It has been a busy week at Casa Purple Druid, with much work done out in the summer heat and humidity. Which leaves little energy for anything else! But, I have been working on the Faerie Realm setting (which I still need a name for) for the Gygax 75 project. This has been a lot of fun, and it has generated some new ideas for tie-ins to the Weirth Campaign.

Week One – The Concept

Task one: Get a Notebook

I love notebooks. I love writing in them, starting new projects in them, it’s a thing. A fetish, probably. (I’m tempted to blog about my #BuJo notebook setup for Oct-Mar that I’m working on…) It’s hardbound. Dot-grid paper. Nice and smooth, really takes the ink well. (It’s Pen + Gear from the Wallie store. I picked up a stack of them in a 2-for-1 sale last year at the end of Back-to-School season. Which is a lot less well-stocked this year.)

I scribbled down a bunch of notes on loose leaf paper, then tried to get a semblance of order as I transferred them to the notebook.

Task Two: Develop Your Pitch

Three to seven bullet points, for “selling” the world to the players. I suppose that’s what I need to do, as I’m certainly sold on the idea. I think it’s great. Let’s see if we can make something coherent out of my crazy mish-mash of an idea.

  • sucker-mouthThe Faerie Realm is a horror-world where the un-lamented dead of the Prime Material plane go as a sort of Purgatory. Theme-words include Giger, Plecostomus, fog, storm.
  • It is a world shrouded in darkness from an ever-present, roiling, storm-wracked cloud cover.
  • The domains of the powers that be, castles and cities, are ruled by monsters from Beyond the Outer Darkness: modified and re-imagined Vampires, Rakshasas, Marilith and animal-headed not-Egyptian godlings.
  • The inhabitants of these domains are
    • terracotta warriors horror fantasyGolems – the slaves, those unfortunate, un-lamented dead. Trapped in bodies of red clay, these creatures do the basic work of the realm, and fight in the wars. The constant wars between cities and castles.
    • The Fae Races: re-skinned and re-described to fit the darkness and Underworld quality of the setting. We will see Dryads, Naiads, Nymphs, Fauns, Satyrs, Pixies, Silkies, (non-Lycan) fox-spirits, and some other humanoid types
    • Monsters include – Hags, evil Treants, Wyverns, Catoblepas, minotaur, cyclops, cockatrice, roc, unicorn, hydra and dragon turtle
  • Above the clouds, on a few mountain peaks, is where the real horror is.
  • giger-sorceress
  • The Tyrants of the Castles are in a state of perpetual war.

Task Three: Gather Sources of Inspiration

The initial source of inspiration for the physical layout of the Faerie Realm was this post at Blog of Holding – Unnamed Setting.

a world where there were all these mountain ranges, and all of civilization – the good part of civilization – has been driven up to the tops of these mountains, and then there’s a tremendously thick cloud layer, so wherever the sun shines is where good exists. Everything beneath the cloud layer has been overrun by evil. There are cloud ships that sail out from these mountain-top cities across the clouds, and the adventurers rappel down to the world where they go raiding the ruined cities that used to be down there, looking for gold, metal, and all the kinds of things that they don’t have in these mountaintop cities.

Here is another piece of that article (I recommend you go read it all!):

setting 2: “The Original D&D Setting”

Here’s the other great setting I read this week: The Original D&D Setting, a series of blog posts by Wayne Rossi. This teases out the weirdness that you get if you take the original OD&D books and play its assumptions to the hilt. Griffin-riding Arthurian knights wait inside sinister castles, swamps crawl with dinosaurs, there are Martian creatures in the desert, and undead shamble through cities.

So let’s do it! Let’s take these crazy ideas, re-skin all of the “traditional” fairy creatures into monsters of darkness and horror, and cram them into an exaggerated version of the Implied OD&D Setting.

The map:

Outdoor Survival map for OD&D

The land of Fairie might be called the Dreadlands. I’m still working on it. With all covered by a thick bank of storm clouds. The snow-capped peaks you see on this map are where the other, much nastier, population of Faerie is. This is the “world map” of the Faerie Realm.

