A New Year and a Round Number

One BookShelf isn’t showing it right now, but I have 50 titles that contain my work.

The problem has to do with the most recent product featuring my stock art, the RPG Pundit’s Lion & Dragon

Despite not currently having an artist’s listing due to OBS `accidentally ` deleting the listing for this entry and then reinstating it incompletely, you can see that the book has quite a bit of my art.

There is some other lovely stock art as well, some by Jack Badashi, and several nice pieces by Henry Justice Ford. Production quality is as good as found in Dark Albion and Chaos Cults.

The system itself is very OSR, although the magic system is supposed to conform to magical traditions of the fourteenth century. There is a serious nod to DCC in the startup at 0 level with extra characters.

I was approached last year to do some work on this project, but either my rates were too high or my politics too far to the left for the Pundit’s taste, and he settled on buying a few stock bundles instead.

My family set me up with some excellent gaming and drawing things for Yule, from a light board and steel ruler, and a microphone for Discord, to a stack of gaming books for 5E, GURPS and SWCL. I love my Family!

I am looking to run a tabletop game at a minicon this month, using SWCL and Beneath the Fallen Tower. I have to get writing it…

And I have some commissions for John Stater’s monster book 2 for Blood & Treasure.

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The Deep Guard

One of my players brought along a magnificently munchkinized character, a heavily armored ogre who was a weapon master of the dueling halberd, with the Hero Advantage from DF 11. His equipment included ornate heavy plate he referred to as Deep Guard Armor. So who are the Deep Guard? I have had NPC’s immediately recognize him as the Hero he is, but gave little thought to what that actually meant.

The Deep Guard is a royally chartered mercenary group whose primary duty is to escort wagons of ore out of the royal silver mines and to the Imperial mint. The mines are in hobgoblin infested mountains, and the deep guard, accompanied by the Nethermost Flight, perform the escort.

The average member of the Deep Guard is a Brute from DF15 with Weapon Mastery: Dueling halberd and all other discretionary points spent on wealth sufficient to be outfitted with ornate plate armor.  The average member of the Nethermost Flight is an archer (also from DF15) using a heavy crossbow and carrying a mace.  They have the Teamwork perk and wear heavy scale.

Gorgath was able to save his unit and shipment during a ferocious attack by a shock force of heavily armored hobgoblins and gladiator apes that was led by a stratigically minded hobgoblin knight.

What really separates Gorgath the ogre from the rest of the Deep Guard is  that his armor is enchanted and a really fabulous piece of named signature gear known as the DoomRazor, a fine, balanced, , Dwarven, Silver coated, ornate Orichalcum  Dueling Halberd.  It is probably one of the sweetest weapons I have seen designed that wasn’t ludicrously enchanted.

The addition of Gorgath, whose player is actually subtle and funny, to the group has had me to re-calibrate threat and challenge evaluation, but I am still surprised at how quickly he can dice through DR17  opponents.

After the next time his group surfaces, I am going to have some of his mates ride into town.  Sadly, not all of them are heroic…

Gadgeteering for fun and profit

One of my players, who started the game early last year with a goblin priest of the hunt named Zeelzeel Shadowspear, has decided to play an Artificer.  Zeelzeel was a lot of fun, and when the player went on hiatus, he served as an NPC in a vouple of groups, and introduced his cousin Razakeel Shadowcloak, a necromantic apprentice. Zeelzeel also brought the kobolds of the guild back to the faith of their ancestors, reintroducing them to the worship of the Erl King, and wooing them away from the gentler faith they had bothered from a local human church. Father Robard, a goblin priest of the same, despite his pacifism, was quite wroth with Zeelzeel, who had impressed the kobolds by rescuing one of their young from a Triger that had escaped it’s charmed enslavement by wandering across a no-manna zone.

The introduction of the Artificer came soon after I had some of the other PC’s wander into some artificer trolls. As it is a point of courage an honor to work with fire for the highly flammable trolls, all of the males that are tested by fire and lose the vulnerability (usually bought down by lowering their appearance from ugly to hideous from the scarring from being burnt) usually become troll smiths.  So what kind of gadgets do trolls like to build?

Traps. Trolls like to build traps. Yes, being fireproof makes it easy to work the forge, but with ancestors like Grimtooth, there is a lot of pressure plate and dart work, to say the least.  What else do they make? My first priority as a member of a species prone to combustion would be a fire extinguisher. So using the example of the crude flamethrower, they combine a barrel and a bellows to make a backpack water jet cannon. Not proof against stone missiles, however.

