Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Few Organizations on Midrea

A sextet of the more interesting ones that P.C.'s might run into.

The Harrow -- This organization codifies and studies all martial arts and offers training in almost all of them to worthy students.

The International Benevolent Brotherhood of the Chain -- aka Slavers Guild. They provide slaves, promote slavery as a social good and sometimes offer services to Bael the Victor (the Slavers God) . They also have a less licit agency called the Ring that operates in areas where slavery is illegal or frowned upon. This is a very big and very powerful multinational group, not to be trifled with lightly.

Brotherhood of Mages -- This organization is a group of traditionalist wizards that meets operates as a mutual aid society for traditional spell casters (i.e 1 wizard, 1-3 students) They have a strict code of ethics designed to improve the social respectability of wizards called The Wizards Code. Mainly they are a bunch of stuff academics and hedge wizards who accomplish little. Even the Council of Arch-Mages rarely is able to get anything agreed upon.

The Gathering, Lamplighters -- both similar organizations of Loremasters and Undead hunters

Society from Permanent Manumission-- aka The Anti Slavery League. An organization headquartered in the Brin Republic but active almost everywhere. Its goal is too eliminate slavery and, though unproven agitate for Universal Suffrage and Republican Government

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dogs in Midea

One of the few arts lost when humans came from Earth was the art of dog breeding.The Shan did not have dogs and the Earth stock was too heterogeneous to make any of the sort of highly bred animals we have today .However where there are humans there will be dogs. We've shared space for thousands of years and will probably continue too do so.

Now dogs are kept as pets and as livestock (and occasionally for food ) but the little overbred lap dogs just don't exist there (save Pugs) . People keep mips and other small animals to fill that niche.


Instead most dogs are working dogs, bred for health and for a particular role. The colloquial term is "hounds"
although not all dogs actually fit that description. At least eight kinds exists alongside plain old common farm dogs.

Midrean Dogs tend to be a bit wolfish and a bit wilder than Earth dogs but they are smart and hardy.

The most common types are

Chase Hounds for running down prey (slaves or game animals)

Nose Hounds for tracking (as above)

Tooth Hounds for attack dogs and hunting

War Hounds big combat dogs for dangerous game or warfare

Rat Hounds for killing rats and badger hunting --

Bird Hounds for water fowling

and Watch Hounds used alongside geese for security

Some Mages have also started to breed dogs as guardian animals -- given a protective collar to ward off hostile spells they make effective and loyal companions. Those are usually called Mage Hounds of course.

I Have Been Remiss: Scribe of Orcus Zine from Goblinois

I'll bet you didn't know that Goblinoid Games has an OSR zine. Yep. Its called Scribe of Orcus. Its magazine eight in the Old School round up. Its by the same guys who brought us Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future and GORE, supports all three and is inexpensive, $2 on Drive-Thru

Now I'll be honest, I've never read a copy as I am really slow to buy PDF's. Heck I don't even have Fight On! or Knockspell or Book of Nod #2 in my library yet.

So, if anyone out there happens to read a copy before I do let me know how you liked it. Given its Goblinoid, I'll bet its pretty good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Drugs on Midrea

Thought y'all might be curious about drugs in my game world.

There are a lot of different drugs that can be had by anyone who wants them. Drug control is not that common, so most of them are bought at the corner store or in taverns or specialty shops. The illicit ones can be had by anyone with an appropriate roguish background and the silver pretty easily.

Culturally drug use is pretty rare among everyone. This seems to have been mirrored in game as other than alcohol and tea only one character has ever partaken of any drugs. A Pyromancer PC, name long forgotten had taken some Dream Resin from a slaughtered drug dealer (he and his partner were busy boys) and decided to the meditate near the fire. This, combined with his general rotten attitude and destructive nature put him in touch with Hell. Needless to say wacky hijinks ensued. This culminated in a willing conversion to the Dark Side in the name of mass destruction. Much great role playing and a lot of fun was had by all.

And no it was not a Nancy Reagan moment, I promise. The effects were just, like most of my gaming, what I thought might be fun.

Now on the issue of drugs IRL, no non prescribed drugs other than caffeine are allowed at my table. Booze and gaming just don't mix well with me and while smoking is fine, please do its outside and don't stink up my house. The rest is politics, so we aren't going there. Now onto the list.

Midrean Drugs, in no particular order

Marijuana is widespread and legal. Humans, Haflings and Dwarves use it as do Shan stock humans occasionally

Dream Dust also known as Quadesh (made from Tran flowers) is an drug that creates pleasure and dreams. Its often illegal and somewhat dangerous. Its rare . The idea was inspired by Misty lackey I think.

Dream Resin aka God Call (idea borrowed from Brian Daley's Corramonde series) allows brief contact with other realms, but again is very dangerous and often illegal. It is to Dream Dust what Heroin is to Opium and is made by Alchemy. Its even rarer

Speaking of Opium it is available and widely used as a pain killer and though there is Opium syrup , there is no Heroin, yet. Smoking Opium is called chasing the Dragon in Midrea too and it is rumored that actual Dragons have a taste for it.

There are a wide variety of mushrooms, at least five, some hallucinogenic, some stimulant, some actual magic mushrooms.

Qat (usually spelled Q'et) exists but its strictly a regional drug in the Northern Sands area

Blackroot , also called Bitteroot (inspired by an off reference in Willow) or Kef . Use is very common. Its tastes awful when chewed but is not particularly addictive. The only side effects are a nasty mouth stain, fatigue if abused and a lingering after taste . Soldiers and Laborers favor it as it is a stimulant with mild painkilling effects. Even the Vara, who eschew drug use it it occasionally.

Mild drugs include Coffee (which is rare as of yet) , Tea, Cacao (also rare) and of course Tobacco which is available in every form including chew, snuff, pipe, and cigar. In some places its even delivered as an enema! Brin and Halflings adore the stuff as do Dwarfs though neither of the two other races can be persuaded to take it up an exit as it were...

Last, coca leaf is cultivated by the High Plains Folk. It has not traveled far and as yet, no one has distilled cocaine from it.

The DM's Notebook. A Lost Tradition?

One thing I've noticed a lot less of in this age cheap ubiquitous computing is the venerable DM's notebook.

For those gamers not familiar with the concept, it was a notebook (or two) usually spiral bound that contained notes on rulings, house rules, home creations,occasional doodles, stuff that was allowed into the game and sometimes (depending on the DM) world building notes and other such stuff.

In many ways, this notebook was the heart and soul of a a DM's style, it made the game his (or hers) as versus just another game of D&D.

As you can guess, players didn't get access to this though some of the sections might be written up or photocopied or later printed as a house rules document.

As a personal aside always felt that being shown the notebook, as one DM to another was a great honor.

Hghly efficient desktop publishing software ended the notebook tradition.

However, and this is a big deal, those same technological forces have created something more awesome in the form of the OSR. So much free and legal content, so much wonderful creativity, so much cool stuff to buy all ripe for the taking.

In many ways we have much more stuff coming out then we did at the height of the hobby, Seven magazines (Fight On!, Encounter, Oubliette, Oddities, Land of Nod, Knockspell, and Dragonsfoot) coming out often enough that we are near to getting as much content as any monthly, modules at a good clip, tons of game systems to choose from. And a lot of it is even in print form if you are allergic to PDF's

As long as you can find a great group, this is a terrific time to be an old school gamer. Myabe better than ever.

And so yeah, I might miss the notebook tradition a little, but only a little as I am too busy enjoying the abundance of riches the OSR has to offer.

Sigh: More Pathfinder, a New Parry Rule

Apologies to all my OSR friends and readers. I'll have some classic content soon, I promise.

However I was feeling inspired and thought I'd toss a new Pathfinder parry rule folks way. This rule can be used with a little adjustment with older editions at least so long as the character has multiple attacks.


Parrying

Any character may elect to forgo a move action or one or more attacks they are eligible for in order to gain a dodge bonus to AC. Each attack gains a bonus of +2, in addition giving up the move grants a bonus of +2 as well. In order to give up more than one attack, the move must be given up as well.

