Friday, March 30, 2012

The Role of Sexes on Martapa

If you haven't figured out, thus far, my stance on sexism, then I'm apparently not working hard enough. (big grin). Martapa, though I 'd like to say is completely equal, is not. Let's start in Tridon amongst the humans.

Most women in human society can be what ever a man can be. They are expected to be a mother and take care of her spouse, on top of what ever "job" they might have. It is considered indecent for a woman of wealth and power to be anything but a mother and wife, but there are women Knights, just not that many. They are frowned upon (especially in the time of the High King's Sword) but not outright banned.

Humans of the Empire thank even less of the idea of women doing anything but being a mother and wife. There are exceptions. Women who are scholars, priests, or mages are looked upon with esteem, but they are still encouraged to have families, (usually so if they bare powerful magic they pass that on to their children).

Elves and Akicitia are a little more equal, in the sense that either sex can be any role in their society. Some of the greatest Warriors have been women in the elven clans and the Akicitia have had many strong women leaders. Children are expected, but not pushed upon the woman by society. In fact, in Akicitia culture if the woman is the hunter and the man, say, a weaver or blacksmith the man is expected to care for the children while the woman is off hunting.

Dwarves like to say they let their women do anything, but they are very protective of their women. Not so much from themselves, but the outside world. There was a time when the dwarven women were endangered by a magical curse and thus there was a fear that the dwarves would disappear from the face of Martapa. Thus even though they are allowed to do anything they wish, women are watched closely and protected, never really put in harms way if it can be helped.

Ogres and goblins have no equality what so ever. Women are subservient, cook, clean, and are expected to do what every their mates wish.

Minotuars are similar to Akicitias and Elves, though most women minotaurs are the scholars, priests and mages amongst these bull-men. They see battle and know how to use weapons, but they seem to prefer the other rolls better.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hungry Willows

Willows, in general, are very beautiful, little dumpy trees with overhanging branches drooping into the water they grow by. Their green, oval shaped leaves are always so bright in the summer and little birds love to hide in their branches. They shade the streams and provide food for the birds. But not all willows are so mundane.

Hungry Willows, as they are called, will still remain by tamely until some large prey animal wonders by, then wrap them up in their long branches and drag them into its giant maw at the base of the trunk. The size of the prey depends on the size of the tree, obviously. In game, it takes the tree 2 rounds to wrap up a victim and another 5 rounds to drag it to it's mouth. Once inside the gullet it takes an additional 5 rounds for the victim to die of asphyxiation. Spells can be cast while in its mouth, as can the use of swords. So theoretically a victim can bust his way out. These trees hate fire and take double damage from fire.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mert's Spells in Bloodhelm

Most mages research their own spells, but even mages like to be able to learn a new spell without the work. Mert, a very money minded mage, took this to heart. He set up a little shop, at first, to copy generic spellbooks, write down individual spells on parchment to sell, and to sell blank spellbooks. It went so well he began to do "special orders" for mages, spells he didn't have but was more then willing to research for the right amount of money. Now Mert, a balding, nervous man in his mid forties, has four apprentices who help him research the spells his fellow mages needs. He's not a cruel master. He shares his profits with his apprentices (though not equally) and makes sure they learn about magic as they go (better researched spells that way).

For a price, Mert will make spellbooks, scrolls, and research spells. He will not cast spells on people, not even for a huge chunk of gold. Prices are steep for non-standard spells, but he's willing to negotiate research of new spells for spells he doesn't have in his archives.

His place of business was once a small manor which he bought shortly after his star began to rise. It has bedrooms for himself and his apprentices, a cooking/cleaning staff, a kitchen, some researching rooms in the basement and work areas (which used to be dens and the living rooms. He will talk everyone's ears off, if given a chance, but is willing to be cut off if it has to do with business.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Music and Your Characters

For me I love to listen to classical and some soft rock (I think that's the term lol) while I write. Classical is the best because I can have music which helps lay the feel of a battle or a romantic moment. Just depends on what I pull out. Another thing I like is finding a song which fits my character, which could work for both book characters or role playing characters.

Some music just hits the spot for me and screams "There's my character!" One such is "Bring me to life" by Evanescence. It hits the spot for Elly, who knows nothing about her past. I've cycled through a few for Tarkil and Kenna, but my favorite for Guthlaf is "Renegades, Rebels and Rogues" from the Maverick movie...yes, western music, but even so, it fits Guthlaf's personality, despite being a dwarf.

