Monday, August 30, 2010

My Secret Life As A Walker In The Wastes

I heart Athas, hardcore style.

Dark Sun was probably my second favorite 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons setting. The first was Planescape and the third favorite was probably Ravenloft, which they're making into a board game or something. Weird. Anyway, I love Dark Sun. It is a pretty harsh world, magic has destroyed the majority of life in the world, leaving endless expanses of desert dotted with cities under the thumb of capricious and deadly sorcerer kings. The sorcerer kings are super powerful wizard/psion types that are on their way to becoming crazy immortal creatures that are nearly indestructible. On their rise to power, these dragon kings committed complete genocide on a bunch of races like kobolds, gnomes, orcs, trolls, etc. So not only is Dark Sun a completely alien environment, it lacks tons of trappings from the typical high fantasy setting, which makes it an even more alien place.

I've read through the Dark Sun Campaign Setting book I just got in the mail the other day and the flavor of the campaign is still there. All the classic weapons and races are there, the artwork is not good ole Brom's, but I find it to be adequate. All the pictures depict, heh, people wearing leather and hides and various types and colors of chitin. There's also some obsidian studded weaponry and some bone swords and such. The flavor is here, trust me, and it tastes as delicious as it did in the past. There will be a nit picked against the art a little bit later, but it is irrelevant to the art's quality, which is quite good in spots.

Races are good, Wizards found a decent way to fit Goliaths, Dragonborn, and Eladrin into the world of Dark Sun and remained relatively true to the source material by leaving out Gnomes and Shifters and Warforged and the like. Goliaths are now Half-Giants, Dragonborn are Dray, and Eladrin are...Eladrin, I guess. There is a mild concession they make that if you want to be something not normally found in Dark Sun you can be some kind of planar traveler or a deep desert mutant. I kind of call foul on that. Anyway, all the new backgrounds for the races are extremely fitting for the races of Athas. The Thri-Kreen and Mul are still very true to the source material, and the Thri-Kreen make me happy inside. They're all mantisy and whatnot, but I guess that's about all I ask of them. Heh. It all works pretty well and is pretty true to the intent of the source material. I think most of the race specific feats and paragon classes are pretty fitting as well, so I think it looks alright.

Classes are good. There isn't a new Gladiator class like there was in 2nd Edition, but that gets covered in themes and a new Fighter option. There are four new class features for the Battlemind, Fighter, Shaman, and Warlock classes. I really like the concept behind the Sorcerer King Warlock pact, I think it really works super well to show the nature of a templar or any spellcaster in service to a sorcerer king really, rather than them just being Clerics like it was in 2nd Edition. The Battlemind feature synchs up nicely with the whole "everyone is a wild talent and full of assloads of untapped potential" thing that Dark Sun does. The new Shaman feature is kind of meh, but I feel that way about Shaman's in general, so I may not be the best person to listen to regarding that. The Arena Fighter class feature is handling the whole "Gladiators are the best fighting class ever" thing that Gladiators had going in 2nd Edition. Not quite sure how it works yet, but I think I get the gist of it and it does a good job.

I really very much like the concept of themes. They're a way to offer added variety to a class, in addition to all the other feats and features you can pick and choose from. It is also a nice way for your character's background to have more effects on the way they are played. You automatically gain a bonus power and have the option of taking theme powers are certain levels, rather than class powers. The themes presented in the book cover all the bases for Dark Sun. Gladiator, Templar, Athas bard (which are more like assassins and are known for backstabbery and poisonery). I like the themes associated with minstrels and bards, they really channel the hardcore nature of Athas' bards. I was very concerned that the whole bard assassin stuff would get kind of swept under the rug, in 4th Edition, but they held true to the source material once again and this book is the better for it.

The latter half of the book appears to be mostly data about the various cities and features of the Tyr region. It also goes over some features of Athasian deserts. I don't know what else to say, I love the material presented in this book. I very much enjoy the map included with the book, I love maps though.