  • Each Castle and City will have a Named NPC ruler, a Tyrant, who controls two-to-three bands of hexes (hexes are 5 miles in diameter) around each settlement. There are no other “civilized” settlements.
  • Monsters and creatures inhabit the rest, with varying population densities.
  • Old battlefields, littered with broken arms and armor are found between all of the major settlements.
  • Faerie Cloud Ships?? “cloud ships travel from mountain peak to mountain peak. Maybe the buccaneers and pirates are based on the river, but their ships can ascend to the clouds to attack cloud shipping. Maybe the pirates even have flying submarines.” How many should there be? Who has control of them? Are they something the Tyrants built to fight their enemies. Or something the Tyrants brought from beyond and there are only a few, artifact-style??

We can also imagine and construct the population of the Dreadlands from the old OD&D table, helpfully spelled out by an old post at Swords of Minaria:

By terrain type and encounter odds, this indicates the whole map contains an average of 44 large hordes of men and 41 small parties of heroes. Of the hordes, about 17 are bandits, 12 brigands, 7 nomads, 6 berserkers, 2 dervishes, 2 cavemen, 1 buccaneer and 1 group of river pirates. The heroic parties are equal numbers of fighting-men, clerics and magic-users with an average of 8 individuals per party. All told, this indicates there are 7,588 men roaming the countryside.

  • Bandits and Brigands can be changed to Golems
  • Nomads are servants of the Tyrants (I have an idea for this)
  • and so on. Just re-deploy the listed monsters and Fae creatures
  • We can have some fun creating those “Adventuring Parties”

Now, imagine that the “planar” surface of the Faerie Realm is rippled, and in some places it intersects with the Prime Material, say, the areas in red, below. These would be places where Magic is stronger on the Prime Material, yet weaker in Faerie. These ripples don’t necessarily indicate mountains, just where the two Planes connect.

rippled plane

from comsol.com

(I am thinking that the areas in dark blue are where the Faerie Realm intersects with the Dreamlands…)

Next week we’ll dig deeper into the map, the factions, and some encounter tables.

Read the original article here, How to Campaign, by Gary Gygax. Thanks for reading and please, share a Comment!

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In the Faerie Realm there is a desert, located high on a plateau, between two mountain ranges:

This high, dry plateau is home to a variety of strange and monstrous creatures, as well as two sorts of human-like creatures that call it home. The Thri-Kreen are an insectoid race, looking for all the world like gargantuan praying mantises. Like most creatures of Tuathacoma they are hexapedal, with four “rear” legs and two “fore” legs. The left foreleg is much the same as a typical mantis, with a large, grasping claw. The right arm is longer, with an additional articulated joint and a kind of grasping “hand” at the end, which enables this creature to use tools. They have exceptional darkvision and keen sense of hearing. 

The other intelligent Fae race of the high plateau is the Wemic, a sort of lion-centaur. Wemics are larger and stronger than humans, and can make great leaps with a running start. Their fore claws were extremely sharp. They have mediocre eyesight, including darkvision, hunting instead by their senses of smell and exceptional hearing. The humanoid, anterior portion of a wemic has feline characteristics around their eyes, ears and nose/snout with pointed teeth. Males have thick, lion-like manes, while females sport a tall crest.

Read more Tuathacoma

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TL;DR – This zine is a work of genius, go buy it now. Tales from the Smoking Wyrm on DTRPG

tales from the smoking wyrm dcc zineTales from the Smoking Wyrm is a fanzine inspired not just by the roleplaying game Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC), but also by the wondrous fanzines of the past 40 years! While we focus on DCC, the material produced can be easily translated into any Old School Renaissance (OSR) system.

Issue #1 contains the following articles:

  • Cthulhu as Patron Why choose the lesser of neutrals?

  • Paladins A new take on an old class

  • Ritual Magic, Part I How taking the long road to power can reap huge benefits

  • The Silver Ball A mysterious way to add and remove characters to the game

  • Telepathic Rats Expanded rules for your Mutant Crawl Classics companion

  • Culpepper’s Herbal Herbs for your game

  • Onward Retainer An adventuring comic in the old school style, starring The Legion

  • Gygaxian crossword puzzle A crossword puzzle of all the Gygaxian words in this issue

I’ve been looking into the DCC ruleset as a possible core for the World of Weirth setting, and when I spotted this zine (Cthulhu!!) I decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. I sprang $10 for the print version, I just love the tactile experience of holding a book or magazine. Maybe it’s my OCD. Anyway.