So a 1st level wizard may choose to gain a bonus of +4 if choses not to move or just +2 if he needs to scoot but chooses not to cast.

as another example, Oletana is surrounded by a vast goblin warband , being all out of spells and wild shifts (hey, there were a lot of goblins) she decides to parry with one attack , giving up her move as well to add 4 to her AC. This will hopefully be enough to keep her alive till Seng brings help ...

Note this rule is not playtested, so if the bonus is too much let me know and as always your feedback is welcome.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stewing and Chewing: D&D without the Weird Tales

One of the ideas I am playing around with is an Old School project that could basically summed up as D&D minus Lovecraft, Leiber, Howard and Moorcock.

It was kind of inspired by Mazes and Minotaurs which was of course inspired by this article.

Imagine Appendix N more inspired by The Hobbit, Oz, Gothic Horror , Faerie Tales, Ivanhoe, Lord Dunsany and the Man in the Iron Mask leavened with a bit of Vance. More Swashbuckling and quirky than the pulp stew that would later become D&D.

I see a slightly more family friendly and approachable game with more opportunities for heroism and less emphasis and the roguery that is part and parcel of most D&D. More rescued princess and less random harlots if you will.

The question that is plaguing me is a mechanical one. What retro-clone provides the best foundation for me to design a simple, fun and imaginative game of my own.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pathfinder House Rules, Shields

Another short set of house rules pertaining to Pathfinder.

Shield

Shields work as per Pathfinder Core Rules however A Buckler or Hand Buckler gains +1 to AC, A Small Shield +2, A Large Shield +3 and a Tower Shield +4.

in addition Rogues are proficient with the Buckler and Hand Buckler but not other shields.

These changes are to give shields a bit more oomph , to simplify things re: the buckler which I think is needed, and to swashbuckler up the Rogue.

Hand Buckler

This weapon and defensive device is a widely carried personal protection defense item o. It functions as a buckler save that it fills the hand. Someone proficient with a hand bucker can also use it as an offhand weapon without loosing its +1 to AC . In that us it is a light weapon with the following stats

Small Weapon 1d3 Medium Weapon 1d4 Crit: 19-20/x2 — 1 lb. B

All other stats and costs are as per a Buckler.

And yes, this item is a way to try and bring historical buckler fighting into Pathfinder without dropping the somewhat silly but fun and fair rules we have now .

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pathfinder House Rules, Movement

I find Pathfinder, unlike a lot of games does not need much in the way of house rules to meet my needs. Off course pretty much all D20 gamers I have a hodge podge of open and closed content that I, all of which is converted to Pathfinder specs mostly by tweaking the spell list and hit points. I won't detail all that here, its really more an an add on than a real rules change. However one area of the core rules where I have implemented some small changes is movement.

Taking a cue from 4th edition I treat the 5 foot step as a separate and additional action.

The action sequence then looks like this.

Every round each character gets the following action

1 Minor as per Pathfinder rules

1 Standard Action as per Pathfinder rules

1 Movement Action as per Pathfinder rules

1 Five Foot Step

If a character as multiple attack they may combine the standard and movement actions and take however many attack they are entitled too. The five foot step is performed normally.

Also when allowed by the rules a movement and standard action into a run action as per Pathfinder rules. The five step must be added to the move and provokes Attacks of Opportunity as usual.

All other rules remain the same.


Being both sequential and consistent, the alternate method is easy to remember and easier to use in play. It also adds a little bit more tactical mobility to the game, something I find worthwhile.

And while yes it adds a square (five feet) to each rounds movement, this amount is not enough to create an issue with game balance in my opinion.

All in all I am happy with it. However as YMMV feel free to give it a run (pun intended) and let me know what you think.

Pathfinder Bonus Content: A new Elven Feat

Elf War Lore

Prerequisites: Elf or Half Elf

Benefit: You gain the following two abilities

#1 You gain proficiency with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows) and hand buckler.

#2 You may treat any weapon with elven in its name as a martial weapon.

This feat, as with the Dwarf feat above is a way to give back the abilities I removed from the Elven racial abilities. As before things like this are essentially training not an innate species wide ability and having every single member of a given race having these abilities makes no sense to me.

Still, as with the Dwarves some people will want them for one concept or another, so why not?

Oh yeah as to the hand buckler. Its a custom thing and you can see it in the shields article.

Pathfinder Bonus Content: A new Dwarven Feat

Dwarven Combat Training.

Prerequisites: Dwarf.

Benefit: You gain four benefits,
#1 a +4 dodge bonus to AC against monsters of the giant subtype,
#2 a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the orc and goblinoid subtypes
#3 Proficiency with battleaxes, heavy picks, and warhammers.
#4 Treat any weapon with the word “dwarven” in its name as a martial weapon.

This feat is of course a way to give back the abilities I removed from the Dwarf racial abilities. Things like this are essentially training not an innate species wide ability and having every single member of a given race having these abilities makes no sense to me.

Still, some people will want them for one concept or another, so here they are.

Pathfinder Rules Content: Dwarves of Midrea

Dwarves of Midrea are the second most common race on the planet and can be found almost anywhere Humans are found. In general they get along with humans as well as humans get along with each other. Dwarves are mortal, reaching adolescence at about 20 and full maturity at about 50. Life span can approach 500 as they age at 1/5 the rate of humans.

Skin, Eye and Hair color is about that of Europeans. Average Height is around 4'6" to 5 foot and varies little. All male Dwarves sport long beards and are inordinately proud of them. They will be trimmed for neatness and occasionally cut short prior to a battle but are never shaved even as a humiliation. Female Dwarves are about the same height as males but are beardless and unless disguised clearly female. There are no half dwarves

Dwarves use the standard Pathfinder rules however they gain 2x low light visions instead of dark vision and do not gain hatred, defensive training or weapon familiarity abilities. Instead they gain Craftwise and a +2 racial bonus on all craft checks.

Dwarves are loosely divided into 3 "cultures" City Dwarves who live mostly among men, Hill Dwarves and Mountain Dwarves who prefer their respective habitats. Difference as cultural however not racial and all use the same abilities.

Last there are are the Fae Dwarves who serve as the craftsmen of the Elven kingdoms . They are Fae and as such are immune to aging and disease. They gain the fae template as well. They are ECL +1 and may not be suitable as PC's

Pathfinder Content: Elves of Midrea

Here is the basic Elf race writeup. Though they get 2 abilities at +2 they are still roughly ECL +0 do to the limitations they have

Note that Elven alignments are always Chaotic, An individual Elf can cycle through Good, Neutral or Evil but will never be Lawful or Neutral or than Chaotic Neutral.

+2 Charisma
+2 Dexterity

Size: Medium
Speed: Normal

Low Light Vision 3X Normal

Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and get a +4 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.

Keen Senses: Elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception skill checks.

Healing: Elves heal at twice the normal rate and do not scar. Lost limbs will regenerate at the rate of a week for a small appendage, a month for a partial limb and longer for greater damage.Magic healing speeds this regeneration by a factor of 10. Elves are also immune to all disease

Ageless: Elves do not age.

Soulless-- Elves cannot be raised, resurrected or brought back to life except by use of a clone spell . A fallen Elf with reincarnate immediately in the next available Elven baby.

Weight of Truth-- An Elf cannot lie when asked a question directly. They may be as evasive as desired and as poetic but it is impossible for one to lie.

Word-Bound-- Elves cannot break their word. Treat as if they are under a Geas Spell with the command "Keep Your Word" at all times. The effects is exceptional and cannot be dispelled at all or suspended by magic less than a Wish or Miracle.

Preferred Class: Any charisma based arcane caster.

Sub-Race variants:

White Elves: White Elves may not take levels in Divine Classes except for Druid. Druid is also a preferred class for them. Bardic healing spells are available to all White Elf arcane casters at the same spell levels. These Elves are mostly Chaotic Good.

