November 8, 2014

The Gazetteer of Ki-en-gir (The Land of the Enlightened Lords)

This page is ground zero for my Ancients & Aliens campaign.  I'm going to make an effort to compile an organized list of links here in order to connect all of my various blog posts about the setting.  This gazetteer and the links within will grow as I add new material, and the links will change as I edit or replace older material.  My hope here is that whenever a new player joins us at the table I can simply give them the link to this one webpage that has all of the most up-to-date information about the setting.  Whether they actually read any of it or not is totally their own choice.  I just want to feel like I'm doing my part by providing easy access to the material. 
THE RULES - I default to Labyrinth Lord, which is free, ... so, get that.  It's awesome.  Also, I mix in some Mutant Future which is also free from the same publisher... so get that too.

Character Creation Document - and I should really mention Jeff Rients at this point, because we all owe a debt to Jeff... mostly me.  He's given us tons of gameable material over the years at Jeff's Gameblog which I draw from endlessly.  This character creation document is based on one of Jeff's.  He also runs a hell of a great game, so roll some dice at his table if you ever get the chance.   Thanks Jeff, we owe you fun.

Character Classes
Fighter - yeah, as is... keep fighters fighty
Specialist - basically Thief, but I'm trying out LotFP skills sorta, so...
Magi - basically Magic-User, but religious... 10% gold tithe for reduced xp chart, I should post that
Prophet - not current, I should rewrite this, but close-ish... non-tithe xp, this needs work
Shaman - Hills People's only, Druid-ish, mask/costume required
Amazon Huntress
Andwarvian - blue dwarves with ultravision and UV emitting Andorian antennae. Dex<9
Mutant - I should post my mutation chart, it's done, like now... is there demand for this? Cha<9
Naked Mole Ratling
* (? = PC's must find + befriend these creatures to gain access to these species... or roll really crappy ability scores at character creation + decide to take the plunge)

My House Rules Document
Arduin Critical Hits - I use this chart for every natural 20 (splintering a shield will prevent the crit)
Fumble Chart - I use this d6 chart if you roll a natural 1 to-hit, ....should I post this?
Awfully Unforgettable Fumbles - I use this chart if you roll a 1 on the d6 fumble chart

Ancient Sumer 3000 BCE.  The region is known locally as "Ki-en-gir", which might translate roughly into "The Land of the Enlightened Lords".
20 Quick Questions
History - version 1
History - version 2
Even more ancient campaign idea
Overland Travel - I should fix this
Domain Rules - mostly An Echo Resounding, but altered a bit to fit my version of ancient Sumer
Domain Events - mostly the yearly and monthly event charts from Oriental Adventures, but altered a bit to better fit ancient Sumer.

The Far North

The North

The Heartland

The South

The East

The Far East
Chogha Mish

13.07 - The Ruined Dwarf Fort
14.12 - Under Xylarthen's Tower
15.08 - Swamp Tower

13.10 - The Chaotic Caves of Chaos (like this, but with more cowbell)

Campaign Session Logs
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9?  - I don't even know where we are now, except that I'm awful at doing these in a timely manner.  None of the players wants any bonus xp for writing session reports?  Really?  That's Ok, it's fine, it's fine... I'll get to it... you know... some day. (I won't, I lie.)

November 4, 2014

Niru: City of a Thousand Sorrows

NIRU - Population 2,500 (mostly human, about 200 Elfulan, and probably 5 or less of every other humanoid species)

Growing Town: +2 Wealth +2 Social
Origin (Ancient Industry-Woodcutting): +2 Wealth
Strong Society (Shared Adversity): +2 Social
Inner Palisades: +2 Military
Outer Stone Walls: +2 Military
Barracks: +2 Military (free upkeep for 1 military unit)
Local Market: +2 Wealth

Military Forces
100 Light Infantry gifted from Sippar (-1M-1W)
100 Elfulans town/magi guards (-1M-1W-2S)*free*

Domain Rating Totals
Military Surplus = 5
Wealth Generated = 5
Social Stability =  4

Treasure/Goods/Materials on Hand = 0
Petty Cash = 0gp

City Info
Back in the good old days, Niru was founded as a small colony of wood cutters clearing out timber for Kutha and sending the excess timber down river.  Now most of the nearby timber has been exhausted.

Niru was a small suburb of Kutha until about 50 years ago when all hell broke loose.  Nergal took the armies of Kutha into the Underworld to challenge Ereshkigal (the goddess of the Underworld), and shortly afterward Kutha was overrun by demons and vampires.  The populous of Kutha fled in all directions and thousands of refugees from Kutha came to live here in Niru.  The Anunnaki who ruled the other cities closed up their gateways into the Underworld and went up into the heavens in their silvery sky-craft.

The "Old Dwarf Road" runs straight through the middle of oldtown Niru.  Oldtown is elevated about 20 feet off of the alluvial plain, level with the old dwarf road, and is surrounded by a wooden palisade.  Oldtown contains about 40 buildings and about 200 residents.  Outside of the palisade is a mud-brick/tent city of a few thousand refugees on the plain below.  Thanks to lot of hard work and stones from the ruined dwarf fort a few miles away, all of the tents and small homes in Niru are now surrounded by a 10' stone wall.  To the west the Old Dwarf Road becomes a draw bridge over the river Euphrates with a lever that lowers in the down position to allow access to Kutha, in the lever's up position the road splits in the middle of the river rising to 90 degrees straight up to block access to the Kutha side.  This has helped Niru to avoid confrontations with the vampires and demons who seem unable to cross the waters of the Euphrates river on their own. Unfortunately there were a lot of boats left behind in Kutha, so there were quite a number of horrible things crossing the river and the canals for that first year or so.  It is currently believed that all those boats and rafts have now been seized or destroyed, but horrible things do still manage to get across the water sometimes.  The Old Dwarf Road runs west past Kutha and into the desert beyond, and to the east it goes past "Swamp Tower" then through the forest, and over the Tigris River, then through a different desert and past the town of Der, and eventually into the Zargos Mountains up to the gates of an ancient dwarven fortress in the mountians.  The Euphrates and Tigris rivers are themselves raised up off of the alluvial plain.  The sediment collects in the riverbeds and along the sides, raising the rivers about ten feet above the the flat plain that surrounds them for miles and miles.

