Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maps of Lornn

The Maps of Lornn were constantly evolving, I think the continental map above (click on them to make them bigger) was the sixth I created. Unlike other settings I've tinkered with, Lornn emerged from my mental picture of the setting, rather than me sketching out a map and then filling in the details later.

The very first map of Lornn was a sketch on the inside cover of a green folio, featuring crossed lines (roads) with a town in the center, called simply Crossroads. I added stuff as needed, until I started worrying about losing the details percolating in my head. When I finally had a continental map I was mostly happy with, I divided this into more than two dozen sections to be enlarged on their own maps, as you can see above with the Pale/Steek region. In retrospect it seems like a massive undertaking, but at the time it was just something to do while Mrs Ravyn watched ER or whatever;), and they seemed to fly by. I still have a couple of section sleft to detail, but they are corners of the map that have never seen action, and I think I'll save them for future visits to the campaign setting.

As important as maps are, they pale in importance to the players that are kind enough to come along with you. They are really the breath and life of the setting, making it a living thing, inspiring its growth through their interactions with it. I want to thank Dennis, Chris M, Rex, Rob W, Scott, Chris W, Jeff, Gary, Greg, Eric, Jen, Bill, Kevin, Marty, Brent, Steve Br, Molly, Bray, Tom, Rob, Steve Ba, Steve W, Matt, Mike, Rachel, Rick, and everyone else who traveled with me under the emerald skies of Lornn!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beneath the Tower of the Lich King

Drawing close to the end of my 20th anniversary retrospective on my homebrew campaign setting, the Lands of Lornn, I thought I'd present some samples the iconic dungeon of the setting, the "castle greyhawk" of Lornn, if you will. While not necessarily a Megadungeon, in that it is a finite space (so maybe its more the "Temple of Elemental Evil" of Lornn?), it is still vast, and in-game, large areas remain unexplored to this day, despite lots of play hours put into it. Of all the dungeons I've done over the years, this was the most involved, right down to my own "art" for player handouts (see above). I'm no Erol Otus, obviously, but it was fun to try and do this at least once, I think its the most I've drawn since I was 12.

Though the dungeon saw action in 2 different editions of D&D and one D&D-inspired rpg (castles & crusades), it was intended from its first scribbled notes to be as old-school in tone, design, and flavor as it could possibly be. Each room was to have some little tidbit to inspire the players' curiousity and investigation. There was no attempt at "balance" of any sort, the players were responsible for gaugeing whether or not they could handle an encounter or must run away. Magic items found could be a boon, or a curse, or both at once.

Hopefully, some day I'll get to return to it, and see a group of players make it to the very end.

Here are couple of samples, one from the introduction, and pair of rooms. One of the examples, the treasure-rich Cavern of the Corpsewurm king, illustrates a foible of preparing something for possible publication under the OGL: no Carrion Crawlers allowed;)

The ancient tower of the legendary Lich-King has stood near the center of the bustling metropolis you call home for centuries, a monument to a long-gone conflict that has faded into mythology and now serves as nothing more than a curiosity to visiting tourists. Or is it? The legends hint of the foul, unnatural servants of the Lich-King who were sealed away deep beneath the tower along with their vanquished master. They speak even more about the hoards of treasure, both mundane and magical, lost forever behind the impassable seals set in place by the forces of good to prevent any chance of the evil resurfacing. But now rumors are being spread, in taverns and alleys, of a few bold souls actually finding secret ways into the Lich-King’s halls. Some have even returned, though somewhat less than whole. So if the horrible dangers really exist, might not the fabulous treasure?

In the beginning, the players will hear rumors of the discovery of a secret “back door” into the dungeons beneath the crumbling old “monument” that has always loomed, half forgotten, over the lives of the city-folk, and perhaps the adventurers.

1.1 The Grim Foyer

“You find yourself in a 30’ cube-like chamber. The walls were white-washed once, maybe a century ago, but now slime and moisture seep through, and burn marks and suspicious rust-colored stains also mar the surface. There are doors in the center of the North, South, East, and West walls, and a circular opening in the ceiling reveals a rusted iron ladder extending strait up through a narrow tunnel. The North wall is painted with a faded mural depicting two faceless, robed beings holding aloft a glowing staff of bizarre design. The door on the north wall appears to be made of glass, and inscrutable clock-work gears are slowly moving beneath its surface. A single, round keyhole is in the center of the door.
The sad remains of a Halfling are hunched against the West wall, a steel crossbow bolt protruding from its bloated, decaying neck”

The ladder from the well far above descends 30’ through the open air onto the center of this room’s floor. The charred corpse of a halfling rogue lies sprawled at (a). He was slain by one of his own compatriots, who was driven insane by the statue at area 1-3. His charred purse contains a lump of platinum weighing in at 14pp’s worth and one dagger on his charred and useless bandoleer seems to have escaped the ravages of whatever fire consumed this poor soul. It is a dagger +2. If speak with dead is attempted, the halfling’s spirit only babbles insanely about “eyes in the dark” and being “a good boy from now on”.

The door leading north is covered in inset, iron runes and features a single, round doorknob in the center. A mural depicting two robed figures holding a glowing staff aloft surrounds this door. The door radiates magic. The runes above the door may be deciphered only with a read magic spell: “The Master Welcomes You All.” Check normally for traps and locks on this door, but if it is opened, it sets off a telepathic alarm that alerts the lieutenants at areas 1.25 and 2.2 to the party’s presence. These lieutenants will not take any direct action against the party, but cannot be surprised by them either.

The eastern door at (b) has a rough note scratched into it in common: “Stay away from the Pit”. Three triangles of black parchment lie scattered on the floor in front of this door. Check as normal for locks and traps on all four doors leading out of this chamber. These doors are all closed.

1.5 Cavern of the Corpsewurm King

“This huge, dripping cavern is crawling with tentacled, wormlike creatures. Pools of fetid water fill the area, fed by a thin waterfall that drains from an opening high along the southeast wall. Beyond the pools, a sandy beach is covered in mounds of pale, globelike eggs and heaps of coins.
Amid the heaps lurks a crawler of immense size that rears up and hisses, summoning its sickening minions to the fight…”

PC’s who investigate the openings allowing the crawlers access to area 1.4 discover a large natural cavern behind the shrine. Soft phosphorescence in the stone here bathes the entire cavern in dim purplish light. Filthy pools and streams meander around the cavern floor and thick, gray mold clings to the stalactites and stalagmites here.