Grey Elves: Grey Elves may not take divine caster levels however bardic healing spells are available to all Arcane casters at the same spell level as above Grey Elves are mostly Chaotic Neutral.

Dark Elves: Dark Elves may take Divine caster levels. Dark Elves can see in any light as bright as if it were day however they suffer from Light Sensitivity and are are dazzled as long as they remain in an area of bright light. Do to the high magic of the underworld in which they live Dark Elves possess spell resistance equal to 6 plus their class levels. Dark Elves are always Chaotic Evil.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Party Compostition Compared Old and New School

One of the things I've noticed that differs a lot between new and old school are the way parties are composed.
The classes selected are often the same but while new school parties are configured like a special forces "Hero" team, old school parties often looked more like mercenary units. Let me explain.

Lets say 5 players, about 5th level

New School Party is say

Fighter
Wizard
Rogue
Cleric
Ranger
we also might see a coupe of pets -- say the Wizard's Familiar (a Raven, the only really useful one in my opinion ) and the Ranger's large dog (use Wolf Stats) . Thats about it.



Now and old school party is a lot wilder woollier and bigger

You still have your PC's Fighter, Magic User, Thief, Cleric and Ranger and sometimes one pet (a randomly rolled familiar ) or two if you were using an edition where Rangers got arcane spells. However thats where the similarity ended .

The old school party was often much larger. You might have hirelings (torch bearers and other useful NPC's) men at arms, mules, war dogs and a bunch of the players personal henchmen.

Your five players may have as many as 8 or 10 party members, a pile of goons (at lower level) treasure transport in the form of dungeon worthy mules (since there was no guarantee of bags of holding in old school and ya got to get the loot out somehow ) and of course the Magic Users pet war dogs (best party life saver ever) I've even seen geese and chickens and pigs and charmed hench-critters too ..

This leads to a rather different style of play I'd be hard pressed to explain. You'll just have to try it yourself .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Terry Pratchett sums up the Elves of Midrea

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.
Terry Pratchett, Lords And Ladies


The Elves of Midrea hail from a parallel dimension, the Violet Realm called Faerie. Its an tremendously magical place where pretty much everyone and everything there is magical in some form or another. The Elves themselves are closely related to humanity, having a similar appearance and enough in common with humans to bear fertile offspring about 1 time in 10.

The resemblance however stops there however. While Elves seem like humans they are mostly borderline sociopaths driven by capricious whims. They may have functional immortality but the years weigh on them and can induce a sort of madness as over time . They are all as was once said, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. The older the Elf the worse they worse they are . As their magic power increases (its accumulative in everything the eat and drink) they can become weirder and more inhuman. All Elves are chaotic.

Do to the magic that courses through their bodies Elves are immune to aging and normal diseases, have great resistance to various sorts of undead taint and possess superior senses including night vision. The also do not scar and given time can even regenerate lost limbs.

Elves cannot lie or break promises but they can twist words and are good at it. The Ley of Halet is a popular folk song about a legal debate between a Grey Elf and a Vara Truth Speaker . There are about 10 or 12 known versions, making the origin suspect but in all cases the Vara seems to be the winner which tell you something about Vara legalism.

There are three main "groups" of Elves

1st are the Dark Elves, who live underground and are rumored to worship the ancient Gods of Midrea including the Flame and the Spider. No Dark Elf is decent and they do not use scimitars just in case anyone asks. Dark elves are always Chaotic Evil.

2nd are the Grey Elves. These live in the Elaven Wood, a titanic forested area and the home of the Violet Gate. These Elves are more subject to whim then most but unlike the Dark Elves do not hate humanity. Unlike humans and some other Elves they cannot have a connection to the Divine and cannot use Divine Magic .They are always Chaotic Neutral.

3rd a White Elves. These Elves live in Aradia and while given to caprice like other Elves seem to have a moral center of some sort. They are connected to the land in ways that other elves are not and can use natural magic as well. They are not wise to be around for most people but Aradians are Elfwise and seem to be able to coexist with them. They are always Chaotic Good and make suitable PC's.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fighting Styles in Midrea

This is a short list with no stats (those might be in a later to be released PDF) of some of the many fighting styles on Midrea

Sword and Buckler:This is the ubiquitous form of personal self defense

Weapon and Shield: Common style pretty much everywhere where armor is expensive.

The Hala:
The Vara method of systematic unarmed/armed fighting. Kind of like a mix of Combat Wrestling and London Masters of Defense

7 Elements Fighting:
Mostly sword, spear and shield work based around the elemental philosophy that pervades my game world

Stick Dance:
Flashy unarmed/stick form that is disguised as a dance. A little like Jo-Jitsu and Wu-Shu and Capoeira blended

12 fold path swordmanship:
Kind of like a Westernized Kenjutsu /Longsword Mix. The practitioners are known for their excellent swords with the dodecahedral pommel nuts


Speed Fighting: Knife and unarmed skills from the South

Shou Stick Fighting. Basically comprehensive Escrima in most respects

Knife and Buckler. A Narja style where long knives are used in place of swords as swords are illegal.

Greatsword Fighting. A popular style for big men.

Pollaxe Fighting. Likewise

Sama-Dob > A mix of Sumo and Boxing with a few kicks from the Islands.

Other Arcane Casters in Midrea

Sorcerers, Spell Singers,Battle Sorcerers Bards and anyone with innate Arcane Powers tap a magic field called "Glamor" basically its a kind of "Glare and Clamor" a magic radiation given off by all life forms from The Violet Realm aka Faerie --

This power is quite common on the Middle Realm -- Imported by Elves originally to "Faerie-form" Midrea. Now the magic the power is pretty much everywhere.
.
Sorcery is innate and a player must declare if they are taking it at 1st level either by spending a feat (Bloodline, Prodigal Caster, Latent Sorcerer) by taking a level of Sorcerer or one of the other classes or by being a half elf, gnome or other race with likely innate powers
.
There is one country where Sorcery is common (all of the nobles are Sorcerers or other similar classes) and a few Sorcerer clans (ala Dusk or Diablo's Mage Clans) otherwise the gift is recessive and hereditary and happens in maybe 1 person in 100 ,if that.

Folks treat Sorcerers pretty much as Wizards, with respect and a little fear since they can't tell the difference between them for the most part anyway.

Wizards In Midrea

Wizard magic is based on a combination of science, computer programming and meditation. A Wizard prepares spells by using complicated formulas to cast their mind into the outer realms (Cuthuloid land more or less) then find and embedding fragments of the meta language of creation into their the mind. These fragments when released act are "spells" Each spellbook has a different mantra or formula for finding the desired results hence it requires time to decipher and understand a system of magic you weren't trained in. Also The mantras are very complicated and unless spell mastery is taken require a spellbook to remember them

All Wizards have spell mastery for Read Magic and most have it for several other spells. Note that if INT increases (naturally only) spells known with Spell Mastery increases retroactivly. Thus a high level mage with 2 feats in Spell Mastery and INT 20 will have Read Magic and 10 other mastered spells. It isn't possible to de-Wizard someone -- if they have eschew components and spell mastery all they have to do is have a few minutes to relax and viola they have spells again.
If they have other Metamagic feats and more slots than mastered spells they can fill up the slots with improved versions. They lose versatility but not all power. Also magic items are created ONLY with power components-- It isn't possible to spend XP on items.


Wizards are typically arranged in the following ways

#1 Traditionalist -- 1 Wizard and 1-4 apprentices. These types consider this to be the best way to learn magic. The traditionalists of 21st level and higher are organized into the "Council" a group of Wizards who theoretically oversee all Wizards but in practice are more of a social club
for Archmagi.

#2 Academics-- These are trained in Wizard School. The usually well educated and have a variety of knowledges.

#3 Military- Since anyone who has an INT of 12 or better (full 33% of the population) can eventually learn to cast Fireball with enough training most nations have an Military Wizards School . Military Wizards may have Fighter or Eldritch Knight levels or even other militant PRC's. They are almost always officers.

