Saturday, February 28, 2009

Old Age and Death

Old Age

I wanted to briefly touch on old age in Valley of Blue Snails. Old age really is only felt by Humans. Elves do not die natural deaths. Dwarves are usually quite healthy until the very end of their life. Halflings likewise sense the dread sickness and wander alone into the deep wilds to meet their doom. Human on the other hand grow sick, and slowly die over a period that could take months or years.

This is mostly a foreign concept among the other races. Non-humans treat the impaired, physically or mentally, as broken things. That is things to be cared for, but put in their place of disuse. Sort of like a broken toy to a child that lays in the chest forgotten. Most non-humans do not like to be reminded of frailty so they keep it out of sight. There are a few exceptions, notably those who still produce a valuable service, such as advice or wisdom.

For humans, old age is a family affair and the solely the families responsibility. Those without families are much worse off. Old vagrants simply live where they can; begging, thieving, catching rats and so forth. Few human realms offer any sort of funded aid for the old. Within large cities this is obvious. Old folks as well as children are very visible plucking around the streets aimlessly. The folk who are able to work are usually doing so. Non-humans find the plethora of old vagrants particularly unnerving in large human settlements.


Death is slightly different in Valley of Blue Snails because of the role that spirits play. Flesh is fallible and is malleable, while on the other hand spirit is permanent and in not malleable. Men operate in a strange dichotomy since they have both. When one dies, this ends the flesh and only the spirit remains which from that point forward is an unchanging thing. Most spirits move beyond the world into the divine. Some however do not for a variety of reasons, and so most races devise traditions and rituals to prevent a spirit from lingering in the world. Various customs are involved to protect the spirit and protect the living around it:
  • The Elves buried their women, but suspended their men from trees. There is no clear reason why this is so. Elves do not die naturally and very rarely from disease or other contagion. Most Elves die through war, accident or intentional acts that lead to their death.

  • Halflings believe anyone who touched a dead body would be powerless in ‘mind, tongue, and hand’. This paralysis can be inflicted by the evil spirits which were associated with the dead body. Most Halflings loath to touch the dead because of this and so their slave usually handle and bury the dead (sometimes the slaves along with them). Halfling prescience will sometimes allow them to predict their own death. When this occurs they simply wander off alone into the wilds never to be seen again.

  • Humans bury their men with their faces to the North and their women with their faces to the South. Small sacrifices are usually placed with the body, both by family friends and foes (who fear the spirit may return to terror them). More primitive humans will simply let the dead rot where they lay and flee in fear. Cemation is rare but not unheard of.

  • Dwarves will mixed the ashes of their beloved with mead and drink it. This is said to allow the spirits to recognize they are dead and move along. Dwarves also ring bronze chimes that are said to incite terror in spirits.

This does not always succeed in placating spirits and they may linger to haunt, terror or even kill. This is very dependent on the person’s life, personality and how they died. War, murder, and a host of other heinous crimes will often breed hateful spirits to tread the world. This is one reason why most races have laws in regards to foul play, deviant behavior, or crimes that could eventually allow such a thing to happen.

Death of PCs

Death for the PCs (or PC) is a bit of a conundrum in Valley of Blue Snails. If you have only one player then death ends the campaign and a lot of work along with it. Sure you can start over, but it is a lot more punishing when its all of the PCs instead of one of six PCs. Because of this I made PCs a bit more durable with allowing multi-classing and slightly better stats. I also removed save or die scenarios which I never liked anyhow. I plan to use npcs to bolster the ranks and I also plan on being more lenient on raising dead*. Still the sting of death has a good chance to show up and even with some DM fiat, things would just end. Don’t get me wrong, the PCs should feel the risk but there needs to some practicality too.

I remember an old NES game called Romance of the Three Kingdoms where PCs intentionally had large families with children so that the game could continue when the main PC died. This worked pretty well for the game in my opinion. It went so far that if your PC ignored your kids, when your kids took over they were freaking worthless mongers that would doom your game. On the other hand if you paid attention to your kids, trained them and so forth, they became worthy heirs. In some cases better than their progenitors.

So, a noble goal but hard to pull off in D&D and I will have to mull it over more. Dark Sun had character trees but the concept seemed silly to me. Something like, ‘our world is so deadly, you are likely to go through 4 characters a session!’. I am sure other games have something similar though off hand nothing comes to mind. Allowing a designated set of potential alternates of npcs whom the PC trusts seems doable though. Perhaps someone whom the PC kept up to date with, told his tales too, and likewise trusted. Old henchmen is a good idea as are followers. Children to some extent too, but that is very dependent on if the PC wanted to get into that sort of thing. It would be interesting to have the PCs plans and actions effect these alternates in a meaninful way as well. I'm not sure if any of that will happen. I suppose I will just have to see how the game goes and keep it in the back of my mind.

* Raising dead is usually very rare in my games, but another article for a later time. I will probably be allowing it, but also allow for things to go very wrong (Kadorto!). Indeed, a ritual that could led to some very nasty spirits indeed. Speaking of which, I will be going more into the malign spirits at a later date as well.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Money and Training

Money will be rather straightforward in Valley of Blue Snails. I don't care to use alternate currencies much and 1g = 10s =100c is pretty easy to remember. I probably will not use platinum except for jewelry. Value is by weight and purity, most actual prints on the coins are interchangeable in most locations. Dwarves in particular are fickle about purity. Dwarves may also alloy their gold and silver with other metal to keep them safe, then separate them at a later point.

Large denominations are usually not passed along often since they are things like plots of land, houses, titles and so forth. When they are gold bars could be pressed to weight, usually 250gp or 500gp. Peasants usually do not deal with hard currency and favor to barter. If they do have coin it is usually a small amounts to be used in dire times. Merchants and nobles use coins often and also write each other writs of property, value of title. These writs are stamped by the local lords and are essentially a written contract to be fulfilled - breaking the contract is punished harshly. Peasants and the like would never come across such a writ.

The PCs will likely have both coin and barter material. I am fond of non-coin treasure, should it be furs, gems, arts, pottery, narcotics, wines, noddles, harlots, jewels, trained squirrils and so forth. PCs could easily barter this among the general populace for whatever they need. Money can buy just about everything - land, titles, wives, slaves, assassinations, children and just about anything else. Most noble lords will tax excessively and PCs had best be wary if they intent to simply take on a huge load of treasure and walk away without paying the local lord his due. I will leave this part vague for now since it will certianly vary from place to place heavily.

As a side note training is a matter I'm considering when a PC would level up. Adding a cost involved seems to be a time-honored tradition although I'm fairly apathetic to be honest. My main interest is to keep some role-playing value involved for major occurrences. Lets say if a 2nd level Fighter picks up a level in Thief. Clearly some role-playing would be involved, and likely an entire adventure. Normal in-class leveling I will likely keep it as DM fiat. New materials will need to be bought, time to train will be devoted towards and so forth. Loose figure, 20g and 1 week per level - hardly something to worry about in terms of breaking a PCs bank.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Travel in Valley of Blue Snails

Travel in Valley of Blue Snails is usually a communal affair if one if going outside of the immediate area. Even when commoners walk to work it is usually in groups for safety. Safety from robbers, pilgrims, spirits, monsters and other malefic factors. Those who travel by themselves are seen as deviants and up to no good. Exceptions would be hermits, holy men, bards and the insane.

Commoners could expect to walk 10 miles or more per day to work and back. On rare occasions a communal wagon will be used or a donkey. Commoners almost never have a proper horse. They rarely travel more than a day or two from their home. They will on some occasions go to neighboring villages for weddings, festivities or to trade and this is usually a season event at best. The exception are Halflings which routinely wander in large groups of commons living a more nomadic lifestyle.

Nobles most often ride, and stable-craft is a serious respectable trade. Dwarven nobles usually ride carts pulled by Coelodontas, a sturdy but small variant of a rhino with a clubbed horn. Elven nobles travel far and wide, but usually do so on foot unless it is well outside of the deep woods in which they are acclimated too. Nobles usually travel more often than commoners and consider it one of the things that separates the two. Many travel simply to travel, and will pick any mundane reason to do so.

Those traveling from village to village or realm to realm could expect several options depending on the location, race and the density of populace:

Nobles Troupe - Nobles will group together for travel in well armed and ornate groups. These can come in any shape, race or size. Approaching them is usually a cautious event, as nobles are accustomed to taking slaves of those who displease them. Those who are obviously not a peasantry are occasionally invited to travel with them.

Caravanasi – Merchant clusters often as large as a village themselves have well known travel paths. They cater to all civilized realms for trade and usually allow travelers to accompany them.

Tread Toils – A traveling work community. Usually a group of villagers that travel to a work site that is a day or more from their homes. A camp is usually at the work site and they often make several stops at safe areas on their journey. The end destinations are usually quarries, mines, or other location not suited for a village.

River Barges – Seasoned and well respected barges will carry groups up and down rivers. These are usually well known operations who carefully follow the dogma of the river as to not upset the spirits therein. They can unpredictably be shut down by such dogma.

Pilgrimage – Pilgrims wander hither and too for a variety of reasons, and often to remote locations of lost battle fields, holy sites, benign spirits, or seeking knowledge of hermit-sages. They will take travelers under some conditions.

