The new site is the official home of the forthcoming Parsantium city sourcebook and I'll be posting updates on my progress with the book there. I'll keep crossposting stuff here on LJ too, though, and this blog, which I have grown very fond of, will still have write ups of the games I'm running and playing in, as well as general posts about RPGs and other things.
Cartographer extraordinaire Jon Roberts has posted a preview of the awesome city map he's doing for the book here.
This shows part of the Garden Ward including the Old Palace of the Sultan, the Garden Mausoleum of Hulieman, and the Observatory.
- Current Location:United Kingdom, England,Greater London,Islington, Clerkenwell
Yesterday was Dragonmeet where I ran a 4e Parsantium adventure in the afternoon featuring thuggee killers, an underground river and gnoll slavers. It was a great group and we had a lot of fun with some excellent (and very funny) roleplaying. On the next table over Steve Dempsey was running the same adventure using the 13th Age rules and it sounds like this went really well too. Steve and I came up with some new 13th Age icons for Parsantium including the Archbishop, the Mummy, and the Boss of All Bosses and I think they worked quite well. Once the book is done, I'll spend some time honing these icons and will post them here. Oh, and I got to meet Rob Heinsoo yesterday whose namesake is featured in the book as a dastardly villain....
While I was at Dragonmeet, Kate carried on getting the book ready for publication, compressing images, building the contents page and replacing "see page XX" references with hyperlinks. There's still one "see page XX" in this week's preview, but I thought it would cool to show you the kind of thing you can expect from the gazetteer location write-ups. Click on the link below to read about the Hippodrome and the Holy Basilica of Helion and to see another awesome illustration from Matt Morrow.
We're going to do all we can to get the book published in 2013 (just) – our current schedule has us uploading the files to drivethrurpg.com and Paizo on 30th December so look out for Parsantium: City at the Crossroads just after Christmas!
- Current Location:United Kingdom, England,Greater London,Islington, Farringdon
Crossposted from http://parsantium.com/blog
I am very pleased to report that the layout of Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is done! It's taken longer than we expected but we're very pleased with the results. Here's a preview of the introduction to the Mercantile Quarter (with an awesome illustration by Matt Morrow) so you can see what the finished book will look like. A few of you might recognize one of the passers-by too ;)
Of course, there's still quite a bit to do before you get the book in your hands (or on your laptops and tablets) including final proofing, replacing all the "see page XX" references, signing off and inserting the city map, designing the cover, writing an introduction, bookmarking the pdf file, getting the print file ready etc etc. We'll be working on all these things over the next few weeks but it feels great to have got the book to this point.
One more thing – if you're interested in reading what it's like to adventure in Parsantium, there's a write up of the latest session in my ongoing 4e campaign here.
Juma Jh’od Ji’ad leaves Parsantium by the Camel Gate, heading through the halfling camp outside, to reach the place where his nomadic Aqhrani “business associates” are camped. Here he meets with Sheikh Babak al-Hasid (“the respected”) and tries to repay his 10,000 gp gambling debt. The sheikh welcomes Juma as a long lost son and insists on cancelling the debt in return for a small favour. He wants the swordmage to bring him the secret formula for Parsantine Fire when the nomads next return to the city at the beginning of Februarius. Juma says this won’t be a problem and spends the next couple of days partying in the nomad camp, winning 5,000 gp in various games of chance.
Juma joins the rest of the party outside the door marked with the faded red skull symbol. Hearing the sound of a carriage approaching, the PCs quickly pull the thuggee bodies into the shadows of an alleyway and take cover. Watching from hiding, the party see two women wearing hooded black cloaks exit a carriage bearing the crest of House Ziper (a prominent noble family) and go through the door. About five minutes later, another carriage arrives, this one marked with the badge of House Mino – again, two more women get out and enter the door. Finally, an unmarked carriage arrives. This time a pair of armed guards get out first and have a good look around before yet another hooded figure gets out and goes inside.
