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?