Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Creatures of the Underworld

The realms under the surface of Kaelaross are the disputed territories of two great factions - the cold-bloods and the grey goblins.

The Coldbloods include lizardmen, troglodytes and the enigmatic snakemen of whom there are several subraces. including Rattlers.
They have many reptilian animals used as beast of burden, attack beasts and mounts, such as different lizards and some dinosaurs where the size of cavern permits. 

The Grey Goblins are vicious and evil but also surprisingly well organised subrace related to the normal goblins found closer to the surface. They are noted for powerful shamans and warriors who can lead legions of goblin soldiers.
The Grey Goblin shamans are adept at using powerful chaotic magic to shape life forms into new hideous species. 

There are both unintelligent animals and also intelligent creatures that are either solitary or form small bands.
Minotaurs, trolls and ogres are found underneath, and although all three races can be hired as mercenaries by both main factions, they tend to be used more by the grey goblins.
Dwarves and gnomes can both be found in the Underworld but do not parley with either faction - they have ample reasons to hate both the grey goblins and the cold-bloods. They have intermittent contact with civilization on the surface, but some gnome colonies remain isolated for decades.

The Underworld has its own ecosystem, at the base of which there are the fungi. There are many types of fungi, most of which are harmless but difficult for humanoids to digest. Some of them are poisonous if eaten, while a rare few are dangerous to even approach. The most well-known to adventurers is the shrieker, which makes a terrible noise when it senses approaching creatures, and the dreaded yellow mold, which emits deadly spores when disturbed. Fungi can be found throughout the Underworld, and in some large damp caverns they can form their own fungal forests.

The herbivores are not normally mammals - the creatures that feed on the fungi include cave locusts, giant fire beetles and subterranean iguanas.
The predators that feed on the herbivores are wide-ranging and usually dangerous to adventurers. They include the humanoids mentioned above, as well as many types of monsters and giant arthropods.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

NPCs of Ironmarket

Hiffleworth Shortshanks
3rd level Halfling Scout, align Lawful, gender male
Str 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Dex 16, Con 13, Cha 13
AC 3, Move 90',  HP 11, THAC0 18, 16 with crossbow Att 1 axe for 1d6 or 1 bolt for 1d6
Equipment: chain mail, hand axe, light crossbow, 20 bolts
Hiffleworth is the innkeeper of the Iron Eagle Inn at Ironmarket. He deals with a wide range of customers including adventurers, nobility, merchants, officials and criminals. As such he is an unofficial information broker and social networker. He still has the town's best interests at heart and will report any serious crimes to Rellifern Sharpstoat. He is a retired adventurer, having seen action around Maquosmouth and the Salty Forest, so he is willing to cut other adventurers a little more slack than he would other troublemakers.
Appearance: Hiffleworth is 3'3" and still quite athletic despite his innkeeper lifestyle. He has dark brown curly hair, weathered tanned skin and big sideburns that meet up with a large bushy moustache.

Thembia Stonebright
4th level dwarven cleric, align lawful, gender female
Str 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Dex 10, Con 16, Cha 10
AC 1, Move 60', THAC0 17 Att 1 warhamer for 1d6+1 or spell
Equipment: plate mail, warhammer, shield +1, holy symbol
Spells: Detect Magic, Detect Evil, Cure Light Wounds, Hold Person, Speak with Animal
Thembia is in town officially as a trader from the Confederacy of the Ten Peaks. Although she does promote trade and talk to merchants, her real reason is to keep an eye on Ironmarket in case any trouble occurs between the city and the Confederacy.
Appearance: Thembia is 4'6" tall, is 130lb and has dark brown hair kept in a ponytail and a plain, unfriendly face. She keeps herself smart and dresses in town clothes most of the time. However, she will put on her plate mail if she is expecting problems.

