Final Post

New Years Day 2018, fin.

Everything has a course For me this Blog has run it's course. It's time to close the door. I have a few thoughts about why  now i...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

(Of Villages and Names) A random chart of Village names (D30) and some rumors about each town.(D6)

Of villages and Names:
Roll 1d30 for the name of the  town then 1d6 for why the town is named in such a manner, or some other  tidbit about the place.
  1. Black Wash
    1. A silty flood brings black soil to the area every  year. They grow excellent crops.
    2. All of the houses are stained a chalky black each spring with a mixture of  melted snow and the winter's ashes,
    3. The river runs black once a year and that is the only time a certain breed of  immature eel can be harvested.
    4. This  town is known for it's fine ink produced as a bi-product of the ell harvest mentioned in entry 3.
    5. There is a legend that this town is where a raven first bathed the darkness out of it's feathers to become a dove. There is still a ceremony held on the spring solstice in which  a raven is caged overnight and when the sun come up the  next day  the village children emerge from their homes to find a white dove in it's place. Gifts are then exchanged. 
    6. It is said that a demon was once slain in the northern most fields of this town. It's black blood left a scar of black stone (soap stone) in the field that can still be seen to this day.
  2. Shades Run
    1. A massive stone outcropping near the town casts a shadow which plunges the  town into  twilight like darkness every day from 2 pm until 3:15 pm.
    2. It is said the old mounds near the  town are a path which  the  shades of ancient kings use to travel between this world and the next.
    3. The people who live here have a strange skin tone, not any shade of brown, pink, or tan but rather a deep grey that can be quite disconcerting to outsiders, they say it is from the  water which flows from a cave to the north of town. 
    4. This area lies in the  shadow of a large mountain, in fact its northern most buildings never see the light of day and are held constantly in a state of  gloom. Due to this strange natural phenomena it makes the perfect annual meeting place for a council of vampire elders.
    5. It is said that a well known thief called the Shade was once apprehended in this town. Rumor has it he stashed a treasure map somewhere near town.
    6. On the winter solstice every one in this town dresses in long black robes and parade around the  town after dark. It is said one person from the village must always die that night, whether by natural or unnatural causes to insure a good harvest in the next year.
  3. Mouldy Hollow
    1. Deep in a  valley with a micro climate all to itself this  town is known to grow and harvest moulds of all kinds. Most residents wear mouth and nose covering  masks whenever they are outside and have a strange discolorations on the skin from constant exposure to  strange spores. An apothecary's dream.
    2. This area is known for it's large tree bound fungus patches. The  huge disk shaped fungi are a delicacy and a major  export for the area. As such the groves of trees on which the mushrooms grow are heavily guarded.
    3. There is a great library in this town which has been all but forgotten. It is in disrepair, and the books are falling apart. It may still hold secrets but to the towns folk it's just an eyesore. The only  reason they don't just burn the books for fuel is that they are convinced the building is guarded by an ancient spirit.
    4. nestled deep in a valley this  town  sits atop a grotto formed originally by a natural spring and fashioned into a larger cave by the inhabitants. Once a year the  youths of the village are sent into the  grotto to harvest fibers from silk weed plants that occur naturally within the damp grotto. Sometimes one or two don't make it back.
    5. There is a large pod In the  center of town which smells strongly of mushrooms. It has been there for a as long as anyone can remember. No One knows what it is or where ti came from. It used to  be thought of as a lucky talisman, but lately it has been rumbling and shaking. Now the townspeople are afraid to go near it.
    6. Traditionally the people of the town wear their hair in high buns which they keep damp and tight under this cowls. This causes a particular fungus to take root in the hair which is considered highly valuable to the  towns shaman. The shaman can supposedly read a person's fate based on the types of fungus they carry. The shaman uses this knowledge to arrange marriages and  treat disease. Outsiders who do not grow fungus in their hair are known as "Faceless" by the  people of the town and are never fully trusted.
  4. Bog-A-Duck
    1. This town rests in the middle of a vast bog, legend has it the  bog  only became wet when a large stone fell from the  sky and pierced the land  causing water to well up from below.
    2. This town  lies near a brackish inlet, where the ground is sandy and always soft. The people net fish from the shore but have to always be on the lookout for signs of giant geoduck like clams that can be dangerous if disturbed. (good eating though)
    3. The local swamp is the home to a very rare breed of Duck. These duck's feathers are used to make quills that can then be used to write spell scrolls. The quills are only  effective while the duck is still alive and free.
    4. I the nearby forest there is a huge weathered stone carved into the  form of a water foul. Legend says it is the  grave marker of a long forgotten king.
    5. The bogs surrounding this town are known for their excellent hunting. Unfortunately they are also held as sacred by a local  group of dryads.
    6. This boggy area was once attached by a narrow inlet to the sea. It is said that many years ago a pirate had the inlet blocked and caused this area to turn into a brackish bog. Many stories relate how the pirate hid a great deal of wealth deep in the bog. This town has sprung up to supply people venturing into the bog to look for that treasure.
  5. Green Glade
    1. There is a field in this town that never dies, never grows fallow, even in the dead of winter it is always green. There could be many reasons for this strange phenomenon, but the townsfolk do not want the  area disturbed.
    2. In one of those instances where a place is given a name that does not  directly relate to it's appearance "Green Glade" is actually a terrible place to grow crops. The town is built on a large salt deposit that has been mined for  hundreds of years. The  salt has brought the town great wealth but also great conflict, as rival interests fight for control of the resource.
    3. The town is  situated in an idyllic forest, wiht a small brook running throgh the center of town, and  good land in the surrounding hills. It would be a perfect if not a bit common  small agricultural town. It would be if it weren't for the recent sightings of strange tall  man like creatures in the  surrounding woods, and the sudden loss of several head of cattle.
    4. The people of Green Glade are paranoid about the forest. They don't enter the forest, they don't hunt in the forest, they don't even talk about the forest. The town is  built in a one square mile open glade with  just a few buildings and a couple of homesteads.
    5. Legend has it that the bustling town of Green glade was founded when a warrior named Halrth felled a flying green dragon directly above the current sight of the town. When the dragon fell it killed both  itself and Halrth on impact, carving the glade out of the forest, and collapsing a mountain down on itself. Te resulting plume of dust and dirt was said to blot out the sun for miles and  cause an early winter that year.
      Halrath died wearing his  ancestral armor and his mighty sword Golo-gin was lodged in the beast's heart. Treasure seekers have been looking for these artifacts in the caves under and around Green Glade ever since.
    6. One of the finest Apothecaries in the  realm lives here in green glade. It is said she will mix potions to close any wound, cure the strongest of poisons and even reverse death itself. It is also said she asks a great deal from  those for whom she would work.
  6. Hroum's Circle
    1. In the surrounding woods there are five stone circles. No one knows who built them or why they were built. Each one is  six feet across and  each stone is as tall as a man's knee.
    2. Hroum was a carnival man. He  toured the known world with his  caravan of oddities and amusements. Hroum's circle was his home base. It was here that Hroum put together this show and here is where is traveling  group lived in the cold months. Unfortunately all that came to an end when Hroum was tragically killed and eaten in front of an audience by  Olli the trained Owlbear. The town and the people who worked the shows still remain here at Hroum circle. The group is seemingly adrift without a organizational mastermind to lead them.
    3. This town is home to the  church of saint Hroum. The church holds one relic that being the top of the  saints sacred skull. It is said that anyone who places the top of the skull on their own head will have a vision of their immediate past and how a decision they made will possibly affect their future.
    4. Once a year this  town is visited by a strange halo of light. The locals call it Hroum's circle and claim the shade of the light tells them what kind of luck the town will have in the coming year. Shades of blue denote bad luck , shades of  yellow or white denote good luck. Scholars think the  halo may be some kind of residual spell effect left over from a powerful casting performed many years ago, but no one knows for sure.
    5. This is a quickly growing blacksmithing town located on an intersection of three important trade routes. The  town is dominated by  three competing  Blacksmithing  groups all of which have their main shops located around a circular village green in the center of town. The area is rife with intrigue centered on the theft and exchange of blacksmithing secrets.
    6. The town in built on a  pond.  The pond is 100 meters across, perfectly round and, unknowably deep.  It was once the  sport of royalty to see what kind of strange fish could be brought up from its dark cold depths. But that was a generation ago and the town is once again out of favor and rural. Though the  pond still remains, a perfect dark blue circle.
  7. Holy Whitlocks
    1. This town is made up of families who have lived and farmed this land for generations. Oddly they are almost exclusively fair haired, and pale of complexion. When a dark haired child is born it is considered a good omen and they are groomed for a position as a town leader from an early age. This often causes jealousy among local families.
    2. This town lies on the sight of a holy  grove of rare white  Whitlock  trees. The area is protected by a coven of  female earth priestess. These priestesses claim to have great power of healing, though the extent of their abilities is unknown. What is known is that the bark of the whitlock trees has a strong analgesic effect. A quest must always be completed before the priestesses will provide the bark to any outsider.
    3. This town has been  ground zero for a kind of art renaissance. There are two competing painters living in the town. Rezaldn a master of  still life and Portraits. His works depicting the  local lords and ladies has earned him a solid living and a following among the elite. Kalan a fine landscape artist, religious painter and sculptor has also earned quite the following. His frescoes in the river temple have been trumpeted as a "raising of the bar" where spiritual  depictions are concerned.
      Naturally the two men dislike each other, and they compete on every level. They compete with growing schools of students and under studies. They compete for public contracts and the fickle attention of rich patrons. All of this has led to a boom in the art business around Holy Whitlocks. Pigment salesmen come from all around the far flung lands showing their wares. A paper mill has been built, and a bronze foundry to satisfy the needs a of a growing sculptural community. Art vendors, collectors and, admirers have been swarming the town during the warm months. All the while the  town grows in beauty,  renown and, wealth. who knows where such an outpouring of creativity may leed.
