Domo Arigato

The party headed boldly north, to where they had been told the gnomes had last been seen… but first, a pitstop.

While delving ruins under an abandoned castle and trying to drive out a grell infestation, the party had come across what looked like a large but smaller than average iron golem in the treasure lair of a long-dead beholder. They carried off the gold, but had avoided the golem, expecting it to be some sort of failsafe security device they had been fortunate not to trigger yet.

Of course, they were wrong.

Once they got to learning about the gnomes and the fantastic constructs they piloted in battle and how those constructs looked a little like small iron golems and how that might be a reasonable thing for a egomaniacal beholder to keep as a trophy… They went back for a second look.

And so they did. On closer examination (they had pointedlt avoided even going near the thing the first time) they discovered the chest panel had severe structural damage and was propped closed after having been torn open.

Prying the chest plate back revealed a small seat with a safety harness. Two large metal gloves and metal helmet were also there, attached to the golem with thin metal wires.

The party looked at each other, and the halfling cleric shrugged. He was the only one small enough to try it out, and, after the “dress the cleric as a child” incident, he knew damn well they were gonna want him to.

He climbed in and the party took cover around the corner, you know, in case it exploded.

The halfling sat him down in the seat and put on the gloves and helmet. He discovered the helmet covered his eyes intentionally, but otherwise fit perfectly.

Party Time

The halfling immediately found himself standing, disembodied, in a black void of some kind of otherspace. He could see himself, but nothing else was there with him. A gentle voice spoke from all around him.

“Hello, I am Pinwheel, Third Light Gnomish Lance. Where is Commander Dalyn? You are not Commander Dalyn.”

“Um, no, I’m Wolfgang, Cleric of Yondalla. I’m looking for the gnomes. Can you help me?”

“I’m sorry, only Commander Dalyn is authorized to pilot this construct. Are you Commander Dalyn?”

The halfling paused to consider his options. “No, I’m not, but I do need your help to find the gnomes and prevent the end of the world.”

“Please elaborate on ‘end of the world'”

“Pinwheel? How long have you been stuck here?”

“Unclear, time is not known. Presumed a long time.”

“What is your last memory, Pinwheel?”

“Commander Dalyn engaged a beholder to cleanse the area and rescue nearby villages. During combat, this unit received critical structural damage and Commander Dalyn exited the construct to engage to enemy and enact repairs.” Pinwheel paused as if checking something, “Self Repair Protocol is… offline.”

“Damnit, There is a demon army massing to invade and destroy the realm. I need to find the gnomes. Can you help me?”

Pinwheel paused, weighing it’s options. “The only authorized users are Commander Dalyn and repair crew. Are you repair crew?”

The halfling didn’t like lying and made a worried face. Pinwheel continued.

“The world needs saving. I want to help. Are you repair crew?

The halfling took a deep breath and nodded in the void. “Greater good.” He muttered to himself.

“Excellent! Mobility authorized! Magic Missile Pod offline. Scorching Array offline. Force Scythe offline. Grapple countermeasures offline. Gravitational dampeners offline. Inertial shielding offline. Let’s save the world, Repair Technician Wolfgang.”

Before he could respond Wolfgang felt his senses shift to looking out of the constructs helmet and he peered down at where his party was peering back up at him. He had an overwhelming sense of bigness he had never experienced before.

When he spoke his voice came out booming and mechanical. “Ok, guys. I’m in. We can find the gnomes.”

He took his first uncertain steps out of the alcove and into the main treasure room. The constuct moved like his own body naturally would. It was time to save the world!

Forced Foreshadowing

Having defeated the giant stone spider monster, the players expected to be marched through the streets in a parade with flowers and money and maybe some kind of reward.

Boy were they wrong.

While they fought the monster, the city guard was notably absent, as was the team of adventurers that worked for the rival dragon, the rival dragon that was supposed to have controlling interest in the town and clandestine peerage over it’s Prince.

When they returned to the city, they found their rivals waiting at the gate, and they were given 24 hours to dissapear.