Also I like to play a single song over and over again while writing a particular scene. Several of my more prominent scenes have a song I play while editing/writing them. One such is when the group finds the Lost Library of Janesh. The song is from the World of Warcraft Cataclysm sound track and is wonderful for that mystical feeling. (Yes, video games have excellent instrumental sound tracks and you should listen to them...professional orchestras are obviously used for them.) You could use the same concept while trying to write up an adventure, as well. Think of how you want the adventure to go, high paced, slow and personal, meeting a king, and pick some music to fit the bill.

I suggest if a person really wants to get to know their character have them find a theme song. Not necessarily to play during a game, but to give not only the player, but the rest of the group, and idea of how this character roles.

Happy Gaming!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Finder's Guild of Bloodhelm

(So just a quick note...sorry I haven't posted for a bit, but with no power, it's hard to blog!)
The Finder's Guild of Bloodhelm looks like a small library, tended by studious librarians and kept very neat and tidy. But looks can be deceiving. The Finder's Guild, is just that, a place to find people and things. Though prices are high they always find their man or object, if such a thing can be found.

They use location magic, research and good old fashioned snooping to locate what needs to be found. Though the Finder's Guild is good at their job, they only find the information or location. They only retrieve something if paid quite a bit extra. A great deal extra.

The building is two stories, with a small selection of books, a casting room, dinning hall, and interrogation room. People must show loyalty for five years before they are given all but the simplest of chores or told any secrets of the order. Any can be part of the Finder's Guild since all sorts of talents are needed for this line of work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Expanded Time Line 47

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Snakes boil up from underground caverns near Karroon. Most are harmless, but many people are injured by snake bites. People climb into the unknown caverns and many are lost, but rumors of an underground city spread.

The Emperor of Ariella is attacked by assassins. He is fatally wounded and his young son, Titanous, who's 20, becomes Emperor. He looks to his mother for guidance and a bounty is put on his father's assassins' heads. He plans on following in his father's footsteps to expand the Empire slowly, but steadily.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fire Flash, King of the Dragons

Fire Flash was (and still is) the first of the Gate Dragons. Born to a flesh and bone dragon, he was the last true dragon upon Martapa. He was originally saved as a pup by Targon as his siblings and mother were killed by ogres and mercenaries. The God of Magic placed him as a pup in a safe immortal realm where he stayed until the Time of the Chosen.

He helped open the Gate of the Gods to summon the Gods to the mortal plane then became bond mate to Elemental Storm, who he lost tragically twenty years later. After the Chosen died he continued to search for her and still searches for her in the present time.

Fire Flash hates Black Wizards, ogres and the oppression of the weak. He is the most likely to socialize with mortals of all his kin, but he is the one who picks the place and time, not the other way around.

Fire Flash is a platinum hued dragon, with a flash of fire red upon his belly scales. He carries very little with him, except several ragged feathers tied with leather to his left horn, said to be a gift from Amber Blackwolf. He's larger then most wealthy manors, (in modern terms he's about 3/4 of a football field in length, from tip of his nose to the base of his tail) and is not afraid to use his bulk to help others.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pets of Martapa

As I look at my lazy cats lounging next to me as I try and be creative, I realize, you know what, even characters need pets. Here are some ideas for pets for your wandering adventurers:

The most common, of course, would be dogs and cats. Cats might be a little harder being on the road so much, but maybe they like to ride on horses or hang in a backpack. I've had some weird cats (including one that fetched like a dog and heeled better then some dogs) and it could be possible.

Parrots or other birds...Maybe your player wants that pirate look.

Some more fantastical animals might be pixie dragons, giant spiders, even a wolf. Let their imagination soar, though rein them in, as well. Giving them something to care about might give you something to do an adventure about later.

Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extended Time Line 46

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This year sees many Gods walking the realms, or at least believers think so. Targon, Aiyana, Shade, and even Lokar appear at random places through out Martapa, speaking with followers and giving them guidance if they have lost their way. Tithes increase at temples because of the sightings.

Mass migrations of swallows cause good crops in areas usually hit hard by bugs. The farmers of some areas call this the "Year of the Swallow" and leave offerings for the small birds and Wesa in hoping the huge flocks come back to stay next year.