Price. This is always going to be my issue with 4th Edition books. They're expensive, thin, and have a lot of big full page color artwork, which means less content. As much as I like the art style of Athas, every picture of a lovely obsidian studded club or Thri-Kreen whooping ass means that there is less delicious content and options in the book. I know what a Thri-Kreen looks like and how a Mul looks dressed in insect chitin armor and facing off against a Dray. Anyway, the full price of the book is 39.95, that's a significant chunk of change. There are 222 pages, which is more than the thirty-five and thirty-seven dollar campaign books they've been selling previously, which have had 160 pages. But, those previous campaign books have been split into two books for campaign info and player options. Fuck it, I'm not going to compare DnD books. Here's my argument, I just bought a forty dollar Pathfinder book. It has over one hundred pages more than the Dark Sun book and it loaded to the gills with delicious content. Now, granted, its just a book of options and new stuff for Pathfinder, and not a campaign setting. Nonetheless, its packed with more info, smaller artwork and operates at the same price point.

It boils down to one thing I guess: I fucking love me some Dark Sun. Enough said.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Unglemell 101

So Kaleshmar was an old and powerful empire ruled by three main races with balls ass crazy technology and supported by a bunch of slave races. One of those three main races were the Unglemell. They were sort of the leaders of Kaleshmar and were the oldest and most accomplished race that lived in the ancient floating empire. They were also pretty brutally oppressive to the races that they had subjugated.

The Unglemell were wise and powerful and long lived, but they really ran shit, unlike the Eldumans of The Old Empire in modern times that claim they ran shit way back when. If the Unglemell wanted to do something, they did it. The other races of Kaleshmar were free to disagree or try to veto the action, but if the Unglemell really truly wanted to do something, they did it and ignored the other races of their flying nation. Any decision they could get away with making for the other races, they made and more often than not, they were powerful enough to do whatever they thought was best and damn the consequences.

The Unglemell were complete and utter technophiles, and their technology made them a wee bit full of themselves. Eventually it came to a point where they were so drunk on power that they could not conceive of other races not wanting to be under their control. They were very aware of their power and the fact that they were right about things more often than not, and this led to quite a bit of arrogance. So, there, we have the arrogant "civilized" race bringing their wisdomousness to the uncivilized and "stupid" brutish races like the Abraxens and Uncout and various other Kaleshmar-based races.

The culture of the Unglemell put a lot of emphasis on technical expertise and combined efforts. They had a culture of reliance on one another, the slave races they had created and subjugated, and the other races of Kaleshmar. Despite their belief that they were superior to all other cultures, they believed that all members of Kaleshmar, whether slave or master, should contribute to the future of the nation, whether they wanted to or not.

So we have the Unglemell, who believe they know best and are so wrapped up in their awesomesauceness that they cannot conceive of other races, let alone members of their own race, not wanting to be part of their team. Then the prince and princess of the Unglemell decided that they were sick of this life of power and community, so they left Kaleshmar forever to forge a destiny for themselves that forced each member of their group to rely on themselves, rather than technology and the work of slaves. This schism shook the Unglemell to the very core of their society. The rulers of the race could not conceive of such a break with the way things were done in their empire, it confused them, stunned them, and left them vulnerable.

This confusion and upset in the hierarchy gave the Abraxens of the Ashlands the opening they needed to throw off the shackles of the Unglemell in their homeland and they were able to seek their own destiny free of their masters. From here it is a quick hop and a step to the poor decision making skills that allowed the Horned Man to pull his tricksy shenanigans that caused the eventual demise of Kaleshmar.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Umanle 101

You remember those crystal trees I've spoken of from way back when in the Shadow Chasers campaign? (Which would be fantastic in GURPS). I've said before that those trees were the ancestors of the Eldumans of Kaleshmar and that the Guardian was their caretaker. Those trees were known as The Forests of the Umanle, but not until the Guardian came around, because trees can't speak and do things like come up with names for stuff. Because they're trees.

For the purposes of this post, we'll call the trees the Umanle. Even though they and their ancestors became the Elduman race, the Umanle persisted for quite some time. In the past I have described the Umanle as being pine trees with needles of blue crystal. This is basically true, but they're not so...conical I guess. Pine trees are conical right? Anyway, they are trees, so therr is a main trunk and a bunch of branches sprout off of it. The branches only grow out to a certain length though, and don't grow further than a few feet from the trunk. The branches on each tree grow out to the same exact length, so the Umanle have kind of a uniformly wide shape, rather than coming to a point at their top like pine tree. Their "needles" appear as clumps at the end of each branch and don't sprout from any other point on the branch. So basically, they are like pine trees in that they have needles, wee. Maybe they're more like weird cacti? Not sure, cacti are plants and I did conceive of the Umanle having some manner of bark-like skin. So, they're weird trees, until I retcon it. Heh.

