Thursday, June 26, 2014

Species: Goblins

In the beginning, I decided to use the Pathfinder goblin for goblins on Eifer.  They're a pretty interesting take on the goblin species presented in Dungeons and Dragons.  But, thanks to Garek's player, I began asking, "What if a variety of goblinoids exist?"  If so, I can borrow/steal wholesale from any goblinoid I want. 

I liked this option.

Here we will look at two goblinoids.  Goblins (which I will use the Pathfinder baseline) and the Bryniog goblins (who call themselves noblins.)

  • +4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma
  • Small: +1 AC, +1 Attack, -1 CMB, +4 Stealth
  • Normal speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Sneaky rider: +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
  • Language: Goblin

I found the baseline goblins in Pathfinder so insane I decided to incorporate them into Eifer.  Pathfinder Player Companion: Goblins of Glorion is quite detailed.  I loved how violent and cowardly they are. Their insane sense of humor and love of fire works well. Thus far, I felt Pathfinder's writers had done a great job reimaging the goblins from their Dungeons and Dragons counterparts.

The most important thing to do was to create a tribe for the Sirdu Coast.  Most of the region is pretty isolated from the rest of Tirane thanks to the Istasis Desert, so goblins have been arriving in the area during the past century, usually in small warbands (often in the employ of someone else.)

During the past decade, the Eye-Eater tribe migrated from the south and took up residence in parts of the Sirdu Forest south-east of Cymru.  Thus far, our party has only encountered a few hired/enslaved goblins brought into the region.  They have proved willing to flee quickly, leading the party to assume goblins are all pushovers.  I have an idea to use the Eye-Eaters soon in order to challenge that expectation. 

Like Glorion, we decided the standard goblins of Eifer also worshiped Lamasthu, Mother of Monsters. She kept most of her Pathfinder description as well.

Bryniog goblins (noblins)
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom
  • Small: +1 AC, +1 Attack, -1 CMB, +4 Stealth
  • Normal speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision: 60 feet
  • Sneaky rider: +4 Ride, +4 Stealth
  • Keen senses: +2 Perception
  • Languages - Goblin, Dwarven
Much to their chagrin, only the noblins call themselves noblins.  Everyone else simply calls them goblins.

Yet despite their appearance (the noblin is a purple-skinned goblin otherwise resembling their blue/green counterparts), noblins are stronger, less abrasive and more foolhardy.

When the Caer dwarves, first set foot on the Bryniog Grasslands a century ago, they found tribes of beetle riding purple-skinned goblins.

As the dwarves prepared to exterminate the plains goblin riders, they were approached under a flag of truce. (Well, I don't think the noblins had a flag, unlike the dwarves, but they do now.)  After much suspicion and some negotiations, the dwaves and noblins agreed to peace between their peoples.

The noblins led the dwarves to the ruins of Cymru among other places and in exchange for supplies, weapons, and armor the noblins began patrolling the Sirdu Forest and Bryniog grasslands keeping caravan travel safe and defending outlying communities.

Worship among the tribes of noblins tend to follow Rellas the Wanderer (a noblin hero raised to divinity during the past millennia) and the god Abadar the Patient (the guardian and protector of civilization.)

Other goblins 

I'd want to incorporate other goblinoids (hobgoblins and bugbears are a given) into our setting.  Recommendations are appreciated.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.3

Eifer, Tirane, AC 9

Most of the party was away this week, so I converted Nota'Cor and Mal into Savage Worlds characters.  I thought the game played smoothly and Mal's player enjoyed his gunslinger's conversion.  Nota'Cor did not care for the magic system and liked his wizard in Pathfinder better.  Overall, they preferred the complexity of Pathfinder and we will be back to it the next time.  I decided though I will run short stories with alternate characters in the same fantasy using Savage Worlds.

Waking the following morning, Malpais, Nota'Cor, and Kryplis found the rain had continued throughout the night and the goblin Garek (or noblin as he insisted, not goblin) had left them, taking the goblin (noblin) armor and a quarter of the gold.

Angry, our trio decided to retrace their path to the cave and secure the missing food.  Morning in mid-summer, the rain was cool and pleasant. They moved quietly beneath the heavy dripping cork oaks.  Coming upon a meadow, the party spied a pair of orcs sitting under a lean-to.  In the trees above the orc-camp, Mal spotted a dozen goblins in the trees.

Creeping up on the orcs, the party engaged in their plan of attack immediately.  Their brutal success made me realize they needed tougher opponents.  Also, I don't think I'm as familiar with Savage Worlds. One of the orcs did manage to blow his signal horn.

They were then engaged by another group of orcs and goblins lead by a human leader (my throwback to Old School D&D.)  I'll say this about Savage Worlds vs Pathfinder: the fight went very brutal, very quickly.  Once they killed the orcs and captured the human, the goblins abandoned their allies.

Kryplis was wounded and knocked unconscious during the fight.  The thing about Savage Worlds is that he could have been permanently injured.  He wasn't but could have been.

Mal and Nota'Cor questioned the human who wore a brass trumpet around his neck.  Standing over him, rain soaking them all, they asked their prisoner why he was capturing wagons.  He told them he needed the food as he was excavating a shrine for his god.  Mal queried him on the identity of his god, but the man laughed.

Nota'Cor wanted to kill the human, but Mal felt they could use him as a prisoner to gain access to the cave and recover the food shipments. So bound and gagged they hauled the cleric uphill through the rain, slipping in the mud, to a cave.  Outside the orcs had built a corral for stolen mules and horses.

Leaving the cleric with Kryplis, Mal and Nota'Cor approached the cave entrance quietly, finding a group of goblins within eating the contents of one of the food containers.  As soon as they had attacked, several goblins ran deeper into the cave, yelling.

Kryplis brought the cleric into the cave and the group debated simply taking the food and leaving or clearing out the cave. Sitting, in front of the fire, Nota'Cor complained profusely about the goblin Garek who had cheated him at arm wrestling.

Eventually, the decided to clear out the cave and removed the cleric's gag to ask him about what they would find.  He said several magic words and vanished.  stumbling after him in they heard the sound of grating metal.

Approaching another chamber in the cave, slowly, they found a group of goblins defending a hole in the ground.  On either side of the hole, were metal sawhorses with pulleys and ropes that extended into the darkness.
Soon, the goblins retreated to the lower level, firing arrows at the party as they did.  As Nota'Cor, Malpais, and Kryplis pressed into the room they realized the hole extended two different levels down.  As the goblins, one level below them, withdrew into the darkness beyond Mal's vision something attacked and killed them.

The party (tired and injured) continued, sliding down the hole on ropes to the bottom.  There they were attacked by two orcs.  Mal attempted to disarm one with his tongue, but the orc grabbed it and proceeded to beat him unconscious. I was certain he would lose his tongue in the fight.

Kryplis and Nota'Cor forced the pair back into a lit chamber, the resuscitated Mal with a healing potion. 

They realized they were in an artificial chamber, dotted with pillars and artistic scrollwork.  Pressing further, they entered a large pillared room lit with candles.  Orcs hid behind the columns of the room and the human cleric knelt before a desecrated shrine praying; his trumpet glowed on the stone shrine.

Mal shot the trumpet, piercing the metal, and the ground shook.  Purple-blue tentacles reached from the shrine, grasping the cleric.  Screaming, he was pressed into the stone. The orcs ran past the party, ignoring them.  They ran to the elevator, where the orcs waited.  They each pulled on the ropes, raising the platform to the top.

The earthquake leveled the rear cave. Nota'Cor told the orcs to help load the wagons and he would spare them.  They did until no one was watching them, and then vanished.

With the cave sealed, they took the wagon of food north to Darvek.

The cave in this game was inspired by the Dungeons and Dragons 3 adventure Unearthing the Past.

All in all I liked Savage Worlds.  I may have to borrow the Bennies in some form for our Pathfinder game.

Continued on Fragments 1.4

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Species (races): Grippli

Most people (and I will use people in the broadest sense of any sentient) when they think of the Grippli of Tirane at all, think of reclusive forest frogs living in their tree-top villages.

Once, the story goes, some Grippli lived in towns built onto the land and ruled the area between the giant trees of Cynwrig Wood and the coast.  But these are only stories and no ruins have ever been found.

But their are other Grippli as well. Members of the Order of the Gun, who roam the countryside with their fire-ash weapons protecting the roads and the towns.

They are the primary gunsmiths of the Order and make up most of its membership. Some say Grippli alchemists invented fire-ash, but few believe such a story.

Grippli children and gunslingers tell tales of the legendary gunslinger, Bartolomeo.  He and his wondrous pistols disappeared many years ago, but a few seek his legacy and missing guns.

  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -3 Strength
  • Small - +1 AC, +1 Attack, -1 CMB, +4 Stealth
  • Normal speed - 30 ft
  • Climb speed 20 ft
  • Darkvision 60 ft
  • Jumper - Grippli are always considered to have a running start when making an Acrobatics check to jump
  • Agile Tongue - Grippli start with the Agile Tongue feat. They have a prehensile tongue with the range of 10 feet.  They can pickup items weighing no more than 5 pounds, they can perform Sleigh of Hand checks, make disarm maneuvers, and make melee touch attacks with their tongues.
  • Weapon familiarity - nets
  • Languages - Grippli

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Species (race), ur-akash (half-orc) and humans, part two

At the end of the War of Horrors as worlds failed to defeat these incursions from the Far Realms, surviving civilizations built their magic caers to hide from the monstrosities.  Half-orcs, as the Ur-akash were known in those days, were often excluded from these protective shelters.

Among those that survived, most, joined their orc cousins or banded together on their own to form roving hunting clans.  Some barbarian/nomadic human tribes, however, accepted the half-orcs into their fold.

Though many caer-dwellers believe the surface world has been without  settlement or civilization for one hundred centuries, they are wrong.

Some humans and their near-human relatives built small agricultural villages. Furthermore, many explorers now believe the survivors may have constructed their own civilizations. Each no doubt destroyed by a wave of Horrors.

The Ur-akash who joined humans became over time, increasingly more human-like, while maintaining their own sub-cultures based around ritual scarification/tattooing.

Ur-akash (half-orc) human communities
  • +2 to ability of choice
  • Medium sized
  • Normal speed - 30 feet
  • Low-light vision
  • Skilled - 1 additional skill rank per level beginning at first level
  • Town-raised - weapon familiarity longsword and whip, +2 Knowledge (local)
  • Orc-blood - counts as orc and human
  • Orc-ferocity - once per day when an ur-akash is reduced to 0 hit points or less but not killed, it can act for 1 additional round as if disabled.  At the end of its next turn, unless brought above 0 hit points, it falls unconscious and begins dying.
  • Sacred Tattoos/Scars - +1 luck bonus to all saving throws
  • Languages - Dwarven, Orcish

Humans remain extremely varied though they are still very much a minority on the surface world in these years following the opening of the caers.

  •  +2 to any ability score
  • Medium sized
  • Normal speed - 30 ft
  • Bonus feat - one extra feat at 1st level
  • Skilled - 1 additional rank per level beginning at first level
  • Skill training - choose two skills, these are always class skills
  • Heart of: (choose one)
    • the Mountain - acclimatized to high altitude
    • the Sea - hold breath twice as long underwater,
    • the Snows - +2 to avoid slipping
    • the Tropics - +2 vs poison
    • the Caer - crowds do not count as difficult terrain
    • the Marshes - roll disease resistance twice and choose higher result
    • the Sands - +2 to avoid fatigue, exhaustion, thirst
    • the Forest - +4 on roll to stabilize when dying
  • Languages - Dwarven, Selvic or Karine

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.2

Eifer, Tirane, AC 9

The second part of our story was also run in Pathfinder.  Roleplay was good and combat went smoother.  One character left near the end and another arrived (player scheduling). 

A week after arriving in Cymru, Nota'Cor, Thanequeel, and Kryplis spoke with Louis the Liar regarding the job investigating lost food shipments.  While discussing it, a grippli gunslinger and member of the Order of the Gun (an organization of gun-knights), called Malpais Rana, arrived and was also hired on for the job,    Louis offered them 50 gold a piece for the job, which was probably too little but they didn't negotiate.

