Thursday, 8 November 2012

NPCs of Ironmarket part 2

These non-player characters are all found in and around the city of Ironmarket in the Godsblood Straits region.

Arrack Highhand
10th level thief, align Chaotic, male
Str 10, Int 13, Wis 13, Dex 16, Con 11, Cha 16
AC 1, Move 120', HP 31, THAC0  14 (sword) or 14 (bow) Att 1 sword for 1d6+2  or 1 arrow for 1d6, Ml 8
Equipment: Leather Armour +2, Shortsword +2, Shortbow, quiver & 20 arrows, Ring of Protection +2, 3x potion of healing, Thieves Tools, 50' rope + grappling hook, crowbar
Arrack Highhand is both the leader of the local gang of thieves and the top local agent of the Red Hand. He will monitor but not move against PCs who disrupt Red Hand activities elsewhere, unless told to by his superiors. When left to his own devices he is greedy, ambitious and dominating. He seeks to turn the "Burglars' Guild" into a proper Thieves Guild, achieve dominance over other Red Hand members in Ironmarket and make lots of money in the process.
Appearance: Arrack is tall and thin (6'3" and 120lb) with short dark hair, clean-shaven  and a pinched, drawn face that makes him look almost emaciated. He wears a dark brown leather jerkin studded with dull iron rivets and his shortsword buckled on nearly all the time. His voice is deep and growly and it sounds very menacing when he wants to be. 

Velipnar the Zealous
7th level cleric, align Neutral, male,
Str 8, Int 14, Wis 14, Dex 10, Con 13, Cha 10
AC 2, Move 90', HP 26, THAC0  17, Att 1 warhammer for 1d6 or spell, Ml 10, 
Equipment: Chain Mail +1, Shield +1, Warhammer +1, Holy Symbol, 2 vials of holy water
Spells: Detect Magic x2, Cure Light Wounds, Light, Hold Person, Silence 15' radius, Find Traps, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Cure Serious Wounds 
Velpinar is in charge of a shrine to Khazep in Ironmarket, and keeps in contact with members on the Town Council (namely both the Clerics' Representative and the Mages Representative). Velipnar has visited the Students of Gerontium in Maquosmouth, and believes they are worth helping. He will often try to drum up support for their fight in Ironmarket, though so far without much success. He has a friendly rivalry with the churches of Law in town.
Appearance: Velipnar is 5'9", and average weight. He has short brown hair and has a moustache and sideburns, and grey eyes. Most of the time Velipnar is relaxed and jovial, wearing his clerical vestments around town, but if he is either expecting trouble or wanting to impress, he will wear his chain mail underneath his clerical robe. 

Garraville Shrelk
4th level thief, align Chaotic, male
Str 8, Int 16, Wis 13, Dex 15, Con 8, Cha 8
AC 6, Move 120', HP 8. THAC0 18, Att 1 dagger for 1d4, backstab THAC0 14, dam 2d4, Ml 6 
Equipment: Robe of Protection +1, Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Potion of Invisibility
Garraville is an unpopular moneylender in Ironmarket who is also a member of the Red Hand. He is aware of Arrack Highhand, and avoids him when possible. Garraville sometimes gets debtors to repay him with questionable or even illegal favours when they can't produce the cash. Garraville does not like getting violent with debtors - he has plenty of contacts with street gangs who can do it for him.
Appearance: Garraville is 5'4", 95lb  and really not much to look at. He has a face that bears likeness of both a rat and a vulture, with a large hooked nose and crooked teeth. His hair is a dull grey and there is a bald patch on the top of his head. He will usually dress in cheap merchant clothes, usually dark grey or black. 

Lieutenant Vandergrun
5th level fighter, align Neutral, male
Str 16, Int 10, Wis 7, Dex 11, Con 14, Cha 13
AC 2, Move 60',  HP 40, THAC0 13, Att 1 sword for 1d8+3, Ml 10
Equipment: Plate Mail, Sword +1, Shield, Light Crossbow, case with 20 bolts
Vandergrun is a lieutenant in the Ironmarket town guard. He is heavily in debt due to an ongoing gambling problem, and has borrowed money from unsavoury sources, including Garraville Shrelk. He is now basically in Shrelk's pocket, albeit grudgingly so. Most of the time he is a tough and effective law enforcer. However, when Shrelk or money is involved, he becomes extremely untrustworthy and duplicitous. Vandergrun knows he's in a really difficult situation, but his instincts are to cover it up and hope that no-one knows what's going on. After all, he doesn't want to lose his job or his rank over this.
Appearance: Vandergrun is a heroic figure, 6'3", 200lb (most of it muscle) and a thick black mane of hair with a large black handlebar moustache and heavy black eyebrows. He has several scars, including one on his neck and another on his left forearm and back of the hand. He is usually in uniform (plate mail with an Ironmarket tabard over the top) and always armed. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Ruined Town of Brasstooth

Brasstooth used to be a bustling Toutian town of 2300 people, near to the provincial capital of Teiglin, Erkhart. During the Summoning, that all changed. The majority fled westwards, away from Erkhart and the Chaos Portal that was spewing out monsters. Some were caught and killed by the monsters.
A group of about 60 villagers fled into a small wood just outside Brasstooth and asked a powerful elf spellsword (called Gerrillion)  for help. His answer was to transform them into trees with a Massmorph spell. Since Gerrillion lived in a wood, the transformed townsfolk are now indistinguishable from the normal trees. Massmorph has no time limit, and as such they have remained as trees, in a sort of deep slumber, for nearly 50 years. Gerrillion has since moved to Glensor Town and he still remembers the incident. He honestly believes that he did the best he could as at the moment the townsfolk are still fairly safe as long as the monsters don't start chopping down trees. However, if the Massmorph spell is dispelled, there would be 60 confused and helpless non-combatant humans in the middle of the monster-infested lands of Chaos.
Escorting them 30 miles to Castellan Keep (which in itself is really only a temporary stop, not an end of their journey) would require plenty of soldiers and supplies (food and water) if it is not to turn into a massacre that has been merely delayed for 50 years. One adventure hook is if a brother of one of the townsfolk wants to have closure about what happened to his brother and asks the PCs to investigate. They fled Brasstooth 50 years ago in different directions, with his brother saying he was going to ask the elf "wizard" for help.
The town itself is not that interesting. It was not walled or fortified, just a sprawl around a crossroads and a marketplace. There is no Chaos Portal within the town, but plenty of monsters from Erkhart have wandered over here as the ruined capital is quite crowded.  
There seem to be two main camps - a band of ogres who have dominated a small tribe of hobgoblins, and wererats who have allied with both human chaos cultists and kobolds. The ogres and hobgoblins have taken over the surface buildings in the centre of town, including the desecrated church of Sestarna, the mayor's house and the town hall. The kobolds and wererats have taken over the sewers and cellars, and have been industrious in tunnelling under Brasstooth. The human cultists worship Pelepton and believe the wererats have been blessed by the treacherous deity.
 Beyond these two groups there are individual monsters and small clusters, including a lone owlbear that wanders the streets at night, several ghouls that seek to pick off careless humanoids and a single troll who the ogres are trying to persuade to join them. 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

