Friday, 29 April 2011

Optional Class - The Halfling Defender

Requirements: Str 9+, Dex 9+
Alignment: Always Lawful
Armour: Any + Shield
Weapons: Any one-handed melee weapon except lance, plus any missile weapon except longbow and heavy crossbow
Furthermore, the following weapons cannot be used with just one hand by halfling defenders. In effect these become two-handed weapons: Spear, Longsword, Bastard Sword, Mace, Warhammer, Trident

Racial Abilities: As halflings, halfling defenders have the following abilities:
            +1 to initiative
            -2 to AC vs large opponents.
Class Abilities:
At 1st level, halfling defenders can set spears against charging opponents as fighters do. Spears are still 2-handed weapons for halflings using this ability.
At 2nd level, halfling defenders can use spells in a way similar to clerics.
At 3rd level halfling defenders can turn undead as if clerics of 2 levels lower.

The halfling defender's spell list is smaller than normal clerics and progression is slower, but this is offset by the halfling defender’s wider range of weapons, including potent missile weapons, making the halfling defender not so much a halfling cleric as a halfling fighter/cleric.
Note that Cure Moderate Wounds functions as Cure Light Wounds but heals 2d6+2 damage.

Halfling defenders are the doughty protectors of halfling communities, as well as the healers of sick and injured halflings. They have some commonality with human and dwarven clerics, and some taller folk mistakenly call them halfling clerics. However, halfling defenders rarely form or join organised religion; instead they follow the philosophy of Law in an informal but sincere way.
Halfling defenders are happy to ally with other races and classes – they find dwarves easiest to get on with, but can also work with humans and elves. Among humans, lawful fighters and clerics have the most in common with halfling defenders, and some defenders attach themselves to human churches of lawful gods.

Should a halfling defender cease to follow the path of Law, and unrepentantly behave in an evil or chaotic way, they lose their spells and the ability to turn undead. They retain all their fighter-like weapon training and skills (THAC0 and hit points stay the same).

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Rulers of Teiglin part 3

Blorinor Highhelm, Chieftain of the Dwarves of Stelmit, Baron of Stelmit
8th level Dwarf Warrior, alignment Lawful, age 105, gender male
Str 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Dex 10, Con 16,  Cha 12
AC -1, Move 60', hp 61, THAC0 9, Att 1 warhammer for 1d6+3,
Equipment: Plate Mail +2, Warhammer +2, Shield +1 +3 vs missiles, Ring of Regeneration.
Blorinor is one of the more aggressive and gung-ho leaders in Teiglin. He is frequently pushing for more action against the forces of Chaos, including another attempt to capture Erkhart. Although he can seem annoying to those barons on the borderlands, at least Blorinor is  willing to put his money, or at least his troops, where his mouth is. He often sends companies of 50 dwarf warriors into the Borderlands and other trouble spots to assist in the defence of Teiglin.
Description: Blorinor is 4'2", with a black beard woven into 3 plaits, ruddy complexion and a scar running down the left side of his face from the corner of his eye to the lower edge of his left ear. His voice is loud and booming, even when he is supposed to be quiet (think of a shortened Brian Blessed).

Corminius Twiceslain, Baron of Alvenir
7th level magic user, alignment Lawful, age 44, gender male
Str 7, Int 17, Wis 12, Dex 10, Con 14, Cha 10
Equipment: Bracers of Armour AC 5, Wand of Magic Missiles, Ring of Protection +2, Silver dagger
Spells: Detect Magic, Read Magic, Charm Person, Locate Object, Web, Water Breathing, Fly, Wall of Ice
Corminius is not popular among the other barons as he came to power by tutoring King Thestor in the magical arts. As far as other barons are concerned he is a jumped-up hedge wizard, not a true nobleman. However, Corminius seems to have risen above this and taken his baronial duties seriously. Corminius believes that magic and magic-users could contribute more to the kingdom of Teiglin and seeks to demonstrate this. Corminius has a specific interest in the borderlands and lands of Chaos, namely that he wants to locate and retrieve as many lost spellbooks as possible, especially those with unique spells written in them. One thing that Corminius is ashamed of is his phobia of large bodies of water - he refuses to get into boats or ships, and will always keep a safe distance from sea shores or river banks. He also always has a Water Breathing spell memorised just in case he falls into water.
Description: Corminius is 5'2", weighs 110lb and eschews the hackneyed wizards' robes for those of a wealthy merchant. He has pale skin, long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.

Deserain of Rhondus, Sheriff of Thaldion
7th level cleric, alignment Lawful, age 50, gender female
Str 11, Int 14, Wis 17, Dex 10, Con 10, Cha 14
Equipment: Plate Mail +2, Mace +2, Shield +1, +2 vs missiles
Spells: CLW x2, Light x2, Bless, Hold Person, Speak with Animals, Cure Disease, Dispel Magic, Detect Lie
Deserain has been appointed the Sheriff of Thaldion by King Thestor. She is responsible for the running of the Barony of Thaldion which traditionally has been the King's own barony. She also happens to be the bishopess of Rhondus in Thaldion which has made some wonder whether it is sensible to let religious figures become political figures as well. However, she has managed to keep the two duties separate, and has not used her position of Sheriff to promote the church of Rhondus. She has proved herself to be a capable administrator. As a cleric of Rhondus (lawful god of defence and the home), Deserain is supportive of Garriol in Bauglir, but she has little patience for Delphinius whom she considers a poser and arrogant fool.
Description: Deserain is 5'0", 170lb and quite rotund. She has iron-gray hair tied up into a bun, and has a wide, wrinkly face that is not exactly beautiful but has a commanding, powerful quality to it. She does not often wear her armour, but wears her clerical cassock with her sheriff's chains of office along side her holy symbol unless she is expecting trouble.

