Derro - These are pretty obviously the "Dero" of Richard S. Shaver, who published a number of supposedly-true "ancient astronauts"-style stories in the 50s. Deranged subterranean dwarfs with psychic powers, the Dero were supposedly the degraded offshoot of an ancient race of super-men called the Tero.
Svirfneblin - presumably of Norse origin (see Svartalfar).
"Apis" is Latin for "bee", so knowledgeable players might immediately start looking for bee-themed monsters.
The Mellified Man comes from actual Middle-Eastern tradition - honey is a natural preservative, although it is unclear whether the idea of mummification-via-honey-immersion was ever actually tried - and the idea that eating a bit of the honey-soaked flesh would cure disease was actual folk rumor/superstition: the Mellified Man having been "cleansed of corruption" both physically and spiritually (via the rituals accompanying the process), it was thought that even a small piece of him would thus repel corruption from the body of anyone who consumed it. Essentially the corpse was treated as a holy relic (like Pieces of The True Cross).
Vorpal Laugh wrote:
I have an Idea for a melee bard. He would me highly muscular and I would describe his performance as flexing his muscles and doing body building poses, so basically Major Armstrong from Full Metal Alchemist. Mix in some Macho Man style trash talk.
You know, I had thought about doing a Major Armstrong char, but wasn't sure what class he would be. I had considered barbarian (he doesn't rage, he flexes). Maybe Bardbarian?
Oh, and time: if you are an experienced log builder, you can slap together the outer shell in a couple days, and another couple days to roof it. For a beginner, figure 2-3 weeks with plans and instructions, probably twice that if puzzling it out yourself. Finishing the interior (laying a floor, building partitions, installing window shutters and a door, etc) would definitely be a Craft:Woodworking check and take maybe a month (it's not as physically difficult as building the shell but requires more finicky precision work).
Edit: This is assuming a minimum 3-man-and-a-horse crew (horse to lift the log via rope-and-pulley, one man to control the horse, one man at each end of the wall to position the new log as it's lowered into place). It is *possible* for a lone man to do it all (even without a horse!) but figure 3-4x the time, and you have to use smaller logs. A one-man cabin would be a max of, oh, call it 8' x 10' interior dimensions, any larger and the logs get too heavy to easily handle. A standard "frontier family" cabin would be about 10'x20' - much larger than that and you start to need multiple fireplaces to heat it.
And if you're having to fell your own logs, trim the branches off, and haul each one to the site, that's extra. :)
Most log cabins are simple enough (one room, maybe with interior dividers) that you don't really need Profession:Architect - Craft:Woodworking and/or Profession:Lumberjack ought to be sufficient.There are two basic types of log construction: butt-and-pass and notched. In butt-and-pass, logs alternately "butt" up against a log of the adjoining wall, or "pass" the adjoining-wall log, sticking out 1-2 feet past the wall. Each log butts on one end and passes on the other: the first log of the N wall butts against the E wall and passes the W wall, the next N log passes the E wall and butts against the W wall, and so on. This is the quickest and easiest method, and can be done by a raw beginner, but is not quite as sturdy as notched (though it is a little less prone to settling over time). In the notched style, each log has notches cut in it near the ends, so they lock together exactly like those old Lincoln Log toys. This requires a bit more skill with the axe, and experience with log construction, to get the notches in the right place and the right depth. The logs in notched style don't stick out past the corners nearly as much as they do in butt-and-pass style.
When chinking the logs, you will need to mix straw with the mud as a binder to make adobe, otherwise the mud will crack and fall out as it dries. Dried moss can be used to fill the crack between the logs before plastering with the adobe. A stone foundation is not necessary (though it will make the cabin last longer), but you will need some stone to build a fireplace (unless you have a cast-iron stove, which is more efficient but heavy to haul out to the wilderness).
