This week I’ve been writing about the government and politics of Parsantium and describing the key NPCs, including the Basileus, Corandias the Lion-Blooded, his scheming wife Thecia, and Bardas, the seemingly passionless Prefect who runs the city on a day to day basis.
I’ve also spent some time working out who looks after each aspect of running the city state, and who reports into who. There has always been a tribune in each quarter, but I have now added the office of the Royal Exchequer (controls the finances), the Strategos (commands the army and looks after Parsantium’s defences), and the Praetor (heads up the judicial system). The Prefect, Royal Exchequer and Strategos form a Triumvirate of senior officials reporting into the Basileus; then, the Praetor and three tribunes report to the Prefect. Beneath all these senior officials is a vast, bloated bureaucracy of civil servants (many of them eunuchs) pushing paper around to make sure the city runs properly (if not that efficiently). These bureaucrats often have absurd job titles and wear special hats denoting their position. Of course, there are quite a few intrigues and plots going on among the various NPCs, and I’ll be adding more as I work my way through the first draft of the book to give DMs some fun adventure seeds.
I’ve also written about the Parsantine armed forces with some helpful advice from Gavin (one of my players and a keen wargamer). In keeping with Parsantium’s multicultural feel, the army includes heavily armed knights, Akhrani horse archers, halfling slingers and gnoll mercenaries.
The government section came to around 1,700 words. These early sections are taking longer than the city locations will (I hope!) as I am writing almost from scratch. In most cases, I have only a handful of bullet points to go on compared to the more detailed notes I’ve written for, say, the Winking Vixen brothel. Hopefully I will be able to cover more ground faster later on.
Next up is the Law & Order section, including the courts, crime and punishment and the City Watch. If you have any fun ideas for crimes or punishments to go into the Codex of Imperial Law, let me know in the comments! I might cover some of the criminal bosses and gangs of the Old Quarter under this section too. Not sure yet, though – there’s an Organizations section and they might sit better there. After that, I’ll be moving on to customs & superstitions, including the calendar, festivals and entertainment, food and drink and so on.
- Current Mood: hopeful
This week, I finished off the first draft of chapter 1 of the book, which is currently coming in at 5,500 words, 1,000 words above my initial target. Having already written the overview and the history sections for this chapter, I’ve been working on the People section which describes the five main human cultural groups (still called Batiarans, Akhrani, Sahasrans, Tiangaons and Urskovians for now) as well as the various non-human races, including dwarves, elves and eladrin, halflings, half-elves and half-orcs.
For the “regular” D&D races, I’ve tried to explain how they fit in to the city so that anyone making a character has a good starting point for their PC. I deliberated about whether to include gnomes as I’ve never been that keen on them, but one of my design goals is to include the core races from D&D and Pathfinder, so they’ve made it in. I’ve divided them into two groups – goodly folk who’ve lived in the city for a while who make toys and clockworks and nasty little recent arrivals from the Feywild, complete with blood-soaked red caps, who like to cause trouble.
If you’ve played in either of my two Parsantium campaigns or follow any of the campaign write-ups, you’ll know that dragonborn, gnolls and genasi all live in the city as well as the more traditional races – if I remember correctly, there have been one gnoll, two dragonborn and four genasi PCs in the two games. Centaurs, minotaurs, tieflings and vanara (the monkey-like humanoids from Indian myth that appeared in the 3e Oriental Adventures book) round out the racial mix. Parsantium is a melting pot after all, so a wide variety of races makes sense.
Next up is the Life in the City chapter which covers Government, the Army, Law and Order, Customs and Superstitions, and Trade. It’s a meaty section, about 5,000 words, and should be a lot of fun to write.
For one reason or another I haven’t got as much written this week as I wanted to, but I have finished the History section for now. This took me a bit longer than I thought it was going to but I’m pleased with how it’s turned out.
As I started writing it, I realised I had a cool origin story for the ancient city of Dhak Janjua which became Parsantium, but only a few lines about the next 2,000 years! I didn’t want to write pages and pages of history but I did need to fill in a few important blanks to explain how the city of today is the way it is. These key events, often several hundreds of years apart, include the arrival of the Akhrani, the change of name to Parsantium, the conquest of the city by Corandias the Magnificent and its subsequent fall to the hobgoblin army of Kalgroth Ironheart, and the Great Crusade which allowed it to become a powerful Free City and trading centre again. I’ve fleshed out all of these, explained who Hulieman was at long last, and changed a few things in the process as I attempted to pull together a coherent flow of events. Advice from ulthar01 on how the Batiarans were most likely to have taken the city in war was much appreciated!