A foul-smelling cascade of yellowish, sulfurous water falls from a crack in the cavern ceiling over the east wall. A wide, natural stone stairway leads down to area 3.10 at (a). A secret door may be found behind the waterfall at (b).

Thirty corpsewurms make this cavern their home, and act as consorts for an immense Corpsewurm King (see New Monsters Appendice). The Corpsewurm King sprawls over a heap of bones, treasure, and slimy eggs at (c), and will direct his consorts to soften up invading PC’s before using his paralyzing breath weapon and finally entering the fray himself.

The Corpsewurm King’s bed contains 196pp, 675gp, 1253sp, 46 10gp gems, 12 100gp gems, a +2 spear inscribed with the word “Pain” in Elder Common, and a sealed ivory tube containing three scrolls of neutralize poison.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WotRp Preview 3 - Monsters of the Red Planet!

Monsters of the Red Planet
From my upcoming Warriors of the Red Planet RPG!

The Dablor a is hairless, pink scavenger that travels in packs across the wastelands of the Red Planet in search of carrion or easy prey. The six legged creature is roughly badger-shaped, and typically ranges from about six to eight feet long. Its maw is filled with jagged teeth, and its eyes are black on black. When meat or prey is scented, the Dablor lets out a hooting call that echoes across the wastelands, summoning its fellows to the meal.

Dablor: HD 2+5; AC 7[12]; Atk 1bite (1d8); Move 18; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

The Hrecha is one of the few aerial predators of the Red Planet. It appears as a pale green, hairless giant bat with four claw-tipped legs in addition to its great wings. A great crest of black or red feathers runs from the top of the head to the center of its back. Its mouth is broad enough to snap up a creature as big as a dog. They love to lash out with their claws as they fly past, rending them to helpless ribbons before settling down to feast. Hrecha can hunt in pitch darkess, as their antennae-eyes are receptive to sonic reflection.

Hrecha: HD 5; AC 5[14]; Atk 4 claws (1d4) or 1 bite (2d8); Move 6 (fly 18); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240XP; Special: Fly-By Attack (-2 to hit flying Hrecha).

From a distance, a Grook appears to be a man, but once observed closely, its featureless face gives it away, as it possesses no eyes or nose, only a wide, slavering maw filled with needle-like teeth. Scientists are unsure how the Grook senses its surroundings, but it seems to have no trouble doing so. The limbs of the Grook are not jointed, but are segmented, like the body of a snake. The bite of the Grook imparts a mildly paralytic poison(+4). Grooks are solitary hunters, but will band together to raid settlements or large parties.

Grook: HD4; AC 4[15]; Atk weapon or bite (1d12); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120XP; Special: Poison.

The Thoar is a reptilian beast of burden, six legged and up to twelve feet long and up to five feet high at the shoulder. Its scaly body ranges from yellow at the head to orange to red at the tail. The Thoar is mildly telepathic, and responds to most simple mental commands. It is vegetarian, and can survive for weeks at a time with no water.

Thoar: HD6; AC 2[17]; Atk 1bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 6/400XP; Special: +2 vs Mental Attacks

The Orux is a two-legged reptilian creature similar in stature to an ostrich, though much stronger. Like its cousin, the Thoar, it is mildly telepathic and responds to most simple mental commands. The scaly creatures are typically colored like the wastelands they come from, ochre, mustard, or crimson, but several domestic breeds display different colors. Orux are poplular mounts of the Red Planet, and can be found nearly anywhere, from the rural farms along the great canals to the wide avenues of the great cities. Wild and military Orux possesses vicious claws, and delivery a powerful rake, but domestic breeds are typically delcawed.

Orux (Wild or Military): HD4; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 bite (1d4) abd 2 claws (2d4); Move 18; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120XP; Special: Jump 20’.
Orux (Domestic): HD3; AC 4[15]; Atk 1bite (1d4); Move 18; Save 14; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Jump 20’.

The trebbit is a small egg-laying mammal roughly the size and shape of a lemur, though it possesses eight legs (save for the northern Snow Trebbit, which has ten). The creatures are popluar pets on the red planet, and are covered in silky golden, reddish, or blue fur (white for the northern breed). They are fairly intelligent creatures, not unlike the earthly dog, and be taught to fetch items and run simple errands.

Trebbit: HD ½; AC 6[13]; Atk 1bite (1d3); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP A/5; Special: none.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Watch and know despair...

Scream or Weep, its all up to you. If you can make it past the four minute mark, you get a prize;)

Go ahead, click on the button of pain!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Elves of Lornn

The Faenorr and their kin have been entertwined with Lornnish history for longer than man can remember. According to the elves, when they first breached the veil separating Lornn from the Twilight Realm, the Lands were all but empty of civilization. The Faenorr and their kin colonized the glades and mountain valleys of Lornn, and when they encountered the scattered tribes of primitive mankind, they taught them their gentle wisdom and lore.

As the centuries passed into millennia, mankind grew into its own, and its civilization flourished alongside that of the Faenorr. Eventually, however, the short-lived humans grew impatient with the slow wisdom and unflagging patience of their alien teachers. The greatest loremasters among men began to experiment with dangerous new ways of using the magic taught to them by the Faenorr. Somehow, they made contact with the dark Elemental Lords and began to worship them as gods. Repulsed, the Faenorr at first tried to warn humanity, but the lure of fast power was too irresistible, and humanity fell ever further under the sway of the Elemental Lords. Finally, though it saddened them, the Faenorr were forced to take up arms against their beloved pupils, and war between man and elf erupted across the face of Lornn.

Though outnumbered by the humans, the Faenorr greatly outmatched them in skill and power, and soon humanity found itself threatened with a choice between extinction and submission. Always adaptive, the leaders of mankind came up with a third option and turned to their dark gods for aid. Under their instruction, the human wizards tore open a great rift in the fabric of our universe, and through the gap poured the Mordrimm. These evil beings proved mightier than even the Faenorr, and the tide of war was turned in a matter of days. Caught off guard, the elves were routed and fled back into their Twilight Realm, closing the Veil behind them. No elf would lay eyes on Lornn again for two thousand years. The few Faenorr trapped after the closing of the veil, including their kin such as sprites, dryads, centaur, and the like, retreated into the depths of the great forests. While they eked out a pleasant existence in secret, they were completely cut off from the power of the Twilight Realm, and their stature diminished both physically and magically. Today the ancestors of those Lost Ones are known to humanity as Gnomes.

