Thursday, March 28, 2019

NPC - Zervan Cloud Giant Ambassador

NPC -  Zervan Cloud Giant Ambassador

Arrogant, immensely powerful, brilliant, haughty and thoroughly evil, Zervan represents the Cloud Giant Confederation when it deals with its lesser brethren (any giants who are not Cloud Giants). He was an immessary to the ill-fated Nosnra and the Drow inspired campaign against surface dwellers that had him flitting between the grubby Hill Giants like Nosnra's ilk, the frozen Frost Giants and the sweaty and overheated Fire Giants. Now he is returned to his home, a cloud  castle that floats among the Crystalmists. Some trouble with the dull, grey Stone Giants is brewing so he knows his time home will be short.

Zervan is tall even for a Cloud Giant and carries with him a enchanted blade crafter by enslaved dwarven weaponsmiths. It bears the trapped spirit of a Cloud Dragon within it, Xft by name, and constantly struggles for domination with Zervan. If Zervan can mentally dominate the spirit of Xft he gains the usae of the spells and abilities of an adult Cloud Dragon for the day. Each day he must struggle for control of the sword and if the dragon ever wins he will have Zervan destory the sword, frreeing the spirit of Xft and exchanging Cloud Giant flesh for enchanted steel. Xft will walk away in the body of Zervan and Zervan will bide his time till he can dominate a person of his liking and take their body for his own. So far Zevan has always won.

NPC - Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 5

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Random Dungeon Generator Card - Torture Chamber

Random Dungeon Generator Card Torture Chamber -

 "By the flickering light of your lantern, you can just make out a small rough-hewn room."

1) The room is relatively small but an upright torture rack rests against one wall. At the center of the room dangle rusted chains and ropes that are attached to eyehooks and pulleys in the ceiling. Pulling on these ropes or chains will cause a pattering of rust to fall and a hard pull will cause the metal ring to snap and bring the chains down with a chance of damage to any beneath and a loud noise that will increase the chance of a wandering monster encounter.

The south wall also contains rusted manacles, but no rack. In the corner is a wooden bucket, a small table and three-legged chair. All are warped and rotten, though they would make good kindling for a fire (as would the torture rack).

Beneath the debris a small cloth wrapped bundle is in the corner containing a thieve's picks and tools in an oiled cloth (which has protected them from rust).

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Random Dungeon Generator Card - Dungeon Cell

Warhammer Quest cards can easily be used with any game system with minor alterations. They make a fun adventure design deck.
I've started detailing them for a sprawling dungeon I have in mind to revamp the solo Judges Guild adventure Survival of the Fitest.

In the Rift Canyon there is the ruins of a vast complex of rooms and corridors that endlessly twist and turn, sometimes crossing between planes and dimensions. Criminals and outcasts are thrown into this dungeon, most never to be heard from again, but others have returned with treasures or items of power.

Here is one such room encountered...

Dungeon Cell -
"What little light penetrates this room seems to be absorbed by its deep blue floor."

The Dungeon Cell is littered with moldy straw and the skeletal body of a long forgotten prisoner. The bones of its left leg are still held by the rusted manacle that restrained the captive in life. If examined closely it will be found that one of the victim's teeth is made of a hard ceramic as is the one below it.  The top of the false bottom tooth can be slid away with a little clicking sound and any pressure on the exposed layer beneath releases an enchantment that causes a breath of fire to all those within a 20x10 area directly in front of the user,s mouth. The top tooth is enchanted with a spell preventing the detection of magic. This firebreath tooth can be used once per day.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Project - Regional Products of the Flanaess - Cloth Part 1

Project - Regional Products of the Flanaess - Cloth Part 1

Cloth - (Almor, Bissel, Celene, Ekbir, Furyondy, Geoff, Gran March, Great Kindom, Medegia, North Province, Nyrond, Ulek Duchy, Urnst County, Yeomanry)

These are  the listed exporters of cloth but what kind of cloth?

