mesh of taiga and lightly forested valleys. The terrain is broken with boulders, ravines, small rivers, and small canyons dotting the landscape. Those readers familiar with Coopers Rocks will know exactly what I mean in that there are plenty of nooks where loathsome things can dwell.

Several roads do go through these areas and were often used twenty or so years ago. Now, most of these are in disuse since Ladoga was sundered with most of the homesteads have been long since sacked. A few well equipped caravans do make the journey, but it is usually unpleasant and rife with supernatural omens. It is practically suicidal for smaller caravans to make the journey, but occasionally a small and fast company will make the journey in haste. Several smaller towers and keeps lay in these hills but most have been abandoned when the armies of Vamarine and Orobia fought for well over two years. Now, most of these fortifications are ruins, but a few in the upper reaches were perhaps untouched although likely still abandoned.

The threats from the deep wilds have permeated in the Midrealms harshly after the war. Notably among them are the spirits who came after the battles, those who sensed the need to come hither. Kalevope, giants who endlessly sweep the battlefields with great scythes muddle around in odd circuits. Marggots, which are long snouted and short spirits which pick the battle fields clean after the Kalevope's are through. Other loathsome spirits will go out of their way to snatch an unwary soul are particularly virile. No bridge, no stagnant pond, no twisted tree seem to be free of some malign spirit.

Other beings from long forgotten endless seasons have also come out of the darkness to make an appearance in the Midrealms. Ghouls, which appear as dessicated Halflings. It is said that they are those who fell to Poome¹ and now prowl the barrows and graveyards in search of dead flesh. Gnomes, who are said to be wrought from Dwarves who grew so engrossed in their knowledge that they grew ignorant of all responsibilities - now obese creatures that tattoo their flesh with odd scripts and will torment those who have knowledge that they do not. Kobolds, formed from petty Elves that sought to spy upon the misdeeds of others, in particular dark secrets. Where Kobolds lair they slowly poison their surroundings with arsenic mineral clouds. Trolls, formed from petty men who were particularly beautiful and vain. Trolls have long exaggerated features and each is a unique and particularly disgusting in its own way, and in wanting of a fresh coat of skinned flesh to cover themselves with. Gnolls, thankfully rare, but it is said they were once beings who were fond of raping in their previous form. Each Gnoll is formed from the literal joining of a Gnome and Troll in a sicken aberrant act where the two form a single Gnoll. These humanoids have formed a series of small lairs which make travel in the wilderness a deadly affair lest one stumble upon them.

Wanderers who do return from the Midrealms have reported other strange sitings. Clusters of leathery man-sized eggs which cover the abandoned river town of Akkaid. Large mushroom circles that walk on their own accord. Huge glacial stones carved with detailed writings appearing next to campsites out of no where. Primeval roars of some monsterous entity heard in the night. Indeed, not a place that one treads lightly.

¹ Poome
The Halfling god Poome, is chaotic . His title is the Keeper of the Famished. Poome is the Halfling god of damnation, hunger and hopelessness. It is said when dishonored Halfing fails to follow his presentince destiny, when die they are doomed by Poome to wander as formless spirits to be forever hungry for all eternity. Truly a hell only a Halfling could understand. Poome has few if any sane followers and is widely unknown outside of Halfling folklore

The Gonzo In All Of Us

I think we all have some gonzo D&D stories, particularly if you played in elementary or jr high school. I usually have to fight the urge to delve a bit too deep into gonzo and I'm sure things like were-mammoths and lake-puddings are probably over the top somewhat. I will probably throw them in anyhow, as I think there should be something that PCs just should respect/avoid/scratch their heads at. Other things naturally won't be making it in. While a undead hydra with beholder heads that all breath ochre jellys looks good on paper.. well actually it doesn't even look good on paper, its just gonzo and probably has no place therein.

In Valley of Blue Snails I created a small little location for gonzo things should I absolutely feel the need to put it in somewhere. Here is the brief description I had in the locations area:
'Anvil of the Makers - A lone peak of sullen gray stone that gives a headache when viewed, causes vomiting when traveled towards and death should one reach the base'.

Intended as a place where mortals should not tread, and god likely don't drop the soap there either. In WoW terms, its the zone that is blocked off for some future expansion and instant death is blanketed very thickly upon entering.

On the tangent of Gonzo I have entertained a pet project, a one shot adventure that is nothing but Gonzo. I would lovingly call it RIP1 - The Orgified Castles of Thor or some shit. Would probably be a hoot to write up, and I imagine it would purge any gonzo from my system for a good long while. Perhaps after a decent working copy of Valley of blue Snails I will do so.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seleucid the Sundered Prince

I used the name Seleucid as the Emperor of Ladoga intentionally, to reference an article I did for the Paizo contest last year. I liked the character and I think he would make a good tragic figure in the whole Valley of Blue Snails lore.

The original write up I did went as so "Seleucid the Sundered Prince was once a mortal wizard-prince. In his effort to bring harmony between the goddesses Yith and Zyga, he was impaled upon the black iron staves of the storm giant, Wren. Dark Yith decreed that he should die, while bright Zyga decreed that he should live a modest and honorable life. The result of the equal yet opposite divine powers pulled apart Seleucid’s soul and he was left to languish upon the black staves for centuries. For unknown reasons Yith freed and named him her consort. Seleucid is no longer a man—nor a god, lich, or other power. He remains in a transitory state of being that is both his reward and punishment from the twin goddesses. Sages speculate that the black iron staves of Wren may hold some transitory power, although what this power may be and where the staves are located is a mystery."

This is decent and I may go something along the same tangent. First off, the Emperor is not dead - well not entirely dead but most of Ladoga thinks he is. Secondly I figure his line is the only one to have two Oculus powers which is perhaps pivotal as to why they were in power and why they eventually perished. As to wither a pair of twin but diametric gods tear his soul apart or if its more of his own doing with the Oculus I will leave vague for now. I think it would be no long stretch for pair of gods to take interest in the Emperor of Ladoga however.

So, Seleucid is likely the closest thing to a demi-god that I have in mind at the moment. Fairly powerful Magic-User, two Oculus powers, and in some sort of non-mortal transitory state of being. I may make him a consort to a deity type of power although I am not sure quite yet. I expect this may develop more once I do the gods. I will have him as a languishing figure, perhaps slowly seeping out back into the world would be a good plot device however. Or maybe even the PC(s) will need to release him for those events to be set into motion (oops, spoiler).

He need not be evil really, his mere presence would very easily drive major events. And in fact I think his state of being is just beyond normal morality, and in a very broken state. Anyone of his line would be a major threat to any current power in Ladoga not to mention they would likely suffer a similar fate as Seleucid - so another possible story line there.

