Showing posts with label world building. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world building. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tharizdûn Link Round-up

Doing some more Tharizdûn related research.
I figure I can put this links in a document somewhere OR I could post them here for others to take advantage of and maybe even give some feedback.

From the D&D page at WotC
The Return of Elemental Evil
Monster Mythology
Zuggtmoy Demon Queen of Fungi

Greyhawk Grognard
Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
Now gone longer than he was with us there are some good posts still to be found in James' output.

Power Score
No one does the deep dive like Sean does.
The History of Elemental Evil

YouTube: Dungeons and Dragons Lore: Gods of the Realms: Tharizdun (Video)

Interesting idea. Is Ravenloft the plane that imprisons Tharizdûn? Or was it caused by his dreams?

My own Tharizdûn label.

The Village of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil
Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".

EN World: 5e, Elder Elemental Eye,  Ghaunadaur, Tharizdun, and the Forgotten Realms.
EN World: 4e Stats
EN World: 3.5e stats
EN World: Theoparts of Tharizdun

Dragon Magazine #294, 3.0 stats for Tharizdun
Avatar of Tharizdun, 5e

Giant in the Playground: Tharzidun

More soon.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Map Your World

This is the sort of thing I love the most.  Mapping tools I never knew I needed.

+Thomas Denmark over at Original Edition Rules shared this great mapping tool to turn a 2d map into a 3d globe.

I quickly turned the Mystoerth map into a globe.  I added some oceans first and then converted.

I have not played with all the features yet. I kind of want a better map first then play with all the neat options.

Obviously I need to add some polar regions.  I'd also like to add Blackmoor and Ansalon to this as well.

But in the meantime this is a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Edition Changes as a Role-Playing Device

It is no secret that I am a fan of most editions of D&D (and many games in general).  Since I began back in 1979 I have played every edition of *D&D there is and have found something to enjoy in all of them.

Since I have been playing for so long, I have also had campaigns that have lasted years.  Sometimes these campaigns span multiple editions.  For example, my kids started with characters in 3rd edition, then those characters have kids that were started in 1st Edition and then we all moved to 5th edition.  With the occasional side step into Basic or OSR games for fun.   I have used different editions of the game for flashbacks, dream-sequences and general out-of-body experiences.

But looking at the larger picture of a longer narrative have you considered the actual rule changes to part and parcel of what is going on in the world?  Obviously, if you only play one edition this will not mean much to you or if your games have no continuity between editions.   But I have characters that started in Holmes Basic and they have descendants in my current 5e game.   Usually, it is one generation per edition, but how can I explain it when a cleric only has a mace a weapon and no spells till 2nd level when his grandson, who is also a cleric of the same god can wield a sword in some cases and his son can cast minor spells at will?

Some things I did work into a large narrative.
When I went from Basic to First Ed I explained the Class/Race Split by saying that elves in my original lands preferred to become fighter/magic-users due to tradition, but elves elsewhere in the world would choose other classes.

Going from First to Second had the biggest hurdle regarding demons.  First ed had them, second ed originally did not.  So since I had just done a huge war to finish off my "high school" games before college I just said that the war had blocked all demons from coming back into the world.

Second to third was a longer time span of inactivity for me, but the big issue was the birth of Sorcerers; people with spontaneous magic in their blood. Is this a remnant of the re-opening of the demon gates?  Maybe.   Hmm....I think I see and adventure idea!

Fourth has a slew of problems.  Mostly though the change in the nature of magic.  I have regarded this as an odd conjunction of the planes; something that altered the Cosmology.  Again, sounds like a cool thing to play out one day.

Fifth then is the return to the way things were before...with some things changed permanently.

I know there are some "in-story" and "in-universe" explanations for these changes in a lot of the Forgotten Realms material.  I will have to check these out someday and see if they track with my own ideas.

What have you done?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! K is for the Known World

K is for the Known World.

Long before the game world of the D&D BECMI sets was called "Mystara", it was simply "The Known World" of the D&D B/X sets.

I posted some history here, but for me the best and first Known World module was X1 Isle of Dread.  I am going to wait though and detail that one on X day.

Back in the early days of the 80s we didn't have a developed campaign world like Greyhawk if you played B/X D&D.  That is until the Expert set came out and teased us with the maps of the Known World.  We took these little tidbits of the world and we built our own.  That is one of the reasons why my Glantri is a Theological Oligarchy but the official one is a Magecracy of Principalities.

This was my home for much of the early 80s. Building worlds, trying to fit square pegs into round holes.  Buffing out the rough spots.

