Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trolls of Martapa

Everybody has heard of trolls under the bridge and nearly every culture has their version of a troll.  Well, here is mine.

Trolls are semi-intelligent, above animal intelligence but not to the point of humans or even ogres.  They stand around seven foot tall, are skinny, covered in fur and have tusks of varying lengths and colors.  Fur color can be green to blue, though some yellow and bronze have been seen.  The men have a topknot of hair, while females actually have full heads of hair.  Both keep knick-knacks (such as rocks and bones) in them.

They live in two types of groups.  One is the roving male pack.  These are usually younger males who have not found a "herd" of females yet and go from herd to herd trying to gain their own by challenging the males.  Rarely do they break into a herd, but if they do they usually kill all the children under a certain age, along with all the adult males.  Women are kept as prizes.

The other type is a family "herd".  This usually consists of several generations of females, their children, and two to five males, depending on the size of the herd.  The strongest male leads, though the others help him keep the herd.

Trolls live in crude lean-tos or caves.  They wear crude leathers, hunt game animals with crude spears, and live off berries and roots.  They can be taught to do more complex tasks, but it takes time.  They do not like humanoids of any type (they barely like each other) and will attack them on sight.

In game terms they should have the highest possible strength and constitution (and, yes, they should regenerate in some way), but their intelligence and wisdom should be at a bare minimum.  They should have survival (though you might want to give them a bonus because of low intelligence/wisdom) and tracking.  Hit points should be at the highest die type possible and can be scaled to fit your campaign level, though they should be at least one hit die higher then the players.

Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

History of the Transportation Circles

One of the interesting things the High King's Sword finds is a Transportation Circle, a magical ring which can deliver an person from one spot to another almost instantaneously.  This would be ubber powerful and kinda kill part of my story, so clearly they had to be destroyed in the present time.  Couldn't make it easy for my heroes, now could I?  But in the past these were life lines to the country of Tridon.

So how it works is there are magical circles placed stratigically all over Tridon (and Ariella).  Usually they are in or near major cities, but a few here and there are in remote locations.  To use the circles one has to have a magical nature (so mages, bards, priests, etc.) and be able to move the stones upon the "map board".  Words are spoken in the language of magic (basically "take me to [fill in the blank]) and then the people are magically transported to the new circle.

This is not an easy task and is tiring upon the mage or whom ever works the circle.  There is a "cooldown" time between uses, usually a half hour or so, and sometimes there is a mage (or other magic using person) stationed at the circles to do the transportation magic (because not everybody has a mage hanging around with them).

The High King maintains the ones in Tridon (before the time of the High King's Sword) and the Emperor maintains the ones in Ariella.  A person in charge of a circle can deny access so the Kingdom of Tridon can keep out the Empire's people and visa versa.

Around 500 years before the High King's Sword there was a tragic event which occurred while using the circle to the High King so he baned all use of the circles.  The protectors of the circles hoped his anger would pass with time, but eventually the circles fell out of use to the point no one remembered them.  Let your players find these with caution.  They will give them greater access to your world but could allow them to much power. Of course, if they haven't been used in 500 years there are so many things which could go wrong...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bloodhelm's Healers

This small building is usually crammed full of patients with aliments from broken bones to incureable diseases.  All temples offer healing, but most expect a good donation for the work.  Bloodhelm's Healers doesn't require any donation or fee, though the patients always leave what they can.  Run by Teaha Burnwell, this Priestess of Tinaka works with her fellow hodgepodge of healers from every faith daily to soothe the wounds of the poor.  They turn no one away, but there are always those who just can't be saved, which causes Teaha quite a bit of anguish.

The Healers are open from sunrise to sunset, though if there are still patients, Teaha and her helpers never turn anyone away.  Bloodhelm's guards are always watching the place to make sure that Teaha and her fellows are safe, for even this generous woman is in harms way at times.  The Lord of Bloodhelm finds this an excellent endeaver and though he does not do so openly (for he doesn't want to offend the temples) he supplies small, untraceable donations to the place.  Diseases begin in the poorest areas and he finds this slows, if not stops, the spread of such things in his city.

The players might interact with the Healers because they have a wound and are not in favor of a temple (or just out of money) or they may be a priest in need of some pentance.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sasha Strongbow

Sasha always loved the outdoors and learning about animals.  So when her uncle took her with him on one of his hunting expeditions she simply fell in love with the life of a tracker and guide.  She learned survival skills and tracks as if it were second nature.  She has never gotten lost yet doesn't carry one of those magical devices called a compass.  She has a house in Bloodhelm but she rarely stays there, using it only to be hired on for escorting caravans or hunting expeditions.