The Great Realm Ladoga

Vamarine, Orobia, and Kabdoria where all once known as the Great Realm of Ladoga. Ladoga was simply known as ‘the realm of men’ as far as the other races were concerned. While other pocket realms of men existed Ladoga was by far the largest, the most stable and the most powerful of these. The Cities Afar would perhaps come in second, but they are so distant it hardly mattered. Disunity among the Great Realm of Ladoga occurred about 12 years ago when Emperor Seleucid was assassinated. However the seeds for the sundering were placed many years prior during a series of revolts led by the meandering teachings of the wizard Caphias Mennoc.

Caphias found his foothold in the western provinces of Kabdoria, and these revolts eventually found noble and knightly sponsors rather than the usual oppressed peasants. Eventually these revolts in the western territories of Kabdoria became very threatening and an army from Ladoga proper as well as the Kabdorian forces were marshaled to put it down. So they did, but along with the revolt, a series of natural and magical disasters weakened the realm and the army enough that some of the southern Orobian lords began to speak of independence from their tax-heavy northern cousins. The peasantry and nobles in Kabdoria alike were punished for the revolution and severely weakened politically and robbed of their riches. The Kabdorian nobility found some solace in trading with the bordering Elves, Dwarves and Halflings but were again ostracized by their northern and eastern cousins for doing so.

In truth the southern lords of Orobia did not instigate the sundering of Ladoga, although Orobia is commonly blamed as the main culprit. The Emperor’s entourage of eunuchs had been slowly siphoning the power away from the throne for years. They grew to wield great power and tug the strings of discord among the realm. Emperor Seleucid was assassinated by his own doctor, and he was quickly replaced with a eunuch reagent, Shuno of Thool. With the promise to find a successor immediately, Shuno instead found one reason or another to decline the interested nobility. He wrought a number of laws that favored his constituents and pillaged the imperial treasury as well. Clearly unhappy with Shuno and the eunuch powerbase, Roumbus of Orobia, lord of the imperial city forces quickly took control on the imperial palace to reestablish order and free itself from the corruption. Roumbus was a well liked general who did indeed mean well, but his practical experience and knowledge had been struggling at best. What resulted was a bloody massacre and a purging of the eunuchs after they refused to surrender with their own elite imperial guard. Great magic and winged hydras aided the eunuchs, and what should have been a quick victory took a heavy toll among the army of Roumbus. The palace burned and most of the nobility fled to their own lands with tales of the slaughter. Shuno likewise fled, it is said on the back of a walking gemmed golem, and hid among the few remaining realms loyal to his cause.

Although victorious, Roumbus was quickly labels as a traitor-general when the imperial city burned. Most nobility were hesitant about openly denouncing him since he still controlled one of the largest armies in the domain. To the distant north Loawane of Vamarine held the elite troops of the empire to battle the constant foes of the deep wilds. When the news reached his ears he brought down the bulk of his force to methodically return the Ladoga to unity. During this time revolt returned one again to Kabdoria, and with no imperial forces to stop them, the revolt claimed many realms that declared independence. Roumbus of Orobia and his army returned to his homeland but was slain by his own family who replaced him with his brother in law, the great warlord Kreilis, to marshal a defense against the vengeful army of Vamarine

Kreilis was far more competent than Roumbus, but also far more ambitious. He sought to take control of the empire for himself since he saw opportunity in the disarray. Instead of defending Orobia, Kreilis instead mustered his levies and forced his large army into Kabdoria to stabilize those provinces, and thus claim the throne through controlling most of the Ladoga. Loawane of Vamarine took his spearhead forces into Orobia and was content in exacting revenge upon the Orobian citizens rather than chasing Kreilis’s army hither and fro. After two years the two armies did eventually meet on the border of Kabdoria with a series of small skirmishes. Both attempted to draw in the other to no avail, and dragging the war into several more years that drained most of Ladoga’s resources. Many western realms in Kabdoria realized full independence when they marshaled their own forces and slew what remaining Orobian troops that were left behind to hold onto their territory. Their supply lines cut off, Kreilis thrust into the Vamarine lines in a desperate effort to end the conflict. Both armies battles vigorously with heavy casualties on both sides. Neither side could claim victory since the Orobian troops could not break the Vamarine line and Loawane himself perished in the assault along with his senior leadership.

Loawane’s daughter, Bodhimel, took control over the remaining Vamarine forces knew they simply lacked the resources to maintain a foothold so distant from their homeland. She sacked, razed and pillaged the lands as they marched on the way back to Vamarine. The eastern side of Kabdoria and the northern facing of Orobia were thus burned out and the Orobian forces returned to a wasteland of a home. Lacking proper leadership, the remaining Vamarine troops quickly dissolved with only a few elite shock troops that followed Bodhimel to re-stabilize the Vamarine powerbase. Kreilis himself was murdered by his family when returning to Orobia and most of the remaining officers took their troops and returned to their lands. It is said Shuno still lives and bids his time in the lands of Orobia. Kabdoria remains particularly fractured, being a shadow of its former self, struggling to regain the territories that have claimed independence. Their troops are light however and this seems to be increasingly unlikely as the years pass.


The deep wilds north of Vamarine have encroached greatly since the main army marched south. Even large cities have fallen to emboldened inhuman forces. The Vamarine lords battle to keep what they have, each reluctant to give any men to the greater Vamarine army. Bodhimel is currently the lady of Vamarine although many of the lords are unhappy with her rule, and her ruthless actions in Kabdoria. The imperial city sits in ruins at the southern peninsula in Vamarine.

Orobia is ruled by the noble family Osteniar, although no clear leader is named. The Northern provinces are still in ruins and the southern ones speak of independence in hushed tones. These are fearfully and ruthlessly put down – at least when the remaining Orobian army is able too. The Osteniar hold power with a thin thread of past loyalties only.

Kabdoria is largely fractured on the west into several fully independent realms. The years have gone by long enough that many in Kabdoria simply accept this as the truth of the future. The eastern Kabdorian realms have consolidated behind Vanis Enemor, a Count of old Ladoga. His rule is pragmatic and focused on rebuilding the war torn east and to keep from loosing further realms to independence.

Several smaller realms have developed as fully independent. Some benevolently ruled by brave men who seek peace. Others lost to opportunistic Marggots who enslave those they find on the open roads. The encroaching wilds between the realms seem to be more foreboding then ever. An assortment of spirits seem to sense the absence of men and have seeped in. The beings that once hid beneath the leaves during the Great Rot have likewise stepped out from the shadows and now travel openly, and brazenly claim territory as their own. Travel between the realms is sparse and dangerous, and some men turn to the likes of Elves, Dwarves and Halflings for protection from the deep wilds.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I'm considering consolidating two books into one since the setting is seeping into rules fairly heavily at this point. A few D&D setting books have done this, and I think Dark Sun would be a decent model. It follows a straight forward platform of roll stats - races - classes and so forth, just each individual part is very setting rich so by the time your done with the book you have a good idea of where the game is going to take you. I am leaning this direction at the moment since the rules companion is feeling somewhat dry.

