Thursday, May 30, 2024

BIS: Maps of Gumania

 This is not one of the promised side dishes to my megawildernesscrawl project Before I Sleep. Instead, this is the maps for each normal-type country in the continent of Gumania, where we set our scene. In addition to some familiar dungeon mapping iconograpy, there are two common symbols. Regions with dots slow travel and regions with dashes speed travel. The reasoning for this, as well as the monsters, treasures, special features, and other contents of each region, are in the unpublished and unfinished key. Nevertheless, I hope they serve as proofs of concept and inspiration as Astos and the Lands of Quasqueton were.

My first blueprint

I like to imagine that Ancien is about the size of modern France, but it's hard to judge such things. You can cautiously pass through a region in about a week, and go recklessly through three regions in the same length of time.

These dungeon-style maps tend to make the countries seem boxier than they are in my head. The "R" symbol connecting certain regions indicates that they require a ranger or local guide to traverse between.

City-states like Danbrag and Hepton are especially out-of-scale so it's easier to see their component parts.

Musfold is quiet and peaceful, a good place for twee and soft level 1 PCs to start out.

I didn't think about this until now, but these three small realms represent the seat of power of the three largest empires to ever be in Gumania. Regretably, drawn together they look penile.

Sometimes, you make a major river into its own region and you can see it cut through a realm. Other times, it's not and you can't.

I wanted one country to have long Wilderness Survival-style mountain ranges.
I didn't sweat putting every map into exact scale relative to each other. This is kind of what it would look like if the maps perfectly matched the territory.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Better Not Miss: Picture Pong with deus ex parabola

 deus ex parabola has sent me this picture, in order that I might explain it to her

On False Hearts

One does not need to live in the world for long, and have their hair go white, and grow wrinkles that mark their laughter and scowls, and let their many wounds heal into strong scars like the fabled tree-punching martial artists, to know that there are many heartless among us. They are those with cruel and arbitrary lines, disingenuine and capable of quite impulsive and unmeditated harm.

Out of rare shame, perhaps picked up like a flea from a wandering philosopher or some rough mode of living, some of these heartless creatures fashion for themselves a new heart, but because they are unacquainted with warmth of virtue they fashion lopsided things. Their imitations are mockeries of the heroes and sufferers they found in old storybooks, the ones they called stupid, simplistic, and unbelievable.

The heart, built with no medical knowledge, has its usual caricature-shape. It glows through the chest of the craftsperson, but they are relieved to find that no one can detect its light for the same reason that they could make it only with the greatest effort and to the least effect. Their embarrassing secret is safe. At this stage, it is usual for the heart to last until the winds of misfortune pick up, and it gutters and dies like a candle in the wind.

Sometimes, it doesn't.

A Class

Requires (paradoxically) a heart.

For every template attained, get +1 to HP and AC.
  • C: Glow
  • D: Shine
Glow: Your chest throbs with an invisible light, cast out to about 15' feet. You can see this invisible light, the light of others of this class, and any other invisible light you may come across. Especially cruel people within this light seem monochromatic to you, and if you wound them the light burns them for an extra +[template] damage.

Shine: Animals who are not hostile to you can see the invisible light in you, reducing the chance they will attack out of startlement. Morally upright animals, like dogs, may seek to help you. If you embrace someone and hold them close to your heart, you can spend any amount of HP to let them regain twice the amount lost. If two members of this class ever found each other, they would grow very close indeed.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

d100 Before I Sleep Adventurers

 Potential retainers or rivals, appropriate to encounter in a tavern or on the road. If an adventurer is of higher level than the PCs, they're unlikely to aid them except at a steep rate. They may offer to make the party retainers instead.

d100 Adventurers, Chancers, Wanderers, Sojourners, Mercenaries, Dogsbodies, Ex Chetera