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Or how about: the world WAS very interconnected, under the rule of the divines. After/during the Big Sky War, the mass transport and communication systems were wrecked. So far-flung cultures know of each others existence, but can no longer easily interact, and their knowledge may be outdated. This provides many adventure seeds, e.g., the PCs must explore/clear/repair the tunnels of the Deep Tram that used to connect (Constantinople) to (Beijing).
Mark Hoover wrote:
409. The Swarmlord Cometh: The vermin are rising. The wilds and dark bowers of man's domain teem with the swarming things. They crawl and fly and infest everything. At first they were a mere annoyance; pests used for testing the metal of young sellswords and adventurers. Then came the wicked mites in their own hordes, riding the night and haunting the dreams of all who beheld them. Now new and deadly strains of the Unkillable as they are collectively known rise daily and still none can find their source. The blights spread, the death toll rises, and somewhere in the darkness the whispered Swarmlord, master of all vermin, readies itself for a new genesis of devastation.
To prep for this, I'd recommend reading a short book by Patricia Wrightson called "A Little Fear". Old Mrs Tucker survives by herself on her rural family farm, but one day she accidentally angers a fey spirit, the Njimbin. The Njimbin is a small spirit, like a pixie or sprite, it doesn't have the power to simply smite her from existence, but it can speak to animals and insects ...
Over in the forums, the Set's Stuff thread had an entry for "composite" deities, mashing together two gods into one:
I was researching African deities as inspiration for gnoll religions, and the "Pharashtu" entry above perfectly matches many African fertility goddesses, who typically also have dominion over death, souls/spirits, and the underworld. Perfect for Benchak's gnoll midwife!
Yes, I've mentioned this in here before, but ... Ursula Vernon's webcomic "Digger", while nominally about a talking wombat, has a gnollish race (Digger refers to them simply as "the hyenas") that plays a major role in the story. Definitely worth reading for the well-crafted society/culture/religion.
Ian Eastmond wrote:
Khan is not a name, but a title, like "Baron" or "Prince".
About the changed names: I agree that just saying "I'm gonna call myself 'Nemo' from now on" wouldn't do much to fool divinations, BUT - I could definitely see some sort of ritual magic, where the old name is symbolically 'destroyed' and the person invested with the new name; give it a permanent, irrevocable cost (loss of one or more levels, say) to discourage PC abuse...
Well I guess this is a good place to ask. How has society discriminated against you for your sexuality or homosexualism?
Well, the most blatant example would be the member of my gaming group (about 15 years ago now) who was beaten and stomped to death. He was actually straight - but his attackers thought he "looked gay".
Also, you can hardly be unaware of the whole "Defense Of Marriage" furor. I personally would be fine with some sort of civil union or other non-religious registration that would allow the same civil rights as straight folks - right to visit your life-partner when they're in the hospital, right to include them on your health insurance... but the DOM people are against that too.
Heck, just listen to the kids on the street. Teens these days constantly use "gay" to mean "broken/worthless/crappy" - "Man, that was such a gay movie. I want my money back."
If the PCs start doing this repeatedly, by the third or fourth time there will be a little stall nearby selling the corpses of black dogs (just unfortunate street mutts) for 10gp each ... by the sixth or seventh time there will be a competitor selling dead dogs for 5 gp - that have been dipped in cheap black dye that stains the hands/clothing of anyone who handles one...
Madrayne Vox, Mistress of Blades of the Order of the Nail, is a centauress. And on the cover of Cheliax:Empire of Devils, there is an unnamed male centaur Hellknight.
The existence of multiple centaur Hellknights would seem to imply the existence of a local centaur population from which to recruit them. Yet no such population is even mentioned as far as I can tell.
Are there centaur villages in Cheliax? What relationship do they have with their human overlords? With centaurs elsewhere in Golarion?
