Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections at the Cusp of a New Year

Well, it has been an interesting year for me personally and in the gaming community.

I switched out my old blog, which had a decent amount of traffic for this one... less traffic here and this blog has a different tone, yet overall I am pleased with that decision. Focusing on Sylvaeon is bringing it to life in 2012, so it was worth it. I should do some posts similar to my old Retro RPG blog at times, though... some were plain fun to do, so there will be more non-Sylvaeon/Fey material here this coming year, too. Also, I need to review a bunch of products I have gotten last year or at least give them a nod and my two cents worth of note.

On the personal front, this time of year is one I both love and loathe: Winter !!!
So far the weather has not been much to speak of. It was the first Christmas without full ground cover of snow that I can ever remember. I shouldn't complain about that, because doing so will probably bring a blizzard down upon my head! In Sylvaeon, that is just the sort of thing that might happen to a traveler that doesn't appreciate the weather they currently have.

This time of year, I feel much like the Vikings, who dreaded the Wyrd of the Wild Hunt; hunkering down and laying low so that no inauspicious "doom" would beset them. The lesser daylight saps me of energy, because I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) along with my other myriad insanities that make me who I am. Thus, I apologize to those awaiting my campaign - rest assured it will launch shortly. I hope a few sessions will get the kinks out and set a good tone :)

This past year has been a great one for Google+ Hangout gaming, as many know so well! I have played in many excellent games such as:
  • Evan Elkin's spooky and strange Nightwick Abbey
  • Chris Kutalik's kickass Conan/ZEFRS
  • Kyrinn S. Eis' Tunnels & Trolls homebrew exotic weirdness
  • Steven Goodman's trip back in time to The City State of the Invincible Overlord
  • Greg Backus' OD&D-like homebrew with an underground civilization 
  • Rob Cortigino's hilarious and deadly OD&D dungeon crawl
  • Brian Meredith's Mouse Guard campaign
All of these were great fun! I appreciate the efforts of all of the players and the GMs that ran them.

Yep, 2011 has been a good year of gaming, with so many cool products appearing, Hangout games, good blogs to read and a friendly community that seems to love the game ... may the fellowship always stand together!

May 2012 be wondrous for you all  :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Fey: The White Lady

The White Lady is the acknowledged Sovereign among the fairy and woodland creatures of Sylvaeon.

She is generally benevolent, but her ire is something to be avoided. If the Balance is threatened, her subjects are treated cruelly by the servants of the Corrupter or trespasses against the Fey realm are perpetrated by foolish men, the consequences will be dire. Some things are to be feared more than evil and death... the wise White Lady knows how to teach lessons to those that need to learn respect for things beyond their ken.

The White Lady, the Queen of the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon, is truly beautiful, but there is a wild side to her, as there is in all of the fey.

(poster created using The Motivator )

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice in Sylvaeon

On the Winter Solstice, the Northern lands of Sylvaeon are filled with many sorts of celebrations and dread:

The Druids meet this shortest of days at special cairns, constructed to face the rising sun. The Druids meet in conclave this day and discuss the past year's events, pass collective knowledge to each other and hold mysterious ceremonies throughout the night.

At the palace of the White Lady, the Winter ritual of the passing the Staff of Seasons takes place in the Shine of the Seasons. The silver leaves on the staff fall to the floor of the shine, leaving only the few golden berries on vines which cling to it, still. The passing of Autumn in Winter marks not only the changing of the season, but also the two week long celebration of the royal lady's Winter Court. This is a time of great feasting for her subjects and contests of wit and prowess amongst the knights of the Fae.

In the city state of St. Valens, the Templars prepare for Christ Mass and are already well into Advent time. It is a time of pious reflection and planning for the next year. The people of the city state practice greater charity and turn their thoughts to thanksgiving for another year of survival in the strange world that as become their home.

The Viking clans prepare to celebrate Yule and are conscious that this is the time of the Wild Hunt… laying low and avoiding anything that might bring an inauspicious Wyrd upon them. The Yule fires will soon be lit and epic tales are told, songs of heroes sung and great drinking will abound!

