Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The World as the PCs Know It!

  
What the PCs know of the world so far
  1. Village of Arrowmouth
  2. Wayfarer's Inn
  3. Warden Outpost
This is the Realm of Sylvaeon, as the PCs have seen it so far!

The village of Arrowmouth, on the Broken Arrow River, has a population of just over 500. It has a 90% Human population, made up of the Folk, the oldest race of human beings to initially come to Sylvaeon. The rest of its inhabitants are mostly Wood Elves and Gnomes. The village was re-established only about 50 years ago in the growing effort to reclaim areas that were inhabited during the time of the Great Wars. Fishing, farming and brewing are its main industries.

The Wayfarer's Inn sits at the junction where the tributary river, Drake's Wash joins the Broken Arrow River. It is frequented by the Wardens, trappers/hunters and the few other brave souls that try to make their living in the wilderlands. The place is very clean; the food good. Its ale is imported from Arrowmouth, which takes pride in the quality of the intoxicating beverage. The Old Road, which has fallen into disrepair more and more as it leaves the village, leads along the river to the Inn, but does not continue much beyond it.

The Broken Arrow River is a difficult one to navigate by boat, if not impossible at times. Filled with boulder, rapids and a strong stream, the river is a hazard to the unskilled. The Drake's Wash is more shallow and passable, but few even know what lies upriver.

The fortified Warden Outpost has been only recently been built. It serves as a boot camp for Warden recruits and as a vanguard against the dark forces which are encroaching once more from the wilderness. It seems the reintroduction of the Folk and their allies does not sit well with the foul denizens that have taken over the forest which lays near it. The outpost is used to send patrols out to hold such things at bay and to gather information as to what lies in the forgotten wilds.

Castle Nicodemus Session Report

"I, Brother Damien Bernard, unwitting wanderer far from home in service of the Holy Church, do faithfully set forth the continuing travels of myself and my acolyte companion, Nodger, in this the Year of Our Lord Unknown…

After phasing into a strange land much like the one I am from, the acolyte and I went overland via caravan. It appears it is run by heathen Gypsies. The acolyte, following my orders,  accompanied me and several other adventurers to the ruins of Castle Nicodemus. It is my experience that such ruins contain many things of potential interest to the Holy Father and to the Inquisition, so I willingly went with my strange companions. It was hard to tell the nationalities of each, as they appeared vaguely like the pure strain of my lands, but not exactly the same. Nevertheless, I treated them with respect, as befits the conduct laid forth by the Rule of my order.

 After creating an entrance into the ruins by pickaxe, we entered into the darkness. Of interest were some writings and embellishments in the ruins of the castle, which I had Nodger dutifully copy for later examination. I appropriated two tarnished candelabra for restoration and possible donation to a chapel, should I ever find or establish one bearing the name of Mother Church.

We encountered some bear-like humanoids that a few of my companions seemed to recognize. They conversed together in a  foul tongue that is nothing like the beautiful language of the holy liturgy. I crossed myself several times, in case evil influences were about the place. The bear-creatures accompanied us, but since I did not understand what was happening, I dismissed my reservations for the time being and continued on with the party. They led us through passages to the lair of monsters known to me only in childhood folktales. I heard their name spoken: trolls! I knew them when I saw them, because they resembled pictures of such creatures in children's tales and bestiaries of fanciful beings.

One brave warrior and I set fire to the first troll with flaming flasks of oil I had readied for the occasion. The burning hulk stood at least ten feet tall. I must admit, I was extremely frightened, but praying for courage I continued to press the attack with my comrades. Humbly, I also report that I smashed the arm of the first beast and made several other strikes upon it with my holy mace, as my companions helped deal with it and the other devil-spawn. Eventually we vanquished the monsters after a fierce battle, in which one hired hand died. I tried to save him, pulling him from the savage blows of the first troll and pushing him back to the acolyte, but he was dead before we could render any other assistance. May God have mercy upon his soul. +

Acquiring a share of the treasure found in the lair, I have decided to donate it all, as is my custom, for the glory of the Church. As I am away from her protection and unable to give it into her safe-keeping, I have decided to give alms and food to the poor with it…"

