Sunday, June 9, 2019

[Now Available] Advanced Labyrinth Lord Adventure Record Sheets

Advanced Labyrinth Lord Adventure Record Sheets
By James Mishler
10 pages, PDF, $1.00

Advanced Labyrinth Lord Adventure Record Sheets provide players and Labyrinth Lords with useful forms and information to use and keep track of individual adventure sessions.

This pack contains the following:

A 2-page Party Adventure Record Sheet, which is used to keep track of the party members, locations explored, NPCs encountered, information learned, monsters killed, treasures won, henchmen & hirelings, divisions of the spoils and XP, and mysteries & loose ends of an adventure session.

A 2-page Character Adventure Record Sheet, which is used during ad adventure to keep track of the character’s combat stats, special abilities and skills, and spells, and is used to keep track of locations explored, NPCs encountered, information learned, monsters killed, treasures won, and secrets kept from other party members during an adventure session.

A 4-page Labyrinth Lord Adventure Log includes two pages dedicated to information needful for running labyrinth and wilderness adventures, including rules for time & movement; light & darkness; listen & spot checks; doors in the labyrinth; traps & trap detection; climbing, stealth, & swimming; and foraging & hunting rules. Also included are a page for keeping track of details of player characters and henchmen, plus a page for keeping track of marching order (by tactics), light sources, monsters and treasures, and notable events.

Permission is granted to print these record sheets for personal use.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

[Now Available] Quick Start Character Race & Class Sheets: By-the-Book

For use with Labyrinth Lord and Advanced Labyrinth Lord
James Mishler Games
By James Mishler
32-pages, $2.99 – Introductory Price of $1.99!

The QUICK START CHARACTER RACE & CLASS SHEETS BY-THE-BOOK are designed to enable a group of players, new or experienced, to quickly create 1st level characters of the various races, classes, and racial classes available in Labyrinth Lord and Advanced Labyrinth Lord. Each race, class, and racial class is detailed on a single sheet with all the information needed to begin play with that class, including requirements, class abilities, a description of basic 1st level spells (as needed), and a list of starting equipment that makes the most difficult and tedious character-creation element – choosing equipment – relatively fast and simple!

Also included are appendices dealing with Rolling Up Advanced Characters, Rolling Up Basic Characters, Equipment Lists, Fast Packs, and Secondary Skills.

Note that the Quick Start sheets do not usually include any information about advancement, abilities, or spells available after 1st level, other than Experience Points required to attain 2nd level. For all such information, consult the Labyrinth Lord, Advanced Edition Companion, or Advanced Labyrinth Lord tomes.

Permission is granted to print these sheets for personal use only; in fact, such is essential to use the product as intended!

Quick Start Race Sheets
Dwarf Race.....3
Elf Race.....4
Gnome Race.....5
Halfling Race.....6
Half-Elf Race.....7
Half-Orc Race.....8
Human Race.....9

Quick Start Class Sheets
Assassin Class.....10
Cleric Class.....11
Druid Class.....12
Dwarf Racial Class.....13
Elf Racial Class.....14
Fighter Class.....15
Halfling Racial Class.....16
Illusionist Class.....17
Magic-User Class.....18
Monk Class.....19
Paladin Class.....20
Ranger Class.....21
Thief Class.....22

Appendix A: Rolling Up Advanced Characters.....23
Appendix B: Rolling Up Basic Characters.....24
Appendix E: Equipment Lists.....25-27
Appendix F: Fast Packs.....28-29
Appendix S: Secondary Skills.....30
Open Gaming License.....31-32

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Death by Infravision!

So for the first time ever in almost 38 years of play, I have witnessed the first Death by Infravision (playing Labyrinth Lord, BTW).

The party -- human thief, human cleric, halfling, dwarf cleric, and elf -- burst into a room and found some goblins. They slaughter all but one, who ran down a stair screaming for backup.

The party starts to hear rumblings of many feet, howling and gibbering and thumping, and start to freak out; they are already down hit points, and not ready to deal with a whole swarm of goblins. 

So they start pouring every flask of oil they have 15 feet down the stair, over the side of the short wall beside the stair.

They say they are going to wait until the goblins reach the oil, then hit it with fire. So far, so good...

Knowing the only fire they had at the time was the thief's lantern, I ask, "So what are you going to throw down there?"

"Oh," they say, "we'll use our flint and steel."

"Flint and steel? 15 feet down a stairwell?"

"Oh... um, somebody light a torch!" they scream, as I describe how the mass of goblins is now swarming up the stair...

I tell them they have a 2 in 6 chance of lighting a torch in time.

"No time!" shouts the thief, down to 2 hit points... who then throws his lantern down the stair, which shattered amongst the oil and the front rank of goblins.

The party shouts in joy as the first two ranks go up in flames! Then the fire dies down after two rounds... casting everything into darkness.

A few moments pass as both sides take stock, and the goblins once more start rushing up the stair. The elf and the dwarf, the only ones who can see, loose arrow and stone down the stair at the goblins, with the dwarf acting as a shield in front of the elf. The goblins can't hit, as both are heavily armored and swift...

And then the humans, desperate for light, fire up their other light sources, blinding the elf and the dwarf for 1d3 rounds!

Dwarf, unable to use shield and dexterity, becomes much easier to hit, immediately takes an arrow, dies, and falls down the stairs (and rolling into a goblin, killing the poor 1-hit point creature)... and so, Death By Infravision!

The previous session an elf got taken out with Death By Acid. The party encountered some new creatures -- I call them Screaming Mimis -- greenish balls the size of a beach ball with eyes on stalks and big feet that let them jump far and high. When killed by slicing or piercing weapons they explode, and anyone within 5 feet has to make a saving throw versus Breath Weapon or take 1d8 points of acid damage. The gnome's dog killed one with its terrible bite, and the elf failed her saving throw with a "Natural 1," and rolling maximum damage, melting off her face, and killing her...

At least they were able to bring her body out of the dungeon. When they fled the goblins they never got a chance to recover the dwarf's body... but I am sure they will encounter it again... mwahahaha!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Origin and Life Cycle of the Elves

The following thoughts were inspired by the posts on From the Sorcerer's Skull here and here.

NOTE: this information is known by all elves but is never revealed to other races. Other races, over long centuries, have gained hints and rumors of the elven life-cycle; whenever the truth is fully discovered, the elves ensure that the information, and those who know of it, are wiped out.

The basic truth of elves is that elves are not native to the mortal world. When the ancient elves first arrived in the mortal world from elsewhere (where has been lost even to elven knowledge) they were spiritual, non-corporeal entities made of pure energy.

