Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Eternally Born

“'Yes, awaken now likewise, my beloved children, to the dream which you are.' Sylvaeon has been eternally born..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fairies of Autumn

Autumn in Sylvaeon is both a time of solemnity and celebration.
As the leaves turn with all of their majestic colors, it is a time of fading. The flowers and leaves depart for a time, from Autumn into the season of dying, which is the Winter. Yet, with the withering of the blossoms and the falling of the leaves, the magic of Sylvaeon is not diminished. Each petaled flower, each fallen leaf is but a fairy waiting to be freed again, only to come back in the Spring.

As they are released, the beloved little friends come before She-of-Auburn-Hair for that season's celebration with all of the citizens of the Seelie Court.

She-of-Auburn-Hair greets each one with a kiss and a gift. The time for festivity and preparation for the long Winter begins...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The New Castles & Crusades Players Handbook

I got my copies in the mail yesterday of the new Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (5th Printing). It is beautifully done, with color illustrations throughout. 

The font for regular text is not too bad for these older eyes, being 9 or 10 pt. It could have been larger, but it is still very legible. The font size is my only minor gripe, but I am middle-aged, so you know how that goes ;)

The layout of the rule book is fantastic, arranged cleanly, marking off individual sections well. Of note are the spells towards the back of the book. Finding a spell is about as easy as it can be for a spell list. I know I despise fumbling around looking for the details of how a spell works and not being able to get to it quickly. This should not be a problem for the player or Castle Keeper (GM).

Standard races and classes are deliniated with their prime requisite attribute listed near the class name header.

I am always interested in how a game describes how an RPG works. Here is a portion of the description emphasizing the role aspect of roleplaying in the C&C Players handbook:

"Most players in RPGs create a fictional character as one of the protagonists of the story. Each player envisions the character they would like to play, and creates the character using the game’s rules, recording information about that character onto paper. While the characters exist only on paper, each player helps to propel the story forward by imaginatively and actively playing the character’s persona."

I think it was a wise choice for me to back this Kickstarter project. I backed the Classic Monsters book, too; add in the Castle Keepers book and I now have a nice 3 book set... everything one needs to play Castles & Crusades :)

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the new C&C Players Handbook!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Re: Numenera – More on Experience Points

Numenera – More on Experience Points:

'via Blog this'

From the Design Diary article by Monte Cook:
"Players decide how they want to use the xp they earn. There are short, medium, and long-term uses. The short-term, immediate use for an xp is that you can use 1 xp to immediately reroll any die on the table (even one someone else rolls). This is pretty straightforward.
Medium-term uses are a bit more costly (but not much) and are usually story-based. A player can spend xp, for example, while climbing through the mountains and say that these mountains are just like those found in the region where she grew up. In those mountains, she is skilled in climbing. This helps her at that time, and any time she might return, but it’s not as though she’s skilled in climb everywhere. This might cost, say, 2 xp. Alternatively, another character, with a bunch of numenera components, might spend xp to cobble together a device that allows him to breathe underwater, because he wants to explore a submerged complex. This gives him that ability for a considerable length of time but probably not permanently. Again, the story and the logic of what’s going on dictate the parameters.

Long-term uses of xp are more costly still, and permanently affect a character. For 4 xp, you can gain training in a skill, increase your stat pools, improve your ability to use effort, and so on. When you do this four times, you gain a level (which in and of itself has some advantages)."

In my Sylvaeon campaign, I have been developing a similar idea of Wyrd Points. Each character starts out with 1 or 2 Wyrd points. They can be used to cause effects during game play. I never thought of using them for character development. I am increasingly interested in the ideas that Numenera will offer and already has offered in these design diaries. It is making me rethink things about my own game. That alone is making Numenera worth backing, but I am sure the setting and mechanics will both be worth the wait. Around a year off, I am already chomping at the bit for Numenera and it isn't anywhere near finalized yet ;)

Today I ordered some clay poker chips to give players to keep track of their Wyrd points they start with and/or earn during the game. They can turn them in to "spend" them on game effects. I need to revisit Wyrd - which variously means something akin to Fate, Doom and Luck all combined into one. I want to see if I can let players gain and use Wyrd to add to the growth of their characters in ways I might not have even remotely considered before.

- Jeffrey

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monolith From Beyond Space and TIme Has Arrived!

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A green devil-faced baby was left on my doorstep!!!

These just came in the mail today: The Monolith From Beyond Space and TIme adventure module and the Green Devil Face 5 Zine. A quick perusal of Monolith shows it to be of very good quality and in digest size, so it is just right to sit next to my Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition boxed set.

As I have said before, my now retired Cleric, Brother Damien Bernard, was created using LotFP. I have to find a way to stick him in this adventure module as an NPC! I have no review as such here. I am just glad my copy arrived :)

Click for larger image

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My take on "Experience Points and the Numenera GM" as revealed so far

Monte Cook wrote in his Design Diary recently about how XP (Experience Points) or the equivalent is headed towards in the upcoming Sci-Fantasy RPG, Numenera. What strikes me about the post is that it takes a fairly good Gamemaster to pull off what he is proposing. Please indulge this lengthy quote, as it describes best what the mechanic would look like:

"For the GM, experience points are a narrative tool. The GM can introduce complications into the game that affects a specific player whenever it seems appropriate, but when he does so, he offers that player 1 xp. The player can “refuse” it, but then it costs the player 1 xp.

Here’s how that might work in play. Say the PCs find a hidden console with some buttons. They learn the right order to press the buttons, and a section of the floor disappears (this happened in the second playtest session I wrote about). As GM, I don’t have the players specifically tell me where they’re standing. Instead, I give one player an XP and say, “unfortunately, you are standing directly over this new hole in the floor.” Now, if he wanted, the player could refuse the XP and spend one of his own, and then he would say, “I leap aside to safety.” Or, he could just make the defensive roll that the GM calls for and let it play out."