Cymru is a terraced port city on the side of a sea cliff.  It's levels and buildings were magically carved and protected thousands of years before the campaign start.  Most buildings remain buried or filled with rubbish.  The primary entrance to Cymru is through a gate built into the stone rampart which surrounds the city.  A few residences and buildings have secondary entrances.  The Death's Head company's headquarters has one.

Leaving Cymru through the Death's Head entrance, Thanequeel became distressed to find his zombie - routed into an outhouse - being poked with spears by a dwarf and human.

With some convincing - originating in threats of violence - the pair agreed to leave Thanequeel's zombie alone.

Mal decided to buy a riding dog before the journey, and visits Hogan Smoketoe (halfing) the Kennelmaster. 

He purchased a great malamute, whom he named "Perro,"and a riding saddle. Nota'Cor mocked him for riding a dog and the two exchanged words.

Supplied with adequate provisions, the party set out along the road north to Darvek looking for missing wagons.

The day was warm, though the cork oaks of the coastal forest provided some shade as they traveled.

About midday they halted and decided to look for a place to eat a meal when they came across a washed-out section of road.

Mal's and Nota'Cor's dogs began howling and they realized that they were surrounded by a pack of wolves.  Quickly the party was attacked, and Thanequeel's zombie was shredded.  Nota'Cor grew large scaring a few wolves and Mal's blunderbuss killed several more.  As quickly as it began, the attack was over.  Five wolves were killed and the rest fled.

Mal skinned the wolves, removing their pelts, while Kryplis prepared some of the meat for cooking.  Thanequeel, disgusted with cooked food, devoured their entrails raw and then rolled in the remaining gore.

Mal and Kryplis both were disgusted with him.  Nota'Cor was fascinated.

They decided to rest and travel that evening.  Leaving the dogs to keep watch, everyone fell asleep beneath the branches of olive trees.

A few hours later, Mal woke from the sound of buzzing, to find several dozen wasps crawling on Thanequeel.  Above him in the trees, he heard more buzzing and looked upward to see thousands and thousands of wasps swarming the olive trees.  He decided to burn the olive grove in attempt to drive off the wasps.  The party quickly fled the burning olive grove as well.  Thanequeel ran to wash the wolf guts off his clothing in a pond.

Their hi-jinks and a burning olive grove behind them, our party continued the journey north.  A few hours later, as summer's long evening grew golden, they rounded a bend in the road and spied a band of goblins lead by an orc looting a couple of wagons - one wagon was burning.

Deciding to eschew talking/negotiations, they snuck up to the goblins and began murdering.  Mal killed three quickly with his blunderbuss.

Overconfident from goblin-murder, Nota'Cor charged the orc, who nearly killed him.  The orc supervisor turned to run and blew a horn.  A response to the horn came from up the hill.

After Mal was wounded by goblin arrows, the party retreated behind one of the wagons.  Thanequeel decided to parley with the goblins and learned they were hired to unload wagons.  He promised to spare them if they left, and the goblins ran.

Spotting a cave up hill from the ambush site, they saw a group of orcs and goblins forming as the lone escaped orc - who had nearly killed Nota'Cor - pointed to the road.

Grey Seer Thanequeel quickly disappeared into the brush, leaving his party behind.

Instead of looting any corpses, Kryplis, Mal, and Nota'Cor ran through the woods hoping to put distance between them and the search party.

After nearly half-an-hour of jogging, they slowed down tired near an earthen embankment.  Catching their breathes and drinking water, they were interrupted by the screams of goblins.

The region of the Sirdu Coastal Forests (where Cyrmu sits) and the Bryniog Grasslands (between the forests and the desert) have long been home to a group of purple-skinned goblins.  Tougher, better organized, and less murderous than their blue/green cousins, the Sirdu goblins allied with dwarven settlers in the past century and founded villages and outposts of their own in the region. 

They are best known for their beetle cavalry and, along with the Order of the Gun, provide protection for the farms, hamlets, towns and roads of the region.

The party was startled from their refreshments by the sound of goblin cavalry fighting a (and dying to a) large floating octopus-like creature. A lone beetle-rider goblin (the squad leader Gerak) appeared at the edge of the woods and together with the party attacked the creature.

Battered by images of dead goblins grasping at their feet, the party slayed the monster and then buried the dead, helping Garek collect his squad's armor.

