Bat in the Attic

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A blog on 40 years of gaming and Sandbox Fantasy.Robert Conley
Updated: 1 month 1 week ago

Small Islands of Wonder, Society and Magic Part II

Sun, 03/21/2021 - 14:20

Part I

In my previous post I discussed the status of magic at the beginning of history within my setting, the Majestic Fantasy Realms. Here I will discuss the aftermath of the Dawn War and how it gave rise to the first great era of magic. 

Prior to the Dawn War all magic was arcane and ritual based. The gods were known as the Lords of Creation and functioned as guides, teachers and coaches rather than as a source of divine mystery. Their roles were to prepare the two races, humans and elves, for the roles they were to play in the newly created world. 

As recounted in the last post, the demons were imprisoned in the Abyss with the chromatic crystals and as a result magic in a concentrated form was cycled throughout the world. Providing a source of energy to cast spells within seconds instead of minutes.

Faith, Signs and Portents.

The Lords of Creations decided that their close presence to the mortal races was one of the primary causes for the rise of the Demons. After the Abyss was sealed, they withdrew from the world and only interacted with those who followed their philosophies. Communicating through signs and portents, they sought to teach through faith instead of direct instruction. In doing this they changed from being the Lords of Creation into gods with religion and faiths.

Their clerics became the first true spellcasters in the world. Those who developed or had the strong faith found they had power as well. They were given divine insight to use the new sources of magical power coursing throughout the world. Through meditation and prayer they could memorize specific spells. Developing the forms in their mind. Then while casting filling the forms with magical energy and finally releasing the form and energy as a spell. As the cleric became more experience their divine insight developed to allow them to cast more potent spells. 

However, power had a price, and that price was belief and faith. Belief in what they were taught and faith that it was right and real and not madness or the whisper of demons rising from the Abyss. Without faith and belief, there was no divine insight, without divine insight the ability to cast spell within seconds disappeared.

As religions developed and took hold, the Cleric became the dominate spellcaster overshadowing the old arcane ritual casters. A major contributing factor was the Shield of Faith, which made Clerics invulnerable against spells and rituals cast without a god's divine insight unless the spell manifested something in the physical world like fire, ice, stone, or lightning. In many cultures the ways of the old ritual based arcane spellcasting was lost. Except for one group, the Elves and their allies.

The Elves and Wizardry

Within a few generations only the elves preserved any memory of the time before the Dawn War. Like other cultures, the god also only spoke to the elves in signs and portents. But among the elves and their allies it did not developed into a full blown religion but into various philosophies one committed their lives too. Those who committed to one of the divine philosophies also received the divine insight to learn and cast spells within seconds. 

But because elves still remembered, they and their allies also still practiced and more important continue to develop the old arcane rituals. They learned how to cast rituals with divine insight separate from the forms they created in their mind with their daily meditations and prayers. They could cast divine rituals without a having to write them into ritual book.

And the elves and their allies developed a way to casting arcane spells within seconds called wizardry. Through a complex series of meditations, rituals, and study, Wizards could internalize spell forms to fill with energy to cast at a moment’s notice. However, it took practice and further study to be able to do their more than once a day and with more potent spells. Even then the Wizard were very limited in how many spells that could be internalize and the process of internalizing a form took years even decades. An issue that wasn’t present with divine insight. 

Wizardry did not spread far beyond the elves and cultures allied with the elves for two reasons, the laborious study involved which was fine for immortal elves but took up much of a human’s lifetime. The second and more tragic, was that many rejected interaction with the elves and their allies when elves began to contact others cultures again a thousand years after the Dawn War. The worldview of the elves and their allies was seen as godless to cultures dominated by religion. 

Hedge Mages and Arcanists

Magic in concentrated form flowed through everyday life. It would manifest in physical objects known as viz only to dissipate at dawn the next day. Creatures, some known as monsters, developed ways of harnessing magical energies to better survive. Outside of the elves, religion and the clerics were dominate but over the centuries people both within a faith and outside were continually rediscovering arcane magic and ritual spellcasting. Most times it was a curiosity and limited to a few weak rituals. In some cultures an underground tradition of Hedge Mages developed who lived on the fringes of society and passed down hard won rituals from master to apprentice over generation. Mostly making a living by brewing potions and elixirs for the few who found them. When the culture’s religion found out about them the reaction was nearly always negative and many died after being called heretics and apostates. 

Some religions allowed orders of arcanists to develop and catalog arcane rituals under the strict supervision of the religious hierarchy. Arcanists were rarely a separate order but instead a specialty among scribes, librarians, and record-keeper. 

The Dawn of the Magic User

As the centuries rolled on and history unfolded, chance and circumstance allowed cracks to form in the dominance of magic by clerics. In the next post I will conclude this series by talking about the events that lead to the rise of the magic-user.

