Showing posts with label Worldbuilding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worldbuilding. Show all posts

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Worldobuilder By Inkwell Ideas for Maps

A few months ago, I picked up a whole suite of software for mapping and world building. I have to tell you, the Worldographer software is excellent. I use it for my books, my blogs and my campaign. It couldn't be more handy. They have a collection of software, but my favorite is Worldographer. It basically does everything I wish it to.

You can pick up new icon packs from Patreon, as monthly subscription. My campaign is Roman themed, so I haven't partaken in that yet. I did purchased the e1 Icon pack when I bough the software. It allows me to make maps that look a bit like the Greyhawk campaign map. I love it.

You can give it a try with very few limitations from the store section of their main site. The free version doesn't nag or limit you too much. It is mean to just give you a taste.

I can't help but tinker. My setting is a peninsula with a vast savanna, I needed acacia trees. The set of icons I had didn't have any, so I modified a regular tree into one using the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

It reminded me of modding Civilization Icons. You need a transparent background. Did you ever try that? I used to have great fun adding dinosaurs and Veritechs to the game.

Anyway, back to my campaign. I have a large Romanesque city. Romans lived in villas and apartments. The software had a half dozen choices, but I need to populate a massive area. Repetition stands out like a sore thumb, so I got modding.

In the first version of my city, the buildings looked very medieval. I decided to make the whole area more Roman by making most structures either ramshackle wooden or Spanish tile like.

You can see those Spanish like rooves from 35,000 feet. Nice.

Then I wanted new villas. Just two choices didn't give a lot of variety.

I now have 4 or five variations. Square or rectangular and so on. One thing I discovered while working is, if you leave the courtyard area transparent, you can trees and other structures to the yard. Nice touch. The other thing is you can use the software to flip, rotate and scale the same building so even a copy doesn't look exactly like the one next to it.

For my last trick, and this is completely outside of the scope of Worldographer, I decided to add my party.

It is completely useless for game play, but I thought it was a nice trick. I have two wagons and 5 horses, to match my party. If you zoom in too much, there is zero detail, so the trick loses it's charm. But I enjoyed giving it a shot.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A clock that swings with no tick tock

No, the Romans didn't have 8 hour days, but their time
measurement was chaotic. 
As mentioned in the last post, I will be talking about time. The Romans had a 24 hour day like we do, but it differed significantly due to the technology they had available to them. The Romans used sundials in daylight and water clocks at night. But how they used them is odd.

They divided day and night into 12 hours, there was exactly 12 hours of each. But what about seasonal adjustments? Forget it. They simply made each hour longer or shorter. An hour could vary between 45 minutes and 75 minutes in length.

Oh, that is a headache.

Also, the typical Roman wasn't much of a breakfast eater. They would shovel in whatever they had left over and be on their way. They only had between 540 and 700 minutes of daylight in their 12 hour day. At night, watches were divided into 3 hour shifts for a total of 4.

Remember the rules about vehicles in Rome? With very few exceptions, no one rode by day. So walking was the only means of transport.

So did the Romans have traffic cops?

Yes, they did. Two types in the Empire. The first was the Vigiles, a fire brigade. Since the city of Roman was sacked and urban planning went out the window, Rome had 7,000 Vigiles to monitor the city for fire and address traffic issues at night. These men were former slaves or freedmen and they would gain their citizenship after a number of years of service, usually 6. You'd think that they would have loyalty issues, but this had been done in Greece, Alexandria, etc. with no problem. It was an age old solution to the issue of fire.

The Vigiles not only handled traffic infractions, but the recapture of runaway slaves and the arrest of law breakers. During daylight hours, the Urban Cohorts took over these duties. They number about 3,000.

Prior to this, in the Republic, the Three Men of the Night would do these duties. They were called a triumviri and were responsible for administrative functions. This would have been the leadership of the groups of men that would have performed these functions, they numbered more than 3. When the Urban Cohorts and Vigiles took over, the Three Men became prison wardens. The triumviri give their name to the First and Second Triumvirate, the most powerful people in the government.

The main difference between the Republic's triumviri and the Urban Cohorts and Vigiles is, the triumviri were also judges and executioner which explains their shift to prison duty.

And the Sun Went Down on Rome

Sunset is a natural break in activity. Dinner is done, the fire is lit and it's time to settle down around the campfire.

Unless you stirred up a mess of orcs at noon. Then they are coming to get you. Or you have to hike through a particularly bad neighborhood to get to the Inn.

Ancient Rome, after Julius Caesar had a special hell. If you have ever seen a Roman city, you'd expect that everything was all orderly and right angled. That is true for everywhere except Rome itself. In the 390s or 380s BC, Rome was sacked and burned by the Gauls. Most people would have given up at that point and the sun would have set on their civilization. But not the Romans. Orders were given to rebuild the city as quickly as possible and that threw the normally orderly Romans into a tizzy of building. There was exactly zero planning.

By the time of Julius Caesar, Romans had private chariots and coaches, in addition to equines and all the wagons and carts needed for industry. The streets of Rome were packed with vehicles and animals that take far more strength to operate than a modern vehicle. Being an Absolute Ruler is wonderful. Julius ordered an end to carts and wagons during daylight hours. All carriages and chariots were limited to the last two hours of daylight.