  1. Grimkel the Glad, a thief 5 of Flaming Country (Kaldrland). Small, stinky, shaved, wearing too many buckles and a coonskin cap. Things just never worked out for him back home, so he hit the bricks. Wields a brace of pilums. 3-in-6 chance of solving mechanical problems. Skills: Open Locks, Contortion, Move Silently, Snares and Alarms, Sapping.
  2. Blanchette, an acrobat 1 of Kise. Slim and sallow like a scarecrow, she pads around in clogs and thick leather gloves. A saboteur of her own relationships, the life of adventure is sure to even her out. Uses a two-headed spear for balance.
  3. Arnau, a mutoid 3 of the Theldon Way (Blazing Wastes). Thin and ever-grinning in a wide-brimmed hat and flower-patterned blouse, he carries all of his belongings in a pile of netting on his back. Has internal ears, a forked tongue, and digitigrade legs. All in all, he figures if you don't overcomplicate things and go where life takes you, it'll all work out. Practicing with a rope dart.
  4. Blawg Backbiter, a magic-user 1 of the Western Levett River (Ancien). Mocking smile full of gold teeth. Barefoot. Former pirate who figures he's too good to waste his life robbing. Confident on a boat. Fine sharkskin gloves that aid in climbing rigging or slapping foes (+1 damage). Knows the spell Tentacle Eruption.
  5. Llorens, a thief 3 of Gironur (Phoenix Land). A country dandy with fancy clothes, a flower-pattern silk ascot, tailed coat, and fine sandals. Possessed of the idle sociopathy of old money. Carries a curved sword. Member of the Ard Plow Society. Skills: Law, Hear Noise, Mob Agitation
  6. Fundrastos, a necromancer 2 of Hepton. Tight black outfit topped by a red cloth face-cylinder. Really toned on the right side, but shriveled on the left. Though it's probably hopeless, she thinks the chancer's career is her best shot to regain her strength again. Carries her father's greatsword, though she cannot use it. Knows Command Dead, Marionette
  7. Hrossketeil, a paladin 2 of Thogenheim. Wears a rawhide suit and carries a shield painted to resemble him deflowering your mother. Nothing seems to go well for him, but it will turn around soon once he finds people he doesn't need to walk on eggshells around.
  8. Matigyr, a druid 5 of Lindel's Mire (Kaldrland). A nauseous, jaundiced goth in a crenelated hood. Displaced in time after a centuries-old massacre, she is over everything except the pursuit of power. Afraid of elves. Knows Entangle, Locate Plant or Animal, Detect Danger, Heat Metal, Obscuring Mist
  9. Segward the Spade, a fighter 1 of Fuacriunwood (Ancien). Oily, unimpressive man who occasionally says the wildest things you've ever heard. Keeps his shirts clean and his clogs shined. Thought his pension would last longer. Will never complain as long as he gets paid. Carries an arming sword, shield, and horn.
  10. Domenec, a ninja 3 of Windborn (Blazing Wastes), pretending to be a simple thief pretending to be a pilgrim. Wears sackcloth robes and soft sandals. Seeks to refine his art and keep his origins secret. Secretly carries tools of the trade disguised as a walking stick, relic-box, trowel, dice, and tarot cards.
  11. Beatriu, a magic-user 3 of Dancaques (Phoenix Land). Wears bright flower-pattern robes and carries a fifteen-foot staff with a gilded holy symbol on it. Member of a secret order called the Scarab-Dancers, she hunts creatures of evil while affecting the air of an unconcerned opportunist. Carries garlic and stakes. Knows Elder Form, Chord of Freedom, Beatriu’s Undead ESP
  12. Candlewine, a bard 2 of Danbrag. Salt-and-pepper goatee perched over a sailor's jumpsuit. Ready to retire from sea life to the presumably staid life of the landlubber wanderer. Disclaims armor.
  13. Leodogari the Raider, a magic-user 3 of Dark Obos (Blazing Wastes). Cross-eyed and jolly, with a beat-up wooden antlered cat helmet. People think that having something is having it safe, and he doesn't mind taking advantage of that. Carries a bushel of four javelins that he can launch with proficiency. Knows Leodogari’s Elastic Orb, Transfer Fear, Mystic Blood
  14. Lancelot, an assassin 1 of Vortinham (Ancien). Wearing a silk dress and gloves, with a crenelated hood. She seeks to learn the way of the world in order to find a cushy position. Carries a harp case full of daggers.
  15. Skapi, a mouse 1 of Thogenmarch (Musfold). Pantsless, with a chain shirt, boobed tabard, and eyepatch. He's no naive mouselad anymore. Carries a cutlass. Good swimmer.
  16. Shazr, a barbarian 4 of the Crimson Steppe (Lyt). With a broad-brimmed hat and gossamer cloak, his appearance conjures shock and suspicion. Seeks work as a caravan guard, or something like it, in order to pay his way. Carries a classic Lytan arquebus, and permits none to touch it but himself.
  17. Ursule, a druid 1 of Feuilponwood (Ancien). Old and scowling like an owl from beneath a crenelated hood. One-handed, she wears a lovingly lacquered prosthetic. Full of wrath for those who wrong the common people, especially the women and children. Carries a switch. Knows Faerie Fire
  18. Ergalf the Breaker, an elf 5 of Old Floe (Kaldrland). Towering, pale, shaved, with a mean-spirited grin. Escaped a prison after a century of waiting, and isn't keen to wait around anymore. Wears a bearded ax and muscled breastplate that doesn't quite fit him. Knows Borrow Hunger, Ergalf’s Spirit Grasp, Magnetic Leap, Cage Field, Stone Magic.
  19. Hila, a thief 2 of the Wardway (Hepton). Malnourished, with a shaved head that's constantly looking over her shoulder, and with crude tattoos. Always running from something. Dressed in a nondescript star-and-moon doublet and high-waisted black trousers. Never surprised by a spell or magical trap. Skills: Hide in Shadows, Open Locks
  20. Payedar, a druid 3 of Empty Sadar. Morose mustachioed man riding a horse with very prominent veins. Always has an eye to enhancing the martial reputation of his people, the Sads. Carries a soldier figurine. Knows Animal Friendship,  Predict Weather, Entangle.
  21. Old Winsor, a fighter 2 of Hepton. Wild-eyed, with a studded leather shirt over a patched sailor's jumpsuit. Don't even explain anything to him, he's in as long as it distracts him from the memory of the bad old days. Expert in feigning death.
  22. Welma, a fighter 1 of Llyllwch (Evardin). Wears a threadbare cloak and many beetle-shaped charms, and wears the haughty expression of someone who was very popular in high school. Realizing she lacks most of the essential skills of life, she will throw herself at anything impressive-seeming. Favors a crossbow and straight-sword.
  23. Gyrd, a thief 2 of Thogenheim. Her hair is messy corona spilling from under a coonskin cap. An escaped thrall, she holds life in an iron grip. Pessimistic. Skills: Contortion, Climb Sheer Surfaces
  24. Turben, a fighter 1 of Kise. Barrel-chested, with gross surgical scars in his forearms and neck. As soon as he hit his first big payday, he got the osteotricians to give him some metal bones and subdermal chains. A classic duelist with a rapier, he counts as wearing medium armor just in his billowy blouse and wide belt.
  25. Agathonice, a magic-user 4 of the Dunes of Hours (Lyt). Squat, with a silvery poncho and prominent forehead. A madwoman who claims to have been born in the time when stars walked the Earth, and to have been a follower of Sol. Depressed but frantic. 2-in-6 chance of knowing forgotten lore about something she finds. Knows Agathonice’s Quartered Gauntlet, Hold Enchantment, Queen of Incendiaries, Sink Tomb
  26. Angelica, a fighter 3 of Boulder Lands (Blazing Wastes). Antlered metal deer helmet, patinating bronze scale shirt, girded green skirt. If you don't have a problem, she don't have a problem. Carries a flanged mace, and if wronged enters a berserk fury, getting a second attack each round which must be used— if not on an enemy, an ally. If not on an ally, herself.
  27. Lavach, a magic-user 1 of Elyard in Mortelmarais (Ancien). Sparrow-like expression. Welts cover her hands, concealed by black gloves. Teacher's pet to all other magicians and seeks to study under them. Wears matched silver daggers on her belt. Can throw both at once. Anosmic. Knows Homeward Escape
  28. Elionor the Lucid, a mutoid 3 of Donk River (Blazing Wastes). Choleric, with a butcher's build. She wears a straw cloak to conceal her third arm. Spent most of her life trying to leave the wastes and knows not where to go. Moves heavily, and when she stands still seems fully dead.
  29. Alfarin, a fighter 3 of Copper Mountain (Breth). Wears a lizard-skin vest and stupid hat over shaggy blond hair. An aggressive bully, and naive. Calls people he doesn't like "ditch-digger," Carries a spear.
  30. Loro the Ashen, a druid 4 of Miserable Riro (Lyt). Dons an ashy cloak and bee mask, and has a tongue tattooed with the Lytan words "DO NOT TRUST". Always trying to learn about what the funny wetlanders say and do. Has 1d4 reptiles on her at any given time. Knows Animal Friendship, Predict Weather, Cure Light Wounds, Barkskin.
  31. Eco the Hater, a fighter 3 of Poisoned River (Blazing Wastes). Withered black tongue from drinking poison, ornate black-and-pink flower-patterned gown. Spits. Hates pirates. Hates thieves. Hates prattling on. Armed with a flanged mace.
  32. Strozzo, a dwarf 1 of Orvea. Constantly sneezing, he wears dark goggles and a bandana over his mouth. Impelled to most feats by the all-powerful need to show someone that they're doing it wrong. Agoraphobic (scared of triangles) but brave.
  33. Aldine, a thief 2 of Danbrag. Wears a gaudy fox-head-hooded blouse with gold-coin-mesh boob window, and high-waisted trousers. Trying to get everyone to call her "Mistress of Chance," she is certain her ship has come in. As an alumna of the porter's guild, she has a sharp appraising eye and can carry as much as two normal people. Has a straight-sword at her side, and draws it often. Skills: Balance, Identify Poison
  34. Ruzi, a magic-user 2 of Danbrag. Pot-bellied and differential, with utmost confidence in himself. Figures his work with the constabulary of Danbrag makes him a shoe-in for any endeavor. Wears a star-and-moon robe and cloth face-cylinder. A regular zonk user, he skips the first turn of every combat. Knows Infiltrator’s Pulse, Wall of Anger
  35. Lily, an illusionist 1 of… somewhere? (Paradise). Dainty, and scowling from fat bruises and welts. Her memories all receded from her, and she chases them like a drunk on the night shore. Often stares suspiciously into a steel mirror.
  36. Seraphene the Lantern, a thief 1 of Guertomb (Ancien). Ferocious expression and bold gait like an intrepid reporter. Scandalously fingerless gloves. Alert for news of the shadow's movements, jealous like a rival mafiosa. Carries a hardened crook and wears a bezoar in a purse around her neck. Skills: Identify Poison
  37. Annaver, a thief 1 of Eungaine, the City of Smoke (Ancien). Compact, with sharp teeth and cloyingly sweet-smelling hair. Counterfeit crenelated forehead tattoo to seem wealthy. Desperate to form a codependent outfit with a cool hideout somewhere underground. Uses a probe-pole. Insects fall asleep when they touch her. Skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces
  38. Emeric the Looker, a fighter 3 of Adoud (Phoenix Land). Blustering gestures in an open buffcoat, with an antlered rabbit helmet. Bored of playing it safe. Also, he wants to meet a real woman. Carries a lucerne hammer.
  39. Hugo Secretfire, a druid 3 of The Pastures of Regret (Blazing Wastes). Has an undertaker's expression and kohl-darkened eyes. An edugogue whose profession is to wander in pursuit of knowledge, he doesn't mind if there's a little excitement every now and then. He would also like to send money back home to his alma mater. Knows Faerie Fire, Predict Weather, Warp Wood
  40. Galti, a thief 3 of the Nukangr in Staring Flats (Breth), though he will claim to be from Gullveig. Small fry with cracked skin and squinting eyes under a wide-brimmed hat, clothed in buckskin. Nominally patrolling for his hidden community to keep wary of the Tiger Lord, he figures it's no crime to have a bit of fun before coming home. Carries a woven-cord flail and is so skilled in climbing he can attack at the same time without penalty. Skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces, Juggling, Ventriloquism
  41. Bold Amfrie, a fighter 1 of Serpent Ridge (Ancien). Burly, with a valiant haircut, mismatched gloves, and piecemeal armor. Looking for any excuse to throw her weight around, but surprisingly well-read. Carries a guisarme, and knows a great kick for when people get too close to use it.
  42. Magrin the Slayer, a technicolor person of Enklabe (Phoenix Land). Dun-colored giant woman with grotesque features, an oversized spear, and a pot metal coat of plates. Would journey with interesting people for free, if not for her professional pride as a mercenary. Carries an oversized star chart holy symbol, and is very superstitious. Stats as ogre.