Of course, the Mordrimm betrayed and enslaved humanity. The Mordrimm fancied themselves as gods, and their constant attempts at creation yielded horrific results. The twisted and malicious creatures they created still lurk in the dark places of this world.

At some point, the future Immortal Emperor managed to find an open path into the Twilight Realm, and for seventy days he remained there. No one knows for sure what he did there, but six months later the Veil had been lifted again, and the Faenorr Host was waiting on the shores of Lornn when the Emperor arrived with his great armada out of the uncharted West.

After the defeat of the Mordrimm, the Faenorr Host was disbanded, save for one hundred of the best Warrior-Wizards. The Olvingaard served the Emperor faithfully as his elite bodyguard for three hundred years. Then, one midsummer morning a little over a century ago, everything went horribly wrong.

The reasons for the Betrayal remain unknown to mortal men. On that morning, the Olvingaard turned on the Immortal Emperor and attempted to destroy him in his own palace. As mighty as they were, the Emperor single-handedly slew all but three of the elves. The following war against the Faenorr was over before it had even begun, for the Veil had been closed again the night before the assassination attempt, this time never to re-open. So hasty and secretive was the sealing-off of the Twilight Realm that many elves were trapped in Lornn.

A century later, they are known only as the Lost Ones, and most wander the forests and mountains of Lornn in a futile search for a pathway back home. Many elves are driven mad by the search, but some have made a home for themselves in Lornn, and few even follow lives of adventure, holding their despair at bay as they take on greater and greater challenges. The reaction of humans to the Faenorr today varies from pity to mistrust to outright hostility, though some instinctive respect for their ancestral teachers still lingers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mad Painter attacks BtBG

Ok, not really, but as you can tell if you've been following this blog the last few days, I've been making little adjustments to the look of the blog itself.

Obviously, since the whole point of blogging is to share stuff with others, I don't want anything that makes anyone's eyes bleed or causes their computers to pour out smoke after long hours of loading the simplest page;) So please, feel free to chime in and let me know if you prefer the old mostly black-and-white design, or if the Erol Otus and Pete Mullen inspired green/purple/black design is cool.

Why Vancian magic is "Vancian".

"The tomes which held Turjan's sorcery lay on the long table of black steel or were thrust helter-skelter into shelves. These were volumes compiled by many wizards of the past, untidy folios collected by the Sage, leather-bound librams setting forth the syllables of a hundred powerful spells, so cogent that Turjan's brain could know but four at a time.
Turjan found a musty portfolio, turned the heavy pages to the spell the Sage had shown him, the Call to the Violent Cloud. He stared down at the characters and they burned with an urgent power, pressing off the page as if frantic to leave the dark solitude of the book.
Turjan closed the book, forcing the spell back into oblivion. He robed himself with a short cape, tucked a blade into his belt, fitted the amulet holding Laccodel's Rune to his wrist. Then he sat down and from a journal chose the spells he would take with him. What dangers he might meet he could not know, so he selected three spells of general application: the Excellent Prismatic Spray, Phandal's Mantle of Stealth, and the Spell of the Slow Hour."
-"Turjan of Miir", Jack Vance

And there you have it. Many works of pulp and fantasy inspired the tone, setting, creatures, and flavor of D&D, but as far as I know, this is the only one that was turned whole-sale into an actual game mechanic. This may be because most of D&D's game mechanics were a direct descendent of the wargames the creators were constantly playing, and adding rules for magic to the mix was really the only thing they had to come up with from scratch.

Interestingly enough, Vance's wizard's were also Men of Action, as opposed to the more scholarly and frail presentation of the "traditional" D&D wizard, more akin to the rough and tumble "scientist" of 50's B-movies, who always seemed to shoot several martians and get the girl in the end. Though I can't recall any stomping around in plate mail, a sword was always carried, lots of running and jumping and fighting were usually involved, a bit of thievery and confidence trickstering, and a healthy dose of drinking and wenching. A modest collection of magical trinkets and instruments was also desirable.

I wonder how different D&D would be today had its creators been more influenced by the magic "system" of a Piers Anthony, Michael Moorcock, Katherine Kurtz, or even Robert Jordan (eek!). Luckily the one they picked lent itself well to the environment of gaming, and is a large part of D&D's staying power over the years. Even though I tinker with different magic systems from time to time, you can't argue with Vance's simple and elegant system, and the gamist enjoyment of successfully plotting out your spells ahead of time for a mission.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Festivals and Holidays of Lornn

I try to keep a strict calender when running a long-term campaign, to give the players a sense of the passage of time and changing of the seasons. Printing up a little calender so I can check off the days is the easiest way to do this, and plenty of these are available for free online. I also pencil in various holidays and festivals to give the PCs something to do in between adventures. Here's some of the festivals and holidays peculiar to Lornn, some inspired by real-world pagan holidays, and others based on the campaign history itself:

Mahadragan Eve: The day before the last day of the year, or Oenlornn 24th, is normally spent carousing and hanging gifts from the Mahadragan Tree. The Mahadragan Tree is a huge Evergreen placed at the center of a town or community to represent the enduring and undying power of Mother Lornn. The brightly wrapped gifts hung from the limbs of the tree represent her plentiful fruit. After nightfall, each member of the community may place a burning candle upon the tree and remove a gift at random. By midnight, the gifts are gone and the tree is brightly lit, becoming the center of activity for the remainder of the night, and a great feast served under its branches. The following day, Mahadragan Day, is usually more subdued and is commonly spent gathering with one’s closest friends and relatives.

Apinfeld: This holiday falls on Soender 13th of each year. The day honors the birth of the twin gods Selwyn and Nidramangst. Each community selects a pair of local twins, usually very young, to serve as the kings or queens of the Apinfeld Fair. The Apinfeld Fair typically features those things held in high esteem by the twin gods, such as music, wine, dancing, fortune telling, and mischief. Apinfeld Pranks are a source of great delight amongst the youth of Lornn, as well as a source of great misery for the adults, who are forbidden to punish mischief on this day alone.

Landing Day: Celebrated on Voander 6th each year. Landing Day is typically celebrated with a feast at the first light of dawn, during which a large cart is filled with gifts, commonly coins, by the local folk. Following the feast, the cart sets off on the long journey to the Tower Palace, where the gifts are left in thanks to the Emperor for his liberation of Lornn from the clutches of the foul Mordrimm. It is considered uncommonly bad fortune to rob or hijack one of the so-called Emperor’s Carts, so even the farthest journey is usually bandit free. Incidentally, the cart driver is selected at random from the local citizenry, and the lucky fellow not only gets a vacation and tour of the Empire, but also a small share of the Cart’s treasure.