While I was writing all this, John Pope wrote an interesting post on Daily Encounter about campaign histories and timelines. His view is that a fluid narrative is better for the reader and more flexible for the DM than a timeline. I’ve done both, but am still deliberating whether or not to include a short timeline in a sidebar. It seems to me this could help the reader get a good overview of the key events at a glance. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.
Next up is the third and final part of the first “overview” chapter. This is on the inhabitants of the city, covering the major human cultural groups (Batiarans, Sahasrans, Akhrani, Tiangaons and Urskovians) and the various non-human races. At some point I’m going to have to replace the names I stole from Guy Gavriel Kay, Margaret Weis and others with my own but the original names will do as placeholders for now. After this, I will be moving on to Life in the City, starting with the government and the army.
The book also contains new spells and magic items (for Pathfinder) and more. And it has an awesome cover by Kieran Yanner. Check it out!
1st Sextilis (contd.)
The Juma Gang decide to head south from the entrance, through the troglodyte lair to the door they’d left unopened the first time round. The lair seems to have been stripped of weapons and supplies and abandoned, with the troglodyte bodies left there to rot. Juma Ji’ad opens the door and the PCs sneak down the corridor, surprising the Marrowmaw troglodytes in the large cavern ahead. Ulthar is less forthcoming with his tactical instructions than usual and the party spread out to attack different reptilian humanoids, rather than concentrating on one or two opponents at a time. Hrothgar ends up surrounded by the chieftain Ssark and two of his warriors and only avoids falling unconscious due to Sora’s knightly intercession where she puts herself in the line of fire (actually a nasty bite). After a few rounds, first Ulthar, and then Sora and Juma, have disposed of their opponents and are able to help Hrothgar out. The PCs surround Ssark and Gil finishes him off with a magic missile. A search of his chamber turns up some gold and gems, and a beautifully-made magical greatsword which Sora claims.
The party return back the way they came to explore a side cavern up a flight of stone steps to the west. This turns out to be the troglodyte hatchery with leathery eggs buried in the soft sandy earth in here. Deciding troglodytes are inherently evil creatures, they destroy the eggs.
Crossing the stream via the log bridge, the PCs head east to a large cavern filled with giant puffball fungi; troglodyte bodies rot in here too, covered in mushrooms. Hrothgar points out the poisonous deathcaps growing amongst the edible puffballs. Ulthar bravely decides to go into the room first. Unfortunately, he passes too close to a deathcap which releases its deadly spores as he crosses the room. Sora flies across the chamber, avoiding the fungi, but the others all end up poisoned as they attempt to get to the other side. Hrothgar is convinced there must be some treasure in the cavern and spends a few rounds looking without success, exposing himself to dozens of spores in the process. Eventually he gives up and the PCs go north towards the prison cavern.
Here, four warren trolls stand guard. The PCs are quickest to act and Hrothgar slays the first troll with a critical hit almost immediately. Two others engage the party in melee while a third throws boulders (ineptly) at Gil from atop an escarpment. The eladrin uses his fire magic to keep the trolls from regenerating, although at one point a troll he has set on fire scorches Sora badly. Juma goes after the rock-thrower, while Ulthar grabs the Scourge of Vardar from Gil and uses it to finish off the stop the two unconscious trolls from getting up again. The battle over, the PCs head towards the great doors leading to Skalmad’s throne room.
The first thing I had to do was to get all the material I had written for my two 4e campaigns over the last five years into Scrivener, the excellent writing software I am using for the book. Scrivener allows me to have the actual manuscript, as well as notes, research materials and so on, all in one place, and has a built in outlining function, using a virtual corkboard. It is very cool. Once I’d done this, I organised everything I had into a rough outline for the book – you can make each section a separate document and have the program compile it all at the end. This makes juggling stuff around really easy.
Then, I sat down with my collection of D&D city supplements, including Ptolus, the Zobeck Gazetteer, Waterdeep, Sharn, Freeport and Bluffside, to see how other writers and publishers had structured their urban sourcebooks, and what they had covered. I found this really useful and interesting, and it helped me tighten up the outline, coming up with ways to amalgamate sections, as well as prompting me to add some topics I hadn’t thought about. Some things I’m not sure about yet. For example, is it better to have all the NPCs in one chapter, or attach them to the locations where they might be found? Most of the books I looked at went for a combination of both approaches, with the more important characters in a separate section and the minor ones described with their place of work.
Once I’d done this, I did some rough word count targets for each section. At the moment, I am planning the whole book to be 40,000 words but this could end up being way too few or too many. I’m not sure yet!
