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.