Sunday, September 4, 2011

Minstrel Tales - The Bold Hommlet Farmer

The Bold Hommlet Farmer

Here is a ditty that is about a small village on the road north to Verbobonc. In the inns and taverns of the area a quick gulp of ale is normally taken at the end of each chorus.

One evening of late into Hommlet I strayed
and bound for Verbobonc I was making me way
At the Welcome Wench some time I delayed
For to wet me auld whistle with Keoish

To Hommlet, To Hommlet,
To Hommlet I strayed
To Hommlet, To Hommlet
To Hommlet I strayed
The road to Verbobonc was dry as a bone
The road to Verbobonc
Was dry as a bone

I scarcely had travelled a mile of the road
When I heard a dispute in a farmer's abode
There stood a bandit, an ill looking toad
And the wife of a bold Hommlet farmer


"You're a robber" the bold farmer's wife she replied
"You're as bad as a goblin with whom you abide
But the men of Burne's Badgers will put down your pride
They'll be here like lightning in front of a storm


I spaded me fist and I picked up me stick
and behind that foul bandit like a mouse I did trip
Then with all my strength I gave him a lick
and the bold farmer's wife was adoring
(Loosely adapted from 'The Bold Tenant Farmer')

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Minstrel Tales - O Flower of Geoff

O Flower of Geoff

This is a lament sung by the soldiers returned to fight for Geoff.

O Flower of Geoff,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your dear land, home and fief
And stood against them,
That monstrous army,
We are bound homeward
To fight again.

The hills are bare now,
And harvester leaves lie thick and still
O'er land that is lost now,
Which those so dearly held
That stood against them,
That monstrous army
We are bound homeward
To fight again.

Those days are past now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be proud Geoff again!
That stood against them
That monstrous army
We are bound homeward
To fight again.

O Flower of Geoff,
When will we see your like again
That fought and died for
Your dear land, home and fief.
And stood against them,
That monstrous army,
We are bound homeward
To fight again.
(Loosely adapted from 'O Flower of Scotland')

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Minstrel Tales In Chendl After The Siege

In Chendl After The Siege

War came to Furyondy and found Chendl unprepared. A desperate confederation of knights and Highfolk bought the city time, but by the month of Reaping the orcs were at the gates and Chendl was besieged.

The swords of the orcs never reached most of the population, but the teeth and claws of hunger and despair were felt by all. Some fell, some in battle, many more to grief, but most resisted, and in resisting drew a hard strength that their enemies could not shatter or overcome.

During the slow night, shattering its iron darkness, the knight-commander used to say in a low voice: 'We will not give in. We are made of stone.'

But some within the city would say, 'the poisonous ring grows more narrow all the time, the enemy is still advancing; O city without hope or strength! The stones groan, the pavement-blocks gasp, those who perish lay down like soldiers in crowded graves.'

At last the enemy became exhausted; the clouded horizon cleared, and the burnt houses loomed black: they are dead that have not held out.

The knight-commander walks out among the streets and bridges and gazes at a little cloud, and the wind chills his eyes and lips. In a low voice he talks of what happened and what will happen. 'We have fought our way out of that long darkness and passed through a storm of fire. We are made of stone. No, we are stronger than stone: we are alive.'

From 'A Spring in Leningrad' by Margarita Aliger (with minor alterations for the Greyhawk campaign).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Minstrel Tales Throng to Owen's Call

After years of struggle and exile Grand Duke Owen of Geoff was able to finally gather enough soldiers and allies to begin the battle to retake Geoff from the invading giants and their monsterous cohorts. The bard, Silvertongue, wrote this song-poem which spread across the Flanaess and drew back Geoffites and their children, now grown adults themselves. So popular did this song-poem become that adventurers, mercenary bands and volunteers from many nations answered Owen's call and joined his growing army as it began the campaign as the marched on the ruined capital of Hochoch.

Throng to Owen's Call

Men! If manhood still ye claim
If the Geoff pulse can thrill.
Roused by wrong or stung by shame,
freely, strongly still;
Let your work forgotten lie;
Shut the mill-gate, leave the stall,
Fling the axe and hammer by;
Throng to Owen's call.

Wrongs which freemen never brooked,
Wounds which have not ever healed,
Which, like crouching griffons, looked
On your father's shield.
These your instant zeal demand,
Shaking with their earthquake-call
Every rood of Geoff land,
Hark to Owen's call.

From your travels near and far.
From your mountain-caverns cold,
Through whose pines and westering stars
Stoop their crowns of gold;
Come, and with your footsteps wake
Echoes from forgotten halls;
Once again for freedom's sake,
Heed Lord Owen's call.

Up, and tread beneath your feet
All that the enemy has won:
Let your hearts together beat
As the heart of one.
Up, your banner leads the van,
Let them dread their coming fall!
Finish what your sires began!
Throng to Owen's call!

(Loosely adapted from 'To Faneuil Hall' By Whittier)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Thief in the Tome of Horrors - Aberrant

A Thief in the Tome of Horrors
(Or Converting this Monster of a Book to 1eAD&D)


Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 2-12
Armor Class: 4
Move: 12"
Hit Dice: 8
% in Lair: 50
Treasure Type: C
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 2d8
Special Attacks: 1 (Thrown Object 1d10 dmg) Range 20/40/60 (To Hit +0/-1/-3)
Special Defenses: None
Magic Resistance: None
Intelligence: Low
Language: Debased Suel
Life Expectancy: 30 years (maturity age 12-14)
Size: 14 feet Tall - Extended Reach - These giant size creatures have an extended reach making it likely they can strike first against normal and small sized opponents.

Physical Appearance:
See Tome of Horrors Complete (S&W version) - Addition Description - Hair Brown or Black, Eye Color Same, Skin Color light brown to pale but normally grey or streaked with dirt.

Aberrants are a form of giant mutation developed after the great Suel/Bakluni war and the Rain of Colorless Fire. While often confused with Giants they are actually descended from human stock. In all respects such as what they can eat and how they breed and give birth they retain human characteristics.

Aberrant tribes will normally consist of 2-12 adult males, 3-18 adult females and 12-64 children. The men hunt and gather while the females do most of the work around the tribal dwelling. Adult females are consistent with the stats for adult males though with only 6HD on average and 1d10 damage from their attacks. Aberrant females will ferociously protect their young.

Females conceive about once per year and the infant mortality rate is about 50%. The leading cause of death for female Aberrants is childbirth.

Aberrants are extremely primitive. They build little though they do make use of cloth or hide for shelters and crude structures from the wrecks of wagons or buildings. These are extremely flimsy lean-to type structures that can be stripped down and taken with them in a few moments (mainly the cloth and rope or vines). Since most weapons and items they come across are not their size they mainly use crude clubs and stones for throwing. Occasional a human-sized sword may be found among them as a knife, but used more as a tool than a weapon.

World of Greyhawk Location:

Aberrants can be found along the hills and lower mountains circling the Sea of Dust as well as the Dry Steppes along the Sulhaut Mountains and the southern Crystalmists. They have been seen at the crux of the Jotens and the Crytsalmists at the birth of the Davish River, though not in great numbers and along the southern Jotens, the Crytsalmists and the Hellfurnaces in the Yeomanry. Sightings of Aberrants have been made in the Tors and along the arm of the Hellfurnaces as far as Hokar and as far south as the strip of land west of Jekla Bay and even where the Amedio Jungle runs against the Hellfurnaces in the far south.

Cyst Fist's Pass (Near the Hornwood - Geoff)

The trepidations of the Giants and their invasion of Sterich and Geoff shifted many a tribe and monster from their normal hunting grounds. Perhaps non-more so than Furgristle and his tribe of Aberrants forced north through the high mountains and down to the hills surrounding the embattled land of Geoff. Frost giants from the Jotens and tribes of Ogre's pushed these deformed and primitive creatures from their caves and now this small band raids through the forest of the Hornwood in preparation for the winter to come.

(See Tome of Horrors complete S&W version for the adventure hook)

Alfric watched the shaft fly true as it brought down the last of the deformed monsters. The two humans with him had feathered the giant creature with a half-dozen arrows already before it fell.

"Four..." said Oswin, a middle-aged man clad in mottled green and brown. He stood a foot taller than Alfric and pulled a longbow as big as the elf.

"The others appear to be out hunting," Alfric replied as he moved forward, another arrow nocked and ready.

The smell of roasting horseflesh was strong. Stronger even than the stink of unwashed bodies, the pile of refuse that stained the hillside and the rot of badly cured hides and decaying meat.

"Where has that little bastard gotten to?" asked Kellen, the third of their party. He was about the height of Aelfric but wide with broad shoulders and back. He'd slung his bow and drawn a long chopping sword, some type of falchion with a single-edge.

"I'm up here," cried a hushed voice high with panic. "Get me down!"

As the trio crested the hill they could see a large fire-pit and the carcase of a horse blackening on a spit above it. Nearby a tree stripped of most of its branches still held a single arm reaching out toward the fire and a crude wooden cage dangling about a dozen feet from the ground. Inside a peculiar little bird hopped about. Clad in the skin of an owl-bear a bruised and beaten halfling danced about pulling at the stout wooden bars.

"Hugh!" cried Aelfric. "How you managed to survive when the rest of those merchants ended up being eaten..."

"Those stupid giants. It was that owlbear hide," Hugh called back. "They think I'm some sort of birdman... I don't know, but they think it's funny. They'll be roasting me soon enough. Get me out of here!"

"What we need is a ladder," said Kellen.

Oswin looked from Aelfric to his blocky nephew. "You'll do," he said. "Get up on his shoulder Ael and see about cutting down our little bird."

"Make it quick! Make it quick!" Hugh chirruped. "There are a dozen more of those monsters around."

