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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dun Gwyn


There are a couple of things about the setting I don't think I have adequately conveyed during gaming, so I want to clear this up, for the purposes of Blue Booking, if nothing else.

First, Dun Gwyn is small. It's the end of line line (currently) economically and militarily. The dun itself is a quickly constructed motte-and-bailey. Lord Gwyn1, the first and current lord, has no more than a thirty riders at his disposal, although he commands a larger military garrison too. The small temple of Bel2 is located within the fortified area, and has a handful of temple guards. The detachment of soldiers (about 100, it varies because of their patrols along the coast road, and expeditions to the interior) are garrisoned in tents at the western edge of town. The town is a ramshackle of rapidly constructed buildings, half constructed buildings and tents. One of the few buildings in the town is the poor quality inn, “The Lion's Den” that your party stays at while they are in town. It is lousy with fleas and bed bugs, and doesn't offer a lot of choice in it's sleeping arrangements, either barracks style shared multi-bunk room, the common room (where you just sleep on the floor (or on a table or bench) providing your own bedding, or, lastly, the one private room the inn-keeper lives in, but is willing to rent out to paying customers. The food is mediocre, but filling. Most of the merchants are just visiting, this is the last stop on their trade route, after buying and (mostly) selling here, they turn around and head back to the coast. Most of the stuff they bring is for the soldiers.

Recently an influx of a couple of hundred settlers of various backgrounds arrived, and more are likely on their way. The dun, the soldiers and the settlers are causing tension with the local human (barbarian3) population.

Second, Tirnakaur (the colony that you are in) is hot. Think Georgia through Florida hot. It also rains a lot there, pretty much every day. So it's also muddy and wet. The area is not especially well explored, although that will probably become a campaign goal as you guys level up. Levels 1-3 are traditionally focused on dungeons (and despite being largely outside, the Hill plays like one because of the magic in the forest restricting you to various paths), levels 4+ traditionally focus on wilderness exploration type adventures, or at least overland travels to more advanced level dungeons.

Third, the amazing abundance of animals everywhere. Us modern folk don't think about this much, but there are more animals than humans in any place there are humans. I went down a rabbit hole researching horses this morning and wow, are there a lot of different, specialized horses, not just the differences between riding and draft horses, but various types of riding horses for different purposes, and all of the working horses have specializations to their jobs, with very few horses being multi-purpose. That got me thinking about the other animals, almost every household has at least one dog, for instance, or cats, a necessity for keeping vermin down (although not particularly liked especially well, as a rule), any settlement or homestead is going to have flocks of various fowl, mostly chickens, ducks and geese, and cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs; with pigs being the only ones that are raised solely for their meat (although their hides are useful too).

So I guess Dun Gwyn is mostly a smelly barnyard of an unhygienic tent city. Crossing the Shrill to the Hill might actually be safer than the impending cholera and/or typhus outbreak that is sure to occur in Dun Gwyn. Probably the only clean places there are inside the dun itself, like Lord Gwyn's hall or the temple of Bel.




1Lord Gwyn is clearly an old style lord, he keeps his own band of oath-sworn riders, most lords of Avalon have abandoned this practice.
2Bel is also known as “The Great God”, he is the most widely worshiped deity in the Avalonish pantheon.
3These “barbarians” are mostly of a similar ethnic stock to the people of Avalon, speaking a different dialect of the same root language, kind of like the difference between the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible vs. the modern American English of today. Isolated groups are of different ethnicities, there are also groups of “wild” elves here, they constitute an entirely different “barbarian” group.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Ostschild is done


Ostschild is done. It's actually been done for a few months now. A second TPK in as many weeks did it in for good, right before our Christmas holidays hiatus from gaming. I am a little sad that it's over, and maybe I'll revisit it later. Ostschild came close to being what I wanted in a D&D game; it was set in a realistic medieval milieu; it built on actual, real world history, folklore, and mythology; and it drew all of that into a coherent fantasy setting. Some concessions were made for D&D, for the feel, or the rules, or the expectations of D&D gamers. The only difference I might make is to change the rules set to something like Lion & Dragon, although it's explicitly British setting would require some retooling to make it fit the Holy Roman Empire. Alternately I might consider running a very similar set up in the British isles, I did lament a bit the choice of central European location making the names of people and places a bit difficult for both my gamers and myself to pronounce, given our American English speaking backgrounds.

I have been running a new AD&D game set in my old Garnia setting. I did TPK the party once there already, maybe three sessions in, but they dusted themselves off like troopers, made new characters and we're on our 5th session with new new PCs now. I adapted “Horror on the Hill” for play in my campaign world, and it's been fun so far (despite the TPK).

I do have some more campaign specific stuff to hand out to them, currently they are aware of the Celtic theme of the setting, and it's set in my “post-apocalyptic” timeline, where all of the old kingdoms were overrun and destroyed by the forces of evil. Their characters are descendants of the refugees that fled the main continent to the relative safety of an isolated island I am calling Avalon in the eastern ocean. Now their people are seeking to explore and resettle the ancient lands of their ancestors. The biggest surprise is that not all of the humans, elves, etc. were wiped out completely, so there are pockets of pretty hardy survivors there, although they have often descended into barbarism due to the circumstances of their own ancestors survival.

