Showing posts with label Dragonlance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dragonlance. Show all posts

Monday, March 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Old-School Essentials

Old School Essentials Advanced
It's the first of the new month and time to introduce a new character!  Although this one is not really a new character. 

Back in January, I posted stats for Sarana, my version of Stevie from the adventure Tanglewood Keep in DL15 Mists of Krynn. I had a lot of fun with it to be honest. I am planning to use Tanglewood Keep with Sarana/Stevie in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  I think it would be a lot of fun and it would fit great theme-wise and provide the multiverse hoping I really want to do with the campaign. 

The adventure is not a difficult one, nor particularly original, but it is fun.  

Though...there is one little issue.  The crux of the adventure is to regain a crystal to make a magical travel mirror work again.  The characters have to get the crystal and return to Sarana/Stevie's home so they can return to their own world.   The questions arise. Why can't Sarana/Stevie get it herself? Failing that why can't her Kender friend Twill Topknot get it for her?

The answer is timing.

The PCs have entered Krynn at two important points in time.  First, the PCs have entered Krynn during the events of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight novel and the DL1 Dragons of Despair module.  This means that, among other things, there are no gods.  No gods also mean no healing magic.

The second point deals with the accident of Twill Topknot and this brings me to my character for this month. 

In Tanglewood Keep, Twill is a 3rd level kender thief.   He is essentially a Tasselhof stand-in.  But I wanted to try something new.  In particular, I really wanted to try out Sara Thompson's combat wheelchair for my Old-School games.  This past summer when this was causing a stir I joked "I was going to make one and put a Kender in it!"  Well.  The idea was actually too good to pass up.

Putting Twill in a wheelchair makes a lot of sense since I need him to NOT to be able to help the characters; the Keep is not easily accessible.  

I am currently rereading the Dragonlance saga and the comment has been made that there are no old Kender.  They usually die before that due to accidents.  This is Twill's tale. He was adventuring when he slipped and fell off a cliff.  He was discovered by Sarana who used her witchcraft to heal him the best she could. While she could heal his wounds and kept him from dying, she could not heal everything.  With no healing magic from the gods, she did an admirable job. 

Thankfully for Twill, Tinker the gnome was able to craft him a "mobility chair" which Twill thinks is the best thing ever.  He has a pocket for his maps, cool little baubles, and a place for his hoopak staff.

Since my War of the Witch Queens is a B/X flavored game, I thought that my current favorite Basic-era game Old School Essentials would be great for these stats today.

Twill Topknot
Twill Topknot
Male Kender Bard, 3rd level, Neutral Good

Strength: 10
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 9 
Dexterity: 18 (agility) / 9 (movement)
Constitution: 13
Charisma: 15

HP: 12
AC: 4

Saves
D: 13  W: 14  P: 13  B: 16  S: 15 

Initiative: +3
Movement: 20

To Hit AC 0: 20

Weapons: Dagger 1d4 

Hoopak staff 1d4

I decided that Twill is better suited in my game as a Bard (I was not doing Bards in a vacuum last month).  One of the things I found endearing about Tasslehoff Burrfoot was his rich store of stories he knew and wanted to tell. I enjoyed it more on my recent re-read (and was profoundly irritated with Flint every time he told Tass to be quiet).   So a Kender storyteller bard sounds great to me.  I'll make an Arcane Bard since there is no divine magic in Krynn at this point.  Plus the Arcane Bard for OSE still has some thief skills to use.  

In my mind, Twill lives (platonically, for now) with Sarana.  She thinks it is to protect him (he doesn't need it) and he thinks it is to protect her, being from another world (she doesn't need protecting either).  So Twill stays with her in her little house in a haunted forest. He tells her stories that she delights in and she makes him tea. He shows her all his wonderful maps of Krynn and talks about dragons (still only a story now) and she tells him about wonderful worlds she has seen.

No wonder she has no real desire to leave Krynn.  But don't assume anything untoward! This is Krynn and there is a certain morality in place (that I seemed to have completely missed at 14 when I read it the first time).

Sarana and Twill
Sarana and Twill

Twill's Mobility Chair

Being a good-natured sort, Twill is quite proud of his remarkable "mobility chair."  He will gladly show off the pockets it has for his maps, dagger, and that really interesting thing the PC's just dropped and he was keeping safe.   There is even a place on the back for his hoopak.  He credits Tinker (a tinker gnome, naturally) for building it and Sarana for enchanting it to cover any ground or terrain. 

