Lets Create: Dark Sun Characters (AD&D 2E): Thakur Swiftstride

After the long post about the changes and options for character creation in 2nd ed Dark Sun, it is time to make a character.

Normally we would make four characters as part of a character tree, and we will do that, but first we will do a one off character, using the basic rolling method of 4d4+4 once for each stat.

Six rolls later and we get Str 11, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 16 and Cha 14. A little above average, but not anything exceptional.

The first step to do is to see what we can’t play; the races and classes have various minimum stat requirements needed to play them.

For this character, their low strength means they can’t be a half-giant. They also only just qualify for dwarf and mul, but it is unlikely I will choose them either. The other races are all available.

For classes, we also lack the strength to be a ranger or gladiator, and the charisma to be a bard or druid. That leaves fighter, thief, cleric, templar, defiler, preserver and psionicist available.

It does give us some choices. For this character, though, I am thinking of doing something different to normal, and that is to design a really evil character. The best choices for that are templar and defiler. A templar can be a human, elf, half-elf or dwarf, while defilers are humans, elves or half-elves.

There is only one really option for an evil backstabber, and that is an elven templar/defiler. Elves are duplicitous, templars are power hungry and defilers are plain evil. Together you have something truly unpleasant.

The first choice I am going to make is the characters alignment, as it might help with later choices as to how the character is built. We know they are evil, but what variety? AD&D has an alignment system built on two axis – law-neutral-chaos and good-neutral-evil. That gives us three options – lawful-evil, neutral-evil and chaotic-evil.

Chaotic-evil characters act on evil impulses, do not value any laws and value their own freedoms over everything else. They tend to be a bit psychotic. It doesn’t really work for this character, as, while being a templar gives them some protections, there are always those above them ready to step down hard if they get out of hand.

Lawful-evil characters have moral codes and belief in laws and order and even honour, but it is bent towards evil, repressive outcomes. Peace through tyranny. Again, not I think for this character, as elves tend to be a bit more free spirited.

Which leaves neutral-evil. NE characters are out for themselves, and will do whatever it takes to get what they want. If that involves following the law and working with others, then they will do so, but the minute that is no longer convenient, they will abandon or even betray them. Perfect for an elven defiler/templar looking out for themselves.

Thakur Swiftstride was one of the city elves of Tyr, living in the elven slums there. Always ambitious, always on the look out for a better way, he could see that slum life would never see him obtain the power he craved, and that the only power to be had came through the ruler of Tyr, King Kalak, the mighty sorcerer-king. And so it was that Thakur pledged himself to Kalak, becoming one of his feared and dreaded Templars. Thakur had a secret though – he also was a defiler, a status he kept hidden from all. Through templar magic and defiler magic, Thakur had great ambitions to rise high in the ranks of service to Kalak – and perhaps even higher in time.

So we know his alignment and a bit about him, we are going to look at his stats and what they provide.

Elves have the stat modifiers of +2 DEX, +1 INT, -1 WIS and -2 CON, giving us final stats of STR 11, DEX 19, CON 14, INT 16, WIS 15 and CHA 14.

STR 11 gives no bonuses to combat and a fairly limited carrying capacity. Thakur is on the weaker side for a Dark Sun character. Not that it bothers him – he has no desire to be in combat or to carry much. That is what other people are for.

DEX 19 is quite good, giving +3 to reaction adjustment and missile attack and -4 to AC. He is less likely to be surprised, a definite bonus in the backstabbing world of Templars, is harder to hit and, if it comes to combat, he is better with ranged, which is the only place an elf would want to be.

CON 14 is average, providing no bonus hit points – it would have done without the elven CON penalty. The system shock resistance is 88%, which at least is good, should it ever come to that.

INT 16 provides 5 bonus non-weapon proficiencies, giving him plenty of choices. He can also learn up to 8th level spells, can know 11 spells per level and has a 70% chance to learn a spell.

WIS 15 gives him 2 bonus 1st level clerical spells, and 1 bonus 2nd level (when he can cast them), as well as +1 magical defence adjustment for saves against spells that attack the mind.

CHA 14 means he can have up to 6 henchmen, and that they get a +1 loyalty bonus. He also get a +2 to reaction adjustments. He has some charm and the ability to swift talk others, to get them to do what he wants.

A single class character starts at 3rd level, but multi-class characters start with enough XP to be second level in their most expensive class.

Priests need 1500 xp for first level, while defilers need 1750 xp, so he start with 1750xp in both classes and at level 2/2.

Hit points are calculates as follows for multiclass characters; at first level, add the dice rolls for the classes, then divide by the number of classes before adding bonus HP due to CON. After than, when a class gains a level, roll the appropriate dice and then divide by the number of classes. You round down in all cases which means bad dice rolls can really hurt.

Templars get 1d8 HP and defilers get 1d4 HP per level to start with. For first level we roll a 7 and a 3, totaling 10. Dividing by 2, we get 5 HP at first level. We roll again once per class as both have leveled up. For the templar we get a 3, divided by 2, for 1 HP, and for the defiler we get 2 divide by 2, for 1 more HP, for a total of 7 HPs.

As we are not a psionicist, we get a wild talent. For that we roll a 1d100 on the chart in the psionics hand book to see what we get. Our roll is 80 – Dimensional Door. To activate it requires a CON-1 roll (13 in our case) and allows the opening of a portal to a nearby location briefly. For wild talents, characters get psionic strength points (PSPs) enough to activate it once, and bonus points if it requires maintenance to last for 4 rounds. Dimensional Door requires 4 points to activate and 2 points per round to maintain, which mean we gain 12 PSPs in total. Each time he levels up he gains 4 new PSPs, bringing the total to 16. Its a situational wild talent but could be of use from time to time.

For saving throws we get the whichever is best from our two classes, giving us the following; paralyzation, poison or death magic: 10; rod, staff or wand: 11; petrification or polymorph: 13; breath weapon: 15; spells: 12. Those are the numbers we have to roll equal to or above on a 1d20.

We have two types of proficiency; weapon and non-weapon. Weapon proficiencies enable us to use a weapon without penalty. For both of them we receive whichever class has the most, which is 2 weapons for the templar, and 4 non-weapon for both classes. We also receive 5 bonus non-weapon proficiencies for the high intelligence, giving us 9 in total.

Our choice for weapon proficiences are the longsword, the preferred melee weapon of the elves, and the longbow, the preferred ranged weapon of the elves and also our characters preferred weapon should the need arise. If he is using a longbow and longsword made by a member of his tribe, he gets +1 to hit with them.

For non-weapon proficiences, they have access to general, priest, wizard and rogue NWPs, the rogue being thanks to being a templar. We select a few that we think fit our character and what he does; read/write, spellcraft, somantic concealment, bureaucracy, heat protection, forgery, etiquette and rope use. A number of those come from the Dark Sun campaign guide, designed for the setting.

On Athas, only templars and nobles are legally allowed to know how to read and write, at least in the cities. There are ways around that but generally if you are found out, especially if you are a slave, then the penalty is death. Being a templar, our character doesn’t have to worry about that. Spellcraft helps with his magic, both templar and defiler, while somantic concealment helps disguise the otherwise elaborate gestures that are required to cast a spell. Very useful when trying not to give away what you are. As a member of the bureaucracy, being able to use it effectively is probably a bonus, while being in a boiling hot world, knowing how to protect yourself from the heat and conserve water consumption helps. Forgery covers not just how to forge documents and the like but to also recognise forgeries. A templar should find plenty of use for that. Etiquette covers the correct forms of address and behavior when dealing with people of rank. Probably useful when dealing with nobles and templars of higher rank than our character is. And rope use is for using ropes well, including escaping bonds, but has another important aspect for this character, as we will discuss in a bit.