[Jeff: At this point, I had to roll on the equivalent of the Carousing Table to gain XP for my character's good deeds. I totally failed the roll, fumbling the saving throw with a "1" !!!
Michael Moscrip, the GM, is having to make a special table just for my character to see what befalls him in this mishap. Needless to say, I am a bit nervous as to what will befall Brother Damien.  ;)
It was a really fun FLAILSNAILS session and my first time in Castle Nicodemus. Please check out Michael's blog for more info:  http://migellito.blogspot.com/
My favorite part of the evening was using the Arduin Critical Hit Chart for my natural 20 against the troll and another player doing the same to the other. I am glad i had my copy handy when Michael said he wanted to use that :)  I haven't rolled on that chart in over twenty years! ]

EDIT:Failing your "Good Deeds" roll

1.) Donate a cursed coin to the church
2.) Try to feed the hungry and end up giving them food poisoning
3.) The candelbras you brought back only emit smoky light
4.) In trying to give alms to a poor person you unwittingly gave them to the daughter of a local VIP.
5.) You were an unwitting participant in a crime most foul.
6.) You went out with the guys to celebrate good fortune and woke up in a bed next to a naked wench. You have no memory of the event.
7.) You went out with the guys to celebrate good fortune and woke up in a bed next to a naked wench. You remember all the details vividly.
8.) You tripped over your only robe ripping it badly. Now you must go around naked until you fix it.
9.) As you were chasing a thief down the street you got your cross caught on a post and it yanked you off your feet, wrenching your back badly.
10.) You found a temple to give the candlebras to but because you were all sweaty, smoky, and stinky from the caves they thought you were a beggar and threw you out on your head.


-  UGH! If that is the one that is use for FLAILSNAILS, I am afraid to roll!
HAH! I rolled #10... it figures. In FLAILSNAILS games, no good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hex Boards as a Mapping Resource for the Hex Crawl

an Avalon Hill Advanced Squad Leader module box cover
I am experimenting with a few things in creating my hex crawl adventures for Sylvaeon.
The goal is to reuse, abuse and randomize my own material and other source material in the process. I have some ideas that I am milling around with in my experiment with the hex crawl and one of them is the creation of the hex crawl map itself.

This is an attempt to not over-think the creation of Sylvaeon - a trap I have often fallen into before when creating campaigns. I am not saying that my top-down world creation has not been useful and effective. It is one way of doing things and is valid. However, I want most of my current Sylvaeon campaign to grow from the bottom up in true hex crawl fashion.

I have chosen to alter a real world map of things as the overall meta-map, but for the filling in of the individual hexes, I want it to evolve on is own, as much as possible. To this end, I have been toying around with the idea of using old Avalon Hill hex boards that I have salvaged from my Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader modules.


I have always been fascinated with hex maps. My earliest experiences with them are from Judges Guild material, the World of Greyhawk and Avalon Hill games. I figure I can use the material I have to avoid creating hexes myself and derive many of them from hex boards, like some of these.

Besides Sylvaeon, Jack Ackerman and I have been talking about doing a shared Asian Fantasy world. The maps from the AH Code of Bushido could be an awesome starting point for me, because they include the type of terrain one would encounter, such as rice fields, jungles, lakes, swamps, etc.


I have other methods of generating hex terrain and such, but why reinvent the wheel if you can make a hex crawl easier? Taking portions of hex board like this, I can use them as-is or replicate them using a mapping program such as Hexographer.

I have seen a renewed interest in hex crawls across gaming blogs and articles recently. I am convinced that 2012 is going to be the Year of the Hex Crawl, in many ways. I am glad I decided to do a hex crawl and wonder at why I chose to do so at the same time as its allure has once again peaked in the OSR. It is certainly as worthy an endeavor as creating a mega-dungeon or running a city, but the hex crawl has slightly different challenges than those.

The PCs are off into the wilderness of Sylvaeon to see what is to be discovered and to find their Wyrd. Maybe I can find my own wyrd as it pertains to creating the hex crawl.



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sylvaeon Session #3 - The Outpost

"…Finally, at dawn, after meager rest, we forced march to relative safety. By dusk, our party stumbled wearily into the Wayfarer's Inn. There, the Loremaster's sweet songs and Matilda's hearty meal lulled us into dreams of the White and Blue Dragons until morning came and found us once again on our way."
-from the travel journal of Oban, Elven Ranger/Thief [Michael Henry's character]


At the end of Session #2, the character had a reprieve at the Wayfarer's Inn, where they're served cheerfully by the proprietor's wife, Matilda. The wine was still not to Parcifal's liking, but the ale there is good, as is all the ale from the nearby village of Arrowmouth.