The world that grew out my experiments in the Known World was later something that the Internet had already named; Mystoerth.  Now my kids are exploring this world and there are still new things to be found.  In some ways I would have liked to have created a world whole cloth then I'd have something to publish today. But in truth I rather like my hodge-podge mix of various pieces of other worlds. I can relate to the Mystara folk and the Greyhawk folk. If need a new area figure out, I grab something from my shelf.

That is the best thing about these adventures. There are always more and more places to have them.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Gaming. Modern threats and Ancient enemies

This weekend was the end of the first part of the module A3; the boys are about to enter the city of Sudderham.  But before they left the maze they took a long rest.

And then the dream sequence kicked in.
The boys were transported back to the Dawn War where He Who Was was killed by The Destroyer (who will become Demogorgon) and Dis, the god that dies and then becomes the demon Orcus.

The old Dungeons & Dragons toy troll and ogre are Demogorgon and Orcus prior to the battle respectively.

I had them fighting a new creature, well, new "then"; demons.

I ran the game using 30+ level "gods" using the B/X and Companion rules (with some AD&D 1 to smooth out some edges).

It was a lot of fun.

Now to tie it into the current adventure.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Dream of Worlds

One of the reasons the Hobbit struck a chord with me was not the adventure, though that is true, but because I share Bilbo's love of maps.  I love maps, especially old ones.  I have walked the fog cloaked streets of Victorian London. I have gone on gondolas in waterways of Glantri.  I have walked across fields in the Flannaes.  I have also talked about all these before.

There are still some lands that I look at and they just scream at me to visit them.

Pangea Ultima / Dying Earth / Zothique
I want to play a game at the end of time.  The sun lies huge and red in sky. The moon, if still there, has broken up.  The night sky is filled with stars as the Andromeda Galaxy collides with our own.  Society is crumbles and the human race is in decay.

Wouldn't this make for a great night sky.
I loved the Zothique stories of Clark Ashton Smith and there is just so much I could do with this.
I also love the idea of the continents of the Earth have moved via plate tectonics to new positions.  So there is only one great land mass.
Plus I have been dying to use Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for something. This could be it really.  99% of the work is already in the core books.
I had already thought that the Earth in 150 million years looks a lot like the Hybora from REH's Conan.   It seems like to me to such a logical fit.  Hell.  I might even use some of the less squicky bits from Carcosa; mostly because it captures the mood so well.

I also have to admit I loved the Elric stories, the Books of Magic comics and the Doctor Who episodes that all take place at the end of time.

There is one little issue though.  Clark Ashton Smith's own Hyperborea was very much in the past.  But not to worry. I have a way to scratch that itch too.

I will admit I am fascinated by Doggerland.  I talked about it a while back as a quasi-mythical; Middle-Earth. It also fills that ancient land niche that Hyborea tried to convey.  I am not sure if my interest is enough to translate it into a gameable world. Afterall, Doggerland at it's largest was 16,000 BC and was flooded by 7,000 BC.  It would be another 1000 years till humans learned how to brew beer!  Though there are some Atlantis parrells that could be played with here.
Maybe while humans were still running around whacking each other with sticks, or the weapon of mass destruction of the time, the stone axe, there were elves or something else in magnificent cities of glass and steel or even of unknown metals ruling the lands.

In truth this reminds me a lot of Jason Vey's "Wasted Lands" idea.
Maybe I'll through the lot into a blender and hit frappé.

Maybe...maybe at the end of time reality breaks down and it allows the Old Ones to return and people of ancient forgotten lands and times are pulled in. So I can have Picts, Vikings, Romans and Dinosaurs with ancient forgotten necromancies.  Maybe all the characters (PCs that is) of the past are drawn here.  Something like Tanelorn or even "Lost".

And there is this quote that keeps running around in my head after hearing it on the season finale of Doctor Who, "At the end of everything, one must expect the company of immortals.".

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wee Jas

Wee Jas, The Suel Goddess of Magic, Death, Law and...a bunch of stuff really.
Could she be more 80s chic?

Been thinking a lot about Wee Jas lately.
Ever since I first "discovered" her in the pages of Dragon magazine #88 I was enthralled with her.

She first appeared (I learned almost right after) in the World of Greyhawk boxed set.  All we knew about her then was she was a greater Suel goddess of magic and death.

Lenard Lakofka's article though gave us the most detail really.  That is where the picture on the right is from.
What do we learn about her?  Well at this point she is still a greater goddess of magic and death.  She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??).  She can cast up to 9 spell levels worth of spells each round; so 1 9th level spell or 9 1st level or any combination.  She has 90% magic resistance and a globe of invulnerability that floats around her.