Ok, I can dig that there is interaction between the PCs and the Gm as to what may actually happen in play. I can dig that the player can refuse the XP award and try to avoid the complication at hand. I dig that the player, if they accept the XP award can also pass one to another player for what they deem as good roleplaying of some sort. What may be difficult for lesser-experienced Gamemasters to do is to not railroad the PCs. However, Monte deals with that in the design post rather well.

I think it is a good mechanic as so far proposed (we shall see more about this later) because it actually teaches the Gm to be a better GM. I am not saying I am the best GM, because I am always evolving as one. As a GM that likes to do as much on-the-fly game mastering as possible, keeping my prep time for my sandbox wilderness hex crawl campaign to a minimum. I like this approach, because it is interactive. It puts the story of the game first instead of only the purely random factors of roleplaying, which are important in their own right, but are not always desired for either the players or the GM.

In my Sylvaeon game, I give the players "Wyrd" points that may be used to avoid or cause certain circumstance to be. That is a bit different than what Mr. Cook is proposing, but it is similar enough to make me want to know more about this XP system, because I may well adopt/modify it for my own uses.

Monte Cook notes: "Obviously, this kind of thing requires a light hand." I agree wholeheartedly. The risk of this mechanic seems worth the outcome. I feel it will introduce into the game something that many are missing: a synthesis that creates flexibility and greater creativity for a truly interactive experience that has the best of both storytelling games and random dice games It seems to be a balanced approach, which is usually a good thing when it comes to RPGs. I am looking forward to trying it out.

That is my two cents for what I have seen so far. I could be wrong and misunderstanding things, but even if I am, this design diary entry has me thinking.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Effects Using Polearms

This is a woodcut showing an unhorsing during a joust!

I like the shattered lance that the unhorsed guy got on the opposing knight. If he hadn’t gotten unhorsed while doing so, he would have won the round for the fact that his lance splintered striking his opponent.


Draft of Custom Attack Style(s) and Effects Using Polearms for RuneQuest 6 (and similar percentile rulesets) by Jeffrey Osthoff

Factors that affect the game mechanics of using polearms against an opponent in combat:

1. The polearm has what is called a Very Long reach.

2. When parrying against a hitting attack by a polearm, a successful parry with a Medium-sized weapon deflect half damage; Short weapons deflect none. Weapons of Large size or greater deflect all damage that a polearm would have inflicted.

3. A successful “attack” with a set polearm causes doubled damage to a charging opponent.

4. An attack with a polearm against a mounted opponent that is a critical success is eligible to have the Effect of “unhorsing” or dislodging the mounted opponent from their mount if the attacker so desires. This is done by hooking the opponent with the polearm, concussing the rider, etc. as the attacking character chooses.

5. However, the mounted character with a remaining action point can attempt to parry with a Large-sized weapon or great er OR uses a Dodge or similar manoeuvre can avoid the forced dismount if they are also critically successful. Damage done during the attack is treated as per #2 above.

6. A fallen rider also takes any applicable falling damage caused by the forced dismount.

7. Any remaining actions that a fallen opponent has are lost for the rest of the combat round.
8. If charging with a polearm or using it set, any damage caused to the weapon by a shield, parry, etc. counts against the weapon's own hit points and may cause it to break. Damage caused to an opponent by impalement may also cause further Incapacitation as per the Impalement Effects Chart on p.147 of the RuneQuest 6 rules book.


This is just a draft and there are a few things I want to add, remove and refine about it. Any comments, criticism or help is appreciated!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I backed Monte Cook's Numenera project yesterday.
It was a no-brainer for me, because he is designing this Sci-Fantasy setting.

I am intrigued by the simple character creation in 3 choices and the emphasis on the actual play rather than a ton of cumbersome rules. It has a d20 mechanic, which I like; but even in my own games, I use the dice as a random factor or representative of a chance of success, not as a hindrance. I prefer more free form Gamemastering and letting the action move along at its own pace than bogging down under rules, so Numenera seems like it will be a winner for me!

Numenera sounds like the far-future setting I have been looking for. Check out the links below for more informatio.

Numenera Kickstarter Project:

What's In a Name: Numenera:

I am certain I will have more to post about this game as time goes on.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Autumnal Wonder

The magnificent Lady in her Autumn aspect
Seasons and rhythms are very important in Sylvaeon. Everything cosmological, if in harmony with the Realm, occurs at its appointed time. As such, it is only appropriate that this blog's theme change as it always does with the passage of one phase of the mystery to another.

The Autumn Court is a time of festivity for the Fey Folk of Sylvaeon, when they present themselves before the Lady, whose raiment has changed into the colors of Fall. During this season, the Lady is known as She of Auburn Hair, for her appearance has changed - and the Realm matches it with its own display. Lovely and serene as she mingles with her loyal Fey subjects, the changing of the seasons gives great pleasure to the Fair Lady. During it, she shows her most generous aspect to them. Gifts are given to the myriad citizens of the realm in appreciation of their devotion to the magical Fairy Queen. All are thankful for the peace and the magical land she has created for their benefit. All love her and rejoice.

This little fairy on the blog background is prepared to see her Queen and partake of the feast and fun that only the Fey know. Mortal man and others thank the Lady for her blessings of the harvest and prepare for the Winter ahead, confident that all will be well.

Wallpaper in public domain at:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Previously Unrevealed Region of Sylvaeon

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This is an area in the western part of the continent where my Sylvaeon campaign primarily takes place. The city of Seahaven is situated on a bay in the South Western hex side of this regional map. Seahaven is not very old, in game terms. It is populated by mostly humans. It has existed in its present incarnation for about 500 years, but the land had been settled several times before in ancient times, the city being built upon the older ruins.

Seahaven is effectively a city state. It is ruled over by a regency and a bicameral parliament - one of the noblility and the other made up of civilian merchants and many political factions).

