Thursday, March 20, 2014

Regarding Appendix N

Appendix N was a section of the original DMG that showcased the works that inspired E Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson during the creation of the D&D game. The below works are where I draw inspiration and help to show case the fantasy tales I enjoy. Feel free to share your own, as a DM it helps to know the type of stories your players like. Also feel free to comment on the things from my list you don't like.

Books

  • Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales - JRR Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
  • Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind+
  • Kingslayer Chronicles - Patrick Rothfuss
  • Harry Dresden Files - Jim Butcher
  • Vlad Taltos aka the Viscount of Adrilanka - Stephen Brust
  • The Last of the Renshai - Mickey Zucker Reichert
  • Dragon Lance Series - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • Dune Series - Frank Herbert
  • Complete Book of Swords - Fred Saberhagen
  • The Noble Dead Series - Barb and JC Hendee
  • Disc world especially the Watch books - Terry Pratchett%
  • Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Outline of History Part 1 and 2 - HG Wells
  • Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
  • The Stand; Wizards and Glass - Stephen King
  • Anita Blake and Merry Gentry Novels - Laurell K Hamilton*

*Contains graphic sex scenes some readers will want to skip but most well thought out modern vampire and fairy tales; if you can over look the softcore porn aspects.

+Contains adult themes like torture, murder, attempted rape and modest sexuality.

%A satirical representation of the modern world set in a fantasy setting.

Movies - if I included everything this would be a long list indeed

  • Excalibur
  • Season of the Witch
  • Dragonslayer
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • 13th Warrior
  • Beowulf (Both the animated/cgi version and the Scandinavian version)
  • Earthsea
  • Beastmaster
  • Hawk the Slayer
  • Dragonheart
  • Hobbit Animated
  • Last Unicorn
  • Monty Python
  • Gladiator
  • 300
  • King Arthur
  • Mummy and Mummy 2
  • Constantine
  • Stardust
  • Underworld
  • V for Vendetta
  • Pitch Black
  • Hellboy
  • Both Clash of the Titans
  • Pirates of the Caribbean all but the last one
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Van Helsing (though not what I expected when it was announced)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

World Building in 30 Days - Subspecies Pt 2

Yesterday we covered the Second and Third Sunderings for the Mae and the Yae. Today we will finish off the remaining groups the Drae, the Tae, and the Fae/Vai.

Second and Third Sunderings Continued

The Tae

The Tae are the chosen of Aeres. They grew wings, gained great eyesight and established a home in Torroskar. Before Seelian Coil destroyed their homeland they rode the air currents high above the Lake of Fire. On the Lake's shore the Pey and the Tanni dwelt. Those that had served the Gawds at least. At the end of the dawn war a portion of the Tae's land was given away. This angered the Tae greatly and unlike the Mae they wanted nothing to do with the interlopers. Unfortunately, the interlopers did not feel the same way. They took to taunting and torturing the Tae. The Tae were divided on how to respond.

The Kenku, wished not to respond. The Ka-ru true to their predatory nature wanted to attack. The Corbies and the Ore-ru decided not to commit. In the end the followers of Ka won the debate. A desperate costly battle was fought. The Tae won the day and ever after they were known as Torrians amongst the free peoples.

In Ea-Reth the Kenku race is a sub-race of the larger Torrian race. Corbies, Kenku, Ore-ru, and Ka-ru all live in Tael Tor. Kenku are raven like creatures, Corbies are crow like, Ore-ru are vultures and condor like, and Ka-ru are predator like eagles, falcons, owls and hawks. Tael Tor is the remnant of Yathe that was scooped off the face of Ea-reth. Here on pinnacle rocks rising from the sea, Torrians build their cities. The other sub-races don't often leave the safety of the rocky dwellings, called Torroskar. The exception being the Kenku. Kenku travel the world as messengers. Any vocal sound heard by a Kenku can be duplicated exactly. They are unable to improvise in any way. Their unique vocal talents have made them trusted messengers the world over.

The Drae

After the First Sundering, the Drae had morphed into bipedal humanoid reptilians. The Drae inhabited the land of Omarond, from the Plains of Ash to the tropical rain forests west of the Plateau of Fire. They were the chosen of Feydyakhan in the First Age and the foot soldiers of Gerand in the Second Age.

During the time of Feydyakhan, the Drae consisted of eight nomadic tribes. They roamed the land stalking prey far and wide. At the summer solstice they would gather all the tribes on the Plateau of Fire. Here a great feast was held and sacrifices were rendered up to Feydyakhan. At the beginning of the Second Age Gerand appeared to them as a many headed dragon and spoke of a future in which the world would be controlled by them. In order to achieve this he demanded their oaths. Three of the tribes refused, five accepted.