I'd break down cloth types to


And then some subdivision, if necessary, such as types of Silk. Also in dealing with Silk and also the question of trade I would add Ket, Verbobonc, Dyvers and Greyhawk to the list of cloth exporters. If these last 4 aren't producers of cloth they are hubs of trade and will export cloth.

Keep in mind from the information provided is for export and doesnt say who is buying and where those merchant trains, wagons and caravans are taking the cloth.

Cotton is produced in warm climates.
Hemp is primarily used for sailcloth
Linen is made from Flax which favors cool and damp environments
Silk is a product of the far west
Wool requires sheep and only safe and settled lands are going to be able to have large herds of sheep safe from predators.

I plan on basing Ekbir as the main producer and exporter of Silk (and silk sub-products such as Satin, Samite, Velvet and Damask). Ket is then the go between in trade between west and east, shipping out silk and importing linen (with hemp, wool and cotton, being produced both east and west).

Why this matters to a DM? Merchants always provide me with a good amount of material for adventures. Showing which way trade flows and what is traded adds a handing dose of detail to the game and helps generate adventures.

NPC Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 4

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 1

Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 1

If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

Originally Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas but Im currently gearing up for Greyhawk.

The Abominations of Yondo
(This story first appeared in print in the April 1926 issue of Overland Monthly but the typescript is dated February 5th 1925)

Cactus-Forest [WD]
Fungi, Monstrous [MON]
Insects, Long-Legged [MON]
Lake, Weird [RVR]
Monstrous Thing [MON]
Ong (Lion Headed) [Deity]
Ong, Inquisitors of [ORG]
Vipers, Pale-Green [MON]
Yondo, Desert of [PLC]

Ong, Inquistors of

"It was noon of a vernal day when I came forth from that interminable cactus-forest in which the inquisitors of Ong had left me, and saw at my feet the grey beginnings of Yondo."

Yondo, Desert of

"The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as the sand of other deserts; for Yondo lies nearest of all to the world's rim; and strange winds, blowing from a gulf no astronomer may hope to fathom, have sown its ruinous fields with the grey dust of corroding planets, the black ashes of extinguished suns. The dark orb-like mountains which rise from its pitted and wrinkled plain are not all its own, for some are fallen asteroids half-buried in that abysmal sand. Things have crept in from nether space, whose incursion is forbid by watchful gods of all proper and well-ordered lands; but there are no such gods in Yondo, where live the hoary genii of stars abolished, and decrepit demons left homeless by the destruction of their antiquated hells."

Fungi, Monstrous
Vipers, Pale-Green

" that fantastic wood, I had found no token or memory of spring; and the swollen, fulvous, dying and half-rotten growths through which i had pushed my way, were like no other cacti; but bore shapes of abomination scarcely to be described. The very air was heavy with stagnant odors of decay; and leprous lichens mottled the black soil and russet vegetation with increasing frequency. Pale-green vipers lifted their heads from prostrate cactus-boles, and watched me with eyes of bright ochre that had no lids or pupils. These things had disquieted me for hours past; and I did not like the monstrous fungi, with hueless stems and nodding heads of poisonous mauve, which grew from sodden lips of fetid tarns; and the sinister ripples spreading and fading on the yellow water at my approach..."

Insects, Long-Legged

"I went forward, sinking at each step in a loathly softness, and followed by certain long-legged insects that I had met among the cacti. These insects were the color of a week-old corpse, and were as large as tarantulas; but when I turned and trod upon the foremost, a mephitic stench arose that was more nauseous even than their color."

Lake, Weird

"Topping one of the any mound-like ridges, I saw the waters of a weird lake, unfathomably dark and green as malachite, and set with bars of profulgent salt. These waters lay far beneath me in a cup-like basin; but almost at my feet on the wave-worn slopes were heaps of that ancient salt; and I knew that the lake was only the bitter and ebbing dregs of some former sea. Climbing down, I came to the dark waters, and began to lave my hands; but there was a sharp and corrosive sting in that immemorial brine, and I desisted quickly, preferring the desert dust that had wrapped about me like a slow shroud."

