Saturday, March 1, 2014

Family Home Game Session Report - Dead Henchman

Dead Henchmen
Paul, Dead Henchmen

Just wrapped up our weekly session of D&D, using Sword & Wizadry. This week the party bargained with a local Ranger Guild. They would clear off the local giant badgers that were raiding farmers live-stock. In exchange the guild would provide a map to the Keep of a long deceased warlord. The party hopes to gain a cure for Lycanthropy from the warlords tomb.

The eight party members (Joel the Knave, Paul the Beggar, Nathalie the Fighter, Geoff the Wizard, Francine the Ranger, Kristoph the Paladin, Ara the Cleric, Kiri the Elf) met with two farmers in the Valley of Kuln. The farmers were fleeing a drake that broke into the hen house. Joel, Francine and Paul slowly approached. The deafening squawk of chickens and flying feathers concealed them. The side of the chicken coop had been opened by gigantic claws. Inside a winged lizard crouched. It greedily gulped eggs and pinned chickens from fleeing. Francine mouthed "not a badger" and backs off. The drake, drawn by the movement, smells the delicious trail rations in the halflings pack. It snakes its long neck about sniffing here and there. Francine empties her pack but not before her bedroll, pack and a crowbar are lost to the beast. Meanwhile, Geoff notices that the farmers field has large furrows in it. The Paladin and Elf move up to investigate. At their approach a giant badger bursts from the ground. The paladin lashes out with his sword. The badger reels in agony and immediately turns and flees.

After the parties brush with the beasts. Joel the knave, our 7 year old player, determines that these drakes and badgers must have some kind of symbiotic relationship much like a honey badger and a honey guide. Francine convinces the party to gather animals from the surrounding farms and attempt to lure the beasts out into the wilderness where herds of game are known to water. The party splits up to buy livestock 17 chickens, 4 goats, 5 sheep, 6 lambs and a cow are purchased.

The Paladin escorts the mage back to Kuln. They cross paths with a raiding party of bugbears but hide in the woods. Kuln is a different sight then when they left as the High Thane is no longer in charge. They bargain their way into town and manage to trade a found spell book for a scroll.

The rest of the party implements their plan to lure the badgers to the new hunting grounds. The plan works too well when all three wandering monster checks come up 2's. A running battle ensues. The party dragging the herd through the forest while fending off drakes and badgers. The rapid pace soon takes its toll and only Francine is able to keep running. Paul lagging the farthest behind is dragged into a tunnel with two sheep. Joel turns back valiantly rushing to aid his follower. Kiri, Nathalie and Ara rush into the woods. A cry of rage causes Ara to turn back. She sees Paul decapitated as he climbs from the tunnel. Joel screams in anger and attacks the badger. His rage is not enough and the badger bites into him. Ara hefts her hammer and screams "Moradin" rushing into battle. A blow of her hammer slays the beast and a healing spell revives the fallen knave.

The exhausted Nathalie and Kiri are treed by another badger. A pint of lamp oil and a bit of fire drive off the badger but sets the pine needles a blaze. The two leap to a nearby tree and quickly douse the fire in dirt, not water. Francine finishes leading the badgers on occasionly cutting a sheep loose when a drake or badger gets too close. Reaching her objective she frees the remaining live stock and ducks into the woods circling back. On her way she is visited by the strange apparition that has appeared to several other party members beseeching their aid. The woman in a velvet green dress wears a diamond tiara. In this instance her hair is raven black, despite the fact that the two previous times the woman's hair was described as blonde and red.

The party burns the badger corpse and buries Paul's headless corpse with a few flattering words about his selfless sacrifice. The party returns to Kuln. Geoff sets out the next day to cast his scroll on the farms. A last resort to ensure the farms remain safe. Francine returns to the Guild collecting a map and a pin inducting her as a member in probation. Joel sets about hiring a replacement for Paul. Fred of Narmox was once a forester before his entire crew was slain by orcs. He has sworn a vendetta against the species. Joel convinces him that for a third of a single share of treasure and 1 gp per day that the party could help him to kill orcs. Fred agrees. Ara enters the Kuln Rift and begins searching for proof regarding the Green dressed lady.