    4. Whitlock was the  last name of a monk that founded the town several centuries ago. His body lies under the town in a crypt. It did any way. Recently the body of this  saint has been stolen, or otherwise removed. Locally there is a cottage business selling Whitlock relics. The most common of these are shards of bone from  "Whitlock's Fingers." Allegedly taken from the  hand with which he first sowed a seed in the glade that would become Holy Whitlock's shared farm plots. These relics are universally fakes, but many people earnestly believe the fingers or hand of the saint has very real magical power.
    5. This town is host to a fairly popular festival each year. The festival which sprung up around the  blooming of  the whitlock trees. The Festival used to be about fertility and good harvest. Drinking grain alcohol spiked with a slightly hallucinogenic extract from the whitlocks blooms has always been part of the  celebrations. In the  past decade however, the festival has changed from one of  calm celebration to one of chaotic public drunkenness and bacchanalian revelry.
    6. Whitlocks is a name, and Holy is the traditional name of the first born daughters in the Whitllocks family. In this town  governorship passes from first born daughter to  the next first born daughter in the whitlocks family. However this generation there is no first born daughter, the current Holy Whitlocks had a son. Cleverly the current governor has decided to raise her first son as a daughter.
      The nurse who attended the  birth  was struck down with  a sudden illness and died. The child is rarely seen without the mother. The father has moved away, sent off on business by the governor. There have been none of the normal celebratory dances or dinners in the  child's 6 years of life. The people of the town are starting to sense things are a bit odd. 
  8. Knights Fissure
    1. The land here is scarred by a particularly large and violent battle that took place twenty years ago. The town has grown up on the outskirts of the battle field mostly due to the  prevalence of  people coming to pick the corpses that still turn up after heavy rains.
    2. The  fissure that runs directly through the center of this town was supposedly made by  the  lance of Horgor, a god like knight worshiped in the area. Wood splinters fished out of the  fissure are highly sought after for placement in the  handles of  lances and the  pommels of swords. Over the years all of the  wood fragments that are easy to reach have been used up leading to young men being lowered on ropes deeper and deeper into the fissure to find relics. There are many counterfeit splinters of  Horgor's have been  produced.
    3. Most of the men here are born with an odd birth defect. Thier thumbs are born fused to their index fingers on their right hand. It is a simple act to take a heated blade and cut the  skin fusing the two digits together, but it leaves a nasty scar. This scar has become a symbol of the town and is known as the Knight's Fissure.
    4. This small walled village was once pillaged by raiders from the nearby hills. A wide V shaped scar can still be seen where the  ball was breached the latter repaired. The town gets it's name from this event wherein one lone knight gave his life defending the town slaying many  raiders as they poured through the fissure.
    5. There is a fissure running through the center of the town. It's 150 feet long, 30 feet wide at it's center, full of water, and  extremely deep. The  towns folk fish  in it, and have been know to pull up some very  odd fish from time to time. Boats have been rowed to the center of the  fissure and  weights lowered but the  true bottom has never been recorded. Each year they have a contest to see if anyone can jump over the  fissure at it's widest point unassisted. No one ever has.
    6. The patron saint of the town is a knight known as Lareh. Lareth was once renowned as the greatest  warrior in the  land. She had the ability to both  make war with great skill at arms, and also to heal the sick or wounded by laying on hands. She was killed while still in her youth by a marauding ice giant. The  giant was mortally wounded but managed a blow that sundered Lareth's shield and caved in her breastplate, killing her instantly. To this day her body is held in the local church. Still in her shattered armor she shows no sign of age or decay. It is said her presence can still sometimes heal the sick, and that visions of Lareh are not uncommon.
  9. Center Point
    1. This town is named because it was built at the exact center of the king's holdings. However that was many years ago, the  town is no longer in the center of any existing kingdom, the name has just stuck. the town can often be found at the center of old maps.
    2. This hill fort and adjoining walled village is the centerpiece of a defensive line of such forts that stretches along the  northern most border of these land holdings. It is famous for producing seasoned warriors and for being the most attacked hill fort in the  frontier.
    3. Center point is a town with an issue. People are getting old. It seems that Center point being so close to nearby larger towns has lost most of it's young people to  better opportunities in city centers. So the town is slowly dying. The one good part of this is that there are several land plots and  homes for sale by the village council, cheap.
    4. This high walled village built on a bluff overlooking a river has been used for many years as a seat of local power. Often the current baron will use siege equipment to threaten  and extort river traffic.
    5. Center point is a large walled military academy run by  local  barron's. The finest men at arms train here to learn military tactics and the latest in military technology. The town does not fall under any  particular jurisdiction as it is  shared amongst several allied houses for the betterment of their mutual defense. There have been rumors lately however that the  instructors and the men of the point have become too powerful a group in the own right and may have machinations of their own.
    6. Luscious point a trade and  carnival operator  founded this town as a business center and  trading post nearly  50 years ago. He positioned it  along a busy river and  built several garishly designed and brightly painted  buildings all along the  riverfront. For a while it was a success. Mr Point  grew rich as he watched his town become a trade center in the region. As these things go however Point grew old, and the money  flowing into the point attracted a criminal element. Not wanting to deal with the extortion and organised crime creeping into  his little town, Point packed up and moved to a nearby city , living out his days in comfort. Center Point however fell into  disrepair, a shell of it's self, the  town was turned over to  beggars, prostitutes and  criminals. The market the casino, the bars are all still open , but it is far form the center of trade Mr point originally  envisioned.
  10. Whisper Trees
    1. It is said that if  a person sits quietly and listens carefully to the wind blowing through the  towns orchards one can learn all of the townspeople's secrets.
    2. The  mayor of this town is the descendant of a human male and the dryad who fell in love. This mixed fey / human lineage has granted the mayor extremely long life, and the ability to speak with fey creatures. He has run the  town peacefully for a century and no one has ever tried to unseat him. He is now quite old however and recently has made some questionable decisions.
    3. This ancient town grew up around a  druid's grove. The  grove still stands an island of peace in the center of a bustling village. The druids are long gone, but the massive oaks that stand in the grove are said to have voices of their own. The space would be very valuable to the town , but so far no one has has been willing to or breave enough to defile the old grove.
    4. The town's council holds a raucous meeting once a month where townsfolk air grievances and council members  argue their opinions. With all the  yelling and insulting going on, nothing ever gets done. The town, (which is  actually named "Pinefalls") gets it's nickname from all of the hunting trips council members take on weekends, where in deals actually get made among the "whispering trees."
    5. This area is boggy, and attracts a large number of will-o-wisps. Those native to the  small village seem absolutely immune to the wisps, walking past them as if they were street lights. Travelers however must be  wary or get lured into the bog.
    6. This village is nestled deep in the  forest. It's only claims to fame are its well preserved bear skins that local  hunters provide the market yearly, and that it is the closest town to where the ents hold their solstice entmoot. When the moot is in session the whole town vibrates with a low "whispering noise."
  11. Murder
    1. Every time a caravan showed up at this town the caravan master would turn up dead. Eventually the traders who ran caravans gave the town the name "Murder" and stopped going there altogether.
    2. The town was founded as a penal colony many generations ago. It is said most of the  towns folk are descendants of prisoners and as such are not to be trusted. One thing is for sure the  town the home to a rough bunch.
    3. This town is known as a dueling ground, with no laws against the killing of another man within it's border. The town draws people from all over who have scores to settle. It is  naturally a very dangerous place.
    4. The town was settled by a group of farmers who wanted nothing to do with the outside world. They wanted a life tending the land, far removed from the burdens of magic, wealth, or technology. To keep people away when ever asked they  told outsiders they were "from a place called Murder." Strangely this only served to attract the wrong element to the town.
    5. This town was the birthplace of  famous mass murderer Harold "Fingerless" Grennald. Grennald was said to have killed 25 people  in the  town  over the course of one hard winter.
    6. This town attracts and holds a large number of crows. The town is well known for it  and the people of the  town embrace the birds as good luck charms. Many a city thief has traveled to Murder just to purchase one of the currently highly fashionable trained crows.
  12. Red Chute
    1. This area was once known for its iron mines. All of the soil here is tinted red by traces of iron and generally a rich clay in consistency. There are many old mines here ready to be explored.
    2. This  creek side town often floods in the spring. Owing to this the local buildings are built on  tall stone pillars. During the  floods a certain  breed of  mollusk will attach itself to these pillars. Once the waters recede the mollusk shells bake in the sun and turn a deep red. These shells are then used by the locals to grind for dye and polish for jewelry. The deep red powder can also be mixed with  a small amount of water to make very believable  fake blood.
    3. This small valley town was founded during a border skirmish when the local lord needed expand his defensive opportunities within his mountains. The lord wanted to be able to flank any approaching troops using the  broader pass to the west from this small valley. To make this possible the lord sent his army (known as red capes due to their  uniforms) to construct a earthworks ramp and causeway  bridging the valley to the pass below. the monumental work was completed but the invasion never came, leaving the  town and the structures nearly abandoned. 
    4. Native People who lived in these forests long before any of the current settlers would use this narrow valley to funnel  game  towards their hunters. The name "Red Chute" comes from the number of and blood spilled by the elk and other large game that could be felled at the valleys narrowest point.