The ancestors of the elves arrived when humanity was still in its infancy, only recently evolved from the proto-human, near-simian man-apes that preceded true humans.

The energy beings encountered these creatures and possessed them, becoming the first elves.

As the world then was covered in primeval forest, and the elves embraced the life-energy of the forest, they adapted their bodies to become best adapted to the forest. In all the long millennia since, the elves have never lost this connection to nature and the living world, not even the aloof gray elves nor the corrupted dark elves.

Over time, the first elves slowly molded the bodies they had possessed to what they considered a superior form, what is today known as that of the “sylvan elf” or “wood elf.” This form is smaller than modern humans, as humans of that long-passed age were smaller than modern humans (the sylvan elves were taller and more muscular than the humans of the day).

The elf-spirits did not like the hairy bodies of the humans, and so rid themselves of all hair save for that on their head and their eyebrows. Eyes were made larger, the better to enable darkvision and improved eyesight; similarly, ears were made larger and pointed, to improve hearing. The elves could also change their hair, skin, and eye color at will, the better to express their individuality.

Not wishing to limit themselves to either the male or female form, the elves made themselves capable of remolding the sexual form of their bodies, and thus they may become male or female, neither (neuter) or both (hermaphroditic) as they wish (a change that requires several days to go from male to either neither or both, then to female, and vice-versa). As a result, all elves are physically androgynous in appearance, even those who prefer the biological male or female sexual form to any others.

This sexual polymorphism was due to seeking out differing pleasurable experiences with the physical body; due to religious and cultural reasons, the idea of childbearing was anathema to the first elves (this is no longer true of elves in general, see below). The first elves would never use their own bodies for such distasteful activities (essentially, childbearing was considered equivalent to hosting a parasitical growth).

For long centuries the superior form and technology of the first elves (for the first elves quickly developed advanced technology and civilization from long-buried racial memories of their pre-energy life form) kept the elves alive and in good health. Then the first elves experienced the first physical death among their kind.

They sadly discovered that the spirit of the deceased had become too tied to the body it had long inhabited, and so could not possess another adult body. However, after some experimentation they discovered that the spirit could inhabit the newly-conceived fetus of a human child. The child grew to term, and then after its birth, they retrieved the child by exchanging the newborn with a wolf cub they had polymorphed into a human child. This was the first changeling (and also the origin of lycanthropy, as that human child became the first werewolf).

And so, the issue of the rebirth of existing elves was dealt with when the circumstances first required it. This sparked the issue of the population growth of the elven race, for the human population was growing even as human civilization was quickly advancing (by elven standards). 

In all too short a time elves would be grossly outnumbered and perhaps brought to extinction.

However, as the bodies they had taken and improved upon were still, for all intents and purposes, human, they believed they could reproduce with humans.

After some experimentation it was discovered that elves could, indeed, reproduce with humans. And not only physically; in half of all cases the child bore an elf-spirit, while in the other half of all cases the child bore a human soul.

Those of elf-spirit could, when taught properly, mold their bodies as did the original elves, and their spirits lived on to reincarnate as did the other elven spirits. Those of human-soul, however, could not mold their bodies, nor live on to reincarnate, for they did not have an elf-spirit, but instead had a human soul.

And so over long millennia, the first elves grew their numbers by mating with humans and then taking the elf-spirit children who would grow into proper elves (usually leaving a changeling in its place in payment). In most cases, the half-elf children were left to their own devices, though in some cases there might be some interaction, either with the parent or with the community, depending on the community of the elves.

Then came two schisms among the elves at the same time.

First, many elves noticed that humans had physically improved over the long age; they had grown taller and stronger, more intelligent and capable, and had taken to domesticating animals, growing gardens and grains, and settling in small hamlets and villages. Some of this they had learned from the elves, other things (such as primitive metallurgy) they had learned from the dwarves. And some of the elves were worried that as a people, they were being left behind.

A great number of elves, though not the majority of elves, decided that the elven people needed to evolve.

Against the advice of most of the first elves (who at this point were mostly in their fifth to seventh incarnations), many of the younger, third and fourth generation of elves morphed their bodies en masse, to something similar to or even superior to that of humans. These elves, the high elves, were also the first elves to abandon the strict forest lifestyle of their ancestors.

They then did humans one better and, using their advanced technologies and ancient ancestral memories, built towns and cities when humans had built hamlets and villages. They moved out of the forests and into the meadowlands. There they built vast fields to grow the grains needed to support an advanced civilization. Some humans they adopted like pets, others they enslaved to do their bidding. And so, the first great elven civilizations arose. They allied with the dwarves against the giants and the dragons, and created a time of peace and plenty, which even in human lore is remembered as a golden age.

The first elves who still led the sylvan elves watched all this in horror. Some of them even went mad when they discovered that the high elves had taken to procreating among themselves! Most of the first elves met in conclave and decided that they had to come up with a way to strengthen the sylvan elves against their erstwhile cousins. Of two minds – sane and mad – one group decide that they needed to outdo the high elves and transform themselves into the most potent elven form possible; the other group decided that it were best to call upon the life-force of the forest and to meld with it, to protect the sylvan elves and the forests from the expected depredations of the high elves, who they felt had become too human.

Then from the first elves (all but a few) were born the fairies – the gray elves, the ultimate form of elf (at least, in their own minds) known as faerie elves, and the fairy races, such as pixies, sprites, nixies, and others, born of the merger of the first elves and the life force of the forests. Which faction was sane, and which was mad, none today knows, not even amongst themselves.

In the case of the gray elves, they decided to remain aloof from both high and sylvan elves, seeking to live their lives as an example to their cousins. They moved to hidden mountain valleys and other isolated locales, there to further develop the ancient magic that was inherent in the elven form and to study the very nature of the cosmos and existence. Eventually, over time, these became their obsessions, and they mostly lost their way, though some gray elf peoples continue their self-imposed guardianship of all elven peoples.

The fairy folk, whatever their original ideals and plans, quickly fell into the eternal reverie and merrymaking that is the fairy way. They remain staunch allies of sylvan elves and guard the forests, though now more for their own purposes rather than for all of elf kind. Though they were born from the first elves, the process of unifying with the life force of the forest shattered the spirits of the first elves, and their memories, such that there are few among them today who recall their origins, and even fewer who retain any complete memories of one of the first elves, so jumbled have the spirits of the first elves become.