So, the Umanle are trees that are psionically resonant with some blue crystal needles. What are the needles for? As with normal trees, the blue needs on the Umanle are how they absorb energy, except that Umanle don't use photosynthesis. These blue crystalline needles absorb psionic energy from the world around the trees. So when a silly little Kaleshmarian squirrel type creature wanders into The Forest of the Umanle and it gets close enough to one of those creepy blue trees, his mind basically drains out of his skull via the sucking psionic maw of the Umanle.

So the Umanle eat brains, there, I said it. Num num. But they're still just basically brainless, unthinking, trees. They don't think about melting the brains of Kaleshmarian squirrels, the same way oak trees don't think about nomming on some sunlight with their green leaves. These trees don't move or walk or reproduce in any manner of mundane way, so how do we get to the Guardian and the Eldumans?

The Forest of the Umanle is covered in the skeletal and decaying remains of all these Kaleshmarian critters. Now, to reproduce, these Umanle drop clusters of needles into the ground, and these in turn grow into their tree form, slowly developing a thick bark-like "skin" and eventually dropping their own clusters of needles to the floor of the forest.

The way I envision it happening is that one of these clusters of needles, or dozens of them, drop into something that no longer has a brain and was vaguely human looking. Now, the needles sprout crystalline root structures and kind of wind their way their way through this human looking creature and we have a bunch of slightly human looking stinking corpses full of crystals lying around on the forest floor doing not much of anything.

What happens is that these unintelligent tree-things begin using what is left of the corpses they inhabit to kind of move around and expand the borders of The Forest of the Umanle. The larger the forest grows, the more needles there are dropping, and the more corpses there are lying on the ground for them to grow into. At this point, the Forest has been eating brains enough that it kind of knows where they are in most creatures and that they kind of direct what these sacks of flesh do. This is why modern Eldumans have big lumps of crystal in their skulls that act as their brains.

The first proto-Eldumans were these shambling, half-decaying things that stumbled around The Forest of the Umanle not really knowing what they were doing. They weren't zombies in the conventional sense, they didn't storm into the caves of the kind-of-human things that the trees had possessed and eat out their brains with crumbling teeth. They just kind of stumbled around aimlessly, and if something intelligent came within range of the crystal structures within them, they stumbled towards it and ate its brain in the same way that the trees did. I'm imagining some kind of invisible microwave that cooks up the brain to a nice temperature and absorbs it like a vacuum while the physical remains leak out the nostrils and ears of the food source.

Long story short, these shambling crystal corpse things gain the intelligence and instinct of a predator and begin seeking out prey, rather than being opportunistic predators. They learn from the the minds they devour how to operate these flesh sacks and over time develop into what the Guardian was and eventually become full fledged members of Kaleshmar and move on to finally become the Eldumans of The Old Empire once Kaleshmar falls and The Old Empire rises.

So that is some history behind how the Eldumans evolved from trees into what they are in the current era of The Known World. A few questions remain though. The Forests of the Umanle still existed at the fall of Kaleshmar, and pieces of Kaleshmar impaled The Known World when it was destroyed. Does that mean that there are some crazy underground forests of blue crystal somewhere in Kusseth or Whurent or something like that? Or have they become some manner of deadly, underground, crystal fungi? Next question, what were these human-looking things that died and got used as meat puppets by the trees?

Friday, August 20, 2010


Now that I'm working twelve hour shifts at work, I'm finding it harder and harder to find time at home to write out posts. I think what I'm going to do is switch it up and start posting on Mondays and Fridays, if I end up getting a large backlog of posts stored on here I'll switch back to three posts a week. We'll see.

Also, turns out, Futurama is pretty neat, and slightly more accessible than the Simpsons, seeing as how it isn't like fourteen hundred seasons long.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The FUTURE Is Now!!1!