That’s it for preparation for now. My aim is to complete the first draft in 15 weeks, writing around 2,500-3,000 words per week. Since I already have a fair bit of material to work with for some sections, certain chapters will go quicker than others. I’ve completed an initial overview of the city setting, including Six Things You Need to Know, and have starting working on the History section. I need to get this bit pinned down as this will help inform many of the details of each quarter of the city.
I’m really enjoying this so far!
- Current Mood: good
Kate has a brand new job at DK Travel, working full time in the office again as list manager, and my job in bookselling continues to be both eventful and challenging. We went on holiday early in the year to Bath, visiting a freezing cold Stonehenge on the way home, and in September returned to the States for the fifth consecutive year, this time going to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons before visiting Sally, Tillman and little Xander in Idaho Falls. We saw lots of wildlife and stunning scenery, and had a great time. Back home, Palace have been playing some fantastic football and there is still a decent chance we’ll get promoted this season despite a few recent setbacks. Losing Dougie Freedman was sad but I think we’ve got a great manager in Ian Holloway.
After the D&D Next announcement, it looked like the Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition might not come out after all, but following a successful Kickstarter which raised over $10k, the book was published in both pdf and print, and I am very, very proud of how it has turned out. The companion player’s book, Defenders of Midgard, which I contributed to, has just been released too. I also started writing for Creighton Broadhurst at Raging Swan Press, and had five books published in the So What… series, covering treasure, weapons, armour and taverns. I’ve enjoyed writing these immensely and I am really pleased at how they have been received.
In total, I had eight RPG books published in 2012 – not something I was expecting at the start of the year but very satisfying nonetheless! This has made me think that it’s about time I did something with Parsantium. My city setting is five years old this January and I’ve run 134 game sessions set there. I have 16,000 words of setting material written, as well as several adventures that take place in the city. It all needs tons of work and revision, but my plan is to self-publish Parsantium as a city sourcebook for D&D in 2013. Because the D&D community has become so fragmented, my current thinking is to keep it edition-neutral so it can be used with D&D Next, 4e, Pathfinder, AD&D or 13th Age. Any comments or suggestions from readers of this LJ on the project would be much appreciated!
As well as the professional stuff, I also contributed to the Classics Return and Winter is Coming II blog carnivals and organized the If I Ruled the Multiverse blog carnival to discuss what kind of cosmology gamers wanted to see for D&D Next. My talented pal Symatt did some amazing drawings for all of these.
Obviously, I continued to play and run a lot of RPGs as well as writing things for them. The Black Horse Parsantium campaign went on hiatus after reaching its 90th session in which we finished Courts of the Shadow Fey, but the Juma Gang are still going strong as they explore the Trollhaunt Warrens. On Monday nights, z45tu7 has started running the epic Pathfinder campaign, Rise of the Runelords, and we are having a lot of fun running around Sandpoint and failing to agree on a team name. We also played a couple of sessions of ninthcouncil’s 4e game set in the Wilderlands setting.
Gavin’s excellent Trail of Cthulhu/Gaslight campaign continues, and Mignola’s Marauders have been back in action, racing across the city of Jorvik (Step in Time!) before sailing over the stormy North Sea to the Dragon Lands. I ran a session of Halls of Undermountain for Kate and we finally played The Slaying Stone again just this week after a 15 month gap!
I've also been playtesting D&D Next – I first played it back in February at the 3rd #ukdndtweetup organized by @adampageuk. Since then we’ve been playing online via G+ with the excellent @greywulf as DM and have had a lot of fun, largely down to the awesome people I am playing with rather than the rules. D&D Next shows a lot of promise but I must admit I am having trouble keeping up with the constantly changing rules which sometimes seem to unfix things that were working just fine. Hopefully the core classes and rules will be pinned down soon. I am also interested to see how 13th Age turns out – we’re using the Escalation Die in our 4e games as an experiment at the moment and it's working well.
As well as going to the tweet-up and Drowathon in Nottingham, I had a great time at this year's Dragonmeet. Maybe this summer I will finally make it to GenCon!
I read 34 books this year, but didn’t really stick to Joe Hill’s “shelf of ten”principles as new stuff always came along to tempt me. Here’s the list:
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My favourite album is The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit – Kate and I saw them live at Shepherd’s Bush and they were great, but I also really like Shallow Bed by Dry the River, and Streets in the Sky by The Enemy. We saw both of these bands too and they were excellent. My favourite film has to be the amazing Avengers Assemble but I also really liked Drive and Skyfall.
Have a great 2013!