See also
Rulers of Teiglin part 1
Rulers of Teiglin part 2

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Deities of Kaelaross part 2

Chelmor, Lawful god of Culture, Reason and Peace
Symbol: Pale grey owl
Chelmor is popular among those who would rather have a quiet life and prefer diplomacy and compromise to violent confrontation. Many citizens and housewives follow Chelmor, as well as diplomats and those dealing with awkward people. During the Wars between the Empires, the Church of Chelmor was swelled with conscientious objectors, pacifists and those who were just tired and fed up with the violence, destruction and grief. Since the collapse of the Empires and the overrunning of land by creatures of Chaos, he has waned in popularity as townsfolk and peasants cannot negotiate with ogres, dragons or undead.

Sturnornel, Lawful goddess of agriculture, food and hard work
Symbol: Yellow Wheatsheaf
Sturnornel is the goddess of the commoner, who is more concerned about growing enough foood and earning a living than adventures or other such mischief. She is popular throughout rural communities and also among labourers and artisans in towns.
Sturnornel has become more popular in areas where food is scarce and starvation is a real danger.

Khazep, Neutral god of power, magic, knowledge and authority
Symbol: Blue Staff with pink aura
All magic users and elves have at least a passing respect for Khazep, god of magic, and many hold him as their patron deity. Khazep was especially popular in the Empire of Telthus. Khazep is not so much interested in ethical use of magic so much as ensuring that magic remains a powerful and useful tool.
Similarly with his aspect of god of authority, Khazep does not worry much about ethical use of political and social power so much as ensuring stability and effective rulership, even if it may seem harsh to subjects.
As it was magic-users who summoned Bhael into the world, the common people dislike and distrust Khazep. This is further compounded by the Wars between the Empires, where many of the rulers and generals who commanded during the wars were followers of Khazep, or at least paid respect to him, only for the end result being the total collapse of Imperial authority and much regional authority.

Nemesis, Neutral Goddess of Fate, Necessity and Death
Symbol: Black crossed scythes
Nemesis is the goddess of endings and eventuality. She is revered by those who deal with death as a natural process, as those who have grim but necessary tasks to do. Undertakers and those who work in hospices often revere her, but her worshippers sometimes clash with those of Sestarna, because of the philosophical and ethical differences over dealing with those who are seriously injured or gravely ill.

Hernas, Chaotic Goddess of Decadence and forbidden pleasures. 
Symbol: Bright red lips and protruding pink tongue
Hernas is a subtle and dangerous goddess who initially seems harmless and fun. However, she will lure her worshippers deeper into depravity and abuse. Hernas constantly mocks the lawful goddess Eldara for being too restrained and high-minded in her ideas of love and pleasure. Whores, pimps and various deviants will worship Hernas, but few monsters are interested in her.

Pelepton, Chaotic God of Ambition, Greed, Treachery and Cheating
Symbol: Purse of gold coins
Pelepton is a quintessentially sociopathic thief who seeks to take whatever he can however he can, usually by stealth and deception. His followers are similar, and include burglars, con-men, doppelgangers, corrupt politicians and crooked merchants. Cynicism, greed and deceit are the watchwords of this god of chaos. Pelepton is popular among members of the Red Hand chaos cult, as his beliefs and attitude match those of most of the leaders of the Red Hand.

See also:
Deities of Kaelaross part 1
Deities of Kaelaross part 3

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Kaelaross, the Keep on the Borderlands and Points of Light

The original inspiration for Kaelaross was from the first few pages of B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. The idea of humanity and its allies battling for survival against the forces of Chaos was too cool to resist!

The Realm of Mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its population, rape its riches and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil that surrounds them. Yet, there are always certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals among its allies - dwarves, elves and halflings - who rise above the common level and join battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land. Bold adventurers from the Realm set off for the Borderlands to seek their fortune. It is these adventurers who, providing they survive the challenge, carry the battle to the enemy. Such adventurers meet the forces of Chaos in a testing ground where only the fittest will return to tell their tale. Here, these individuals will become skilled in their profession, be it fighter or magic-user, cleric or thief. They will be tried in the fire of combat, those who return hardened and more fit. True, some few who do survive the process will turn from Law and good and serve the masters of Chaos, but most will remain faithful and ready to fight Chaos wherever it threatens to infect the Realm.
In fact, I have incorporated B2: the Keep on the Borderlands into Kaelaross as Castellan Keep, the eastmost outpost of Teiglin in its borderlands.

There was a trend in 2nd Edition AD&D to move away from simple, hack-and-slash settings to much more complex, intelligent and subtle settings, where civilization was the norm, and savage, chaotic realms were few and far-between. The Forgotten Realms springs to mind, as does Birthright. Although interesting and good in its own way, it was not quite what I was looking for.

I admit I have not played any 4th Edition D&D, but I can still borrow stuff from it. The most interesting bit about 4th Edition was not in the rulebooks, but a posting during its design and development by Richard Baker about the Points of Light concept for the default setting. This post harkened right back to the background to the Keep on the Borderlands and explained a number of things I had intuitively felt but not said out loud.