The city of Niru has an issue with Human Supremacists.  The magi currently in control of the city have tamped this down a bit, but anyone else taking control of the town will have to deal with the rampant xenophobia.  Mostly it is a matter of townsfolk suspecting any outsiders of being vampires or vampire minions from Kutha.  However some of it is just straight up human supremacy as espoused by the patrons of "The Weary Ass" tavern.  Those who wish to take control of the city will need to address these issues.

Currently, the city of Niru is a strong society.  The people have endured hardships of famine, overpopulation, and plague.  They have learned to trust one another and work together, but may be overly judgmental of outsiders.

Nearby Locations ---- Niru - 15.07
Town of Urum - 14.06
Dead City of Kutha - 15.05
Town of Kish - 17.05
Swamp Tower- 15.08 (south end of the hex)
The Ruined Dwarf Fort - 13.07
The Chaotic Caves of Chaos - 13.10
Xylarthen's Shattered Tower - 14.12

The Magi of Niru
Zergad - the smiling yet serious one.  He was a young follower of Nergal in Kutha 50 years ago.  He was tasked with going to outlying communities and sending soldiers to aid his master Nergal (which he did), but never went himself to follow his master into the Underworld.  He does not seem to age naturally, and still appears as a young man in his mid 20's.  He wears fine robes and has 3 apprentices who all appear to be older than him.  His apprentices are the lamentation priests, those who can separate the soul of the deceased from their body and send them straight into the afterlife (for a price).  After voting to disband the Watchkeepers he was seen sending out three messengers to the south, but no one seems to know who he was trying to contact.

Kalak - the unpleasant one.  He is the one who brought Ony the Dragonslayer up on charges for assaulting a magi, because while Ony was drunkenly carousing after slaying the Black Dragon he used his telekinesis ability to make Kalak strike himself in the face with his own hand.  Ony got off with a small fine thanks to the votes of the other two leading magi who don't much care for Kalak.  Kalak is dedicated to Sherida, the goddess of the Dawn, wife of Utu.  He originally hails from Sippar, and after voting to disband the Watchkeepers, he sent word to Sippar and was granted command of 100 light infantry (spear, shield, leather armor).  These men have recently taken residence of Watchkeeper Hall and are now marching at Kalak's command toward the Chaotic Caves of Chaos, led by his one and only apprentice Lithsharric (who is a pretty decent guy by all accounts).

Eeyuthezish - the easy going, drug-addled prophet.  He is devoted to the Anunnaki named Nanna, god of the Moon and Divination.  He was the only magi to vote for retaining the Watchkeepers.  After that vote was lost, he contacted the Dragonslayers and paid them to protect Niru for the next month(twice, because he forgot the first time he paid them).  He has three apprentices; Khemtheezh the drug-addled moody paranoid; Medunaira the abstinent, cautious, and cruel lady who controls the finances of her master; and Shmidt who is friends with Lithsharric, uses him to gain alchemical supplies, balances the financial and medicinal needs of his master, and runs an illegal drug business along side his duties as the drug supplying apprentice to the most groovy magi in all the realms.

The Assets of Niru
Inner Wooden Palisade
Outer Stone Walls
Barracks -Home of the Elfulan guards inside oldtown
Local Market - Crazy Gorgathon, Sweeney's General Goods, The Dog Kennel, The Donkey Stables

2 Taverns
Tavern of the Full Tankard - Sam (and Thessel)
The Weary Ass - Hessia (and Porgun the Brute)

Bed and Breakfast - Larissa (and Klairette)

Dog Breeders - Sidahgig (and his two sons Midiigig, and Tibbil)

The Elfulan guards (now led by Kalach who lost an eye while killing the Black Dragon)

The Watchkeepers (now disbanded, most are going east on the caravan to Der.  Watchkeeper Hall is currently being occupied by Light Infantry from Sippar who are upgrading it into a second barracks+Training Grounds which will take months to complete [Training Grounds = +2M -1W + 2nd military unit gets free upkeep])

The Dragonslayers (the PCs, Ony, Sura, Jakob, and Rina, and the few Watchkeepers that they kept on staff being Nikesheb the Thief, Zheel the Halflingon, and Zheg the human Fighter)

Recent Events of Niru (by Month)
1. Plague ended
2. Horrendous Monster (the Ulu tried to cross the river, but failed)
3. No Event
4. Bad Harvest
5. Flood (hex 16.09 is still swampy)
6. Minor Earthquake
7. Bandit activity - elves and orcs attack the tents on outskirts of town
8. Famous Person - PCs kill the black dragon and become Dragonslayers
9. Injustice - Ony put on trial for making Kalak hit himself
10. Minor Earthquake - (remind me to make this happen next session)
11. Accident - upcoming
12 VIP Visit - upcoming

October 21, 2014

Ancients and Aliens - Getting around the Map

Sumer 3000BC (-ish)

I couldn't find a good detailed map of Sumer for this time period, so I made my own.  Some of these cities might be temporally dislocated by a paltry 500 or 1000 years, but at least the physical distances are pretty much dead on.  Ask your local sumerologist to be sure.  If you have a better map, please point me to it.  Seriously.