The PCs wait a few minutes, then open the door and head down the stairs beyond. The steep staircase leads to a doorway but there is a second door coming off a small landing about halfway down. After Hrothgar and Juma both fail to pick the lock on this door, Gil casts knock to open it and the PCs slip through. The party find themselves on a balcony overlooking an underground temple to Kali, the Black Mother, goddess of creation and destruction, where a ceremony is just getting underway. The high priestess is a tiefling and Jagadamba is standing to her right, apparently also part of the priesthood; the congregation consists of around a dozen women, all wearing hooded black cloaks. Four guards in dark red robes and black turbans stand guard.
The ceremony gets underway – there is much chanting and a goat is sacrificed at the altar – but nothing untoward happens (“they’re not doing anything illegal” says Gil). After about half an hour, it is over and the women start to leave. One young girl, though, is asked to stay behind by the high priestess. Then, Jagadamba and the girl head down through a trapdoor concealed beneath a large rug. The PCs wait a few moments, then spring into action.
Hrothgar leaps down from the balcony, landing on one of the guards, followed by Jenma on her sorcerous wings. Juma casts hellish rebuke on the tiefling priestess (without success), Ulthar issues a commander’s strike to Hrothgar and Gil casts frostburn. The surprise round over, the priestess Chandrika summons a skeletal warrior onto the balcony to attack Gil and Ulthar, then closes on Hrothgar, using worthy sacrifice to knock him prone and daze him. The guards move to attack the gnoll and Jenma, and the statue of Kali animates and joins the fray. Gil casts a fiery serpent that fails to stop the Kali statue reaching Jenma and knocking her unconscious. To make things worse, the dragonborn has been sundered from sight by one of the thuggee guards and can’t be targeted with healing. Juma and Gil teleport down from the balcony to help their companions, followed by Ulthar whose leap is better described as a fall. Gil pours a potion down Jenma’s throat bringing her round as Hrothgar (who is being garrotted by a thuggee) nonetheless manages to brutal slam Chandrika, flinging her at one of her own guards.
Things are going badly with nearly the whole party bloodied so Ulthar uses stand the fallen to heal everyone except Jenma who still can’t be seen. Jenma blasts three guards with burning spray, narrowly missing the warlord in the blast. Ulthar then uses warmaster’s assault to give everyone an attack – Gil takes down one guard with his sword and Jenma takes down another with twin bolt. Meanwhile, Hrothgar fights on against Chandrika, while Juma is still battling the Kali stone golem. Finally, a commander’s strike from Ulthar allows the gnoll to finish off the priestess.
With Chandrika dead, the last surviving guard makes a run for it but the Kali statue goes on a golem rampage, trampling all the PCs. As it stomps on Juma, the genasi delivers a fatal blow and it explodes, knocking Jenma unconscious again! The battle is at last over. Jenma is brought rounds, everyone heals and the priestess’ necklace of skulls is looted. With nearly all daily powers expended, the PCs discuss what to do next....
Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog/
Exciting news! The schedule for games running at Dragonmeet on Saturday 7th December has been posted here and I am delighted to confirm that I will running an adventure called Flotsam and Jetsam under the 4th Edition D&D rules in the morning, with Steve Dempsey will be running the same scenario using 13th Age in the afternoon. I last ran this adventure at #UKT4 back in March and it was a lot of fun, so I'm looking forward to sharing Parsantium with some new players in London. I originally planned to run the adventure as a Pathfinder scenario but the Pathfinder Society have got that system well-covered so the organizers have asked me to run it for 4e.
I'll post an update on progress with the book soon. Kate is now back from her trip to India and my final revisions to the text are done, so work can resume on the layout. While she was in Delhi, she drove past the awesome temple of Hanuman pictured below.
- Current Mood: excited
We carried on working on the layout at the weekend but for various reasons*, progress was slower than hoped and we only got half way through the Old Quarter section of the Gazetteer. As Kate is off to India for a week on Saturday (for work, rather than in search of inspiration for the Sampuran parts of the city), not much will get done on the layout until she is back. I've also decided there are some bits of the book that I'm not 100% happy with and that need further work before publication.