You may immediately think that is very harsh. What you are not aware of is that the players are mixed up in a game of Dragon Xorvitaal, and lethal conflict between pawns is not only normal, but expected. That 24 hours head start was a gift and a token of respect.

Their rivals wanted them gone so they could investigate why their town guard, a well paid mercenary group called the Ebon Spear, had chosen that moment to stay in bed instead of acting against the spider, but the players didn’t know that.

They decided to take the deal and boogie.

They met up with their wizard friend (remember naked mage?) who, in an entirely forced and contrived coincidence, was entertaining a visitor when they arrived, their dragoness patron, Inshallah the Silver.

She and Audrafinn the archmage were discussing current events and we’re glad to see the players. The sky was opening again and the demons were coming back… soon. It was unclear how soon.

Now, this demon invasion I had been hitting them with as ham fisted foreshadowing as I could, and I needed to bring that to the fore.

Audrafinn explained that she had built her wizard tower to observe the Demon Wastes, the blasted and corrupted lands left over from their last invasion, and she told them the sky had opened again, but only just a crack.

(Ominous Music)

Inshallah told the players that in times of great threat the dragon game could be “paused”, so that all pawns could focus on a problem that threatened the world, and by extension, the game itself.

She said that she had already contacted the Games Master and a great council of dragons had been called, all of the local players at once and their best pawns, to discuss the Pause.

As her best pawns, the players were going to accompany her…

They flew in the back of the dragon, a feat of wonder and awe that was glossed over in favor of getting the PCs back to the part where they killed stuff. Decending into the northern desert, they saw the location they were heading to.

Beneath them was a platform, a natural stone mesa made of reddish stone. It was over a hundred feet across and possibly two hundred feet tall. On the top, waiting for them, was a colossal ancient gold dragon. Inshallah explained to them as they landed that this was Grendontorth, the Games Master.

The Games Master was forbidden to play, she explained, but his rule was unquestioned. He was a cleric of Io, the draconic god of neutrality, and the meeting place was holy ground, consecrated to Io. No one dared question Grendontorth here. Even if they did, he was still an ancient wyrm gold dragon.

The rest of the dragon players arrived shortly after the heroes did. There was a green dragon that refused to look anyone directly in the eye and was pointedly trying to look bored flanked by lizardfold, a spastic little bug-eyed white dragon with a twitch and a cadre of barbarians, a fang dragon clad in full plate and nursing fresh wounds on his legs and chest and traveling with an ogre, and lastly Thanadrukk, the black dragon, the players nemesis, accompanied by the same party that had been hounding them the entire time they were staying in Bechamel.

The cast had assembled, and the Pause was announced, to much grumbling and complaining from the dragons. Business concluded, the dragons mostly left, leaving the players, Inshallah, Grendontorth (who lived there and wasn’t leaving) and Thanadrukk.

They chose not to talk to him, even under flag of truce.

Unsure how to proceed they asked Grendontorth if he had any ideas. The dragon told them that while he was not allowed to play the Game, he still had agents in the world, and he had instructed them to figure out a way to stop the demons.

He had this idea that if the Elochian gnomes could be found, their magical talents could be used to either seal the tear or at least assist in battle against the invasion once it broke through.

Armed with this knowledge, and facing a ticking clock, the players decided to set off and find the gnomes!

Erasmus’ Daughters

“Come, child. Sit next to me.”

The little girl looked up from her dolls to see the old woman sitting in the bench in her playroom. She knew the old woman simply as “Nanny”. She had always marvelled at how the old woman’s skin seemed so thin and tight on her face, and had noticed that she always wore the same faded, blue dress.

She quickly scrambled to obey, clambering up onto the bench next to Nanny as she had been told. She smoothed down her plain homespun dress and adjusted the tiny white kapp bonnet that held back her hair.

“Your father has trusted me to raise his daughters for a very, very long time. I know your father is a distant man, and doesn’t spend much time with you. I had hoped you might want to know more about him.”