I played the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons module Keep on the Shadowfell (I think) Sunday night. We used this fancy program called Map Tools that I thought was pretty neat and would love to use, if all of my gamers didn't live within thirty minutes of one another. Our means of communication was Skype, which worked surprisingly well. I actually had no experience with Skype, and had kind of expected it to be a somewhat janky and unreliable means of communication. There were some spots where our words were garbled, but those seemed to be a bug, rather than a feature, and overall it operated quite well and I enjoyed the whole experience.

It was Shawn's first time DMing and I think he did super well, he even went so far as to say that it was fun to run things. I had fun as well, despite my Bard getting two critical failures in a row, and then a third later in the same combat. I started out strong with a natural twenty for my initiative, but apparently that used up all my luck for the day. Or maybe the fact that I was using the dice I normally DM with to roll stuff as a player was the problem (I used a dice roller on Map Tools to get my twenty for initiative). I dunno, there are a lot of myths and legends regarding dice and the potential luckiness they may or may not have. As I was saying, I had some fun.

We played for about two and a half hours, long enough to introduce our characters to each other, fight off seven kobolds, and get to Winterhaven. Our group is composed of a Halfling Rogue, an Eladrin Bard (me), and a Shifter Warden. Certainly an eclectic collection of characters. There seems to be some pretty easily flowing role-playing going on and that is pretty cool. I enjoy the in character dialogue and goofiness.

We all discussed and have agreed to go forward with an email-based post between sessions thing to keep us in the game and prevent us from forgetting all the details of the previous session. So basically our characters are bumming around Winterhaven and we will use dice rollers and posts to kind of fill in what's going on while we're waiting for a schedule to appear for me at my place of employment and we can find a time to game again. Seems like a really good idea to me, and I am very interested in seeing what kind of trouble we can get into just wandering around a town.

Good times. I'm really interested to see how this all goes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pathfindery Extravaganza

John, Eric, Jeremy, and I played some Pathfinder last night. The other member(s) of our group were indisposed. We ran through the eighth scenario of this campaign arc, which was called Descent Into The Depths. Even without the Pathfinder shenanigans, I really liked the way the whole thing turned out. The scenario was pretty cool and it combined a dungeon with a dragon and some traps.

There were only four of us, and the session only really lasted five hours total I believe. It was pretty fun. The guys really enjoyed the trap thingy that I put in there, it was difficult but a nice change of pace from slugging it out with another group of faceless monsters. It was also pretty amusing to have the mutant dragon thing melt half of John's face off, and to watch the slime try and slime D'alton's shadow and then go through it and up a hill, only to slide back down the glassy smooth stone and try to do the same thing next round.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the way Pathfinder played, and the fact that the fights didn't take like an hour or more each was pretty nice. Ultimately, I guess I don't have too much to say other than it went well and now the Glenwighta Fremwightan and the rebels of Hell are all hooked up and ready to cause some trouble.

I guess Pathfinder is 3.5 Edition, but a little bit better, and we all like 3.5 Edition, so it works.

There was a bit of a snag with the microphone, Audacity went wonky in the midst of recording and then it popped up with an error. It ended up closing itself down and I lost the second hour of recordings for that session. Oh well, we're about gaming, not fiddling with recorders and trying to get them to work. So, no downloadable version of the session.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun with the guys and it seems like they all love Pathfinder. In fact, they said they would like to switch to Pathfinder right this second, or for next scenario, or whatever you want to call it. So, Pathfinder wins without discussion apparently. Unless Fred suddenly decides he really likes 4th Edition, heh.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Say No To Nel

Jeremy and I were talking recently about the possibility of running a Nel campaign and how it would work perfectly with GURPS because of all the tweaking you can do to create characters. GURPS is actually a pretty amazing system to use for the creation of a Nel character, even my homegrown stuff can't compare to how thoroughly and easily it would be to make any kind of Nel in GURPS. It's kind of awesome.

I've tried to run a few Nel campaigns in the past and even discussed the possibility of Eric running one. None of them have turned out particularly well, despite Eric being goofy and crazy with Ma'akillis. I recall him being a "Magick" Sidhe Blood Warrior. Blood Warriors were just about the most overpowered class I ever came up with. It was awful, but back in 2nd Edition I had no conception of what balance was or that I should perhaps try to maintain it, I just made up "cool" shit and let the chips fall where they may.