Rellifern Sharpstoat
4th level elven spellsword, align lawful, gender male
Str 13, Int 16, Wis 13, Dex 10, Con 9, Cha 10
AC 3, Move 120', HP 22, THAC0 16, Att 1 sword for 1d8+1 or spell
Equipment: Chain Mail +2, Sword, Dagger, 2 x Potion of Healing
Spells Prepared; Sleep, Hold Portal, Web, Invisibility
Rellifern is the council's most trusted investigator - he acts as part detective, part spymaster. He answers to Drubbal Hestick, the Chief Judge who sits on the town council but is also friendly with the Mayor (Thandris Geddarris)and the Colonel of the Town Guard (Pendrall Dragonslayer). Rellifern is discrete and diplomatic, and will usually try more subtle ways of deterring or correcting offenders. In dealing with serious trouble or recalcitrant criminals he is quite capable of bringing in the town guard to arrest them and bring them to trial.
Appearance: Rellifern is a sprightly young elf, 120lb and with shoulder length blond hair. Like other elves he is clean shaven and  with thin refined features. Unusually he has violet eyes - a sign of the favor of Caralax, lawful goddess of truth and honesty. He often wears his chain mail underneath a loose dark green cloak that he wears wherever he goes.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The City of Stalim and Hurin Castle

Stalim is the easternmost city of the Walrus Freehold, sitting on the banks of the Salmoning River. Stalim (population 10,500) gained a lot of residents during the wars as raiders from the coast did not reach this far inland and so it was seen as a safe haven. Since the wars they have mostly integrated, but there is quite a large underclass of first generation refugees.
Among the 550-strong militia are Grundil’s Quarrellers, 150 dwarf crossbowmen originally from the Grulven Mountains who now act as mercenary guards.
Stalim has numerous small farms dotted nearby, particularly along the river. These are the region’s only significant population of halflings (about 1500 within a 30 mile radius of Stalim).
Stalim is the only city in the Walrus Freehold to have a hereditary ruler, the Duke of Stalim. Before the wars, his family were only barons, but since the collapse of the Empires his father promoted himself and nobody has dared to argue.
Politically Stalim is independent, but the duke maintains good relations with the other three cities of the Freehold. Relations with Trislem are particularly important as Trislem sits astride the mouth of the vitally important Salmoning river that connects most of the cities and towns in the southeast of the region.
Stalim has a problem with chaos cultists. Despite several attempted purges, there are still crimes associated with chaos worship - bodies of human sacrifices are occasionally found, while chaos graffiti is often scrawled on the walls of public buildings. The authorities believe that the cultists have support, maybe secret bases, outside Stalim in either the Twilight Forest or Grulven Mountains so they can escape any purges.
Hurin Castle has been the eastmost frontier for the Walrus Freehold for centuries. It holds 110 officers, soliders and 45 civilian castle staff within the actual castle walls, but the village that has grown up between the castle and the river holds another 220 villagers.  Although primarily a fortress for the Duke of Stalim, Hurin Castle also serves as a frontier outpost for many foresters, hunters and herdsmen. It also serves as a trading post for dealing with human barbarians, elves (particularly the Orchunter Clan) and civilized merchants and traders travelling upstream from Stalim or Trislem on barges or riverboats on the Salmoning River. 
There is some ongoing clerical trouble in Hurin Castle - clerics of Sturnornel have long maintained a shrine at the castle ever since it was founded. However, in the last four years, clerics of both Haaken and Adonor have set up their own shrines. Tensions are simmering as competition for followers, donations and influence have increased.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Derelth Elves, Axebeaks and Giant Eagles

The Derelth elves have inhabited the Talloak Forest for thousands of years - certainly since before the rise of the human empires. They have generally stayed isolated and ignored the changing fortunes of the Toutus Empire. They have never really contested authority over the Talloak Forest - they have ignored the humans' claims and just done as they pleased. Because the Talloak Forest is home to tribes of chaotic humanoids who have caused far more damage than the elves, the Toutians have ignored the elves as well.
The Derelth are known for their associations with certain types of bird - they have domesticated certain birds of prey as pets (Forktailed Falcons - treat as normal hawks), and use large flightless birds called Axebeaks as steeds, even riding them into battle.
The Derelth have an alliance with an eyrie of giant eagles - in emergencies the eagles can provide travel by air for a select few elves, and can also scout and harry weak foes.
The Derelth no longer have permanent settlements - they set up camp for a couple of weeks or so then move on.
Back in the past they were great builders and architects - their ruined towns are dotted around the Talloak Forest. These are abandoned by the elves now, but other races have taken over the ruins.
Like other elves, the champions of the Derelth are a mixture of rangers and spellswords.
Derleth Elves hold both Telemacon and Eldara as their favourite deities.