Monstrous Thing

"It was then that I heard a diabolic chuckle on the hillside above me. The sound began with a sharp abruptness that startled me beyond all reason, and continued endlessly, never varying its single note, like that mirth of some idiotic demon. I looked up, and saw the mouth of a dark cave, fanged with green stalactites, which I had not perceived before. The sound appeared to come from within this cave.
...with all the rapidity of nightmare, a monstrous Thing emerged. It had a pale, hairless, egg-shaped body, large as that of a gravid she-goat; and this body was mounted on nine long, wavering legs with many flanges, like the legs of some enormous spider. The creature ran past me to the water's edge; and I saw that there were no eyes in its oddly sloping face, but two knife-like ears rose high above its head, and a thin, wrinkled snout hung down across its mouth, whose flabby lips, parted in that eternal chuckle, revealed rows of bat's teeth."

In the few short pages of the Abominations of Yondo there is much more about the desert and its horrific denizens. Asteroid pits, ruined cities and ruined temples, mausoleums broke and surrounded by rotting cypresses. Shadow creatures, beckoning statues, vapors with the sickening odor of corruption, empty suits of armor marching across the desert, mummies of ancient kings ridden by ape-like demonic beasts with distorted bodies.

An obvious scenario idea is for the players to be driven through the mutated cactus-forest with the desert their only means of escape, but Yondo can be the setting for many adventures. The story is a description of Yondo's horrors but it hints at greater terrors and perhaps great rewards for those who would dare explore its shattered fanes and ruined necropoli.

My current inclination is to use this for inspiration with a Sea of Dust setting. I keep seeing the Sea of Dust as pure desolation, but this gets  me thinking of a horrible poisoned land with fearsome abomination and bizarre ruins. Something with a great CAS or Lovecraftian influence. 

Greyhawk - Letters Patents from Ivid to Baron Asperdi

Greyhawk - Letters Patents from Ivid to Baron Asperdi

Letters Patents from Ivid to Baron Asperdi

His Celestial Transcendacy, the Overking of Aerdy, Grand Prince Ivid of the North, Archduke of Ahlissa, Idee, and Sunndi, Suzerain of Medegia; Commander of the Bone March, Lord of the Sea Barons; Protector of Almor and Onnwal; Hetman of all the Aerdi; To all to whom these articles shall come, Greeting.

Be it know that We have given and granted, and by these articles do give and grant for us and our heires, to our welbeloved Sancius Foy, hereafter Baron Asperdi, and the heires of him and his other Barons, full and free authority, leave and power to saile to all parts in the Islands of the East, under our banners and ensignes with ships of what burthen or quantity soever the be, and as many mariners or men as he will have with him in the sayd ships, upon his own proper cost and charges, to seeke out, discover and finde whatsoever isles they be, and wheresoever they be: We have granted him, the heires of him, and his other Brons, have given him license to set up our banners and ensignes in every village, towne, castle or isle of them newly found. and that the aforesayd Sancius and his heires and other Barons may subdue, occupy and possesse all such townes, cities, castles and isles of him found, which he can subdue, occupy and possesse, as our vassal and lieutenant, getting unto us the rule, title and jurisdiction of the same villages, townes, castles, and firme land so found. Yet so that the aforesayd Sancius, and heires, and other Barons, be holden and bounden of all the fruits, profits, gaines, and commodities growing of such acquisitions, as often as the shall arrive at our port of Winetha (at which port he shall be bound and holden onely to arrive) all manner of necessary costs and charges by him made, being deducted to pay unto Us in wares or money the fift part of the capitall gaine so gotten. We giving and granting unto him and his heires and other Barons, that he shall be free from all paying of customes of all and singular such meerchandize as he shall bring with him from those places newly found. And moreover, we have given and granted to him, his heires and other Barons, that all the firme lands, isles, villages, townes, castles and places whatsoever they be that he shall chance to finde, may not of any other of our subjects be frequented or visited without the license of the foresayd Sancius and his heires, and other Barons, under pain of forefeiture aswell of their shippes as of all and singular goods of all them that shall presume to saile to those places so found. Willing, and most straightly commanding all and singular our subjects aswell on land as on sea, to give good assistance to the aforesayd Sancius and his heires and other Barons, and that as well in arming and furnishing his ships or vessels, as in provision of food, and in buying of victuals for his money, and all other things by them to be provided necessary for the sayd expedition, they do give him all their helpe and favour. In witness whereof We have caused to be made these Our Letters Patents. Witness, Our self at Rauxes the fift day of Coldeven, in the elventh year of our reigne.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