Together with the Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition and the Midgard Campaign Setting, 4e players now have all they need to game in the fantastic world of Midgard. Two great 4e adventures, Courts of the Shadow Fey and Lost City, are also available. Wizards of the Coast might not be releasing 4e material anymore but Kobold Press is!
The last D&D book published in 2012 is an odd one – very good, but odd nonetheless.
Way back in January, I thought this book would be for 4th Edition D&D, but it later became apparent that it would be edition-neutral. Billed as Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster’s Forgotten Realms, the initial pre-publicity then made me think this volume would be Ed’s own version of the Realms, showing us the direction he had taken the world in his own campaigns since 1987’s Grey Box. I was expecting entries on Waterdeep, the Dalelands, Sembia and Zhentil Keep to give the reader an alternative view of the setting through the eyes of its own creator.
Elminster’s Forgotten Realms isn’t this kind of book. There are no entries on the cities and countries of Ed’s own Realms. Instead, there are loosely-themed chapters on general topics such as Life in the Realms and Money Matters. Each one is something of a grab-bag of unseen Realmslore, all written in Ed’s rich prose style that readers of his work for TSR and Wizards will be familiar with.
Every page of the book is liberally sprinkled with rumours, adventure hooks, and snippets of the Realmspeak that makes the setting so unique – we learn that a barfly in the Realms is known as a “hard jaw”, that the Watch of Waterdeep wears an “undress” uniform of “grayweave” and the best route to becoming a noble in the City of Splendors. Ed’s conversational style makes the book a delight to read – written with true enthusiasm, he talks about how he has used the material in the book in his own games, and providing tons of hints and tips on how to run a fun game. RPG books should provide ideas and inspiration to the reader and this is exactly what this book does.
The first chapter, Life in the Realms, talks about such diverse topics as Realmspeak, times of day, books and literature, events and festivals, the theatre, medicine, drugs and poisons. This is followed by the Laws and Orders chapter, covering nobles, justice, property and trade laws, the city watches of Waterdeep and Tantras, the War Wizards of Cormyr and the Zhentarim. Hearth and Home is probably my favourite – perhaps because I’ve written about taverns this year for Raging Swan –and includes types of heating and cooking fuel, “handfoods” (street food), regional cuisines (with recipes for baked cockatrice and stirge on toast!), drinks, fashions and even underwear. Money Matters has a section called Day Jobs For Adventurers that broadens out to cover rooftop chases and burial customs (!) as well as others covering guilds, merchants, coinage and trade goods, including the wondrous products of Lantan, children’s toys and slaves.
The lengthy Gods and Followers chapter kicks off with some general information on why evil temples are allowed to exist and how the inhabitants of the Realms view the gods, before giving each well-known Realms deity his or her own entry, talking about the god’s creed, the secular aims of the church and famous priests. Much has been written about the gods of the Realms before, most notably in the excellent Faiths and Avatars for 2nd Edition, so I wasn’t so sure about this section. However, there’s a lot of interesting stuff packed into it – we learn about the sinister secret agenda of Gond the Wonderbringer’s priesthood, and the Bloodhunters of Malar being paid to hunt down “undesirables” among many other things. In the final brief section on The Art, Ed writes about portals, alchemy, bardic colleges and elven music – all good stuff, but I thought this chapter could have been longer, and the Gods chapter shorter.
Interspersed between the pages of new material and high-quality art, we also get to see facsimiles of the original Realms manuscripts that Ed sent into TSR for the Grey Box and later publications. For long-time Realms DMs, these pages brought back fond memories of the Halls of the Beast-Tamers and the Zhentarim. We also get to see Ed’s original maps and sketches, and his handwritten submissions after his typewriter finally gave up the ghost. It’s easy to forget these days that in the late 80s, game designers had to send their typewritten manuscripts through the post!
My overall impression is that of a lovingly-put together tribute to the Realms. It wasn’t what I was expecting but Elminster’s Forgotten Realms serves as a fantastic 25 year anniversary celebration of one of D&D’s best loved settings. I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed playing in the setting or who wants to understand how to really bring out the sights, sounds and smells of a fantasy world in their writing.
- Current Mood: busy
I've enjoyed all five of the books I've written this year for Raging Swan Press but this is my favourite kind of game design – writing about fantasy locations (in this case, inns & taverns) and describing the associated NPCs that a party of adventurers comes across during the course of a campaign. The book has 20 taverns described in it. Creighton asked me to write 10,000 words which meant some were shorter, half page entries, while others were longer and meant to fill a whole page. In the end, he has done a brilliant job of expanding the shorter entries so each establishment fills a page, making the book is 25 pages for just £2.49 ($3.99).