The humanoids and other evil forces have become extremely disunited in the centuries following their victory, and have squabbled greatly over the spoils amongst themselves, which is probably why there are pockets of survivors.

Anyway, we've been doing this since January, and it's April now, so I thought I'd blog about it. I still need to put together a list of Celtic names, they actually requested it. I need to write up documents for Elves, Halflings and Gnomes. I already had one I made last year for Dwarves when I was running my “Lost Atlantis” campaign online, it needed just a bit of editing to remove the Roman stuff, it's still the same campaign world, but the other side of the main continent. Atlantis was kind of an inspiration for Avalon in this campaign, an island appearing where none was before and all, only with Avalon it was placed there when the forces of good needed a place to retreat to.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Recap 2018




I am thinking about D&D a bunch while my groups are on hiatus. Lost Atlantis hasn't played since May, that campaign basically got replaced with Ostschild the next month. I do think it's sad that I kind of gave up on the largely online Lost Atlantis campaign when I got a new local group, but these things happen. Both of those groups of people and the games I have run for them have helped me a lot in dealing with Mona's death. I needed people in my life, to try and kick start some bit of normalcy for me again.

Now Ostschild is probably dead. I killed the entire party two weeks in a row. They were killed by bad luck more than anything else, but with the holidays fast approaching, and one of the regular players not being able to show for a few weeks due to work, I talked it over with some of the players and thought about things some, and I am moving on from B/X, back to AD&D. B/X is a nice vacation, and I really like it, but AD&D is home.

This means a likely move back to my “standard” AD&D campaign setting of Garnia, in use off and on since about 1983, if I recall correctly. Technically, Lost Atlantis was also in that same setting, but it was in a newly discovered lost continent I added to the setting, where it will now exist forever.

Anyway, that's, more or less, my year end review for this blog. Nothing catastrophic happened. I started gaming again, first on Roll20, then in person. I still mourn the loss of Mona, but it is getting to where it is less immediate. We start playing in my “new” AD&D campaign on the 8th of January, weather permitting.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Ostschild News Update 11-08-18

Following the latest TPK I am advancing the date a bit to match our own season, the new party will begin at Guido's Fort on the Donau river on November 13th 1018 AD. So what happened since the end of June, when I gave you the last update?

Internationally –

In late June Crown Prince Karloman died of a fever before being released from his captivity, despite the best efforts of the greatest healer-priests from Ostschild.

At the end of July there were two major battles of note. The battle of the river Bug, where Duke Boleslaw's Polish army defeated the Kievan army of Yaroslav the wise. Yaroslav abandoned Kiev and retreated to Novgorod.

The second battle has more far reaching consequences, the Imperial forces fighting against the rebellious Dirik III, Count of Holland, were decisively defeated at the battle of Vlaardingen, and Prince Clovis was killed in the fighting. The whereabouts and disposition of his bastard brother Adalbert are unknown at this time.

This leaves Princess Hildegarde as the sole legitimate heir to the throne, and she is being recalled from Wallachia, with her husband Count Vlad.

Closer to home -

Bands of Heathen Northmen have been traversing the wild areas of the kingdom, raiding outlying settlements and pillaging trade caravans. Thus far no military force has been able to bring them to a pitched battle. Rumors abound that they are here at the behest of Heathen Wends of the kingdom, so a commission of inquisition has been created for the kingdom to hunt down and root out these pagan hold outs among the Wendish subjects in the realm.

Poor harvest due to early frosts and freak weather have further strained an already stretched thin peasantry, who were forced earlier this year to pay an extra tax for the ransom of Prince Karloman from the Poles. Some peasants, mostly returning conscripts, have turned to banditry, preying on their fellow peasants and unwary merchants.

A cholera outbreak earlier this year was largely confined to the area in and around the city of Vecht, the city fathers and the priesthood both agree witches, possibly with Jewish allies, are to blame.

Rumors-

The Knights of the Lance are planning an enormous expedition down the Golden Way, to bring the fight to the Elf-King's doorstep.

Hags were seen flying over the King's palace in Lenz on the night of the full moon three months in a row, these deaths in the royal family can only be a result of their curse.

Man sized rats are seen prowling the streets of Lenz in the moonlight, people fear to leave their homes at night.

A tower appeared by the old north road one day.

Heinrich von Bayern has not been seen in the daylight in months, he's changed all meetings and business of the order of Charlemagne to adjust to his new sunless schedule.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Ostchild Still Going Strong



It kind of looked like I was back for regular blogging for a while and then petered out. That was unintentional, I got pretty sick and I am still dealing with the aftermath of that. I am still not back to 100%, but I have been DMing the setting still (with two missed sessions due to my illness). We play weekly at my house and I started a second game at my daughter's place, but that one has petered out because of her work schedule and a couple of other issues.

Tuesday evening we played our 17th session, one player couldn't make it because of a work thing, but we were in a good place to leave his character out safe. The party decided it was a good time to return to civilization and cash in so they could try to level up (the party Cleric did, the others were close). On their way back to the dungeon (in the wilderness, beneath an ancient ruined heathen temple) they got a random encounter with 20 Berserkers and I TPKed them. My dice were hot (I roll them in the open as much as possible), theirs were not. Three PCs (levels 3-5), two Henchmen (both level 2) and a pair of Hirelings (0-level Muleteers, brothers in fact) died in the wilderness that day.