Anyway, we discussed campaigns. We also discussed how I would react to people incorrectly playing Nel. There would be a lot of "You're doing it wrong!" and me throwing something. We agreed that I am probably way too invested in The Nel to ever let anyone play one and that my brain was a far better place for them than on someone's character sheet. Bummer, but it would take a very specific group to do "justice" to what I envision the Nel to be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Advanced Pathfindery Stuff

It is actually Thursday of last week for me, heh. I have a bit of a backlog prepped for posting on the ole blog here. I guess I'm flirting with professionalism or some such. I just bought the hard copy and the pdf copy of the Advanced Player's Guide for Pathfinder. I have one thing to say:

Fuck yeah!

...and now we're back to being a foul mouthed amateur. Heh. This book has got to be one of my favorite P&P RPG books yet, and I've had my grubby mitts on quite a few. There are ridiculous options pouring forth from every orifice. Each of the core Pathfinder classes has at least five new options to add some more focused elements to the class, and there are six new fully fledged base classes (two are incompatible with my campaign world) and eight new prestige classes (two are incompatible with my campaign world, I think). There is a whole mess of new feats, new combat maneuvers that I like.

Those more focused elements of the core classes are a particularly welcome addition for me. Each core class has upwards of five or six themes I guess you could call them, that kind of tailor your character to what you desire. There is an Archer option for fighters that removes a lot of their armor use abilities to give them expert skill with bow stuff. I like these options, and they're all pretty enjoyable. The few that I don't care for or think are stupid are tied to classes I already don't care for. So far, my favorite is a monk style that centers around draining the life and vitality of those they fight. I find that to be kind of a striking concept. They don't just punch and kick you, they actually cut away little bits of your lifeforce, which they then empower themselves with to further whomp on you. The Skirmisher option is decent for rangers and I may make it mandatory because it replaces their spellcasting. I really enjoyed the 4th Edition take on Rangers that yanked out the spellcasting in favor of the um, well, skirmisher kind of mobile combat. Actually, this whole thing is kind of flavored by 4th Edition and I really like it. When you decide to play a fighter in 4th Edition you have a half dozen or so styles and features to choose from before you even get to power selection, and that offers quite a bit of versatility. Anyway, I dig what they're doing. Good on them.

The new classes are pretty neat as well, but I am always a fan of new classes. There seems to be a focus on multi-talented and caster classes in this book. I'm not sure I care for that. I've never been a true spellcaster in the rare times I've played as a player or wielded an NPC as the GM. I feel like that might border on cheating if I were to use something like a Wizard.

The Alchemist and Witch Hunter are both kind of spellcasters that do other things, sort of in the vein of Bards. The Summoner, Witch, and Oracle, are straight up casters with some fiddly bits to differentiate from Clerics and Wizards and such. The only class that doesn't have some manner of spell use is the Cavalier (kudos to Paizo for going old old school there). I enjoy the ideas behind the Witch and the Alchemist in particular. The Alchemist is actually a pretty damn attractive class. Bombs are awesome, but the whole Mutagen thing really entices me. I am very tempted to have an Alchemist or some sort of Barbarian or Fighter Alchemist mishmash as my NPC in the upcoming campaign once Kethranmeer steps out of the picture. It might step on Eric's toes a bit, but I think there is enough versatility to the class that I can find my own niche to play in. We'll see though, I'm just dipping my toes into Pathfinder and we're quite a ways away from the end of this campaign arc. No need to rush into anything and get burnt out on it like I have on certain other systems.

I could go on at great length about what I like about all the classes and why I like them, let's just say I am a fan of all the classes present in the Advanced Player's Guide. The new options for the old classes are fancy as well. At first glance, it really looks like Paizo is keeping things pretty well balanced power wise in the base class area.

This isn't especially relevant to my concerns, but there are a lot of nice new options presented for the races in the main Pathfinder book. You can tweak your dwarves now so they go old school and get resistance to spells. Or you can give them an enmity bonus against elves. You can give your half-orc tusks, or make your halflings reload their slings faster, or your elves can be desert dwellers. On top of this, instead of a +1 to hit points or skill points for taking a level in your favored class, you can get a race specific bonus. For instance, dwarven fighters can opt to add a +1 to their combat maneuver defense against trip and bull rush attempts.