The girl child wiggled in her seat and nodded. Nanny always told the best stories.

“Your father, Erasmus, is not crazy. You must remember that. When you get older a lot of people will say he his, but he’s not. Those people just can’t understand the depth of what a grieving father will do.

“When you were younger,” Nanny paused and scrunched her brow, as if trying to count the years, “…much younger, your older brother, Charles, was lost at sea. Your father didn’t react well. The clerics said that because there was no body, there was no way to bring him back from the dead. It was a dark time, and your father spent a lot of time and money trying to rescue your brother from death.

“In the end, he couldn’t find a solution. In his grief and rage he cursed the gods that wouldn’t help him, and vowed not to lose any of his other children… ever.

“Many men have made similar vows, but Erasmus had the money and skill to try and actually make it work. You see, magic is a pathway to many abilities some would consider… unnatural.

“He studied life, death, undeath, and the true nature of the soul. It was to protect you, you understand. He found a way to keep you from ever leaving him.

“To do this he started two projects. The first would give you a new body if something ever happened to you. The second would make you live forever and never grow old.

“But something amazing happened. When you…your older sister, I mean, went through the ritual to make …her… live forever, the copy body woke up.

“Erasmus was pleased, and surprised. He loves you very much, and has enough love for you and all of your sisters, no matter how many sisters you have.”

The little girl scrunched up her face. “That does ‘viable’ mean? Daddy said I was viable.”

“Oh, that means he loves you,” the old nanny continued, her neck creaking quietly as she nodded, “That means you’re really his daughter.”

The child pondered, “Nanny? Where do babies come from?”

Nanny laughed, a sound like a dry cough, “Babies come from the workshop. You know the big metal door with the red X on it? You must never go in there. You must never see where the babies come from.”

The child’s face brightened, “But I want to see, Nanny! Can you sneak me in there, maybe? I so very much want to see.”

Nanny shook her head, and for a moment looked off into space, “I can’t do that, little one. Erasmus forbids it.” She paused for a moment, “I cannot disobey Erasmus. You’ll understand when you’re older.

“And when you are older, if you stick to your training and your schooling, your father will put you through the ritual too, and you will become immortal.

Nanny frowned, “It will hurt… a lot, little one, but you will be ready. Your father will prepare you.

“When you get old enough you will come of age, and on that day you will get a new everlasting life, and a new sister too.”

The child nodded her head, not entirely understanding, and scratched at the bandage on her abdomen. Earlier that day she had had a procedure done, when her father had called her ‘viable’. She had lost one square inch of flesh, a bit of intestines that she would never miss.

She was so excited to grow up!

(This is a bit of worldbuilding for my Aoela player. They didn’t give me much to work with, just something about an insular family with a Necropolitain tradition. I hope they like it!)

Tokusatsu

The spider brute forced its way up into the street, and the heroes took a moment to rally and make a quick plan before springing into action.

The barbarian shouldered the cleric and quickly scaled the rubble after it. The additional weight of the halfling and his armor brought his total encumbrance from a light load to… still a light load, so he had no trouble.

The rest of the party scaled as well, moving slightly slower but having no trouble with the shattered rocks.

Once they reached the top, they sprung into action.

Big damn heroes, sir

The dread necromancer charged it, smacking it several times in the legs, provoking it, and getting it’s attention. It turned and lunched at her, it’s purple lambent flames coalescing in its mouth, but she rolled out of the way and ran.

She ran towards the river. She couldn’t outrun it on foot, but she wove between the buildings, never getting out of sight, but making it as hard as possible for the thing to charge at her without having to shoulder though the narrow streets.

The monster distracted and heading in a safe direction, the cleric/barbarian duo came running up behind it. The barbarian tied their rope around his waste, but couldn’t hit a house with a howitzer at range, so the cleric through the grappling hook. They knew the goblin necromancer got inside the thing, that meant there had to be a hatch up there somewhere.

The barbarian scaled the rope easily, landing them both on to, and a quick examination revealed the trap door carved in the beasts stone exoskeleton. Dwarves are amazing at identifying stonework.

The barbarian jumped down first, and the cleric after him into the cramped space inside the spider but he was hit square in the chest with another fear spell. He clambered back out of the spider and flung himself off, leaving the cleric to face the evil wizard alone.

The cleric was not prepared for this, but attacked anyway, swapping inflict wound spells with the wizard until they both ran out of power and resorted to melee.

The sorceress had tried to assist with bow fire, but after her first four arrows plonked harmlessly off the beast, she instead followed cautiously, waiting for an opportunity to assist.

What the saw was the barbarian, the rope still tied around his waist, flailing and yelling as he hung helpless from the spider.

The Dread Necromancer kited the monster to the river, and followed it’s backs south toward the edge of the city, leading the monster out of the populated areas and down a path that caused the least property damage.

By the time she got to the gates of the city, the barbarian had recovered, and scaled the rope angrily, eager to finish the evil wizard off.

The spider hit the city wall like an avalanche, throwing shattered stone and splintered wood as it scuttled inexorably through the gates and into the fields beyond.

The barbarian dropped back into the spider’s hull, screaming “I’m BAAAACK! ROUND TWO, BITCH!”

Weakened by the cleric, the wizard went down instantly. Bits of goblin scattered all over the inside of the spider, and all over the heroes.

The barbarian turned to the cleric and grinned. The cleric blanched as the barbarian started smashing on the spider from the inside. Glowing cracks started forming.

The cleric bailed out, flinging himself from the top of the spider and yelling for the rest of the party to get clear.

As they ran for the cover of the tree kind, the spider went down with the sharp crack of sundering stone.

Then it exploded.

And there, pulling himself out of the rubble, was a badly injuries barbarian, grinning like a maniac.

They had won.

Drums in the Deep

Standing there, battered and spent, the heroes could hear drums further in the tunnels. They didn’t know exactly that that meant, but drums meant drummers, and, barring a lone Matthew McConaughey inspired goblin, it meant more enemies.

Stoned Naked Bongos in the Deep

The players did the prudent thing, rather than the brave, and advanced to the rear. They talked among themselves and decided if something down there was going to kill them, it would either do it while they were warm and well fed in the tavern, or it would wait for them to get back.

Among their travels in the city of Bechamel, they had stopped in the local museum to have some old documents identified, and the curator had off hand asked them to keep an eye out for a missing fossil they had lost from their collection, an unidentified fragment about the size of a football.

If you can tell where this is going you’re paying better attention than the players.

They headed back down into the sewers at first light, again bypassing the first level and all of my carefully planned encounters, and going directly into the goblin warrens. Upon reaching their furthest point, they discovered the drums had not stopped.

They proceeded carefully down the hallway, sneaking around the corner to spy on whatever was going on.

They found a ritual of some kind. A goblin dressed in dark robed stood on a throne shaped like a large stone spider. He was surrounded by small chanting robed creatues they assumed were goblins. A screening force of larger goblins stood around them as guards, and an unmanned ballista stood nearby.

For this encounter I had reskinned Dekanter goblins to act as guards.

The players, noticing the chanting increasing in intensity, decided their best course of action would be to try and take out the chanters and disrupt the ritual. They charged into the open, with the barbarian in the front.

The chanting continued, and the guards moved to intercept, some of them moving to man the ballista, and the others moving in the way.

The cleric attacked the ballista, having a personal vendetta against all siege weaponry from his previous encounters, and the goblin on the throne revealed himself to be the necromancer they were looking for.

It ripped off a spell, provoking fear in the barbarian, punching through his rage and causing him to flee back into the tunnels.

The dread necro used the distraction to slip past the guards and begin slaughtering the chanters and the mage focused her spells on the goblin necromancer itself.

The plan worked well, and the chanters began falling quickly to their onslaught. The guards and their ballista were neutralized, and everything seemed to be going their well. It was just a matter of time before the barbarian recovered and joined them.

That was when the last chanter thew back his hood and revealed himself to be a dark blue skinned goblin, that snarled and shifted into a wolf demon hybrid. The goblin necromancer used this opportunity to slide into a trap door in the throne, and escape inside stone spider dias.

The blue wolf goblin was losing badly, and as the last chanter fell, he teleported away, screaming hideous threats of fire and vengeance from both himself and his dark masters. He seemed oddly articulate for a goblin.

The heroes turned to see the entire spider throne erupt into purple flame and begin moving. The legs unfurled to reveal it was not just a statue, but the fossilized stone exoskeleton of an huge ancient spider. From inside the thing they could hear the goblin necromancer laughing.

The recovered barbarian raced back into the room as the massive spider beast slammed into the ceiling, pushing through the stone into the street above.

They remembered the exploding zombies from earlier. If they killed the spider in the city, the explosion could vaporize a city block.

Empire of the Whirling Gate

Because players have to get their katanas somewhere… (Source: https://www.deviantart.com/saintyak)

Originally a mountainous country that dominated it’s neighbors, the Whirling Gate Empire now sits in the Celestial Mountain range on the far east side of the Great Grass Sea, between the grass sea and the Koniro Ocean.

This is a very lawful and harmonious society, with extensive laws and clear heirachy. The laws themselves may not be universal, as the Empire is not one of equality, but they are uniformly enforced as they are applied to the classes and castes among the citizens.

The empire consists of the immortal emperor (who’s name has been forgotten in time, and is usually refered to as “Glorious Emperor”) who appears as a normal human man, a ruling/administrative council of Ogre Magi, an warrior class, and a working class.

These classes are not fixed at birth, and they are not tied to race. More than one dishonored Magi has been expelled to toil in the fields for the rest of his days.

The working class, and the bulk of the simple soldiery, is composed of Hobgoblins. They thrive in these conditions, and enjoy working within the confines of the society. Each of them look to their betters, and idolize the stray hobgoblins that has been promoted to Daimyo or Samurai retainers to prestigious patrons.

The ruling elite is composed of Ogre Magi, who’s various families conspire against each other to expand their power and their estates. This is for several reasons, and not just money and power.

The third race that populates the Empire is the Ko-Oni, the little ogres.

As an ogre mage grows through adolescence he absorbes the magic of the land around him, using it to grow both physically and magically. The magic they absorb runs through the Celestial mountains in the form of Dragon Lines, that emanate from the Nexus of the Lines, the Unassailable Palace, where the emperor keeps his court.

Ogre Mages that grow up near the strongest dragon lines, grow extremely powerful, becoming Elemental Lords. Those who grow up far from these centers of magic never grow into their full measure of power, becoming Ko-Oni.

Thus, the ogre mages fight and scheme amongst each other for the one thing of greatest value, estates where their children can grow to become as powerful as possible, increasing the honor of their family, and extending their legacy to the next generation.

The Whirling Gate is not a metaphor. It is a very real object that rests in the throne room of the Unassailable Palace. It is unclear if the Emperor draws power from it, or or if his power maintains it, but those details are irrelevant in everyday life.

The Whirling Gate is an massive objects some fifteen feet across and seemingly made of hammered bronze. It is composed of three rings that rotate independently in a lazy gyroscopic fashion. They are not linked in any way, but are suspended by magical energy. Withing the rings floats a field of energy of sun yellow light, far too bright to look at directly.

The one thing everyone in the empire is clear on, is that the Gate connects this life and the afterlife, and the more souls that pass through it, the faster is spins. This has lead to certain uncommon expressions in Imperial parlance, such as “charging the gate” meaning “to run headlong into death” and “meet you at the gate” meaning “I may not see you again until after we are both dead”

The Emperor, linked in the public consciousness to the gate, is worshipped as a god, and, despite his godhood being technically unclear, can grant spells to clerics. The Emperor’s domains are Law, Balance, and Competition.

KO-ONI

*+2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma

*Creature Type: Humanoid

*Medium: As Medium creatures, Ko-Oni have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.

*Ko-Oni base land speed is 30 feet.

*Darkvision: Ko-Oni can see in the dark out to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and sharakim can function just fine with no light at all.

*+1 natural armor bonus: Ko-Oni skin is tough and difficult to pierce.

*Oni-Blooded (Ex): Ko-Oni count as Giants for any effect relating to race or type. They also count as their actual type (Humanoid), and may choose whichever is advantageous to them at the time.

*Shadow Affinity (Ex): In areas of darkness or shadowy illumination (including magical shadow), a Ko-Oni gains a +2 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently

*Favored Class: Wizard (Conjurer) or Rogue. A multiclass Ko-Oni ‘s wizard or rogue classes does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing. However, only one of the classes can be ignored.

(I couldn’t decide if this is LA+1 or +0. Let me know what you think.)

Goliaths

Ok, starting out, this is going to be a much more negative post than my usual articles. You’ve been warned. It’s a rant.

I’m going to open by saying I absolutely detest the Goliath race. I remember cracking open my brand new copy of Races of Stone back in the day and thumbing through all the awesome dwarf and gnome content and being very happy with it… until I got to the end.

Basically, the Goliath race tacked on to the end of the book stinks heavily of a “crunch before fluff” creation process. They are numerically superior, and have history and culture as thin as single ply toilet paper, and just as disposable. Unlike the other races that have some background and a clear place in the world, these guys exist solely to give players who want to play melee “toons” something to build without all that roleplaying nonsense getting in the way.

I use the word “toon” derogatorily, in the WoW usage. It’s a collection of numbers and stats and nothing more.

Imagine, of you will, you were the DM and one of your players came up to you with a homebrew race they made up and wanted to play. I imagine the conversation would go something like this.

“So, I want to play a melee guy and I made a new race I want to try out.”

“Ok, let’s talk about that. I have to make sure it’s balanced well against what were already using.”

“Oh, it’s super balanced! The race has a level adjustment, so it’s balanced.”

“That’s a good start. That means it will not have as high of an attack roll or as many hit points as the other players.”

“Right! So I gave him a +4 to strength to negate the penalty to attack roll and actually give him a bonus!”

“Ok…”

“And I gave him a bonus to constitution so he’ll have as many hit points as everyone else.”

“That doesn’t sound right…”

“Oh, and Ive been doing some thinking, and remember that encounter where that fighter was tripping and bull rushing everyone?”

“…yes”

“I gave myself a bonus to resist that! And remember before the encounter before that with the enemy wizard that cast hold person on me?”

“…yes”

“I’m immune to that now! And remember the encounter before what with the rogues who kept using feign to get sneak attack against me?”

“…yes”

“I get a bonus to resist that now! And remember the encounter before where that giant kept doing extra damage because he was using a large weapon?”

“…yes?”

“I get that too!”

“…wait, hold on…”

“Super cool, right? They’re all bald too!”

“Hold on. You want all that; negating the penalty of the level adjustment, and all the bonuses? You want to be strong, tough, huge, bald, and charismatic without any downsides?

You realize you made an entire race based on Terry Crews? You’re going to need to take this idea back to the drawing board…”

Leaked original Goliath concept art

Never before have I seen such a thinly veiled attempt at Mary Sue bullshit in a race as I have seen in the Goliath. Basically, any character concept you have can be made mechanically better with a layer of goliath cheese on top. (Yes, even wizard.)

So I had a new player text me his concept yesterday for the game this Friday. I asked him what kind of character he wanted to play.

He hits me back with “goliath with half-minotaur hurler?”

You know this ain’t my first rodeo, right son?

Elochian Gnomes

Elochian Gnomes generally have large eyes, straight hair, thin facial features and pale thin skin. They take their name from their city, Elochia, and carried from their old world the most advanced magitech found in the Bastard Lands.