I didn't fudge anything (except the fact that the Berserkers should have had surprise, which the players didn't see, but I thought "Oh my god, if I give 20 Berserkers a surprise round at this range, it could be a TPK", so I didn't) during the combat. I thought when I rolled up how many Berserkers there were that it would be a tough encounter, but Berserkers aren't that tough, they hit pretty hard, but go down pretty easy, and the worst AC in the party was 2 I think (except for the muleteers). I figured the party would get bloodied, and maybe have to worry about the next possible encounter (or turn back to civilization to rest and heal).

They immediately started rolling new characters, which made me happy. There was no question of ending this campaign to maybe play something else. Nobody was crying about it being too tough (except maybe me). The players were cool with it.

We have had PC death before. I TPKed them in the caves of Chaos back in June, the second session we played. We've lost Henchmen and Hirelings before (despite playing B/X, I use the more familiar [to me at least] AD&D definitions for the party's retainers, B/X is pretty foggy on the exact definitions there). PC death has become rare though, in part due to the Schrodinger's Adventurer House Rule, in part due to extremely cautious play and good battle tactics on the part of the party.

I just wanted to get this new blog post out. I'll have more Ostschild stuff coming, hopefully soon.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Frankish and Wendish Names


Names that seem historically accurate are a difficult thing to find, so I made this list of "campaign appropriate" names for my NPCs, and decided to share it with my players too.

Frankish Names -

Frankish (Germanic Frankish)

Male Names -

Abrahil, Abram, Adalbald, Adalbert, Adalgari, Adalgrim, Aegidius, Ageric, Agilbert, Agiulf, Ailbert, Albric, Aldedramn, Andica, Ansovald, Arcambald, Aregisel, Arnegisel, Arnulf, Ascaric, Audovald, Austregisel, Autbert, Autgari, Autgeri, Avremar Badegisel, Balduin, Barnard, Berald, Bernard, Berneri, Bero, Berold, Berthefried, Bertlin, Bertram, Bertrand, Burchard, Karloman, Ceslin, Chararic, Charibert, Childebert, Childeric, Chilperic, Chlodomer, Chlothar, Chramnesind, Clodio, Clodion, Clovis, Creat, Dagaric, Dagobert, Drogo, Eberulf, Ebregisel, Engilbert, Euric, Everard, Faroard, Faroin, Feremund, Feroard, Foroen, Frobert, Frotari, Frothard, Frothari, Frotlaic, Fulcari, Fulcrad, Galteri, Gararic, Garivald, Gaucelm, Gaudulf, Gaujoin, Gausbert, Gausbold, Gautmar, Gauzbert, Gedalbert, Gedalca, Genobaud, Gerbert, Gerhard, Gerold, Gislari, Gislevert, Gocelm, Godalbert, Godomar, Gozhelm, Grimald, Guadulf, Gualtari, Gualter, Guillabert, Guitard, Gundobad, Gunthar, Guntram, Haldemar, Hartmut, Hildebald, Hildebold, Hildegaud, Hildevold, Hildoin, Hucbert, Hugbert, Imnachar, Ingalbert, Ingomer, Karl, Lambert, Lantbert, Leudast, Lothar, Magnachar, Magneric, Mainard, Mallobaudes, Marachar, Marcomer, Marell, Martin, Maurifi, Meginhard, Merogais, Merovech, Munderic, Niebelung, Odelric, Odolric, Otbert, Otgeri, Otker, Pepin, Pharamond, Pippin, Radulf, Ragambald, Ragena, Ragenard, Raginari, Ragnachar, Ragnald, Ragno, Raimbold, Rainald, Ramnulf, Rathar, Raynold, Reginari, Ricchar, Rignomer, Roland, Robert, Rotbert, Segoin, Seguin, Sicbald, Sichar, Sicland, Sicleard, Siclevold, Sigebald, Sigebert, Sigeric, Sigismund, Sigobert, Sinop, Sunnegisil, Sunno, Tancrad, Tancred, Tassilo, Teotbert, Tetbert, Teutbald, Teutbert, Theoderic, Theoric, Theudebald, Theudemeres, Theuderic, Theudoald, Theutbald, Trutgaud, Vuitard, Vulfari, Vulframn, Vulvari, Waltgaud, Werinbert, Wilbert, Willichar, Wolfari
Female Names -