Adapted from AD&D/OSRIC, here are the Axebeak and the Giant Eagle for Labyrinth Lord

Name           Axebeak         Giant Eagle
No. Enc.       1d10            1d4
Alignment      Unaligned       Neutral
Movement       240'            60'/fly 360'
Armour Class   6               6
Hit Dice       3 (14 hp)       4 (18 hp)
Attacks        2 claws/1 bite  2 claws/1 bite
THAC0          17              16
Damage         1d3/1d3/2d4     1d4/1d4/2d6
Save As        F2              F4
Hoard Class    nil             nil
Size           Large (8' tall) Large (7' tall, 15' span)
Type           Animal          Magical Beast
Intelligence   1-2 (animal)    12-13 (very)
XP Value       50              80

Axebeaks are flightless predatory birds that run around on two tall legs, with long necks, heavy beaks and short stubby wings that are only used for display and balance. They may be related to either the ostriches or the dreaded Diatrymas from the southern continents. Axebeaks prefer plains but are sometimes found in forests and hills where there is food.
When wild, Axebeaks will attack and eat small animals including domestic pets, livestock, children and halflings. If hungry or in a large pack they may be brave enough to attack adult humans, horses or cattle.
Occasionally intelligent humanoids such as the Derelth elves will domesticate axebeaks as mounts. As such they can carry 200lb at full speed, up to 300lb at 150' or a maximum 400lb at 90'. They can be trained to attack in a similar way to a warhorse, and can also charge when the rider wields a lance.

Giant eagles are magnificent creatures that are more than mere animals. They are at least as intelligent as most people, and certainly wiser and more aloof. They sometimes assist elves, mages or neutral clerics who show them the appropriate respect. In battle a giant eagle rarely lands, prefering to swoop onto prey (treat as charge: +2 to hit and double claw damage) . If both claws hit and the target is man-sized or smaller, the eagle can snatch the opponent into the air and drop them from a height (1d6+1 x10 ft drop, doing 1d6 damage per 10'). Giant eagles live on great mountain tops or in the heart of primal forests.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Talloak Forest

The Talloak Forest is a large stretch of woodland to the north and northeast of the Godsblood Straits. It also borders on the south of Iryanland.
The Talloak Forest, like the Shorgan Forest, is virgin, dense and dangerous. There are plenty of natural predators making their homes here, as well as humanoids.
Since humans first moved into the area, there have been humanoid and demihuman tribes, including the Derelth elf clan who have been around for many centuries, leaving a number of abandoned ruins deep in the forest.
Not all the humans are civilized - the Siluri are a tribe of human barbarians who have survived in the forest independent of the Toutus Empire. They have declined since their glory days when they raided the dwarves of the Ten Peaks, but they are still found north of the Ten Peaks, and will react savagely to any civilized intruders. 
The gnolls, orcs and hobgoblins of the Talloak Forest are natives to Kaelaross - they have not come through any recent Chaos Portals. Nonetheless, they are still chaotic, dangerous and will raid other races (sometimes each other) if they think they can succeed. A number of humanoids have been subjugated by a family of green dragons led by a matriarch called Jadefury. Jadefury herself caused havoc to the Confederacy of the Ten Peaks about 75 years ago, and also raided the northern Duchy of Urdus 95 years ago. She has been quiet recently but she may be planning her next assault.

Random Encounters in the Talloak Forest (roll 1d8+1d12)
2 Green Dragon
3 Wereboar or Werebear
4 Minotaur
5 Axebeak, wild
6 Snake, Giant Pit Viper
7 Brown Bear
8 Wolf
9 Orc or Hobgoblin (DM's choice)
10 Wild Boar (1-2 in 6 chance of Giant Boar)
11 Stag (Herd Animal 2 HD) (1-2 in 6 chance of Giant Elk)
12 Wild cattle (Herd Animal 3 HD) (1-2 in 6 chance of Auroch)
13 Gnoll
14 Derelth Elves or Human Barbarian (DM's Choice)
15 Giant Spider, Black Widow
16 NPC adventurer
17 Giant Hawk or Giant Eagle (DM's choice)
18 Sprite or Pixie (DM's Choice)
19 Treant
20 Unicorn

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Barbarians in Kaelaross

So far it seems that most humans in Kaelaross are survivors of the four collapsed empires. Large though the Empires were, they did not cover all the land of Kaelaross. Once the Empires had established themselves, most of the barbarians, especially those neighbouring the Empires, were pushed aside, conquered or assimilated. By the time of the Wars between the Empires, the remaining barbarians had been marginalized to areas neither profitable nor strategically important. With the collapse of the Empires, the barbarian tribes are more free to expand and reclaim their old lands, and to plunder the ruins and survivors of the Empires. After centuries of conquest, persecution, exploitation and punitive raids there is little love lost between the barbarians and the empires.