She is attractive (Charisma 20) and always appears so.
If she is anything she is very lawful.  To the point where good and evil are mostly meaningless to her just as long as you are not chaotic.  In fact she pretty much hates anything chaotic except for the chaotic neutral god Norebo; who is her brother (or half-brother) and occasional lover.  Gods. Go figure.
In the letters section in a couple Dragons later it is mentioned that Norebo's entry mentions Wee Jas, but Wee Jas' doesn't.  The editors reply that it is because Wee Jas is loathe to admit it and Norebo could also be bragging.

By this point, this was all I knew about her. She was not yet known as "The Witch Goddess" but that is what I used her for.  Besides, take a look at her name.
Wee (We) and Jas (Ja), we ja or "we ya".  Or to spell it differently Ouija.  Her name certainly comes from Oui Ja, the French and German words for "Yes" and the basis of the name of the Ouija board. Plus magic and death.  Seems a dead give away.

After this Wee Jas' story gets weirder.  She is demoted, promoted, gains and loses domains.  Gets more evil, less evil. Picks up the title of Witch Queen somewhere along the way as well.  Canonfire, the great Greyhawk website, has spilled a lot of bits and bytes on this.

The Wee Jas Resurrected article is insteresting because it attempts to bring in a lot of these inconsistences and bring together to a complete and understandable whole.  For me the the bits on the rivalry of Wee Jas and Iggwilv were very interesting as well as making her one of the Suel gods/goddesses of Sex. Totally make sense really.  She even gains a "reformed" succubus, Zem'Jil, as a servant.

In truth the model for Wee Jas from our own world is Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas gaurds the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact I have used them rather interchangeblly for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits".  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D4, so pass of Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Godess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Have to investigate this line further.

I would also change her Globe of Invulnerability into a ruby skull that floats and protectors her.  Maybe a former lover.  Keep Zem'Jil because that is just cool to have a succubus ally.  Give Zem'Jil some levels in witch too, since Wee Jas would be her patron.

Certainly would have to have her in my War of the Witch Queens adventure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Witch Families

Want to share something I have been working on here and there.  Not all of it is ready for prime time yet.

In my world witchcraft tends to run in families, mostly along the female line, but not exclusively so.  I also have a Tradition of witchcraft known as a Family Tradition.  I thought it might be nice to detail some of the families in my games.

The hardest part about dealing with Family Tradition witches and the rest of world is alignment.  By their nature they tend to be cohesive, large units that work for their own common good.  So it would not be too far out to say they are "Lawful" or even "Good".  But they also tend to disregard laws they feel do not apply to them, so "Chaotic" or even "Evil" would work.  At best they are amoral or have a different set of morality. They are loving to their own members, but can also be cruel and even kill member that don't live up to certain standards.  What I am looking for here is a set of complicated relationships that are not easily defined on an alignment axis.  Groups that can be ally in one moment and an enemy later.

To start I have three major witch families with a fourth as a mystery.

The Winter family is very, very old. So old in fact that many people believe that the season was named for them. As their name implies their magic comes from the use and application of cold.
In this family only the women can become witches.  Once a girl in the family turns 13 her hair will turn white and this is the sign that she must travel north to train with the ancient Grandmother Winters.  The girls return to the family a year and a day later with the basic knowledge of their family witchcraft.  Once returned they will continue their training with other women in their family.  Each year they all congregate at a location determined by Grandmother Winters, usually one of the larger homes of the family.  The family gathers to begin their celebrations on the Winter Solstice, the height of their power.
The family is common in the northern, colder climes.  They own lots of land, but their homes tend to be more primitive than the local homes. Longhouses are most common. Women are almost exclusively witches, with the occasional priest or even wizard.  Men tend be barbarians, warriors or occasional bard.  They are masters of survival in the cold.   Witches gain the Chill Touch spell for free.
Dark Secrets: The Winters Clan often are associated with darker, colder gods like Chernobog.  Their men are often accused of lycanthropy, mostly as werewolves.
Clan leader: Grandmother Winters
Current PC: Tanith Winters

Mont Blanc
The Mont Blanc family is also very old.  The claim is they came down from a mountain that had been blessed (or cursed) by their gods. The Mont Blanc family on the surface is a rich, philanthropic  family.  They have married into royal families across the lands and many heads of state can claim at least partial relationship to the Mont Blancs.  Not all members have the power of witchcraft, but there is a core family of the "purest blood" that all members are powerful witches, male and female alike.
Theirs in an ancient form of witchcraft passed down through the generations.
What isn't in doubt about the family is that they are rich beyond most kings and queens and likely more powerful.  The current family patriarch is Pierce Mont Blanc, an 80-year-old witch of great power and formidable personality. Though the power is shifting to the young twins Kimbra & Kelleigh.  Their gathering time is Walpurgis Night, the eve of May.
Dark Secrets: The family is the center of dozens of rumors, each darker than the last.  They are believed to worship, even consort with demons.  It is also rumored that they also possess the largest collection of occult books and artifacts in the world.  It is claimed, in more hushed tones, that the family practices selective breeding in their own ranks. Marrying young women off to older men for their fortunes if they have no ability for the craft, or inbreeding those that do show signs to concentrate the power their blood.
Clan leader: Pierce Mont Blanc
Current PCs: Kimbra & Kelleigh, and Katherine Mont Blanc