The MechanicsFor Swords and Wizardry the cleric is as written. I have a few additional wrinkles like the Shield of Faith which acts as a form of limited magic resistance in the Majestic Fantasy RPG. 
Viz is the same as spelled out in the Basic Rules for the Majestic Wilderlands RPG. One viz allows the cast to cast a 1st level spells without losing it from memory or using a spell slot (if a wizard, see below). It also reduces the cost of creating a magic item. But a spellcaster can only keep so much viz intact without it dissipating at dawn. Generally equal to half their level rounded down plus their intelligence or wisdom bonus.
The Wizards works similarly to the D20 Sorcerer where the spellcasters do not have to memorize spells but instead learn spells known and cast them any way they want until their spell slots are used up for the day.
For Swords and Wizardry I went with the following table instead the one with the D20. They can cast arcane rituals with a spell level equal to 1/2 the high level spell they can case (rounded down). So Wizard can begin to cast first level arcane rituals at 3rd level when they learn how to learn and cast 2nd level spells. 
Spells Per Day
Spell Known

Part 3
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Small Islands of Wonder, Magic and Society Part 1

Wed, 03/17/2021 - 14:16

On one of the posts I made on social media, Ian Borchardt created a great phrase for how I view magic's effect on the cultures of the Majestic Fantasy Realms.

One of the big problems is that magic in a lot of campaigns tends to be non-scalable, being focused in individuals. Thus I suspect that as a result the effects of magic would tend to cluster tightly, rather than spread through the society. Small islands of wonder in what is otherwise a less developed world (since there would be less incentive for overall development).

Over a decade ago I wrote a post speaking in general about some of issue surrounding magic and society.

Magic and Society (Feb 2010) 

I wrapped the post up with this.

There are a lot of dials here you can play with and the results is that many types of settings can result even when they share the same assumptions I am making. By doing this type of exercise you find yourself considering the different possibilities. This is can ultimately to a more interesting and fun game for you and your players.

Since then I done more work detailing my setting both as the Majestic Wilderlands and as the Majestic Fantasy Realms.  Hopefully a brief overview will serve as an example of some of the thing I touch on that post.

One the things I developed is the technology of magic. How was it discovered and how did it developed into its present form as outlined by the system. Currently the Vancian system found in ODnD's 3 LBBs. 

Originally in the Majestic Fantasy Realms level of magic was low, spells could only be cast through laborious 10 minute rituals. The range of spells was similar those found in the 3 LBBs of ODnD. Magic could be found in physical form as viz and that would allow a spell to be cast within seconds. Related spells could be cast quickly if made into a scroll or a magic item.

After the Dawn War, the Demons were imprisoned in the Abyss. Each of the surviving gods created a crystal. Nine of them were used to seal the entrance of the Abyss, and the tenth was the master Chromatic Cystal.

In order to power them, the gods had the crystals channel the ambient magic into their crystalline structure and then release it back out into the world. Creating a self sustaining loop the keep the demon imprisoned. A side effect this that were now flows of magic throughout the world. Concentrated enough to allow magical energy to be gathered quickly and released as a spell within seconds. 

The nine crystals "tainted" the flow emerging from them creating nine distinct forms of magic. Each form reflected the personality and powers of the god that created the crystal. These nine forms plus the original ambient magic became known as the Ten Arts of Magic.

Like our world's zodiac, they became associated with specific images and colors. The Claw (Black), The Eagle (Red), The Flame (Orange), The Forge (colorless, original ambient magic), The Hearth (Green), The Lantern (Purple), The Skull (White), The Storm (Indigo), The Tree (Blue), The Web (Yellow).

The Mechanics

So what does it means in terms of Swords and Wizardry? I created the following additions*

  • The maximum spell level the spellcaster could cast as ritual is determined by their level. 
  • Rituals take ten minutes to cast and require the presence of the spellbook.
  • Ritual spell caster can't memorize spells. 
  • The ritual spell caster had to have scribed the spell into their spell book. For pre-literate societies arcane spellcasters used natural media like cave walls, bark, stone, and sometimes dried tablets of clay to scribe mystical pattern that enabled to learn the spells. 
  • Magic items can be used in seconds within the time of a single combat round. Thus any spell used in combat had to be scribed as a scroll (or similar object), a wand, or a magic item.
  • One additional wrinkle I will touch on later is that if the ritual spell caster has viz, magic in physical form, then a spell can be casted within seconds. The number of viz needed is equal to the level of the spell. Viz is ephemeral and the spell caster can only maintain a number of viz equal to half of their level (rounded up) plus their intelligence bonus. Excess viz dissipates at the next sunrise, unless they have a special magic item called a Arcane Coffer.  
  • Spells are kept the as they are written in the book**. 
  • Each spells is associated with an art of magic. 
  • If cast with viz associated with a specific art or a spellcaster with a focus in that art. The spell has an increased effect***. 
*Rob's Notes: Ritual only spellcaster are deliberately designed to be weaker than normal vancian style magic-users. The only thing they are better at is that they are able to caster higher level spells at high level as ritual. A normal Magic-User can only learn to cast up to 4th level spells as rituals when they learn to memorize 8th level spells. 
**Rob's Notes: In the Majestic Fantasy RPG, I have rewritten some spells for clarity. Functionally they work the same as how they are presented in Swords and Wizardry.
***Rob's Notes: I was reluctant to this. Originally my idea was to have viz or a focus in an art equate to a +1 level caster bonus. A 8th spell caster with a focus in the Art of the Flame would cast fireball with 9d6 instead of 8d6. But it turns out there not many spells like Fireball in Swords and Wizardry, so I went through each spell and gave a small bonus effect if casted with a focus in an art or viz of that type. Usually increase in duration, range, etc.