Elsewhere, in the Wilderlands, the packs of wolves and night-lurking snowy owls will look for their next meal as prey animals try to make it through the Winter. Some fairy creatures frolic in the icy forests, while some begin to sleep, dreaming of Spring and the new life it brings...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knights of Sylvaeon

There are a few variant tales regarding Chapel Perilous in Arthurian literature. One telling of involving Lancelot in Henry Gilbert's King Arthur's Knights is my favorite. It is based on Sir Thomas Mollory's work, but has a bit more flair:

"By the ghostly light that came from the windows of the ruined chapel he saw that under the eaves were hung fair shields, with rich devices, and all were turned upside down.

Many of them were those of knights he had known or heard of, long since
dead or lost. When he had made a few steps on the grass-grown pathway
towards the door, of a sudden he saw, coming from the church, thirty
tall knights, each a foot higher than he, each in black armour, and
each with sword uplifted, as they rushed towards him.

Their feet and their armour made no sound as they pressed forwards, and
a thin blue flame licked about each naked sword.

They came upon him, but Sir Lancelot, with a prayer to God, dressed his
shield and sword and stood firm, though his flesh quaked and his tongue
clave to the roof of his mouth. They mowed and gnashed at him, and
heaved their swords about him; then suddenly their vizors went up and
he looked into their faces. And at that he was sore adread, for he knew
they were dead men.

But he would not be overcome, and said in a loud voice: 'In the name of God, avaunt ye!'

He made a step forward, and they scattered before him, but followed
closely behind. Then he went into the chapel...

In the Realm of Sylvaeon, the Paladin is a type of Pious Knight. There are two kinds of Paladins in Sylvaeon:

1)  The one directly rooted in Arthurian tales, similar to Lancelot du Lac and Sir Galahad, etc. This knight is one that serves the Holy Church and its beliefs fervently. In addition to adhering to the Code of Chivalry, they also swear the following:

  • Obedience to God and the Church
  • Chastity
  • Poverty

2) The second kind are those knights that swear full fealty and service to the White Lady of Sylvaeon. Generally, only Elves and Fae Folk can be Knights of the White Lady. A rare boon has been granted a few worthy Humans to serve in this capacity by the Silver Lady herself. The Knights of the White Lady swear to general chivalrous conduct and also the following:
  • To serve the White Lady as their liege mistress
  • To protect the Balance of Sylvaeon
  • Never to betray the secret ways to the Green Isle
Where the interests of the Realm of Sylvaeon coincide with those of the Human kingdoms, there has been known to be cooperation in the ancient past. Generally, the fae knights do not interact with Humans or let their presence be known. Most of the fairie paladins reside on the Green Isle itself, protecting the Silver Lady and the mysteries of Sylvaeon.

Males and Females may both become knights of the White Lady.

(more to follow later)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What D&D Character Are You? (Quiz results)

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Wizard/Cleric (4th/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Primary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron's vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity's domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric's Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wilderness Encounter: The Wendigo

Deep in the forest of Kynmerly, the huntsman has wandered for many days... lost amidst the blizzard and without any more rations to sustain him, he is slowly starving to death. Finding shelter underneath a small rock ledge within the woods. Being too weak to carry on, the huntsman eats some snow and waits for death to come upon him. HAs he begins to doze off, he smells something strange, like rotting flesh. Opening his bleary eyes, he sees a shadowy shape with yellowed eyes rising over him. In fear, he tries to scream, but the sounds do not come. Then, there is darkness...

Upon regaining consciousness, the huntsman arises. The snow has finally stopped and he finds that he is miraculously still alive, but severely famished. Looking around he sees one of the rescue party that his community sent out to find him. The fellow villager waves to the huntsman and approaches. "You're lucky to be alive!", the man says as he draws near. "Here, let me halkp you." But those are the last words of kindness the villager ever says, for the huntman lunges and stabs the would-be rescuer in the heart with his knife. The huntsman eases the body down and removes the knife, licking some of the blood off of it. Now the huntsman is beginning to feel better and now he knows that he will survive.