A second level Templar has 1 1st level spell, but we gain 2 bonus 1st level spells for our wisdom. Unlike Clerics and Druids, Templars have access to all priest spells. His spell loadout can change as required, but his standard spell list is; Command, Create Water and Sanctuary. At his level, Create Water creates enough water for his needs in a day, but obviously can be put to other needs as required.

A second level defiler can cast 2 1st level spells. At first level they start with a spellbook (or not a spellbook) with Read Magic, Detect Magic and 4 other spells in it. (Usually. It all depends on the DM though.) The four he goes with are Charm Person, Armour, Sleep and Identify. He normally has Charm Person and Sleep memorised.

So, about spellbooks. In vanilla they are big, bulky things and very obvious what they are. Given that Athasian wizards of any variety really don’t want to advertise what they are too much, they have found ways of disguising their spellbooks. The exact manner is up to the player, but it could be via tattooing or ritual scaring on the body, woven into cloth, in complicated string and knot patterns, hidden in maps or something else besides. Our character uses his rope use NWP to craft knotted ropes that hide his spellbook in them.

Lastly we have equipment. On Athas, metals are rare, which makes items, including coins, made of metal much more valuable. The common coin used on Athas is the ceramic piece, which are glazed in specific colours and designed to be broken into 10 pie-shaped pieces known as bits. A cermaic bit is worth 1% of a gold coin. All nonmetal items are worth 1% of their vanilla value. All metal items are worth their listed vanilla cost. Given the ceramic bit takes the place of gold coins on Athas, including for starting sums, this makes metal items worth 100 times as much on Athas as elsewhere. A set of full plate normally costs 2000 gold pieces, but on Athas it is worth the equivalent of 200,000 gold coins. Not that you would want to wear it.

Luckily there are alternatives for most things.

Weapons easily made without metal, such as bows, clubs, spears, slings etc , cost 1% of their vanilla prices. For the remaining weapons, such as axes, swords, maces and the like, they use alternatives to metal, such as bone, stone, obsidian and wood. It makes them cheaper, but comes with penalties to hit and damage, and has a habit of breaking as well. Bone is the best, giving -1/-1 penalties, but wood, the cheapest, is worst, with -2/-3 penalties.

For armour there is a limited to what can be done. The lighter armours like leather and hide, are as normal, and others can use pieces of bone and chitin in the manufacture, but the best armours, basically chain and higher, have to be made of metal. You just don’t want to be wearing it – the intense heat on Athas would cook you alive if you wore metal armour.

For Thakur, we would calculate how much money he has based on which class starts with the most – priest for him. He gets 3d6x30 cp. We roll 12, giving him 360 cps. 2nd ed has very large lists to select from for gear, but in this case I am not going to do so. Instead I am only giving him the basics; studded leather armour (made from bone studs) and a medium hide shield comes to 27 cps. A wood longsword costs 10% of vanilla price, which comes to 150 cp. A longbow costs 75 cp and 30 bone sheaf arrows (at 30% of vanilla price) comes to 45 cp. That is 297 cp, leaving him 63 for other expenses. (Note; a multiclass wizard may or may not be able to wear armour depending on the DM. If they are allowed to wear it they can not cast wizards spells while wearing it.)

With that we have largely finished the character. All that remains is to roll up age, height and weight and then stat him out. An elf starts at 15 + 3d4 years old and lives to 100 + 2d20, though very few make it that long. For Thakur, we roll 1, 2 & 4 for starting age, making him 22, and 2 & 4 for max age, meaning 106 is as old as he will be. For height elves are 78 + 2d8 inches high and 160 + 3d10 pounds in weight. Thakur rolls 3 and 2 for height, making him 83 inches ( 6′ 11”) high, rather short for an elf, and 10, 9 & 8 for weight, making him 187 lbs in weight, rather heavy for an elf. So a short elf, which no doubt he has inadequacies about, but heavy as well as a result of the opportunities and lifestyle that a templar has.

Thakur Swiftstride: D2/T2; Al NE; AC 6 (dex), 5 (dex & shield), 2 (armour, shield & dex); MV 12, hp 7; THAC0 20 (22 with wood longsword (21 if tribal made), 18 with longbow(17 if tribal made)); #AT 1; Dmg 1d8-3 (wood longsword); #AT 2/1; DMG 1d8-1 (longbow); Str 11, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 14; Spells 4 1st (templar), 2 1st (defiler).

Psionic Summary: PSPs 16; Wild Talent – Dimensional Door (PS Con -1; Cost 4: Maintain 2/rd).

Saves; PPDM 10, RSW 11, PP 13, BW 15, SP 12

Weapon Proficiences; (Long sword, long bow)

Non-weapon Proficiences; (read/write, spellcraft, somantic concealment, bureaucracy, heat protection, forgery, etiquette, rope use)

Spellbook; Read Magic, Detect Magic, Charm Person, Sleep, Identify, Armour

Gear; Studded leather, medium shield, wooden longsword, longbow, 30 bone tipped sheaf arrows.

Lets Create: Dark Sun (AD&D 2E) Characters

I have mentioned a few times how much I enjoy the Dark Sun setting, so it is about time I made some characters for it. For this we are going to be using AD&D 2e, because, in my mind, it is the best version of D&D but also because the setting was designed using 2nd ed, which makes it work best for the setting.

There have been fan-made rules using 3rd and 5th editions, as well as the official 4th edition rules. I will look at 4th edition to make characters in Dark Sun at some point – I actually liked 4th ed, more so than 3rd ed, as it has some interesting ideas for Dark Sun, as well as some interesting classes, but for me Dark Sun has and always will be 2nd ed.

Before we get started, there are a few things to cover. Dark Sun characters are a little different to vanilla 2nd ed characters. The setting was designed to turn traditional fantasy on its head, and that is reflected in character creation as well. Races are changed, classes are changed and even character generation is a bit different as well.

Back in 2nd ed, characters were not equal. Players rolled for their stats, which means sometimes you got characters with really good stats and sometimes you got bad stats. Those days are gone, which is sad, because rolling stats was fun. You never knew what you were going to get.

For vanilla AD&D, your stats were in the range of 3-18. The basic methods was you rolled 3d6 for each stat in order and noted what you got, which meant the outcome of the dice often determined what race and class you could play. There were alternative options provided as well, the most common one from what I have seen and heard was roll 4d6 and drop the lowest, then assign the results to the stats you wanted. Then end result was slightly higher stats and more choice as to what you played.

Dark Sun characters had better stats than vanilla AD&D. The basic method for them was not 3d6 but 4d4+4, meaning your stats were in the range of 8-20. The equivalent to 4d6 drop the lowest for Dark Sun was 6d4 drop the lowest and assign, but once again there were other alternatives provided as well.

On top of that, the races had bigger stat modifiers. Vanilla races got +1 to one stat and -1 to one state (except half-elves and humans, who got none.) Dark Sun races had more stats modified, with bigger modifiers. A vanilla dwarf had +1 CON and -1 CHA. An Athasian dwarf is +2 CON, +1 STR, -1 DEX, -2 CHA. The most extreme example is the half-giant, who gets +4 STR, meaning that with good rolls it can start with 24 STR. The maximum possible is 25.

Dark Sun characters also start at 3rd level, so they are a little more capable when they start playing.