The Caliban family is cursed, so it is said.  They believe to have come from a near human monster that spawned a race of witches known as the Witchbreed.  Unlike the Mont Blancs and the Winters, the Caliban have no lands and no wealth to call they're own.  What they lack in wealth though they make up for in numbers.
While many of the members of the Caliban family can be monsters to look at, each is also well spoken, eloquent and highly intelligent.  They are often accused of being monsters, and some have embraced that role. Some though instead prefer to remain outside of society and away from those that would do them harm.
They appear to be leaderless, but there is a rumor of an ancient hag named Sycorax that rules over them and can call them to her. It is believed they all gather together on Mid-Summer's eve.
Clan leader: Sycorax, mother of Caliban and all his offspring.

There are other, lesser families, in my world as well.
There is a rumor of a fourth large clan, the Gwyddonod, but they were destroyed by the other three.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Role Do Gods Play in Your Games?

Working out some details for my games and it got me thinking about gods.

I am toying around with the idea that the gods are nothing more that super-powerful mortals ala the D&D Immortals rules.  I am even tossing around this idea that the gods loose their powers and fall to the Prime Material.

For example, I was thinking of making many of the goddesses of magic, witchcraft and the like really powerful witches, they have just come to be regarded as goddesses. So Hecate, Wee Jas, and the like.
Doing something similar with the various pantheons also seems to fix a few issues I am currently running into in my world building.

What roles do the Gods play in your games?  Do you use them much?

Friday, August 21, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 21

Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Hard call. It really is a toss up between my home brewed Mystoerth campaign world for *D&D or Victorian England.

Mystoerth grew out of a need for my then DM and I to merge our worlds.  He was a huge Greyhawk fan (as was I, but less so) and my world was the known world of Msytara.

Map by Rich Trickey aka chatdemon

We did not call our world Mystoerth. That name as far as I can tell came from +James Mishler and +Rich Trickey.  Rich made that nice map.

It has worked well for me over the years.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Magic Schools in your Games

I was thinking a bit about Schools of Magic today.  Not the schools in the D&D sense, but more in the classical sense of a place to go and learn magic.

Have any of you detailed magic schools in your games?

There are plenty of examples in history, folklore and media.  I have used the Scholomance in my games for many years, but it is a small, elite school taking only 13 students at a time (and keeping one of them!).  On the other end of the equation I have also used the magic school from Glantri as a model.

For many of my witch characters or NPCs I have usually backgrounded something like a home school environment.  But I never have really built anything formal.

I like the idea of a game with younger heroes.  I already mentioned I'd love to do a Harry Potter game, or even a Charmed game (which also had a magic school).  You can have your normal high school drama complicated by everyone also having magic.

The problem with this is that D&D wizards (and all spell casters really) start out as really weak.  In most versions of D&D they only know one spell at first level.  So what did they learn in school?  
The old 2nd Edition Wizard's Handbook covers some of this, but copying your master's scrolls is not really fertile ground for role-playing.

There are cantrips that kind of get around this, but even knowing 6 cantrips is not much to do anything with.   But personally I have often thought that magic-users should be starting the game with more than one spell.

Maybe Magic School is something they do between adventures, not just something they start when young and then go out and adventure, but something they do and then adventure in between terms.
Then characters keep going back till something like 6th level.   I'll have to think about it.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm Home Muggles!

So last week I had the ole blog here on auto-post while the family and I spent some quality time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.   All I can say is wow.

If you haven't been it is located at Universal Studios in Orlando Florida.  It is split up into two parks Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.  The attention to detail was amazing.  We spent maybe half our time in just these two parks.  More or less ignoring the rest of Universal.

We spent a ton of time in Diagon Alley. Drinking Butter Beer, eating at the Leaky Cauldron, buying souvenirs at all the shops and checking out all the details.

We all got these interactive wands that would do all sorts of cool things to various shop windows.

Really. It was a great time.  Oh. I have to add that the staff at Universal from our hotel all the way to the shops of Hogsmeade were all top-notch.  Each and everyone of them was great.

But it got me thinking more and more about a Harry Potter RPG.  I know there is no chance of if ever occurring, but I think it would be great.  You can start with the adventures of young wizards and move out from there.  While there I talked to my kids about how such a game would work.

