Roles & Rules

Subscribe to Roles & Rules feed
Roger G-S
Updated: 1 day 15 hours ago

Hex Crawl 23 #249: Slaves of Uketta

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 16:37

Three hexes southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.


Uketta is a settlement, but not one that formed organically. It is a project of the previous civilian governor of Wahattu. Burnaburiash the "Fretful Spectre" wasn't as bad as Erkuzakir of the Execution Spikes, but had some whims about social reform that were not necessarily for the better. He had it in for the Ayotochin armadillo-people, thought they were a rootless and uncontrolled element that led to social disorder. Any of them he found wandering, he had rounded up and sent to an oasis farm, Uketta, in the desert near the hills that give birth to the Khepu badlands. 

These ayoto are slaves; there are fifty of them, their second generation in bondage, but some of them being relatively new catches. They are kept in irons and terror, and the old saying holds true; slave labor is free, but guards (of which there are 10, tough and brutal thugs all) and dogs (of which there are 6, savage, burly breeds) cost money. The place is now run by the son of Burna, Zuuthus the "Mute Drunkard," whose epithet is fully ironic -- the man cannot stop talking and has his guards flogged if they even smell of wine.

This place of cruelty produces valuable harvests of grain and garden crops, and food prices will rise in Gesshed if it is disrupted. For this reason, and through various favors owed to the present governor Zakiti, it is allowed to stay in business. Zakiti hates this situation, though, and would gladly see Zuuthus overthrown, provided the ayoto can be persuaded to stay on and manage the farm where they have so many bad memories. Some wanderers with plausible deniability would be perfect for the job. 

But in addition to the guards and dogs they will have to contend with Zuuthus, who has lived hiding his born wild magic powers -- a 7th level sorcerer. Also, there is Zuuthus' right-hand house slave Cuzuco, a 5th level ayoto rogue thoroughly indoctrinated to support the order, and who can count on ten trusty ayoto to subvert and betray the other forty if they rise up in rebellion. The reward is rich; two generations of the farm have left a chest of 4000 gold pieces in the master's house, and half that amount in costly furnishings and artworks.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #248: Lost in the Badlands?

Tue, 09/19/2023 - 23:17

Four hexes southwest, eight northwest of Alakran.


Badlands are a region of steep, eroded hills with little soil or sand. In this hex, branching spurs of badland ridges coexist with gentler slopes. There is no vegetation on the crags, and precious little in the low places, vropped up by herds of goats from Ekkhusa as soon as it appears. Not just the famous greenish clay of Ekkhusa pottery, but another, beige clay with the property of growing six times its volume when water is added, can be found at the bottom of these ravines.

The region of badlands west of Targatana is known as the Khepu. This hex is only its northwestern extremity. We have until now seen terrain of this type only close by the Scarp, which provides a convenient landmark of direction. The Khepu, though, stretches for many miles, and travelers not skilled in survival lore (DC 13) risk being lost within its mazy channels as they travel through. If this happens, roll d8 for the direction of travel that, unknown, is actually being followed: 1-6 being the hexsides clockwise from north and 7-8 indicating a circle within the hex. 

One remedy for being lost is to get an higher view, either through magic or by climbing one of the precipices. The latter solution, however, takes time, can be dangerous, and generally will only reveal the way through the present hex.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #247: Village of Ekkhusa

Tue, 09/19/2023 - 16:33

Five hexes southwest, seven northwest from Alakran.

This is a large and prosperous village. Its great herds of black and gray goats have the free grazing of the valley and into the many mazy ways of the badlands whose shade lets moisture linger and hosts the shrubs and thorns that the beasts prize most. Moist clay is also fetched from certain crevices in the badlands at the end of the rainy season, and this is the basis of a kind of gray-green pottery glazed and baked with a secret technique that is highly praised in the region.

Being out of the way and rich enough to afford eccentricities, Ekkhusa has its share, and more, of them. All decisions of families in the town, including who their sons and daughters marry, is decided by a meeting of all the men over forty and women over fifty in the hour around sunset. Straight majority vote prevails, and there must be a quorum of half the eligible people plus one. 

