Mar 26, 2013

Petty Gods submission - Skaal, god of Fish out of Water

I submitted to flowthrake over at Gorgonmilk, my writeup of a Petty God entry.  I wrote up Skaal, the god of Fish out of Water.

In lots of games - mine in particular - there comes a time when the adventurers encounter (1) some weird fish-headed chaos beings, (2) strange cultists worshipping same, or (3) odd giant aquatic creatures, menacing the peace loving peoples of dry land.  It seemed to me, that these "fish out of water" deserved their own patron deity.

Skaal was born.

He is a bad mamma-jamma.  He is a 15 foot tall massive fish-headed man, with two arms (so he can wield the deadly Wand of Skaal), and also 6 long tentacles, that can attack in all directions.

If he weren't bad enough on his own, he is frequently encountered with (1) cultists, (2) Minions of Skaal, and (3) the dreaded Abominations of Skaal.

Keep an eye on this project, it looks ubercool.

Mar 22, 2013

Blogging A to Z - "People and Places of the Valley"

So, this year's Blogging A to Z challenge is about to start.  As an excuse to generate some eclectic content covering a wide variety of topics in the Valley, I am going to attempt to make it to the end.  Here is how it works.

You sign up at this website (  Then you have to write 26 daily blog entries during the month of April - each one starting with a successive letter of the alphabet (A first day, B second day, etc).

I have chosen as my topic, people and places in the Valley.  That is pretty easy, but it is something that will be useful.  I was going to limit it to the Sildur Reaches, but I think that stretching it around a bit would be more interesting.  I have done similar efforts in the past - my own week of trolls and week of encounters.  Both took more than a week, but ended up with at least 7 (in the case of the encounters - 8) good blog entries that added to my gaming repertoire.

See all of the entries here - April2013.


Mar 19, 2013

Na Kram - City of Dust

Na Kram is the capitol city of the Barony that shares its name.  It is one of two Baronies within the region of the Sildur Reaches.  Far to the Northeast of Na Kram is the Barony of Botts.  To the far west of Na Kram lies the Greywater River, and beyond that Huygen, the City of Lights, is connected to Na Kram via the Na Kram-Huygen Road.

The barony is ruled over by the Quar Nev family, and currently the oldest living (age 73) Male of the family, Farris Quar Nev, is the Baron.  His eldest daughter (age 54) Brinna Quar Nev is due to succeed him.

The City of Dust is so named due to the curious grey dust that populates the region.  The lands to the north of the City are populated by the remains of forest of great Cloudwood forests, and in the region vicious windstorms are common.  They will fill the area with massive swirling clouds of the curious grey dust, and for days (sometimes longer) following such a storm, the whole of the local area, including the City, is covered by layers of the grey dust.  During this time, packs of a strange type of hunting spider (giant, of course) emerge from their burrows in the dead roots beneath the Cloudwood stumps, and they ravage the area.

The Dungeons of Borleos are here.  These are legendary dungeons maintained by the Baron for the purpose of housing foul criminals...

Hol Kram, the Cathedral of Starry Wisdom, is here.  This is the main Cathedral dedicated to the service of Saint Gianna the Oracle.

Two independent trade towns exist close to Na Kram - to the west is Jinette, and to the east is Haaksen.

To the north of Na Kram is the region of the Mongrelbeast Herds and the remains of the Elkmen.

Regions of the Valley (4) - Sildur Reaches

[This is the introduction to the region of the Sildur Reaches, a mapping and some hex details have been posted already].

The Sildur Reaches describes the region of the valley that lies north of the Great River, south of the Destriel Mountains, and between the Fa'Ars River on the eastern border, and the Greywater River on the western border.

The central terrain of this region is dominated by the patchy pine forests that together make up the massive Shadow Woods.  The pines of this region include the mighty Giant Cloudwood pine trees, that can reach as much as 400 feet tall, and as big around as 25-30 feet.  Some Cloudwoods are as old as 2,500 or 3,000 years, according to some Wood Elf sages that have been tending them as a life project.  Other pines in the area include the gnarleycone pine tree, the bristlecone pine tree and also the thinwhistle pine tree.