An Overview Map of Kaelaross

This map shows the four Empires at their height, just as the Wars between the Empires broke out.
In the Northeast is Toutus, the yellow border showing the extent claimed (not necessarily controlled) by the empire. 
In the Northwest is Bursia with the red border
In the Southeast is Bellenos with the magenta pink border. 
In the Southwest is Telthus, which has not been described yet. I'm thinking about leaving this only outlined for anyone else to fill in. 
The areas already detailed in this blog (the Kingdom of Teiglin, the Godsblood Straits and Walrus Freehold) are in the boxed areas on the west coast of Toutus.
In the south of Bellenos there is the region that contains Tekhumis the Desert Port
As can be seen from the map, the Empires, though great, did not cover the whole of the surface of Kaelaross - large areas are unclaimed. Some of this is uninhabitable wilderness, others dominated by barbarian tribes and a few places there are small, independent realms that refused to be dominated by any of the four empires.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Dungeon of the Month October 2012

The Fungal Caverns
This is a short adventure using the B/X D&D or Labyrinth Lord rules, for characters of levels 4-6

This is a corner of the Underworld, relatively close to the surface. It benefits from several small aquifer springs that supply the pools on the map with a steady supply of water. This in turn allows numerous fungi to grow in the caverns (shown on the map as green dots), giving the caverns their own ecosystem.

The PCs may find themselves in the caverns for a variety of reasons: they got lost, they are curious or they have been sent there to collect samples of strange fungi not seen on the surface, or to look for a dwarven cleric who has been missing for quite a few months.

1) Empty

2) 8 cave locusts (also known as Subterranean Locusts in LL, hp 3, 10, 12, 10, 8. 7, 8, 10) feeding on a large patch of fungi. Anyone entering the patch of fungi will cause the locusts to panic, jumping about into the party and spitting at anything non-locust.
The patch of fungi includes several large goldencaps and cave clover.

3) 2 Tarantella spiders (hp 25, 20). Unlike some tarantellas, these specimens can climb on walls and ceilings with ease (90'). They will be encountered on the ceiling of this cave, among the stalactites. They will attack anything that looks vaguely like prey. Among the remains of partially devoured white apes and fire beetles there is a deceased dwarf wearing dirty but serviceable leather armour +2 and has a  non-magical silver and garnet ring worth 400gp and a silver and jade necklace worth 600gp. .

4) 7 white apes (also known as albino apes in LL, hp 9, 18, 31, 21, 22, 17, 17) browsing on the fungi, particularly goblincorn. There are also 4 young apes (hp 3, 4, 2) which are non-combatant. These apes are defensive and will only attack if they feel threatened. If the PCs enter the area but do not attack or approach too close the apes will hoot and grunt and the dominant male will beat his chest, but the apes won't attack first.

5) The Grand Cavern. This area has a high, vaulted ceiling with large stalactites and stalagmites. There are several sub-areas.
  5a) 3 gray oozes (hp 10, 7, 10) all lurk in this pool. Anyone either entering or touching the water will be attacked. The oozes have gradually digested all metal and organic matter of their prey, leaving just minerals. In this case these are 4 topazes (worth 800gp, 400gp, 300gp and 150gp), 3 rubies (worth 1600gp, 750gp and 500gp) and 2 aquamarines (worth 200gp and 150gp)
  5b) 1 giant python (hp 22) lives in this pool. It will ambush anyone approaching it except Meldrew the dwarf cleric.
  5c) 1 dwarf cleric, 4th level. Meldrew got lost in the underworld and has somehow wound up here. He would very much appreciate any help getting back to his clan (XP value could be for rescuing rather than killing him). Meldrew has spent at least a year underground, and has lost his mind a bit, though he has not lost his clerical spells. He has used the Speak with Animal spell on a wide variety of inanimate objects and ended up in prolonged conversations with stalactites and fungi. In actual fact he is on good terms with the white apes in area 4, and has persuaded the giant python that he is not edible.
Meldrew has constructed a crude hideout from the stalks of the larger fungi.
Meldrew: AC 8, Move 60' hp 20, THAC0 17, Att 1 warhammer for 1d8+1, Ml 10, Align Neutral, XP value 135xp
Str 10, Int 8, Wis 15, Dex 10, Con 13, Cha 10
Equipment: Warhammer +1, leather armour, wooden holy symbol, 14sp
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Protection from Evil, Speak with Animal

6) The Long Cave. This cave, rather than having a proper ceiling, has the two walls sloping upwards to meet each other about 40' above the cave floor.
  6a) There are numerous types of mundane fungi at the northern end, including Goldencaps, Greenshrub and Goblincorn. However, there are some nasty surprises hidden in this patch, and only PCs who are looking for unusual fungi have a chance (Int check) to spot 2 shriekers (hp 15, 15) each covered in a patch of yellow mold (hp 4, 7). As per normal the shriekers will begin shrieking if they detect light or movement within 30ft. This will alert both the ochre jelly in area 6b (70% chance to investigate and attack), the adult owlbears in area 7 (50% chance to investigate and attack) and the white apes in area 4 (40% chance to investigate, but unlikely to attack). Any attack against the shriekers has a 50% chance per hit of causing the yellow mold to release its spores in a 10'x10'x10' cube.
  6b) 1 ochre jelly (hp 21) is on the wall of this corner. It will lash out and attack any animal or person that approaches.

7) This large cavern smells of guano and rotten meat. It has a high vaulted ceiling and there is a patch of luminous fungi (Cavern Puffballs and Magentastalks) that can mess up infravision. 2 adult owlbears (hp 18, 24) + 3 young owlbears (HD 2, half damage, no hug damage, hp 14, 4, 10). The adult owlbears will fight to the death, while the young ones will try to flee if the parents are slain. The owlbears here have created a nest out of bones, broken pieces of fungi and fur. Buried under the detritus is a sack of 4300gp and a single diamond worth 1500gp plus a Ring of Command Plants (which can conveniently also command fungi).

8) 2 carrion crawlers (also known as Carcass Scavengers in LL, hp 21, 14) are feasting on the remains of 4 white apes they have paralyzed and slain.

9) 1 Caecilian (also known as a Gray Worm in LL, hp 28) is lurking in the pool, waiting to ambush any approaching creature. It has resorted to eating fungi  (there are plenty in this cave) but it is eager for fresh meat. Inside its stomach are various gastroliths, including 13 gems worth 500gp, 500gp, 450gp, 400gp, 400gp, 350gp, 350gp, 300gp, 300gp, 250gp, 250gp, 200gp & 200gp.

10)  2 rhagodessas (hp 18, 20) are climbing along the walls and ceiling of this large cave, and they will attack anything vaguely edible.
  a) 6 giant fire beetles (hp 8, 10, 5, 10, 8, 5) are feeding on the cave clover and magentastalks that grow densely in the northern half of this cave. These fire beetles will not attack other creatures out of hand, they will only fight to defend themselves.

