Monday, November 26, 2012

What's in your haversack?

Hey guys,
Its been a while since I made a What's in your haversack post, so I thought it was time for a new one. It is always good to remember that your character, whether in game or in writing is not always prepared for everything. You can't just run around every day with a huge pack on your back full to bursting, its just not feasible or practical. There WILL be time when they aren't prepared, or better said, there SHOULD always be a time when the character is not prepared.

So, that being said, let us take a look at Lenz Gelstalter and his haversack.

Lenz Gelstalter is a middle aged dwarf who has spent his life hidden in the underground of Wuldrorth. picked up some alchemy and arcane knowledge during his life on the streets by taking odd jobs for the Lenz various wizards and other magical types around Wulrorth.  He doesn't have the extensive schooling of wizards but he has a natural feel for magic and mechanics, able to create small, intricate machines and potent magical potions.

One day he is approached by a small urchin boy, who delivers a summons from an upper class merchant. The merchants wants a private showing of Lenz's work. On his way to the summons Lenz is ambushed by a rival and forced to flee into the tunnels, leading to the surface.

In Lenz's haversack we find the following:

  • Mechanical pieces, including a mechanical bird, spider, and hand. 
  • Small, spare parts, including cogs, gears, nuts and bolts. 
  • Flask of spirits (hidden in boot, actually)
  • Identification papers
  • Summons from Merchant Lord Trask
  • 10 gold, 7 silver, 9 copper
  • Home keys
  • Pipe and Tobacco  
  • 1 half finished and chewed cigar
  • flint and steel bars

Friday, November 16, 2012


Hey Folks,

I know I have not been posting at all recently, but life has really got in my way. I hope to remedy that but I can make no promises.

I would like however to share a new project I am working on. I have recently been experimenting with Shadow Puppets.  One day recently I came across an article ( I cannot for the life of me find it again), about old school Cambodian shadow puppet theater and was immediately captivated. Being the proud father of a very active and observant 17 month old little girl, I immediately thought of how I could use something like that to entertain her. I also started thinking about the shadow puppets we all used to make on the wall by tipping the lamp on its side and sticking up bunny ears with our fingers ("Don't you break my lamp, young man!" moms invariably call out in warning).

While I could have easily just done this and my daughter would have no doubt been entertained, this just doesn't tickle my artistic fancy the way pulling out some cardstock paper, pencils and an exacto knife do. So I came up with some homemade puppets and put on a little show for her. She was enthralled and squealed with joy numerous times. I was so happy and so inspired that I made a (not so) short list of puppets I wanted to make for her. This list turned into a menagerie of puppets and shadow scenery.

Even though I was now at a loss of where I could store this growing zoo of beasties and peoples I couldn't stop. I was one a role. Am on a roll still. I can't stop coming up with ideas for puppets and making more.

My wife comes out one day and tells me that she has seen similar stuff on Etsy and I could probably sell some on the side if I wanted.  I thought this was a great idea, and have been busy over the last few days make new puppets, taking pictures and setting up my new Etsy account. Well, that is completed and thought that since this is my Blog, I would share it here, regardless of it not being gaming related. Though if anyone has some gaming related puppets they would like to see, please feel free to let me know, I would love to hear them.

So, with out any further to do check out UMBRATA, Shadow Theater and other art. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Airship Nightingale

The Airship Nightingale
Captain: Ian Kharos
Luxury Dining Ship

The Nightingale is small luxury airship built for the enjoyment of the nobility. The frame of the Nightingale is made from a very light metal that has the beautiful green patina of brass. The entire length of the ship is no more than thirty feet long with two decks. 

The Gas Cell is one large gas envelope set above the rest of the ship and is held to the ship by a large arm made from the same metal as the rest of the frame. The envelope is made from a heavy fabric the color of aged parchment and is held to the ship by thick mooring ropes tied fore, middle and aft. 

The shorter lower deck is a galley where fine meals are made by the ships halfling cook Simonette Marbury. Mrs. Marbury is a wonderful cook, particularly renowned for her tarts and sweetmeats, which she serves to her patrons after every meal. 

The main deck is covered in warm hardwoods and delicate brass-green filigrees. However, as beautiful as these are, the main focus of the main compartment is its massive oak dining table and six surrounding chairs. The legs of the table and chairs are detailed carvings of clouds and tiny intricate birds. The birds when examined closely are Nightingales, in homage of the ship, or perhaps giving it its name. The tall ladder backed chairs have a similar pattern embroidered into their cushions in lush reds and golds. 

Completing the main deck of the ship is the prow. The prow of the ship is completely surrounded by plush couches and pillows which allow the courtly nobles a comfortable seat on which to enjoy the beautiful view of the sky, or even the land far below for those who have a head for heights. This beautiful view is afforded by the large bay windows which surround the entire main deck. 