Having said that, I think that Kaelaross is actually toned down from Rich Baker's Points of Light, and things are not quite as harsh as he imagines. There are areas that are grey rather than completely dark - much of the current Kingdom of Teiglin is relatively safe (although in D&D that is not reassuring - almost any wilderness is relatively safe compared to some of the realms of chaos where red dragons dominate tribes of orcs and powerful wizards casually disintegrate passers-by).

Nonetheless, when I created Kaelaross, I wanted a reason for large areas to be overrun by Chaos, and for the realms of men to have collapsed or at least retreated, leaving lots of ruined cities. Hence the Wars between the Empires and the Summoning of Bhael. The perfect recipe for a D&D sandbox campaign? Not for everyone, but it was what I wanted, and I'm still happy with it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Towns and Baronies of Teiglin: Glensor

Glensor is the barony on the border between the Kingdom of Teiglin and the Shorgan Forest as you can see in this map. It includes some of the Shorgan Forest and is sparsely populated in comparison with the other baronies - only 6000 people dwell in Glensor (3300 elves, 2500 humans and a smattering of other races). The humans are clustered around the villages and the town of Glensor, while the elves are more at home in the woodlands.

In the event of war, the humans muster into squads of militia, but it is the elves who are the backbone of Glensor's defence, with both elven rangers and elven spellswords joining in any fight, usually in a loose, skirmishing formation that takes advantage of the woodland terrain.

The town of Glensor is quite small - only 1200 inhabitants. It is built among great trees, and many of the more adventurous elves have built their wooden homes in the forks of the great boughs. The humans, and some of the elves, have built more conventional stone and timber buildings on the ground, but even these are beautiful and artistic. Nearby the elves tend orchards of many different fruits, and these are turned into a variety of jams, pickles or fermented drinks. Glensor plum wine and plum brandy are considered delicacies across Teiglin, and before the war it was exported across Toutus.

The village of Elfmeet, as the name suggests, is a trading post between elves and humans that has developed into a substantial settlement of 560 folk. It sits on an important junction between Glensor town, the town of Bauglir, the capital Thaldion and the village-port of Greenport, and so it sees a lot of trade traffic. The village is the home to a powerful merchant of considerable magical ability who has been known to charge protection money for safe passage of rivals' caravans.

Haven is a strange, almost magical realm that is ruled by a mysterious figure known as the Silver Princess. Haven includes a small villlage of about 150 people, but it is dominated by the great palace, a multi-leveled and ornate structure. However, it is worrying that nobody has been able to get into or out of the palace for a while due to some terrible enchantment.

To the east of Glensor, on the way to Firebright Keep and Castellan Keep, there is the village of Iridell. This is considerably more fortified, with a pallisade and several stone watchtowers, than the other settlements of Glensor. Iridell sits on the three-way corner of the Kingdom of Teiglin, the Chaos-haunted borderlands and the wilderness of the Shorgan Forest. It is inhabited mostly by elves (about 160 of them) but other races are welcome as long as they behave themselves. Adventurers are tolerated as long as there is no bother, but any trouble and the miscreants will find out just how powerful and dangerous some of those elves can be.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Shorgan Forest

While there are some parts of the Kingdom of Teiglin that are not quite settled and civilised, they are for the most-part tamed. The Shorgan Forest is not one of those - it is wilderness, untamed since humans first settled the Teiglin Peninsula hundreds of years ago. There have been dangerous animals and monsters dwelling in the Shorgan Forest long before the Wars between the Empires or the Summoning made other areas desolate or monster-infested.
The Shorgan Forest fills the southern half of the Island of Teiglin, and covers perhaps 12,000 square miles. It overlaps with the elven barony of Glensor, and borders on the lands now overrun by creatures of chaos such as the former capital, Erkhart. The denser, virgin forest is inland and to the south - the closer to the coast and the closer to civilised lands, the thinner the forest due to demands for timber.

There are a number of sites of interest within the Shorgan Forest, most of them close to the coast.
- Haven
- Blackfox Village
- Quasquerton
- White Stag Keep
- Delvia's Harbour
The first three on the list are described here, along with other adventure sites.

White Stag Keep was the home of an order of clerics of Vought, but it has been abandoned and left in ruins for centuries now after being attacked by water elementals. Although the accepted story is that the clerics somehow disappointed their volatile goddess, the truth is somewhat different. The order was infiltrated by cultists of Havok, who emphasised the sea's destructive, deadly nature. The chaotic cultists started to sacrifice humanoids (forest orcs who nobody civilised would miss). Vought ordered her faithful clerics in the keep to either expel or else kill the offenders. The cultists were prepared, and had conjured a number of water elementals that they unleashed on the devout followers of Vought.
After the battle, the followers of Havok were triumphant and they finished off any remaining followers of Vought. They then sent their own messengers to Erkhart (which was still the capital at the time) to spread the false stories of unfaithful clerics and an angry goddess sending elemental vengeance. Some clerics of Vought have never accepted this story, and would pay adventurers good money to investigate the truth and find out what happened.

Delvia's Harbour was a trading post between the humans of Teiglin and the elves of the southern Shorgan Forest. Ships and boats would regularly travel from Delvia's Harbour to Erkhart. During the Wars between the Empires Delvia's Harbour was attacked and occupied by troops from Bellenos.
When the wars ended Delvia's Habour was forgotten about, particularly with the collapse of the Empires, the loss of Erkhart and eastern Teiglin. The occupiers turned into colonists as they realised there was not much homeland to return to.
Today Delvia's Harbour has 230 inhabitants, mostly humans but some (70) elves and a handful of centaurs. The port facility is mostly abandoned, but if someone were to make contact from another town, there is no reason why trade could not resume.