"Cut your squawking," grumbled Kellen, but up above him Aelfric went to work with haste on the vines that bound the cage together.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Battles of Greyhawk (Compiled circa 2003)

Battles of Greyhawk (Compiled circa 2003)

Inspired by Mortellan's post I culled all the references to Battles and Wars which I'd collected in my Encyclopedia Greyhawkania Index (last updated in 2003)

Almorian Campaign [BTL]
LGG - 124

Bad Deep [BTL]
FTAC - 43,47
LGJ#4 - 28
SLV - 17
TAB - 8

Baklunish-Suloise War [BTL]
FTAA - 3
GA - 102
LGG - 32,110,154
LGJ#5 - 20
PGTG - 9
TAB - 14
WGG - 5
WG8 - 25,105
WGR4 - 3
WOGA - 8,9

Battle Beneath The Waves [BTL]
LGG - 138
LGJ#5 - 17,21

Battle of a Fortnights Length [BTL]
LGG - 14,23,77,110,112,185
LGJ#3 - 9
TAB - 57
WGG - 5
WOGA - 8,9

Battle of a Thousand Banners [BTL]
DRG#297 - 93
DRG#302 - 98
LGG - 57,77
LOG - 8,10,17,33,34,74,92,97,112
WGG - 13
WOGA - 30

Battle of Bloody Ridge [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 28

Battle of Bloody Tears [BTL]
TSB - 44

Battle of Elredd
SEE Elredd, Battle of

Battle of Emridy Meadows [BTL]
SEE Emridy Meadows, Battle of

Battle of Jetsom Island [BTL]
SEE Jetsom Island, Battle of

Battle of Lost Hope [BTL]
WGR2 - 51

Battle of Opicm River {Battle of the Opicm River}[BTL]
WGG - 14
WOGA - 33

Battle of the Great Gate [BTL]
DG - 79,83

Battle of the Shamblefield [BTL]
SEE Shamblefield, Battle of the

Blackwater Bend, Battle of (Black Water)[BTL]
DRG#56 - 19
LGG - 134

Blazebane, Battle of [BTL]

Blood War [BTL]
RTO8 - 10,56
WGR5 - 16,91,92

Brewfest Rebellion [CAL][BTL]
DRG#293 - 93
DRG#299 - 99,100
DRG#302 - 99
LOG - 21,25,26,32,34,40,45,58,59,63,65,68,69,77,88,107
ONW1-01 - 2

Cairn Hills, Great Barrows [BTL]
TAB:AM - 4,12

Celene Pass, Battle of [BTL]
FTAA - 76
FTAC - 77,87
GW:ADV - 18

Ceshra, Purge of [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 21

Chokestone, Battle of [BTL]

Critwall Bridge, Battle of [BTL]
FTAA - 6
GW:ADV - 10
LGJ#0 - 6

Crockport, Battle of [BTL]
FTAC - 71

Csipros Erd (Geysers of Death)[BTL]
GA - 3,97,98

Duxchan Wars [BTL]
LGG - 74

Eight-House War [BTL]
DRG#241 - 47

Elredd, Battle of [BTL]
SLV - 122

Emridy Meadows, Battle of [BTL]
ATG - 80
DRG#268 - 71
LGG - 15,132
LGJ#0 - 5
RT1-4 - 5,7,13,120
WGG - 5,6
WOGA - 9,11

Ettins Mound [BTL]
DRG#208 - 48,52

Gahrus Folly [BTL]
DRG#63 - 17

Ganode Bay, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 71

Goblin War [BTL]
DRG#253 - 45

Golden League, War of the [BTL]
DRG#302 - 99
LGG - 148,149
LOG - 11,95

Gorna, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 48,146
LGJ#1 - 14
LGJ#3 - 25
LGJ#4 - 29

Grabford, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 47

Great Almorian Raid [BTL]
GW:ADV - 19

Great Barrows, The [BTL]
DRG#195 - 95
FTAC - 29
TAB - 8
TAB:AM - 4

Great Northern Crusade [BTL]
LGG - 16,46,47,59,61,62,103,105,130,132,158
LGJ#1 - 29,30
PGTG - 12,27
SLV - 41,105
TAB - 20,21,23,36,83,89,109,110,117,119,122

Great War [BTL]
TSB - 2

Greyhawk Wars [BTL]
ATG - 63
DRG#195 - 94,96
DRG#204 - 53
DRG#206 - 35
DRG#225 - 50,52
DRG#230 - 8
DRG#233 - 92
DRG#241 - 44,76,80
DRG#245 - 73
DRG#256 - 51
DRG#262 - 38
DRG#263 - 47,49
DRG#268 - 70
DRG#269 - 65
DRG#270 - 60,76
DRG#281 - 39
DRG#291 - 95
DRG#293 - 92,93,94
DRG#294 - 93,95
DRG#297 - 92
DRG#298 - 84,86
DRG#300 - 89,92
DRG#301 - 89
DRG#302 - 99
DRG#AN3 - 21,22
DRG#AN4 - 20
DUN#41 - 46
DUN#53 - 35
DUN#73 - 58
FAT - 3,7
FTAA - 2,6,9,17,19,20,25,27,28,33,35-44,46,47,50,
FTAC - 3-5,8,9,11,13,17,40,41,47,49
LGG - 15,24,25,29,30,35,40,42,44,46,47,52,53,55,58,59
LGJ#0 - 6,7,8,9,10,11,12
LGJ#1 - 14,17,26,28,30
LGJ#2 - 8,29
LGJ#3 - 27,30
LGJ#4 - 4,9,29,31
LGJ#5 - 29
LOG - Dis,6,8,12,15,29,30,33,34,35,36,37,38,44,55,56,62,64
ONW1-01 - 13
ONW1-02 - 6,11
ONW1-03 - 4
PGTG - 4-6,10-12,16,21,23-28,30,38,48,55
POLY#129 - 39
RTO8 - 2,3,20,47,58,59
SLV - 6,32,38,48,61,79,105,120,122
TAB - 1-6,8,15,17,19,25,27-31,33,38,40,43,47,54,62
TD - 16
TSB - 5,12,17,34,83
WGM1 - 2,24
WGR4 - 2,9,10,58,90
WGR5 - 2,6,7,42,66,76,96
WGR6 - 10,62

Hateful Wars [BTL]
DRG#167 - 11
DRG#262 - 38
FTAA - 40,41,56,58
GA - 101
GW:ADV - 15
LGG - 40,66,88,117,118,121,146
LGJ#1 - 26
LOG - 11
SLV - 89,99,120,121
TAB - 19,59,60,69,119
WG8 - 25
WGG - 14
WGQ1 - 2,10,12
WOGA - 31

Hilly Pastures [PLC][BTL]
WGG - 14
WOGA - 32

Invoked Devastation [BTL]
AOE - 83
C2 - 2
DMG1 - 156
DRG#225 - 49,50
DRG#263 - 48
DRG#294 - 92
DRG#299 - 101
FTAA - 3,25,44,61,62,66
FTAC - 29
GA - 89,98,99
LGG - 3,5,9,13,68,83,94,122,136,154,155,165
LGJ#5 - 17,20
MMII - 75
PGTG - 9,14,36
SOD - 152
SOOC - 71
TSC - 38
WG8 - 25
WGA4 - 47,60
WGG - 5,9,21
WGR2 - 24
WGR5 - 63
WOGA - 8,9,21,60

Irongate, Siege of [BTL]
LOG - 8,17

Jetsom Island, Battle of [BTL]
FTAA - 36
LGG - 101
LGJ#4 - 17
WGG - 15
WOGA - 34

Karndreds Meadows [BTL]
WGR4 - 58

Loftwood, Battle of [BTL]
DRG#57 - 15

Medegia, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 71,100
WGG - 12
WOGA - 28,32

Merchants War [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 21

Opicum River {Opicm}, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 95,151

Orcslayer Battlefield (Safeton)[BTL]
TAB:AM - 6

Padyr, Fields of [BTL]
TSB - 2

Plain of Spears [BTL]
LGJ#3 - 15
WGR3 - 28

Rain of Colorless Fire (Invisible Firestorm)[BTL]
C2 - 2
DRG#230 - 12,13,14,16
DRG#241 - 40,43,52,79,95
DRG#256 - 46,47
DRG#263 - 48,51
DRG#294 - 92
DUN#70 - 76
DUN#77 - 55
FTAA - 3,62
GA - 90
LGG - 5,8,12-14,54,64,68,94,142,155,162,187
LGJ#4 - 8,12,16
LOG - 41,57
PGTG - 7,9,14,15,36,37
POLY#101 - 31
SOD - 129,132,224,234,239
TAB - 55
TD - 33
TSB - 2,3,12,15,36,47,63,76
TSC - 38
WG8 - 105
WGG - 5,8
WGR2 - 24
WOGA - 8,9,16
WOGG - 27

Red Gnoll Clashes [BTL]
DRG#291 - 95

Redspan, Battle of [BTL]
LGG - 113

Riechsvale, Battle of [BTL]
WGQ1 - 12

Rieuwood, Battle of [BTL]
GW:ADV - 14

Safeton, Battle of [BTL]
TAB - 82

Sand Battle [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 21

Shamblefield, Battle of (Caldni Virs Charge)[BTL]
DRG#290 - 100
DRG#293 -
LGG - 36
WGG - 9,10
WOGA - 20,21

Slaughter of the Sea People [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 21

Small War (Short War)[BTL]
FTAA - 4,26,29,43
LGG - 32,48,50,65,130,132
LGJ#1 - 16,19
WGG - 9,10,12,18
WGR4 - 3,10
WOGA - 19,23,27,41

Steelbone Meadows [PLC][BTL]
DRG#AN4 - 21
LGG - 25,26,27,30,31
WGR5 - 48,49,59

Stornawane [CTL][BTL][TWN]
WGR5 - 66

Tolran Hill, Battle for [BTL]
WGR5 - 67

Tremnos, Battle of [BTL]
WGR2 - 24

Troll War [BTL]
N1 - 6

Turmoil Between Crowns [BTL]
DRG#302 - 98
GA - 95
GW:ADV - 4
LGG - 13,24,36,56,71,77,80,90,92,93
LOG - 8,35
PGTG - 10
SLV - 32
TAB - 12,18,102
WGG - 5,6
WOGA - 9,10

Twin Cataclysms [BTL]
DRG#293 - 90
DRG#294 - 92
LGG - 8,13,22,98,110,125,129,135
LGJ#1 - 8,11,15,23
LGJ#3 - 15
LGJ#4 - 11
LOG - 8,39,40
TSB - 63
SEE ALSO Invoked Devastation
SEE ALSO Rain of Colorless Fire

Uniting War [BTL]
DRG#241 - 42
DRG#298 - 79
TD - 2,31,33
WGA3 - 60

War Against The Imperial Pretenders [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 13

Westkeep, Siege of [BTL]
LGG - 65,101
LGJ#1 - 14,16,18
WGG - 12
WOGA - 28

Zirat, Siege of [BTL]
LGJ#5 - 21

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 6

#5 Kalib, human male, (5th Level Fighter) twin brother of Kalife
STR 18/89, INT 8, WIS 8, CON 17, HP 41, AL LE

AGE 30

Physical Description:

Kalib has a fringe of dark hair around this head but is otherwise bald. He has a heavy, black beard and mustache. 6"4' tall he is very heavy and very muscular, muscle-bound actually. He has tattoos over his right arm and shoulder. Across the right side of his chest is the tattoo of a demon showing half of its face. He has a large wide scar starting at the top ofhis forehead and running across the left side of his head.