This isn't a map I would take on a time traveling mission, but it's probably good enough for a game about aliens nuking elves from orbit.

The Persian Gulf reached far further North in 3000 BC than it does today, as seen on my map here.  Today it's shore would be found south of this map's edge.  The forests and swamps are all my own fiction; but the hills, mountains, and rivers are pretty accurate for the time period (I believe).  The landscape changes a bit every spring when the Tigris floods it's banks and spills water into it's surrounding hexes.  Notably a huge area south of Der becomes a vast swamp, and the hexes east of Sippar become swampy as water pours into the Euphrates.  This can cause some flooding along the Euphrates as well, turning some hexes downstream into marshland.  By summer the flooding is mostly resolved, but I reserve the right to put swampy hexes wherever I see fit.

The Cities and their Patron Deity

The Heartland
Kesh - Ninhursag (The Great Mother, Fertility, Birth~wife of Enki)
Nippur - Enlil (Lord of the Air, Storms~Enforcer/Heir of Anu) 
Isin - Ninisinna (Lady of Healing, Herbs, and the care of animals) 
Shuppurak - Ninlil (Lady of the Air, the gentle spirit~wife of Enlil)

The South
Uruk - Inanna (Goddess of Sex, Love, and War~sister of Ereshkigal) 
Larsa - Utu & Sharida (God of the Sun, Judgement, Watcher of Oaths & Goddess of the Dawn)
Ur - Nanna (God of the Moon, Diviner of Fates~father of Utu)
Eridu - Enki (Trickster God of Water and Magic~brother of Enlil)

The East
Bad-Tibura - once Dumuzi (hedonist God of the Harvest) now Lulal (~son of Dumuzi and Inanna)
Zabalam - Ninshubur (Queen of the East~minister/lover of Inanna)
Umma - Sharra (Singer, manicurist, hairdresser, warrior~son of Inanna)
Girsu - Ninurta (Goddess of Bravery and Battle, Lordstress of the Amazons)
Lagash - Nanshe (Goddess of Prophecy, Fishing, and Social Equality~daughter of Enki)

The North
Urum - ?No Patron Deity?
Kutha - Nergal (God of Wasting Death, Disease, Starvation, Exhaustion)
Niru - ?No Patron Deity?
Kish - ?No Patron Deity?

The Far North
Sippar - Utu & Sharida (Sun God & Goddess of the Dawn, Flagellation, Punishment, and Penance) 
Tubtub - Imdugud (The Breathing Beast, the Thief of Fate)
Eshnunna - Ninazu (The Benevolent Healer of the Underworld, Thrall of Ereshkigal) 
Der - Ningishzidda (The Lizard King~son of Ninazu)

The Far East
Suza - Insheshinak (The Undying God, The Waker, The Sleepless Need)
Chogha Mish - Kirirsha (Lady of the Golden Dawn, Squirmer of the Wrym)

Distant Lands (off the map)
Martu (In the Northwest, ancient Syria)
Gutium (Land of the brutal Wildlings of the Zagros Mountians)
Dilmun (The Floating Island, sails to Meluhha and back again each year)
Meluhha (Indus valley region of ancient India)
Magan (Somewhere to the South and West, reached by sailing around the Arabian Peninsula)

Overland Movement
I scaled the map to a Sumerian unit of measurement.  Each hex = 1 da-na = 2 hours.  Sumerians divided the day into 12 da-na, and measured long distances by how many da-na it took to walk somewhere.  I think that's neat and all, but using da-na during the game is probably more trouble than it's worth; so....

6-ish mile hexes.  It takes about 2 hours to walk across a hex while carrying standard gear and supplies.

On easy terrain: grasslands and roads
Walk: 4 hex/day = regularly stopping to rest, the party is battle ready and in good spirits
March: 5 hex/day = NPC morale check and weariness penalty at last two hexes
Run: 6 hex/day = NPC morale check and weariness penalty at last three hexes
Run like the Wind: 8 hex/day = Totally unencumbered, weariness penalty every hex after the first

Weariness Penalty (cumulative but temporary): -1 Con, and -1 to most die rolls (not saves)
Every 4 hours of rest will remove 1 from the cumulative weariness penalty.

Rough terrain reduces your speed, and running for hours isn't really viable there (except on trails).
Walk 3 hex/day or March 4 hex/day: Shrubland, Forests, and Hills
Walk 1 hex/day or March 2 hexes/day: Marshes, Heavy Forests, and Mountains

Coracle (Quffu) - a man-sized leather bowl with a wooden frame.  Typically paddled down the river, then carried back home on the road using shoulder straps.
Reed Boat (Kalakku) - Lots of shapes and sizes, from a reed canoe up to something resembling a viking longship complete with sail and weird animal head prow
Wooden Boats - You'll see the occasional wooden raft or dugout canoe, but they aren't common.  The Euphrates and Tigris have swift currents, especially in the spring.  Reed boats are cheaper, lighter, and much easier to bring upriver.

Rowing: 5 hex/day downriver, 3 hex/day open water, 1 hex/day upriver or through marsh
Rafts: subtract 1 hex/day
Reed boats using 6 oars and a sail add 1 hex/day

September 17, 2014

Ancients and Aliens: 20 quick questions

In an effort to help flesh out my campaign setting I'm answering some questions I found over at Jeff's Gameblog. Next I'll start working on a gazetteer and a better map. This is the map we're currently using at the table.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
Well, there aren't any clerics yet. You can play a Prophet though and preform miracles while making up your new religion as you go. If you get your Prophet character to level 9 and build a church, then your religion will become famous enough to start producing clerics.