Masking Day: Also known as the Eve of the Faceless God. During this daylong festival held in honor of the unknown agenda and identity of the Faceless God, all folk go about their feasting and carousing masked and completely anonymous. It is considered very bad form, if not heretical, to try and determine a person’s identity on this day. Many trysts, duels, and other behavior not typically characteristic of the anonymous folk are committed on this day and forgotten and absolved by dawn the next day.

Weaver’s Feast: Also known as Midsummer’s Day. Held on the extra day falling between the 12th and 13th of Faerlornn, though the actual time of celebration begins as soon as the first summer crop is harvested, typically 3 to 6 days before Weaver’s Feast, and for up to one week after. This time features much feasting and carousing. As a celebration of fertility, the festivities can become quite lurid at times, and the days before and after Midsummer are popular for wedding ceremonies. Children are especially revered during this time, and are basically given the run of the community. At high noon a great pile of various products of the harvest is set ablaze in sacrifice to Mahadra, the Mother of Lornn.

Dramsenflay: This holiday, which falls on the 5th of Ozander every year is celebrated mainly by the Keerfolk of Wilderrun and the peoples of the Eastern Kingdoms around the Sea of Aramaz. This day marks the onset of manhood for all male youths who turned fifteen before the holiday. Each youth is given a spear, and a starved and furious wild boar is released to run the streets of the town. The youth who runs down and slays the boar is considered favored by the gods to become a great hunter and the carcass is burned in offering to Drase.

Ruemark: This is a somber holiday falling on the 15th of Morgus each year. It honors the Lornnishmen who fought and died in the wars to overthrow the evil Mordrimm four centuries ago. Often, gray, featureless effigies are burned in bonfires to symbolize the destruction of the foul changelings.

Starfalling: This holiday begins at nightfall on the 24th of Toemus and celebrates the end of winter and the coming first day of spring. Lanterns, candles, and even magical lights are hung from every home, tree, and horse, set afloat in tiny paper boats, or even sent wafting through the air on the wings of cantrips to bring the night alive with light. Many traditional Starfalling songs are sung throughout the night, and new songs written by local bards are performed. Each bard hopes his song will become a traditional favorite, and so they work very hard all year long on their Starfalling compositions.

Grodefell: Also called the Day of the Dead, the 6th of Baelus celebrates the new “life” of loved ones and ancestors who have passed into the Underworld. Despite the serious subject matter, it is a light-hearted holiday. Many folk dress as ghosts and skeletons and run about attempting to scare each other or just carousing in general. Some families who have recently lost a loved one hold more somber gatherings, and family tombs and crypts are often cleaned and decorated on this day.

Internet Rage!

Sometimes we all take ourselves a bit too seriously, I think. Here's hoping for calmer waters ahead...

Friday, June 19, 2009

BtBG Reader - The Gray Prince, Jack Vance

Out of all the great pulp authors I read growing up, Vance just wasn't one of them. Not for lack of interest, mind you, just busy reading other stuff, I guess. At any rate, when I finally did get around to picking up the Dying Earth stuff, I enjoyed Cugel's exploits immensely, and have since picked up anything with Vance's name on it. In fact, I pick up "pulpy-looking" books every time I walk into a used bookstore, and the Gray Prince fit the bill twice over, being by Vance and quite "pulpy looking".

This book proved to be quite a surpise, I was almost instantly absorbed by the book, and read about 75% of it in one marathon afternoon on the patio with a growler of excellent IPA, finishing up the rest over two lunchbreaks.

The book is not fantasy, but science fiction. Actually it would be more accurate to call it "Sci-Fantasy" not too far-removed from the genre of Burroughs or Farmer. It involves a young woman, Schaine, returning to her home planet after being effectively exiled for five years after committing an unfortunate indiscretion. She returns to find the idyllic home of her childhood poised on the edge of turmoil, as the planet is home to several races, humans in the dominant position, with several others beneath them in varying degrees of submission and barbarity.

The cosmopolitan cities are aswirl with well-meaning organizations working towards the equalization or liberation of the most prominent "lesser" race, the Uldras, most of which centers around the enigmatic Gray Prince, a native with a shadowed and bitter history.

After what appears to be a tragic accident, Schaine, her brother, and two friends must trek across the wilderness through now-hostile territory, and discover the seeds of a potentially world-altering mystery. The unraveling of the mystery is where Vance deftly reveals his intent, with all the wry wit he is famous for. But as with all great endings, getting there is half the fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Gods of Lornn - pt. 2

Yesterday's post took a look at the more ephemeral deities of Lornn: Mother Mahadra and the alien and indefinable Elemental Lords. Today's feature looks at the New Gods, the Jeheredim (Jeh-HAYR-he-dim). Unlike the previous, the New Gods are entities that walk the material world, beings of pride, envy, jealousy, and revenge. Like the deities of Moorcock, Leiber, Saberhagen, like Greek and Viking mythology, the Jeheredim could, and often did, interact with the players, interefere with or aid in their designs, and generally keep things as messy or neat as their whims decreed. This is not to say they influenced the course of a given campaign (no railroads, thank you) but that the players could not assume their actions would be ignored. The New Gods could fall in love with mortals, they could be petty and vile, they could be cruel or mischievous, they could kill, and they could be killed.

The known Jeheradim are seventeen in number, and while most priests and temples revere one god above the others, all are believed in and given prayer and respect. The Jeheradim are:

Zayus: known as the All-Father and the King of Gods, his temple is the grandest in Peldivarn, capitol city of the Archaen Empire. He is the patron of kings, generals, and protectors.

Mythra: The estranged wife of Zayuss, she is the patron of motherhood, healing, and vengeance.

Solus: The son of Zayuss and Mythra. He is the patron of travelers, adventurers and the interests of mankind. He is also the patron of inspiration and as such is revered by bards, artists and inventors.

Vogal: The twin brother of Solus. He is the protector of Lore and Knowledge. He promotes learning and the quest to uncover forgotten secrets. Vogal and his twin often work together to promote the interests of Man.

Allorra: The goddess of Love, both noble and sensual. She is also a patron of fertility and marriage. The sister of Vogal and Solus, her misguided union with her father resulted in the birth of the evil and twisted Bale.