He wears a large black poncho when on a raid with a chainmail shirt underneath. The poncho is simply a thick piece of cloth dyed black with a hole cut for his head and a belt across his waist. Over his face he wears the mask of a grinning pig-like face.

His normal wear is worn farmer garb. He dislikes his chainmail shirt and only wears it on raids or when Black Harris tells him to.


Kalib was born on a farm in Furyondy, His mother died in child birth and his father took it out on Kalib and his brother Kalife. At age12 the pair beat their father to death, gathered what money and belongings were on the farm and left.

They were quickly caught and placed in a prison where they were even more quickly sold as workers for a nobleman's farm. The life actually suited them. The nobleman was smart enough to recognize strong arms and weak minds, and violent tempers.

At age 16 the pair had grown from oversized murderous children togigantic musclebound adults. The nobleman had them trained, as much as possible, in the art of combat, and kept them on as bodyguards, and since he dabbled in the free market of the underworld, as enforcers as well.

After a few years the pairs' brutal methods became too much for the nobleman and he passed on his dangerous employees to a traveling merchant and fence for stolen goods. In their early twenties they ended up working as hired thugs living in the Old Town of Greyhawk, which is where they met and joined up with Black Harris.

Personality and attitude:

Kalib is loyal only to his brother and Black Harris. He and his brother have a surprising fondness for cats, dogs and horses and will not abide any form of cruelty to these animals.

If his brother is killed Kalib will stop whatever he is doing and will cradle his brother in his arms weeping and crying piteously. He will not defend himself and the shock will reduce his intelligence and personality to that of a five-year old's.

Chainmail shirt (+2)
Two handed sword +2/+3 versus Hill Giants (He is completely unaware of this aspect of the swords enchantement)
Draft Horse named Matilda

#6 Kalife, human male,( 5th Level Fighter) twin brother of Kalib
STR 18/99, INT 8, WIS 8, CON 17, HP 41, AL LE
AGE 30

Physical Description:

Kalife's appearance is similar to his brother's but he has no scar and his tattoos cover the left side of his body, a duplicate of Kalibs. He is a little more muscular but it is only apparent when the two are standing side by side.

He also wears a rough cloth poncho on raids with a shirt of chainmail underneath and a mask shaped like a donkey's with one ear is missing.

See Kalib

Personality and attitude:

Kalife is very quiet and he only talks to his brother or Black Harris. He will support either in any situation. If his brother is killed he will go into a berserk rage, ignoring wounds, and attacking his brother's killer with fanatical strength (+4 to hit/+7 to damage). He will then go on to attack anyone not a brigand who is nearby. Afterwards, If Black Harris is around he will follow him everywhere and not want to be separated from him. If both are dead he will run off and live like a wild-man or beast, and his effective INT will drop to 3.

Chainmail +2
Two-handed Bastard sword +2/ +3 versus the Undead (as with his brother he has no idea that the sword has any special enchantment except that he doesn't need to sharpen or polish it (which suits him fine).
Draft Horse named Sara

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Minstrel Tales Riddles Storm on Land


These are a collection of Anglo-Saxon riddles. The authors are unknown and the prose can be a bit obscure but they fit so well into my Greyhawk campaign that I have used them often.

Storm on Land

Who of men is ready-witted and wise enough to say
Who drives me forth on my journey,
When I arise in my strength, exceeding furious,
When I resound in my might?

Sometimes I move with malice through the land,
Shatter the people's halls, spoil the houses;
The sky rises up, grey over the roofs;
There is noise on oerth, the death-pang of men.

When I stir the wood and the druid's groves,
When covered with water, felling trees
Bearing upon my back, the dwellings of men,
The coverings of the oerth, the beasts of the land.

Say who it is who covers me,
Or what I, who bear those burdens, am called.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 5

#4 Zeffin, human male, (Level 2 Cleric) Salin's assistant
Wis 16 HP 12, AL LE, AGE 18

Physical Description:
Zeffin has the fair-haired pale-skinned looks of a Suel. He wears a closely trimmed beard and mustache. His hair is also trimmed very close to his head. He has the fine scarring, though a bit less, as that of Salin. In his case, though, it is much more noticeable. His scars show as redish lines against his pale skin, and the more recent have a purplish look to them. He is tall, 6", broad-shouldered and thin-waisted.

On raids he wore a chainmail shirt and black pants with a white, featureless face mask. He has a black ceremonial robe with a grey skull on its chest. He now wears this on raids over his chainmail. In town he dresses in his armor and plain grey or brown pants.

Zeffin is from Sterich. His family is old and established. Minor nobility. They are western nobles and after years of conflict with the humanoids of the Crystalmist and Joten Mountains they began to make deals with these creatures of evil. First it was simply allowing passage so that raiders would not attack their land, soon their descendants began acting as fences for goods which these raiders brought with them. Finally they embraced the evil which they hadallowed past their borders. Zeffin is part of a growing cult of Hextor among his father's family and retainers. He was assigned to assist Salin by the superiors of his order.

Personality and attitude:
Zeffin is a sadistic and brutal individual. He is fond of torture and would rather save a few of their victims to practice on. Occasionally the band will take a prisoner and squeeze information out of them. The brothers Kalife and Kalib had been in charge of this information gathering but Zeffin proved to have a greater skill and exuberance for such work. He is loyal to Salin and has a touch of hero worship for the successful cleric.

Horseman's mace
Heavy Warhorse: "Beast", Black, with white streaked forehead and 3 white socks

Monday, July 11, 2011

Minstrel Tales The Last Ride With Osson

Not all of those who rode with Osson perished. A few, very few, made their way from Sunndi and their stories are now being told in verse and in prose throughout the Flanaess.

The Last Ride With Osson

"Once we were fighting at the source of the Mikar,
Now we are fighting for are lives to cross the Flanmi.
We have washed our swords in the surf of the Aerdi Sea;
We have pastured our horses among the fields of Medegia.
Osson's soldiers have grown weak and old
Fighting so many leagues away from home.

Men die in the field, slashing sword to sword;
The horses of the conquered neigh piteously to the sky.
Crows and hawks peck for human guts,
Carry them in their beaks and hang them on the branches of withered trees.
Captains and soldiers are smeared on the bushes and grass;
The General schemed in vain.

Know therefore that the sword is a cursed thing
Which the wise man uses only if he must."

Fighting South of the Ramparts By Li Po (Altered slightly for the Greyhawk campaign).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 4

#3 Salin, human male, (Level 6 Priest of Hextor)
Str 16 Int 10 Wis 16 Con 15 Dex 12 Chr 12
HP 35, AL LE, AGE:24

Physical Description:
Salin is a tall man, 6"3' with a slim sturdy build. He has a swarthy complexion and thick black hair. He has a fine network of scars over his entire body due to the practice of ritual scarring. It is part of the faith of Hextor as it was taught to him by his family and his temple. These scars form a very light spidery pattern covering his entire body. He continually adds to this with scars earned by his abilities and for participating in certain ceremonies. While to the uninitiated these scars are meaningless, they would tell a sage learned in the ways of this cult of the deity the story of Salin's life as a priest and disciple of Hextor.

Normally Salin only wears his black robes decorated with rings of grinning white skulls during ceremonies. During raids he wears a plain black robe and a white skull mask. Now he wears his robes of priesthood during raids, though he still uses the white skull-face mask. Beneath his robes he wears an enchanted shirt of chain and a steel skull cap under his mask.

In towns and villages he dresses as a fighter in his armor and plain, serviceable trousers.

Salin is a Perrinlander by birth. His father, a mercenary, was a devotee of Hextor. Salin felt a strong calling toward Hextor and was accepted as a novice, swearing an oath of blood and steel on his 14th

Salin has only been a part of Black Harris' band for the last six months (still before the breakup with Red). He was recruited by Harris in the Principality of Ulek. Salin had been involved in a mission in the Pomarj and was reporting in to his superiors at the city of Gryrax. After hearing from a young mercenary devotee, Bismon, about Black Harris and consulting his superiors, Salin volunteered his services. While not a follower himself, Black Harris respects the powers of a cleric and the warlike nature of Hextor, and gladly brought Salin into his band.

Personality and attitude:
Salin views Black Harris as a project and a potential warrior of Hextor. Red Hanlan never showed the proper respect, and his chaotic nature irritated Salin's sense of discipline. Then Salin came up with his plan, and introduced Tess, an agent of the temple, to throw discord into the friendship of these two men. Something has gone wrong. At first the plan went beyond his expectations, but Tess was supposed to assassinate Red Hanlan at her earliest opportunity. Now she seems to have gone rogue and become his partner and paramour. Salin desires the death of this traitoress with almost as much fervor as Black Harris. Her failure to complete his plan will be a mark, a physical mark, of shame.

1st) Curse/Bless, Command, Cause/Cure lt.wnds, Dark/Light, Cause/Remove Fear.
2nd) Chant, Enthrall, Flame Blade, Hold Person, Spir.Hammer.
3rd) Animate Dead, Prayer, Pyrotechnics

Chainmail +2
Hammer of Pain:
This Warhammer, usable only by those of an evil alignment, acts as a +2 weapon to hit and damage. 3 times every 24 hours its user can cause a jolt of pain which will stun an opponent for 1-3 rounds of combat (save vs rods and the victim will merely suffer a -2 on their chance to hit on the next combat round). There is a 10% chance that the pain will be inflicted upon the user every time this special ability is used (non-cumulative). Stunned victims cannot attack, cast spells, lose all dexterity bonuses and add 2 points to their AC (AC2 = AC4 while stunned)

Warhammer ( used for spiritual hammer spell, Salin keeps 2 a dozen of these among the pack animals.

Set of razor-edged knives and sharpening stone ( Salin will never use these as a weapon, they are for ritual scaring only)

Heavy War Horse : Blood, a dark reddish-brown coated stallion.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nosnra's Cousin

When I first DM'd G1 I fleshed out the surrounding area so that Nosnra could draw on reinforcements from neighboring hill giants.

Nosnra's Cousin

Only five leagues north-east of Nosnra's steading stands the hall of Karnash, Nosnra's cousin. His is a large and ancient hall though not on the same scale as Nosnra's.

23 hill giant warriors are sworn to his service. His dire wolves are numerous and they have a fearsome reputation, his ogre retainers are loyal and well treated and have been settled in the nearby caverns for generations.

In case of trouble Nosnra would first call upon his cousin and these forces would be the first to arrive at the steading.