Excellent job on the surrounding buildings. Not quite sure about the cage. It looks ... very modern, especially in the first view. I look at it and my first thought was "chainlink fence?" It needs a bit more randomness, like it was cobbled together (I'm thinking like the "ball of bones" cage in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie). And I see your wife's point, the broad flat ceiling would have some support trouble ... maybe the ceiling should be domed, or at least conical. I could see a conical roof with five major support beams, crisscrossing secondary beams forming a pentacle, and at every intersection of the bars, a skull is tied, facing the inside - the skulls of the losers... mostly human but here and there a tiefling, halfling, gnoll, etc. for variety.
Not my own, but still a personal favorite:
A couple of my first D&D chars (not the absolute first, but the only ones I remember from that period) were a brother-sister pair of lizardfolk, thief and wizard respectively, named Sneaky and Snakey. Sneaky got killed off rather quickly, but Snakey lived and was reincarnated through many versions and game systems.
Stormrunner ("She who loves to gallop through the wind and rain"), female centaur ranger, and her lover Thunderdancer ("Thunder of dancing hooves upon the earth"), female centaur barbarian.
Squirrel Girl, Champions superhero. Wallcrawling and gliding, super-balance and dexterity, could summon hordes of attack squirrels or trip foes up with an avalanche of nuts underfoot. A fun name to shout - "Fall before the might of ... SQUIRRRELLL GIRRRLLLL!!!!!"
My take - I reduced the disruption effect to 5 points off of DR/SR, and only ringable once/day - but let monks expend ki to increase the effect:
If the bell-ringer expends one or more points of ki, the bell's radius increases by 5', its duration increases by 5 rounds, and the reduction it inflicts increases by 1, for each ki point.
So expending 3 ki points would cause the bell to reduce DR/SR by 8, in a 45' radius, for (15+damage) rounds.
At 10 lbs it's portable but awkward (heavier than a full gallon of milk). You wouldn't want to carry it one-handed for very long.
I'm considering also allowing it to be activated by being rubbed, like the Tibetian singing bowls - no maximum duration, but to maintain it each round you must expend a standard action that provokes AoOs, and it takes both hands (one to hold the bell's handle, one to rub the rim).
Russ Taylor wrote:
If nothing else, as long as they have a sturdy axe/hammer and this key, the party will never lack for firewood...
Whip together a quick "doorframe" of sticks and twine 19' on a side, use the key, and voila! instant raft...
They'll also have a slow-but-potentially-infinite supply of locks (all openable by the key), iron bands, and bolts/studs (that fastened the bands to the door). I could see this item being worth a LOT to, say, a plains-roaming centaur tribe, whose lands contains few trees to supply wood and no mountains to supply iron ... almost as valuable as a decanter of endless water in the desert.
(edit) Oh, and hinges. Which, being something that requires moderately-precise crafting to function, should be saleable. For that matter, simply being able to craft non-magical duplicates of the key should make the locks saleable as well.
Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Just wait till you see the Gnoll prostitutes...
Here's another Uncivil War song for y'all:
Munching Tonight on the Old Campground
We're tenting tonight on the old campground,
We are tired of war on the old campground,
These Yetis and their anthropophagous tendencies
Well, the "hermaphrodite" bit does make it easier to retcon hyena-style gnolls into the old MM entries that describe them as patriarchal male-chauvinists (just like orcs, hobgoblins, and near-every other evil race apart from Drow).
When adventurers or soldiers slaughter a gnoll pack, they're unlikely to closely examine the filthy, blood-soaked, flea-infested corpses other than stripping them of anything that looks saleable. The leader is big, muscular, flat-chested, and has dangly bits - it must be male, right? So "all gnoll leaders are male" becomes common knowledge.