Another option is to simply leave most of the rules out of the book and go with the setting material alone. I would simply throw in things like 'Elves receive +1 on Dexterity, -1 on Constitution', and let the reader use whatever they want as far as what rules to use. No xp blocks, no spells, no ability rules. Myself I would still stick with B/X and would likely recommend it somewhere therein. The Oculus would naturally be a separate list of rules, and something for status titles as well if I decided to use them. In a way this would work better. Instead of spelling out how a Halfling becomes a Sheriff I could simply leave it much more vague and solely in the realm of role-playing to achieve. I am not entirely happy with the changes I made anyhow so it may head this direction if I do not like where they end up. A lot of setting books went this route. Probably because there was only one set of rules in the market in the first place (AD&D probably), so it was just assumed that is what was used. I think this works well since even running 3.x I still found most of this material quite useful and easily translated for the most part. In fact I still find AD&D naturally intuitive since that is what I grew up playing. Too bad it has such a thick layer of wonkiness, to the point where you need a book of house rules to make it somewhat playable. I suppose this is why I tend to lean towards B/X mostly.

Overall I am more pleased with the non-rules material; the race lore, the Oculus, finnic history, the slant on classes, and so forth. I suppose I was intent on have the rules added in so it is essentially a 1-stop book, and you need nothing else. And there is still merit to that since at times it may not be so easy to have other rules on hand in Iraq. So, thats where I am at during the start of this week. I think I will go over some of the local geography and history this week but that will definately be in the back of my mind.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some Direct Question

Bouncing ideas around is my preferred method to realize a final product. I believe that one person with one imagination is simply too restrained by their own preconceptions. So while I don't mind answering direct questions, feed back is required to end up with a better product.

Think of it this way Lt, the more feed back I get, the better the campaign will be. Also the comments area is preferred since the whole point of the blog is development in one place rather than separate email threads that I would need to somehow track down a year from now.


>> The lands of Beria.

This is pretty much a one liner from the landmarks, "Beria - Plains, home to roaming were-mammoths. Usually avoided as such". Obviously the key phrase here 'were-mammoths' and why anyone is there intentionally is beyond me. This place is practically a natural barrier between various locations and not really intended towards early play. Especially just starting out a campaign 'welcome-to-Valley-of-Blue-Snails, here-is-a-fucking-were-mammoth, have-fun'. Definitely a destination, not a home.

>> The family of Humans: Um'Bom, Eyes of Light Unbound.

Clearly geared towards a dearly missed Kisko from three generations ago, Um'Bom (which is probably misspelled). Naturally I will be throwing these kinds of things in when I can, and from a wide variety of sources. Anyhow, the line is "Um'Bom, Eyes of Light Unbound - Unburdens the heart, gives strong feelings of compassion, honestly, and repentance when the gaze is focused on a target". This is loosely based upon what the sacrament of penance should theoretically do; that is unconditional forgiveness, true sorrow over ones actions, true intention of not repeating them. The end result is something of enlightenment, so take that as what you will.

>>The family of Haflings: Wildenbern, Eye of Blooming.

I wrote this one last in the Oculus lines and simply put it in to match an image I used earlier (left). None of the others quite fit so I wrote this around that pic. Also I wanted to make the benevolent and malign abilities roughly equal and I needed one more. The original line is "Wildenbern, Eye of Blooming - Growth and culmination of reaching ones true potential". The inspiration is the Tao philosphy of coming into ones own, free of good or evil. The end result is something of harmony, and probably directed more towards others than yourself.

Those two abilities I somewhat imagine as a gift that you can give to others, but something that may elude user. On that tangent, what happens when two Oculus users face each other? I am thinking if they are of different lines, both would have full effect. If they are of the same line, they would have no effect. I may also add in that the effects of an Oculus power can be removed by anyone of the same line (or at least if they are of the same level/HD). So in this sense one of the most dangerous foes against an Oculus line is someone within their own line. Ah, yet another layer of potential intrigue.

Lines of the Oculus

The Oculus abilities I am making intentionally vague since I do not want a lot of rules. Situations and circumstances would just make it a mess otherwise to detail. Also it is more in flavor with B/X to make it vague and use imagination over DCs and resistance crap.

In general the abilities scale will be based upon level/HD. A level one can light a torch with Eyes of the Red Dragon, a level ten could conflagrate an inn to the ground. Oculus abilities are probably the closest thing to psionics in the campaign, that is psuedo-magical and in some cases it trumps magical effects. The abilities are essentially at-will to use and concentration to maintain. I will instigate save throws if they are abused or in cases where common sense dictates where it simply is not wise. I would imagine it would not be pleasant to use such an ability and there would be some obvious strain in repeated use.


Trikel, Eyes of the Flowing Sea - Manipulates the forces of motion, in particular liquids. Create a vortex in a lake, over turning a boat, etc.
Enemor, Eyes of the Ebbing Sands - Some mild time manipulation; slowing a incoming balista bolt, speeding up running from a Troll, etc.
Um'Bom, Eyes of Light Unbound - Unburdens the heart, gives strong feelings of compassion, honestly, and repentance when the gaze is focused on a target.
Selyeon, Eyes of Twilight - Causes inner turmoil to surface, reveals ones true nature as in the best and worst of them. More severe effects on heavily lawful or chaotic targets.
Teleth'tun, Eyes of the Red Dragon - Ignite shit on fire of course.
Osteniar, Eyes of Shifting Doom - Varied and indiscriminate curse. Wide array of effects but always malign.
Losburn, Eyes of Western Stars - Instigates bloodlust and heroism to those in view.


Molisine, Eyes of Lurid Dreams - Causes waking dreams in targets, in some cases trapping the victim in their own mind.
Listrim, Eyes of the Trapped Monkey - Copies any viewed action.
Rhianil, Eyes of Passage to the Underworld - User can communicate with unseen spirits and the dead.
Wildenbern, Eye of Blooming - Growth and culmination of reaching ones true potential.
Muru, Eyes of False Wisdom - Distorts beliefs and perceived truths.
Hernok, Eyes of Southern Stars - Instigates strong feelings of direction, motivation, and moral.