Captain Ian Kharos is a good looking man of average height and athletic build. Dark brown hair and eyes with an olive complexion. Captain Kharos always dresses in a pristine captains uniform with its deep blues and crisp whites. He always looks impeccable for his patrons. He also always stands at the captains wheel at the stern of the main deck. The 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meet Otis

Since I got a few requests to show some of my other artwork, I would like to introduce a comic character I created last year. Here is Otis. 
Hello Otis

Viking Otis
Zombie Otis
I would love to hear some ideas for new Otis costumes or poses. So let me know what you would like to see and I will try to make Otis a new segment. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Orrin Osbert
Not only am I a DM and avid game enthusiast, I am also an artist.  Above is the image of an old long running character of mine named Orrin Osbert that I drew some time ago. Orrin was a young fighter out to prove himself to his father who thought him a rogue (of the classical sense) and a dandy. Just thought I would share some of my artwork.

Question: Would any one be interested in seeing some of my other artwork?  It is not all game inspired, but some is, and some inspired some of my game design concepts.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Outside my comfort zone

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to play in a one shot game with a friend acting as Dungeons Master and some new people as other PCs. There were five of us all told.  My self, the DM, one other who was familiar with the game, and two newbies. Since the newbs were unfamiliar with Role Playing Games in general, the other player, Tom, and I decided we would take the more complicated and somewhat challenging characters to play. Specifically, The Magic User, The Cleric, and The Paladin.  I played the Magic User, a typical wizard character running around in robes and brandishing his staff.  Tom played a mace wielding Cleric who boosted the party with healing. The Paladin was played by both myself and Tom cooperatively in order to bring in another warrior in to the group.  

In my previous games I tended to stick the ranged fighting characters like the Ranger (in 3e and 3.5) and Sorcerers/Wizards (2e and Castles and Crusades). I like to play characters that I need to actually Role Play, rather than Roll Play.  I need to think what would my character decide to do in a real situation like this.  Would I stick in the background and lob volley after volley or spell after spell, or would I risk running up into the thick of battle. I believe that playing these types just play to my strengths and to my way of thinking. I am a scientific and logical thinker. I like to play characters who, while having depth and personality, think the same way. 

I am not a religious person. Never have been. In real life I do not follow any religion. So playing a religious character is needless to say, out of the norm. I do not understand religion simply because it is not a strictly logical or scientific thought process. So when I realized I would be playing a religious character I was a little apprehensive. I could have easily said I didn't want to play that character, but I knew how I think a religious character would act in a fantasy world such as the one we were playing. 

 The mage I was playing was similar to my normal characters.  He is a strong team player, trying to make sure the other characters are on equal footing, and looking forward to the magical knowledge he could learn. 

Where my normal characters tend to lean toward chaotic good, I thought I would play the Paladin as a stuffy and righteously indignant person who had nothing but contempt for the thief and mage. The Paladin is a lawful good character. Strict in his observance of his creed. At one point he even turned against the party when they tried to loot the sarcophagus of a deceased man whose tomb a necromancer had desecrated. 

I discovered that I really enjoyed playing a Paladin.  Since Paladins are followers of a strict code of conduct, their behavior is easy to dictate. I could focus on their personality rather than their decisions. While I do not think I would continue playing religious characters on a regular basis, I have found a new class I like. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Character Questionnaire

As a DM I like to know as much as possible about the characters who are participating in the story I am weaving with my game. I want to know exactly what they look like and where they are from.  The more they can tell me the better. If that character has a long lost love I want to know. If they are one half of a pair of twins that is something I feel I need to know. I have a character questionnaire that I have my players fill out before we start a new game.  This is the minimum that I want from my players and if they want to come with more and add on to it that is great!  Since I know I am not the only DM out there who does this I thought I would share my Character Questionnaire. Here it is:


Overall Appearance and Style:

Personality and Mannerisms:

Brief History:

Home Life:
name of hometown:
your role in town:
social status:
name (or description) of an establishment or two:

Family and Friends (list at least two, including a couple words to describe their personality):

Two prejudices or strong opinions:

What is in your character's pockets, right now?

How did you come to your powers and class abilities initially?





Do you have a character questionnaire that you have your players fill out? What questions do you ask? What information do you want from your players? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New game coming, Question to my readers

I am a happy DM right now. My wife’s 17 year old brother lives with us and we have decided that we are going to play a one-on-one game of Dungeons and Dragons. Since I live with him, there isn’t a lot of prep in getting a session going.  That has been one of my biggest problems with playing since my daughter was born (Shaylee is 1 year old now, as of this past Friday!)

One thing stands in my way: I am having a hell of a time coming up with the hook. I have the basic plot of the campaign and some of the major players. If you read my blog you are at least a little familiar with my homebrew game world named Verdenheim.

Malcolm Reynolds in his
Badass Longcoat
If you are not familiar with it, Verdenheim is a completely homebrewed world for the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Verdenheim is a flat world, where the sun revolves around the world first from one side of the world to the other. On the “topside” of the world is where the mortal races of man and elf reside. The “underside” is home to the magic of the world and the elder races such as the Eladrin. Although I do not refer to it as such, the underside of the world can be seen as the Fey Wild of Verdenheim.