A restful night and a bright, clear morn made for a good day's travel that next day. The temperature was still hovering around the freezing point, so it had been mild weather-wise so far.
Around mid-day, from the sides along the boggy sides of the ever deteriorating road, two greyish-white giant toads attacked the party; one giving out a croak and a blast of cold air that froze Airyka' the Sword Sister's arm. Parcifal tried to parley with it, but to no avail.After the PCs recovered from the ambush, that creature was wounded slightly, then jumped and plopped unceremoniously in front of the party. Kelvin, the resident mage, put the grotesque creature to sleep.The other toad thing rose and Smyrynel took a non-combative attitude towards it - the creature proceeded to try to blast cold at her, but missed. Brandished her blade at the one attacking her, the female paladin told it to desist. After blinking it's eyes, it leapt off and did as Smyrynel had instructed. Leaving sleeping toads lie and force marching onward, the PCs reached the Warden outpost just before dusk.


Gildiril, the Warden Master, came and greeted the recruits outside of the gates to the fort. Once inside, the PCs were given quarters and all but Smyrynel shared a meal and later some Pixie wine, with their fellow wardens, becoming inebriated. The solitary female elf, Smyrynel. keep a vigil outside. Reaching out for the guidance of the blue moon, she was "told" that a missing warden elf was still alive. She had gone missing some weeks ago and though lost forever.



After a few weeks of training in special skills chosen by each of the adventurers, they were chosen to remain as a group to become a Wayfaring patrol to be sent out into the nearby wilderness. However, the night before their departure, the goblinoids that make infrequent raids upon the fort, probing the outpost for weakness, had returned in numbers. Setting fire to the wooden palisade and hurling spears and arrows at the defenders, things looked grim. The PCs slayed around a dozen of the foul creatures, but a couple of them took hits from the spears and poisoned arrows. Oban, the ranger/thief took out a few with well-placed arrows, but had to be healed from the poison of those that were returned at him. Smyrynel's bowstring broke during the exchange of missiles and Kelvin tossed flash bombs at the goblins, burning several to death. Parcifal helped put out the fires, his cloak becoming burned in the process. Finally, the loss of so many of the raiders forced the goblinoids to retreat back into the night. The outpost had a breach in it;s timbers, but all inside were now safe - there were no casualties among the defenders.

At the dawn, New Year's Day of 10,000 SRC (Sylvaeon Revised Calendar) the PCs set off into the wlderness, provisioned and with their mandate… so their true duty as Wardens of Sylvaeon begins...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Encounters in the Wilderness

Giant Snowy Owl
Today was session #2 of the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon campaign. The party is made up elves and humans: two chivalric Paladins of the Order of the White Rose, a brain-addled but resourceful Mage of the Hermetic Order of Wizardry, A skillful and deadly Sword Sister and a cunning Ranger/Thief.

Being inducted as recruit Wardens in the first session, with fanfare at a celebration located in the village of Arrowmouth, the recruits received their marking as a Warden - the Glyph of the Silver Moon. This was placed upon their hand by the Druid Mellion at their swearing in ceremony.

The PCs left Arrowmouth the next day, traveling roughly Northwest, by the old road that follows the Broken Arrow River. Making camp for the night, the party built a sturdy, large lean-to shelter and a fire to protect them from the freezing Winter elements. After a bit, they heard a hooting noise in a nearby oak tree. The Huge round eyes, reflected in the firelight, were seen in the tree....

As the clouds parted some, partial moonlight revealed the silhouette of a large bird-like figure in the tree. The ranger, Oban,  knocked an arrow as the sword sister lit a lanterns for better illumination. The creature spoke, asking the ranger to please not shoot it as the lantern reveal a giant snowy owl in the branches of the oak. The creature introduced itself and said that it had seen their fire, so it knew they were there. Mistaking all of the adventurers as "Parcifal"s, because the male elven paladin introduced himself first, but the bird quickly learned that they all were named differently, which amused him. Smyrynel, the female elven Paladin, tried to read the birds aura, which was somewhat hidden to her for some reason, but she did see a bluish-white aura and felt no malice from the bird. After some banter, in which the snowy owl said it was sent to tell them something, but could not remember, a howling was heard in the night. This jogged the memory of the bird, who said that he now remembered that the Dark Wolves were coming to waylay the adventurers journey to the Warden outpost.