Ruins are found of the coast of Calabay when the water recedes lower then normal. Scholars from all over go to investigate.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Seeress

Many people claim to be seers, it's a good way to make a profit if you know how to work the system, but few really are. The owner and operator of the Seeress in Bloodhelm is no exception. Though she is a mage of some power, she doesn't have the insight which true seers have. Madam Nala uses illusions, divination spells, and other little cantrips to give her customers what they want. She doesn't give specifics, but works her magic both with real magic and convoluted words that only the people who are truly listening will here the truth.

When a customer comes she tells them to wait for a moment then casts a divination spell in another room to see who there and how their life is going. Then she'll break down their disbelief by telling them something about their life that only they would know. After that she uses magical cantrips to put on a show which makes the mark believe that Nala really is seeing the future.

She's only had a few people come back and try to harm her for her false words, but that is why she keeps several large bouncers at her beck and call and her small estate in the richer part of town is well warded and guarded against intrusion. Though Nala has always wished for a true vision, she's never had one and she just keeps working her magic to make her money to keep her comfortable lifestyle.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Justin the Fair

Though I portray the Empire of Ariella as evil, it was actually a God send after the War of the Chosen. Justin the Fair made most of it possible.

This young man of only about twenty winters at the time Shaniko was vanquished, was a thinker and a doer. He wanted to help his fellow people and he liked to think of new ways to do so. He gathered the survivors of the monastery and the support staff around the area and said they had to work together if they were survive. He then negotiated with nearby tribes and groups of people who needed help as well and slowly the Empire came to shape. It was only a few, small cities at first, but with his wisdom and strength, Justin was able to gather a small Empire within twenty years, one he ruled fairly and the people adored him. Of course there were detractors, but Justin listened to them as well, even if he didn't always heed their words.

Justin was dark skinned with short, cropped hair (how many of the legions wear their hair today in memory of Justin). His eyes were a dark brown and there was always a smile upon his face, despite the hardships he faced. He wore the typical outfit found in the Empire now (togas and pallas), though not nearly as elaborate as the Emperor wears his now. He carried a short sword and was very proficient in the short bow. He married a lovely lady named Tensa and they had five children, all boys, though it was said Justin always wished for a girl to spoil.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Taxing Your Characters

As I finish up my own taxes (yes, I actually do my own taxes) I realized, wouldn't your player characters also be taxed in their own little world. Why yes, but you don't usually worry about it because it slows down play. Slowing down play equals not so much fun, thus we don't usually do it. But here are some reasons you may want to do so.

One, the characters have more money then you really want floating around in your campaign. The feudal system was known for being harsh and taking what it wanted. The characters are flaunting money by buying things usually reserved for royalty, then they will be noticed by the nearest tax officials. They will come calling and ask for their share. It doesn't have to be a huge percentage, because if the player characters have a large amount of money it will add up quick. And if they don't pay, they officially become outlaws. Do they really want to give up that cushy position as the the Baron's protection force just over a small tax?

And what if they have just too many magic items? They could be taxed every time they go into a city, of course! Have a city with a gold piece per magic item tax. It will be annoying at first, but will start syphoning off some gobs of money after awhile. Maybe enough to have them sell their magic items they really don't need.

But you also can use it just illustrate a point. Maybe taxes are too high in an area and the characters have to pay it too. Maybe they will see it as an injustice for the poor and try to make that right. And adventure hook all in itself!
Happy Writing

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Starting Areas for Your Campaign

Starting a new campaign is always hard. Trying to figure out how to get characters together or if they just know each other. Trying to figure out how much magic you want. Determining who the bad guy or opposition will be. These are all key things for a successful campaign. Another is starting areas, because this will help shape a lot of the discerns you make.

I'll be honest, I started in Bloodhelm for one reason, one of my characters was coming from another continent so I needed a port. I didn't put much thought into it and that hurt my campaign a little, though not badly. But Bloodhelm wasn't a bad spot to start. I had plenty of area around Bloodhelm to find ruins (dungeons), lots of monsters roaming the country side and a port to bring in more trouble. There were colleges (for those who needed training and research) and lots of places to restock. The best part was that I had made the House itself sort of dark so if I wanted to add a little more intrigue (which I did) then I had some right at hand.