When people talk about priests they are usually referring to the magi (magic-users) who run the ziggurats and watch over the cities while the old Anunnaki gods are away on business. The magi are usually too busy with their own power struggles to pay much attention to what some lunatic prophet is doing, but expect backlash once they notice people turning away from the old gods.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Crazy Gorgathon runs Gorgathon's Outfittery and Supplies which caters to all the adventurers and sell swords currently running around Niru. He is in fierce competition with Sweeney's General Goods which is now run by Sweeney's daughter Deandra. 

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Nowhere really, making platemail is a lost art that the dwarves and elves have forgotten. You could get some custom scalemail though. Gorgathon can get specialty items shipped up from Nippur, or you can go talk to Ithleb the Smith about making some here in Niru. 

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
It used to be the god Enlil (or possibly Enki), but now that the Anunnaki are gone the answer isn't clear at all.

The most powerful magi in each city holds the title Ensi (or Ninsi if she is a lady). The Ensi is the representative of that city's patron deity and pretty much runs everything now that the Anunnaki are gone. Back in the old days the Ensi would be whoever the ruling Anunnaki chose as an apprentice, and all the other magi in town would in turn be apprenticed to the Ensi. Those magi would manage the populous of the city and report back to the Ensi, who then reported to the deity. Whenever an Ensi died or fell out of favor the ruling deity would simply choose a new apprentice. Now however, becoming the Ensi of a city is a lot more competitive. Sometimes an Ensi will plan ahead and try to appoint a successor, or leave instructions for testing those who wish to ascend to the position once it is vacant. A dead Ensi can't really enforce their will though, so it is up to the magi of a city to come to some consensus about who should lead. Sometimes this transition is peaceful, but increasingly the matter of succession is settled through threats, duels, and assassination. The most powerful wizard is likely one of these Ensi, but it's hard to tell which one of them is the mightiest wizard in the land. They all claim to be the best, but to keep their rivals off guard they also take pains not to reveal the full extent of their powers. It's likely to be one of these five though...

Murmuhraag - Ensi of the air/breath god Enlil in the city of Nippur
Ziusudra the Mad - Ensi of the trickster god Enki (new convert) in Shuruppak
Litani the Breathtaking - Ninsi of the sex/war goddess Inanna in the city of Uruk
Shuugarad - Ensi of the sun god Utu in the city of Larsa
Kokazari - Ensi of the moon god Nanna in the city of Ur 

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Ninurta the goddess of bravery and combat. No contest, she was the baddest ass ever.

Now that she has gone back up to the heavens that distinction probably goes to barbarian lord Ghokon who has untied many tribes of the Hills Peoples and taken control of Susa, Chogha Mish, and the lands to the east near the Zagros mountians. There are a few other contenders though. The amazon queen Alera is said to be more fierce in battle than the lions who fight beside her, she now rules over hundreds of women living somewhere in the northern wilds. There is also Lugal-Guzox of Girsu, he is said to rule that city being so fearsome that the local magi there all bow before him.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?
Murmuhraag the Ensi of Nippur. Nippur is the central trading hub of all of Sumer, and goods from all over the world are bought and sold here. Taxes are levied on every person, animal, and wagon that enters the city. The city sprawls across both sides of the Euphrates, connected by a floating bridge/blockade. Boats and rafts must also pay a tax to split a section of the bridge and open the water route if they wish to pass through to another city. Murmuhraag always gets his cut.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Most of the ziggurats have magi alchemists who create magical potions. The potions are traded between the cities, but the recipes are well guarded secrets. Most of the healing potions, curatives, and salves found throughout the land are made in the city of Isin.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Try the closest ziggurat. Even if they don't know a helpful spell, the magi have access to scrolls that might do the trick... for a price. You could try travelling to Isin, where their patron deity is Ninisinna the goddess of Healing. If all else fails you could go off into the wilds and ask one of the shamans of the Hills Peoples to help, but even if they aren't charlatans they might still be mad about all the slavery and killing and stuff.

Undeath is perfectly natural for humans and the other slave races created by the Anunnaki. A few days after you die you just get up and start walking to the Underworld where you spend eternity working for the goddess Ereshkigal. Just stay out their way and those zombies usually don't get too bitey... usually. This undeath does not happen to the native people like elves, dwarves, and orcs supposedly because they don't have souls. However, some foul necromancers can create elf, dwarf, and orc zombies. These are abominations fueled by stolen souls, obviously.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
You're one of the magi, and you should probably stick with them for a while. They'll want 10% of your earnings, but you'll level up faster with their help. Also, you don't start off with your own spellbook, so to memorize spells you'll need to go into town and use one of the Tablets of Fate which are the well guarded communal spellbook i-Pads used by the magi and their Elfulan guards.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Get thee to a ziggurat. You might have to travel to a specific city for certain information. The sages in Eridu are said to be the most knowledgeable, but each city has it's specialties.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Just about any city will have unemployed soldiers and guards. Try looking inside a tavern or outside a ziggurat. Without the Anunnaki doing the off-world trading, the ziggurats now have a huge surplus of food but a shortage of coins. Many cities have cut back on the number of guards, gladiators, and soldiers that they employ. Unemployment and crime has gone up. You can generally find someone willing to put their life on the line in exchange for a bag full of coins.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Not really. No stealing, no killing. Justice is a very "eye for an eye" sort of affair. However, adventurers tend to stand out among the crowd, and will likely be followed and watched. The people in the cities have been part of an elaborate Anunnaki breeding program for thousands of years. The Anunnaki bred most of their slaves in order to enhance qualities like complacency, pragmatism, and servility. So while the are no laws explicitly against carrying weapons in town, most people will just assume that you're up to no good, stay out of your way, and point you out to the authorities.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
There are two taverns in Niru, you can take your pick.