City of Greyhawk Outer Wall and Gate

City of Greyhawk Outer Wall and Gate

Sorry for the rough map, but I'm terrible at drawing.

This seems to match the City of Greyhawk outer wall description from the City of Hawks novel.

"A double wall encircled the city. All of Greyhawk - Old City, the larger area called New Town and the Citadel too were within it. The outer curtain was some twenty-five feet high. This wall splayed out at the base where it met a ditch, or moat, or some other watercourse, and was topped with serried merlons and crenels to protect defenders in time of war.

Between the outer and inner walls was a relatively level sward a hundred or more feet broad. The outside edge of this strip of grass was level with the battlements that topped the outer wall. The crowning stone of the inner wall was much higher. The city had been built on a large hill - not especially high, but large in area. Those on the sward between the walls could look upward forty feet to where machicolated battlements stood topping the massively thick curtains of the inner wall. At intervals there were bastions on the outer wall, and matching them on the inside were tall towers.

Wherevere the walls were pierced by gates, the sward was broken. Every way that led into the city resembled a road at the bottom of a canyon. Travelers from the outside would pass through a gatehouse first, then a long passage, open above, but flanked by walls on either hand; then a tunnel that bored through another, bigger tower."

This is a very crude depiction of the outer wall. I intend to crudely draw out the various streets and buildings as well as add detail of interiors while trying to keep them faithful to the available information provided for the city.

NPC Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 3

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

Project - The Hunters Market Verbobonc part 1

The Hunters Market Verbobonc Part 1

Verbobonc is a busy trading town . Goods come downriver from as far away as Ket and the Barrier Peaks or Highfolk and the Yatil Mountains. Merchants come to Verbobonc to buy the goods before they reach Dyvers or the City of Greyhawk where the prices are the highest. 

Hunters and adventurers gather the  skins, hides and saleable parts and meat but must sell to the town guilds and merchants rather than selling from a stall in the market. 

This is a price and parts list by creature for the going rate of undamaged, unrotted monster/animal parts paid by the Verbobonc merchants to unlicensed hunters and adventurers. Skinning salvageable parts from monsters and animals is a basic skill and easily learned if a bit messy.

Alligator, Giant
- Head 5gp with teeth
- Hide 1gp per 5ft square undamaged section of the heavy back, sides and neck
- Skin 1sp per 1ft square undamaged section of Underbelly
- Teeth 1sp per tooth

- Chitin 1gp per 5ft square undamaged section.
- Eyes 5gp per pair

Ant, Giant
- Antenna 50cp each
- Chitin 10cp per 1ft square section

Ape, Carnivorous (Very Rare in the Viscounty of Verbobonc [VoV])
- Head 5gp for complete head (1gp if damaged ir missing fangs)
- Hide 10gp for relatively complete upper body
- Teeth 1gp per F

Baboon (Very Rare in the VoV)
- Head 1gp for complete head
- Teeth 1sp per fang

- Pelt 1sp

Badger, Giant
- Pelt 3sp

Basilisk (The merchants in Verbobonc can handle about a half-a-dozen basilisk sales per month. More than that and the price they will pay will drop dramatically)
- Blood 1gp per quart
- Brain 25gp
- Eyes 100gp per eye
- Head 250gp with eyes
- Hide 10gp per 1ft square undamaged section
- Heart 25gp
- Horn 100gp 
- Teeth 10gp per tooth