The center of the world, under the ground near the topside surface belongs to the Dwarves, while the underground closer to the underside is the home of the Goblins and other dark creatures of magic and faerie.

Anyhow, the campaign I am planning will focus around the machinations of The Sorceress Queen.  The Sorceress Queen, as her title suggests, is both a magic user and the queen of her realm. The character will slowly be introduced to the Sorceress Queen and her nefarious plans, first meeting a lieutenant in the Longcoats.  The Longcoats are the private paramilitary force loyal to the Sorceress Queen and none other. They can loosely be described as a cross between Those Wacky Nazis and The Badass Longcoat tv tropes. 

Mining Vehicle from Avatar
There will be a Steampunk feel to the game with machines being built using both physics and magic.  Among the various mechanical anachronisms will be the focus of the campaign.  The Dreadnaughts.  The Dreadnaughts are huge personnel carrying vehicles, large enough to crush a house, similar looking to the minging vehicles in James Cameron's Avatar. They are powered by mass quantities of magic and are fed that magic by large cables that syphon magic from the underside of Verdenheim.

Since my brother-in-law will play either an Eladrin or an Elf, involving him with the Longcoats and the Sorceress Queen will be fairly easy but coming up with the initial hook is driving me nuts.  I don’t think I want to start with the prototypical “You are sitting in a tavern, when…” beginning. 

So I bring this question to you, my readers. What hooks have you used? Which ones were successful? Which ones weren’t?  What advice do you have?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In search of inspiration

Hello Dear Readers,

searching for inspiration
I am in search of some inspiration.  I am currently bringing out some old game and world building notes and I am slowly transferring them into digital format on my laptop. But I am also trying to weed out those notes and snippets that would be boring to you, the reader. I have a few segments that have been popular or at least consistently readable on this blog, including Trying on a new skin, What's in your haversack and my Verdenheim segments. What I am looking for is some topics for new posts or new subjects for my current segments. 

Has there been a character who you have wanted to take a peek in their haversack?  Let me know
Is there a monster you would like to see with a new spin? Let me know
Do you have an idea for a Verdenheim location or a question about that world? Let me know
Have an idea for a new segment you think I could do? Let me know

I am happy to do posts on any of these.  Just let me know. Tell me what you like and what you don't like.  I am writing this blog for my own enjoyment, but I like making sure my readers are satisfied as well.  

Trying on a new skin... Assassin Vine and Brier Beast

In this installment of Trying on a new skin… we will be looking at the Assassin Vine and its new iteration, the Brier Beast. Before I get into describing the Brier Beast, I would like to mention a couple changes other than the reskinning, but that are tied to the reskinning.  We will be getting rid of the Entangle spell-like ability, thinking that the Brier Beast will not be connect by roots to the other plants around it and does not have enough intelligence to control other plants through magic. Second, the Brier Beast will have more freedom of movement, since the Brier Beast is roughly humanoid, with no settled roots.
Now, let us continue. Following is the description of the Assassin Vine in the 3.5e Monster Manual.

The assassin vine is a semi-mobile plant that collects its own grisly fertilizer by grabbing and crushing animals and depositing the carcasses near its roots.

A mature plant consists of a main vine, about 20 feet long. Smaller vines up to 5 feet long branch off from the main vine about every 6 inches. These small vines bear clusters of leaves, and in late summer they produce bunches of small fruits that resemble wild grapes. The fruit is tough and has a hearty but bitter flavor. Assassin vine berries make a heady wine.

An assassin vine can move about, albeit very slowly, but usually stays put unless it needs to seek prey in a new vicinity.

While this creature is certainly frightening, the Assassin Vine does not present much of threat once you are able to get out of its reach. To create a bigger threat let us explore an option where the Assassin Vine has gained greater mobility, but has lost its ability to affect other natural plants.

The Brier Beast is a mobile and sentient plant that actively searches the forest for its own fertilizer. 
A Brier Beast stands around 5 feet tall in a rough mockery of man.  Thick black branches and vines create a torso, two arms and two legs, with a bramble patch for a head. The body is covered in dusty green and yellow leaves, which are covered in sickly grey and black spots. Large blood red thorns stand out sharply against the darker body of the Brier Beast. The belly of the Beast is thickly lined with vines and roots, and filled with soil that is enriched with fresh blood and flesh.

No amount of charisma or talking will prevent a Brier Beast from dismembering a victim and mixing its corpse into its soil.  The beast is essentially mindless and cannot speak or understand any spoken language. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

My first time

3rd edition Players Handbook

It was in 9th grade that I had my first experience with role playing games.  This first experience was with the first printing of 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons.  That first game session was played in my friends bedroom, over the course of a three day weekend. It was myself, and my friends Robert and Jeff. Jeff was the Dungeon Master, since he had played the game before. Jeff had a couple pre-generated characters for me and Robert to play, myself the unnamed Elven Ranger, Robert the spell slinging wizard.

We started play Friday evening and played well into the wee hours of Saturday morning before we all eventually passed out, only to wake a few hours later, ready to continue the journey (oh the boundless energy of youth!)  