And with one law, the streets of Rome were safer. In daylight, that is. At night, in the dark, all of those carts, wagons, horses, mules, chariots and carriages were unrestricted, making the city a death trap for pedestrians. Anyone without some sort of conveyance would dash home before dark, before the streets became dangerous.

Crime was probably pretty low at night. What right minded villain would risk their own life out on the streets with all that vehicle traffic?

There were excepts for specific classes of traffic during daylight hours: Priests, Vestal Virgins, and Triumphing generals could ride during the day. The Romans were all about holy days or holidays, so festivals processions were exempted, too. At various times, construction contractors had the right to travel in daylight to make city improvements.

Some roads were so narrow, that they were closed to vehicles day and night. This was done with stone pillars, rather than signs. Other roads were so narrow that only one vehicle could pass. The Romans didn't have one way streets, they sent runners ahead to block travel. As you can imagine, this would cause some conflict.

In my next post, we'll talk about time, city services and police in ancient Rome. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The End to War

In my post about the Last Polyandrion, I introduced Magarven, a magic user and explorer. He is a dark elf or Drow. Where do the Drow fit into the Peninsula of Plenty? They are ever present, but have a shadowy purpose based on their first encounters with the denizens of the Peninsula. The Drow who roam about the surface world portray themselves a good and lawful people. For the most part, the citizens know not to trust them because they all have a dark heart, no matter their outward appearances and protestations.

My last post was The Prelude to the End of War. In this post, the story comes to its conclusion. As the Combine forces retreated from the Capital, the Emperor was able to shift forces and bring in fleets with supplies. For a few days, it looked as if the Empire would only have to deal with the economic devastation of losing a third of their slaves. How wrong they were.

The real reason for the withdraw of the Combine forces was new combatant. Just 30 miles away from the Capital, the Combine forces were bottled up by a new invaders, the Drow. Instead of coming through the mountains, they broke through from underneath. The breech was a location called the Web of Lolth, a cave system in the Chalice Mountains. The Combine was now beleaguered by the dark elves, fighting a retreat to their walled cities all across the Peninsula.

The Capital utilized the break in combat with Combine to resupply their coastal cities and rearrange troop deployments. The Drow were a land locked opponent, unlike the Combine. The Empire was able to bring in their fleet to assist with the massive resupply effort. Over the next ten days, the Capital was as strong as it ever been.

Both the Empire and Combine forces found the Drow to be a threat unlike anything met before. Their eldrich powers challenged every dwarf, elf and legion on the field of battle. While they couldn't breech the walls of the peninsula's cities, the Drow trapped every force behind walls, and the world darkened and closed in upon the besieged.

Finding itself hemmed in again, the Capital planned a desperate, possibly suicidal mission. The 3rd and 12th legion launched a rare nighttime attack on the Drow. Shocked and surprised by the human tactics, the Drow lines were shattered and a large contingent of humans broke out of the capital. The Drow closed the breech and sent a 1000 elf force after the escapees.

The Drow pursuers were outnumbered ten to one, but they were expecting to slaughter noncombatants. The thousand found that they pursued not a raft of human refugees, but an rag-tag auxiliary force. Of the 10,000 men, women and even children, there were 400 battle hardened veteran troops supported by over a hundred spell casters of every stripe. After a few brief clashes, the Drow settled in to gather intelligence and dog the auxiliary force until reinforcements arrived.

They discovered two things. First, this rag-tag band was drilling daily, hardly covering just 6-12 miles a day. The Drow laughed as these green troops played soldier. Clearly, aside from the veterans, the average auxiliary had no battlecraft. Even more comical, human prisoners revealed that this force was seeking the Web of Lolth itself. If the humans were going to walk into the Demon Queen's webs on purpose, then the Drow would be happy to let them in.

The Drow shadowed the auxiliary forces for three weeks, gently guiding the humans to the caves where the Drow had emerged on the Peninsula. The humans finally reached the mouth of hell, the opening to the demon Queens realm. The Drow now outnumber the humans 3 to 1, but the foolish humans arrayed themselves as if they were a true legion, not citizen farmers on a mad adventure.

On the morning Last Day of War, the humans deployed, trapped by web of Lolth, the Drow army on their front and the recon force and mountains behind them. Battle was joined in the late afternoon. By dusk, the humans had inflicted negligible losses on the Drow while losing a third of their force. Instead of breaking and routing, the humans lit fires and lamps against the night. The Drow howled in laughter as the humans readied themselves to break into the dark kingdom's web by night.

As twilight faded to dark, the humans began their assault on the Web of Lolth. Truly charmed by this obvious folly, the Drow sent 7000 troops out to flank the humans and keep them moving forward into the Web of Lolth. To their delight, the humans obliged them by pressing forward.

Then the unthinkable happened. The humans snatched victory from the mandibles of Lolth. Brave and women men placed on the edges of the human army uncaged four secret weapons: The Symbols of Sol Invictus. Chaos ensued as the Drow were washed by the light of the Unconquered Sun. Blinded, they withdrew, allowing the humans to reach the mouth of the Web of Lolth to unleash their second secret weapon.