And all Dark Sun characters are a little bit psionic. If they don’t have the psionicist class they have a random wild talent, which could be anything, ranging from near useless to amazingly useful. Normally the chance for a wild talent is around 1%, if you play with the Complete Book of Psionicists. Dark Sun PCs automatically get it.

So, yes, Dark Sun characters are a lot more powerful than regular vanilla characters. They need to be just to survive. When you start playing, you make up a character tree of four characters which you can swap in and out as you need.

You are going to need them, as Dark Sun is a setting with a high chance of death. 2nd ed tended to see more character deaths than later editions, which toned that down, but Dark Sun, by its very nature, if run properly, was even more brutal than vanilla 2nd ed.

There were no places of safety; everywhere was a battle for survival. Cities weren’t places of refuge; they were places of corruption, suffering and arbitrary laws, ruled over by ancient and incredibly powerful sorcerer-monarchs who were evil to the core. Outside of the cities was wasteland where every drop of water was precious and everything was dangerous, even the plants, many of which had psionics as well.

For regular D&D, the adventure started when you got to the dungeon. In Dark Sun, getting to the dungeon was an adventure in itself. The oasis you stumble upon? Yeah, in a regular world that would be a nice place to rest, but on Athas if the inhabitants, be it people or monsters, don’t try to kill you then the plants just might. And if there are none of those it might be because the water might try to kill you as well.

Yes it was brutal. Yes, you might lose characters. But it was different, had atmosphere and was fun for it.

So tougher characters, but what else was different?

Well, the races for starters. Standard races had a different spin on them and there were also new races added in.

Humans were pretty much humans, not really that much different than elsewhere, except for on average being a little bigger and maybe having a few cosmetic mutations due to centuries of abusive magic scarring the world. They might have slightly odd colourations, or webs between fingers or limbs of odd length but they could fit in anywhere.

Halflings are not the jovial, relaxed types normally seen. They don’t live in peace in The Shire. No, in Dark Sun they are feral cannibals that live in the last remaining pristine part of the world and kill any interlopers who trespass in their territory. (Technically they aren’t cannibals as they don’t eat other halflings but they see all other races as food.)

Athasian Elves aren’t the wise, long lived types who make their homes in the forests so typically of elsewhere. They are instead taller than humans, live not much longer than humans and are mostly members of nomadic tribes who travel everywhere on foot. To ride a beast of burden is seen as weakness. They are also traders but seen by everyone else as untrustworthy, underhanded, swindlers and thieves.

Half-elves are solitary self-sufficient loners rejected by both their human and elvish sides, as humans don’t trust them for their elvish blood and elves look down on them as not being pure elves. Yet at the same time they crave acceptance of those who have rejected them. They tend to get on better with other races who don’t judge them because of their blood.

Athasian dwarves are bald and beardless. Probably for the best in the heat of Athas. They also love toil, becoming hyper-focused on the task they are attempting. This foci they concentrate on with single-mindedness for weeks, months, years or even decades until they complete it. If they die with a focus unfulfilled, they return as a banshee to haunt their worksite.

Gnomes don’t exist. Technically, they don’t exist anymore. A lot of standard fantasy races, like gnomes, orcs, trolls, ogres and more used to live on Athas but went extinct at some point in the past.

Three new player races were added for Dark Sun; muls, half-giants and thri-kreen.

Muls are sterile half-dwarves who have the toughness of their dwarven parents and the height and cunning of their human parents. They are also noted for their extreme endurance, being able to continue working long after anyone else has collapsed from exhaustion. For this reason they make prized slaves and most are bred into captivity.

Half-giants are large and extremely strong, but not exactly bright, though they are friendly and eager to please. This eagerness sees them tend to have a fluid alignment, mimicking whoever they are trying to fit in with. While their size may give them formidable strength, it is not without its downsides, namely needing to consume much more food and water than others and needing to pay more for larger equipment.

Thri-kreen are a race of mantispeople. 2nd ed’s thri-kreen looked more like actually mantises but later editions turned them into mantismen, walking upright and with a more humanoid look. They are incredibly short-lived, at most reaching 35, but they make up for that by not sleeping, needing very little water, having natural armour, being able to leap, having natural weapon attacks and being able to produce poison. They really are the most alien of all the player races though.

So that is the races, but what about classes?

For starters there are no paladins on Athas. This is because there are no gods (though the sorcerer-monarchs like to pretend they are.) So how does this affect the priest classes? Instead of gods they worship the elements – earth, air, fire and water.

Clerics choose one of the elements to worship and receive a spell list based on that element. As can be understood, a cleric of water is very much in demand as they can produce water, albeit on a much reduced amount compared to vanilla. Their weapons and armour are shaped by their choice of element as well.

Druids nurture and protect a specific geographical feature of the land, and draw their strength from that feature. What element they have access to depends on the feature they protect – a mountain would give them access to earth while a volcanic vent would be fire. Within their guarded lands they get many bonuses but they are enemies to all defilers given the way they have ravaged the lands.

Templars are a new priest class, the disciples and bureaucracy of the sorcerer-monarchs, with access to cleric spells granted to them via the sorcerer-monarchs they work for. Inside their home city they have vast arbitrary powers which get stronger the higher level they are, but outside their city those powers are non-existent, and they really have to take care in rival cities. Even in their own city, infighting and back-stabbing are rife.

Thieves are mostly unchanged from vanilla for the most, with the difference being they eventually find a noble patron to work for. Bards are still entertainers, but they are also spies and assassins. They lose the ability to cast magic and instead pick up the full array of thief skills and also the ability to use poisons, including some very nasty ones, even at low level.

Rangers are also largely unchanged, except that they also choose a elemental plane to worship and get their priest spells from that list. Athasian Fighters are masters of mass warfare. Eventually they begin to attract followers in the form of a small army that grow more and more numerous the higher level they reach. Dark Sun was designed with the Battlesystem rules for warfare in mind, which is what fighters use.

There is also a new warrior class available, the Gladiator. They do one thing, and they do it very well – fight. They can use any weapon without penalty and specialise in more than one as well.

The remaining classes are wizards. Arcane magic draws life out of the land to power it, and rampant use of arcane magic over the centuries is what led to the ecological devastation on Athas. Needless to say, it makes people not exactly fans of wizards. There are two types of wizards, the Defiler and the Preserver. The Preserver takes care to minimise or negate the damage they cause when casting spells but the Defiler doesn’t. They rip what they need from the land, leaving destruction in their path. It means the Defiler gains power faster than a Preserver, but they are hated by everyone, even other Defilers who see them as rivals. Preservers at least have some that won’t hate them.

All this has gone on a bit longer than I first planned, which means next time we will start actually working on characters, rolling the dice and seeing what we come up with.

Lets Build: Pantheon #2: Expanding on the Pantheon

Previously I rolled up a new pantheon utilising the World Builder’s Guidebook, which resulted in an interesting mix of deities.

I felt that it would be fun to expand on what had been created, and even utilise them for a future project. So I started to write up a bit more about the deities, and the people who follow them. This is still a work in project, and names are not finalised.

Skokaya, The Glorious Queen, The Radiant Empress of the Heavens and Earth, Creator and Destroyer, She Whose Right Hand gives Life and Left Hand brings Death.

(Chaotic Evil Greater Goddess of Death, War and the Sun.)

Skokaya currently stands as the most powerful of the gods, though it was not always so. She rose to the top through the deaths of millions, for, as with all the gods, her strength is tied to that of her chosen people, the Uskaya, and for now they are ascendant, a brutal and expansionist empire that have crushed all that have stood before them.