Bardic College – Small groups of Bards will travel with news, tales and song. They rarely contain more than a dozen members and are often seen as aloof groups who practice highwaymanship on the road, which is partly true. Still, they welcome travelers for a price.

Fernweh – Halflings and Elves in particular succumb to a type of wanderlust to explore the deep wilds. These groups are usually well seasoned travelers often not stopping by villages or civilizations for weeks or months. They will occasionally take on company assuming they are carrying a light load and competent.

Acadiea – Traveling Dwarven apprentices spend a year or more on the road. It is usually a mandatory to thing to see outside of ones workshop to better understand the world. They usually cluster under a chief instructor into groups of 20 to 30 apprentices. Those returning are usually granted mastership shortly thereafter and it is a time of great celebration. They troupes will take on travelers if they have some knowledge or craft to share.

Brigands – Thieves travel in groups in a number of disguises, or even openly acknowledging that they are thieves if sufficiently strong. Thieves will sometimes have a code that may or may not allow travelers to accompany them. It is still of course usually not wise to do so as these codes are likely one-sided.

Wildren – On rare occasion a large group of animals will group up and travel with towards or away from 'seomthing'. While this would certainly be an odd climate to travel among, it has been known to happen. As to why this occurs, who can say? ¹

These large groups are both a blessing and a curse. A large Caravanasi that gets little trade from a village have been known to rob the place blind and even take slaves. Pilgrims are just as likely to be brigands in robes than they are to understand any true calling. Because of this most villages are weary of outsider groups or travelers who are not expected. Especially if recent events have been unkind to a village.

Travelers who tag along with group are expected to offer a service as well as provide for themselves. This could be as simple as cooking or talking to a wagon driver, or something more involved. All passengers are naturally expected to defend the group from threats.

As for distances, 20 miles a day on foot or 40 miles a day on horse or wagon is reasonable. River boats vary heavily as to sea going vessels. The Dwarves have other complex machinery for travel but this is rarely used. Exotic mounts are not uncommon among Halflings, Elves and Dwarves although these would rarely go faster than a horse. Sea going vessels are also available, but these are usually operated by realms or very well off merchants. Few sea going vessels strictly cater to travelers.

¹ Note that animals in Valley of Blue Snails are a fair bit more intelligent than our counterparts. As for why they gather and travel, likely for the same reasons people do. If they seem intent on reaching or escaping a particular destination it is usually wise to heed their example.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Headers and Footers

Fairly busy at work for a change so I have not had time to do much. I have been thinking some headers and footers and how I want them look. I drew up an example here (click to enlarge):

Basically just a little hand sketch to go at the top of a page of the 4 season with the Oculus in the center with a blue snail. I may do something similar for the bottom if I'm ambitious. I wanted something amateurish and not overly polished since I think any artwork that goes in will clearly follow that motiff. Also I wanted some color since text can be drab page after page and I don't figure I will get a whole lot of art going. An example page is here. I will probably apply a light blue gradiant on the bottom half of the page that gets darker the further it goes down. Adobe Pro is easy enough to use that it makes such things relatively easy to change around as you go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


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


“There are few things in this world that can not be done or undone by a group of well armed and grizzled veterans. I do not speak of levies and other armies that simply stand in line waiting to be broken, but rather the wholesome warriors who find death seemly. These are the ones that stand firm and change the world with the swing of their blade. These are the ones who find swords and blades a good alternative to otherwise vulgar affairs.”

“Among the civilized races there are some commonalities among the professional fighters. Most work for profit, and most fight for a cause. Note that these two things are hardly mutually exclusive. Most follow a liege or other strong authority. Most follow a code of conduct, although this is often very one-sided. Most find camaraderie among their sword-bearing peers, and likewise may be uncomfortable among peaceful folk. Most are a superstitious lot and pay particular attention to portents. And finally most train and hone their skills ceaselessly.”

“Aside from these shared traits I should note the many differences of warriors of the different races. Let me begin with Dwarf fighters, as they are what I am most familiar with. Most career fighters carry three weapons; one from their ancestors, one from their father in-law, and one from their spouse. The first is usually the most prized. It can take any form, but short sword, hatchets, short spears and flails are the most common. The second weapon is always a gift from a spouse’s elder or in the case of bachelors, a gift from ones mother that is often called a mellownail or a green-man’s blade. The third weapon, the one from a spouse, is likely a small blade or token weapon. These are usually returned to the spouse as proof that the mate has been slain in battle. They are also close quarter weapons where other weapon may be impractical.”

“Dwarf warriors train from early ages, although most of those who train eventually move onto other walks of life. All male Dwarves have a rudimentary understanding of warfare. Females rarely do so, although some exceptions are abound. Training consists of ancillary skills, there were long-distance foot races to teach him endurance, and races in cartwheels and somersaults to teach him balance and agility. It is not uncommon for the front row of a Dwarven line to act as shock troops and somersault and cartwheel towards an enemy. Veteran warriors are highly respected and treated with the utmost of courtesy. They are never one to be taken for granted or slighted and his dignity was to never be questioned or doubted. To do is a gross act of disrespect. After all, these fighters are the first ones to be called upon should a threat arise.

“Elves are a strange ilk and their womenfolk do most of the fighting. The men are lethargic and seem more interested in frivolous tasks and prancing rather than tasting blood. As I spoke of in my previous notes on Elves, the female are far more inclined to attempt to gain the notice from their prospective mates if they set themselves apart from their peers. Women warriors often do so with insanely foolish acts of bravery that more often sends them to an early grave. This makes them unpredictable and vicious foes. These fighters follow an agile style names Kauni, or ‘standing in ones shadow’, which is a combination of stealthy attacks, hitting vulnerable targets, and then vanishing before a counter can be launched.”

“Warrior-women have little notion of mercy. They never take slaves and only rarely take prisoners. Interlopers are usually hunted to the last man, or a few are maimed and left to escape so they can spread the tale. Elves do not have standing armies, only small tactical squads that are between 3 and 20 strong. They may have several of these per village and compete with one another often – for centuries. Thus they are among the most deadly and highly trained fighters in the world, and adept at thwarting large numbers of foes. Villages will band together in times of large strife. Elves are usually not aggressive occupiers of territory, thus have no reason for large standing armies.”

“On rare occasions a male warrior or a rogue female warrior will not participate in these assault squads. They are often seen as eccentrics, but not necessarily outcasts. More than one folk-legend is centered on a Elven hermit-warrior with unparalleled skills. Other times fighters simply move on and take their skills elsewhere. In particular recently when Elfish civil warfare has become commonplace and some view it as a pointless conflict.”

“Halfling folk operate in cavalier units and slave infantry. They usually drive their slave forces directly into harms way while harrying foes with arrows on quick moving steeds. Almost all Halfling warriors are skilled horse men and archers, and they loath melee combat due to their small stature. These tactics are undoubtedly effective albeit somewhat dishonorable to outsiders. Halflings are fond of terrorizing lesser humanoids for little reason or perhaps do so to simply be rid of unwanted slaves. In rare occasions Halflings will war against Human, Dwarf or Elf but these are thankfully uncommon and only when their sheriffs decree some need to do so as a portent. Halflings rarely seek to expand their territory as they require little space to begin with.”

“Halflings take slaves when they can and force them into an indentured servitude. While the promise of freedom is present, it rarely actually happens. Those refusing to do labor will have their feet torn off which are placed upon the boarder fences. In times of widespread conflict it would not be uncommon to have piles of feet placed upon a noticeable stone wall or the like.”

“Humans are by far the most war-like with a thirst for endless conflicts between their kind and just about anyone who boarders them. Their armies are usually ill equipped, easily broken, and prone to take heavy casualties. The exception is when a particularly strong ruler is properly motivated and has the means to raise a frighteningly large force with sufficient veterans to be a serious threat to any foes. These large armies can cause swath of unparalleled destruction even though they are short lived.”

“Human villages prize individual champions which fight solo battles versus other village champions. This is done to avoid prolonged or large scale conflicts. These fighters are highly prized and are the best trained the best equipped fighter of the village. On the other end of the spectrum, landed noble men are usually trained in battle as knights and are adept at forming and leading levied armies. Knights may homage to a futher liege and eventually the emperor – until recently that is.”

“Human tend to be expansionist and are usually check my other races when they move their gaze outwards. This so far has wrought a grudgingly mutual respect among the civilized races. It has also caused most human conflicts to be directed internally rather than towards other races. The deep wilds also tend to thwart most attempts at claiming new territory. Old forbidding threats in the deeps will quickly break even the best trained force pushing too deep, and so most of the world’s land is free of civilized men.”

From a mechanical point of view, Fighters will be changed little from their B/X core. I will allow them to roll 2 damage dice and pick the highest for two-handed weapons or using two weapons. In the case of two weapons, the appropriate die type would be used. Since so few things change Armor Class I think this is a good trade out for a shield. Critical hits I am still mulling over but I will likely use double damage on a natural 20. It just seems intuitive for me even though it was never really intended for B/X.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raelenac – Village in the Sand

Raelenac is one of the few Halfling villages that is well known to travelers and openly welcomes them. The village is part of the Halfling enclaves east of the Plateau of Gnaeun and the roads that go to and fro can be treacherous for the ill prepared. Merchants, nobles, pilgrims, and those seeking worldly pleasures risk the journey at all times of the year however. Raelenac is not a thriving trade port, nor is it in a particularly good crossroads. It is however renounced for its mineral hot springs and strange metals that seep into the water and sands.