The Tavern of the Full Tankard is a small friendly place run by a man named Sam. He's a decent cook and serves locally brewed beer of variable quality. Some batches of beer are better than others, but the prices are always affordable. Sam has hired a refugee from Kutha to help do chores and keep the place clean, an older man named Thessel.

The Weary Ass is a larger building with nice furnishings and rooms for rent upstairs. The prices here are significantly higher, but the food is good and the young ladies are proud to serve beer and wine imported all the way from Uruk. The proprietor is a woman named Hessia who rules her tavern with an iron fist. She refuses service to non-humans, but makes an exception for Elfulans "because they work for the magi, so I pretty much have to". Porgun the Brute is kept on staff to help "take out the trash", but some of the regular patrons also like to get involved in that sort of thing.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

There are a whole load of wild humanoids gathering up at the Chaotic Caves of Chaos harassing travelers and decent working folk. There are also a bunch of demons and vampires that crawled up from the Underworld and into the city of Kutha, which is why Kutha was abandoned and Niru is now full of refugees. Most horrible of all is the Ulu, it now stands over thirty feet tall and just keeps growing as it gorges itself on the walking dead who are shambling toward Kutha and their afterlife in the Underworld. That's why so many people are paying the Lamentation Priests to fast track the spirits of their dearly departed straight to the land of the dead. Otherwise when the dead rise again after a few days and make the long walk to the Underworld they risk being eaten along the way by the Kutha Ulu and robbed of their afterlife.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Tensions are high between many of the city-states, but not many of them can afford a big build up of troops. There are occasional raids and border skirmishes between many cities, but the most serious open fighting right now is between Larsa and Girsu.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Oh, of course! Just about every city has an arena. Some of the matches are fought to the death, but others fight until someone yields or until first blood. It's all very civilized. Watch out for the Halflingons though, they get a little berzerky sometimes.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Each of the old Anunnaki gods has a group of zealots led by the magi of that faith, so there are plenty of spies, assassins, plots, and deceptions going on there. There are also the Jedite clans, who are sort of like organized street gangs with psychic abilities. Rumors persist of elvish spies and sympathizers working within some cities, but most folk just laugh at such conspiracy theories.

18. What is there to eat around here?
A bunch of wheat and barley mostly. Barley porridge, and barley cakes with onion and beans washed down with barley ale. A lot of bread which is course, flat, and unleavened. Most homes will have their own garden with a variety of vegetables and fruits, in the cities these are grown in open air courtyards or up on the roof. The top level of each ziggurat is a lush garden usually with fruit trees and exotic plants. The people grow things like chickpeas, lentils, onions, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, and a number of herbs and spices.

There are a lot of different fruits available as well, some of these are dried or preserved in honey. The most important food crop in the south is the date palm. Besides all of those dates there are also apples, figs, grapes, mulberries, pears, plums, cherries, melons, and pomegranates. Wine is available, but ale is cheaper.

The fish swarming in the rivers and the gulf are a major source of food. Food stalls in the cities will sell things like fried fish, and freshly grilled goat, mutton, and pork. Meat is not sold as often in the sparsely populated towns and villages. There they wait until the whole animal will be used, because it spoils quickly in the heat. Conversely, it is easier to buy milk, cheese, and butter from the herders outside the cities. Cattle are generally not slaughtered for food until they are too old for work, but times are tough right now and some people will eat whatever they can get their hands on.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Oh sure. Elvish and dwarvish civilization collapsed all at once thousands of years ago. The Anunnaki sent horrible monsters and mutant horrors into those cities and tunnels, so there are all of these terribly infested ruins now that hold lots of coins, lost treasures, and magic items.

There aren't really legends though. The Anunnaki gassed the elves and dwarves with some kind of clouds of forgetfulness before they tried to wipe them out. Although there were survivors their culture, stories, and even their languages are all but lost.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
Well, there is said to be an old red dragon lair under Xylarthen's Tower which is about 30 miles northeast of Niru. Even better, recent reports from the Watchkeepers suggest that the dragon is already dead and the horde of treasure is still sitting down there somewhere. Also a group of Watchkeepers recently killed a black dragon just a few miles east of town at Swamp Tower, but no one knows where it's lair might be.

There should also be a lot of loot left in Kutha, but the Ulu, vampires, and all the other demons make that a less attractive option.

August 26, 2014

LL Custom Class: Orionixie

by Fairyjar18
Orionixies all appear to be slender and lithesome green skinned women.  They are amphibious, equally at home on land as they are in lakes and streams.  Their fingers and toes are partially webbed, and they can breathe underwater using the four gill slits on each side of their neck.  Orionixie skin color ranges from the yellowish greens of chartreuse and lime to the blueish greens of turquoise and teal.  Their hair is typically dark black, but some prefer to use potions and dyes to make their hair more colorful.  Orionixie consorts have come to set the standard of sophistication within the cities.  In recent years it has become fashionable for them to make use of many dyes, cosmetics, and tattoos to create dramatic and eye-catching effects, but many still prefer the classic natural look.

All appearances to the contrary, Orionixies are not actually female.  Technically they are neither male nor female, but a mutable third sex.  They are able to control the shape and movement of their sexual organs allowing for a surprising range of intimate interactions.  Orionixies are found intriguing by males and females of many species.  While Orionixies are all of the same sex and very similar physically, they do have two separate genders which they can distinguish easily by smell.  Orionixies can only become pregnant by Orionixies of the opposite gender, but either gender can carry the child.  Pregnancies are somewhat rare though because Orionixies seem to fall in love with members of other species as often as with each other.  It's complicated.