  43. Flloce, a druid 1 of Sarat (Ancien). Unwashed and hairy guy on stilts, with a hair shirt. Minor functionary of the Wyrlight grove, he cherishes the chance to bully bureaucrats. Always brandishing a knapped stone knife. Knows Speak With Animals
  44. Gefried, a druid 1 of Ashmarch (Ancien). Reedy, balding but with long hair, annoying voice. The same temper and slapdash attitude that made him a poor zealot has served him well as a chancer. Puzzles over a pilgrim's map of the area. Knows Invisibility To Animals
  45. Solveig, a thief 3 of the Ghost Range (Breth), though she will claim to be Gisele, a rustic from Ancien. Plain white tunic, baggy trousers, and mismatched gloves complete an unfortunate haircut. Carefully studying the dangers of the outer world on behalf of her people. 3-in-6 chance of disappearing each day. Skills: Hide in Shadows, Breath Control, Innuendo
  46. Vigdis, a druid 3 of the Mientr people in the Slaking Wood (Breth). Wears a bone nose bar, and various carven tchotchkes hanging from strings. Reckons every choice by whether it will get her ahead in the estimation of a real grade-A asshole. A pacifist herself, her advice is always incredibly violent. Knows Detect Danger, Entangle, Poison
  47. Fatima the Strong, a vampire 3 of Onasudan (Phoenix Land). Wrapped in several layers of fabric, she emerges at night to show she is a buff, queer-coded woman of about thirty. Finds this all so amusing. Hopes to grow strong enough to break her darke sire's thrall over her before he can find her and assert his authority. Carries an umbrella. Accompanied by a carriage that holds her coffin, carriage driver, and lickspittle.
  48. Rivalf the Rugged, a fighter 1 of Benevale (Ancien). Wears an autumn-patterned cloak over his shoulder, lincoln green archer's gloves, and a placard around his neck that says "Pay no royal tax," Laughs too loud. Seeks true companions as brave as himself. Carries a yew bow and bodkin arrows, and if he takes his time, he can always hit a spot precisely.
  49. Martina, a thief 3 of Aslo in Crater Garden (Blazing Wastes). Tall, with bleeding-dry lips and wispy hair. Too annoyed by her countrymen to stay around, too imperious to fit in anywhere. Wears steel-tipped gloves and carries a thorny spear. On a critical hit, the foe must make a save vs death or the head will break off in their heart and kill them instantly. Skills: Appraisal, Balance, Smattering Of Language.
  50. Guda of the Secret Hand, a magic-user 3 of Harmonious Wallask (Breth). Wears scarlet robes with an embroidered six pack, braids his hair, and darkens his irises. Suspicious of others because he is natively shifty. Licks a piece of lead for luck. Knows Guda’s Levitating Fist, Brainwither, Pit Passage
  51. Aberthol, a druid 1 of the Bonfires of Evardin in Coelcerth (Evardin). Wears a crest of vibrant bird feathers over a shabby brown robe, and fletches smooth-tipped arrows with those same feathers. Rants to himself about "pill-laddies", "college jezebels", and other villainous groups that seem to include anyone with a living other than primitivist scavenging and living by skill of arms. Also he hates deer. Knows Animal Friendship.
  52. Culhwch, a gnome 1 of Jasakia (Evardin). Wears a pointed black hat over a grumpy, sun-kissed face. Under that is a placard necklace that reads "WAR FIENDS FUCK OFF". He has heard about the grifts and politicians of the wider world; would like to bite them. Knows Phantasmal Force.
  53. Estriflour the Even-handed, a fighter 1 of Kynel (Evardin). Cheerfully whistling from under an oversized crenelated hood, her dress queers the serf-merchant distinction. Blithely pretends not to understand class distinction or power distance. Carries a guisarme.
  54. Sayadi, a Danbrane fighter 1 of France (Bes). Stocky, with a heavy engraved ax and a wilted flower crown. In deep debt to pirates and honestly fed up with the feast-and-famine of economies anyway.
  55. Feral Gunnvor, a thief 2 of Skritha Mount (Breth). Emaciated and expressionless, she covers herself in the furs of animals she has killed. Claims that her parents were killed by a dragon when she was young, and that she was raised by goats. Fights ferociously with her nails and teeth. Skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces, Balance
  56. Agnes of Many Coins, a thief 2 of Catallopa (Phoenix Land). A woman recently of means, she smirks from under a pile of flower-patterned silks, a fine cape, and many pieces of gaudy jewelry. Certain everything is for sale, she's bound to be cut down to size by other, more dangerous, more experienced thieves if she's not careful. Skills: Open Locks, Juggling
  57. Pep, a fighter 1 of Lake of the Serpents (Blazing Waste). Wears a two-faced antlered wolf helmet to confuse enemies as to the direction he's facing. Constantly playing with a ring or earring. Hates most, fears none— save the living dead, to whom he will bow and beg immediately.
  58. Lyowse, a magic-user 5 of Brightveil (Gravemark). Wears a crenelated hood in hopes of concealing a halo of light which ill suits her otherwise gothy and grubby appearance. She has stolen a wisp of the Coldfire Cathedral's hashmal, and may be consumed by it. She does not know if she is being pursued. Knows Lyowse's Nonflammability, Summon Vulture, Squamous Adaption, Distracting Blast, Fireball 
  59. Lydia Carter, a magic-user 1 of the wandering nomads. Overladen and covered in belts, buckles, and hooks like a Wayne Reynolds pathfinder. Friendly enough, she sulks and molders by campfires, dreaming of revenge on the sister who cheated her out of her inheritance as an influential Wheelwright of Seance (Bes). Skilled in the maintenance and repair of wagons. Knows Tenebral Pit
  60. Jebellien, a thief 1 of Miserable Tolling (Evardin). Proudly wears an open duelist's blouse that shows off several stab wounds directly to her chest. Her head is obscured by a forester's hood. Motivated mostly by the desire to impress the easily impressed— college freshmen, adventuring losers, and so on. She is skilled in moving silently, but as a Tollinger, she is unfailing in the rare art of timing your movement to something loud so as to be undetectable. As a Tollinger budge, she can tell if a piece of clothing is magic by wearing it. Feels sticky, kind of. Skills: Appraisal