The barbarians have never embraced Law much - they are usually neutral or sometimes chaotic. Their attitude towards the forces of Chaos that have emerged from the Chaos Portals varies. Some have pledged outright allegience to one of the Chaos Gods (Slargor is popular among barbarians). Others view Chaos as an ally of convenience, others are rivals to Chaos. Some barbarians (particularly the neutral, less bloodthirsty tribes) consider the forces of Chaos as an enemy to be destroyed, at least as dangerous and destructive as the Human empires.

In terms of B/X D&D and Labyrinth Lord, human barbarians are generally fighters, though their scouts may be thieves and their shamans are treated as clerics. Magic users are a lot rarer than in the remains of the four empires, and some barbarian cultures do not permit magic users at all. Barbarians are notoriously wary of wizards, and some are violently hostile to them. 
As an optional rule, DMs may allow barbarians who shun all armour except shields to double their dexterity bonus to AC (this has also been used for swashbucklers who do not wear armour either). As most barbarians are fighters, they can wear armour, even plate mail, if they wish, but then they lose the additional dex bonus. Some folks might think that they should be allowed to keep the double dexterity bonus while wearing leather armour, but I disagree. The Celts and the Germanic tribes who fought the Romans shunned all armour, and Native Americans, South African Zulus, jungle tribesmen from the Congo and Amazon and most Central Asian horsemen (Huns & Mongols) did not wear armour. Most warriors who wore leather armour were not barbarians as I understand it. 
Although not the stereotypical barbarian, demihuman tribes are sometimes included, particularly when they have shunned Imperial lifestyle and authority. The elves and centaurs of the Shorgan Forest fit this description.
Humanoids such as orcs, goblins, gnolls and kobolds are not normally classed as barbarians but as monsters, as they are considered inherently chaotic and unable to become civilized. Whether this is absolutely true is a matter of debate, but so far all attempts to civilize such races have failed badly - you can teach a kobold how to hold a knife and fork correctly but the little bastard will still try to stab you with them. Barbarians from a Kaelaross point of view are uncivilized members of a civilized race

The known realms of human barbarians include:
The Siluri of the Talloak Forest in between the Godsblood Straits and Iryanland - they are now a shadow of their former might, when they used to attack and raid the Dwarves of the Ten Peaks. 
The Cheruscu of the Twilight Forest in the Walrus Freehold
The Garavu of the Twisted Hills in the Walrus Freehold

Monday, 15 August 2011

NPCs of Sterin Barony

All these characters are found in Sterin Barony in the Godsblood Straits

Baron Samthor Wildtide
10th level fighter, align neutral, age 45, gender male
Str 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Dex 10, Con 16, Cha 14
AC 3, Move 120', HP 60, THAC0 10, Att 1 sword for 1d8+2
Equipment: Chain Mail +2, Sword +2, Dagger +2, Amulet vs Crystal Balls and ESP, 2 potions of extra healing
Baron Samthor is interested in both his continued rulership of Sterin and also Sterin Barony's expanding role in the wider world. He is interested in developing trade and military connections with Teiglin while staying independent. He is also interested in the Island of Lost Souls as a possible fiefdom. Baron Samthor is a smooth operator who is the biggest fish in a small pond (Sterin). He is interested in meeting similar rulers (such as the Town Council of Ironmarket and the Barons of Luthien and Stelmit) to assess what they are like.

Sister Goralash Wildtide
11th level cleric, align neutral, age 48, gender female
Str 10, Int 12, Wis 17, Dex 9, Con 14, Cha 12
AC  0, Mv 120', HP 44, THAC0 13, Att 1 mace for 1d6+2 or by spell
Equipment: Chain Mail +2, Mace +2, Shield +2, Holy Symbol, Potion of Invisibility
Sister Goralash is the half-sister of Baron Samthor and the leader of the Church of Vought on Sterin Island. She views control of the sea as vital to Sterin Barony's trade, military, diplomacy and fishing, and encourages Samthor to build up a powerful navy and merchant fleet. Sister Goralash is ambitious and some think she meddles too much in politics. She wants Vought to be the pre-eminent deity on Sterin Island, and she will pull political strings to achieve this.