Skokaya is a cruel goddess who feeds upon death and war and who preaches that the strong should rule the weak simply because they can. Compassion and understanding are seen as weakness by her. Lives sacrifices in her name give her power, and to those who perform the sacrifice in her name, the blood split fueling prolonged life.

Yet she masquerades as a bringer of life, a radiant being whose glory shines upon the earth in the guise of the sun, without which none could live.

When the Uskaya began their march to dominance over their neighbours, Skokaya was seen to manifest and to lead her armies to war, taking on a more active role in the world than other deities had in the past. In the capital of the Uskaya Empire, a temple-palace has been built for her, one as large as any city, and she has been known to manifest there, to lead vast sacrificial offerings in her name, for she says that without due reverence to her that her radiance would be withdrawn from the earth and all would perish.

Ever hungry for war and sacrifice and conquest, she looks upon the lands of all other nations with envy and greed, and she preaches that in time all will bow down to her and she alone will rule the heavens and earth.

Aman Ala, The Hearth Goddess, Queen of the Fields, Mother of Civilisation

(Chaotic Good Intermediate Goddess of Fire and Agriculture)

One of the oldest of the gods, Aman Ala was the one who first raised her people from their simple tribal nature into the first civilisation. She instructed her people in the matter of establishing villages and fields, of agriculture, herding, of brewing and cooking.

Hers is the bounty of the fields, and the fires upon which they are prepared, and the feasting that follows.

While her people, the Irhalan, are many and numerous, they never established great kingdoms or empires as others did, for they are scattered across many smaller nations and tribes. She values freedom above all, of co-operation rather than rigid rules, laws and hierarchies. It is more at the level of village and towns that her culture functions and flourishes, giving respect to any kings over them only if they deserve it.

For long years have the Irhalan been sheltered behind the Rhikari and Zhurqavi from the Uskaya, but those days are no more and now the Irhalan stand open before the expansionist empire.

Qasari Rhun, Queen of the Mountains, The Divine Protector, The Stalwart Shield, She Whose Hands Spill Forth Gold.

(Lawful Good Intermediate Goddess of Prosperity and Guardianship)

In the mountainous regions that border the lands where once the Rhikari dwelt live the Zhurqavi, the dwarves, under the protection of their goddess, Qasari Rhun.

Qasari Rhun values law and order, honour and disciple, and rewards those who adhere to that with wealth and prosperity. She, and her people, have long tended towards the insular, shut away in their mountain holds and lands, defending them as needed and not getting to involved in the affairs of lands not their own. Yet their traders and artisan are well known in the world, and well regarded, traveling far and wide in the pursuit of wealth.

Recent events with the Uskaya, and their wards of conquest have shaken up Qasari Rhun’s views and she and her people have started to take a more active role in the affairs of the world.

Karhi Zel, The Fortunate One, Lord of Magic, The Trickster, Father of the Land.

(Neutral Good Intermediate God of Earth, Magic and Fortune.)

Karhi Zel remains one of the more powerful of the deities, despite recent set backs, though his power is fading, for his people are scattered and conquered, the most recent victim of Skokaya’s rampages. Most others would have fallen far but he clings on, for he has plans and stratagems and more than a few tricks that remain unknown to any but him. Time is not on his side, and unless his plans come to fruition soon it may be that he fades as others have before him.

He has long been a force for good, a caring and compassionate god, the most active of the deities in this regards. He sought to thwart Skoyaya as she rose to dominance, and it may be for that reason his people were so ruthlessly targeted by the Uskaya, subject to death and enslavement.

While a believer in the need for laws, even ones for the gods as well, he has no qualms in breaking them should they prove unjust or conflict with the need for good, and in this his people have long followed.

It is in the lands of his people, the Rhikarians, that his greatest strength resides, in the earth, for the magic he wields and provides comes from the earth. As long as the Rhikari dwell in the lands he provided for them, they are blessed with good fortune, though to interlopers upon it falls a curse that hounds them.

With the Rhikari scattered, though, and Karhi Zel himself in decline, the magic and fortune that the lands provide is fading.

Iren Issa, The Silver Goddess, She Who Inspires, Giver of Knowledge

(Lawful Good Lesser Goddess of the Moon and Wisdom)

Iren Issa is a goddess who values knowledge and wisdom, understanding and the uncovering of mysteries. Just as the moon follows an ordered path across the heavens, so too does she value order.

Long has she stood in opposition to Skokaya with all her might, for even though she is a peaceful goddess, Skokaya stands for all that is wrong in Iren Issa’s view; war and death over knowledge and understanding.

Alone, she and her people could not hope to stand against the evil of Skokaya and the Uskaya, but she seeks to bring the free peoples of the world together in common cause.

Her people, the Selanysa, are not overly warlike, being a creative people, with a deep understanding of the world, and their progress and inventions have made their lands a beacon of knowledge and development.

Zhor Tal, The Warbringer, The Celestial Tactician, Marshal of the Hosts of the Heavens

(Neutral Good Lesser God of War and Fortune)

Zhor Tal is a warrior god, but not simply a mindless brute who fights to fight. He values life and peace and prosperity, but understand that to defend that requires a willingness to fight. As well as being a skilled fighter he is also a master tactician. As long as they do not involve cruelty or attacks on the innocent, Zhor Tal considers all ruses, tricks and stratagems in war open to him.

His people, the Zaratai, are a warrior people, though they only form a small nation. Man for man they are the finest warriors to exist, and are blessed by their god with good fortune in battle and war. Likewise, those that fight against them seemingly experience mishaps and bad fortune.

Oriansa, Lady of the Clouds, the Skyborn Goddess.

(Chaotic Neutral Lesser Goddess of Wind.)

Every mercurial, the Skyborn Goddess rules aloft, favouring the form of an ethereal, mist-like dragon when she manifests. Hers are the wind and the clouds, the gentle rains as much as the fearsome storms that can rage in destructive might.

She dwells not in the realm of the gods, but in a city in the clouds that drifts above the world, never settled in one place. There her children dwell also, not just the drakes, but also the Cloudborn, humans that have adapted to living in the city she has provided for them.

From the cloud city, the Cloudborn, riding the drakes, descend on the lands that they pass over, sometimes to plunder, sometimes to trade, or to simply explore, depending on whim, for they are as mercurial as their goddess.

Once Oriansa held greater power than she does now, for she has diminished in strength. In the past ages there were few that could challenge the might of her drakes and most were helpless their marauding ways. As the land dwellers grew in numbers and gained new weapons and powers, though, they were able to stand against the drakes and many were felled until now few remain, and those of a lesser kind compared to their ancestors. For the Skyborn Goddess, patience does not come easily but she has little choice if she is not to fade away like mists in the light of the sun.

Erissan, The Shrouded, Lord of Dreams and Nightmares.

(Chaotic Neutral Demigod of Darkness.)

In the mist shrouded lands of the Alassan elves dwells Erissan, the ancient and immortal lord of Alassa. It is by his will that the lands lay in perpetual gloom and darkness, and by his whims that dreams and nightmares afflict any who trespass into it.

His people, the pale and ghostlike elves, are a sombre people, but as fickle as their ruler, caught within the dreams, a shadow of whom they once more, much as their god was.

Erissan was once a true god, but he had descended into the ranks of the demigods, walking the line between god and mortal, neither fully one nor the other. He has largely closed his people and himself off from the wider world, seeking to preserve the power that remains to him least he join the ranks of those that have fallen and been forgotten.