Gerand laid a dark curse upon the three tribes that refused. The tribe of drake grew large, they fell onto all fours. The largest turned on the smaller and sated there hunger on the lesser of the tribe. The tribe scattered into the wilds of the forest. The titanic beasts turned their sight east and crossed the Molmar into the Greenwood. With fire and the tramp of their mighty bodies the great land drakes carved a path of destruction north. When they reached Thak Tarkas the Dwarfs halted their advance, The Wyrm Wars began. The Dwarfs cursed the cowardice of the fleeing Ellu Vai, safely hidden in the deep parts of the Greenwood.

The Tribe of Drago sprouted wings and took flight, for a while they stalked the lesser drakes and drogs. Soon they tired of the game and turned north and came to Gehenna. The fell upon Yant's people. The blood of the giants coursed through their veins and they were misshapen and engorged by the feast. It was not long before they turned on each other. Those that survived flew far afield carving out territories for themselves and jealously guarding all that they claimed.

The Drogs fled deep into the mountains at the sight of their changing kin. The drogs soon gagged as their own stench filled their nostrils. There skulls grew thick their minds growing small. They found dark shelter in the warm caves of the Molmar. They hid themselves and lost all knowledge they once possessed save the core obedience to Feydyakhan.

The other five tribes followed Gerand to the Tower of Run Imar. Here he taught, tortured and changed them as he saw fit. To kobolds he taught trap making and servitude without question. To the Dragonborn he taught war, violence and dark sorcery. To the draegarians he taught the right of might. The draegarians became the slave masters, overseers of all the races captured by his armies. Into the draconians he tortured a cruel pragmatism and gifts of flight. Finally, the dragotha he shaped to meet the Fae centaurs and cat-taurs in battle.

The Fae and Vai

When Tyr was destroyed and the Feywild and Shadowfell formed those who dwelt nearest Eglain were caught in the change. They became creatures that experienced all worlds at once. The Fae are those that dwell in the Feywild but see Ea-reth and the Shadowfell, the Vai those that walk in Ea-reth but can see the Feywild and Shadowfell. The nearness to Eglain determined the degree to which these creatures could experience these realms.

Gnum Vai or grey elves are most often called gnomes today. They were in the grey hills south of the green wood.

Ellu Vai or green elves are also called wood elves. They were in the greenwood at Tyr's death.

The Ellu Fae are high elves, lesser Sidhe or sometimes called Eladrin. They live in the Feywild but can see and cross over into Ea-reth. The Ellis Fae are the Sidhe, powerful Fae that were worshipped by man and gained power from belief magic. The Sidhe have taken on the form of nature and the elements. They care little for the mortal world.

The Sutis Vai are sea elves, or blue elves. They were on the shore of the Shargain. They are rarely encountered but are masters of shape change and trickery.

There are three races of elves that are called the Kai or betrayers. Their true names have been struck from memory and are only remembered for the actions they took during the Kinslaying during the Third Sundering. All Kai were twisted by their treachery and lost the beauty they once had. The annals of the Sidhe record the end of the Kinslaying and the prophecy concerning it as below:

The Ora and the Auri came next defending their actions in the Kinslaying with the lies Gerand and Laski taught them. Tyr frowned at this. So angry was he with their words that he called them Kai in the language of the gods and traitors they were. The Auri Kai fell to the ground their bodies the color of the ash as a reminder of what was done to the land of dreams. The Ora Kai became twisted like the trees of the land of dreams. There skin took on the color of sickly bark. Both races of Kai then fled from Tyr’s sight into the deep and dark places of the world. Tyr troubled by his own anger sent gifts to these fleeing children. The Auri he gave power over darkness and the flame of purple light that they might find security in the deep places and a light not to draw dark things upon themselves. The Ora he gave an inner strength to protect them from the sight of the misshapen forms he cursed them with. To both races he gave the sight of the deep dark. The Shadar-Kai he sent deep into the Shadowfell. Their they view the mortal and Fae worlds ever without light or solid form to enjoy their lives. To them he gave power over shade and shadow.

The paths of yew woods, carried fled feet from Aelfhame under Twilight Boughs. The kinslayers driven by the slain. Long shades of the forest chased the fleet footed beyond the reach of Tyr's wroth. Incanters of long forgotten arts sealed doors with stones laden by arcane might. Cold princes and star-skinned knew not soon would sundered cousin reunite with exiled kin. Many travels of wandering stars will pass afore crumbled stone will once again reunite the three to one. When the twilight paths will fade and Aelfhame will return to mortal coil.