Ihlwyn, Eyes of Childish Ways - Incurs the mind of a child in a target. Occasionally permanently.
Hei, Eyes of Mirrors - Can see better in the dark than in normal light, near total awareness in total darkness.
Shinera, Eyes of Comely Truth - All eyes perceive the viewer in a stunning and charmed manner.
Ahbey, Eyes of Summer Storms - Infuses actions with thunder and lightning.
Fhantil, Eyes of Northern Stars - Instigates serenity and benevolence to those in view.


Samel, Eyes of Sullen Thanes - Commands a target to unthinking action.
Bastione, Eyes of Plain Sight - Sees nothing but truth in all things.
Koldrak, Eyes of Thought Unexplained - Inspires a mind permanently to great ingenuity.
Tagdoroane, Eyes of Listless Slumber - Victims fall into stupor, a deep sleep, sometimes for years. Often they awaken with an epiphany.
Jebdul, Eyes of Eastern Stars - Instigates tireless toil among the viewers.

Things will likely shift around as I get it more solidified but this is about what I would use for PC availability. There would be many others of course but most will be detailed as we encounter them. I am tempted to eliminate a race (or more) from having them altogether, adding yet another layer of envy and conflict. Perhaps Halflings since already have a bit of an ambiguous ability as it is.

Most of the well known NPCs who have the Oculus would actually rarely use it (few exceptions of course). When they do it would be a major event and likely something that tales would speak of for months or years. I expect many plots and intrigues would be triggered by such events.


We are starting a Dark Heresy game on Sunday with Ian as the DM. I will probably post notes periodically. So first off my dude, Mac.
Name:  Mac
Homeworld: Hive World
Gender: Male
Career: Arbitrator
Rank: Trooper
Start Package: The Red Vaults of Luggnum

WS: 31 BS: 34
S: 40 T: 32
Ag: 29 Int: 38
Per: 31 WP: 39
Fellowship: 42 Wounds: 12

Fate Points: 1 Thrones: 56
Insanity Pts: 1 Starting XP: 300
Corruption Pts: 0

Build: Brawny Skin Color: Tan

Hair Color: Black Eye Color: Grey
Age: 40

Quirk: You have a bullet wound scar.
Hive Class: Specialist
Divination: The gun is mightier than the sword.

Traits: Accustomed to Crowds, Caves of Steel, Hivebound, Wary

Basic Skills: Tech-Use (Int) (Caves of Steel), Inquiry (Fel)

Advanced Skills: Speak Language (Hive Dialect) (Int), Speak Language (Low Gothic) (Int), Literacy (Int), Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites) (Int), Common Lore (Imperium) (Int)

Talents: Basic Weapons Training (SP), Melee Weapons Training (Primitive), Quick Draw, Jaded

Gear: shotgun and 12 shells, club, brass knuckles, knife, uniform (Good Quality Clothing), 3 doses of stimm, injector, Arbitrator ID, chrono, pack of lho-sticks, mesh coat, steel toecap boots (memento), bag of shot pellets (memento)

Special Qualities: None

Family: Your mother's name was Karna. She walked the path of the Scum. She is deceased. Your father's name is Kaltos. He walks the path of the Scum. You are an only child.

Notes: Your name is Mac. You are male. You are 40 years old, and have tan skin, black hair and grey eyes. Your peers describe you as brawny. You have a bullet wound scar.

You were born on a bustling, crowded Hive World. You come from a line of Specialists, your expertise granting you privileges above your peers back home. You walk the path of the Arbitrator, where you hold the rank of Trooper. When you visited the Imperial Diviner, the seer told you this: The gun is mightier than the sword. Your only physical reminder of your past life is your steel toecap boots, something that holds great sentimental value to you. In your travels and adventures as Arbitrator, you have collected a special memento of your journey, your bag of shot pellets.

Your upbringing, environment, and the path you have chosen in life have granted you the following traits: Accustomed to Crowds, Caves of Steel, Hivebound, Wary.You have learned, acquired, or been born with a number of talents, such as Basic Weapons Training (SP), Melee Weapons Training (Primitive), Quick Draw, Jaded.

You excel in a number of basic skills, including Tech-Use (Int) (Caves of Steel), Inquiry (Fel).You have learned a number of advanced technical skills, such as Speak Language (Hive Dialect) (Int), Speak Language (Low Gothic) (Int), Literacy (Int), Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites) (Int), Common Lore (Imperium) (Int).

At this time in your life, your personal belongings are meager, most provided by the Imperium as part of the path you walk. Your holdings include shotgun and 12 shells, club, brass knuckles, knife, uniform (Good Quality Clothing), 3 doses of stimm, injector, Arbitrator ID, chrono, pack of lho-sticks, chain coat, steel toecap boots (memento), bag of shot pellets (memento).

Packet background:

The Red Vaults of Luggnum
Cost: 100xp

Heresy likes to find quiet, unloved and unobserved places to take root. The mining world of Luggnum was undoubtedly fertile ground for it to grow. For years, dark reports and rumors of misrule leaked from the domains of Lady Orlea Grey on this backwater mining world. When sub-sector Arbites control finally dispatched a fifty-strong investigation and suppression force expecting to find some starving cult hiding in the mines, they walked instead into a veritable hell that took their lives and shredded their sanity. Confronted with murder-mazes where hapless workers had been hunted through the subterranean passages by kill-rigged servitors bonded to unholy devices that craved flesh and blood to thrive, the few that escaped to the upper levels learned the dreadful truth that the entire mining complex had been turned into a hedonistic charnel house by Lady Grey-- the "Crimson Countess" as she was called by her favored intimates. Lady Grey constructed the place for her own bloody sport and and that of the corrupted owners of Luggnum's Ironback mines. A full scale Castigation Purge by the sector Arbites and the Ordo Hereticus followed, but it was not until much later that the true secret was discovered: Lady Grey was not herself. She was, in fact, one of the most infamous heretics in the sector-- Myrchella Sinderfell, the "Red Angel of Vaxanide," a woman thought dead for over a century. Some believe she survives in spite of the Castigation, since her body was never recovered from the ruins of Grey's fortified estate.
The Arbites that survived the initial investigation into the Red Vaults are few, but hardened by the terrors they encountered. The Inquisition quickly found use for many of their small number. Particularly, they are suited to work with the most brutal Inquisitors, whose methods are easily stomached by these cold-eyed men and women who have seen the terrible price of letting heresy fester.

Increase Willpower by +3. You begin play with the Jaded talent; 1d5 Insanity Points.

Additional: Mac operated within the PDF as a beat cop and later an arbitrator for general investigations. His career spanned 20 years and took him to and fro many locations including Luggnaum in the 50-strong investigation expedition. Unfortunately he was present during the purge and slew several of his own comrades who went mad during the insanity. Of of 50 survivors only a few lived unbroken, and Mac is one of those few. Other survivors are his closest friends and contacts. Mac has since retired and has been picked up by the inquisition.