Part 2

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Farewell to Magic, A brief essay on the economics of a fantasy setting.

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 13:32

 In my previous post, I talked about how resolved the issue of how to price real estate for when my players want to buy not build. Along with sharing it here, I posted links on facebook and other chat groups I frequent. 

One poster posted an interesting comment about the lack of profit motive my post implied. One part stood out as a reminder of how I view the Majestic Fantasy Realms.

Without any profit there is no growth and they would stay in the Middle Ages forever.

Over the decades, even before the internet, sometime I got into debates over how a fantasy setting would work, especially with my friends who knew how I ran the Majestic Wilderlands. One thread of the conversation was the impact of magic. Some who I talked to believe that magic would guarantee prosperity, create what we would now call a post scarcity society.  

My counterpoint, that the Industrial Revolution wasn't just about about technology but also ideas of how people can organize themselves or conduct business with each other. Without those idea, all what would happen with magic is the lives of an elite few would get better while the rest of the populace would have marginally better lives like the introduction of the horse collar allow formally difficult to cultivate lands to be brought under the plow to grow food. I usually pegged the average effect of magic at 20% better.

But it was just a guess based on instinct on what I read about history.

Then a few years back, I read a book that I felt gave my opinion a little more weight. 

It called a Farewell to Alms: A brief economic history of the world. 

The thesis as far as my post goes, is that prior to the industrial revolution. Improvements in technology or society only resulted in a temporary increase in prosperity. With more food and better living condition, the birth rate rose. Within in a handful of generations, the population grew to the point where living conditions were no better than before, except now there are more people. 

One main reason is that the pace of technological and society productivity prior to the industrial age could not keep pace with the birth rate except in brief burst. Like the introduction of the horse collar allowed areas with thick heavy soils to be cultivated easily greatly expanding where crops could be grown.

In this regard magic is no different than technology. The spread of using magic throughout a culture would bring about a temporary prosperity, which will bring about an increase in birth rate, which over time would bring everything back to the way it was except now there are more people.

That is until conditions are such that ideas, technology, (and magic since we are talking fantasy) come together to form an industrial magical revolution. Where productivity increases outstrip birth rate for decades and centuries.

As I been saying for years to friends, the Majestic Fantasy Realms is set in the time period before all that happens. But it nice that my guess has better foundation in fact. 

It is a good book and I recommend it highly. It also goes into why the first industrial revolution happen which may provide inspiration for a different kind of fantasy campaign set during that time. If that interest you I recommend getting Susanna Clark's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. A story of English magic set during the Napoleonic Wars. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Construction and Real Estate in a Fantasy Medieval Setting

Fri, 03/12/2021 - 17:40

Once the treasure is won where can it be spent? One popular choice is to build or buy a stronghold, whether it is a lonely wilderness outpost, a crossroad inn, or a building in a bustling city state. 

Buying versus Building

If the campaign is set in a city or town, often there isn’t room for new construction. Instead the characters will have to purchase an existing structure or at the very least a vacant lot. 

Unlike the modern era, people in medieval and ancient time didn’t generally view the buying and selling of property as a means of profit. While specifics varied between cultures, examples include property viewed as a having a just price (see Thomas Aquinas), or the property was part of a bundle of rights individuals were due in their culture because of tradition, law, or social standing.

For my campaigns, I simplified this. Purchase of property in most cultures of my setting is viewed as an investment made for the income it produced. Not unlike buying a share of stock in a company. The value may go up and down based on larger events, but like a stock it has a specific value that is bought or sold at. Therefore, for these rules the price to buy a stronghold is the same as its construction cost. It reflects its fair price.

This sounds odd to a modern reader. In the modern era, a real estate developer will buy property, hire a contractor for construction and then in turn sell the property at a price higher than what the developer paid.