D&D seems like a good choice, use levels to indicate year in school or something like that. But I don't really need things like "Strength" or "Constitution".  These are kids after all, not mighty thewed warriors.   No abilities like "Courage", "Loyalty" or "Wisdom" are better suited to this sort of game.

Also the appeal to a Harry Potter game would be the same as a Harry Potter theme park; the vast history created for the novels by JKR.  I want a game that captures that same feeling of walking down Knock Turn Alley and seeing the little details.  THATs what I want.  Not to recreate the books, but to feel like I am experiencing them a new way.

There are lots of game systems out there that I think might work well; Ghosts of Albion, Witch Girls Adventures, but none are exactly right for it.

I am going to be giving this one some serious thought.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kickstart Your Weekend: Darkplane

Up this week is a new campaign setting in the vein of the great campaign settings of the 2nd edition of the world most popular fantasy RPG.

I think what attracted me first about Darkplane is really the art, it just has such a dream like sureality to it that it called to me.  I like that despite the "darkness" of it all, there is light too. Need that to bring the darkness and horror into sharper contrast.

Changing by Benita Winckler

But once I got into it and started reading more,, I discovered that this isn't just a campaign world, but a campaing universe to explore in.

The world is "Weird Horror" which is something I like, but rarely seen done well.  So I am excited about this one since I think the author gets it.

This one has already got to their goal so now it is about getting past those stretch goals.

Can't wait to see what this one has in store!

Monday, February 9, 2015

History of the Known World

A couple of great posts came up over the weekend.

Lawrence Schick posted "The “Known World” D&D Setting: A Secret History" over at Black Gate.  A nice history of how he and Tom Moldvay came up with the Known World for their own games and then ported it over to D&D Basic/Expert.  It is a fascinating read if, like me, you are a fan of the Mystara world.

+James Mishler takes this one further and provides the maps for the Moldvay/Schick known world on his blog, Adventures in Gaming.  James also provides a bit more information and some Hexographer files for them as well.

It is interesting how there are so many familiar names and even locations in different places. Like looking at a world you know, but through some sort of distorted lens.

But what is most interesting to me are the new lands.  Places and names that are entirely new to me.
Certainly gives me some names and places to help fill in some blanks I have for my own Mystoerth world.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sol Invictus: The Unconquered Sun

The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake 
as the children of the sun began to awake. 

It's not easy pulling off a large mono-theistic religion in a FRPG, especially one where the world not only has a lot of pantheons, but also where all these goods are assumed to be real.
Fortunately there are plenty of examples from the real world.  Especially in the Christ-like figure of Mithra or Mitra and the similar Sol Invictus.

I think a god like Mithra would be interesting in D&D.

The Church of Sol Invictus
In my Mystoerth world the Church of Sol Invictus seeks to unite the faiths of the world under the banner of one Sun God.  They have a lot of influence in the temples of PholtusPelor, St. Cthubert and Ixion.  There are many similarities to this faith and the one of Taiia in 3rd Edition.

Proponents of Sol Invictus believe that their god is the only true god and all others are false gods or even worse elevated demons or mortals.

But the Church of Sol Invictus has a number of other, deeper secrets.
In addition to only recognizing the sun gods of various faiths as the only true god, they believe that these gods are really only aspects of a much greater god.
The high priests and the leader of the faith, known as "His Brilliance", feel that these aspects are in fact aspects of the god known as "He Who Was".

He Who Was was an ancient powerful god whose chief lieutenant was Asmodeus. At the behest of Tharizdun, Asmodeus tricked and betrayed this god. He was ambushed by Orcus, Demogorgon and a third demon whose name has been erased.  He Who Was managed to kill this other demon and even split Demogorgon into two.  Demogorgon later regenerated into  his current form, each half of his head regenerating in to two complete heads.  Orcus killed He Who Was and in a further act of desecration used his skull and spine as the the great Wand of Orcus.

The clergy of Sol Invictus believe then that by combining these aspects of the Sun God and destroying Orcus forever they can have their god reborn. They believe that this rebirth will make their god more powerful than he ever was.

In my larger world St. Aleena was also a follower of this philosophy and the Church of Law and Order in City of Dolmvay is just another aspect of this faith.

The major foes of this Church are followers of Orcus and pretty much any demonic cult.  Also feared and mistrusted are the faiths that follow the Moon.

The Church of Sol Invictus are among the main witch-hunters in my world.

I am planning to work elements of this church into my current game, but not sure how much detail the players are actually going to get.  The use a word my wife hates, I am going to let it grow "organically".

Some of this organic growth began when I first started pulling all this together for 4e. It was building the 4e version of Aleena that got this idea rolling again.  I guess this is one of the reasons I have not let go of my 4e books.  A lot of the fluff is still compatible with what I am doing in 5e.