Bear, Black
- Claws 1 sp each
- Meat 25cp per pound
- Skin 1gp

Bear, Brown
- Claws 1sp each
- Meat 25cp per pound 
- Skin 2gp

Bear, Cave
- Claws 3sp Each
- Meat 50cp per pound
- Skin 10gp

- Pelt 25sp

Beaver, Giant
- Pelt 10gp

Beetle, Giant - Bombardier
- Chitin 1gp per 1ft square section
- Vapor Gland 10gp

Beetle, Giant - Boring
- Brain 5gp
- Chitin 1gp per 1ft square

Beetle, Giant - Fire
- Chitin 2gp per 1ft square
- Glands 5gp each

Beetle, Giant - Stag
- Chitin 1gp per 1ft square
- Horn 1gp

Beholder (Although Beholder carcases are sought after it may take time for VoV merchants to get buyers from Dyvers or Greyhawk, or further abroad) 
- Body the generally undamaged body of a Beholder is worth from 5,000 to 10,000gp
- Central Eye 500 to 1,000gp
- Eyestalks 500 to 1,000gp each

Black Pudding
- Ash 1sp per pound

Blink Dog
- Hide 100gp
- Living Pups 1,000gp to 2,000gp

- Heart 50cp
- Hide 1sp 
- Meat - 1cp per pound

- Head 5sp bounty
- Head (rare pumpkin head) 10gp
- Heart 1sp
- Hide 10sp

Bulette (Merchants in VoV can handle at most two carcases a month though after 1 month they can set up buyers for up to 2 dozen more bodies)
- Body 5,000gp to 10,000gp
- Chitin 500gp per 5ft square plate
- Head 500gp to 1,000gp
- Heart 500gp
- Hide Underbelly 500gp for complete underbelly
- Limbs 250gp per limb

Carrion Crawler (Merchants in VoV can handles around a dozen bodies a month. More than that an the price will drop)
- Body 250gp for complete body
- Head 200gp
- Tentacles 25gp each

Friday, March 22, 2019

Encounter - The Body of a Dwarf

Encounter - The Body of a Dwarf

While this encounter can be used in practically any dungeon setting it is meant for a low level dungeon set in the Kron Hills on the edge of the Lortmils. The ruins of a dwarven outpost will be the first in the discovery of a long since conquered and destroyed dwarven fortress city which once ruled over the mountains and highlands before the coming of the Flan. The dwarf is a local mountain dwarf named Galleb and if his body is returned to his clan and especially his silver coin the players will be received kindly by them. Search parties of mountain dwarves are in the area looking for him hoping to find him aliv, but alas...
1) The body of a dwarf.

This dwarf's body is sitting against a section of wall (against a fountain, door, etc...) with both feet splayed out and his head, covered in a dark bristle of short hair, is leaning forward with his chin resting on his chainmail clad chest.  The players will need to see if he is sleeping, though the wide pool of dried blood surrounding him points to a different kind of rest. If he is touched his body falls over on its side with a dull thud (unless the body is prevented from doing so).

If the players are observant they will notice a silver coin drop from his mouth (it was placed there after his death as a token of respect and is meant to pay his entrance the caverns of the dead). His body has not been looted.

There is a steel helmet beside him that has taken a serious dent (and another dent can be found on the dwarf. It was this crushing blow that killed him).

He is an average-sized dwarven warrior (meaning he is broad-shouldered and barrel-chested). He appears to have been dead for some time since his blood is dried and his flesh a bit green-tinged and withered. Surprisingly there is little rot about him and he smells no worse than most living dwarven warriors. No creatures or even insects have touched his body.

What can be found on or near him.

1) Steel helm; badly dented (cannot be used till dent is hammered out).
2) Chainmail; patched and repaired but serviceable. Sized for an average dwarf.
3) Boots; leather - These boots are enchanted and allow the wearer to move silently.  They are sized for a dwarf with average feet.