Just because the Shorgan Forest is wilderness, it doesn't mean it is uninhabited. There are four races of note within the Shorgan Forest.

The Elves are the oldest inhabitants, and have been around for thousands of years, well before the rise of the Toutus Empire. While the elves of Glensor are happy to deal with the humans of Teiglin, these elves further south are far more cautious and withdrawn. Although they are unlikely to attack with lethal force, the elves of the Shorgan Forest will try to deter intruders (even well-intentioned ones) and will deal with other civilised races as little as possible. They believe their isolation has kept them safe for centuries, and they want to keep that situation going. The two areas where they are willing to talk to humans and other races is Glensor and Delvia's Harbour.

The Centaurs are unpredictable allies of the elves. There are several tribes, each with about 4-8 bands of 20-60 individuals. Like the elves of the Shorgan Forest they do not deal with other races unless necessary. They can call on some of the rarer sylvan folk for assistance - while the centaurs are quite capable of brute force, for magic and subtlety they will turn to sprites and pixies.

The Kobolds did not come through the Chaos Portal in Erkhart - they have been in the Shorgan Forest for at least as long as humans have been in Teiglin - an interesting reminder that not all chaotic creatures are recent arrivals. The kobold tribes in the Shorgan Forest have become adept at living in the forest rather than their normal underground tunnels. They excavate homes underneath the roots of great trees such as oaks and elms. Before the Summoning the kobods had settled into an uneasy truce with the other races - although they did not like the elves, centaurs or fey (and vice versa) they left each other alone. Even humans of Teiglin admitted that the kobolds weren't too much trouble if left alone. The coming of a new wave of chaotic monsters and humanoids from the Chaos Portal in Erkhart has unsettled this.

The Gnolls are the newcomers and are proving disruptive and destructive. They emerged from the Chaos Portal in Erkhart, and seem to be from the same tribe. Much to the elves' horror, the gnolls are voracious deforesters and will bully slaves to cut down areas of forest for timber. The slaves will then build the gnolls new strongholds. These strongholds will typically be in a clearing stripped of vegetation for hundreds of yards around. Humans formerly living in Erkhart, orcs and goblins who came through the portal with the gnolls and more recently kobolds from the Shorgan Forest are all among the slaves.

Random Encounters within the Shorgan Forest
2  Green Dragon
3 Hippogriff
4 Spider, Giant Crab
5 Centaur
6 Elf
7 Gnoll
8 Wolf
9  Stag (2HD herd animal) (1-2 in 6 chance of Giant Elk)
10 Boar, Wild (1-2 in 6 chance of Giant Boar)
11 Cattle, Wild (3HD  herd animal) (1-2 in 6 chance of Auroch)
12  Bear, Black
13 Kobold
14 Human
15 Snake, Pit Viper
16 Centipede, Giant
17 Beetle, Giant Fire
18 Sprite or Pixie (DM's choice)
19 Gray Worm
20 Treant

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ideas about an Underdark for Kaelaross

What lies beneath the surface of Kaelaross? Right now I'm not too sure. I certainly like the idea of vast subterranean realms of lightless caverns, passages and fissures. However, I am wary about one important thing - AD&D underdark races.

In my opinion they are all rather over-used. I don't think this is the fault of any designers who first came up with them (at the time they were all very cool), but I think subsequent designers have been increasingly lazy in not bothering to look beyond them. If I did create an Underdark realm for Kaelaross, I would want it to be as original as I could make it.
Races that I would avoid include:

I guess one of the things I've wanted to do with Kaelaross is keep it Basic/Expert D&D, not Advanced D&D. Not everyone will agree with me on this, and I'm sure lots of people have had great adventures going through the underground realms of Greyhawk (the D1-3 series) and the Forgotten Realms (Menzoberranzan), and many who still do enjoy these staples of AD&D. I do not want to detract from their enjoyment, and I don't intend to put down any of those creations.

Nontheless, I do want to make a fresh start - If a DM or a game designer who knew and played Basic & Expert D&D but had not encountered AD&D (especially existing material on the Underdark) was asked to think about a kingdom-spanning network of caves, caverns, passageways, sinkholes and underground lakes, what would he do?

Right now I'm not sure, but I hope it's going to be good. The one thing I am concerned about is getting over-ambitious and finding I've bitten off more than I can chew. I imagine the underdark to be an extention to Kaelaross rather than an entire setting in itself, but it is potentially so vast I could get lost in it. And if you haven't seen an idea for a campaign setting that turned out too big for yours truly to handle, I point to my previous attempt at a blog which I have given up on.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Map of Thaldion, Capital of Teiglin

Features of Interest:
1)      The Citadel and Royal Keep
2)      River Wharf
3)      Magical College
4)      Cathedral of Rhondus
5)      Guildhall
6)      Church of Sturnornel
7)      Grand Market
8)      The Graveyard