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

World Building in 30 Days - Races - Er, Subspecies

Biologically race is a bit of a misnomer in D&D. Technically the ability of certain races to intermingle makes them subspecies of the same genus species. However, from an anthropology standpoint race is an antiquated term when referring to physical characteristics and has mostly been discarded. Since, I am going to be talking about physical, linguistical, ethical, social, genetic and cultural divides today, I have no idea what to call this article.

The playable "races" in my world are selected from those mortal races descended from the Ancient Ones. That is to say the majority of intellectual bipedal creatures originated from a single race. They were modified by environment, experience, magic and in some cases choice during the first and second ages.

First Sundering

Ancient history is blurred and muddy. All that I am about to say has been forgotten by all but the Umbla, Gawds and Pey. The Ancient Ones split into five cultures: the Yae, Tae, Vai, Mae and Drae. This transformation made each subspecies distinct.

  • The Yae or northern tribe - hard, stubborn

The Yae developed thick skin. They had eyes like marbled rock with no whites. They developed dark vision and tough stomachs.

  • The Mae or western tribe - sea faring, flexible

The Mae developed skin that adapted to the sun and salt. They had eyes that dilated based on the light conditions. They adapted to their changing environment easily. They learned to build simple ships and search the coast for fish and food.

  • The Drae or eastern tribe - destructive, predatory

The Drae developed hard scales to protect them from the heat. Small noses and nictitating eyelids to limit the fumes and ash. They fed on what they could find - bugs, small lizards and even cannibalising in some cases.

  • The Fae/Vai those that stayed - balanced, magical

The Fae remained closest to how they were created until Tyr's death. The split of worlds affected them most. Some remained in Ea-reth, they could see into the other realms. Others were hurled in the Feywild. A small group found themselves in the Shadowfell. All were infused with Magic at Tyr's death.

  • The Tae the southern tribe - wild, free

The Tae grew feathers and learned to fly. They discovered Flora and Fauna and the northern edge of their lands. Some learned to hunt while others gathered. They made roosts in the pillared formations of Torroskar. Their mouths and feet developed to help them master their diets.

Second Sundering and Third Sundering

Of the Yae

The earliest memories of the Yae is of a not so civil war that divided Thak Tarkas between the haves and have nots. For seventy years bloody skirmishes were fought over the scant food and water found on the surface. In a final bloody battle the followers of Dwar drove the followers of Yant over the Wirdamik mountains and into Gehenna. Dwar's people won but at the great cost of half the population and all the Clan of Dwar. The plains of the Gnotarc flowed with blood and nothing has grown there ever after. Thato land is now a great mudflat.

The victors took the fallen clan's name as their own and became known as Dwarfs. They dug beneath the mountains in search of sustenance putting to use the skills Yero had taught them. Four clans remained Khazad, Khole, Gullaga, and Khemblin. Each clan built a stronghold for they knew Yant's tribe would return.

The Yant fled to Gehenna and rebuilt their strength. Envoys from Gerand found them and taught to them dark magics. The magics caused the Yant to grow in size and power, but it also increased the creatures' rage and hunger. Some grew two heads, others lost one eye and saw their own demise, still others' skin grew grey and their blood ran green. They became known as the Gehenna Yant, later shortened to Giant.

Of all the Yant only Kollath forbade the practice. He did not trust Gerand's words and after a sleep of a fortnight he had a vision from Queres. The vision showed a land with Twelve Peaks where food was plentiful and the people could rest. He obeyed this vision and took his people southwest across the Plains of Ash. Many of his people fell to the canabalistic Drae that hunted them. Kollath's people were starving, many had died of thirst, and more had been taken as food or slaves. Kollath faced a full out revolt, many turned back, others turned to the dark magic of Gerand to free loved ones. Only a quarter of those who set out remained loyal and survived. These few arrived in the Valley of the Twelve Peaks. They became known has half-giants to outsiders or Goliaths among themselves.

Those that were caught by the Drae and not eaten were enslaved far to the south. The harsh environment and the chaotic nature of Tal Aer changed them. They grew heads like herd animals; sheep, rams and bulls. It was a cruel twist of fate; having survived being eaten, they were marked as food for all time. In years to come they would escape slavery to the Isle of Taldras beneath the shadow of Mount Minos. Their they would call themselves the Minotaur or Tauros.

The would be rescuers never found those that were taken. They eventually succumbed to the power of Run Imar and grew hair and beards of fire. The rock eyes of these Yae become black as coal. They would rejoin their giant-kin and get their revenge but that tale comes later.