Everyone knows a meeting is in session when, for thirty breaths, the mantra "Let it be accomplished" is chanted in unison by the rough, cracked, eligible voices gathered under the acacia trees by the well. "So it was accomplished" marks the end. Despite the rigid formality, the headwoman, Yesel, a thin and bald-shaven grandmother, conducts the proceedings with a playful touch, listening to each point of view and guiding the votes subtly with her arguments and preferences.

Adventurers might become interested in this otherwise out-of-the-way village when a pot turns up with an apparent map, showing a mazy path among ridges and buttes, leading to a sinister pair of eyes. This is the record of what one of the village clay-gatherers found when digging too deep - shades of Moria! - and recounted to a fellow potter, whose scandalized wife ordered it sold on to the outside world without being shown to the village. Negotiating the village bureaucracy, such as it is, to get help in finding the undoubtedly populated cavern, and making a deal to share whatever is found, will undoubtedly be part of the adventure.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #246: Dogs of the Targatan March

Mon, 09/18/2023 - 10:48

Five hexes southwest, six northwest of Alakran.


Unlike the cohesive populations found elsewhere, this is a recently split group of mixed-breed strays that now form a pack of 20 under a grizzed black pointy-eared hound and a pack of 10 under a more obust but less canine-charismatic competitor, a low slinking yellow mutt with a tufted tail.

They slink around the villages nearby and the Sun's Greeting Castle, picking up food where they can, and fading into the mazy rocklands to the west if seriously pursued. As they are pests, the neighboring populations might pay for their extermination, but each one will insist that the others also pay their share before they contribute. Getting paid for a campaign against the dogs might be as much a matter of diplomacy as of tracking and combat.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #245: A Military Exercise

Sun, 09/17/2023 - 08:29

Four hexes southwest, seven northeast of Alakran.


On this dry plain, once a week at sunrise, Bukhabar Shum summons certain troops of his garrison, not to compete, but to cooperate in an exercise of combined arms. On this spot in the plain, one time out of eight it is passed by (sometimes the exercise is missed for good reason), clouds of dust are seen from afar, and up closer it is Shum himself, his command, and d4+1 groups of 20 soldiers each from a different elite company. Use the table here, where the roll of 10 is a platoon of 20 spear and 10 bow from the regular infantry.

Shum is a sporting man, and the staid evolutions are sometimes interrupted by his whim. He might, for example, spot some roaming havelinas or wild dogs and order a chase. Ir he might take the appearance of a band of wandering vagabonds as an excuse for his groups to practice law enforcement, cornering and surrounding these vagrants, all in sport of course.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #244: Faery Jerboa Character Race/Class Levels 1-5

Sat, 09/16/2023 - 08:38

Three hexes southwest, eight northwest of Alakran.


A player in the Game of Bronze wished, for reasons of humility, to run a character that was both underpowered and incapable of speaking to all but one other regular character. The result was the faery jerboa -- a character class certainly weaker than the rest, but which can be up-cannoned by starting at level 3. Escaped from the faery plane by mysterious means, the character, Oelita, gave up the chance to lead the whole party back through a rift. Surely some other tract of desolate land will begin to feature the details of the deserts of Faerie, which were developed in some detail for a player choice that never happened.

Original art by Lui!


Race/Class Features

You are a Tiny-sized creature, with STR - 6, DEX +3, CHA +3.

Your leaping Speed is 30 feet.

You speak only Jerboa but understand Common and can learn to understand other lamnguages. You level up immediately on gaining the requisite xp, with no need for training.