There are a lot of feats and they're pretty broad in their focus and applications. Most classes have something tasty to play with. There are a few feats for the new combat maneuvers and so on and so forth. There are a bunch of feats, too many to go through one by one. Most of them seem to be viable and potentially useful.

Prestige classes, there are a few of them in the book. They are alright. To go along with my love of the Alchemist, the Master Chymist seems pretty nifty. Very much the Doctor Jekyll/Mister Hyde class. The others, meh. I'm not super intrigued by them. With 3.5 I was all about the prestige classes and there were hundreds of the fucking things, I like some of the Pathfinder ones, but I find myself more focused on the core classes. Pathfinder's prestige classes seem somewhat limited to me, which is fine because prestige classes are supposed to have a narrow focus, and if the keep producing interesting base classes with tons of options, you won't really need six hundred prestige classes to choose from.

There is some other stuff in there as well, some new artifacts and magic items, a gray bearded old wizard type that has boobs (pg. 313), some new combat maneuvers, etc. I particularly enjoy The Knucklebone of Fickle Fortune, there is also a Hammer of Thunderbolts in there (another old school huzzah). The other options added in are three new combat maneuvers, hero points, and traits. Traits are already in my game, but I will be taking some inspiration from those in the book. Hero points seem to be a neat concept, but they're not something I have to have in my game at the moment. We'll see though.

Eventually I plan to give the whole book an extensive read, but these are all just my initial impressions. Overall, I really like the book and am impressed. If Paizo wants, they can release a dozen of these, as long as they have a similarly crunchy content. I guess it boils down to this: if you like Pathfinder and want some neat new options or ways to spice up your current character, get this book. I did. Legally.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Surface 101

Alternately, this could be called Nethwenta 101. This will be the first in a series of 101s about the ancient empires of The Known World, hopefully.

The empire of the Glenwighta race was wide and its tunnels extended far beyond the modern day borders of The Fell Peaks/Kusseth. Long before Kaleshmar fell, the Dwenoren and Glenwighta frequently met in border skirmishes that filled the dark places of the world with cries of pain and the scent of blood. The Dwenoren were still fierce warriors then and had an edge over the Glenwighta, they had no need of light. The Glenwighta however, could always smell the Dwen coming. It was a brutal war that the Glenwighta have no knowledge of any more, and the Dwen only dimly recall the valor of those days.

In those days, the Glenwighta had almost no knowledge of sorcery, and perhaps this is the reason they had no knowledge of their innate weakness to it. It was considered too volatile a force to play with. If even one spell misfired in a violent detonation of arcane forces, it could bring ruin to all nearby maze-cities as the tunnels of Nethwenta channeled destructive energies from one city to another down smooth halls of carved stone. Or worse yet, if one city collapsed into a ruin of rubble, it could disconnect others from the food and water they could not harvest from their own areas.

The Glenwighta of Nethwenta were a highly industrialized society, but their industrialization was a long, slow process that was heavily monitored and only grew when the Sol and Okwighta agreed that it was time for a revolution. This process of technological advancement put them decades behind the Dwenoren and Greyskin Abraxens, but it allowed for a very stable growth and development. A more modern example of this, some clans of Okwighta were experimenting with early firearms even before Kaleshmar fell, but the technology was too dangerous and prone to unreliability, so research continued. Meanwhile, when the Dwenoren "invented" firearms and distributed the technology to other races, millions lost life or limb when poorly combined chemicals or improperly machined gun parts caused catastrophic failures to the weapons.

There were of course elements of Nethwenta society that demanded progress at the expense of safety, believing that through industry and learning they could overpower any foe that came against them. They were a small fragment of the society and their goals were not welcomed. They were practically outcasts, and often congregated in small enclaves of like minded individuals. When Nethwenta grew too populated for these secretive little enclaves to exists at the outskirts of its borders, these almost-outcasts left the earth and journeyed away from their people into the world above. Their absence was a footnote in the now nonexistent history of the Glenwighta, and they were not missed.