Adalgardis, Adallinda, Adaltrude, Adeltrudis, Adaluildis, Adelaidis, Airsenda, Albofleda, Albrada, Alda, Aldegonde, Aliberta, Alitrudis, Ansegudis, Ansegundis, Anstrude, Arsindis, Audofleda, Audovera, Austreberta, Austrechild, Balthild, Begga, Beretrude, Bernegildis, Bertenildis, Berthefled, Berthefried, Berthegund, Berthildis, Bertilla, Bertrada, Bladovildis, Brunhild, Burgundofara, Celsa, Celsovildis, Cesaria, Chlodosind, Chlothsinda, Clotild, Creada, Dagena, Eldesendis, Ermengardis, Ermengildis, Ermensindis, Eustadiola, Faileuba, Faregildis, Fastrada, Framberta, Fredegunde, Frolaica, Frotberga, Frotlildis, Frotlina, Galswinth, Gaudildis, Gautlindis, Genovefa, Gersvinda, Gertrude, Gisela, Glodesind, Goiswinth, Gotberga, Gundrada, Halderudis, Harildis, Hildegarde, Hildegardis, Hildesendis, Hiltrude, Illegardis, Ingitrude, Ingohildis, Ingunde, Itta, Landina, Lanthechilde, Lantsida, Leubast, Leubovera, Leutberga, Leutgardis, Liutgarde, Madelgarde, Magnatrude, Marcatrude, Marcovefa, Martinga, Monegund, Morberga, Radegund, Rictrude, Rigunth, Rosamund, Rothaide, Rotrude, Ruothilde, Rusticula, Sadalberga, Siclehildis, Sigalsis, Theodelinda, Theoderada, Ultrogotha, Vuldretrada, Waltrude

Latin Frankish (Old French)
Male Names -

Édouard, Érrard, Étienne, Adalbert, Adémar, Adrien, Aimery, Alain, Aldebert, Aldéric, Alphonse, Amaury, Amédée, Ancel, André, Angelbert, Antoine, Archambaud, Arnaud, Arnault, Arnoul, Aubry, Aymar, Barthélémi, Baudouin, Benoît, Bérenger, Bernard, Bertrand, Bohemond, Boson, Bouchard, Centule, Charles, Clotaire, Ebbon, Enguerrand, Eudes, Eustache, Evrard, Foulques, François, Frédéric, Géraud, Gargamel, Gaucher, Gaucelin, Gauthier, Geoffroy, Géraud, Gelduin, Gilbert, Gilles, Godefroy, Guichard, Guiges, Guilhem, Guillaume, Guy, Hélie, Hamelin, Henri, Herbert, Hildebert, Hugues, Humbert, Jacques, Jaufré, Jaspert, Jean, Josselin, Jourdain, Julien, Léon, Léonard, Lothaire, Louis, Loup, Manassès, Mathieu, Maurice, Nicolas, Ogier, Onfroy, Orson, Othon, Payen, Philippe, Pierre, Raimbaut, Raoul, Raymond, Raynaud, Renaud, Richard, Robert, Robin, Roger, Rorgon, Rorgues, Roubaud, Savary, Sigismond, Simon, Thibault, Thiébaut, Thierry, Thomas, Valeran, Yves
Female Names -
Éléonore, Élodie, Étiennette, Adèle, Adalmode, Adelaide, Adelinde, Agathe, Agnès, Aléarde, Alice, Aliénor, Alix, Almodis, Amelie, Anne, Antoinette, Arsinde, Aude, Aurengarde, Béatrice, Béatrix, Belleassez, Benoîte, Bérengère, Berthe, Blanche, Bonne, Bourgogne, Bourguigne, Cécile, Cathèrine, Charlotte, Constance, Denise, Douce, Echive, Eglantine, Elisabeth, Emma, Ermengarde, Ermessinde, Esclarmonde, Euphrosine, Eustachie, Eve, Gerberge, Gisèle, Guillaumette, Héloise, Helvis, Hodierne, Ide, Ida, Ildégarde, Isabeau, Isabelle, Jeanne, Judith, Julienne, Mafalda, Mahaut, Margot, Marguerite, Marie, Marthe, Mascarose, Mathilde, Mélisande, Mélisende, Mélusine, Péronelle, Pernelle, Perinne, Pernette, Plaisance, Raymonde, Sarrazine, Solène, Sophie, Stéphanie, Sybille, Tiburge, Valence, Yolande

Wendish Names -

Male Names -

Aleksander, Andrzej, Antoni, Aron, Barnim, Bartosz, Bedrich, Bezprzym Blazej, Bogislaw, Bohdan, Bohumir, Boleslaw, Boriwoj, Bozydar, Branimir, Branislav, Bretislav, Casimir, Ctibor, Dobieslaw, Dobromil, Drosuk, Dytryk, Frantisek, Gawel, Grzegorz, Havel, Jacenty, Jakub, Jakusz, Janusz, Jaromar, Jaromil, Jaromir, Jaroslav, Jedrzej, Jindrich, Jirí, Jozef, Juliusz, Kajetan Kamil, Karel, Kasper, Kazimierz, Kliment, Kolman, Kornel, Kresimir Krzeslaw, Krzysztof, Lech, Leszek, Lubomir, Lucjan, Ludvik, Marek, Marian, Martin, Mateusz, Mieszko, Mikolás, Miloslaw, Milosz, Miroslaw, Mscislaw, Msciwoj, Oldrich, Ondrej, Otokar, Patryk, Pawel, Piotr, Prendota, Przemysl, Przybyslaw, Radomil, Radomir, Radoslav, Rostislav, Ryszard, Sambor, Sobieslav, Stanislaw, Strasz, Swietopelk, Swietoslaw, Szczepan, Szczesny, Szymon, Tadeusz, Tomasz, Udalrich, Urjasz, Vojtech, Waclaw, Walenty, Wratislaw, Wawrzyniec, Wenceslaw, Wincenty, Wizlaw, Wladyslaw, Wlodek, Wlodzimierz, Wlodzislaw, Wratislaw, Zbigniew, Zdenek, Zdislav, Zygmunt
Female Names -
Agnieszka, Alzbeta, Andela, Anna, Berta, Bohuslava, Bozena, Branislava, Dagmar, Danuta, Dobravy, Dobroniega, Dorota, Dragomira, Edyta, Ewa, Geira, Gertruda, Gracja, Grazyna, Halina, Hanna, Irena, Izabela, Jadwiga, Jarka, Jarmila, Jolanta, Judyta, Kamila, Katarina, Kenna, Kornelia, Krystyna, Ksenia, Lidia, Ludmila, Magda, Magdalena, Malgorzata, Marcelina, Maria, Markéta, Martyna, Mateja, Matylda, Milena, Miroslava, Pechna, Róza, Radomila, Radomira, Radoslava, Raina, Regelinda, Rycheza, Salomea, Smiechna, Stanislava, Stefana, Svetlana, Urszula, Václava, Vladislava, Wera, Wojslawa, Zdenka, Zofia, Zwinislawa