As a faerie jerboa, you gain the following features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d4 at level 2, 1d6 at level 3+

Hit Points at 1st Level: 1
Hit Points at Higher Levels: Level hit die + your Constitution modifier per faerie jerboa level after 1st


Armor: None
Weapons: Simple weapons, tiny-sized (1 hp damage maximum)
Tools: Choose one: thieves' tools

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Skills: Stealth plus any three of: Acrobatics, Arcana, Insight, Nature, Perception, Survival


You start with the following tiny-size equipment:

  • (a) any simple weapon made of thorns and twigs
  • (a) a explorer’s pack or (b) a scholar’s pack

Tiny: You are a large jerboa about the size of a hamster. May not carry equipment with a total weight greater than 1 lb. May move through any larger opponents, and move and hide into any place a hamster could fit.

Flitting Defense: You have Reaction: If you can see a non-area attack against you, you may make a DEX save with DC equal to the attack's final hit roll to avoid the attack's effects.

Keen Smell/Hearing: You have Advantage on Perception checks involving these senses.

Limited Flight: Once per minute you can fly with speed of 20' for one turn.

Limited Cantrip: You may cast one Sorcerer cantrip from your list. You regain this ability after a long or short rest.

Sustained Flight: Twice per minute you can fly with speed of 25' for one turn.

Premonition:  You have Reaction: Before an area effect would damage you, you may leap 30' (possibly leaving the area and taking no damage).

Faerie Spellcasting: You are a spellcaster with your Faerie Jerboa level minus three. Charisma is your spellcasting stat and you use the Sorcerer spell list. You regain all spells each short or long rest but may only cast each spell once from the list before a rest.

Unlimited Cantrip: Choose one of your cantrips. You may cast it each turn.

Full Flight: You may fly with a speed of 30'.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #243: Wild Pigs of the Dryland

Fri, 09/15/2023 - 12:29

Two hexes southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.

Here we have a population of wild pigs that roams the adjoining regions. Technically, taxonomically, they're not pigs but peccaries or javelinas, half-sized compared to the normal wild boars in your fantasy game. They travel in groups of 10-40, mark their territory with musk, and live off desert plants and nibbling at the edges of cultivated fields. They are the target of an annual autumn hog hunt held among the Wahatti special forces, in which axe-beak riders flush out the game and move them toward the infantry, which has at them with sling, bow, and spear.

For ordinary travelers, to be realistic, they pose no threat unless these are hungry times for the herd, or unless the travelers want to emulate the warriors of Wahattu and feast on the gamy, strong-scented meat of these near-swine.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #242: Another Dry Lake

Thu, 09/14/2023 - 10:45

One hex southwest, ten northwest of Alakran.

This dry lake is even older than the one that serves Gesshed, and much drier. Still, water falls here in the rainy season, but it seeps through the ground and is gone. There are reasons to believe that two groups have dug or exploited underground passages to steal this water from its underlying table. The first are the Small Hairy Men.  The second are the cruel slave-keepers in the hills to the west. Certainly, both populations seem inexplicably well-watered, and morning dew catchers can only explain so much of it. Perhaps, in Gesshed, the civilian governor Zakiti seeks people conversant with peril in underground spaces, to take some picks and spades and start digging up the lightly chalk-crusted lake bed?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #241: The Small Hairy Men

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 07:45

Eleven hexes northwest of Alakran.


In tunnels and burrows honeycombing this ridge of hills lives from time immemorial a tribe of not-quite-human creatures called the Small Hairy Men. You may treat them as kobolds, except there is nothing reptilian or dracomic about them. They are spindly and hunched, covered in fine dark hair, with a coarse shock growing wild around the head and chin. 

The Small Hairy Men only come out at night, in groups of 4-24, and must live off the proceeds of their hunting in the hills to the west, or on whatever secrets their underground tunnels hide. They only attack at odds of 5:1, and even then will harry with wicked slingstones before closing in with flint knives.

Beyond this, little is known about them, and speculation abounds on what they have at the end of their burrows and whether there are any Small Hairy Women.  They are left alone in general; the best policy is to travel only by day in the region of their ridge. A legend does go about that if you can catch one of them alone, and corner them without escape, they will submit and become your willing servant for life.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #240: A Useful Vendor on the Road

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 06:17

Ten hexes northwest, one north of Alakran.