The Empire's archers and slingers were armed with strange ammunition. The Empire had created hundreds of sling bullets and arrows with a tiny, natural resin ball encased in clay. Each of these resin balls had a continual light spell cast upon it. When the missile impacted, the clay broke, allowing the blinding light to saturate the area. The resin balls bounced and caromed around the battlefield, confusing and confounding the Drow.

Smashed back into the caves, the Drow cursed the evil, tricky humans. Dazzling light flashed and swayed in the confines of the cave, denying the Drow their superiority in darkness. Worse, mages unleashed fireballs and lightning within the closed spaces. Not only did this crush the Drow attempting to resist, it had a tendency of driving the glowing resin spheres deeper into the caves, clearing a path to the main vault. The humans were able to seal the entrance to the cave and hold off the 7000 Drow, now trapped outside.

Lolth, if she was there, fled to her supernatural realm, leaving her children blind, burned and dying.

As the Sun rose, the humans turned to finish off the Drow outside. News of the defeat of the Drow at the hands of the Empire terrified the Combine leadership. A new age of peace through fear and terror descended on the Peninsula.

One final tale of the End of War needs to be told. The Combine had a secret weapon of their own, a second sword called Dolorem. The weapon was a prototype to the sword Liberty, and like it's brother, it has a common name: "Sorrow". Rather than unleash this weapon on the Empire, the Combine decided to hide it away. However, the Halfling King made an impassioned plea to be given the weapon. The Combine denied the request only to find out that agents of the Halfling King had stolen it.

The weapon was never brought to bear on the Empire or used to kill humans. Instead, a special tragedy transpired among the Halfling King's own house over the use of Sorrow.

In the next few days, the tragedy of Sorrow and its loss will be told.

Peninsula of Plenty World Building - Prelude to the End of War

The northern border of the Peninsula of Plenty is lined with the Chalice Mountains. The range extends north about 150 miles. The range gets it's name from the cup like shape of the range, which scoops northward on the east and west sides like a Chalice. Far to the north are human habitations which can be reached most easily by Sea. Until contact, that kingdom believed itself to be the most southern extent of civilization. they call themselves "The Kingdom of the Majestic Ranges". In the bowl of the Chalice Mountain are fearsome tribes of orbs, goblins and giants. These creatures block most travel by land north and south from the Peninsula. However, some tribes of monsters raid outside of their area of control.

On the east of the Peninsula are the Elven Colonies, who have an alliance with both the Half-Orcs and the Dwarves of the Caldera located in the central eastern lobe of the Peninsula. The humans called these civilizations "The Combine". 

In the darkest time of the Empire, a series of invasions from the north and a minor war with the Combine nearly extinguished the Empire. From over the Chalice Mountains, news of war in the dark-lands between the Kingdom of the Southern Ranges and the monstrous tribes trickled in with fleeing refugees.

The first groups of refugees were bands of strange little people, somewhat like the fey. They called
themselves halflings. They had the strange ability to pass without a trace and to fade into the environment as if invisible. Hot on their heels were a more frightening threat, gnolls. The little folk stressed the Empire already pushed to the limit by drought, famine and war. The gnolls smashed supply lines to the Capital Region. In these conflicts, the people fled to the coastal cities, including the Capital.

The massive influx of citizens collapsed the Capital's supply of grain. Riots broke out in the city. The poor and worse, the slaves were slaughtered by the rioters. As winter broke, news of the massacre reached the Elven Colony and what had been a border skirmish turned into a full on invasion. By mid-spring elven forces, along with a contingent of dwarves and half orcs, were besieging and blockading the Capital and it's coastal cities. This allowed the halflings in the area to break free to reach the dwarven lands and safety. In the Caldera, the Combine leadership was forging a weapon to destroy the humans. In the common, Latin tongue the sword was called Libertatem or more simply, "liberty".

A random sally from the Capital lead to the loss of this weapon and the humans rallied around it like a relic. It was given over to the Emperor, which may explain some of what transpired next. Back in the Dwarven Caldera, the Combine leadership, egged on by the halfling king forged a darker, more dangerous weapons.   

Days from defeat, the Capital readied two legions and an a massive auxiliary force to go meet the Combine forces. At the last moment, the Emperor opened back channel communications with the Combine and agreed to never again enslave non-humans. And with that promise, the combine forces lifted the siege. Elven and dwarven slaves walked free from the city. The Combine hinted at requiring all slaves be freed, but withdrew with their brethren before the point became an issue.

In the following weeks, the Capital Region was able to resupply and reorganize it's forces for their greatest challenge, an enemy forged in fire in darkness. The Prelude to the End of War closed, and the true threat to not just peace, but civilization on the Peninsula, manifested.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Magarven's Last Polyandrion

Magarven is a famous treasure hunter in from the Capital Region of the Empire. He was known to find and preserve Antiquities from ages past. A little over a decade ago, a torrential flood followed by landslides revealed a crypt or a tomb just miles from the Capital. Magarven was the first to enter the tomb and as was his habit, mapped it. The scale of his map is 2 yards or six feet per square.