Soon after, it began raining heavily, and the group took shelter in dry burrow.  There they found numerous skeletons and decided this had been the creature's lair.  Collecting bits of silver and gold, they also found a headband that boosted lifting.  Garek took the headband, noting he had to wear heavy armor and could use it.

Continued on Fragments 1.3

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Species (race), ur-akash (half-orc) and orcs, part one

Typically in fantasy, the half-orc is savage by nature, their dual-ancestry at war and like the half-elves at peace nowhere. However, I wanted to reimagine them for the campaign and, with the help of Nota'Cor's player, began asking what one hundred centuries might have done to the mixed species.

First, I decided to rename them - taking inspiration from Tolkien - chose the name ur-akash.  After so long they have become a recognizable and separate group.

Second, taking queues from the Pathfinder Advanced Race Guide, I decided that there were different branches of the Ur-akash depending on the type of culture they adopted.

Those that remained outside the caers either formed their own clans or joined with existing clans of orcs.  

The Ur-Akash and orc clans are not evil by nature nor do they necessarily kill one another for sport.

However, clan and family are the most important aspects of their lives and the atrocities they may bring to those outside the clan stem from this loyalty to blood above morality.

As a whole many of the ur-akash and orc class do not like goblinoids, whom they consider feral and unpleasant.  Their willingness to work with these species stem more from pragmatism than loyalty.

 Ur-akash (half-orcs) - clans
  • +2 to one ability of choice
  • Medium size
  • Normal speed - 30 feet
  • Darkvision - 60 feet
  • Intimidating - +2 intimidation skill
  • Orc/human blood - counts as orc and human
  • Orc ferocity - Once per day, when an ur-akash is brought below 0 hit points but not killed, they can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled.  At the end of the next turn, unless brought above 0 hit points, they fall unconscious and begin dying.
  • Weapon familiarity- Ur-akash can always use greataxes and falchions.  Orc weapons are martial weapons for them.
  • Bestial - +2 Perception
  • Language - Orcish, Goblinoid

  • +4 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
  • Medium size
  • Normal speed - 30 feet
  • Darkvision - 60 feet
  • Ferocity - Orcs can remain conscious and continue fighting if their hit points fall below 0.  They are still staggered at 0 hit points or lower and lose 1 hit point per round as normal.
  • Weapon familiarity - Orcs are always proficient with greataxes and falchions and treat orc weapons as martial weapons.
  • Frenzy - Once per day, whenever an orc is injured, they can go into a frenzy for 10 rounds and gain +2 Strength and +Constitution, but a -2 to AC.  This frenzy cannot be ended automatically and an orc will attack until the frenzy ends, their target dies or they die.  Afterwards they are exhausted.
  • Light Sensitivity - Orcs are dazzled as long as they remain in bright light.
  • Language - Orcish
Ur-akash are more versatile, but the orcs are far more combat focused.  Where ur-akash live among orc clans their versatility leads them to a variety of roles in the society.

That said, most settlements will allow ur-akash to enter but not orcs. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fragments of the Last War 1.1

Eifer, Tirane, AC 9

Our story began in the hill-town of Rovieo, four hundred miles north-east of the port city of Cymru.  Except for when the caravans come through, Rovieo is a quiet, pleasant place.  Founded during the past century by dwarven caravaners, it is well watered and cooled by mountain breezes.

Overlooking the the Istasis Desert, Rovieo serves as the last stop-over between the mountains and the four hundred miles to the coast.

A caravan protected by the Death's Head mercenary company - a dwarven outfit - prepared to leave Rovieo at dark and begin it's desert trek.  Traveling by night is cooler but leaves the caravan exposed to night predators.

The caravan itself consisted of three great wagons pulled by teams of aneen. (see left)  Each wagon rested on four, twelve-foot tall, one foot wide wagon wheels.  More river barge than conventional wagon, they were wide and filled high with cargo.  Their wagoners, passengers and mercenaries rode under tents raised among the boxes.

During the day, a caravan halts and wide canvases are spread from the wagons out over the sand.  The aneen and passengers alike rest beneath them, waiting out the heat of the day.

