Friday, June 29, 2012

Elves, Humans, & Werewolves!

“Goober! GOOBER! Get back here right this instant!” Rrac waved his hooked hand in a vaguely threateningly way at the wolfish dog that was running toward something it heard in the woods.

The pair of elves looked down at the hook-handed crofter. “If you can’t control that beast, it would be best we leave it behind.” Narsal he redheaded elf commented in his sing-song voice.

“Now, now, the beast has proven its worth several times over.” Nuadeen, the blond elf pointed out.

“I could put a bolt through its ear.” Giloc offered.

Rrac whirled around to face Giloc “Aside from the fact that you couldn’t even hit the ogre, as big as she was, if you so much as pet Goober the wrong way, I’ll...”

“Erts?” The hollow cheeked youth looked up at the elves before quickly dropping his gaze. “Go get the dog.”

Dropping his large pack, the boy leapt off the path and into the woods after Goober. Erts followed the deer trail until it emerged at a fenced in field, a flock of sheep scattering away in absolute panic. In the center of the flock, one of the sheep was knocked down, picked up, and smashed down again hard by a monstrous man-wolf-thing. Erts’ scream died in his throat as the thing looked at him. Dropping the body of the sheep, it’s face already red with blood, the man-wolf sprinted the far too short distance between them. Stopping near enough that Erts could smell the things breath, thick with the tang of blood. “Go back to the path, and say nothing.” It pointed a bloody claw at the boy. “Understand?” it snarled.

Erts’ mouth moved, but no sound emerged.

“Go!” the teeth snapped right in Erts’ face.

Erts stumbled backwards, tripping over a root, his mouth still silently moving. Rolling over, he pushed off the ground and ran down the path as quickly as his scrawny legs could carry him.

Narsal, elf, hp4, Longsword, Leather, Shield, lawful merc
Naudeen, elf, hp4, Longsword, Leather, Shield, neutral exile
Rrac, human, hp5, Hook Hand, Club, Leather, Shield, Neutral Crofter
Gilloc, human, hp4, Light Crossbow, Neutral Serf, Common-Goblin dictionary, Never Satisfied
Erts, human, hp2, Dagger, Neutral Beggar
Goober, war dog, hp11, Leather & Shield equiv., Neutral Werewolf

A little while back, Meatshields was updated to include dogs... and apparently werewolves!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zeteh Zandana - Cosmology of my Home Setting

More thoughts on my home setting:

As cool as Planescape is, I hate the cosmology that goes with it. The idea that everything fits neatly into a plane of a specific alignment, that it’s set up as a giant wheel, that there are elemental planes, para-elemental planes, quasi-elemental planes, energy planes, etc. is both stupidly overly complicated, and for the most part incredibly boring!

Look at that mess! And somehow it all wraps together in Sigil...

Now, 4e cleaned things up quite a bit. The Mortal world has a pair of reflections, the Feywild and the Shadowfell, and they are pretty much what they sound like. Ravenloft? In the Shadowfell. The court of Oberon and Titania? Feywild. It fits together with the implied cosmology of most fairy tales so much better than the Great Wheel ever did.

The Astral Sea will be much like it’s usually portrayed, including dead gods, strange worlds, demi-planes, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe/Callahan's Bar/The Captain’s Table/etc., and of course Sigil itself. The currencies of the realm are magical power and souls.

What about the gods? I’m going to stick with the idea that there are no gods, per se, but rather the immortals from classic D&D. Mortals who have become so powerful they ascend to demi- and lesser-god like status. They live in realms that float in the astral sea, and interfere as much or as little as they like in the mortal realms. Clerics and other “divine” characters may worship these immortals, and their worship does have an impact on the immortals’ power and standing, but divine power does not derive from individual immortals, but rather from all of them. That isn’t to say that an immortal can’t focus on one individual and boost or block them, but it takes effort and energy on their part. This will allow divine characters to choose just about any god or ideal to worship.

