Setting

A.M.I.S.S.

I’ve been working on bulking out the second entry in my Non-Vancian Spellcasting classes series, but I’m not going to have it done in time for Friday like I hoped, so I’ll post something else that isn’t finished to make up for it.

That’s right, my much-vaunted gigantic cross-referenced index of every monster published (nearly) I am releasing into the wild.  It isn’t finished but the Agglomerated Monster Index Sorting Suite (AMISS for short) is now available for viewing here:  LINK.  I have it set up so you can sort, filter, and list by every category available.  Feel free to save a copy to your own Drive to set your own filters, and keep checking back because you never know when I might be adding monsters to it.

As I said, it isn’t done yet, but it does have more than 500 individual monster entries included so far.  By the time I’m done, it may well have over a thousand.  I am totally finished with the Heroes of Horror and the Monster Manual III.  I am mostly finished with the Monster Manual/SRD monsters.  I plan to have in the final product the following:  Monster Manual/SRD Monsters, Monster Manual II, Monster Manual III, the Fiend Folio, Heroes of Horror, and any other books I own with monsters in them (version 3.5, but since there aren’t any stats included you should be able to utilize the list for any edition of the game).

What good is this list?  Well, it’s super cool for me because with the filters on I can compile in under a minute a custom random encounter table for any given CR range, climate, environment, organization, sourcebook, type, subtype, and even weight!  No more long prep time coming up with random encounter tables for Warm Forests 5, 10, 20, and 40 miles from civilization.  Just set the filters, =randbetween(1,n) the number of options, and off you roll!

Now, I should say that those entries are based on 3.5/Pathfinder monsters, so perhaps the CR listing won’t be as advantageous for you 5th Editioners out there, but hey, this is a tool I made for me that I’m sharing with you.  Feel free to copy it and edit to your heart’s content.  At least take a look at it, though.  Took me forever to get it this far.

Bonus:  On the second tab (titled “Calculation”) there is my rough guide for levels of encounters based on relative settlement level, as well as percent chance for any given encounter to be one with intelligent humans/demihumans.  Also a seagoing encounter table with weather events.  But wait, there’s more!  If you act now, you will see four whole days of hourly encounter rolls on that same sheet.  Refreshes at the editing of a cell!

Categories: Monsters, Rules, Setting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the Cosmological and Theological Aspects of Divinely Sourced Magic in an “Alternate Earth” D&D World

One of the issues with running in the “real world,” even one in which magic and elves and dwarves and orcs exist, is the question of the origin of divine magics.  Hand-waving on this point is not an option, especially because a majority of the group (myself included) are staunch Christians.  The idea of clerics wandering around casting spells in the name of Jesus is just a bit, well, too much, even in the context of a game.

Thus, I will here attempt to present the cosmology of the universe that my campaign world exists in such that clerics of any religion will be believable both in their faith, and in the source of their power.

We must start with the fact that there are extant powerful beings who enable the casting of a kind of magic that is separate from that which the arcane schools wrench from the fabric of the universe.  This is not a difficult point to render believable.  The Roman Catholic church has a traditionally held belief that each person is watched over by a guardian angel.  I will utilize this precedent, and declare that each cleric has a particularly powerful “guardian angel” who has in itself the power to manifest the power required to energize the spells of the clerics.

My world exists because it is created.  There is one ultimate source of power in the universe, the God of gods, the Penultimate Creator.  From this being comes all power, energy, light, reason, and order.  To lesser “spiritual entities” he assigns greater or lesser amounts of power and in some cases agendas.  Below those middle managers are other less authoritative spirit beings that humans have recognized in various forms, some humans call them spirits, some call them angels, some call them oni.  These spirits then, being recognized, are the “face” of the Penultimate Creator.  The middle managers might be interpreted as various lesser gods, while the Penultimate Creator is greater in authority even than these.  This being because he created all of them, and allows them power according to his own agenda.

Thus, the power which clerics wield is the power of the Penultimate Creator, filtered through several intermediaries into a standard form that is recognized as the cleric’s spell list.  Humans, of course, can only be allowed to wield so much power at once, and as they prove themselves worthy of that power, their allotment is increased at the rate which is most beneficial to the development of the individual’s responsibility and morality at the discretion of the guardian angel and the overseeing spirit.

