Tag Archives: Fantasy

Z = Das Ende!

30 Apr

Well, here we are at the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

I certainly enjoyed it. Sometimes it felt like a wicker cage, sometimes it felt liberating, but it was definitely worth it!

To end the Challenge, I want to post something that is a beginning, not an end:
I made a new video that is a very basic introduction to Fantasy Roleplaying Games as Mythopoesis. It is not meant to be complete or detailed, but is a very simple overview of the subject material. I may revise it later, but here it is as it currently stands.

Here is to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and on to new things in the Blogosphere and in the OSR…

Fantasy Roleplaying Games: A Mythopoetic Experience
(This is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter. It is meant to be introductory only and does not contain details as to many pertinent details of certain aspects due to media constraints.

No favoritism of games or game systems is implied by any of the art work appearing in this video… it is a Fair Use video for educational purposes only)


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Vigilante NPC: St. Francis

26 Apr

Vigilante NPC

Crime lords fear the name of this saint of the people. The common folk are grateful for his help. The authorities are consternated that this upholder of good undermines their reputation, yet they cannot deny his effectiveness on the streets. The person in question is the robed vigilante they call “Saint Francis”.

St. Francis is a crime-fighting vigilante that is found only in one major, highly populated city in the campaign. I have used this NPC vigilante in a couple of RPGs.

Originally, he figured in a Cyberpunk campaign set it San Francisco, California in the year 2056. Later, I recycled the NPC for another urban campaign that took place in a very large medieval city in the typical fantasy genre Roleplaying game.

The GM can play it so that, while hard-hitting, the vigilante causes only non-lethal damage to his opponents or alternately as a gritty decimator who leaves few, if any criminals left alive. St. Francis comes out of nowhere, moves decisively and then fades away again, never speaking a word.

He wears the habit of the Friars Minor and attacks using weaponry suitable for the campaign. In a medieval one, a staff and hand-to-hand combat is sufficient. In a modern or futuristic setting, depending upon the violence level of St. Francis that the GM chooses, the weaponry could be the same as before or could include things that cause great havoc -usually involving cool explosions and the fiery vengeance of righteous fury!

The root cause of the motivations of St. Francis are unclear, but when he strikes, he thwarts anyone from petty criminals to highly organized street gangs and criminal organizations. Always, the motivation seems to be to protect the average citizen that falls prey to the activities of these individuals and groups. St. Francis only engages in his vigilantism at night.

St. Francis can be either an actual Franciscan monk or a loner that plays the persona for unknown reasons (defrocked monk, a devout lay religious , etc.) Typical choices of a lair of the vigilante are determined by how he is used in the campaign, but they could include: a ruined monastery, underneath a church or serving actively as a monastic cleric during the day.

St. Francis may be considered anathema by his religious organization because of his actions, but he is genuine in his desire to protect the innocent and bring criminals to justice. If there is corruption in the Church, those involved in it will want to expose and suppress him.

I have had great fun having this NPC pop up when least expected in my campaigns. He can be a great hook for drawing in PCs that have their own motivations to fight criminals.

-Jeff
“Retro”

An anathema has fallen
On this poor humanity
The dark world is falling asleep
The moon has hidden the sun

And the sky is becoming cloudy
Like arms which are opening
Spreading darkness
All over our damned world…

Talismondé, the Capital of Arduin

23 Apr

Talismondé, the Capital of Arduin

The capitol city of Arduin is the largest of the cities in the nation, with a seasonal population of 600,000. The city has a long and distinguished history and its foundations extend well beyond the formation of the Accords of Arduin (The treaty between nations that formally ended the Nexus Wars and defined not only the new country of Arduin but also formalized how the Arduin Nexus would be governed).

The city is a hub, just like Arduin is a nexus. All things, great and small eventually find there way to the city; Talismondéans say all things come to Talismondé, whether they want to or not. Perhaps the saying is true, and perhaps not, but Talismondé is indeed a city among cities, where diversity and difference is the rule not the exception. Songs in dozens of languages can be heard in taverns, the smell of foods from different cuisines mix in a heady fog of exotic spices, and beings of all colors, sizes, garbs, and types meet and mingle on the street. The Hermetic Order of Wizardry maintains a large lodge in the city and keeps watch on what happens within the walls of Talismondé.

area around Talismonde' - click for larger image

The magical city of Talismondé is worthy of a campaign in itself. Everything and anything happens here. Just like the Arduin Nexus draws in beings from all over the Multiverse to it, Talismondé draws to itself adventurers and beings of all sorts and kinds. Its streets are full of history. Untold mysteries happen each day.  The air is filled with the voices of myriad races, and the skies full of flying beings, both magical and natural, that bedeck the air like mystical stars or gems.