An overview of Thaldion
This is the largest settlement in Teiglin, (see the map of Teiglin for where Thaldion fits in) and the only true city. It has a population of 16,300, mostly human but with some of each of the demihuman races. The city is enclosed in a great wall and is dominated by two great buildings - the Citadel and the Cathedral of Rhondus. The city is a mixture of carefully-planned Imperial architecture and haphazard, individually-built common houses.
The city started out as a base for Toutian colonizing of the Teiglin Peninsula (back in 890 BY), and both the citadel and the city walls date back to that period. Due to its strong defences it came through the Wars between the Empires intact and when the Summoning happened and Erkhart was ruined by Bhael, Thaldion was the natural alternative, and so the surviving members of the ducal government moved to Teiglin.
A lot of refugees also followed them, and the south-central quarter is crowded and impoverished with both the original refugees and their children.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Towns and Baronies of Teiglin - Alvenir and Brandir

See the map of Teiglin to put this entry into context.
Alvenir Barony is probably the quietest and safest barony in Teiglin. There is lots of fishing and agriculture, as well as horse breeding and wool production. Alvenir has a population of 18000, and this includes a sizable population of 6000 halflings here. The local militia is 350 strong - not the largest, but patrols against bandits, pirates and (more recently) giant insects from the Hawk Woods has meant that the Alvenir Militia is experienced, if not exactly battle-hardened.

Alvenir Town (population 3800) was attacked by raiders from Bursia – there is a ruined old town hall left in the centre of town as a reminder of the wars. There is also a large and important temple of Sturnornel (Goddess of agriculture and hard work). The market square which is next to the ruined town hall is popular and farmers, traders and craftsmen from not just Alvenir Barony but also Tredgor Barony and eastern Thaldion will visit the market to buy or sell goods of the best quality in Teiglin. 

Castle Caldwell (pop 150) is a village and small keep that was attacked and sacked during the wars between the Empires. The village has since recovered but the castle has remained empty. Recently a wealthy merchant bought rights to the castle, a modest, one-storey keep, but fears it is infested with vermin or worse.

Troutmarket is a fishing village of 220 people on the west coast, approximately west of Alvenir town. The village would be unremarkable were it not for the shady merchants and ships that occasionally meet there to do business. Troutmarket is actually an important nexus for a criminal organisation called The Red Hand, and the merchants are only partially legitimate - they will often buy and sell from pirates and brigands, acting as fences who make a decent profit. The Red Hand are at pains to keep this quiet and low-key - no raiding or pillaging while the Red Hand is around.

The Hawk Woods are a small area of woodland in northern Alvenir. The  woods were famed for their large predatory hawks that would hunt small deer, sheep, goats and the occasional halfling. However, a greater menace has arisen in the woods since the summoning - giant ants, beetles and other arthropods. They seem to have appeared from nowhere and taken over the woods, driving out many vertebrate wildlife. Adventurers who have entered have reported a huge ants nest built on what was once a wizard's tower. The top of the tower still pokes out from the top of the mound. Sages have speculated that the root cause of the insect infestation may be within the tower or its basement.

Brandir Barony is considered safe and a bit boring, but quite populous (22,000 folks, mostly human and also 2000 halflings). Its wide pastures are ideal for raising cattle for milk, beef and leather. The Wirrian River is both the barony’s boundary and its main artery, carrying trade from Stelmit through Brandir Town and into Mussel Bay. Thanks to the efforts of the Baroness, the barony has good roads and other infrastructure, and trade is easy and common. The Brandir Militia is not held in high regard by other soldiers of Teiglin and, despite being 700 strong when fully mustered, they have seen little action either inside the county or outside.

Brandir Town (pop 4800) has become the centre of learning in Teiglin since the Summoning, when dozens of scholars used a magical carpet to evacuate the Erkhart College. The owner of the flying carpet had a second residence in Brandir Town to which the carpet would intuitively navigate, so as many scholars and books as could be saved were brought to Brandir where they have settled. On a darker note, a band of thieves has made its home in the cellars of a ruined house in the merchant quarter. The leader of the thieves is a member of the Red Hand organisation, but the other thieves are unaware of this and simply carry out burglaries, pick-pocketting in the market and the occasional armed robbery.
Kathain is a village on the mouth of the Wirrian River where it spills into Mussel Bay. Kathain is unremarkable, with a population of 520. However, it has a dark secret - the family of inn-keepers are not the normal humans they appear to be but are devil-swine. The devil-swine will often prey on livestock in the surrounding countryside, but are careful not to attack locals. Visitors passing through the inn are far less likely to be missed, so the devil-swine are perfectly positioned to ambush unwary guests late at night. 

Friday, 8 April 2011

Deities of Kaelaross: part 1

Kaelaross has a large and diverse pantheon of 30 main deities, neatly divided into 10 lawful, 10 neutral and 10 chaotic deities.
Before the Summoning the gods were considered to be aloof, only interacting with mortals through their clerics. Divine intervention was the stuff of legends. However, when the avatar of Bhael himself appeared in the Summoning, the preconceptions of what the gods would and would not do became meaningless. The gods could do whatever they wanted, and if a god wanted to do something, only another god could stop them.

The descriptions of the gods take up space, so for ease of reading they are split up into a series of entries
Deities of Kaelaross part 1
Deities of Kaelaross part 2
Deities of Kaelaross part 3
Deities of Kaelaross Part 4

Adonor, Lawful God of Justice, Righteous Combat and Courage
Symbol: Crimson Warhammer
Adonor is the favoured deity of lawful fighters and soldiers, and is the quintessential knight in shining armour. He and his followers actively seek out and punish criminals, evil-doers and the followers of Chaos.
The clerics and fighters of Adonor use armour as ceremonial vestments as well as practical protection, and the plate and banded armour of champions of Adonor can be ornate, with engravings and enamelling. Adonor is always portayed in a dynamic, striking pose in plate armour, wielding a warhammer. His clerics will always use warhammers, even to the point of using a mundane warhammer than a magical mace or staff.