Durnold Broadbough
7th level magic user, align neutral, age 56, gender male
Str 8, Int 16, Wis 13, Dex 16, Con 11, Cha 13
AC 4, Move 120', HP 18, THAC0 18, Att 1 dagger for 1d4 or by spell
Equipment: Wand of Magic Missiles, Robe of Protection +1, Ring of Protection +2, 2 potions of extra healing, Dagger +1
Durnold is a merchant who inherited his father's business. He sees new opportunities opening up and wants to seize them. Durnold has visited Tearfall several times and Luthien and Tredgor in Teiglin as well as scouting the east side of the Godsblood Strait for a suitable port or trading post. Durnold considers himself primarily a merchant, with magic using and sailing as secondary skills - being a competent mage reduces the risk of robbery and fraud. Durnold does not have political ambitions - he is quite happy making a healthy profit.

Brogvar the Unyielding
11th level dwarf warrior, unaligned, gender male
Str 18, Int 7, Wis 10, Dex 10, Con 16, Cha 8
AC 1, Move 90' HP 62, THAC0 7, Att 1 battleaxe for 1d8+5
Equipment: Plate Mail +2, Battleaxe +2, Ring of Spell Turning
Brogvar is Baron Samthor's champion and bodyguard. He is unquestioningly loyal to the baron and will do anything short of outright suicide. Brogvar is not the cleverest of dwarves, and has a tendency to kill first and ask questions later. His one weakness is chocolate which may distract him from his duties. Brogvar has a dangerous reputation in Sterinport, and most folks give him a wide berth, particularly after he mistook an over-enthusiastic wellwisher who tried to hug the Baron as a would-be assassin. The results were messy but nobody has tried to hug the Baron since.

Brother Rastis
9th level cleric, align Lawful, gender male
Str 12, Int 12, Wis 15, Dex 10, Con 10, Cha 14
AC 2, Move 90', HP 34, THAC0 14, Att 1 mace for 1d6+2 or by spell
Equipment: Chain Mail, Shield +2, Mace +2 +3 vs chaotic creatures, holy symbol, 2 vials of holy water, scroll of protection from elementals
Brother Rastis is a follower of Adonor and runs a chapel in Sterinport. He is eager to seek out and destroy the forces of Chaos, and considers the Island of Lost Souls the first priority. Once the Island of Lost Souls is cleansed, he has his holy sights set on Maquosmouth, Aerisport and the rest of Kaelaross. He dislikes Sister Goralash, and considers her manipulative and unspiritual. He is one of the very few people of Sterin to openly criticize her.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Campaign Settings and Wikis

I love Wikipedia - it is my go-to reference source on the internet for most questions, especially real-life things. I love the way you can meander for hours at a time, following one link to another, going through hundreds of articles until you realise it's past midnight and you've got work tomorrow.
Can you do the same with campaign settings? Hell yes!
Some of my favourite wikis for campaign settings (not all of them D&D) include:

Greyhawk Wiki (part of the great Canonfire website)
Forgotten Realms Wiki
Obsidian Portal (where DMs can create wikis for their own campaigns)
Fighting Fantasy Titannica (ok, not D&D, but I still like the books)

These group wikis are potentially huge - Star Wars Wookiepedia (love the name!) has 85,000+ pages. Wowpedia (for World of Warcraft) has 93,000+ pages (although a lot of that is gameplay info).
Another part of my inspiration has been fantasy worlds created before the rise of the Internet - in a Dragon magazine interview with Ed Greenwood (the original creator of the Forgotten Realms) he said he had 80 boxes of notes of Realms lore at his home, while the depth of history and culture for settings like Tolkein's Middle Earth and R.E. Howard's Hyborean Age (both before the rise of D&D and other RPGs) or M.A.R Barker's Tekumel and David Hargrave's Arduin (at the dawn of RPGs) is astounding, with the internet allowing these to be increased exponentially by fan contributions (of variable quality but unquestionable enthusiasm).

Have I done the same with Kaelaross? Not exactly. The amount of effort required for a proper wiki of Kaelaross would be overwhelming. I would look at the range of subjects to be done and I would bottle out and end up playing computer games instead. Loss of confidence is a major part of my quitting projects.