malevolent Dark Wolf

As the beasts were crossing the river to the PCs by leaping across on boulders in the water, Kelvin, the magic user put two to sleep and they fell in and drowned in the rough-flowing river. After a vicious battle, in which three wolves of the pack were slain (the Alpha almost becoming another!) the Dark Wolves were routed. The Paladins and the Ranger took some severe bites. The mage used fire to hold a wolf at bay and the sword sister, Airyka, showed her prowess, along with the other fighting types, in cutting wolves into several pieces. The pack howled off into the darkness, but as the leader left, it spoke in a foul voice, telling one of the paladins that he would slay him yet!

The owl had been hurt badly by one of the wolves, as it tried to intervene between one of the PCs that was trying to bravely help another. The paladins healed the bird a bit and it showed them a power of the Warden glyph: he instructed the hurt PCs to raise the glyph to the moonlight and beams shone to their palms from the orb. Within a short time, the PCs were completely healed of their wolf wounds. The owl took his leave, saying he had been called elsewhere to serve.

The PCs placed 2 more small watchfires around the camp and as they were doing so, they found a moderate-sized stele on the far side of the oak tree, facing the river. The elves of the group were confused, as the carved runes on it was very similar to their own, but it seemed like an ancient variant, by the looks of this weathered stone.  There was a battle scene on the stone, depicting humans and elves joined against dark wolves and goblinoids - something vaguely similar to the recent encounter, minus the goblin-creatures. The mage a took a rubbing of the stele with parchment. After searching around the stele, two ancient elven arrowheads were found. They were made of an unknown silver metal and were not tarnished after perhaps many centuries of lying upon this battlefield.

After an eventless rest of the night, the sun rose on a clear day. The temperature was just above freezing that morn. Breaking camp, the party continued on the next leg of the journey along the river road to an isolated inn on their way to the Warden wilderness outpost...

(more later)




Friday, January 13, 2012

Wardens of Sylvaeon



  In the past the entire Realm of Sylvaeon was a place of peace and balance… everything and everyone had a place in it. There was no blight, only natural cycles and the ways of the Fey. The Corrupter introduced foul creatures and dark designs upon the land.  Since the Great Wars, corruption had been driven back to far reaches of the Realm. However, the armies of the past are no more and corruption has reached its tendrils back into places where it has not existed for some time. Recently, (ie. -within a few generations of men) the introduction of new "interlopers" into the Realm has destabilized the Balance even more. The need for a way to deal with these problems has become clear to the White Lady and those who swear at least passing allegiance to her. Out of this need was born the practice of the Wardens.


The Wardens of Sylvaeon are sometimes all that stands between the forces of Darkness and the good Folk of the Realm. The Wardens are recruited from the local populations and sent on missions to root out evil, to help those in trouble or to patrol an area on the lookout for the machinations of the Corrupter.

While the Wardens do not have power over the local magistrates, if they exist in their area, they are generally respected and there advice and assistance is desired - if not outright needed. Local rulers and ruling bodies that exist will generally work closely with the Wardens, giving them what material assistance they can, as well as the recruits they need willingly. Wardens are not "the cops" in settled areas, but they are the vanguard of the wilderlands, acting as agents of the local populace, and if they are true to the Balance, as the hand of the Lady herself. Recruits are given latitude as to their actions in service, so long as they adhere to the general orders of the Master Wardens.

Recruits pledge themselves to at least one year of service to the Wardens. After the year is up, recruits may freely leave or they may choose to be inducted as full Wardens. Service in the Wardens is considered a great honor and those who do so well have good reputations among the locals and are accorded with respect. A Warden that acts corruptly or through cowardice allows harm to come to their compatriots or the local populace is severely disciplined.

Many former recruits have come back with tales of strange magics, wealth, hideous monsters and of the encroaching evil that is spreading across the Realm; just as many have been killed in service or never seen again.



