Sunday, December 9, 2018

Trespassing in Dyson's World - Wyvernseeker Rock

Hi all, another writing exercise of multiple interpretations of a single map.  I scribbled together two scenarios back to back a few weeks ago, and figured I'd better push out two more to make an even four, and keep with my occasional creative theme. 

Here's the original map in all its glory:

And four attempts at making it a somewhat interesting place to visit:

Yup, another root out the goblins and their ilk scenario.

Brain-melting alien.  Always welcome at the table.

What's poisoned the river this time?

Just another happy hermit shrine....

Statted generically for your generic elf-gaming needs.  Share and enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monster: The Tumorous Spider

Writing up a selection of '4 Scenarios' for a certain mapper's lair, and I needed to throw in a Tumorous Spider to haunt a cavern.

Wait, what.

I never statted up the damn thing (well, a few showed up briefly in a OPD draft). And after I had my wife sketch one up and send it to me so I could immediately lose it in my email.

So a quick stat and description of this lovely critter, so I can add it to the lair...
Isn't she pretty?
Twisted by local corruptions, whether they be magical, biological, radiological, or illogical, these giant (4-5' diameter) spiders crawl about on twisted limbs, warts and tumors seeping pus and fluids.  Tortured and deformed by the powers that bent and diseased their bodies, the spiders remain formidable predators, even in their foul, degraded state. Some hunt from disordered webs, as deformed as their weavers, while others remain ambush predators, lurching from cover to pounce or bowl over prey.

The deformities slow these beasts, and many will have one or more twisted, ineffective legs.  Too many intruders have thought these pathetic creatures an easy foe, only to find themselves cornered and disabled.  For the spider's venom slows an unlucky victim, thus leveling the playing field... 

Likewise, striking the creature has a chance of rupturing one of the tumors, spraying corruption on a melee attacker.  Woe to those exposed to the fluids, as they may soon fall under the same ailment as the spider...

Tumorous Spider: HD: 3 or 4, AC: 6/13, Attacks at -2 due to deformed limbs, Dmg:1d6 + poison (save or slowed, as per spell, 1d6 turns), Movement: 1/2 rate of healthy spider, Special: When struck by a melee weapon, there is a 20% chance for the attacker to be sprayed by tumor fluids. Save or undergo twisted limbs/painful tumors within one week.  1/2 movement and -2 to attacks and poison/disease saves (cure disease to counteract).

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cleonald's Barrow - Mucking up another Matt Map

Trying to get back in a writing mode - scratching and clawing my way into some creativity.  Not sure what it is, but this year's seasonal change to the dark Northwest winter's has done a number on my mood, more so than usual.  Got to cleave off some bad habits and modes, and hopefully get to feeling a bit healthier.

In the meantime... pried this little scenario from one of Matt Jackson's recent Patreon offerings.  An unloved tomb housing an unloved occupant.

Click to download adventure

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mini-Review: Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness

Time for a brief look at a time and place in history that passes under the radar in too many history classes (Really, does anyone learn anything in a history class, particularly high school?).  That is - parts of the world that are not Western Europe at some time between the end of the Roman Empire and perhaps the Renaissance.  

Anyway, I believe that this particular book came onto my radar via +Matt Jackson in some post or discussion regarding Viking history and influences.  


Good read - it is primarily excerpts/fragments from Ibn Fadlan's travels, as well as many other Muslim authors in the 900's thru 1100's.  The authors/documentarians are traders and missionaries, intent on building relationships through both commerce and conversion. And gaining intelligence on these mysterious, intimidating folks from the north lands that spend half the year swathed in dark and cold.  The authors who traveled north during the cold months write of their hardships in great detail - voluminous furs and clothing, frozen rivers, difficult transportation, short days.

While the book is best(?) known for Ibn Fadlan's very detailed description of an authentic Viking ship-burial, the passages also document early conversion of Turkic tribal leaders to Islam, Jewish trade networks extending to China and the Asian subcontinent, even an early description of the Polish city of Krakow. Speak of interactions and vibrant trade between cultures and religious groups: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, 'pagan' faiths. It's a good document regarding interaction with the Rus (Swedish Vikings who settled Russia, became traders, and gave the country its name), as well as a glimpse into the travel and trade of west Asia, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe pre-Crusades.

Like many similar texts, the collection is a mix of observation and myth/hearsay.  The writers provide detail of the peoples who they interact with, and speak of both commercial enterprises and the commodities of areas, as well as describing mythical locales and people as Alexander's Wall and the tribes of Gog and Magog.

Briefly - this is a snapshot into a lost(?) period of history - documenting a significant north-south interaction between Asia Minor, the Mideast and Eastern Europe/Western Asia through both trade and conquest.

Anyway, a great glimpse into a generally little-known slice of history. And its a Penguin Classics, so is heavily footnoted and referenced.  Also have Travels of Ibn Battutah on the to-read pile.

Side note: Although the 'Viking age' lasted from around 700-1100, there is an under-appreciation of the influence of the Vikings, particularity as traders. While the western (Danish/Norse) Vikings may be more familiar as the stereotypical raiders - assaulting coastal and river cities from the British isles to Spain, the eastern (Swedish) Vikings found their portion of northern Europe and western Eurasia to be less ripe for the picking, and became traders and settlers, assimilating into the Slavic tribes they encountered in modern-day Russia (and lending their name - the Rus - to the region). These Rus interacted and traded to the west, east, and south. particularly through the lucrative fur trade of the time.  Remnants of this trade are documented by the presence of silver dirham coins, minted in Islamic lands and found in silver coin caches throughout Europe, with some coins found as far as the British Isles and Iceland.  Not all interactions were peaceful as the Rus fought with local Khazar Turk populations over control of the Volga and Dniepr Rivers, particularly for access to the Caspian and Black Seas, and Rus forces traveled as far as Constantinople, attacking the city and forcing a treaty in the 900's. (this is a disjointed and very cursory overview of the time, I'm no historian...)

Update:  A great BBC interview/synopsis of the 'Volga Vikings' recommended by +Jon Salway
(FYI: The mentioned Byzantine trade treaty with the Rus stated that no more than 50 Rus could enter that great city at a time, and that they had to check their weapons at the door...)

Game material: As always, names of groups can be high-graded/bastardized for that barbarian horde at your campaign's borders or trading community.  The descriptions of communities, traditions, trade, and environment provide color and seeds for adventure, a picture of how groups may interact alternatively belligerently and peacefully.  Plus the book provides many descriptions of rituals and myth for color, and of course, that description of a final surviving Viking warrior who climbed a tree and stabbed himself to death rather than being captured.