The Mae

The Mae crossed the Bremir and initially settled the area south of the Milpon Hills. The land was fertile and the sea plentiful. The population expanded quickly. The curiosity and sea skill of the Mae soon had colonized the Edras and the lands north of Sutaverkon Mountains. Three distinct tribes developed, Mar so nox, Mar so dox, and Mar so dagaz. Tribe of night, tribe of dusk and tribe of dawn are later translations. Dwelling among the Mar so dagaz was the smaller kin, known as Mao dagaz. The half-light or as they came to be known later the kennari or experts. These tribes are so remembered for many reasons.

The Nox brokered with the Tanni in southern Yathe. They learned much of magic and wisdom from them during the wee hours of night. The Edras where these men dwelt is Tropical and their skin grew dark as night.

The Dox stayed mostly in the semi-tropical realm south of Milpon. Their skin was lighter than the Nox. Their wisdom was derived from that of the Nox and the Twilight Fey, so they are called the Men of Dusk.

The Dagaz were from the far north in the cold lands. Their flesh was lightest and their wisdom learned from the dwarfs and discovered independently. Amongst them dwelt the stunted half-men called kennari. Part dwarf and part men, they commanded power over stone.

Gerand took notice of these tribes. He hated the Nox most of all and ever strove to corrupt them. From man he created the Were (dox turned Lycanthrope), the Nocht (Nox turned Vampires), and later tieflings. Those that were not corrupted set sail over the seas to Ovelesk. The Nox survivors called themselves Marsonites when they landed, but we call them men. The kennari settled in Kinderland calling themselves Kinder, but we call them halflings. The surviving Dagaz settled far in the north of Ovelesk in lands suited to their taste. They became the northern barbarian tribes.

(To Be Continued)

 

World Building in 30 Days - The Map - Done-ish

Ever since Bilbo first handed Elrond the map of the Lonely Mountain I have been drawn to mapping. My very first Sci-Fi story about a race of rainbow colored people from different colored planets of a solar system sprang from a map. What I was six...

The first draft of the Ea-reth world map was done with MS Paint in 1995. The concept was simple but has evolved as has the tools and techniques I have learned in exploring my mapping fetish.

CC2 & CC3

My next foray into mapping my world came when I purchased Campaign Cartographer 2. It's an excellent program and version 3 was even better than v. 2. In these two programs my world first took a realistic shape. The fractal coast line generator was a big help. Eventually my map became so complex that it would crash the program. At that point I exported it and moved on to using some advanced techniques.

Dundjinni, Cartographer's Guild, and Realistic Terrain

In 2008 I inherited my brothers campaign when he deployed to Iraq. Along with that I inherited his Dundjinni Liscence. The folks on the DJ Forums are extremely helpful. In addition, these forums are the single largest repository for top down art and maps on the web. I spent many hours "doll housing" dungeon maps for my virtual table campaigns. Even more time downloading art and chatting with these wonderfully knowledgeable members.

Many of the folks on DJ are also members at the Cartographers Guild. This forum allows professionals to discuss map mapping with each other and us amateurs. The feedback is always constructive and encouraging. They also host hundreds of tutorials and scripts to enhance your map making ability. It was here I discovered the freeware GIMP. I simply adore this program.

I finally settled on a style though I will get rid of the red text if I ever get my hard drive restored. Other than that my map is done. Well, done-ish. My players continue to alter the map, filling in empty areas and exploring the world, in effect defining those lands. I make and alter political, resource and geographical information as the need arises. If you like this realistic style I would strongly recommend Rob A's tutorial.

For more on the evolution of the map go here.

Other Resources

Fantastic Maps

DIY Cartography

rpgmapshare.com

Dungeon Mapping

http://dungeonsunlimited.blogspot.com/

Dysons Decahedrons

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

On the Spell Plague and Wailing

1289 5A

What is the Spell Plague?

As far as the mortals on Ea-reth are concerned the Spell Plague was a violent magical storm that occurred in 1289 of the Fifth Age. It arose over the southern edges of Yathe. Blue flames licked across the sky. The ancient Towers of Balance in Yathe and The Citadels of Magic on Ovelesk saw their load stones shatter and crumble. Ley lines across the Feywild, Shadowfell and Ea-reth ceased to function. The great storm moved across the continent changing the lands as it passed. It laid waste to Ghenna, turning the land to a smoldering waste known as the Plaguelands. A great rift opened up to the Underrealms in the Wyrdarmik. The drow city beneath was crushed by the collapse and areas formerly reached thru hundreds of miles of tunnels were suddenly open to the bright sky.