The whole region was once heavily, heavily forested, but it is believed that during the time of the Old Ones that it was deforested.  The reason is unknown, but occasionally massive fields full of the stumps of Cloudwood trees are still encountered.  These are often home to packs of dire wolves, giant badgers, and frequently swarms of giant burrowing insects (mostly giant beetles of different types, some as large as 10 or 12 feet long; and also a peculiar type of ground dwelling giant tick that are the bane of the dire wolves).

The name of the region, the Sildur Reaches, comes from the name of a Frost Giant warlord, or king as he preferred to be called, that ravaged the region during the time between the departure of the Old Ones and the arrival of the Westroners.  Some of the incredible crusading campaigns waged by the early bands of Westron knights in this region were against the armies of Frost Giants, and their ogre and bugbear allies.  Once the Giant Crusades were over, the Giants were confined to the mountainous lands to the north east, around the Tears of Heaven.

The road that extends from the city of Botts southwest to the city of Na Kram passes over the King's Highway.  Actually it passes under the King's Highway, but it does so through an area that is a flooded bog.  There is a vast tunnel through the mound of the Highway at this point, approximately 200 yards wide, and 30 yards high at the center, through which punt boat traffic frequently travels.  This boat traffic is one of the activities of the swamp town of Wall Morton.  This is a Westron town that is built all on pillars in the bog, and almost all movement in and around the town is by punt boat.  The swamp itself, called simply The Morton is about 75 miles wide, but this is spotted throughout with islands and high areas where trees grow, but the region is generally boggy and covered in fetid waterways.  A number of black dragons make their home here, and there is a order of Knights of the White Lady (paladins) who dwell in Wall Morton, and they patrol the region on the back of great hippogriffs.

Paladin of the White Lady fighting a Black Dragon for a captured maiden.

In addition to the swamp town of Wall Morton, there are a number of other independent towns, that are not part of either the Barony of Botts or of the Barony of Na Kram.  These are Willow (in the east, a river trading town on the Fa'Ars River), Gavaar and Roesen (two rival ports on the Great River), Jinette (trade town on the road between Na Kram and Huygen "The City of Lights" - which is across the Greywater River in the Darkearth Plains) and Haaksen (walled trade town on the road between Na Kram and Wall Morton).

Mar 18, 2013

House Rules part 1

I posted a pdf (downloadable to the right) with some House Rules.  This is part one of a two part effort, mostly concentrating on character generation.  The second part will have sections on wounds, death and dying; training.  These are geared towards a 1st Edition AD&D game - either using the original TSR rules, or a near facsimile like Labyrinth Lord, and the Advanced Player's Companion.

Part two is coming . . .

Introduction to Adventure - Starting a game in Haaksen

New player characters starting out in Haaksen would be given the following information:

"Welcome to Haaksen.  It is an independent trade town, in the region of the Sildur Reaches.  The Reaches were named for a time when they were ruled over by a powerful King of the Frost Giants named Sildur.  He came out of the mountains far to the north, between the time of the Old Ones and the coming of Man, from the West.  Sildur was slain by the earlier Westron Knights, before the great baronies of Botts and Na Kram were settled.  Haaksen sits on a trade route, halfway between those two great baronies, but under the protection of neither.  It has grown up with a strong tradition of having an independent Mayor, who funds the local armed militia (the Gold Lions, which consists of some foot knights, many hired men-at-arms, and a number of peasant levy from the surrounding farms).  In return, he is permitted by the guilds of the city to collect taxes.

The Mayor's Mansion, Hardbriar Castle
    The guilds are the real power, and in public, there are two factions - the Trade Guilds (representing artists, smiths, carpenters, jewelers, and so on) and the Merchant Guilds (representing grocers, inn keepers, money exchangers and the grooms).  Behind the scenes, however, there is also the House of Seven Owls (often rumored, but never verified, guild of Thieves), the Guild of Magic and also the Fighter's Guild.  The Church is represented by a number of offices, sanctuaries and buildings belonging to the various factions, but the largest is the Hospital of the Pierced Pelican - run by the Sisters of St. Brigid.