It is hoped that these groups of allied defenders of the Realm will help unite Sylvaeon once again through their valorous deeds. Even if a recruit does not have such lofty aspirations, seeking only adventure, fame or wealth, they still can vicariously help the cause of the White Lady and the Balance. If anything, they will have some stories to tell their children or unbelieved tales to brag about in the pub when they grow old.  ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Hex Crawl Adventure


As I try to finish the prep for my first session of my new Sylvaeon campaign, I am excited to be getting back into the DMs chair again. I haven't game mastered in about two years, because my old group broke up, but I have been playing a few face-to-face games. Also, the goodness that is Google+, ConstantCon & FLAILSNAILS games via Googleplus Hangouts has been a joy to engage in. I mentioned some of the games I have played in previously and I have tried a few more since. I have to say that the gamers on G+ are a great lot and I am thankful that they are so passionate about RPGs. This Sunday I will be running Sylvaeon. I hope the rust is shaken off of my DM'ing skills quickly ;)



I will eventually be running pick-up sessions for FLAILSNAILS characters, once I get into the groove of things. This first iteration of the game will be a modified version of OSRIC. I chose OSRIC because I think it does a good job with the numerics of an AD&D-like experience - I feel it is slightly more balanced in that respect.

However, I am going to be using a Hit Point system in this first campaign that is similar to the Arduin Revised HP System. I will use standard OSRIC hit points for the FLAILSNAILS sessions, but since I have played Arduin in the distant past and am enamored with its particular approach to this, I have decided to give it a shot in the 21st century!

Over the past couple of days, I have been working on an area of my world map for a wilderness hex crawl. I have found some article that have encouraged me; a few I will post links to below. When it comes to hex crawls, I feel they can be somewhat challenging, but I wish to make it as easy on myself and the players as possible.


I enjoy hex maps - they are a bit Old School and they make mapping fun to me. There are different methods of dealing with overland travel, but the hex map works for me. I believe it is essential when creating wilderness maps for a sandbox to not reinvent the wheel. Using such things as : Hexographer, paper and colored pencil or hexGIMP, I can make maps quickly and populate them as I see fit.

Taking advantage of what is already out there to make something that works for you is a great way to cut to the chase in hex crawls. I do not see anything wrong with doing it all by hand or from scratch with some sort of mapping software, but not all of us are cartographers. Just as in coding, in the game world, there are "libraries" to use to find things you need, without having to recreate what has already been done.

From the growing re-interest in the gaming blogosphere, I think 2012 may be the year of the Hex Crawl. I am happy to give it a shot again after so long.

I appreciated these articles for sandbox/hex crawls. There were more that I may post later, but these are an excellent start:

Robert Chandler  @ http://rwchandler.blogspot.com/2012/01/hexcrawling-and-its-fundamental-use-in.html

http://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-make-fantasy-sandbox.html

http://inkwellideas.com/worldbuilding/worldbuilding-local-area-design-example-part-1/

http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/search/label/Maps

Monday, January 9, 2012

City State of the Invincible Overlord & Castle Supplement

Click for larger image

I feel that the Mayfair version of the City State of the Invincible Overlord is often overlooked and under-rated. Published in 1987, the Mayfair remake of the City State had an introduction by Gary Gygax. This version was considered completely compatible and given the imprimatur for use with AD&D by The Man himself.

Some people may not like the name Briarwood being given to the City State, but the whole point of the original Judges Guild versions of the it was to name it whatever you wanted to - and of course, even with the Mayfair version, you still could and can do that. All of the zany adventures one had "back in the day" are waiting to be once again! If you have never visited the domain of the Overlord, this boxed set is an excellent way to

I own the original red cover original printing of the JG City State of the Invincible Overlord, as well as the Necromancer hardcover for 3.5e. One reason I recommend the Mayfair boxed set is because they are far cheaper than either of these and they contain basically the same information. A typical Judges Guild copy runs about 75 dollars and about the same for the Necromancer version. The Mayfair version typically goes for 40 dollars on eBay.

All three versions have great maps, so that is not an issue in choice. There is something great about all of them. Yet, the Mayfair set gets completely overlooked so often, when it really contains what an Old School GM needs!

I got my box for about 30 bucks online. The box itself is bad shape, but the contents are in excellent condition! There are players guides for the various classes included, some "new races" to use as PCs, 2 fairly hefty DM & Background books, as well as an intro adventure. The layout is organized well and the print is easier to read than the original JG City State, which is a plus.


Recently, I was also able to purchase the Mayfair Briarwood Castle supplement in mint, shrink-wrapped condition for 16 dollars w/ shipping. This supplement contains the plans of the place that every one of my characters that I have ever run have wanted to enter: the Invincible Overlord's palatial castle complex ...and the dungeons that lie beneath it!

There is information on the the occupants of the castle, including stats and such for the Invincible Overlord and his consort, a typical guard, the Black Lotus, new magic and a host of adventure hooks. This supplement is really packed, containing 64 pages of printed material and 2 fold out maps.


the Guidebook


I really do not know why the Mayfair iteration of the City State of the Invincible Overlord is so maligned, because it is a OSR treasure! Check it out, the cost is low compared to many out-of-print Old School products that are in demand these days.

 maze portion of the dungeons underneath the castle of the Invincible Overlord

EDIT: I purchased the Mayfair Games set as a replacement for my first one that was destroyed in a tornado that ripped the roof off of my house back in the 90s. I have taken several years recently to rebuild the things I treasured most in my collection... very little of which escaped the wrath of nature  ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Time, Seasons & Calendar in My Campaign

Month of Newyear, 10000 SRE
(click for larger image)

The calendar generally used in the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon by the humanoid species marks the ending of a Great Cycle of Aeons this year. The year 10,000 is according to Elven reckoning and this time period covers most of the remembered history of the Realm.

The year of Sylvaeon is 360 days long, consisting of twelve months of 30 days each.

The Silver Moon, which is associated with the White Lady, has a phase cycle of 30 days. It reaches fullness on the 15th of each month. The Blue Moon, which is closer to Sylvaeon and smaller than the Silver Moon, has a cycle of 20 days.


The Months are named:
  • Newyear
  • Moons
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Bloom
  • Sun
  • Growth
  • Blessing
  • Toiling
  • Harvest
  • Frost
  • Endings
====

The days of the week are:
  1. Lordsday
  2. Ladysday
  3. Airday
  4. Waterday
  5. Earthday
  6. Fireday
  7. Starday
Lordsday is the sabbath of the Templars and no work or commerce is allowed within the city state of St. Valens on that day. People are expected to attend religious services on Lordsday.

Ladysday is the day of choice for most of the special events held by the White Lady of Sylvaeon. The Elves and Fey beings hold this day as their day of rest and socializing.

The days with the 4 basic element names have significance to alchemists, druids and other types.

Starday is a favorite day of watchers of the heavens... if a falling star is seen on a Starday night, it is considered a good omen by the Folk.

A day in Sylvaeon is 25 hours in length.

=====

The four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter are approximately the same as Northern Europe in climate and span.

Rumor:
The ending of a Great Cycle brings both woe and weal to the Realm.

=====

I am trying to get together the group to play this and the campaign should be starting this week or next, depending on how well scheduling goes :)  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pixie Lore

Pixie Lore | Shimmerlings:


"Pixies dwell in the twilight, between day and night, between the heavens and the earth, between the conscious and the unconscious... where all things are possible, where our past and future meet, where we meet ourselves coming back. When we dance with the pixies, we dance with the reflections of our true selves and the true nature of the world."

=======

Some Sylvaeon Pixie Folklore:

Pixies are universally known to be mischievous and to have the power of invisibility.
Their jokes may seem cruel at times, but as with all Fey creatures, Pixies have an agenda and ethic that is inscrutable to the humans and others that they perpetrate pranks upon. Their power to turn invisible serves Pixies well in pulling off such stunts. Leading travelers astray or stealing/misplacing small objects from villagers is a favorite pastime of these wee folk. However, Pixies sometimes have a soft spot for the larger folk and may go from pranking them to helping them, to make up for their jesting.

Pixies are said to be anywhere from a few inches in height to up to two feet in height. This may be due to magical adaptations to different environments and lifestyles of the Pixies or for mistaking other fairy-beings for Pixies. Whatever the case, Pixies are small by human standards.

Pixies in Sylvaeon generally live in mounds or among flora that can conceal their existence. A Pixie is usually seen only when it wants to be! When they are seen, it has been reported that most Pixies dress in bright colors, often mimicking the general style of clothing of the nearest non-Pixie population to them.

[EDIT:


Pixies can live in communities, but some are solitary. When encountered, they can also be solitary or perhaps up to half a dozen (unless something VERY strange is going on, when there could be more!)
Pixie communities are sequestered away and protected by Pixie magic.]

Travel Tips if a Pixie is Encountered in Sylvaeon:
  • Do not taunt back or grow angry with a Pixie that pranks you - it only encourages them.
  • Sometimes Pixies can be bribed to desist in their tricks with food, shiny objects or other valuables.
  • If a Pixie is amiable to a traveler, they generally enjoy tales or conversation and will possibly exchange such pleasantries for a bit of information about the surrounding area.
  • If a Pixie is harmed in anyway, it will hold a grudge against the one that harmed it for the rest of its days (which may be centuries!)

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Wolf Moon


    Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside villages. Thus, the name for this month's full Moon.

    The full Wolf Moon is a time of fear for the many of the human inhabitants of Sylvaeon. But for the wolves, it is a time of magic, conflict and mystery. The Silver Moon is associated with the White Lady amongst the Folkish people of the realm and they see this full moon as a significant one for the animals of the land - especially the wolves.

    The hunger of rogue wolves, as well as the packs that have no established hunting territory makes them restless. While there is usually no harm done to the humans themselves, if the Winter is particularly cruel, livestock may be predated by a pack that is experiencing particular hardship.

    During the Wolf Moon, the wolves engage in behavior that will determine which packs retain their territories. This sometimes erupts into vicious combat between packs, but more often it is a test of wills.

    Some rogue wolves are also formally adopted into packs at this time. Being a rogue wolf is a hard life. Whether the old pack was devastated by humans or the wolf was driven out of the pack by the Alpha matters not. The fate of a rogue wolf without a pack is a lonely and potentially deadly one. During the Wolf Moon, if a rogue has been shown favor by the pack, the ritual of formal acceptance, known only by the wolves themselves, is performed, thus bonding the rouge and the pack together.

    Particularly knowledgeable individuals have reported witnessing another ritual amongst the wolves and prey herds of Sylvaeon. Established packs have been seen receiving the self-sacrifice of an elk or other animal on behalf of its herd during the Wolf Moon. If this sacrifice is accepted, the wolf pack will not predate the herd that has freely given to it for the rest of the Winter. The Rangers and Foresters that have seen this blood ritual say that the spirit of a wolf and its prey enact the same formalized hunt scene as in the sky above exactly as it happens.

     Sylvaeon Wilderness Traveler Tip
    Wolves generally howl for these reasons:

        •    A rally cry for the pack to meet up
        •    A signal to let the pack know of a wolf's location
        •    A warning for outside wolves and others to stay out of a pack's territory


    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

    "What does the word "medieval" conjure up in your mind? Knights and castles? Monks and abbeys? Huge tracts of forest in which outlaws live in defiance of the law? Such images may be popular but they say little about what life was like for the majority. Imagine you could travel in time; what would you find if you went back to the fourteenth century"
     
    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century is an excellent resource for gamers and history buffs interested in aspects of life in the Middle Ages. The book is available in both printed and electronic form at places such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.


    This travel guide back into time is fun and informative. It is written mostly as if you were actually traveling to Medieval England, but still contains a depth of scholarly historical information.

    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England covers a variety of things, such as:
    • the costs of building and running a castle
    • how to greet people on the street
    • what's on the menu of the average person in medieval England
    • How both Church & State influences daily living
    • how heavy knight's armor is
    • what to expect at a local inn or ale house
     If you play a classic Middle Ages campaign, this book is a wealth of information and potential plot ideas for GMs. The reader will discover how much actual Medieval life was like and unlike the way it is usually portrayed in D&D and other systems. In my opinion, The Time Traveler's Guide is well worth the approximately ten dollars it costs for either print or electronic format. Check it out!

    EDIT:

    Please also see Tim Knight's blog post on this book here:
    http://www.heropress.net/2012/01/its-small-world-after-all.html

    Here is myy Google+ reply to Tim regarding his post:

    Thanks for the props and a great post of your own!
    I agree, Tim, that sometimes the "default" type of setting is a good choice... why not make it even more interesting? The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England is a sweet resource for doing so.
    I enjoy all sorts of RPG settings & genres, but far too often a Medieval European-style or based setting is pooh-poohed because it is "old hat" or boring, when it need not be!

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