As for the planes, there is of course the Prime Material Plane wherein the world exists.  There are also the four Elemental Planes, Fire, Earth, Water, and Air.  Below is the Plane of Punishment, and above the Plane of Reward.  Suffusing all of these to a greater or lesser extent is the Astral Plane and Shadow Plane, allowing travel to spiritual aspects of the residents of each plane.  Outside of the Astral Plane is the Realm of the Creator, where the primary expression of said Creator resides and holds court, issuing directives and controlling the cosmos.  While the basic, physical portion of creatures residing on the Prime Material Plane remains on the Material Plane, it is possible for the spiritual portion of sentient creatures to travel on the Astral or Shadow Plane to visit other planes, excepting the Realm of the Creator, which is inaccessible to all, except those spiritual beings who have been assigned the most power.

Oh, a note about Arcane magics:  The multiverse was created according to rules and logic, and through research, experimentation, and the right kind of insights, certain individuals are able to manipulate aspects of the physical world to leverage these elemental laws in predictable ways that manifest in a way that humans call magic.  So, instead of physics, my world has magic.  It has physics too, but no one is going to devote much time to the study of it when things like fireballs and planar travel are available.

Is that about it?  I think I’ve covered everything.  If anyone has any questions about any of this, I will be happy to answer them.  Comments welcome, as well.

Categories: Campaign, Discussion, Setting | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Heart of the Castle

The cold night air parted with a snarl, dragging cold claws across the face of the rider.  He grimaced and squinted harder against the freezing rush of wind, ducking his head so the brim of his hat would deflect the worst of it.  Soon the gatehouse would come into view and he would be safe from the cold of night, and what lay behind.  Remembering what lay behind him chilled him more than the wind, and he urged his horse on, seeking desperately the safety and solace of the gate.

A howl lifted above the woods behind him and drifted downwards to his ear.  Then another rose, and another, until the whole night was a chorus of lupine calls.  The rider pushed on, fast as his horse could safely go over the frost-rimed path, shining faintly in the light of the full moon.  Though stung with cold and misted with tears, he kept a sharp eye for holes or stones that would end his horse, his journey, himself.  Around a bend in the forest path he turned and glanced up, hoping again that he would spy his goal at last.  There!  Atop the hill it was, stony and implacable, but from the tiny windows and above the walls could be seen the warm glow of the Yule fire.

He broke from the treeline and allowed his horse to slow just a hair as they climbed the hill.  He reached inside his cloak and drew out the medallion he had been given, so long ago, and waved it above his head as he rode for the gate leading into the castle.  One of the tiny windows went dark for a moment as a body crossed in front of it, and hope grew in the rider’s chest.  Soon, soon he would be safe and warm, and at last, welcomed.

The rider pulled up his horse outside the gate, peering at the backlit head that showed in the opening.  He could see no expression on the face, but heard only the voice of its owner. “Name and purpose, traveler,” it grunted.

“I am Edmunt of Warsheim, seeking shelter from the cold and the night. I have ridden from Standton and bring grave news of the doings there.”

“What’s this you’ve got in your hand, eh?”

Edmunt held it forth for the guard to see.  “It is the sign of my lord that those loyal to him may grant me hospitality upon my quest.  Please, sir, let me in that I may rest and sup and bring the news to the master of this castle.”  As the medallion caught the light the eyes of the guard widened and he quickly shut the peep hole.  Soon the sound of timbers shifting could be heard and the huge door swung slowly outward.  Edmunt trotted his horse into the opening and slowly rode down the dimly lit tunnel that ran under the keep.  At the far end he dismounted, handed the reigns to the boy standing there and turned toward the stairs leading to the great hall after a quick, sweeping glance around the courtyard.

There, the bonfire in the yard jumped and crackled, throwing yellow light on the stables to the left and on the kitchen tower to the right.  Above it all, on the curtain wall that surrounded the courtyard the guards posted on watch paced back and forth, eyes to the encroaching dark, still vigilant even on such a cold night, though with steaming mugs that belied their partiality to the merriment that happened inside their protection.  On the ground near the fire there were gathered the men and women who tended the animals and the stores, though on duty they warmed themselves by the flames and their own steaming mugs, filled from a pot near the fire.

All this Edmunt took in as he swept over the cold cobbles towards the grand staircase to his right.  It ascended to the large door of the castle, set into the space where the kitchen tower joined the keep.  The broad stair narrowed as it rose, until it was merely wide enough for two men to stand abreast in front of the solid oaken door.  This he pulled open and entered the guardroom between the kitchens and the hall, while the guards rose to their feet at the sight of the stranger.  Then their eyes fell upon the medallion he bore, and fell back once again, staring after him as he pushed open the door into the great hall.