1) One-Handed war-axe in good repair. Sized for a dwarf (short handled) enchanted. (adds a positive modifier  to hit and damage).
2) Dagger

1) Belt with 6 pouches
1a) Tinderbox
1b) Coins - 16gp, 23sp, 5cp
1c) Canteen - water laced with dwarven whiskey
1d) 2 silver tubes. 2 empty, 1 scroll of heal light wounds (in dwarven)
1e) a silk cloth wrapped around a steel framed hand-sized mirror
1f) a cloth bag containing 2 dozen small glass marbles
2) Silver Birth Coin near body - this will radiate a sense of well-being to anyone touching it. The coin is simply a normal silver coin but removing it from the dwarf's body will cause it to generate a feeling of wrongness, slight at first, that increases the further distance away from the body it travels. This feeling will afflict the possessor even if the coin is abandoned and only placing it back against the dwarves corpse will relieve this feeling. The coin is very ancient belonging to the old dwarven kingdom of the Lortmils and is now given out as a luck piece when a dwarven child is born.

3) Pants, cloth shirt, underwear, all common place and slightly soiled.

NPC - Perricard Weaponsmith

NPC - Perricard Weaponsmith

The art of crafting enchanted weapons is rare. Surprising to some it is a craft come originally from the Dwarvensmiths of old.As dwarves are not known to be often spellweavers it seems strange to many that their's is the reknown for enchanted blades and armor. Their craftsmen seem to be able to enchant many things but it is their weaponsmiths that are reknowned.

Perricard isn't a dwarf. He is a human late of Furyondy and a great enchanter of swords. Their are spells at his command but a deeper knowledge of blades he is said to have gained among the ruins of a dwarven kingdom in the Lortmils. Perhaps this is why he has moved to Verbobonc.

Gnomes do not like Perricard and he is not welcome in the Kron Hills. Currently he is hiring adventurers to return to the Lortmils and seek out that dwarven ruin, but what he searhes for he has told none.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gygax's letter from AlarumsandExcursions #2

Gygax's letter from AlarumsandExcursions #2

Dear Lee;

Hello! and our thanks for the two copies of A&E. Brian Blume takes care of SR, and he immediately made off with one copy of your zine, so you can rest assured of the trade arrangement.

It certainly is a good feeling to have so many persons enjoying something one had a hand in creating. I have been a sf and fantasy fan since age 12, a wargame enthusiast since age 10 and began designing and writing about 1965. The games and rules are fairly successful these days, but I have yet to sell a sf or fantasy story, and that will be my next real project -- in a year or so when I have time to rewrite my favorite fantasy novel in hopes of something more than the usual rejection slips.

In case you don't know the history of D&D, it all began with the fantasy rules in CHAINMAIL. Dave A. took those rules and changed them into a prototype of what is now D&D. When I played in his "Blackmoor" campaign I fell in love with the new concept and expanded and changed his 20 or so pages of hand-written "rules" into about 100 ms. pages. Dave's group and ours here in Lake Geneva then began eager and enthusiastic play-testing, and the result was the D&D game in January of 1974. It is an ongoing game, as the GREYHAWK booklet shows, and when Dave hands me the ms. for BLACKMOOR I am sure that there will be more alternatives yet. I have personally worked out enough material lately to do still another supplement, and the heaps of material sent in by fans would certainly fill another -- besides providing a good bit of material for publication in SR. So as long as players desire, TSR will continue to provide more D&D goodies (although my partners bemoan the fact that this tends to deprive the historical end of out operation.)

If you have seen WAR OF THE WIZARDS, you are aware of how imaginative and creative a man Professor M.A.R. Barker is. We have arranged, finally, to publish his masterwork, EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE. Professor Barker has been at work on his fantasy world creation for something like 40 years! It shows in his work. I hardly know where to begin in describing EPT. First, I must liken the whole of the Professor's work to JRRT's (and I understand that Professor Barker has a novel which he hopes to complete soon!). The whole of the game EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE is perfectly thought-out and logically structured. Its form was influenced by D&D (and I am greatly flattered about that) although its author had been testing various other forms prior to the publication of D&D.