This is why I have decided to do a blog instead of a wiki - regular additions to the blog about three times a week is manageable - that does not worry or overwhelm me. I just add a page every two or three days.
Nonetheless, I have tried to link pages together in a similar way to a wiki. Blogger might have its problems, but at the moment it is relatively simple to link one page of my blog to another page if folks want to find out more about a name or a subject. One thing that this does require is going back through previous posts and creating links to newer pages. This is a bit of a bore, but it can be done.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Adventure Seeds around Teiglin 1

Good Shepherds: The Voina Hills are not the most dangerous of terrain, but they are not completely safe either. The village of Oldship on Stelmit's north coast normally has a fair number of sheep farmers and shepherds. However, wolves have been attacking the flocks of sheep, and the shepherds are suffering as a result. The dwarves are not very interested - they have enough problems keeping the village safe from pirate raiders. The PCs are asked to hunt down and kill the wolves.
The wolves are not alone - they are partially trained and partially magically controlled by a kobold shaman and his band of kobold followers.

Diffusing the Fireballs: In Brandir town two powerful but not so wise mages are becoming more and more hostile towards each other. They have already factionalised many in the magical college there and it seems only a matter of time before a magical duel ensues - and the more sensible mages believe there will be considerable damage as a result, both to the town and to the reputation of mages across Teiglin. The town mayor has contacted the PCs and offered them a decent reward if they can somehow diffuse the situation either by negotiations or by sabotaging the mages' ability to cast spells.

The Tower in the Woods: In Luthien there was a wizard who fled from his tower in the Karalos Woods during the invasion of Chaos. He subsequently died of old age without returning to the tower. His daughter is still alive and wants the adventurers to go into the tower and retrieve her mother's pendant. The Karalos Woods are still dangerous, and once they get to the Wizard's tower they will find a chaotic rival mage with his hobgoblin minions about to break in and ransack the place, looking for the wizard's spellbook. The daughter's pendant is purely of sentimental value, but if the chaotic mage hears of it he will assume this is a powerful magic item, and will not let the PCs take it peacefully. There are also traps and guardians inside the wizard's tower, including crystal and wax animated statues.

The Red Handed Assassin: A killer has murdered a witness in Alvenir who was going to tell the Captain of the Watch about Red Hand activities in the town. However, the murder happened in view of a number of people, and now the killer has fled town. The PCs have been sent after him - there is a substantial bounty on his head, wanted dead or alive. The killer tried to get to Troutmarket but was blocked by a patrol so he diverted into Hawkswood.
There is a safehouse in Hawkswood run by a secretive cleric of Bhael who will take in the fugitive for a high price. However, the insect infestation has almost reached the safehouse, threatening the cleric, the fugitive and anyone following.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The City of Najask

Najask is one of the four cities of the Walrus Freehold. It sits across the Walrus Channel on the large island of Cortacus, up the Crayspawn River. Najask was officially founded in BY 1466 and is still the largest human settlement on Cortacus. Although cold (and dangerously so in winter), the river valley is still fertile, and during the summer months the farms in the surrounding countryside produce a healthy amount of oats, barley and root vegetables. Wandering herds of caribou, musk-oxen and woolly rhinos provide much-needed meat, leather and wool (though unlike sheep, woolly rhinos cannot be sheared while alive). The Crayspawn river is also famous for the amount of crayfish that appear during the spring, swimming upstream against the rush of melt water flowing down from the Cortactus Mountains.

Najask (population 6400) was attacked by raiders from Bursia sailing up the river during the Wars between the Empires. The count and his noble family fled the town to the hills, taking a large number of the town guards with them. The two groups who took command were lawful churches and the college of magic. The mages managed to persuade or bully the clerics to take second place, and now an uneasy alliance exists between the two. Najask is effectively a magocracy, ruled by the council of the College of Magic, but backed up and (usually) supported by the churches of Rhondus, Sestarna and Sturnornel.

Teryxton (pop 2200) was raided several times during the wars. However, the last attempted raid resulted in Bursian soldiers and sailors mutinying and getting shipwrecked off the coast. The survivors made their way to Teryxton and were held prisoner until the end of the wars, after which they were released. Most of them decided to settle in Teryxton. The town now has a  multicultural feel about it.

Untheris (pop. 1430) is mostly human, with 230 dwarves. The town is the closest human settlement to the Goldseeker Clan of dwarves in the Cortacus mountains, and as such it serves as a trading post with the dwarves. Untheris is also the town closest to the mineral wealth of the Orgrist Hills to the south, and so hardy prospectors of different races (usually dwarves and humans) will use the town as a base for their expeditions.