    5. This whole valley carpeted with red ferns. The ferns are plentiful  here, but it is the  only known place they grow. Legend has it the spores of this fern have both magical and medicinal properties.
    6. A fast running brook  runs along the  northern  border of the  village. About  500 yards from the village proper the brook plunges over a narrow fall. A the edge of this fall is a bright red perfectly round red stone, some  three feet in diameter. The locals call it the "gnomes Cap" or the "elf stone". No one knows exactly where it came from , but it is definitely particular.
  13. Rune hills
    1. This town is surrounded by tall rocky hills. These hills hold shallow caves and outcroppings which are covered with ancient dwarf runes. These runes are both carved and  drawn with  ocher taken out of local stream beds. No one knows what the runes mean. Treasure hunters have scoured the hills for decades with no success.
    2. This town is built on top of a hill which is also a huge man made tomb complex. The hill is in the shape of the elven rune for "life" and is well over 20 meters tall in some locations. The small town perched on top of the Rune Hill is completely devoted to the exploration, or exploitation of the  tombs below. There are scholars,  archaeologists, adventurers, tomb robbers just to name a few.  
    3. Just outside of town is a cluster of hills. These hills are chalky in consistency with only a thin layer of sod covering the white earth below. In this sod a large rune of warning has been carved making it visible for miles around. The rune is especially visible from the  town in early dawn. The  rune is the calling card of a small, and last local tribe of hill giants that call the hills their home. It is basically a huge "posted Keep out" sign. So far the town has lived in the shadow of the hills peacefully. A recent drought has been hard on livestock, making the town's folk nervous that the hill giants might be having a similar issue and come looking for food.
    4. The surrounding  hills are home to a specific variety of  olive tree. The trees grow slowly and are known for their bent, gnarled branches. Soothsayers form the  town  leed people into the woods, pick out a tree and use it as an oracle to the clients future. They say  a person's future can be seen in the bends of the branches and  the placement of the  olives.
    5. This town is overrun by angry imps. The population has been run out, the imps control the  whole area. They have no leadership, they have no agenda, they simply want to cause chaos. Where did they come from ? D100 imps, nasty little buggers to.
    6. To the north of the village is a flat topped hill which offers a commanding view of the  surrounding  area. On the hill's top there are old foundations and a few large cut stones which have strange symbols carved into their  surfaces. The stones are obviously old, but not much else is known about them. The hilltop is  more a local curiosity than anything else. The perfect subject for many a bar stool debate.
  14. Calling Falls
    1. The town was once the center of a sport known as "pig calling." The local woods and nearby fields are home to a breed of rodent known as "whistle Pigs*." These medium sized rodents will stand on their hind quarter and produce a shrill warning cry whenever they hear a whistle. A local would blow a whistle and when the little suckers would stand up, another local would shoot it with a bow. Simple fun sport that kept the "pig" population down. That was until a local duchess decided she thought the  pigs are "cute" and made them the symbol of her land holdings and illegal to hunt. Now the town is overrun, the animals extensive burrows are undercutting the buildings, the crops are chewed to the ground, and no one can keep any thing made of glass in one piece due to the packs of pigs whistling all the time. Seems a crappy place to live.
    2. At some point in history the stones below this town's mill have taken on  mythical  relevance to the townspeople. Each year the stones turn and roll slightly  due to the action of the water coming over the mills dam. the  towns people read the markings on the stones and the patterns of moss around the  stones. From this information they  claim to be able to glean such information as fertility of the people in the town, weather patterns for the upcoming year, and the quality of harvest to expect.
    3. This border town town has routed a small stream in such a way that it tumbles into a deep gully just west of the town's center. Under these falls the townspeople built a large flue and horn system. In times of emergency the flue can be opened so that water from the falls rushes through it. The falling water pushes air through the horn section of the  apparatus and creates a deep bellowing call that can be heard echoing out of the gully for miles.
    4. The town is under an escarpment. A dry riverbed flows over the escarpment and cuts a deep trough through the center of town. Here there were once mighty falls but now all that is left is  scree rubble and deep indentations. Men have gotten rich searching the vast rubble pile for things washed over the falls in days past.
    5. This town is quite industrial  due to a series of twelve water wheels built along a cascading fall that flows through the town. Millars, metalsmiths using water hammers, brewers, and saw mills all flourish here.
    6. This town is small and very secluded. It's built one hundred feet up the side of long cliff face in a great cave behind a wide and vigorous waterfall.
  15. Delvers Reach
    1. Placed between the  upper and lower bend of the Hillsvalk river this town is known for  it's delicious river crabs. Giant Crabs and mutants are not uncommon.
    2. This town  is the home of a young woman who lives in a two room stone building near the center of town. She is said to be a talented oracle. The whole town provide for and protects her. She will scry the future only for those she deems worthwhile.
    3. This town is home to a cave the locals refer to as Delvers Reach. It is said to be the  deepest cave in all the land. The towns folk keep it covered with a heavy plate of iron so that nothing can come out of the cave. Each year they issue a strictly limited number of permits for groups to go into the cave "At their own risk." each year some don't come back.
    4. Founded by Samiius Delikver this town was once the farthest flung outpost of civilisation. No one knows why Samiius chose this spot way off in the woods to  settle with his family and  small group of followers. 
    5. There is a large oak sign placed at both the  east and northwest approaches to the town. It reads "Ruin Delvers Wanted, Ask for Bezilnaz!"
    6. This was once a bustling area for  silver mining. The town sprung up overnight then slowly declined as most of the silver veins ran dry. There are still a few old prospectors, a bar, some folks too poor or tired to move away and enough empty buildings to hide a small army. There could still be silver out there in the  mountains. Rumors of lost mines and  hidden fortunes abound.
  16. Pan Delver
    1. Was once under the control of a petty wizard and some bad actors he had hired. Now freed from this despot, the town is in its first stages of rebuilding.
    2. The nearby  river was once known for it's rich gold panning industry. Drought in the past several years has dropped the  rivers levels to a mere trickle. Some of the elders say, that  damming further up the river might be to blame for the historically low water levels.
    3. This village was once much larger and more prosperous. Sixty years ago the town was leveled during a battle between two rival lords and their armies. The people who now live in this small village are one generation removed from those who survived and refused to leave. All of their interactions are colored by this background.
    4. This town's ground is  a thin crust of  stone and a bit of topsoil. Underneath is a vast dome shaped cave. The villagers know this, only farm on the outskirts of the village, don't dig basements, and quickly remove trees that begin growing in the confines of the village.  Any visitor will notice there are no waggons allowed on the town's streets. Sometimes a hollow booming noise can be heard that seems to come from everywhere.
    5. Everyone in this town wears a shade of red all of the time. They say it is bad luck not to, those who wear other colors tend to disappear.
    6. A once mighty, now very old and grumpy warrior named Orin lives here. He is hard to talk to but  people still try get him to say where he stashed his girdle of giant strength. So far he just tells them to get off his lawn.
  17. Barrows Gate
    1. The people of this town worship a totem that was built by a local wizard to keep away  evil spirits. The gift the totem with valuables and food during the yearly harvest ceremony.  Truth is once a year after the wizard has collected the tributes, he draws lots each  inscribed with a towns person's name. Whichever towns person's name he pulls he sends an invisible stalker to kill that unfortunate sole. In this way he can tell the rest of the town's people that that person had not given enough and  the  spirits were angered. The pact with the  invisible stalker is that it may take any gems donated and the victim must be random. In a twist this year the wizard draw the name of a woman he has been pursuing romanticly for  well over a year. The wizard is willing to  hire adventures to banish the stalker and destroy the idle just to save his love. Naturally he would want utmost discretion.
    2. Just outside of the town lies the burial mound of some long forgotten kings. Every year there is a festival held called the  festival of lights, where in  lanterns are lit on each mound to show respect to those with in. This year a group of strangers arrived just before the festival claiming to be the  descendants of those under the mounds.
    3. The king constructed this town solely to house the  workers who are crafting his tomb. They are building a large barrow mound in a nearby plain. Rumors persist that the builders are hiding the king's vast wealth underground then killing the workers.
    4. This small village is built  among ancient burial sites. The  peasants who live here leave offering of raw meat on their door steps every 7th night which the undead greedily devour.
    5. The main portion of this village is built underground in a huge man made warnen like structure which from a distance appears as a tall round hill.
    6. ONce a year smoke rises mysteriously form the low hills surrounding this town.
  18. Foxcroft
    1. Annually the local gentry hold their fox hunt in this village. It is a great economic boon to the area and  is a great time to get close to the local lords and ladies.
    2. The Foxcroft family own and run much of the town in a feudal system of indentured servitude. It is said that the  oldest member of the family  can even change into the form of a large Fox to move unnoticed through the  fields and spy on the peasants. This rumor is supported by a ban on small game trapping  in the  area enforced by the Foxcrofts, and that the Lord of Foxcroft manor always seems to know about trouble brewing among the locals before it happens.
    3. This town was once just a collection of small rented farms. The renting families worked the land until a few years ago when they banded together to buy the land from their masters. The farm families came up with an inordinate amount of gold to make the purchase which has lead to talk that there may have been a horde or a mine found somewhere among the communal properties.
    4. The  founder of this  town was said to be a tiefling. The dark stain of  his demonic heritage is everywhere.
    5. Lord Anthonin Foxcroft ruled this land for  many years. His death at the age of  85 left a void in the lives of his tenants and the local gentry. Unfortunately  he died while leaving no heir and  having written no will. His holdings included the  fine village, a mill, a manor, and several families of  productive tenants. This hold extends to the  river on in the west and to the town line of  Bull Trace. These fin holdings are up for bid, come one come all.