Virtually none of the population of Ea-Reth was left untouched by the passage of the storm. Hundreds of mages, all those casting spells or rituals at the time the storm appeared, were destroyed or driven mad by its power. Many more apprentices died battling the results of their master's magic loosed upon the world. For the next ten years magic remained unpredictable and dangerous. Few chose to train in spellcraft, and the great magic schools of the world closed. Gradually over the next few years, the great storm faded from the sky. With it all manner of magic ceased to function completely. Psionics, technology and religion gained followers and power. Priests began to discover that a great divine battle had taken place. Gulohg, the Usurper, and the Raven Queen were no more. Their deaths had been brought about by the power of the slaying stones. As a result all the lodestones and their granular form, residuum, around the world were destroyed. A cult arose dedicated to Dracorrin, god of the afterlife. Dracorrin priests claim that their deity is master over spirit and animus. They preach that when one dies you are judged by Dracorrin, if he finds your actions fit you pass on to an afterlife in service to your deity. However, if he finds you unfit, you are returned to life as an undead. For nearly twenty years humanoids were cut off from the Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Sea, Sigil and the Elemental Chaos as planar magic, like all others had ceased to function.

These years are called the Wailing. It was a sad and dangerous time where only muscle, mind and faith stood against the wild creatures of the world. In Kinderland the Alia Tai faced a revolution from their people. Without lodestones the ruling elite and their kin were hunted down and slain in a great purging. Mages across the world faced similar attacks, bereft of magic and their Alia Tai protectors many fled. Mobs tore down towers and took books of magical learning to be used as toilet paper and fuel for fires. Millenias of knowledge and history were lost. Remote towns and settlements bereft of magical means to receive goods and services ceased to exist or where over run by hordes of orcs and goblins. All contact was lost with Sigil, and many suspect that no one survived.

How did this stop?

It was in the middle of the Great Plain, north of the Molmosarc that things began to change. On Hexa 6th 1313 of the fifth age, a single red flower suddenly sprang into being before a young barbarian boy. His tribe looked on in astonishment as blue light filled his eyes and fire sprang from his hands. The young boy was summarily put to death for his crime of witchcraft. Similar, events spread across the world over the next six months. Former magic users felt the return of power, some ignored it but many returned to their calling. They soon found that magic was not as they remembered it. With many magical texts lost or destroyed the slow accumulation of knowledge began again.

Impact to Ritual Magic

Without residiuum, the universal conduit of magic, many of the rituals needed to be rediscovered. Ritualists soon found that herbs, plants and minerals that resided in areas formerly containing ley-lines contained a lesser form of the power, residuum did. Thru experimentation and careful study many rituals were rewritten with these components as catalysts. Further, research found that as a caster grew in power he could channel his own life force into simple rituals and cast them in seconds rather than minutes.

Game terms - 4E

Rituals of five levels lower - Replace 100% of the value of ritual components with 1 healing surge for a casting time equal to 1 action. (Standard, Minor, OR Move)

Rituals of a lower level - Replace 50% of the value of ritual components with 1 healing surge for a casting time equal to 1 round. (Ie all 3 actions, Std, Move and minor)

Rituals of your level - Replace 50% of the value of ritual components with 2 healing surges for a casting time as printed

Rituals greater than your level - 100% components and casting as printed

Rituals greater than your level +5 - Can't Cast

Impact to Magic Items

Many items formed in the vicinity of lodestones, made with residuum or made from lodestones ceased to function. Magic swords became well crafted hunks of sharpened metal. Suits of armor and maigcal cloth rusted or crumpled to dust. Once intelligent crystal chess sets became little more than carved stone. Only items that had to be manually activated by ritual or keywords, and powerful artifacts survived the Wailing intact. For many years no new magical items could be fashioned, without residuum the art of enchanting steel and cloth seemed to forever be lost.

It was a dwarf by the name of Rundik Silverbeard that came across the solution to the problem. Travelling across the Valley of the Twelve tribes he happened to meet a primal goliath that still made magic items for his tribe. Rundik spent several winters with the novice smith. He traded the art of forging Mithril, much to the dismay of his kin, for the knowledge of enchanting items. The primal tribe had long infused stone and wood items with a bit of their life-force. This life-force acted as a catalyst for the other ritual components in the process. Rundik perfected the art before taking it back to his clan. They soon started to fashion an assortment of common magical items that are being sold in major cities today. All Rundik's items are marked with the dwarven sigil for twelve in remembrance of the legendary tale about the forging of the first weapons by Moradin and the twelve lives he sacrificed in his craft, and the trade that was made with the primal barbarians of the Twelve Tribes.

