Monday, March 20, 2017

The Village of Devsay-Hough

Haven't done a village for a while....

The Village of Devsay-Hough stands at an almost-literal end of the road, overlooking the River Igleri gorge. The bridge crossing the gorge collapsed nearly five years ago, and the powers that be can't be bothered to engineer a replacement. Prior to the collapse, Devsay-Hopugh was a moderately successful border village overlooking a river crossing to West Lien. With the bridge loss, traffic moved to a ford to the north, and an intact bridge to the south.

The village was originally home to nearly 500 citizens, but is slowly dwindling, as travel through the area has dried up.  Approximately 200 people remain in the core area of the settlement, with houses and farms in the surrounding area abandoned and left to be reclaimed by the woods.  With the loss of the bridge and its associated administration, more questionable souls, who are fine with being off the beaten path, have arrived.

The village has struggled to remain self-sufficient in its impoverished state.  However, it still maintains a several trades-folk and professions to serve both citizens and those few travelers who pass by on the Marginal Road.
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Friday, March 10, 2017

RPG Blog Carnival: Things in the Dark

Moebius Adventures opened up their figurative doors to host this month's RPG Blog Carnival, with the topic of 'Things in the Dark'...


...whether they are critters, environments, or just making one's way around in the dark places that PCs have a bad habit of exploring.

So, I will, as I often do, grab a bit of real history and bend it a bit for a little gaming goodness...

Mining.  Deep underground, dirty work in the darkness.  Personal illumination to safely and effectively work was important (well, effectively, safely came later...)

Trouble is, mines and other similar confined spaces can have a problem of atmosphere - Not enough oxygen, too much oxygen, explosive dusts or gasses, or poisonous atmospheres.  These so-called 'damps' (from the German dampf, or vapor) were a constant hazard.

And open flames can exacerbate those problems - especially in the cases of explosive environments or oxygen-enriched environments (where combustion can accelerate or spread rapidly).  Since miners often relied on open flames, such as helmet-mounted oil lamps (below), there was an incentive to find a less dangerous alternative, or at least methods to assess an atmosphere before working in an area (the fabled canary could only do so much, after all...).

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lost Tomes 5

....wherein we find more books to seek, stumble upon, or suppress....

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Funerary of Ildar:  A hide-bound book of resurrection of the dead.  The book contains powerful texts for the retrieval of the soul from beyond, and re-securing it to the mortal body.  However, the subject of the resurrection must now permanently keep the book in their possession to maintain their revivified status.  Physical separation from the book will sever the person's hold on life, rendering them permanently dead.  The book will be found with a decayed corpse a few feet away, in the attitude of crawling toward the volume.

The Mortuaria of Radow: A clandestine directory of maps to a dynasty's King-barrows.  It was compiled by generations of tomb-builders (and grave-robbers) in deepest secrecy.  If the map-book's unique cipher can be broken, the directory shows the locations, contents, and hazards of dozens of tombs.  Map fragments secreted in the book's cover consist of partial information, requiring a complicated sequence of overlays and foldings to depict the barrow locations. There is a likelihood that a number of these tombs may remain undefiled. If found on a person by the Dynasty's forces, the copy will be immediately destroyed, and the person and their companions buried alive in punishment.  Two copies are rumored to exist.

Worm-caller's Scrolls:  Stinking, fetid skins wrap parchment written in the runes of a mysterious subterranean cult.  The cult claims to speak the languages of and communes with various monstrous burrowing annelids.  The bearers of the scrolls may pass through giant worm-burrows without harm.  The odor of the scrolls identifies the bearers as 'worm-talkers,' causing generally negative reactions from other subterranean dwellers.  Mastering any of the associated worm-cants will allow communication with a number of species of giant hell-worms known or rumored in the land.

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Onieromancers' Somnambularium: A spellbook of an Onieromancer - an arcane practitioner and manipulator of sleep and the night.  The book contains numerous spells associated with the discipline,  including various 'dreamwalking' spells for the viewing and manipulation of dreams (and dreamers...).  The book's deep black cover imitates a moonless night sky. Any non-onieromancer handling the book must save vs spells or fall into a deep trance, simply staring at the book's cover until the book is removed or covered.

Gnoll-codex:  A discredited sage's study of the matrilineal lines and mating habits of the gnoll clans of the Outer Plains.  The illustrations are exceptionally detailed and hint at quite personalized research in the matter.

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The Cog-Rhack: Developed by secret castes of dwarven majicker-smiths, this iron-bound manual secured with complicated clockwork specifies the creation and operation of mobile automatons for the transport of ore and other heavy hauling.

Songbooks of Ghamoskel: A collection of chants and psalters of marginalized non-human gods.  The texts include:

  1. Fungus Lord Hymnal  - Songs of hallucination and decay in dedication to the spore-gods. 
  2. Insect Anthiem - Trilling songs of the hive and communal goals.  Certain phrases within the verses allow a disorienting gateway to the compound visions of the hive minds.
  3. Labyrinthinos - Paeans to the minotaur-gods of the mazes and lost twisted places. The supplicant, while keeping up the songs, will not be misdirected in a maze.
  4. The Yiap - Calls to an alien, one-legged saltating god of the plains.  With great leaping bounds it attempts to stomp out the unworthy...
  5. Oestern Ent-songs - Sonorous, ponderous chants of the tree folk - takes days to complete a single verse.  Full choral symphonies in the language can outlast a human lifetime.
  6. The Torhoninahin -  Subsonic moans and meditations of the near-immortal god-mammoth that tracks among the frozen northern wastes and is worshiped by the Hatgarrak Wanderers as the Tundra-lord.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An Encounter Matrix for Multiple Factions

Hi all, a quick, final post for this month's RPG Blog Carnival theme: Rethinking Encounters.