Raelenac sits on the shores of a large lake in a deep wintry valley. The hot springs thaw the valley and form numerous natural pools that are speckled with metallic flecks. The sandy beaches are partially mineralized and most of the village structures use a combination of hard woods and sand. This creates the appearance of well crafted and life-sized sand castles. The structures are remarkably resilient and very malleable to different shapes and types of architecture. The weight of the sand does not permit buildings to be built on anything but the strongest bedrock however, so space is limited and only about two dozen sand structures exist. A good number of decorative sand sculptures landscape the area which depict famous Halfling folk-lore.

While the buildings of Raelenac are definitely an oddity, the true prize within is the large deposits of loadstone beneath the village deep under the sands. The quantities are so high that in some places that metal will be repelled and blocks of nickel hover silently above the ground. The loadstone is so prevalent that the air is constantly saturated with static electricity. Every unpadded footstep upon the flecked sands brings a mild shock, as does touching any metal surface or any person. The dwellers of Raelenac are all but ignorant of the effect after a lifetime of contact with it. Travelers consider the effect exotic and mildly intoxicating, at least at first. Over several days the effect quickly turns annoying and downright maddening.

This has turned Raelenac into a mysterious attraction among wealthy human nobles, well to-do merchants, and Elf courtiers wishing to gain the notice of their prospective mate. Some come for the supposed health benefits of the pools, some come for the grand amenities, and others come for the exotic mild shocks of physical contact in Raelenac. Whatever the reason the Halflings of Raelenac are happy to oblige and welcome visitors with many amenities for noble tastes. Lodges, wine galleries, exotic foods, strange slaves, and lake side tours are all common place. There is said to be elements of forbidden pleasures, but these are naturally not advertised – nymph baths, water-monkey duels, laced deathcaps, and the most exotic joy-girls one could imagine. Of course this is but speculation and rumor.

The wilderness around Raelenac is primarily taiga mixed with silver trees and high snow-topped peaks. The lake marks the bottom of the valley and is several miles across. The far side of the lake is considered deep wilderness and dangerous terrain. Lake side tours usually go no more than a mile, and even then a couple never return. Small rivers, boiling pots, mineral pools, geysers and other thermal sites coat the landscape. No grass grows and shrubs are rare in favor of lichens and moss. The deep steam pools are faintly electric. An unprepared dip into a pool can be painful if one is not carefully acclimated first. This is true with the lake itself to a lesser extent and it is known to have some particular ‘hot spots’ in the deeper reaches where the electric properties can kill. Other hazards are also present in the form of bubbling pots, sulfurous geysers, and boiling mud pools. These are usually easily avoidable but strange creatures occasionally lurk within and are known to drag wanderers to their doom. More than one tale of moss monsters and geyser-morays exist in Raelenac folk-lore.

Of particular note are the carp-creatures of the lake. These large boneless fish with flabby flesh and yellow-gold scales. They are elegant creatures in the water but awkward and writhing upon the land. They are highly protective of their egg clusters which they seem to lay in random areas along the lake and lake shore. This has created many accidental conflicts with the creatures, which attack in bezerk masses using sharpened abalone shells to hack apart their prey.

In the deeper recesses of the lake, meglo-coy drift aimlessly in the heated waters. The upper bridge of their body remains above water and is an ideal habitat for the carp-men to dwell. Although not terribly large, it does serve as a mobile floating island and it is large enough for a dozen muddy pods and egg pools to sit upon. The meglo-coy do not seem to mind and in fact seem to encourage the dwellings as it prevents painful parasites from infesting them. The meglo-coy are otherwise harmless creatures, albeit frightening to behold.

Steam turtles also inhabit the lake and will attack those who stray too near with heated steam blasts and sharp beaks. Their shells are high prized as cooking utensils since they are very durable among the heat. Their meat is quite scrumptious and is usually served in their own shells with a mix of shellfish, butter, and garlic. Turtle hunting expeditions are common excursions in which to take the adventurous nobility upon. The turtles sun themselves on large rocks and are usually easy pickings. Usually but not always, and some of these expeditions never return thus well armed escorts are often in demand. Some of the more ambitious expeditions hunt more formidable prey.

This is loosely modeled after Harrison Hotsprings in Canada which I visited. The Canadians are similiar to the carp-men of course.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Walking Stone

Few things terrify the stoic Elves, but one such thing is The Walking Stone. It is one of the few things that predates memory and its appearance is nothing less than horrifying to the sane of mind. The Walking Stone is a four legged colossus wrought from ashen stone and clearly ancient with many cracks, crevices, and pot marks. It appeared to once have a set of four wings but they have long since been broken off. It face defies description other than it is a twisted amalgam of no things living.

The Walking Stone is hundreds of meters in length and legends say it is alive and does walk the world on its own accord – although this has not occurred in many decades. The Walking Stone now stands in the lands south of Orobia in the jutting red-rock badlands of Medeoga. A strange race of twisted faceless men have built a small city of obsidian buildings under the creature and even onto its belly. The Elves warn the place is clearly only for the mad - the Walking Stone has sat itself down crushing the city and its inhabitants more than once. The insane dwellers rebuild the city again once the Walking Stone rights itself.

No reliable account accurately describe the city itself or its inhabitants.

I have no intentions to make Valley of Blue Snails a horror setting, but I do like a good variety of locations including a place where all should fear to tread. I also like the idea of a doomsday back-up plan should the need arise.

All Challenges Accepted - Chagman of Ideon

Of all the foes that have crossed paths with the Elves and Halflings, perhaps the Chagman of Ideon are the best known. Tales of Chagman strife are as old as time and are common antagonist is many Elf and Halfling folktales. Chagman are found usually in the remote deep wilds where their own strange societies vie against one another. Humans have encountered the Chagman although far less frequently and many consider them myth only. They are far from myth however as Lucor himself had encountered the Chagman on more than one occasion.

The Chagman were first spoke of in a well known legend that is shared among both the Elves and the Dwarves. This is the tale of Hiljagaer, the heroic girl-aurora¹. The legend says that the Hiljagaer was an Elf who hunted waterfowl upon the mountain of Vanamoine, the Lord of Thunder and Prodigies. Hiljagaer kept her tracks light and only hunted by starlight as to not disturb the tame peak rife with tired wolves, sleeping bears, mirthless birds and groggy fish. Hiljagaer grew weary of the lack of challenge and bade the Bear-Giant Pondejja to throw a great rock to wake them. And so he did but incurred the ire of the God Vanamoine and was cursed. Vanamoine’s wrath also woke the beasts with an unnatural upheaval upon his mountain and set them loose upon the world. The Chagman are said the be these beasts turned dour and spiteful.

Whatever the truth may be, the Chagman are indeed violent and restless creatures. They resemble hairless bears with a vague men-like stature that fidget, scratch and nibble ceaselessly. They have large forepaws which are adept and handling tools and short legs that look vaguely comical – at least until they lope on all fours to maim their prey. Chagman live is wood and stone dwellings and have knowledge of fire, metal, masonry and the occasional inventive tool that they come up with. They eat their food raw but are highly social creatures that communicate with a series of grunts combined with blows to the head. The Chagman language is one of the most difficult (and painful) to learn.

Chagman worship the God Vanamoine, the Lord of Thunder and Prodigies. Vanamoine is a god which is physically know to sit on the peak of his mountain. The Chagman compete with one another to eventually pick the strongest among them to climb the peak and release him from his slumber. This is clearly successful when the lightning and storms overwhelms the area. This is a time of great celebration among the Chagman and they delight in such storm weather feverishly. The strong Chagman in question is theoretically taken to the afterlife in a tornado of fire-lightning. Lucor himself spoke of seeing such an event personally. To the Chagman this guarantees passage to a paradise of strong mates, ceaseless combat and general carnage.

Chagman vary incredibly in terms of their mental aptitude. Most Chagman would be ill-equipped to defeat a child in a folk-game, but some - those blessed by Vanamoine, the Lord of Thunder and Prodigies, are intelligent far beyond the norm². The Chagman refer to these prodigies as Ideon, or watchful-fathers. These natural leaders often direct the violent forces of the Chagman towards their own oddly motivated goals. On rare occasionally a particularly motivated Ideon will gather several nomadic tribes and put together a single minded army of Chagman. These armies among the most dangerous threats to the Elves and Halflings and they seek to thwart them at all costs.

In peaceful times, Chagman are surprisingly social with other races and have no quarrel with trading, competing and even dining with any others that find their villages tolerable. Travelers beware however, as Chagman constantly vie for authority and mates and routinely burst into singular combat with one another over such things. Being an outsider does not exclude one self to such things. Should one be assigned such a duel, it would be very unwise to receive any outside aid, as it not only notes disrespect but it also assumes the combatant is too weak to fend for themselves and thus worthy only as a meal for the whole village.

The Chagman as a whole are separated into many nomadic villages that have little concept of territory or ownership. This is where they conflict openly with Halflings and Elves, as they often share the same habitat. Clearly the Elves and to a lesser extent Halflings take ownership and pride in their realms and usually attempt to run the Chagman off. This is more difficult than it sounds as the Chagman are remarkably suborn and will usually only leave when the food is completely depleted, which has a devastating effect on the local lands. Also the Chagman have little concept of self-preservation and battle with complete disregard to harm. Chagman with intelligent leadership are far more dangerous still and can indeed wipe entire realms off of the map.