Pregnancy hampers a female's ability to fight, especially late in the term. So a female leader needs to avoid becoming pregnant, or she gives her rivals a chance to attack her when she is weakened. (This implies that the shaman/herbalist of the tribe, as the source of contraceptives, wields considerable political power.) Conversely, she wants to keep her rivals "barefoot and pregnant" as much as she can. So, while the alpha female and perhaps a few trusted betas lord it over the males, the lesser females are "kept in their place" with beatings, rape, and general abuse. Thus "gnolls abuse their females" becomes common knowledge - the lesser females, breasts swollen by pregnancy/nursing, would appear more "female" to human eyes. Note that this means the best and brightest gnolls are LESS likely to reproduce, explaining a perpetuation of the worst traits of the race...
The semi-hermaphroditic nature of real-world female hyenas also means that childbirth is especially painful, bloody, and dangerous for them - imagine the pain of human childbirth PLUS the pain of a man passing a kidney stone. Often the first child is born dead, and often a female's first childbirth is fatal to her as well. (Subsequent births are somewhat easier because the birth passage has already been torn open once and scarred over...) Another reason for a dominant female to avoid pregnancy (though she may have had to survive at least one birth in order to become leader - the extreme danger of birth implies that females who survive would gain status/bragging rights; probably this is how a lesser female rises to "beta" status).
I knew of the Hawaiian tradition, and assumed that was what inspired the author. Note that given the real-world speeds of the Hawaiian sleds, the movement should be more like 500' per round for the small sleds. The Hawaiian sleds are very lightweight, minimal, almost flimsy construction - it's luge, not bobsled.
What I would change:
Instead of a single track, there's a whole web/tree of branching tracks running down the mountain (more tracks as you get further down). This helps solve the problem of a single Wall spell/sled crash piling up all the pursuers, and forces the players to make more than one "Quick! Left or right?" decision (not all of which have any real effect, but only the DM knows that).
If the small sleds steer like luge, you could put the driver position in back, giving the orc in front a clear field of fire and making it easier for him to leap onto the back of the PCs' sled.
More than just three sleds chase the PCs - as many as the DM wants. But the twisting, turning sled runs mean only two or three have line of sight to the PCs at any one time.
Instead of the (rather unlikely) "natural oozing" of oil on the one stretch, try this: The runs need to be greased occasionally, and this boring drudgework gets foisted onto the weakest (lowest-level) orcs. So two lvl-1 orcs are trudging slowly up one of the runs, one toting a big cask of oil strapped to his back, the other dipping a mop in the open cask and swabbing the run behind him as they go. Suddenly they hear a screeching noise... WHAM! oil and orc bits everywhere!
The landing at the end doesn't break the big sled. If the ash field is soft enough to cushion the PCs landing (it shouldn't totally cushion, but reduce the damage to only 1d6 or 2d6), then it's soft enough to act like deep snow - you can pull/push the sled across it, though probably with considerable effort. It also would hamper movement/combat like snow.
The small orc sleds CAN jump the river - in fact, this is how they usually end the run, with a "soft landing". The party has whittled down the orcs' numbers somewhat on the way down, and the surviving ones will be arriving one or two sleds at a time rather than en masse, so the PCs should be able to win the combat at the bottom. (Mental image of the party warlock or sorceror blasting airborne orcs like clay pigeons.)
"Fiery sacrifices" - I'm assuming this simply refers to tossing the captives into the volcano. I don't think the orcs snag captives while sledding past them - it's simply a very fast way to get a raiding party down the mountain (one minute instead of 40-60 minutes!). Plus it's fun - doing a sled run certainly gets the blood/adrenaline pumping in prep for combat, and if it's a little dangerous, there's a "Woohoo, we survived again! We're BAAAADAAASS!!!" morale boost too. Presumably the shaman (with eyes of the eagle? Or a vulture familiar?) keeps watch from the peak and when an approaching caravan is sighted the warriors leap on their sleds and go whooping down the mountain, pick themselves up at the bottom, and charge off to raid it.
(Edit) perhaps the PCs somehow trick half or more of the orcs into sledding down prematurely (an illusionary caravan?), then overwhelm the now-weakened defenses of the village and seize the idol while the angry warriors are climbing back up. This explains "Where did all these orcs come from if the PCs already conquered the village?" - they just got back.