Journal of Khazrel Nakhu “Journey to the Cities Afar” 32’s93


”The sprawling kingdoms of men and their inhabitants are seemingly the most primitive of those we trade with. This is a perceived notion at first glance and now I know they can be frighteningly complex creatures with no small amounts of abstract thinking, lack of forethought, social conflict, and remarkably aggressive behaviors. While some men do indeed value the code of law, most simply do so to better their own well being or merely to survive. Alas one can not deny that the kingdoms of men are successful in their own way. They have build unto land were Dwarfs would find indefensible and hold it for generations, often rebuilding settlements several times after being utterly destroyed. Perhaps there is a lesson of perseverance to learn from that Dwarf kind would be wise to see.”

“Men stand at least two heads taller than Dwarves. They have thin weak beards and smallish eyes that shift dishonestly. Their skin is often mottled with pot-marks, scars, disease or other markings. They rarely bathe so it is true that one can often smell the likes of men before seeing them. Men breed often, often as much as six or seven litters a generation. Luckily most of these young perish before adulthood either by disease, war or neglect. Otherwise the world would likely be overrun with petty man-kingdoms everywhere one looks – a horror I can scarcely imagine."

“Men live in a variety of social structures; from small nomadic villages with a mere twenty members, to the vast cities in the three kingdoms which is said to contain more than 50,000 of their folk. The largest city I have seen has been Ahkerik of Vamarine which contains roughly 24,000 inhabitants. I can scarcely see how a place can be more filled with squalor, decay and strife while still surviving. As I have eluded too, men divide themselves into kingdoms which have a local ruler who pays homage to a greater ruler. These greater rulers are often at strife with one another for one petty reason or another. In particular after the sundering of great Ladoga, there is neither certainty nor consolidation towards any central core nor even a central language among men.”

“Vamarine, Orobia, and Kabdoria are the three major kingdoms of men with well over a dozen smaller ones who pay homage to one of these three. A few smaller ones are independent all-together but this is rare. Of late many of these smaller kingdoms have fell while others have rose to power in a very short period of time. The peasant folks often take the brunt of this turmoil either by being displaced, levied to war, or simply slaughtered for dwelling in an unfortunate location. For this reason most other races avoid the realms of men unless it is to trade with the border kingdoms. Dwarves, Elves and certainly Halflings have little interest in this fruitless and endless conflict.”

“These large overbearing wars drive a great deal of their society. Iron is mined to make weapons, horses are bred for war mounts, salt is quarried for rations and so forth. Even children are bred and trained at the arts of war at a very early age. The things that are not surrounded by war I actually find quite pleasant. Men are often good hosts, at least for a short time. While they can be quick to judge, they usually hold no ill will towards those who come and offer trade. They have festivals occasionally and often a wide assortment of brews. A few stalwart souls have found the time for art and culture, so at least some is seeping into the general society. Some dwelling of learning have slowly developed as well, although not as quickly as I would have hoped.”

“In an effort to illustrate my points let me speak of a recent journey to a mid-sized kingdom called Kaleria.”

“Last spring I met up with a smallish caravan heading to Kaleria at a large walled homestead that catered towards the traveling sort. They were well to have me, as men like to share a tale as much as any full bearded Dwarf. We left the following sunrise with Scoki and I among the forward carts. A pair of badgers glided along side of our cart and I surmised they were present to smell out trouble or potential game. A great northern bear pulled the rear heavy cart while two horses pulled ours. To illustrate the superstitious nature of men, we stopped every time we crossed a river and left an offering of shiny pebbles and corn on a lily pad to each shore. When the road strayed near a stagnant pond, all men strode by with unblinking eyes and never facing their back to it. Salt was routinely offered to ill-shaped trees. One evening a young lass told of a Meggit she had saw and spoke too. She was chastised for speaking to it and we rode several more miles instead of breaking for camp in case the Meggit returned with more of its mischievous kind. Indeed the following morning we all awoke with spoons on our heads – luckily it was not mandrake in our tea.”

“I was glad to arrive in Kaleria and I was quickly invited to the lord's keep, Bohemond of Kaleria and Arkril. I suppose this is because I am a Dwarf, rare in these parts and because my name is known as a seasoned traveler. News from far away is a valued commodity and I will gladly put it forth should it get me a better meal and bed. I suspect this is why I was promptly invited to see his lordship.”

“The keep was small and dank but very practical. I was surprised how far the fortifications have come in the past few centuries and indeed this keep would be very troublesome to overtake. I was led to a largish chamber where Lord Bohemond toiled. The first obvious sight was that of a forlorn Halfling hanging in a cage. The cage was too small to stand straight in but too narrow to sit, and it pained me look upon the poor soul. I was later told the resident was a Sheriff who took some matter into his own hands and Lord Bohemond took it upon himself to display the true authority in the land. I later guessed his true intention was to gain the Sheriff’s knowledge of presentience and use it against his enemies. After I left Kaleria I was told Lord Bohemond had a Dwarf in a hanging cage as well, but removed him from the chamber due to my presence. He obviously knew my honor would have no choice but to demand his freedom. Even now, months later, it troubles me.”

“Lord Bohemond fingered through sorts of maps and ledgers while his men ate a fare of mead of mutton well within sight of the Halfling. Lord Bohemond was surprisingly courteous to me as we spoke. We spoke as an equals when most nobility of men rarely do so. He was candid about his recent conflicts, where a very strong lord to the north in Orobia overtook his territory in Arkil which is now in their hands. Later I learned that this was partly Lord Bohemond’s doing when he pickled the Orobia diplomat and sent him on a boat full of the Orobia delegation, all locked in the briney hold and set adrift.”

“While Lord Bohemond did indeed loose Arkil, he noted that he levied every peasant therein who could hold a sword and matched them up against the well trained Orobia archers and spearmen. Needless to say most of the population of Arkil was laid to waste and Lord Bohemond’s knights burned most of the fields and homesteads. While Orobia indeed won the territory, they gained little and indeed stretched their supply lines in maintaining their force therein. At the time of our meeting Lord Bohemond was planning a counter strike in the early spring when the Orobia supplies were most strained.”

“The candid nature of Bohemond was in truth a bit nerve wracking. I sense that he was gauging my reaction and choosing in his mind on what do with me. Luckily I have little contact with his enemies and my insight onto his war plans seemed to impress him. His men offered me a good room and even employment which I declined in the most graceful manner that I possibly could - I feinted a death in the family that I needed to return too. I have no doubt Lord Bohemond knew that this was indeed a farce but I think he appreciated the gesture.”