I will not describe the world of 'PETAL THRONE, for Professor Barker does that himself, far better than I could hope to, in his game. Suffice it to say that we have spared no expense to do it justice when TSR publishes it. The box will be about 9" x 12" with a full-color illustration of the city of BeySy on the cover. The Professor is also one heck of an illustrator, and he did that map in a medieval style with building erections, larger-than-life figures of men, and so forth. In addition to a rules book (about the same number of words as D&D, possibly quite a few more) done in two-column, 3 1/2 x 11 size with a plastic ring binding so it will open flat to any section, there will be three full-color, plasticized mapboards (similar to the one found in STAR PROBE). Two are the map of the world, and the other is the city of Jakala. The first two are done with permission, on SPI hex maps, while the latter is done on a slightly smaller hex grid. The unfortunate part is what the whole will cost -- the $20 price range -- but we plan to make the separate parts available so that much cash won't have to be laid out all at once. We expect the work to be available by 15 July.

We also have a wonderful "parlor" version of D&D dungeon adventures coming up fairly soon -- great for when there are only non-addicts to play games with, for the family, or when there is only an hour or two for play. The game is well done, and its components are top-quality, and we expect it to be popular for many reasons -- not the least of which is it will help D&D enthusiasts demonstrate to the uninitiated why they love fantasy games.

I sang through both of the tunes in "Music to Loot Dungeons By". Good show!

There seems to be considerable confusion amongst your contributors -- particularly those who tend to be in a flap about incomplete or unpalatable solutions (to them) of D&D rules/questions/problems. The game is complex and complicated. When it was released, it was by no means in a final (or even polished) form, but were we to sit on it for another few years in order to get it that way? Can a broad fantasy game ever be finished? Of course we could not hold off publication, for it was too much fun to keep from others.

Dave and I disagree on how to handle any number of things, and both of our campaigns differ from the "rules" found in D&D. If the time ever comes when all aspects of fantasy are covered and the vast majority of its players agree on how the game should be played, D&D will have become staid and boring indeed. Sorry, but I don't believe that there is anything desirable in having various campaigns playing similarly to one another. D&D is supposed to offer a challenge to the imagination and to do so in many ways. Perhaps the most important is in regard to what the probabilities of a given situation are. If players know what all of the monster parameters are, what can be expected in a given situation, exactly what will happen to them if they perform thus and so, most of the charm of the game is gone. Frankly, the reason I enjoy playing in Dave Arneson's campaign is that I do not know his treatments of monsters and suchlike, so I must keep thinking and reasoning in order to "survive". Now, for example, if I made a proclamation from on high which suited Mr. Johnstone, it would certainly be quite unacceptable to hundreds or even thousands of other players. My answer is, and has always been, if you don't like the way I do it, change the bloody rules to suit yourself and your players. D&D enthusiasts are far too individualistic and imaginative a bunch to be in agreement, and I certainly refuse to play god for them -- except as a referee in my own campaign where they jolly well better toe the mark. Let us consider the magic-user question.

We allow magic-users to employ the number of spells shown on the table, so a 1st level m-u gets exactly one 1st level spell to use once before he must go back to his books and prepare to use the spell once again -- or a spell once again. To allow unlimited use of the spell is to make the m-u's too powerful. There is a better solution, of course; one I have been aware of since the first. That is to utilize a point system based on the m-u's basic abilities and his or her level. Spell cost is then taken as a function of the spell and the circumstances in which it is cast and possibly how much force is put into the spell. All that would have required a great deal of space and been far more complex to handle, so I opted for the simple solution.

Again, as a case in point, Ted Johnstone says I have trouble telling which rules are so completely obvious that he doesn't need to explain them. That, dear friends, is a statement which could only be made by someone who has never authored a set of rules or a game! Many of the rules which are completely obvious to me are totally obscure to others. I can say in complete truthfulness that I have had to explain each and every section of the rules to some players, either in person or by letter.