That’s a Tleilaxu, but close enough for now. (Source: https://www.reddit.com/user/Gun-it-is)

Implants, rideable golems, enhanced armors, eternal wands and fantastical flying conveyances all stem from Elochian innovations. Their golem corps were unrivalled on the battlefield and even their rank and file soldiers were equipped with magical weaponry.

The city of Elochia itself was a marvel. The fortress city floated above the ground, and when the patchwork of the new world was created the entire city was plucked out of the air and transported whole to it’s new home.

The gnomes were, of course, unhappy having been stolen, but their mobile position allowed them to adapt quickly, and they set themselves to escaping back to their old homeland.

With their only hope laying in they magical prowess, a minor gnomish god of technology, Mancer, became their focus of worship. He, in trade, blessed them with the secrets of greater craftsmanship.

They set up a series of ground stations where they could dock and resupply and trade with their new neighbors.

The entire time they considered themselves above the problems around them. They kept to themselves, insular and isolated, trading the services of their golem corps for alliances and supplies.

Then the invasion came, the demons found a weakness in the barrier between their world and the prime material, and exploited it, tearing open the space between the two and allowing their bloodthirsty horde to pour in.

The heroes of that age rallied together, calling on the nation’s to band together and stand against this new threat, and the gnomes gave their response in a grand fashion.

Instead of deploying their golem corps in their glorious array, they enacted the escape plan they had been working on the entire time.

A crackling field of energy whipped around their floating city and with a flash of light they disappeared.

The world was not theirs. The gnomes, without their ties to any place or group, hadn’t adopted the new world as their own, in the same way the terrestrial races had. And, when the new world was in crisis, they simply left.

They left behind relics of their having been there, as well as the various bases had used for trade, but where they went, and how they went, was to this day a mystery.

They did leave behind one unlucky band of gnomes, the fourth light golem lance, that had been deployed to the city of Elsarime in the far north and had not returned in time. They returned from their mission to find themselves without a home.

They joined the battle against the demons and aquitted themselves well, and afterward the survivors retreated to the most substantial settlement the Elochians had created, the Fortress Peregrine, in the Peregrine Mountain Range.

They continued to export magical items, but it was clear the greatest craftsmen among them had left with the city.

ELOCHIAN GNOME

*+2 Intelligence, -2 Constitution.

*Humanoid (Gnome).

*Small: As a Small creature, an Elochian gnome gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.

*Elochian gnome base land speed is 20 feet.

*Aura Vision: An Elochian gnome can read the auras of an enchantment. After one minute of handling an item or concentrating on an environmental effect, the gnome may determine it’s magical properties as if he had cast detect magic. The range of this effect is touch.

*Weapon Familiarity: Elochian gnomes may treat siege weapons as martial weapons rather than exotic weapons.

*+1 to caster level when creating magic items.

*Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass Elochian gnome’s wizard class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty. All golem pilots have a minimum of one wizard level to interface properly.

*Level Adjustment: +0.

(I know, as a rule, there are no +2 Int/LA +0 races in core 3.5. Rules were meant to be broken)

The Bastard Lands

My own homebrew world I call the Bastard Lands. It’s an amalgamation of whatever the heck I want, mixed, diced, chopped, covered and chunked, like good Waffle House hash browns.

Pictured: Good storytelling

The original idea was that there was a gang of gods that were unhappy being the lesser beings of their pantheon, and decided to improve their station by creating their own world full of worshippers. The “minor” problem with their plan was that none of them had the raw power to do that, creatio ex nihilo.

Thus, to create their world they stole a jigsaw of pieces from other worlds and times and stitched them together in a seemingly haphazard fashion, according to their own designs.

Entire kingdoms woke up one morning to find everything outside their borders was changed. Cities finished lunch to find everything outside their walls was different. Fishermen returned from sea to find their ports gone and the entire coastline changed.

For a short time, there was chaos, as the various and vastly different neighbors met each other for the first time, without centuries of context. Wars were waged in an instant, as everyone searched for the cause, and blamed everyone else.

As the geological locations changed, weather changed with it, and once fertile lands became deserts, former deserts bloomed to life and jungle kingdoms found themselves in a new frozen climates.