In fact, he will often state that life with his new chair is even better now, though he will admit he misses wiggling his toes. 

Thanks to Sarana's magic the chair can travel over any terrain that Twill himself could do save for anything involving swimming or climbing, with that he can levitate.  The wheels have permanent Floating Disk spells on them to provide levitation.  Since the chair is new he is still learning how to navigate stairs. 

Using the Combat Wheelchair 2.1 for 5e Twill's is a modified basic wheelchair. 

You can get (and modify) your own Twill Topknot mini from HeroForge.

ETA: Since I posted this I noticed that Hero Forge has added three wheelchair options.  

Here is a new version of Twill with his cat.



Tuesday, February 2, 2021

One Man's God: Syncretism and the Gods

Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
In the pages of the Deities & Demigods (or Gods, Demigods, and Heroes) the Gods and their Pantheons are fairly clean-cut affairs.  Greek over here, Egypt over there, Mesopotamia over there a little more. Norse WAY the hell over there.

In real-world mythology and religion, it doesn't work like that. Zeus was, and was not, exactly Jupiter. Ra was Ra, unless he was Amun-Ra or Aten.  Dumuzid was Tammuz, except for the times he was his own father. This is not counting the times when religions rise, fall, change and morph over the centuries. Today's God is tomorrow's demon.  Ask Astarte or the Tuatha Dé Danann how things fare for them now.

Gods are messy. 

It stands to reason that gods in your games should also be as messy. 

Now, most games do not have the centuries (game time) and none have the real-time evolution of gods in their games. We use simple "spheres" and give the gods roles that they rarely deviate from.  The Forgotten Realms is an exception since its published works cover a couple hundred years of in-universe time, but even then their gods are often pretty stable.  That is to make them easier to approach and to make sales of books easier.  The Dragonlance books cover more time in the game world, but their gods are another issue entirely.

While I want to get back to my One Man's God in the proper sense I do want to take this side quest to talk about Syncretism.

Syncretism

According to the ole' Wikipedia, "Syncretism /ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/ is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought."  For our purposes today we are going to confine ourselves to just gods.

For game purposes, I am going to use Syncretism as the combination of two or more gods into one.  The individual gods and the syncretized god are considered to be different and separate entities.

Now years ago when I proposed the idea that gods can be different than what is stated I go some grief online from people claiming that gods are absolute truth. For example, you can cast a Commune spell and speak to a god and get an answer.  But a commune is not a cell phone. It is not email. It is only slightly better than an Ouija board.  You have no idea who, or what, is on the other end.  If you are a cleric all you have is faith.

So what is a syncretic god like? Some examples from the real world and my own games.

Hermes Trismegistus

Our poster boy for syncretism is good old Hermes Trismegistus or the Thrice Great Hermes.  He is a Hellenistic syncretism of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth.  Now, the DDG has these as very separate individuals.  Thoth is a Neutral Greater God of Knowledge, Hermes is a Neutral Greater God of Thieves, Liars, and more.  From this perspective, there does not seem to be an overlap.   But like I say above, gods are messy.  This figure is believed to have written the Corpus Hermetica, the collection of knowledge passed down to the various Hermetic Orders that would appear in later antiquity and during the Occult revivals.   Even then the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hellenistic period could be argued to be a completely different personage than the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hermetic Orders.

But is Hermes Trismegistus a God?  If you met him on the street would that mean you also met Hermes, Thoth, and Mercury? Or can all four walk into a bar together and order a drink? That answer of course is a confounding yes to all the above.  Though this is less satisfactory than say having stats for all four in a book.

The Triple Moon Goddess Heresy

Back when I was starting up my 4e game and deciding to set it in the Forgotten Realms I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the gods and goddesses of the world.  I was also already mulling some thoughts that would become One Man's God, so I decided to go full heretic.  I combined the moon goddesses all into one Goddess.  I also decided that like Krynn, Toril has three moons, but you can't see one of them.   I detailed that religion in my post Nothing Like the Sun... and I did something similar to Lolth and Araushnee in The Church of Lolth Ascendant.

Sehanine Moonbow, Selûne and Shar
Sehanine Moonbow, Selûne, and Shar by Ben Honeycutt

As expected (and maybe a little wanted) these tended to shuffle the feathers of the orthodoxy.  Thanks for that by the way.

This is all fun and everything, but what can I actually *do* with these?

Syncretic Gods make FANTASTIC witch and warlock patrons.