Inside, he found many strange items, the large bed (B) in the main hallway attracted his attention. He felt that it contained secrets. Bypassing it, he entered and diagrammed the two oval lobes and all of the items contained within. He forbid anyone from moving anything. As he progressed down the main hall to the south, he stopped at the four strange works in the center of the hall (M). 

Something about them raised his alarm and he went no further. He ordered his men to begin excavation along the sides of of the entry way. He ordered that the tunnels be no larger than the blocks that the tomb was made of. They began the western side and progressed to the western oval vault when he oddly ordered them to stop.

Magarven entered the new tunnel, inspecting the block walls from the outside. The workers heard him casting spells as he went. When he was done, he roped off the entrance behind him and repeated the casting inside the main hallway. Bored and unneeded, his crew left for the day.

In the morning, Magarven was found lying on the bed, with his map. He had marked off odd diagonal lines through the blocks of his diagram.

"It's broken. All is broken," he muttered. "Enter no more, if you value your life."

His command was followed for a few months, until it was obvious that he would not return to complete his work. A local thief and mage were brought in to explore the tomb. Armed with his map, the mage determined that the diagonal lines were paths of magical force. When the thief took a turn at the map, he decided he, too would not venture past the strange works (M) in the middle of the hallway. His rationale was that if the great Magarven would not cross that point, he wouldn't either. Nothing indicates what is wrong with the space.

Unlike other weird tales, Magarven is not accursed, mad or dead. He merely refuses to speak of his Last Polyandrion. He has taken to writing of his adventures that lead him to the Polyandrion, telling his followers and fanatics that the last chapter will explain the mystery.

As yet, items B through N-sub-2 have not been described and the last handful items at the end of the hall are a complete mystery.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The House at the Folly

This misnamed ruins is located in the general vicinity of the Kobold Folly. It could be as old as the Folly itself. The design of this building is typical for the Empire, except in the Capital region, not out on the Great Savanna.

Some of the rooms have a clear purpose such as the kitchen, while others are ambiguous due to the age and state of abandonment. Room 4 could be a Master Suite or perhaps an office space. There is no evidence of softgoods in this room. Room 7 is in a similar state of ruin, however small pieces of paint, stone fragments and other object de art litter the floor. The floor of room 8 is covered in fabric and padding debris, it could have been a bed or other furniture. Room 9 is completely bare while the obvious remains of a bed are in room 11.

The windows are not panes of glass, but stained glass much like the Kobold Folly's stained glass. The windows are two layers, one the interior and a duplicate on the exterior. The subject matter of the stained glass is astronomical, not astrological in nature. The double layered nature of the glass might be the reason why this house's windows are intact while most of the windows in the Folly blew out.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Cell of Rona the Wisewoman

Rona the Wisewoman is one of the NPC in my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. She is a very old woman and is an unlikely adventurer. After her husband passed, she felt a calling and traveled far to the north, into the mountains in search of god. She came to the Kerke of Yondalla the Provider. The Kerke was a typical halfling church, a stave structure. She begged entry and hermitage. The halflings agreed and provided her with a cell suitable for her needs.

The main church is build of the traditional wood staves the halflings are so fond of. The exterior is loosely clad, while the interior walls are more precisely constructed. When Rona requested her cell, the halfling priest had the northern interior door replaced with a double door, so that Rona could see the main altar from her cell.

The expansion of the church was build with non-traditional stone, and allowed the church to add a servant's quarters to the structure. Rona was sealed in her cell, her only access to the outside world was a small window facing into the church and bars facing west into the parlor area where she could recieve guests.

When word of the Emperor's need of adventurers arrived at the Kerke of Yondalla, Rona smashed a hole in the north wall of her cell to respond. The halfings have repaired the hole and removed the bars between the parlor and the cell.

Since the day of her leaving, the candles on her private altar have been burning bright yellow, without being consumed. Many miracles of healing have occurred in and around the cell. The halfling priest has taken this as a sign that that Rona is a Saint. In response to this revelation, the tribe has begun solidifying the church's exterior walls to ensure the structure remains whole for future generations.

The Infirmary of Corellon

Corellon has no temples or churches. However, his followers have created spaces of refuge and contemplation of their maker. The Infirmary of Corellon is one such place. It is located on the eastern edge of the Great Savanna, in a elf made mound. 

The main structure has an eastern door and 10 roughly appointed areas for meditation. Each space ends in a small window that faces into the earth of the mound. The debris in these opening shift with the seasons but are never allowed to breech the side of the mound. Elves staying with in these spaces will find that meditation triples their healing and sometimes, if the need is great, visions will appear in the windows.

At the end of the central shaft is the Great Light, a magical creation that lights and warms the whole structure.

To the south-east of the mound is the caretaker's home. It is also roughly appointed with tables and chairs. The north section of the building houses a kitchen and the south section is a private space for the care takers. These two sections are separated with a green grown lattice of ivy. Stepping into the ivy magically transports the elf to the private area in the southern section and back. Only elves can make this passage function. If another creature attempt to cross this ivy threshold, they will be proportionally repulsed. If a weapon or spell is used on the ivy, the attacker will be teleported 1-3 miles in a random direction. Occasionally, they will arrive with their possessions, but most of the time they will be completely naked.