Bhael, Chaotic God of Fear, Terror, Monsters and Nightmares
Symbol: Three glowing red eyes on a black background
Bhael is not normally worshipped by mortals, and since the Summoning he has become almost universally reviled among humans and demihumans. Bhael and his worshippers enjoy spreading fear and panic among everyone, and believe that fear is the best way of getting what they want. Some chaotic humanoids and monsters follow Bhael, and a few of the most unpleasant and depraved humans do as well, but these are killed upon being recognised by decent folk.
In the Summoning, magic-users from across Kaelaross accidentally summoned the avatar of Bhael. His presence was so frightful that all those who took part in actually summoning him died of heart failure as he emerged. Those who saw him were so shocked and frightened that many of them suffered heart attacks, strokes or nervous breakdowns. Those who did survive seeing him have described his avatar as a grey-black skinned man with bright red cracks or veins running over his skin. His face had three red eyes, that moved around on his face, and his size varied, from standing 6'6" tall to standing twice as high as a storm giant (50' tall).

Havok, Chaotic Goddess of Disasters, Earthquakes, Storms and Lightning
Symbol: Silver Lightning bolt against a gray tornado
Havok is not so much worshipped as placated by nervous mortals. She is considered primarily responsible for bad luck and unfortunate events as well as natural disasters. Interestingly she has not been blamed for the Summoning, where there were terrible floods, earthquakes, geographical upheavals and cataclysmic changes. However, she has offered a philosophy that can take such things into account, which can prove tempting to distraught and desperate people. Her philosophy says that life is nasty, brutal and short, and so are her followers (though not necessarily short), and that bad things happen to good and evil people alike. Her temples are often built at the site of great disasters, such as an earthquake epicentre or over a collapsed mine where miners are still buried.

Rhondus, Lawful God of Defence, Safety and the Home
Symbol: Golden Keep or Tower on Brown Background
Rhondus is worshipped by those who wish for security. However, the events of the Summoning have shaken peoples' beliefs about Rhondus. When Rhondus fought alongside Adonor against Bhael, there was terrible destruction, death and upheaval as a result. Some claim that this was a betrayal of what Rhondus claimed to have stood for. Others believe that this was the necessary lesser of two evils - if Rhondus and Adonor had not confronted and defeated Bhael, Bhael would have turned Kaelaross into a new plane of Chaos.
In response to this, Rhondus has instructed his clerics to put their efforts into rebuilding the shattered towns and cities of Kaelaross, particularly the physical defences, and to assist all refugees to find safe haven. This is mainly to regain trust between civilised folk and the church of Rhondus. However, some say it is also penance or amends, and that Rhondus is accepting his part in the destruction that happened.

Telemacon, Neutral Goddess of the Moon, Secrecy and Subtlety
Symbol: Silver Crescent Moon against a black background
Telemacon is the goddess of spies, illicit lovers, halfling scouts and those who wish to stay hidden. She is not as brutal or cynical as Pelepton, but does not get too upset about theft. In the wars and the Summoning, Telemacon became the favourite deity for those trying to escape and evade their enemies, as well as those trying to surprise their enemies.
Clerics of Telemacon are not required to reveal their allegience, and as such are often undercover as tradesmen, housewives, labourers or soldiers (who happen to prefer maces or warhammers).

Vought, Neutral God of the Seas, Oceans, Water and Fish
Symbol: A dark blue wave against a pale blue sky
Vought is considered the patron god of sailors, fishermen and merfolk. He is volatile, sometimes being splendid and serene, other times being tempestuous and violent, but those who live on or in his realm take these swings into account. It is said that he dislikes Havoc, and when the two quarrel, the most terrible storms rage across the seas.
Vought is believed to have a magnificent palace on the Elemental Plane of Water, guarded by sea dragons, neutral storm giants and the largest water elementals.
All clerics of Vought are required to be able to swim, and many of them are good at sailing and rowing as well. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Planes of Chaos

To see how the Planes of Chaos fit into the rest of the Multiverse, see the entry on the Planes of Existence. The Planes of Chaos, sometimes known as the Cosmic Abyss, are a number of planes of existence roughly arranged into a stack. The further away from the Material Plane, the more alien, bizarre, dangerous and horrific the planes become. Demons, the manifestations of Chaos, are found on the Planes of Chaos, but are by no means the only inhabitants - indeed, on the closer planes such as Hestoris, Carceros and Aegothis demons are quite rare, outnumbered by more conventional chaotic creatures found on the Material plane.