We ended up playing all of Saturday, leveling several times (our first time DM was generous with XP) and getting used to the mechanics of the game.

There were goblins, bar fights, skeletons and zombies (and goblin zombies). Whispers of powerful necromancers and hints of vampires.

Three days we played, nearly nonstop.  It was glorious. The battles were epic and the fun was intense. It was a great introduction to what became a (so far) life-long hobby and passion for games and the fantasy genre in general.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Trying on a new skin: Clay Golem and The Queen's Golem

Golems are a well-known enemy in RPG Geekdom, especially Dungeons and Dragons. The clay golem was inspired by the Golem in Jewish Mythology. In Jewish mysticism the golem was fashioned from dust “kneaded into a shapeless husk”. Two ways of bringing the golem to life are shown in the mythology.  The first is to inscribe the Hebrew word Truth into the forehead of the golem.  The second way to bring the golem to life was to scribe the word life on a piece of paper or parchment and place It in the open mouth of the inanimate golem. In Dungeons and Dragons they are describe thus:

Golems are magically created automatons of great power. Constructing one involves the employment of mighty magic and elemental forces.

The animating force for a golem is a spirit from the Elemental Plane of Earth. The process of creating the golem binds the unwilling spirit to the artificial body and subjects it to the will of the golem’s creator.

This golem has a humanoid body made from clay. A clay golem wears no clothing except for a metal or stiff leather garment around its hips.

A clay golem golem cannot speak or make any vocal noise. It walks and moves with a slow, clumsy gait. It weighs around 600 pounds

One thing that has always bothered me was that golems have always been described as humanoid. Two arms, two legs, a head and a torso. Now, granted, that is how the Jewish golem was described, but in the Monster Manual the golem is described as having any appearance the creator wishes.  So, where are all the golems who were created as mounts? Or as terrors and monsters? Where are the golems that were used to impress and invoke fear and respect?

In my homebrew world Verdenheim, The Sorceress Queen, a powerful witch and empress of a spreading empire has created a powerful mount out of a golem.  Here it is described:

The Sorceress Queen’s golem is a large quadruped that seems to be scaled and horned with red-grey clay.  Where many wizards create only a most basic structure to house their golems spirit, the Sorceress Queen hired the most skilled sculptors to create a massive beast that was so life like that it inspired fear and sent the weak screaming even before the Queen animated it with her magicks.

The Queen’s Golem is a beast a full fifteen feet long, including horns and tail. It is equipped with a ridge of horns upon its draconic head and several along each side of its jaw. Its forelegs are massive compared to the hind legs, and it uses these strong forelimbs to tear and rend its opponents.

Where another golem is a mere representation of man, a mockery of life, The Queen’s Golem is an exquisitely detailed terror, a nightmare come to life. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What's in your haversack?

Dietrich Oldstrong is a lieutenant in the Longcoats, the private paramilitary force of the Sorceress Queen. In his latest mission he has been sent to investigate a disturbance in the small Dukuesne town called Scranton. With him has brought the following in his haversack:
  • Traveling cloak
  • Riding saber
  • Medals and knots of rank
  • Scroll case, with maps and orders
  • Letters of writ from the Sorceress Queen
  • Pouch of gold and silver
  • Identification and traveling documents
  • Ink, wax candles, and signet ring (the signet ring is a belt of leather  with a crooked arm in the center)
  • Travel rations
  • Manacles


Monday, May 21, 2012

Making a new character

I am taking the idea from Black Vulmea over at Really Bad Eggs, of posting a new character I am rolling up.  Unlike Mike's (Black Vulmea's) character, this one will most likely never see the light of day. I really really just enjoy coming up with and fleshing out new characters.  I will keep out all the crunchy stuff like stats.  I like to keep things as system neutral as possible in case you want to steal this and use it in whatever game you want.

First off, let us decide what kind of character we want this person to be.  Hero or Villain? While Heroes are the go to choice, I want to come up with something different.  I want a villain. Not an uber-powerful magic wielding super villain.  I want someone a little more mundane. So, I have decided on a loose concept: a non-magical mid-level villain, a lackey, probably a lieutenant in the BBEG's (Big Bad Evil Guy) army.

Player: Me (Kyle)
Character Name: Dietrich Oldstrong
His name is vaguely German, to give it a faintly menacing Nazi-ish sound, someone you might recognize from the old serials of the 1930s and '40s, someone a hero like Indiana Jones might fight.
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Height: Average between  5'9" and 6'0"
Weight: 165 lbs, thin but in good shape
Eyes: Pale blue, very striking
Hair: Blonde, almost yellow in its bright hues
I am continuing with the Aryan thing, blond hair, blue eyes. Let's continue on to his clothing and gear he carries on his body (We will take a look in his haversack in an upcoming "What's in your haversack?" segment). I will continue with a slightly Nazi design.  Nazi colors and accouterments
Class: Fighter
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Clothing: Black military shirt, grey cotton trousers, with a finely woven cloak of a matching grey. Red knots of rank show on his cloak along with various medals showing personal and military accomplishments.
Gear: Black leather riding gloves and prod. Silvered riding saber, worn with a deadly grace. Two silvered daggers, one on left thigh, the other sticking up out of the top of his down turned boots. Polished and enameled breast plate, with polished gauntlets and vambraces.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's in your haversack?