Edit: still looking for a pic for this entry. Proving to be quite a challenge..

¹ Hiljagaer, the heroic girl-aurora still lives and is currently sought out for wisdom by the many Eleven female warbands. It is surmised this is due to the internal Elven conflicts that have recently broken out.

² Luckily such leaders are rare, one per thousand at least. These intelligent Chagman are still very attached to others of their kind and consider them peers. It is an odd relationship to say the least. It is also no coincidence that the Ideon do well, but never win the competion to see Vanamoine - most have little interest in seeing the lightning-fire tornados personally.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weather Shrines of the Water-Monkeys

The rivers north of Kabdoria are home to a curious race of dog-monkeys that dwell in the river muck. They are collectively known as Tuehni; or money-dogs, river-dogs, bear-otters, muckdwellers, swamp-halflings or a host of other colloquial names. They are known to be are roughly the size of a Halfling with smooth shiny fur and small pointed ears. They have the face of a dog with eerie human-like features. Of particular note the creatures have thick tails nearly as long as their bodies with a hand at the end, similar to a raccoons hand. Tuehni are usually timid when alone and skittish when seen outside of the water. In the water however they are significantly more dangerous and will aggressively grasp and tear at anyone in their territory.

Men who have been caught by the Tuehni are grasped tightly with their five limbs until the victim drowns. The bodies are then carried off into their murky lairs. A few days later the bodies will float to the surface devoid of eyes, teeth and nails. The flesh and skin is usually unscathed, but the bodies are thoroughly softened, as if pounded with stones.

Once every few months the Tuehni will explore the land outside of their territorial rivers and seek moist wet places to dwell in the hot hours of the day. Mysterious crimes and odd deaths have been known to occur among the river dwelling villages, and they are very wary of such events. It is not unheard of for entire pens of pigs to be killed with their eyes removed, and later discovering the eyes have been collected among a large garden stone. Nor is it rare to hear a tale of a river-dog leap out of a newly opened cask of rum, much to the surprise of the tavern. More dreadful tales of outhouse patrons making an unpleasant discovery and being drowned in the pit of dung below are also spoke of.

If a Tuehni is caught, it will weep like a child and gnaw off its own limbs in order to escape. Few Tuehni will survive for more than a couple hours in captivity. Folk-tales suggest that Tuehni are abandoned children left near or set adrift upon rivers. Indeed villagers who live near rivers say that if you hear a weeping child near, you should avoid it at all cost. Many of these river villages forbid the weeping of children over the age of two and despise the sound over any other.

The wild rivers are by no means safe even without the likes of the Tuehni. River spirits in particular are spiteful things that will drag the unwary to a watery grave. What is unique about the Tuehni is that they routinely pile shiny objects next to singularly large standing stones along the river banks. These standing stones are clearly unnatural and are known by most as Great Rain Stones.

When a Rain Stone is found they are often decorated with numerous primitive treasures including amber, raw gems, shiny fruits, teeth, nails, eyeballs, shiny fish, scraps of metal, and just about anything else that is shiny that the Tuehni come across. While as curious as these stones are, what is of particular interest is the stones indeed work in calling the rain. Offering a shiny object to a Rain Stone will soon bring rain. Taking a few shiny objects away will cause a drought for months to come - and cause a great deal of ire among the resident Tuehni.

Cautious observers can spy upon the Tuehni and note that they carefully regulate the weather with their Rain Stones. The strength of the weather appears to be related to the objects they offer to the stones, although it is difficult to tell which are the most potent. Overly curious travelers have been known to defile or experiment with the rain stones often with catastrophic results.

Ruining a rain stone will rouse the river spirits for miles and doom the defiler’s kin to a watery grave. Brave (or foolish) folk have offered a plethora of other offerings to the Rain Stones with mixed results. Offering a child to a Rain Stone could very well bring a water Nymph to serve a lifetime of pleasure to the patron. Or it could simply bring a waterlogged horse-corpse to devour the interloper. For most folk it is a well known taboo to do anything with the stones, or even think ill thoughts of them. Thus, most villagers that are wary of the Rain Stones are reluctant to speak of them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The World of Thool

An adventure seed posted by Otter over on the World of Thool

The First Day of the Month of Spores, in the 914th Year of the Immortal Omnithrox

Gallagorgon the Man-Bull, ancient and mighty progeny of the Immortal Omnithrox, desires that there be brought unto him an intact Pnomak, a ghoul-maid of beauteous aspect and unspeakable thirsts. Those who bring the Man-Bull his prize will be granted an incredible boon -- a full day and night, dawn to next dawn, of unthinkable debauchery within his Pleasure Ziggurat.

It is said that Pnomaks, as well as other unwholesome things, haunt the Crypt of Llatai, though it goes without saying that such details are the sole concern of the boon-seeker. The Man-Bull cares not.

- - -

I have an affinity for 70s sword and sorcery stuff so this is gravy for me. Anyhow, it is always inspiring to read material that you would never think of on your own. Man-Bull Pleasure Ziggurats included.

Lucor, Champion of the Fallible

Few beings in the world are as well known or as well regarded as Lucor, Champion of the Fallible. Lucor first made his appearance nearly a century ago we he bested the Emperor of Ladoga’s personal man-at-arms in single combat after the Emperor’s caravan pushed his fruit cart off of the road. After a heated argument Lucor became a friend and champion to the Emperor for decades to come.

The following years were rife with tales of Lucor besting overwhelming odds with the highest of chivalrous standards. He single handedly saved the 99 virgin maids of Plerth from the rampaging Hydras of Chagman. He slew the Beast of Twelve-Eyes unarmed, and carrying a wounded knight upon his shoulder. He saved the cinnamon crop in Vamarine by moving a river with a donkey and a spade. He freed the frost giants from the subdual of Reopejiaen and was proclaimed their Thane. He caught a falling star out of the sky saving Bohtan from certain doom. And so forth - Each tale was more lavish, and more unlikely than the last.

While almost certainly some of these are untrue, most of which did indeed have a grain of truth to them. Lucor’s reputation grew to such heights that a city was named after him, Lucorstead and many of citizens of old Ladoga are named Lucor to this day. Over time Lucor found himself besieged with the plight of peasant folk and nobles alike. He did his best however, and spent the following decades wandering the lands of Ladoga thwarting what evil he could and setting matters to a fair state. Indeed to the people of Ladoga he was a living legend - all would stop, kneel and stare at his passage.

The enemies of Ladoga likewise feared and respected him. Lucor was the only human to receive a ‘flee upon sight’ order from the Chagman of Ideon should he show his face upon a battle field. Lucor also aided the Elves, Dwarves and Halflings on numerous occasions becoming a hero to them as well. Lucor is said to be the only Human honorary Sheriff in Halfling lore, and likewise one of the few who are welcome in the verdant deeps of the Elfish forests.

Tragedy struck when Lucor’s wife fell to a simple robbers blade in the imperial city of Bohtan. Stricken with grief, Lucor grew listless and was pitied. Unknown to most, Lucor received a vision from the ghost of his wife who said they would once again be together once he found his honorable death¹. And so, Lucor was renewed with purpose and sought to finally find a death and an end to his legacy. At this time he was 50 years of age and he had though it would simply be a matter of time before he grew too old and too weak to thwart his foes.

This turned out to not be the case, and Lucor became stronger and stronger with each passing year². It infuriated him that those friends around him grew old and weak while he could best any mortal with little effort. Worst of all, he found it increasingly difficult to find events that would peril his life. Most enemies simply ran from him. Villagers would practically worship him, and even the worst criminals would lay down their arms and confess upon his passage. Even the supernatural beings of the world could sense something was drastically different upon this man and were very wary in his presence.

And so for further decades Lucor served the folk of Ladoga at an age where most men could hardly leave their death bed. Age did however effect Lucor’s mind. He became forgetful and his mind wandered even in the most perilous situations. In a well documented battle against the pirates of Sheneborne, Lucor swathed into a pile of bloodthirsty sea-dogs with nothing worn except loincloth and flail. Naturally the troops with him noted his extreme bravery, but in truth he simply forgot to don his armor and clothing. It was not too long after when Lucor simply vanished from Ladoga.

Lucor and his horse took the wrong road in Orobia and ended up in the sands of Derth. He was far too senile at this point to find his way back and wandered the lands aimlessly. Today, Lucor is well over 100 years old and likely the oldest human alive. He has long since forgotten his former life, but he does know that he needs to find his glorious doom (for some reason). He will plunge headlong into any peril and likely return unscathed.

For his age Lucor is remarkably able and hearty. He indeed appears ancient with a long wispy white beard. He is strangely well muscled underneath his wrinkled ashen skin however and otherwise seems inexplicably different. He clearly appears as an old knight, with a rusty breastplate, old shield and a chained flail strapped to his belt. Lucor is terrified that other folk will attempt to steal his bones, although he does not know why³. He will wander about at random times but thankfully his steed will usually follow him. Lucor is prone to take naps at inopportune times and will listlessly follow whatever interest him at the time. Lucor is fond of a pretty face and will (chivalrously) flirt with any young nubile women in his presence.