Hutuata, the Cruel Tide, Reaver of the Seas.

(Chaotic Evil Demigod of Oceans.)

Hutuata is the vicious ruler of the Ahuaga fishmen, a cruel and heartless people who live int eh seas and who launch raids upon the shores of the land dwellers, seeking and prey. Hutuata is not a true god, though his people worship him as the Shark-God. He is semi-divine, on the cusp of true godhood, feeding on the death and destruction his people cause in an effort to elevate him to the status of a true god.

He has no allies among the existing gods and none, not even Skokaya, wish to see him rise to join them, for most abhor his cruel nature and the carnage he inflicts on their followers, even Skokaya’s. In him, Skokaya sees him as one who seeks to rival her in her domains, though for now she sees him as an irritant and not a true threat.

Lets Build a World: Part Fifteen: Rivers, Lakes, Races and Cultures

Having complete the weather and terrain for the region, we move on to rivers, lakes and other waterways.

Except for in the harshest of deserts and barren regions, each hex on the regional map will contain waterways of some form; creeks, streams, rivers, ponds or lakes. They are too small to be represented at the regional level though. Major lakes, inland seas and river systems do show up, and it is these we are looking at. These are things like the Nile, the Amazon, the Dead Sea, the Great Lakes, very large and prominent bodies of water.

Inland seas and lakes are fairly similar, with the exception that while both have inflows, only lakes have outflows. Inland seas tend to form in warm, arid regions where evaporation is in equilibrium with inflow. They also tend to form in low laying regions, depressions and basins and the like which traps the water in them. Lakes can form anywhere, even in mountainous regions, and generally in humid regions where there is plenty of water to feed into them and then spill over into an outflow.

For our map, we lack large arid regions that can result in the creation of inland seas. It is suggested that a region would have 1d6-3 (0-3) inland seas, of 2d8 hexes in size.

In general a region will also have 2d6 major lakes, each one of 2d6-2 hexes in size. We kind of lack much room for large lakes given the limited amount of land we have. It is humid enough that they could though, if we have more space.

I will be doing an example of a more land-based region in the future so that we can use lakes and inland seas on it.

What we can do is add some rivers. The suggestion is for 4d6 major rivers per region. We have less, for the aforementioned reason of lack of land. The ones that we will have will also be fairly short.

Rivers start at higher altitudes, in mountains and highlands and major lakes, and flow downhill following the path of least resistance. So on your map, start with connecting lakes to nearby seas or oceans, and then connect mountains to nearby bodies of water, whether seas or lakes. Rivers don’t cross mountain ranges (unless something very unusual is going on). In especially humid regions, a number of short rivers can parallel each other from the mountains to the sea.

Using these guidelines, I sketch in a few major rivers, mostly on the large island in the southwest, as seen below. And with that the waterways are done.

The final part of the regional map is to work out the Human Geography as the book calls it, by which they mean the people and cultures that call it home. It has several parts that can be rolled for, or chosen; races, cultures and kingdoms/states, as well as their locations on the map.

The first step is to work out what races are present in sufficient numbers to form states. Solitary monsters, non-intelligent creatures and those that don’t organise into political or tribal groups are not considered at this stage.

Firstly we work out how many races to roll for – each region has 0-2 (1d3-1) dominate races, 3-6 (1d4+2) major races and 4-16 (4d4) minor races. A dominate race makes up 25%+ of the sentient population of the region, a major race has 5-20% and the minor races are less than 5%. Some races, such as dragons, may skew these numbers, as they may be few in number but rule over a subject population.

Our rolls come up with 2 dominate, 3 major and 10 minor races. Table 19 in the book has a lot of races to roll from, all taken from 2ed. Some are well known, but others are more obscure, such as Tasloi or Wemics. While all races listed can be minor ones, there is a limited number who can be major, and even more limited as to who can be dominate. Of course, as with anything, you can change all that.

We start rolling up, sticking to as is listed. The rolls for dominant races come up with 28; giants and 15; dwarves. Giants are one of those races who can be of a more limited number but who rule over subjects.

The rolls for major races give us humans, tabaxi and giants again. Duplicates can either be rerolled or can represent a variant group. I go with a reroll and get bullywugs. The rolls for minor races give us kobolds, thri-kreen, orcs, ogre-mages, gnomes, aaracokra, tasloi, grell, beholders and ogres.

Given both giants and beholders can rule over subjects, I roll for each to see who they are. The giants end up with ogre subjects, which means there are two groups of ogres, some free and some subjects, which will make things interesting. The beholders end up with lizardmen slaves.

Each race has listed for them habitat types, where they can live. Some, like humans, can be anywhere, but others are limited. Yetis can only be found in mountains or arctic regions for example. If you roll up a race that has no appropriate terrain for it you are meant to roll again. To my mind, I prefer not to – if you just stuck with races being in their normal habitats we’d never have gotten the glorious setting that is Dark Sun. Thri-kreen are meant to only be found in arid tropical and sub-tropical regions but if I want to stick them in a jungle, where they hunt with blowpipes, springing from tree to tree and building mysterious stone temples deep in the jungles, then I should be allowed to. Actually, that sounds like a good idea that I am going to use with the thri-kreen we rolled up.

In addition to land based races, you can also roll from subterranean and marine races. Normally I don’t but in this case I will, because this region has a lot of water for marine races and also as a example of doing so. The seas have 0-1 dominate, 1-3 major and 1-4 minor races while subterranean sees 0-1 dominate, 1-4 major and 1-6 minor races.

There isn’t a whole lot of room on the map for subterranean races, so I only roll for major and minor races, getting 2 of each. Rolling on the subterranean chart gives up drow and duergar as the major races and grimlocks and troglodytes for the minor races. They may not have any contact with the surface world, or they may have plenty. We shall have to decide on that later.

For the marine races, I decide that there will be a dominate race, and roll up 3 major and 3 minor races. The dominate marine race is locathah, the major races are mermen, aquatic elves and giants and the minor races are tritons, ixitxachitl and tako.

So we know who the races are that live in the region and they are an interesting mix. Certainly not your typical fantasy setting, and the best part is no elves. Well, apart from the drow underground and the wet elves at sea, but no elf cultures on the surface. Maybe. They may creep in later, so we’ll have to watch out for that.

The next step is to work out the number of cultures/sub-races and realms that belong to each race. Dominate races have 1D4+1 seperate cultures or sub-races, major races have 1D3 and minor races have 1D2. Each culture/sub-race has 1-5 realms or kingdoms. Realms for dominate races are around 6d6 hexes in size, major races are 4d6 hexes in size while minor races are 1d8 hexes in size. Given we have less land than is normal and back in the world hook stage we got a very balkanised world with no large nations, we might have to adjust that a bit.

Some races, like elves or dwarves, have plenty of sub-races already, while others have none. In theory sub-races are meant to be culturally uniform, no matter where they are in the world, but this is another rule that I tend to play around with. Why would insular wood elves thousands of kilometres apart retain the same culture?

With all that we can start rolling, starting with the dominant races, working out their cultures, realms and then their positions on the map. How exactly you mark it on the map is up to you. You could only mark in where each culture is, or you could try and mark in all the kingdoms. That could result in a lot of them. As way as example, we start with the two dominant races in this region, the giants (with their ogre subjects) and the dwarves.

The giants roll up three cultures, with three, two and one realms in each culture, while the dwarves have four cultures, with four, two, one and two realms in their cultures. Thats seven cultures and fifteen realms already to place on the map. While the realms within cultures typically are close to each other, different cultures may be spread out.