Between the two halves of the building is a roofed, pleasant area with tables and stools. Two sliding doors can be closed against the weather.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

AD&D Druid Spell: Arclight

In the campaign Peninsula of Plenty, the City of Nace is a fair city. As a fair city, travelers from far and wide come to purchase things that otherwise cannot be found. The main products sold are magical plants and herbs for the creation of healing and restorative potions. Some of these plants can also be used to make high quality inks for mundane and magical scrolls.

The garden where these plants grow has been magicked to allow production all year round. Since the gardens are very nearly in the center of the city and have virtually zero physical defenses, the druids, clerics and magic users who tend the garden need special eldritch defenses.

Typically, druids answer the call as frontline defenders, their magic is more subtle than magic users and clerics. However this is a general guideline, not the rule. The druids of Nace have developed a devastating area of effect spell, which does not damage the garden. They do not know the term "upward leader lightning", but they do know how to make lightning jump from the ground, through a target and into the sky. They call this Arclight.


Level: 6                                                                                                    Components: V, S, M
Range: 0                                                                                                   Casting time: 2 segments
Duration: Instant                                                                                      Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: 10 yards

Arclight is a powerful spell which will cause a lightning stroke to leap from the ground below a target and into the sky. This spell is an area effect spell which is targeted on the ground below the target and does not move with the target. The spell has two damaging mechanisms, both allows a saving throw.

In the first segment of casting, a powerful electric charge forms below the target. They will sense this by the heating of their body, a corona around metal objects and a crackling sound. All creatures in the area of effect are entitled to a save vs spells. If successful, the target(s) flings themselves out of the target area taking 1d3 points of damage. They are stunned for one round and are prone. If unsuccessful, the target freezes taking no damage.

In the second segment of casting, the lightning discharges. Victims in the area of effect take 6d6 points of damage. A second saving throw halves the damage. If the victim doesn't die, they are stunned for 1d6 rounds.

If a person in the target area is flying, they can escape with no damage if they make the first saving throw. If they are forced to make the second saving throw, they will also fall out of the sky due to being stunned. This is typically a graceful wallowing, not a plunge and inflicts no more damage.

Levitation provides no protection from this spell, in fact, it will disallow ALL saving throws, period.

If a target normally or magically has the ability to leap, bound or stride great distances, they are entitled to a +2 to each save. This is normally limited to haste and jump spells, boots of striding and leaping or other items available in your campaign setting.

Since the boundary of the area is not visible, mechanically speaking, someone sprinting will be unlikely to be in the area of effect, unless they are incredibly unlucky. It is very difficult to target a runner, but it is possible to cast at an empty area and hope someone will run into it. This requires great timing, there is no roll for this. The DM should give the target the benefit of the doubt, either adding a good bonus to a save or declaring that they crossed the area too fast to be caught in the spell. It is possible to measure out the movement, but really is too complex for fast play. It could be described for dramatic purposes.

If a person standing on the edge of the area attempts to push someone back into the area they are escaping, contact with the victim will cause them to suffer the same fate as the person pushed. They are not entitled to any saving throw, they take the exact same damage as the victim. This is the price of being a jerk.

This spell does not damage non-living things, however it will damage undead. It does not cause flammable items to burst into flames, unless the DM rules that it does.

Additionally, if the caster attempts put themselves in the area of effect, the caster receive no saving throws at all and the damage will be a full and flat 36 points.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

AD&D Druid Spell - Bolt from the Blue

In my campaign, the druids of the City of Nace need an offensive spell that does not damage property. Bolt from the Blue is it. The Gardens contain many magical crops used by the Empire. Due to the healing nature of these items and the unique environment required for the plants, the Empire uses them as a both a good will item and a soak for their enemies.

The Empire is often on the edge of war with both the Dwarves and Elves. These products allow the Empire to bribe off their opponents with magic or sell them at a premium to the same to divert funds away from the war machine. The Elves and Dwarves use the price of said items as a means of measuring the Empire's war drive. Low prices tend to indicate the Empire is NOT willing to be aggressive and may be facing some sort of other threat. The Dwarves have no comparable magic, while the Elves do. Cost of shipping from the Elven homeland makes the human Empire's market work.

Bolt from the Blue

Level: 5                                                                                                    Components: V, S, M
Range: 0                                                                                                   Casting time: One segment
Duration: Instant                                                                                      Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: One creature

Bolt from the Blue is a precision lightning spell, which only hits one target. It can only be cast outside and requires no visible storm or cloud. A bolt of lightning streaks to the target, almost horizontally from the horizon. The bolt will avoid all other objects and creatures to strike the target. It will not damage non-living items, however, it can be used on the undead.

The bolt does 2d12 and will stun, deafen and blind a creature for 1d6 rounds. If the victim makes a saving throw, they take half damage and are only stunned deafened and blinded for 1d3 rounds. Each one of these effects has a separate duration, so someone could be stunned for a round, deafened for three and blinded for 6 rounds. All durations start at the moment of the strike and run concurrently. There is a chance that someone will be stunned longer than they are blinded, rendering that status moot.

Additionally, if a saving throw is made, the target will have at least one hit point left. It is an excellent and humbling negotiation tactic.