Game terms 4E

Enchant Magic Item - 75% cost of printed ritual components and a HS is permanently expended by the crafter of the item, this ritual can not be cast in haste

Transfer Enchantment - As printed this ritual can not be cast in haste

Disenchant Magic Item - creates ritual components worth 15% the value of the item, the healing surge needed to craft the item is lost to the ethers (ie returns to the original caster) upon disenchantment

Brew Potion - Can be cast at 50% of listed cost but the caster expends a healing surge (this surge is regained by the caster when the potion is consumed), can also be cast at 100% cost of components

Impact to Fey Crossings, Shadowfall and Portals

Fey crossings, shadowfalls and portals remain inert unless activated via ritual by someone of the correct origin. For example an elf/eladrin/gnome (Fey) caster who journeys to a Fey Crossing can activate it via ritual. Once activated it returns to functioning normally. Shadowfalls can be activated by Shades/Shadar-kai etc (Shadow Origin). Portals need to be activated by their destination race (ie a Demon or Elemental would need to open a portal to the Elemental Chaos, or an Immortal/Devil to open one to the Astral Sea). No one has yet discovered what type of race will be needed to open a connection to Sigil, City of Doors.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

On Lodestones, Ley-Lines and Alia Tai

Ley-line - Lines of power theorized by some students of magical theories to be the source of magical power in the material plane. According to these theories, ley-lines are created by the material plane coming in contact with the Feywild. Where two ley-lines cross there is the potential for a fey crossing to appear. These lines can shift based on the time of year, seasons, and heavenly object position. There are those who also believe this occurs at the point where the material plane contacts the Shadowfell, these crossings are known as Shadowfalls. Many maps exists showing the locations of ley-lines. Due to the sheer volume of ley-lines, and their changing nature it is estimated only a tenth of all ley-lines are contained in these volumes. The five towers of the old world: Eglain, Run Imar, Rom Shar, Karnin, and Tal Aer originate on the most potent of ley-lines. Selian Coil, a famous mage of the first age, had five citadels built on the new continent of Ovelesk. His citadels, all schools of magic, each contained a large lodestone. These lodestones were used to divide magic into its separate parts.

The five citadels are Odanis, Killian, the Citadel of Mists, the Citadel of Stone and the Citadel of Night. This theory of magic is known as the Weave.

Lodestone - mundane definition - A piece of magnetite that has magnetic properties and attracts iron or steel.

Lodestone - magical definition - A piece of stone or gem that has been imbued with magical properties. Sometimes mined from earth contained within a ley-line. These stones are imbued with magical properties based on the ley-line of their origin or the ritual to imbue them with power.

Henges - Stones raised at places of crossings. They mark the boundaries of one world and another during certain times of year. Primal shamans and druids use lodestones from one ley-line to ward another. These ley-lines can be a few or hundreds of miles apart. The giant lodestones erected by Selian Coil are henges taken from the ley-lines on the old continent from beneath each of the five towers.

Lodestones of the Alia Tai - At the end of the second age a great magical war was fought. The survivors of that war formed a council of magicians called the Grey Council. It was customary at that time for those in mourning to where gray attire for a year to honor the dead. The name was taken from the fact that everyone in attendance was dressed in gray and so that they never forgot the horror of those times. Selian Coil collaborated with the greatest magical minds of his time and they determined that rule and tyranny by magical forces was inevitable. In order to forestall this conquest it was determined that magic should be restricted and split so that no being could grow too powerful. Selian and his colleagues founded and built five schools of Magic. They brought Lodestones to the new world and placed one in each of these schools. The Grey Council knew the war had sparked a great fear in magic and that after the split magic users would be greatly weakened. The Grey Council looked for a way to protect their dwindling numbers. The solution came in a young halfling paladin from Kinderland. While helping to move and install the lodestones it was accidentally discovered that he could activate different powers based on the ley-line it was taken from. The land of Kinderland was in the midst of a great civil war at the time. Acting as negotiators the Grey Council was able to reach an agreement with both sides of the conflict. The continent was divided; those with the ability to control the lodestones were taken to a newly founded city in the cold norther wastes. The mages used lodestones to establish a place habitable but still harsh enough to train the guards and protectors they needed. A decade later the Grey Council activated the lodestones in each of the academies and placed Alia Tai to protect the magic users that remained as guardians. Magic was split. Wizards no longer could control all the types of magics. Their powers became limited. Magic however was not so easily contained; it began to come out in other ways. For the first time, the magic of the sword arose. Expert musicians discovered the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelveth musical mode - Magic commanded from the power of an instrument. The first sorcerers were born a few years later, magic flowed thru their veins inherent to their blood. Those who were once gifted in magic found that the stones had limited their power greatly. They turned to dark denizens and to those who lived in the feywild seeking the power of old. More oft then not these pacts resulted in a change to their form and character giving rise to legends of dark and corrupt beings called Warlocks or Witches. Dwarves and superb craftsman began to make weapons and tools of magic ability. From these humble origins the art of Artifice claims its roots. The last inexplicable result was the rise of Psionics and seers. Once the province of the gods or highly trained mages, common people began to be able to read each others thoughts and see the future. The first rise of these strange abilities is a time of great fear of magic gave rise to mob justice and stonings. The Grey Council moved quickly to find and protect these fledgling magic users.