Open Quests:

  • Mysterious Apperation of the Sorceress in Green
  • Cure the Rat-King Kersus Rodemus
  • Find the Cure in the Smoke de Krag Keep
  • Of Charms and Raiding Bugbears

World Building in 30 Days - Cosmology

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

“For Man to tell how human life began is hard; for who himself beginning knew?”― John Milton, Paradise Lost

“The type of nothing from which something can arise is truly something.”― John K. Brown

Today's article is a tall order. Kosmos & Logia - Study of World ie the study of the origin, evolution and fate of the world/universe.



i. Physical Layout

ii. Planes

iii. Creation - high level Truth

iv. Creation - Theories?

v. Historical

As a gamer at my core I have some of the D&D terminology in my head as I discuss this article. My players might use this terminology but their characters or any of my stories characters would not.

Physical Layout

The prime material plane, or that existence to which most characters would refer to as the "real world" is known as Ea-reth1. Yathe2 is the largest and oldest continent. The inhabitants of Ea-reth also call it the Old World. The southern part of Yathe was scooped off the face of the world in a cataclysmic event known as the Last Sundering. Five towers were built on Yathe early in the First Age. These towers were each home of one of the first beings, called Umbla. The Umbla have been worshipped as gawds and primordials by different races throughout history. In my mind they are more akin to Archangels or personified forces of nature than deities. More on that in a minute. Ovelesk3 is the other major continent. At one point an ice bridge connected the two continents. After the Second Sundering the ice cap receded and the two continents were no longer connected. Ovelesk is the home of mankind after the second sundering. During the events of the Last Sundering Ovelesk was split in twain (by drifting continents/magic?). The Northern and Southern continents are split by the Gargle Canal, a Red Sea like divide that measures 200 miles at its narrowest point.

Ea-reth - Early Map
An Early Draft

The world is round. The solar system is a binary star system with the primary star being named after Aeres the eldest Umbla and the secondary star Anu El, his wife. Ea-reth has four moons Abyss, Gerand, Tyr and Yero the remaining Umbla. Another seven planets make up the solar system with a total of twenty-one moons between them. Each planet and moon is name for a demi-gawd family.


There are two "mirror" planes/dimensions. The opening/closing lines from Tales from the Darkside the TV series4 and the battle with the Ring Wraiths at Weathertop and the Fords have always stuck with me. Glorfindel appearing as a shining light in Frodo's vision just screamed awesome to me. 4E's Shadowfell and Feywild contain elements of my view but never quite went far enough in my opinion. The concept of the etheric or ethereal plane from OD&D also contains elements of what is in my imagination. Simply put the things and creatures in the world consist of three parts. The corporeal or material flesh and bone, the spirit or soul, and the creative intellect or magical spark (animus). These three components exist simultaneously in each dimension and different creatures are composed more strongly of some of these elements than others. Fey creatures for example contain more magical energy, in most cases when they die they fade from the material plane and their magical energy returns to the Feywild. They also exist in both the Feywild and Ea-reth simultaneously. This accounts for their infravision and some Fey can manifest fully in one realm or the other allowing them to travel great distances. I will talk more about the effects of planes on the creation of undead and traits of some races in the race article. A +1 sword is imbued with power from two dimensions, a +2 sword is imbued with power of three dimensions. This existence in more than one plane allows it to hurt some creatures that are immune to only corporeal damage.

A quick note on the terms Shadow/Light and Above/Below as regarding planar travel. The planes are not places one can reach by simply walking to or sailing to via normal means. Nor do they exist in space. The terms Shadow and Light refer to their natures but should not be discerned to mean the plane of light is safe or full of tranquil bunnies. Neither should the Plane Above or Below be taken to mean the physical locale. The physical laws of Space and Time work only on the prime material plane. In this plane only Ea-reth and its orbiting heavenly bodies exist. Magical means are necessary to reach these other planes. The easiest to stumble upon is the Feywild due to its innate magical nature. Feycrossings open up at certain times of year, in odd places for inexplicable reasons. Next easily bumbled into is the Shadowfell. Strong negative emotion (fear, hatred, loathing etc.), bloody conflicts, and insanity can all be catalysts for causing a Shadowfall. Shadowfall's are places where the dark realm leaks over into the material plane. Undead and darker creatures can be encountered here. Ghost haunts are common indicators of a Shadowfall. Lastly, are the realms of the immortals. These planes are the hardest to reach. Similar to the Astral Sea, Abyss, Elemental Chaos and the Great Wheel cosmos from various incarnations of DND. These planes are dangerous to mortals without specific cautions being taken. These planes are not definable by human understanding and though any theory documented may be plausible it is impossible to map nor reach a destination multiple times. I will definitely expound on these matters in a future article.