Encounters along the tilted gargantuan paving stones of the ancient Road of Flowers are not always about swindles or robbery. Some of the people you meet can be useful. Such is the case with Sharyukin.

Sharyukin is a tall, slender man who dresses in silks and wears his hair up in an elaborate style, giving him a womanish look. His narrow eyes are steel-gray and he shades himself with a great green parasol. A vendor, his goods are all in and on a four-wheeled wooden cart, which is pushed diligently by a muscular, sun-baked, beetle-browed man who answers to "Turtak."

Sharyukin is a dabbler in the arcane, a hanger-on of wizards and witches, a sometimes fortune-teller and purveyor of dubious curses as well as relief from same (often as part of the same operation.) In short, he's a wozard-3 and Turtak, fighting with a wooden hammer and whip, is a barbarian-6.

Through luck, gods' grace, or some kind of astrological quirk, Sharyukin's cart will always hold the second-best thing to what the party needs. You might run into him when you need healing potions for the next adventure, and he offers you heroism or weapon resistance potions at the same price. Need torches, and he's got a little lamp with scented oil. Need armor, and he's got a fine shield.

His other trait is that in each city he visits, he knows exactly the right person to buy any curious or precious object. This, he never buys treasures in coin, but trades an object worth on to 1 1/2 times its worth for it, for he is sure to sell at 2 -3 times the book value. To this end he keeps treasures worth 2000, 1000, 500 and so forth gp. 

Finally, there are rumours of a curse that keeps robbers and theieves away from the cart. These happen to be  true; the cart contains an untouchable treasure, a gleaming black opal discretly engraved with the old Urig characters for the Void. Touch it, and a wave of necrotic energies doing 20d6 damage erupts within a 20 foot radius, save (WIS DC16) for half damage.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #239: Salts and Hexagons

Mon, 09/11/2023 - 07:12

Nine hexes northwest, two north of Alakran.


Another salty stretch of the desert plain, not very remarkable, but a chance for some meta-mapbuilding comments. The hexcrawl is built with a version of the "nesting hexes" idea first published by Judges Guild in their Campaign Hex system. For us, 1 mile hexes go into 5 mile, go into 25, go into 125. Within the rounded-down 5000 foot mile, we have 1000, 200, and 40 foot hexes, the last one being of a scale to host a battle map.

Terrain features are shown as filling a whole hex, but to create a little bit of realism, they shouldn't extend into all the subhexes, and may poke over into adjacent larger-scale hexes. As an example, this salt pan barely reaches the center of its nominal hex, and extends out into the hexes to north and northwest.

Too much realism? Maybe, but the effect on the one-mile map without borders (only 5 mile hexes shown)  gives just enough feeling of reality, without having true randomness in feature extent and placement. Judge for yourself!


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #238: Revolt of the Shadows

Sun, 09/10/2023 - 07:56

Eight hexes northwest, three north of Alakran.


The following misfortune is said to have happened to a group of cameleers attempting a short-cut from Eryptos to the Road of Flowers, on a hot afternoon in the month of sometime in the past generation. It would be altogether unfair to spring this event on a group of adventurers with no reason. Nonetheless, these people are always putting themselves in the way of curses, opening ancient tombs, raiding ancient treasures, offending the interests of powerful wizards, reading aloud the names of obscure gods without the proper obsequies, and so on.  