Religion in the Ostschild Campaign Setting




Here's a clarification I sent to my players today, because nothing is ever just generic "standard" D&D with me DMing.

The default religion is Christianity, it is the religion of the Holy Roman Empire, and Ostschild is a member state of that empire. Specifically Latin rite (Catholic) Christianity, as opposed to Greek rite (Orthodox) Christianity. The great schism hasn't happened yet, but it is coming soon.

Various forms of paganism still exist in Europe, and many pagan rites are still celebrated with a Christian veneer in the kingdom, but paganism is officially done in Ostschild.

Heresies seem to crop up with alarming regularity within the kingdom, mainly due to the influence of Chaos emanating from the Elf-King's lands to the east.

Islam exists and is considered to be an existential threat to Christendom, especially in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean, but is pretty inconsequential in Ostschild. Pagans were more of a threat, but they are in retreat all over Europe, despite their overwhelming threat not even a century past. Scandinavians are becoming Christian now by choice and central Europe's Slavs by conquest.

Greek rite Christians are still considered brothers, there is no animosity religiously, but many Greeks are viewed with suspicion just because they seem to look down on Ostschilders as barbarians (much as Ostschilders view Northmen or Cumans).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Ostschild Map


It occurs to me I never shared the campaign map, so here it is. I made it with Hexographer, I am still getting the hang of it, and I have Worldographer (Hexographer 2), but I haven't really used it yet. Making maps isn't a strength of mine, but I think this one turned out OK. The Holy Roman Empire is to the north, west and south west (Bohemia), the incipient kingdom of Poland is to the northeast, Hungary to the southeast. Elf-Land is directly to the east, along the Golden Way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Feature for Ostschild Campaign



Once per week, going forward, I am giving the people in my campaign the world and local news in the group I created. Here is week One (Early June 1018 AD) -

News from abroad - The Count of Holland, Dirik III, is in revolt against the Emperor over the right to charge tolls on shipping in the imperial canals that wend their way through his fiefdom. There are hopes for a negotiated peace, but the emperor has charged the Duke of Lorraine with recruiting an army to punish him if he does not submit to imperial will and law. Prince Clovis and his majesty's bastard son Adalbert have declared they will respond to the imperial call to arms with a force of knights and men-at-arms from Ostschild.
An army of Poles under Duke Boleslaw the brave has marched towards Kiev to press his claims over the area, possibly paid for with the huge ransom that King Pepin paid for the release of our crown prince Karloman, who lingers yet in Krakow due to a fever contracted during his time as a prisoner of war.
Closer to home -
Princess Hildegarde is leaving Ostschild for Wallachia for her impending nuptials to their Count Vlad, a large train of wagons and armed men accompany her as her dowry is substantial.
The archbishop of Lenz, Heribert the wise, has ordered the dissolution of the Teutoberg priory due to an unprecedented level of heresy. This is the third cloister thus affected this year.
There has been an outbreak of cholera in the vicinity of Vecht.
Rumors -
Man sized rats have been spotted in the night in Lenz.
Great wealth is being plundered from heretofore unknown caverns beneath an old heathen temple to the east of Lenz.
The Knights of the Lance are said to be petitioning the crown to build a new preceptory fortress in the mountains north of Lenz.
Heathen Northmen are moving in force near Isar, such a host has not been seen in the better part of a century, what could have stirred them?

This is another tidbit I gave the group exploring the ancient heathen temple's underground labyrinth-

Also, it should be noted, while you are in town you hear rumors of another expedition to the ruined heathen temple, apparently others are encouraged by your party's success.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Ostschild Starting Languages






It makes no real sense that Humans in the Ostschild setting would speak Dwarf, or Goblin or Elfin or any of a dozen or more other fantasy languages common to D&D. This is a more historically based setting, so I thought I'd toss in some historical languages. All PCs are going to speak the common language of Humans in Ostschild, which is Frankish, by a nose over Wendish.