11) This cavern is littered with unusual rock formations, including what appear to be statues of an owlbear, two apes and two giant beetles. Poking out of the water is the statue of what seems to be a large crocodile with its jaws agape. Anyone aware that some monsters can turn enemies to stone can work out that these "statues" were once alive.
  a) This is a patch of different fungi species, including goldencaps, goblincorn and cave puffballs. Hiding among the fungi is 1 cockatrice (hp 19). It will try to wait until the PCs get in amongst the fungi so that it can get straight into melee where its deadly touch can be used. In one corner of the fungus patch, the cockatrice has made a nest in which it has stashed all its glittering baubles, including 520pp, 1400gp and 2600sp plus a Scroll of Protection against Undead.

Monster XP values & treasure totals
#2 304xp
#3 270xp, 1000gp
#4 560xp
#5a 240xp, 4850gp
#5b 350xp
#5c 135xp
#6a 206xp
#6b 500xp
#7 770xp, 5800gp
#8 270xp
#9 570xp, 4450gp
#10 430xp
#10a 90xp
#11a 350xp, 4260gp
Total= 5045xp, 19960gp

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Fungi of the Underworld

Fungi are the basic producers of food in the Underworld. All organic life that does not get food from the surface will get its food directly or indirectly from fungi. 
There are hundreds of types of fungi, each with its own role in the ecology of the underground. Similar to surface plants, fungi can occupy a range of environments, but generally speaking they flourish when they have both water and soil or fertilizer. Unlike surface plants, the fungi do not need sunlight. Some sages speculate that whereas surface plants draw energy to grow from sunlight, these fungi draw energy from the darkness - the darker it is, the better the fungi grow. 

Goldencap is a large, tough fungus that is inedible to humans but eaten by herbivores of the Underworld. When disturbed, it releases a cloud of spores like dust or flour which is irritating but not dangerous. 
Cavern Puffballs are often taller than a human. They are inedible to most creatures. but their ball on top of their ridged stalks will glow with a soft yellow light. This will interfere with infravision, but allows humans to see as if in candlelight or moonlight. Some races cultivate it as a form of communal lighting. Also there is a solid core in the heart of the stalk that, when dried and prepared, is similar in strength and weight to a wooden stick. This is very useful in making hafted weapons and tools and even furniture. 
Greenshrub looks superficially similar to surface plants and it can grow using sunlight as well as darkness. The caps are edible to humans and the whole fungus is edible to both Underworld and surface herbivores - mules and horses can be fed indefinitely on Greenshrub. 

Goblincorn grows easily and is eaten by goblins when meat is not available. Humans and demihumans find it bitter but just about edible. It also has a very useful property in that it absorbs bad gasses and releases fresh air. Other fungi may do this on a lesser basis, but it is quite noticeable with Goblincorn. 
Wormwort grows from ceilings and walls in a tentacle-like fashion. It is edible and tasty for humans and many other creatures but gathering it can be a challenge. Dwarves know how to use Wormwort in brewing their own ale when surface barley and hops are not available. 
Cave Clover is common fodder for herbivores. Its cap is split into three or four sections by deep clefts. It is quite hardy and can survive in drier caverns with less nutrients than other fungal species. It is often on the outskirts of fungal forests or in patches on its own. 
Magentastalk is inedible but when dried its tough fibrous stalk can be used to make a rough, hemp-like rope. It also glows with a pinkish light about the same intensity as candlelight or moonlight. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Walruses of Walrus Channel

(Picture from Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977))

Name Walrus, Normal Walrus, Giant
No. Encountered 2d10 1d4
Alignment Unaligned Unaligned
Movement 30'/swim 120' 30'/swim 120'
Armour Class 7 5
Hit Dice 4+8 (26 hp) 10+20 (65 hp)
Attacks 1 tusk 1 tusk
THAC0 15 11
Damage 1d8 2d10
Save As F2 F5
Hoard Class Special (see below) Special (see below)
Size Medium Large
Type Animal Animal
Intelligence 1-2 (Animal)1-2 (Animal)
XP Value 140xp 1000xp
These animals are not normally aggressive towards humans. They are marine mammals similar to seals and sealions, and they feed on crustaceans that dwell on the rocks of shallow, cold seas such as the Walrus Channel. Normal walruses will try to escape into the sea if possible rather than fight, and will only pose a threat if cornered. Giant walruses are less easily scared, and if faced with just one or two humanoids, the walrus may well decide to defend itself. A family of three or four giant walruses can chase off even a polar bear.
Walruses have long tusks (up to 3' long in normal walruses, 6' long in giant walruses) which are used both to defend themselves and fight for mates and also dig holes in the pack ice so that they can breathe when the sea is frozen over. Unfortunately for the walruses, these tusks are good-quality ivory, and are sought after by humans and other intelligent hunters. Normal walrus ivory tusks are worth 1d4 x 50gp each while giant walrus tusks are worth 1d6 x 100gp each. This alone makes them worth hunting, but many hunters are also efficient enough to butcher the animals for their meat (as much as a cow or large pig) and hide (which can be tanned to make effective leather armour). As such they have become an important part of the economy of Walrus City.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Independent County of Iryanland

Iryanland is a region of Toutus on the west coast, immediately north of the Godsblood Straits, and several hundred miles south of the Walrus Freehold

During the latter stages of the Wars between the Empires, the Count of Iryanland proclaimed that he would no longer fight for the Emperor of Toutus and that Iryanland was neutral and independent. The county had already received a battering during the wars from invading enemies, but the count still had an honour guard of 200 troops, and using these he fended off Toutian, Bursian, Telthian and monstrous incursions. These honour guards were soon bolstered by deserters fed up with the war and other Toutians fleeing the Emperor's wrath. It came through after the Summoning weakened but intact, which was better than most of its neighbours and the Toutus Empire (which completely collapsed as a coherent entity).
The present count, Count Carnovon, is the great nephew of Count Barastin who proclaimed independence. His court advisors include two wizards, two clerics, two merchants and four generals.
Iryanland is relatively stable and peaceful. It has some problems with wild frontiers but is otherwise a safe, lawful place. Its economy of agriculture and trade supports 125,000 people and a standing army of 2000, including 2 regiments of 300 longbowmen each, a 400 strong heavy cavalry regiment 200 light cavalry and three regiments of heavy infantry.

Heriston, City of Cynics
Heriston was an important Toutian port city overrun by armies and then monsters and left for dead. It is amazing that it recovered, but this can be in part attributed to Iryanland's need for a usable sea port. The port flourished and proclaimed independence from Iryanland which was too busy defending its own borders to do much except protest. It is less safe than Iryanland and law enforcement is haphazard. The 60,000 strong population rely on fishing and external trade.
Heriston has acquired its unusual epithet because of its angry and ruthless attitude towards clerics. Worshipping gods is not allowed in Heriston, and clerics face the death penalty if caught preaching. 

The Border Baronies
These states were formed as the Count of Iryanland paid off restless mercenaries and shifted refugees by giving them licenses to settle and expand the borders with the rest of the Empire.
Like other borderlands, the baronies are not really cosmopolitan or under full control. The federation between the barons is a loose one and inter-baronial conflicts are common, as are monstrous raids.
The economy is based on sheep, cattle, furs and timber. The small population of 15,000 people are all trained with weapons of some sort and in times of great need a militia of 3000 can be raised.