The spell has an odd side effect on other spells and casters. The bolt causes short term memory loss. If a spell caster is struck while preparing a spell, they do not lose the spell. The caster forgets that they ever made the attempt to cast whatever spell they had in mind and can attempt to cast it again. If someone struck is subject to a charm like effect, and they survive the strike, they are immediately allowed a saving throw vs. that charm. If a character is wielding a cursed weapon is struck, there is a 50-50 chance that they will drop it and have the presence of mind NOT to pick it back up. This is a single roll, not two rolls.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The South-Western Woes and Rues

The city of Nace is a fair city, one that sees travelers come from all over the Peninsula to trade for magical goods. It is the second city of the Empire, only surpassed by the Capital itself. However, it is not without it's own troubles.

A Worldographer map of the South West Corner of Nace. 
Unlike the Capital, this city was of entirely human design. The Empire has been building cities for centuries, but usually with the assistance of gnomes. Since the city was built to meet the needs of those fleeing the Port after a particularly hard hurricane season, there was no time to send for the gnomish guilds. From the base camp, the two main roads were extended 360 yards north and south, east and west. Each road was 30 feet wide slashing the town into 64 (technically, less than that.) even squares. As the walls were built, the aqueduct was brought into the east side of the city.



Under the South-Western walls was thick layer of clay which the engineers covered with stone to support the roads, walls and towers. Some careless planning caused the fountains and cisterns to be irregularly placed on the north side of the city. Compacting the clay soils walls caused the natural flow of water to be disrupted which was exacerbated by the incorrect placement of water features. The backwash flooded the south-western side of the city. The walls held, the towers held, but a sea of mud and sewage bubbled up from the roadways, fountains and cisterns.

The town came up with an a hoc solution. Install large gravel filled berms along the western wall to absorb the overflow. In order to do this, the South and West Walls, towers and all needed to be moved back 30 or so feet. It was expensive and it cost the town it's planned regular shape, but it solved the problem.

Now the natural course of the water has not been restored, but floods an area several hundred feet west of the city. That area runs riot with all kinds of flowering plants and shrubs which sweetens the air. Additionally, this area makes travel by wagon and horse difficult, so it also holds off raiders. The trails along the west wall have formed from years of inspection and people venturing out to gather wild berries and flowers.

Since each 30 by 30 area of land is based on the overall planned area of each insula, these areas are overpriced. Additionally, the worry of possible flooding limits those desiring land from building along these walls. As a consequence of this mess, people refer to these walls as "The South-West Woes". Woe Street runs north-south and Rue Street runs East-West along those walls. 

A Worldographer map of the Western gates. In the north eastern corner of each insula should be well or fountain.
Note how irregularly placed they are. 

Towards the center of town, just on the edge of the Forum is an area called Hopper Town. The local brew-masters banded together and purchased much of the land and have planted gardens and orchards to support their trade. Most houses have a small herb garden but the use of large tracts of lands for growing, outside of the city's official gardens, is prohibited. The reason that the brew-masters have gotten away with this is beer. It's a huge tax base and general balm against insurrection.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Science Fiction - 000 Armor

This evening I read Population of Loss and was struck by the character Signalman.

He is a sort of mystical entity in a steampunk world. That is epic.

The image to left is a rendition of suit of armor from a reoccurring dream I used to have in the mid-1990s. While I believe my dream was trying to represent a version of me inside a high tech suit, all of my recollections of it are colored by a demented sort of dream-logic, which can seem a bit mystical.

Being from a dream, the suit does not have a name, but for the purpose of this post, I will call it the 000 Armor.

There are three tanks on this armor. The two tanks on the back of the armor contain a substance which is much colder than absolute zero. It shouldn't make sense, but mathematically, that substance should be hotter than hell while the area around it is intensely cold. To regulate that power, the small tank on the front contains an anti-matter reactor. It doesn't provide power to the suit, it keeps the irrationally cold meta-material in check. That work provides the power to the suit, mostly as an afterthought. The wearer's eyes are closed because he is frozen. Only his brain is working at incredible speeds due the cryogenic coursing through him.   

Being frozen, moving fingers are impossible, so the hands are protected by a pair of cestus-like weapons. The wearer cannot "see" light, but the suit is pouring in data from all across the em-spectrum. Moving in a traditional sense isn't really possible. The suit shambles like a zombie when it has to, but it's main motive power is provided by the super cold, meta-material. The suit possesses a property of non-locality. It simply shifts from one place to another. It can't sit idle, it tends to shift from place to place like the disruption of circular waves on a pond by a second rock. Seemingly random, but not really.

The suit's energy needs are met by the differential of temperature between it and the environment and this is moderated by the anti-matter reactor. Its meant for space but on the surface of a planet, it is barely balanced for basic operations. There is an area of alternating bands of temperature which has tendency of destroying everything around it. Plus, the suit is dumping hard radiation into the environment. Most things which come into close proximity to the 000 Armor are vaporized and rain down as an ash-like material over a vast area.

The suit takes moments to put on, but requires an incredible amount of technology to remove. The process takes weeks and is often fatal. While it can handle air, it has great difficultly when contacting solids, vapors and most especially, liquids. Falling in a body of water can drain the entire suit in short order, killing the occupant.