Sasha is in her mid-twenties, long, dark hair and a lithe figure.  She's isn't beautiful, but she is pleasant to look upon.  She always wears hunting leathers, carries a bow and shortsword, as well as a shortspear.  She makes her own arrows, carries a slim pack (though she always prepared for the worst) and has little in the way of common wealth, but is very happy.  She does have boots which hide her tracks if she wishes and a set of magical fire stones which always light a fire no matter the conditions.

Sasha could be used as a guide to find a certain location in the nearby wilds or as an escort for a caravan in your campaign.  Skill wise she should be maxed out (no matter the level) in survival, tracking, hunting, etc. (basically any outdoor type skills).  She should be proficient in the bow, spear, and shortsword (so pick her class accordingly).  She takes no guff from her employers and has been known to leave bad ones stranded in the wilds.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Problem Players

My whole family likes to roleplay.  It gets us together.  We talk about the day as the GM (whom ever it might be that week) is getting his monsters in a row.  We have fun playing our characters.  But I know that not all roleplaying groups have such a good time with all of their players.

Here are some of my suggestions to deal with problem players.

1) First off, talk to your player out of ear shot of the other players.  Talk to them about what ever the behavior issue is. (Bad mouthing other players, not following the rules about snacks, using inappropriate language.)  Tell them why you would like them to stop and tell them they are still wanted if they can change the behavior.  Sometimes people don't even realize they are doing things like this and are more then willing to change the behavior if someone tells them in a non-threatening way.

2)If talking in private doesn't work, start dinging them during the game.  If they are stealing all the loot (it's been known to happen) suddenly some of it is cursed.  If they keep bad mouthing a player character (or the player) suddenly the largest man in town wants to take him or her on.  Sometimes picking on their character will get the point across more then talking to them.

3) Have the group talk to them.  If the private talk won't work, maybe peer pressure will.

4) As a last resort you may have to ask the person not to return.  With kids I can't have people who swear and talk about male/female interactions in detail at the table.  (These can happen with just adult people presence, but you have to be considerate of all those at the table.)  If a person can't change their habits and they mentally harm others in the group, no one is going to have fun.  Make sure it is fine with the whole group, but as the GM you take soul responsibility for who sits at your table.

Happy Gaming.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

History of Stormvale

Stormvale was originally a small farming village just west of the Tsalagi Mountains in the time of Chaos.  Every year simple farmers would live, die and grow their crops.  Sometimes they would be robbed by ogres, other years there would be plenty.  It was a meager existence, but one that a person could live with.

When Peter, one day to be High King, was born there, there had been a happy peace for nearly three generations.  But Peter and his friends wanted to see action and thus set out on their adventure which led to the creation of Tridon.  When Peter did become High King he made Stormvale his capital because he loved his boyhood home.

Stormvale the city doesn't actually sit where the village was, but a little to the south of it.  (The Temple to the Gods actually sits where the village was.)  Most of the families who were originally from Stormvale became important figures in Stormvale itself and have a long history intertwined with the city.  Many of the public officials come from the original Stormvale stock, though all were displaced for awhile during the time of the Chosen.

The very heart of Stormvale is the original, small capital and many of the stone buildings bare some, if not all, their original architecture.  Peter had aqueducts and sewers put in, as well as magical stone lamps and wide lanes in the hopes his city would grow.  A wall originally went around the city, but as the city grew the wall couldn't keep up.  Thus the inner city has a wall around it, but each generation has tried to build a wall around the entire city and has yet to do so.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Calabay Merchants

This merchant operation is based out of Calabay and has stores and stations in all the major ports along the west and south coasts.  Starting as many other merchants as a simple traveling merchant by wagon, this merchant company has grown so big it owns several sea going vessels as well as fleets  of wagons which travel all around Martapa.  They specialize in items from the north, but have expanded to bring items from all over Martapa including from the Empire of Ariella.

Special orders can be made, but have to be worth the effort for the merchants.  Delivery time is always within a two day window, guaranteed, or your money back.