Hestoris, the First Plane of Chaos
Hestoris is one of the most easily accessed planes of Chaos. Compared to some of the horrors found on the deeper layers of Chaos, Hestoris is almost mild. It is basically earth-like, but always with a cloudy overcast sky. There is daylight but no direct sunlight.
The terrain ranges from subarctic to temperate, with forests and swamps dominating, with a few ranges of hills and some open plains. There are some large lakes and rivers, but no known seas or oceans.
The flora and fauna are like Mystara but with more monsters and predators than the herbivores should support. Unnatural monsters that are neutral or unaligned on Mystara and Kaelaross, such as griffons, hydrae and carrion crawlers, have a chaotic slant to their behaviour here on Hestoris.
The intelligent inhabitants are mostly chaotic humanoids that have formed large tribes. Goblins, orcs, gnolls and ogres dominate but lots of hobgoblins, kobolds, bugbears and trolls are also found. There are some centaurs, lizardfolk and rakastas but these normally-neutral folk have turned to chaos since dwelling on this plane.
The land is dotted with ruined ancient cities that have been taken over by the chaotic humanoids. Although the humanoids dwell there and occasionally repair or modify the cities, it is clear that what or whoever built the cities were considerably more sophisticated and organised than goblins and orcs.
There are some humans, halflings and elves who have formed refuges safely distant from the cities, forming makeshift villages and camps up to 200 strong. Due to wandering orc and gnoll armies, the humans and demihumans have to be able to move home within a day or less. Most of these folk are neutral rather than lawful. Hunting, gathering and fishing is their way of life.
There are some demons on Hestoris, but they are uncommon and held in reverence by the chaotic humanoids. Although capable of wanton mayhem, these demons are often on a mission to hunt down and kill lawful creatures (including PCs and NPCs).
The elves of Hestoris have an oral tradition that says that over a thousand years ago Hestoris was a world on the Material Plane. But when a terrible plague struck, many, but not all, of the inhabitants turned to the Chaos Gods to save them. Hestoris was torn from the Material Plane and became a Plane of Chaos. Then the Chaotic races began to wage war, the sunshine stopped and the demons began to appear. The Chaos Cultists of Kaelaross have heard this and are forming ambitious and terrible plans.

Carceros the Eternal Dungeon
Carceros is a plane of Chaos that is a huge dungeon. Carceros has a number of links to the Elemental Plane of Earth, and some creatures from the Plane of Earth are also found in Carceros.
Carceros has numerous levels, areas and regions, nearly all of which are interconnected by stairs, long passages or portals. There is considerable variation between areas - one area might be natural limestone caverns, another the well-furnished lair of decadent races. Another might be a bone-filled catacomb or else a prison with guards and inmates. Each area may be of any level the DM considers suitable, and the inhabitants tailored accordingly.
The inhabitants are generally the same as dungeon dwellers on the material plane, but with more demons and earth elemental creatures. As is true for Hestoris and other planes of Chaos, creatures that are neutral or unaligned on the Material Plane are often chaotic here. Although the DM should decide, it is suggested that treasure on Carceros is reduced from the amounts in "normal" dungeons - this is a Plane of Chaos, not a bank deposit.
Conditions on Carceros are similar to most material plane dungeons - very dark, damp, some pools of water (the larger ones inhabited by creatures), stale but breathable air and normal gravity. However, there are 2 differences:
1) Food is less important - only a third of the normal amounts of food are needed, and starvation takes three times as long to take its effects. This allows a larger number of predators given the limited fungus-based ecosystem.
2) Movement Spells including Passwall, Teleport, Dimension Door and Find the Path all have a 50% chance of failing. The Plane does not easily allow shortcuts to bypass its perils.
Some areas of Carceros exhibit bizarre and impossible geometries, like Tesseracts, Mobius Loops and Escher-style ever-ascending stair cases.

Urdunor: This plane of Chaos is volcanic and fiery, with great black basalt and granite plains and mountains pock-marked with deep vents and split by chasms from which searing lava spews. Red dragons, fire giants, hellhounds and similar monsters roam. In particular, the Efreet have a mighty empire here centred on the legendary City of Brass. There are thought to be many portals to the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Aegothis: Also known as the Eternal City, this plane is a massive (infinite?) metropolis where all the architecture and engineering is decaying and crumbling, while all the inhabitants are evil and cynical humans or worse. Werewolves, wererats, vampires, dopplegangers and devil swine are all found hidden among the population. Deception, greed, treachery and murder are the norm here.

Toldaar: This plane is a massive ocean dotted with many islands. In the ocean there are many types of carnivorous monsters, including sharks, dragon turtles, sea serpents and octopi. The islands are not much better. Most are covered in dense jungle and inhabited by all sorts of reptiles, including dinosaurs, snakes, lizards, hydrae, lizardmen, crocodiles and dragons (especially black and green ones). Similar to Urdunor, deep in the sea are portals to the Elemental Plane of Water.

Noreesis Vale: This plane is icy cold and shrouded in the darkness of midnight. In the bottom of the valley there are clumps of hardy vegetation which woolly rhinos and mastodons feed on, but beyond that, especially on the slopes and peaks, it is an icy, desolate place. Numerous ice-dwelling creatures are found here such as frost salamanders, frost giants and chaotic white dragons, while the environment is just as deadly as the denizens. Avalanches, ice chasms and altitude sickness can all catch the unwary traveller, assuming the frostbite and hypothermia  don't kill him within the first half hour.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Overview of Demihuman Classes in Kaelaross

Although Classic D&D/LL is wonderfully simple, its simplicity can lead to loss of diversity. This is particularly true with characters choosing either a demihuman race OR a human class. The idea that your race is your class is something almost unique to Classic D&D, yet I can find it frustrating.
Most D&D editions separate class from race - all races can become fighters or thieves, most can become clerics and a few can become magic users.
I have decided to take a different route - I introduce new racial classes.

Humans retain their four classes - Fighter, Cleric, Magic User, Thief

Dwarves have classes most similar to humans:
"Regular" dwarves from the rules are known as Dwarf Warriors and are basically unchanged.
Dwarf Clerics are introduced in this post.

Elves have two classes
"Regular" elves fom the rules are known as Elf Spellswords and are basically unchanged.
Elf Rangers are introduced in this post. However, if you don't like my version, there is also a rather good Elf Archer class posted by Blood Axe on the Goblinoid Games Forum which I considered borrowing.