I am very pleased with how the book has turned out and it's already had a five star review on drivethrurpg.com/RPG Now!
This is a guest post for the #5eplanes blog carnival by the Ashes of Athas admins: Teos Abadia (@alphastream), Chad Brown and Derek Guder. Check out the Ashes of Athas events at Winter Fantasy.
The aspect of cosmology that is most certain in canon sources is that getting to Athas is very difficult. Unlike other campaign settings, planes such as the Astral, Ethereal, and various outer planes are largely inaccessible. Instead, the harsh desert world of Athas is only directly touched by two planes. The Gray is the Athasian plane of the dead, where all dead beings go. Most are slowly dissolved over time, though undead and powerful spirits may survive for a long time. The Black is similar to the plane of shadow and deep within it is the Hollow, a demiplane holding the terrible creature known as Rajaat.
Various supplements and versions of the campaign setting make it clear that Athas is closed to planar travel. Spelljammer sources describe the crystal sphere as similarly closed. However, the extent to which Athas is closed is unclear in official canon sources. Demons and devils can exist on Athas and somehow be summoned to it. A number of sources make it clear there are portals to the elemental planes, typically in very inhospitable places (volcano, Sea of Silt, raging sandstorm, etc.).
The sourcebook Defilers and Preservers provides several possible explanations and illustrations for planar layout, but makes it clear that all of the presented options are wrong in some way. The book contains the most useful description of the Gray and Black, suggesting the Gray wraps around Athas somehow and impedes planar travel, while the Black is within Athas, as if it were under its surface. However, these ideas aren’t really present in other sources.
Earth, Air, Fire, and Water describes the elements, para-elements, and the priests devoted to these elements (in Dark Sun priests were either elemental clerics or servants of the powerful and evil sorcerer-kings). This is one of my favorite sourcebooks, as it provides tremendous flavor for the setting. The elements are depicted as forces that care only for the preservation and growth of their natural/pure form. The environmental devastation of Athas has thrown these forces into opposition. As with second edition cosmology, the para-elements are created when two elements mix together. For example, Sun exists between Fire and Air.
In creating the Ashes of Athas organized play campaign we really liked the concept of the struggle between the elements. We particularly liked the idea that there could be conflict and confusion between worshipers of the pure elements and the often destructive para-elements. This honored the concepts of EAFW pitting priests against one another, but made the battle lines clearer. In Dark Sun power sources (such as psionics and arcane) can often be combined. So, we also liked the idea that the elements could be further corrupted. What would happen if you added the taint of the Black or Gray to Fire, Sun, or Magma? You might get Ash, which would devastate Athas even further.
Based on these concepts we threw around some ideas regarding the right positioning of elements and resulting para-elements. In a few cases we changed things from what had been suggested previously. Because these elements and the struggle over them are a big part of Athasian life, we placed them directly on Athas rather than trying to show separate inner planes. The creation of para-elements would usually be harmful to Athas. Magma, Silt, and the far too intense Sun were destructive. Only Rain was beneficial, but was extremely rare.
We then surrounded Athas with both the Gray and Black. While D&P establishes the Black as existing within Athas, we particularly liked it as existing deeper within the Gray. If the Gray surrounds Athas, then within it exists the Black.
Finally, we had the rare situation where the elements and para-elements combined with the Gray (or Black). In this case Ash, Smoke, Dust, and Salt were created. These might be planes, but they could just be forces created in the rare occasion when the planes touch.
Here is what we drew up to capture these concepts:
Athas exists, surrounded by the Gray (and within the Gray, the Black). The planes of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water all manifest on Athas, but due to the raw and unbalanced nature of Athas they can form unique para-elements that are often destructive. The elements and para-elements aren’t planes to visit, but rather forces on Athas. The forces are in opposition. Earth and Water struggle against the encroaching Silt, for example. Priests of para-elemental forces tend to be evil and often seek the destruction of the world. Priest of the elements are more restrained. They wish for their element to be strong, but still desire a world where nature can exist. Truly evil forces seek to corrupt the elements, creating a more vile version of Athas than even the one existing today.
We like the flavor behind this cosmology. It isn’t quite canonical, but we think it does a great job of capturing what the various canonical (often conflicting) sources are striving to achieve.
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.
About a month ago, a number of us chatted on Twitter about the D&D cosmology and where it might go with D&D Next. If the Great Wheel returns (as it looks like it will), does that mean that the Feywild disappears? What about Hestavar, the Elemental Chaos and the Domains of Dread? This looked like a fun subject for a blog carnival, so the “If I Ruled The Multiverse” blog carnival was born, in which various D&D bloggers, wrote about what they would do if Mike Mearls gave them the job of coming up with the D&D Next cosmology.