#4 Guilds There are guild Wizards in some areas. The Guild function as fraternal and regulatory organizations for spell casters including Sorcerers and others in some cases.
.
#5 Self Taught-- Anyone with access to spellbook can learn spells if they have the INT for it. It is rare but folks have taught themselves Arcane Magic from time to time
.
#6 Tutored-- It is possible in most areas to hire a magic teacher if you have money and time. Alternately a few spells may be taught from parent to child or the like . Because of this many folks know a cantrip or two.

Technology on Midrea

Technology on Midrea is pre electricity. Some knowledge from earth did survive but the lack of petrochemicals, coal or other easily exploitable energy sources put severe limits on growth. The most readily available energy sources are peat and wood. Wood can be hard to come by as forests are often guarded by hostile monsters.

Magic power sources exist but other than continual light orbs can be very difficult and expensive to make.

Building materials include stone, wood and the usual though the Vara have something like high durability concrete

Tools are at about the 1800 level or so without gunpowder. While gunpowder is known is is not used much in warfare do to the vulnerability to magic and the expense. It is used for blasting and occasionally sabotage.

These is a safer alchemical version called Dragon Dust which can only be detonated by a special primer. Outside of the Dragon Isles it is quite expensive.

The most advanced non magic weapon known is the Brin Air Rifle a 40 caliber repeater. This exotic weapon is effect and lethal but is rare do to the expense. Only the Brin field these in any number.

Optics including the microscope, telescopes and glasses for both near and far sightedness

Medicine is advanced with crude antibiotic powders and the like although magic is preferred when available.

Musical is very advanced and includes a staggering range of instruments some of which are quasi-magical and make sounds that cannot be made on Earth without a synthesizer.

The best armor and weapons are made of Ibari Steel. The weapon steel corresponds to wootz and while the armor steel is made of less exalted metals, its is exceptionally strong, resembling Milanese White Harness

Wonder of Midrea

Here is a list of a few of the Wonders of Midrea

- Edana the City of Glory -- probably the most beautiful city in the world. It is said to be so beautiful that even the beggars hovels are radiant. This is the capitol city of Vala and few have seen it

The Pyramids of Hajasa -- Built a millenia ago by the shapers they are an impressive surviving monument to those fallen peoples. Now they are deep in skin-hunter infested jungle and dangerous as the hells

Black Gate Keep -- Stronghold of the Blackgate order its built right on a a failed attempt to make a gate to an abyssal realm.. This stone fortress has never fallen from within or without.

The Imperial Fortress-- This is the seat of Delan power and deep below in its armories is the largest collection of magic items in existence.

The Citadel -- its is the perfect prison delved deep into a partially submerged mountain and controlled by the Keepers – priest adepts of the Lawmaker.
Being sent there is generally considered a fate worse than death as a sentence is forever. Suicide is functionally impossible and inmates do not age.

The Stewards Palace-- this is the spiritual center of the twenty kingdoms -- the palace is decorated with a living mural depicting the health of the kingdoms who have sworn Oaths and been bound to the Stewards throne. Now this once magnificent palace stands empty -- the throne unoccupied as a terrible mural of blood death and pain plays itself out on the walls.

The Great Library -- The Keep of the Loremasters in Firom is the greatest institution of learning in the world and contains an immensity of volumes -- all fully cataloged. Even the Imperial Library and the Hunzun Scolasiums pale in comparison

Faiths of Midrea

As one might guess from a world with active Clerics, Midrea is a very religious place. Like on Earth , Midrean religions reflect the struggle of institutions and ideas that plague mankind.

The religions are as follows.

1- The Way.
This is similar to Unitarianism with a reincarnation twist. The religion is tolerant, balanced, good (default alignment is Neutral Good) and has a strong wisdom tradition for everyday life.
Unfortunately it also theologically weak and outside of the Black Gate Order lacks the solidity to react against threats
It teaches a single creator without gender who acts through living people, saints, prophets and celestials in that order –
Followers of the way believe that practicing the faith can shorten the cycle of rebirth and lead to unity with the creator

2- Adunism
This is the bi theist faith of the Vara and their cousins the Gallitep, It is a dour religion who practitioners believe that they were brought into creation (taken from the womb of the mother, the void) to preserve it against some great threat. Real world analogy militant Tibetan Buddhism mixed with Judaism and a little Gnosticism. The believe they will be reborn until the mission was complete than they can return to the womb of creation


3- The Lawgiver
This is a religion based on respect for the Book of the Law and the teachings of the Lawgiver. It is a little like a mix of Zoroastrianism, Prison Christianity , Catholicism and Judaism leavened with Islam. Followers are said to be Under The Law.
The religion is militant and expansionist and believes that all lawbreaking (sin) must be paid for in measure in life or in death until purification is achieved with a caveat that real world punishment is easier than celestial punishment, especially with confession. It also teaches preaches that a single God the Lawbringer gave man the Tablets of Law and the master plan of civilization to follow so that all his followers can achieve Harmony in the after life.
However every single other religion on the world is bi-theist with Male and Female divinities, Polytheist or in one case Monotheist with a genderless divinity. This led to a schism in which it is taught that the Fallen Sisters (two dead gods) were The Lawbringers consorts and were killed by him. The Church Under the Law teaches this as serious heresy and its in the midst of an Inquisition to stop it. Note that there are no female clergy or lawyers (secular clergy) as women are believed inherently chaotic.
The religion in general though is very law abiding following the spirit if not the letter of the law. They also operate the Citadel the ultimate prison.


4- The 50
The followers of this path believe the universe was created by the 10 primary deities who than created many children (Divine) than the Shen (and other more recently other) people.
Each diety (good or ill) embodies a trait and is praised (or bought off) to gain divine aid (or be overlooked)
The dead were originally though to pass in Gen’ker the afterworld to await judgment. More recently they are believed to reincarnate. This is creating a bit of a schism in the faith but because the faith is rather local not much conflict has come of it


5- Baleism
Bael (Bay- El) is one of the 50 – the wargod who reaccesended from the fallen to the core pantheon. His followers, mostly soldiers and slavers believe in the Book of Victories and Book Defeats and that Bael (who they call the perfect general) is destined to rule creation and achieve the proper order (the rule of the strong) .


6- Midreaism
Midreasism is a mixture of D&D druidism, environmentalism and Wicca and centers on the worship of the living world and rebirth.


7—Spiritism
This is a general belief in spirits and rebirth practiced by folks in areas without strong religions. Its spiritual heads are Shaman who minister to the spiritual needs of the community


8- Northlander pantheon
This is Asatru with the names changed. Barava also worships Pos, God of Strength


9- The Ancient Ones
This is the faith and following of the many ancient deities predating humanity, The Flame, The Storm, The Spider, The Serpent and many others . Some cults are evil, other not but they are generally not well liked. These deities have not been worshiped in a long time and are weak and hungry for followers


10 – Denomolators
These folks pact with fiends and fallen celestials practicing the left hand path for power and sometimes trying to achieve endarkenment, perfection through the left hand path . Some are pacted with the Dark Realm itself (the Dark Sworn and The Black Guard) and believe they serves as a celestial balance, They are uniformly reviled though law abiding ones are tolerated in a few cities


11- Wicca
This is modern Wicca with a few fantasy twists. There are various versions but none of them actually fight one another in combat or by magic
In the Queens Domain the default version is rather like militant Dianic Wicca
Ardia is Faerie centric Wicca
Ashanan is balanced and the covens can be almost anything


12 – Delan Gods
This is a mix of Roman, Egyptian and Mithraism modified through a modern reconstruction filter. It is the state religion of Delas and is imposed (or at least lip service to it) on conquered territories.


13 The Ancient Defenders. This is a group of gods that defend the various races. These gods are hermaphroditic beings each representing the duality of gender in its race. There are also groups that defend Cities and Sites which use the appropriate specialty Priest. Most are probably long dead as they were followed mostly in rural Amachia.