Only the strict laws against illegal magic and the ever-vigilant city guard prevent things from (usually!) getting out of hand. While justice is swift in Talismondé, the ruling King and Queen of the nation of Arduin, whose castle is at the heart of the city, are beneficent and enlightened. As the guardians of the realm  and of the Nexus, they must be wise.

If one is looking for adventure, ancient vaults beneath the city hold unrevealed treasures to this day. Political intrigue abounds and cloak-and-dagger plots to control the Nexus by secret societies are always a threat. This bustling place is a hub for delvers, princes and alien creatures. Cosmopolitan, exotic and sometimes dangerous, Talismondé is where history is made – or often repeats itself!

-Jeff
“Retro”

The Arduin Grimoire Trilogy (and more) at Emperor’s Choice

A Grateful Thanks to Bard at The Clash of Spear On Shield

22 Apr

Several of us were recently given the Stylish Blogger Award by Bard at The Clash of Spear on Shield. I am a huge fan of his blog, so when I was one of those chosen, this was quite the honor. I know that some people don’t think much of these things, but I think it is the thought that counts most.

I don’t know if my blog is “stylish” except that it has my own developing style. Hopefully, soon I will find my “voice” for this blog and I think it is slowly happening. I am very thankful for the support and recognition Bard has given to it in its short history so far. Interacting and sharing ideas and creations about roleplaying, especially Old School games, is all I wish to do with this blog. Any suggestions, comments or criticisms regarding my blog are appreciated. I am open to the entire OSR community’s feedback and appreciate the diverse points of view.

There are four rules attached to the award:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award
(note: Bard started out with seven, with more to be added later, and I must start slowly here, also)
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award

Rule One: Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.

Thank you from the heart, Bard, for your kind Stylish Blogger Award.
Your blog, The Clash of Spear on Shield (great Tolkien title, btw!) is a source of inspiration to me. You bring a unique contribution to the OSR and we have some similar interests that resonate with me. Thank you for your kind comments and support!

Rule Two: Share seven things about yourself.

1)    I am a father of one son who has recently turned 18. It is strange for me to think that he is now a young man, when I remember like yesterday that he was a little child that I carried around as he slept. I love my son and am glad to be a father. There is nothing quite like having a child to love and be loved by.

2)    Vocationally, I have been sort of a Jack-of-All-Trades, never working in the fields that I went to school for (Philosophy & History). Maybe one day I will teach, like I dreamed of. I am not ruling it out, yet and am back in school studying for that goal. I have worked in computer technical support, as a behavioral counselor for the developmentally disabled, as a MN State Administration employee, commissioned sales and several other jobs. I seem to adapt to interesting situations as life offers opportunity.

3)    I do not watch much TV and rarely go to the movies these days. I prefer mostly Sci-fi / fantasy and History when I do. In books I am heavy on History, Mythology and Religion/Philosophy, with fantasy & sci-fi mixed in. Walks or hiking and fishing for relaxation are also times for me to think. I would do more stargazing if it weren’t for the light pollution around here. I used to do quite a bit of it when I was younger and in a darker area. Even though I do enjoy lots of quiet time, I still like to go out dancing, especially to Retro 80’s nights, which is no surprise to my friends, who call me “Retro”.

4)    My natural personality is Introverted, but I became an Extrovert by necessity in my youth – this makes for some odd tension in how I view things and in my actions. I always feel like there are several possible variations of “me” because of this – it has come in handy at times, because I am fairly mutable in situations if need be.

5)    Gary Numan is my favorite musical artist. I have been a fan of his Electronica strangeness for almost his entire career. I saw him in concert twice at some smaller venues. Both times I was right upfront at the stage. After his 2007 visit to Minneapolis, he signed a CD for me. He is really a cool, mellow person, and his music has been a great influence in my life.

6)    I have written poetry since I was a teen. We know that most teen poems suck, but I hope mine are at least a little better by now. I wish I had more time to devote to reading poetry, much less writing it. My favorite three favorite poets are Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas and W.B Yeats – all three being Romantics.

7)    I am just a regular guy that likes people and experiences. One day I would like to travel more again. Seeing even more people and places only makes life more interesting. If I could, I would follow my wanderlust until I dropped, which is a typical Sagittarius thing.