At the heart of the Merchant's Quarter - houses ans businesses facing the open market

  New adventurers to town are directed to a part of the city known as Cold Comfort Lane.  The Lane is a road that passes directly between the Artisan's Quarter of the town, and the Holy Quarter of the town.  As the road passes from the outer wall at the south tip of the town, north into the inner wall (which surrounds the Mayor's Palace, as well as other important noble villas and extremely wealthy or important individuals and businesses), it is flanked on the western side by the daily arrival of beggars, orphans, cripples, widows and the poor - all seeking solace from the Priests, Nuns and Monks who work and live in the Holy Quarter.  In the distance, a few blacks into the quarter, you can make out the seven golden spires of the Hospital, with the gold figurine of a mother Pelican on top of the central one, piercing her breast, to feed her babies.

Looking up at the spires of the Hospital of the Pierced Pelican - they can't be seen from so close
 On the eastern side of the street are tightly packed stone and wooden buildings, with small shops and cafes in the downstairs, and apartments and housing for the artisans and clerks who work these shops upstairs.  All of the shops represent the products of a single, or a small group, of artisans.  As you look deeper into the quarter, the workings of tools, machinery, and laborers are apparent, at each of a hundred different artisan workshops.  Gold smiths, black smiths, leather workers, carvers, cutters, molders, and other makers - all hard at work.  The sounds and smells are amazing, frightening and inviting - all at the same time - and provide a mighty lure for newcomers who have gold and silver to spend.

Edge of the Artisan's Quarter

Halfway between the outer wall and the inner wall, Cold Comfort Lane grows very wide, and an island of buildings appears in the middle.  It is the tower of the Fighter's Guild, 'Traturnis', which opens up to a small courtyard surrounded by benches and shady Pichel trees, which give off a very pungent fruit all year round.  The courtyard is used for duels, sword practice, and a general meeting place for mercenaries and fighters who come to Traturnis looking for work.  At the far end of the courtyard is a large and welcoming tavern - ancient in structure, with mighty walls bulging out with age, but painted freshly red every quarter, and surrounded by comforting walls.  The Inn is home to many, many visitor's rooms, large kitchens and common rooms, and a brewery unparalleled.  There is a stable beyond the inn, and that structure completes the island.  The inn, of course, is the famous Fatted Calf.  This is where most adventurers come to say when in town - the owner, Giles Fairham, has a strict no-questions-asked policy for guest who pay their bills, and most of the factions and nobles in town know that this is where you would come to advertise jobs for adventurers, if you want the best.

The Fatted Calf
 The Fatted Calf has a tradition.  In the largest of the common rooms, known as Bristlecone Hall (named for the Bristlecone wood that is lining the raftered ceilings), every Week's End night finds the room full of musicians, working girls, visitors, pipe smoke, spilled ale, and street entertainers.  In this festival environment, at the ring of the first bell past sundown, the great cavebear fur rugs in the center of the room are drawn back, and mighty trapdoors are opened up.  At this point, boasts of bravado and claims of heroic status start ringing the room, as adventurers - in groups and singly - step forward to brave the Platform.  The Platform is an elevator that is lowered down just past sundown, left down for six whole bells (six hours), and then drawn back up again in the middle of the night, just before the common room is shut down to drink and musicians.  The platform itself is lowered, with whomever is brave enough to show their mettle in braving it (all for the admiration of fighting men, free drinks from rogues, and the love of the working girls).  Those who step forward are lowered hundreds of feet down deep into the earth, down to the bank of a river that runs deep underground, through a vast cave system.  Once they are let down, the room goes crazy with song, drinking, and betting - on who will come back (dead OR alive), and what else might come back up with the adventurers.  This is the Fatted Calf, the home of adventurers in the town of Haaksen.

The town itself is given some detail here.

The immediate countryside, with some known danger spots and adventure sites are given detail here.

The surrounding region of the Sildur Reaches is given detail here.