Karnash is a powerful hill giant, large and fierce. He is not noted for great intelligence, but he has both cunning and experience. He dotes on his pack of dire wolves and they are the envy of the hill giants of the Jotuns. These dire wolves are larger and more intelligent than the normal breed, and pups from his kennel are sought after by other hill giant clans.

He is young for a chieftain, having inherited his father's position (after defeating all challengers, including his elder brother), but he is a proven warrior and leader. His wife, Krilla, is beautiful (for a hill giantess), but not physically imposing. Karnash went on a great quest to win his bride and returned after more than a year, barely within the time limit set by her father, Geffed, a powerful chieftain himself.

In the end Karnash returned with the head of some fierce and terrible lizard, and the tale of his quest was matched by the scars he bore from it. The skull of this monster is hanging from the rafters of his hall, a testament to both his courage and the great value he set on his bride.

Karnash has five children, three daughters and two sons. His oldest boy, Kariff, is a warrior apprentice but much prefers to spend his time with the dire wolves. He is small for a hill giant, taking after his mother, and Karnash does not view him as a likely candidate for chieftain. Karoak his younger brother takes more after his father and is likely to be apprenticed years ahead of time. He is his father's favorite but is a bit of a spoiled bully, though Karnash either doesn't see it or doesn't care.

The Hall

Karnash's hall is typical of the old style hill giant steadings. A long main hall with wings branching from the ends and private quarters branching from the center of the hall. It is in remarkably good repair and one wing, including guesting chambers and expanded married quarters, is a recent addition. Karnash spends a great deal of his treasury on upkeep and expansion of his hall. Upon becoming chieftain he went to great trouble in obtaining dwarven slaves and has put them to use in both his smithy and in supervising construction of new buildings and re-enforcing the structure of the hall itself. His kennels are large and extensive and are continually growing.


Hill Giants

Karnash (chief)
23 Hill Giant Warriors (12 Married)
Krilla (Karnash's wife)
12 Hill Giantess Matrons
15 Hill Giantess Maidens
37 Hill Giant children (17 male/20 female)


The ogres live nearby in a natural and expanded system of caverns and have served the hill giants for generations. Their leader is Gruush who is only of average ogre size but is very good with the dire wolves. Karnash made it clear that the ogre chieftain is who he wants the ogre
chieftain to be, end of discussion.

17 Males Ogres
32 Female Ogresses
53 Immature Ogres (male and female)


The Bugbears live in a warren of huts outside the main hall. The slave compound, similar to, but not as nice as the kennels, is between the outer wall of the hall and the bugbears' huts. A combination of factors whittled down the original clan of bugbears and recently Karnash induced (after only a handful of fatalities) a large tribe from the outlying hills to take up residence outside his hall. The survivors from the original tribe ( the Bloodyffangs ) are a down-beaten lot and are considering wholesale desertion. The new tribe (the Bone Crackers) are not very pleased to have joined the hill giants' service but their newly appointed chief ( the old one now just a smear under Karnash's boots) is smart enough not to show it. They've been taking out their anger on the Bloody Fang tribe who Karnash seems to have forgotten about.

17 Bugbears (The Bloody Fangs)
72 Bugbears (The Bone Crackers)
112 Bugbearlets +/- (high mortality rate)

Dire Wolves

The dire wolves live in a set of kennels built next to an outer wall of the hall. Karnash has a private entrance into the kennels from his personal quarters. These wolves are extremely well treated and well fed. Karnash as well as the other hill giants of his hall take them hunting on a daily basis. More than most other steadings Karnash's supplies itself by hunting rather than herding. A good percentage of hill giants and ogres will be out on the hunt continually, some arriving and some departing at all times. The pack is led by Fang and Claw, Fang is a gigantic dire wolf twice the size of an average dire wolf, but almost a lap dog when he is around Karnash who raised him from a pup. He is usually found at his master's side and will be at Karnash's feet during any meal. Claw is Fang's mate, a huge dire wolf bitch. She is young and has produced only two litters so far.

Fang, Claw
77 Dire Wolves
128 pups +/- ( pups are a source of trade with other Hill Giants)


Karnash considers his slaves as a resource and because of this they are actually treated much better than the average slave held by hill giants. He especially prizes dwarves for their usefulness as smiths,
engineers and masons. He is always interested in obtaining dwarven slaves. Karnash will always lame one leg of a newly acquired dwarven slave ( by severing the tendons) some will then die from infection and some will fight (hopelessly) to the death rather than allow this to happen. Since these rebellious fellows make poor slaves anyway Karnash sees this as a win/win situation. The dwarven slaves are kept in a special stone building next to the smithy and are segregated from the other slaves. They provide the know-how and skilled hands while the other slaves provide the blood and sweat. Because of this they are hated by the other slaves, sometimes more than the hill giants themselves.

The rest of the slaves are mainly orcs but there are a smattering of humans as well. The humans have banded together as much as they can and are led by a cleric who has managed to keep his abilities hidden from his hill giant owners as well as the orc slaves.

11 Dwarven Slaves (all lame in one leg)
183 Orc Slaves
39 Humans slaves
(1 cleric, 1 high level ftr {unknown to anyone except the cleric}, 3 mid-level ftrs, 7 low level ftrs)


Recently the hall has been seeing more and more guests arriving. Some come to trade, others to seek alliance or mediation with Nosnra and feel safer talking with Karnash first, while some bring slaves to sell.

At the time of module G1 Karnash has a group of 3 hill giants who have brought 5 dwarven slaves to trade for some of the dire wolf pups. Another male hill giant who has come to seek permission to go on a betrothal quest for one of the hill giantess maidens of Karnash's hall. Lastly, a neighbors son with 5 other hill giants and 12 ogres have arrived to go on a hunt in woods to the south which are shared by both Karnash and his neighbor.

Reaction Force

If Nosnra summons help Karnash will respond immediately. He will go in person and leave the hall in the charge of his sub chief and leave 5 of his own (disappointed) hill giant warriors behind.

Some hill giants will always be out hunting and Karnash himself hunts at least once a week, but his sub-chief will respond as Karnash would, except that he would send 1 hill giant out after Karnash and leave the most experienced hill giant warrior behind at the hall while he took the rest out to aid Nosnra.

1D4+5 Hill Giants, 1D4+4 Ogres and 1D10+12 Dire Wolves will be out hunting at any given time. These hunters will follow the first group to relieve Nosnra (though 5 will relieve the other 5 left behind
by the first group, since now it's their turn to be disappointed)

17 of His Hill Giants ( 1d4+5 hill giants out hunting)
10 Hill Giant Guests
15 Ogre retainers ( 1D4+4)
12 Ogres ( his guests' retainers)
Fang, Dire Wolf Pack Leader
40 Dire Wolves ( -1D10+12)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review DCCrpg Adventure Starter - 2011 Free RPG Giveaway

DCCrpg Adventure Starter - 2011 Free RPG Giveaway
(16 Pages with attached cardboard cover)

A brief overview of the DCCrpg (pgs 4-6)
The Portal Under The Stars (pgs 8-12)
The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad (pgs 13-16)

Written By: Joseph Goodman, Harley Stroh
Cover Art and Cartography: Doug Kovacs
Interior Art: Jeff Easley, Tom Galambos, Doug Kovacs, Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, Jim Roslof

The DCCrpg Adventure Starter contains two extremely short, extraordinarily lethal mini adventures and a hell of a lot of illustrations. After seeing the Beta rules I am beginning to sense a trend here. I certainly don't mind. The company is welcome to ply me with artwork, bikini models and beer all they want (I'm still hoping for the beer and bikinis).

The cartography is a bit on the busy side. I realize it is part and parcel with a kind of pulp magazine style theme, but it is more than a bit distracting. I personally enjoy a nice, unadorned map, preferably on the inside of a detached cardboard cover like modules of old. It reminded me of the old Troubadour Press AD&D Coloring Book more than anything else.

On the cover is the same piece of art that adorns the DCCrpg Beta rules. A nice piece of work but I'd rather have had something unique and related to one of the adventures on the Starter. On the back cover are examples of three modules DCC #69 Sailors on the Scarless Seas, DCC #70 The People of the Pit and DCC #71 The Emerald Enchanter. They are fairly comic book like. I would have hoped either for old style covers such as the DCC line became known for or perhaps old Pulp Style covers in homage to magazines like Weird Tales or Amazing. It is interesting to see that they are going to continue with the old DCC numbering system that goes from the 3.X D&D, then the lamentable 4e line. I thought that they might decide to start fresh.

The interior artwork is extremely nice. I like the variety and will make good use of it, but very little of it seems related to either adventure.

Both adventures are very short. It seems like they wanted to fit in two differing examples to showcase low and mid-level play. I would have favored a single, much longer low level adventure. The DCCrpg Beta rules which are free for download are needed to play these as written. The first five pages are a waste of preciously limited space for a brief explanation of the game philosophy and a peek at the core rule mechanics, then directions to the website and Beta pdf.

After reading the mini adventures I felt they were designed along the lines of some of the old tournament modules from TSR. There was definitely a sprinkling of Tomb of Horrors about both. Unfortunately these are so short that what style and character of the writing exists feels a little forced. Quick, deadly encounters that offer no real roleplaying opportunities, unless it comes from interaction among the players. Both have some good usable ideas. More importantly both adventures can be adapted to D&D/AD&D with ease. Given the opportunity for longer adventures of more depth and character the DCC line promises to be everything I have hoped for though less distracting cartography would be appreciated.

If you can get a free or cheap copy of the Adventure Starter it is worth picking up. I've heard that they are charging $4.95 for a pdf of this giveaway. Not worth it from what I've seen. It just seems like this was a bit of a mistake in design. I was pretty disappointed when I read through it, but only because I had higher expectations and desires. The Dungeon Crawl Classics name led me to expect more, even from a free giveaway.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 3

#2 Falil, human male, (Level 4 Magic User) Lyndos' aid
Int 17 Dex 16 HP11, AL NE, AGE 35

Physical Description:
Falil is short 5"4', dark haired, fullbearded and stout. He is surprising quick and agile. He has an intricate tattoo on his forearm. It contains in code the words which will activate the magic wand he carries. He has a terrible memory.

He wears a black hood on raids, just a simple black cloth bag with eye and nose holes cut into it. Over his normal old brown robe he wears a large black cape.

Falil is the son of a Sterich merchant. His only interest was in magic and since he showed noaptitude for the family business he was apprenticed to a local mage of minor power. While studying with the mage a magical construct went awry killing the mage and the two other apprentices. Falil was accused of their murder but was actually innocent. He fled and was found by Black Harris sleeping along the bank of the Javan river. At the urging of Lyndos they spared the apprentice mage. Under the vigorous tutelage of Lyndos, Falil has proven to be an apt student, handy with languages and copying scrolls.