Music and laughter tumbled out of the door as it opened, and the light from the fire in the center of the hall framed him briefly in the doorway as he made his way through.  He strode forward purposefully, straight to the head table at the far end of the hall.  He glared through servants carrying jugs and pitchers, through the aisle formed by the tables running the length of the hall.  The musicians played still over the revel and feasting, though the laughter and chatter that had filled the vaulted hall dwindled as he marched on, as though his cloak and medal had upon them a silencing enchantment the trailed in his wake.

The Baron Dunstan himself stood as his sudden guest made his way to the head table, and all those who were seated at his side did likewise, and then those at the trestle tables down the hall followed their lord’s example.  He spoke, and with his voice the music finally died while the hall was filled with his booming greeting. “By the blood of the saints and Christ himself, what news, Warsheim?  I did not expect to see you here for a month yet!”

“My news is for your ears alone, Dunstan, and I must be heard quickly.”  At this the Baron glowered, but waved his hand at the assembly.

“Play on, feast on, I shall soon return!”  Then he turned and stalked toward the door behind him, beckoning Edmunt on.  They passed through a smaller hall, no less wide but half the length, and with a tiled floor and panelled walls.  There was a small fire on the hearth in this room, though with no one in attendance then it was quite a lot colder than the main hall.  “What is it then, Edmunt?” the baron asked, his voice full of worry. “Are we discovered?”

“I’m not sure what the Duke knows, though he certainly has suspicions.  I was with Gravyuri negotiating supplies for the spring.  We had almost come to an accord with Braxton, but on the last day, yesterday…”  Edmunt trailed off.  Breathing deeply, he sat heavily in the window bay built into the wall, fixing a dully fearful expression on the Baron.  “Yesterday I was awoken by my squire at three bells past midnight.  The town was burning and both Gravyuri and Braxton were dead.  They had been hurled from the battlements into the court of the manor, bodies rent and half-eaten.  Terrible howls and roars filled the air.  Some beast had been sent into that town to kill all of us, I only escaped because I was awake to defend myself long enough to flee.  It was huge, gray and black, with evil eyes.  It walked on two legs, though it had the head of an enormous wolf and claws like a bear’s.  Alvred wounded it enough to allow my escape, though he gave his life to ensure I would make it here to warn you.  I believe they have lost me for the moment, but I do not know how long the trail will be left cold.”

“Well, they are certain to follow you, however fast you rode.  Wolves sniff and bears wait, but the Duke is certainly behind these fell doings.  Damn the king leaving him unchecked!  We’ll have to move quickly if his villainy is to be stopped.  I’ll send word to the others at first light.  We will have him by the throat by the end of three weeks, though we will sure pay dearly for it moving against him now.  Though these beasts of his leave us no…” The baron trailed off as a keening wail erupted from the far side of the hall, pouring through the windows overlooking the courtyard.  It started quietly, but quickly grew in pitch and volume until the very stones of the floor began to tremble from the torrent of sound.  Then, as it reached a crescendo the warm light from the bonfire was obliterated by a piercing blue ray that swallowed up the natural lights in the hall.  The baron Dunstan stumbled over to the window to see what it was, then cried out and fell onto the tiles below the window, weeping.  Edmunt knew what it was.  The duke had found them out, had found them all out, and had sent his mages to wipe them off the table like spilled wine.  Glass shattered behind him, and before he could turn he was crushed to the floor beneath a reeking, steaming mass of bone and sinew and claws and fur.  He heard one final howl before the blood pounding behind his ears stopped flowing and the blue magelight from the courtyard faded into black.

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Empire’s Foundation Equipment Table

This is mainly for the players in my online campaign, as the forum we are using is rather unwieldy to edit.  We are set in Ancient Greece, so if you need an equipment table for that, feel free to borrow.