Orionixies occasionally gain random innate magical talents that manifest over time.  These are at-will abilities with no fancy hand gestures or chanting involved.  Although some Orionixies can develop the ability to decipher and read magical runes, they do not seem to be able to cast spells or use magical scrolls.  However, they do have an aptitude for using magical wands and staves.
by Araniel

Requirements: Str 8 or less
Prime Requisite: CHA and INT
Hit Dice: d6
Max Level: 10th
Hit Progression: as Cleric/Thief
Saving Throws: as Elf
Weapons: Any
Armor: Padded, Leather, Studded Leather, and Shield

Special Abilities
Water Breathing
+1 Skill Point each level
Sneak (2 in 6)
Swimming (2 in 6)
Subterfuge (2 in 6)
Random once per day innate magical ability each level

At first level and each level thereafter roll for a random first level Magic-User AND Cleric spell.  In my game we're rolling a d12 and a d8.  The player chooses which one of those options will become the Orionixie's once per day magical ability.  If one of the options rolled is already possessed then the Orionixie can choose to gain an extra use per day for any one of her existing abilities rather than gaining a new one.

1st level Magic-User spells-------------- 1st level Cleric spells
1. Charm Person ------------------------- 1. Cure Light Wounds
2. Detect Magic -------------------------- 2. Detect Evil
3. Floating Disk -------------------------- 3. Detect Magic
4. Hold Portal ---------------------------- 4. Light
5. Light ------------------------------------ 5. Protection from Evil
6. Magic Missle -------------------------- 6. Purify Food and Drink
7. Protection from Evil ----------------- 7. Remove Fear
8. Read Languages ----------------------- 8. Resist Cold
9. Read Magic
10. Shield
11. Sleep
12. Ventriloquism

by Luka Basyrov

It is said that the first Orionixies were created by Enki, the cleverest and most sympathetic of the Anunnaki.  According to legend, Enki's wife Ninhursag was spending all of her time creating and refining the other slave races.  Ninhursag became known as "The Great Mother" due to this important work, but Enki missed her company and grew lonely.  He sought to spend more time with her by helping with her designs, but she became annoyed and irritated by his interference.  She bid him to leave and design his own project rather than tamper with her delicate experiments.  Hurt and dejected, Enki decided to heed her advice.  He worked to create a lovely companion for himself, one who might spark Ninhursag's jealousy.  He eventually created several alluring women with quick wits, tender hearts, and impressive "natural talents".

Enki touted his creations as a great success, and the other Anunnaki were envious of his harem.  Before long he was creating Orionixie playmates for others.  His ploy worked.  Ninhursag was at once jealous and impressed.  Soon the two of them were spending all of their time collaborating together to create a new species, the human race.

Enki's testing methods did not match Ninhursag's level of care and stringency.  Eventually the Orionixies were revealed to pose certain unintended difficulties.  Some of the Orionixies seemed to possess unpredictable magical talents, each individual having a different set of abilities.  This distressed some of the Anunnaki who did not want their playthings to have access to such power.  Especially feared was a charm that clouded the mind and made their Anunnaki masters suggestible and compliant for a time.  In addition, although Enki had made sure that these green skinned women would not become pregnant by any other species he was surprised to discover that they could somehow reproduce by having relations with each other.  This disappointed many of the Anunnaki who did not want the complication of children within their harems.  Steps were taken to limit these pregnancies.  Orionixes who did not obey the new edicts were threatened with exile from the harems.  Exile would mean leaving behind their friends, family, and the life of luxury that was all that any of them had ever known.  It was a powerful deterrent, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  Eventually certain Orionixies were cast out of the Anunnaki harems and forced to make a home for themselves within the cities or to take their chances in the wilds.

Over time their population has not grown much, there are only a few hundred living in each of the cities.  Today a large percentage of Orionixies can be found living and working in exclusive brothels and bathhouses throughout the cities.  As consorts their allure and mystique ensures them a good income, but some individuals prefer to try other professions.  Few employers would turn down the opportunity to hire an Orionixie, simply having one on staff would draw customers and boost the employer's reputation.

by Samshank

These are the numbers I plugged into my customized class thingamabob to make an XP table.

100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
70   Hit Progression: Cleric/Thief (+1hp after L9)
15   Max Level: 10th
35   Elf saves
20   Armor: Padded, Leather, Studded Leather and Shield
90   Weapons: any
40   Magic: no divine scrolls, no arcane scrolls

Special Abilities
25  Water Breathing (neck gills, and webbed fingers and toes)
0    +1 Skill Point each level (if using LotFP skills)
20  Sneak (2 in 6) {or MS + HS as a Thief of the same level}
0    Swimming (2 in 6) {free with Water Breathing}
10  Subterfuge (2 in 6)
25  Random once per day magical ability gained each level, equivalent to first level spell

480 - TOTAL

Standard Base Experience X Orionixie Class 480%
0 -----------Level 1 ----------- 0
400 --------Level 2 -------  1920
800 --------Level 3 -------  3840
1600 ------ Level 4 ------   7680
3200 ------ Level 5 -----   15360
6400 ------ Level 6 -----   30720
12800 -----Level 7 -----   61440
24000 -----Level 8 ----- 115200
48000 -----Level 9 ----- 230400
_________Level 10+_________
1hp/Level = +100,000 each
Level 10 @ 330,400 XP

August 17, 2014

Ancients & Aliens: Session 4 - The Babbling Blade

Like most sessions, we begin inside Watchkeeper Hall.  The group is gathered beneath the giant cocoon of Ony the Mutant and listening as the young magi Lithsharric tells them what he has learned about the magical silver sword recovered last session.  Ony had asked Lithsharric to look into the nature of the sword as a final favor for Saruk; whose life was lost in the very room where the sword was found.  Ony also told him that the sword might be cursed and warned him not to touch it directly.