14 The Order
This is a semi scientific cult based on self improvement


15 Awakened Philosopher
Deists that believe in reincarnation, more or less.


and of course there are others...

Nations and Languages of Midrea, a short overview

Vinyar:
These folks are a tall race Shan race with fair skin and a broad pallet of eye colors. Hair tends to dark.
They posses the innate ability to control their mind and bodies. Culturally they never surrender in battle and are heedless of death, even the women. They are also utterly honest and eschew lying and public displays of emotion. Famous as mercenaries they are the most brutal fighters on Midrea.


Gallitep –
Three hundred years ago the Gallitep, who are a splinter group of Vinyari nearly conquered all of the Western Lands and Firhom . The reign was so brutal that only the intervention of the Element Masters and the 10000 stopped the Gallitep from being exterminated in revenge.
Gallitep is an Adunite theocracy crossed with North Korean style Juche.Only the utter honesty of the Gallitep make such a society work. Currently the Gallitep live mostly on Vinyari charity, occasional privateering and mercenary work and mostly are very poor. The only thing the inhabitants of this archipelago can mange to is meddle and eke out a living on nearly bare rock.


Sorcerers Islands –
This is a feudal state where all of the nobles are of a class with innate Charisma based magic. Each gifted will have a demesne in proportion to his power and charisma. The division is administered by the Eptarch, an immortal Sorcerer of immense power. All other non nobles on the islands are slaves and considered property.


Brin Republic –
This is a small island, nearish to Vinyar. It is weak in resources but populated by the best traders in Midrea. Brin folk can be found anywhere trying to make money, agitating for Republican systems of government or both. They are generally canny traders and prone to greed. The Brin navy is also the best in Midrea, only the the Oca Ecane come close.


East Lands –
The East lands is a broad swath of kingdoms touching up against The Delan Empire(in the Far east) The Southlands (in the South) and the 20 Kingdoms (in the West) . It is dominated by a war between the Lawbringer Theocracy and the older kingdoms under the Way and the Shan Pantheon.

The kingdoms Under Law are
Yavon
Vaki-Koorishan
Na-Alwic
Hsiperal
Banja –
Techhon
Vanja
Irianar
Taga Border of the South
Jonoy-- Border of the South
Bulshul—Border of Delas
Dosko – which has dropped out of contact with the world of late
Irianar Border of the West
Raelyn Border of the West
Genome – Farthest West


20 Kingdoms –
Normally the 20 (or sometimes more) Kingdoms are unified by the Stewards throne, a magic device that links the Steward to all of the lands. However 30 years ago the Queen Steward Taswynd Twice Bled passed on and no one has stepped up to the burden. The kingdoms have degenerated into squabbling feudal states, each vying to be the largest and strongest and to have control over the resources and the serfs of the others. It is a great place to be a mercenary.
These kingdoms are governed by a feudal system. 3 of them, Regana, Gallandra and Danar have an ample population of freeman. The others are less free. Angosta is the exception it is governed by Clans

Gallandra
Nev
Danar
Taran
Angosta
Vettar
Solislan
Yoria
Talisia
Narja
Jadis
Haral
Lendil
Quedon
Der'Ken
Lydon
Orlaum
Algishan
Beriel
Irianar
Pariel
Darsken
Regana
Jafariel
Edoweir
Calega
Nordanfel

Lost Kingdom of Amachia. This area was depopulated by the Vinyari and remains cursed and unoccupied for the most part. Recently a few bold settlers have begun to trickle in and they have reported its strange Gods The Ancient Defenders may be awakening


Elaven Wood. This is the most magical area on Midrea and the main concentration of fae outside of Ardia.


Neblen Range. This is the rather smaller than the Alps or the Iron Mountains but is a noticeable chunk of territory. It is also inhabited by a lot of Mountain Dwarves



Delas –
Until three years ago Delas was the most powerful state in Midrea. Its legion led by the Emperor Carisko the 3rd were feared as the next scourge of Midrea.
Over a trade dispute the legions attempted to cross the Passak (the passage on the east side of the Stehl Mountains) controlled by the Master Magister, thought to be the most powerful individual in Midrea
The Master Magister retaliated to the intrusion by invoking 5, 2 mile wide rains of colorless fire. The event shattered ten legions (some one hundred thousand men) and severely damged Delans.
This event called the 5 Fold Scourging forced a rare Repudiation of the Emperor (who is now thought to be some kind of undead)
Delas now has a new Emperor, Saven the 1st who is struggling to keep control of its territories.
Delas is could be described as Imperial Rome crossed with Victorian Britain. It has a hint of Roman order and British racism and stuffiness. It has Chariot races but no gladiators, Tunics but no Togas.Both wine and beer and no Egypt or Greece to play off of.
Delas is governed by an Emperor who sits upon the Iron Throne. His power is near absolute but it can be checked by the Senate. His will is enforced by his legions (down 40% now) his wolf and dog packs of special operations soldiers and his Magi


Delan Occupied Territory-
These are the lands struggling against Delas and its cultural genocide. Barely holding on the the 5fold scourging has given them a break these countries have begun to reassert themselves. These kingdoms are run by family aristocracies and are hereditary monarchies for the most part

Karan
Himon
Shorant


Beast Tribes. This is a wild land inhabited by animal worshipping tribes. While they do have steel and the ability to make it they also have a very primitive social order.


The Wymins Alliance—

This is a very loose alliance of the three matriarchies , linked only by the fact that women have political power and not men
Mazi Matriarchy – This is very rough area controlled by fierce tribes of allegedly man hating women who are famed as archers and warriors.
Queens Domain—a gentle feudal society, and Dianic Wiccan dictatorship perilously balancing tolerance and kindness with the fact that men are excluded from many parts of life. Currently there is a slow and subtle mens uprising going on here, an attempt for the men to gain power for themselves.
Hyrkan – this land is only nominally a member of the alliance, simply because it is partially occupied by Delas and because of the great respect afforded the Belgana singers (all of who are women) Currently a group called Taraza (The Wheel) has been fighting a guerilla war against the Delans with some success but the costs on the Hykran side have been escalating


Stehl Mountains
This is the largest range on Midrea, comparable to Earths Alps or Rocky Mountains. It contains many cultures and is often fought and contested over for its vast metal deposits.


Steel Cities – In the steel cities discipline is key. It is home of the great crystal and a Psi-Ocracy governed by a council of Psions. It is a fairly benevolent dictatorship that attempts to make the best of use of scant resources (other than very abundant iron) but is has no respect for freedom or religion. It has four main cities Primus, Secundus, Teritus, and Quartus.


Steel Tribes—These are the cast offs and refugees from the Steel Cities. They typically hate psions and blame them for the hard scrabble existence they face.


Ataliyer Remnants – It is though by some that these people may have been the shapers. Who ever they were, the Ataliyar are few in number but posses enormous magical reserves, enough to keep the Steel Cities easily at bay.