By the way, my players have never seen a population center larger than a village at this point... though they have been told that cities do exist!

This is only a draft map of the area, made with Hexographer, which I am still learning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Tales From Wilderland Update

Another update on Cubicle 7's Tales From Wilderland :

Supposedly, the new release date of Tales From Wilderland core book for The One Ring rpg is now September 5th-10th according to Amazon.

Let's hope it finally comes out!

My Use of Technology For Roleplaying Games

My Nook Color ready for 2e game
Many of the Old School Renaissance folks are linked together as a community because of technology. Things like Skype or Google+ Hangouts allow gamers from all over the world to enjoy RPGs through the magic of technology [I suspect Tinker Gnomes created these things].

I use Google+ to be alerted when a fellow gamer posts on their blog, because many tell us on G+ that they have updated it. For me, it is easier than using an RSS feed application, because I just have too many blogs I like to keep track that way. I do the same thing on GooglePlus, making a note there to my Roleplaying circle that I have a new post on this blog.

There are players and GM's that use laptops and smart phones, etc. to aid in game play in face-to-face sessions. Dice rollers are a common use of tech, as well as having character sheets that can be altered fluidly during the game, available in real time to both the player and GM simultaneously. I personally have used Rock and Roll Dice Roller on my Mac and Google Docs for character sheets and other information that can be accessed from any computer. Documents in or uploaded to Google Docs can be made available to only yourself or to anyone you wish.

For my AD&D 2nd edition face-to-face game, I have decided to use my Nook Color to hold tables and my pdfs of gaming materials. RPGNow and DrivveThruRPG are merged, and are great sites to purchase gaming pdfs of all sorts. Many helpful electronic aids are also free for the downloading!

It is probably obvious that in the 21st century technology of some sort has crept into roleplaying. The types of application of tech in RPGs is almost endless. I used to be a pen & paper purist until recently. Google+ has done a lot to change my mind... which is something new my own 35+ year gaming experience. I feel I am better off as a player and GM by using such technology wisely.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Update on Tales From Wilderland

Good news was given as a response to my comment on the recent Cubicle 7 YouTube video about Tales From Wilderland:

And there was much rejoicing!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Starships & Spacemen

Picture of the Captain of a starship having crew order pizza for lunch

I finally bit the bullet at the home stretch and contributed to Goblinoid Games reboot of Starships & Spacemen. I remember seeing it advertised in Dragon Magazine a lot back in the day, but I never had the loot to pick it up. Now I can!

The idea of playing something on the order of OST with Starships & Spacemen makes me remember playing Star Trek in the yard as a kid. I will just have to make sure that this time, there are plenty of green women and a reptilian Gorn to kill with an improvised shotgun. What is especially cool, is that it fits together with the Labyrinth Lord ruleset. Goblinoid made this statement about their fidelity of certain aspects of the game and the streamlining of certain rules:

"This second edition of the classic game is compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. The best elements of the first edition have been kept--the classes and subclasses, the excellent starship rules, and the space adventuring rules. Classes, races, and abilities have been made more in line with Labyrinth Lord.

This second edition has elements that let you customize the style of play whether you prefer an "original series" feel, a "next generation" feel, or something in between."

Click this link for more info
Starships & Spacemen Second Edition 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tales From Wilderland Release Info

The printed copy of Tales From Wilderland, the second core book of three slated for The One Ring rpg is supposed to be released today (but I think "this month" will be more realistic... I hope I am incorrect. I have pre-ordered a copy of this on Amazon and hope to see SHIPPED appear on my order list soon ;)

Only recently, I read through my copy of The One Ring prg rules, so I am no expert on The One Ring, but I know what I like. The faithfully Tolkien flavor this game evokes is incredible. I am hoping Tales From Wilderland will sustain that atmosphere, while adding extras to one of the coolest Hobbit / Lord of the Rings derived games ever!

I will update when I actually receive my copy :)

Here is a video regarding Tales From Wilderland that was posted at Cubicle7's website this morning
With the print release of Tales from Wilderland fast approaching, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan discusses the book and his work on The One Ring line. Part one in a series:

Original link:

EDIT: I originally pre-ordered Tales of Wilderland last year when it was scheduled to come out in December. Then the release date was changed to August 1, 2012, so I cancelled. As of tonight, there is no sign of it being released on Amazon or on the Cubicle 7 forums. As a matter of fact, there is some hubbub about a cancellation of another pre-order The One RIng product that was supposed to come out at GenCon. Rumors of licensing issues with the Tolien estate abound, but there is nothing definitive being said by Cubicle 7 yet. I hope this doesn't point toward the potential of TOR products not ever being released again :(

Also, PDFs of The One Ring products are no longer for sale. Another suspicious development, to be sure.

For some of the gossip, official statements and confiding of fears that the TOR line may be dead , scroll back and forth amongst the pages of this forum thread:

Live TOR, live !!!

RuneQuest 6 Sneak Preview

Here is a video done by one of the designers of RuneQuest 6 previewing the print copy. Below this video, I will share a brief post I did on GooglePlus to my Roleplaying circle. Enjoy!

Click for larger image
You gotta love when "Abacus" and "Astrolabe" are standard-listed pieces of equipment that are possible for characters to purchase in an RPG ;)

The free 78pp Games Master's Pack for RuneQuest 6 is fantastic!
Free RQ6 Games Masters Pack

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Longer Mostly Dead

It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.
Since sometime in May, I had to go on hiatus from the OSR gaming scene due to health issues. This also included, regretfully, my blog.

I am no longer mostly dead and am mostly alive. While I still have some obstacles to overcome, I feel a bit better and am able to rejoin my friends on GooglePlus and other places on the Net (as well as in r/l) for gaming and game talk once again :)

Today was the first day I hit G+ in earnest since May. I was pleased to chat with a few of the peeps after listening in to Michael Moscrip's Castle Nicodemus session. As Brother Damien, whom I used to run in Nicodemus, is retired as an NPC in my own setting, I need to create another character to run. I will also use the same character for Evan Elkins' Nightwick Abbey.