Mordicai Knode’s post on tor.com includes the Parallel Planes of Faerie, Shadow and Ginnungagap, a Spelljammer-influenced Prime Material Plane and Outer Planes featuring Pathfinder’s Four Horsemen and chaotic good guardinals.
Robin Stacey (@greywulf) argues that the nature of Mythological Multiverses varies depending on who you ask. To a halfling, the planes are hunks of meat and veg floating in the gods’ own stew.
Rafael Romo (@rrockman) wrote a whole series of interesting posts on the World of Cthon, in which the ancient planes of the First Age, including the Abyss and the Far Realm, are buried deep beneath the earth. Check out his summary post here.
Bill Olander’s post Sailing the Starry Sea pays homage to Spelljammer and 4e’s Astral Sea, adding a swirling Maelstrom and reimagining the other planes as planets.
Gonzalo Campoverde takes inspiration from both Eberron and Magic the Gathering’s Dominaria in his post.
Finally, my own post, keeps the things I like from 4e and incorporates them into a slimmed down Planescape-inspired multiverse with Sigil back on its Spire in the centre.
EDIT: I got a last minute post from Teos Abadia this morning on the cosmology of Athas.
Thanks to everyone who took part, and to Symatt for the awesome logo and the picture in this post! There are some very interesting and fun ideas here – I hope Mike and the WotC crew have a read! Judging by James Wyatt’s recent Wandering Monsters columns, the D&D planes and their inhabitants are still a hot topic of conversation.
- Current Mood: chipper
- Current Mood: groggy
I think it's turned out really well as you can hopefully see from these photos:
These show three of my favourite monsters in the book – the Ghost Boar of the Ringwood which I wrote after reading one of the early drafts of the Seven Cities chapter of the Midgard Campaign Setting, back when Brian and I were going to write one or two KQ articles rather than a fully fledged 4e book, the Alehouse Drake which appeared in the Parsantium campaign and I loved so much I bought the artwork, and finally the infamous Mages of Allain, based on the Bemmean Wizard in the AGE Bestiary and on Brandon Hodge's excellent Wasted West chapter in the Midgard book.
Thanks to everyone who backed the Kickstarter – I hope you get as much fun using the monsters in your games as Brian Liberge and I did writing and playtesting them! And we're not quite done yet – Defenders of Midgard, the Bonus Bestiaries and Kickstarter adventures are still to come.
* I got to hold g0gmag0g's copy on Saturday but that doesn't really count.
- Current Mood: happy
26th Quintilis (contd.)
The PCs haven’t had long to catch their breath before the road is torn apart as thick vines burst from the ground! Blightborn thorn blights and a tree-like demonthorn are attacking, sprouting up where the troglodyte scattered his black seeds. The Juma Gang are on form, though, and criticals from Sora and Ulthar make short work of the demonthorn while the others deal with the humanoid thorn blights. More of the diseased plant creatures appear each round – the party aren’t’ sure if the demonthorn that turns up is the same one reborn or a different one entirely. A pair of thorn blights take down the wounded Captain Mannarin, but loyal Private Pike hurries to his side and stabilises his wounds, just before Ulthar was going to give up on the captain as a lost cause. Juma slays the second demonthorn and the genasi’s companions dispose of the remaining blights. As the plant monsters fall, the trees and shrubs in this part of town shrivel and die.
The raid on the town is over and the last of the troll army has been driven back. Bax and Simlathril come running, flinging their arms around Sora and Gil respectively, relieved that their loved ones have survived the battle. While most of the PCs head off to the Cloudwatch Inn to celebrate, Juma Ji’ad goes to the temple to have his mutation dealt with. The homely priestess of Thellyne, Leda, performs a remove affliction ritual, assisted by Rillard, novice of Darmon, who holds the genasi’s hand throughout the ordeal. Juma is cured of his condition, but not without suffering a great deal of pain (104 hp lost!). Unsurprisingly, Leda isn’t keen on making a donation to the Juma fund afterwards. Rillard escorts the genasi to the pub, tells him to avoid any strong liquor, and runs off before he is groped. Gil spends the night with Simlathril; Bax holds Sora’s hand and gives her a chaste peck on the cheek at the end of the evening.
The Juma Gang are summoned to the town council in the keep. Mayor Kelana Dhoram, the eladrin captain Rennisar (Simlathril’s older brother), Captain Mannarin and the eladrin emissary and sage Rualiss are all present. The PCs are thanked for their efforts in saving the town and presented with a suit of +3 darkleaf leather armour as a reward. Rualiss explains that he thinks Skalmad’s magic eye was actually Moran’s Eye, an item that allows the wearer to return from the dead. The sage offers the PCs the chance to help him research the matter in his library. Sora, Gil and Juma go there and learn of a fomorian artifact called the Stone Cauldron that is mentioned in legends about Moran’s Eye. Gil also casts sending to find out if Forathin is still being plagued by corrupt fey, and if his father is still happy to give his armour to Juma. Yes and a reluctant yes are the answers.
The PCs return to Rualiss’ island to do more research but don’t learn much more – they do find out that the disappearance of Skalmad’s body is not solely a property of the Eye. Giving up, they leave further investigations to the eladrin sage.
Rualiss explains that the Stone Cauldron is not a relic, but a magical site. It stands within a ruined fortress in the Feywild, just east of the Feywild equivalent of the Trollhaunt, suggesting Skalmad has a way to cross over into the Feywild in or close to the Great Warren. Since the troll king is almost certainly not dead, the mayor is keen that the PCs return to the Great Warren to deal with him. Hrothgar asks for a further reward and Kelana reluctantly offers 2,500 gp, the contents of the town’s treasury. Some awkward haggling follows but eventually the mayor agrees to give the PCs farmland instead.
After travelling through the now familiar marshy bogs of the Trollhaunt, the PCs arrive at the entrance to the Great Warren. As Hrothgar and Juma sneak inside via the stream, Ulthar tries to intimidate the warren troll guard to let him in. When this doesn’t work, Gil casts incendiary detonation through the hatch in the doors, knocking the troll for six. The ettin in charge of the guard post opens the doors and smashes his club into the wizard, and battle is joined! The PCs are facing the ettin, two warren trolls and two nothics – used to handling such opponents, they make short work of them, using fire magic to make sure the trolls stay down.
- Current Mood: cheerful
I've just spent a very enjoyable morning at Dragonmeet, browsing the various trade stands, including an amazing stand selling older D&D material, Chessex, Pelgrane Press and others, and chatting to other gamers. Unfortunately today Palace play Brighton so I had to rush off to get to the match and didn't have time to play any games. If it were any other team, I would gave stayed at the con.
As well as buying some cool stuff, I also went to a very interesting and fun seminar with Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson. Rather scarily, Warlock of Firetop Mountain (which I bought at Games Day in 1982) is 30 years old this year. There were lots of good stories but my favourite was how their order for 6 copies of the original D&D boxed set was enough to get Games Workshop 3 years of exclusive distribution rights for in Europe!
The Great Hall at Dragonmeet:
Ian & Steve now:
Ian & Steve then:
The original Games Workshop in Dalling Road, Hammersmith:
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
Imagine Mike Mearls has given you the job of coming up with the #dndnext cosmology. What would you keep from prior editions and what would you bin?
Soon after agreeing to organise the carnival I realised I’d have to actually write something myself for it! This is my post.
The main aim of my benevolent dictatorship as Supreme Ruler Of The Entire Multiverse is to keep the things I like about the current D&D cosmology, while reintroducing the Great Wheel (well, sort of) and bringing back some of the fun stuff from Planescape that disappeared in 4e.
So, working backwards from the current 4e planar setup, what would I keep?
First of all, I really like the Gods vs Primordials world creation myth that appears in the 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide and Essentials DM’s Kit. I’m going to be keeping the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea (more on this in a minute) so the creation story makes sense and can remain pretty much as is. I also want to keep the Feywild and the Shadowfell as light and dark reflections of the material plane, so it’s fine to have the primordials throw the bits of the world that were too bright and too dark away to become these two planes.
My Shadowfell includes Barovia, Sithicus, Darkon and the other Domains of Dread from Ravenloft, the atmospheric city of Gloomwrought, Moil (the City That Waits), the Raven Queen and plenty of undead. If the_monkey_king would let me, I’d like to add the Courts of the Shadow Fey here too.
The Feywild is unchanged as the home to the eladrin and the Court of Stars, with the fomorians skulking beneath the surface in their dank caverns. We’ll come back to Sigil though – there is no way the coolest city in the multiverse is floating about in the middle of nowhere in my cosmology! It belongs in one place, and one place only.