Halflings have changed the most
"Regular" halflings are known as Halfling Scouts, and in this post they are given the option of advancing further. However, from levels 1-8 they are basically unchanged.
Halfling Defenders are a new class that combine the prowess of fighters and the supporting spells of clerics.

I recognise that this post takes Kaelaross several steps away from original Classic D&D and some people won't like it. Nonetheless, I believe it is a good thing to do, to make demihumans more diverse and give their communities and cultures more depth and color. The more observant of you will notice that now each demihuman race has one spellcasting class and one non-magical class.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Optional Class - the Dwarven Cleric

Requirements: Wisdom 9+, Constitution 9+
Restrictions: Cannot use edged or pointed weapons. Dwarven clerics choose from the same list of weapons as human clerics except for staffs, which are too long for dwarves to use properly in combat.
Armour: Dwarf clerics can use any armour and any shield.
Alignment: Dwarven Clerics must be Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic - they cannot be unaligned.
Saving Throws as Dwarf fighter of equal level
Roll to Hit as human Cleric of equal level

Racial Abilities:
Infravision – All dwarves have infravision out to 60ft in the dark.
Detection: Dwarves detect stone-based traps and unusual stonework on a 1-2 on 1d6 when actively searching

Class abilities:
Spells – Dwarf clerics have access to the same spells as human clerics and select and prepare them each day in a similar way. 1st level dwarven clerics do not receive spells as they are still proving themselves worthy.
Dwarven clerics cannot turn undead.

Dwarven clerics hold an important position in dwarven society, being the only spellcasters. That they are also the servants and messengers of the gods of the dwarves reinforces their importance. They often act as advisors and counsellors, though rarely do they directly wield political or military power. Dwarven clerics are quite rare – only 1 in 100 dwarves undergo clerical training in a temple of their deity of choice, and not all of those succeed in becoming acolytes. Those that succeed are given the same weapons training as human clerics.
The most notable difference between dwarven and human clerics, apart from race, is that dwarven clerics have no significant power over the undead, whereas human cleric can turn or destroy undead. Philosophers speculate that this is because most undead originate from dead humans rather than dwarves, and dwarves don’t encounter as many undead as humans do.

Dwarven clerics go adventuring for similar reasons as human clerics, namely to spread the word of their deity, to act as the strong arm of their church or sometimes to gather treasure to fill the church coffers.

Dwarven clerics are usually lawful in alignment. Neutral ones tend to focus on practical and material things rather than philosophy or morality. The very few chaotic ones are either covert cultists, corrupting and subverting the dwarven communities around them or pariahs, outcasts who have fled or have been banished from their clans, usually on pain of death.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Red Hand

The Red Hand is an organisation that is part criminal organisation, part cult of Chaos. The Red Hand is very secretive and subtle, and many members are only aware of its criminal activities, not the Chaos worship aspect. Members of the Red Hand are often members of gangs, thieves, hired thugs, pirates and mercenaries who find the Red Hand to be a convenient network to be part of - the leadership takes a modest slice of the takings, and in return provides the lower-ranking members with good information and contacts, including fences. The leaders are quite adamant about two things - firstly any member must be absolutely silent about both his own membership of the Red Hand and any knowledge of other members of the Red Hand, especially when dealing with investigators and those in authority. Secondly, the leadership will sometimes ask "favours" from its members that are related to long-term goals. Those who are asked may not understand why they are doing something, but it is widely recognised within the Red Hand that those who do not comply will fall out of favour with the leaders of the Red Hand, and that may well be fatal. Those who carry out the favours well will be rewarded and, if the leaders think it appropriate, a little more of the nature of the Red Hand may be revealed.

The Red Hand generally works on a cell structure, small clusters of Red Hand members, usually in the same bandit gang, same thieves guild or same pirate ship. If they are captured or investigated, there should be nothing to lead the enemy further up the hierarchy.

Some members of the Red Hand actually stay away from obvious criminal activities and appear to be law-abiding citizens - these are the hardest to detect, and when they reveal their true loyalties, it can be shocking. These are among the Red Hand's most valuable operatives, and they do not blow their cover lightly, certainly not to help out a single cell such as a street gang that has been caught by the town watch.

The long-term goals of the Red Hand are difficult to ascertain, but foremost among them is further infiltration of society by the Red Hand's operatives, as well as bringing more criminal muscle under its control. Its ultimate goal would be the complete subversion of society to Chaos-worship, under the direction of the Red Hand's leaders. 

The exact nature of the Red Hand's religious views is well-concealed, and this rules out some of the more violent and impulsive gods of Chaos (Bhael, Slargor and Skreech are not known for their subtlety). Some members of the Red Hand talk about worshipping Chaos in general rather than any one deity, but others are clearly followers of Pelepton, Chaos God of greed, ambition and treachery or Hernas, goddess of decadence and pleasure. 

The Red Hand has a presence in Teiglin, including cells in almost every major baronial town. There are other agents and allies scattered among the smaller villages, in the countryside and also in the borderlands. The Red Hand normally avoids direct conflict except when victory is certain - the borderlands and areas dominated by other forces of Chaos are considered not the best place for the subtle and devious members. Humanoid tribes may be affiliated with the Red Hand if agents can negotiate with them, and certain hobgoblin tribes in and around Brasstooth have fought against the forces of Teiglin when the Red Hand has bribed them enough.