Fjordport (pop. 3100) is reliant on fishing, with some sheep and reindeer farming. The baron of the town is desperately trying to find heroes, mercenaries or the like to fend off attacks by a band of frost giants and their ogre footsoldiers and polar bear pets. The giant raiders attacked and slaughtered an outlying village two years ago and last year attacked two other farmsteads. This year it is feared they are brave enough to attack the actual town.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Golems and Animated Statues

Golems and Animated statues are found across Kaelaross, and are constructed by  powerful mages using rare materials, immaculate craftsmanship and ancient magical formulae. They are of particular importance in the city of Maquosmouth where a group of mages are using them to fend off hordes of chaotic monsters.

Existing types of golem include
Mud (from Rules Cyclopedia)
Obsidian (from Rules Cyclopedia)
Existing types of Animated statues (also mistakenly called Living Statues) include

I was going to create rules for constructing golems and animated statues, but on page 253 of the Rules Cyclopedia there seem to be a complete set of rules for creating constructs, so I shall use those instead. 

New Animated statues
Name          Wax Animated Statue   Terracotta Animated Statue
No. App.      1-4                   2d10
Alignment     Unaligned             Unaligned
Intelligence  3 (Semi)              0 (Non)
Armour Class  9                     5
Hit Dice (hp) 3* (13 hp)            4* (18 hp)
Movement      90'                   60'
THAC0         17                    16
Attack        1 weapon              1 weapon
Damage        1d8 or by weapon      1d8+1 or by weapon +1
Save As       T3                    F4
Morale        12                    12
Hoard Class   nil                   nil
Size          Medium                Medium
Type          Construct             Construct
XP Value      65                    135
Wax animated statues are not very effective in combat, but they can use normal weapons in their waxy hands. They are vulnerable to fire and take double damage from fire based attacks.
Wax animated statues have one big advantage - they look life-like. When dressed appropriately a wax animated statue will be mistaken for a humanoid unless studied up close - a PC or NPC requires an Intelligence check to spot the true nature of the statue. Some wax animated statues are created to impersonate particular individuals.
Wax animated statues are considered more socially acceptable than other constructs as they appear almost human. They are often used as manservants. They have a modicum of intelligence that allows them to carry out a range of different orders.
As constructs, wax animated statues are immune to mind-affecting spells such as sleep, charm and hold, and poison and death magic.

 Terracotta Animated Statues are built for mass combat. As they are made of fired clay they are immune to all heat and cold attacks. Furthermore, while in contact with an earth or stone floor, a terracotta animated statue regenerates 2hp/rnd until destroyed (regeneration stops at 0 hp or less). They are often found standing to attention around magnificent tombs, sometimes in huge numbers. They are smaller than humans - typically 4- tall, and armed with crude but effective bronze weapons that they wield with considerable strength.
As constructs, terracotta animated statues are immune to mind-affecting spells such as sleep, charm and hold, and poison and death magic

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Dwarves of the Ten Peaks

Dwarves have inhabited the Ten Peaks for at least a thousand years - they were there when the Toutus Empire was first formed, and they have stayed around long enough to see it fall apart. Now they are the largest civilized force in the Godsblood Straits.

In the early days there were three Thegndoms which often fought against each other. These internecine wars among the dwarves were known as the Thegn Wars. These wars weakened the dwarves considerably, so when several external threats appeared in rapid succession, something had to be done. First a wave of orcs attacked the Ten Peaks, causing great damage and grief. Then human barbarians in the Talloak Forest began raiding the northern settlements, Finally the predominantly human Toutus Empire growing in the east launched an invasion and succeeded in BY 850.
The Toutus Empire split the Thegndoms into the ten clans that exist today and forbade the creation of any Thegn or King of the dwarves - the humans believed that this would stop the dwarves from unifying into a threat. This caused some upheaval but in BY 899 the dwarves secretly formed the Confederacy with a central council of clan chiefs rather than a single leader.
During the dwarves battle with the Duke of Urdus in BY 1050 the dwarves were led by Kazzor Bluegem, leader of the Bluegem clan - the first time and so far only time that the dwarves were united under a single dwarven leader.
After they had sworn allegience to the Emperor and separated from the Duchy of Urdus, Kazzor was infuriated when the other nine clan chiefs reverted back to the Confederacy Council and he only grudgingly attended the council meetings.