What is in the haversack of Bertram Rone, collector of ancient artifacts and explorer of ruined tombs? On his latest adventure, semi-retired Bertram Rone, went to the underside of Verdenheim in search of a lost temple. With him he took the following items:
  • Reinforced Leather Coat (Leather armor)
  • Crossbow
  • Dagger
  • Map scroll and case
  • Reference book for arcane and archaic languages
  • Whip
  • Artifact collection tools (pick, chisel and hammer, brush)
  • Broad brimmed hat

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hey, I know you! Bertram Rone

EDIT: I failed to mention in the original post that characters I post in the "Hey, I know you" segment are based upon characters from sources in the real world, such as movies and books. This segment will do two things.  1. Give you something to do for two minutes, and 2. highlight characters from other sources so that you can see how to incorporate them into your game, instead of spending time trying to come up with a completely new personae for every NPC in your game

Bertram Rone is a retired adventurer and collector of ancient artifacts and bizarre objects. Rone once saved a damsel from the clutches of an evil cult who were about to sacrifice her to a demonic fire god. He at one point searched for the phylactery of a Good Lich who sought to bring peace and healing to the land.  When a comrade was fatally wounded during the battle to gain the phylactery, Bertram healed his comrade with the miraculous powers of the phylactery and lost it forever.

When Bertram retired from a life of adventuring he opened a museum where he displayed his collection of unusual and ancient objects. He also taught young adventurers and scholars what to look for when exploring hidden and ancient ruins, and how to solve the puzzles and traps that frequently protect these places. 

So readers, tell me, who is Bertram Rone?  This one should be easy

Saturday, May 5, 2012

S is for the Sith

What gaming geek hasn't been inspired by the idea, characters and story of the Sith, from George Lucas' Star Wars? What DM hasn't been tempted to throw in the line "Luke, I am your father?" This DM sure has.  But who are the Sith exactly?

The Sith were originally Jedi who turned to the dark side of the Force, fueling their powers not with logic and control of will, but with passion and anger. The Dark Jedi warred with the Jedi and were exiled accordingly. Once exiled the Dark Jedi found a planet that where they could rule over the powerful but manipulable race called the Sith.  They were worshiped as Gods and fashioned themselves the "Lord of the Sith."

After a time the Sith ruled a small portion of the galaxy that they named the Sith Empire. That empire eventually fell due to a battle for supremacy between two rival Sith Lords.  Sith Lord Darth Bane caused the destruction of every last Sith excepting himself and his apprentice Darth Zannah, creating the Rule of Two which states "Two there shall be... a master and an apprentice, one to embody power and one to crave it."

This Rule brings us to the stories of the Sith that we are all familiar with.  Darth Sidious and Darth Vader.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey, I know you!

Hey guys, I am finally feeling alive again! It sucks that I missed out on finishing the Blogging from A to Z challenge because of that damned bronchitis. I am hoping I will be able to complete that challenge late. Here is my list for the posts that I never got to:

  • S is for Sith
  • T is for Trollocks
  • U is for Uncle Trap Springer
  • V is for Vampires
  • W is for The Ways
  • X is for Xak Tsaroth
  • Y
  • Z is Zeddicus Z'ul Zorander
I can't seem to come up with anything for Y so any suggestions would be welcome! :)

I am starting a new segment that I would like some feedback on.  I used to have a problem coming up with NPCs for my games.  I could never come up with a motivation or a personality to go along with the motivation that I did come up with. So, I cheated. I started stealing my NPCs.  The Joker. Han Solo. Lex Luther.  Ra's al Ghul. Yoda. All characters that I know how they act and think.  Having these characters in mind when I create and play an NPC truly gives these characters depth and realism that would be hard to come with on my own, especially when I need to run an entire world at the same time.

This method is makes it quick and easy to come up with fully fleshed out characters with back stories, mannerisms and personality. I know exactly how these characters will react given a situation and even what mannerisms and speech patterns to emphasize when portraying them to my PCs. But, the benefits don't stop there. 

Not only does playing the character become easier, but so does writing in story lines involving those NPCs. Thinking back to those characters I can use some of their story from their respective sources to embellish and improve my own story. I can borrow from the story I know or can expand on it in a way that I see fit to include in the on going story of my game and my world. 

I know I could never play the speech patterns of Master Yoda they way he is presented in Star Wars, that would be too cliched and would just break the fourth wall in game. However, I could play a wizened old Master Wizard, short, possibly a gnome.  He is slow to anger and always has a serene aura around him.  Nothing breaks his calm. Instead of answering your questions, he asks you another in return, which helps you by allowing you to come to the proper answer on your own. What he says can sometimes be disjointed but is always knowledgeable and poignant. 