  61. Rochen, a nomad of the New in Calm An (Bes). Ever-glaring, she wears unremarkable clothing as though it were an embarrassing costume. Despises the mores of the wider world, but obeys them as she understands them out of extreme yet even-handed cultural relativism. Hopes to bring wealth and renown to her tribe. Stats as dervish, rides a warhorse (Anise), has leather armor, shield, and lance.
  62. Robert the Misericorde, a fighter 6 of Riemar Seat (Gravemark). A slab of a man covered in sheenless mail. Identifies his career as "knight-killer", a profession that has risen in esteem in his native Gravemark. A bastard of man, especially when you're in his power. Carries caltrops for the horses, a guisarme for the knights, and a flower for the ladies.
  63. Avassant the Abroad, a thief 4 of Kaymarch (Coris). Bedraggled, with a bullet hole in the left side of her face. The Lytan shot went in the cheek and out her open mouth. Victim of press-ganging and worse by the garrison of Kaymarch, she has finally escaped. Desperately strikes out for freedom. Skills: Hide in Shadows, Contortion, Move Silently, Smattering of Languages
  64. Rurrier the Ragged, a thief 1 of the New Settlement (Bes). Toothless, hirsute, ragged. Used to do all the thankless tasks for petty nobles, but now sells his work to those he thinks will appreciate him better. You'll pay old Rurrier up-front, won't you, pretty? Carries a probe-pole with a hook on it for angling valuables from second-story windows. Skills: Trap Circumvention
  65. Kaetil the Cockerel, a fighter 3 of Seat (Thognheim). Swaggers about in fine boiled leather that has never seen combat. Calls everyone babe, and always pushes for a leadership position. Boasts that he has painted a little lion on his shield, so when he strikes it will seem life-size to his foes.
  66. The Seer of Swords, a druid 3 of Rue Wood (Blazing Waste). Her eyes are bloodshot and red. Her clothing is donated. Her weapon is a lacquered empty scabbard. Every night, the nightmares last for hours— visions of bloodshed without ending. She frequently makes concerning allusions to future events. Knows Predict Weather, and Detect Danger, Slow Poison
  67. Raquel, an orc 4 of the Tower of Anthrax. Covered from head to toe in cracked and chalky mud. Her straw cape is weighed down by it, and she leaves a trail of dust wherever she goes. Childlike and pretentious.
  68. Americ, an orc 4 of Comporta (Anthrax). Wears a sort of crop-top hastily converted from a purple and gold tabard, an armadillo-back helmet, and a sunflower-pattern belt. A surly mastermind. He carries a flanged mace.
  69. Ambin the Ambler, a ranger 1 of Bes. Thin and cocky, like a cockerel. The effect is enhanced by his stilts and fox-red jerkin. Single-mindedly he leads travelers through dangerous places for pay, he seems to have no internality at all. Carries a surveyor's chain and tripod-mounted measuring tools.
  70. Kohok, a rock baboon of Krenplant (Bes). Clothed only in her fur, a stolen circlet, and a tramp stamp of the word "TATTOO". Will do anything for any reward. Understands but cannot speak human languages. Stats as rock baboon.
  71. Sancho Fatekeeper, a magic-user 1 of Dancaques (Phoenix Land). Portly and jolly fellow, ever-accommodating. Wears a helmet of an antlered, winking pig. Spineless, he will do whatever his employer asks of him. Hopes adventuring will get him away from his two bully sons. Knows Swift Contortions
  72. Sathra, a magic-user 1 of Ring (Danbrag). Her cloth head-cylinder sets her out as a magician, but she will conceal her low level of attainment. Sibilant, snake-like voice and form-concealing star-and-moon gown produces a sense of mystery. If left unsupervised, will seduce the most inconvenient and problematic NPC available. Knows Floating Globes
  73. The Silent Lady, a fighter 1 of Jagadun (Phoenix Land). Withered and scarred by flames, she is covered in thick mail and flower-pattern silks. Does not much speak, but seems to have an enmity for the undead and the unjust. Immune to magical charms, but fire causes her to test morale or flee.
  74. Belcore of the Common Touch, a magic-user 1 of Awawn (Endless Diet). Wears a jerkin in the style of a common man of the road, and is always on about what the man of the road wants and how the man of the road will get by in today's economy. He wears a placard that reads "I speak for the man of the road!" Desperately wants to beat anyone who annoys him and burn anyone who wrongs him. Knows Mettle
  75. Vine the Afflicted, a druid 1 of Free Lapinth (Bes). Wound bandages cover her face, neck, and hands, sealed shut with poultices. She walks on stilts to avoid contaminating the ground, for she is afflicted with a deadly Flaying Sickness, wandering for a cure. Knows Locate Plant or Animal.
  76. Limri the Red, a magic-user 1 of the Bravon people in Lamorack (Bes). Built like a quarry. Bone jewelry, crenelated vest, and worn hands. Says everything like she spits it, but wanders with an eye to doing good. Can dig a grave in ten minutes. Knows Levitate Evil
  77. Llora, a fighter 3 of Glass Harbor (Hepton). Disguised as a man with a bushy beard and wide hat. Has been trying to get into the navy for sex-and-drinking reasons without luck. She brings a lot of experience and practical knowledge, but will stick her hand in the till at every opportunity.
  78. Grybleroise, a druid 1 of Lustre (Bes). Wild-haired and red-nosed. Grubby, venal, reads cards on the side. Knows Predict Weather.
  79. Raelel, a druid 6 of Malagant (Gravemark). Wears a faded motley stitched from scavenged clothes. Her hair is pulled into one massive braid, and her face is pock-marked. Uncouth and eccentric, she haggles with everyone and criticizes every more imposed on her. Carries a screech owl in her wide sleeves. Knows Animal Friendship, Faerie Fire, Barkskin, Create Water, Tree Shape, Call Lightning.
  80. Vivere, a thief 4 of the Mason's Place (Coris). Head half-shaved, in a crenelated hood and threadbare cloak. A hardscrabble youth who had to grow up quick, she harbors a vendetta against the rulers of Coris. Lockpicks, knives, and purse-snippers are secreted in hidden pockets on her person. Skills: Open Locks, Hide in Shadows, Impersonation, Snares and Alarms