Brother Damien was built for FLAILSNAILS games using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess ruleset. I am considering that again, but since I am still unsure as to what kind of character I want to run, I will leave the decision to later as to which flavor of Original system I will eventually settle on. Swords & Wizardry and "real" OD&D are certainly in the race.

As I get back into the swing, I will start playing games again and ease back in GM'ing as soon as I feel up to it. I will return to blogging here and until I get more posts going (which should be almost immediately!) I remind people that besides the archive posts here at the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon, my old blog, RETRORPG still exists for you enjoyment :)

Peace, peeps!

Monday, April 9, 2012

First Run in Allterra Game

Late last night, I was able to run Duke Barclay and Kyrinn S. Eis through a few hours of an alpha version of my Allterra fantasy faux-China setting.

I have decided to combine the setting name into one, and it is now: Legends of the Celestial Empire.

The PCs visited a city portion of the setting.
Ichiro Daiku (Duke's foreigner, a Japanese Samurai) and Shen Mei Xiu (Kyrinn's Martial Artist, a native to the empire) are the very first characters to play in Allterra and in my setting specifically.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brother Damien Bernard Becomes an Abbot


Of the Oratory of the Monastery

Let the oratory be what it is called, and let nothing else be done or stored there. When the Work of God is finished, let all go out with the deepest silence, and let reverence be shown to God; that a brother who perhaps desireth to pray especially by himself is not prevented by another's misconduct. But if perhaps another desireth to pray alone in private, let him enter with simplicity and pray, not with a loud voice, but with tears and fervor of heart. Therefore, let him who doth not say his prayers in this way, not be permitted to stay in the oratory after the Work of God is finished, as we said, that another may not be disturbed.

(Chapter 52 of the Rule of St. Benedict)

Through his travels and adventures, Brother Damien Bernard has acquired a piece of land and an abbey. It is built in the Cistercian style. Brother Damien gave this monastery to the Holy Church, as is proper to his vow of poverty, which forbids the accumulation of wealth or goods beyond daily necessity. Damien's Father General reported this to the local Bishop, who in turn brought the matter to his own superiors.

The ecclesiarchy of the Holy Church has placed Brother Damien in charge of the abbey. Brother Damien is of sufficient level in game terms now to undertake such a task, so I have decided to "retire" him from Flailsnails games to pursue this as an NPC in my own games. (I would like to thank here all of the GMs and players that I have had the pleasure of gaming this character with).

As an abbot, Brother Damien Bernard is quite intent on making sure the Rule of the founder of his Order, St. Benedict, is adhered to devoutly. Of great importance to Brother Damien is the practice of praying the Daily Office of the Breviary and the celebration of daily mass.  He has called chapter 52 of the Rule to the attention of the Three Followers and Nodger as a solid foundation upon which to begin this new work of God. -|-

With four monks being the initial basis of the abbey of St. Benedict, Brother Damien begins his existence as an NPC abbot.

Friday, March 30, 2012

What does WFRP have to do with China?

my recently (re-)acquired WFRP 1st edition hardback
Yeah, what does Warhammer Fantasy Role Play have to do with China?
To be honest, not a whole lot, unless you take the weird fantasy elements of WFRP, mix in Kung Fu movies, a bit of twisted history, some gonzo from Big Trouble in Little China and mix them all together. I will be giving some more teaser information in an upcoming post.

That is going to be some of the flavor of my Allterra Project setting: Legends of Wei - The Celestial Empire. It is a fantasy faux-China setting.

Allterra is a shared settings "world" which will have several GMs. Each will run their own setting, with PCs transferable between settings. My portion of the Allterra Project is humming away.  I am currently working on game mechanics and my sandbox setting, itself.

Allterra will run on several different game systems, with characters converted back and forth for transference between settings, if need be. Allterra will also be Flailsnails Compatible. Indeed, if it were not for the original Flailsnails Conventions, this in-progress project would possibly not have even been conceived. In this regard, much is owed to those original masterminds, Flailsnails GMs and players that have participated in it. I have enjoyed Flailsnails games much myself. It is in that spirit that I am hoping Allterra will give back to the Flailsnails community by being Flailsnails Compatible.

In fact, Brother Damien Bernard, my now 5th level Cleric, was made specifically for Flailsnails. I used the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition to generate Brother Damien. As a retro clone, the LotFP system had the feel of weird fantasy to it, so I chose it above others.

an interior shot of the score I got for 20 bucks...and it's a first GW printing straight from the UK!!!  (Click for a larger image)

With Legends of Wei: The Celestial Empire, I want to impart a flavor that is a bit sweet and sour ;)

The influences that I choose besides those that come from my own head are an important factor, so I guess that is what Warhammer Fantasy Role Play and a host of other things have to do with China.

(more to come...)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Judges Guild Goodies

Recently I made a score of some related Judges Guild publications for Runequest.

All three were in the original shrink wrap and in near perfect mint condition! It was a thrill to unwrap a "new" Judges Guild product after so long.

I got them at a decent price, so it wasn't as painful as purchasing some of the more sought after JG products. You can click on any of these images for a larger view.

Of special interest to me was the "main" of the three-pack: the City of Lei Tabor.

To be honest, I had never even heard of this one before. "Back in the day" there were some good rule systems/settings that I never got to play, because either I didn't have the loot to get them or no one I knew played those systems. With my acquisition of the Avalon Hill Rune Quest Deluxe boxed set and

Lei Tabor, I have a mini campaign in my hands.