In that time, the Solwighta were regal kings clad in plate armor of dark metals and were waited upon by their warrior cousins the Conwighta. The kings of Nethwenta were noble rulers, long lived and mighty from long years of battle. The tunnels the Glenwighta lived in had once been full of fell creatures, the Solwighta and Conwighta prosecuted a long and bloody campaign against these creatures while the Okwighta remained safe within the early borders of the kingdom creating a series of interconnected settlements for their cousins to return to when they grew too weary of war. It was this ancient initial conflict that prepared the Glenwighta for when they would eventually clash against the ancient race of Dwenoren.

The empire of Nethwenta in its hey day was a peaceful kingdom and almost an underground utopia. It fell because the Nagsulen (now called Fell Humans) were tricksy and the Solwighta were unwilling to exterminate a race merely because they were mutants warped by sorcery. Unfortunately, this led to the enslavement of the Glenwighta people and the complete destruction of their culture.

Perhaps somewhere deep beneath The Fell Peaks and Kusseth there are some remains of the Glenwighta tunnels and maze cities, but they would likely be infested by the bizarre creatures that the Solwighta once waged war upon. Such ruins would be rich with strange devices and weapons and armor forged of curious materials unlike that found in the surface world.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scratch The Surface

I've been thinking about something lately, and I have Jeremy to blame for it. Jeremy says that he always likes to read things about my campaign world on the blog here and I've been making a conscious effort to try and write more on the blog about the background of my world. I realized one thing while doing so.

My world doesn't have a past.

I have a timeline that details some major events since the fall of Kaleshmar, and there have been some neat events and major changes. But it doesn't feel like there is this rich past history to the world. There aren't any ancient empires, other than Kaleshmar, and there aren't hidden ruins dotting the countryside where ancient kings once ruled from. It just feels like the history of my world is kind of vague and minimalist. I guess it feels like there is a past there, but it is a couple of words that are written down on paper, rather than written in the world by the nature of its geography or by the minds and stories told by the peoples of the various countries in the world.

Its just that aside from the Vyanth/Sereth, the Glenwighta, and the Dwenoren, all the races and countries found in The Known World are in some way where they are because of the fall of Kaleshmar. I recall saying once that the continent that is now called The Known World, was inhabited by civilizations prior to Kaleshmar exploding, I've just never gotten around to putting evidence of these past civilizations into the game world. It might be time to do that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pathfindery Stuff

So, Jeremy and I played a game of Pathfinder Sunday evening. We were supposed to do it Friday night, but I had had a long shift at work on way too little sleep and then not gotten enough sleep when I got out Friday morning. I was dead on my feet, but we stumbled through the book enough to get Jeremy a reasonable looking D'alton to play on Sunday. I've had Spineplate ready to go for a bit, so he was done and ready for use and we could focus on D'alton.

The scenario was like seven or eight pages of text in Word, but Jeremy and I managed to finish it in roughly two and a half hours. I mean, it was mostly talky talk and a few skill checks, and it only had one fight so there wasn't a lot of lengthy involved stuff in it. Anyway, it went pretty well, we did some story stuff that I've wanted to do and I was able to toy around with some role-playing. It all actually worked out pretty well and Spineplate and D'alton were able to get some things organized the way they wanted to, rather than the way the rest of the group decided to do things.

Jeremy and I remained primarily in character for the entire two hours, except when I was explaining the rules or how to do something. Its wasn't heavy duty role-playing, but we did remain in character and didn't go off into the distant reaches of Lost talk.

All in all it was a pretty productive event. Jeremy and I have a solid understanding of Pathfinder, which is no surprise because we've played 3.5 Edition and 4th Edition isn't terribly different. I'm also pretty confident that we get character creation as well. I didn't anticipate having any problems or needing to peer at the books for hours trying to find rules. I guess it boils down to the fact that I really know 3.5 Edition in a way that I don't quite know 4th Edition. Or maybe I know both of them, which makes sense because I've read all the appropriate game material from the rulebooks.

After all was said and done, we had a good time. We also realized that we're grown ups because nowadays, black dice with red numbers aren't awesome and edgy, they're just a fucking pain in the ass to read.