The content of this zine is concise and imaginative. The article on the Paladin is a take I hadn’t seen before, sort of an overlay upon an existing class. This “class effect” take the Paladin concept two steps away from the old AD&D construct of the Christian knight and makes it possible for any class in DCC to ‘multiclass’ as a Paladin. I like this idea. A lot.

The Investiture spell has three awesome tables for determining the success of your Paladin’s quest (oh, yes, there is a quest) and the full impact of the deity’s touch upon the PC.

This raises a question: Should there be a Paladin at Level 1? Or is that something that should be aspired to and worked toward, and gained at a higher level? (Share your thoughts!)

The Cthulhu Article

The section of the zine that really grabbed my attention was that of using Cthulhu as a Patron in your DCC game. I’m working on the magic system for Weirth and Patrons are going to be an important part of it. In here, we get a very flavorful list of Patron Taints, special Spellburn rules (which means every deity should have custom Spellburn rules, yes?) and three new Patron spells with a deliciously watery flavor (salt-watery, of course).

The authors include an Appendix N supplemental reading list for helping you to describe the feelings of dread and horror to your players. This 15-page section is worth the entire purchase price. (I’ll be ordering AN ECSTASY OF FEAR by Pugmire shortly).

The Other Stuff

The NPC has some colorful flavor, and would work well for a recurring character of some kind. I love the layout of the herbal descriptions, that is a lot of work and I am glad to have a couple of new ones to add to my herbal library.

As part of the magic system for Weirth, I am working on a cinematic/pulp fiction description of how mighty rituals are executed. The DCC rulebook only has a blurb about it, so the gang wrote up some rules. They are almost what I am looking for, and are a great inspiration.

This is a great zine, looking forward to grabbing issue #2.

VALUE: 🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇

CREATIVITY: 🧠🧠🧠🧠🧠

 

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Healers? Or spies?

The Raven Goddess has dominion over the realms of Healing, Protection, Initiation and Messengers. She is the Keeper of Secrets and Protector of the Innocent.The priesthood is only open to women, by long-standing tradition, though the ranks of the Exalted and Sages are open to men and women alike.The Sisterhood of the Raven are known for spectacular charity, and are the reason that poverty and beggardom are essentially unknown in Weirth.

The church is open to aid and comfort all of the afflicted, whether through accident, malice or warfare. All who are so healed are given tasks and responsibilities withing the church, in the Laity or in Service. These jobs are meaningful and rewarding, especially as a full education is available to all who pledge their lives to the Raven.

Read more The Sisterhood of the Raven

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On Necromancers:

A necromancer is among the most loathed of all people on Weirth, certainly the most feared and despised of the Magic-Users. With Death and Remembrance playing such an important part in the cultures of Weirth, is is an unforgivable horror to disrupt the path of the spirit.The cultural practices designed to hasten the spirit of the departed to the next world, and to keep their body at rest, are among the most important features of every society. Necromancers break these practices, for personal gain, by taking control of dead bodies, commanding un-departed spirits, and draining the energy from the souls of others, living or dead.

Read more The Necromancer.

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I found a link to a great set of blog posts by Charles A, about a personal challenge to follow the instructions for building a campaign setting laid out by Gary Gygax in 1975.

The article itself is well worth reading, as are the blog posts at Dragons Never Forget.

Over on Itchio, another gamer has made a booklet from the article that is much easier to read, and I’ll be working off that, in this notebook:

Maker campaign builder notebook

(The notebook I found on Amazzon, it looked cool and the description was well-written. It has only one flaw, it is just a collection of blank forms. No instructions or design philosophy notes or anything…)

That is not really a problem, now that I have the five-week guided tour, by Ray Otus, of how to do this crazy thing!