I will do more passing along of the award later, but immediately nominate RPG Lady. Her blog came immediately to mind, because she is sharing her relatively new experiences as a role-player and fledgling GM. She is finding her own likes and dislikes about systems and genres and sharing her ways of developing her characters and NPCs that is an honest and fresh approach. http://rpglady.wordpress.com/

She also has another blog dedicated to her writing, as she is a fiction author.

Thanks again, Bard – I appreciate your vote of confidence and will pass the award along more as time goes on.

Peace/Pax
-Jeff
“Retro”

Queen of the Fairies

20 Apr

Queen of the Fairies

Like many ancient myths, there is no clearcut or authoritative version of just who the Queen of the Fairies is and what her nature is like. The name of the Queen of the Fairies changes according to different adaptations. She has no name in the oldest times, but has been associated with Morgan Le Fey in Arthurian legends and Shakespeare called her Titania. Oberon (also spelled Auberon) is often considered her consort and the king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature.


William Blake’s Oberon, Titania and Puck With Fairies Dancing

Titania. Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third of a minute, hence;
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders 
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.

(A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Act II. Scene II. Another Part of the Wood)

The Queen of the Fairies is a beautiful, cunning and commanding Fey creature of great magical power, able to assume any shape she pleases. She is sometimes said to ensnare mortal for her purposes, as in the Queen of Elfen legend of the Scottish Lowlands. Humans ensorcelled by her sometimes become a “tithe to hell”, which reflects the conflict between Christianity and Paganism in those days.

In a sylvan setting in an RPG campaign, she could be a figure that lies behind happenings or has agents among the woodland creatures and her various subjects. She appears to mortals only when she desires to be seen. It would be very difficult to trap or threaten the Queen of the Fairies, as her own realm is one of particularly fey magic and possibly a dimension all to itself, where she is in absolute authority. She seems to be favorable to whom she will and as equally capricious.

Certainly the Queen of the Fairies is a fascinating and mysterious figure for any campaign, the mythology of whom has only been scratched here.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in

Whazzit? Quasit!

20 Apr

Whazzit? Quasit!

This has got to be one of the weirdest creatures in D&D.

I had a character encounter one once and I was not pleased! They are a pain in the rump and perhaps just as treacherous to an adversary as to their supposed master. If you see one I suggest you run, hide or blast it quickly from existence!

Info on the the freaking Quasit:

A quasit’s natural shape is that of a tiny horned, winged, and tailed humanoid, although they are capable of shape-shifting at will. They are normally found serving as counselors, spies, or spellcasters for more powerful demons or chaotic evil spellcasters.

Quasit are poor fighters, but they have many clever tricks up their sleeves, such as poisonous claws and the ability to shapeshift, turn invisible, and cause fear. They generally employ these tricks to the full as they prefer to use guerilla tactics when possible.

SEAN ÄABERG has a trippy Quasit pic he did shared on his blog in this post:
http://seangoblin.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-demons-devils-for-labyrinth-lord.html

Whazzit? I dunno, but they call it a Quasit.

-Jeff
“Retro”

Debtors Prison

19 Apr

The Debtors Prison

Every large Medieval & Renaissance city had one of these.
(I’ve created a map of one for you to use in your games below using the Random Dungeon Generator by drow http://donjon.bin.sh/  … it took some tweaking to get one that seemed to work, but that tool is great for on-the-fly needs)

Debtors Prisons were used to incarcerate those that owed and could not pay taxes or fines to the local authorities, gambling debts and other financial obligations that they were unable to make good on.

Throughout history, jails were mostly dark, overcrowded and filthy. All types of prisoners were often times herded together with no separation of men and women, the young and the old, the convicted and those awaiting sentence; the sane and the insane.

During Europe’s Middle Ages, debtors, both men and women, were locked up together in a single large cell until their families paid their debt. Debt prisoners often died of disease contracted from other debt prisoners. Conditions included starvation and abuse from other prisoners. If the father of a family was imprisoned for debt, the family business often suffered while the mother and children fell into poverty. Unable to pay the debt, the father often remained in debtors’ prison for many years. Some debt prisoners were released to become serfs or indentured servants until they paid off their debt in labor.