Demons and devils? I’ll stick with the 4e idea that they all come from the elemental chaos. The upper levels of it resemble the classic idea of the underworld, and the deeper you go the more twisted and chaotic it becomes. Players will never visit the lowest levels, as reality breaks down if you go too deep, and this blends right into the far realm - aka outside the player’s universe. I’ll never send my players there, but it’s a great place for *things that are not meant to be* to come from.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Slavery and D&D

I never considered using slaves in my D&D games until I read the Al-Qadim setting and found them listed in the equipment section. I remember being shocked at the thought, my 12 year old brain thinking it was crazy for TSR to do that. Seriously pushing the envelope!

Ok, yes, I was a fairly sheltered 12 year old.

I remember that I quickly shifted our game to Al-Qadim and introduced slavery, and for about a week it was edgy and interesting.

After that... it just dropped away. I don't think I ever removed slavery from my game, it just stopped coming up.

During High School and College I was running a lot of Forgotten Realms, and since that setting doesn't have slaves as the default, the only time it came up was when fighting off a drow or Zhentarim slave raid on a village or town.Or freeing slaves from a previous raid. While they weren't generally heroes, they weren't interested in keeping slaves. My 3.x games were pretty much the same, with slightly more heroic tendencies... slightly. On the other hand they were just as likely to use the "rescued" slaves as meatshields/hostages if they weren't given what they felt they were owed for rescuing them.

My 4e game is set in the default "points of light" Nentir Vale, and the PC's are clearly Heroes, so the only slaves they'll likely encounter will be the kind they go and rescue. Actually, they've already done that...and even gave back a reward once.

As for my (rarely run and desperately in need of fleshing out) old school game? Slavery is probably in there somewhere, but I haven't decided how prominent a feature I want it to be.It wouldn't bother me to have it as a significant part of the campaign, but it also wouldn't bother me if it didn't come up.

So I'm curious how common slavery is in your games, and how involved PC's are in it. There are 2 polls off to the right, let me know!

I think it's stupid that I feel like I have to say this... but here goes: Slavery in the real world is and was a terrible practice, both throughout history and today. I do not support slavery in any way. This is a blog about a fantasy role playing game that combines aspects of history and fantasy to create a realm of imagination. If you can't handle that, go play Candyland.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quest Complete. Reward: Old D&D Minis

A couple of weeks ago I helped a friend of a friend move in. As a thank you, he gave me a box of old minis.

They all came in this box.

My first thought? Cool!

My second thought? They're so small...You could probably get away with using the fighters in this set as elves, or even tall halflings if you used them with modern figures.

There are a few snapped blades, but nothing that I can't fix. I feel kind of like I completed a quest - Help Person Move, gain 48 New Classic Minis.

Also, I really need to build a light box for taking pictures of minis...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Inspirational Images: Theodor Kittelsen

Sometimes I come across a series of pictures which make it very hard to pick just one for this series. Today's post is an excellent example of that.

These are only a sample of the pictures I found at the ever inspirational blog Monster Brains. Click the link to check out even more!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Free RPG Day Swag

There are days when things just come together... someone drops chocolate into peanut butter, strawberries onto shortbread, Neil Gaiman and Terry Moore, and even Gygax and Arnson. Today is one of those days...

Today is Captain Picard Day, and Free RPG Day!

So what did I end up with?
"Dead in the Eye" adventure from Wizards of the Coast
The Dungeon Crawl Classics quickstart and adventure
Gaming Paper's "Slavers of the Sunken Garden", Pathfinder Adventure
Catalyst Game's Cosmic Patrol RPG Quickstart
Q Workshop d12
Columbia Games Harn World Map

Today is a good day, Mr. Worf!

But wait! There's more! I also got in the mail my laminated card stock minis from the Monster Stock Art kickstarter project!!

And on top of all of that Occult Moon has made their Toys for the Sandbox #21 Great Bridge free today only! What's it about?

Along an arduous, and dangerous trade route through the great southern mountains is a small town where merchants can meet each other halfway. Constructed on an ancient bridge built by some gigantic race the town of Great Bridge provides a place for commerce, a warm meal and possibly adventure.

Have a Happy Captain Picard Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Arag’s Aggrieved

"And don't come back!" The barkeep threatened as she tossed the scrawny farmer to the ground.