Ray lays out the steps on his blog, the Viridian Scroll: Gygax Challenge

The Five Steps

    • Establish a setting concept. “Step 1 is something you do in your head.” Embrace as many sources of inspiration as you like, but keep your sources hidden to preserve the mystery. Setting  some limits on the scope can be very interesting as long as the players’ imaginations still have a relatively free-reign.
    • Develop the surrounding area. Gygax suggests a large sheet of paper with a scale of 1 mile/hex. Include some interesting terrain, locations, and places to explore, camp, adventure, and set up a base or even a stronghold.
    • Create 1-3 levels of a dungeon. Choose a distinctive theme and/or key feature for each level. Map it, noting transition points to lower levels. Plan where key monsters and treasures will be found.
    • Detail a sizable, nearby town. “Here your players will find lodging, buy equipment, hire mercenaries, seek magical and clerical aid, drink, gamble, and wench.” (Hmm.) Add strange towers, a thieve’s quarter, temples to horrible deities, etc. for flavor.
    • Build the larger cosmos (concurrent with play). Gygax says this step will likely come after play begins. “Most referees work on their campaigns continuously:” adding, changing, and expanding.

I’m looking forward to digging in to this, as I’ve been building my own campaign setting for months, without any real, disciplined structure. The concepts have been all over the map and I am just bouncing from one topic to another. I believe I am ready for a playtest campaign, to shake out the Character Classes…and I’d love to get started ASAP!

There is another Gygax 75 Challenge blog series here: Beyond the Gates of Cygnus

All of my posts on this will be under the tag Gygax 75.

I’m working on a mini for a little community project put together by Tharivol on Twitter.

We are all painting a Naga from Reaper minis. this is a Bones figure, and it’s pretty good quality, except for a lack of detail on the “snout”.

WIP pics from IG

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Getting some painting done

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The Chalice of the Soul

The fastness was razed and its storerooms plundered. The inhabitants were either carried off by the God-Queen’s foul minions or put to the sword. While it is likely that Empress Kallistrate was able to recover many artifacts and relics of the golden age of Jamul, including the fabled Library, it is certain that she never found the Gadikios Asturanas – The Chalice of the Soul.

This Chalice is described as a large metal cup, over a foot tall, wrought of gold, with two handles like wings on either side. Between the handles, the bowl of the cup is engraved and inlaid with precious stones. Its value simply as a treasure is incalculable. However, its value as a magical artifact is truly beyond compare.

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Several game systems have a “Fate” mechanic, wherein players can alter die rolls and/or change the course of a scenario from bad to good (or at least better). In the “Age of Conan” supplements to OD&D by Jason Vey, there are some interesting rules for Fate which will be modified for this setting.

Characters begin the game with three Fate Points. They will gain d4+3 points when gaining each level.

Fate points can be “spent” to alter certain conditions:

One Fate Point

  • +1 die “Advantage” roll (before a roll is made) (NOT for Spell failure)
  • +1 die at “Disadvantage” (AFTER a roll is made, and failed) (NOT for Spell failure)
  • Creating a “Lucky Break” plot twist to assist the PC/Party to get out of a jam

Two Fate Points

  • Automatically pass a Saving Throw (instead of rolling)
  • Automatically pass an Ability Check (instead of rolling)
  • Call upon an “Inner Reserve” to heal 1/2 of the HP damage taken in the previous round
  • Sacrifice an item carried on their person to avoid a Critical Hit (before a damage roll)

Three Fate Points

  • Negate the results of a Spell Failure Roll
  • Heal damage beyond zero HP to return to 1 HP, in Stable condition
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Here is some reading material for your weekend!

From The Other Side

Adventures in Hyperborea

Hat tip to Jason Vey for sharing these with me.

So if I know ANYTHING at all about Conan, likely it came from Jason Vey. In addition to being a top rate game designer, he is a Master’s level scholar on Robert E. Howard.  So when he shares something related to Conan, or Howard or realted topics, I pay attention.

This week he shared this with me, Adventures of the Hyborian Age. This is an older site with adventures for the Mongoose d20 Conan game.  Jason is using this material for his OD&D-based Conan game which sounds fantastic.

Yes, the Age of Conan OD&D supplements are AMAZING.
Here is a long list of Adventures for the Hyborian Age at Xoth.net
That should keep you busy for a while!
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