Fred and Eric were sad that we tried out Pathfinder without them, but worry not my friends, I plan on running another Pathfinder test scenario for everyone to try out. I look forward to it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pour One Out For Those That Have Fallen

The Brick
The Doctor
The Other Doktor
The Driver
The Other Driver
The Brain In A Jar
The Vampire
The Psychic
The Robot
The Other Robot
The Accountant
The Sorcerer
The Gangster
The Immortal
The Radiation Shadow
The Telekinetic
...and both Hank "motherfucking Joban" Mardukus-es

They lived for but a year, but their contributions, and our loss, will not be forgotten.

Music: The Case For Mars - Symphony of Science

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vyanthnem 101

The forests of Vyanthnem are a strange and somewhat wondrous place. Er...let's restart. The Vyanth were the "elves" of my world. Eladrin specifically when I pushed everything into the 4th Edition DnD square hole. In that vein, they live in a forest, and they are magical. That is kind of where the similarities end though. They are not wise and nature loving, in fact, they have hunted their forests bare of all life.

Back to what I began with. The forests of Vyanthnem are a strange and somewhat wondrous place. Surrounding the cities of the Vyanth is a very nearly impenetrable wall of trees, each one the exact copy of the others near it, right down to the leaves growing from their branches. The forests are a still place, for there are no birds or beasts, and those strange uniform leaves remain still because there is no wind. The forests of Vyanthnem are a completely manufactured place, created by the Vyanth to act as a barrier to other races attempting to invade Vyanthnem.

They also explode when plied with sufficient amounts of sorcery. Seriously. Vyanthnem is a kingdom surrounded with an impenetrable wall of sorcerous, exploding, trees.

The Vyanth are a vain and hedonistic people, primarily concerned with their next fuck, high, or fight. Originally, their main form of enjoyment was spent bumming around their forests, and those of The Beast Lands and The Wild Lands, killing and tormenting whatever they like while their rivals exploded trees near them to provide a challenge. After they killed everything that walked, they moved to stuff that flew, and moved on down the food chain till all that was left in Vyanthnem was the Vyanth themselves. Then they got bored and started attack the nearby nations. They soon found that they could save themselves the trouble of waging war year round by taking slaves from other countries, so they built gladitorial arenas in all their cities and began taking (and breeding to a lesser extent) slaves from other countries and that's how they while away their lives. They sit in their stands and watch others bleed out on the sand for their amusement.

It wasn't always this way though.

Along time ago, the Vyanth were very human-like, but they've been using sorcery for a long long time and now they look the way they do, who know what they'll look like in another six thousand year. A long time ago they lived in scrublands, like most other races in The Known World. They were ruled by a king then, but I haven't come up with a name for him. Anyway, he ruled the nation that would someday become Vyanthnem and Serethnem.

This king was a fair tempered fellow, and when three refugees from the west wandered into his kingdom, he was inclined to allow them safety within it, because they brought a gift with them. It was a powerful staff that could channel all kinds of fun powers. This king was a powerful sorcerer in his own right, but this staff of power made him beacon of power. Power power power, now the word has no meaning. Heh. To continue: this led to Callifay hacking his head off and the creature that would one day come to be called the Silver King taking his place.

Callifay was looking for an object that had been stolen for his master and the former king of the Vyanth had it, so he went in guns blazing, swords rather, and slew a bunch of the Vyanth and cut off the head of their king. He was actually looking for those three refugees the king had allowed into his kingdom, but they had given the staff they stole to the king and kept their heads low enough that they avoided the bloodshed Callifay brought to Vyanthnem.

What happened over the next couple years isn't well recollected by anyone. Callifay was running around killing folks and that made it hard for them to write things down. The long and short of it was that the nation split into Vyanthnem and Serethnem and those two nations produced two kings from somewhere and became two separate nations.

This invasion made the Vyanth very adverse to strangers wandering into their borders and potentially bringing another Callifay with them, so their new king used the staff and erected a massive wall of sorcerous wood to protect the kingdom. Callifay had been run out of the kingdom because of the simple fact that he was outnumbered and his own magic couldn't fend off that of the Vyanth. With Callifay gone, the Vyanth were free to become arrogant and hedonistic under their new king.

As I said, they put up the wall of trees around their country and kind of locked themselves away from the world, but trapped in their cities they grew more and more bored. Callifay's actions led to their xenophobia, but boredom led to their hedonism, which led in turn to their institution of slavery and the gladitorial arenas.

Vyanthnem is a kingdom of tall, sorcerous, sons of bitches.