The cottar dragged himself off the street, halfheartedly patting the dirt off of his soiled trousers. He started when he saw the small group of men watching him. "What are you looking at?" he sneered before turning away.

"Not much" answered a gaunt man holding a staff. His brown robes were cut in the style of a novice, but lacked the usual adornment of wooden beads and the symbol of an order. The gaunt man smiled when the cottar turned to look at him. Through his yellowed teeth  he continued "but you could be more."

"What are you going on about?"

The gaunt man stepped toward the cottar. "I'm talking about you. I'm talking about me. I'm talking about the men back there. We were all like you. No one treats you with the respect you deserve. Even the lady barkeep tossed out out like garbage. But you aren't garbage. What's your name?"


The gaunt man held out his hand. "I am Arag, and I am very pleased to meet you Radoon."

The cottar looked at Arag's hand, and hesitantly reached out to take it. He was surprised by the mans grip, and looking into his eyes, even more surprised by the light that seemed to dance behind them.

"Come with us Radoon, and let me show you how you can make people like her, like the patrons that laughed at you, who treated you like a dog, how you can make them treat you like a man."

"How?" Radoon asked, confusion playing across his face.

"By demanding it, and being able to back up that demand. You'll have our help, and we'll count on yours. Will you come with us?"

Arag’s Aggrieved is a motley collection of ne'er-do-wells who feel the world owes them, and that what they’re owed hasn’t been delivered, so they're going to take it for themselves. Rejects, losers, and failures who all have chips on their shoulders, except for Burtis, the younger brother of Samgos, and caretaker of the blind wardog Wolf. Burtis has been trying to get Samgos to go home, but gets beaten for his efforts every time he brings it up. Wolf would happily protect Burtis, if only he could see.

Name Type Race Sex HP Weapon Armor Alignment Background Possessions & Knowledge Notable Features
Arag - Magic-User (Level 1), Human M, 3hp, Quarterstaff, None, Neutral, Failed Temple Acolyte, Nothing, Yellow teeth

Aramil - Man-at-Arms Elf M 4hp Spear, Leather, Chaos, Exile, Camp knife, None

Buris - Man-at-Arms Human M, 2hp, Spear, Dagger Leather, Law, Stable Boy, Nothing, None

Hilwick - Man-at-Arms Human M, 2hp, Club, Dagger Leather & Shield, Chaos, Street Thug, Nothing, Pudgy

Radoon - Man-at-Arms Human M, 2hp, Hand Axe, Dagger, Leather & Shield, Neutral, Cottar, Nothing Useless

Samgos - Man-at-Arms Human M, 3hp, Spear, Dagger, Leather & Shield, Neutral, Crofter, Sock full of sling stones Broken

Wolf - War Dog M, 6hp, Bite (2d4), Fur, Chaos, Blind

As always, Meatshields is an invaluable resource! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bits and Bobs V

Are you a fan of Labyrinth Lord or Mutant Future? How about exploring the final frontier? In that case Have I got the chocolate and peanut butter for you! Starships and Spacemen is being made by Goblinoid Games. Right now they're in their playtesting stage, and they are crowd-funding it on indigogo. A pledge of $5 will get you a PDF of the finished game, and access to the playtest documents.

Jack over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque wrote up a great post about how Flesh Golems are the equivalent of hot-rods of the wizard world - just begging for customization!

Jack also has some good advice: When in doubt, Just use Bear!

Tired of your trolls getting torched at first sight? Jack has 24 troll variants that might help with that.

Monster Johnson took Jacks idea and expanded it with an additional 10 augmentations over at Monstrous Television.

Chris at Rolang's Creeping Doom Has some thoughts on clerics special privileges, because, really, when you walk into town and are able to literally channel the power of the gods? Doors get opened! At least as long as it's the right god...

Courtney of Hack & Slash has yet another great post, this time on set design. Not for a play, but for building your encounters. If you run an old school game, this is very good advice.

You know you want to play this guy!

Need a little 40K in your fantasy? Mike at Sword +1 has just the thing with these two magic items.

What spells should a new wizard start with? A solid house rule from The Mule Abides might just be the answer.

I've never had all that much luck working with random dungeon generators, but this catacomb generator from The Sky Full of Dust seems promising...

The Red Book of Nelandra Kir is just the sort of awesome NPC spell book that every campaign needs. This visual works really well for it too!

Quibish from Of Dice and Djinn put together a neat way that PC wizards can roll up their familiar using a d4 + d6 + d8 +d10 + d12 + d20.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Visit to Castle Zagyg

On 6/8 Joe theLawyer ran a session of Castle Zagyg. In attendance were Eric Boyd, Gabriel Perez Gallardi, David Williams, Chris Hales, Darcy Wyatt, and myself.

Cast of Characters:
Nick the Pike
Hustleburr Gnimbleknucks IV (Gnome)
Gimli of Geoff (Dwarf)
Kellan the Illusionist
- Kip the Fighter
Sir. Digby Chicken Caesar (bear riding Goblin wizard)

Nick the Pike arrived by small fishing boat to the ruins of Castle Zagyg. Rumor was that a massive dungeon existed beneath it (much like Stonehell) and that a group of adventurers had taken over the ruins and was exploring the dungeon. What the rumors didn’t mention was the fact that the castle was guarded by a whole tribe of goblins, under the command of the adventurers!

After introductions were made, the group decided to allow Nick to join them on their next run to pacify the local area. The whole place was honeycombed with caves, in addition to the dungeon proper.

Before heading out, the gnome decided to test some wall of death invention that he intended to bring into the dungeons with him. It exploded, taking out a couple of his goblin assistants. About the same time a group of soldiers and adventurers demanded that the adventurers turn over control of the castle to them. This request was denied - with catapult fire and a summoned wingless wyrm that had a strange spined fin on its back. The soldiers turned tail and ran, but the adventuring party split and headed around toward the back of the castle. The adventurers then suited up, picked about two dozen goblins, and gave chase to the adventurers that headed north around the castle, hiding in the woods off to that side.

The enemy adventurers took refuge in one of the already cleared out caves. Knowing of a secret back entrance, the adventurers sneaked through to the secret door, sending Nick back out with the goblins to create a pincer action. It worked exactly as planned. There was a suit of plate mail that Nick wanted to lay claim to, but the spoils went to Korath.

Departing the caves, the party then took off after the other half of the enemy party. According to the goblin lookouts, they also took refuge in one of the caves. This time however, it wasn’t one that was previously explored. The party sent in the goblins first, charging and screaming... followed immediately by the sound of about two dozen bodies hitting the floor, followed by a voice calling out in welcome.

After some negotiation the party discovered that the elves and their bodyguards are dimension hopping observers of this dungeon. Weird, but ok. They apparently trade in some of the magical items from the dungeon, which Nick’s companions took advantage of. The enemy adventurers that the party was chasing had used one of the gates into the dungeon that was within the lair of the elves. The party opted to finish clearing out the caves around the castle, rather than chase the adventurers around the dungeon.

The first cave contained a kobold lair, which the goblins sacked with relish, especially when the armory was discovered with the far superior equipment to what the goblins carried. Eventually the kobold King Wigglerock was found and his iron crown taken forcibly. There was a discussion about setting up a puppet king, but given the goblins were already under the parties command and the enmity between the goblins and kobolds it was decided that the kobold lair would be cleared. With the judicious use of flaming oil, they were quickly wiped out. In the throne room a secret door was discovered, leading to a large dirty cave, which quickly turned out to be owned by an ogre who swatted goblins like they were bugs. The ogre, in spite of his size and strength, fell to the parties combined power very quickly.

Among the other finds was a goblin prisoner from a splinter tribe. Seeing this as an opportunity to reunite the goblin tribes (and thus increase their own power) the party decided to return to the castle and show the rescued goblin how good his cousins had it. The next morning the party headed out to the caves of the splinter tribe.

Sir. Digby Chicken Caesar and the rescued goblin headed into the cave to begin negotiations. After the wild night the rescued goblin had, it didn’t take long. Clearing all the goblins out of the caves and into the castle took most of the day, but once done the party wasted no time doing a very thorough search. While the goblins had cleared out just about everything (not including their place of worship and shaman’s cave which were left alone) they apparently never discovered 2 secret doors. One opened to reveal a set of stairs guarded by a lumpy slime that seemed to ignore both fire and ice. The party resealed that door. The other door revealed a secret treasury which included much gold and several wondrous items, including an ion stone, a javelin of lightning, and a magical short sword!

Calling it a day, the party returned to the castle to divide the spoils.

This was a very different session for me to play in. Bringing along a party with 6 PCs, 3 NPC retainers, and over 20 goblins there was little that even slowed the party down, In addition the wanton slaughter removed any idea that these guys were in any way heroic!

On the other hand, who needs heroic when you come out alive, richer, and more experienced! I hope that next time I get to venture to Castle Zagyg Nick will get a chance to see the dungeon itself.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Magic Spells in DnD Next

I’ve always loved wizards. Whether they’re called magic users, mages, sorcerers, warlocks, or even stranger titles, it’s probably the class I want to play. Now I’ve never been one to play the “blaster” type mage. I usually prefer the more subtle arts. This is why I usually avoided taking Magic Missile. I always felt like I could get more bang for my buck from other spells. Sure, the guaranteed hit was nice, but... eh. I was never impressed by the d4+1 damage. Sure, you get more as you go up in level, but even with 3 or 4 you’re still only doing 10 to 14 damage (on average) to a single target. I'f I'm going to blast you it's more likely that I'll drop a lightning bolt or a meteor shower on someone’s head, rather than the humble magic missile.

In 4e, they made magic missile an at-will power, which I thought was a good choice, especially because they made the wizard roll to hit. I felt that it was a good compromise. Wizards *should* be able to pop out (every round) low levels of magical zaps, but they *should* miss sometimes. Ok, yes, in Essentials they added a version that was an auto-hit, but it was also way less damage.

DnD Next kept Magic Missile as a cantrip (at-will) but they also kept the auto-hit feature. Granted it’s only 1d4+1 damage, but it’s automatic. Every round, at range, up to 100 feet away. Also, as in previous editions, it scales with level.

Another cantrip, Ray of Frost, causes no damage, but merely reduces a monster’s speed to 0, needs to to hit roll. Now, depending on the DM's ruling, this could be very effective against creatures in flight, especially if it isn't magical flight - stirges for instance.

Shocking Grasp, another cantrip also needs to to hit roll.

A few other thoughts while we’re on the topic:

Detect Magic as a cantrip... While I like the idea of it being something you can do whenever, just snapping your fingers to have magical vision? Eh. I can see it, but I rather like the idea of it being more of a ritual spell. Make it take a whole minute.

Mage Hand can go up to 50' away from the caster, but only 5' above the ground. I guess we can't use it to tie a rope across a chasm or up a short cliff.

Is my chainmail bikini getting in a twist because of a minor aspect of a early beta-test edition?

A bit, sure. But then as a fan of wizards, I want to see them handled well, because I want to play them, and have fun doing so...

For those who've given it a shot, how did you feel about the magic system?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Balticon 46 Mapping (4 of 4)

After I putzed with the geomorphs, I decided I wanted to play with non-standard geomorphs.

It turned into more of a mini-mega-dungeon, like Dyson's Delve. If you aren't familiar with Dyson's Delve, go get it now!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Awesome Dice (the blog)

Are you familiar with how awesome dice are? If you're not, there is an entire blog about just that topic. It is inventively and imaginatively named:

Of special interest is their infographic on the History of Dice:

Well worth checking out!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Toys for the Sandbox #23 & Special Deal & Contest!

While I have only picked up a couple of issues of Toys for the Sandbox, I have always been pleased by the quality of the content. This newest issue entitled “The Pirate Island” is a larger 10 pages and introduces a new setting for DMs to play with. You’ll be shocked to know that the new setting is a pirate island, and this island has lots going on, and you can do all sorts of things with it. Want to have a pirate war? How about a struggle for control of the island? Want to work for the forces of law and try to take down the pirates? Or maybe you want to bust a captured pirate captain out of jail so he can again take command of his ship? It's all here...

So what do you get in 10 pages?
1 island setting, complete with historical background & description of the island itself
6 plots with 3 twists each
4 fully fleshed out NPCs
3 new magic items
1 rumor chart
1 random encounters chart
1 full page, full color island map

All of this for the usual price of $1.99!

The price? That's not the special deal.

Today only, Occult Moon Games is holding a sales drive for the newest issue of Toys for the Sandbox. For every 100 copies of this issue that sell in the first 24 hours, they will permanently make one back issue of Toys for the Sandbox free, starting with issue 1. If they sell 600 (and we get issues 1-6 for free) there's an additional bonus: They'll do a brand new free issue.

And yes, I got my review copy for free, but you know what? I'm going to buy a copy for one random person who leaves me a comment before 7pm tonight. Already bought a copy? Well, now you can buy issue 24 when it comes out.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Balticon 46 Mapping (3 of 4)

One thing I never tried before were sides and end caps.

Again, I added in a collapsed section on the bottom end cap, this time hiding a pocket with a treasure chest!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D&D Next playtest material review

I have finally finished reading the DnD Next* playtest materials! It took me way too long to get through it all considering how relatively short it all was, but I did it. Add to that the fact that it took me a couple of days to write this, and that everyone and their brother has pretty much already written this post... feel free to skip this, and instead go read my posts about Dogs in the Dungeon.

My overall initial impression is that they took 3.x added in some of the best bits of 2e and 4e and mashed them all together with a liberal dash of house rules. I really get the feeling that had this rules set been put out last year as a “fantasy heartbreaker” that it would have garnered a fair amount of positive attention from the old school gaming crowd.

Now, onto specifics:
The Caves of Chaos
It’s been awhile since I last read B2 The Caves of Chaos. I think I actually read the silver anniversary edition Return to the Caves of Chaos more recently, but it seems very similar to what I remember of the original. I don’t remember the various plot hooks, or the discussion about the possible relations between the tribes, except for the goblins bribing the ogre for help. The fact that the adventure plot is left up to the DM, that the tribal relations are left up to the DM, that the entire tone of the adventure is left up to the DM is very old school. While the Caves of Chaos may be old, and showing it’s age a bit, I think it was a good choice to open the playtest with. I’m hoping that next they use a 4e module, just to show how that might work with DnD Next.

On one hand this is a pretty basic collection of very typical monsters. On the other hand, I really love the Lore sections for the monsters. Each one was different, with an interesting factoid, and it seemed like just the sort of info that adventurers would collect. I especially found the cultists fluff to be really evocative. Three things that really stood out for me was the lack of morale, and the fact that basic rats were individual creatures rather than a swarm... Lastly, zombies. I miss the instant kill with a crit.

How to Play
Checks and Contests, pretty familiar.
Ability score checks for saving throws? Interesting.
Exploration, standard sorts of stuff.
Combat - I love that “Improvise” is a specific action open to all. Did it need to be spelled out? Maybe not, but then again, maybe in the age of MMORPGs, it is?
Advantage and Disadvantage... I can see these getting a lot of mileage.
Death and dying and healing... I think the threat needs to be ratcheted up a little bit. I say this as a non-killer DM.
12 conditions seems like a pretty workable number, especially when one is intoxicated!
Equipment - I feel like the armor table is problematic. There are a couple of armors on there that just seem like they aren’t going to get a lot of use. I can’t see anyone getting ring mail over studded leather.
Weapons, I like the breakdown in types, and I think that the resistance and vulnerability to types, used sparingly, could be a lot of fun.
Acid, Oil, and Holy Water rather got nerfed didn’t they?
Poison! Cool!
Magic - I’m glad the wizard and cleric get access to cantrips and orisons! Not sure how it’ll work in play as written, but with wizards especially I like to see them able to fling basic combat spells at will.
Rituals - I’m also glad to see rituals being available to spell casters in those situations where having a spell available in a memorized slot would be (most of the time) not worth it. Combined with the material component costs, I think this will work out quite well.

DM Guidelines
I like how much attention is given to when to use dice and when not to, especially with checks. Specifically the ability score threshold idea.

Sorry if some of that was vague. If you have the playtest materials, you know what I'm talking about I think, and if you don't, you should go get them! They're free, and your voice might just have an impact on DnD Next!

*I really wish they’d just give it a better name. DnD Next sounds like New Coke. How about D&D Ultimate Edition? Or even just 5e?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PC Races in my game world

While I’m a big fan of the Rules Cyclopedia, there’s a lot about 3.x and 4e that I like, including the various races. While I get and approve of race as class, I also like the idea of race as race. I know if someone came in with a flailsnails character that was an elven wardancer, or a dwarven cleric, or a dragonborn warlord, or a warforged mage, I’d allow it. Hell, if someone wanted to make a character native to my world (for whatever reason) and they wanted to use race as race I’d allow it.... but...

In my world, natively, the core races aren’t quite standard...

Elves and gnomes are otherworldly fay beings. They dance with fairies in the woods, swim with nymphs, and sing with birds. They are naturally chaotic, though not malicious.

Dwarves are actually sexless beings. While they appear as gendered, they procreate by creating their offspring, similar to how they’re done in Dwimmermount.

Half-elves are either elves raised by humans, or humans raised by elves, not the physical offspring of a union of the two. They are often called changelings by humans.

Half-orcs do not exist natively because my orcs are spawned from the earth in a perverted mimicry of the dwarven process. Some claim that the orcs are actually hatched from buried eggs, others claim that they grow like mold.

Kobolds are small draconic humanoids. Dragonborn are distant cousins to kobolds. Both are related to Dragons.

Goblins, gremlins, knockers, hobgoblins, and bugbears are all fay from the unseelie court.

Halflings, Nelwyns, Pecks, Hobbits (all the same thing) are the most standard of the races.

Tieflings are as per the 4e fluff, but visually more like the 2e - Humans tainted by demons, minus the whole empire of tieflings. There was an empire, ruled by tieflings, but most of the people in it were human.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Balticon 46 Mapping (2 of 4)

I played around with a few basic geomorphs during some of the panels at Balticon.

I like the idea of caved in and bricked up sections. You don't see them often enough.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Inspirational Image: Forest Stairs

This is very much what I imagine the climb up to the door of my megadungeon to look like, at least down near the bottom...

Source: Beautiful Portals

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Still need a hero - part 1

Back in December I wrote about heroes, and then I started a followup post which never saw the light of day. Now, months later, it crawls forth like a monster from a primordial sludge...

I’m always astonished at which posts get comments and views, and which ones don’t. For example, I had absolutely no expectation that my post on Heroes would receive the attention and discussion that it did. Even now, I’m not quite sure why! On the other hand, I’m always thrilled to have sparked a lively discussion!

In my original post I wrote about how it’s hard to play a hero or to find people playing heroes in Dungeons and Dragons. I think the post may have come off sounding stronger than I actually feel about the subject. I actually don’t mind (now) that D+D doesn’t really support heroes. What I minded was the impression that 2e and later editions (via its artwork) were all about heroic deeds.

Now I don’t want to get into a big debate about what makes good artwork, or whether it shows too much skin, or anything like that. That’s for another time and another place. What I want to talk about is the tone that the artwork conveys.

Outside of the old school/OSR stuff, most fantasy RPG artwork tends to be fairly to extremely heroic. Below is a small sample of RPG artwork (that I like) that illustrates this point.

I think that one of the big draws of the OSR for me is the more... I almost typed realistic... genre accurate artwork style. Character’s are shown doing all sorts of questionable things like tomb robbing, setting traps, and messing with nasty nasty things. Some examples below...

Part 2 will explore and reply to the many wonderful comments I received on the original post. I just wanted to get the context of the original post out there first.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Balticon 46 Mapping (1 of 4)

If you follow me on Google+, then you've already seen this one:

It's a re-imagining of the hotel's lower level.