  81. Sir Mese, a knight 3 of Ganolf (Gravemark). Ill-formed, and often confused for a mutant. His shield is white, charged with four running black dogs. For this and his appearance he is called the Mongrel Knight, and he has the undeserved reputation of being one of the worse bandit knights on the road. Really just looking for something useful to do.
  82. Donnrarducius, a ranger 1 of Gwelforn Way (Bes). Thick Kisen mustache and a punchable grin set in a grass-green travel cloak. Nosy, and always inviting himself along. Owns an extendable probe-pole.
  83. Hemar, a fighter 1 of the Arrow Lands (Bes). Tall, with a graying auburn goatee, he laughs often and says little. Leans on his yew longbow as he listens to a story. Nothing pleases him more than to cut a braggart down to size. On a windy day, he can fire an arrow so the wind bends it to strike a target at a right angle. Carries a bezoar in a sack around his throat.
  84. Estrivien, a fighter 3 of Saladar (Gravemark). Frowning and miserable, she leans on her guisarme and adjusts her ill-fitting crested helmet. Her armor is piecemeal and she is unused to its upkeep. A deserter, she must balance her desire for a low profile with her empty belly.
  85. Hoeburn the Black, a magic-user 4 of Sunken Eedoe (Coris), though he will claim to be from Dunsimer. Wears a robe of black and purple stripes, as well as a muzzle (for ranting in tongues). Generally a total shyster, but wants to maintain an air of mystery. Knows Banish Confusion (Feed Confusion), Biting Jaws, Transmute Meal, Repel Steel
  86. Pendramour, an orbseeker 4 of Sagramor (Coris). Once-fine clothes and a faded crenelated forehead tattoo framing her handsome features disclose that she was once a woman of means. A stormcrow and bringer of disquiet, a bestower of unhappy burdens, she's the kind of person a Wormtongue would think of a Gandalf, if you know my meaning. Knows Bleed, Infect Wound, Weatherlapse, Soul Conduit
  87. Owen Fairlips, a druid 2 of Godidog Way (Evardin). Half-naked man whose fuzzy chest is covered in beetle charms of various sorts. Will heavily imply that his father was a literal dog. If left unsupervised, will seduce the most inconvenient and problematic NPC available. Knows Faerie Fire, Speak with Animals
  88. Derana the Bell-Ringer, a fighter 4 of Grante Bridge (Coris). Former toll-taker, she still wears the uniform— mail armor, yellow tabard with a spitting pink dragon on the chest, and a helmet resembling a jolly wizard. Astute enough to despair that things are getting so bad almost everywhere, and wants to have a strong band with her as things get worse.
  89. Valenti, a thief 2 of the Wardway (Hepton). Steps about like a cockerel in his fine sandals, and glares about with kohled eyes. If approached, he affects a casual air. "Heh, I could do that easy," Falls in love with practically everyone he meets. Skills: Law, Balance
  90. Letoadadain, a frogman of Sully Fen (Coris). Wears smart-looking mail soaked with slime, the shoulders painted a faded purple and black. Once a hopeless mercenary, he has been reborn into a druidic cult, and pays his deference to star and wildman alike. An exile in his own land : ( Stats as bullywug.
  91. Sir Vortirent, a knight 6 of Fos Barrens (Gravemark). Handsome, with a beatific face and elegant auburn hair. His shield is green, charged with a white horn. A man of true nobility, he is humble with the humble and loyal to the brave. He will grasp for any tool against the shadow, no matter how doubtful or how cursed.
  92. Rhedyn Longskin, a druid 1 of Cymru (Evardin). Flinty and stout, with throbbing blue tattoos of snakes and mushrooms and so on. Impatient with worldly distractions, she seeks the hidden places where the inken snakes roll and slither, and the fungal images emit spores which show her strange things. Carries a worm pilgrim's map showing nearby shrines and stone circles. Knows Animal Friendship.
  93. Hastein, a fighter 3 of Raphonavegr (Kaldrland). A quiet man, still and reliable as the pine. He's seen and heard many things in the deep woods, and knows the difference between the dim and the dark, the odd and the impossible, the young and the ageless. Carries a bearded greataxe, and knows when to stow it.
  94. Esyda the Kind, a cleric 1 of the Endless Diet. Dresses in unfashionable and unflattering lumpy robes, for humility, her head surmounted by a spherical white hat with a gormless expression painted on it. A sadist. Knows Detect Evil
  95. Long Rerdishig, a thief 1 of Galas in Weald (Bes). Wears flowy clothes that catch horribly in the wind and a veil that covers his face, as well as bright rosewood clogs. That way, when he slips into his second-story uniform, no one recognizes him. Former informant for the powerful ranger Antossar, his conscience started acting up and he pulled up stakes. Skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces
  96. Timoonard, a druid 4 of Jacinth Shadow (Coris). Round and prosperous, like a pillbug, in his gray chitin cloak. Doesn't take his job too seriously but is dead serious about getting a pint and a warm bed. Knows Faerie Fire, Predict Weather, Barkskin, Heat Metal.
  97. Jerteron, a magic-user 1 of Llyllwch (Evardin). Sunken-eyed and sneering, this shrimp of a man wears a pair of matched silver blades on his belt as though daring someone to mess with him. Hater of the jungle and the quiet places, lover of civilization (cheap wine, chamber pots, and sexy puppet shows). Ever in search of new friends to look down on third parties with. Knows Waste to Light
  98. Belenean One-Hand, a fighter 4 of Palamedes (Coris). Thick, with battered plate armor and a balding head. His off-hand is an oversized serrated metal hook. Former lieutenant to the Dungeon Master in the Halls of Hate, he needs to make himself a dog to a new leader and fast if he wants to escape justice.
  99. Birnrion the Generous, a thief 6 of the Black Gates of Tor (Gravemark). A reedy, shaved man in fine clothes, with a wide belt and a curved sidesword. Morbid in the extreme, and sees death in its shades of nascence. Immune to energy drain. When he dies, a skeleton will hatch from his body. Skills: Law, Appraisal, Mob Agitation, Forgery, Drug Tolerance, Camouflage
  100. Sir Chide, a knight 5 of other lands. Called the Crossways Knight for the yellow crossbar on his shield, he is a quixotic wanderer who claims to come from another world and serve another god. Pragmatic, somber, and fearful of wonders and profanities alike.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Before I Sleep: Ancién