Debtor’s prison was like banking overdraw fees: you don’t have any money left so we will charge you for it. Debtor’s prisons were a money-making machine. In my game, I charge each prisoner a copper piece prepay just for the privilege of staying at the prison. This includes one meal of gruel. Anything other than that also costs money, including blankets, better food, stay of execution, etc. As long as someone pays for the prisoners monthly expenses, they will be given the possibility to have these “luxuries.” These costs are added to the original debt and any other fines the magistrate has imposed.

While in debtors prison, those that are able to can do certain tasks or even be “rented” to local nobility for a time, in order to work off their debts. The guards and the warden always take a cut of everything, so the cost of going to prison usually ends up double the original judgment against the prisoner. If a prisoner cannot pay their fees, they will end up executed or will meet an “accident” at the hands of another prisoner – which helps pay off that prisoner’s own debts!

Entire families would often live there with their imprisoned head-of-the-household. The prisoners had to pay for everything: food and lodging, to get out of shackles, etc. If you were lucky enough to be given living quarters with window-access to the street you could beg money from passers-by. Some prisons even had a grille built in to a wall so it was easier for prisoners to beg. Many prisons had an exercise yard called the racquet ground, so prisoners and their families could get some fresh air.
Here is the layout of a debtors prison:

click for larger image

1- Wardens Area

The Warden works and relaxes in this area, when he is not harassing prisoners. The room has a desk and chair for the Warden and a bench for those that are brought before him.

Several arcane torture devices are also in this area. Whether they are for show or are actually used is up to the GM.

2- Ruffians’ Cell

The worst of the worst prisoners are placed here and those who are on Death Row or awaiting prosecution for capital crimes. 6d6 prisoners will be housed here at any time.

If you end up here, things are not looking so good for you!

3 – The Exercise Yard

This area is open to the sky, but is a sunken courtyard (20 feet below ground with 20 foot walls above ground level.

Here prisoners, except those in the Ruffians’ Cell, can walk and get fresh air. Exercise time lasts about 20 minutes, unless it is a special occasion. Inmates are always supervised by 1d6 guards while in the exercise yard.

4- Processing Room

Here all new prisoners are documented and any possessions that are not allowed are taken for “safekeeping”. Those lucky enough to be released are debriefed here… usually with a stern warning to keep their mouths shut and to never come back.

Guards use this as a commons area when they are just coming or going off duty and also as a place where chain gangs, etc await transportation in and out of the prison.

5 – Work Room

Those prisoners housed in the Main Cell that are not given duties outside of the prison during the day are allowed to earn their keep here. Crafts to be sold and a variety of simple household items are made in this area. Prisoners can work 8 hours a day to earn their wage.

The wages earned here are usually barely above the daily costs of staying in the prison. Working here will probably not get one out of debtors prison, but will maintain the cost of daily living expenses the authorities charge.

6 – Main Cell

In this area, 6d6 debtors and other petty criminals will be housed. This is not an area for the most violent, but sometimes unpleasant events do occur.

The chance of getting a disease while housed in either the Main Cell or the Roughian’s Cell is 2% per day. Both cells are filthy and stink. The cell is dark and dank.

The only air and light in these cells comes from several small windows  covered by iron grating. The ceiling is 20 feet high. Candles are a highly prized object among the prisoners.

7 – Guard Station

This is the hub of the actual incarceration area. 2d6 guards are here at any time, with others coming and going from time to time. The guards tend to keep to themselves, unless performing their functions of exercise, feeding and work periods. Prisoners who bribe or are otherwise on good terms with the guards get preferred treatment. Those that aren’t on the preferential treatment list often wish they were.

8 – Kitchen & Storage Area

All of the work and kitchen supplies, etc and everything needed to run the prison are housed here. A cook hired to make the daily meal for the prisoners (and a separate one for guards and special treatment prisoners) works here.

“The Stairs”

At the end of the long tunnel is a stairwell going down… to what is the object of rumors among the prisoners. Even the guards do not know. Only the Warden has been seen going down them and what lies below the prison he is not telling.

The entire complex is surrounded by a 20 foot wall of stone or timber (as the  GM chooses).
While there might be worse places to end up, the debtors prison is still potentially deadly.

NOTE:
Anyone trying to tunnel should have a Random Encounter chance (1 on a d6, roll another d6 for the encounter):
1 Giant Rat
2  (1d3) Undead Skeletons – these were previous prisoners
3  2d6 copper coins
4  Carrion Crawler
5  Giant Ant
6  Jackpot! Secret tunnel out of prison!

-Jeff
“Retro”

Take a look at this fairly recent decision to not allow D&D in a prison:
No D&D for US prison inmate serving life