The Shone – these enigmatic people are the best sword makers on Midrea and are famed for prophecy and sword making. They brook few visitors though and unwanted persons have a way of vanishing


Hunzun City States-The Hunzun are famed for scholarship and other than the Loremasters fortress in Firhom, the Hunzun have the largest collection of knowledge in Midrea. The main cities include Tarsk, Braul, Kora and Vek. It has a slightly Greek flavor with a hint of Gor


Vala – This is a garden in the wastes, a gigantic chunk of paradise rent into the mountains. It is hard to find but those who visited have been stunned by its great beauty and nearly consumed by its complex house based politics



Northlands –

The northlanders are rather like an advanced Viking style state mixed with 18th century expansionism and age of sail piracy. They are great traders, hearty fighters and a bit fond of clich├ęs
Neden – Softer than the other Northlanders the Neden are warrior/ diplomats with a seeming cultural addiction to food.
Barava – The Barava are extremely fond of stereotypical barbarian behavior and showing off. This is tempered by good common sense and a love of opera. They are close to and have a lot of contact with the Vinyari.
Danak – Rough and tough the Danak are raiders first and traders second. Their berserks are much feared as are their pirates.
Noras – The Noras travel everywhere and are great traders and explorers who supplement the meager resources of their home with an occasional raid. They have two colonies Nicilan – a rocky and volcanic island with many ruins and Renaga – a large island with a fertile belt


Down South
There is a lot of uninhabited land down south and a lot of monsters, ruins and ancient treasures. The main inhabited areas have a reputation for decadence and drug use not entirely undeserved
Arkar – This vital kingdom is governed by a bureaucracy of Mages and unlike the rest of the southern kingdoms is growing in power and influence. Its is limited mainly by the paralysis by analysis engendered by its government system and the hostile desert climate.
K'desh—Both a drug and a place. Its is a fabling place of lotus dreams and ancient decay. The cannibalistic Chun control a lot of the ever encroaching jungle.
G'skrel islands—a little like Indonesia
Hajasa—The most northern of the Down South areas. It is a huge track of land with incredible diversity. Think India through a Robert Howard filter than Westernized


The inland Sea –
The inland sea is an artificial sea created eons ago by shaper magic and now self-sustaining. It is mostly inhabited by the Eskane who live on the islands that dot the sea. There are also 9 cities with a mix of Midrean peoples each built precariously on the silt – some Venice like others on struts. Each competes ferociously, trades ferociously and is ever at odds with the others


Vorhel
Chivelia
Matin
Sadat
Lofar
Oro
Pakel
Dafa
Catridin


The Roughlands
This is the area north of Delas that curves like a crescent into the heart of the continent. It is like a great steppe inhabited by four peoples
The Vi -The Vi are the most settled and are a little like very boisterous music obsessed Anglo Saxon horsemen. They are settled but only marginally. They believe in Live Well Die Well
The Toulani – these are the feared horsemen of Midrea. The People of Many Manes
And Thundering Hooves are tall men riding swift horses. In the past they would raid deep into the continent in search of women and gold. Now they are quieter and no one knows why.
Vohi Dwell – These folks are sheep and cattle herding pastoralists and tend to the dour and fatalistic
The High Plainsfolk —The areas is the highest commonly inhabited point on the continent being almost two miles up. It is thought this might be an artificially created local but this flat land is inhabited by the runner tribes have a complex and athletic culture where bravery and success are everything. In battle they seldom ride horses instead preferring to fight in foot with clawed gloves and a host of other exotic weapons.


The Center
Firhom – Firhom is where it all started,. It is the first place inhabited by Terran humans and has been occupied for nearly 1400 years in its current form. It is a very conservative place, hidebound by tradition and the protocols of Lords but it is sacred to many and still a great power, if only in moral influence
Aradia – This is the place where man and fae live in uneasy peace. It is rather like every part of Britain and Ireland with a neopagan/renfaire filter.
Ashanan—This is a constitutional Wiccan theocracy
Frepor – This is the city of Freedom, a city and its villages dedicated to runway serfs and slaves and the proposition that all are worthy of equal rights. Its precarious position is maintained by its furious defenders, and its usefulness and tolerance almost anything except slavery. It also has a unique alliance with Vinyar, Ashanan and the Brin Republic called the Charter Alliance
. A pecular custom in Frepor is that no one will where jewelry except for rings. In fact offering jewelry when you know better is a blood insult, a way of saying you should be a slave. Wealth is displayed in clothing and dyes and recently Frepor fashions have began to catch on in the Brin Republic and elsewhere
Bora. This little city/state is the nexus of the whole slavers guild. Its the farthest South and East of the center cities and is situated on a major trade rout. Its people have a reputation as rich, greedy and ruthless bastards.
Ibara. Best armorers and weapon smiths on Midrea. They are strictly neutral and will sell to anyone with the money.


Dragon Archipelagos.
This chain of islands is the heart of technology on Midrea. It is ruled by large Families, each corresponding to a patron Dragon (Red House, White House and so on) that mostly fight one another Do to ubiquitous use of Dragon Dust weapons (a gunpowder like substance) the nations pack an enormous defensive punch but do not do as well on offense do to the limitations of their supply chains.

Seven Nations
Seven Big islands with a penchant for technology and plenty of Dragondust. Very Steampunk in flavor

Ro-Jin inspired by Steampunk Musha and Vision of Escaflowne. Its a bit isloationist and Bamboo-Punk in flavor
Pora -- Poliosh in flavor because winged Hussars are cool and Hussar Mechs are cooler
Saex -- Vaguely Germanic
Angla -- Steampunk Britain, nuff said
Cygen -- Russian flavored
Amer -- Steampunkish America circa 1850 or so complete with tribal natives
Gavon -- Musketeers and Mechs


The Wasteland
This are is basically off limits to anyone with a hint of sanity as the Unhallowed War was lost here. Its a points of light setting overrun with monsters and undead. The one large city/ state Methkier is controlled by a mutually hostile triumvirate of twin vampires (the Blood Count and Countess), a Lich (The Nameless Vizier) and a Necromancer (The Eternal King) and is a lawless hellhole.
Some of the smaller pocket kingdoms are essentially Denomolater dictatorships under the a groups styling themselves the True Gods, Pestilence, Death, Murder, Undeath, and Suffering. The foul beings are opposed by an underground of Paladins and Clerics of many faiths but it will be a long slog to return this blasted land to anything decent.

The Eskane
The Eskane are the gypsies of Midrea and as such can be found anywhere. They are like a make of Tinkers and Gypsies with all the fictional add ons
There are three tribes --- Oca Eskane, the sea going ship riders and ,masters of the islands, The Radda Eskane (wagon Folk) and the Rir Eskane (barge folk).


Languages in Midrea fall into two families

One is derived from English, mixed with root words from many different tongues. The second is the Shan language family, which may be related to Terran Basque.

The languages are

A: High Anglish – this is similar to modern English and was the common language of the first humans to arrive. It is still spoken as a trade language and as an only language in Frirhom. It is also spoken in the Queens Domain

B: Vinyari – this is spoken by the Vinyar and the Gallitep

C: Aradian: A mixture of English and Gaelic dialects spoken in Aradia and Ashanan

D: Eskane: This is a mix of Shan and High Anglish with a few Rom root words and is spoken by the three tribes of the Eskane. Eskane has three mutually intelligible dialects, one for each of the Eskane tribes.

E: Northlandier: This is a mix of English, Finnish and various Scandinavian dialects mixed with some Shan. It is spoken in Neden, Danak, Norras and Barava. Each nation has some drift but the dialects are understandable

F: Vi: Vi is a coarse language that’s sounds faintly like old English and is spoken only in the extents of the Vi

G: Vohi: A quiet Shan language spoken by its namesake peoples

H: Stelek: This is the language of the Steel Cities and is a constructed version of English mixed with German and Shan

I: Gallandrian: This is the only one of the 20 kingdoms languages that is not based on Shan and Anglish. Its roots are French and Shan instead with some English mixed in

J: City Speech: All 9 of the cities by the inland sea use this language which is Shan touched with Italian, and a hint of Spanish, Portuguese and English

K: Hyrkan. This language is not based on Shan or English roots and resembles aborigine dialects mixed with Shan more than anything else

L: Hajasa and Kedesh: Niether Hajasa mor Kedesh have a unified language. There are at least 100 known dialects of Hajasnai and probably that many of Kedeshi .The dialects seem to mix Shan, English, Arabic, Farsi, Punjabi, Tagalog and a several other languages into a stew

M: Delan. Delan is a mix of English, German and Shan and is related to the Steel Cities language

N: Bulshul: Bulshul is related to Russian, and Shan

O: Irinar: This is similar to Bulshul and spoken in Irainar

P: Techoon: Techoon is related to Sebo Croatian and Shan. It is spoken in Banja Techoon and Vaki Korishni

Q: Raleyn and Regana speak a language that mixes French and Anglish with a hint of Aradian


R: Other lands

In general each of the other country in Midrea speaks its own language. Most of these are related to a mixture Shan dialects with some Anglish loan words. Old High Anglish is spoken everywhere and it is possible to find a speaker in all but the most remote places

World background for Midrea

Midrea is an anything goes style D&D world using a mix of D20 stuff , mostly Pathfinder and whatever else I think fits in well.