The council meetings of the leaders of the Ten Clans is fraught with bargaining, underhand diplomacy and personality clashes. It is rare when the Council of the Confederacy all agree on something and this is a sign of a serious situation where normal bickering and horse-trading has to be put aside. 
The architecture of the Ten Clans is extensive, both on the surface of each of the peaks and within each mountain. After over a thousand years the industrious dwarves have created towns on the surface while underneath there are miles and miles of mines, passages, chambers, catacombs, prisons and barracks. Many of these are centuries old and have been abandoned for a long time - thus clearing out these dwarven dungeons is a continuous task.
Complicating this is the discovery of connections to the Underworld, a vast network of underground caves and tunnels that span across Kaelaross. Creatures from the Underworld, such as gray worms (caecilians), minotaurs, displacer beasts and white apes sometimes emerge to cause havoc in the lower levels of the dwarven strongholds.
Dotted around the hills and valleys in between the ten peaks there are farmstead of humans and halflings, growing barley, wheat and vegetables, and raising sheep, goats and sturdy ponies who are used by dwarves instead of larger horses.
Other areas of the hills are wild, and in these less civilized areas there are goats, stags, wild boar, pumas (also known as mountain lions), wolves and brown bears, as well as the occasional ogre, wyvern or griffon.
Clan Name       Population
Copperring      2,210      
Capable wilderness explorers.Often clash with inhabitants of Talloak Forest when cutting timber

Ogrebane        2,530      
Reputation for being tough warriors, but arrogant and proud

Fireforge       1,910      
Renowned craftsmen, notorious for being greedy and thrifty

Weatherwatcher  1,800      
Diplomatic, often dealing with Ironmarket and halflings

Bluegem         1,990      
Old, noble, previously leaders of the Confederacy

Griffinclaw     2,390      
Noted for architects and engineers. Not noted for friendliness or diplomacy

Flagon raisers  2,040      
Considered drunken partygoers - partly true, but also capable of putting on an act and being sneaky

Diamondshield   1,730      
Religious with lots of dwarven clerics. Also old-fashioned and traditional

Steelpick       2,580      
Industrious miners who are also the most experienced in dealing with the Underworld and its monsters

Cyclopsslayers  2,150      
Renowned fighters and woodcutters. Occasionally eccentric and possibly insane.

Monday, 1 August 2011


The city of Maquosmouth was a vibrant city-port in the Duchy of Uldus, until the Summoning, during which Bhael created a chaos portal in the city, unleashing a swarm of monsters on the hapless inhabitants.
Those who were not killed fled, many of them arriving at Ironmarket
Thus far, it is similar to Erkhart and Aerisport - another Imperial city devastated by the power of a chaotic god and left to vicious monsters.

However, one contingent stayed - these were the students of Gerontium, a wizard of considerable power. Gerontium was known in Toutus, and renowned among the mages of Toutus, as the premier creator of golems and animated statues. As well as creating the well-known, standard types, Gerontium created new types, writing down the formulae and passing the methods onto his students.
Gerontium died before the Summoning, but his mage students carried on his work. When Bhael visited and created the Chaos Portal, it was a while before the students realised how serious the situation was. They started to activate the golems and animated statues only after the monsters had poured out and attacked the townsfolk. They did, however, defend the immediate vicinity - their master's compound and the neighbouring buildings. 

Fifty years later the students are still holding out, but they are losing a war of attrition. They have ways of repairing damaged golems and animated statues, but do not have the materials to create whole new ones. The monsters roaming the city may not have access to healing but their numbers are replenished via the chaos portal.

The architecture of Maquosmouth is worn and battered, as there have been battles and skirmishes for the last 50 years. The city is divided by the River Maquos, and the two bridges over it have collapsed. The students of Gerontium hold onto part of the south side, while the Chaos Portal is in the north side, where the town marketplace used to be. 

The Chaos Portal connects to Hestoris, the first Plane of Chaos. As such, a lot of the creatures that have emerged are chaotic humanoids, including ogres, orcs and gnolls. Although they can swim with difficulty (and given the flow of the river, some get swept out to sea) the orcs and gnolls are trying their hands at boat building to get across to the south bank so as to attack the enclave of mages and golems. The golems can wade through the water as they do not need to breath, and there are certain places where they can lumber up or down the river banks on muddy slopes, while the mages, if they consider it necessary, can usually fly over or use a breath water spell if they need to.

There are certain areas that have seen a lot of fighting - most notably the south docks, which the mages want to use as a lifeline to the rest of the civilized world (particularly Sterin Barony). 
Maquosmouth is strategically important, as seizing it would provide a sea port to connect Ironmarket and the Confederacy up the river in the east with Sterin Barony and Teiglin across the sea to the west.