Witches in many pagan traditions in the real world believe that their Goddess is all goddesses.  That is syncretism to the Nth degree.  I already have a case with Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic Order. 

Here are some syncretic gods from antiquity and potential roles as patrons.

Apollo-Belenus, Patron of the sun and healing.  From the Greco-Roman Apollo and the Gaulish Belenus.

Ashtart, Patroness of love, marriage, and sex. Combines the Goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Athirat, Ishtar, Isis, and Venus. Sometimes depicted as the consort to Serapis.

Cybele, or the Magna Mater, Patroness of Motherhood and fertility. She combines many Earth and motherhood-related Goddesses such as Gaia, Rhea, and Demeter.

Serapis, the Patron of Law, Order, rulers, and the afterlife.  He is a combination of the Gods Osiris and Apis from Egypt with Hades and Dionysus of the Greek. Besides Hermes Trismegistus, he is one of the most popular syncretic gods and the one that lead archeologists and researchers to the idea of syncretism. 

Sulis Minerva, Patroness of the sun and the life-giving power of the earth. She is chaste and virginal where Ashtart is lascivious. 

And one I made up to add to this mix and smooth out some edges,

Heka, the Patroness of Magic. She combines Hecate, Cardea, (who might have been the same anyway), Isis, with bits of Ishtar (who has connections to Isis too), and Ereshkigal with some Persephone.

In my own games, I have always wanted to explore the Mystra (Goddess) and Mystara (World) connection.  

This also helps me answer an old question.  Why would a Lawful Good witch be feared or hated?  Simple that Lawful witch is worshiping a god that the orthodoxy deems as a heresy. 

A Witch (or Warlock) of the Tripple Moon Goddess in the Realms is going to be hated by both the followers of Selûne and Shar, even if they are the same alignment.  Cults are like that.

I am planning on expanding these ideas further. 

Another thing I want to explore is when a god is split into two or more gods or demons.  In this case I want to have some sort of divinity that was "killed" and from the remnants of that god became Orcus and Dis Pater, or something like that.  Orcus, Dis Pater (Dispater), and Hades have a long and odd relationship. This is not counting other gods that have floated in and out of Orcus' orbit like Aita and Soranus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Going Back to Krynn

Dragonlance is back in the news (and not for great reasons) now and it got me thinking about the original trilogy.   I thought maybe in this Covid time I would return to Krynn and see how well my memory of it holds up.

Cover of the Dragonlance ChroniclesDragonlance Chronicles signed

There is an old saying, "The Golden Age of Sci-Fi/Fantasy is 14."  That rings truest for me here since I was 15 when Dragons of Autumn Twilight was released in November 1984.  I devoured these books back then.  I had been on a steady diet of Tolkien and Moorcock and others that I thought of as "near-D&D", since these books actually had real D&D terms and spells in them they had to be better, right.  RIGHT?

Well...even then I could still "hear dice being rolled in the background" as it were.  

I'll be blunt. The books are not great and a lot of my fondness for them has more to do with the time in which I read them and nostalgia. This was never brought into sharper focus than when I tried to reread them about 12 years ago.  The icing on the cake was the terrible direct to video movie of Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight.  

I like Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. They are very good people.  I like their adventures. Ravenloft by Tracy is one of my all-time favorites. The Legends Trilogy is good as far as my memory goes.  So I am rereading this again with a more open frame of mind. 

Instead of complaining about these stories for what they are not, I am going to enjoy them for what they are.  I am not sure if I'll post much about them here.  Covid-19 is doing a number on the Universities and I have never been busier, so my free time to read is limited to a couple of minutes over lunch. But if something comes up then yeah, I'll share.

I can say this, I am three chapters in and I am enjoying what I am reading. There is heart here and that is something some other books seem to lack. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Russian Dragonlance Musical

People have a lot of opinions on Russia these days.
Gamers have always had a lot of opinions about Dragonlance.

But wherever you fall on the spectrum of opinions on either of those topics you are going to have to admit that this is kind of cool.

Here is the official Russian musical stage adaptation of the Dragonlance world.


The musical is called "The Last Trial" and it is based on the second (and better) Dragonlance Trilogy Legends.  You can easily pick out which characters are which even if you don't speak Russian (which I don't).


I guess it has been in development since the 90s.

There is a website dedicated to it here, http://lasttestmusical.weebly.com/ and of course a Facebook page.

To my knowledge, there is no Russian musical of the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk.  So Dragonlance has that in its favor.