Quickly, the PCs will catch on (at least in this instance, mine would), but is not over the top enough to break the fourth wall. Now, not only does this character have a personality and mannerisms built in, but I can take some of Master Yoda's story and incorporate it into my game. There is a war brewing and Master Wizard, while always friendly and helpful to you, no longer has time to help train you.  He is busy building the army of the land to fight against the incursion that is looming from the sedition forces of his rival Dark Wizards who are threatening to over turn the government and rule with an iron fist and devious will. 

So, what do you think? Have you ever done this with your own NPCs? What are some other advantages you have noticed? Disadvantages? What characters would you like to see made into an NPC?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anyone know the spell resurrection?

Sorry for the lack of posts lately guys.  I have been sick as hell lately.  The wife, the baby and my brother-in-law all caught bronchitis and passed it on to me and I have felt like death since last Thursday. So if you know Cure Disease or True Resurrection please send it my direction!   Hopefully be back soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Roland (and Rand)

The names of the main protagonist in my two favorite series begin with the letter R.  Roland Deschain of Gilead from Stephen King's The Dark Tower, and Rand al'Thor, The Dragon Reborn from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. While Roland is an anti-hero Rand is more of a tragic-hero.

Roland is The Gunslinger Born from Marvel Comics
Roland has many features which are the opposite of what you would expect to find in a true hero.  He is impatient and angry much of the time. He is condescending to those he consider weak willed.  He is above all selfish. Though Roland gladly risks life and limb for those he believes need his protection, he will not hesitate to abandon them if it took him another step toward his ultimate goal of reaching and climbing the Dark Tower. Over the course of the story Roland becomes softer and more caring but ultimately reaches his goal after sacrificing almost everything he ever cared about, damning himself in the process.

Rand however was the unwilling hero at first.  He denied being the Dragon Reborn until there was no doubt left that he was indeed the Dragon.  He tried running from his destiny, tried to escape but eventually gave up and accepted his fate. He sacrifices what he thinks he must in order to fulfill his destiny, in order to save the world.  His sacrifices include his family and home, his friends and even parts of himself, both physically and spiritually. Rand looses much never trying to retain anything for himself unless it is needed in his fight against Shai'tan, The Dark One.

Rand al'Thor on the Sun Throne of Cairhien
While these two characters a far apart in terms of their character arcs the two men eventually become very similar in personality and drive. They are both forced to become very hard men.  Hard so they can withstand the forces pushing and pulling and attacking them, preventing them from accomplishing their goals and meeting their destinies.

Another obscure relation between these two is their connection to King Arthur.  Both Roland's Mid-World and Rand's Randland have their King Arthur analogues.  Roland is directly descended (30th generation) from Arthur Eld, a great king of his realm.  Rand has many things connecting him to Artur Paendrag Tanreall, Artur Hawkwing, The High King. Among others Rand is compared as being even more strongly Ta'veren than Artur Hawkwing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for the Questioners

The Children of  the Light from The Wheel of Time are a religiously oriented military group disparagingly called Whitecloaks due to their characteristic white cloaks.  To most the Whitecloaks are mistrusted and feared due to their religious persecution and hunting of so called "Darkfriends".  But among the Children of the Light are a sect that are looked at askance and feared even by other Whitecloaks for their unchecked zeal and questionable methods.  This group is The Hand of the Light, also called Quesitoners.

The Hand of the Light are referred to as Questioners because when a darkfriend is found (or suspected of being found) they are handed over to the Questioners and they are "put to the question". In other words they are tortured into revealing their secrets, admitting they are darkfriends and repenting their crimes.  However, many believe that innocents are interrogated as well and are forced to admit to being a darkfriend simply to stop being tortured.  It is said that once a Questioner makes up his mind about your guilt there is no changing it. 

This group, along with the real world group that inspired them, The Inquisitors have lead to the development of a similar group in my worlds of Atlas and Verdenheim, called The Ministry of Light and The Holy Knights of the Creator. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Paladine

Paladine, known as The Platinum Dragon, Draco Paladin, Valiant Warrior, E’li, Platinum Father and Thak the Hammer, is the leader of the Gods of Good in the Dragonlance books, by Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  Throughout the series we see Paladine most often in his human avatar, Fizban the Fabulous, the bumbling wizard who started the Heroes of the Lance on their grand adventure.  Much like Gandalf, Fizban is seen as a mentor and guide, but unlike Gandalf who it known to be powerful and intelligent, Fizban is a bumbling fool who constantly pushes the characters into more trouble instead of leading them to solutions.  

In the night sky above Krynn Paladine can be seen as the constellation Platinum Dragon, and during the War of the Lance his constellation is missing from the night sky as he is physically on Krynn indirectly preparing the forces of good to fight the forces of Takhisis.

At the end of the War of Souls Paladine gave up his divine status and power to become a Mortal Elf named Valthonis.  Paladine gave up his godhood in order to maintain the balance of good and evil in the universe when Takhisis was forced to become mortal by the other gods; Good, Neutral and Evil.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Oy!