Unfortunately, all this means that my plans to launch the book by the end of November have been scuppered, and because I want to release the pdf and print versions at the same time, there is a chance that the book might be delayed until after Christmas. I'm very keen after spending so long working on Parsantium that the book is the very best it can be, and I don't want to make compromises for the sake of expediency.
Hope this all makes sense to you guys and that the finished book will be worth the extra wait.
*including a stubborn illustration of a comedy drama mask we were trying to get the text to flow around
Thanks to everyone who voted in the PDF vs Print poll!
50% of you are most interested in a Print + PDF bundle so that's something I'll definitely be offering. The rest of the votes were split 50:50 between print and PDF. If I can, I'd like to publish both formats simultaneously so this might push publication back into early December – I'll keep you posted.
Layout and proofreading continues slowly but surely. This weekend we finished Chapter 3: Running a Campaign and the first part of the mammoth Chapter 4: Gazetteer, covering the Imperial Quarter. We'll hopefully get the Gazetteer finished this weekend so we're in a good place before Kate goes to India for a week with her day job. I'm really pleased with how the book is looking so far!
More news soon.
- Current Mood: exhausted
While Juma Jh’od Ji’ad goes outside the city to meet the Aqhrani nomads he owes 10,000 gp to, the other PCs meet Lady Viviana Megaris for lunch at the Silver Salver in the Civic Ward. Over an experimental taster menu with dishes such as spiced chuul steaks, gray ooze porridge and honeydew badger, Lady Viviana explains that Appia, the daughter of her dear friend Lady Basina Zaragus, has gone missing along with her friend Hesychia Radrias. The two girls did not return home from a party at the House Laro estate three nights ago and the Watch haven’t been able to find out what has happened to them. She offers the PCs 10,000 gp to bring the two girls back safe and sound; if some terrible fate has befallen them, they are to punish the person(s) responsible. Hard up despite their recent adventures, the Juma Gang, now rebranded to the Juma Associates to better fit in with the nobles of the Imperial Quarter, agree to take the job.
First stop is Lady Basina’s house. Unfortunately Lady Basina is a bit vague about the names of Appia’s other friends but the PCs do find a love potion in her room which could be a useful clue.
Next, they visit the Civic Ward Watchhouse and talk to Sergeant Thero, the watch officer who has been doing his best to investigate the girls’ disappearance. He is able to confirm the names of the girls who went to the Laro party with Appia and Hesychia as Epiphania Mino, Vianella Jamallis and Alexandria Riva. He doesn’t seem to be telling everything he knows but Jenma intimidates him into revealing that two other girls have gone missing in the last seven weeks – Pasara (who was shopping in the Emerald Ward) and Marozia (who vanished after watching a performance at the theatre). Gil uses a comprehend languages ritual to decipher Thero’s notebook after he is persuaded to hand it over – an entry says that the Watch Captain, Gratian, told him not to waste his time investigating further.
The PCs head to the Jamallis estate next but the snooty butler tells them that Miss Vianella is not at home. In fact, both she and Alexandria are together at the Riva home. According to the girls, they couldn’t find Appia and Hesychia at the end of the party so left without them. The same story is told by Ephiphania (“Piffy”) when the PCs talk to her a bit later. By this time it’s getting late so the party return to their apartment in the Old Quarter where Gil examines the love potion and confirms it’s a genuine magic potion of the sort sold by Jagadamba, the Witch of Flotsam.
The PCs head to the Mercantile Quarter and visit Jagadamba’s tent in the shadow of the Colossus. Gil buys a potion of vitality and the PCs sell the witch the love potion for 500 gp.