Should the suit start to fail, the operator can open their eyes. Ominously, the 000 Armor's heads up display will show a series of recordings, usually by loved ones, urging the user to fight to stay alive. You would think that this messages would be a digital and wholly fictional creation, but they are not. The operator is required to attend the recordings, so they understand that they must fight or die in these circumstances. 

The suit is tasked with fighting large robotic entities. Picture a city bus standing on its tail and mounted on top of very large tank in place of the turret. These robots have all manor of lasers, grenades, machine guns and missiles, which can wreck a city block or aircraft carrier in moments. It has 2 dozen missiles which are very peculiar in operation. They lay flat inside the main body and are forced out the top of the robot, at any angle. Picture a vertical launch tube on a submarine that can project a missile in any direction from straight up to completely flat. The robot has a small dead zone around it where the missiles cannot strike. Perhaps 40 meters around. The secondary weapons guard this area.

These weapons are all ineffective against the mobility that the suit provides.

The robot entity contains and carries a massive swarm of locust-like drones, which are supposed to collect data and repair damage. They also provide the motive force for the missile launchers.

It turns out that simply ramming the 000 Armor with drones is more effective than any of the robot's  weapons. In the image, you can see that the armor has been knocked around a bit by the drone swarm. The main reason is the swam can cover an area larger than the suit's non-locality function.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Session 3 preview - North Market

The mapping of my town continues. This is the North Market area, which is "north" of the forum. This area is a mixed use zone, where row houses have popped up in a rather regular way in the North East section of this insula. However, down in the South West quadrant, the row houses are rather rough. 

The southern row houses look ruder because they are older, not because the people that live there are poor. It was a slap-dash build for people looking to get into the city fast. As you can see, there are a couple of rich villas right in with the row houses, separated by some green space. This is just a little off of the center of the city, so its still high society.

I am really loving this software and this style of map. It allows me to cover huge areas quickly, so that I can spend a few minutes mapping each day.

Each area has it's own little story in my mind and I can come back and add details later. I am probably not making the best use of Worldographer using the battlemat like this, but this town is hardly organic. It is relatively sterile and uniform as opposed to a town that sprung up from a chance placement of one house, or town square.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Bird's Eye View of Worldographer Map - City of Nace

I am having a wonderful time with Worldographer, by Inkwell Ideas. I have been kicking out maps for my current campaign using the software. The image below is my campaign map (in progress) for just one city. 

The City of Nace is made up of 64 insula, or blocks. I made a mistake by creating this as a battlemat. My reason was to have square blocks, rather than hexes. By completing a map in this fashion, what I will actually have is 64 individual maps. (Actually, 63 because the forum takes up two insula.) Each insula is 180 yards across, north to south and east to west. By the time I am done, my players will have over a square mile of gaming locations and I will have at least a vague idea of what is happening... everywhere.

I have barely scratched the surface of what Worldographer can do, but I figure this practice will help me master it someday.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

3rd Session Preview Part 2 - Tyranny's End.

This week's update can be blamed on a mistimed cold and an unfortunate swimming adventure. School started back up this week on Tuesday which meant I needed to catch a summer cold on Monday, so I would be completely ready for school. By this morning, I was having trouble breathing regularly, so off to the doctors. I am taking a course of steroids plus some other stuff to fend off the pneumonia and help with laryngitis. In retrospect, swimming with my class on Thursday was not a good idea.

My next gaming session has been delayed until I can speak again. 

So, let me tell you more about the city of Nace. In the previous post, I detailed the Forum and the two insula due south of the center of the city. Today's post is about the first section of the city built, the only two insula surrounded by walls. 

The Empire has herbal products which are not only unique to it, but are the basis of their competitive exports. Verbena is a magic herb that will stanch all wounds, restoring 1d4 hit points. Emperor's Valerian is a deep purple flower that will cure blindness and head injuries, including lost eyes. Flaming Yarrow is the third herb produced solely by the Empire. It restores damaged and decayed teeth, reduces fever and if prepared correctly, can induce sleep. 

These magical plants require a magical ecology to grow. When the town moved from the port to this location, the first insula to be constructed were the magical gardens. Each garden area is protected by a low, 4 foot wall and four arches as entry points. Since these are the only insula in the town with walls of any kind, they are called Palisade North and Palisade South. Collectively, they are called Tyranny's End.  

The North Palisades
The North Palisades contains 3 manor houses or villas for the families who cultivate herb crops in the two gardens, in addition to a small grove of trees to support the growth of mistletoe. The gardens have tiny non-functional houses or follies, to represent a small farm. They are maintained as if they were real as this is a part of the magic of this place.
The South Palisades 
The South Palisades is much the same, except there are 3 houses and one shrine. The Shrine is a memorial to the Defender of the Port Gardens, the druid responsible for maintaining the weather inside the original gardens. Her entire line perished protecting the gardens when they were located in The Fortezza Port di Nace. Without their sacrifice, the largest gardens for these sacred planets would have been destroyed. The new Druid lives in a stone structure at the southeast corner of the South Palisades. 