Over the next two ages, the tradition of placing Alia Tai at the service magic users continued. Then the worst fears of that first Grey Council came to pass, but instead of singular powerful entities imbued with magical powers, groups rose to power. One of the first to rise was the Tor-Siri, a group of mages interested in the study of the necromantic arts. The lodestone at the citadel of Odanis was from beneath Run Imar. It granted them a boon to magic of the blood and they found the power they sought in the blood of Vampires. As one of the citadels and a school of magic they were protected by a great contingent of Alia Tai. The Alia Tai here were talented in use of the lodestones known as Firestones. An Alia Tai stationed here could use his pike in conjunction with a series of Firestones to launch gouts of fire at his foes.

Meanwhile, the Black Academy or Killian in Bael Tuarth had grown powerful from the Pact made with Asmodeus. The warlocks there were fueled by infernal power and protected by Alia Tai. The Black Academy originally had been protected by a contingent of Alia Tai with expertise in use of Icestones. The war with Arkhosia was in full force when a horrible warlock, whose name is not remembered since the fall, took the Icestones and via ritual magic merged them with devils. Some legends tell that the eyes of the devils were removed and the stones placed inside. After a few days as windows of the souls to these corrupt outsiders the stones would take on the facets of an Astral Diamond except for a minor flaw contained inside. The wise of the world say that these were the trapped corrupt souls of the outsider. Early experiments with Alia Tai triggering the stones caused the death of the victim as well of the wielder. As the art was perfected and more of the stones produced the results were less severe leaving the wielder only greatly weakened and in need of rest and food. Many dragonborn sorcerers fell to the legion of Alia Tai that wielded these dreadful weapons.

Each of the other academies had lodestones attuned to their Alia Tai. The Citadel of Stone had lodestones that were able to hurl stones at their enemies like a sling but with greater force. The Citadel of Night had stones that would blind their foes allowing the pike wielding Alia Tai to quickly overwhelm their foes. The Citadel of Mists perfected stones for calling down a fog upon there foes. Over the ages many other stones were found and created. Artificers eventually were able to recreate the effects of many of these lodestones spreading them across the planes further. Some common day example of lodestones are Sending Stones. A dwarven innovation created from lodestones taken from a mine near Karnin. Residuum is the result of a destroyed lodestone or a partially formed lodestone mined prior to its full formation.

World Building in 30 Days - Mood and Setting

The point of today's excercise is to link your story to a locale via climate. I have already done that for this campaign. I will use today to explain and expound on the overall theme of the world and the area I am using.

My current campaign is set in in the Fifth Age. It comes after the Spell Plague and the Withering two subjects that will be discussed tomorrow. Magic is a sparse commodity. People fear it, they are jealous of those that wield it. The world has seen a few large empires but they have fallen apart, plunging the world into a Dark Age that they are just now emerging from. Danger has crept into the spaces between civilization. Civilization is groups of survivors huddled together for safety. The Dark Powers of the world vie for dominance of tiny territories. Rangers wander the wilds clearing paths for civilization to spread. Strong characters can cleave out lands for themselves from these wilds.

At the western edge of Southern Ovelesk stands a large mountain range. To the west of it huddles the small city-states of Kuln, Odanis, and Riddleport. Between them a smattering of villages occupy the former lands of the Marsonites. The fallen Byzantine style empire was once powerful but the Breaking, a horrible plague and the Great War have left the empire only a legend told around camp fires and a smattering of ruins for treasure seekers to raid.

Odanis

Description

Odanis: Last Vestige of a Failing Power

Metropolis: Dread, Dominance, Power

Demographics

Magocracy: Tor Siri

A Citadel stands here. The city ruled by the Tor Siri. The blood mages alliance with the Council of Vampyre failed after the Great War. Their attempt to register magic users was curtailed one hundred and fifty years ago by the Gray Council. The Spell Plague and Withering further limited their reach. The city and a handful of nearby villages is under their control.