Second order of business is fireproofing, in the form of spiked archer’s blinds, covered with waterlogged leather from the primary source available. By Crom, my trolls wear a lot of leather armor, and they live deep underground, so whence the hide? Some of it comes from Slorn, which are used for meat, mounts and tool making, but more of it comes from the larger and ridiculously regenerative Andersonian trolls, as found in DF Monsters and are kept in chains by the trolls found in The Next Level, who are more or less what Aethelbert the sage refers to as “Common Least Trolls.” He calls the big guys from Monsters “Common Greater Trolls” which gives me space in the campaign world to incorporate things like Giant Two Headed Trolls.

One of the PC’s is an elementalist and a bit of a pyromaniac, and usually wanders around with a cluster of Fire Elementals, so traps like buckets of sand over doorways and baited traps, like alchemical fire tossed under an iron cauldron propped up by a stick like the classic rabbit box trap, are employed when she is around with her flaming friends.

During the challenges the other group had to pass when negotiating with the other tribe of trolls, the party wizards had to figure a way of disposing of a flaming skull that had similarly been trapped, and the trollsmith had rigged a weight driven clockwork timer to raise the cauldron from the imprisoned skull spirit. Naturally, one of the wizards, a spell archer, thought that destroying the mechanism would count as a win, and one disintegrate spell later, he got to learn a few choice words of trollish.

At the moment, the new Artificer is designing some spiked slorn proof doors to be installed in a part of the dungeon that the guild is expanding into, but I am going to have to be on my toes to allow for maximum fun through inventing .

The People of the Pit

People of the Pit

People of the Pit

While working on the history of the Trollfolk of Northport, I had the good foortune to acquire Brave Halfling’s adaptation of the A.Merrit classic, The People of the Pit through an OSR Humble Bundle. It can also be found here. At about the same time, I picked up the Alternate Dungeons edition of pyramid . Which described Unknowable Things, very closely resembling the people of the pit. If you were to take that template and add ST+10, DR+1,  SM+2 and either of mentalist/wizard or mentalist/cleric lenses, and you have my people of the pit. The image above was presented as a carving in a stone table where my PC’s were feasting with the trolls, after completing their challenges. The carving depicts the valiant triumph of the people of the Eastern depths over the child stealing People of the Pit. This caused much consternation amongst the party, but isn’t that what elder things do?

The City of Northport: history in broad strokes

The setting for my game is a pseudo-medieval France, if Rome had never become Christian, the Moors never left Spain, and the Netherlands were Slavonic. Otherwise, most standard fantasy tropes are at play. A major cataclysm occurred just over four hundred years ago, and about forty years ago was a mark r outbreak of plague, that dramatically reduced the population and left villages, castle and other structures uninhabited. Perfect adventurer bait.

Northport, formerly the Roman colony of Antillarus, and earlier than that Yagratz of the Goblins, has been continuously inhabited by a variety of peoples for something like four thousand years, and most of it underground due to a persistent firedrake problem. Persistent, at least until a Dwarven Sorcerer named Federjung took it into his head to weave a spell to displace a nation of trolls from their mountain in order to access the gold the trolls were mining.

Needless  to say, the spell backfired stupendously, and while the trolls were teleported leagues away and beneath Northport, the dragons near that city were whisked to Trellheim.  At the same time, there were earthquakes, tidal waves and a hail of meteorites accross the land.

At the time of this thaumaturgical disaster, a wizard named Abarax, who had ascended to a potent state of undeath through necromantic research, was stricken by a near direct hit by an anti-magical meteor deep in his steading beneath the city. Deprived of contact with the magical emmenations that preserved his form, Abarax drifted into a centuries long form, until reawakened in the present day by a powerful stone troll named Leopold.

At the time of the Federjungian incident, Abarax had an apprentice, a wizard named Flax, who managed to survive past the apocalyptic occurrence for some time. He became rather learned, and maintained active correspondence with other survivors who were magically talented.

Enter a wealthy Sage to modern Northport, obsessed with the incident and following a lead to track down the lost library of Flax the Necromancer, and direction is found for the most active players in the game. Other groups are fighting trolls below the winecellars of an ancient manse, helping a fight organizing ogre rebuild his gambling empire, or pursuing a diabolical cult into the ruins below the city streets.

Dungeon Fantasy: Northport

For several years I have run various iterations of an online dungeon crawl on pbp sites using GURPS. Over ten years ago I ran a game on playbyweb using GURPS third edition, and some fan rules called Advanced Goblins & Grottoes. Just two years ago, I started up the same setting, this time on rpol.net, and using GURPS 4e Dungeon Fantasy rules. I have been greatly inspired by Peter V. Dell’Orto’s blog, on the same topic, called Dungeon Fantastic.