    6. This village is built completely under a large dome shaped pete mound. The only  thing that would tell a passerby that there is a village in this location are  several dozen clay chimneys sticking out of a large hill , occasionally puffing smoke.
  19. Dragons Heel
    1. The church in this town has an alter fashioned from one large slab of bone. The altar is known as the dragos heel, and it is said that a baby baptised on the  dragons heel will have a charmed life.
    2. This village is built wholly in a large crater that is said to be  part of a footprint left by the celestial dragon. The  town has built this mythology  up so completely over the years that every part of the residents life revolves around dragon rituals and  celestial worship.
    3. No one knows why the town is named dragons heel. If asked villagers will shrug and just say "that's how it is." A traditional  desert in the county is a sweet bread with one end shaped to resemble a rough dragon's head. Known as the "dragon Heel." It is thought to be a not so clever play on words regarding the  town's name, but the recipe and preparation is  ancient and might bespeak things left forgotten.
    4. This town is built at the base of  a massive cave riddled spire of stone. Once every  75 years young dragons congregate at these caves for reasons known only to themselves. This is known locally as the  "Dragons Heel."  Last time the dragon's came there was a record number of them, people edgy about what the next heel might bring.
    5. Every house in this village has a "dragon roost" built in to front yard. These are essentially  large ornate dog houses that the  villagers believe bring good luck to the family  by  providing  young dragons a place to shelter during bad weather.
    6. This village is home to the  Dragon Heel Tavern, "where every drink comes with a punch  to the face." It is a lawless filthy  hole, where an adventurer can find trouble, opportunity or both. 
  20. Thunder Bed
    1. This town is built on the back of a huge tortious. The  town people keep it feed by growing  large quantities of cabban, a beach ball sized green leafy vegetable which is  too coarse for human consumption but nothing to a massive  tortoise. The creature is peace full, does to seem to even notice the  town and  rests for so long in one place that it becomes covered in moss, dirt, and  bushes. Once every decade it sirs and the  whole town moves to a new location.
      The townspeople try to build wooden barriers near the creature's head which will direct it away from other towns and out of harm's way. Each time the tortoise moves a new priest is named who can (by burning and ingesting the thick wax that forms near the animal's eyes,) commune with the ageless, unknowably wise creature and keep it out of harms way. 
    2. Directly south of this town is the lagoon into which pours the tallest and most massive waterfall in the  known lands. Due to the towns proximity to the falls the town vibrates, is surrounded by a low pitched rumble at all times and, is constantly shrouded in damp mists and fog that rolls through  the wilderness for miles around. No one knows what lies behind the  falls, or how deep the lagoon could be. The area is thought of as a place of great natural /spiritual power.
    3. The Lore of the land tells: The thunder god battled the first Gorgon. The god had blindfolded himself while they fought and rode upon his cloud chariot. The  Gorgon earth bound hurled snakes full of venom from her sling. It was at this location that the  chariot crashed, a thorn bush  ripping the blindfold from the  god and exposing him to the gorgon's gaze. The cloud chariot now turned to stone can still be seen in the massive bulbous rock formation in the center of town.  Thorn Bushes and venomous snakes are also exceedingly common in the area. Thunderstorms exceedingly uncommon.
    4. A local craftsman  builds and sells fine beds. These beds are said to be of such fine craftsmanship that they can produce spell like effects. Everything from sleep spells, dancing lights and seduction effects have been reported. The  Craftsman , one Glenn Ulrichter claims no magical ability saying only, "I build em what you do in em is yer own business."
    5. This town is built on a long ago evaporated lake bed. The area is rife with seismic activity, so much so that small tremors can be felt hourly and a sizeable quake occurs at least once a month. Because of the  constant shaking the  houses here are built of a light bamboo like  material and on long flexible stilts some times upwards of eight foot in the  air. Because of this construction technique the  buildings sway with the  quakes and rarely fall over. the constantly vibrating sands  will often issue forth minerals and gems of great quality. the  economy of the town is dedicated to the constant panning,  sifting and screening of the sands in an effort to gather these treasures.
    6. This  town is embedded on a mountain top which is constantly  thrashed by violent thunderstorms. The town consists of a few dozen devout monks who worship the storm in silence. At the foot of the mountain a party is hired monthly to bring supplies up to the monks, it is an exceptionally difficult journey which pays well.
  21. Shells Dale
    1. This whole  town is built on a massive pile of discarded shells left over from a once booming and now forgotten industry of  dye making. Two huge rusted iron vats still rest in a field just outside of town their real use long lost to the people of the village.
    2. Town is home to a grotto covered in shell mosaics. A well known and highly regarded oracle lives here.
    3. The  town is named after Annmarie Shell. She was the wife of a copper magnate who founded the mine which economically provided for the  town. Annmarie was visiting her husband at the mine when an accident took her life. Her grief stricken husband sold the mine soon after. The new owners had nothing but  misfortune with the mine and it was soon shuttered. As a result the town went into a depression. A new investor has taken an interest in the mine and may have need of  hearty types to  explore it's depths and make sure recommencing operations would be safe. 
    4. The town lies at the oceans edge. The  white beaches and rolling  dunes nearby are known for their beautiful sea shells. People come from all around to gather them and a brisk trade in polished shells has grown up around the town. 
    5. The  houses in this tiny sea side village are made from absolutely massive crab shells.. Where the hell did they come from? Ah forget it, lets go check the beach.
    6. This town is home to a large naval instillation. It is very secretive , walled off from the rest of the town and strictly off limits to  towns folk. The people in town will all say they see strange lights and hear noises like thunder coming from the base at night , but during the day it is always deathly silent. The  ruling government has banned fishing on this stretch of coast because of this the town is slowly dying as people move away.
  22. Bull town
    1. Twice year a massive cattle drive goes through town bringing news from the north, and trade items from the south. The drive is the biggest event in the  year for the  town, all the  locals turn out to greet and sell goods to the trail worn cattlemen.
    2. The  town s known for the  size and quality of their cattle. The are also known to hire  adventurers to  guard their prize bulls which are often the targets of thieves and poachers.
    3. Annually this  town hosts a running of the  bulls much like the real world running at Pamplona. In this festival a single bull is set loose at the  top of a hill in town and allowed to  run to the  bottom. Any males whose sixteenth birthday  was in the previous year are set to run ahead of the  bull. There is not much room to  get out of the way and the boys are essentially running for the lives. The race ends at a town square where the  bull is generality slaughtered and  roasted for a feast the following day. Many spectators come to cheer the boys on and take part in the  feast. 
    4. This isolated town is inhabited by a race of Minotaur.
    5. This town was the  sight of a battle during a war between rival land barons nearly 2 centuries ago. The  town square still features several trenches that were dug by defending warriors.  The town gets it's name from legendary  group of warriors who supposedly  rode trained bulls into battle which  beat back several charges from opposing  horse carvery. These legends sound like tall tales, but the towns name has stuck.  
    6. There is a massive copper bull statue in the center of town a gift granted by near by city  to this town for it's contributions to the  cities recent war efforts. The statue is ugly and the  towns people would like nothing better that for it to disappear.
  23. Bomere Bank
    1. Nothing more than a hill fort, this town is named for the  steep earthwork  embankment that precedes its north wall. The  earth work is mysterious as it is said to predate the modern town by centuries.
    2. The first ever bank was founded here over a hundred years ago. It has been destroyed by earthquakes, robbed, burnt down and rebuilt many times. It now stands like a large granite tomb in the center of town. It's owners having sealed the vaults and shuttered the doors before leaving the banking businesses once and for all.
    3. Named for the large off shore sand bank that created an nearly perfect crystal clear natural harbor just off shore. The town has grown up around ocean trade and has become rich in the  past century. Rich lords and ladies from all over come here to mingle and vacation, often boating in from far way lands. A wealthy melting pot rife whit  intrigue and socialite plotting.  
    4. This large town is the epicenter of rebellion and plotting against the kings government. As such it is difficult to tell if you are speaking with an actual revolutionary, a spy for the  crown, or a confused bystander. Everyone has a plot or an opinion.
    5. Located deep in a valley this small farming village is the home to vast stretches moors and a shallow lake. For  hundreds of years the locals have been  chopping out the peat and finding  the mummified remains of  strange humanoids and  the bones of large creatures. This all went unnoticed and unreported until recently when a large stone slab covered with  strange writing was unearthed deep in the moors.  
    6. This  town lies along a deep fast flowing river. It is known as a place where the giant Bomere river eels are hunted. Many warriors have come and tried their luck versus the massive beasts in the past.
  24. Stag Ride
    1. The Village founder located a spring on the sight of the village while hunting. He had shot a Stag with his bow and had to track the  wounded beast for some time before it finally fell. When he approaches a place were the  giant ed the fallen animal, it jummped to it's feet and dragged the  man to the location of the future village before running off into the woods. The stag has become the symbol of the town and a legendary creature in the area.
    2. This area is home to many large stags. It has become the  hunting grounds of dukes and kings, bringing a great deal of wealth and intrigue to the area. Just last season a duke was accidentally shot with a bow, though not fatally. Another lord's footman went missing.
    3. This village is known for raising and  training  stags as mounts for  it's people. The winters are harsh in this area and the  hardy stags are better adapted to travel in the  mountains than horses.
    4. On of the village farmers unearthed several  marble carved statues of Staggs from a field near town. The consensus is that they were once part of an ancient temple, the rest is a mystery.
    5. The  town is home to an organization of mounted warriors known as "the Stagg's ride." For a price these well trained and well equipped warriors will escort clients through the difficult terrain surrounding the town, hold deposits of valuables, grant loans, and transport goods. All for a small fee of course.
    6. The river which runs through these lands is very shallow just to the west of the town. This  section of  wide shallow water is often used as a crossing by game and travelers. While It would seem a boon to  have such a convenient crossing and  ample hunting opportunity  right next door the  townspeople don't see it that way. They have outlawed killing any game near or in the river. Their logic for better or worse is that if the  people over hunt the  river banks the  game will go elsewhere and  the lowlands will have too little game to hunt as the winter's approach. Over the years this logic has served them well. Each  year near the end of summer a large quantity of Deer, Elk, and moose travel across the river and on into the lowlands where they are hunted for food in the fall. The Stagg Ride crossing has become a sacred event and a guarded resource among the folks in the town.
      Recently  hunters from other nearby holdings have started to hear rumors about easy picking  in the late summer near the river crossing and poaching is on the  rise forcing the town to become even more guarded and militant.
  25. Beholders Lash
    1. The Apothecary in this town has a collection of 20 very rare Beholder eyelashes. She will not part with them, and will not tell where she got them, but they are the only known specimens of their type. She sometimes hire adventurer types to guard her store when she is away, as the lashes have been the target of thieves in the past.
    2. The people of this town are the descendants of slaves that escaped from the tyranny of  a beholder clan. The town keeps the name so that the memory of their suffering is not lost on future generations.
    3. The founder of this town was a cleric who  suffered greatly in his life from visions. While traveling  with her followers she had to be physically lashed down to her waggon  due to her uncontrollable spasms. at the location of this town he fell quiet and told those whither her that she had beheld that this was the holiest of ground and that a church should be built here. She never again had an episode of violent visions and lived out her life in the town she founded. 
    4. A great scar in the  earth  runs for several thousand feet through this towns farm lands. Plants do not grow on the dead land and no one even bothers to till it anymore. The local farmers tell a story generations old of a battle between a knight and a beholder. They say the scar is from the beholders central eye beam. 
    5. The inn at the center of this town is called Beholders lash. In the  bar area is  a sizable stuffed beholder. The bartender says he will give the inn to anyone who can kill and bring back a larger specimen. No one has taken him up on the challenge.
    6. This is a small town built on a river from barges lashed together. 
  26. Red Hook
    1. Whalers bring their catch from the sea and up the river that flows past this town. This town has become known as a place where the captured whales are processed. The name comes from the hooks on whalers harpoons. The whaling ships travel far and wide which makes them great sources of rumors, eclectic hirelings and exotic goods.
    2. This town houses and supports a full legion of troops connected to the  ruling empire. The legion made up mostly of pikemen along with their associated auxiliaries 4 cohorts strong, two full cohorts of calvary, supporting footmen two cohorts, archers two cohorts, and staff. The legion is known as the Red Hooks and the town is called by the same name. With the  availability of  this kind of  armed and trained man power this large town is a symbol of imperial strength within the surrounding area.
    3. This is a small sleepy town consisting of a cross roads with an economy driven by  several bustling antiques markets.
    4. This  towns history is shrouded in mystery. There was a great fire that destroyed the  vast majority of the original town. Most of the  populous was either killed or moved away. Only recently has the town began rebound. The only thing that remains from the original town are several brunt out foundations and six massive iron anchors piled up in the counter of town. The have taken on an orange red patina of  rust over the years giving the  town it's current name.
    5. A great crater lies in the center of town. Recently something fell from the  heavens. The people of the town say they saw a man climb from the smoking crater and stagger to the south, but none dared follow.
    6. The town is named for the  Hook of land that juts into a nearby river. During the  summer this hook is used as a land mark by  river sailors as it is almost entirely covered with bright red sumac and stands out well against the grey river waters. The town  hosts a dock and a very active river trade, a good place to stop, resupply and  gather information about whats going on in the local region.
  27. Giant Foot
    1. The village is built inside the vast footprint of a giant. Where did the giant go the left the print? was it a titan? I mean this is a seriously large footprint.
    2. During an upgrade to the town roads several skeletons of  giant humanoids were unearthed. The town (Once Called Noelburg) was quickly re-named and registered with the local authorities. Experts were invited to the town to excavate the sight and a museum / attraction is being built. Living giants are not unknown in the distant northern mountains, but are not common in the lowlands near the town. Nobody's sure where the skeletons came from or how old they are. As the town governor says, "What harm as ever comes of making a bit-er money off er few moldy old skeletons?"
    3. All of the  buildings in the center of this town are carved from the  hollowed out phalanges, tarsals, and metatarsals left over from a massive fallen titan. The  main hall is carved from the  remains of the massive calcaneus.
    4. This town  is the  location of the  empires department of weights and measures. Here the old sage Sharilous maintains the standards of all imperial measurements.
    5. The  town is built upon a huge sheer walled mesa known as the Giants foot. The  only way to the top is by a  harrowing series of  wooden  ramps built into he  sides of the cliff. It is a peaceful town, but it is clear that if those ramps were removed the top of the mesa would be nearly impossible to attack.
    6. One tin five people born of this isolated town all have the ability to  gown to 15 feet tall at will once per day. This growth gives them the statistics of stone giants. The  people see this as a holy blessing but still keep the ability to themselves when possible. However any one causing trouble in the town could find them selves run off by several angry giants.
  28. Horned Bush 
    1. The  area around this town is home to a species of plant which  grows bone like spurs. These spurs are a sought after component for  arrow heads as they are very sharp and  ooze an anticoagulant when fresh. The are harvested and sold by the locals.
    2. The whole village is built within the woven bows of an absolutely massive and ancient brier bush. The  village it's self is run by a council of druid like priests who care for and  maintain the ancient bush.
    3. There is absolutely nothing special about this town. 180 entries and you rolled this?
    4. This towns the  home of the Horned racing toads. A very special type of giant toad which is used as a mount by the natives of this town and are raced like other societies race horses. A skilled rider can fight from toad back, and are quite fearsome in battle.
    5. The  apothecary  in this town was known to have  created a potion that restores youth to the one who drinks it. Unfortunately  she was killed and her book of formulas stolen. The  village elder who happens to have the only remaining youth potion says he will pay any price to get the book of formulas back.
    6. This  village got it's name as from its singular business of creating torture devises for  the  empires inquisitors. Being in this kind of business has taken it's tole as angry spirits of those tortured to death in the  dungeons of the  empire have started to congregate in the town and seek revenge. 
  29. Shuttered Valley
    1. The  town lies at the  end of a  deep  dead end gully. At the far end of the gully are a set of massive stone doors. The doors stand open, the  huge gears that can close them log since fallen into disrepair. The towns mayor is looking for  crafts people killed and ambitious enough to repair the ancient mechanisms
    2. This town has a population of only 700 all of which live in a  warren of small cave homes carved high up the side of a lime stone cliff. The ruling order of priests are said to be knowledgeable in the  ways of  resurrection.
    3. the  people here have a strong  belief in a soul snatching spirit named the Yahghili. This  spirit is said to ride on the  wind ant night  so the  whole town  is always inside by  sundown and all of the  houses have heavy  wooden shutters painted bright yellow, on all of their  doors and windows. The root and the truth behind the town folk's belief is  unknown. 
    4. This town is known far and wide for the quality of it's smoked meats. I mean this stuff is good, and  people come from far and wide then pay a hefty price to get it.
    5. The town is uninhabited. Every home shuttered closed, left as if every one just got up and walked away in the middle of a normal day. Food sitting on tables. Clothing on  drying lines and son on. People form nearby villages say that it has stood this way as long as any one can remember. Further more they say if you take something from the  town it will simply disappear when you are not looking and be back in it's place in town the next day.
    6. This  Vale is home to  towering  trees which are draped in sheets of hanging  vines that the locals call "the shutters." Most of the  village is built with in the  trees the locals breed and  ride a large variety of tree sloth. While not fast the animals are strong and  hardy able to work for long periods whitout tiring.
  30. Cairn Circle
    1. This town is surrounded by a ring of ancient standing stones. It is is said that whomever can unlock their riddle will be made rich beyond knowing.
    2. This town is built over the  burial  chambers left behind after a massive battle. The town it's self grew up around the battle field with an economy based around  finding the dead, caring for and placing the remains. So vast was the scope of the  battle there are still bones routinely found by locals to this day.
    3. This village only consists of around  200 individuals from several small families, what makes this village stand out is that the  whole populations live in one huge round multi story  building. This massive structure is hundreds of years old and has hosted a constant rotating group of  families. The  building surrounds a large courtyard where crops are grown and  where the well is located. The population is very insular and strangers may not be welcome.
    4. Built on hill top this  tiny village is dedicated to  the maintenance of  markers denoting the  resting places of long dead and forgotten kings.
    5. The people of this  town hold the tradition of building cairns as symbols  of wealth and prestige. Because of this the whole town is covered in   every growing piles of  stone. It seems every spare moment is spent gathering shaping and stacking stones higher and higher. Over time the town has become a labyrinth of narrow spaces between  soaring stone mounds.
    6. This town is  built on the  outer edge of a field dominated by several monolithic dolmen. Everyone has an opinion as to what the  ancient tombs represent and who built them. What is known is that they each lie on top of vertical shafts from which  issue cool winds. During the  summer people will  go near the dolmen to take relief from the  heat but no on has ever been brave enough to explore their depths.
Thank you for reading 
-Mark