What is interesting about the City of Lei Tabor is that is what I would call the Runequest equivalent of the excellent Judges Guild City State of the Invincible Overlord. At 96 pp, Lei Tabor packs just as much of a wallop as City State, as regards publication size. Similar weirdness, encounters and places to get into trouble at in Lei Tabor are given in a similar manner as how City State was set up. The best part about that format for Lei Tabor is that it is much cleaner and has a larger type font than CSIO did.

The contents of the City of Lei Tabor read just like you would imagine a Runequest City State would: History, Map, City Night Life Encounters, etc.

I will be using Lei Tabor as a template for one of my Allterra Project places of interest. Hopefully I will get as much bang-for-the-buck from these three Judges Guild products as possible.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring in Sylvaeon: Passing of the Seasons

image from

In Sylvaeon the season has passed from Winter to Spring.
One character, Smyrynel, witnessed the rite of The Passing of the Seasons. This druidic rite occurs at the equinoxes and solstices. During these times, the most powerful druids of the Realm gather to pass the Staff of the Seasons from the keeper of the prior season to the druid that guards and guides the next.

The druid Mellion appeared to Smyrynel as she was tending the earth planting pine seeds at the end of her retreat to the cave shrine at the Shattered Cliff.  Mellion transported Smyrynel in spirit to the rounded pavilion set in a secret glade. The pavilion serves as the focal place of the ritual of The Passing of the Seasons and The Staff of the Seasons serves as the focal object.

When Smyrynel first saw Mellion, who had finally arisen from his period of Winter sleep, he held the staff. It had ice and snow upon it, but they were melting. At the top of the staff, amidst the ornate carving, were small unopened buds. Once they had arrived to the place of the ritual, Smyrynel saw the pavillion covered in snow. Around the pavilion were standing stones similar to what she had seen before. A snowshoe hare hopped in the snow beneath the pavilion. A cardinal sat in the bare branches of an oak tree. The scene was quiet and serene.

Eventually, druids robed in various colors marched in procession into the sacred grove, taking their places around the pavilion in a ring. Mellion ascended the steps to the pavilion and held up the staff, announcing that according to the ancient custom that he would now pass the Staff of Seasons to the one who would guide Spring. A woman garbed in a robe that shifted slowly across the color spectrum, which created scenes of Spring bloom and life upon it, ascended the pavilion with Mellion. Mellion held out the staff to her, which she took. Covering his head with his cowl, Mellion left the pavilion. The woman let the cowl of her robe drop, revealing that she was an elf. She held aloft the staff and it instantly began to bloom. The snow melted almost instantaneously from the pavilion as the tree budded fort and tender leaves came from the buds. Birds began to fly under the pavilion and chipmunks and other animals seemed to be foraging. The scent of earth wafted into the previously sterile environment. As a brief, gentle rain passed through the pavion, the smell of ozone filled the air.

Now, with the passing of the seasons, the woman left the pavilion and the druids turned to acknowledge Smyrynel with a short bow. They filed away as they had came. The simple but important ritual was complete.

Spring has come to Sylvaeon once again.

(In honor of Spring, I have also changed the blog theme from Winter, back to a Spring one.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Paladin's Guide to Reforming Goblins

The Paladin's Guide to Reforming Goblins
(a lesson in training goblinoids from Session #10 of the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon)

Previously, thirteen goblinoids had surrendered to the party at the Moon Well. Great evil had been wrought under the leadership of the goblin shaman, as the Red Moon was summoned.

The problem that the party had was that goblnoids had never surrendered before. In the past they either fought maniacally to the death or ran away to fight again another day. Some of the PCs wanted to kill them outright anyway, but Sir Parcifal decided that an attempt to reform the goblinoids should be made.

The party marched their prisoners to the Warden Outpost. Once they arrived, Parcifal began the process of reeducating the goblinoids. One spoke the common tongue, so he was the go-between for the Paladin and the rest of the creatures. The Sword SIster Airyka spoke their tongue, so she made sure that everything was as Parcifal said. She also helped oversee the dastardly little devils and maintain some semblance of order when things would go wrong.

In a conversation with the  only of the unlucky 13 goblinoids that could communicate with him, Parcifal discovered that they did not understand the concepts of hope and freewill; knowing only fear, servitude, strength and weakness. As a man of virtue, Parcifal began to lecture the goblinoids about ethics and civilized concepts, during which the goblinoids stared blankly at him. One even fell asleep. Later, the green-black miscreants became even more bored, because they had no mischief to do. To relieve the monotony, they began to poke each other with sticks or knock one another over the head with rocks.

Seeing that this approach was not working, the Warden Master GIldaril suggested that Parcifal give the goblinoids the task of building their own shelter somewhere outside of the Outpost. Parcifal took a risk that eventually turned out to be a wise decision: he marched them to the river to resettle them in an area somewhat removed from the Outpost. It was risky, because the little terrors were not under the direct supervision of the Wardens anymore.

Gibble, the goblin that spoke the common language, announced that the thirteen had decided that they wanted to build a fort, like the Wardens had. Parcifal agreed and gave a hatchet to Gibble with the instructions that Gibble would give it to the one most capable of using it -  Gibble announced that he was and raised it in triumph, announcing that he was now the leader of the thirteen goblins, at which they all cheered. At last, the goblins set to work in a pathetic attempt to replicate the fort. Airyka had to teach them how to cut and drive small trees into the ground as post and how to make lean-to shelters as places to sleep. The goblins renewed their efforts, taking to the work gleefully.

However, during the night, the goblinoids began to fight amongst themselves again, as there were only 6 shelters built and there was thirteen of the goblins. Only 2 could fit into a shelter at a time, so one hapless goblin was kicked out of every shelter and decided he was going to drag one of his brothers out of a shelter, so that he would have room to sleep. Airyka had to break up the fight and made another shelter. Now everything seemed to be alright… but it was not, because later in the night the goblinoids were fighting again about who would et single occupancy of the new shelter. The next day, Airyka made sure that each of the malcontents had made their own shelter to sleep in and that solved the problem.