In the setting I created, there are no real estate developers. Those with the wealth to buy real estate and building would be outraged if somebody tried to sell them land or buildings for more than its fair value. 

Instead buildings are built as investments by those who plan to use them. A lord builds a castle as the lynchpin of a domain, a craftsman constructs or renovates a shop on a lot. 

When sold, the buyer pays only the actual value of the investment. What society considers at the time its “fair” value. Buying and selling at a profit is reserved for grubby merchants dealing in various commodities or luxuries like grain, spices, silk, or (gasp) magic items. Even then they are only tolerated not praised by the nobles, clergy, and peasants. 

Keep in mind that the fair value can rise and fall depending on local conditions. It also varies from its construction price if its use to produce income radically changes. 

If there is little difference in cost in buying versus building, why build at all? 

First because land and building are viewed as an income producing investment, the market is limited, people of the times are conservative about losing a source of income, and the property was often tied to a bundle of rights reflecting a social station in the culture like a knight’s manor. Loss of the property could mean the loss of one’s social standing. This meant the property you what may not be available at any reasonable price. Hence the need to build. In addition, if you build you also get to tailor the land or building to your specification rather than having to deal with already there.

It is possible to build at a cost lower than its fair value if you control the basic resources that are needed. Namely the right to harvest wood from a forest, and control of a stone quarry. Without needing to pay the market rate for lumber and stone, you can easily build at 75% of the cost or lower.

Not much in the way of mechanics in this post. But thinking about this and doing the research has allowed me to solve a long standing issue in how I run campaign. When PCs want to buy instead of build, what the price? And what the motivation of the NPCs selling the property? 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade and Zine Quest #3

Sat, 02/13/2021 - 00:33


My good friend, Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor is in his last three days of his kickstarter, an adventure zine called the Many Crypts of Lady Ingrade. Written for Old School Essential it is a series of adventures around the various crypts of Lady Ingrade. It also part of Zine Quest, an effort by Kickstarter to promote various types of RPG zines. 

Tim has tapped me to do the maps. Here is a sample below.

It represents an evolution of my black and white style. I recently stumbled on a source for old screen tone, dry transfer sheets filled with patterns and symbol that were used prior to advent of illustration software and desktop publishing. I bought a few to fill in gaps in my collection and some of them are found in these maps. The ones below are scrubland, jungle, and tidal flats. 


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter Updates and Fullfilment

Mon, 01/25/2021 - 17:27

Fulfillment Process

Fulfillment didn't go quite as smoothly I thought it would. The main issue is that I mistakenly thought I could handle this with update posts targeted at different backer levels. Instead what I should have done, and discovered later, I is handled it with Kickstarter messages targeted at the different backer levels. 

Everybody should have a Kickstarter message from me in there Kickstarter inbox with the codes for their reward level. Around forty haven't said one way or the other that they gotten their codes so I have just sent out an email to those individuals. 

If you have answered the survey with no that you haven't gotten the codes from your update. Then look for that email or look in your Kickstarter inbox for the codes. In either case if you could let me know I would appreciate it so I can update the records indicating that you received the rewards. 

Initial Reception

So far people seem to like the rules and the cards. I have seen two reviews so far and I did a interview about the Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules.

A Land Beyond Beyond Review

A Land Beyond Beyond Interview

Thanks to Jon Salway for writing both of these.

There Might Be Gazebos Review

Thanks to Chuck for writing this.

Blackmarsh News

I been notified that the printer for DriveThruRPG is discontinuing saddle stitched books as of March. Blackmarsh uses this format. I will be switching over to a different print format by the end of February once I gotten more details of the switchover process. Likely it will be a digest sized book of 24 pages in softcover and hardback. I may try using a card format as well. I will keep folks posted. 

I also found that the price was incorrect it is $3.80 not $3.50. Printing cost change over time and apparently .30 cent was added to the cost since I first did the estimate for the Kickstarter.

Future Installments

I had Matteo M. on the discussion tab on the Majestic Fantasy RPG page at DriveThruRPG ask me this question.

Are we going to see the eXpert version of this game?

The "expert" version is going to be a series of supplements. I realize it will be a little different so there some risk it won't work out.

The next one up* is the Lost Grimoire of Magic while will have the complete details of the Magic User class, and Spells. along with some useful aids and procedures centered around magic users. There will be supplements covering Fighters, Rogues, Clerics, Monsters, NPCs (two volumes), Equipment, Treasure, and Magic Items. Finally a book around sandbox campaigns, refereeing, and various useful aids.

The point of doing it this way is that in my experience most people start out with a system and then kitbash stuff they like from other similar systems. I am aiming not only to write a quality RPG, but be a first or second choice when people kitbash their campaign. Hence breaking down it into supplements that work on their own.