Not everything is figured out though.
Given that I grew up in the 70s I would love to add some more left-over hippy shit to it all. I would love to add something like 12 houses to the faith, something along the lines of orders.  Or 7 orders and break them down by color.  The 7 orders actually fits better with some other things I had done in the past.  Each order representing a different aspect of the faith.  I had already figured out Red (Military might) and Blue (Knowledge/learning).  It should not be too hard to come up with something else.  Obviously Green could be related to growing things.  Violet could be Guidance. Why? Well it brings in a group I had created separately that could work into this faith.  Maybe they absorbed them.  I could even have a "Black" for the secret police within the faith.

I will give this some thought.  But yeah this could be fun.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 4: Favorite Game World

Day 4: Favorite Game World

Mine is a tie.  My first and nearest to my heart was "The Known World" later called Mystara. But I quickly adopted Greyhawk.  So when I ran games it was Mystara, but playing it was Greyhawk.  Around 1986 or so my then DM and I decided to merge our worlds.  We called "Oerth 3", not very original I know.
Many years later I discovered this map by Chatdemon based on an idea by James Mishler.  It was exactly what I was trying to do.  Plus this map was so much better than mine.

So my favorite game world of all time is Mystoerth!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Where do you create?

I have been watching more videos of late of various designers, hobbyists and writers of all stripes and it got me thinking.  Is that where their ideas are born?  Now I am not going to start posting video blogs. I don't honestly think anyone wants to see and hear me rattle on about things.  But all the same, here are pictures of where I do my own creating.

Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer.  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

My new work laptop.  Since Frankencomputer is Unbutu and the laptop is Windows I have been using Google Drive to edit docs.  Underneath is "Son of Frankencomputer" which I still need to drop another harddrive into to get working.  I like to rebuild computers.

My game room.  Shelves full of games I am currently playing and/or reading. The rocker was from when my kids were babies.  Still the best chair to fall asleep in read a book in.

Underneath are my lower shelves. Or the stuff I am not using as much.  These are most of my Modern games.

So how about you all?  Where do you create worlds and fates of characters?
Share your work areas/game rooms!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running the Classics

I don't consider myself to be one of those GMs/Players with "Gammer ADHD".  I like to make a plan and stick with it.  My BIG PLAN for some time now has been to run my kids through all the classic D&D modules in some form or another.

I have detailed my attempts here and here. Since that time we have gotten new reprints from WotC and the DNDClassics PDF store opened up.  My kids also dropped 4e in favor of 1st Ed Ad&D.

So I have an embarrassment of riches here.  I have the systems, I have the modules and I even have the willing players.  What I lack is time to do it all.

I guess the only thing for it is to make the time. That and stop buying games.

In my kid's 3.x game we are going to do the Tomb of Horror and I'll talk about that one later.
In their 1st ed game they are still investigating the Caves of Chaos.  After that that we are doing T1 and L1 before moving on to the A series, to eventually do the GDQ series.  I'll work other classics in there where they fit.

Here is my plan so far.

  • B1 In Search of the Unknown, levels 1-3 (played at Gen Con 2012)
  • B2 Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3
  • T1 Village of Hommlet, Intro-levels
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
  • A0 to A4, levels 4-7
  • A5, The Last Slave Lord, levels 5-9
  • G123, levels 8-12
  • D12, levels 9-14
  • D3, levels 10-14
  • Q1, levels 10-14

The trouble is that living in a post-Drow world the impact of GDQ is just not the same unless I make them very different.
Also while Queen of the Demon web pits is fun, it lacks the final confrontation that I would like to do with a "big bad".  Plus I'd like to go to 20th level.

I could scale everything up a little and stick I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City in there before the A series.
Other candidates are X2 (I already took them through X1), C1 and C2.

That would round out the classics really.  Here is how they stack;

  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (after L1)
  • I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7 (after A but before G)
  • C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, levels 5-7 (after A but before G)
  • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, levels 5-7 (after A but before G)

Not to bad really.
It's not too difficult to turn the GDQ series up anyway, but are the drow and Lolth interesting enough?
Since this is the "NextGen" game after my 3.x one maybe Lolth is taking some revenge for her ally Tiamat, or moving into the recently vacated "most evil goddess" role.

While I don't need it a huge Lolth figure would be nice.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dream of the Blue Orcs

I had the oddest dream the other night.  I am blaming all the allergy drugs. And the Absinthe I had on Sunday.

So the the other night I dreamed about this giant orc with a blue face. Not sure if it was painted blue or was blue.  It was wielding a giant axe, but one that looked like it was more chopping word than necks.  He was screaming and running at "me".  He was also wearing a kilt.