“Keleria is a militaristic realm, even by human standards. Lord Bohemond had over two dozen landed knights and their men were all well trained and preparing feverishly. Their battle rituals were interesting and comprised of superstitious gestures, meager offerings, and some knights prayed with various clergymen. Bearcats and dogs were used along side the men in battle but as in most warfare, minor roles of surveillance, decoys or logistics. I am told tales of mammoths, wurms, and even walruses being used in battle and I generally scoff at such things. What a sight it would be to behold, and I admit the glory of battle did flow into my heart while in Keleria. It is such an all encompassing thing that it is hard not to get caught up on it.”

“Lord Bohemond was gracious enough to free me of any taxes while I traded, and I did so for a few days before taking my leave. I could sense I was being followed, but by very skilled hands as I never did catch sight of them. I still can feel the eyes in an odd sense; perhaps Lord Bohemond has the Oculus? If so indeed the Orobian lords are right to fear him, and more so of the ambition and intelligence behind his sullen eyes.”

“And so, you can see the people of men are thoughtful creatures, even though their actions and direction is greatly misplaced. I genuinely look forward to visiting the lands of men again, although hopefully in decidedly peaceful times.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not It

Looks like I did not make it into the Paizo Villains round. A welcome relief actually since I'd rather devote my time elsewhere rather then write up things for many hours and then be bumped out like last year. Anyhow, posting should return to regular abundance as you can see by today's allotment.

The Oculus

I've thought about the name and abilities of the blood-line powers occuring during the 9 year Summer, The Estaoculus - the summer of eyes. I think I will simply call it The Oculus. Simple name and pretty much straight to the point.

I am taking it as that some families of all races who lived around 180 years ago during this 9 year summer are the origin of this ability. For whatever reason they were effected while others were not. Stayed in the perpetual light too long, ate the wrong things, whatever. Some of these families have since died out, some have proliferated. I would say the ability is probably about as rare as an albino is today, ~0.3% or a couple for every thousand people. Just because a family is known for the trait it does not mean they have it. It only develop for those with the trait and have activated it through some sort of trail by fire. IE - I am saying when they first gain XP, so really any adventurous means would activate it, even in a child.

The actual powers I am still mulling over and it will be somewhat hard to balance correctly. Also the reaction to the general populace will probably vary wildly, from respected and feared to hunted down like a dog. Note however that The Oculus is only obvious when it is used and the eyes change in appearance while doing so. It otherwise is not apparent and easy to hide. I figure I will dot down 20 or so lines and give them a short write up. I can make up others as we go, in particular for npcs, villains and the like. In general I picture them as a cross between vampire clans and bloodlines in birthright. These families will clearly be tight knit because of their differences with the other population, and because of rival Oculus families. A full gambit of politics will be involved since many such Oculus folks are kings, judges, warlords and so forth.

In particular it should be used with noteworthy NPCs. A legendary thief, a white-beard Dwarf, a zealous Halfling Sheriff, a well loved king, and so forth. I am thinking it will also be a big factor in what delineates the PC from the rest of the crowd and also an ace in the pocket should they need it. Perhaps then a villain may think twice about meeting this person again or have some sort of unholy agenda for them. When two of these individual clash, it should likewise be a very memorable event, and expect as I do some of the recent history it will be some of the crux events that have shaped the world.


Journal of Khazrel Nakhu “Journey to the Cities Afar” 32’s93


”Of all the races I have encountered, and I have encountered many, none are so much of a conundrum as the Halflings. In a broad view they appear to be stoic beings; humorless, pragmatic, thieves, and ruthless traders. Their Sheriffs run amuck going where they please and seemingly set them selves upon random tasks with a zealous agenda. Most non-Halflings find them to be self-righteous, bitter, and undoubtedly troublemakers. “

“After spending much time with them I find this assessment to simply not be true. They are in fact quite fill of mirth when in their own domain and enjoy life as much as any Dwarf with two maids in his bed and mead in his belly. However this is rarely seen outside their hilly forts, and only their mongering traders and fervent Sheriffs are viewed by the outside world.”

“Be patient with my analysis on how this seems to be so. First let me speak of their appearance. All Halflings are at least a head or two shorter than a Dwarf. They are often gangly with dexterous limbs and a mop of long weedy hair upon their head that range from blonds to browns but most dominantly, red. Freckles are common and the skin runs the full gambit of fleshy tones. Halflings have large wide eyes that are shifty compared the stony gaze of Dwarves – and their eyes are usually blues and greens.”

“When in the presence of danger or high stress, all but the best trained Halfling Sheriffs naturally freeze like a statue. This can be a bit unnerving when a horse kicks a barn wall and 30 Halflings around the stables all but go dead still. However in the wilds, his response makes them very difficult to spot, particularly in high grasses.”

“Halfling villages are never so large as to hold more than a few thousand individuals. They are well kept, using a myriad of building materials from loose hides to the finest marbles. Halfings are fond of multi-tiered structures and most of their dwellings hold 6 or more rooms. Contrary to belief, Halfing dwellings are large enough for a Human to stand straight in.”

“Halflings are prolific traders and hard bargainers. Be warned that any trade done with a Halflings will require haggling, and in fact most Halfling are insulted if good are not haggled for as it brings the notion that they are not worth bargaining for. Halflings are one of the few races that deals with the unseemly types of Warggots, Goblins, Snowbolds, Redcaps and their ilk. I do not know why this is, but it appears the Halflings have a reputation as worldly traders that are pragmatic enough to offer a fair deal to any. Thus many goods that are unseen by the eyes of Dwarves can be seen at Halfling markets. Likewise should a Warggot get his hands on Dwarven goods, there is a fair chance a Halfling is involved. Halflings also barter more than use coins in their trade and I recommend any visitor to bring a wide array of goods as you never know what will be high valued and what will not. While I could not buy a good crossbow for 30 gold coins, I could buy it with a simple block of salt.”

“Halflings are highly social and gatherings are common every evening among ten or hundreds of folk. Many dwellings have open door welcomes and those who come are welcome to walk in, join in the fellowship, have a snack, and leave – all several abodes in one evening. Halflings likewise have a great deal of festivals, at least one per month, and other events such as weddings, funerals, births usually offer another chance to feast just as often.”

“Halflings are very political amongst each other and families fie for political clout and land control. They rarely have open hostility and in general crime is rare. Those who do break their few laws are usually put to death quite quickly however, and I am somewhat surprised to learn that Halflings know little in the ways of mercy. In particular to those who break a Halflings sense of fairness - they are often hunted down and have removed their feet for petty infractions. I bid any traders to fulfill any deals he has committed to for such reason.”