The Clanhold of Duradin
The Duradin had suffered raids and losses from the wars when Iryanland declared its independence. The Thane of the Duradin Clan quickly followed suite, recalling any of its warriors it could contact. Iryanland and Duradin became allies and much of Duradin's food now comes from Iryanland. In return, Duradin shields Iryanland's eastern border from various incursions. Of its 18,000 inhabitants, about 6000 are warriors.

Trade between Duradin, Iryanland, Heriston and the Baronies is vigorous, with many dwarf-forged armour and weapons and dwarf-brewed ales traveling across the region to paying customers.

Astarril County
This realm collapsed during the Summoning. It was spread across the north coast of Mackerel Bay and Khorid Island. During the Summoning Khorid Island was shattered by a massive earthquake, that both leveled the main city of Mostor and also split the island into three smaller isles. Further north the city of Telverhain was invaded by monsters as a Chaos Portal opened up in the city. These chaotic monsters overran the County, and now it is against these monsters from Telverhain that the Border Barons stand guard. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Map of Bursia

This post follows on from Bursia - the Human Empire.
Unlike previous maps of Toutus and Bellenos, I have completely filled in the physical geography.
For ease of comparison the map is to the same scale as that for both the Bellenos and Toutus maps.
If I have the time and patience, I may detail each boxed region separately in a similar way to Toutus being split up into manageable regions such as Teiglin, Walrus Freehold, and the like.
The red dots are all city-states, though which ones have survived the Summoning and which have collapsed into ruin has not been decided yet. The three metropolises (previously over 100,000 inhabitants each at the height of the empire) are the only three city-states to be named on this map - None have survived the Summoning.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Notes about Bursia

This post is a follow-on from the  first post, Bursia, the Human Empire

Athletic and Gladiatorial Games
Sports and games were an important part of Bursian life. In the early days this was athletics, including running, javelin throwing, archery and wrestling. However, this evolved (degenerated?) into the far more brutal and bloody gladiatorial games, where humans (usually prisoners of war and condemned criminals) were pitted against monsters, wild beasts or each other. Since the Summoning, the surviving city-states do not have the resources to put on this sort of spectacle regularly, but every Bursian city has (or had) an arena or circus for sports and shows. This sort of bloodthirsty entertainment still ousts theatre and athletics out of the spotlight when there is a surplus of criminals or captured enemies.

Social Classes and Slavery 

Strictly speaking, there are no nobles or royalty in Bursia. Early during the age of city-states the last kings were overthrown. However, the Emperor has become a king in all but name. The most notable difference is that the bloodline is less important, as adopted sons and occasional elected Emperors demonstrate. Similarly, there are no aristocrats, but there are patricians - wealthy merchants, retired generals, political advisors and land-owners from whose ranks senators are elected. 

Social stratas were not tightly fixed, and there was some meritocracy. A talented labourer could become an artisan, an artisan skilled at business could become a merchant. A merchant good with social skills could become a patrician. A patrician with political nous could become a senator. And a senator who offers strong leadership when the Empire is in trouble could become the Emperor. Such social climbing would be unthinkable in Toutus.

Slavery has a history in Burisa - right through its early days of city states, republic and first empire, slaves were the principle hard labour force of the Bursian Empire, rowing galleys, working in mines, tilling the fields and providing the brute strength for construction. However, during the Age of Tetrarchs, the abolition of slavery became a matter of heated debate. In the following Tetrarch War, slavery and its abolition was at stake, and the victor of the war, Emperor Aurelius, abolished it in BY 564.
However, since the Summoning and the collapse of the Empire, some surviving settlements, even city-states, have re-introduced slavery, particularly those with an influx of homeless refugees. For those surviving settlements that have not done so, this is an affront to their values, and this could lead to war.

The Academies
The Academies were a vital part of Bursian life, and where city-states have survived the Summoning, they still play a role. Academies started off as schools, and still perform that function. They then developed into centres of learning and research – philosophy, law, history, nature and the like. Some of the greatest thinkers of the ancient world were attracted to the great academies of the larger city-states even before Bursia became a republic. Academies then started to include the study of magic, and mages joined the academies, particularly as the Republic grew and developed. During the first Empire and the Age of the Tetrarchs, the Academies and their scholars (including the mages) stayed politically neutral (and often neutral in alignment as well). However, with the Tetrarch War, Aurelius the Great persuaded the mages of the Academy to become the guardians of stability within the Empire.

Armed Forces
The armed forces of Bursia were organised into legions - self-contained armies about two or three thousand strong, with their own auxiliaries, baggage train, engineers and staff officers. The more recent legions were equipped with banded mail, large shields, javelins and short-swords, but older ones were kitted out with long spears, bronze armour (AC 6) and round shields. These legions saw action in many lands during the Wars Between the Empires, including defending the Bursian homeland. They were renowned for their tight formation and unflinching discipline, often staying silent while their enemies hollered and jeered. The legionaries themselves were all heavy infantry, but their auxiliaries were cavalry, archers and skirmishers, sometimes from different parts of the Empire, sometimes from totally different lands.
Before the rise of the Empire and during its early days, the legions were raised by each city-state. However, after a notorious civil war that nearly caused the end of the Bursian Empire, the legions were kept under strict Imperial control and were often composed of soldiers from different city-states in the same formation.

The navy relied mainly on galleys, powered both by sails and by oars (manned by slaves in the early days). These galleys were not good for wide open oceans (the rowers needed plenty of food and fresh water), but they were effective closer to shore where supplies were more available. The galleys were often more maneuverable when winds were slow.

The Bursians were also great builders - whereas Toutus was renowned for its castles, Bursia built entire cities to precise architectural plans, with its well-known columned fronts, mosaic tiling and beautifully carved friezes, while sanitation was maintained with aqueducts bringing in fresh water, sewers disposing of foul water and bath houses where well-off citizens could stay clean and also relax and chat.


Religion was taken seriously, and magnificent temples were built, but the priests and clerics never had the same level of social or legal authority as in some places (such as Toutus, where the lawful churches give moral and spiritual support to the rulers).  There was also the tendency to worship neutral rather than lawful deities, as Bursia in general was more interested in prosperity and stability than morality or humaneness. Vought, Khazep and Partheusa were all popular, while the clergy of Sestarna and Chelmor complained too much about slavery and gladiator games.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Dungeon of the Month September 2012

The Copper Mine on the Shore
This is a short adventure using the Basic/Expert D&D rules (or Labyrinth Lord if you prefer) for a party of characters levels 3-4. 
This dungeon is an abandoned copper mine close to the sea shore. It is above the reach of normal tides, but powerful storms and unusual tides will wash seawater and some wildlife into the mine. 
The mine was abandoned because of this occasional flooding. That and an invasion of monsters that killed a dozen miners. There are no steps or stairs here because the miners used pit ponies and carts, but there are sloping passages (indicated by arrows on the maps, the arrows pointing down the slope). 

1) 8 giant bats (hp 15, 8, 9, 13, 14,7, 9, 5) that will attack any single intruders but will leave groups alone unless attacked. The room has a high arched ceiling, and the bats hang from cracks and ledges up above any characters.

2) 3 dead bodies of adventurers are on the floor. In a niche half-way up the wall in a corner a gargoyle (hp 22) lurks and it will attack anyone entering, preferably when they are distracted by the dead bodies.
The niche has treasure: a chest contains 2600sp, 620gp, a silver and aqumarine pendant worth 600gp, a vial of expensive perfume worth 250gp (don't mistake it for a potion!) and a potion of healing

3) The rotten remains of a pit pony and its cart are here.