Now a lot of this can be explained away.  I have been reading a lot of Tolkien of late and his orcs are more, for a lack of better word, demonic than the typical D&D Orc or even the typical "new" Orc as first given to us by John Wick. I have talked about orcs before and how they fit into my world and the various sub-races.
I was also at the Bristol Ren Faire that day, so that explains the axes and even the kilt.

The idea of a blue orc is a cool one, so I looked for them online.  I see there are blue orcs in Heroscape and they have sabre-toothed tigers. That is a cool idea.  The axe makes me think northern climes and the kilt, well Scottish.  I have a "White Orc", but I was thinking that these Orcs would be south of the artic areas, but still northern and cold.  Think Canada.

Given my world's population they could even  be another offshoot of the Green Orcs, like the White.   Culturewise they are not much different than the Green.  Maybe more savage and certainly more tribal.   Wars with the Green and White keep their numbers in check.   To continue the metaphor, if Blue Orcs live in Canada then the Green live in the US and the White only the most northern places.  Greenland, Iceland, Siberia and Alaska.

Blue Orcs do not differ significantly from the other strains/sub-races of Orc in terms of stats.  Though if anything I would give them a bit better survival skills in colder climates.  Though this also reminds me of the Cailleach Bheur, the hag of Winter.    Maybe Blue Orcs worship the Cailleach as some sort of Goddess figure.  Pagan Orcs...the idea has some possibility and different than the other orcs.  Perhaps they believe that their Goddess carved them from ice and stone and then breathed on them to bring them to life.

The more I think about it the more I like it.  I'll have to use these guys soon.
Plus it gives me a chance to come up some Blue Orc witches.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ravenloft / Glantri connection

This post might not be all that interesting (I know the WRONG way to start a post) but I have been digging up some old information on an old campaign I ran at the end of the 2nd ed era.

Many, many years ago while I was still deeply involved in the online Ravenloft community I postulated that Barovia, the home of Strahd in Ravenloft, is a domain taken from the Known World of Mystara, and Glantri in particular.
I was very active on the old MYSTARA-L and RAVENLOFT-L listservs.

Here is a post from 2001 where I talk about it.  This might be the first time I even mention it.

Hold on a sec I have my combined Ravenloft-Mystrara-Greyhawk Time line here.

Now keep in mind that Ravenloft has funky time.  So Ravenloft uses the
Barovian Calendar (BC) and the present day is 751 (according to the books)
or 753 (according to the kargatane).  That would make it 1,346 AC.  On *my*
time line.
This also coincides with 1,370 DR in the Realms (but who cares about that!).

I am correlating my dates based on the "fact" that the two Blackmoors are
the same in Greyhawk and Mystara and were destroyed at the same time,
possibly splitting Mystara and Oerth (and D&D from AD&D!).  Then I use
Azalin from Ravenloft since we know when he entered the mists and when he
was a king on Greyhawk.

Barovia is founded in "an unknown world" in year 1 BC, or 596 AC.  So what
areas were still ripe for conquest or settlement then?
Strahd is born in 299 BC (894 AC)
The "Tergs" invade Barovia 320 BC (915 AC)
Strahd pushes them back 321 BC (916 AC)
Strahd kills his family, Barovia is "cloned" and sucked into the demi plane
351 BC (946 AC).

So the world that Barovia is from, never knows it is gone since an exact
copy with out people is left behind.  Well, some of Strahd's family remains.

800 AC to 1000 AC is a fairly well documented period of time.

Castle Amber (X2) has some amazing "Ravenloft like" elements.  After all,
Old Averoigne *IS* from Gothic Earth! ;)
As does the Glantri Gazetteer.
Other modules from Mystara also have a very heavy Ravenloft feel to them,
more so than other worlds ("Death's Ride" anyone?)

There is an adventure where the character go to the Prime Material Barovia
around 740 BC (or 1,335 AC). Barovia of this time and place is rules by a
"King Strahd".

If I go with my "Holy Lands of Glantri"  future Time line, 1,335 is a blank
period of time for me. A time between the "true" kings in which a regent sat
on the throne.  It was an attempt by the mage guild to bring back the rule
of the Princes.  They had assassinated the true king and his heirs, but one
escaped not to be "discovered" again till 1,496 AC.

SO, given my time line, I'd say Barovia is/was a principality of Glantri.
Granted this is not conclusive evidence, but it fills the holes I have.

What else do we have?

Web Warlock,
Author, the Netbooks of Witches and Warlocks
The Other Side:
The DnD Community Council:
Yeah I was still going by "Web Warlock" online all the time is a vain attempt to keep my academic persona (Timothy S. Brannan) seperate from my gamer geek one.  Finally I said screw it and embraced my inner and outer geek.