Lucor will gladly accept any aid from wanderers like himself who aim him in finding a death worthy of a knight4. He has also long forgotten his name and most who would know his face have long since perished. He truly does want to die and every night he will dig his own grave just in case he does die, someone can toss him in.

¹ In truth this vision was caused by the Spirit-Lady Jieria, whom Lucor bested on more than one occasion. She waited for years for an opportunity for payback and finally found it. The end result is not quite what she had imagined however.

² The many blessings of decades of heroism bestowed upon him from a plethora of spirit, divine, magic and natural powers. It is uncertain which one or which combination continued to increase his might, but it was undeniable that something drastic had occurred somewhere. At this time it was not uncommon to see this 80 year old man unhorse the best knight of the day.

³ Long ago there was a fad in Ladoga in which the bones of saints where highly sought after for aphrodisiacs. Attempts at Lucor’s bones as a living legends were attempted more than once.

4 A death worthy of a knight, which is usually some heroic or selfless act against overwhelming odds. Obviously simply stabbing or poisoning Lucor will not be honorable at all, and he likely would not die to such mundane methods anyhow.

- - -

Lucor has been a reoccurring character in most of my campaigns for about the last 20 years. Sometimes as a rude and perverted old-man with a cane, other times more prominently figured with a party actively trying (unsuccessfully) to get him killed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Presamaesto, the Walking City

One of the great triumphs and tragedies of Dwarven society is the great geared city of Presamaesto. The city hit its apex during the great season of Hibernal, the 4 year winter. Where other workshops went underground, Presamaesto continued to flourish under the guidance of the white-beard Dwarf, Kakoan Meago and his three young disciples who were collectively known as the three bitter geniuses.

Kakoan Meago was, by far, the eldest Dwarf in recorded memory at over 520 years when Hibernal occurred. His knowledge of gearcraft and magic was second to none and it is said only his three disciples even had the faintest hope of understanding the majesty and intricacies which he toiled upon. Not only could Kakoan repair any of the mechanics of old, but also create new inventions that boggled the imagination. The entire city of Presamaesto was built upon a clockwork sundial that rotated during the daylight hours and folding in upon itself during harsh weather or outside threats. Also the city itself could ‘walk’, albeit very slowly should the need arise.

Presamaesto was indeed the finest of the Dwarven workshops and it sponsored a learning academy where the brightest would learn gearcraft and magic. It is at these academies that most of today’s knowledge of gearcraft originated. It was also a stoic place of worship dedicated to the life-bringing God of Nannaron, whom Kakoan himself paid homage. It is said that some of the walking machines he built were imbued with the faith of Nannaron.

After the end of Hibernal, Presamaesto was pressured by the refugees from lost workshops and abandoned cities. With their resources strained, the city itself suffered under the deluge of people and was forced to turn some refugees away. Kakoan found this unbearable and created many clockwork golems to aid the refugees who were denied entry into the city. Although these bronze and silver gelded golems were simple machines, they could toil endlessly and were put to good use by the thankful outcasts. The three disciples of Kakoan; Suirom, Tsande, and Jurez toiled along with Kakoan for nearly a decade creating this army of geared golems.

Eventually the refugee crisis dampened and new workshop cities began to spring up over the ruins of the lost old ones. The clockwork golems were integral to the creation of these new cities with their endless toil. Estaoculus, the summer of eyes, occurred a decade later which put these workshops to the test - thankfully most managed to survive. Estaoculus also changed the three bitter geniuses of Kakoan; Suirom, Tsande, and Jurez. Each had gained the Oculus and with it a new demeanor. Suirom, the power to copy any action he sees. Tsande, the ability to stave off age and sickness. Jurez, the power to pass his knowledge to metal.

Kakoan was at first wary of the Oculus but was eventually delighted by these new gifts granted to his students. They added to his already ingenious creations and he thought that finally someone would surpass him in his ability. It was thought Suirom would be this person, who could copy any action flawlessly. He learned much of Kakoan’s repertoire and also those techniques of the others. While Tsande and Jurez had great gifts themselves, it seemed that Suirom would be the true protégé of Kakoan.

Unfortunately Suirom had a great lust for power and he eventually learned that he could copy other Oculus powers if he saw them in use. He spent a great deal of time finding other Oculus users and copying their powers for his own use. The Oculus however is a demanding a stressful thing even in the correct hands, and it crushed much of Suirom’s former self. In order to copy another’s Oculus, he would resort to deceptions, violence and even murder. It was some time later when Suirom tricked Tsande and Jurez to copy their powers and slay them. Kakoan himself managed to intervene and a great battle ensued. Kakoan stood with Tsande, Jurez to thwart Suirom and his amassed collection of Oculus abilities. Presamaesto was devastated in the battle as the clockwork machines of the city waged battle on behalf of both sides. Despairing over the carnage done to his city, Kakoan beseeched Nannaron to free the machines from the influence Dwarves and so it was done. The machines no longer obeyed the will of Suirom, or anyone else for that matter and Suirom was routed. Kakoan unfortunately did not survive and was laid to rest in the center of the city by Tsande and Jurez.

Tsande and Jurez led the refugees of Presmesto to other workshops, who remembering the kindness of Kakoan, took them in. Tsande went into wilderness and sought hermitage. Jurez wanders the world in search of Suriom and to bring him to justice. Suriom himself is assumed to survive and is known as a great traitor although it is not known where he fled. He would undoubtedly be insane with knowledge of so many Oculus lines within him.

Tsande has mostly stayed in hiding, although a few appearances have been recorded among traveling Elves and Halflings. Jurez walks the world in search of Suirom. In an interesting side effect of this, all knowledge Jurez gains seems to be passed along to the golems that he created with Kakoan. It is unknown how many of these clockwork golems still exist, but it can be deduced that quite a few can possibly still exist. Speculative white-beards surmise that Jurez has a meager amount of control over these golems, or at least the ones outside of Presamaesto.

Presmesto now exist in a partially ruined state. In the past century the city was expected to fall and decay. This is not true however as it seems the clockwork machines have managed to adapt and still toil among themselves, bless by Nannaron with free will and their own motives. It can be surmised that Kakoan’s last prayer has had a lasting effect that still is active today. Clockwork golems and strange geared beast can be observed within the city limits. Few venture in however, as the inhabitants are erratic and otherworldly in appearance and action. Interlopers are forced to flee soon upon entering or are simply never heard from again. To make matters more complex, the city itself wanders the deep wilds, forever in motion.

- - -

I have an affinity towards clockwork and steampunk elements in my games. I do not want these to be a dominating thing, but certainly to have elements that will leak out into the larger dark-age world. Something like pin-points of technology in an otherwise spear-chucking habitat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Critter of the Great Rot

Here are some critters I plan to use for the areas still containing the Great Rot. These critters will largely only be found in these isolated areas, or perhaps in equally comfortable corners of the world that may suit them. I will be using some critters from later editions of D&D simply because they will fit well.

Myconid (AC 6 HD 1-6 Att 1, weapon or spore Save F1-6 Moral 8)
Vegepygmy (AC 8 immune to piercing weapons HD 2 Att 1, weapon Save F2 Moral 8)

Perhaps a few others. Yellow/russet mold and the like, which will largely be unchanged from B/X.

Squill (AC 5 HD 4 Att 1, bite 1d10 Save F4 Moral 8)

Squills are semi-Intelligent squirrels about the size of a small cow. They have large forepaws and ringed tails, and communicate with a loose chatters. They vary widely in color and will sometimes paint their fur in decorative circular patterns. They are highly territorial even though they are primarily arboreal, and are difficult to trade or communicate with. Squills will most often attack in small war parties and nibble off the feet of any intruders rather than outright kill them.
  • Acorn totems – Squills will place large amounts of dried acorns in hollowed totems, reaching 40 feet or more. These totems will have animal carvings and are usually brightly painted. The totems will appear in erratic locations in the wilderness surrounding the Great Rot communities.

Eloewn (AC 7 HD 1 Att 1, weapon Save F1 Moral 8)

This is a race of intelligent leafy men. They appear as man-sized walking-sticks with autumn leafy filaments between their appendages. They are usually peacefully and quietly go about their unfathomable business in the remaining warm compost heaps in the world. With their ecology slowly dying the Eloewn are becoming more desperate and aggressive. Leadership figures grow cones which are attached them and procreate the species with the seeds inside. The Eloewn often are at odd with the Squill, whom find the cones of the Eloewn irresistible.
(This a nod to the Elowyn in Starflight)

Humgrois (AC 4 HD 3 Att 2, bash 1d8/1d8 Save F3 Moral 10)

Humgrois are mottle-skinned humanoids which have large distended bellies that perpetually drag on the ground in front of them. They have massive forearms and lope on all fours when moving with speed. Unclothed and unwashed, they seem about as intelligent as any ape creature. They may seem docile at first, even offering travelers a loose piece of fruit or hunk of raw meat. However they will just as casually brain any intruders with no warning.

Twilight Beast (as creature)

These are creatures born from the second year of the Great Rot. They are similar to creatures of their original heritage but are often desiccated, have a musty smell, mottle autumn colored skin, and speckled hair. Stat-wise they are identical to their normal peers but have different behaviors that could be described as eccentric.