Religion - the Simple Truth

Anrica arose from the Chaos in the Beginning and brought order to it. From Anrica sprang the Umbla. The Umbla further shaped Ea-Reth. This was done via intent, the 5 Towers, War, and accident. The Umbla merged/mated with the Pey and from them the Gawds were born. The origin of the Pey is a mystery even to the Umbla. Anrica created the first race, the Ancient Ones, and when Tima was born they awoke.

The Four Sunderings shaped the Ancient Ones into the Peoples of Ea-Reth today. The First Sundering was caused by the influence and proximity to the towers. The Second Sundering was caused by strife between the races and deliberant tampering by Gerand. The Third Sundering occurred when the Gawds responded to the unleashing of Gerand's creations. The Last Sundering was brought about by Seelian Coil's Citadels ripped power from the Towers and put an end to the Sunderings, nearly destroying the world. The Umbla and the Gawds withdrew from the world after this their power diminished. Their final act was to remove Taeltor from the world and turn its inhabitants into the Primal Spirits that prevent the Immortals direct involvement in mortal affairs.

Religion - Theories

Each Race, Church and Sect has its theories of how the world was created and who created their race.

For example, the dwarves claim Yero is Moradin, the forge lord. They say he fashioned the dwarves from stone and breathed life into them. They revere Anu El calling her the star hanger. They say that she collects the best in dwarven souls and fashions them into gems sewn into the curtain of night.

By way of truth the dwarves were part of the Yae5 a race that went north and were influenced by the tower Karnin. Karnin provided them hard demeanors, and a sense of law and order. During the Second Sundering the Yae split and two new races were born. Gerand spread lies and the Yae-Dwarv6 fought the Yae-Yant7 for food. The Yant proved more powerful since they were aided by Gerand. The Yant hogged the resources, grew tall and strong . The Dwarv soon found themselves hunted by the Yant. Yero took pity on the small and tough Dwarv. He taught them to forge and plant. He showed them how to burrow beneath the ground for safety. The dwarves never forgot the night sky, and soon found gems and veins of precious ore that reminded them of the night sky. They also never forgot their hatred of the giant kin. This is one example of how religion misconstrued the truth behind

History - Outline 1

First Age

· Creation

· Rise of the Umbla

· Shaping of the Lands

· Building of the Towers

· Birth of the Gawds

· Birth of Tima

· Rise of the First Race

· Dawn War

· First Sundering

1. It is a nod to Oerth/Aerth etc. of Gygax as well as a nod to Tolkien's Simarilion where at creation the words Ea were uttered
2. It comes from the KJV bible meaning pinned, pegged and was probably picked up subconsciously reading Exodus etc. Interestingly enough I also found it in the urban dictionary from 2010, meaning god-like. These are both interesting references as creation started here
3. Ovelesk is a play on words from Oval-esque. Originally it was a dream land that contained all things dreamt of by mankind and was roughly oval shaped in its infinity. As the word solidified and things took on a more realistic feel the world changed but the name did not
4. Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But...there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit... a darkside. The darkside is always there, waiting for us to enter - waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight
5. Yae - North in Ancient, Hard in Giant and Rock in Dwarven
6. Dwarv - Dwell in Soil in Ancient
7. Yant - Dwell on Soil in Ancient



Friday, February 28, 2014

Ack Poison, Save Or Die!

“Poison!" Grover yelped. "Don't let those things touch you or..."

"Or we'll die?" I guessed.

"Well...after you shrivel slowly to dust, yes."

"Let's avoid the swords," I decided.

― Rick Riordan

Prompted by a post on Google+ and This Gents Blog I decided to throw a quick post up on poison.

Firstly, let me say I killed off my daughter's 1st level fighter with a giant spider's Save or Die poison a few weeks ago. My 8 year old, thief level 1, tried to suck the poison out but she failed her save again. Luckily, he succeeded.

Since, then I have thought about ways I could have made this encounter cooler. The following are thoughts that coalesced in the conversation tonight. The blog entry deals with specific creatures, but what about those situations when you are creating a creature or an assassin and want an effect that is consistent with the rest of your world? Check the Virulence table and roll the appropriate die on the effects table below.

To be clear I am in no way promoting DM's to shy away from Save Or Die! nor am I promoting DM fiat! though the option rules at the bottom of the effects table walk a fine line of eliminating Player Agency. Inexperienced DMs are warned to use these with caution lest they end up tied from the ceiling fan.