*My next project will be getting the Wild North out and after that I will finish up the Lost Grimoire of Magic. Both will be Kickstarter project due to their art or editing requirements. The rules are finished and playtested, but the organization and supplemental material still remain to be written. 


Once thank I thank everybody backing this project. Your generosity is appreciated. As always if you have any question or issue feel free to reach out.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Central Mechanic of Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 14:26

I participated in a discussion about how the game plays in tabletop roleplaying. The following is probably not constructive for the conversation but it does sum of my view of what make RPGs, RPGs, and why they are so different than boardgames and wargames. 

While the following is a specific series of steps, the circumstance they can be applied too is nearly infinite. Also it can turn on a dime if the circumstance the referee describes changes. Whether that change follows from what the player did a their character is sometimes debated but it still implies an inherent flexibility that all RPGs possess. 

Sub Main()
Setting := CreateSettingAndCampaign(Referee)
Players := CreateCharacters(Setting)
Call RefereeDescribesCircumstance()
For Each Player In Campaign
PlayerAction = DescribeCharactersAction(Player)
Call RefereeAdjudicateCharacterAction(PlayerAction)
Loop Until Campaign = CampaignStatus.CampaignEnds
End Sub

Sub RefereeAdjudicateCharacterAction(aAction as CharacterAction)
Decision = RefereeDecidesAdjudicationProcess(aAction)
Select Decision
Case DecisionType.Failure
Call RefereeDescribeFailure()
Case DecisionType.Success
Call RefereeDescribeSuccess()
Case DecisionType.Uncertain
Call RefereeUseSystem(aAction)
End Select
End Sub
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Majestic Fantasy RPG Release, Wilderlands Deal, and more.

Sat, 01/02/2021 - 12:55

 Happy New Year everyone! It is 2021 and several Bat in the Attic Games items are happening right out of the gate. 

Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG.

I got the proof copies of the Basic Rules and and they look good. At the urging of a friend I took the time to create the cover for Hardcover version so you will have the option picking either as your budget allows.

The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, Softcover, $14.99The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, Hardcover, $19.99The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG, PDF, $9.99
A set of rules for creating and advancing characters from level 1 to 5. Has the Burglar, Cleric of Mitra, Fighter, and Magic User classes, plus backgrounds, combat rules, equipment, and spells. For the referee there are lists of monsters, NPCs, and magic items suitable to challenge and reward your players during a campaign. These rules feature abilities for use for when character do things outside of combat and spellcasting. Along with advice for referees on how to use the available mechanics to craft rulings. Finally, a basic overview of how to bring the world outside of the dungeon to life is provided.
A 204 page RPG compatible with the Swords & Wizardry rules Majestic Fantasy, Basic Rules,  Reference Cards

This is a series of printed (or PDF) aids that I use to help players to quickly generate characters for the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG. This aid is in the form of printed cards or tiles. There is an initial card that you hand the player that outlines how the character generation process works. From there, the players pick a class, a background, and buy equipment using the individual cards as a reference to fill out their character sheet. 
The print version is made using 8” by 10” coated stock. They are quite sturdy and appear to be resistant to spills and stains. The printed version has 20 cards that support up to 5 player generating characters. Five common cards and three cards for each of the classes and three spell reference cards.

Majestic Fantasy, Basic Rules,  Reference Cards (Cards) $14.99Majestic Fantasy, Basic Rules,  Reference Cards (PDF)   $3.99
Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry Complete

This is a series of printed (or PDF) aids that I use to help players to quickly generate characters for Swords & Wizardry Complete by Frog God Games. This aid is in the form of printed cards or tiles. There is an initial card that you hand the player that outlines how the character generation process works. From there, the players pick a class, a background, and buy equipment using the individual cards as a reference to fill out their character sheet. 
I have refined these cards  over the past decade while running convention and game store sessions and found that it will allow a player to completely generate a character within 15 to 20 minutes. 
These cards contain all of the information needed for assassins, clerics, druids, fighters, magic-users, monks, paladins, rangers, and thieves, for level 1 to 6. On the back of each class card is an equipment list.

Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry Complete (Card) $24.99Quick Reference Cards for Swords and Wizardry Complete (PDF) $3.99

Wilderlands of High Fantasy Deal of the Day
By happy coincidence, Wilderlands of High Fantasy Maps is the Deal of the Day over on DriveThruRPG.  The deal will go live at 10 am Eastern Time, Saturday January 2nd.
Note that buying this will get you the Guidebook PDF as well. There are 18 maps to the Wilderlands divided into four sets of guidebooks and maps. This deal is for the first set of five maps including the City State of the Invincible Overlord.
The guidebook has an introduction and map commentary by me,. Each map in the guidebook is detailed with the following listings: Villages, Castles & Citadels, Idyllic Isles, Ruins & Relics, and Lurid Lairs. Any statistic or rule is compatible with Swords and Wizardry and various classic editions of the original roleplaying game.
This deal on the first set is a good way to see if folks like the series without having to invest all at once. You will be credited the cost of the PDF if you decide the buy the PDF bundle later. Finally if you decide to buy print, I include the PDF of maps and guidebooks at no additional charge. The print version of each map is two 12" by 18" poster maps. They also have a generous overlap to make joining the map easy or to track features across the map boundaries.