There is more here and elsewhere.  With James Mishler online now I should ask him what his theories were.

Here is something I posted years ago that I can't find the original of online anymore.  Though it was quoted at Dragonsfoot.  I have the original Word doc here at home still.
Barovia is from Mystara
While Ravenloft may be my favorite game world, it is not my first. No that (dubious) honor belongs to Mystara. So here is how I have used my two worlds together. We really don't know what world Strahd's homeland came from. Other lands are clearly defined as being from Oerth (Greyhawk), Toril (Forgotten Realms), Athas (Dark Sun) or Krynn (Dragonlance). That leaves both Barovia and Mystara obvious by their absence. So. I speculate that Barovia is a darker version of one the Principalities of Glantri. Of course this long before the Princes ruled. We know that from the adventure "Roots of Evil" that the original Barovia still remains on it's home world. Well Glantri has a principality called Boldavia that is surprisingly like Barovia. It is possible that they were nieghbors, but when Strahd and his Barovia was pulled into the mists, the lord of Boldavia took over the unprotected Barovia.

There are plenty of other clues of a Ravenloft-Mystara link.

The classic module, X2 Castle Amber, takes place in Glantri and the module reads like a proto-Ravenloft setting complete with mists and lands being pulled into demi-planes. X2 was based on the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, one of Lovecraft's inner circle, and both writers have contributed a lot to what makes up D&D and Ravenloft today.

Glantri has a very European feel to it. It is higher tech and higher magic than most of the other lands on Mystara and there is definantly a darker edge to it. Since Ravenloft also uses psuedo-European cultures, the ties fit rather nicely.

Demi-Plane or World
Ravenloft is a demi-plane. Or so they tell us. But this has never been a satifactory world for me. In my mind this only emphasizes the "weekend in Hell" feel of the world. So. With the latest edition of the Ravenloft rules, I have decided that Ravenloft is in fact it's own world. Granted it is a haunted world, but not much different than the "World of Darkness" of White Wolf. This has certain advantages for me. Worlds are easier to deal with. I can have a place that can seem real to it inhabitants and give me a reason to have native players. Plus if I want, I can use my Call of Cyhulhu, White Wolf, or Witchcraft RPG stuff to modernize the world, or give it a future. This is what I liked best about Gothic Earth. With 3E Ravenloft I could do a Gothic Mystara or a Gothic Oerth.

Personally I rather move the lot to Earth. But that is a topic for another time.

Plus this helps bring other ideas from the Ravenloft-list into line for me. Ravenloft has a mostly human population, but there are monsters. So a world can support a larger ecosystem. Monsters can run about. Another idea is move the mind flayers, Illithids, to the moon. This give them a more alien feel and ties in very nicely with Lovecraft. Plus I have the new d20 Call of Cthulhu book sitting on my self next to my Ravenloft one. So I am sure I can get something from their unholy union.

Another idea to flesh out this "world" is to use some of the new d20 products out there. Sword and Sorcery studios has some great books, like the Creature Collections and Relics and Rituals. The Scarred Lands of those books has the dark and gritty feel I like to inject into my games. I also have a few good official Wizards of the Coast products that also make a nice addition. Monsters of Faerun is a good example.

The Dark Powers
Who or what are the dark powers and what do they wnat? That is question that has been bugging players and DM of Ravenloft for a long time. We have had some clues. They could be evil outsiders, or gods. Or they could be Good and Ravenloft is a prison. Or maybe they started out as good and became evil. Who knows. The truth be told. I don't deal with them much in my games. While I dislike the idea of Ravenloft being a giant roach motel of evil, I also like to keep the players and the Dark Lords in check.

Plus there are the Dark Lords. Very powerful, not very mobile. I like to use a bit more flexibility with my Dark Lords and Powers. Granted this has not always worked out as well as I would have liked. But I'll keep experimenting. Normally I like to take a page out of the Masque of Red Death and not have Dark Lords at all. Or rather, they are there, but they are significantly weaker when they leave their area of control.

No Dragons?
How is it there are no dragons in Ravenloft, a Dungeons and Dragons game? Well I have added them. Yes they are evil and there is even a Dragon dark lord. The realm is Draconis, and it is also from Mystara. It is currently an island. It too has it's roots in Glantri. You can download it from Draconis.

If I continue the world metaphor then there are plenty of places for Dragon Dark Lords and Dragons. While Draconis is based on Glantri, it has it roots in the mystical "Dragon Isle" of so many fantasy stories, including the tales of Michael Moorcock's Elric.

BTW I still have Draconis laying around here somewhere.  I reused large portions of it for my Dragon Ilse in my kids 3.x game.

I'll have to see what else I have laying around.
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