Crawlurk (AC 2 HD 5 Att 2, claws 1d10+1/1d10+1 Save F5 Moral 11)

These fungi-encrusted crawdads can grow up to twenty feet in length and dwell in mulchy damp areas. Crawlurks prefer to cover themselves with damp leaves and ambush unlucky prey that walks too close.

Mulid Worm (AC 9 HD 1 Att 1, bite 1d8+1 Save F1 Moral 12)

These large flat worms have a segmented jaw that can latch onto fleshy prey. They prefer to scrape off anything they can digest and are usually content with a hunk of flesh rather than outright killing any prey. They dwell in rotting trees in small numbers but will unfortunately layer themselves in large colonies in large compost heaps.

The Folding Deep (AC 9 HD 5 Att 2d12, save vs stone for half Save F5 Moral 12)

This large sheet of lichen carpet will cake itself onto a rocky perch and fold itself upon anything that stands upon it. It is typically a frosty green and about one inch thick, and can cover up too twenty square feet. It will quickly seep any water and salt out of the victim causing an immense amount of pain in the process.

Polypods (AC 10 HD 1hp Att none Save F1 Moral 12)

These are polypores that attach themselves to anyone or anything venturing in the remaining areas perpetuated by the Great Rot. They can be scrapped off easily but have the propensity to return over time. If allowed to grow on flesh they are itchy, but eatable. They are otherwise harmless.

Spell List

I am keeping the spell list fairly close to B/X, but the actual casting of spells will be more common. The major change many spells do not need to be specifically memorized and may simply be cast for 'free' when 1) not in combat, 2) in an unstressful situation, 3) 5-10 minutes allowable to cast the spell. Spells that are otherwise cast in combat or cast in stressful situations will need to memorized as normal and may be pronounced and released with a word of power and gesture.

All Cleric spells can be cast out of combat for 'free' essentially, which will make them a fair bit more powerful than normal. I am fine with this since this will essentially solve my problem with combat being completely bogged down with attrition - ala I kill 3 Kobolds then rest for two weeks. Besides, Clerics generally only memorize the healing spells which is counter productive to a fair sized spell list.

I can probably eliminate any combat changes, or at least save any combat changes for terms of flavor rather than mechanics. Some Cleric spells will probably need to be memorized assuming thier nature. Casting something like Sriking will almost always be used in combat, so they will need to memorize them. Generally though I'm surprised how few combat spells Clerics really have. The main limitation Clerics will have is time to cast out of combat spells, and the favor of their deity. Clearly over doing it will cause most deities to check them. Clerics will still start with all spells of level known, unless a spell is opposite of their deity. Anti-clerics can reverse spells by uttering the spells backwards - a profane act.

Magic-Users are a mixed bag and I really want to see spells in play that you otherwise never use - hold portal, floating disk, etc. The majority of their spells will naturally be combat related so they will need to be memorized, but I made sure a few non-combat ones were available as well. The main limitation is learning the spells. I am granting 1 spell-per-level gained (2 at level 1). Anything else must be found or painfully researched. an Intelligence check is needed to learn any researched or found spell - failing mean you can never learn it. So in this way Intelligence is very important to Magic-Users.

Bolded spells are Illusionist only (a status title), who gain both Magic-User spells and access to the Illusionist ones. Spells marked with * are only available in combat, thus must be memorized thoroughly and a word of power is required to release them.


First Level Clerical Spells
1 Cure Light Wounds
2 Detect Evil
3 Detect Magic
4 Light
5 Protection from Evil
6 Purify Food and Water
7 Remove Fear
8 Resist Cold
9 Consecrate

Second Level Clerical Spells
1 Bless
2 Charm Animal
3 Find Traps
4 Hold Person
5 Resist Fire
6 Silence 15' radius
7 Speak with Animals
8 Spiritual Hammer
9 Exorcism

Third Level Clerical Spells
1 Continual Light
2 Cure Blindness
3 Cure Disease
4 Growth of Animals
5 Locate Object
6 Remove Curse
7 Speak with Dead
8 Striking
9 Banish

Fourth Level Clerical Spells
1 Animate Dead
2 Create Water
3 Cure Serious Wounds
4 Dispel Magic
5 Neutralize Poison
6 Protection from Evil 10' radius
7 Speak with Plants
8 Sticks to Snakes
9 Bind Spirit

Fifth Level Clerical Spells
1 Commune
2 Create Food
3 Dispel Evil
4 Insect Plague
5 Quest
6 Raise Dead
7 True Seeing
8 Wall of Fire

Sixth Level Clerical Spells
1 Animate Objects
2 Blade Barrier
3 Find the Path
4 Heal
5 Regenerate
6 Restoration
7 Speak with Monsters
8 Word of Recall

Magic User

First Level Magic-User Spells
1 Charm Person*
2 Detect Magic
3 Floating Disc
4 Hold Portal
5 Light
6 Magic Missile*
7 Magic Mouth
8 Protection from Evil
9 Read Languages
10 Shield*
11 Sleep*
12 Ventriloquism
13 Audible Glamer
14 Mirror Image
15 Detect illusions

Second Level Magic-User Spells
1 Continual Light
2 Detect Evil
3 Detect Invisible
4 ESP*
5 Invisibility*
6 Knock
7 Levitate
8 Locate Object
9 Mirror Image*
10 Web*
11 Wizard Lock
12 Obscurement
13 Alter Self
14 Phantasmal Force*

Third Level Magic-User Spells
1 Clairvoyance
2 Darkvision
3 Dispel Magic
4 Fireball*
5 Fly*
6 Haste*
7 Hold Person*
8 Invisibility 10‘ radius*
9 Lightning Bolt*
10 Protection from Evil 10’ radius
11 Protection from Normal Missiles
12 Water Breathing
13 Illusionary Wall
14 Phantom Steed
15 Spectral Force*

Fourth Level Magic-User Spells
1 Charm Monster*
2 Confusion*
3 Dimension Door
4 Growth of Plants
5 Ice Storm*
6 Massmorph
7 Polymorph Other*
8 Polymorph Self*
9 Remove Curse
10 Wall of Fire*
11 Wizard Eye
12 Hallucinatory Terrain
13 Shadow Door

Fifth Level Magic-User Spells
1 Animate Dead
2 Cloudkill*
3 Conjure Elemental
4 Feeblemind*
5 Hold Monster*
6 Magic Jar
7 Passwall*
8 Telekinesis*
9 Teleport*
10 Wall of Stone
11 Advanced Illusion
12 Improved Invisibility*

Sixth Level Magic-User Spells
1 Anti-Magic Shell
2 Death Spell*
3 Disintegrate*
4 Flesh to Stone*
5 Geas*
6 Invisible Stalker*
7 Lower Water
8 Projected Image*
9 Reincarnate
10 Wall of Iron
11 Mass Invisibility*
12 Permanent Illusion

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Iteration Two

Iteration two is up and is located here, or in the downloads section to the right. This is really just a compilation of the articles in the general layout I am leaning towards. Very little has been rewritten or cleaned up at this point, but you will get an idea of where this is heading.

I still have mixed feelings on combat and damage. Mutli-classing I am liking more but it will need some serious tweaking. The spell system I have nailed down fairly well and will just need to detail it more. Likewise for the spells list. Other than that most of the work should be going to the setting rather than the rules from here on out.

Landmarks Addendum

Now that I have a rough map to go by I will be filling up some more of the landmarks. Also I need to consolidate some of my earlier notations about locations. I will probably only do one or two more set of these so I don’t overload the place with landmarks. Also I want to allow a fair amount of sandbox areas to fill it at a later point. Either way, when completed it should provide a virtual lifetime of adventure seeds.

Vice of Leaves – Groves north of Kabdoria that lay as the one of the remains of the Great Rot. Compost piles and strange autumn creatures still lurk therein.

Settling Falls – In mid-Vamarine, a large river originating from the Banshar Krush takes a dive down a sink hole. Where the water ultimately goes no one knows.

Lake of Orchids – Western Vamarine, a large lake that blooms carpets of orchids year round. The elves consider this a holy place and routinely make the pilgrimage.

Jasper Wall Thrones – In the Halfling realm of Yivmey, a large outcropping of chair-shaped rocks litter the landscape along with a petrified forest of still-standing tree. The chairs are wrought from jasper like rock.

Echo Deeps – A deep set of canyons in northern Orobia, said to be one of the last remaining vestiges of the Estaocculus, the summer of eyes. Many explorers who enter come back blind. They speak of mirror-like rocks and diamond rivers, although none are so fool hardy as to find out for themselves.

Gates of the Eons
– Two pillar of purplish light that shine from plates of black glass in the ground. The pillars of light flow upwards of 100 meters. This is located in southern Orobia near the Desert of Derth.

Desert of Derth – This desolate desert is full of white-sand dunes, and underneath is a slick sheet of black glass if the sand is cleaned aside. In some places it is said one can see things underneath the glass.

Falor’s Rest
– A high ridge in the eastern reaches of Vamarine and the Elf realm of Agaesun. A light glade and otherwise unremarkable but great serenity can be found here, and it is said one’s inner turmoil can be put to rest in this place.

Fade Water Lake
– In central Kabdoria a large lake with endless depths is a dominate feature here. Strange creatures will pull large vessels underneath, no one sails upon its waters.