Personality and attitude:
Falil is devoted to Lyndos. He is a lazy unassuming character who would liked to have simply lived out his life on his father's estate.

Falil is able to memorize 1 less spell/ level than he would be allowed for his intelligence. He knows only those spells which Lyndos will teach him. He has no spell book of his own but normally has memorized;
Sleep, Magic Missile & Invisibility

20 steel bullets
Wand of Magic Missiles (12 charges)
Mule, Henry

Friday, June 24, 2011

Encyclopedia Magica Revised : Anything Item

Encyclopedia Magica Revised : Anything Item

It is said that in the dungeons beneath the ruins of the Mad Archmage's castle every item of magic and every spell can be found...

Anything Item

(Original Version):
Unearthed Arcana, Encyclopedia Magica Page #21

Somewhere between the third level below the lake of quicksilver and the gaping maw of living stone that was the entrance to the fourth the party found the workshop. The seven survivors of their party, which once numbered a dozen, found themselves on a wide landing in the middle of a broad set of stairs busily binding the wounds of those the archway had bitten when Gwen, a dwarven warrior-maiden noticed a chip on the wall. It was no more than the size of a pebble taken from the corner of a massive black near the bottom edge of the landing they rested upon.

"Kal," she called to the gnome illusionist who led them, "do you have that vial of quicksilver we found above?"

"Certainly, my dear," the old gnome fished into one of the dozens of pockets which lined his robe. Under his breath he spoke a Word and the small vial with the rough stone cap appeared in his fist. "Here. What use do you see for it?"

"That cap," Gwen answered. She bent and held it near the small chip in the stone wall. "It matches..." she began to say but as she brought the vial within a foot of the wall it sprang from her hand like a steel needle to a loadstone.

The capped end fit perfectly and joined the stone block with a klick. The quicksilver immediately flowed along the joins between the stones in a silver-metal line which formed an arching door. Silently the wall opened slowly inward.

"What have we here?" Kal wondered aloud.

The small party of explorers entered the room beyond the secret doorway. Inside they found a long chamber lined with benches and peghooks on the walls above them. Heavy aprons of varying type were on the pegs mixed with strange hats and hoods, thick gloves and goggles, some with dark lenses, some green, yellow, red or even clear. Beneath the bench were boots of different size, but all with soles padded deeply with cork.

A large double-door was set into the far wall. It opened at a touch, in fact one door came slamming down off its hinges with a boom that made the entire party jump. Harold, their thief, looked back at the other with a sheepish grin, then moved inside the room now revealed.

It was a fairly large room, wide, but still longer than its width. Several lanterns were hanging from the ceiling, still shining forth with undimmed light from enchanted stones. The rest of the room was blackened by fire and layered with scattered debris. All except one small workbench against the far wall which appeared in the light to be untouched.

"Wait," whispered Kal holding the thief back, "could be a trap."

"One that has already gone off by the look of things," Harold replied.

Whatever had caused the destruction had happened long, long ago, but still the magic lights burned overhead in a few of the remaining lanterns. Harold crept about the room while the Cuthbertian priest chanted from the safety of the doorway. The grace of the Saint revealed no dangers while Harold's search found only slagged metal, some of it precious, fragments of gems and a large amount of soot stained shattered glass. The only whole object was a small rod of quicksilver held by a crystal vice.

"What is it?" Harold asked Kal who had come to stand beside him.

Kal reached beneath the collar of his robe and drew out a medallion, a small metal disc with a ruby at its center. He rubbed it between his palms as if to warm it. A red glow shone brightly for a moment, the bones of his hands suddenly visible beneath Kal's flesh, then faded quickly so that the tanned leather of the gnome's old skin hid the medallion once more in his hand. Sagging for a moment, then forcing his shoulders back, he held the medallion to his eye and gave a startled gasp. The disc fell from his fingers and dangled on its golden chain.

"Ahhh..." Kal uttered, "that is what it first looked like."

"What? What?" Harold asked in an excited voice, he had a sudden vision of gold coins pouring into his hands.

Kal's eyes were half-lidded and he looked a century older, but he smiled at the thief.

"A very powerful item indeed. It can become any small object the holder desires, enchanted or mundane. It appears unused, untouched, perhaps freshly created and abandoned here..." Kal trailed off and looked about him at the wreckage all around. "What, waste, what knowledge lost, what power in this room and gone..."

Harold grinned back. "How much do you think we can get for it?"


Anything Item (Revised)

Only discovered in its original form once in the annals of the wise ( a cylindrical bar two inches in diameter and one foot long. It is composed of an enchanted metal appearing to be quicksilver, but bitterly cold to the touch, with an uncomfortably slick texture).

If the command word is known it can instantly transform into any non-consumable small object either enchanted or mundane (though of limited duration, 1 use or 1 hour and neither relic or artifact) that the possessor has held before (i.e. the has once held a ring of free action but not a rod of lordly might, he can transform the anything into a duplicate of the ring, but not the rod).

If the item has a single use effect the Anything Item can be used for that one effect. If it has a permanent effect (such as a Helm of Underwater Action) that effect will last for 1 hour. (i.e. if changed into a +3 dagger, the +3 bonus would last for only 1 hour before becoming a dagger with no bonus at all). If commanded to become a mundane item it remains in that form until commanded to change.

The Anything Item can be changed into a specific form only once, then can never take that form again. It can be commanded to change only 3 times by an individual and will remain in the last shape it is commanded to duplicate till someone else takes over ownership and commands it to change once again. The object cannot be traded back and forth. Once it has been used by a new owner the old owner, even if only 1 change was commanded, has lost ownership of the item forever.

1. May transform into any non-consumable small object magical or mundane upon command.
2. The Anything Item radiates magic regardless of its shape or magical or non-magical abilities.

1. Can only duplicate an object that has been previously held by current owner.
2. Can only perform a single magical effect of duplicated object
3. Enchantment disappears after one hour even if duplicated objects magical effect or ability has not been used (i.e. a Horn of Valhalla duplicated but not used becomes a mundane horn after 1 hour). A duplicated item with a permanent magical effect or bonus also becomes a mundane item after 1 hour.
4. No item can be duplicated twice. (i.e. If a previous owner changed the Anything Item into a Ring of Free Action it can never be changed again into a Ring of Free Action regardless of new ownership).
5. An individual can only command the Anything Item to change a maximum of 3 times. The next owner can command a change a maximum of 3 times and so on.
6. Once used ownership is established, but should a different individual take hold of the Anything Item and command a change then they are the new owner and the previous owner may never again command the item to change, though anyone may make use of the changed item (within the limitation of class restrictions) if given by the current owner or taken from them.

Saves As:
The Anything Item saves as Metal, Hard (+5) at all times and in any form. If damaged it turns into a small pool of quicksilver which evaporates in a single hour.

In the Greyhawk Campaign;
Only 7 of these Anything Items are known to exist. No mage claims the ability to construct these items.

After the Giants The Ruins of Nosnra's Steading Part 2

The Demi-Plane of Dreams (Dreamland)

Whenever we sleep we enter the Demi-Plane of Dreams, but only our dream-selves and our oerthly bodies are untouched. It is possible to cross over with our physical forms but the Demi-Plane or Dreamland has its own laws which are not those of the Prime Material Plane. Physical traits such as Strength, Dexterity, Charisma and Constitution become meaningless, while Intelligence and Wisdom are paramount. Magic and the Divine power of the Gods in most ways function as normal but the Demi-Plane is so thick with illusion that the effects of spells are hard to judge. A mage, for example, might cast a fireball only to find that the distance judged by his senses is actually inches rather than feet and find himself consumed in his own spell. Material components become unnecessary as there is no physical world around him only a shifting dreamscape.

Travellers entering the Demi-Plane will find themselves adrift in a world of translucent spheres. Within each sphere is a unique dreamland created by a dreamer from the Prime Material Plane. The Demi-Plane has no existence in itself only in relation to its intersection with the Prime Material. The great power and the great danger in entering the Demi-Plane is the ability to cross into the dreamscape of others. A skilled traveller may enter into the dreams of others and injure or slay the dreamer, but what they may face in such a dreamscape might also consume the traveller. To die in Dreamland is to be lost forever.

Losing oneself or becoming trapped within the Demi-Plane is far too easy. Dreamscape may revolve from pleasant fantasy to hellish nightmare without warning. Dreamers may be children, the demented, the weak or feverish on the Prime Material Plane but their Dreamland may present them as nigh invincible, or a twisted land that makes no sense and have no exit for the traveller.

Those who deal in illusion find the greatest rewards from travelling through the Demi-Plane and the dreams of others. The experience they gain from such a journey is twice that of any other. They may discover new spells or ways to increase the power of spells that they already possess. Treasures and artifacts that might be taken from Dreamland normally fade upon leaving the Demi-Plane but there are said to realms within that belong to no single dreamer and items of great power within to be won within these dreams.

Some of these dreamscapes existing outside of the normal dreams of others are said to belong to creature which have taken form within the Demi-Plane. Others are said to be dreamscapes taken over by travellers who have become lost within Dreamland. Somewhere among all the spheres of dreams is said to be a land ruled by the Dreaming King and a species of beings native to the Demi-Plane, but no traveller who may have found this land of dreams that live has returned to confirm such a legend.

Nosnra's Lands

The land surrounding the steading is not quite the Demi-Plane and is no longer the Prime Material. It is as if a thick fog has descended upon the area and all within it is distorted. Some of the laws of the Prime Material still operate such as the physical attributes of creatures, but both time and distance have become greatly affected by the Demi-Plane of Dreams. Illusions have become real and the physical world has become illusion.

Without aid a creature trying to cross the physical landscape of the hills will become confused and lost. Time will speed by or slow. They will find themselves reliving moments, seeing themselves at distances, or fading from the land altogether and slipping into the Demi-Plane of Dreams completely. While it is possible to wander free of the hills and back to the Prime Material this becomes harder and harder the closer to the center of this distortion is reached. Once nearing the steading there is really no return for an unaided traveller.

Slivers of the Demi-Plane fill the landscape. They are impossible to avoid. They cannot be seen but once entered they are self-contained like the spheres in Dreamland. Crossing through these slivers is a matter of confronting the dreamer or dreamers who inhabit these areas. Unfortunately many of these creatures are the spirits of the dead returned to the Prime Material. Their dreams are mostly strange, distorted and nightmarish. Because of the merged nature between the Demi-Plane and the Prime Material these creatures are a combination of life, dream and undeath. They are similar in many ways to the undead of the Prime Material, mostly in appearance, but with different strengths and weaknesses. They also exist in a series of layers, their dreamselves, their memories of life and their undead form. They are the Unshriven.