Dwarfs will speak Dwarf, which is said to be similar to the tongue of the Northmen. Elfs will speak Elfin, the language of the courts of Faerie. Halflings have no special tongue of their own, but speak the tongues of men in their vicinity.

The Languages of Men

Local Languages

Frankish, Wendish.

Frankish not only hangs on in Ostschild as a prestige language, even as it evolves into French to the west; but it prospers, replacing the Wendish tongue in the region. Frankish is a Germanic language, with a lot of Latin loan words, not unlike modern English in that regard.

Wendish is a Slavic language, the ancestor of modern Czech and Slovak, it is the language of the population that was conquered by Charlemagne.

Nearby Languages

To the North – German, Norse.

To the East – Polish, Russian, Cuman.

To the South – Italian, Romanian, Serbian, Magyar.

To the West – German, Wendish.

Further afield – Greek, English, Breton, Bulgarian, Irish, Welsh, French, Spanish, Occitan, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Dutch, Finnish, Basque. All of these languages have lots of dialects and regional variants, D&D isn't a language simulator though, and adding that kind of complexity seems kind of pointless, so I have made some arbitrary decisions about languages here. Hell, maybe this is already too complex.


Religious Languages

Latin,Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic. The languages of the old and new testaments, plus the Koran. There are other holy languages in the world than these ones obviously, Sanskrit comes to mind, but these are the languages that are likely to be seen in the Ostschild setting.

Magical Languages

Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Sumerian, Demotic, Coptic, Etruscan, Minoan, pretty much any ancient language will work. I am adding this category, because I am always tinkering with the game, and my current thinking is that Magic-Users keep their Grimoires (Spell Books) written in some ancient tongue rather than in some special esoteric “magical” language.

Non-Human languages

Dwarf and Elfin are the two key languages here. I am unsure whether or not the campaign really needs any others. My current thinking is that Goblins and other Fey creatures probably speak some lower class dialect of the Elfin tongue. Dwarfs speak their own elder Nordic tongue. I honestly don't see any need for a “Draconic” language, or really any other fantasy languages. In folklore the odd creatures all speak the tongues of men anyway.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Character Death




Character Death.

It happens, and with greater frequency I think than any of us would like to see. The life of an adventurer is rife with danger, it's the game we're playing. Older editions of D&D were far more lethal than their modern versions, and even with the steps we've taken via house rules, it is still true. Grumpy grognards (including me) will often point out that new editions coddle their players by making them more powerful and worrying about encounter balance, but the fact is that was always true. DMs fudged die rolls behind the screen to keep PCs alive, whether it was lowering the number of monsters encountered, or missing when they should've hit, or making a bad guy miss a save, or any of a hundred other “balancing” things we did to keep the game, and the fun, rolling along.

Now I am a much more “let the dice fall where they may” kind of a DM. I try not to coddle my players with poor tactics, but instead to play monsters and NPCs as written, and I roll all of my dice out in the open, except in those cases where players need to make a decision without knowing whether or not they were successful, this is mostly in regard to Thieves Skills and Secret Door checks. That's my philosophy now, I am a neutral referee, as much as I can be when I am also controlling the opposition.

Preamble aside, death is an omnipresent part of the game, without the risk the rewards are meaningless; so here's a couple of things about death in Ostschild.

First off, those who are not buried with proper Christian rites are likely to rise as undead. This is said to be a curse placed on the kingdom by the Elf-King, but other people say it happens because there was pagan death cult centered on the area from ages past. Some people say it because of all the heretics and witches found in this kingdom, or maybe just the general rise in power of Satanic cults. Regardless, if you want your friends and family to rest peacefully, they need to be buried with proper Christian rites.

Secondly, and hearkening back to heathen times, heroes of Ostschild are often buried with grave goods proper to their station in life. Making a sacrifice of items to the grave of a hero, when he is interred offers actual, in game, benefits; the minimum of which is an increase in experience points. 250XP for a one use item, 1000XP for a permanent item. There is also the possibility of getting a random beneficial spell side effect that may last for up to a month, examples include protection from evil (or good), Bless, Invisibility to Undead, etc.

Funeral costs are not insignificant for heroes. If a hero dies in the wilderness, and his body cannot be reasonably transported back to civilization for burial, it is possible to give the hero a proper burial in the wild, but the benefits are lessened. You still get full XP for grave goods, but are less likely to receive any other supernatural benefit. However, if the hero's remains are transported back to civilization, or, by chance he dies there, a proper public funeral is in order. The cost of the funeral varies with the stature of the hero being interred, but generally includes the price of both the funeral service and the funerary feast.

Note that Christians (also Jews and Muslims) are buried, only heathens cremate their dead.

So, henceforth we need to keep this in mind.

Addendum -

Wills – Any character can designate an heir, the heir must be a blood relative of the PC and of the same species. The heir can receive all of the non-magical wealth of the deceased, minus a 10% inheritance tax collected by the crown and one magic item belonging to the dead character. Choose wisely and before your character dies. Any character that dies intestate will forfeit their wealth to the crown.

Dwarfs prefer to be interred if Christian, cremated if not. They never leave any of their goods to an heir in either case, preferring to take all of their worldly possessions to the afterlife.