The party apparently doesn't know much about the idol - at the least, they don't seem to know that removing it makes the volcano erupt. It's quite possible that the SIZE of the idol was a surprise as well - only upon reaching the orc village do they find out the thing is eight feet tall and weghs a ton or more, and they have to improvise with the sled rather than having brought appropriate gear with them.
Matthew Morris wrote:
Well, the name "koloiaq" sounds vaguely familiar to me - and I'd never heard of Kolomaq before your post. So I suspect that both this entry and the comic-book villain were based on the same real-world legend? Not plagarism but parallel evolution.
(no luck Googling the name - and the Inuktitut Living Dictionary doesn't let you search for "sounds like" entries or partial entries (e.g. "kolo*"), so "koloiaq" and "kolomaq" are apparently sufficiently different from whatever the original was to prevent any matches. Sigh.)
I'd like to see that Gnoll Gynarky. I've always felt the standard gnolls as presented in the MM were boring, not reflecting anything of the weirdness of real-life hyena biology.
And check out Ursula Vernon's webcomic Digger for an interesting take on gnoll society (though Digger just calls them "hyenas"). The link should take you to my favorite sequence, where "Ed" tells Digger the hyena origin myth.
Sigh, looks like the centaur rickshaws didn't make the cut. In fact, if it weren't for the mention of a centaur as a high-ranking Hellknight one would think they don't exist in Varisia. Ah well.
But why is the legend for the Magnimar map in the module totally wrong? ("1 -The Irespan", etc... all the right names but with the wrong numbers.)
Oh, and Greg Keyes' book The Briar King makes good use of children's rhymes as creepy foreshadowing:
I like the one from Jenny Finn:
Jenny Finn, Jenny Finn,
I don't know if it's an authentic RL song or not, but it has that feel. And the tune is in a minor key which makes it nice and creepy.
And for that matter, I *could* see hobgoblins doing play recitals. They're supposed to be really Lawful, right? A lot of people have done "hobgoblins as Romans", but I have this mental image of hobgoblins like evil samurai - instead of flower arranging, you have severed-head arranging. Instead of tea ceremony, you have eating-the-enemy's-liver ceremony. And Noh plays - or rather, "Oh No!" plays, filled with cunning double-crosses, triple-agents, quadruple-bypasses (without anesthetic), and frequent "ironic" surprise deaths.
Bugbear drum circles.
Seriously, think of all the cliched scenes where the heroes hear "the beating of the savage tom-toms" coming from the woods/jungle prior to the screaming horde attack... Bugbears are big hairy savages, right?
In the South Pacific they have these big slit-drums, that are made by hollowing out an entire tree-trunk. You have to whack it pretty hard, so playing one is a rather athletic workout (like Taiko drumming), but you can feel the rumble in your guts (subsonics) and hear it for miles.
I love the rickshaw idea. Possible side-trek: centaur-pulled rickshaws!
I'd suggest a slow build-up on this one. For the first few adventures, the PCs make use of the rickshaws several times - this gets them used to how fast the service normally is and how much it costs. Then, at some point where the party needs to get across town Right Now, a rickshaw pulls up with a centaur in the traces. Clad only in a gaudily-decorated harness, she offers them "twice the speed at only one-and-a-half the price" - and she delivers on that promise (not only does she have a higher base Move, but she's only at Light encumbrance instead of Medium/Heavy). Along the way she keeps up a steady stream of talk/gossip (an opportunity for Gather Info rolls), pausing for breath only on the steepest hills. It turns out she's just been assigned to a route that takes her past the PCs' lodgings on a regular basis, so they encounter her several more times over the course of the next two or three adventures, as well as one or two other rickshaw centaurs. In the meantime there are growing hints of trouble. A prominent priest is fined by the city council for "rabble-rousing". A gang of human youths fling stones or offal at the PCs while they are riding in a centaur rickshaw. Eventually the party is caught in the fringe of a riot, and have to defend themselves while refraining from killing anyone (which would get them in trouble with the Watch). After the mob disperses and the PCs are cautiously making their way home, they come across the dismembered corpse of their centauress friend sprawled among the shattered wreck of her rickshaw. And the first priest they go to refuses to raise her, quoting an obscure paragraph of Holy Writ about "beasts of the field and forest" - essentially claiming she is an animal rather than a person, and thus not worthy of being raised.
My first issue of Dragon was #50 - the Fifth Anniversary issue with a Carl Lundgren dragon on the cover. I later picked up #49 and #46 (both damaged, missing their covers and inserts). I didn't start subscribing regularly until around issue 60, so I'm missing a few in there (51, 53). I let the subscription lapse around #173, and didn't pick it up again until #280.
Do we necessarily have to go with the exact seven of Christian myth? For one thing, it seems to me that Envy, Greed, and Gluttony are very similar to one another. I might fold Greed into Gluttony or vice-versa, leaving room for a "new" sin. How about Deceit? It's always seemed odd to me that lying/cheating isn't considered a major sin.
R.e. the images: For Envy, perhaps the "pupil" stroke might be over to the side a bit, like looking out of the corner of your eyes at someone? Or not - I wasn't happy with my attempt to "redesign" the symbol. For Wrath, the first is too static and the second too "busy". I took a few minutes to make a variant of the second image basing it off of "furrowed brows"/"shaking fists over his head in rage". And I made a Deceit one loosely off of "villainous mustache"/"forked tongue".
Mike McArtor wrote:
We get a larger-size image of the fighter, but not of the sorceress?
Way back in the days of AD&D, when the three core books were out but no others yet, our party found a bag of devouring. We immediately proceeded to tie it to our 10-foot pole, resulting in the dreaded Butterfly Net of Devouring. We romped through the dungeon, happily thwocking the bag over the head of every monster we encountered. Eventually the frustrated GM declared that we were stuffing the bag so full it was getting indigestion, and it started barfing up random monsters at inconvenient times. Ah, those were the days.. :)
Thank you James, that helps a lot. Given the group's tendency for highly mobile running battles, I suspect Errol Flynn-style fighting on the stairways will occur at some point, and it's useful to know which end is up for the higher ground bonus, especially in the tricky Area 17. It also lets me calculate how high off the floor the balconies in area 3 are, since I'm pretty sure that either the scout or the swashbuckler is going to want to jump from one to another.
Despite the complaint on the letters page about isometric maps, the mountainside monastery in Riders on the Storm really needs a supplemental iso-view to make it clear what goes where. With rooms at over a dozen different heights, several dozen stairs connecting them, and no indication on the map of relative room height or which end of each stair is the top end, I have a hard time figuring out the map. Any chance you could include such a diagram in the web enhancement for this issue? Or at least indicate which way the stairs go?
Also, remember activation time and duration. Even if you could create a "constant" True Strike item, making an attack "discharges" the effect and you then have to re-activate the item (a standard action). So the wielder gets +20 to his *first* attack (*not* to any secondary or additional attacks in that round), then he would have to spend his next round re-activating the weapon, then on the third round he gets +20 to a single attack again, and so on. He has to give up a whole round of attacks each time he wants to get a +20 to one attack. Makes it a little less overwhelming.
r.e. the Wormy compilation:
(The following is entirely my own speculation and is not backed up by any sort of evidence...)
My gut feeling is that this dog will bite, especially if old scars are prodded. While I am very unhappy to have lost an artist and humorist of Trampier's caliber, and I miss Wormy a lot, I think I should respect his apparent desire to "just leave me alone" - prodding him is likely to prompt him to go underground even further.
I don't remember my first character, I think it was a pregen. My mom ran me and my sister through In Search of the Unknown, but she didn't really understand it and after that I was on my own.