Calabay Merchants is owned by the family Haystack, the business usually run by the men of the family, though the women are usually the bookkeepers and clerks.  They are always looking for caravan guards, sailors, and professionals to fill their ranks so this might be a good way to get a player character from the north to the south (or visa versa).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Landon Meadowview

Landon is a wandering bard who roams the streets of Bloodhelm playing for a coin or two.  He stands around six feet in height, with dark hair and pale complexion.  His eyes are a dark green, his face handsome, and his clothes sturdy but fine.  He carries a long dagger at his him, along with a lute and pan pipes.  He calls his home a small building near the docks but spends very little time there.

Landon will traverse Bloodhelm all day, singing songs, telling stories and talking to people.   Though he makes enough to get by, his true purpose is to gather informationn for the Society of the King, a group of people trying to bring the true High King to power.  He looks into leads of who the High King might be, people who might help the High King and those who might cause him harm.

Landon might be a good jump off npc to use to get your players interested in helping the High King if you are playing in the time of the High King's Sword.  He will not tell them much, at first, but if given a reason to trust them they might turn them in the right direction.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Giants of Martapa

Although I've never really touched on giants in my novels, in the mountains and empty plains live a people so large they would make my Akicitia look kitten sized.  Rarely do these "giants" show themselves to travelers or to civilization and for the most party civilization stays away from where "giants" live.

There are many different "types" of giants, depending on where they live, but the most common are mountain and plains giants.  Mountain giants live in big caves in the highest parts of the mountains.  They live off mountain goats, large birds and other large mountain animals.  They typically enslave skiegs to do the work of making their clothes, cooking, and gathering food.  They live in groups of five to ten (any more then that and they begin to argue to the point of killing each other).  The typical mountain giant clan is run by a male and his mate (though she has little status without him).  Mountain Giants live forty to fifty years and have four to six young in their life time.

Plains giants roam in bands of up to twenty, carry all their gear with them, hunt the large game animals of the area and sometimes keep lesser beings as their slaves.  They are usually dressed in leathers and like to carry shiny objects they find (or take) as badges or decorations.  The strongest rules (whether female or male) only as long as they are stronger then everyone else.

Giants stand around ten feet tall.  The mountain ones are usually pale in complexion, the plains ones dark.  Mountain giants have white hair, plains have brown.  All males sport beards after they become adults and decorate them with small prizes and shiny baubles.  Weapons are usually clubs, though sometimes they can find human polearms that work just as well.  They carry some wealth, usually from humans or other mortals who get in their way, but do not use it to trade.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Bad Guys

In my stories, the Black Wizards of Shaniko, mercenaries and monsters are the major bad guys.  But maybe you want to travel in my world but not use my bad guys.  Here are some ideas on how to make some reaccuring bad guys that you can use for your plots.

1)Make a character.  Yep, just use a character sheet, fill out the info, and make him or her the appropriate level.  Don't forget to give them peons and minions...This is a little time consuming but you will have a foe who is worthy of your players and one they are very likely to remember.

2) Give a monster a character class.  This is tricky because not only do you have to add the class level, but their monster "Challenge Rating" as well so as not to make them over powerful...again, don't forget the minions.

3)Come up with your own organizations to haunt your player characters.  Just because I made up this world doesn't mean you can't tweak it a bit.  My husband and I do it all the time with other worlds we play in, depending on what we need.

Happy roleplaying!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sweets and Things

This small, but delicious smelling shop is a fixture in all little kids (and big kids) dreams.  The Bradsons have run this store for almost as long as the city of Bloodhelm has stood.  Everything from pastries to small chocolates are found here, from very expensive to nothing more then a copper penny.

The current owner, James Bradson, and his wife, Greta, love to make the treats and watch children's faces light up, though they do have to make money.  Nobles will order boxes of treats for parties or for breakfast (sweet pastries for breakfast are all the rage at the moment).  Children will save their pennies for such a treat.  Even the mage Duncan has been known to come by and buy boxes of treats to share with children wondering by.

This is more a roleplaying opportunity for  your characters then a vital part of Bloodhlem.  Maybe someone in the party has a crush on someone in the party or in Bloodhelm, or seriously courting someone.  This is the place to go to butter them up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shar Spender

Shar Spender is the co-owner of the Sweet Water Trading Company, based out of Weatherworn.  Her brother, Buster, is her co-owner.  Shar is a spit fire of a woman, in her late twenties and a beauty to behold.  Her hair is curly, long and a dark brown, almost black.  Her figure is more motherly then curvy, but still alluring in her own right.  She stands just around six feet, but even if she didn't tower over even some men, she can not be ignored when angry.