Wrapping it Up
This weekend has been pretty busy with releases and promotions. I hope you find my offering useful and above all fun! Here is to the new year and it all its possibilities including gaming. 
I am thankful for having all of you on board and looking forward to your feedback and input. The next thing up on my plate is wrapping up the Wild North which expands the Majestic Fantasy Realms to the region north of Blackmarsh.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Good referee advice from 140 years ago

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 21:09

 So while reading while reading Jon Peterson's latest, the Elusive Shift he makes an interesting reference to something Charles Totten said in Strategos on page 105.

I think that a pretty good summary of how a good referee acts. 

You can read it for yourself using this link.

Strategos by Charles Totten

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XXII

Sun, 12/13/2020 - 22:08

Part XXI

This is the twenty second post in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. 

Today's post will cover step 28. 

Scan your descriptions for NPCs or noted monsters. Write a two sentence about each. The first a one line with minimal stats the second one sentence. This is your roster.

What I been doing for the past 15 years is using my word processor to create a roster of creatures and character that the party will encounter. This function as a quick cheat sheet for when combat ensues or the players interact with the character. I find this more useful to me than keeping these details within a room or encounter area. The player come with all kinds of plans and may arrive at the locale at an unexpected time. With a roster I can tailor the who is where based on the circumstances. 

Because this is reference for a region, I opted to organize the entires by locale. For the rules I am using Swords & Wizardry Core/Complete by Frog God Games. This is also compatible with my Majestic Fantasy RPG rules. 

Because this is focused on what need to run the sandbox with Swords & Wizardry I only include enough text to remind of what the creature and character are about. If I need more I will look at my original write that I created previously.

Finally I like to use level as a mark of experience so most character have a class and level.

Amur Forest

Spardion leads a sounder of 10 wereboars in the Amur Forest (0502). Lairs in a sea cliff cave in Hex 0503. The sounder's small amount of treasure is hidden in nearby crevice reachable only by using the Ring of Water Walking. The lair also contains a decrepit rowboat capable of holding six members of the back. On race occasion Spardion will use the ring and sneak aboard a nearly boat or ship at night close to shore along with his compatriots nearby in the rowboat. The Map is to original leader's treasure cache hidden in The Fortress of the Lich Lord (0303) in the guard barrack on the 1st level. 

Spardion (Wereboar): HD 5+2; HP 32; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Lycanthropy, Ring of Water Walking.

Wereboar: HD 5+2; HP 21; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Lycanthropy.

Treasure: Gems: 2 x 50 GP; 500 GP; Map To (23 GP; Gems: 3 x 10 GP; 2 x 50 GP; 7 x 100 GP; 5 x 500 GP); Ring of Water Walking

More details after the jump break.

Bay of the Dead

Numerous corporeal undead wander the bottom of the bay the remain the crew who tried to attack the Lich King. 

Wight: HD 3; HP 11; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 claw (1hp + level drain); Move 9 (Swim 9); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Drain 1 level with hit, hit only by magic or silver weapons.

Skeleton: HD 1; HP 4; AC 8[11] or 7[12] with shield; Atk 1 weapon or strike (1d6) or (1d6+1 two-handed); Move 12 (Swim 3); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Zombie: HD 2; HP 7; AC 8[11] or with shield 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon or strike (1d8); Move 6 (Swim 3); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Immune to sleep and charm.

East Bay

Fisherman ply their trade within the bay while patrols of 6 sahaugin spy on them.

Fisherman: HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 club (1d3); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Sahuagin: HD 2+1; HP 8; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

North Downs

In the midst of the North Downs is the Briar Patch, a valley filled with dense undergrowth created by a Druidic Hierophant to destroy the Lich King Tavaras and his army. The Hierophant summon a physical manifestation of nature's wrath which lead an army of Assassin Vines and Spiderweed to tear about Tavaras and his forces amid the tangles of the underbrush. They remain in the valley to this day a forgotten but deadly remnant of a long ago crusade.

Nature's Wrath (Shambling Mound): HD 12; HP 72; AC 1[18]; Atk 2 fists (2d8); Move 6; Save 3; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: Damage immunities, enfold and suffocate victims.

Assassin Vine: HD 7; HP 25; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 vine (1d6+1); Move 1; Save 9; CL/XP 8/800; Special: animate plants.