3a) This is the lair of a carrion crawler (a.k.a. carcass scavener in LL, hp 17) that will attack any intruders. Anyone who knows about mining will notice that the rubble and boulders in this collapsed passage contain copper ore.

3b) This dead end is structurally unstable (dwarves have a chance to detect this). There is a shrieker (hp 12) here. If disturbed its shriek has a 50% chance per round of causing a cave-in, causing 2d10 damage to all within the area. The shriek will also attract the carrion crawler from area 3a and the gnolls  from area 4. Like 3a, the rocks in this area contain copper ore.

4) 6 gnolls (hp 8, 13, 6, 15, 12, 6)+ 1 leader gnoll (3 HD, 16 hp, AC 4). The leader has been charmed by the magic user in room 6 but is capable of making his own decisions. Each gnoll has 10gp and the leader has 63gp and 10 pieces of amber worth 50gp each plus a patchwork of chain mail and plate mail that gives him AC 4.

5) 2 giant crabs (hp 20, 14). This chamber is flooded except for a 1' air gap up by the ceiling. The crabs will try to grapple and drown intruders (str check at -4 to break free).

6) 1 magic user (5th level) (AC 9, hp 15, Move 120', THAC0 18 Att 1 dagger or 1 spell, Dam 1d4 or special, Ml 10, Align Chaotic, Int High (14), XP 500).
Spells: Charm Person, Shield, Web, Mirror Image, Fireball
Equipment: Robes, Dagger, Spellbook, Ring of Dimension Door (casts Dimension Door on himself once per hour).
He is an outlaw who has fled civilized lands for his part in a cult of Chaos. He uses a ring of Dimension Door to bypass the crabs and bats, and if a fight is going badly (he kind of relies on the fireball to one-shot enemies) he will try to use the ring to escape, possibly to another part of the copper mine, such as the nagpa in area 11 with whom the magic-user has an understanding if not a proper alliance.
The magic-user has created a cozy den here with a bed with blankets and mattress and a soft armchair (worth 60gp if anyone thinks of salvaging it) and antique carved wooden desk (worth 120gp if salvaged). The desk has a locked drawer with the magic-user's spellbook as well as 320pp and a set of 4 magma stones worth 400gp each.

7) 2 lacedons (aquatic ghouls, hp 14, 9). These look similar to normal ghouls except that they have a cyan-tinge to their skins and have webbing between their fingers and toes. They will fight in the flooded area, and any PC paralyzed by the ghouls will begin to drown. The lacedons are undead, so they do not need to breathe. There is a 1' air gap at the top of the chamber.

8) Pack of 15 giant rats (hp 2 each). These rats will attack any intruders. They guard the lacedons' treasure - a leather sack hanging on a hook out of the reach of the rats. The sack holds 1240gp, four pieces of silver jewelry worth 120gp, 150gp, 60gp and 60gp

9) 1 immature Giant octopus (HD 6, hp 30). This room has no air gap, so drowning becomes even more of a problem for air-breathing PCs. The octopus does not deliberately collect treasure, but a knight of the realm ventured into the mine and was dragged into the octopus' lair by the lacedons. His skeleton is still adorned by plate mail (too chewed up by the octopus' beak to salvage), a shield +2 (adorned with the knight's heraldry), and a sword +1 +2 versus spell casters as well as a mundane dagger and a platinum and spinel medallion around his neck worth 1600gp

10) 3 dead miners with pick axes and buckets scattered around. There is nothing of value or danger here. The narrow part at the far end has a mine face where copper ore is exposed.

11) 1 lesser nagpa, (hp 24) an exile from its tribe. It has an alliance of sorts with the magic-user in area 6. Its magic user spells are Magic Missile, Phantasmal Force, Hold Person. Similar to the magic-user, its lair is furnished, with a brazier with glowing coals, a table with a candelabra with Continual Light cast upon it and a couch (which the nagpa prefers to a human bed). There is a large tapestry, and as long as it is not damaged during any fighting it is worth 220gp. Underneath the couch is a small chest which sits on top of a piece of vellum which has an explosive rune written on it. Reading the explosive rune will cause 6d4+6 damage to all within 10ft radius. Anyone in the blast radius except the reader gets a save vs spells to reduce damage by half.
Inside the chest there is the nagpa's treasure: its spell book (including the Explosive Rune spell, borrowed from AD&D/OSRIC), plus 420pp, 800gp and a circlet of wrought silver and gold worth 1200gp

12)  10 scarlet crabs (hp 5, 5, 2, 2, 1, 7. 7. 5, 2, 1) will swarm attack any intruder. The water here is 4' deep, and humans and elves can keep their heads above water while standing, but dwarves and halflings risk drowning.

13) 3 dead miners and a dead pony. There is nothing of value or danger here.

13a) 1 displacer beast (hp 26, phase tiger if using Labyrinth Lord). PCs looking at the walls will notice numerous patches of copper ore in this tunnel.

Monster XP values (using Labyrinth Lord): #1 160xp. #2 500xp, #3a 135xp, #3b 65xp, #4 174xp + 65xp, #5 100xp, #6 500xp, #7 94xp, #8 90xp, #9 570xp, #11 570xp, #12 100xp, #13a 570xp, total = 3603

Treasure values except magic items: #2 1730gp, #4 623gp, #6 3380gp, #8 1630gp, #9 1600gp, #11 4320gp, total = 13283gp

Monday, 24 September 2012

Bursia - the Human Empire

In the west of Kaelaross, beyond the ocean that borders the western side of Toutus, there is Bursia, the Empire of Humans. For the most-part this racial monopoly is not intentional - humanoids and demihumans simply have not made it to the Bursian landmass in any great numbers. However, there is a streak of xenophobia that means that those humanoids who do make it to the shores of Bursia will not always find a warm welcome - at best they will find themselves treated as curiosities bombarded with awkward questions, at worst treated as non-sentient animals or invading aliens.

A History of The Empire of Bursia
From around -800 BY, humans established a number of nations and city states along the east coast, and until the Wars between the Empires they were gradually colonising westwards across the continent (a map of which is found here) - the further west you go, the less civilised Bursia gets. Cities have often been more important than wide areas of land (such as kingdoms and provinces) and Bursians will often identify themselves as belonging to a city or town rather than a region or kingdom. Cities have always had a level of government of their own, but in later years the city-states became more of a local government, overseen by the Imperial government.
There had been a few cities that were ruled by kings in the early years, but they were often overthrown by popular uprisings. From -205 BY to 0 BY, Bursia was a republic with elected senators from cities meeting in the capital Thoraxis. However, this was never entirely suitable, and when a crisis arose in BY 0 (several city-states wanted to secede from the Republic, forming a rival), the requirement for strong leadership meant that the first Emperor was chosen. The quality of Emperors has varied considerably - the good ones maintained the Empire and established good laws and financed great public works. The bad ones were notoriously despotic, tyrannical and whimsical and on occasions outright insane. The succession evolved from senators being elected as Emperors by their peers to Emperors making their sons senators and directing the senate to elect their sons, to Emperors choosing a worthy successor and adopting them as a son.
During the Bursian Civil War (BY 482 to BY 497) there was a rapid exchange of Emperors as generals seized the Imperial throne with their armies, and were then bloodily overthrown by rival generals. There were over 30 “Emperors” in this civil war, some of whom were murdered after only months in office.
This ended in the rather strange compromise of the Age of the Tetrarchs (BY497 to BY 561), where Bursia was split into four quarters, each ruled by a Tetrarch (effectively an Emperor of a quarter of the Empire). The Age of Tetrarchs collapsed into the Tetrarch War (BY 561-562) but ended when Aurelius the Great re-established the Empire as a whole once again, this time with the backing of the mages of the academies as well as the Senators.

This Second Empire, with the Emperor being backed up by the Senators and the Academies, proved quite stable and survived even through the Wars between the Empires up until the Summoning. Not even the mighty Bursian Empire could withstand the wrath of Bhael, especially after being weakened by the dreadful wars against the other empires. 

After the Summoning
The Bursian Empire collapsed along with Toutus and Bellenos during the Summoning. The chaotic god Bhael opened up numerous Chaos Portals in the middle of cities, and chaotic monsters flooded out, attacking other nearby settlements. It is interesting that hardly any of the chaotic monsters in Bursia are humanoid. Instead, the portals have connected to Planes of Chaos that include many human Chaotic cultists. Thus even the enemies of the Human Empire are humans, rather than humanoids.
The tendency to form society around a city has re-emerged after the Summoning - surviving settlements have formed into city-states, with smaller towns and villages becoming junior partners or vassals to larger, independent cities.

The Continent of Bursia is more than the Empire of Bursia. The Empire still had not colonised the western half of the landmass, and there are huge stretches of wilderness, particularly in the arid, dusty southwest beyond the Greycap Mountains. Not only are there wild beasts and monsters, but also human barbarians. It is interesting that there are no orcs, goblins, gnolls or other such humanoids in this wilderness - men can be just as brutal and savage, and the tribes of western Bursia were just as much enemies of civilization and order as any ogre or kobold.

The follow-on posts to this are Notes on Bursia and a Map of Bursia

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Kaelaross Goes Haywire

I don't know about the rest of the RPG community, but I've come to use the term "Haywire" whenever I go way outside the canon of some setting, and often mix it up with other settings, other games and sometimes even other genres. It is when consistency and believability take a back seat to crazy ideas which may turn out to be silly, or might end up being really cool.

One of my first haywire settings was the Forgotten Realms. This was back in the days of AD&D, and although I certainly liked a lot of the setting (I still do), changes made by TSR at the time (including the Time of Troubles) made me veer away from the official canon. At the same time I had accumulated a lot of gaming material such as the dark red 2nd Ed player's "complete" books, a lot of Dragon Magazines. Thus I decided to use all the strange and cool stuff without worrying too much about what other people would think, or if it would be taken seriously. This was before the days of the Web, and I knew it wouldn't be published. I called the project "Forgotten Realms goes Haywire".

These ideas for Kaelaross going haywire will not be carried forward in this blog, this is just a diversion. Nonetheless, some of the ideas I've had include:

Combining the Mystaran concept of the Hollow World with MAR Barker's Tekumel (Empire of the Petal Throne). If you go down deep enough into the Underworld, you emerge into this bizarre, alien world, where even the plants and animals are foreign. Mighty Empires clash, and political intrigue abounds. The Tekumel gods of Change and Stability are in fact different aspects of the Kaelaross gods of Law and Chaos.

Taking Warhammer ideas about chaos and running ragged with them. Chaos warriors (actually the inspiration for the Traitor Legion), chaos mutation, chaos sorcerers being granted new, vicious spells and many new beasts of Chaos including Chaos Centaurs (who inspired the Winter Centaurs of the Twilight Forest)

An all-human land-mass, possibly Bursia, where characters from non-Tolkien Swords and Sorcery can be found. There are no demihumans found there, and non-humans are viewed with anything from wary suspicion to outright hostility. Here can be found the grand cities of Lankhmar (Fritz Lieber) and Sanctuary (Robert Asprin's Thieves World). Quite a few ideas and characters from RE Howard's Hyboria can also be found here.
(Update - This has now been partially implemented in that Bursia is considered entirely human)

There are mixed-race city-states as well - in what was Bellenos there are now cities that have survived the terrible Summoning, including the City State of the Invincible Overlord, which is across the sea from its rival, the City of the Spire, Ptolus.

Michael Moorcock's Melnibone has fascinated me since I read the Elric series of books. His ideas about Law and Chaos as cosmic forces shaped both early D&D and also Warhammer, and my own ideas about fantasy both directly and indirectly. Maybe the Melniboneans were the near-human aristocracy who ran the Empire of Telthus.

Although there is a map of the west half of Toutus, I have not decided on what the eastern half looks like. Perhaps it looks like the Flanaess (a.k.a. the World of Greyhawk), or maybe the north-east of Toutus includes the land of Blackmoor (Dave Arneson's version, rather than Gary Gygax's), with a rump of the collapsed Toutatian Empire taking the place of the Thonians.

In terms of new rules, anything that is vaguely Swords & Sorcery or High Fantasy is fair game. This would be an ideal opportunity to use all those ideas from Dave Hargreave's Arduin supplements (some of which are completely mad, but that's what going Haywire's about!). Grab and use anything you like the look of. Articles from Dragon Magazine, supplements for other games, even things you've seen on computer games. You want to include the Witch Doctor from Diablo 3 as a character class? Fighting against Quillboars from WoW? And the big bad guy is the Warlock of Firetop Mountain ? Excellent!

Don't forget the Web. As well as the online bookstores, there's a huge amount of free stuff out there, and I'm sure a lot of the bloggers would be pleased to hear their ideas have been used.

My one caveat is this - you may want to keep haywire campaigns separate from your more serious campaigns. Why not roll up some new characters? Take the opportunity to try out some new classes, races or abilities. You like the idea of 3E D&D feats? Go haywire with them. This means if people do get tired of the haywire campaign (it gets too outlandish/silly/overpowered/fanboyish) then the more normal, consistent campaign is not damaged or adversely affected.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Currencies of the Empires

Before the Summoning, each Empire in Kaelaross had its own currency that was the standard across each empire.
Toutatian coins were
  • Platinum Crowns
  • Gold Marks
  • Silver Shillings
  • Copper Pennies
Bellenosian coins were
  • Platinum Doubloons
  • Gold Ducats
  • Silver Florins
  • Copper Centimes
Bursian coins were
  • Platinum Eagles
  • Gold Hawks
  • Silver Ducks
  • Copper Sparrows
Telthian coins were shaped as they were named: 
  • Platinum Hexes
  • Gold Pentagons
  • Silver Squares
  • Copper Triangles
All of these coins were approximately the same weight (1/10th lb) and in other posts (particularly Dungeon of the Month where treasure is detailed) you can use the Imperial currencies to describe coinage. 
The value of precious metals between Empires was about the same, and during peace, merchant would accept foreign Imperial currency with only a small (10%?) exchange rate. Alternatively, ingots of metal were used instead - the value of the coins was not so much because they had been minted by any particular treasury so much as the value of the raw metals, such as the gold. Ingots of 100 coins-worth (10lb weight), 200 coins worth (20lb weight) and up to 500 coins worth (50lb weight) were all used, and as long as the traders could trust the weight and purity of the ingots they saved a lot of coin-counting.  
Promissory notes of payment were never widely used, but were sometimes issued by individual merchants or bankers, rather than governments. Since the collapse of the Empires and much of civilization, these promissory notes are little more than curiosities - it would be rare for one to be honoured and cashed in. 
There were instances of locally minted currency within provinces and conquered territories, particularly when the culture remained distinct from the rest of the Empire. These local currencies need not be in the form of precious metals. The use of gems, clay tablets, livestock or iron coins with promises of payment stamped onto them have all been used. Some of these are really more like barter than money, particularly livestock. 

These days, 50 years after the Summoning, the Imperial currencies are still in circulation, but surviving realms like Teiglin, Klantorr and the Confederacy of the Ten Peaks are producing their own along side Imperial coins, often melting and reminting coins that come into their coffers. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Snakemen of the Underworld: Rattlers

Rattler Snakemen

No. Enc. 1d6 (patrol) or 4d10 (lair)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (Swim 60')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice (hp): 3 (13 hp)
Attack: 1 weapon + 1 bite
THAC0: 17
Damage: 1d8 (weapon)/1d6 (bite) + poison
Save As: F3
Hoard Class: XX1 in lair
Size: Medium
Type: Humanoid
Intelligence: 10-11 (Average)
XP Value: 110 xp
The Rattler is one of the most common classes of snakeman found on Kaelaross. They are often the rank and file of snakeman armies after the non-serpentine spear-fodder.
Rattlers have a venomous bite - anyone hit by a rattler's bite must save vs poison or lose 1d6hp per round over 2d4 rounds. This may be removed by Neutralise Poison or delayed by a Slow Poison spell.
The rattler has a bony rattle on the end of it's tail, and when frightened or angry the rattler will emit a fearsome rattle that chills the bones of its opponents. Anyone hearing this must make a save vs paralyzation.  Those who fail and have 2HD/2 levels or less are paralyzed with fear for 1d6 rounds. Those with more than 2 HD or levels and fail suffer -2 to hit and saves for 1d6 rounds. A target can only be affected by any rattler's tail once per day. Anything immune to mind-affecting spells is also immune to the rattle. 
Rattlers, like other snakemen, are usually found in the Underworld. Very rarely are they found anywhere in actual sunlight, though some find their ways into smaller caves and dungeons. Their coloration varies between different snakeman tribes and cities. but is often mottled grey, golden brown and black, blending in with the stone. They all have 60' infravision and excellent sense of smell (via their forked tongues, which taste the air) and are capable trackers, especially in an underground environment. Rattlers on average are about  5' high and 14' long. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Professions to add flavour to PCs

This is an idea that I have used on occasions, and I suppose in a way it is not that big a change from other folks' use of non-combat skills. Within the game rules for each class there is considerable scope for variation as to culture, lifestyle, earning a living and attitude. These professions are ideas rather than solid game rules for exploring what a member of each class could be. Think of them as character concepts - given the rules for a class, how might such a character fit into a campaign?
My inclination is to not give each profession any special rules, bonuses or penalties. Although I remember and enjoyed 2nd Ed AD&D kits, I want to keep this game as simple as I can. 

  • Infantry - the fighter has been trained to fight on foot in the melee.
  • Archer - the fighter is practiced with the bow, or crossbow. 
  • Cavalry - the fighter knows about fighting from horseback and looking after his steed
  • Engineer - the fighter knows about both building and knocking down structures and fortifications. 
  • Gladiator - the fighter fights to entertain crowds, either for a fee or he has been enslaved. 
  • Bodyguard - the fighter's job is to protect another, vulnerable and important person
  • Trader - the fighter has an understanding of buying and selling goods for profit and heads into dangerous areas to trade
  • Explorer - the fighter frequently sets off far away from civilization to find new resources, new peoples and new territories
  • Militiaman - the fighter has a day job such as woodcutter, blacksmith or stockman, but can pick up weapons and armour when danger arises. 
  • Outlaw - the fighter is effectively a bandit, pirate or highwayman, making his living robbing anyone weaker than him. 
  • Squire - the fighter is of noble birth, and although not yet formally knighted, he still trains with lance, warhorse and heavy armour
  • Barbarian - the fighter is not native to civilization, though he may get used to it. He understands living and fighting in his wild homeland. 

  • Scholar - The magic-user comes from an academic institute, and is familiar with libraries and logical debate
  • Innate Sorcerer - the magic-user has had no formal training but magic seems to flow in his veins. 
  • Consultant Mage - the magic-user uses his knowledge to help and inform others about magic, for a small fee
  • Cult Mage - the magic-user is allied to a secretive sect, and may gain his powers from a dark source
  • Building Mage - The magic-user has powerful spells such as Wall of Stone, Stoneshape, Move Earth and Disintegrate which he uses for construction.
  • Military Mage - The magic-user is used to working along side large numbers of soldiers and using spells on the battlefield
  • Mentalist - the magic-user uses enchantments such as Charm Person and ESP to get inside others' heads, either for criminal or investigative purposes. 
  • Arcane Shadow - The magic-user uses spells such as Invisibility, Knock, Fly and Clairvoyance to sneak around like a thief for stealing or spying 
  • Witch-Doctor - the magic-user is from a primitive society where his powers are held in awe and fear. 
  • Hedge Wizard - The magic-user lives in a small village or out in the countryside, and may help villagers and peasants with minor magics
  • Diplomatic Mage - The magic-user has a good charisma as well as intelligence, and his spells, though kept covert, are useful for influencing people. 

  • Spy - the thief uses his talents to gather information, either for a particular cause, or for the highest bidder
  • Smuggler - the thief is skilled at handling and moving items that authorities want to seize or destroy. 
  • Burglar - the thief breaks into buildings using stealth and agility, usually to steal valuables. 
  • Street Thug - the thief doesn't mind using muscle and intimidation to get what he wants. 
  • Assassin - the thief is a killer for hire, who prefers to use stealth and subtlety to get close to his victim. 
  • Con-Man - the thief talks his way into getting people to hand over their money or other valuables to him before they realise their mistake
  • Trap-Master - the thief is an expert at setting, detecting and removing traps and may be hired to secure an area with traps or to disarm it. 
  • Scout - the thief works outdoors, either scouting ahead of a body of troops or patrolling an area for enemies or unusual changes.  
  • Tomb-Robber - this thief steals from the dead, which should be easier than stealing from the living but often isn't. Traps, undead and vermin are common problems. 
  • Entertainer - the thief uses a combination of acrobatics, juggling and sleight-of-hand to entertain people.  
  • Fence - the thief is ostensibly a merchant, but he is quite happy to buy and sell stolen goods.
  • Missionary - the cleric is sponsored by his church to go into new areas (possibly dangerous ones)  and convert the heathen where possible, establishing new congregations
  • Military Chaplain - the cleric is attached to a military unit and is expected to give spiritual and moral support, as well as healing and other helpful spells. 
  • Hospitaller - the cleric works to help and heal people, regardless of their faith. The hospitaller may have an established place or wander around. 
  • Vicar - The cleric looks after a community in both spiritual matters and in healing and other spells. Depending on his importance, this may be a village, town or city
  • Cultist - The cleric works hidden from authority and may well be a wanted criminal.  The cultist may gather followers around him to establish a power-base
  • Cleric-for-hire - the cleric may have ideals and principles, but these do not stop him from finding employment with whoever pays well. 
  • Inquisitor - the cleric is authorised by his religion to seek out enemies of the faith within the church. This may expand to other crimes and wrong-doings. 
  • Crusader - This cleric leads the fight against enemies of the church. The crusader will be more proactive than the chaplain and less subtle than the inquisitor
  • Ghostslayer - the cleric specialises in hunting down and destroying the undead, probably with his turn undead ability. 
  • Guardian - the cleric is tasked with using his strength and powers to protect an important place such as a shrine, tomb or monastery
  • Vocational Cleric - the cleric looks after and advises those whose work is part of his deity's domains, such as a cleric of Nemesis helping gravediggers, or a cleric of Vought helping sailors and fishermen. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Monsters from the Companion Set