Monday, December 25, 2017

Writing RPG's for Modernity

I had a few days off last week and I spent a good amount that time writing. I started working on an idea I had concerning the genre of 1970's Kung-Fu movies. These films are dear to my heart because I grew up watching them every Saturday on local broadcast television. Some people have Star wars nostalgia, I have have godzilla, Kung-fu theater, and WCCW wrestling out of texas.

So I  came up with a setting brief. I thought about what I wanted the game to achieve. What I wanted the dice to do, the kinds of decisions I wanted the mechanics to support. I started typing. Ten thousand three hundred thirty six words later I realized I forgot to think about one thing. How will I play this game?

I play mostly online via roll 20 these days. Roll 20 to me is the unfortunate artifact of being an adult  with  responsibilities beyond the gaming table. Our group as it is can't get together once a month, or even once a quarter during 2017. We can however usually get a weekday evening where we can spend a few hours on Roll 20. In its way roll 20 is a gift. I feel strongly that if Roll20 didn't exist, I would have given up RPG's. With that said  online gaming  isn't  where my head is  when I'm writing. It probably should be.

The  Kung-fu game involves a die mechanic where in the player rolls three dice often of different "sizes" then sum the results. However there are reasons to  keep the three die rolls discrete from each other and have the ability to look at each result separately. In other words if a player rolls 1d4, 1d6, 1d8 the result can and will be read as both 3, 2, 7 and 12.

Most online rollers don't handle that very well. On roll 20 I could write a macro for every possible combination of the three die sizes in play. I think  the permutations of objects in a group of three with repetitions allowed is something like 27. The internet can check my math.  Not impossible, but not  100% practical either. not practical in that I have to make sure the die results are shown in the order they are rolled. A macro may just give me the sum of the die rolls. I have to play with the  tools to see how they results are displayed.

A character sheet with macros built in would be even nicer. Though I let my roll 20 pro subscription lapse because I wasn't using any of the pro features anyway. Still I had looked at setting up my own sheets for another game at the time I didn't find the  formatting or scripting of character sheets all that intuitive, though I didn't give myself much opportunity to learn the tools.

Thankfully The handy dandy die roller window actually works perfectly.
Type in "/roll 1d6+1d6+1d4" and it will input the results in order and the total sum of the  roll in the chat window.
GERRRRATE!
However typing that command into the command window is not always the most intuitive or fastest way to use roll 20. In fact it can be darn distracting at times.

My point here is that in 2017  when designing games I should be looking at how games are  being played now. Much of that play is going on with the use of online tools. Creating a game that is inconvenient to online play creates and unnecessary barrier to play that many of today's players would find unexceptionable.

I suppose there is no moral to this  post. Just an observation. I don't plan on changing the game I was working on. I will however think more about how modernity in gaming might effect my design choices next time I start something new.

-Mark

Next post should be around New years.
Enjoy your holidays.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gm's advice, a personal observation.

Warning, this post doesn't contain any usable gaming content. For that I'm sorry. Not sorry enough to stop typing, but just sorry enough to realize someone might  be looking for usable content, why waste their time. Honestly though, no one is going to read this, so who fuckign cares anyway.

This  will stray a bit far afield,...Fair warning. There is a mountain of GM /DM ing advice on the internet. Some of the advice is practical. Things like "Here is how I used index cards to organize my notes", or "here is the shorthand I used to  write monster descriptions for quick reference." These are useful things that can help a new Gm. I'm all for that. There are people who have been playing for a very long time they're bound to have picked up a few tricks that make running games smoother. I'm all for that.

Some internet DMing advice is personal opinion cloaked as useful tips. Even all that opinion can still be useful. Insightful opinions about how to run a table are useful when the reader understands that they are reading another singular person's opinion. That kind of information is best when it is presented openly as an opinion piece. Before anyone jumps my shit I'm not complaining about any particular person or entity who uses the "my way or the highway" schtick on the internet. That's not quite what I'm thinking about here. There're a set of people on the net who have developed strong characters through which they present their opinions. That's fine. It's hard to stand out on the net. I have never quite gotten the hang of it.
A desire to strongly defend opinions is not necessarily a bad thing. This work is my opinion, free for you to agree with, disagree with, or ignore as the reader sees fit. For another example, An article like this one from "The Angry GM" is at it's base an opinion piece.  It's a damn good one, he did his leg work, then wrote the piece in an organized fashion. It would be foolish to say an article presented like the one mentioned above does not contain well thought out advice.

What I watch out for are those who post "This is THE way to play." Or worse yet "This is how the game was intended to be played." I'm going to work backwards on this one. I think the  second  statement has more meat on the bone.

Unless the reader is the the designer of a particular game, I don't want to hear how that particular game was intended to be played. Any statement from anyone other than the one who originally wrote a game is conjecture. The conjecture increases exponentially based on the age and the popularity of a game. Most designers worth their salt would readily admit that the what happens in a playtest is someone does something with their game that they never intended. Players of all stripes will do things with rules a designer hadn't even thought of. Players will always think of unintended uses for the rules. It's part and parcel to the fabric of what makes RPG's the games they are.