This druid and her kin employ magics beyond what spellcasters can imagine. To support the gardens, everything except the weather must free within the boundaries of the Palisades. This is the origin of the name "Tyranny's End". 

The walls are not a defense for the gardens, but a warning. The weather is always controlled to the needs of the plants. This would be danger enough inside the confines of the town, but the druid's authority over the weather requires a sacrifice of all other worldly control within the walls. Any agreement wrought by man can be ended here. Emperors have come to the garden to abdicate. Any slave that enters the walls are immediately freed. If horses or other beasts enter, they are no longer the property of anyone. Arranged marriages can be nullified here, but never marriages of the heart or conscience. 

There are interesting cases where animals enter and then return to owners of their own free will. Some of the most epic tales of the Empire revolve around couples attempting to end an arranged marriage here only to find one, the other, or both really loves their partner. If these couples stay together, blessed by the gardens with fame and fortune. 

There is a legal issue for slave owners entering the walls. The magic will instantly set all of their slaves free. Sometimes the owner and slave will receive the same blessing as the couples mentioned above. Technically, it is illegal for a slave owner to set all of his slaves free all at once, but if he or she receives no apparent benefit to it, a blind eye is turned. However, many Usurpers has attempted to reroll fate by setting vast numbers of slaves free. If that becomes apparent, the punishment is always death. 

For slaves entering the gardens, the circumstances are different. If they were ordered to do it by their master, that slave becomes a free client of the former master, a nearly familial relationship where favors are traded back and forth. If the slave enters the garden to escape a cruel master, the authorities will view all that that former slave's statements as absolute fact and WILL legally pursue the master, usually to the most extreme limits of the law. This fact causes the slaveholders of Nace to act on their best behavior. 

There are very few cases where a slave would accidentally enters the gardens. In those rare instances, if the former slave asks forgiveness and it is accepted, they become an adopted family member to the master and both receive a title and small stipend from the Emperor. If the master does not accept the apology then the former slave may, at his or her choice, enter the household of the Emperor as a paid servant or enter the military. This is where the Empire gains many of their trusted messengers. The alternative choice of military service grants a low officer rank. If the slave refuses to ask for forgiveness, he or she is still free but exiled from Nace. The masters of the gardens may provision this person as they see fit, but they cannot accept anything from anyone else in the city. 

The six houses that care for these lands are made up of both hereditary post holders and those who have enter the gardens in an effort to end some sort of loss. Many a widow, orphan and widower have entered the gardens seeking to end the heartache of loss and find salvation in service to these houses. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

On the Same Wavelength

Yes, I wear this cologne
This week, I have been thinking about villains. Personally, I love human or demi-human type villains. People that aren't going to turn into a snake, demon or dragon, because they are worse that any of those things. I also love making the villain equal or lower level than the PCs because the players never think to look down.

Of being on the same wavelength, a new podcast was introduced this week: Adventure Design Sessions. It's hosted by Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor. This week's guest is Joe The Lawyer. You can follow them on MeWe. ADS can be found on Spotify, Anchor and all the great podcasting networks.

Since I am plugging things, why not plug my cologne company? My favorite colognes appear often on my blog, usually for the bottle styling but also for the great, sometimes witty names. My favorites are Villain, Perversion and Whitechapel. My wife wears Bitches Love Unicorns, Eat Me and Cheshire Cat. Check out Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

(This is not a sponsored ad, I just love all of these products.)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Solar System files - Background Information on Unnamed Project

I think I have crossed over to the point where my unnamed project is going to need a name. Its writing itself.

The characters are colonists of the Epsilon Indi system. I collected some data on this solar system, and it does seem to be a real solar system with planets and stuff. Pretty interesting, but also complex.

As of right now, Epsilon Indi has 3 known objects in orbit. There are a pair of brown dwarfs at 1460 AU from the star and hints that a Jupiter-like planet orbits the star. The most recent data indicates this Jupiter Analog is between 8.5 and 16 or 17 AU from its host star.

Heaven help me if they discover more companions to this star, because I went and invented a bunch of my own.

This is a chart of my fictional system:

This chart obviously has no scale and is wildly different than the actual system. I decided that the colonists have named the planets after Roman gods, specifically from the list Di selecti by Varro. The brown dwarfs are named after Sabine gods, as Varro was of Sabine descent. This has created an in-universe problem where if the colonies wish to continue the practice, they must reuse some names of the Earth's Solar System. That would be confusing, so the naming process stopped at the seventh planet. 

The characters are bound for the eighth unnamed planet. Their ship's AI thinks that the humans are being dumb and cheekily names the eighth and ninth planets Urbian-Adams and Kawal, for astronomers responsible for discoveries in our Solar System. It wouldn't do to have an adventure around an unnamed planet. 

The system is full of tiny planets, only Iuno Regina, the Jupiter Analog and Urbian-Adams are bigger than Earth. The smaller bodies in grey are airless. The blue body is Terra Mater. It has a earth-like atmosphere, made up of CO2 and nitrogen. There is a small moon, Bacchus which has a very dense nitrogen based atmosphere at a higher pressure than Earth's. 

If you would like to use this template for your writing or your games, feel free to download the Google Drawing from my drive. Or in plain text,