Grode: The brother of Zayus and ruler over the dead as his brother is ruler over the living.

Issla: The Lady of Sea and Storms. She is the sister of Zayus and Grode and the mother of Pandramus and Jaerrus.

Pandramus: The patron of wizardry and enchantment. His worship is somewhat subdued in the empire, though he is the chief patron of the Guilde Majika.

Jaerrus: The two-faced god of fortune, luck, and fate. He is the patron of seers, gamblers, and merchants, and his chosen Oracles are famed and revered throughout Lornn. He is the chief patron of the merchant nation of Fland.

Magora: Bent by her unrequited love for her brother, Zayus, she is the patron of torment, pain, and disease. Her hatred for the other gods and their human children is legendary. Her machinations caused the mistaken seduction of Zayus by Allorra and the resulting birth of Bale, whom she has taken as her adoptive son. Her pairing with the Elemental Lord Surtur has further galvanized the Jeheradim, and she has been forever exiled from Weaver’s Way as a result.

Skallos: The only son of Grode and Drase, he is the patron of strength, combat, and warriors. He does his best to send as many new subjects to his father’s realm as possible.

Drase: The Lady of the Hunt. She is the patron of hunters and woodsmen and the favorite daughter of Mahadra. When she goes to stay with her lover, Grode, Lornn becomes cold and barren as Mahadra mourns.

Bale: The twisted son of Zayus and Allorra. He is the patron of deceit, lies, and trickery, and is constantly working towards the downfall of his father and the rest of the Jeheradim.

Thena: Supposedly a daughter of Zayus by an unknown mother (some malcontents have had the temerity to suggest it was a mortal woman!), Thena is the goddess of wisdom, light, and war. She is served by a group of warrior-priestesses known as the Arathenas.

Selwyn: The capricious god of wine, pleasure, and dreams. His temples are the source of much controversy.

Nidramangst: The equally capricious brother of Selwyn. He is fascinated by the potential of mankind, and is the patron of mischief, secrets, and rogues.

The Faceless God: Represented by a rough, unfinished statue, the Faceless God has place of respect in every Jeheren temple. No one knows who or what the Faceless God is, but the Oracles of Jaerrus assert it will be revealed one day soon, portending a time of great change on Lornn.

Any discussion of the Jerehedim would be incomplete without a brief footnote regarding the origins of the Immortal Emperor. As it was he who was responsible for returning the gods of Man to Lornn, many believe that he is either a bastard from one of Zayus’s many trysts with human women or the Faceless God himself. Still others offer more fantastical and cynical origins for the Emperor ranging from him being a Faenorr overlord wishing to reassert the dominion of elf over man or even a rogue member of the evil, shapechanging Mordrimm not wanting to share control of Lornn with his brethren.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Gods of Lornn pt. 1

My 20th anniversary retrospective of Lornn continues...

The Gods of Lornn

In the beginning, there was only one god known to Lornn, Mahadra, also known as Mother Lornn, the Weaver, or simply “Mother”. Historical collectors display ancient stone or clay statuettes of the Mahadra, depicting a round, heavily pregnant woman. Diviners have revealed some of these artifacts to be so ancient that they were made before the coming of the Faenorr more than ten thousand years ago. Through all those long millennia, worship of the Mother has persisted even to this day, and the Druids of Lornn have kept her wisdom and ways alive despite long periods of heavy persecution.

Some Druidic beliefs say that all other gods are her errant children, and once they have all murdered one another, Mother will again reign alone over Lornn.

As mankind slowly climbed their way towards civilization, more gods began to enter their mythology. The richest of mankind’s civilization flourished on the shores of the Sea of Constellations, and so too did the rise of the Old Gods.

According to scholars, the Old Gods were a great family of powerful entities, all related in some way to each other and all responsible for a particular natural phenomena such as lightning or earthquakes. Some were responsible for protecting the homes of commoners, or bringing productive crop seasons, or for guaranteeing revenge against one’s enemies. As the mankind grew in numbers and spread out across the face of Lornn, so did the number of gods increase, until soon there were more than any one man could give name to.

As humanity began to feel the sting of their inferiority to their Faenorr teachers, they began to search for more powerful gods who would enable them to rise above their teachers. Unfortunately for Lornn, the answer to mankind’s prayers was the Elemental Lords. According to ancient druidic lore, the Elemental Lords were always there, each controlling one of the four basic building blocks of creation. When Mahadra begin to bind together the elements to create Lornn, the Elemental Lords fought against her viciously, for they regarded her actions as a theft of their rightful sovereignties. Mahadra proved more powerful, and she wove tight barriers around Lornn to keep them out.

What she could not have anticipated, however, was the introduction of foreign magic into her world, in the form of Faenorr sorcery. Human wizards knowledgeable in this alien magic were able to make contact with the elder beings and once more let them into Lornn.

Though they are known by many names, these four are most common: Surtur, lord of Fire; Moksha, lord of Earth; Gnomus, lord of Air; and Poseidus, lord of Water. While not necessarily evil in the classic sense of the word, the Elemental Lords epitomized Chaos, and their capricious energies were often focused towards vengeance against Mahadra, Lornn, and the race of Man. Their vengeance was slow, but carefully thought out and perfectly executed, resulting in the two-thousand year dominion of the Mordrimm and the near extinction of the Druids and knowledge of Mahadra herself. But the Elemental Lords had been too quick to dismiss the Old Gods as simple myth, and this proved to be the root of their downfall.

When the Immortal Emperor appeared from across the great Western Ocean, he brought with him the Jeheradim, the New Gods. Sages now are beginning to believe the New Gods are in fact those few of the multitudinous Old Gods who did in fact exist. Druids, however, maintain that the Jeheradim are in fact the children of Mahadra, who escaped their private domain on the mystical isle of Weaver’s Way to play their games with humanity as pawns. Whatever their origins, the Jeheradim were very real, and it was they who tipped the scales in the war against the Mordrimm and the Elemental Lords, for the priests of the New Gods had magical abilities more than adequate to match the elemental sorceries of their foes.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buzz buzz whisper buzz!

Congrats to Mythmere and the Swords & Wizardry community - looks like "our" baby could be going "official" in the near future.

How's that for "rose-colored glasses"...;)

Now who's this prospective publisher, hmm? I have some ideas. There's sure to be some discussion at Grognardia on the subject. What do you think?

That's no moon....