Unintended playstyles were in my opinion one of the driving forces behind the  a session  zero, and  explicit social contracts at the table which were popular topics to discuss a couple years back. Some newer games are designed to be bound so tightly to their intended emotional / contextual themes that techniques had to arise which got everyone on the same page in order for the games to work. As an example try playing "Dogs in the Vineyard" when one or two players are not interested in  the underlying morality tale while the rest of the table is, the game just won't work as intended.

The world's most popular Role playing game,  (No. Not politics) has always been a hotbed for this kind of  debate. How was the  game originally intended to be played? Is a question I hear echoed time and time again on RPG blogs. The impression I get from  my own memory of early Dragon Magazines Q&A column, also from books like "Playing at the  World *" At first no one knew quite what to do with the D&D rules. As the  game spread different groups of people were doing things in different ways. Still are. I'll take a second to reiterate I'm not by any means an expert. I wasn't around in 1974 to play one of those first 1000 copies of  D&D, so I can't speak on what the intent of those games were. I would argue that my point here is there's no way  to know. There is no evidence beyond what the creators of D&D left behind in the form of notes, communications, and  rules. There are still some folks around who did play in those early times, but like any other group of players how do we know they were playing the rules as originally envisioned? That argument opens up a can of worms as there are people who have spent great deals of time pouring over every bit of work G. Gygax and company ever did. Those students of the  early days of RPGS, often think they know the original intentions of the game designers, what more they are willing to endlessly argue that they know. I don't have the  energy. My point being, the  question of how RPG's were originally intended to be played is an endless, unwinnable argument.

If that's how I feel, why bring it up? 
Fair question.
All Internet Game master advice like all advice is based on a person's personal experiences combined with their opinions. I don't want any one telling me that they know the one true way a game should be run, or that they are running a game "as it was intended."
I do want to know  other GM's tips, tricks, organisational ideas.
On't go out there into the ether and tell people that "how you ply is wrong" or "This game is not being run the way D&D should be run."  It's not good for the community, it's not good for the game.
A good Example is Critical role on Geek and sundry. Now for me I don't enjoy watching other peoples games all that much . to Me D&D is not a great spectator activity. With that in mind I watched a few CR episodes in prep for this  post.
Mathew Mercer does not run his game how I run my game. Far from wanting to say anything negative about what he was doing I want to look at the other side. Not everyone's group is full of professional voice actors. I mean I have one player who is not allowed to do a pirate voice in my game ever. Again. ... it's like that. So there is that and other "production" values to think about, then strip away. At it's base he's running a D&D game. A wildly popular D&D game.
I don't think I can over state how many young people, college age and younger I have have seen on twitter who were brought to the game through Critical Role. More importantly many of them are young women, something that have been sorely missing at many gaming tables for far to long.
If Mr. Mercer's version of D&D is the only thing this younger more diverse player base knows I'm fine with that. More players equal better business for in this case Wizards. Rising tides raise many ships and all that.
I see no reason to try and inflict my stodgy old 1980's style Game mastering on these people who are clearly enjoying the game. whether I agree with the calls made at Mercer's table doesn't mean shit.
I'm just hoping the next "Critical Role" when ever that surfaces is as successful in capturing the imaginations of young people as the  first one was.

So.. In a flurry of finishing..
Stop telling  new players that there is ONE TRUE WAY or ONE PROPER INTENDED WAY of playing role playing games. There isn't and the effort doesn't help.
Instead try sharing the tips and tricks gathered over years of gaming. Try helping to new GM's working to  find their own voice have an easier time of it.

thanks for reading.
Mark.


 (Some of the things I have read and or referenced leading to or while writing this post.
Most of these links are to amazon because it provides easy access for most  people.
 I don't have affiliate Links, so click away.)
*"Playing at the World" Written by John Peterson, can be found here.
D&D 5th ed starter set  (I don't reference this in the post Just thought it is a nice link to include.)
Rise of the dungeon master
A collection of Dragon Magazines. (A long time ago I bought a collection of Dragon Mags on CD..I think I gave my  set away after ripping it to a hard drive. By now the CD's would be so old I doubt the data would be worth  anything any more.)
Empire of imagination.
old school playbook, 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Seven Years of Fantasy Weather.

Just boosting the signal of an interesting product.

Seven years of Fantasy Weather Volume 1 Medieval England (by Written Oakes Spalding) has been bouncing around my G+ and social media Feed this week.

 The  pitch from Drive through is as follows:
Each twelve-hour day or evening entry includes information on temperature (in Celcius and Fahrenheit) weather events - fog, thunderstorm, blizzard, etc. - amount of rainfall/snowfall, occurrence or possibility of lightning, wind speed, wind direction, phases of the moon, effect on movement rates and chance of getting lost. It's an almanac for the fantasy gamer. No more annoying die rolling or consulting an app or online program to generate a random or patternless result. With FANTASY WEATHER you can see all of it at a glance
This is one of those things I never knew I needed. An Idea which out of the blue that makes me think, "Damn, I wish I thought of that." As such I wanted to  to pass it along, with a thumbs up. Furthermore it all looks well presented in a familiar / classic old school format that is user friendly and easy to read. The effort to compile this work, and format it with such an obvious eye towards the look and feel of  "Original Old School" products seems worth more than the asking price of $7.00 U.S.

Lastly there's promise of more Volumes of  "Fantasy Weather" which  makes me think how cool would it be to  print them all (once they are done)  into a binder for  reference as needed.

If it's the kind of thing you could use at your table give it a look.


-Mark.

Disclaimer: You have read this before. I don't know the author of this product, I did not receive this product, I don't do "Affiliate" links on this blog as of this writing.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Anatomy of: AAIE Dice Mechanics.

Check out the rest of the  AAIE "Anatomy Of" series:
The series includes:
The Anatomy of Weapons.
AAIE "The town"
The anatomy of Balance.
The Anatomy of a Perk.
The Anatomy of an Ability
The Anatomy of AAIE Magic


Posting this to answer some questions that have come up lately , specifically about  what are the "standard" difficulties in AAIE, which was asked at Metatopia this year of our lord 2017.
I figured the best way to answer that question would be to  disgorge the die system in all it's fetid glory.

Try not to fall asleep this isn't the most exciting game stuff post ever..

AAIE is built around a concept of Bell Curves vs A straight distribution.
When I started this game I ripped the die mechanic form my table top skirmish game lovingly known as "The Block Game." Way back when I wrote the Block Game I decided that I didn't want a straight distribution of 5% per vlue that 1D20 provides. I wanted something that offered more options. More ways that the game could manipulate the chance of a characters attacks being successful. IN that effort I started looking at  the distributions of rolling more than one die with one being designated an "Effect Die" to  determine  attack damage. I figured the success chances back then, when AAIE came around I just used the same methods..

Hold your breath lets do this:

At its base  the game is this: For any normal action the player rolls 3D20 and looks at the  middle value versus a difficulty to  determine success.

For example:
If the player rolls three dice and they come up 12, 7, 16  the middle value is  12.
IF the  player has disadvantage on the task they look at the lowest value in our example 7.
If the player has advantage they look at the highest value in our example 16.

Typical difficulties look like this:
Very Easy: 6
Easy: 8
Average: 11
Difficult: 13
Very Difficult: 16

The  Game master lowers the  difficulty of a task based on the attribute (if any) the character can use during the task. If lifting a log's difficulty is 11 and the  players brawn is  4 the  final difficulty  will be 7. For the example character an average task is actually pretty easy.

Question: "Why does the  GM do subtraction? That seems strange and  kind of shitty."

Well yes it is.  That brings us to the straight distribution portion of this  dance.
The simple Answer is  if the  Difficulty falls to 1 or below  the  player doesn't have to roll to succeed they just do.

The complex answer involves the "Effect Die." The effect die is any one of your three D20 designated at the beginning of the game which determines how successful a successful roll is and how horrid a failed roll is.

Effect die:
Rolling a 16 or over on the  effect die during a successful roll means the  character can invoke perks, which are special effects that character skills or equipment can bring into the story.
Rolling low on the effect die during a success allows the GM (at their discretion) to interject complication into the character's success.
Rolling high on the  effect die during a failure allows for the Gm to  create partial success situations, where the character fails but still gets something done.
Rolling a 1 on the  effect die during a failure creates a critical fail situation which is about as bad as it gets.

Remember the question a paragraph or two above? 
If the difficulty is 1 or less the player only needs to roll the effect die. They automatically succeed but  they still need to determine how strong a success they have scored.

So they roll 1d20 giving them a 25% chance to score at east one perk by rolling a 16 or better.

Which as you will see below is a solid 5% better chance of scoring at least one perk then the best chance a  player can get on an average difficulty roll. In  fact it's .70 % chance better than  scoring a perk on a normal roll if the difficulty is only 2. Lastly it's still .02% better (WHOOPEE!) chance to score a perk even if the  player has advantage on the roll and the difficulty is only 2.