Lithsharric sits with the group and explains that not all of the runes on the sword are magical.  Some of the writing is in an ancient language, possibly Elvish, which he can not decipher.  Lithsharric says that his master might know how to read the language, but he suspects that his master might "keep the item for further study" and never return it.  The older magi compensate adventurers with gold, but they tend to keep any magical item that is brought to them.  Lithsharric has kept the sword hidden in his room for the past two weeks while studying it.

Some of the magical runes are simply beyond his current understanding, but he was able to learn a few things.  This silver sword has multiple magical abilities.  The sword can detect invisibility, and evil, and some kind of necromatic something or other.  It has some kind of restoration magic that isn't exactly healing.  Also, "these runes over here are some kind of anti-necromancy something.  Oh, and there is this very elaborate line of magical runes that swirls from the pommel around the hilt and all the way down the blade.  I don't have any idea what those do, but they sure look impressive."  Finally, Lithsharric tells them that he has an identify spell which should reveal all of the sword's magical powers, but this spell requires that he touch the sword, except Ony had insisted that he not touch the blade because it might be cursed, but Lithsharric doesn't really think the sword is cursed because it has so many enchantments and besides who would put restorative magic on a cursed blade, so I was thinking that....

At this point Sura the Orionixie just reaches out and grabs the sword.   She is one of the newest watchkeepers, and was assigned to the group in order to fill the vacancy left by Saruk's untimely passing (it's the dice, I swear).  Her sword arm begins moving around on it own and holds the sword up near her face.  "Me'atma thainos inth Shivurill" says the sword.  "Hoshin civithil doezen shrive?" after a few moments with no response her moves out toward other people nearby as the sword says "Commastay?" and "Nithliven?".

Everyone just looks around at each other in confused silence for a while.  The sword sighs and mumbles "Sozha impuur".

by 14-bis
Sura suddenly goes into a trance and starts to see images in her head.  It's like a memory that she doesn't recognize.  She sees an oval hallway, a strange door, and then a room with a large stone sarcophagus inside.  After this vision the sword begins tugging her toward the exit of Watchkeeper Hall.  Based on Sura's descriptions of the petrified wooden walls the others think that the sword must be leading them back to the roots of Xylarthen's tower.  Everyone decides to gear up and follow Sura, who can't seem to break free from the sword's grip.  Even Lithsharric volunteers to follow along (played by Glenn since his mutant hasn't emerged from the cocoon yet).

The sword eases up and stops pulling at Sura once she starts walking down the road, but she still can't let go of it.  They spend the whole day traveling along the old dwarf road and make camp at the usual spot where a trail through the forest meets the road.  During the night Jakob the Ratling is watching over the camp from up in a tree.  He hears movement and sees rustling as if multiple creatures are slowly approaching his sleeping friends below, so he calls out an alarm to wake them up.  As he shouts Jacob can see the creatures break cover and rush forward toward the camp.  The party is just getting to their feet and pulling weapons as the first two orcs leap out from the bushes.  Jakob takes aim with his sling and calls out to the others "I see eight of them!"  Lithsharric decides eight is more than enough orcs to justify a sleep spell, so he casts just as some of the other orcs are coming into the light of the campfire.  All of the orcs succumb to the magical slumber and the party decides to light torches and poke through the bushes to find and dispatch them all.

The next morning Lithsharric explains that he has no more magic to aid them with.  He has cast his only spell and he'll have to return to town in order to memorize another.  Like most magi, he does not own a Tablet of Fate (spellbook/Anunnaki iPad) and has to use the communal one that is kept under guard back in Niru.

The group decides to head back to town, not wanting to risk the entering the dungeon without a sleep spell at the ready.  They pack up their things and start walking, but after a few steps the sword swings itself around until the blade points skyward in front of Sura's face and says "Hoshah ibbil vor, asa kleftinduur?"  She says "we'll come back later" and continues walking toward town.  The sword says "Velthix mohn" and swings around behind her pointing down the side trail.  She struggles against the sword, but cannot pull it any further down the road or pry her fingers away from the hilt.  No one wants to leave Sura behind, so they all decide to follow and see where the sword is leading them.  As Sura starts moving toward the trail the sword says "Shonda" and she regains control of her arm.  Lithsharric wonders aloud if the sword might be speaking old elvish.

After a few hours they reach the lake.  They leave the trail and skirt around the southeast edge of lake, then head for the northernmost hill on the other side.  Soon they are at the remains of Xylarthen's tower.  They haul open the heavy round trap door, and see a hand print of died blood on the underside of the lid.  They decide to be extra careful, so Jakob the Ratling goes down first to sneak around and have a look while the others wait up top.  Jokob climbs down the ten foot ladder.  The small landing is lit by the shaft of light coming from the top of the ladder, there are blood stains on the floor and walls here, and dried blood on the rungs of the ladder.  He can also see a dead orc at the top of the stairway going down to the hallway ten feet below.  That's when Saruk shambles into view.  Saruk died on the last expedition, and the party was forced to leave his body behind.  Zombie Saruk staggers up the stairway, much of his flesh is gone now revealing the bones beneath.  A couple of giant maggots seem embedded within and feeding on him as he walks.  Jakob gets the hell out of there and hurries back up the ladder.  Everyone backs away from the ladder and waits while Sir William begins a rumbling growl.  They watch warily as Saruk emerges up and out of the dungeon.  Saruk climbs to his feet and then slowly turns in a circle as if looking for something.  No one is quite sure if he recognizes them before he shambles off westward.  They watch silently as he begins his long walk to Kutha and the entrance to the Underworld.

The sword tugs Sura toward the dungeon entrance.