The major races (the humans, tabaxi and bullywugs) each have 3 cultures, while for the minor races, the orcs, gnomes, tasloi and beholders (with the lizardmen slaves) have 2 cultures, and the kobolds, thri-kreen, ogre-mages, aaracokra, grell and ogres have 1 culture each. Between them all they have around 71 realms as well.

Table 20 lets you roll for where on the map the cultures are to be put if you don’t want to decide yourself. The settlement patterns they can follow could be hydrographical (along various water sources), favoured terrain (such as hills or grasslands), favoured climate (such as temperate or tropical), or simply a quadrant of the map.

We start rolling for the giant and dwarf cultures to see where they are. For the giants we get on a 1d100 5 (coastal/seafaring), 11 (riverine) and 18 (grasslands). For the dwarves we get 28 (marshes/swamps), 44 (sub-tropical), 73 (southeastern) and 19 (forests).

Now to fit them on the map. You may have noticed we have a lot of cultures, 30 to be exact, and even more realms, some 86 in total. The bullywugs ended up with the most, with some 12 realms across their 3 cultures, while the kobolds and aaracokra have just 1 small realm each. We also only have a little more than 200 land hexes to distribute them all across. The dominate races are meant to have realms 6d6 in size, but we are going to reduce them to just 6 hexes each. Likewise the major races will have just 3 for their 4d6 hex size realms and the minor races just 1 hex in size for their 1d8 sized realms. That comes out to around 215 hexes in total, so we can just squeeze it in, hopefully. This means there are going to be a lot of very small city-states scattered across the map, which is just fine for the balkanised nature of the world.

Starting with the giants and dwarves, we start to draw them in. The first giant culture, the coastal one, has three realms, making it around 18 hexes in size. The second, riverine culture, has 2 realms, so it will be around 12 hexes, while the third, grassland culture, has just the 1 realm, so it gets six hexes. We do the same for the dwarves. The end map for the dominate cultures looks like this;

1A is an giant culture of 3 realms, 1B of 2 realms and 1C of 1 realm. 2A is a dwarf culture of 2 realms, 2B of 1 realm, 2C of 4 realms and 2D of 2 realms. The dwarven culture that makes up 2C would appear to be some form of maritime power, with its four realms spread over four islands, and with a bunch of minor islands spread between them, which may be a point of conflict between them. From such placement on the map we can begin to form ideas.

Next time we will finish up the map, and the work on the region, by placing all the major and minor cultures, and possibly the marine cultures on the map. And that may get crowded.

Lets Build a World: Part Fourteen: Weather and Terrain

Now that the physical landscape of our region has been mapped out, we turn to the next stage, giving the region its weather, and through that, its terrain.

To begin with, we need to know the climate of the region. On a normal world, you have tropical regions at the equator moving through to arctic at the poles. Of course, various factors may make that differ. On ours, we have less of an axial tilt resulting in a smaller arctic zone. For worlds starting out at this design step you can roll for what climate bands are present. Given we are taking ours from the world map, we can work it out for this region from the world map. The polyhedral maps that come with the book have the climate bands marked on, and from that we can judge where they would be on our map. They end up looking like this;

It is quite a range of climates we have, from the cold subarctic in the north to the warm subtropical in the south, though it is mostly temperate.

Altitude also plays an effect on climate. Higher elevations are cooler than lower ones around it. A mountain range and its foothills, the highlands, drop one climate band, so that in a temperate zone they would be subarctic. The peaks themselves would be two climate bands lower, so in this case they would be classified as arctic.

The following map shows those regions on the map, with the highlands (one band cooler) in orange and the peaks (two bands colder) in grey.

Combining the climate bands, the altitude and the prevailing winds (which we have already mapped out) we can now work out the types of terrain that are present. For each block of terrain, usually between natural boundaries like mountains and seas, we roll to see what the predominate terrain is, based on the climate band and whether the prevailing winds are humid or arid. Arid winds are one that form over large land masses, which we don’t have, so the prevailing winds here will be humid.

The predominate terrain for each area isn’t the only type that will be present, it is just the most prevalent. For example, arid sub-tropical regions could have barrens, deserts, scrub/brush or grasslands. One will be predominant, such as scrub/brush, but the other types will be present in patches throughout it.

Starting on the large island, we roll for the mountain peaks, which are either humid/subarctic or humid/arctic, depending how you read the rules in the guidebook. As these are medium mountains in a temperate zone, at one point it says that they are treated as humid/subarctic while in a temperate zone, despite it only being one climate band down. We will go with that, which gives us options for marsh/swamp, light forest, medium forest, moors or glaciers. Of the options given, swamp/marsh is not allowed in medium mountains, but the rest are (though there might be some small patches of swamps in valleys.) On a 1D8, we roll a 5, which gives us Light Forest. The mountains are dominated by needleleaf evergreens, like in taiga forests. There might also be medium forest, moors and glaciers around as well.

The foothills to the east of it are humid/subarctic as well. On a 1D8, we roll a 6, which gives us medium forest, denser broadleaf evergreens. The interior of the island is turning out to be one larger forest, one that thins out the higher you climb.

We continue on doing the same for the rest of the map, resulting in plenty of forests, but also regions of marshes and moors and even some tundra, glaciers and steppes. The final map looks like this;

Next time we move onto the rivers and lakes of the region – and the inhabitants.

Lets Build: Pantheon #2 with the World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E)

Time for another one off world building exercise with the World Builder’s Guidebook, rolling up and designing another pantheon.

For this one I am skipping the first step – the type of pantheon it is. It may link into the previous one that I designed or it may not. I haven’t figured that out yet.

Starting with the size, we roll Small, and the number of deities in it comes out as 1 Greater, 3 Intermediate, 3 Lesser and 2 Demi-powers. 9 all told. A decent number to be working with.

The organisation itself rolls up as Racial. This means that each race (or culture) has one deity who embodies the virtues of that people. So the God of Oceans and Trade will be worshiped by a people who are sailors and traders while the God of Dwarves, if of the traditional variety, would have the portfolios of mining, crafting and war. A good literary example of that is The Belgariad. This sounds an interesting option. We can roll up a bunch of different portfolios for the various deities and work out what kind of people their worshipers are from that.

Our roll for the involvement of the pantheon comes out as Moderate. Basically an average level of involvement. Sometimes they are involved in their own affairs and sometimes they are looking after their followers. Their most important followers get guidance and help and while avatars aren’t common, they won’t hesitate to manifest in times of danger or opportunity. So they are around, as needed, but not all the time.

Now lets see who makes up the pantheon.

Greater Deity; We roll up 3 portfolios for them and get War, Death and Sun. An interesting mix. It has some Aztec vibes about it. It is made even more interesting when rolling up their alignment and gender. They come out as a chaotic-evil goddess. Chaotic-evil believes in might makes right, with strongmen ruling by fear. If the most powerful deity in the setting believes this, and she has the domains of war, death and sun, the neighbours of their culture had best be watching out.

Intermediate Deity #1: They have two portfolios which roll up as Agriculture and Fire, and they are a chaotic-good female deity. Agriculture and fire make it sounds like a civilised community, of growing crops and cooking food, and being chaotic would indicate a less centralised society. Shades of The Shire by the sounds of it.

Intermediate Deity #2: They have two portfolios, Prosperity and Guardianship, and they are a lawful-good female deity. Much more centralised than the previous deity, they value guarding what they have and building a well ordered, peaceful and prosperous society.