It starts with one person, as the afternoon lengthens. Someone will notice that their shadow is behaving strangely, perhaps a trick of the light -- raising its arm when the originator's arms are lowered, stooping when the originator stands, or the other way around. If the phenomenon is noted, the shadow leaps to attack, drawing shadow versions of whatever the character is carrying, and attacking from the prone position, striking upwards. The shadow is a perfect double of the character with all spells, actions, and abilities, and just the following limitations:

  • Its feet are glued to the character's feet, until the character jumps and takes both feet from the ground.
  • It can only move in a 90 degree arch between the character and the sun.
  • It has +2 hit point per level two hours from sunrise or sunset, -2 hit points per level between one and two hours from noon, and ceases to exist entirely in the two hours surrounding noon.
  • If the caster lies prone the shadow's hit points are halved.
  • It is damaged by light sources, 1d6 per 20' radius of light, but gets a DEX save against DC 13 to take half.
  • If anyone other than the shadow's caster attcks it, their own shadow rises up in rebellion.
  • If a shadow has 0 hit points or below, it is tamed and will rebel nevermore. 
  • If a shadow kills its caster, it also loses its life and becomes a mere absence of light.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #237: The Black Gazelles of Gilded Horn

Sat, 09/09/2023 - 18:03

Seven hexes northwest, four north of Alakran. 


On an eminence, an out-thrust lip of the eastern Dhuga ridge, accessible only from the east, is the walled fortress of the military and hunting charioteer company, the Black Gazelles of Gilded Horn. Their black enamelled chariots with golden ornaments are drawn by trios of the titular beast, whose delicate strain has been bred to achieve an adequate size for the swift transport of two lithe and lightly protected men. The company numbers some eighty.

Their reputation as lechers and roisterers is confined within the walls of this fortress. There is a central keep, stocked with comforts and luxuries, whereto loose urbanites and wayward shepherdesses are often lured. But in Eryptos and the civilized country to the west, the Gazelles are the very image of rectitude, travelling to and from periods of formal leave in silent groups of 3-18. 

Their hunting excursions, by further contrast, are excuses to get away from both the stiffness of formal manners, and the exhaustion of sybaritic pleasures. In the chariot, in the tent of black silk pitched on the hillside amid a stand of terebinths, the groups of 2-12 Gazelles who roam the Dhuga Hills recover their spent virility. Some are even moved to stirring song, or heroic poetry, by their fellows' exertions in pursuit of the fleet gemsbok or the wrathful rhinoceros.

If you, adventurers, meet a group of Black Gazelles, know that they travel two to a chariot, with odd numbers riding alone. A group of 4 will contain the equivalent of two level 1, one level 2, and one level 3 fighter. The fifth will be a level 5, either fighter, ranger, or rogue. A tenth will be level 8 in one of those classes. They are all skilled and dangerous with the scimitar, long lance, and longbow, as much on foot as from a moving platform. If ten or more are encountered, the Prince of Eryptos (the Radiant Gemsbok of Autumn, level 2 because of his young years, but outranking them all), will be among them 50% of the time.

How will they receive you? With deference, if you are Wahatti nobility, or any kind of Urig from the middle classes upward. With camaraderie, if you are any member of the Wahatti military, for the Gazelles strive to avoid grudges in the fraternity. Anyone else -- out of the way, thou peasant, thou tinker! Or halt -- maybe you are poaching? Scandal, crisis, and relentless persecution from the full weight of the Wahatti state (minus the Prince's particular enemies) will follow anyone who slays one of the Black Gazelles, either the literal kind or the human kind.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 # 236: Red Dogs

Fri, 09/08/2023 - 07:07

Six hexes northwest, four north of Alakran.


A marker for several clans of wild dogs, 12-36 strong, who roam a roughly 12-mile radius in this zone. We can model these desert canines on the diurnal South Asian dhole. Reddish-coated and almost fox-like, they are found in hunting packs of 3-5 half the time, and the rest of the time in their full clan. These dogs utter cooing sounds while maneuvering and loud yelps when attacking. If their lair is found, it is an underearth den with one or more chambers, and yes, 25% chance of some incidental treasure, you looting ghouls.

Despite being a traditional part of wilderness encounters, dogs like these really are more part of local color than a serious encounter, if played with an eye to their actual behavior. Maybe they are a threat to battered survivors of a larger battle, or to near-dead individuals left alone while their companions foolishly seek help. Otherwise, a group of these dholes is more likely to watch from a distance, and flee wisely if adventurers make a sudden move on them looking for experience points.