Spiderweed: HD 2; HP 7; AC 7[12]; Atk 2 thorn slashes (1d4 + sap); Move 6; Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Sap.

South Bay

When harvested they provided 3d6 man days of rations. (1d6 per HD).

Giant Crab: HD 3; HP 25; AC 3[16]; Atk 2 pincers (1d6+2); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None.

South Downs

Herdsmen are found around the east of the downs tending to herds of sheeps. While farmers till the soil of the slopes along the western and southern edges of the downs.

Herdsman: HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 shepard crook (staff) (1d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Farmers: HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 club (1d3); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

The Midland Sea

The Merfolk and Locathah are uneasy allies against the encroaching Sahaugin. When encountered outside of their lair roll 3d6 for the number of individual in the party. Also roll 1d6 for the nature of the party. If it is a 1 to 4 it is a patrol. If it is 5 or 6 it is trading party. If the party is a group of Sahaugin a 6 means they are either on their way to the sands to capture giant scorpions or on their way back with 1d3 captured giant scorpions.

Locathah: HD 2; HP 7; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12 (Swim 24); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: When riding Giant Eells can move 36" 

Merfolk: HD 1+3; HP 7; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 1 (Swim 18); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Breathe water.

Sahagun: HD 2+1; HP 8; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

The Sands

The beach and shallows of this four mile stretch of sand is home to giant scorpions. Periodically 3d6 sahuagins will be encountered on a mission to capture a handful for their dark purposes.

Giant Scorpion: HD 6; HP 21; AC 3[16]; Atk 2 pincers (1d10), sting (1d4 + poison); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Lethal poison sting.

Sahagun: HD 2+1; HP 8; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

West Fen

Flocks of vicious Daggerbeaks roam the swamps of the West Fens. 

Daggerbeak: HD 3+3; HP 14; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 beak (1d6+6); Move 24; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: None.


Giant squid spawning ground amid the wreck of sunken ships. Swarms of 2d6 Giant Squids will attack.

Giant Squid: HD 12; HP 42; AC 7[12] head and tentacles; 3[16] body; Atk 8 tentacles (1d8+1), 1 beak (5d4); Move 0 (Swim 20); Save 3; CL/XP 14/2600; Special: Constrict

0150 Hawth

A dwarven village on the island of Piall with two brothers as leaders. 

Dwarf: HD 1; HP 5; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 battle axe (1d8); Move 6; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Detect attributes of stonework.

Lord Dark Darkiron (Dwarf): FTR 5; HP 34; AC 2[17]; Atk 1 battleaxe (+2 to hit,1d8+3); Move 6; Save 10: Special: STR 18, +4 save vs. magic 

Lord Gamli Darkiron (Dwarf): FTR 4; HP 20; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 Polearm (+1 to hit,1d8+2); Move 6; Save 11: Special: STR 16, +4 save vs. magic 

Hidden in a sealed off section of the mines is the Darkiron treasury. 

20,000 GP; Ring of Weakness (in a sealed small casket); War Hammer +1 (wielded only in times of need); Scroll of Magic Missile; Scroll of Sleep.

There is also a map to (10,000 SP; 14 GP) located in on the 4th level of the Fortress of the Lich King. Left there a century ago by Harath Darkiron who adventured into its depth.

0201 Spies

Spies sent by the Empire of Po to scout out the island.

Sir Iago Dunth: FTR 3; HP 14; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 Longsword (+1 to hit,1d8); Move 6; Save 12: Special: STR 15

10x Scouts: HD 1; HP 4; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 shortsword (1d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None

0203 Barrows

Only three of the 12 barrows are inhabited by Wights.

Wights: HD 3; HP 11; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 claw (1hp + level drain); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Drain 1 level with hit, hit only by magic or silver weapons.

Overall Treasure:3,000 CP; 2,000 GP; Jewels: 1 x 700; 1 x 5,000;

  • Treasure 1: 1,000 CP, 1 x 700GP Jewelry
  • Treasure 2: 2,000 CP, 500 GP
  • Treasure 3: 1,500 GP, 1 x 5,000 GP Jewelry

0204 Sandpoint

A village of halfling ruled by Lord Hightower. Albrus Oldham the village reeve is Lord Hightower's rival. 

Halflings: HD 1; HP 3; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 shortsword (1d6) or sling (+1 to Hit, 1d4); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: +4 save versus magic.