Crossing over the Rajah’s Bridge to the Imperial Quarter, they go to the House Laro estate. The guards don’t like the look of Hrothgar (or what he says for that matter) and refuse to let him in, but the other three PCs are admitted. After the usual snooty butler has the party wait in the drawing room, the PCs are shown in to meet Bonifacius Laro and his plain-looking daughter Adula, the hostess of the party four nights ago. Adula’s story is that all five girls left together in the Mino carriage at around 10.30pm; this is confirmed by a Sampuran servant named Munjeet who says he helped them into their carriage. The girls were apparently very giggly. Meanwhile, Hrothgar has climbed over the railings but is soon spotted by the guards who blow their whistles. Deciding discretion is the better part of valour, he legs it back over the fence.
From here, the Juma Associates travel over to the Grand Ward to interview Marozia’s boyfriend and Pasara’s mother. There doesn’t seem to be connection with either House Laro or the other missing girls, but both Marozia and Pasara were apparently interested in love potions and other such mumbo jumbo.
Unsure what to do next, the PCs discuss breaking into House Laro, then settle for keeping the estate under surveillance over night. Nothing suspicious happens – Bonifacious Laro arrives home in the evening and then sets off for his ministerial post in the morning.
After Bonifacius leaves, the PCs follow Adula Laro to the Forum of Heraclius in the Emerald Ward. Unfortunately, she spots Hrothgar who stands out like a sore thumb in the forum, and soon notices the rest of the PCs as they attempt to hide behind the stalls. With the game up, the party beat a hasty retreat.
Jagadamba seems as if she might somehow be mixed up in all this so the PCs return to the Mercantile Quarter. Gil pays for a palm reading which is cryptic and vague although the little witch does point out that Gil’s lifeline is broken, and hints that a trip to another world or plane might be in his future. When she shuts up shop for the day, the other three PCs follow her to an alley just off the Street of Many Gods in the Temple Ward where she vanishes, apparently through a door marked with a faded red skull symbol. Jenma goes to fetch Gil who is still keeping watch on Jagadamba’s tent.
When the pair arrive back in the alleyway, the party are attacked by four thuggee assassins. Ulthar is the first to take one down, and the PCs are able to make fairly short work of the others despite a run of bad luck for Gil and a friendly fire incident in which Jenma manages to bloody Hrothgar. With the four attackers dead, the PCs discuss what to do next....
This weekend, we’ve cracked on with the layout of Parsantium to stay on track for our target publication date of 29th November (Black Friday). InDesign is a harsh mistress but Kate has got her tamed ;)
The first two chapters – City at the Crossroads and Life in the City – are finished, with all art added in, and have come in at 35 pages total. Since these represent about 20% of the total word count, I think the whole book will be between 175 and 200 pages long, bigger than most WotC sourcebooks for D&D 4e!
I finished proof-reading these two chapters today. Next up is the relatively short third chapter, Running a Campaign, and then it’s onto the huge Gazetteer, starting with the Imperial Quarter.
Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog
As promised, here's a preview of a double page spread, fully laid out with headings, border and art. Please note that the text has not been proofread so there may well be errors – feel free to let me know if you spot any ;)
Let me know what you think!
The art is all in from both Matt Morrow and Marc Radle and I'm really pleased with it – it's going to make the book look awesome!
Here's the finished Parsantium city crest Marc did for the book, a massive improvement on the original colour crest I cobbled together from the internet.
Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog/
This weekend, we imported the first chapter of Parsantium: City at the Crossroads into InDesign and started work on the layout. Firstly, we got rid of the border we had scanned from Dover's Authentic Turkish Designs – it just didn't look good enough – and bought a new decorative font to use instead. This looks much better and gives us some nice little graphics we can use to break up the text if we need them. We're using one of these next to the page numbers on each page and it works very well. Next, Kate created the five levels of headings we are using throughout the text to indicate new chapters, sections, subsections etc.
We've now have the first chapter laid out without illustrations and it's very cool to see a load of Word documents start to look like a real book! There's still some more tinkering to do with spacing and the illustrations need to be added, but once that's done I'll post a sample double page spread here.
Nearly all the art is in too – just one illustration and the map to come.
Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog
It’s been felt less like a holiday and a bit too much like work, but we’ve used our second week off well, and Kate has finished the first edit of Parsantium: City at the Crossroads, and I’ve finished my revisions to that edit. This is great news as it means we can start laying out the book next weekend, prior to the second (hopefully much quicker) second edit and subsequent proofreading. Nearly all the interior art is in too which is excellent.
My Parsantium D&D campaign restarted again last night after a short hiatus. If you were wondering about the kind of adventures PCs can get up to in the city, you can read a write up of the game here. As this session featured a chariot race at the Hippodrome, I thought I'd post Matt Morrow's superb finished illustration.
The Juma Gang attend Sora and Bax’s wedding at the Celestial Bastion, Bahamut’s temple in the Grand Ward. As the ceremony begins, a female dragonborn arrives, somewhat out of breath, and takes her seat with Sora’s family. This causes quite a stir – it transpires this is Sora’s missing sister, Jenma. Ruthva, the high priestess, attempts to restart the wedding but is interrupted again as a portal opens from the Elemental Chaos, spilling forth fire and iron archons led by a salamander noble.
Hrothgar charges the salamander, getting grabbed by the creature’s tail, but quickly breaks free. Gil casts ice storm which is very effective in keeping the archons confined to the area around the portal. Jenma and Sora both use their dragon breath on the elementals as Bax fights at his fiancé’s side. Ulthar charges into melee, followed by Juma who summons his sword into his hand from the weapons rack by the temple entrance.
Hrothgar rages, killing the salamander, then Gil teleports into the middle of the icy zone and casts fire shroud. Unfortunately this proves ineffective on the fire archons, but he follows up with his sword, striking the iron archon crescent blade. The battle is turning against the archons, and two of them flee through the portal. After finishing off the last of the elemental creatures, Hrothgar sticks his head through the portal, but can’t see anything. Deciding not to go further in, he pulls back. Gil is able to confirm that it leads to the Elemental Chaos just before it vanishes.
Wounds are healed and the guests who have fainted are revived, allowing the wedding to resume for the third time. All goes well and the married couple and their friends and family enjoy a great feast in the chapter house, followed by memorable speeches from Ulthar and Hrothgar (who toasts the couple in the traditional gnoll fashion, biting the head off a live meerkat and drinking its blood).
The PCs talk to Jenma, trying to find out more about her, but she doesn’t reveal much. Sora tells Gil that she feels its time for her to go her own way and leave the Juma Gang behind, citing ideological differences.
27th - 28th October
The Juma Gang attend the Victory Games as guests of Perenon Therund; Jenma comes along, taking Sora’s seat in the box. Bets are placed on the teams of gladiators taking part, but only Gil successfully picks the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags to win the prized Winged Helm. After the gladiatorial contests are over, the PCs are approached by Plutinus, Editor of the Games, who explains that the Greens chariot team have gone down with food poisoning, caused by dodgy oysters, and the Old Quarter Tribune, Murad al-Rumi, has suggested the Juma Gang could be the ideal candidates to take their place.
The party agree and head to the Greens faction HQ where they are given a briefing by Maruthus, the team manager on how to race chariots. Juma bets 1,000 gp on himself to win at 10-1, and also Mercurius, the Blues’ star racer (evens).
Race day! Jenma takes an early lead, her intimidating presence and creative threats causes the rival drivers to back off and give her space. Hrothgar is hot on her heels, flinging his chariot into Mercurius’ to throw the Blues’ driver off course. All three drivers for the Reds are knocked out in the first lap after crashing into each other, and two of the Blues’ drivers and one of the Whites’ smash into the walls of the Hippodrome soon after. Juma is determined he is going to win his bet, and tries to run Hrothgar off the track; Gil responds by grabbing Juma’s reins with mage hand and the genasi loses control temporarily and slips behind. As the PCs race round on the third lap, Hrothgar notices something strange is happening to the big obelisk in the middle of the spina – its hieroglyphics are glowing red.
Suddenly, the obelisk explodes, showering the track with debris which the PCs and the other charioteers must swerve to avoid. A giant figure resembling the Khemeti god of the dead, Anubis, steps from the rubble and strides towards the box holding the Old Quarter Tribune and Captain Saurish of the City Watch. The PCs ram their chariots into the great monster as it advances on the dignitaries. The Anubis giant turns and blasts Hrothgar and Juma with hot sand, blinding the gnoll. As the Juma Gang climb (or crawl) out of their wrecked chariots, they come under attack from the Tiangaon gladiator team, Tiger Claw, who are in the stands.
The sorcerer Lee Jian opens a “doom portal” beneath Gil’s feet, and the archer Chen Tung fire arrows from his great bow at the eladrin. Navrang Swiftstrike leaps down and charges Ulthar, and Lokesh Flashfoot attacks the blind Hrothgar and Juma. Jenma flies into the stands and blasts the Anubis giant with acid, killing it, as it slashes at Ulthar with its mighty khopesh. Ulthar then takes Navrang’s head clean off with a devastating critical and gets Hrothgar to “shake off” his blindness. The gnoll turns his attentions to Lokesh, knocking him prone. As the gladiator stands up, Gil teleports next to Lokesh and attacks with his sword, revealing him to be an illusion. Meanwhile, Lee Jian has created another “doom portal”, briefly sucking Juma into another dimension.
Hrothgar climbs into the stand and charges the sorcerer, as Jenma advances on Chen Tung. Both men look confused momentarily and then call on the PCs to stop attacking – it seems as if they have been charmed in some way. Jenma slaps the archer in the face to snap him out of whatever domination effect he’s under as Hrothgar uses his fists to do the same thing, punching Lee Jian on the nose several times until he gets the message. The PCs have a few minutes to question the two men before the City Watch drag them away. Apparently they were attacked from behind while walking back to their barracks. The last thing they remember was coming round, tied to a table, while a huge shaggy minotaur stood over them chanting strange words (maybe Abyssal?) before everything went black.
I do hope some way is found to archive the old threads though as that's where the Midgard 4e Bestiary was first conceived, and where I spent a lot of time discussing various Open Design projects with other patrons. Good times.
Still, I think I miss the old posts here on LJ more....
Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog
After a lovely week in Kalkan, Turkey to recharge our batteries in the sunshine, we are back in Blighty and working hard on Parsantium: City at the Crossroads again. We’ve got the week off from our day jobs this week so the plan is to get as much as possible done and hopefully finish the first edit. While we were in Turkey we visited the fascinating Greco-Roman ruins at Xanthos – see below for a picture of its Roman amphitheatre, not dissimilar to Parsantium’s Theatre of Cytherea!
Kate finished her first edit of the huge Gazetteer chapter today, leaving “just” the Organizations and Religion chapters to do. I have completed my revisions to the Imperial and Mercantile Quarters and will work on the Old Quarter and Hidden Quarter tomorrow to finish off the Gazetteer. Once the first edit is done, we’ll be putting the text into InDesign and working on the layout. Six out of eight pieces of art are in from Matt Morrow already, with six to come shortly from Marc Radle, along with the city map by Jonathan Roberts. There’s a lot to do but we are going to do our best to hit our planned November release date.
The other exciting news is that hopefully there will an opportunity for some of you in the UK to play in a Parsantium game at Dragonmeet on 7th December. The schedule is still to be confirmed but I am planning to run a Pathfinder game in the morning while Steve Dempsey will run the same adventure under the excellent 13th Age system in the afternoon. More information as soon as things are firmed up.
Today, while Kate has been working her way through her first edit of the lengthy Gazetteer chapter – at 43,000 words, it’s the biggest in the book by a long way – I’ve been drawing a map of the hideout of the infamous Golden Scimitars criminal gang in the tunnels beneath the Old Quarter. I started with a handrawn map which I scanned, then edited and labelled using Photoshop. It’s pretty old school, but I’m pleased with how it’s turned out. This location was the site of memorable battles in both Parsantium campaigns so it’s fitting there’s a map of it in the book.