Showing posts from May, 2016

Humanoids, Part I: Giving Humanoids a Raison d'être

Another issue frequently blogged about in the D&D and OSR blogosphere is the neverending variety of humanoids in D&D and their vague distinctions. Goblins,hobgoblins,bugbears,orcs,gnolls,kobolds,orogs,etc. It seems Gygax basically made a critter for each minor increment of hit dice - Their differing roles otherwise being trivial. I've struggled myself with this as well - What really distinguishes orcs from hobgoblins? What is the point of having kobolds and goblins? I think I have landed at what I feel is satisfactory writeup for the various humanoids that makes them distinct and gives me a reason to have them in the world. Partly because I've identified what I think is one of the main issues with the various humanoids - It is never clearly defined how they relate differently to humanity. I found that once I started thinking about these races having a history and then focusing on their ecology as they impact humanity, gave me inspiration to start writin

Maxims for Writing the History of a World

Fantasy history is a tricky thing. As a teenager,I remember pouring the timelines and stories of worlds like Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Mystara and Faerun - The inconsistencies were a point of fascination, a sign that the world was not fully 'known'. Studying the history of the setting was a big part of the setting for me. These days, I have to admit I find it less interesting. Mostly because I am no longer as enchanted by the history of a setting in and of itself, but rather what it brings to the present setting. 1st Maxim: Only tell the history of how the present day came to be. This is an important maxim when writing history, that I failed to observe for a long time writing the timeline for Erce. It was hopelessly detailed with my own little vignettes of the ancients, but far too little of it told the reader anything about the present day of the setting.  2nd Maxim: Preserve the sense of Mystery. Writing history with a sense of mystery tends to make for more ev

Fantasy Map Review VI: Nentir Vale

For links to all instalments in this series,  go here . For the sixth instalment, we visit Nentir Vale, the default setting of 4e. I must admit, I steered well clear of 4e for a long time. But the fluff of it possibly the strongest OSR credentials of any editions. It is eminent and at times simply brilliant. First Impressions:  I like it. As a starting DM I feel like this map is much more relate-able than the other maps. This evokes feelings more like the  Domain of Greyhawk , where the local campaign asserts its relevance evocatively on the map. Further Thoughts:  In scale, it is more reminiscent of  Middle Earth , but, unlike ME, it has a sense of  locations  that give PCs a sense of the area they are exploring. Although not as flavorful as  ME, it does give a sense of being enough for a local campaign for ant adventurers who aren't too afflicted with wanderlust. For the far thinking explorer it falls short quickly. But it knows what it wants to be. And, unlike 4e forg