Midrea has one main continent and many many smaller islands ranging up to the size of Australia . The main land mass is about twice the size of Earths Europe and Asia combined with an equally wide range of terrains.

The world has one moon – Celene which has an orbiting asteroid named Andarko which is too small to grossly effect tidal patterns.

Climate is earthlike although warmer and flatter do to world forming and other sorts manipulation by the worlds builders .

Most of the natural environment has been replaced with various plants from other worlds. There are locations where bundles of elements were mixed to create new environmental types. Examples include the jungles of the south where jungle plants from many worlds were altered to form a single ecosystem

The main race is Human. Humans on Midrea are roughly divided into 2 subraces, Shan and Human.

Shan differ from human in minor cosmetic ways. They come from a world with a higher ambient magic and are more likely to have magical traits or powers. They often have odd colored eyes and hair silver, gold or other metallic colors and hues are common.

Humans on Midrea were brought across by the master spell some 1500 years ago. They come from a sort of Cuthulu Earth.

They were brought over in the years from roughly 1300 to 2040 in differing batches. All of the humans selected spoke English as a language, primary or secondary and were selected for the psychological and physical make up necessary to survive in a pseudo medieval world.

Many of the humans descended from faire folk re-enactors, gamers and a mix of others. Most are Caucasian although there is a cluster of African, Asian and other ethnic backgrounds as well.

Animal life is varied and comes from nine other worlds. Only a few of the native animals survive and it is beyond current science to estimate which ones are original and which ones are not.

Generally speaking though bizarre creatures are either from another world or are made by magic.

Midrea has 9 gates to other worlds – The red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet gates as well as the two gates to transitory energy realms, The Black Gate which leads to a realm that resembles popular conceptions of hell and the White gate which leads to an evolved realm of super-beings.

The Red Gate leads to a world analogous of Pulp Mars with similarities to other desert oriented gaming products.

The Orange Gate leads to a swampy world filled with fantastic reptiles and lost races

The Yellow Gate is closed and has never been opened

The Green Gate leads to a Verdant world, original home of the Halfling people though damage to the gate has render a return to this world apparently impossible.

The Blue Gate leads to Earth

The Indigo gate leads to the Realm of the Shan

and last the Violet gate leads to the Hyper-Magical realm sometimes called Faerie.

It is also rumored there are 6 subduction points, corresponding to failed attempts to create gates. For of these correspond to the classic elements, Fire, Earth, Air and Water. These are called the Eternal Flame, The Deeping, The Eternal Storm. and the Underwater City.

Two additional points, one representing "Mind" called the Great Crystal and another The Machine Realm representing Metal.

Welcome to Midrea

My posts have been pretty boring of late so I figure why not, you know actually post some content.

I'd like to introduce y'all to my primary game world Midrea.
As I mentioned before Midrea was a built around the idea "What are the logical consequences of a D&D world being real" -- and it turned out to be a magical cold war with a lot of Sword and Sorcery and Cthulhu elements.

But it did not start out that way. It was originally a kind of sandboxy world where I'd simply make up whatever I though I needed on the spur of the moment then later, if needed try to glue the bits together.

Its of course kind of a risky way to make a game world. If my players had been more savvy I'd have gotten a lot more well deserved guff for naming the Town Mayor "the Burgermeister Mesiterburger" but hey you never know what you can get away with till you try.

The next few posts will be mostly flavor text and bits of information on Midrea and its Nine Gate Realms. I hope you folks enjoy it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Opinions Wanted: Suppose we limit spells even further?

Just a thought experiment ...

Suppose we limit spells to those that have little to no effect on the material world, illusions, buffs, a few physical spells (TK maybe) , healing that converts HP to subdual damage, divination, that sort of thing.

What kind of game does this create?

A lazy Post: My 4e D&D class

Its not even old school but hey ...


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium



As it happens I often play sorcerers in 3x and Pathfinder. Its a fun class and while some may find repeating the same effects boring, I find that less bookkeeping and resource counting (buying spells) makes up for it.

I'll also note that old school games do not have this issue as much. You'll probably have as many spells with a magic user as with 3x Wizard but you don't have the GP management issues 3x has.

You might be a gamer if...

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy..

I found this jewel while randomly roaming the web .. Kind of outdated but still funny.

A few samples


# You don’t think of a Russian bazooka when someone says “RPG”.You can figure the odds (in your head) of getting a certain result when rolling variable sized dice pools.
# You know that all dice are not square shaped.
# You own a 30 or a 100 sided die.
# losing your dice bag would be a serious financial blow.
You knew what I meant when I said TS:SI.
you’ve ever tried to explain gaming to a school counselor, parent, or other PW/OC (Person With/Out Clue).
# you’ve suceeded.
you’ve mistaken a d12 or a double d10 for a d20 while playing AD&D and had a THAC0 low enough to hit the 8HD monster, anyway…
you carry AD&D insurance.
your AC is so low that even you can’t hit yourself.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bringing the game down to Earth by limiting Spells

There has been a bit of chit chat around the 3x/Pathfinder community, and the Trollsmyth as and Dragonsfoot about bringing the game back down to Earth.

The usual solution is something called E6 which essentially limits the game by declaring anything over 6th level as Epic.

I even seen this taken as far as Holmes as the whole game over on Dragonsfoot


As a big fan of the hex crawl and of low level play I can see the attraction here, its using the familiar and fun D&D game engine of your choice to play down to Earth "realistic" Heroes that feel more like Conan than Goku.

However I think there is an easier way. Limit spells. As I see it the real trouble makers are not high level fighters and rogues or even the blaster mages, but a whole raft of "suck the fun from the game" spells.

My list (taken in part from here) (who also has an excellent TFT page, here)


Air Walk
Astral Projection
Blink
Dimension Door
Ethereal Jaunt
Etherealness
Fly
Mass Fly
Mass Overland Flight
Mount
Overland Flight
Pass Wall
Phantom Steed
Phase Door
Plane Shift
Refuge
Rope Trick
Shadow Walk
Teleport
Teleport Greater
Teleport Object
Teleportation Circle
Transport via Flames
Transport via Plants
Tree Stride
Wind Walk
Word of Recall
Clone
Raise Dead
Resurrection
Reincarnate
True Resurrection
Gate
Magnificent Mansion
Refuge
Rope Trick
Secure Shelter
Tiny Hut


plus any other spells like these. and while you are at it limit the duration of wall of iron and wall of stone to say 10 minutes (1 turn) per level .If desired you can also get rid of Bags of Holding and similar items and spells like Secret Chest. Heck if you want to take it to the max, ban rings of sustenance, food and item creation spells and continual light too.

When you do this your spell casters become much more mortal, still needing to find shelter, food and supplies. In addition they can't just appear at the adventure Instead they have to travel like everyone else. Time for a Hex Crawl!

Best of all this does not preclude cool travel items if desired, flying ships, magic mounts and whatever.

Also if you don't want to be a total ogre you might still allow a fly or even mass fly spell at 1 round a level or even the regular duration. Even at 20th level its more a problem solver and combat spell then a plot ender anyway.

These limits still allow a lot of creative fun on the part of the players of all classes while getting rid of most of the shortcuts that can take the game in what some might consider too fantastic a direction..

As for the HP/AC issue. Its nothing to be concerned about in old school games (they cap at 10ish anyway ) but Pathfinder DM's may want to create an alternative system. Its up to you.

Want to know what a Real First Level PC is like?

Abby Sunderland .

16 years old (about staring level) brave, smart and tough enough to attempt a solo trip around the world. Given that she had enough sense to call for help when in trouble, brains to make proper plans and enough charisma to talk her parents into letting do this foolish thing, I'd say the young lady was rolling 4d6 drop one all the way.