Mar 9, 2013

Haaksen - The Walled Town

The town of Haaksen, population 4800, is shown here.  It is a walled town, with major gates to the southeast and to the north.  It is surrounded by farmland, which is dotted with little farming communities, most consisting of a few farmer's estates, some serf housing, and perhaps a small family church, or a smith.

Detailed hexmap of 2116 - Haaksen
Each small hex on this map is only 1 mile across.

Most of the countryside around Haaksen itself is pretty clear from threats (at least within ten or fifteen miles in all directions).  Within the town, however, is a different story.  And of course, there is always the possibility of discovering something forgotten in the immediate countryside.

Within the town itself, it is structured as a walled trade town.  There is an outer wall, within which are most of the trades and merchants. There is a sharp divide in this outer ring of the town, dividing it clearly into four sections.  Those sections are the Merchant Quarter, to the northwest (just west of the northern road out of town).  There is the Scrivener's Quarter, to the northeast (just east of the northern road out of town).  There is the Holy Quarter, between the Merchant Quarter, and the southeastern road out of town.  And finally, there is the Artisan Quarter, located between the Scrivener's and Holy Quarters.

Image of the Walled Trade Town of Haaksen, showing the concentric walls
The town is built on a high rocky spot of ground, with the highest point, the center of the inner wall, being the site of the Mayoral mansion, Hardbriar Castle.  Also in the inner wall are the homes of extremely important people in the town - lords and wizards; guild heads and notable clergymen.  Outside of the inner wall, in the quarters, are housed primarily businesses and the more important workers of those businesses.  In the Merchant Quarter, there is a thriving market that meets three times a week in force, but always there are some stalls open for business.  In the Scrivener's Quarter there are offices representing the various magic schools, clerks for hire, sages for consultation, book dealers, cartographers and other members plying the trades of the learned classes.  In the Artisan Quarter, there are all manor of artisans - including carpenters, armorers, smiths, clothiers, glass grinders, stone cutters and so forth.  Finally, in the Holy Quarter, the smallest section of the city, there are a number of small churches and buildings dedicated to the workings of various Orders of the Westron Church.  The largest, but far from the only, order represented here is the Hospital of the Pierced Pelican, a healing hospital run by Sisters of St. Brigid.

The walls and chief buildings have a lot of stonework making up their construction, almost everything else is wooden.  There is a thin region of trees, about 200 yards or so across, that completely surrounds the Town, as a reminder to the inhabitants about the vast forests that covered this part of the Sildur Reaches before the arrival of the Westroners.

Interesting adventure sites inside the town itself are:

Hanard Keep - A fortified villa belonging to the Dwarves at the had of the Smithing Guild, located in the Artisan Quarter.  The Keep itself is not too exciting, but there are rumored to be levels and levels of dungeons underneath.  The Dwarves have uncovered entryways to deep goblin infested caverns, and fight a battle to keep the goblins down, and secret, for fear that they will lose their Guild Patent in the city.

Chilaine Tower - An abandoned (?) wizard's tower, also complete with dungeons underneath, at the outer edge of the Scrivener's Quarter, up against the outer wall.

The Fatted Calf - A pub for soldiers and adventurers, located at the gate to the inner wall, from between the Holy Quarter and the Artisan's Quarter.  Once a week, there is a great ceremony where the floor in the back common room of the pub is pulled back, revealing a shaft.  A massive wooden platform is then lowered some 100 feet, down to the banks of a deep underground river and left there for an hour.  It is then raised back up.  Adventurers will volunteer to descend on the platform, to spend a week exploring the underworld, and sometimes they, or worse, will come back up - to be fought (when necessary) by the cheering inhabitants of the pub.

The Catacombs - there is a single graveyard in the city, and it is a walled park attended to by some monks who live in an attached hermitage.  These are of the order of St. Horace, and have taken a vow of silence. Other than tending to the graveyard/park they also have a large aviary where they tend to messenger birds for the use of the citizens of the town.  In the deep earth under the graveyard, however, there is a system of catacombs - tunnels of an inhuman and ancient design crisscross and cover multiple levels underneath the graveyard.  Other than a colony of ghouls that has taken up residence, there are said to be stranger inhabitants.