Showing posts from June, 2016

Fantasy Map Review - A Teaser for Erce

I've been stalling on finishing my  Map Review Series  - Given that the last one to review is my own. I am a bit shy and self-conscious about it really, given the body of work I have reviewed prior to it. Anyway, I probably should just accept it will never be finished and get around to sharing it. Until then, here is a teaser to share with players for the Calmir Eastwilds, one of the Borderland regions in Erce and one of the prime campaign areas Here is a snapshot of the whole setting and where the Eastwilds fit in.

Now you too can use Alignment Languages

Back in the day, when I thought alignments were stupid and confining to character development and lawful/chaotic made the least sense of all, nothing was more contrived than alignment languages . From the Rules Cyclopedia: Each alignment has a secret language of pass- words, hand signals, and other body motions. Player characters and intelligent monsters always know their alignment languages. They will also recognize when another alignment language is being spoken, but will not understand it. Alignment languages have no written form. A character may not learn a different alignment language unless he changes alignments. In such a case, the character forgets the old alignment language and starts using the new one immediately. So because of your philosophical convictions, you learn how to speak a new language. Right, way to go putting everything in black and white. I wondered if anyone ever actually used this bizarre device at the table. Of course, since then I've done a

Humanoids, Part III: Kobolds

Kobolds wrap up this little mini series on humanoids. Not because they merit a special place or anything. Really, it's just that they didn' fit into the previous two and they have just enough going for them to be mentioned anyway. I should say in advance: It's not a generous treatment. Kobolds, as the lowest hit die humanoid on the block, get the dumpster treatment. With goblins feyed up, made a bit more spooky and capable, Kobolds are the ones left to fill another niche. A quick look at the  wiki page for Kobolds  shows that kobolds play a very different role than goblins: They are house spirits, mining spirits, sailing spirits, performing menial chores for humanity. In other words, they are a race connected with civilization far more so than the mythic wilderness. And generally, in the garbage end of the hierarchy. Intelligent rats. They are basically sapient vermin. Kobolds in Erce are found in every major city in the west. They live in sewers and slum

Humanoids, Part II: Trolls

This is a followup to  Giving Humanoids a Raison d'ĂȘtre , where I cover the Goblins Bugbears, Ogres and trolls. Or simply: Trolls. Let's throw in hill giants, ogre magi (Onis) and hags for good measure. The humanoids discussed in the previous entry were, in a sense, write-ups of  Gygaxian Naturalist  critters. In this article, the remaining ones will be those of a decidedly more mythic  bend. I've compiled them all under the label: Trolls. I've never loved the D&D troll. As a critter, it is a fine piece of work. Everybody fears and loathes regeneration. But trolls, at least as a Scandinavian, has unavoidable mythic connotations to me that Poul Anderson's strange concoction does not meet in any shape or form. The D&D 'troll' is wonderful Chaos Beast no doubt, but it is not mythic. And trolls are mythic. Instead, I've stripped the D&D troll of its rank and title and assigned it to some others critters of mythic origin who could really

Four Maxims for World Building

This is a re-post of an article I originally posted at Strolen's Citadel , which ended up featured in, Issue 441 as well. I am posting it here as it still informs my general approach to worldbuilding. I thought I’d share here a short list of four maxims that I use for good fantasy world building to flesh it out in a believable way that makes a setting come to life as a distinct world. 1. Internal Consistency, not Realism , is the benchmark of a believable fantasy world. You don’t need to make your world realistic to make it believable. What is key is that the elements in your world are internally consistent. Whenever you add an element to your campaign, be at a race, city, country or person, always ask yourself the following questions: Where did it come from? How does it affect the elements around it? How do the elements around it affect it? Also take time once in a while to consider how the various layers of your world interacts. If ogr