Progress toward the steading even for those aided or guided is difficult. The slivers of dreamscape lead forward only with certain types of resolution in each encounter, but the party may slay those who seek to help and find they can flee from dangers without resolving conflicts. To reach the steading may require traversing only a few of these slivers or the party may find itself having to cross many more or even returning to the slivers of dreamscape they may have escaped previously.

A dozen encounters before the players reach the steading are provided. It is recommended that at minimum the players successfully resolve three to five of these encounters before they reach the steading.

(Some handy terms)

Dreamer - Within the Demi-Plane the various spheres are normally created by a single individual who may be the only real inhabitant of the sphere. Within the area around Nosnra's steading there is often more than a single dreamer creating the sliver of Dreamland that is encountered.

Dreamscape - the landscape within a particular dream created by the dreamer

Sliver - The area of land around Nosnra's steading has merged with the Demi-Plane of Dreams but in a fragmented way. The slivers are a combination of the Prime Material Plane and the Demi-Plane of Dreams and the physical laws within them are also a combination of both Planes.

Sphere - Within the Demi-Plane spheres are realms created by dreamers. They can be of any size and the nature of reality within is illusion. They normally are inhabited by a single dreamer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Minstrel Tales Archers of Geoff

Archers of Geoff

What of the bow?
The bow was made in Geoff:
Of true wood, of Hornwood.
The wood of Geoff bows;

So men who are free
Love the old Hornwood tree
And the land where the Hornwood grows.

What of the cord?
The cord was made in Geoff:
A rough cord, a tough cord,
A cord that bowmen love;

So we'll drain our jacks
To the Geoff flax
And the land where the hemp was wove.

What of the shaft?
The shaft was cut in Geoff:
A long shaft, a strong shaft,
Barbed and trim and true;

So we'll drink together
To the Grey goose feather
And the land where the gray goose flew.

What of the men?
The men were bred in Geoff:
The bowman - the yeoman -
The lads of dale and fell

Here's to you - and to you!
To hearts that are true
And the land where the true heart dwells.

(Originally 'The Outland Bowmen' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from 'The White Company') (and thanks to Rip Wormer for adding the Hornwood)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris 2

Lyndos, human male, (Magic User level 7)
Str 8, Int 18, Wis 11, Con 10, Dex 12, Chr 11
HP: 22, AL LE, AGE 33

Physical Description:
Lyndos is pale with thin ash-blond hair. 5"9' and skinny. He is clean shaven but his fine thin hair is hardly noticeable even if he does not shave. He has no scars or tattoos.

Lyndos wears a dark hooded cloak on raids, he has a mask which looks like a grinning devils face horns and all which he wears under the hood, (he salvaged it from a group of wandering entertainers that the band ambushed on the road in Keoland).

In towns or away from the brigands he dresses in dark blue robes with occult signs, actual charms woven into its make-up, ( a charm against detection and a charm of protection +1) He wears a dark blue, wide-brimmed hat to protect his fair skin from the sun.

Lyndos has served as Black Harris' lieutenant for the last three years and outside of Smashnose has been with the band the longest, (a total of four years). His mentor Stesil Hin, a mage of great experience and evil, had an estate outside of Hardby. After catching Lyndos borrowing spell components Stesil expelled him and Lyndos left Hardby only seconds ahead of one of Stesils' lightning bolts. Luckily Stesil failed to notice the old traveling spellbooks which Lyndos had borrowed earlier.

Down on his luck, Lyndos survived hand to mouth in the City of Greyhawk. Without cash or connections Lyndos owned only his stolen spellbooks, a bare minimum of components and a single set of worn pants, shirt and shoes. Then he met Black Harris and he has followed him ever since.

Personality and attitude:
Lyndos is meticulous but lacks patience. His greatest desire is to expand his knowledge of all things wizardly but he does so regardless of the cost in pain and suffering to others. Lyndos had been in on the planning of all the major raids for the past few years. The sudden change in Harris' attitude toward the band's attacks and his lack of care in matters of security have forced Lyndos to make plans of his own.

While he bears no sense of loyalty to Harris he has been amply rewarded in the past and greatly profited due to his membership in the band of brigands. He receives all books, scrolls and magical items which are meant for a mage's use as well as a senior member's cut of all treasure. But now he feels that the rewards are coming at too high a risk and his counsels are ignored. He is gathering his resources and his courage, awaiting a time to break with the band unless he sees a change come over Black Harris and a return to the old ways.


Lyndos has a secret cache of spellbooks hidden away in Veluna City. He only carries a traveling spellbook while raiding.

Travelling Spellbook:
1st) Alarm, Comp. Languages, Detect Magic, Identify, Magic Missile,
Read Magic, Shield & Sleep
2nd) Flaming Sphere, Invisibility, Knock, Mirror image, Ray
Enfeeb., Web
3rd) Fireball, Haste, Hold Person, Lightning bolt, Pro.Norm.
4th) Imp. Invisibility, Minor Globe Invuln., Wizard eye

Ring +2 of protection
Staff of Shielding:
This staff allows the user to cast the shield spell twice every 24 hours at the casters current level of experience.
20 +1 sling bullets
10 Silver sling bullets
3 glass spheres holding dust of sneezing and choking, held in an ivory container that has a carrying strap.
Dagger +1

Riding Horse: Mare, named LuLu.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: The Strategic Review #7 April '76

The Strategic Review #7 (The Last) April '76

(24 Page Zine)

The first color cover and the last issue of The Strategic Review. At 24 pages it could almost be called a magazine, but it was at heart still a zine. In that respect a certain magic was lost in the transition from SR to Dragon. As a small niche hobby D&D would have grown into something far different than the large business and mainstream game system that it became. The years of slick and glossy yet vacuous products would never have occurred. It seems like it has taken over 30 years for the hobby to turn full circle. Today we are seeing a return to the origins of D&D and a release of modules and supplements that should have been produced decades ago. Just a sense that sets like Gygax's Castle Greyhawk with all its levels would have been completed and published years ago if dungeons and dragons had not become so popular, if zines like The Strategic Review had served just a little longer.

List of articles reviewed

The Dungeons & Dragons Magic System
What Price Gold & Glory
Hints for D&D Judges
Mighty Magic Miscellany
Out On A Limb
Creature Features
Ancient And Medieval Standard Military Symbols
The Missile Weapon in Classic Warfare
Thief Bonuses For Dexterity
To The Everlasting Glory of the Petal Throne
D&D Is Only As Good As The DM

The Dungeons & Dragons Magic System
By Gary Gygax (Pg 3,4)

A short history of the origins of magic in D&D, but more importantly a grounding in some basic truths and philosophy of the game. It is interesting to hear about the inspirations for the D&D magic system but the explanation of the original system from its creator is invaluable regardless of the incarnation of D&D being played. It was more than game balance that created the sometimes frustrating magic system and even in its earliest applications gamers twiddled the knobs to make magic and magic users even more powerful. As Gygax states, D&D is a freeform system and, variation was allowed for and even encouraged, but such superpowerful games have their pitfalls. Starting players with a more limited system offers great experience and great challenges which cannot be equaled when abilities and power are just poured into the players lap.

This article may help any D&D or AD&D player or DM understand the magic system as designed to a greater degree. It certainly expresses the concept and reasoning for the original system of magic and the D&D game itself.

What Price Gold & Glory
By Jim Hayes (Pg 9,10)

A short, short story from the days of D&D when reincarnation turned you into a pixie and an entire extremely large party of adventurers could die beneath the clashing mandibles of half-a-dozen giant scorpions, and it was just another good days work. I remember playing in games not far different than this story described. It was a blast. We had no idea what we were doing but it was incredibly fun. You had to think about whether it was worth naming your character because they died so often. The story is worth the read just for the fun of trying to figure out how many people they actually had in their group.

Hints for D&D Judges
Part I: Towns
By Joe Fischer (Pg 10,11)

This may be the first write-up on creating a base of operations for a campaign that was ever published. Everything said in the article is as valid today as it was 33 years ago when SR7 was first printed and said in a way that is plain and simple good advice. There are supplements aplenty today, but even modern day publishers of adventure modules seem to overlook the importance of providing a base of operations for players, a town, a village, pub, inn or small keep lurking on the borderlands. Personally I'd shy away from using crazed magic shop owners with Balrog butlers, but that is depends entirely on a DMs taste in running their campaign, high magic, low magic, even no magic.

Mighty Magic Miscellany
By Neal Healey (Pg 11)

Three massively powerful items for D&D. The first is actually the least powerful and a true classic of the game system.

The Cup and Talisman of Akbar

This is an artifact. It can be massively powerful and therefore can shake up a campaign if just handed out to players. First it's gold value is massive. If using such values to generate experience points then acquiring this item is equivalent to raising almost any low or mid level character an entire experience level. The item itself has the ability to generate potions of various strengths once per week, 75% of the time this is simply healing potions but 6% of the time it will generate potions to raise dead or act as a restoration spell. If a DM puts the artifact away for a time when the players are fairly high level it will prove valuable but in no way unbalancing.

The Staff of the Priest Kings

This is a monstrously powerful staff for D&D. It appears only in this zine and the Encyclopedia Magica (EM) from what I can tell. The basic staff combines 8 spell powers. There is no mention of a difference in spell charges that these would take, or limits on their daily use. The staff can hold 200 charges and no mention if it can be recharged. There are five staves that take the basic model and add extras. As written this staff feels incredibly unbalanced, and the more powerful staves have even more powerful abilities. It has a monty haul feel to it and I can't imagine it being used in an original D&D campaign. For AD&D the basic staff might work with a high level campaign, but without alteration a player could cast Earthquake or Hold Person 200 times, or Raise Dead Fully over 65 times from a fully charged staff.

The Brazen Bottle

Another item that does not seem to have seen print beyond SR7 and the EM. While amazingly powerful, the bottle lets you compel djinn, efreeti and balrogs into captivity, it does not turn them into servants. It seems to imply that when the bottle is uncorked the captive is released making the bottle an item that can only be used once with any degree of safety. For a high level AD&D game the Brazen Bottle does not seem out of place, merely powerful.

Out On A Limb
By Gary Gygax (Pg 14,15)

The Letters column makes its first appearance. History the gaming and convention industry at the time, nothing to add to the D&D or AD&D game system, yet definitely noteworthy

Creature Features
(Pg 15)

Two new creatures. One to become a classic and the other to be forgotten.