That's the Old School Reference and Index Compilation! Seen here next to S&W White Box for size comparison - man, that's a big book!

For as long as this has been in .pdf, I've wondered how cool it would be to have a print version - and it is pretty damn cool. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into producing this monster. Nice work, guys!

Though I'm content running Swords & Wizardry for now, this book is a treasure trove of useful stuff - taking out the stuff strictly inimical to S&W still leaves me with about 350 pages of treasures, spells, monsters, charts, tables, tips, tricks, and inspiration. Whew.

I highly recommend it to anyone involved in traditional gaming, like the 1E DMG, its usefulness is largely universal.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Steven Brust - Interview

Steven Brust is the author of the fantastic "Jhereg" series of books, which follow the exploits of Vlad Taltos, a human assassin in a sunless world of Dragaeran overlords. As many fans know, the unique setting and mythology behind the novels were the result of some intense RPG sessions with like-minded creative folks, Vlad being Steven's favored character. To this day, Steven's books remain entertaining for multiple reads, and each new book further solidifies his reputation as a stalwart of fantastic literature. I got the chance to present a lighthearted series of intereview questions to Steven a while back:

Beyond the Black Gate(BtBB): OK, here we go...

BtBB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Steven Brust(SKZB): Probably, in some sense, about as long as I was reading. I got more serious about it later, of course, but I can remember playing around with making up stories as a very young child.

BtBB: What writers were particularly influential to you growing up?

SKZB: Probably A.A.Milne, Lewis Carrol, and John Ciardi.

BtBB: How did you get your first book published?

SKZB: I sent it in and they bought it.

BtBB: I knew it was easy!(kidding!) Tor sure handles a lot of popular (contemporary fantasy) writers. Do they get you guys together every year for a big company Christmas Party or anything?

SKZB: No, but it sounds like a fun idea. How 'bout your house? Can you cover
air fare and hotel costs?

BtBB: Maybe Greyhound fare... Describe your feelings the first time you walked into a bookstore and a saw a book with your name on it on the shelf.

SKZB: I don't think I can describe it. It was every bit as much of a thrill
as you'd think it would be. In some sense, I'm still not over it.

BtBB: Quite a few of your contemporaries were also avid role-playing-game players. Do you think rpg's make people want to write or do writers just like to play rpg's?

SKZB: No idea. I imagine it would depend on the person.

BtBB: You've mentioned a few writers you are personal friends with. Mention a few you'd like to beat up.


BtBB: When doing interviews, what is your least favorite question ever?

SKZB: If I tell you, you might ask it, and then I'd have to kill you.

BtBB: You have quite a reputation as a fun guy to hang out with at conventions. What is it about conventions you enjoy the most?

SKZB: Hanging around with people and just talking. I also enjoy playing music at conventions.

BtBB: How about some quick fill-in-the-blanks?

BtBB: If I were an animal I'd be a __?

SKZB: Jhereg.

BtBB: If I wrote a biography it would be about__?

SKZB: U.S. Grant

BtBB: My drink of choice is ___?

SKZB: Laguvullen (scotch!)

BtBB: ___ will one day conquer the world?

SKZB: The international proletariat.

BtBB: I wish ____ would get out of my life?


BtBB: Don't we all! All right, last question: Many writers admit to having a crutch, or good luck charm they need to write, like a favorite pen or hat or brand of cigarette or morning ritual, etc. How about Steven Brust?

SKZB: have plenty of rituals. Cup of coffee in the right place, a good western on TV...geez. Caught up on email. I can't think of them all.

BtBB: Thanks so much more for your time, and thanks even more for all the great books! Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Talk about the weather...with your players.

One thing I often kick myself for missing/forgetting in games is to detail to the players how the weather is on an any given day. Not so important when you're dungeoncrawling, but any other time it adds to the immersion and atmosphere of your game world immensely.

Start with a base temperature for your current neck of the campaign woods:
Climate Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall (av. temp in degrees F)
Equatorial 60/70/90/70
Tropical 50/60/80/60
Sub-Temperate 40/50/70/50
Temperate 30/40/70/40
Sub-Arctic 10/20/40/20
These temperatures will range from +10 degrees at 3pm to -10 degrees at 3am.

Then roll 1d20 for any temperature changes that day:
1-10 - Temperature stays the same as yesterday.
11 - Slightly Warmer +5 degrees
12 - Slighly Cooler -5 degrees
13 - Much Warmer +10 degrees
14 - Much Cooler -10 degrees
15 - Hotter +20 degrees
16 - Colder -20 degrees
17 - Scorcher +30 degrees
18 - Cold Snap -30 degrees
19 - Heat Wave +40 degrees
20 - Freezing -40 degrees

Then roll 1d12 for precipitation (adjust by climate, -4 to roll in Arid Regions):
1-2 - No change, same as yesterday.
3-5 - Dry as a Bone, Sunny
6-7 - Light Precip: Icy Mist/Fog, etc
8-9 - Precipitation: Light Rain, Snow, etc
10 - Heavy Precip: Swirling Snow, Pounding Rain
11 - Heavy Storms: Thunder/Lightning w/sleet, hail, heavy snow/rain
12 - Violent Storms: Monsoon/Blizzard/Hurricane conditions (seek cover!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Speaking of New...

I have to say my favorite "new" artist of the "old" school is one Pete Mullen. If you've not yet taken a gander at the art on his web-site, you're missing out. Seriously, this gentleman's stuff is the most inspiring, imaginative work I've seen since since EO's heyday. Its very cool to me just how thoroughly Mullen "gets it", when it comes to capturing the old-school spirit (hence my compulsion to festoon my blog with his work in every free space I can find ;). Everyone I show the Swords & Wizardry core book to has to stop and marvel at the cover.

If he's available, he's definitely going to be my first stop when its time to commission the cover art for my Warriors of the Red Planet book. If you're a publisher, or self-publishing, hiring this guy for your art is one sure way to get a sale from me!

The Importance of New

Its easy to forget, sometimes, the value of "New!" in a hobby like ours. We place a lot of value on products that were yellowing with age 20 years ago. This is rooted, I would humbly propose, in the fact that the company(s) responsible for D&D slowly stopped producing the kind of stuff the osr appreciates: streamlined rules, site-based non-railroady adventures, sword&sorcery influenced settings and monsters, etc. Over time, a strong mistrust of anything "new" or "post-1981-or-so" tends to develop.