“Vagrant Halflings often turn to thievery, which is the penultimate crime among Halflings – taking things which are not yours. It seems that those Halfings who have nothing to loose find a certain amount of pride in such work. Death is certain should they be caught but a fair amount of respect is given by a populace should crimes of theft be committed by clever means. Indeed many Halfling folk heroes are ingenious thieves who have been redeemed in some fashion. A romantic view but I have yet to know such a person personally. Many of these thieves are prodded to flee their home villages and traverse to the cities of other races where they can better hone their trade.”

“It is well known that Halflings have a presentience to see the future. I have learned that this trait is in every Halfling to some degree but few have the sense powerful enough to predict the future with accuracy. I am told that presentience is a waking dream rather than a constant sense. It simply occurs at seemly random intervals and can not be forced. Regardless it is true that presentience is very real, and many races come to the Halfings for services in regard to weather prediction to the sex of an unborn child. By dictate, only the Halfling Sherrifs are allowed to speak on behalf of presentience, so services in that regard are limited but not unheard of. Oddly enough this service is always free and never bartered for.”

“Naturally those with excellent presentience are put into leadership positions and I am told this ability runs strong among particular families. It is no wonder that these families are the natural leaders of their kind. Particularly strong presentience in a Halfling who is also adventurous can pursue a career as a Sheriff. A Sheriff, for those that do not know, roam the world setting events into a certain motion – towards a persistent future that they can see and must strive to attain. I find this troublesome since the Sheriffs will not share what exactly this future is, only that it is for the betterment of prosperity.”

“Sheriffs therefore are their own law and often do many bewildering things in the service of this predefined future. I’ve seen them lay a bottle of milk at a Warggot den, I’ve seen them save the life of drowning children, I’ve seen them slay a walking messenger for no obvious reason. It is no wonder that Sheriff are ill-trusted but given a certain respect among those they come across. A likewise most Sheriffs feel the burden of their duty and are stoic folks with sullen gazes. Authorities are very weary of them but most give them enough berth to allow them to do what they need too, then quickly send them off.”

“Rarely some Halflings have a waking nightmare and go quite mad. These individuals see a particular future and are never the same again. A cog is switched, they snap, and they are a completely different person, and usually quite motivated by what they have seen. These are among the most dangerous folk I have ever encountered in my journey as they seemly follow their own hidden agenda and appear to be free of any sort of compassion or morality. When this happens it is not uncommon for an entire group of Sheriffs to hunt this individual down - often for years until they are caught and slain. I am troubled that the Sheriffs go through such lengths and even more troubles when they fail.”

“I suppose that tales of murdering Sheriffs, rude merchants who deal with Warggots, and strange thieves that lurk in the night all give the Halfings an undeserved reputation. By in large they are a pleasant race and it is pity that most other folk do not see this side of them. Such is the way of things however.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Dotting down some landmarks as I think of them. I will be editing this thread for a few days.

Banshar Krush - Broken Mountains intersected with a few large rivers. Rife with inhuman inhabitants.
Hours of Glassnettle - Small area, only 5 or so square miles but full of glass tangles that seem to grow like weeds. Very difficult to cross.
Gura, the Stained Peaks - Isolated mountains from raw ores, creating a poisonous habitat. Strange plants and animals make a home here.
Autumn Rowe - Orange-leaf trees and yellow grass makes this light forest appear in perpetual Autumn.
Bitter Vice - Bottle neck canyon and pass through the Banshar Krush.
Goupien Gulf - Poisoned sea bordering the stained peaks.
Tidiel - Great alpine valley among the Banshar Krush.
Vamarine Reaches- Emerald deciduous forests and meadows making up the Kamarine kingdom and the southern wilderlands.
Dome of the Thundergod - Cresting peak that is perpetually stormy.
Cyrellia - Large island with tall peaks, dotted with glaciers.
Golla Geyser beds - Hot springs and boiling pots periodically shift in these prairies.
Beria - Plains, home to roaming were-mammoths. Usually avoided as such.
Icanulian - Great peaks surrounding a dead lake. Said to be the resting place of a pre-deity being.
Jungles of Thoog - Flabby jungles with terrible malformed things.
Anvil of the Makers - A lone peak of sullen gray stone that gives a headache when viewed, causes vomiting when traveled towards and death should one reach the base.
Eluraelon - Taiga forests deep with many hidden glades and valleys.
Forlorn Clutch- Deep and dark woods with a perpetual curtin of miasma, home to many unkind spirits.
Ice Thistle Gorge - Large glacier-cut gorge, and very deep, up to a mile. Large hatched and hatched eggs lay within.
Bulbbog - Iridecent bulbs light this light marsh.
Slobermuck - Mulchy swamps, home to several smaller humanoids.
Tearsands - Desloate stretch of dunes.
Twilight Boughs - Dark woods, home to many elves who prefer isolation.
Silverpine Gnash - Great light forest which many races claim.
Mist Mounds - Hill and perches with a perpetual sheet of mist among the peaks.
Lushwater Ravines - Cliffs of a 1000 waterfalls. The many nooks and broken terrain make it a beautiful but nigh inexplorable place.
Starlight Folly - Crater, quite large. Mostly dead, mostly.
Mornshade - Great desert will a wide variety of terrain.
Nublet Cove - Sweet water cove, but strange nodes appear on anyone entering the water.
Northfury Canyons - Dry storms make these canyons dangerous and noisy.
Tarpsrings - Tarpits and tar-geysers make up this wide lagoon of muck.
Valley of Blue Snail - Vale of light forest and mild lakes. Not close to any large cities so relatively untouched. All PC races have some representation in these peaceful lands. (proving grounds)

Voke of Navia - Liniar valley of five small Elf states
Iskantria - Smaller Halfling realm in the subtropics. Surrounded with lush forests.
Vamarine - One of the big 3 kingdoms
Orobia - One of the big 3 kingdoms, former seat of Seleucid
Kabdoria - One of the big 3 kingdoms.
Kepiquan - Archipelago islets, halfling and elves mostly who keep a distant but copperative arragment.
Yithnia - Torn forbidding realm, variety of racing including human.
Karinstia- Former agricultural holdings, now quite wealthy human realm since the breaking of the three kingdoms.
Phorumn - A vagrant council manages this realm which is mostly a Halfling nomadic land.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And away we go again

A new server opened up in WoW so I rerolled once again. The last server to open was about 3 months ago and before that about a year. I generally like the rerolling process since its more of the journey than the destination for me, at least when it comes to WoW toons and the WoW endgame (which gets old pretty quick). I sold my last account on for 240$ for one PC and $330 for another. In the hayday of UO I made well over $10k a year just from selling incidental crap and while this is no means nearly as lucrative, it is still nice to have a hobby that pays for itself, not mention groceries for a few months.