The Denebian Slime Devil

The name, at least, lifted from the Trouble With Tribbles episode of Star Trek. This would have suited an April Fool's issue, never my favorites, and DMs may find the concept of the creature useful. It can be played as a farce, to lighten a campaign, or easily changed to a darker type of creature that while harmless haunts the player it has attached itself too, perhaps changing into shapes of creatures the player fears, or enemies he has slain, or loved ones. There is the germ of an idea in the creature.

The Catoblepas

A creature which made it into the AD&D Monster Manual (but never into any of my games). This first write-up doesn't contain the full statistics list but the creature is basically the same as its later incarnation. I just can't see inflicting a creature whose stare causes instant death with no saving throw upon players, but D&D could be a merciless game.

Ancient And Medieval Standard Military Symbols
By Gary Gygax (Pg 16)

A handy thing to have for any D&D or AD&D game reaching beyond man to man combat. Most of the symbols are useful for a fantasy campaign (so you can label cardboard chits and push them around a map) and the reader can easily extrapolate what symbols to use for units particular to fantasy ( the out line of a dragons head, a magicians hat, a holy symbol for clerics, etc...).

The Missile Weapon in Classic Warfare
By Gary Gygax (Pg 18,19)

The historical uses of missile weapons in the ancient world should be of interest to any DM. The article goes into some depth regarding the sling, a weapon commonly used in D&D and AD&D but usually misunderstood. There is a great deal more that can be easily researched on the use of slings and early bows but Gygax's article is as good a place to start as any that can be found, and better than most. While not written for D&D the article shows the thinking behind statistics for these weapons found in the D&D and AD&D rule system.

Thief Bonuses For Dexterity
By David Klempa (Pg 19)

Not a word of explanation for these tables, but it should be noted that this early addition to the D&D rule system applies a percentile roll to a natural roll of 18 for the dexterity stat.

To The Everlasting Glory of the Petal Throne
By M.A.R. Barker (Pg 20 - 22)

Invaluable to anyone running an Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, the article is written as a report from one NPC within the campaign to another, the Emperor. The form is done with much praise to the emperor at the start of every paragraph, something which a DM may copy or lift wholesale to flesh out an encounter in their own campaign. The description of events within the realm may inspire a DM to create similar events or adventures. Definitely worth reading and plundering for ideas.

D&D Is Only As Good As The DM
By Gary Gygax (Pg 22,23)

You have to be cruel to be kind, and Gygax believes in leaving the bark on when he beats down on Monty Haulism and super powered gaming. His advice and recommendations are spot on. The best sense of reward is always against great challenges. It is up to the DM to not only tell an interesting story and master the rule system but also to maintain a sense of challenge and danger in a purely intellectual game.

Useful Illustrations:
Cover: War Elephant
Pg 3 - Dragon's Head
Pg 5 - Maiden on Altar
Pg 8 - Men in Armor
Pg 11 - Dragon
Pg 18 - Wall Relief of Slingers and Archers
Pg 20 - Female Swordswoman
Pg 21 - Armored Priest/ 4 armed headless monster
Pg 22 - Armored Priest

So ends the The Strategic Review and the era of Dragon begins.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 1

Oerthly Encounters

Red Hanlan & Black Harris

This pair of Brigands has been highly successful raiding across the lands west of Greyhawk, such as Furyondy, Veluna and Bissel, as well as the lands of the Yeomanry, Keoland, Ulek and Gran March. Recently, however, they have parted company and now Black Harris pursues his former partner. Red Hanlan now rides with his new partner Tess Bywater or "Laughing Tess" as she is called.

Periodically after a successful raid or series of raids the band would split up, each going their separate way, to enjoy the ill-gotten gains of their labor. Some traveled in pairs like the brothers Kalife and Kalib, but most set off on their own. At an appointed date the band would gather again and it was common for both Red Hanlan and Black Harris to return with a string of new recruits.

Having successfully left a bloody trail of robberies and murders along the paths and roads between the Dreadwood in Keoland to the Lorridges in Bissel, the evil band gathered together once more in a small but growing market town named Fountainspring set within the heart of the Kingdom of Furyondy. Red Hanlan came with a half dozen followers but Black Harris brought along only Tess. While in town the raiders were on their best behavior, but as the reunited group celebrated one last time before leaving town Tess killed a long time member of the band who 'insulted' her. Black Harris and Tess had a shouting, then throwing, match and finally Tess stormed off, with Red Hanlan. Later that night a now staggeringly drunk Harris broke down the door to Red Hanlan's room and the struggle which ensued wrecked the tavern and scattered or killed those who supported Red Hanlan.

Since that time Red has been on the run. Only Tess followed him from the broken tables and smashed chairs of the Inn.

Black Harris has sworn a dark oath of vengeance, but while his followers understand his desire they have more practical concerns, namely loot. Always bloodthirsty and merciless Black Harris has raided and robbed with a brutal cunning. Now he has grown careless. Robbing only to pacify his followers, his thoughts are turned to tracking down and exacting a painful retribution on his brief one-time lover and his faithless former partner. Previously the band would raid only after studying the layout of the land and the composition of the merchant caravan or train, though they would not hesitate to waylay a small party or individual whose bodies would be hidden among ditch or bramble, unlikely to be seen again. Now they strike without preparation. So far they have been lucky and their casualties have been
few, but their luck is not likely to hold.

Red Hanlan has been on the run since that night. Nearly overtaken outside of Littleberg, he has since laid low, living rough along the edge of the Gnarly Forest. Once a ranger of Geoff, Red has used the skills learned in his early days to pick hidden and secure camps and hideouts for the band amid the wild. Now he uses these skills to hide from Black Harris.

Black Harris chases Red Hanlan. He will pursue him wherever the trail will lead. Red cannot remain hidden forever but will appear again, while Harris will follow carelessly in a wake of death and destruction till he is pulled down like a mad beast by the forces of order in the lands he afflicts or till he at last runs down his quarry, Tess and Red Hanlan.

The Brigands:

As an early precaution against detection the brigands took to wearing masks and black clothing on raids and making sure to dress differently if they were in a town or village. Several months before the group split apart they attacked a group of wandering players. The loot was poor but it contained many different theatrical masks which the brigands adopted. Unfortunately Black Harris and Red Hanlan also adopted a policy of no quarter. No survivors, no witnesses. It proved highly successful from their point of view. Merchant caravans and travelers simply vanished, their wagons, baggage and bodiesabandoned in woods or rough terrain. The careful and merciless tactics of Red Hanlan and Black Harris have kept their identities separate from the raiders who plague an area for a few weeks then disappear only to reappear leagues away in a different country or kingdom.

Black Harris, human male, Ftr Level 9
Str 17, Int 12, Wis 12, Con 17, Dex 12, Chr 10
HP 89, AL LE, AGE 36
Physical Description:
6"2', Thin and wirey. Brown hair and eye, brown mustache. Scars over his left eye, on right cheek, wide scar across upper right chest. Tattoo of a grinning skull on right bicep, an eagle holding a bloody dragon in its claws on his left.

On raids Harris wears black. black boots, pants, a black tabard over his chain mail and a black plume from his helm. He was a man of careful habits and grooming but now is lax and usually needs a shave. His mustache once neatly trimmed is on its way to becoming a soup strainer. While in towns or villages Harris would always wear colorful and fancy clothes of fine quality. In his current obsessed state he wears whatever he puts his hands on, leaving such garments on till their stench is strong enough for him to notice.

Called 'Black Harris' because of his grim and merciless nature. It's rumored that he grew up in the Hold of the Sea Princes and spent part of his life as a pirate but no one knows for sure. He is merciless but maintains a rough and comradely discipline among his men. He demands obedience but does not play favorites and will not break his word. His followers know that they can expect honest and fair dealing from him but cruel and swift punishment if they should cross him or violate the oaths that they have sworn to Harris. He has deep respect for magic both wizardly and divine and will go out of his way to recruit practitioners of these arts.

Personality and attitude:
Harris is now obsessed with the desire for vengeance. Once a careful and cunning planner he now simply rides in with the full strength of his band and overwhelms any guardsmen or outriders, then falls upon the body of the caravan or merchant train. He cares nothing for what treasure or valuables are harvested from these raids, though he still takes his cut. He uses this wealth only to pay informants or recruit more men in his quest against Red Hanlan. Only his lieutenant, the wizard Lyndos, and Lyndos's aid Falil, object to Harris's current actions.

The evil priest Salin, a follower of Hextor, approves of this direct action, "Attack, Attack, Attack!" is his motto.

Black Harris has a taken a step from evil into madness and the light from his fiery obsession burns in his eyes.

Chainmail +2
Saber +1 of wounding. (1d8s-m 1d8-l)
Shield +1
Lance +2
Gauntlet of crushing grip:
This single gauntlet can be commanded by the wearer to attempt to crush anything in its grasp 3 times every 24hours. It can easily crush a flagon or snap an unenchanted blade. An arm or ankle would be pulped and perhaps severed. This gauntlet crushes slowly, taking 4 rounds to fully close. With a resisting opponent the user of the gauntlet must make a successful To-Hit. On the first round no damage is inflicted, the gauntlet merely grips what it will then proceed to crush. On each following round 1d6+7 pts of damage will be inflicted. The victim has the opportunity to pull away from the grip if they save vs their Dex on the first round for no 1d6 damage. Each subsequent round the victim will get a more difficult save, first at -2, then -4, and finally -6 as the gauntlets fingers sink deeper into their flesh. If successful they receive half damage as they pull away from the crushing steel fingers of the gauntlet. The gauntlet will not damage enchanted items. Its fingers would not even scratch enchanted plate mail but a shirt of chain, while itself undamaged, would not keep what is between its links from being pulped.

War Horse:
Obesdian, is the fourth Heavy War horse of that name which Harris has ridden. As its name implies it has a glossy black coat.
HD: 4+4 AC7 HP:31
6 potions of extra healing (private stock)
1 potion of Hill Giant Strength
1 potion of speed

Black Harris's Band

#1 Lyndos (level 7 Magic User) Harris's lieutenant
#2 Falil (Level 4 Magic User) Lyndos's aid
#3 Salin (Level 6 Priest of Hextor)
#4 Zeffin (Level 2 Cleric) Salins assistant
#5 Kalib (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalife
#6 Kalife (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalib
#7 Smashnose (Level 4 Fighter) 1/2 Orc
#8 Travis (Level 5 Thief) leads thief contingent within band
#9 Costos (Level 3 Thief)
#10 Halvas (Level 1 Thief)
#11 Dursus (Level 1 Thief)
#12 Bismon ( Level 3 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
#13 Quisson (Level 2 Fighter)
#14 Tras (Level 2 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
#15 Arrash (Level 1 Fighter)
#16 Cruther (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
#17 Sasor (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Minstrel Tales The Bold Soldier of Chendl

The Bold Soldier of Chendl

This is a tale of Chendl.