Only natural, of course: you get burned enough, and any semi-intelligent hominid will stop putting their hands into the fire.

But along the way, it becomes harder to remember the feeling you had when you picked up your first Moldvay Basic Boxed Set or 1E Monster Manual. These were new, baby, with something unexpected and exciting around every corner. 25 or 30 years later, nostalgia has brought us back to these books, and what a pleasant surprise to find out that this stuff really works good! As many have noted, no rose-colored-glasses necessary - it really is just as fun as you remembered.

Not as much enthusiasm for new books or product lines though. That feeling of "wow, check out this new book!" doesn't seem to be as highly touted in the osr community. More a cautious mistrust, a sort of "yeah, this is pretty cool, but I hope we don't get too many more...".

Again, understandable, plenty of us remember the swollen, nonsense-packed shelves of the 2E and 3E eras.

Hopefully, as the osr continues to build momentum and popularity, it will also be able to walk bravely, blinking perhaps, into the sunlight again with an appreciation for new stuff. It is ok, I would contend, to favor something like Swords & Wizardry over its original source material: the Little Brown Books. Its not heretical to admit that we may know a bit more about self-publishing today than Gygax and Co. did 35 years ago. Layout, organization, coherence, and 35 years of playtesting all contribute towards a more streamlined product. Not to mention personal computers.

There's also that feeling of "wow" when you hold something new in your hands, such as an issue of Knockspell or Green Devil Face. For the time being at least, the osr is in the hands of the folks who actually play it - they are the ones producing new material, not a faceless corporation with profit margins and stock-holder conference calls. As long as that continues to be the case, I say bring on the new stuff. More adventures, more monsters, more magazines.

I trust you, and I'm not afraid anymore.;-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good news!

From the Goodman Games press release here:

"Goodman Games, developer and publisher of the hugely-popular line of Dungeon Crawl Classics line of adventures for fantasy role-playing campaigns, is pleased to announce an agreement with Black Blade Publishing to publish adaptations of the Dungeon Crawl Classics line of adventures for First Edition fantasy role-playing games. The first release is First Edition Dungeon Crawls: Secret of Smuggler’s Cove, adapted from Dungeon Crawl Classics #7: Secret of Smuggler’s Cove. This 32-page adventure module is fully compatible with the First Edition of the world’s most-popular fantasy role-playing game, any of the other early editions of that game, or any of their modern simulacra."

Congrats to Jon and Grodog! Hope you lucky devils at NTRPGCon pick this up. I ran this at least three times in its 3.0 version, fans of U1 will especially enjoy this.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Monsters of Lornn - pt.1

One of my main objectives with Lornn was to provide a campaign setting that was almost completely alien and original, a "new world" for the players to explore. The flora and fauna were to be all-original; horses were replaced with red-and-ochre zebra-like mounts called Equos, Ox and cattle by towering beasts of burden called Loros, even the role of the humble house-cat was filled by several breeds of semi-intelligent, talking lemurs.

Most important to adventure design, of course, was to provide all-new monsters. Ubiquitous fantasy gaming threats like orcs, ogres, and dragons were all thrown out the window. This design element was strongly rooted in my earliest, fondest gaming experiences and a desire to recreate that feeling of never knowing what to expect. When I wanted to run a setting where all the traditional D&D elements and mythologies were in place, Judges Guild's Wilderlands of High Fantasy was there to fill that role to perfection. My original homebrew needed to be something to sate my thirst for new horizons, and to pass that along to the players.

In some cases, I took standard monsters and "re-skinned" them: the carrion crawler was re-clothed in shimmering, prismatic bristles that hypnotized rather than tentacles that paralyzed, Mummies were re-clothed in coin-studded tar rather than filthy bandages, ochre jellies became malicious humanoid-shaped creatures that lulled their victims into psionically-induced dreams as they digested them, etc.

And of course, there are plenty off all-new monsters, nearly 50 of them, some of which I'm even "re-skinning" for my forthcoming Warriors of the Red Planet book. Here's three Monsters of Lornn that saw frequent use at the game table, with more soon to come:

The "lion" of Lornn, this is a cunning, common, and vicious predator. It appears as an ochre-colored mixture of feline and reptile, and emits a buzzing, purring, unnerving growl when trailing its prey. There are two known varieties of Scranth. The most common haunts the hills, plains, and wastelands of Lorrn, and typically travels in groups of 2-5. Another variety, the Desert Scranth, huants arid lands, and is much larger, though this breed typically is a solitary hunter. Rumors persists of a jet-furred jungle scranth, possibly lycanthropic in nature, but no specimens, live or dead, have ever been brought to civilized lands to confirm this.
Scranth, common: HD3; AC4[15]; Atk 2 claws(d4) and bite(d6); Move16; Save14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: none.
Scranth, desert: HD5; Atk 2 claws(d6) and bite(d8); Move12; Save12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: none.

Grey Gulper
This feared predator of the northern forests is a monstrous, house-sized arachnid covered in bands of gray bristles. It has a huge maw, filled with grinding tooth-like barbs that reduce its meals to an easily-digested pulp: flesh, bone, and gear alike. For its size, the Gulper is remarkably quiet, and its coloration makes it hard to see until its literally on top of its victims. Any human-sized or smaller creature that is hit by two of its claw-tipped legs is promptly (and automatically) popped into its maw for 2d8 points of damage a round. Up to four man-sized creatures may be chewed upon at once.
Grey Gulper: HD9; AC4[15]; Atk 4 claws(d4+special); Move12; Save5; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Maw(2d8/rnd with two successful claw hits); stealthy.

Dread Zilmurth
The zilmurth haunts rocky wastelands and hills. It appears as a 8 to 18-foot-long mixture of badger and crocodile, covered in bands of bristly black-and-white armor plates. The call of the zilmurth is a rumbly basso growl that turns its victims bowels to water in fear, and changes to a deafening brassy screech as it charges. The saliva of a zilmurth is mildly narcotic, and those bitten must save or perceive the world around them as a dreamy haze (-2 to AC, attacks, and saves). It is typically a solitary hunter, but is occasionally found in groups of 2-7 or more. A single dead zilmurth can be harvested for a pint of its narcotic saliva, worth up to 50gp on the black market.
Zilmurth, Dread: HD6+6; AC2[17]; Atk bite 2d6+special; Move12(burrow3); Save11; CL/XP 6/480; Special: poison bite (-2 AC/saves/attacks).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What *not* to do when you're home alone.