After some days of working, a five foot high post wall was created and a wooden gate attached. The goblin fort was ready! Working together finally made the goblins more of a team and there was less trouble over time.

Once the fort was finished, Gibble asked if the goblins would continue to receive rations from the Wardens or if they could have weapons and go hunting. Airyka was a bit concerned about giving the little greenies weapons, but Gibble convinced Parcifal to lend them a dagger so that they could sharpen makeshift spears for themselves. Parcifal allowed the goblins to go out in pairs. Because their were thirteen, the goblins drew lots using darker and lighter stones, determining which one would remain behind at the goblin fort. Parcifal approved, as the goblins were showing increased signs of community and less aggression when conflict or self-interest came into play.

Charging them not to go more than a day's journey away, Parcifal released the pairs to go hunting. Some did not return that night. Parcifal rode off to find them the next day. He found some sleeping in the woods, no more than a day's journey away. Upon seeing Parcifal, they waves and showed him the squirrels they can hunted, chattering at him in their incomprehensible language. Hoisting their kill, they marched confidently back to the fort without being told to.

Upon seeing that it might be possible for the goblins to exist now as a cohesive community, he set up a shield with the White Rose standard of the Lady over the small gateway. The goblins jumped and cheered, because in their minds, they were now just like the Wardens and their outpost.

Before taking leave, Parcifal charged the creatures with a few simple guidelines, which Gibble scratched into wood with his claws. Parcifal said he would return sometime to check on them. The goblins waved goodbye to the paladin and the sword sister and began their new existence as semi-reformed goblins.

Hopefully they will not cause too many problems in the future  ;)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

System Conversion & the Allterra Project

News about converting Old School to Basic Role Playing or other related percentile systems & the Allterra Project:

What began a few months ago as an idea to convert my Sylvaeon campaign as seamlessly as possible from AD&D/ OSRIC to Chaosium's Basic Role Playing system is taking on shape as a conversion project. Kyrinn Eis and myself have been working on this and will be releasing the book sometime in the near future.

Even though it has initially been focused on converting Old School characters to BRP, one of the things that we are doing is making the conversions work with the related games to BRP, such as Legends, Runequest, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu and the like.

This conversion system will allow Old School characters to play in the native percentile system of some of the Allterra Project world settings. Opening up the various settings and games to work together is very exciting.

Jack Ackerman is working on his Ruins & Ronins-based Setting. My own counterpart post-Warring States faux-China setting is also in the works. Other Allterra GM's that have so far volunteered settings include Kyrinn Eis, Michael Henry, Reynaldo Madrinan.

I am thrilled to see these two projects integrated. It will make a great test-bed for conversion initially and hopefully long-term fun for those that visit these world settings!

More information to follow shortly...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cultures of Sylvaeon - The Folk

Cultures of Sylvaeon - The Folk

The Folk are the descendants of the oldest human race to inhabit the Realm. The Folk generally have a ruddy brown or fair-skinned in complexion. Most range from 157 to 177 centimeters in height. Common hair colors vary from black, brown to red. Their builds tend to be medium, but that also can vary. The Folk are mostly farmers, fishers or tradesmen. Their dwellings and villages are homey and tend to impact the environment minimally.

They first appeared approximately 4000 to 3500 years prior to the current year 10,000 of the Sylvaeon Revised Calendar. In the past, the Folk quickly became allied with the various Elven tribes in the areas that the Folk initially inhabited upon their arrival in Sylvaeon. The Folk are not a particularly warlike people, but during the Great Wars 3000 years ago, the Folk joined with the Elves to fight in the great conflict that swept over the known lands of the time.

The Folk almost as a whole have reverence and love for the White Lady and hold a deep respect for the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon. The ones that felt the most affinity with the land became the first of the Druid and Foresters, who worked to preserve the Balance of nature and the harmony of the Folk with all of the creatures they dwelled in the land with, whether Fey or feral.

The Great Wars decimated much of both the Elven and human populations. After that time, the surviving Folk emigrated from the decimated land to other portions of Sylvaeon that were less tainted. Over the millennium, the land has become restored. During the past few centuries, some of the Folk have returned to their old places of dwelling. Some of the past monuments to the heroes of the Great Wars remain, but little else. The past culture of the humans in these areas has effectively been erased. Having preserved the ancient lore and traditions of the Realm, something calls the Folk back to restore what was.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Map of Sylvaeon as the PCs know it

The two rivers in confluence towards the middle of the map are:
The Broken Arrow River (coming from the North)
and the Drake's Wash (coming from the West)

The last two sessions took place primarily at the Goblinoid Totem/Burial area & the Moon Well, both to the North.

Soon the PCs will be headed to the Outpost (except one who is going for a retreat to the Cliff cave shine) and then to the Wayfarer's Inn (which sits at the confluence of the two rivers)

The village at the Eastern edge of the map is Arrow's Mouth. The village population is approximately 500 people. 98 % are human, the rest being Elves and Gnomes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Session #9 of The Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon part II

Having purified the Moon Well and the Nymph that dwells in it, the PCs were told by Gildaril, the Warden Master, that Sir Parcifal and the rest of the Warden Patrol were to accompany him back to the Outpost, shortly. The characters were also told that they would soon be given a period of leave, in which they could rest, train, research, etc. Smyrynel chose to go on retreat back at the river-side cliff cave shrine that the party had restored. Parcifal chose to attempt to rehabilitate the Goblinoids captured at the Moon Well. Kelvin has voiced interest in gathering components for his infamous flash bombs and researching the mysterious scroll that the shaman had in its possession. The Sword Sisters opted fro martial training. All of the characters will meet at the Wayfarer's Inn in a couple of weeks to look for the Loremaster so they can get some questions about the past history of Sylvaeon answered. A bit of relaxation at the Inn was discussed, too.