Over time, without the direct influence of the first elves, the sylvan elves and fairy folk turned to procreation within their own kind. However, many sylvan elves and fairy folk, and even some high elves, continue the ancient tradition of the changeling, the better to bring in new blood to improve the ancient bloodlines. But today, most reincarnation of elven spirits occurs with an elven mother, rather than a human host.

The gray elves have developed an intermediate form of procreation, having developed a form of parthenogenesis. Whenever one of their number dies, a friend, with whom arrangements were made previously, takes on the female sex (most grey elves prefer to remain biologically neither male nor female) and becomes host to the reincarnated spirit of the deceased, the host for the spirit forming via parthenogenesis.

The origin of the dark elves is intertwined with the arrival of the forces of Law and Chaos in the mortal world at the end of the golden age of the elves and dwarves. When Chaos was brought into the world through the civil war between the hosts of the gods of men, it sought power among all the peoples, not merely humans. Some high elves found the whispered promises of Chaos much to their liking, and so began a war of elf versus elf for the first time in all of elven history. In the end the elves aligned with Chaos lost the war and fled underground, where the survivors became the ancestors of the dark elves, held in thrall by the dark lords of Chaos.

Elves self-reincarnate; that is, when an elf dies, its spirit separates from the body and seeks a new host body. Most elves have made previous arrangements with friends to host their spirit prior to death. Unfortunately, elven spirits can travel no faster in incorporeal form than they did in physical form (though they fly, and terrain is not an issue), and until they find a host, their cohesion and memory slowly degrade over time.

Some elf spirits never make it back to a host, and they either fade away or end up being pulled into some other direction. Some are found by demons, devils, ghosts, and other spirits, and are lost. So not all elves reincarnate, and even those that do have usually lost a significant amount of memory.

Some elf spirits, weak and fearing being lost forever, reincarnate in beings other than elves. If an elf spirit reincarnates in a child born to a human, it will be reborn as an elf, though will seem to be a fey human until it attains puberty, upon which most of its remaining memories will return to it (unless it is found by elves and raised among them, in which case its memories start manifesting shortly after infancy).

If an elf spirit reincarnates in a child born to a dwarf or gnome, the child is a gnome, and always remains a gnome; memories manifest at puberty, but the gnome remains a gnome. If an elf spirit reincarnates in a child born to a halfling, the child is a tallfellow halfling; memories manifest at puberty, but the halfling remains a halfling. In these cases, the gnome or halfling cannot be raised from the dead, and when it dies the elf-spirit is free again to seek an elven host.

Considering that most elves have been reincarnated many times, and each time memory degrades somewhat to nearly entirely, an elf has only glimpses of its past lives available. Only the first elves had near total recall from previous lives; these are now very few, most of them being gray elves, a few remain among the high elves and sylvan elves, and sadly, the memories of even the first elves among the fairy folk have been highly dis-articulated, disbursed into the life force of the forest and reintegrated in bits and pieces among the various fairies.

There are also odd cases where elves are reincarnated into non-human and non-demi-human forms. Some elf spirits, lost and weakened beyond consciousness, take shelter in the bodies of animals, and are born into animal form. In most cases these creatures manifest as highly intelligent animals that can speak Elvish (and perhaps other languages the elf-spirit knew).

In more exotic cases an animal born with an elf spirit morphs into a semi-humanoid form, becoming a most unique creature indeed! As this kind of thing has happened no few times over long, long millennia, there are forested regions where elves once live, but were wiped out, where strange animals reside in numbers. These creatures are usually allied with the fairy folk of the region. Some sages say this is the origin of dryads, treants, satyrs, bear-folk, harpies, and other sylvan creatures of semi-humanoid and/or high-intelligence. The elves themselves, of course, do not speak of such things…

Friday, April 26, 2019

G+, Bloggery, Legendaria, Campaigns, Labyrinth Lord, and Stuff

So lately folks have been reminiscing about G+, and if they miss it, or don't. For me, the loss of G+ was mostly a negative; I liked being able to read other's posts that were more than a Twitter and not yet a full Blog post. G+ was just right for that kind of activity without being a chat room or Discordia or whatever passes for such these days. I will miss it; I already do, but its Golden Age was long since passed, anyway.

I intended, after the closure of G+, to blog more (to get back to blogging regularly, as I was with Legendaria). But Real Life has been busy lately. I hope to be able to get blogging regularly again soon, maybe next week, more likely the week after that.

Legendaria is on the back burner and will likely stay that way for a while. I definitely want to return to it and make something out of it, but right now I am running one Labyrinth Lord game (the Western Realm Campaign) and playing in another. Both were intended to be Dungeon Expedition style, a la Rythlondar, but in both cases the party has been stuck in the dungeon between sessions. 

I think the major issue here is that due to time constraints we are only able to play three to five hours per session, which is really not enough to get as much done as one might think. Each campaign alternates every week, so meeting only twice a month does not help, either. Hopefully once the groups get a bit more cohesion each session will run faster and smoother.

I am still working on the Character Race and Class Quick Sheets, but for the initial release I am going to make them By The Book, rather than include any significant house-rules or new races or classes. I hope to have that finished in the next week or two.

After that I've got a couple of things I want to work on. Sadly, my Alien Summoner Wizard Lair Dungeon grew way the hell too much, too fast, and I dunno what to do with it now. It, too, goes on the back burner.

I may publish the adventure I am running now. So far it is working out nicely for a low-level adventure. Simple, with some goblins and undead, but with a few twists here and there to make it fresh. We'll see how the game goes; I already got a nice reaction from the players when they unexpectedly encountered a zombie bear; I haven't had that many players scream from surprise with an encounter in a while. :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Rationalized Reaction Roll House Rules