Heck her Wikipedia page even lists her occupation as Adventurer!

Now in our world she'll probably end her adventuring and settle down to a life in academia but in a D&D world, ah a person like that would probably keep adventuring and might even end up high level.

So as an armchair adventurer, I salute you and your brother Zack. Real Adventurers all

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So is this stuff OGL?

So is this stuff OGL?

Well to answer the question. Not yet. Despite the blog's name, nothing is for sale as of yet, so its still a fan site.

However after I get the OGL stuff together, thing that can legally be OGL will be retroactively released under that license.

At that point, materials that cannot be made OGL such as my OS2/Warp House Rules will be removed until the can be added once more like for example if one of the 2e retro-clones were to become available under the OGL.

Flame Heart in Pathfinder

The same concept of scalable weapons works in Pathfinder as well, in some ways (since magic item design is so structured) One difference though, while some of the abilities may only operate at certain levels, its entirely possible for the weapon to be overpowered at that level. Use in your game with caution if game balance as a concern.

Prices have been extrapolated from the standard magic items rules.

Flame-Heart. This bastard sword was forged for Prince Eadric the Red for his journey into the frozen south. The Sword is a is narrowly tapered with a lethal thrusting and the blades elegant Ibari steel seems to ripple like red flames. The grip is made of blood colored dyed ray skin that has been replaced several times. One the back of the pommel is a clear crimson gem harder than steel.

Like most Great Weapons, the weapon responds to the skill and power of is user.

L1-L3 +1 weapon. The sword blade is hot to the touch and in cold weather flares hot enough to act as a flame-less light-less campfire if placed point down in the ground.

Cost 2500, Sword +1 and Cantrip/Prestidigitation (use Activated)

L4-L6 The weapon becomes a Sword Flame-Tongue also retaining its "campfire" ability.

Cost 21215 Flame Tongue + Campfire Ability


L5-L9 The sword gains another +1. Once Per day the wielder may cast Wall of Fire as a 10th level Wizard

Cost 51215 (add +1 and a daily spell)

L10-L12 The sword gains another +1. The user gains Protection 10 Cold

Cost 85215 (cost includes cold resistance ring of minor resistance doubled for being slotless)

L13-L15 The Sword gains another +1 (for a total of +4) Once per day the bearer may cast Fire Storm as a 15th level Cleric

Cost 141715

and final

The Sword becomes a +5 Keen Weapon with the above powers

Final Cost 181715

Cost

L10-L12 The weapon gains an additional +1 (for a total of +3) in addition to the effects of a flame tongue. Anyone within 10 feet or so of the user is immune to normal cold and resists magical cold (save at +4, take half damage at any point) as well. If desired the user may call a Firestorm (as the Druid spells) this drains 3 categories of magic.

L13+ The user may use each of those abilities once per day without draining the weapon in addition to the above abilities.

And there you go, a cool item usable at any level with abilities the players can unlock and explore as they play up to level 20 in Pathfinder.

An Oldy But a Goody I Probably Won't be Supporting

The Fantasy Trip by Steve Jackson (the GURPS one not the UK one) from 1980.

This was was a fleshed out war game and really well designed. I like the fact the Into the Labyrinth (the RPG expansion) included everything you needed for all sorts of adventures, merchants, thieves, whatever -- everybody got a little support.

It would later mutate into GURPS but TFT was more playable in an old school way.

It kind of survives as two retro-clones one of the 1st actually called Legends of the Ancient World which is pretty well supported here at Dark City Games and here at Warrior and Wizard.


Now I probably won't be supporting it as I think the two companies out there already meet the demand. However if you get a chance to try it or the retro-clones, do. Its a lot of fun.

An Old School Sword using the above system

Flame-Heart. This bastard sword was forged for Prince Eadric the Red for his journey into the frozen south. The Sword is a is narrowly tapered with a lethal thrusting and the blades elegant Ibari steel seems to ripple like red flames. The grip is made of blood colored dyed ray skin that has been replaced several times. One the back of the pommel is a clear crimson gem harder than steel.

Like most Great Weapons, the weapon responds to the skill and power of is user.

L1-L3 +1 weapon. The sword blade is hot to the touch and in cold weather flares hot enough to act as a flame-less light-less campfire if placed point down in the ground

L4-L6 The weapon becomes a Sword Flame-Tongue also retaining its "campfire" ability. At will it may cast Burning Hands at the wielders level however this drains the weapons power and if it used the weapons drops 1 level category. It regains one level category of power per day.

L5-L9 The sword gains another +1. In an emergency, it is possible to place the weapon point down and call of a wall of fire. This operates at the users level. When this is done the sword is drained of magic and drops 2 categories of power.

L10-L12 The weapon gains an additional +1 (for a total of +3) in addition to the effects of a flame tongue. Anyone within 10 feet or so of the user is immune to normal cold and resists magical cold (save at +4, take half damage at any point) as well. If desired the user may call a Firestorm (as the Druid spells) this drains 3 categories of magic.

L13+ The user may use each of those abilities once per day without draining the weapon in addition to the above abilities.

And there you go, a cool item usable at any level with abilities the players can unlock and explore as they play.

An Old School Trick: Don't tell them what the magic item does

Its a little bit of extra book keeping for the DM but not telling the players exactly what certain items do is a good way to add a little mystery and exploration to the game.

Its not necessary with simple low end or disposable items like say +1 arrow a healing potion. In fact its often better to simply set up a situation where they are told what the item is.

As an example after saving say an elf or something the party might be give a half dozen healing potions with the NPC, saying "Take these they are made from water from the living river and possess powerful healing magic" The DM can the say "6 potions extra healing"

However more powerful items that are meant to be around a while can simply be given a name and description and th players can figure out what it does. For instance the party stumbles across an enchanted sword, after a couple of Int rolls from the party scholar or use of whatever skill is appropriate the DM can then announce "This is the sword Cleaveheart, it looks like Westland work from a hundred years ago and bears runes of enchantment"

Of course the first thing the players will do is try to find an excuse to use the weapon. let them. heck encourage them . At the point, you can either let them no whats up (its a +2 weapon) or of you feel frisky, simply add the numbers yourself.

No need to tell them what the bonuses are. The player rolls, you compare, he rolls damage as normal, you narrate the effects with the added damage.

This approach has a several advantages.

First, it tends to increase immersion, its far more fun to wield Flarecore than a simple Sword Flame Tongue,

Second, it stops some of the sense of items being disposable , hmm its only a +1 sword time to upgrade

Third , you can always upgrade the item yourself as the character levels up. No need to worry about it being a +3 sword at low level. Until they reach a certain level, it stays a +1 sword, then at whatever level you see fit they unlock more of its power and its now +2 and so on.

The game Earthdawn does this with some success and its an technique that works well in D&D too.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I am Now a Member of the Labyrinth Lord Society


A very proud member at that, old schooling like it was 1979 (or so)

Many thanks to everyone over at Goblinoid Games!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Accent Toolbox

Funny enough the only accents I lack are good upper class ones. This rarely matters much in game,as the P.C's don't usually move in those circles. Still having a wide range of accents can improve RP fun, if you know when to use them and the other players don't mind or have real world issues with them.
I'd be curious as to what accents you can do well enough to get away with in game?

My list includes

Canadian (Toronto-ish)
Highland Scots via Groundskeeper Willie (like most gamers)
Generic Eastender/Chav
Bad Eighties Russian
"Bushie" Aussie complete with outdated strine.
Generic Native American (something like Graham Greene)
Northern Irish (I sound like Gerry Adams from Sein Fein )
Mexico City (learned in Spanish Class)
a kind of German via the Pulps
"Gangster" Italian
80's style Street Hood
L.A. Gangsta (this is more slang than accent)
Evil Southern Sheriff
Arkansas Regional via Slingblade
Boomhauer (from King of the Hill if you call that an accent. I use it for a Ghoul Clan)
and Generic Cowboy