Buck Hightower Lord of Sandpoint; FTR 4; HP 20; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 Shortsword (+1 to hit,1d6) or ShortBow (2 atk, +1 hit, 1d6); Move 9; Save 11: Special: STR 13, +4 save vs. magic 

Albrus Oldham, Reeve of Sandpoint; FTR 3; HP 14; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 Shortsword (1d6) or ShortBow (2 atk, +1 hit, 1d6); Move 9; Save 12: Special: STR 12, +4 save vs. magic 

0401 Aventis

A village of 150 merfolk 

King Tuoris (Merfolk): HD 10+3; HP 54; AC 1[18]; Atk 1 trident (1d6); Move 1 (Swim 18); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Breathe water.

10x Royal Guards (Merfolk): HD 6+3; HP 28; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 trident (1d6); Move 1 (Swim 18); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Breathe water.

Merfolk: HD 1+3; HP 7; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 trident (1d6); Move 1 (Swim 18); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Breathe water.

Royal Treasury: Jewels: 1 x 700 GP; 1 x 800 GP; 1 x 900 GP; 8 x 1,000 GP; 2 x 1,100 GP; 1 x 1,200 GP; 1 x 1,400 GP; 2 x 2,000 GP; 

0402 Sableport

Undead wander the ruins of the port and the waters off shore. Included swimming speed for various undead.

Wight: HD 3; HP 11; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 claw (1hp + level drain); Move 9 (Swim 9); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Drain 1 level with hit, hit only by magic or silver weapons.

Skeleton: HD 1; HP 4; AC 8[11] or 7[12] with shield; Atk 1 weapon or strike (1d6) or (1d6+1 two-handed); Move 12 (Swim 3); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Zombie: HD 2; HP 7; AC 8[11] or with shield 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon or strike (1d8); Move 6 (Swim 3); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Immune to sleep and charm.

0403 Mikva

Baron Argus the feudal lord of Piall. Sheriff Tomar the king's representative. And their men at arms or retainers.

Baron Argus Gervon; FTR 5; HP 30; AC 2[17]; Atk 1 longsword (+1 to hit,1d8); Move 6; Save 10: Special: STR 14

Sheriff Tomar Revan; FTR 4; HP 20; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 Longsword (+1 to hit,1d8); Move 9; Save 11: Special: STR 13

Men at Arms (Retainers; FTR 1; HP 5; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 Spear (1d6) or Hvy CrossBow (1/2 atk, 1d6+1); Move 9; Save 14: Special: STR 11

0403 Datha

Village of Village Fishermen and the home of the baron's coast guard looking for smugglers

Danis is the headsman of the village and his brother Helmar is a yeoman in charge of the coast. The yeoman use a single mast boat that can be rowed or sailed called Gervon's Wings. 

Danis Hobrun (Fisherman): HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 club (1d3); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

Helmar: FTR 1; HP 5; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 Spear (1d6) or 1 Shortbow (2 atks, +1 to hit, 1d6); Move 9 (Swim 4); Save 14: Special: Str 12, Dex 15, Leather Armor

Yeomen: HD 1; HP 4; AC 8[11]; Atk 1 spear (1d6) or 1 Shortbow (2 atks, 1d6); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None

0404 Carra

A small poor village of fishermen and smugglers. Moran Lodar is the headsman and the head of Piall's thieves guild. A smuggling party will have 1d3 smugglers and 1d6 fishermen.

Moran Lodar: THF 4; HP 13; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 shortsword (1d6) or 1 Shortbow (2 atks, +1 to hit, 1d6); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 12: Special: Dex 16, Leather Armor, +2 save vs devices.

Smuggler: THF 1; HP 3; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 dagger (1d4) or 1 Shortbow (2 atks, 1d6); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 15; Special: Leather Armor, +2 save vs devices.

Fisherman: HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 club (1d3); Move 12 (Swim 6); Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

0504 Kathi

A farming village that is demesne of Sir Vandas Gervon. Sir Vandas is noted for his strength. 

Sir Vandas Gervon: FTR 3; HP 12; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 Longsword (+2 to hit,1d8+2); Move 9; Save 12: Special: STR 17

Farmers: HD 1; HP 4; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 club (1d3) or 1 Shortbow (2 atks, 1d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: None.

0505 Sahaugin Outpost

A Sahagun outpost established as a marshalling point to attack King Tuoris and the merfolk village of Aventis

Xatharazzax, Sahaugin Prince: HD 12+1; HP 61; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 3; CL/XP 12/2,00; Special: None. 

5x Sahaugin Honor Guard: HD 8+1; HP 30; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 8; CL/XP 8/800; Special: None. 

Loxak, Sahaugin Commander: HD 6+1; HP 32; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 11; CL/XP 6/400; Special: None. 

2x Sahaugin Captains: HD 4+1; HP 15; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: None. 

100x Sahuagin: HD 2+1; HP 8; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

10x Medium Sharks (HD 5): HD 5; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 bite (1d6+2); Move 0 (Swim 24); Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Feeding frenzy.

That it for part XXII next is Part XXIII where we detail the most important NPCs in the area we chose.

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