First, the Pricing Table:

Clothing

    • chiton, linen…2 drachmae
    • chiton, silk…20 drachmae
    • peplos, linen…3 drachmae
    • peplos, wool…5 drachmae
    • peplos, silk…30 drachmae
    • himation, light wool…10 drachmae
    • himation, heavy wool…16 drachmae
    • chlamys, wool…3 drachmae
    • strophion…1 drachma
    • perizoma…2 drachmae
    • sandals, goat leather…6 drachmae
    • slippers, linen…4 drachmae
    • shoes, goat leather…10 drachmae
    • boots, goat leather…20 drachmae
    • belt…4 drachmae
    • brooch, common…3 obols
    • brooch, good…2 drachmae

Musical Instruments:

Weapons:

    • Short sword, bronze…20 drachmae
    • Sword, kopis, bronze…30 drachmae
    • Spear, bronze head…10 drachmae
    • Dagger, bronze…5 drachmae
    • Dagger, copper…4 drachmae
    • Knife, stone…3 drachmae
    • Sling, leather…4 obols
    • Bow, Bronze…200 drachmae
    • Shortbow…60 drachmae
    • Shortbow, composite…75 drachmae
    • Mace, bronze…27 drachmae
    • Mace, iron…25 drachmae
    • Mace, stone…10 drachmae
    • Javelin…2 drachmae

Armor:

    • Cuirass, bronze, muscled…450 drachmae
    • Cuirass, bronze, bell…350 drachmae
    • Linothorax…70 drachmae
    • Helmet, bronze, Corinthian…50 drachmae
    • Helmet, bronze, plated…40 drachmae
    • Helmet, bone, plated…10 drachmae
    • Armor, plate, bronze…100 drachmae
    • Armor, plate, bone…25 drachmae
    • Greaves, bronze, muscled…60 drachmae
    • Greaves, bronze, plain…50 drachmae
    • Shield, aspis…40 drachmae
    • Shield, pelte…10 drachmae

Food:

    • Bread, loaf, 8 oz…2 morionae
    • Flour, sack, 15 lb…1 drachma
    • Olive oil, litre…2 obol
    • Olives, in oil, 5 lbs…1 drachma
    • Grapes, 1 lb…1 obol
    • Wine, 1 litre…1 drachma (incl. wineskin)
    • Milk, goat’s, 1 litre…2 obols
    • Cheese, goat’s, fresh 1 lb…1 drachma
    • Cheese, goat’s, aged 1 lb…1 dr 3 obols
    • Vegetables (Cabbage, onion, garlic) 1 lb…1 morion
    • Beans (lentils, chickpeas, common) 1 lb…2 morion
    • Fish, 1 lb, fresh…1 obol
    • Fish, 1 lb, salted…5 obols
    • Eggs, 1 dozen, fresh…2 obols
    • Eggs, 6, pickled…1 drachma
    • Honey, 1 lb…5 drachmae
    • Meat, goat, 1 lb, fresh…2 obols
    • Meat, Boar, 1 lb, fresh…5 obols
    • Meat, venison, 1 lb, fresh…1 drachma
    • Chicken, whole (3 lbs)…3 obols
    • Rabbit, whole (2 lbs)…2 obols
    • Fruit (fig, apple, pear), 1 lb…2 obols
    • Nuts (almond, walnut, beech, chestnuts, pine), 1 lb…1 drachma
    • Herbs (sage, mint, thyme, savory, oregano), fresh, 1/2 lb…2 obols

Anything else that you think you would want, post a comment here or on the forum and I’ll get you a price.  Since you are starting out in Corinth, most anything you want will be available.

Now, a note about the armor and weapons.  If you will notice, there is a distinct lack of chainmaille armor, and a complete lack of anything steel on any list.  This is because we are in the Late Bronze Age here.  There is a bit of iron working going on, but it is time intensive, and typically yields a slightly inferior product (more brittle, heavier, higher cost due to the large amount of work involved in forging the iron at this stage of development, etc.  The main advantage of iron at this time is it’s availability, as Copper and Tin for bronze have to be imported from very far away.  There is an existing supply line, however, and demand is high so costs are kept reasonable.)

There are a few specific items I’d like to describe for the benefit of the players.  First, the linothorax.

Linothorax

The linothorax is armor made from layers of cloth layered together with a binding compound (like pitch) and stitched together.  It is lighter and cheaper to make than any bronze armor, and is the go-to for the hoplite on a budget.  It has properties identical to Hide armor (DR 2/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 3), but weighs 15 lbs.

Cuirass

The bronze armor listed above is equivalent to a breastplate from the SRD.  Note that Helmet, Cuirass and Greaves must be purchased for the full protective benefit.  Lacking a helmet will reduce the stats by 1 each, and likewise lacking greaves will drop the protection by 1.  Purchasing a helmet and greaves only will provide armor thus: DR 2/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 2.

The “muscled” option for the armor is to be specially fitted to the buyer, and will take an extra two days to manufacture.  Since it is made tailored to the individual who purchases it, the armor check penalty is reduced by 1 for that wearer.