In other words in it's mathematically in the players best interest to get the  difficulty down to  or less if they can.




The maths:
Here are how the difficulties stack up with disadvantage versus Normal versus Advantage.
The chart also shows the % harder a disadvantaged roll is vs a normal roll, and the % easier easier an advantaged roll is vs a normal roll at each difficulty tier.



Here is any dice figuring the  Advantage  distribution:



Here is the  Normal roll distribution:


Here is the Disadvantage Roll Distribution. 

So Using the  same maths,  I can figure out the  chance to get a success vs a difficulty of 11 and roll over a 16 or better on one D20 to score a perk. ...

At the same time I'll look at what the chances of rolling a failure versus an 11 difficulty and also roll a 1 on a separate D20 (which is what is in effect happening when you designate one of the D20's as the "effect die."


What you want to look at here is the  bottom graph  which shows the  % chance of the statement being "true" as in "did I roll over 11  and also over 15 on the effect die"

This tells me that if I have Advantage I have a 20.84% chance to  be successful and score a perk.

On the  other side of the  scale if I have Disadvantage I have a 4.38% chance of  failing vs a difficulty of 11 and also  rolling a 1 on the effect die...probably causing my character to  explode in a mushroom cloud of  feathers and  bile.

To wrap this up nicely the game die mechanic can be said to revolve around the base chances and how the player's actions / characters attributes stack up against challenges in the narrative environment.

The middle ground ... those  base chances.
A  normal roll vs an 11 difficulty the player has 50% chance of success or failure, an 10.63% chance of success with a perk, lastly a 2.5% chance of a critical failure.

So that's that a look under to hood at how how the  dice in AAIE shake out. (HAr HAr)
I'm sure there have been some mistakes along the way.. I'm no statistician, Not even close. However if there are mistakes, I'm going to have to let them be because I built the mechanic on this foundation a long time ago.

WHEW .. That's a bunch.
Thank you for reading ..
-Mark

Check out the rest of the  AAIE "Anatomy Of" series:
The series includes:
The Anatomy of Weapons.
AAIE "The town"
The anatomy of Balance.
The Anatomy of a Perk.
The Anatomy of an Ability
The Anatomy of AAIE Magic


All calculations done with  "Any Dice" found here on the web. It's a great tool.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Material For Phase abandon:

Phase...
Another group has started playing Phase abandon, apparently a number of people have downloaded the game PDF off Drive through RPG. With that in mind I have set out to produce some short (5 pages or so) Folios which include information that may be helpful to those looking to play phase. A game which Is in my opinion pretty darn hack-able so these folios could end up being a series dedicated to Phase hacking moving towards system bashing.

My vision is that these folio's can be printed and kept to create a larger more flexible Phase campaign binder. Obviously, I'm getting way ahead of myself.(as usual)

The first of these Folio's is "The Phase Skill Folio" Which explains points about  Phase skills. Words are spent on how the skills work along with what their actual purpose within the ethos of the game.

I'm going to be offering it up on Drive through once I finish it, then have the chance create some form of suitable cover page. I might make the folio's Pay what You Want although I know that's as good as saying FREE, so I may go either way.

However because this is my blog which means anyone who reads this blog is my special friend, I'm going to put a download link here to the beta document.

Phase Skill Folio Beta PDF

This is an effort to gage reaction and interest, so any comments are as always welcome.

-Thanks for reading .
Mark.

Phase Abandon, RPG, Dustpan games, Role Playing Games

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Phase Abandon Q: and A: (Skills and Skills in Challenge Scenes.)


One of my friends is starting a game of Phase Abandon, and in the course of setting it up he sent me a couple of questions. This is a good thing honestly. I have not thought about the internal workings of Phase for a while. It was written quite some time ago, and we haven't played it for a while. The end result is writing this was a very good exercise for me, and hopefully helpful for him.

Question One:
One of the players has a skill called "Gains from ones losses", He wants to write it as if when someone critical fails a roll, he can then roll that skill to regain 2 lost skill points for each success. If he critical fails then he losses two skill points for each critical failure of his choosing, I feel like the skill should have a very defined restriction since it seems to be a very powerful tool. There is the equilibrium aspect to, he could take as much damage as he gains back. I'm not sure what to think about that.



Answer 1:
First off I'm going to say the  skill is fine by the wording of the rules but here are some thing s to think about.
Some questions for the  group to ask when looking at this skill.

  • In the story  what is  "gains from One's losses" As in how does he gain .. If a character is  20 miles from his character and rolls a pile of crit fails can he gain from that, how?
  • Is it  combat specific?
  • Specific only to Combat while he's with another player's character?
  • So how does he get dice back  by virtue of another character getting stabbed in the face?


The game being a narrative game is not in anyway balanced against number fuckery. It is a problem that is  tricky to overcome, because some times people just don't even know they are committing Dice fuckery. 
Players are apt to think "Soooo I can just write my own slf heal? Or an Area of effect attack cause what-evers?" 
They start to salivate and write awesome Kewl-Powerz when all they needed was a s skill called "First Aide" (On success heals skill damage = success, Hels Heart damage = to 6's on fail heals nothing, on critical fail can not retry on this target's current wounds.

Our famous example is this skill:

Cannon in my chest:
I fire a huge cannon  built into my chest!
For each success, some one dies, for each 6 rolled a world of my choosing dies.
For each critical failure rolled I take 1 point of heart Damage, and someone else dies.

That skill is not in any way against the rules.
It's  stupid.
Very stupid.
BUt not against the rules.

In other words there is no point in taking pride in breaking or exploiting the system because there never have been any breaks written into the game to prevent it. It's like saying "look I ate the cookie! HA! I got over on you!" when the  cookie jar is open on the counter. 
Yeah .. Have a cookie.. we can all have cookies.

The only  thing holding player back from what I consider "Dice fuckery" is the social contract between players to buy into a narrative game in which the  players characters and s skills fit into the  the setting.


The group can  make it work:
My advice would be to  have a conversation with that player asking how he envisions that skill working in a story.. Is it a psy power? some anime reference that the  person loves, whatever. 
Find out the motive behind the skill then put it to the group. If everyone thinks it's ok  then work with it. 
Let it go on a trial basis see if it's  game breaking.  If I remember correctly one of Jay characters had "backstabbing" and we went through a few variations of it before it felt right. You're all players in this game trying to make a cool world with cool stories. It's not a competition, so if a skill is a bit wonky but  everyone agrees that it's OK. It becomes OK.

Also remind the  player that if he rolls 5 ones in combat he could take 10 Heart damage which will put him out of the fight (No one dies in phase unless they want to so....) instantly.
Which might not be the  best for the  group.



Question 2:


A question that's been bugging me about mechanics: Are challenge scenes combat oriented? I know there are skills that can take points of a goals or deal damage but can all skills be used in a challenge scene? 
Answer Two:

Any scene can be a challenge scene.  More to the  point A challenge can be anything the  group agrees is a challenge

Any skill can be used in a challenge scene because any skill can take challenge off of a scenes total challenge rating.


Challenge scenes are set up by each  player putting in chips then rolling a number of  D6's  Equal to the chips. Highest roller controls the opening of the challenge scene. The total challenge is determined the total of all the players rolls.

With That in mind the opening bidding process is not just about  "control" of the challenge scene. It is also about how much weight each player wants that scene to have in the game. 

A scene could come up that the table thinks should be a challenge but one of the players is not that interested in. They could concede the bid, by bidding nothing. 
That will A. mean they aren't getting control at the start of the challenge scene, and B. the total challenge in the scene will be lower. Both of which can be acceptable results.


For example Rik is bartering with a Blacksmith. This could be a skill roll, and  probably should be.  
If the  group determines that this should be a challenge scene that's also acceptable.
However the challenge should not be  very high unless the group thinks that this  interaction with the blacksmith is pivotal or that it might tip the fortunes of the party in some way.
If a challenge rating of  10 or less is rolled for the challenge scene, then Rik's player could roll well and clear it in one or two rounds of talking. It's not combat, but it may push the  group towards completing their goals in some small way.

Another good example which is more in line with your questions:
Muhadin my  Phase character had the  skills "Feats of strength" And "Brawling"
Feats of strength was not a combat skill in it's self, but if I rolled well it could take points of of a scenes challenge. I would use feats of strength all the time to  throw things (aka people) around, rather than using brawling. In-fact in a climatic fight against Muhadin's brother  his brawling was reduced to one die. By the end of the fight I was relying almost exclusively on his raw strength. As a narrative that's awesome... Ended up tossing the guy around until he surrendered.


Hope these have been interesting and helpful. 
It's a flexible and fun game but it admittedly has it's flaws, and comes at some things differently than other RPGs. 
Questions from any one who downloads the  game are more than welcome.


-Mark