The Tor Siri are currently ruled by Xial, the eleventh leader of the order. She is focused on rebuilding the strength of Odanis. Her forces hunt for Vampyre to grow her stock and keep the flow of blood magic alive.

The city itself is inhabited by a smattering of races, humans being the ruling elite. The population is used to seeing magic users but the Tor Siri still pose a danger to them.

Population: 88,299 (Human 95%, Half-Orc 2%, Gnome 1%, Elf Grell 1%, Other 1%)

Population by Class: Commoner - 78,989, Warrior - 4,340 , Expert - 2408, Other - 1693, Aristocrat- 436, Adept - 433

Languages - Common (Eastern Trading Tongue), Mae (Marsonite), Vai (Gnomish, Green Elven), Kai (Orcish),

Local Religion: Temples to Tyr, Draccorrin, and Abyss

Crime/Corruption/Punishment: 4/3/7

Riddleport

Description

Riddleport: Growing Trade Center

Small city: Courage, Freedom, Brotherhood

Demographics

Monarchy (was Band Society): Duchess Reyifor

Once a pirate town, Riddleport pirates raided Minotaur shipments sailing from Taldras to Northern Ovelesk. Following the Omarond civil war, Duchess Reyifor fled here with her daughter. Her husband, a Duke of Omarond, was slain by his brother. The Duchess married Jax Darkhallow the pirate king. Her wisdom grew the lawless town into a strong sea power. The untimely death of Jax Darkhallow, left the Duchess a widow a second time. Her daughter has married a lesser Arkhosian Prince, named Draez. Prince Draez brought legitimacy to her rule and trade relations with the city-states of Arkhosia.

Riddleport controls access to Southern Ovelesk's Underrealm. The city is allied with a group of Auri-Kai that dwell below the city.

Population: 22,219 (Human 37%, Halfling 20%, Half-Elf 5%, Dwarf 3%, Minotaur 10%, Dragonborn 18%, Gnome 7%)

Population by Class: Commoner - 19,365, Warrior - 1064, Expert - 638, Other - 943, Aristocrat- 106, Adept - 103

Languages: Common (Eastern Trading Tongue), Mae (Marsonite), Vai (Gnomish), Kai (Dark Elvish), Yae (Khazad Dwarven, Minotauran), Drae (Draeconic - Omarondan, Arkhosian)

Local Religion: Temple to Abyss, Shrines to Draccorin, Aeres and Yero

Crime/Corruption/Punishment: 9/7/4

Kuln

Description

Kuln: Strong Mining and Metal Work

Large City: Ex Constantia Victoria (In Steadiness Victory)

Demographics

Oligarchy Council based on Chiefdom(Tribal)


Kuln is a cosmopolitan city ruled by a council of five dwarven thanes. The five controlling houses alternate control of the High Thaneship every fifty years. The city itself is divided into two portions, the Rift and the Walled District.

Population: 52,798 (Human 2%, Half-Elf 3%, Dwarf 79%, Elven 5%, Mul 1%, Gnome 8%, Goliath 1%, Other 1%)

Population by Class: Commoner - 46,627, Warrior - 2562, Expert - 1537, Other - 1563, Aristocrat- 256, Adept - 253

Languages: Common (Eastern Trading Tongue), Mae (Marsonite), Vai (Gnomish, Green Elven, High Elven), Yae (Goliath, Khazad Dwarven, Khemblin, Kholen, Gullaga)

Local Religion: Temples to Yero,

Crime/Corruption/Punishment: 3/2/8

The Walled district is built between the two arms of Mount K├╝gel. A twenty foot thick wall complete with battlements, three towers and two city gates. A series of four temples are dedicated to Yero, Tyr, Aeres and Abyss. They lie on the southern edge of the market square. The market is filled with the prime export of Kuln, forged metal goods. Outlying farms sell their excess grain and livestock here to the inhabitants.

Outsiders are not allowed into the Rift. The dwelling place of the dwarven residents, the Rift is a craggy divide in the mountain Kuln is built upon. Titanic doors and battlements have been constructed across the Rift for defense. Upon entering these doors one is in the residences and work shops of forty thousand dwarves. Built into the sides of the crag, the Rift is segregated into distinct populations. On the north wall the Khazad and sand dwarves, Khemblin, dwell and on the south wall the Kohle and Gulagga or mud dwarves dwell. The mud dwarven than has just begun his rule. Rumors persist that they have kidnapped the Duchess of Reyifor to spark a war with Riddleport.