The Wendigo is a creature embodies the Native myth of what will happen to a solo hunter should they ever transgress the taboo of eating humanoid flesh. If a person is afflicted longterm starvation or is even alone in the wilderness for extended periods of time, etc. they may be visited by the "spirit" of the wendigo. In game terms, this can be a mental disorder and/or a spirit possession. Failing either of two saving throws vs disease, they will turn into the legendary cannibal night monster, the windigo.

A typical description of the wendigo:
The Weendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody ... Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.”

Over the years, the Wendigo has been given numerous and varied attributes, including the ability to change shape, a body and/or heart of stone or ice, and formidable strength and speed. In some accounts, the creature was said to be in excess of ten to fifteen feet tall, with sallow, yellowish skin, glowing eyes, long yellowing fangs and an abnormally long tongue. Still other accounts suggested a creature so thin that it couldn’t even be seen from the side.

These possibilities may or may not be the actual appearance of a being suffering from wendigo madness - it is up to the GM. However, to others that encounter such a cannibalistic, anti-social creature that has been isolated (except for feeding killings) they may seem to fit such a description!

If this is just a psychological disorder, then Wendigo psychosis is a condition in which sufferers developed an insatiable desire to eat humanoid flesh, usually of their own kind, even when other food sources are readily available

 It is said that the spirit of the wendigo will attempt to possess any person, especially during a fever, prolonged starvation or an attack of madness. Often it invades the heart as a lump of ice. Once possessed by the spirit of the Wendigo, the person is forever altered, unless they are cured of the psychosis by a shaman or similar healer. Healing a Wendigo possession takes a ritual that simultaneously cures the disease/casts out the possession and sets the mindet back to rights - this is so they may join the community again as a "normal" member.

A Wendigo on the loose in a dark forest may be glimpsed vomiting ice. The victim’s face may turn black with frostbite. He may be able to fly through winter nights in search of new prey, his own species. Any man who goes on a solo hunt and never returns may have fallen victim to a wendigo. Eating human flesh, even in an emergency, may be a sign that a starving hunter as “turned wendigo.” Such a wretch will be shunned by all members of his group, and probably driven from the camp. For once the wendigo has tasted human flesh, he will yearn to feed again.

Northern lore suggests that one can become a Wendigo:

  • being bitten by one
  • tasting humanoid flesh
  • extreme hunger
  • being bewitched by a shaman
  • or even by simply dreaming of a Wendigo

I discovered in researching this, that D&D 4e has a sort of Wendigo "Sub-race" of whatever the character's real race is. The D&D Wiki's tag-line for the wendigo is: Savage, bestial versions of their former selves, Wendigos escaped a cold, lonely death. Now they are marked by the desperate measures they resorted to.

Reading about the Wendigo from the Wiki and various mythological sources, I would suggest for game play, that anyone suffering as a wendigo have these effects:

*their Strength raised by +2/10%
*get two checks for survival on any hardship/toughness saving roll
* -2/-10% to their Charisma/Willpower
*feel the hunger for humanoid flesh... if they do not feed on it within the week, they must save vs Charm/Willpower or attempt to murder and consume the next possible victim they cross.
*Alignment (if any) become more Chaotic/Evil

Rangers, Wood Elves, Hunters and similar classes all are at increased risk of being touched by the Wendigo. There are rumors of talismans, rituals of appeasement, rare herbs and other means of keeping the spirit of the wendigo at bay. These may be superstions or actually be effective at the GM's call. It is rare for a Druid to become a Wendigo, but if that were to happen, it would be a dreadful thing!

Remember, Wendigo's tend to be loners and are generally savage and tend towards paranoia. Only by being cured can they ever hope to be anything like a regular member of communal society... barring a cure, they will forever be touched by the madness of the spirit of the Wendigo.