Oy! is the pet and member of the Ka-Tet of Nineteen and/or Ninety Nine in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Oy is what is called a billy-bumbler, a creature that resembles a combination of badger, raccoon, and dog, with a long and graceful neck.  Oy is described to have large, gold-rimmed eyes which are intelligent, even for a bumbler, which are known to have a limited speaking ability, similar to that of a parrot. Oy's voice sounds "low and deep, almost a bark; the voice of an English footballer with a bad cold in his throat."

Oy becomes more emotional and intelligent than other bumblers and this is remarked upon by the other member of the Ka-tet several times.  Oy is a constant source of amusement through out the series and often lightens the moods of the ka-tet. 

Eventually Oy is killed by one of the arch nemeses of the Ka-tet of Nineteen and/or Ninety Nine, Mordred.  Mordred is also the son of Roland Deschain, both of whom will be discussed in tomorrow's post R is Roland (and Rand) along with Rand al'Thor of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

N is for Narg

So I have decided to change it up for the latter half of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  During the first half of the Challenge I focused on weapons, items and people from the real world (or from mythologies of the real world) who inspired portions of my campaign setting Verdenheim and my personal gaming style. For the remaining time I will focus on fictional weapons, items and people that have also inspired me.

To kick this off we have Narg.  Narg is a monstrous character from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. Narg is one of the first Trollocs we see in the first book, The Eye of the World, and the only one (as of Towers of Midnight) that we ever experience speaking. Limited and coarse though his vocabulary was, Narg’s short dialogue has become infamous with WoT fans the world over.  It was jokingly postulated that Narg is the one who killed Asmodean (one of the Forsaken, a powerful baddie, who was teaching the protagonist, Rand al’Thor, how to use the One Power, the magic of Randland)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is Matchlock

Before the invention of the matchlock firing mechanism a match was required to be lowered by hand to the so called Flash-pan, in order to operate a firearm. With the invention of the matchlock a person was able to fire more accurately by keeping his eye on his target and holding the gun more steady by holding it in two hands. 

The Matchlock works by clipping a slow burn match or fuse to the serpentine of the gun, which could then be released or dropped onto the flash-pan igniting the primer and thus igniting the main charge of the round. This type of mechanism was favored for its accuracy but was unpopular because the match was required to be lit continuously in order to be useful. If the match went out for any reason (such as weather or snuffing itself out in the flash pan) the weapon became an expensive metal stick until the match could be re-lit. However, this mechanism and its drawbacks are what brought about more economical and more versatile firing mechanisms. 

L is for legion

"My name is Legion: for we are many.”

Legion was a biblical demon or a collection of demons first encountered in Mark 5:9 of the New Testament.  Legion was the group of demons possessing a man from Gadarenes, and whom were subsequently cast out of the man and into a herd of pigs.  Those pigs then drowned themselves in the sea of Galilee.  

This story has spawned many references and allusions in popular culture.  Television shows have used the idea of multiple possessions or personalities as a plot device, even going so far as to name the character Legion or to reference the famous quote. Shows like Angel and Supernatural specifically depict demons who claim to be the actual Demon Legion. Even Gargoyles referenced it in an episode titled Legion. Legion is even a movie based completely on the character concept from the bible and transformed into a modern day graphic novel-esque movie

In literature, especially comic books, Legion is a popular subject. Numerous books are based around the demon Legion or some variation on the theme. The character Randall Flagg is referred to as Legion several times throughout both The Stand and The Dark Tower.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for the King's Table

For over four centuries the King’s Table was a symbol to the court and to those foreign rulers who dined with the King and Queen, of the King’s power and status.  The King’s Table was the banquet table used by the monarchs of Britain.  The table was carved of solid stone and used for coronation feasts and state banquets from its creation in the 13th century. Among its other uses King Henry VIII used the table for the banquets following his marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.

Oliver Cromwell destroyed the table and buried the pieces at the Palace of Westminster. Cromwell was the English Military and Political leader who over threw the monarchy and replaced it with the Commonwealth of England which ruled for eleven years before its failure and England’s return to the Royal Family.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jack

Jack is an ubiquitous character in English and Cornish fairytales. The tales revolve around an often weak but clever character named Jack.  Though the tales are generally grouped together as the Jack Tales, the stories do not necessarily involve the same person.  Included in the Jack Tales are stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Killer, and Little Jack Horner. Jack is a character known to be a folk hero because of his lack of strength or skill as a warrior that puts him within reach of common folk.  Unlike most heroes who are strong and virtuous, Jack is known to be lazy and a bit of a trickster, often getting himself into trouble through his antics, even though he often gets himself out of trouble with his quick wit and clever tongue.

Several characters in modern fiction and many RPG characters are based on the Jack archetype. Matrim Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is a prime example of the Jack archetype, so much so, he is tied to the name Jack through out the series, as in Dance with Jak-o’-the-Shadows.