Within potential encounters in a larger area of action, one element that must be considered is encounters with different groups or factions within a setting, as well as their relationship to one another.

And to perhaps consider the benefits or liabilities of both positive or negative interactions with the various groups.

So here is a brief scenario, as well as a reference matrix, for tracking several groups in an area:

A - A bunch of cultists who have occupied an abandoned hill-fort on the edge of civilization. They are recent immigrants, fleeing a more restrictive environment.
B - A settlement of orcs near the confluence of two rivers.  They moved in long enough ago to build a rough palisade and establish rock and wattle structures.  While they mostly hunt in the forests, they are certainly not above a good raid now and then.
C - A band of raider orcs, attempting to expand their tribe's influence and territory into the region.  They have been preying on travelers on the Border Road, as well as isolated farmsteads.
D - A goblin clan that lives in a series of sandstone caves along the river banks.  They have been here longer than any of the groups, and have weathered the ebb and flow of 'civilization' in the area.
E - Corrupt soldiery tasked with peacekeeping in on the border, but more focused on looking the other way if a share of bribes and loot pass in their direction.

These groups have relationships with one another-  either as Allies (A), Enemies (E), or Neutral (N).  Tracking these relationships might be busy, so a quick matrix to highlight who's who and where they stand with respect to one another is helpful:


Ok.  So now our erstwhile adventurers need to retrieve an artifact, the Scepter of Harambe-kamen.

Trouble is, it got broken in two pieces while being used as a nutcracker a few years back, and its respective components are now in the hands of two groups: the cultists (Group A), and the raider orcs (Group C).

Provided our team can't physically defeat one of both of these groups, they are going to have to use some diplomacy.  Of course, these two groups are at odds, so utilizing and intelligence of the relationships (and territories) of the various faction may be useful.

For instance, the soldiers and cultists tolerate one another, but the soldiers have also come to team with the raider orcs, who have proven to be quite lucrative.  Conversely, getting on the cultists' good side may also gain influence with the local orc tribe, who hate the interlopers horning in on their territory, and may be happy to have an excuse (and temporary allies) to help push them out of the area.

Now, if the team wiped out the cultists in pursuit of part of the scepter, and the local orcs learned of it, then not only will they not assist, but now they are another belligerent faction to deal with.

Conversely, getting on the soldier's good side may make headway (or at least hopefully a 'safe' introduction) with the raider orcs, although once the two groups understood that something of value was to be found, the chances of double-crossing goes up significantly.  And the soldiers would likely not get in the way if those pesky cultists got ousted from the old fort.  Provided their tithing boxes got dropped along the roadway as the players made their way out of the area.

The goblins would just rather be left alone.

Since these relationships aren't necessarily linear to one another, there is ample potential for negotiation, subterfuge, and double-crossing (on both plate and NPC sides).  Anyway, as I said, a brief approach for building and tracking relationships in an area to give both color and complications to an area, and quite likely, the party's goals.  Enjoy.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Magic Item: Saint Iriabel's Censer of Alliance


Tabletop Terrors is hosting this month's RPG Blog Carnival, with the theme of 'Rethinking Encounters': including rethinking encounter mechanics, making them memorable, redefining encounters, and creating items associated with encounters...

And I've found that if I don't take advantage of some inspiration as it strikes, it tends to dissipate into the aether.

So here ya go - 15 minutes of inspiration and Wikipedia....

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Saint Iriabel's Censer of Alliance

The Way-Priest Gegar Iriabel was a missionary-explorer to the Chaos-lands that encroached on (and periodically overran) the boundaries of the tamed lands.  Rather than simply smiting Chaos as he found it, he was known to proselytize to the 'Darkness' and occasionally found some success, as evidenced by his periodic entourage of hobgoblins and orcs.

For Iriabel found it much more profitable, and less hazardous, to create small alliances, or sway factions within Chaos forces to either support him, or at least allow him passage in his greater crusading goals.  These goals often included recovering hostages, retrieval of lost or stolen artifacts and relics, and re-sanctifying desecrated places along the edges of civilization.

In this pursuit, he fortified his own faith and powers of persuasion with a chain censer blessed to magnify the powers of a wandering priest in hostile lands, such as himself...

The Censer was made of silver worked with rare examples of lapis and topaz.  Swung by a short chain while burning certain blessed charcoals and incenses, the Censer creates the following effects for a Law-aligned cleric (or class allowed use of cleric magic items):

  • +2 on reaction rolls with potentially hostile or unknown parties.  Irabel blessed the device to have its greatest benefit when encountering an unknown individual or group in unfriendly territory.  While the Censer may not have the outward benefit of a charm spell, Irabel found that, along with his own powers of persuasion, such an amplifier was quite suitable to create voluntary temporary allies.
The Censer grants bonuses to the following common encounter-based spells
  • An additional +1 bonus to saves (and corollary -1 penalty to chaos forces) Protection from Evil, (For Protection from Evil, 10' Radius, the radius if doubled)
  • An additional +1 bonus for a character under the benefits of a Bless spell
  • An additional -1 penalty to creatures affected by a Prayer spell 
Other bunuses granted by the Censer include:
  • +1 on undead turning rolls
  • While the Censer is burning, any ally within 10 feet is protected from contracting disease due to its protective smoke and fumes. 

Bonuses will last while the Censer is burning,  The Censer will burn for 1d2+1 hours with each charge of charcoal and incense.

After Iriabel's death and canonization, the Censer was housed in his fortress-monastery in the northwest of the kingdom,  Ironically, the monastery was overrun by Chaos warbands a decade after his death, and the Censer itself was stolen away.  Perhaps a brave and clever party will seek to recover it...