Halflings follow the funerary rites of the communities in which they dwelled in life.

Elf bodies evaporate slowly over the course of several hours after being killed.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Proposed Ostschild Crits and Fumbles



I sent the following to my players. We're running B/X D&D with a bunch of house rules, this is a proposal for another.

Crits & Fumbles

Rolling a 20 or a 1 should be exciting, but not debilitating or unbalancing

A 20 used to be a critical hit at nearly every table I ever played or DMed. A critical hit was usually double damage, sometimes just multiplying the damage die rolled by two, usually at my table it was roll twice the number of damage dice, adding bonuses for Strength or whatever after.

Since we started using penetration damage I have been leery of adding another bonus, and these affect player characters more often that they affect NPC or Monster combatants.

Likewise a 1 was often a fumble, or at least some sort of fumble check. Sometimes these were funny, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes downright deadly.

However, I'd like to bring back a little of the excitement of rolling a 20 to hit, and the dread of rolling a 1, so I am presenting for possible inclusion into the house rules these simple Crit/Fumbles.


Melee Critical Hits – roll 1d10

1-3 Enemy pushed back, usually 5 feet, into an unoccupied square.
4-5 Enemy knocked prone*.
6-7 Enemy disarmed, enemy drops weapon, which flies 0-15 feet (in 5' increments) in a random direction.
8-9 Enemy shield damaged/destroyed, enemy loses 1 point of AC.
10 - Enemy takes double damage (twice as many dice)

Ranged Critical Hits – roll 1d8

1-3 Enemy drops weapon/shield (50/50)
4-6 Enemy takes double damage (twice as many dice)
7-8 Enemy takes triple damage (thrice as many dice)

Ranged critical hits are clearly harder to give more variety of results to, but I think adding triple damage as a possibility makes sense given that missile weapons are all piercing (even blunt ones like sling stones/bullets); I mean, if it comes down to it and you throw a rock or a brick or something, we can justify the additional damage somehow or ignore any results saying triple damage.

Melee Fumbles roll 1d10

1 - Timing Off - -2 to next initiative
2 - Timing Really Off – lose all actions next round
3 - Off Balance -1 to initiative and -1 to hit next round.
4 - Really Off Balance – Make Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or trip and fall prone*.
5 - Opened Yourself Up -1 to AC until your next round
6 - Really Opened Yourself Up – -1 to AC and nearest enemy gets an immediate free attack.
7 - Butterfingers – Make Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or drop weapon, which flies 0-15 feet (in 5' increments) in a random direction.
8 - OOPS - Accidentally strike nearest ally for full damage, no to hit roll needed.
9 - Break weapon – You broke your weapon. Magic weapons get a saving throw vs. crushing blow, all others just break.
10 - Hit Self – Somehow you managed to hit yourself for full damage.

*Prone characters are at +3 to hit and require their next round to stand up.

Ranged Fumbles roll 1d

1-3 - Dropped weapon – Make Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or drop weapon, which flies 0-15 feet (in 5' increments) in a random direction.
4-5 - Dropped Ammo – lose next round retrieving ammo, if using a thrown weapon treat as dropped weapon.
6 - Broke Weapon - You broke your weapon. Magic weapons get a saving throw vs. crushing blow, all others just break. Exception – bows and crossbows only break the string on a 1-5 on a d6.
7 - Hit Ally – missile strikes ally nearest to intended target for full damage, no to hit roll required.
8 - Hit Self – Somehow you managed to hit yourself for full damage.

I agonized over whether ranged weapons should just use the melee fumble table, and whether thrown weapons needed to be separated from bows and other launcher based weapons, but opted for the middle ground here. There's room for discussion in any case.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Military orders in the kingdom of Ostschild



More from the campaign setting document
Military orders in the kingdom of Ostschild -
Knights of the Grail –
The Knights of the Grail are a Christian order bound by oath to the quest. They do not have preceptories, and hold meetings irregularly. Instead they use their wealth to build and fund traveller's inns, churches, orphanages, leper colonies and hospitals. They are generally found alone or in small groups, they seek out evil and supernatural threats to Christendom. Paladins and Rangers are found in their ranks, along with Clerics and Fighters.
Knights of the Lance –
The Knights of the Lance are an order recruited from among the pious throughout Latin Christendom. Their main preceptory is in Lenz and they owe fealty to the Pope alone. It is said they guard the relic known as the Holy Lance.
Knights of Charlemagne –
The Knights of Charlemagne these days are mainly descendants of the original Frankish knights that settled Ostschild. Their requirements are that a Knight must be of noble birth and Frankish blood. They are the power that props up the throne in Ostschild, but their influence waning and their numbers are dwindling.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Demihumans in the Kingdom of Ostschild


This is the section on Demihumans for my (as yet uncompleted) Ostschild campaign guide

Elfs – PC Elfs are exiles from Elf land. Perhaps they were adherents of Oberon and Titania, maybe they just fled the oppressive rule of the Elf-King, either way, they are cut off from the source of their power, and diminished. Perhaps this diminishing is due to living in the world of iron? They have developed a tolerance for it in their time in the realms of man, but they are weaker than their Elf-land counterparts, both physically and in magical potency. Lacking souls, they cannot be baptized. Elf's may be turned by Christian Clerics and are harmed by Holy Water.