One thing that has always bugged me about reaction rolls has been that they have never followed the basic curve that is presented with most ability scores. In BX and Labyrinth Lord, they are rolled on a 2d6 table, and so the Charisma modifiers are all on the 2d6 curve (as opposed to the 3d6 curve for all other ability scores); and AD&D had a d00 table which did not follow any curve.
And so, I have come up with the following new tables:
Note that Morale remains on a 2d6 scale, as I feel that works plenty well as it is.
The Charisma bonus of the party spokesperson affects how the encountered creatures react; if the character with the 18 Charisma stands at the back of the party and does not interact, their bonus is worthless; only one bonus counts, that of the spokesperson. If multiple party members try to speak all at once, any bonus is lost, but any penalty still applies; in such cases, there is an additional -2 penalty when dealing with Lawful groups.
Note that there are certain cases where a reaction roll is not needed. For example, certain humanoids always react with hostility and immediately attack certain demi-human races (and parties containing members of such races): kobolds always attack gnomes; goblins always attack dwarves; and orcs always attack elves. All humanoids otherwise react with a -2 penalty to any party whose members are of any demi-human race (such as orcs reacting to a party with dwarves, but no elves).
Chaotic creatures of extra-planar sort have a 5 in 6 chance of immediately attacking extra-planar Lawful creatures, and vice-versa, regardless of the reaction roll (as do Champions of Law or Champions of Chaos). Similarly, any group of obvious Chaotic nature that encounters a group of obvious Lawful nature has a 4 in 6 chance of attacking without even rolling reaction; Lawfuls encountering Chaotics have a 2 in 6 chance of immediately attacking (Orcs encountering the King’s Rangers; Crusaders of Law encountering members of the Cult of Chaos, etc.).
Other examples also include any party found in a creature’s lair, most especially if the party has already slain members of the creature’s clan or tribe or looted their treasury. In such cases, they will be immediately hostile and attack. They might, if patient and cunning, seek to trap the intruders in such a way that they gain advantage on their attacks and/or can eliminate the party without a fight (cf. The Hobbit, ex: Smaug and Barrel-Rider).
Otherwise, except in cases of immediate attack or immediate helpfulness, after the initial contact what thereafter occurs is up to how the party interacts with the creatures. If the party acts or the spokesperson speaks in a belligerent manner, add 2 to the chance of attacking and subtract 2 from the chance of helping. If they act in a friendly manner add 1 to the chance of helping and subtract 1 from the chance of attacking; if they act in a friendly manner and offer gifts, the modifier is 2 instead of 1.
Of course, all this is predicated on the fact that they can parley in a mutually intelligible language; if this is not possible, and they are trying to sign or use mummery to negotiate, add 2 to the chance to attack and subtract 1 from the chance to help.
If the party decides to attack suddenly, the chance of gaining surprise on an Indifferent, Friendly, or Cordial group is equal to the chance that they would have helped (2 in 6, 4 in 6, and 6 in 6); surprise only lasts for one round, regardless of the roll. A party that suddenly attacks cannot gain surprise on a Neutral, Uncertain, or Unfriendly group.
In the case of a Neutral and Uninterested group, there is a base chance of attack of 1 in 6 and a base chance to help of 1 in 6. After the first interaction, apply all modifiers and then check to see if the creatures attack or help.
If Lawful, first check the chance to help; if that fails, then check the chance to attack. If Chaotic, first check the chance to attack; if that fails, then check the chance to help. If Neutral, first check the higher chance, then the lower chance; if both chances are equal, then roll 50/50 to see which chance is checked first. If the creatures do not attack or help, continue the parley…

Saturday, March 23, 2019

[Known Realms] Map of the Northlands for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Back in early 2018 I started working on a campaign for the Known Realms of Aereth, the campaign setting for the original 3E Dungeon Crawl Classics line. Being me, of course, the first thing I had to do was set up a Hexographer map of the Northlands; nine maps, each hex 25 miles across, covering pretty much the entire Northlands except for the northernmost wastelands and Punjar (which really is part of the Lostlands, anyway).
As is normal with my life, other things got in the way of completion, and I moved on to other campaigns. However, the maps have still been sitting there, not complete but mostly complete, and now and again I've been thinking of them and what I can do with them.
Would anyone be interested in seeing these maps completed? Along with a Wilderlands-style run-down of major cities, towns, castles, citadels, ruins, islands, and lairs? Each of the nine maps would be sold separately with a gazetteer (under license from Goodman Games, of course).
Below is a small, stitched-together version of the first draft of the nine maps. Each of the nine has since been worked over more, with more details and corrections between the stitching areas, so this is merely a rough draft.
Let me know what you think...

Click to embiggen

Saturday, March 16, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Ransoming Player Characters

One factor in adventuring that has long been forgotten in Dungeons & Dragons, even through to Labyrinth Lord, is the possibility of ransoming captured characters. While the idea of ransoming captives is an old one in gaming, likely originated in and used to this day in RuneQuest, it was apparently only mentioned briefly by Gary Gygax in D&D in the module B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. There, he mentioned that, “Organized  tribes can optionally be allowed to take player characters prisoner, freeing one to return to the KEEP to bring a ransom back to free the captives. Set the sums low – 10 to 100 gold pieces (or a magic item which the ransoming monsters would find useful) per prisoner.”

Ransoms are actually part of the original DNA of the game. In OD&D, brigands, bandits, nomads, pirates, and buccaneers all kept prisoners for ransom (or to sell as slaves). Historically, ransoms were actually the way many such groups – as well as nobles – got cold, hard cash to add to their treasuries. And so, ransoms – or at least, the potential for them – are going to be added back into campaign. This enables player characters to have a third “out,” so that combat does not always end in death or retreat.

Of course, not all creatures are willing or even able to take on prisoners with the hope of gaining a ransom. Most humanoids have long come to the understanding that in exchange for taking a pass at a fine dinner of man-flesh they may earn themselves a significant treasure – but not all have learned this, nor do all care. Under no circumstances will a humanoid or monster take prisoners for ransom if the player characters have slaughtered their young or elderly, defaced their places of worship, or otherwise caused such pain and consternation that the treasure gained would never outweigh the desire for revenge. Also, humanoids never take their ancient racial enemies prisoner for anything less than torture and sacrifice – goblins never give quarter to dwarves, nor orcs to elves, nor kobolds to gnomes, except as  ruse to capture them for torment and worse.

Human scum – bandits brigands, nomads, pirates, and buccaneers especially – are always interested in taking prisoners for ransom. They have no desire to battle to the death, and they find it a very lucrative trade. Nobles usually only take other nobles or wealthy merchants for ransom; others are enslaved or killed out of hand. Slavers are more likely to take prisoners to sell, unless the captive is very wealthy, while berserkers and cavemen take captives only to torture and/or eat. Pilgrims generally turn dangerous adventurers over to local authorities (if Lawful) or keep them to sacrifice at their unholy shrines (if Chaotic). Druids keep interlopers prisoner until it is time to light the Wicker Man; dervishes release their enemies back into the desert, though without equipment or even clothing, to let the wastelands be judge, jury, and if needful, executioner.

Other monsters and monstrous races may take prisoners to keep for ransom if they are intelligent, capable and willing to work with two-leg creatures, and greedy for treasure. Vampires, medusae, manticores, dragons, lycanthropes, satyrs, and centaurs are all likely to take prisoners for ransom. Most other monsters are either too inimical to humans and demi-humans, too hungry, too disorganized, or just too stupid to recognize the possibilities to taking prisoners for ransom (these others are more likely to take prisoners for their larder or for torment).

Creatures of lesser intelligence and non-discerning temperament such as humanoids will usually ransom anyone for 10 to 100 gp, regardless of social class or station (they will keep all equipment and treasure found on the character, of course). But be sure that the messenger they send back to civilization hurries – they are not known for their patience, and sometimes their lust for entertainment or hunger will get the better of them!

Humans and intelligent monsters are more likely to try to suss out their prisoners and find out just how much they are worth – a noble is obviously worth more than a mere peasant, a 5th level son of a duke is worth far more than a 5th level mercenary, and magic-users and clerics are often worth as much as a noble to their guild or temple! In such cases they will usually set the ransom at 100 gp per level of the character, more if of noble family or wealthy connections, less if of poor or modest means.

Failure to pay the ransom in the demanded amount of time ensures the wrath of the captor. Humanoids and monsters either eat or enslave the offenders, while humans are more likely to kill or sell their captives into slavery. And of course, in the case of captors of thoroughly Chaotic sort, there is no guarantee they will honor the deal even if they are paid the ransom!

On the player character’s part, in order to even take advantage of the opportunity for ransom, they must set up a ransom with someone back in civilization – someone close and readily accessible, someone that they can trust to pay the ransom when demanded. Player characters with families can usually count on them to pay a ransom if it is within their means, or even if they have to borrow heavily to do so – provided the character is on good terms with their family. Black sheep need not apply.

Characters who belong to guilds or similar organizations – temples, mercenary guilds, wizard guilds, thieves’ guilds, and the like – can count on these organizations to come to their aid, again, provided their fees are up to date and they are in good standing. Ion any case, the character, unless he has the fund on deposit, will be required to pay back the ransom paid, with interest, and is beholden to the family or organization even moreso until it is paid.

So, as players, please remember this third option! Not all battles need to be to the death. You now have the option of living to fight another day – and seeking revenge on those who captured you and ransomed you! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Half-Elf Race and the Half-Elf Racial Class [Minstrel]

Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: STR 3/18 (17), DEX 6/18, CON 6/18, INT 4/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 3/18
Half-elves are the result of the union of human and elf, and as such they seldom fit into either society. They often inherit a love of nature from their elven parent and a vibrant curiosity and ambitiousness from their human parent. In some lands there are settlements of half-elves, where elves and humans mingled for long centuries.
The child of a half-elf with a half-elf, elf, or human is a half-elf. Half-elves and half-orcs can have children; however, only 1 in 4 survives birth, and such children are always human (perhaps with slightly pointed ears, enlarged canine teeth, elvish or orcish eyes, or other remnant of their other-than-human heritage).
Half-elves have pointed ears like elves and are slighter of build than humans of the same height. Half-elves average 5½ feet tall and typically weigh 140 pounds. Half-elves typically live for 250 to 350 years. Half-elf skin, hair, and high color are highly variable, depending on the nature of their human and elven parents.
Male half-elves have a base height of 5’6”, females 5’3”. To this (d10) 1-2 Subtract 1d6”, 2-5 Subtract 1d4”, 6-8 Add 1d4”, 9-10 Add 1d6”.
Male half-elves have a base weight of 140 pounds, females 110 pounds. To this (d6) 1-2 Subtract 2d6 pounds, 3-5 Subtract 1d8 pounds, 6-8 Add 1d8 pounds, 9-10 Add 2d6 pounds.
Half-elves start out at the following ages based on class: Assassin 20+5d4, Cleric 30+3d4, Half-Elf 35+12d4, Fighter 20+4d4, Magic-User 35+3d4, and Thief 20+5d4. When multiclassing, take the highest base age and add modifiers from all classes.
Age provides the following modifiers to 1st level characters:
• Adolescent (24 to 44) -1 to Wisdom and +1 to Constitution.
• Adult (45 to 99)  +1 to Strength and +1 to Constitution.
• Middle-Aged (100 to 179) +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Wisdom.
• Elderly (180 to 249) -2 to Strength, -1 to Dexterity, -1 to Constitution, +1 to Intelligence, and +2 to Wisdom.
• Venerable (250 to 350) -3 to Strength, -2 to Dexterity, -2 to Constitution, +2 to Intelligence, and +3 to Wisdom.
These numbers include all cumulative adjustments.
To determine skin, hair, and eye coloration, choose from the elf and human lists, or roll d6 for each category separately, 1-3 as per human parent, 4-6 as per elven parent. Use similarly for elf/half-elf, half-elf/half-elf, half-elf/half-orc, and human/half-elf mixes.
Half-elves have 60’ Infravision.
If actively searching, half-elves can detect hidden and secret doors with a roll of 1-2 on 1d6.
Half-elves have inherited a resistance to the paralyzing effect of ghouls, receiving a +4 to saving throws against this effect.
As a strange side effect of the merger of elf and human blood, half-elves have a significant chance of possessing psychic abilities. This chance is equal to the sum of their Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores as a percentage, rolled once at character creation. Psychic half-elves can use the message spell once per day per level. At 3rd level they gain the ability to use ESP once per day per three levels. At 5th level they gain the ability to use clairaudience/clairvoyance once per day. Non-psychic half-elves gain a +2 bonus to save against any mind-affecting spells or other such effects.
Half-elves speak their alignment language, Common, Elvish, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, and Orcish.
Half-elves may select from the following classes, with the indicated level limits:
Half-elves have the widest range of multi-class possibilities among the demi-human races. Combinations include assassin/cleric, assassin/fighter, assassin/magic-user, assassin/minstrel, cleric/fighter, cleric/fighter/magic-user, cleric/magic-user, cleric/magic-user/ranger, cleric/minstrel, cleric/ranger, druid/magic-user, druid/magic-user/ranger, druid/minstrel, druid/ranger, fighter/magic-user, fighter/magic-user/thief, fighter/minstrel, fighter/thief, magic-user/minstrel,  magic-user/ranger, magic-user/thief, minstrel/ranger, minstrel/thief, and ranger/thief. Assassin/minstrels and minstrel/thieves gain an additional +5% bonus to their climb walls, hide in shadows, and pick pockets abilities.
Half-elf assassins, minstrels, and thieves receive the following bonuses to thief abilities:
Requirements: Dexterity 12, Intelligence 12, Charisma 12
Prime Requisite: Intelligence and Charisma
Hit Die Type: d6 (d8 Advanced Option)
Racial Level Restrictions: Half-Elf 12
HD at 1st Level: 1d6 (1d8 Advanced Option)
XP Needed to Attain 2nd Level: 2,735
Attacks: As Thieves, THAC0 19.
Saving Throws: As Elves: Breath Attack 15, Poison or Death 12, Petrify or Paralyze 13, Wands 13, Spells or Spell-Like Devices 15.
Allowed Armor: Minstrels may wear padded, leather, studded leather, ring mail, and chain mail armors.
Allowed Weapons: Minstrels may wield the long bow, short bow, club, light crossbow, dagger, dart, javelin, quarterstaff, scimitar, sling, spear, bastard sword, long sword, and short sword.
Alignment: Minstrels are usually Neutral, but some are either Lawful or Chaotic. All are dedicated first and foremost to their art.
Musical Instruments: At 1st level a minstrel must choose three musical instruments in which she is expertly skilled, which she uses with most of her minstrel abilities (those marked with an asterisk (*)). She may choose an additional instrument at 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th levels. Whenever using an instrument in which she is not expertly skilled, the minstrel halves her base chance, rounded down.
Cunning Linguist: A minstrel learns one additional language every odd level, including 1st level. A minstrel can learn Thieves Cant and the secret languages of druids and illusionists if she can find a teacher. Due to the minstrel’s extensive travel and interaction with strange folk, she can also attempt to communicate in a strange language, read unusual writing or runes, or read a magic-user scroll. Cunning Linguist skill starts at 20% chance at 1st level.
Charm*: Once per day per level, the minstrel can attempt to use her musical talents to charm an individual or small group of beings. The song requires two rounds, plus one round per target beyond the first. At the end of the song, the minstrel rolls against her chance to charm roll. If successful, the targets must make a saving throw against spells, or are charmed as per the 1st level magic-user spell, charm person. At 3rd level, this ability can be used to charm mammal, as per the 2nd level druid spell. At 5th level, this ability can be used to make a suggestion, as per the 3rd level magic-user spell. At 7th level, this ability can be used to charm monster, as per the 4th level magic-user spell. A minstrel may try to charm any one target only once per day. Charm skill starts at 35% chance at 1st level.
Counter-Song*: A minstrel can use a song to counter the ill-effects of hostile sounds, whether the sounds are songs, chants, wails, or even commands and suggestions from magical spells. Only one such attempt may be made per effect. Increase the chance of success by 5% every level the minstrel has greater than the level/HD of the opponent; similarly, decrease the chance by 5% for every level/HD the opponent has on the minstrel. If successful, the minstrel must continue singing as long as the opponent uses the effect. Counter-Song skill starts at 35% chance at 1st level.
Influence*: This is the minstrel’s base chance to alter the reaction of a group, favorably or otherwise, to the minstrel and her group or toward others. Success means the targets are influenced one step toward friendship or one step toward hostility, depending on the results desired by the minstrel. An attempt requires three rounds of uninterrupted song. Failure indicates the group is unaffected; a 96-100 on the roll means the opposite of the desired effect occurs. A minstrel may continue to influence any group until failure occurs. Influence skill starts at 40% chance at 1st level.

Inspire*: The minstrel may sing a rousing song or emote a heroic couplet for two rounds, then roll to see if she succeeds at inspiring her allies. Success increases morale of allied NPCs by +1 and grants all allies a +1 bonus to hit and to saving throws. Inspiration lasts for one minute per level. When the duration ends, or even before, the minstrel can attempt to inspire allies again. Failure indicates the minstrel cannot again inspire her allies again during this battle. Inspire skill starts at 50% chance at 1st level.
Lore: Minstrels learn a little about everything in their travels and interactions with others. Lore represents the ability to know something about local history, politics, society, heraldry, the underworld, and gossip; the higher a successful roll, the more the minstrel knows about that person/place/thing/event. Lore is also the chance for a minstrel to recognize a named, unique magic item, relic, or artifact, and know some or all its abilities, potentially including command words and curses. Lore skill starts out at a 15% at 1st level.
Perfect Pitch: Minstrels have a +2 bonus to save against any form of sonic, sound, and/or music-based attacks.
Perform*: This is the minstrel’s base ability to perform, singing and playing her instrument to entertain crowds. Success indicates the crowd is entertained; the higher the successful roll, the better. A performance requires a full turn (10 minutes) at base chance. Rolling 96-100 is always a failure. If successful, divide the final roll by 10 (round up) and roll that many six-sided dice to determine the coins that the crowd gives the minstrel; low class is in cp, middle class is in sp, and upper class is in gp. Failing by 20 or more means rotten tomatoes and other vegetables are thrown at the minstrel, at the very least. Perform skill starts at 60% chance at 1st level.
Repartee: A minstrel can utter a witticism, jest, or jibe of such potency, that it can stun, paralyze, render unconscious, or even kill those who hear it. Utterance of a witticism requires one round, and it can only affect intelligent creatures who can hear and understand the language in which it was spoken. A successful witticism requires those who hear it to make a saving throw versus Death. Those of low Intelligence are at an advantage; apply any Intelligence modifier as a penalty to the saving throw (thus, a penalty becomes a bonus, a bonus becomes a penalty). At 1st level, a successful witticism stuns for 1d4 rounds; at 4th level, it paralyzes for 1d4 rounds; at 8th level, it renders victims unconscious for 1d4 rounds; and at 12th level, it kills. A minstrel must make a saving throw against her own repartee, though she gets a +4 bonus to the saving throw.
Stealthy: Minstrels can climb walls, hide in shadows, and pick pockets as a thief of the same level.
Armor: Studded Leather Armor (AC 7).
Weapons: Quarterstaff, Scimitar, Long Sword, or Short Sword; 2 Daggers; Short Bow and 20 Arrows or Long Bow and 20 Arrows.
Special: Three musical instruments (the same three in which the minstrel is expertly skilled at 1st level).
Special: 1 Adoring Groupies (1d3), 2 Book of Limericks (targets save at -1 to Repartee), 3 Fine Riding Horse with Saddle and Tack, 4 Magical Musical Instrument (+5% to all skill checks), 5 Map to a Random Treasure, 6 Satyr/Satyress “Companion.”
Fast Pack: Choose one: Dungeoneer’s Pack, Mercenary’s Pack, Traveler’s Pack, or Wilderness Pack.
Clothing: Three suits of Commoner, Courtier, Fancy, Fine, Minstrel, Rustic and/or Stealth clothing, plus hat and full-body cloak with hood.
Wealth: 1d10 each of gold, silver, and copper pieces. You have a chance equal to three times your Charisma score as a percentage of having an additional d100 each of copper, silver, and gold pieces from recent successful performances.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Class Level Title Redux -- Emendations and Additions

After a thorough going over, I have made some changes to the 10 existing class level titles and added six new class level title listings.

I changed the druid listing, for various reasons; that is the major change to the existing tables:

I have also added six new listings, for the three racial classes I have enhanced and the three racial classes I have added to my class list. These six are:

Halfling Bounder
Dwarf Delveguard
Elf Fey Knight
Gnome Korrigan
Half-Elf Minstrel
Half-Orc Reiver

All six are going to be released in a product through James Mishler Games once I finish it... hopefully sooner than later. A preview will be forthcoming later this week.

Monday, March 4, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Class Level Titles

First of all, Legendaria is still ongoing, however, it is no longer an Advanced Labyrinth Lord project. I am going to be developing it using the Four Color/FASERIP system, which fits the campaign concept much better than trying to integrate all the themes into Labyrinth Lord.
So that will go on, but right now, I'm working on some things for ALL. Not that I'm going to mention those yet; I won't be in a place to really talk about those projects until after Gary Con (if we make it, hoping the weather holds).
For now, here is a list of Class Level Titles I have generated for use in my ALL campaigns. I always kind of liked these, and recent re-reading of the classic Rythlondar Campaign materials has got me really wanting to use them again. But they are a bit of a mess in some ways, so I have cleaned and altered them to better fit my campaign.
I hope you find these useful and perhaps inspirational!

As usual, click to embiggen!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

[LEGENDARIA] Southern Regions of Legendaria

Region 07: The Sea of Skies and the Kingdom of Aeryth
The southwestern corner of this region is the major geographical feature that defines it: The Sea of Skies, a vast airy valley where once stood a great sea of fresh water. During the war that precipitated the fall of the Last Galactic Empire the Sweet Sea (as it was then known) and the area around it were subject to a terrible attack – the Elemental Inversion, a terrible force of technomancy that caused the very elements themselves to mutate and transmogrify, usually without rhyme or reason.
Aeryth Archipelago of Floating Islands
The waters of the Sweet Sea were transformed into air. Most of the sea life that was not outright killed by the mutative energies were transformed into a kind of life that would thrive in air; thus, fish grew wings, as did merfolk and other sea life, and today the Sea of Skies is one of the oddest wonders of Legendaria. Note that, due to ancient genetic manipulation, though a fresh-water sea, there also lived therein species of sharks, dolphins, octopi, and other aquatic life forms that normally would be found in salt water. As the air that fills the Sea of Skies is the same as any other air, these new species have spread far and wide, though they are still rare outside the environs of the Sea of Skies (which includes the entirety of the region to the southwest, the Great Airy Deeps, and parts of each region adjacent).
Elsewhere in the region, stranger, and no less spectacular, changes were happening, most notably that the stone and rock of certain mountains were also transformed into air. Many mountain peaks, on the verge of the transmogrifying energies, were only partially-transformed, and are now made of “airy-stone,” forming archipelagos of floating islands high in the skies of the region. Most of these remain stabilized in space, rooted to their original locale through some strange mystic tie. Others, the “Wandering Isles,” follow the winds or other strange currents, though these too remain within the nine regions in which is found the Sea of Skies.
Smaller regions also experienced strange elemental inversions. The Forest of Fire, the Great Glacial Rift, the Rocky River, the Mountain Invisible, the Great Acid Lake; all these and more also were formed in the Great Elemental Inversion and remain to this day of great interest to magic-users and scientists alike.
Sky Ship
As with the sea life of the Sweet Sea, most creatures in the region perished; others were mutated, some adapted to their new environs, others in more terrible and blasphemous fashion. Thus, the region around the Sea of Skies is home to some of the strangest life forms on Legendaria. These include the Chimans (aka Chimeras), a mutant race where each individual is a composite of two or more creatures, and no child ever resembles their parent; the Meborum (or Psyborbears), a race of psychic cyborg bear-kin; and the Tavala (or Octopoids), a race of mutant barbarian octopi.
In addition to the many different strange and unusual mutant races of local sort, humans, demi-humans, and manimals have returned to the region in the centuries since the Great Elemental Inversion, settlers from Greymoor, the Glittering Towns, and the Patchwork Lands. They have built numerous petty kingdoms, the most significant of which is the Kingdom of Aeryth, founded upon the Aeryth Archipelago of floating islands. The kingdom also rules swaths of lands on the mainland, below. Great traders and explorers, the people of Aeryth get around with pegasi, griffons, flying ships (magical and technological), and other aerial creatures and contraptions.
Aeryth is ruled by Princess Aeryn (Lawful Human Magic-user (Enchantress)), the 18-year-old daughter of King Aeros and Queen Aurora, missing for the last five years. Princess Aeryn just recently gained her majority and the rule of the kingdom after five years of rule under the Regent, her uncle, Duke Maelstrom, who remains her closest advisor. There was talk of a marriage between Princess Aeryn and Prince Caine of Greymoor before her parents disappeared. He thinks she is snooty and boring, she thinks he is a child and a good-for-nothing ne’er do well.
Defender of the Tower of Stars
For the last two years the Kingdom of Aeryth and most of the lands of the region (and a bit to the north and south) have been protected by Astra Magna, the Star-Queen, the leader of the Defenders of the Tower of the Stars, an ancient citadel found on a floating island high above the Aeryth Archipelago. The Star-Queen is a mighty warrior who wields the Star-Blade, a powerful artifact, and rides upon a great winged lion, known as Leocorus, the Star-Cat. The Star-Queen and the Lord of Legends are stalwart allies, as are the Defenders of the Tower of the Stars and the Champions of Castle Blackhawk.
There are also clans and tribes of goblinoids and mutants that have moved into the region, usually nomads from the Silver Steppes that have settled down in the mountains, hills, and wastes of the region. These, together with the growing Great Horde of the Abhumans on the Silver Steppes, are a growing threat to the goodly folk of the various kingdoms of the region. There are also the Air-Pirates of the Sea of Skies, who operate out of the region to the southwest; in the past they have been a mere nuisance, but of late they are growing bolder and more powerful.
Region 08: Kingdom of Greymoor and Castle Blackhawk
The lands south of the Crystal Peaks are the most fertile of the nine regions described herein, with wide bands of rich farmland along merry streams; fertile meadows dotted with ranches and sheepcotes; and well-tended orchards, vineyards, and shrublands. The Crystal Peaks run along the northern border of the region, averaging 50 miles wide, from the Quartz Hills in the west and then far into the east. These mountains, as their name implies, are replete with gemstones, gold, silver, and other precious metals, and are the home to numerous dwarf and gnome settlements.