She runs the books and the trades, while her brother actually goes with the caravans to deliver or pick up.  Magic makes it possible for her to negotiate prices without having to be there, which is good in her eyes, especially since Buster has little number for figures and she has little love for travel.  She takes no guff from anyone, especially anyone who thinks she can't do something because she's a woman.

The House of Weatherworn sees this family run business (now in its fourth generation) as the House merchant and calls them friend.  So a slight done against Sweet Water is a slight against the House in their eyes.  Both Buster and Shar have been known to dine with the lady of the House on occasion.

If the party is looking for work or looking to have something shipped when they are near or in Weatherworn, this might be a good NPC to bring in for such things.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Writing

As the school year, both college and primary, comes to an end for the summer, if you are a parent, try to get some time to yourself to write, (or make up that next adventure).  As the mother of two elementary students, time during the summer for yourself is precious.  Here's a few ideas on how to sneak in your writing time.

For me, my free time is after my  husband leaves for work and before my kids bound out of bed.  It doesn't leave me a whole lot of time, but sometimes it's enough.  I use to try and get chores done during this time, but that can happen when the kids are up.  Quiet time is needed for writing.

Those day camps...for me driving my kids to day camp and then home then back again is not an option.  I live too far from most camps (yes, I live in the boonies) to drive back and forth like that.  So for me, I grab a pad of paper and use this unproductive time for productive writing time.  There are some days I get whole chapters written because of this.

When you go to the park with the kiddos...I take something on paper to edit.  Or again with the note book and try to outline.  It's too hard to try and write while you are watching the kids at the park, but editing a paragraph at a time isn't that difficult.

Most important thing, keep on writing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summers Birth

Summer's Birth is a holiday celebrated by some, usually with a large bonfire, a big dinner and dancing.  Marriages take place on this day in more rural areas or promises of marriage are exchanged.  Sometimes small gifts are exchanged, depending on the traditions of some areas, such as baskets or baby blankets.  This is a time to relax with friends and neighbors, as well as family.

Mothers and wives like to outdo themselves with cooking and some places have cooking competitions to go with the festivities.  Men also might have firewood cutting competition or horse shoeing competitions to show how fit they still are.

Held on the first day of summer, (or there abouts)  most people look forward to the fun, no matter if they are rich or poor.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Richard's Armor and Leathers

This fine store in Bloodhelm is a newer addition.  The building was once used to store feed, but the business went under.  Richard is not a blacksmith or a leatheworker, but buys from distant armor smith of renown and sells their gear at a mark up to those with discerning taste.  His prices are one and a half times the listed book price but the armor is always good quality.

Richard is a middle aged human, dresses in standard affair for a merchant in Bloodhelm, and doesn't overspend.  He is courting a young woman at one of the local taverns and hopes to ask for her hand soon.  Any help in this department may endear the customer to Richard.

Richard loves tales of valor and heroics so he might give a good discount to those who know how to spin a good tale for him.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Romulus was the 2nd Emperor of Ariella, first son born to the Emperor.  He was a strict man, demanding of himself what ever he required of his followers.  He is the one who had the palace construction started, though he never saw the completed fruits of his labor, dying at the age of 45 in a battle against ogres.

Romulus was a handsome man, dark skinned like all Ariellans, and he had a habit of shaving his head because hair made his head sweet when he wore a helm.  He also the one who designed the armor the Emperor's troops wear in the time of the High King's sword.  He loved function, but he liked to show off his pride for his country, as well.

Romulus married Susan, a daughter of one of his scholars and together they had five children.  He was ever faithful, not straying as some of Romulus' descendants were known to do.  He shaped many of the modern laws now on the books and gave rise to the expansion of the empire.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Sea Festival

Around the year 2100 AC the House of Calabay was just starting to make great headway when the Leader at the time was nearly killed in a ship accident.  But he was saved, not by his own people, but by sea elves.  Because of this, the House of Calabay celebrates each year the Sea Festival in memory of this great day.

Gifts of food and shells are left along the shores for the sea elves, which sometimes gather them up before the sea washes them away.  Great feasts and dancing happen upon the beach and even the nobility run around the beaches with no shoes on and join in the fun.  Criminals are forgiven their crimes (if they do not involve murder or treason) and sometimes debts are forgiven as well.

Small gifts are given to those a person deems close and some men like to purpose on this day, hoping to have the blessing of the sea elves themselves.