A bit like the previous two posts on the Companion boxed set (first was the Player's Companion, the second was the front half of the Dungeon Masters Companion), I'm going to skim through the next major part of the Companion Boxed set, the Monster section in the Dungeon Masters Companion. Their relevance and usefulness to Kaelaross will be noted.

Beholder: A staple of D&D and its variants at high levels of play. In Kaelaross beholders are associated with Bhael and have come through Chaos Portals from planes of Chaos influenced by Bhael.
Blast Spore: I'm not sure if the AD&D gas spores were a good idea, and I have my doubts about this translation into BECMI D&D. I would say they are not native to Kaelaross but could be summoned if the DM chooses.
Dolphin: Although not strongly lawful, dolphins sometimes find themselves at odds with chaotic sea creatures and are famous for helping humans who have fallen into the water. They are found in seas and oceans all around Kaelaross, including the Walrus Channel and around the coast of Teiglin and the Godsblood Straits.
Dragons, Large and Huge versions of the six main colours. Definitely found dotted around Kaelaross, though not common. As described in an earlier post about dragons..
Dragon Turtle: Already established
Drolem: A very powerful construct. The students of Gerontium would love to get their hands on the formula for creating one of these. The Cynideans reputedly found and recorded this formla but it was lost when their civilisation was buried under the sands of the desert.
Gargantua: These variants of regular monsters are a matter of Chaos and mutation rather than human wizardry. Gargantuan trolls, ogres, minotaurs and hellhounds have been seen around some chaos portals, especially the ones in Aerisport and Maquosmouth
Gremlin: Surprisingly low level for the Companion set. However, these chaotic imp-like critters have originated from the Planes of Chaos, through Chaos Portals and have now spread out over Kaelaross, including civilised places such as Ironmarket, the Sterin Barony and Thaldion in Teiglin.
Golem, Mud: Added to the range of constructs controlled by the Students of Gerontium. Mud Golems are often used for patrolling the Maquos riverbed and estuary.
Golem, Obsidian: Possible, but unremarkable. Most mages creating constructs find other types more interesting or effective.
Grab Grass: As it does no damage, Grab Grass by itself is just an annoyance. Hoever, combining it with other creatures (particularly airborne, missile-using or otherwise avoiding the grass) it can be a nasty part of an ambush or set encounter.
Haunt: All three types are powerful undead intended to challenge high-level characters. Also given their natures, it seems better to say they are found occasionally, but do not have any specific ranges or habitats, although areas where other undead are found is more likely.
Malfera: These semi-demons come from one of the lower planes of Chaos and only rarely emerge from the Chaos Portals.
Manscorpion: Believed to have originally been a splinter-faction of the Cynideans who followed a chaotic god, possibly Slargor. When they were chased into the desert by other Cynideans angered by their bloody worship, Slargor turned them into manscorpions so that they could survive in the desert even when their former culture collapsed.
Manta Ray: These warm-water fishes are not normally found around temperate Toutus, but are more common around Bellenos including Tekhumis.
Mujina: These masters of deception are the creations of Pelepton. Though they have originated on the Planes of Chaos and emerged from Chaos Portals, they have spread out and infiltrated human society. They have been encountered in many different places, including the Walrus Freehold and Tekhumis.
Phantom: These three types of undead (Apparition, Shade and Vision) are all powerful and dangerous enough to rival vampires.
Rock or Cave Toad: This would have been better in either the Basic or Expert set as it is fairly low level, though it's hypnotic gaze sets it apart from more conventional giant toads. Colonies are found in pools, streams and rivers across Toutus (particularly the Twisted Hills) but not Bellenos - it prefers Temperate and Subarctic climates.
Shark: This is an entry that was in the Cook Expert set but not the Mentzer Expert set, so it was included in the Companion set. All three can be found in the seas of Kaelaross. The Great White and Bull Shark prefer warmer waters, while the Mako can be found along the coast of southern Toutus including off the shores of Teiglin and the Godsblood Straits. The Walrus Channel has its own type of shark, the Arctic Shark, that has the same stats as a Great White, but only moves at half the speed (90').
Snow Ape: These chaotic primates are found on high mountains, particularly those with glaciers and snowy caps. There are populations in the Grulven Mountains, the Cortacus Mountains and even some reported in the Valhorrian heights in Klantorr Island.
Spectral Hound: Since the "Dimensional Vortex" is not part of Kaelaross' cosmology, I'm not sure if the spectral hound fits into Kaelaross. If you swap the "Dimensional Vortex" with the Ethereal plane, then Spectral Hounds become more usable.
Spirit: The three types of spirit (Druj, Odic and Revenant) are intended to be even more powerful and challenging than the other types of undead (the Phantom and Haunt). While I would not exclude them, I am not sure exactly where or how they would fit into Kaelaross.
Weasel, Giant: These vicious predators are found in temperate woodlands across Toutus, including the Shorgan and Talloak forests.
Whale: Like the entry for sharks, this was in the Cook Expert set but not in the Mentzer Expert set. All three (Killer Whale, Narwhal, Sperm Whale) are found around Toutus, with the Narwhal preferring the cooler waters of the Walrus Freehold and Varreshiss Islands. Sperm Whales range widely across the deep oceans, and sometimes swim around the islands that used to be the Bellenos Empire.

Planar Creatures
Aerial Servant (Elemental Plane of Air)
Djinni, Greater (Elemental Plane of Air)
Efreeti, Greater (Elemental Plane of Fire)
Elemental (HD 1-32, Any Elemental Plane)
Helion (Elemental Plane of Fire)
Horde (Elemental Plane of Earth)
Hydrax (Elemental Plane of Water)
Kryst (Elemental Plane of Earth)
Plasm (Any Elemental Plane)
Undine (Elemental Plane of Water)
All these creatures are from the elemental planes rather than the planes of Law or Chaos. Since a lot of my posts have focused on the Chaos Portals and the creatures that travel from the Planes of Chaos into Kaelaross, these creatures offer a break from that. If any DM wants to take their game into the elemental planes, these creatures could well be useful.