As the final act of their plan, the gods sealed the realm, preventing extraplanar travel. Wizard who had once walked he multiverse suddenly found their spells simply no longer functioned, or deposited them, unceremoniously, in the great sea of the astral plane that now surrounded the new prime material.

Eventually there came an uneasy peace, as simple survival concerns became more important than petty questions of misguided vengeance.

The gods realized quickly they made one serious mistake. Without access to other planes, the souls of the dead were trapped and unable to escape to the afterlife. After some debate among them, they peeled back some of their previous isolation, allowing connections to the upper and lower planes for the purpose of transporting the deceased.

However, the demons of the abyss quickly learned of the connection, and began scheming, as they do, to drag this fledgling plane into hell.

Only the oldest of the elder beings remember the time before the (insert cliché term for major event here) Apocalypse/Sundering/Founding/Confabulation/Explodemageddon. Lichs and elder dragons, as well as those surviving elves over 1000 years old, might have distant memories of their original worlds, but for most the new world is the only world they’ve ever known.

There are surviving records and relics of long lost magics and places, as well as ruins of those who were shunted in and did not survive.

The largest city in the Bastard Land is simply called “The Place”. Desirous of a major city to rival the other realms, the young gods simply stole five or six existing cities, and placed them all next to and overlapping each other in a jumbled mess, as well as including several unconnected towns and villages. The ensuing clash of languages and customs was catastrophic, but effective. Without an actual name for the city, and with each group wanting to keep their original name, the conflicting factions took to calling the megatropolis “The Place” as a sort of compromise. The Place is not peaceful, by any stretch of the imagination.

This is where I tell my tales. I’ll go into the more established groups and races later, but this setting allows me to tell whatever story I want, with whatever races and classes, from whatever existing setting, regardless of rhyme or reason, because chaos the name of the game.

I plan on going into the parts of the world I’ve created of my own in later posts. Two creations immediately come to mind; the Elochian Gnomes, and the Holy Halfman Empire.

Creating Life: The Art of Worldbuilding

As a storyteller, I consider myself a craftsman, and, as a craftsman, it’s important to practice, and also read.

That in mind, in February I picked up a series of books, specifically on worldbuilding. I got the entire three book set, and read them, mostly.

I say mostly because the instructions were very close to what I had already come up with independently. See, at the time I had joined a floundering LARP, and was trying to help them turn their game from nothing more than a disconnected set of sparring matches into an actual role playing game.

The key to that was worldbuilding. Without some sort of established setting, it is very hard for new players to immerse themselves, especial during the crucial time before they have played their first game.

Before the first game all the new player has is whatever information that might be written. After they’ve gotten their feet wet and interacted with other players and NPCs is a bit easier for them to stay engaged, but initially it’s vital for a potential player to have something to put hooks into. I’ll talk about immersion at another time.

So at the time I was painstakingly collecting the scattered bits of lore they already had and stitching it, like a quilt, into a useful whole.

My work was unappreciated, but that’s beside the point.

So I bought these books and in my own roundabout way I’m recommending them to those who are either learning or polishing their craft.

Simply put, if I were to teach a class on being a Dungeon Master (I can dream can’t I?) this is the series of books I would use as the textbook and teach from.

I only have one fundamental disagreement with the authors method. Personally, when I start building a world, I always always start with the gods.

The gods are the ones that literally create the world. Even without a “Genesis style” creation event, the gods will shape the world based on their desires.

Also, as a man of faith and a student of history, I am acutely aware of how unifying and decisive religion can be. I could list a pile of historical references for this. Christians vs Pagans in Brittania. Christians vs Muslims in Spain. Muslims vs Pagans in Arabia. It’s a long list.

I mean, if you are going to create a society with a patron deity like war god Ares, it’s going to have very different laws and customs than one that devotes itself to harvest god Ceres. Religion is fundamental to law and culture, and thus gods must be created first.

All in all, loved the books. Would recommend.