Gnome Grotto in the Crystal Peaks
Of course, the Crystal Peaks are most notable for being the site of Castle Blackhawk, the ancient and mysterious citadel which for the past two years has been protected by Magnus Maximus, the Lord of Legend, and the Champions of Castle Blackhawk. These valiant heroes and super-heroes defend not only the castle, but also the ways of Law, for which the castle stands. They use their skills, talents, expertise, experience, and prowess to protect all innocent and goodly beings from the ways of Chaos, especially the depredations of the Banemasters of Demonfang Citadel.
The Lord of Legends and the Champions of Castle Blackhawk are inextricably allied with the Kingdom of Greymoor, which stands in the heart of the region amidst the rolling fields that the super-science of Castle Blackhawk transformed from barren moor to fertile farmlands. Greymoor is ruled by the elderly King Adan of the House of Palatinus and his wife, Queen Evelyn of the House of Medeis. Their only son, Prince Caine, is kind and generous, but otherwise a dissolute ne’er do well, though the court wizard, High Councilor Gaxx, and the Ghost of Bishop Paxx, are doing everything they can to help him grow into the king he needs to be.
Royal Palace of Greymoor
Greymoor was, once upon a time, a far more powerful realm than it is today; it was the heart of the Third Empire of Legendaria since the Fall of the Last Galactic Empire, but has been in decline for two centuries, and now rules over only its small territory and holds loose hegemony over the settlements of the local region. With the loss of much of the power, prestige, and wealth of their realm, the Galaethans, the people of Greymoor, have fallen into decadence, with no few staring into the abyss of depravity, despite the best efforts of the royal court and the Champions of Castle Blackhawk. The forces of Chaos nest like a viper in Greymoor City, where cults of the Demons of the Outer Dark and other gods of Chaos hide in the shadowy alleys and deep ruins of ancient cities that stand beneath the cellars of the city.
The region otherwise is heavily populated compared to the other regions, with numerous hamlets, villages, and towns of a disparate selection of races among the fertile lands. Humans, demi-humans, and manimals of all sorts are found in the region; most hamlets and villages are of one or maybe two races, while the towns in the regions are generally cosmopolitan. No matter how civilized the region may be, though, as elsewhere the fertile lands are separated by wide swaths of wilderness, wild and deep, filled with goblinoids, mutants, monsters, and ruins.
Royal Guards of the Kingdom of Greymoor
The small but professional army of Greymoor and the Champions of Castle Blackhawk patrol the entire region. In the north they have to deal with incursions from the Banemasters of Demonfang Citadel; in the east they have to deal with raiders and slavers from the Cities of Smoke and along the sliver of coastland in the east they have to deal with all manner of pirates and monstrous raiders. The lands to the south are wild and mostly unknown, but fortunately are not home to any organized band dedicated to Chaos, though strange goblinoid and mutant have, of times, raided from the south. Most recently small bands of barbarians of human and near-human sort have been encountered coming from the south; they claim they were pushed out of their lands in the cold plains far to the south by a quickly-growing glacier and various cold, ice, and snow-related monsters and abhumans.
Region 09: The Sea of Storms and the Cities of Smoke
The Scintillating Peninsula is a wide wedge of land that strikes out into the Sea of Storms like a blade. On the northern border of the region, the Crystal Peaks, which continue unbroken from the west to the east, save for the Great Glowing Valley, out of which debouches the Great Glittering River (south of the Glowing Wastes also known as the Grimy Glow), which terminates in the vast delta of the Great Radiant Rust Swamps. Once a rich, fertile land, the Scintillating Peninsula today is a patchwork of mutant forests, festering marshes, rocky moors, and stinking swamps. As though the fetid waters of the Grimy Glow were not enough, the Modern-Futuristic Cities of Smoke that rule these lands, with their great factories, pay the local ecology no heed – they pour noxious liquid wastes into the water, blow toxic fumes into the air, and dump lethal solid wastes hither and yon.
City of Smoke
The Cities of Smoke broke away from the Third Empire of Legendaria and the Kingdom of Greymoor in the time of King Adan’s grandfather, and since then have taken a very unpleasant turn. The once fine cities of shining marble and silver towers have been transformed into piles of brick smokestacks and rusting steel-girt skyscrapers, each ruled by a rich and powerful oligarchy, with the common laborers living in abject poverty groaning under terrible oppression (though heavily propagandized to believe that their miseries are the fault of the other cities and their peoples). War crosses the land with great frequency, as each of the Cities of Smoke seeks to gain the upper hand on the others, eventually to unify them all under the rule of one oligarchy. However, whenever any one city gains advantage, the other cities gang up on that one to restore the balance…
The region is home primarily to humans, goblinoids, and mutants; the mass of commoners and the elite oligarchs are human (some of the oligarchs are cyborgs or secretly mutants), the core cadre of the armies are goblinoids (with commoner human militias for fodder), and the wilds outside the cities and their guarded farming fields are home to all manner of mutants. Demi-humans are found only among the slave class, members of which are taken from neighboring regions, or from lands across the Sea of Storms. The Scintillating Lands (known elsewhere as the Blighted Realm) are a place where joy and hope have been carefully ground out of the hearts of the common folk; it is a Dickensian Dystopia of industrial proportions. Even the small middle class of upper-level craftsmen and professionals who serve the oligarchs have little joy, save for their slightly better living conditions.
Toxic Wastelands of the Blighted Realm
But not all hope is lost for the peoples of the Cities of Smoke, as a band of heroes has formed under the auspices of the very world of Legendaria itself, which cried out for relief. Operating from a hidden fortress, the Grand Circle of Life, the Defenders of Legendaria, was called together from disparate groups of druids, elementalists, rangers, and others from distant regions. Together, when needed, these heroes can even summon the avatar of Legendaria herself, the Eternal Earth Mother – though her power is fleeting, and so they loathe to summon her too often. But they have lately struck a major blow against the Oligarchs, destroying a major fortress that served as a base for slaving operations.
In addition to the Cities of Smoke slaving operations, each also operates a fleet of pirates (under letters of marque of course, so one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer). These swarm the Sea of Storms attacking any ships not of their city’s flag and raiding the seacoast hamlets, villages, and towns held under other city’s hegemony. There are also islands in the Sea of Storms that are home to independent pirates – escaped slaves and commoners who seek to gain vengeance on the Oligarchs and their vicious crews of slavers and pirates.
Pirates/Privateers of the Cities of Smoke