Watch "One Missed Call".

Bored last night while the rest of the clan was out of town for my niece's birthday, I queued this up on the On Demand, not expecting much. And sure enough, for the first 10 or 15 minutes, this seemed to be not much different from the Ring or Grudge or any number of other Japanese horror flicks. But then it got...scary. And real, real tense.

You know that manic laughter you get on a particularly startling roller coaster? Yeah, that was me. I'm sure the neighbor thinks I'm insane now, assuming he had any doubts before. Not to mention said neighbor (whose driveway is right outside my living-room window) slammed his car door at one quiet point in the movie, causing me to jump, catlike, into the air several feet.

This is directed by Takashi Miike, by the way, who I understand is considered to be sort of a Japanese Quentin Tarentino. I remember watching his film "Audition" some years back and finding it a bit... disturbing.

I suppose it helps to be in a hundred-year-old house, all alone, in one of the most haunted cities in the US, but this flick rated really high on the creep-o-meter. See it if you get a chance. Apparently there's an American remake of this, but I'd be surprised if it's as good (even the movie-poster art looks a bit goofy).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

20-year Anniversary!

This month marks the 20th anniversary of my own homebrew game setting, the "Lands of Lornn", originally called, simply, "Shadomir". The setting has seen regular detailing and revising since its initial, somewhat clumsy, beginnings. Some 24 or so 11x8 maps, of varying quality, detail the roughly Europe-sized Northern Continent where most of the action takes place. Its seen use with 3 different versions of D&D, as well as a bit of RM. Half a dozen campaigns with at least four different groups of gamers, from the Merry Riders' unfortunate acquisition of the Orb of Undeath, to the Red-Iron Company's forays beneath the Tower of the Lich-King.

To celebrate the milestone, I'll be featuring stuff from the setting all month, including original monsters statted for S&W, a couple of unique NPC classes, and some other (hopefully) interesting bits and pieces.

To set the mood, the first feature is this shortstory published some years ago, set in the homebrew, titled The Fishermans Coin. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 1, 2009


One thing I've always appreciated in both history and fantasy literature is the diversity of languages to be found. Yet in D&D there seems to be a dearth of languages. Well, yes, there is a substantial list of languages, but they are mostly racial or alignment tongues. As someone who prefers human-centric, Sword&Sorcery-style gaming, having Klarg the Barbarian learn "Dwarf" or "Otyugh" is next to useless, and doesn't really represent even the base-line game's assumption of humanity as the predominant race in existence.

This has always been perplexing to me, as language is not something really complicated to add to a game or implement during game play.

Historically, language was not necessarily exclusive to the scholarly realm. There's plenty of evidence that common folk around the ancient Mediterranean, for instance, where trade was common and written languages were often assumed from foreign countries, knew a few languages other than their own as a matter-of-fact, with the scholarly types being adept in a dozen or more. Even today, in geographical areas like Europe where there are a lot of languages spoken in a relatively small area, it is common to be adept at two or three languages, with a passing knowledge of several more. My friend from Hamburg speaks English and French fluently, in addition to his native tongue, and can get by conversationally in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, and professes to have never studied a foreign language past what passes for high school over there.

Here in America, we seem to be more exclusive than most in our "native" tongue, eschewing other languages nearly to the point of hostility, so perhaps this is the reason more diverse tongues never really worked their way into D&D or other contemporary RPGs. Or maybe I'm just more obsessed with it than Gygax, Arneson, and company were. :-)

For this entry, I'm presenting some "basic" languages to use in your games. Each language has a generic name so it can be easily dropped into any campaign; you may want to rename each, as appropriate, to give it that much more flavor.

For my campaign, I'm allowing characters to start with up to two languages, with more based on their Intelligence bonus (as many as 1 if you're using S&W, or as many as 3 with LL) with the ability to learn more languages upon gaining odd-numbered levels (3rd, 5th, etc). You may want to increase or decrease that according to your preference, or just base their learning new tongues on some in-play criteria.

"Common"- this remains the baseline language of local human culture. By that I mean the generic national language native to the majority of your PCs.
"Elder Common"- this tongue is an older version of common, perhaps comparable to Old English or Latin, out of use by common folk, but still learned and used to an extent by scholars, nobility, and perhaps the magic users in your campaign.
"Arcane"- this is the language of magic, used exclusively by those properly inducted into the secretive guilds and orders who practice the arcane arts. More a language of "science" than of conversation, not unlike what you may hear physicists rattling off;-)
"Eastern"- this is language of plain-and-steppe nomads, like the Scythians or Mongols. Useful to know for PCs frequenting oft raided borderlands, or dealing with the plentiful mercenaries from these lands. Its written form is very limited, but its militaristic focus can be useful for secret missives and the like.
"Desert"- this is the common tongue of the nomads and teeming cities of the arid desert lands. It is also useful as a scientific tongue, as many prolific engineers and architects hail from these lands, and the written form is both extensive and expressive.
"Wild"- This is the tongue of the "Old Folk". Not unlike the celtic or viking languages, it is the language of the remnants of the old tribes still practicing the old druidic ways, and often confined to the wilder corners of the civilized world. Its written form is runic, and often found carved in megalithic stones and cairns.
"Equitorial"- this is language of the jungles of the deep southern areas. There are countless varieties and dialects as one moves from tribe to tribe, but a basic understanding can be achieved. A necessary language for explorers of lost worlds and exotic locales.
"Trade"- the language of traders and merchants, serving a role similar to the tongues of Phoenicia or Venice. Always useful to know, as almost any civilized land you travel to will have at least a few individuals conversant in this language for the sake of the greatest motivator of all: gold!
"Ancient"- the language of lost civilizations. Likely found only spoken by obscure cults, lost cities, and with a written form appearing as pictographs or hieroglyphs. Another useful tongue for adventurers, at least for those with more scholarly tendencies.
"Pidgin"- the mish-mash language of pirates and dark ports of call that serve as melting pots for the thieves and rogues of dozens of cultures and races. Useful to know for adventures of a dubious nature, and the foundation for what is sometimes known as "thieves cant".

At any rate, I hope these 10 can get you started. The next step is, of course, to actually utilize them in your campaigns, the easiest ways being through treasure maps, tricky employers, and expeditions to faraway places. If you make it more profitable through gold and xp.s for your players to to be proactive in learning and utilizing the many languages of your campaign setting, they'll adopt the custom quickly, and give that much more atmosphere and immersion to your game!


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