Downlight Mines – Once a series of iron mines, the Dwarves abandoned it when strange lights seeped up from the cave floors. Located in northern Orobia.

Sungraze Spine
– A lonely mountain in the center of the Elf Lands of Tharillim. Yellow trees can yellow grass sparkle with mist and dews at all times of they year. It is known to be one of the last places of the 3 year spring, Vaunderfel.

Rotholme – A dank valley in the northern reaches past Kabdoria. This is a large outcropping of the Great Rot. The lost Elven lands of Amanpih lay within.

Dwarf Isle
– Contrary to the name, no Dwarves live on this isle east of Kabdoria. Instead the ecology is a wide assortment of miniature creatures. Cows you could hold in one hand, Elves no larger than a doll, even dragons no larger than a bird.

Isle of Whites
– a large isle far from the coasts of Vamarine, this place is in a perpetual winter, lost from the endless winter of Hibernal. Strange walking corpses of all manner of creatures are said to lurk within.

Crossing of Whispers – A deep pass through the Banshar Krush that is routinely patrolled by sticky newt-men. Luckily they are deathly afraid of fire.

Agate Dam
– A dam of unknown origins along the Kabdoria and Orobia border. Geodes and agate make up much of its construction. Strange crystalline creatures lure on its walls and is thus avoided my most.

Strand of Reeds
– Great reeds can cattails create a forest where lost creatures dwell. Talking lizards and behemoth snakes lurk within. The strand is located south of Orobia bordering the Dwarf hills of Meahon.

Inner Circle of Four Winds
– Standing stones in the Dwarven peaks of the Banshar Krush. Those seeking spiritual enlightenment occasionally travel to the peaks.

The Shifting Dark
– The depths of this primeval forest create a perpetual darkness with many nocturnal creatures. It is rumored that a lost strand of Halflings from the Hibernal now live within.

Jungles of the Coil – Thick Jungles far to the east of Vamarine. Decrepit wasp-men implant eggs in interlopers thwarting most explorers.

Neverdawn Isle
– Series of islets forever changed from leafenfel, the 6 year autumn. Albino Dwarves roam these isles on the backs of bleached hydras. It is said a race of elves lives beneath the waves that smell akin to rotting seaweed.

Western Tide – A long beach on the coast of northern Vamarine that is the mating ground of Dragon Turtles. Their eggs are often laid in the mulchy sands. Obviously no one comes near this place.

Pyretops Isle – A strange isle with trees that spontaneously engulf in flames. The ground is littered with ash and quick growing shrubs. The isle lay south of Orobia.

The Wandering Patch – A large orchard of pumpkins that will pick up and move around in the early morning hours. It lies within the Dwarven realm of Roodg.

Saltwhisker Glens – North of eastern Kabdoria along the Elven lands of Gulouge, a large swampy glen lines the great sea. Strange dwellers make these salty flats their home including upright lobsters, whiskered Halflings with soft-shells, barnacle men, and crabs with open shells.

Azure Coves – A chain of smaller isles between Kabdoria and Vamarine. They are said to be a paradise, and a left over from the endless spring of sapphiron. Many pirates and merchant rogues make their homes here.

- - -

Ladoga – The human empire that was sundered into three parts, Vamarine, Kabdoria and Orobia.

Bohtan (ruins)– The former imperial city, now a large series of foreboding ruins.

Last Distillery – Famous Dwarven distillery using oak barrels that are said to be a thousand years old. It is located north of Kabdoria in the Dwarf lands of Chilfens

Silvermist Mills
– Cluster of Halfling dwellings along the Banshar River. Although technically in Kabdoria, they are known as a free realm or loose laws.

Yivmey – Halfling realm in the western deep wilds. Prolific traders with the rare travelers that travel that far.

Chilfens – Dwarf Lands northof Kabdoria, known as great hosts to travelers and traders. Widely known for their near magical feats of engineering and metal crafting.

Agaesun – Near Vamarine, this Elven land has been warring with inner strife among many small villages. Once peaceful and inviting, travelers are now wary when entering les they be accused of aiding an enemy

Trisnev (ruins) – Dwarven spires southwest of Kabdoria, lost to clerical strife during the Great Rot. Many Dwarves have returned to claim the place and remove the stain from their honor. It is often used as an example of the harm unchecked religion can cause.

Tharillim – Elves to pay homage to the Sungraze Spine, and have made their livelihood here.

Amanpih (ruins)– The Great Rot consumed this lost Elven lands. It is said those elves that remained were consumed as well, turned into folk with fungi bones and polypore flesh.

Roodg – Dwarven realm west of Vamarine. Home to the ‘Nine Whitebeard’, a clan of sages and also The Wandering Patch.

Gulouge – Elves and Halfling land in the distant north that are nomadic elk-riders. They are territorial and not prone to let travelers pass.

Meahon – Guttural and foul Dwarves who worship dark powers and create machines of war. Located south of Orobia.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


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


”Magic-users, sorcerers, wizards and the like I have been intrigued by since I was a youth within the spired workshops of Brikmel. I have always had a fascination with their otherworldly demeanor, endless depths of power, and general majesty - and then I met a magic-user and any conceptions such as these were wholly dashed.”

“The first magic-user I met was the Dwarf white-beard Romfaer, older than dirt and even less scruples than dirt. I have never met a more utterly despicable, more degenerate, wholly perverted old codger in the thousands of miles of my travels. When one thinks of an elderly Wizard perhaps they may think of a kindly old man who uses his power for a greater good. This could not be farther from the truth, and in fact Romfaer spent more time stealing sweet cakes from children and spying upon the baths of the woman folk than approaching anything close to being useful.”

“Romfaer was hardly alone in this among the wizardly sort. I can altogether say that they are capricious and hateful lot with a panache to make one loath them within the first few moments of meeting one. They are a spiteful, self-absorbed folk who rely on otherworldly power to intimidate those they deem as lesser (just about everyone). They are quick to anger, slow to forget, and never compromising. Their only redeeming quality is that they are over-confident enough to speak with spirits and will likely be carried off by hungering claws at some point.”

“Many children are told to avoid Magic-Users, and ill events follow them. Naturally these are folktales designed to scare children. Unfortunately this is true! Listen to your mothers! They were right! The most unfortunate events of my life have almost always occurred in the presence of a Magic-User, and I forward any humble readers to take this to heart.”

“Perhaps the most noteworthy and informative Magic-User I have met was the Halfling Gobinue (Gobinue the Infallible as he says). He traveled with my caravan for several months, and by the end of the trip most everyone within had wished great injury upon him. A vile and self-consumed being, Gobinue cared little for the suffering of others and indeed went out of his way to hobble stray cats, pry dark secrets of others, and demand the utmost respect in the process. My time with him was luckily not entirely miserable as I learned a great deal about the practical nature of Magic-Users.”

“The first most noticeable things upon meeting a Magic-User is their otherworldly demeanor. Their hair will fluster with no wind, smoke will mist out of their ears when angered, their eyes will flash like lightning, and all sorts of mystical occurrences can forewarn you of their general mood. As I learned over the course of several months, this has to do with the spell they have knowledge of and have prepared.”

“As I am told there are three sorts of spells. The first are common spells which a Magic-User can cast as often as they wish. These sorts of spells can hold a book closed, clean a stable, light a dark night, unlock a door, and many other sorts of things. Gobinue said these spells are limited only by a Magic-User’s knowledge of them. Spells are rare however and require a great deal of research, wealth and time are required to fully understand them. It is an endless process for Magic-Users to enhance their repertoire of magical knowledge.”

“The second class of spells are dreadful incantations which slay or fascinate foes. These spells I am told are mostly used in defense (though the wizards are often the first to strike) and are quite draining upon the Magic-User. It seems that spells which are cast in stressful situations are cast with such speed and power as they have a meaningful drain upon their caster. Older more powerful Magic-Users have learned to stretch these limits very far, while younger ones may only cast a spell or two in the midst of combat before becoming exhausted. Furthermore these spells must be memorized specifically with the correct aptitude to bottle up the magic might within the caster. Then, at a later point the caster can utter a short phrase and gesture to release this bottled up power which is let loose like a geyser.”

“This bottled up power has a side effect upon the caster which affects his physical being. Should the Magic-User contain a spell of fire, then ghostly flames will appear when he is angry or steam will shout out of his ears when flustered. Should be know a spell of fascination, sparkles of magic will rain down over his skin and his eyes will sheen like a mirror. Should they bottle up a spell of conjuration, small birds and squirrels will appear out of no where and scamper off in the wizards presence. There are endless permutations to this bottled up magic upon the Magic-User, and is one of the things that is most wondrous about them.”

“The third and most dreadful class of spells are those that Magic-User do not intend to cast. These spells are sometimes placed into the Magic-Users mind by the spirits when it is vacant - and the mage must cast them to be rid of them. Such spells are usually powerful and not of the realm of men. Few Magic-Users intentionally gain spells from the spirits as they often have an unpredictable and baleful effect upon anyone near when cast. These spells occasionally occur when a spell is incanted improperly or is cast when the Magic-User is already exhausted. I saw this first hand when a horse stepped on Gobinue’s foot while he was casting a simple spell to light a camp fire. The result was all of the leaves for acres around fell off of the trees, rustling many nearby spirits. Luckily we fled before they could come upon us. This was one of the few times that I saw Gobinue (the Infallible) to be flustered and unsure of himself.”