I desire variance in interpretation and, as long as I am editor of the TSR line and its magazine, I will do my utmost to see that there is as little trend towards standardization as possible. Each campaign should be a "variant", and there is no "official interpretation" from me or anyone else. If a game of "Dungeons and Beavers" suits a group, all I say is more power to them, for every fine referee runs his own variant of D&D anyway.

I recall that I told Bob Sacks that in Greyhawk we do not have existing religions included, for this is a touchy area. We have such groups as "The Church of the Latter Day Great Old Ones," Church of Crom, Scientist", "Brethren of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgle", and so on. Gods sometimes intervene. There are some artifacts and the like which aid clerics. In general, however, clerics are powerful enough without much aid, for they have quite a few advantages and work up very quickly. Fighters are really the ones whom everyone should be irate about, for they have the hardest time of it, if not backed up by other classes or by lots of other fighters or blessed with the most powerful of magic gear.

How does one use gunpowder weapons in the confined spaces of the dungeon? What happens to ears? Blackmoor has some gunpowder usage but the filthy stuff won't work in Greyhawk's world.

By the way, a score of 18 is only the usual top limit for humans in Greyhawk. We have monsters with intelligence scores well over 18, and one player is about to work out a deal which will jump his to not less than 19.

Please inform Ted that I too subscribe to the slogan "D&D is too important to leave to Gary Gygax." Gosh and golly! Whoever said anything else. However, pal, best remember that it is far too good to leave to you or any other individual or little group either! It now belongs to the thousands of players enjoying it worldwide, most of whom will probably never hear of you or your opinions unless you get them into THE STRATEGIC REVIEW. As soon as we can manage it, we intend to have expand SR, publish bimonthly and include a letter column.

Thanks again for sending A&E. It was most enjoyable. Watch out though, that it doesn't start D&D down the road of DIPLOMACY fandom with its constant feuds, bickering, invective, etc. Now tell the fellows to pick on Dave Arneson awhile -- after all he had as much to do with the whole mess as I did!

Regards, E. Gary Gygax

NPC - Rakujochigusa

NPC - Rakujochigusa

Rakujochigusa or Rocky for short is the daughter of a Verbobonc thief and a man of the far west, further than the Bakluni lands or the ends of the known world. He said he was from some huge island west of these barbarian lands and that he was an exiled nobleman, but he left her with nothing but his name and disappeared when she was still a child.

Rocky was raised by her mother's family along the docks of Verbobonc and trained as a thief, the family business. She enjoyed the thieving but all the stories of other places, and all the travellers coming up and down the Velverdyva gave her a wanderlust she had to obey. She saw Dyvers which put Verbobonc to shame, then Greyhawk, the gem of the Flanaess, greatest of cities and she fell in love. 

With an introduction from her family she was welcomed to the great Greyhawk guild of thieves, where she stayed for a time, but even there she wanted more, she wanted adventure.

On the death of her mother Rocky has returned to Verbobonc and now looks for adventure. She is more interested in treasure hunting or exploration than thieving in cities. Distant lands call to her and she is always eager to hear stories and tales of the far, far west.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spell - Gremorley's Portal

Spell - Gremorley's Portal

The mage Gremorley, a sneaky, cunniving and untrustworthy enchanter developed this spell from looted spellbooks of a powerful Suel thaumaturge Y'sn El'et who lived during the age of the Imperium. 

Using a bar of pure gold enchanted with the blood of a dragon (the type of which will influence the type of gateway opened) Gremorley learned to inscribe a certain set of forgotten runes in a precise geometric pattern. The Sage P. Greco is said to have found the translation of these runes through painstaking and arcane research and it is to him that those wishing to employ the portal should consult.

The spell creates a man-sized opening between dimensions which allows both access and egress to either side like a gate standing open. The dangers of such a portal should be immediately apparent. Luckily the duration of the portal is limited. It is said to be effective from either dimension but it cannot be canceled or dispelled as it is a rift between the dimensions which must heal itself rather than an ongoing magical effect.