Intermediate Deity #3: They have three portfolios, Fortune, Earth and Magic, and they are a neutral-good male deity. Thinking about this, I can see a way to work them all together – the earth, or more specifically, the land, gives the people who follow this deity both magic and good fortune. Outside of that geographical region the effects of it are not as strong.

Lesser Deity #1: They have the domains of Moon and Wisdom, and they are a lawful-good female deity. In effect they stand in opposition to the Greater Deity, but they are much weaker, both the goddess and her people. In addition, they value knowledge and understanding over war, but unlike the greater deity and her followers, they have friends.

Lesser Deity #2: They have the domains of War and Fortune, and are a neutral-good male deity. His people are warriors and are seemingly blessed with good luck in battle. Things just seem to go right for them, or wrong for the enemy, which helps offset their smaller size.

Lesser Deity #3: They have the domain of Wind, and are a chaotic-neutral female deity. The winds are fickle, blowing a soothing breeze one minute and destructive storms the next. So too are her followers, possibly creatures of the air who never stay in one place long, and who are regarded with some suspicion wherever they go.

Demipower #1: They have the domain of Darkness, and are a chaotic-neutral male power. The shrouded lands of the dark are a place of dreams and of nightmares, wherein dwells the one who brought it into being. Not a true god, nor a mortal either, he walks the divide between..

Demipower #2: They have the domain of Oceans, and are a chaotic-evil male power. From the oceans come reavers and raiders, who strike the shores seeking plunder and bringing death and destruction. Like the power of Darkness, they are not a true god, but seek to elevate themselves through the death their followers reap.

So there we have an interesting collection of deities, and one that I can work with. In fact I plan on expanding on it in further posts, of the powers and the cultures and races that follow them. So keep an eye out for that coming soon.

Lets Build a World: Part Thirteen: Details and Landforms

After selecting the region of the world map we want to explore and making a rough sketch of it, we come to starting to add the details to it.

The first thing to do is sharpen up the edges of the islands, to make it look more like coastlines. There are no rules for this, so just make it look however you want. In addition I throw in a bunch of smaller islands scattered across the map, forming lesser chains between the larger ones. One larger island is added as well, right in the middle of the map. I have plans for that.

Looking at the map, I also decide that I want to break up the larger island in the southwest a little as well. It is a large landmass and so I break off two smaller islands from it while still retaining the original shape overall. This is, after all, a world of islands and archipelagos and a land mass of that size stands out.

With shape given to the landmasses, and islands added, we begin to add in landforms – mountains, hills and the like. We already know where the mountains go so we add those in on the map, following the outline we previously sketched. How exactly to shape them is left up to the world builder.

If we were starting fresh with no world map to draw from, we would roll for the mountains. Each region would have 1d4+1 mountain systems, rolling 1d4 for which quadrant of the map they were in. The systems themselves are 4d8 hexes long, rolling a 1d12 for the direction they run in. Each system can be flanked by 1d4-1 lesser systems, shorter in length than the main system. But we don’t need to do that.

With the mountain chains put in, I also add the volcanoes that we had marked down early as well. I add one extra one, in the new island in the middle of the map.

Next step is to add foothills. On either side of the mountains we have added, foothills 1d3-1 hexes wide exist. On some sides the mountains can rise sheer up, while others others can extent out into rugged hills. There isn’t a lot of room on the islands for these, but we add them in as best we can.

In addition to foothills maps can contain rolling hills, much less rugged and more inhabitable. Each region would have around 3d4 of these, though given we are a mostly water map there isn’t much room for that. On a mostly land map we could add that many in. Instead we find a couple of islands where we can ad in a couple of patches of hills.

Maps can also have special features, like depressions, gorges and escarpments, usually about 1d6 in number. Again, given our lack of land, that isn’t something we can really add in on our map.

As can be seen, a lot of fun can be had rolling up landforms and experimenting with where to place them and what they look like. At some point I will do it as an example given they can’t really fit on a mostly water map.

The end result of placing all of the landforms and detailing the islands produces a map that looks like this;

The map is made with Wonderdraft.

Next time we will be working on the climate, weather and terrain of the region.

Lets Create: Fading Suns Alien Character – Vasaati the Ghost

Previously we have covered the first three archetypes of Fading Suns characters – Noble, Priest and Merchant. Now we come to the last of them – Those Who Differ. The Aliens.

There are a number of alien species in the Fading Suns universe, but only three of them are an option in the core rulebook, those of the Obun, Ukar and the Vorox.

The Ur-Obun and the Ur-Ukar are technically the one species who followed and worshiped the mysterious Anunnaki long ago. There was some kind of schism or war between the Anunnaki and the loosing side took the Ukar from their homeworld and planted them on a harsher desert world millennia ago. Technically they are elves in space.

The Obun are a peaceful, philosophical race with a natural talent towards psychics. While most alien species are not well treated by humans, the Obun are generally respected as advisors and councillors, and one is a trusted advisor to the Emperor. They even have their own sect of the Church. So, yeah, your typical elf.

The Ukar are different. They are a warrior race, raised on a harsh world, only to fall foul of the humans and lose the following conflict with them. Embittered, divided and with long running feuds between clans, they are generally seen as violent, murderous thugs, assassins and criminals. It isn’t always without reason either, and those skills are valued. Think dark elves – and they even live underground as well.

The last of the alien races are the Vorox. Think of a cross between a lion and a bear with six limbs with poisonous claws, and just as big, all with the ability to think. Considered big dumb brutes with unwavering loyalty and trained as elite shock troops by many. They remove their poisonous claws to show their civilised nature, all except for the nobles who are allowed to keep one as a mark of their rank. Very much murder machines.

I’m not a fan of your typical elves, who have been overused and worse, which rules out the Obun. And while Vorox are fun (and borderline broken) we don’t need another combat specialist. So that leaves the Ukar, a race of embittered and touchy criminals and assassins, and that sounds fun.

Our character is going to be one of those sort; Vasaati the Ghost is a killer and criminal who fell in with Lady Isabel. Surprisingly she found a human that actual somewhat understood her people and could speak her language, and a person that had use for her skills.

All Ukar have the same Upbringing, which modifies their characteristics slightly from those of humans. They have a base of 4 for dexterity and tech and a maximum of 9 for both strength and endurance. Their upbringing gives them Strength +1, Dexterity +1, Perception +2, Passion or Calm +1, Psi 1 and Urge 1, Fight +1, Sneak +1, Knavery 1, Speak Ukarish, Speak Urthish and Survival 1. They have the blessing of Sensitive Touch (+2 Perception to discern touched objects) and the curses of Bitter (-2 Calm when dealing with humans) and Ostracism (Mild.) For Vasaati we go with Calm as I see her more as a cool and calculating type.

Next we come to her Apprenticeship. Ukari can join a guild her, going down the Merchant route if they wish. Otherwise they can choose between Chieftain or Warrior/Outlaw. I don’t see Vasaati as being the type who leads so for her it is Warrior/Outlaw. That gives her Strength +1, Dexterity +2, Endurance +1, Passion or Calm +1, Dodge +1, Fight or Melee +2, Impress +1, Shoot +1, Knavery 2, Lore (Poisons) 1, Stoic Mind 1 and Survival 1. For her we choose Calm again and also Fight – Vasaati prefers using her hands to knives.

Early Career has the same two choices so we continue down the Warrior/Outlaw line. That gives her Strength +2, Dexterity +1, Endurance +2, Perception +1, Extrovert or Introvert +1, Passion or Calm +2, Faith or Ego +1, Dodge +1, Fight or Melee +2, Impress +1, Shoot +1, Knavery 1, Lore (Poisons) 1, Stoic Mind 1, Survival 1 and Benefice: Family Ties (3pts). They also choose between Jox Kai Von Kick Boxing (Martial Fist, Martial Kick, Martial Hold) or Kraxi Knife Fencing (Parry, Thrust, Slash). Vasaati goes with Introvert, Calm and Ego – continuing on with the cold and calculating route, but with a strong sense of self. Once more they choose Fight and take the martial arts options – Vasaati is deadly without weapons.

For her two extra stages, Vaasati goes with the Cohort Tour of Duty followed by Another Tour of Duty. That gives her 4 points to put into characteristics and 21 to put into skills. For her characteristics, she puts 2 points into Wits, 1 into Perception and 1 into Ego. For the skills she goes Sneak +4, Observation +3, Knavery +2, Search +4, Streetwise +3, Inquiry +3 and Lore (Poisons) +2.

For her two Worldly Benefits, the first is Promotions and Rewards (1000 firebirds rank increased by 1 level) and the second is Friends (choose 4pts from Ally, Contact, Gossip Network, Retinue, Passage Contact or Refuge). Vaasati puts 2pts into Refuge (the equivalent of a small farm), 1 point into Contact (a weapon and poison supplier) and 1 point into Ally (a Decados knight). One thing to note is that the core rulebook does not show the ranks that aliens can gain

She spends her starting money on a dirk (4 firebirds), a heavy revolver (250 firebirds) with 30 rounds (30 firebirds), studded leather armour with plastic studs (15 firebirds), a squawker (50 firebirds), 3 doses of plox blade venom (75 firebirds) and 3 doses of grixi poision (150 firebirds). That gives her 426 leftover firebirds. The plox blade venom can paralyse those struck by it, while grixi causes excessive bleeding in its victims that is hard to staunch.

Vaasati’s final character looks like this;

Attributes: Strength 7, Dexteiry 8, Endurance 6, Wits 5, Perception 7, Tech 4, Passion 1/Calm 7, Introvert 4/Extrovert 1, Faith 1/Ego 5, Psi 1, Urge 1, Wyrd 7, Vitality 11.

Natural Skills: Impress 5, Melee 3, Charm3, Observe 6, Shoot 5, Dodge 5, Sneak 8, Vigor 3, Fight 8.

Learned Skills: Knavery 6, Survival 3, Lore (Poisons) 4, Stoic Mind 2, Search 4, Streetwise 4, Inquiry 3, Speak Ukarish, Speak Urthish.

Blessing: Sensitive (+2 Perception to discern touched items).

Curse: Bitter (-2 Calm when dealing with Humans), Ostracism (Mild).

Benefice: Cohort Charter, Rank (3pts), Family Ties.

Equipment: Dirk, Heavy Revolver with 30 rounds, Plastic Studded Leather Armour, Squawker, 3 x Plox Blade Venom, 3 x Grixi.

Lets Build a World: Part Twelve: Continents and Geography

We’ve finished with Chapter Two of the World Builder’s Guidebook, covering Worlds and Planetology. Now we are moving on to Chapter Three: Continents and Geography. This is probably the stage of world building that most are familiar with as a lot of fantasy is set at this level, with a continent or continent-sized region. Middle-Earth. The Hyborian Kingdoms. The Wheel of Time. A Song of Fire and Ice. Earthsea. The Belgariad. Faerun. The list goes on. It is a large area of multiple kingdoms and nations and plenty of scope to travel.

This is also a very good starting point for worldbuilding with the guidebook and possibly the most common too. The book covers how to do that, by rolling the hydrography of the world, ranging from a region of archipelagos all the way to a region with little to no water, draw up a rough map of the region, followed by rolling for the landforms of the regions, its mountains and hills, its plains and gorges and more and placing them on it.

We aren’t doing that though. We have a world map to work from and so we are going to select a region from that. For that you select one of the twenty regions on the world map, or an equivalent area, and roughly sketch them on a new map. As the book points out this is a vast area. If working from an Earth-sized world, one of the twenty regions is equivalent to about to twice the size as the continental USA.

As I mentioned previously, I had an idea of where I wanted to work with, as indicated on the map below.

Why that region in particular? I thought it looked an interesting spot, with the volcanic activity and the layout of it. As can be seen, it isn’t centred on any one region but is about the size of one region.

The next step was to roughly map it out on a new map, and adding to it the wind and current movement, the presence of the plates and the mountains, to produce the following map.

Each of those hexes is about 100 miles across, so that larger island is about the size of France. As can be seen, in the southeast corner, we have low mountains running along the islands there with extinct volcanoes, while to the north and west we have medium mountains, with active volcanoes present. A deep ocean trench lies to the northwest and we have wind and current patterns.

All right, so what is next? Well, now we start adding details. We will take the rough map and give it proper coastlines, followed by expanding on the mountains and hills and then moving on to the climate and terrain.

Lets Build a World: Part Eleven: Climate

Last time we worked on starting to map the world, which included working out tectonics. This time we look at the last part of the entire planet build, and that is its climate.

In a typical Earth like world, there are five climate bands; arctic, sub-arctic, temperate, sub-tropical and tropical. That isn’t necessarily the case in all worlds, and each band can have variance based on a number of factors, such as altitude, weather patterns or even more extreme things like the presence of a deity. Adding a second sun could also change things up substantially as well.

Our first step to determine the climate is to work out the mean planetary temperature. Is it similar to Earth, or is it hotter or colder? The hotter it is, the further north people have to live as the equatorial regions become to hot to live in, at least for humans and others like them, whereas the colder it is, the further south people need to live as it may resemble an ice age.

On a 1d100, we roll a 43, which results in a normal temperature, similar to Earth. Not super hot or super cold. Which means we can find people all across the globe.

The next step is seasonal variance. Seasonal variance is produced on Earth by its axial tilt. The more a world tilts, the more extreme seasonal variance is. Of course, axial tilt doesn’t have to apply to fantasy world. There could be other explanation for seasonal variance, ranging from the sun waxing and waning in strength or an eternal war between the gods. A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of a world with extreme seasonal variance.

Rather the roll on the seasonal variation, I instead choose, going with mild. This results in a world with less variation than on Earth, resulting in the arctic circles being pushed back further north, and the ice sheets being smaller. Seasons are present but reduced in strength, with the tropics and sub-tropics seeing no seasonal variation, while temperate and sub-arctic bands have warmer winters and cooler summers.

This could explain why, at least from a scientific view, the world has more oceans. The warmer temperatures in the the artic regions caused the ice sheets to melt and raise the sea levels.

Now we know what the temperatures are like, we have to work out the prevailing winds and ocean currents which drive the weather. For both, north of the equator, they move in a clockwise direction, while south of it they move counter-clockwise.

For currents, take a look at the major bodies of water and draw a circle in the appropriate direction depending on what hemisphere they are in. They will follow along the edges of land masses, which in the case of my map will be the undersea mountains and island chains. In the map below, the currents are marked in blue.

For prevailing winds, they are generated by oceans and large land masses, the latter of which we are lacking. Unlike ocean currents, they aren’t impeded by shorelines, but mountain ranges, especially large ones, will hamper them. For my world, the wind currents are shown in orange.

And that is it for the planetology stage of the world building. Next time we will choose one of the regions on the map and drill down into it, starting the Continents and Geography chapter of the book. And looking at the map, I have a fair idea where I am going to choose.