If I really wanted to go back to the old skool planar structure of AD&D and Planescape, I’d probably leave it there and get rid of the Elemental Chaos, but I’m afraid to say the original elemental planes (in fact, all of the Inner Planes for that matter!) don’t do anything for me. Instead, I’ll keep the Elemental Chaos more or less as is, but remove The Abyss – that needs to be reunited with the other Lower Planes. The slaadi and githzerai can stay here though – I don’t think we need both Limbo and a whirling elemental maelstrom as well. I’m a big fan of the City of Brass, and the other cool genie strongholds described by the_monkey_king in Secrets of the Lamp such as the Great Dismal Delve of the dao and the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls of the marid can all fit comfortably here too. The Elemental Chaos also serves as home for the Princes of Elemental Evil and Blibdoolpoop, but not the giants and their gods Thyrm and Surtr – I’ve somewhere else for them to go.
I’m going to keep the Astral Sea as well – the githyanki ships are just too cool, and I want to keep the floating corpses of the dead gods as an unconventional adventuring location. As in 1e AD&D, colour pools will provide access to the Outer Planes, the homes of (most of) the gods, now back in a Great Wheel/Ring arrangement. The astral dominions bobbing around in the Sea are gone.
My Great Wheel is a stripped down, sleeker version of the one that’s existed since the early days of D&D. There are now eight Outer Planes, one for each alignment, forming the rim of the wheel, and a ninth, its hub. I’ve ditched the in-between planes or incorporated them into neighbouring planes. Is anyone really going to miss Arcadia, Bytopia or Gehenna? I don’t think so. As in Planescape, the dark River Styx, complete with Charon the Boatman and his marraenoloths, connects the Lower Planes, and the sweet waters of River Oceanus act as a link between the Upper Planes.
These are my Outer Planes:
Mechanus (LN), clockwork home to Primus and the modrons who march around the Great Ring every 17 years.
Mount Celestia (LG), the Seven Heavens, home to Bahamut and Moradin, and the archons of earlier editions (sword, hound, lantern etc).
Elysium (NG), the plane of absolute goodness. I’m adding Hestavar the Bright City from 4e here, the home of Pelor, Ioun, Erathis. The main inhabitants of this plane are the guardinals although I’m ditching the dumb horsey ones (the equinals).
Arborea (CG) is the forested home of the Seldarine (the elven gods, including Corellon Larethian), as well as Mount Olympus. I’m going to incorporate the Beastlands here too – partly because the wildness of the plane fits in nicely, and partly so the Greek and Elven gods have plenty of animals to hunt.
Ysgard (CN) replaces Limbo. Made up of immense earth bergs flying through the sky, this plane is home to Kord, as well as the gods of the Norsemen and their enemies, Loki and the giants of Jotunheim.
The Abyss (CE) is back where it should be – part of the Lower Planes. This is the home of the demons and their lords Demogorgon, Orcus, Lolth and co. I’m adding the caverns of Pandemonium here too as three of the plane’s 666 layers, incorporating the miserable (fun) city of Windglum. Zehir's jungle realm is another layer, perhaps close to tropical Abysm, Demogorgon’s realm.
Gray Waste (NE). The yugoloths move back here, along with the Wasting Tower, Khin-Oin, so they can mastermind the Blood War again: the top layer, Oinos, becomes the main battleground for the conflict, as it was in the Planescape era. The fallen primordials are imprisoned in Tarterus which becomes an extra layer of this plane designed to keep these terrible beings out of harm’s way.
Nine Hells (LE), home to the archdevils, but also Tiamat (back on Avernus in her cave), the orc god Gruumsh, and the goblin god Maglubiyet (who both lived here in the days of 1e’s Deities and Demigods)
Finally, in the centre of the Great Wheel is the Outlands (N) – a plane with gate towns leading to each of the eight surrounding Outer Planes. In the middle of the plane is a great Spire, and as a berk gets closer to it, her magic gets harder and harder to use. I’m going to bring back the rilmani here to preserve the Balance. These guys were very cool in Planescape when drawn by Tony DiTerlizzi, but for some reason in 3.x, they were depicted as lumpy-looking and naked. I’ll go with the former look, thanks. And, of course, on top of the Spire, is the doughnut-shaped Sigil, City of Doors.
That’s about it. I don’t think we need an Ethereal Plane – characters can “go ethereal” to travel from one place to another or walk through walls, but they don’t visit a full blown plane to do so. I’m going to include the Far Realm obviously – why would any DM not want a Lovecraftian alien realm from which all manner of Cthulhu-inspired monsters can originate? And I’m going to include the Dreamlands (explored briefly in the 3e Manual of the Planes) in my cosmology too because it would be daft not to.
So, there you have it. One mashed-up, awesome D&D cosmology! What do you think?
- Current Mood: geeky
- Current Mood: chipper