Anyhow, posting will be light while I level up once again. And if I have to write up a villain for that contest that will likely consume quite a bit more time until the 23rd. Anyhow, I have a mental image of the material I want at this point. I expect to start putting some form to it the following weekend. Until then, probably sporadic posting. I may do a map or perhaps some more artwork while I am in the mood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gear and Quality

I've been glossing over a bit of the starting equipment and I think I will expand the lists by race so that they are separate things. Steel will be fairly new to Human and plate will be fairly rare. Iron will be much more common and more in line with common use. In most cities and towns, mostly nobles and professional mercs would have access to steel to some extent. The vast majority of standing armies would be mishmash of hide wielding barbarians to more professional skirmishers, spearmen and so forth.

Dwarven gear is more exotic and thus, highly sought after. I going to take the slant that their 'steel' is very much like bronze but much stronger. This will be the most advanced metal to be mass produced. It will also be difficult for non-Dwarves to acquire it since they are a possessive race. However a giant bag of gems can go a long way with Dwarves. Dwarven alchemical-sorcery will less useful to PCs since it will require constant repair. I suspect only the Dwarf title class to be able to use it effectively.

Elven goods are nearly all antique and simply not for sale to non-Elves. In I suspect Elves really have no 'markets' and mostly have prearranged deals spanning decades. They have little need for trade, and when they do they often do so with raw materials rather than finished works. Most Elven military equipment is likewise very old and most Elves are weary of non-Elves carrying their ancient swords and bows.

Halflings are prolific traders and often carry goods of other races, fair and foul. Halfings are not particularly moral when it comes to trade and take a pragmatic position towards what they need. It is not uncommonfor a village of halflings to be trading with a race they were at once in mortal combat with a year ago. Halflings are also have notoriously long memories when towards those who cheat them, often waiting for years before murdering a cheats children.

Other races vary widely with goods, availability and general likelyhood of devouring thier trade partners. So it is no surprise that other inter-race trading is minimal.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The next round of the RPGSuperstars contest is going to be a 'create your own villain' sort. While I still have mixed feelings about the contest in general, I am still presumptuous enough to think my entry will be in the top 32 out of the couple thousand who entered. So it is natural for me to think of Villains, since it is the next round and you only get 3 days to write, edit, and submit it (and I hate rushing).

Perhaps I am an exception in DMs, but I rarely use individuals that are intended as reoccurring villains. This does happen on occasion but it is usually the players own doings when they let something get away or just a set of odd circumstances. So, I generally have little experience with villains, at least in the way that Paizo intends.

I have a bit of a road block here, but at least I can kill two birds with one stone and use whatever I make in Valley of the Blue Snails as well as the contest. Some of my initial inclinations:

  • A pickled villain in the rum cask (ala Cask of the Suffering Bastard). The reason this poor sap in the rum cask could be pretty broad, but it would be safe to say he is undead now. I think it would be interesting should anyone drink the rum, they would be under his influence. Really it is just a matter of motivation for him and his minions which is a bit ?.
  • A Clockwork Raccoon. I've been on a raccoon kick lately and for some reason bad-ass clockwork raccoon that shoots black puddings out of its orifices sounds interesting. Again we need some motivation as why this particular thing is a villain rather than simple monster.
  • An Elf Prince. Some fairly powerful mage who sought to keep winter at bay while the Elves could harvest their crops. Instead his spells created an endless Autumn. And so he rules his own little Great Rot. Perhaps he is seeking a way to end it, albeit a bit mad since he doomed his own people. This is usually not typically 'me', but it may be a good villain never the less.
  • The Raccoon Lord. Write up below, which I found his motivation to be pretty easy and it should fit into Valley of Blue Snails easily enough. I'm not sure if it is a winner, but I would probably use it in some game I was running.
- - - -

Ahrah-koonem, The Raccoon Lord
‘He who rubs, scratches and despoils with its hands’


The embodiment of Raccoon traits, both fair and foul, Ahrah-koonem is a primeval creature simply known as The Raccoon Lord. Once a verdant and benevolent trickster, the Raccoon Lord has fallen from his light-hearted ways. A rotten bough of the world tree known as Boletus fell to the deep wilds of the Raccoon Lords domain. There the gargantuan branch lay to rot, bringing with it the taint that the world tree sought to be rid of. Ever curious the Raccoon Lord investigated the wondrous, albeit forbidding bough. To his delight he found a pair or acorn still attached to Boletus. As a being of perpetual hunger, the Raccoon Lord quickly devoured one to sate his appetite.

The acorn rotted within the Raccoon Lord and he languished for years, tormented by pain, hallucinations and wracking. Over time the Raccoon Lord found that devouring rotting material would ease his suffer; and so he sought rotten leaves, piles of compost and forgotten carcasses of anything he could find. He quickly found the need to traverse great distances to sate his hunger, baying his discomfort the best he could. The Raccoon Lord sought a solution to his woes, beseeching greater powers and urgently searching the civilized races for knowledge.

Eventually the Raccoon Lord found what he desired, a plan to end his suffering. The Raccoon Lord still possessed the other acorn from Boletus and he learned that if he were to plant it in the right location, it would grow a new sapling world tree. It was possible the power of this new world tree would cure him if he were to devour a fresh untainted acorn. Secondly, the rise of the new sapling would pulled the power of the natural world to itself, and halt the rotation of seasons for hundreds of miles around. Thus the Raccoon Lord knew if he was to plant the seed in Autumn, the season would never end and a great rot would ensue, sating his hunger until the sapling could grow.

Still possessing the other acorn of Boletus, the Raccoon Lord seeks to find a suitable place to plant it. Only rumors of such places lay in legend; Nalateem the navel of the world, Gilhegrand the wild growth, Everebb heart of all rivers. Much to his chagrin, the Raccoon Lord and his minions have failed to find these locations and now search methodically while trying to keep his hunger sated. With rotting material in short supply the Raccoon Lord creates his own out of necessity, complicating his search for knowledge while among the civilized races of the world.


The Raccoon Lord appears as a twenty five foot raccoon with an overly large maw, a ringed prehensile tail, and bristly fur that shimmers with supernatural radiance. He can easily stand on its hind legs and manipulate his delicate from paws with meticulous detail. The Raccoon Lords cavernous maw contains a barbed tongue and small swarm of stirges that live within feeding upon the roof of his maw. Should the Raccoon Lord be roused in anger he will often brush his tongue on the stirges and exhale them outward, creating an enraged cloud of stirges in front of him.

The Raccoon Lord can take other forms but prefers his own form greatly. When taking another form they are often imperfect and lack common traits of that race. For example, when taking the form of an Elf, in his haste the Raccoon Lord may apply a light coat of fur and forget the ears. The Raccoon Lord and shift between forms as a full round action as often as he wishes.