Special Note - Elf Steel is a special ore that can be found and mined only in Ostschild or Elf-Land, and may be properly worked only by Elfs.

Half Elfs – AKA Elf Karls. All Half-Elfs are the human children stolen (and replaced by changelings) by the Elf-King and raised as Elfs. They are quite mighty, as they have the powers of Elfs, but not the weaknesses. Once baptized they become Lawful (Good) and champions of mankind.

Changelings – Changelings resemble humans, they are harmless in that they won't hurt anyone deliberately, but they are of low intelligence, never speak, except to cry in pain or with some need. They are often weak and sickly, especially as children, but require more sustenance than humans. The church has decreed that changelings should not be killed, but taken care of as the perpetual children they are.

Dwarfs – A Dwarf's first memory is waking up, lying naked on the ground, sometimes alone, sometimes with his “brothers” around him. Where they came from, they do not know, nor do they know how they got here. Dwarfs used to have communities of their own, but most of them have disappeared, now they live among Humans. When it comes to religion, some Dwarfs accept baptism and become Christian, others choose not to, but exhibit no signs of religious faith otherwise. There are no Dwarf women. Dwarfs are known to be great craftsmen, also excellent miners. Dwarfs are known for their obsessive hoarding. They are particularly attracted to hoarding gold, gems and magic items. They are fond of strong ale and meat. Some Dwarfs are obsessed with sex with human (or other human-like) women.

Halflings - Halflings are the most common of the “wee folk”, they just seem to easily blend into human communities, many manors have a Halfling family or two. They are known for being “homely” types, happy to grow crops (including the pipeweed that only they can seem to make grow), eat hearty meals and drink fine ales. They love comfort, and nice things. Except every Halfling family seems to have that one outcast black sheep, the adventurer. The Halfing adventurer breaks the paradigm. They are bold, versatile and strong, they seek out riches and fight evil where they can find it. Most Halflings will defend their homes and communities fiercely, Halfling adventurers are more proactive, seeking out potential threats and ending them before they endanger any community. Some of these Halflings have built communities of their own, Halfling villages or manors.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

20 Questions for the Kingdom of Ostschild

So I started another D&D campaign. Lost Atlantis is still going, but not as often as I'd like, so I co-opted the members of my local board game group into playing an RPG, so far so good, we're 8 or 9 sessions in now I think. It's been every Tuesday evening since at least mid June, and one Saturday prior to that. Anyway, I developed an entirely different setting for them, the fictitious medieval European kingdom of Ostschild, and eastern member state of the Holy Roman empire.

Here are the 20 Questions and their answers -

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

He's probably Catholic (Latin Rite Christian), possibly some sort of heretic; unless he's Chaotic, then he's either a heretic, a heathen or a satanist.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

Lenz will get you anything on the equipment list, smaller towns have a chance.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

It seems unlikely this will happen at all, but if it does, it'll be in Lenz, but it won't be cheap.


4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

The Elf-King is, by far, the mightiest sorcerer alive. As far as Humans go? Probably Ambrosius, the court wizard of King Adalbert the friendly.


5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

The greatest in status is certainly Sir Heinrich von Bayern, Grandmaster of the order of the Knights of Charlemagne.


6. Who is the richest person in the land?

Probably one of the Guildmasters of Vecht, they are wealthy traders in that town.


7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Any large town has Priests capable of miraculous healing.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Only the Archbishop of Lenz could effect such miracles.


9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

No, but there are said to be secret societies of sorcerers.


10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Definitely Lenz, Maybe Thira, Froli, Rota or Vecht.


11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Definitely Lenz, Maybe Thira, Froli, Rota or Vecht. Sometime other towns, occasionally you'll meet them on the road.


12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Noblemen and Knights have the right to bear arms and the power to mete justice, their retainers and those so appointed by them also can commonly carry weapons. Peasants often carry simple weapons just because of the nature of the area of the kingdom of Ostschild.


13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

Proper taverns or inns only exist in large towns, most peasant villages will have someone that has a batch of ale ready to drink though, and you can usually pay a few coins to spend the night in their hovels, or share a meal with them. Sometimes a nobleman will put up travelers in his own manor house for some coin, and you can eat in the kitchen. Unless you have high enough status (knighthood at a minimum), then they'll put you up for free and feed you too.


14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

The Elf-King and his wife the Queen of Air and Darkness lead hordes intermittently out of their lands and down the Golden way.


15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Not specifically in Ostschild at the moment, but the holy war against the Elf-King is a dominant theme here.


16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Tournaments with jousting are becoming quite popular, usually they include a foot melee too. The prizes are pretty good, but the losing can be costly.


17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Yes, several. The Cult of Chaos is always a threat. There are rumors of other secret societies.


18. What is there to eat around here?

Cabbages, turnips, onions, carrots. Pork, beef, mutton, goat, goose, duck, chicken, eggs from any fowl. Wild game from venison to boar to rabbit. Lots of sausages, it's a good way to keep organ meats and blood from going bad.


19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

The lost treasure of Attila seems pretty legendary.


20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

They're out there, just keep looking


Any other questions?