Before they PCs set out, they participated in a meal with the Nord-Landers and the Acolyte Druid. The spot was chosen by the Druid among ancient burial mounds from the time of the Great Wars, over 3000 years ago. In this area, Airdane, the Druid buried the unknown elf who had served as an unfortunate living sacrifice during the summoning of the Red Moon. There, atop the highest of the mounds, under the night sky, as the cleansed aurora danced overhead, the party had a solemn meal. Afterwards, Erel Jolfsen, the Nord-Lander leader, said that during the times of significant event the Runes of old were often sought among his people. While they cannot foretell the future, Erel said, they can aid in unlocking and understanding aspects of a person's Wyrd. All of the PCs drew from the Runes, but their significance is as yet unknown. The wizard kelvin was sternly warned by Erel that the study of the Runes has given great power to the one they call Loge the Despiser, known to the Folk as the Corrupter. Erel said that the twisting of the Rune lore was one of the things the Corrupter has done as he slipped ever deeper into the seduction for power. Leaving the party to return to their search for more Elves and Folk of the Realm, the Nord-Landers parted in peace.

The Paladin of the White Lady, who recently shows skill in the Way of the Balance, the ways of the Druids, was taken aside by the young Acolyte. He told her that the sacrificed elf's spirit may not be returning again to the Realm, which sorrowed him. He also spoke of how he marvelled that humans, who only come once into existence in the Realm should ever give their short lives to the cause of Sylvaeon. Smyrynel and Airdane exchanged gifts of fellowship amidst the burial mounds.

Now, with no charges or quests before them, the PCs will be finding themselves adrift in the Realm. Their Wyrd lies before them, such as they choose to make it...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Session #9 of the Aeternal Realm of Sylvaeon

Session #9 of The Eternal Realm of Sylvaeon

Last time, the PCs had just defeated the Goblinoid horde which was melting some sort of slag from a nearby mine. The two large large hulk-like goblinoids that the PCs killed were dumping it into a hole in the ice into the Moon Well. The tribe's shaman had summoned the Red Moon with power drawn from the Moon Well through an elaborate ritual involving a shine placed at the center of the Moon Well, the burnt sacrifice of an Elf (which the PCs were sadly unable to stop) and a desecrated standing stone devoted to the White Lady, which had a red moon crescent drawn on it with the elf's blood.

The first of the obstacles to the liberation and restoration of the Moon Well had been overcome; namely the defeat of the Goblinoids. Now the PCs set to disabling the red aurora and its pillar manifestation that emanated from the center of the Moon Well. The Sword Sister Airyka thought that the pillar might be some transport to the Red Moon and placed her hand inside of it. Whether it was a transport or not, she did not figure out, because she was violently thrown back and went skidding unconscious across 70 feet of the ice.

Some of the party began to chop the ice around the aurora pillar & the goblinoid shine at the heart of it with the aid of the newly arrived Nord-Lander Warden, Erel Jolfsen, and some of his fellow clansmen. After an hour's labor the shine fell into the lake with a steamy explosion that rocked the ice, sending Nord-Landers tumbling into the cold water of the Moon Well. These were rescued by the mighty aid of Brynn, a Sword Sister of such prowess that she almost effortlessly drew several of the large Nord-Landers from the waters.

Smyrynel dove into the water to rescue one Nord-Lander that had sunk. As she tied him off to a rope held by another Nord-Lander above and signaled that the rope be drawn up, she spied a water nymph struggling to break free from the slaggy muck that now polluted the bottom of the moon well heavily. The evil shrine that had sunk to the bottom was pulsing fading light and had illuminated this scene, so Smyrynel caught the Nymph's ethereal hand, which became tangible in her grasp and plucked her to the surface of the small lake. The Paladin of the WHite Lady, Smyrynel cleansed the nymph with the water that she had gotten from the magical stream in the druid's grove. When she saw this was effective, she swam back to the center of pollution at the bottom of the moon well and cleansed it by releasing the stream water into the heart of the moon well. This caused the pollution to scatter almost sentiently, but it did dissolve the pollution of the moon well in a brief period of time.

Kelvin the Curious wizard had searched the shaman's body and found he wore a carved bone ring that said "Me No Sleep" upon it. He deduced that it was probably the reason his sleep spell upon the shaman failed in the battle that had recently raged. Kelvin also found the scroll that the goblinoid shaman had used to perform his summoning ritual. The scroll contained lore and spells of the goblinoids that Kelvin decided to decipher better at a later time.

In the shelter structure near the moon well was found a druid acolyte that had previously been tasked by Mellion to seek out the forgotten moon well which now lay in goblinoid territory and to discover its plight.  The moon well had alerted the the great druid to its distress somehow, but Mellion was nearing his time of Winter hibernation and could not go himself. The acolyte was beater and cut, but was alive. Kelvin aided the young druid in removing the body of the burnt elf for burial.

Sir Parcifal helped Brynn, Airyka and the Nord-Landers to tie up the remaining living goblinoids that had either been entangled or had emerged from the mine in surrender. Gildaril, the Warden master and Lydia, the elf maiden that had been rescued from the sink hole, arrived on the scene around this time. Gildaril agreed that Parcifal could attempt to reform the prisoners at the Outpost and placed him in charge of this task. Lydia gave Parcifal a white scarf to carry in her name and told Parcifal that she wished it to bring him good fortune. Being gallant, Parcifal kissed the maiden's hand and the two set about calming and herding the very frightened goblinoids in preparation to take them to the Outpost. Parcifal did need to recapture one of the frightened creatures, which slipped its bonds and tried to run off.

Erel told Airyka that a couple of the Nord-Landers wanted to know if she was interested in marriage. She politely declined, but was given a Nord-Lander axe as a sign of respect for her battle prowess.

The Pcs finally managed to clean up the desecration of the Moon Well. The aura obove it is a now a faint white, but the smallish red moon still glows in the night sky…

(more to come)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Gem

click for larger image

First edition WFRP adventure modules and such are not always easy to find. When you do, they are usually a bit on the steep side price-wise. I scored Volume 1 of The Enemy Within Campaign (to add to Death on the Reik vol 3) on the cheap. I don't think I will ever run this as a straight up adventure, but I can use it as a resource for ideas. I really love the 1st ed Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play world. This copy has a minor crease in the lower right corner, but the pages inside are clean and crisp and the the handouts are still attached in the back :)

As always, the art in the original WFRP products brings out the feeling that it actually is a "Grim World of Perilous Adventure"!

This "adventure" is a great source book, because it contains such things as:

  • A Brief History of the Empire
  • Political Structure of the Empire (Provinces, Noble Houses, Guilds, Taxes, etc)
  • Religion in the Empire (Imperial & Chaos Cults)
  • Geography of the Empire
  • Herb Uses
  • Travel Movement Rates for land and sea
  • Imperial Calendar (complete with festivals)
  • and of course, an adventure relating to a conspiracy to destroy destroy the Empire and all of the machinations that go with such a plot!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

20 Questions Quiz Circulating Around The OSR Blogosphere

20 rules clarification

  1. Ability scores generation method?

For OD&D/S&W I do 3d6 assigned to the stats straight down in order.
If I am using AD&D/OSRIC, then I use a point buy system OR 4d6-lowest with the player assigning them as they wish.

  1. How are death and dying handled?
Back in the day, 0 HP was death, plain and simple. I am seriously considering that being the rule for my Sylvaeon campaign... this questionnaire is timely in that respect, because I have been considering this hard. I have used other methods, such as up to CON in negative damage (with possible Saving Rolls vs Death each round), but I am open to input here.

  1. What about raising the dead?
A rarity at best... an impossibility most of the time. However, I do have a “secret” rule, where Elves reincarnate anywhere from 40 days to 1000 years later!

  1. How are replacement PCs handled?
In Sylvaeon, I use the Arduin Hit Point System. Replacement PCs can easily adventure along with an established party and be able to take similar damage... of course, they do not have the same skills. If a party is extremely high-leveled, I may bump the starting Class Level of a replacement PC to ¼ of what the lowest party member has, if I am in a good mood that day ;)

  1. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
D10 (counting down) individual initiative for PCs. I may roll a group initiative for similar monster types or individual for leveled humanoid PCs and similar. I allow DEX bonuses to be counted to the d10 if the current melee circumstances of a PC allow it.

  1. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
Once more, back in the day, I have had many characters of my own die hideous and quick deaths because of a crit inflicted upon them using the Arduin Critical Hit Table (or even the Fumble Table!). I used to say what's good for the goose is good for the gander and have monsters and NPCs do critical hits the same way. Now I have modified it to double damage for Natural 20s for both monsters/NPCs and PCs, EXCEPT PCs may get a critical upon an opponent if they roll the max damage for their weapon type. I stole that last part from Michael Moscrip, because I found it was a reasonable option and limited the number of crits. Even though it isn't a perfect solution, it works in practice very well.

  1. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
Yes, your character has nice head gear and their noggin is protected from head-specific damage.

  1. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Yes! It happens frequently in Sylvaeon when PCs fire into crowded combat or misfire, etc.
  1. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
There is a chance to “defeat” most encounters via combat or often times in another way. Ot everything is for killing and I give experience for overcoming encounters creatively. However, there are encounters that will bring almost certain death if they are not avoided or disengaged from. I let the dice fall where they may in such cases. I have been foolish enough to hang around when death was imminent, but there have also been times I have triumphed in the face of overwhelming odds, so I cannot blame my players for doing either – but they will suffer any consequences.

  1. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? No – I dislike level draining, but I do substitute other types of damage that simulate this.

  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Rarely, yes, but that would be discretionary. I'd rather death resulted as a consequence of actions, not random chance only. It really depends on the actual situation. This question is a bit hypothetical and open-ended for me.
  1. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
For carrying treasure, yeah, I will use encumbrance. In Sylvaeon this is important, because the PCs are extremely mobile and currently have no base of operations to dump loot. Also, resources are critical in Sylvaeon. If you don't have rations and don't hunt or run out of water, you WILL die! Sylvaeon is a wilderness hex crawl and in wilderness environments resources are critical to survival.

Note to PCs: If you guys are keeping track, you would know that you only have one day worth of rations left (except Brynn, who has more) :D

  1. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
The PCs in Sylvaeon are in a constant state of training. I allow for leveling in the middle of an adventure. If there is a specific case for training or other requirements for leveling (rare) I will have them work that out in down time or in game time as I see fit. It could make for a nice little side adventure :)

  1. What do I get experience for?
Defeating” encounters, for life-changing or special events, etc.
Sylvaeon is not always about how many bodies you can pile up, nor is it about loot earned. Experience for treasure is only given for how it is used, if at all. Usually, treasure is its own reward.

  1. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
If you are actively looking for traps, both methods come into play at various times.
  1. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? At this point, retainers are antithetical to the philosophy of the characters in the Aeternal Realm of Syvaeon. The PCs are sworn to protect others, not to use them as fodder. If there are ever followers or hirelings that will be used in the game, how the CPs treat them affects their Wyrd, their reputations and a host of other things.

  1. How do I identify magic items?
Almost always by trying to use them or by subtle clues as to what the item is. I never announce “This is a +1 sword!”. What does that mean to the characters anyway? One could also visit a Loremaster or the Hermetic Order of Wizardry for possible insight, but this option is rare.

  1. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
  1. Can I create magic items? When and how?
YES!!! This is encouraged. PCs creating spells, items and such makes me happy as a GM. They may need study time, components or whatever, but if it is plausible I am all for it!

  1. What about splitting the party?
That is often a bad idea, but sometimes it isn't. If the players want to do that, I will let them.