“All Magic-Users script their spells into spellbooks which are designed to safe house their knowledge. Older more powerful wizards often have several books or even libraries while young mages usually only carry one. These spellsbooks are highly magical in nature themselves and contain far more pages than they appear too. I found the script to be unreadable when peering over Gobinue’s shoulder but I did see blots of colored liquid, strange circular pictographs and occasionally illustrations of hand gestures or strange creatures. Magic-Users usually edit and add to these books in their spare time. I am told by Gobinue that they can learn from another Magic-User’s spellbook, thus they are very wary around one another lest they be thieved upon.”

“When Gobinue attempts to bottle up some of the magic might into him self he carefully incanted a series of phrases while reading the book. I felt the magic seep from the world into himself and could hardly stand the reverberations even being near it. I can not fathom being the one to be the fulcrum of such things. Afterwards he rested a brief while as the magic settled within him. He spoke of such as eating a fine meal, which is best eaten slowly lest one become irritated in the bowls. He also said that once the magical might is released, his mind was like an empty flask, waiting for something to pour in. At these times he said it is most dangerous for outside powerful to seep within, granting him a baleful boon of forgotten incantations.”

“Ah, I babble. I am glad to know some truth of Magic-Users even though it dashed the glorious illusions I had of Wizards in my youth. While I indeed think of them in a different light, I am still generally intrigued by magic in general. One last word - Gobinue spoke of foul Magic-Users (which is sort of like a camp-fire calling a torch a hot bastard). Evil wizards he said are a very dangerous and chaotic sort who can steal souls and rips the limbs off of travelers with but a word. I sincerely hope he was jesting in an effort to put some fear into me once again. I am unsettled by the sullen tone in his voice however when he spoke of such things however.”

Monday, February 9, 2009


One of the daily themes in Valley of Blue Snails will be that of superstition. This is mainly due to the prevalence of spirits. Most of the folklore is simply true, and the unwary and unwise can find themselves dragged into a stagnant pool of water by a horse-headed water spirit if they do not take heed. Needless to say these superstitions are taken rather seriously by most intelligent races. Even your run of the mill Kolbold will make an offering of regurgitated fish on a lillypad before crossing a flowing river.

So since superstitions will be an every-day role-playing opportunity I should denote what exactly they are. This will obviously be a growing list and it is certainly malleable towards which ever races or culture are played. No two races would do things the same. Even nearby towns will delineate somewhat on the exact practice of these superstitions, so they are by no means written in stone. The main thing is the effort is made – the spirits will definitely take notice if they are intentionally ignored, and will repute spitefully.

Shooting an arrow into a body of still water is said to slay an innocent many hundreds of miles away. Thus, archers never fire towards enemies standing near a still lake or pond.

Blue beads braided into the horses manes prevent spirits from dismounting them.

Snail shells which are broken while under the call of a spirit will break the spell.

Many wizard place their spellbooks under their pillow when they dream. It is said spells from other realms will seep into a vacant mind should they not do so. Indeed strange spells are known appear to in a wizards memory when they asleep if they have not done so.

Should one suffer from indigestion, taping a wooden spoon on the table and pronouncing ‘unberufen’ will ward the illness away so that the person may continue eating.

Dwarves use grains of the purest tin and fold into a cloth under moonlight. It is usually placed in the nose-guard of a helmet, where only the wearer can see it. It is said to grant a quick and painless death should their time come.

If an owl crosses ones path and hoot the traveler should stop and toss some salt in front of him, waiting at least the time it takes to eat a meal. Else their road will be treacherous.

Repeating any holy words backwards will have a malefic effect. Doing so is definitely evil and only anti-clerics or the insane do it intentionally.

If someone wishes ill of you and you want them to stop, it is common to take the heart of an onion and burn it over open flame while repeating the persons name.

Any flowering plant that grows on someone corpse is very potent. Eating the petals will grant the memories, demeanor and nature of host into the devourer.

Dwarves believe if you measure exactly the height and circumference of an object, it will be doomed to fall (buildings, mechanical things and the like)

Halflings believe if they are insulted behind their back, they must slay the youngest child of the person whom insulted them, else the insult will be predestined to come true (obviously most other races avoid doing so).

Elves believe placing salt in another mans hand will doom them.

Placing a pious dead-mans hair under the threshold of a homestead will protect it from evil spirits for a year.

Dwarves believe if you spit three times upon an enemy when meeting them, they will cease to be your enemy (rarely taken as such however)

Peasantry believe if you spit in your right shoe before entering a dangerous place, it is a wholesome thing.

Standing on a mans shadow for too long will cause them to become short of breath.

Shooting an enemy with a silver arrow and slaying them will cause their spirit to be trapped within the realm of the living.

Tossing a brick through a window during a feast averts any bad luck that may occur in the home (note that windows are not cheap).

Should a man survive the same great peril twice, it is said he will always be greatly injured the third time.

When passing stagnant water, always face it unblinking as you pass, lest the spirits drag you in.

To regain a families honor, boil in water 9 nails, 9 pins and 9 needles. Then place it under the fireplace of that family to regain what they have lost.

Should an innocent child wound itself while staring unblinking at someone, that person will be cursed until they confess their most vile sin.

A lock of hair is very dangerous in the hands of an enemy (intentionally vague)

When baking bread, the coals are often saved and tossed upon the road when traveling long distances. It is said to prevent any hunger upon the trip.

Should you see a spirit, write your name on a pebble and throw it as far as you can into the wilderness. There the spirit will go.

Elves incant a phrase when in great peril of fire or water ‘When thou passest through the waters I will be with three, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.’ They say if you are able to finish the incantation you will always survive.

Lead tablets can be engraved with a persons or an animals name. Should a spirit call for that person’s or animals sacrifice, the tablet can be used in its stead.

If a leaf of the world tree is wrapped upon the clay likeness of a man, he will be immortal for one year (obliviously leaves from the world tree are quite rare)

Driving a silver spear into ones shadow will cause the shadow to erupt with life and its own malevolence. (silver spears are thus contraband almost everywhere)

A flock of crows on the ground is a doomed road to take.

Ashes from yellow paper will grant a boon should they be given to a forest spirit.

Should a very young child be slain in front of its parents, it will become a great evil spirit forever tormenting its killer.

A wife may have her husband burn her alive so that they may become an evil spirit to molest any enemies they had in life.

Should clay be made into the likeness of a person and placed in a shadowy water, when that person died they will become the walking dead.

Cone-shells offered upon a lillypad will grant one safe passage across running water (many races use many different things)

Gold offered to a twisted tree is said to grant protections of ones kin for a year.

Red ribbon tied around a twisted tree is said to sooth the spirits therein.

An evil look can be passed from person to person, but one who sleeps with out passing the look is said to dream of only evil spirits.

Lavender leaves which are carried will protect one self from the sight of a corpse.

A charm of silver, holy water, birch and gold gild will ward the walking dead (indeed most cleric holy symbols are made of such).

Breaking an eggshell while under a fascination of a spirit will break the spell but enrage the spirit.

Dipping ones feet in an honest mans urine will prevent them from stumbling or falling, ever. (easier said than done)

Painted hands shown boldly will ward against aggressive spirits that show themselves.

It is said spirits can not look directly into blue eyes, so those with blue eyes are somewhat protected against their charms.

Halflings believe symbols of the crescent moon are placed by spirits to disrupt their prescience.

A live rabbit released will distract hillock spirits who seek to do one harm.

Open jugs will attract spirits who seek to do harm to drunkards.

Elves believe fairies will overlook anyone who carries a charm of feathers.

Eating a meal alone can result in a spirit sharing it with you.

Placing 50 fish heads in a stork stomach, then boiling and devouring this will cause the next spirit whom wishes you harm to erupt into flames. To drink the water of in which it was boiled to make the persons smell terrible to spirits.

Glass beads offered to a snake will ward one against mischievous spirits.

Melting brown wax will attract the most vile spirits into ones home, certainly causing it to be nigh uninhabitable for quite some time.

Blowing a ram horn in ones home will scare many spirits away (done commonly in most taverns and inns at least once a day)

Beating a child with a pine branch will beat any evil spirits out of them.

The ashes of a rope in which a man was hanged will obliterate any good spirit touching it.

Coral that was stepped upon causing a wound will attract spirits who will have power over that persons blood.

Brightly colored eggs will ward ones garden against mischievous spirits.

Should a beggar eat the fat from a stolen goat, it will transform them into a hungering spirit.

Bloodshot eyes and an unwashed face are said to protect against the spirits of the morning hours.

Fear can be dispelled by adding a drop of blood to fresh water and washing ones face with it.

A white feather upon the road will grant a safe journey.

Cherry seeds worn upon the stockings of maiden women are said to attract fertility spirits (and lustful men as well).

Finding a empty mouse nest is said to grant an unexpected boon from a friendly spirit.

Finding a lost button will grant someone a new friend. Finding a pearl-button is said to grant a spirit-friend who will forever guard that person.

List is getting a bit large now so I will call it here. Clearly the list can go on and on and I expect to add them as I go. Much of the folklore is done out of habit, but not necessarily true. The Elves likely have the most accurate ones to follow and the wise do as the Elves do, no matter how silly or superfluous.