Searching the cafes of Rovieo, the dwarf Henri the Foolish - the head of the local Death's Head branch - searched for more guards for his caravan to Cymru, which was to leave that night.  He came across an Ur-akash (half-orc) and Ysoki (ratfolk) dining and offered them posistions.  They accepted.

Nota'Cor the Ur-akash is a monastic-trained wizard (transmuter) who left his monastery quickly and under mysterious circumstances.  His companion, Grey Seer Thanequeel the Ysoki is a cleric (undead lord) of his god, the Horned Rat, and a gregarious if disturbing individual. 

When they appeared at the caravan that night as the last preparations were made, they met the final new guard, Kryplis, a taciturn Bakali (lizardfolk) fighter.  

As the caravan prepared for departure, a halfling, identifying himself as Rafe asked to join the group and was vigorously insulted by Nota'Cor.  He informed Rafe that his dog's name in Orcish means "Halfling-eater."  Undeterred, the halfling sits with them. 
The party was then belittled themselves by a seasoned band of adventurers led by Roben Cally (human.)  His second, Dom Armo (human) joined in the taunting, but the dwarf Andre looked displeased and only halfheartedly joined them.  The wizard Teleai (elf) flirted with Nota'Cor upon learning he too was a wizard.

Their journey across the Istasis Desert began uneventfully enough, drowsy days sleeping way the heat, long nights watching the horizon.  Rafe played his lute and sang terrible songs.  

Three days in, Kryplis destroyed the lute.  

A week out, the the party's wagon was damaged.  At the orders of the caravan master, they were left behind to repair the broken wheel.  Thanks to Nota'Cor's wizardry, the wagon was soon underway.

Intending to rendezvous with the other wagons at an oasis, the party's wagon's lookout spotted firelight on the horizon.  They encountered one of the other two wagons - broken into pieces. One section burned brightly in the night.  Goblins and tall humanoids looted the remaining cargo.  

They attacked, killed the goblins, and discovered the two tall humanoids were zombies.  Grey Seer Thanequeel dominated one zombie then dispatched the other.  

Around their necks, the goblins wore a simple copper medallion with the symbol - three broken rings.

The next day, their wagon arrived at the oasis to find the other wagon a smoldering ruin.  Hanging from a tree next to the water were the heads of Roben Calley and Dom Armo.  No other survivors were found.

The remaining wagon of the caravan continued to the seaport city Cymru.  There, the party met dwarf, Louis the Liar, Death's Head local, and were paid for their efforts.  Being recruits, they were offered a place to stay at the mercenary guild's headquarters.

Nota'Cor and Thanquell visited Gimbalwobble's Pawn to trade, and Nota'Cor had leather barding made for his dog.  Louis the Liar offered them a job investigating missing food shipments sent north to the mining town of Darvek.

Continued on Fragments 1. 2

Monday, June 2, 2014

Species (races), Dwarves

When I decided to include more species in this campaign, I looked at the Advanced Race Guide.  While an informative book, I soon realized the species it presents aren't very balanced.  Therefore I rewrote some of the Pathfinder species for balance.


A short stout race known for their unruly beards, love of wine, and mercantile savvy.  Dwarves adore wealth, gadgets, and a good time to the point of being boorish.  In all, they are a wily bunch not taken in by flattery.  Many of their kin considered other species to be dim and weak-willed.  While no species may be dominant in terms of numbers, Dwarves do dominate the economic and political structure of most surface towns, as well as four of the nine caers. Dwarven is also one of the most common languages, especially in the caravan towns.

+2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
Medium size
Slow and Steady - Base speed 20 feet, speed not modified by armor or encumbrance
Darkvision - 60 ft
Deep Warrior - +2 vs. Aberrations, +2 CMB to grapple aberrations
Greed - +2 to Appraise for non-magical goods made of gems or precious metals
Hatred - +1 attack vs orcs and goblinoids
Hardy - +2 save vs poison, spells, spell-like abilities
Stability - +4 CMB to resist trip, bull-rush
Stonecutting - +2 Peception to notice unusual stonework, i.e. traps, hidden doors
Weapon Familiarity - Battleaxes, heavy picks, warhammers.  All dwarven weapons are martial
Languages -  Dwarven