The local villagers hate and fear these dogs, but refrain from exterminating them out of rumors of a "special one" who lurks among them -- a crossbreed with a werecreature, demon, or even dragon, depending on who you ask.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #235: Desert Marsh of Kin

Thu, 09/07/2023 - 13:04

Five hexes northwest, six north of Alakran.


A desert marsh is no more contradictory than a desert lake, for a marsh is a lake shallow enough for reeds, shrubs, and low trees to grow in. Such a tract is the area of the riverlet Nahlu-Galal known as Kin.

There are no threats, ghosts, hauntings, or folklore beasts hiding out in the Kin. Only the tales parents tell children to keep them away from water's edge cloud this watery domain. In fact, an encounter with a group of children playing in the dusty plain -- say, from the nearby villages of Gablu, Kin-Yan, or Azuppa -- might involve them breathlessly recounting the fear-stories about the marshes. Wading in will result only in the hazard of dropping into a sudden sinkhole, leeches, disease, the whole deal. For every climax, there exists an equal and opposite anticlimax.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #234: The Band of Gabarakhu

Wed, 09/06/2023 - 11:29

4 hexes northwest, 7 north of Alakran.


In the cleft of the cracked hill known as Gabarakhu, a band of adventurers have dug a cave retreat. They do not often congregate there, roving widely in the varied lands east of Eryptos, and in the city itself where they are neck-deep in the intrigues of palace and street. Practically, they work as a foil for the protagonist party, rivals who seek the same prizes they do. The Gabarakhu group are not heroes, nor yet bandits, but mirror your players at their most venal and gold-grubbing.

Annunitum "The Prevailing Seducer" (Bard 5/Warlock 4): An extremely good-looking man, always wearing green, with oddly violet eyes and long hair braided into polished bronze rings. He was born into the Sillashu family of aristocrats in Mu-Asharru, the capital, but disowned by his father as illegitimate. Then, he was raised, rejected, and grudingly welcomed back by a cadet branch of the family in Eryptos -- though they draw the line at hosting his scruffy friends. He considers himself a poet and lyrist in the classical traditions, but knows a surprising number of vulgar tavern songs. It is hard to spot the difference between his song magic and the gifts he received from his lover (though really, supernatural procuress), rumored to be a Peri of the Fey Plane. Their relationship is, however, notoriously open, and he makes few distinctions between men and women in his advances.

Shushunta "Adamant Stone of Greed" (Wizard 8). A stranger to the wizardly schools of Eryptos, she was rejected as an apprentice by all three notorious wizards of Eryptos a decade ago, for her crass interest in wealth. Thus she learned her craft paying unrefuseable fees to the wizards who dwell in the far and lonely places of the realms. She is short and stocky, of Pungatani origin, and wears a headband with an adamantium stone in it, which she uses as an arcane focus. In any dealings she brings a scale and weights along and will memorize spells to ensure she is not cheated.

Ku-baba (Barbarian 6). The muscle of the group, literally, Ku-Baba has the "Blood of the Nephilim" or legendary giants - in short, she is a goliath, and towers over seven feet tall, head shaven and arms tattooed in bands of ancient prayers to the god Hurru. She wields twin hammers in battle. If Annunitum is hard to ignore in a crowd, Ku-Baba is impossible. She has worked for many as a guard or mercenary and is well-connected among the lowlife, with a lust for life that demands the acquisition and immediate spending of considerable funds.

As well, any given mission of the Band will be accompanied by 1d4 temporary hires -- fighters and rogues of level 1-3. They pay well, but nobody has located their stash, and only fools seek in the cleft of the hill that gives them their name. Shushunta is known to place powerful and hostile spells there in defense, and the few who have survived or bypassed these report that only creature comforts are stowed there..


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #233: Oddly Shaped Stones

Tue, 09/05/2023 - 07:00

3 hexes northwest, 8 north of Alakran.