Everyone goes down the ladder this time.  The trip down to the first landing is somewhat complicated by Rina the Halflingon's new war dog, Sir William.  Rina opted to buy the most expensive dog in town, and he is well behaved as she ties ropes around his legs and body into a makeshift harness.  However, when he is lifted up into the air he goes totally berserk.  Sir William tries to bite Rina once, paws at the air frantically, and starts making these panicked piercing yelps as he is being lowered down the hole.  Everyone gets out of the way and gives the dog some space.  Sir William calms down a bit once his paws hit the landing, but he still whines and paces around for a while.  Rina climbs down and gives him a jerky treat, unties the ropes, and gets her dog under control.

Everyone follows Sura now, as the sword tugs her along through the dungeon.  They defeat a giant python that tries to constrict multiple members of the party at the same time, swing through the room with the giant weasel nest that they cleared out last time, and then enter the room that Sura saw in her vision with the giant sarcophagus.  The sword says "Felthan RELCH issin bessle weir", and Sura regains control of her sword arm.

The sarcophagus is over ten feet long and six feet wide, a big iron chain is wrapped around it and held in place with a heavy rusty lock.  Everyone searches the room for clues, and Jakob finds a hidden compartment with a key.  They unlock and then remove the chains.  A few of the party members work together to remove the heavy stone lid.

The lid flies open and swings aside as a ogre wight sits up and grabs for the party members with horrible long claws.  The sword yells "Shadamor̃gh!" and swings Sura into melee.  The fight goes on for a while.  Shields are splintered.  Rina is hit by the wight's icy tough and feels some of her life force drain away as it leaves a bloody welt on her skin.  Soon after this the ogre wight is destroyed and crumbles down into a pile of dust.
by Vshen
After the battle the sword leads Sura over to Rina and says "Shonda nicht issil halthen, bonna Mazzlien" and then it begins to glow bright white.  They sword says "Mazzlien mortho?" and as they puzzle over the meaning, the sword juts forward and stabs at Rina.  It cuts her, but not badly.  It hurts a bit, but at the same time Rina can feel her strength return as the bloody welt turns into a bruise.

After this they pull out the bag and wrappings that they had kept the sword in previously.  Sura tries to talk the sword into going back into the bag.  It takes some time, but eventually the sword says "konda duvlien" and Sura fingers open dropping the sword inside.

After that they all went back to town.  Lithsharric tried to study the sword some more, but got possessed by it.  The sword marched him around town with his eyes shut and his head lolling about.  It eventually found Rina while she was shopping.  The sword babbled some things at her and then Lithsarric set down at her feet.  He fell to the ground and then immediately woke up thinking that the sword had teleported him to the market.  Rina took the sword, and they've been happy together so far.

The party took another trip into the dungeon after that.  I don't remember much of that except that they found a bunch of orc zombies and the sword started glowing white and actually turned some of the them.  Then the zombies died... again.  Oh, and they found a bunch of treasure under a piles of wight dust.

I'm tired now.  The End.

August 12, 2014

LL Custom Class: Primitive

Whoops.  I hit the submit button before this was finished.  Oh well, I guess I'll do a quick patch and call it done.

Requirements: Intelligence of 8 or less
Prime Requisite: STR and DEX
Hit Dice: d8
Max Level: 12th
Hit Progression: as Fighter
Saves: as Dwarf/Halfling
Weapons: Any
Armor: Leather, Studded, or Hide.  No shield

Special Abilities
Sneak (2 in 6)
Hear Noise (2 in 6)
Hunting/Tracking (2 in 6)
Savagery:  The ferocity of their melee attacks makes any object a formidable weapon.  Sticks and stones may indeed break bones. (Primitives use d8 for melee weapon damage, or d10 if 2-Handed)

*Dual-Wielding House Rule* - When holding a weapon in each hand, roll the attack roll as normal.  If successful roll a damage die for each weapon, but only the weapon with the higher roll struck successfully.  If the damage rolls are tied, then the target takes damage from both weapons. The primitives in my game will be taking advantage of this house rule, so I thought I should go ahead and mention it.

Primitives are individuals who grew up in the wild, far removed from civilized society.  This class is a bit of a catch-all and can include Neanderthals, wild elves, feral halflings, humans raised by wolves, Prehistoric Batman...

or generic cavemen types...

Anyhow, here is the XP chart I'd use for any of those...

100 Base
120 Hit Dice: d8
70   Hit Table: Fighter (+2hp after L9)

0     Bonus +1hp after L9
25   Max Level: 12th
55   Dwarf/Halfling Saves
15   Armor: Leather, Studded, or Hide.  No shield
70   Weapons: No bows (long, short, or cross). No flexible weapons

30   Magic: no wands, no spell scrolls
0     +1 Skill Point each level
20  Sneak (2 in 6) {or HS + MS as a Thief of the same level}
10   Hear Noise (2 in 6) {or as a Thief of the same level}
10   Hunting/Tracking (2 in 6) {or use Find/Remove Traps percentages as a Thief of the same level)
30   Savagery (use d8 for melee weapon damage, or d10 if 2-Handed)
555 - TOTAL

Standard Base Experience X Primitive Class 555%
0 --------- Level 1 -----------0
400 ------ Level 2 ------- 2220
800 ------ Level 3 ------- 4440
1600 ----- Level 4 ------- 8880
3200 ----- Level 5 ------ 17760
6400 ----- Level 6 ------ 35520
12800 ---- Level 7 ------ 71040
24000 ---- Level 8 ----- 133200
48000 ---- Level 9 ----- 266400
_________Level 10+_________
3hp/Level = + 130,00 each
+130,000 - Level 10 --- 396400
+130,000 - Level 11 --- 526400
+130,000 - Level 12 --- 656400