Poison Virulence

  1. Man Made poison distilled from nature - roll 1d20
  2. Man Made poison as weapon - roll 1d12
  3. Magic Creature Poison as Weapon - roll 1d10
  4. Magic Creature Poison as Defense - roll 1d8
  5. Natural Creature Poison as Defense - roll 1d6
  6. Natural Creature Poison to Hunt - roll 1d4

Poison Effects

  1. DMG 1 + Save vs. Poison, Fail - Ill for 1D4 rounds -2 to all rolls (Sickened) - After Recovered
  2. DMG X + Save vs. Poison, Fail - 1D4 rounds Sickened - After 1 turn (Fatigued) can not run/charge, -2 to all rolls, increased spell mishap, -10% skills - After 8 hours rest recovered // Success Effect 1
  3. DMG X + Save vs. Poison, Fail - 1D4 rounds Sickened - After 1D4 turns Fatigued - After Sickened until 8 hours rest // Success Effect 2
  4. DMG X + 1d6 dmg + Save vs. Poison, Fail - Paralyzed for 1d4 rounds - After Effect 3 // success no damage + effect 3
  5. DMG X + 1d6 dmg + Save for half, Fail - Paralyzed for 1d4 rounds - after Effect 3 // Success half damage and effect 2
  6. DMG X + 1d8 dmg + save for half, Fail - Paranoid Delusions 01-40 attack adjacent person, 41-80 hurl weapon/cast spell on random person, 81-100 Role Play Past experience - success half dmg effect 4
  7. DMG x + save or die, success as effect 5
  8. DMG x + save or die, success as effect 6
  9. DMG x + save or die, success as effect 6
  10. DMG x + 1d6 - Save vs. Poison, fail paranoid delusions for 1d4 turns // half damage sickened
  11. DMG x + 2d6 - Save vs. Poison, fail 1d4 stat damage for 1d4 days // success for half
  12. DMG x + 2d8 - Save vs. Poison, fail Blind, 1d4 stat damage for 1d6 days // success half dmg
  13. DMG x + Blind - Save or Die
  14. DMG x + 1d4 Stat DMG - Save or Die
  15. DMG x + 1d6 Stat DMG - Save Or Die
  16. DMG x + 3d6 dmg + Save or Die
  17. DMG x + 4d6 dmg + Save or Die
  18. DMG x + 4d6 dmg + 1d4 stat DMG + Save or Die
  19. DMG x + 6d6 dmg + Save or Die
  20. DMG x + 6d6 dmg + 1d6 Stat DmG + Save or Die

13-19 the die effects here progress as 1 thru 7 but instead of recovering the character dies. This allows a character to roll up a new PC between tragic ending moments of their characters life.

20 the character takes ten steps and dies.

No Playtesting has been done on these rules. I take no responsibility for flipped tables.


World Building in 30 Days - Overview

As another campaign gears up, I find myself returning to my "world". This world is used for my forays into short stories, novels, and gaming. Sections and various "ages" have been fleshed out over the years by different gaming systems, campaigns and stories but I have never fully documented the bones. Over the next 30 to 45 days. (Excluding for weekends and life events). My goal is to detail out these bones in a series of posts


In order to accomplish this goal I need to set myself some guidelines/rules.

  1. I will be relying heavily on Stephanie Cottrell Bryant's Magical World Builder, a 30 day world building tutorial
  2. I have a deadline daily to post my content (1 am), articles will be a minimum of 1000 words on topic of the day - Final deadline for 30 articles is tax deadline April 15th
  3. The 30 Days of Topics will be
  • a. Cosmology
  • b. Magic
  • i. Cataclysmic Events
  • c. Climate and Variety
  • d. The Physical Planet
  • e. Mood and Setting
  • f. The Map - Done-ish
  • g. Races
  • h. Recent History - Fifth Age
  • i. Ancient History
  • i. By Age - High Points
  • j. Economics and Politics - Fifth Age
  • k. Languages
  • l. Mood and Culture
  • m. Focus In
  • n. The Speculative Element
  • o. Plot hooks and the Speculative Element
  • p. Education
  • q. Resources
  • r. More Speculation
  • s. Moody Review
  • t. Speculation and Society
  • u. What if? Character
  • v. Plot Hook Day
  • w. Flora and Fauna
  • x. Revisiting Geography
  • y. Revisiting Culture
  • z. Mood II
  • aa. The Sky
  • bb. Anti-What If?
  • cc. Plot Hooks II
  • dd. What Did We Leave Out?
  • ee. Character