In this barren place, may we present a d6 table of strange stones? These will only be found if a "lair" roll is made in an empty desert hex (1 on the d20) and even then there is only a 1/6 chance of finding it unless someone is specifically watching the ground. Stones in hill terrain or with any kind of ground cover do not stand out enough to be noticed. All of them have magical uses but none radiate magic.

1. Toe of a petrified lion. Ingredient of a flesh to stone potion; alchenists will pay 50 or, if hard bargaining, 100 gp for it.

2. Round flat stone with a red mark resembling a magical sigil. Can be substituted as a spell component for up to 1000 gp worth of gems.

3. Stone that is thin and standing up but casts no shadow (only noticeable within 3 hours of sunrise or sunset. A minor marvel that can be sold to collectors or mountebanks for up to 100 gp.

4. Black stone with mica in it, like stars inteh night sky. If crushed and used for sand as a spell component in sleep, doubles its effectiveness (both number of hit dice/creatures affected, and duration).

5. Sandstone looking oddly like a treasure chest. Can be sold as a curio for 5 gp, or cracked open to reveal the 500 gp ruby inside.

6. White stone with one end resembling a skull. Does double damage if used as a sling stone, but crumbles into dust if it kills a being.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #232: Winds of the Scarp

Mon, 09/04/2023 - 06:59

Two hexes northwest, nine north of Alakran.


The Scarp, that central wall of mountainous stone formations that divides the higher east from the lower west, gives rise to odd phenomena when winds blow directly in its face, whether from the east or from the west.

Standing here, a strong wind from the west will blow up against the face of the Scarp. Scattered dust will "clothe" the Scarp in a thick and eerie haze, and the blowback circulation leaves a "silt fog" of yellow dust in the air for six hours and to a distance of 3-5 miles. The effect is most promounced in places like this, where no intervening badlands or foothills break the hammering of the wind against the Scarp's full height.

A strong wind from the east, though, will end up whistling high overhead, while below you watch in eerie calm. Birds are buffeted, dust trails stream through the air, and the wind is only felt at 7-10 miles distance to the west.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #231: Scarp Cats

Sun, 09/03/2023 - 06:57

Two hexes northwest, seven north of Alakran.

Mittellus draws from all earthly biomes, so within a day's walk of "Old World" leopards 25 miles to the north (probably outside the scope of thsi hexcrawl), the Scarp's extended convolutions give refuge to a population of five roving "Now World" mountain lions. A useful comparison can be found here.

Two of these are pumapards,  the product of interfertility with said leopards -- they are short-legged, smaller than the others, despite the leopard's greater strength, and have patches of spots on their coat. A few animal collectors in Eryptos may be interested in captured specimens of these rare beasts.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #230: Gablu Homesteads

Sat, 09/02/2023 - 09:18

3 hexes northwest, 6 hexes north of Alakran.


Irrigation works radiate from a small, spring-watered lake -- an oasis, in fact -- and water the fields of four homesteads spread across a few square mines. Collectively, the lake and settlements are known as Gablu Sha-Madbani.

Each homestead is a complex of adobe buildings that holds an extended family of multiple cousin lines numbering 20-40 people, and 25-50% that number in hired and indentured workers. Essentially, this is a village distributed across terrain.

Each of the homesteads has a specialization of labor and is named after a local creature that was hunted to extinction generations ago - the smithing clan Gurha has the bulette, the sewing and woodworking clan Ashapti has the axe beak, the religious and lorekeeping clan Wallahha has the lion, and the defense and earthworks clan Garash has the manticore. Each clan hall has stuffed and mounted trophies of the respective beast.

Wallahha clan is the largest and a young Wallahha couple, Betish (she) and Rimush (he), wish to split off and form a fifth homestead. To earn legitimacy, they believe, they will have to hunt to death the population of another animal, the closest being the mountain cats in #231. The only question is whether the couple will be villains (in the eyes of sandwalkers and tender hearted adventurers) or questgivers (for ailurophobic or simply greedy wanderers).

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs