Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tapestries of Spying

These tapestries, usually very elaborate with people gallivanting about hunting, or singing, or making war, were once what every Leader wanted in the castles of their rivals.  There was a link between one of the figures on the tapestries and a stone the user would have in their possession.  The figure usually had a smaller, matching gem sewn somewhere into the cloth.  The user of the stone could activate the magic once every day for an hour, or sacrifice a few days for additional hours.  For every day it has to recharge another hour of spying may be used.  The user can see and hear everything the figure in the tapestry can see and  hear and nothing else.  The figure can not move, but does have 180 degree view from its position on the tapestry.  After the user is finished he can do nothing strenuous for an equal amount of time he spied because of the draining effects of the magic.  (In game terms there is a huge minus to attack, dodge, spell casting, etc.)  There are few of these tapestries still in exsistance, and ones with the matching user stone is even rarer.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Bard College of Calabay

This wonderful college in Calabay is mentioned many times in my books, because Kenna hopes to one day go there.  Here is a small tour of the college.

The college is set in one of the older keeps which once housed House Calabay, overlooking the sea.  It has a hundred rooms for students and teachers, twelve large and twenty small class rooms and a huge courtyard.  There is dinning hall, kitchen, ballroom and servants' quarters, as well.  An old dungeon serves as storage for manuscripts and instruments, temperature controlled by magic.  There is always a dozen or more masters on hand, along with double that in journeymen and at least forty apprentices at any given time.  Not only does the college teach about music, but they are charged, by the House of Calabay, to teach the basics of reading, writing, and history, along with mathematics to any child in the area who wishes it, whether rich or poor.  If this is not done, then Calabay will no longer pay the college, money the college desperately needs.  Classes if this nature are usually taught by journeymen.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Matron Maggie

In the city of Goldleaf, Matron Maggie is Queen.  Oh, there is actually a House Leader and his wife, but Maggie runs the hall of the Goldleaf like the High King runs Tridon.  Even the House Leaders and heirs ask how high when she says jump.  Matron Maggie has been part of the household of house Goldleaf for at least four generations and is still going strong.  Some say she is part elf for she doesn't look a day over sixty and gets around better then some young people.  She runs a tight ship, making sure that everything is stocked, that meals are presented on time and linens and clothes are always clean and ready for her lordship and his family.  She does not take kindly to people slacking at their duties and carries a big, wooden spoon to whack people with if they do something stupid.  Despite her dour demeanor, everyone loves her.  Once, when she got sick, the whole castle fell into disarray and the House Leaders fear that they will never be right once she does pass on to the gods.  Despite her age she has thick, dark brown hair, bright brown eyes and is fairly trim, though a little set with age.  She dresses in plain grays and blues, despite the fact the House colors are blue and gold.  She says gold is too bright to sneak up on her charges.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Notebook of Fun

So after a bit, your campaign is going to have lots of notes, side adventures and plots and character info.  Here's my suggestion.  Have a two inch (or bigger) binder with all the following in it so you have easy access to everything you need to know:

1) A running plot.  I have a spiral (though loose paper works, as well) where I right down my running plot.  Not necessarily the nuts and bolts (though that's in there as well), but the main idea.  So my characters in my current campaign are looking for a series of artifacts.  I have written down where they are, the order their patron will send them to get them and notes as to what they  have found so far.  I also have a list of sub plots (like introducing followers) just so I know what I need to throw in at some point.

2) Characters.  I like to have copies of the character sheets where I can look at them and plan something special for that character or try to get them to use a skill they have put  points in but never get to use. Plus, I don't really want to throw creatures at them that they have nothing they can use to stop them.

3) NPCs and major bad guys.  Got to have the people and villains they are interacting with somewhere.  This way they are all together and you don't have to scramble to make a new one because you lost the old one.

4) Treasure lists.  Character sheets get lost, it happens.  And your copy may not be up to date.  So this way you can always go back and tell your player, yes, you had this item.  But this also holds true that the character may not have had said item.

5) Maps and graphing paper.  Players like to know where they are going and where they have been.  So having old maps as well as graphing paper to lay out new ones is always a good thing.

6) List of random names.  For those NPC's that just pop up during the game.

7) Extra character sheets.  For those times your players just can't manage to stay alive.

Happy Gaming

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stone Bed of Sleep

This sounds comfortable, right?  The Stone Bed of Sleep was made to let people who were deathly ill to sleep in a sort of hibernation until someone of magical strength could come and help them.  The people of Janesh had at least one of these in each village, town or city, so those who could be helped with a little healing, could be helped.  The Bed is magically enchanted to put a person in stasis for however long they are upon the bed.  This could be minutes are years.  Though capable of saving a person's life, not every person wanted it used upon them and chose to die from their wounds or illness.  It can not cure anything and if the person is dead, the bed will not bring them back to life.

The mechanics of this item is simply a stasis spell, (or the roleplaying systems equivalent) cast upon the stone bed and anyone who is placed upon the bed is placed in the stasis spell.  The cost is enormous, as is the magical cost.  Don't let your players just make one of these everywhere they go.  It takes blood from a dragon or other magical creature, as well as months of magical incantations by mages or healers.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This small, insignificant village sits on the eastern side of the Tsalagi mountains north of Devonshire's pass a day's ride.  The people here are farmers and huntsman and scratch their living out of the earth and try to stay out of the way of the Black Wizards.  The main village is surrounded by a ring of earth works and sharpened wooden poles in hopes of keeping out not only wild animals, but marauders and wizards as well.  The farmland is outside the protection and men have guards posted at all times when they work the fields to ensure they are not attacked unawares.  There are a forty or so houses, small affairs meant for sleeping and eating in, but not much more.  Most of the sewing and larger activities take place outside in the summer and good weather and in the communal house in bad weather.  The communal house is right up against the mountain cliffs that loom overhead.  Beneath the communal house is a cellar and a tunnel.  The tunnel is natural, leading to a small cave on the other side of the Tsalagi Mountains near Willowdale.  This tunnel is kept clear in case the villagers need to escape.  There are many caves in the cliffs near by and all would serve as good hiding spots in case of emergencies.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stardust and Fierygold

These two dragons only appear through out the High King's Sword books on occasion and for most of it, they aren't even in dragon form.  But these two are the gold Gate Dragons tied to Amber Blackwolf, and Fire Flash's brother and sister, for lack of a better term.  Created by the power of the Gift of the Gods and the blood of the Chosen, these two began the line of gold dragons which now populate Martapa once more.  They are both quiet, retrospective types and tend to love to hide in their forests in the form of wolves, not dragons.  They love wolves because they remind them of Amber, dead and gone almost three thousand years.  Even their children prefer the form of wolves, though they love the freedom of being a dragon, as well.

Neither are as big as Fire Flash, but they are both the largest gold dragons on all of Martapa.  Stardust is streaked with greys and blues, while Fierygold is streaked red, like his brother Fire Flash.  They stayed to help raise Fire Flash's brood after Elemental Storm disappeared, but they went into hiding, just like the other dragons did after Amber died.  They have always helped humans and elves, alike, if they get the chance, but never if it puts their true identity at risk.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Family History

In my world of Martapa it really depends on who you are on how important you come from is.  For the common human peasant, you know who your grandfather's father was, but not much further back.  For nobility, there are probably books and books full of your ancestors linking you all the way back to the time of Peter or earlier.  Akicitia see knowing their family history as a mark of pride.  Krom could mark his family back to the time of the Chosen, at the very least, making him a descendant of Mahatalo himself.  A player needs decide if they want a long drawn out family tree or just one that can be traced back to grandpa.  Give rewards to those who figure it out, either way, with a good reason for both.  A Knight without a known history of family ties had better have a good reason, just as a peasant born character must have a good reason to know family ties back more then a dozen generations.  Was the Knight raised for some deed he did the crown?  Was the peasant descended from some High King's bastard and they were extremely proud of that fact?  It all ties back to having a good background for your characters, because good backgrounds not only round out the character but give a good GM something to play with while planning out adventures.

Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Horseshoes of Flight

Flight is not unheard of in Martapa.  After all, people use to fly upon dragons and pegasi.  Most flight in the time of the High King's Sword, though, has to be magical.  About two hundred years prior there was a Knight who took the winged horse as his standard and thus really wanted his mount to fly.  He consulted some mages and after some research and lots of gold passing hands the mages created him a set of magical horseshoes which allowed his mount to fly.  He would charge onto battle fields from above, frighting foes and winning the day.  It was said, that one day he was in a battle and his horse was slain as he tried to fly in and he was killed, as well.  The fate of the horseshoes are unknown, but many copies have popped up around the realm through the years.  The horse must be fitted with four shoes, all enchanted together, for the flying to work.  And when the horse is told to fly the first few times the riders must make a difficult riding check since the horse will not be happy about being off the ground.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interpreter of Bloodhelm

With Bloodhelm being a port city, there are lots of different languages spoken. Common, dwarven, Ariellen, they are all there, and not everyone can speak every language.  So there is a small group of people, trained in many languages and dialects who hire out their services not only to the incoming passengers on vessels, but to those who need documents translated or deals negotiated.  The Interpreter is a group of about two dozen people who know at least three languages each.  Their leader, Joseph Redbeard, knows a dozen languages himself.  Many people use their services not only for conversation translation, but for translating books and other items they might find in their adventures.  Services range from a couple gold ducats to hundreds, depending on how demanding the need is.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Old Crone of Willowdale

Hunched over, grey haired, wrinkles which abound.  These are the first things you notice about the Old Crone, but it is the wisdom in her eyes which stays with you.  The Old Crone lives alone, though her granddaughter often visits from another, nearby village, but tends to the hurts and aches of those who live in or near Willowdale.  She speaks softly, is kindly to all, but can be hard if need be.  Bandits have tried to take the village on occasion and none have walked away because of the Old Crone's magic.  People of the village adore her and will not allow any harm to come to here.  Though she can't move fast, she gets around to collect her herbs for healing and to see her patients.  The village sees she's fed and has everything she needs since so many times she has meant the difference between life and death for so many of their families.

In truth, the Old Crone, is a disguised elf name Canatha.  She is there to keep track on the outside world for the elven city of Qalataqa.  Her daughter, Cynthia, comes to visit on occasion, so when the Old Crone "dies" they have a well trusted person to slip in as the next elven spy.  Canatha loves her humans and each death is hard on her and each birth is a joy.  She takes the safety of "her" village seriously and will not let anything happen to it or the humans there if she can help it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Keeping Items Reasonable

So your mage wants to make a ring of unlimited teleportation?  That warrior, he wants a sword of kill everything +5?  The priest wants an ankh of turn everything?  You know you can't let your players have anything like this because it would ruin your campaign, so here are some things to keep in mind when letting your players make or have crafted magical items.

1) Is it appropriate for their level?  Obviously if they are making it they have to have the spells to even make the darn thing, but you can always goof and let them buy something above their level.  Check similar spells and items appropriate for their level to see if it about the same power.

2) Is it appropriate for the character?  The mage should not have a sword of dragon slaying.  They could make one, if the have the right spells and ingredients, for a fellow player's warrior, but they should not be getting one for themselves.

3) How powerful is it?  Artifacts should definitely be handled with care because they should be powerful, but think what a sword of dragon slaying would do to your campaign if your main bad guy is a dragon?  Balance is essential.

4)  Now that you've deemed it appropriate how much is it going to cost them?  If it is truly powerful, but alright for their level, make the components hard to find or ubber expensive.  The gathering of components can be several adventures all in itself.

Happy Gaming

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mapping Your World

Here are some ideas for mapping your roleplaying world, whether you are doing fantasy, space or even cowboys and Indians.

1) Graph paper.  For those who just need a quick sketch of an area, graph paper is the way to go.  Square or hexagon works fine.  If you are doing a dungeon map, each square (or hexagon) should represent 5 feet (or what ever is your games break up for movement).

2) AD&D's World Builder's Guidebook.  This is an older book, 1990's I think, with specialized graphing sheets for everything from the world view to village view.  It also has hints on how to make a world from the climate to the gods.

3) Computer programs.  We used the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas for awhile.  It had Forgotten Realms maps on it, but you could also make your own.  I'm sure they have better mapping programs now, for such things.  AutoCAD might also work, if you are into computer programs.  My son uses Excel and just makes the cells five foot spacing.

Happy Gaming

Monday, August 5, 2013

Random NPCs

I think I've touched on NPCs in the past but here are some points to remember for those NPCs you need for your adventures:

1) Have a list of handy names for both girls and boys, and if you are really inventive, make sure you have names for different races as well.

2) A list of quick descriptions and equipment can never hurt.  Players like to hear what someone looks like to make snap decisions about how good or bad a person is.

3) For major NPCs make sure to have name, description, equipment lists and even some background to help you with interaction with the players.  If they are to be major players you want them to make a major impression.

4)  Keep track of your NPCs.  I had a player who loved to talk to that barkeep or traveling bard when ever they met again and he knew exactly what they looked like and their names.  Players never forgive those mistakes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The High King's Succession

The High King has always been and will always be a powerful position in Tridon.  Being the ruler of all of Tridon and the Lord of 12 (once 16) Houses and so many standing armies brings power.  But what happens when a High King dies?  There are several options for succession.

1) The High King's eldest son.  He is always the first choice, though there have been several High King's that have passed to a second or third son.  There has only been one time this has proved problematic, but it has been done.

2) The High King's eldest daughter.  Twice in the history of Tridon, the High King has been a High Queen.  One was Lady Elizabeth who ruled for thirty years before passing crown on to her son.  She fought along side her father because she had no brothers.  The second was the youngest daughter of the High King Joseph, who's sons fought amongst themselves, eventually killing each other and leaving only  her.  She married to an heir of House Weatherworn and let her husband rule in her name.  He did rule fairly, but was happy to pass it on to their son when he was of age.

3) A Leader of one of the Houses, chosen by the Council of Leaders.  Sometimes the High King dies without heirs.  It's happened three times in recorded history.  But when the Leader is chosen, the Council tries to find a Leader who may have Peter's blood in him.  At the time of the High King's sword, a fourth occurrence, the Houses can't agree and thus why there is so much turmoil.

4) The last option is to find someone of the blood.  This has not be exercised, but most certainly could cause civil war if not handled correctly.