Armor, Plate

Plated armor is essentially a leather backing with metal (or bone) plates sewn onto it.  It is rather stiff, but offers decent protection at the cost of mobility and comfort.  It’s stats are equal to Scale Mail in the SRD (and as listed on the “Problem of Armor Progression” post on this blog.

Materials

There are a few different materials listed for several weapons on the list above, and largely this does not affect how the weapon performs.  It does, however, mean that weapons of different construction have a chance of breaking a weapon of a lesser material.  Further, dropping a weapon due to a fumble gives a chance for the weapon to break, and how much of a chance depends on the construction of the weapon.  Bronze is at the top of the list, and bone and stone are near the bottom.

Currency

I should note here that the currency for the campaign is based on the real-world currency of the era.  The standard is the silver Athenian drachma.  1 drachma is roughly equivalent to 1/2 a gold piece, but please ask for prices not listed on this post or on the forum.  1 drachma = 6 obols = 24 morionae.  These are all silver coins minted in Athens.  Corinth also mints a silver coin (the stater) that is worth 2 drachmae.  1 Talent is equal to 6,000 drachmae.  Should other conversion information be necessary, I will update this post.

Food & Lodging

Please be sure to be sure that you have sufficient food for any journeying you plan to do.  See my post on Starvation on this blog for more info.  While in Corinth (or any large city), premade meals may be purchased from street vendors or obtained from lodging establishments.  In smaller settlements, street vendors may be in existence, but things like inns will not be common.  Travellers often stayed with friends, or in the city squares, or camped outside most often.

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Dracotopia

Given that dragons are a fantastically powerful and intelligent species, it stands to reason that there would be a society out there somewhere that would be ruled by dragons.  Perhaps more than a single society, but an entire world dominated by Dragonkind!  Where mere mortals are ruled over by Dragon Kings and Emperors.  They would probably be organized along the temperaments of the individual idioms of the differing shades of dragons.

Gold and Silver dragons benevolently ruling over bustling cities of well-organized commerce with minimal crime, Black and Red dragons lording their authority and power over the repressed masses toiling for their master’s gain.  Yes, I can see it now, back in the primordial mists, before Men, Dwarves, or even Elves built their own societies on the ashes of the Dragon’s Age.

Yorvasskor the Great Gold Dragon, ruling over his empire along with his younger gold and silver dragon Earls, Barons, Dukes and Knights, peacefully shepherding the Progenitor Races towards self-sufficiency, while guarding them and his empire against the depredations of Kaath, the Red Dragon of Unterbergen.  Kaath, with his terrible legions of the underfolk, making war against Yorvasskor. Kaath, Overlord of Black, White, Blue and Green, seeking to topple the Great Gold and establish his own empire and mine the resources from under the mountains for his pleasure.  Kaath, who seeks to establish himself as a god over all the land and its peoples.

Long he would bide his time, plotting, planning, preparing under the mountains to wage his terrible war against all the good dragons had built.  For centuries he would breed his warriors, fierce and terrible for the coming Armageddon when he would seek to destroy all that opposed his rule.

But Yorvasskor would know of his plans, and prepare his own forces for the coming Doom.  He would slowly dissolve the cities and turn the citizens there into nomads, denying Kaath the chance to kill in great numbers as he desires.  Also, he would change their form and appearance to hone their skills in various crafts to arm the peoples for the coming war.  Elves would be guided into keepers of the lands themselves, rearing food and livestock to feed the armies. Dwarves would be the weaponmakers and armorsmiths, to arm the soldiers and protect them from the evils of the Underfolk and their blades.  Men would be the warriors, quick and bold, armed by Dwarves, fed by Elves, driven by their own cunning and passion, guided by the wisdom of Yorvasskor and his Court.

And then the day of battle would come, great and bloody and dark.  The dragons themselves would take to the skies, burning and bashing, clawing and biting above the melee of Men and Orcs below.  In that day all of the great dragons would perish, leaving none alive but a scant few wyrmlings and unhatched eggs sheltered in hidden nests and caves.  The Young Races then would have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives without the guidance of the Dragons.  Their allegiances would fracture and freeze, coming together once again in the vast cities ruled by the powerful, but one of their own race now, ill equipped and short of life, nations rising against nations, races against races, spurning what was originally intended as a vast brotherhood.  Dragons would no more rule, for any that appeared would be feared and hunted, only the memories of the terror of the Dragons’ War would live, and none of the Dragon’s Age before.

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