Bad habits always payoff in the long run” –Matrim Cauthon
(find picture of Mat)

Jack-o’-Lantern is also the subject of many characters in folklore, fiction writing and in RPGs. From Jack of the Lantern in British, Welsh, Scottish and Irish folktales, to  The Scarecrow in Batman, and Jack Skellington in A Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack o’ Lantern has been explored many times and inspired many stories, both modern and contemporary. Jack o’ Lantern can be seen as a victim, as he was tricked by the Devil and wanders the world in the afterlife, with no place to go. He lived his life to sinfully to be allowed into heaven and he tricked the Devil to never take his soul so he is not allowed into hell either. Alternately he can be seen as a villain as he is tricky and seen to haunt graveyards and the Irish countryside. 

I is for Incendiaries

“Behold from your walls the lands laid waste with fire and sword“ –Livy The History of Rome

Incendiaries are a bedrock of warfare, fire has brought cities and nations to their knees for millennia. Fire has always been a dangerous tool for man, and when applied to warfare it is absolutely devastating. Whether it be a simple torched tossed in building or Greek Fire being hurled in the faces of enemies, fire brings a whole new element to combat.

One of the simplest tactics involving incendiaries was known as the ‘scorched earth’ policies.  This involved groups of soldiers surrounding an enemy keep or stronghold and burning the crops to the ground.  This policy destroyed food, supplies and trade routes. Often times a besieged city would use this tactic on their own lands to deprive their attackers of the resources and of forage. 

Another form of incendiary is hot substances such as heated oil or sand, which would  get under armor and clothes burning the flesh of the victim.  Even boiling water poured on person could melt the skin right off the bone.

I intended to write more for this post but the baby was crying when I was writing this, so I will see you guys next time

Monday, April 9, 2012

What's in your haversack?

I am going to post a What's in your haversack? for today's letter, H, in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Tyvern Wernithal is a human barbarian hailing from the plains North of the Tadrat Desert.  Tyvern was exiled from his tribe for a dishonorable fight he was in, with a man he believed his wife had been with while he was on a hunt. Tyvern was enraged and resulted to some nasty tricks which he normally would not have.  As a result Tyvern was taken captive and stripped of his personal possessions. Once this was done he was given provisions and was sent into the desert expected to cross the desert and return with a rock from the valley of the ancestors on the other side to prove his worthiness to return to the tribe.  He has made it across the desert to the valley of the ancestors and retrieved his stone.  He is now in middle of the desert on his return journey.  Let us look in his haversack and see what he has...

In Tyverns haversack you find...

  • 3 Waterskins (1 empty, 1 full, 1 almost empty)
  • A stone from the Valley of Ancestors
  • Shortbow, horn
  • Unused bowstring
  • Used bowstring, still serviceable
  • Hunting dagger
  • Tribal necklace, which he must carry but not wear
  • Rations
  • Jackrabbit carcass
  • 2 jackrabbit skins
  • Rattle from a rattlesnake 
  • tortoise shell, small, used as bowl
  • small clay jug with firewater (traded with a caravan merchant for some turquoise found in the Valley of Ancestors)
  • Iron rod, one hand long, pitted from sand and weather.  Use unknown, hums and vibrates when held.  Also found in the Valley of Ancestors

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Griffin

The Griffin, (also griffon or gryphon) is a medieval amalgamation of lion and eagle.  The lion being the king of beasts and the eagle the king of birds was thought to be a majestic and extremely powerful heraldic creature. The Griffin has the powerful body and hindquarters of a large lion and the head and wings of a massive eagle.  The forelimbs are interchangeably the talons of the eagle or the forelimbs of a lion depending on the author or artist depicting the griffin. Also, differing from the eagle, the griffin is shown often with erect ears, sometimes those of a lion, sometimes more resembling a horse, while in still other instances the ears are feathered.

In heraldry, the griffin was a depiction of courage and bravery, often seen battling other fearsome creatures. The griffin was formerly used in denoting military strength and courage as well as leadership.  The combination of avian and beast is meant to convey both strength and intelligence to the viewer of the heraldic symbol. 

The lesser known male griffin in British heraldry is depicted without wings, but with a mane of spikes and a horn similar to a unicorn's on its head. The female griffin is the most commonly found in heraldy. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for the Fountain of Youth

Immortality.  That is the end goal for many villains.  There are many roads to the fabled state of immortality.  Lich-dom being one. The Fountain of Youth is another. The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring or well with waters that miraculously restore the lost youth of the drinker. Throughout time there have been several proposed locations of the fountain.  One location, proposed by Herodotus was the land of the Ethiopians, which explained their uncanny longevity. In The Travels of Sir John Mandeville the Fountain of Youth is located at the foot of a mountain outside Polombe, which is modern day Kollam.   Possibly the most famous supposed locations for the fountain are the mythical Caribbean island of Bimini and somewhere in Florida, possibly the Everglades.

The waters are said to cure disease and reverse the aging process, returning the person drinking the water to their physical prime.  These restorative powers were so great that an aged man in his twilight years could drink of, or bathe in, the waters of the Fountain and be restored so entirely that he could return to the hunt, take a new young wife and beget more children.  Some say there is a difference in whether you drink or bathe in the water of the fountain, claiming that bathing in the water would restore your youth, while drinking would cripple or even kill you. Bad guys beware.