If you use pre-existing campaign settings, do some research. Will the area you are going into really work for your campaign? My husband and I have drawn our children into the roleplaying and have been using the Pathfinder Inner Sea setting. It's wonderfully detailed, but there are definitely areas we will not bring the kids. There are places ruled by demons that would be extremely inappropriate for the kids, even though my husband and I would love to go thump on demons. There also are areas with the slave trade. And though we have rescued slaves with the kids, we never go into the gory details of what happened to them before they were rescued.

If you are making your own up, make sure it's balanced. Don't put magic shops on every corner or have incredibly rich patrons who want the players to do simple tasks for gobs of gold. Make sure you have places to shop, some nearby adventuring areas (at least at first) and something to keep the characters in the area and not wandering the country side where your adventures aren't happening. In my campaign they stuck close to Bloodhelm (at first) because Tarkil had ties there and could get them information and supplies pretty easily. Eventually they started traveling the countryside, but they had a good foundation under them and returned to Bloodhelm (which I'd fleshed out so well) after each great adventure.

Happy adventuring!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

History of Shaniko

Shaniko is mentioned many times in by High King's Sword novels, but he is an integral part of my story arc. He is the father of the Black Wizards of Shaniko, though they were formed after his death. He was a wizard who hungered for the power that Kahalla offered him to simply take out all the other Gods in the pantheon. Shaniko felt he could do so, and so did the Gods, so they created the weapons for the Chosen to stop him.

Shaniko was born to a common elf and a Wolf Warrior. This was a horrible thing to begin with. To make this clear, Wolf Warriors were supposed to have children only with other Warriors (to ensure good, strong Warriors) or a love outside of the Clan had to be sanctioned, which Shaniko's parents were not. He was hidden away by his mother, who eventually was trapped by a wizard who stole Shaniko to use as his own apprentice.

Over a century or so, Shaniko learned great magic, along with great hate for his master, who he eventually killed. His power was so great, Kahalla noticed him and came to him in avatar form to give him an offer of power. After that Shaniko worked not only his own will, but that of Kahalla. He raised his armies of undead, gathered his allies of ogres and other ghastly humanoids and then began to pick up the major cities of Tiana one by one, until only the Knights of Tridon on the west side remained.

It was here the Chosen were born and they fought hard and valiantly to kill Shaniko before he could take over the world.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Lay of the Land

This small little hole in the wall is an important part of Bloodhelm. A single story building made of wood and a little river rock, baring two windows (so as not to destroy the paper inside with unnecessary light), and a little slanted roof this plain building houses more knowledge then some libraries. Inside the owner, Thesan Happlepane, works his magic with inks and paper. This small, eccentric man was an explorer in his youth and loved maps to boot. Where ever he went, a map was sure to follow. He has ancient maps, new maps, and even maps of parts of the world no one dare explore. He loves to talk about each one as if they are a child, since he hand draws and paints each one.

Maps can be found on simple parchment to vellum, and even hide, if ordered in such a way. But they all come with a price. Thesan only has two apprentices, two grandchildren, who he trusts to do as good as work as he does, so maps take time. Depending on the area, maps begin at 10 gold ducats and skyrocket from there. If some one brings him a map he has never seen before he will be willing to copy it for free if he can keep a copy for himself.

Thesan is not intimidated by rich people and actually prefers adventurers like himself, often giving them as good as a deal as he can.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brother Clarence

Though few of the clerical orders take the vows of a monk, Brother Clarence took them with relish. At first it was to escape a failed relationship, but as he fell into the ways of the monk he began to enjoy the way of life more and more. As a monk there is little talking between monks, the life style is simple, with simple food and clothing, and no, they don't do Jackie Chan type moves. They spend much of their time copying sacred, and not so sacred, texts for temples of their faith, and do so for lay people for a fee to cover their sparse lifestyle. They do not marry and either sex can be a monk, though mostly males tend to be monks.

Brother Clarence, a scrawny human who gained no weight even in his later years, and stood no more then five foot high, was best known for his work "How to Quote History". Though supposedly just supposed to be a history text book for scholars, it also has passages to stir the moral thoughts of his readers. It was soon after Chaos and he wanted to make it clear to the followers of Catiana that even though they were neutral in thought, they needed to participate to help shape their world for everyone. He leaned more toward the light side of things, but he did want his fellow followers of Cataina to at least be part of the world in their neutrality, not just witness the world from the sidelines.

Brother Clarence eventually died at the ripe old age of 105, a very long life indeed for a human with many books of instruction under his belt, many of which are still used during the time of the High King's Sword.