There was in the days before the War a house in the Inner City of Chendl that was as beautiful as the Royal Palace, if not as large; but after the war no one would live in it because it was haunted. At the stroke of twelve there came a ghost, that ran up and down the stairs; and when it struck one, it would place itself behind the street-door, and begin to howl so horribly that everyone felt pity for it. But by royal edict no priest was allowed to enter the house and no one else had the courage. So thus the house remained empty, although the ghost every night cried: "Release me! Release me!"

This had continued a long while, when an old soldier from the Wars came to the city, who, on hearing people speak of the house, said he would sleep a night in it, if a thousand gold pieces were given him beforehand. Belvor the King heard of this soldier's boast and summoned him to the palace. The old soldier said he feared neither goblin nor devil; for what his god protects is well protected. The king then said: "Give me thy hand as a pledge, and tell me with what I must provide thee." "Give me," said the soldier, "a good supply of wood cut small, a dozen bottles of wine, a bottle of brandy, and a pot full of dough, together with a good pan, that I may bake my cakes." "That thou shalt have," answered the king; and when the soldier had all he required, he went with it at nightfall into the house.

Having struck a light, he carried all his gear into a room on the first story, in which there still remained a table and two chairs, and then made a large fire on the hearth, by which he placed his dough, that it might rise a little. He next broke the necks off his bottles, and so did not long continue altogether sober, though he well knew what he said and did. Thirst being now succeeded by hunger, he took his pan, set it on the fire, and threw into it a good ladleful of dough. The cake promised well, smelt most temptingly, was already brown on one side, and the soldier was in the act of turning it, when something suddenly fell down the chimney into the pan, and the cake was in the ashes!

The soldier was not a little angry at the disaster, but reconciled himself to his fate and filled the pan anew. While the cake was baking, he looked at what had fallen down the chimney and found it was an arm-bone. At this the brave warrior began to laugh, and said: "You want to frighten me, but you won't do it with your arm bone." he then seized the pan, to take the cake out: but in the same instant a rattling was heard in the chimney, a number of bones fell into the pan, and the cake into the ashes.

"Now, by sweet voice," said he, "that is too bad. You ought to let me be, for I am hungry!" But every time he tried to bake his cake, one bone or another fell, and, at last, a skull, which the soldier hurled as far as he could send it. "Now the sport will end," said he, and began to bake, when a bell began to sound from a nearby temple. He counted; it was twelve. In the same instant he looked up, and saw that in the corner facing him the bones had united and stood there as a hideous skeleton with a white linen over its shoulders. The soldier called to it merrily: "Ha Sir Skeleton! How goes it? You are uncommonly thin. But come and eat and drink with me, provided the cake and wine will not fall through you." The skeleton made no answer, but merely pointed with its finger. "Well speak then," said he laughing; "but if not, then make yourself scarce." The skeleton continued pointing, but said nothing, and the soldier ate on leisurely, taking no further notice of its movements. The temple bells now struck half-past, and the skeleton striding out of its corner, approached the table. "Ah," cried the soldier, "say what you want, but keep at a distance, else we are no longer friends. I know the power of an undead touch." The skeleton made signs with its boney hands and pointed towards the door.

The soldier grew weary of this, took up his brandy and said: "Well, I'll go with you, do you only go first." The skeleton went first as far as the stairs, and made a sign to the soldier that he should go down; but he was prudent enough not to do so, saying: "Go you first, always first; you shall not break my neck." They thus descended into a passage, in which lay a heavy stone, having an iron ring in it. The ghost made a sign to him to raise the stone, but he laughed aloud and said: "If you want to lift up the stone, you must do it yourself." The ghost did so, and the soldier then saw that there was a great hole beneath it, in which stood three iron pots filled with coins. "Do you see that money?" said the skeleton. "Aha, you speak," cried the soldier, highly delighted, "that's capital. Yes, I see something that looks like gold."

"I was cursed while the treasure went unfound. You have released me, the treasure is yours." said the ghost. "A pretty fellow you!" said the soldier. "You first, down there and help me with the gold." The ghost reached out its hand and said: "I beseech you. Take the treasure before the bells ring again." "Much obliged all the same, no; I know you birds. I'll take your treasure, but you must fetch it for me." The ghost was silent for a moment, then jumped down into the hole beside the treasure. The soldier laughed and poured out his bottle of brandy atop the ghost. "Ho sprite-kin," cried he, "by the Laughing Rogue I bless you, may the wine of sleep put you to rest. Wander no more!" and with that the soldier slammed the stone lid shut upon the hole.

That morning the old soldier went to the king and collected his bounty. The ghost was heard no more. The paladin Torc who had failed to protect his king from the servants of Nerull was finally at peace. The soldier left Chendl that day and was never seen again.

Adapted from "The Bold Soldier of Antwerp" retold by Benjamin Thorpe

Friday, June 17, 2011

Oerthly Encounters The Thief in the Night

Oerthly Encounters

The Thief in the Night

Taldas Fei is a thief who specializes in burglary, especially the robbery of merchants, adventurers and any likely residents of a tavern, hostel or inn.

He will first stay as a guest under an assumed identity, a merchant, warrior, scribe, etc... always a different persona for a different town or village. Then he will carefully and cautiously explore his surroundings, keeping careful record of each room, door, window and lock. He will stay long enough to learn the local gossip and become a familiar face to the residents but avoids close contact with other travellers.

Taldas will never attempt a burglary on his first stay at an inn or tavern. He will first prepare the ground, then leave and return at a later date adopting the persona which he dedicates to that particular locale. He will, in larger towns and cities, sometimes take on a second, third, or more, persona if he feels that he can get away with it. Taldas gathers information and has a journal which he carries with him and a master journal which he has safely hidden away in his only permanent residence, a house in the City of Greyhawk. This journal contains notes and maps about each place that he has prepared. It also has notes on merchants, caravan routes, wealthy travelers, ceremonies and festivals as well as rumors and gossip about everything from dragon's hoards to the possible marriages of the nobility or wealthy; anything which might have potential for relatively unsecured treasure to find its way into first, one of his prepared inns or taverns, then into Taldas's pocket.

Taldas performs his burglaries only at night and will not be in residence when he does so. Instead he will have left the inn or tavern the night, or perhaps even a few days, before if he feels that his target will be safely ensconced within for that much time. After dark Taldas will return and enter through a carefully studied way; an upper window or roof access, the doors through which kegs of beer are rolled into the cellar, etc... Whichever way that he has discovered is the most vulnerable and unattended. He will then make his way to the room of his victim and attempt a robbery, hopefully without violence.

Taldas is aided in his craft by three magic items.

#1 Ring of Silence

This ring, when activated, creates a sphere of silence around the wearer in a 5ft radius. No sound of any kind passes from outside or into this sphere. It can be activated once every 12 hours for a duration of 30 minutes. It can also silence an individual, the wearers choice, within a 15ft range of the wearer for 10 minutes once every 24hours. These functions cannot be performed at the same time and the durations of these effects cannot be altered by the wearer.

#2 Gloves & boots of Spiderclimb

These magic items must be used as a set, a wearer missing a hand or foot could not activate their power. These are made from a slim, silky material and will fit any humanoids from small to large stretching or conforming to the size of their hands or feet. They must be worn directly against the skin of both hands and feet but luckily provide protection against sharp or piercing objects such as broken glass, razors or caltrops. They have no effect on crushing blows. Once all four items are donned they immediately begin to function and will only cease when either one part of the set is removed from the -wearer or if the wearers limb is severed. This set grants the wearer the same abilities as the magic-user
spell spiderclimb.

#3 Catseye pendant

This pendant is of gold in the shape of a cat's head. Two green gems form its eyes. This pedant allows the wearer to see with a much greater degree of night vision (range 80 feet) as well as the ability to see well in direct or sudden bright light. When activated the wearer's eyes take on the form of a green-eyed cats. This pendant can be activated three times every 24hours for a 1 hour duration.

Taldas is patient and methodical. He is intelligent and chooses his targets with great care. He is unlikely to rob a powerful magician or priest and will back away from an excessively well-guarded item.

He approaches his craft almost as an art-form and is no throat-slitter or bash-and-grab thief. He would fight or even kill to escape from capture but will first just try to run away. He carries several defensive items to aid him in this. He might have any one or several of these on hand at any time.

#1) A pouch containing small steel sling bullets. Taldas is adept with the sling but would also use these to toss behind him and hopefully trip up his pursuers.

#2) A glass bottle of oil, he would use this only to make steps or floor slippery not to set fires.

#3) A pouch of caltrops. Not something Taldas would normally carry but he might if going after a high reward high risk item.

#4) A coil of strong twine or preferably wire. He would string these along a stair or passageway at ankle height.

#5) a glass jar filled with bees, wasps or hornet, depending upon their availability.

#6) several rags rolled into balls soaked in lantern oil and dipped in wax. If lit these will produces thick smoke but are unlikely to start a fire.

#7) a glass jar filled with glass marbles (if available) otherwise this will be a glass jar lined with wax filled with steel sling bullet. These marbles or bullets will also be greased. These would be used before the regular sling bullets.

While attempting a burglary Taldas will dress in black, wearing a black cloth mask and hood as well as a small pack and a belt with equipment. He wears no armor but has a +2 ring of protection. He carries a sling and a half-dozen throwing knives. Taldas has 1 packet of dust of disappearance which he will only use in a dire emergency. He also keeps a scroll tube on hand with a tattered an ancient map inside. If captured he will claim that it is a map to a lost treasure which only he can interpret correctly. A small section of the map is missing and Taldas will swear, truthfully that he has memorized it. Taldas picked up the map several years ago. It shows the lands along the western borders of the Duchy of Geoff, but he has no idea where it leads to. Notes on the map make mention of an ancient burial ground of a sorcerer king and of vast treasure, but Taldas is a burglar not an adventurer and prefers to get his treasure the old fashioned way, by stealing it from sleeping merchants.

He is of average height and appearance with blue eyes but otherwise his hair and general appearance are continually being altered. In Greyhawk, when he resides at home, he has sandy blond hair and a fair complexion, clean shaven and shorthaired and appears to be in his mid-thirties.

Taldas Fei, Human Male Thief level 7
Str 13, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 11, Dex 17, Chr 16
HP 29
Skills (without armor)
Pick pockets 25
Open Locks 95
Find/Remove Traps 95
Move Silently 25
Hide in Shadows 90
Detect noise 15
Climb Walls 70
Read Languages 0