 Continuing with my plan to post "side dishes" to my megawildernesscrawl project, here go my notes about the troubled kingdom of Ancién. It is the most direct spiritual successor to Astos, my first attempt at a country-as-dungeon. This side dish includes a procedure for its typically inconclusive civil wars, as well as some notes and notable items.


A "prosperous" "nation" that claims to be the oldest remaining kingdom in the world. It belongs to the Kisic culture, which means people here have French or Norman or Arthurian names, sleep standing up, and love to wear gloves all the time. Soldiers of the crown wear tabards of quartered blue and white, because they're good guys. Therefore, people of Ancién are some of the least aware that they live in a collapsing state.

The queen, now at the age when she must worry about throwing off an entrenched regent, is kept at the sidelines as two massive theological movements have suddenly become listless and reckless following the coincidental(?) death of their respective leaders. Between the Urbanites, who are worldly, and the Furious, who are violent adherents of the fundamentals, there are many would-be martyrs looking for someone to direct them.

If you're making a PC in Ancién, you can make them an assassin instead of one of the base classes. This is a bad omen.

from the Adventures of Peter Peterkin

Civil War Procedure

  • A war is always initiated by a pretender faction, traditionally with some flashy coup attempt that goes awry. Each faction has a claimant with a Legitimacy somewhere between 2 and 12 based on how much people think you deserve your war goal, traditionally the Ancient Throne.
  • Specific regions contribute War Points to the side they swear to. Extra factors like foreign armies can add WP too.
  • At the start of a season, each side comes up with a plan, then rolls a d20 and tries to get under their Legitimacy. If they fail, check the Region Loyalty Table for the result of that roll and if the named region is part of their faction, it goes rogue or switches sides.
  • If the legitimacy roll failed, repeat the last step.
  • If a rogue region is about to get their goose cooked, they can scramble and try to start or join another faction.
  • While this is happening, PCs and major NPCs might be going on a little adventure or something else that will be factored in.
  • Make opposed d20+WP rolls for each part of a faction’s plans that results in a battle or contest. When the aggressor fails, they can’t advance that part of their plan for the rest of the season. You can divide your forces, but that should reduce the size of the dice you roll or something. DM figure it out.
  • The default result of a civil war, by the math, is a stalemate. A faction can keep a full army fed, supplied, and mobilized for about [22 minus WP] seasons before they have to start eating each other. If all factions fall into this before making a peace agreement, we fall into the time of warlords, all fought on the skirmish level with normal D&D rules.

Region Loyalty Table (and WP contribution)
  1. Togea Lowland (1 WP)
  2. Chauce (1 WP)
  3. Invraisem (1 WP)
  4. Uradel (3 WP)
  5. Eungaine, the City of Smoke (1 WP)
  6. Vortinham, the Prison-City (1 WP)
  7. The Broadwoodland (1 WP)
  8. Guertomb (1 WP)
  9. Ashmarch (2 WP)
  10. Galefir Hills (2 WP)
  11. Benevale (1 WP)
  12. Eastern Levett River (1 WP)
  13. Feuilponwood (1 WP)
  14. Sarat (1 WP)
  15. Benevale (1 WP)
  16. Western Levett River (2 WP)
  17. Serpent Ridge (1 WP)
  18. Benevale (1 WP)
  19. Ashmarch (2 WP)
  20. Gwynedure (3 WP)

War Relics

  • Starblood Mantle: slowly shapes your mind into that of Nemesis.  Save each season or get -1 WIS and +1 cleric level. You may choose to fail the save. Losing the Mantle turns you into a wretched hunter seeking to recover it. +3 Legitimacy and +1 WP and your last region will never go rogue.
  • Fawrion Forte: first sword of the first killer of Ancien. A humbly made +1 starmetal arming sword. When its wielder would be damaged by a weapon or projectile, they roll a d12. If they get above their current HP, the sword deflects the harm, be it matter or magic. No scabbard can encompass the weapon. +3 legitimacy, but if the wielder fights for another’s claim, that claimant gets -1 legitimacy.
  • The Book of Opposites: write the name of your enemies in its endless pages, and keep writing them. +1 WP, somehow...
  • Wand of Rivaval’s Pox: worn, blackened cedar handle. Leaves an ashen stain on anything it touches. Magicians can use it to fire a spray of clear, shoe-polish-scented drops. Those touched must save or lose 1d6 maximum HP and 1 Legitimacy. 2d6 charges. Multiple uses on the same person have more dire effects.
  • Avaburn Stone: a flat, chalky rock. Place it on the seat of a throne, and the Avaburn Maidens will come. Do as they say, and they will fight for you; the region over which the throne presides will get +1 WP. Defy them three times, and they will take you away.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

With His O'ertaking Wings (d20 Ships and Captains)

 Much of my creative energy has been going to my countries-as-megadugeon, or "megawildernesscrawl", project, a setting I have begun to call Before I Sleep. As I worked on the first draft of my key, I noticed an old pattern. I was sure that if I started to post excerpts from this project, like a kingdom with a little region map and key, it was sure to be outdated almost instantly as I added and changed elements. So for now, I'm going to try to stick to posting the side dishes-- procedures, classes, and fun tables that may be interesting on their own. If you want to see my current draft of the overall setting, warts and all, just message me on the discord or something. 

from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates

This is a table of notable sailing ships you might find in the big ports, like Danbrag or outside of Hepton. When the player characters have need of transport, the DM should roll two or three times on the table to see who is available to transport them on short notice. If PCs make a habit of traveling by sea, it will feel like a small world indeed. Inspired in part by how much fun it was to write captains for the Sceptre-Shaken World.

d20 Ships and Captains

  1. The Renegade, a large sailing ship captained by Willard Last of Danbrag (Bard 1). Perhaps the last honorable captain on these waters, he would rather die than betray anyone on his ship. Crew of 30, stats as merchants.
  2. The Dicemaker, a small sailing ship captained by Ronvoine the Rat of Coris (Thief 4). A gambler with connections in the criminal underworld of every port, his ship has several discrete smuggler's holds. 1-in-6 chance in every port that one of his annoyed and dangerous patrons introduces an extra wrinkle into his current job. Crew of 10, stats as brigands.
  3. The Grandee, a small sailing ship captained by Terla Goldeneye of Danbrag (Thief 2). A woman of means who made her fortune through years as a porter and thief-finder. Greedy, but with a spine and integrity. Crew of 15, stats as normal humans.
  4. The Dare-Treader, a small sailing ship captained by Hidalga Ageda De La Rosa of Phoenix Land (Fighter 2). She has read all the manuals and studied all the knots, and Ageda plans to excel in seacraft just as she has excelled in everything— tireless preparation, careful financing, and a deep well of natural talent. Superstitious as any lifelong sailor, she subtly passes a holy symbol by any prospective passenger for signs of vampirism. Crew of 18, stats as dervishes.
  5. The Sexy Woman, a small warship captained by Den Happenstance of Hepton (Fighter 1). A senseless, lecherous drunk, Happenstance cuts as imposing a figure as ever a Heptonian officer ever did. His greatest skill is in taking credit, and his career is buoyed by the thankless work of his second, Half-Dead Jim. Imagines that he is in a deep rivalry/romance with the Atlas's Selvine. Crew of 40, stats as goblins.
  6. Impunity, a small warship captained by Branwenn Gayblade of Evardin (Fighter 3). A soggy, vaguely pathetic raider from a family of raiders, she never seems to get any respect. Would kill for a true friend, but would probably betray that friend to make her father proud. Her ship has a subtle ram in its prow, carved to resemble the head of a squid. Crew of 20, stats as buccaneers.
  7. The Fishmonger, a small sailing ship captained by Peg Leg Pew of Hepton (Fighter 3). Massive, barrel-chested, small-minded, hard-hearted is Peg Leg Pew. Passengers who play on his pride have an alright time. Those who wrong him are chained to a special chamber in the depths of his ship that floods with high tides. His ship has a rare "cannonne," a deep metal chamber filled with blasting powder and ignited to fire metal bullets and shrapnel. Crew of 20, stats as bandits.
  8. Beatrice, a large sailing ship captained by Boska Blackbird of Danbrag (Thief 5). An inveterate scoundrel, Boska is likely to betray or abandon her passengers if there is profit in it. There's a 1-in-6 chance at every port that she'll run into one of her many more powerful enemies. Crew of 30, stats as pirates.
  9. The Red Cent, a small whaling ship captained by The Harbormaster of Phoenix Land (Fighter 2). A shadowy figure commonly believed to be some former crusader or insane wanderer, they carry passengers to fund their hunt for a sea creature which has scuttled two of their previous vessels. Crew of 25, stats as berserkers.
  10. The Linerunner, a small sailing ship captained by Davriel Karlin of Danbrag (Thief 2/Fighter 1). During a dispute between Danbrag's guild of porters and its constabulary, the port was effectively shut down and the people suffered. Karlin, a smuggler, managed to sneak in much needed food to the porters at risk of his own neck. For this, his station has been elevated from a common chancer to a merchant of means. He retains the common touch (constant over-the-top nautical similes and saying "ahoy".) Crew of 20, stats as bandits.
  11. Moonslave, a large sailing ship captained by Sea-Mistress Calbride of Hepton (Necromancer 2). Capable and proper, she was convinced to come out of retirement to sail again. Unbeknownst to her, many of her recently-hired crew are veterans of the finally-slain dread pirate MaClu, and there is a 1-in-6 chance every time treasure is on the line that her boatswain, Tarsal, will lead a mutiny. Crew of 35, stats as buccaneers.
  12. Morgana's Revenge, a large sailing ship captained by Rhisiart Newblood of Evardin (Fighter 4). A retired adventurer, Newblood named his ship for an old travel companion of his, a magic-user of no small talent. Fair and open-minded, he is nevertheless susceptible to the vices of his former profession: foolish risks, forgetfulness, and extremely poor judgements of character. Crew of 20, stats as nomads.
  13. Atlas, a longship captained by Selvine of Danbrag (Fighter 3).Those who get to know Selvine find her to be a true renaissance woman. Her interest is in exploration, and her ship is well-stocked for long voyages and many surprises. Reduce the effects of weather on this ship by one step. Crew of 90, stats as merchants.
  14. The Starfish, a large warship captained by Clever Cefni of Evardin (Rogue 4). Works under a letter of mark for Danbrag, mostly robbing or capturing Heptonian vessels. Makes a little extra money getting passengers and cargo where it needs to go. If hired in Hepton, he is there under a flag of truce and to exchange prisoners. His greatest wish is to capture and unmask the Red Avenger. Crew of 40, stats as pirates.
  15. The Shark, a small sailing ship captained by Hema of Danbrag (fighter 2). The leader of an unsavory crew, she seeks revenge against the woman who cut off her good left arm in a battle almost two decades hence— one Calbride of the Moonslave. Her ship moves with surprising quiet through surprisingly shallow waters. Crew of 15, stats as pirates.
  16. Medusa, a longship captained by Osk Balborgsdottir of Thognheim (Fighter 3). She and her crew of old salts are under a deep curse, and never can reach their home city. They eat lotus flowers which give them visions of their homeland. If rolled in the port of Thognheim, no it wasn't. Crew of 80, stats as veterans.
  17. The Red Tide, a large sailing ship captained by Lady Craven of no claimed home port, but by the designs of her ship and style of her attire it must be Hepton (Thief 4). Though affecting the persona of a vain fool who loves only baubles and petty rumor, Craven is a vigilante and master of disguise, and if some injustice has been done at her latest port (1-in-6 chance) or if the PCs are wronged by some tyrannical act, she will don the mask of the Scarlet Avenger to set it to right. Crew of 25, stats as thieves 1.
  18. The Northwind, a small warship of sleek design captained by Thorsic of Bes (Fighter 3). He despises the chaotic and oppressive mercantilism of Danbrag, and leads a fleet of one against them. His ship has been enchanted with the ability to submerge itself until only its crow's nest is above the water, allowing for great stealth at night. If hired in Danbrag, he is disguised as Captain Jack Stormwrack of The Reliable. Crew of 30, stats as berserkers.
  19. Seaward, a small sailing ship captained by Kendris of Hepton (Magic-User 1). Tricked into the sailing life by his more ambitious sisters to get him out of the way, Kendris believes he is ready for anything life throws at him. His crew fervently attempts to save him from his own undoing. Crew of 13, stats as merchants.
  20. Fancy Dancer, a small sailing ship captained by Much of Hepton (Fighter 4). How a barking mandrill-like monster such as Much gained a ship and how she managed to win the zealous devotion of her crew is unknown. A black-hearted bunch, they are not above press-ganging those who seem useful. Crew of 15, stats as neanderthals.