Sunday, April 16, 2017


It's time to prepare for later adventures, and knowing that Airships and Riverboats are such an iconic part of Barsaive, I decided to make a few, just in case.

Those are just about the maximum length of my 3d printer's build area, but I think I will make one 2 piece longer one.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

By the Morning's Twilight and a misplaced Dagger

Morogrim, Ug and Wesley walked to the mouth of the Cavern.  The shambling form of the wounded Brithan could be seen disappearing into the underbrush below.  The sky!  It was unbelievably beautiful.  It was clear the Scourge was over and the land had recovered.  At the base of the valley ran a stream, likely the same that existed before the Scourge, and it split a large walled town, with smoke rising from the chimneys of many of the houses.

It was then that they noticed the sky was continuing to brighten, getting a lighter and lighter shade of blue before busting into brilliance as what could only be the sun burst over the far hills.  It was hard to take it all in.  The world was so vast compared to their Kaer.

Soon enough, their thoughts returned to their mission: Find out what happened to the previous expedition.

Morogrim and the others were having a hard time understanding it all.  Were the traps for the Horrors?  Surely the violet crystal was such a thing, but the doors blocking the shaft rooms, and the portcullis were of recent manufacture.  Where were their masters and the others?  How could a community exist so close without exploring the caves and letting the Kaer know it was safe?  Where was the horror that kept them pinned inside the Kaer for the last 50 years?

Just then, Ug noticed a metallic gleam in some grass near the cave mouth, it was Master Armbreaker's 5th favorite dagger.  Ug had brought it to Master Armbreaker and returned it a dozen times during the preparations for the expedition.  If there was anything that Ug would have known that Master Armbreaker did have with her, it was that dagger.  Yet here it was tossed into the grass, sheathless and....None of this makes any sense.

Wesley, Morogrim and Ug took a moment to review the events that brought them to his place.

The Light Crystal, and the cult of the horror.  The Corrupted Dagger.  Rhandahl's descent, redemption and death.  The stolen bowl.  The doorway to another place.  The blind illusionist.  The weaver's sorrow. The prisoner's release, and how he led them to the cult's hideout.  The Last Chance for the Questor.  The Offer They Couldn't Refuse.  The traps in the halls.

Wesley piped in, "Don't forget the Brave Swordsman who Challenged a Brithan and won with a single strike."

They all laughed

The looked at the town below and back to the caves.  Which way should they go?  To report what they know, or attempt to find out more?  We'll find out more in two weeks.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Rogues Gallery 3: Dietrich Two-Swords

Not to be confused with Dietrich 2-Swords, a Human Swordmaster renowned for his identical twin blades that he wields with precision, Dietrich Two-Swords is a Human Warrior of indeterminate Circle who is most notably known for a knack of surviving battlefield misfortunes. 

"Well, laddie, I swung my favorite sword at that mother loving Troll raider, and wouldn't you know it, he gets his shield up just in time.  Well, you see I had been so intent on removing his head that I didn't have time to slow my swing.  CLANG!  The sound stunned us both for a bit.  I tried to recover my sword, and it was stuck fast in that blasted shield.  I reached for my spare sword, ol' number two, and I remembered that it fell out of its scabbard when I had to dodge that last boulder.  I'd used my spear, if you'll remember, stopping that charge of a thundra beast, and I'd lent my dagger to Aske this morning at breakfast.  Seeing I'd loaned a dagger this morning and that wool-headed troll was busy trying to wrench my sword out of his shield, I borrowed his dagger and stabbed 'im in the chest.  I didn't even try to pull that one out, and picked up a fair axe and shield that one of the dead raiders wasn't using and went back to work."

Dietrich is the proud owner of the Adept's Way, a roadside inn between Throal and Travar.  He's often behind the bar and has more stories about broken lost and borrowed weapons than anyone should have and still be alive.  His brown hair is thinning and a bit grey but his face and eyes become animated when he tells his tales.  He's added a few pounds, campaign insurance, in case he has to march without rations he claims, but he's lost little of his strength and skill with weapons.

Dietrich is surrounded by weapons.  From the displays on the walls to the crossbows, daggers and axes behind the bar, he could confidently hold off a platoon of Therans.  The displays all have tricks to the mounting, requiring a special twist, push and pull to remove a weapon or shield.  For Dietrich, it would take an instant, without his knowledge, it might take minutes to finally get a weapon free.

Dietrich will always use a shield and a single weapon, even if that be a table and a chair leg.  The Adept's Way is more than an inn, casual inspection reveals that the exterior walls are quite thick and stone.  It is perhaps more an independent fort that sells ale and rents rooms.  In addition, Dietrich has met many adepts over the yeas and invites them to stay free as long as they will take on apprentices and help others train for a higher circle.

I'll present no stats here, as Dietrich exists as a plot device, ready with a rumor, a sword or a Last Chance Salve.  If he's fighting with a group of PC's he'll hold off many enemies while letting the PC's build their legend, ready to assist when needed.  Dietrich succeeds when he needs to, and flounders to add comic relief to tense battles.  Have fun with him.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Rogues Gallery 2: Tessel Fararcher

Tessel Fararcher is a growing legend amongst the villages of central Barsaive.  Renowned for his skill with his elven warbow, few have ever seen him miss a shot.  Some say he only shoots what he can hit, and doesn't waste arrows foolishly, while other remark that Tessel is nearly always seen performing his Karma Ritual each morning.

Tessel was born and raised in Bartertown outside the gates of the Kingdom of Throal.  Upon his initiation to First Circle of the Archer Discipline, he left to begin a career of adventure.  Currently a Fourth Circle adept, he can be found at the Adept's Way, a roadside inn where he listens to travelers waiting for his next target. 

Though he carries an impressive Troll Sword, the weapon that draws the most attention is Tessel's Elven Warbow.  Impossible for an average Namegiver to draw back, it features wicked blades sprouting from its forward arc.  It is a composite bow, with a dark mahogany center and light ash limbs that end with bone and blade.  It is wrapped in resin and cord from the Servos Jungle.  While few tales speak of enemies ever getting close to Tessel, It is said that he once skewered a Jelruthra with his bow after he ran out of arrows.

When outside, another oddity about Tessel becomes apparent.  The elven archer appears to be constantly caught within a gust of wind.  His hair and cloak trail to the side as if blown by the wind even in a dead calm.  This is due to his sky blue cloak, Windcatcher, that saved his life when he was knocked  from a drakkar high above the city of Travar.  Tessel has yet to learn if it has more secrets, perhaps this is why he waits at the Adept's Way.

Most Archers like to get straight to the point, but Tessel knows that an arrow can take many paths to its target, and the further away one begins, the greater the variation from the direct path is required. 

"One's arrow must fly in a high arc to cover the longest distances while subject to the whims of the wind.  So too should one's words when explaining why exactly you are in possession of horses with the mark of the very Ork Scorcher band that blocks your way."

Tessel enjoys a riddle and a well crafted mystery, enjoying task of finding the clues and following the paths.  While not skilled in conversation, slowly, deliberately he has been known to chip away at another's argument until they find themselves defending the very thing they were attacking.

Tessel found a cache of maps in his last adventure that includes one that shows the location of a kaer that remains undiscovered.  It bears a name similar to one he heard had been breeched.  Having no interest in looting a grave, he hasn't pursued it.  He might give it as a gift to a group of young adventurers who spin a good yarn and strike him as the type who would help revive the stories of the lost kaer. 

Quick Stats:

Defense:  P 11  Sp 10  Soc  5

Armor:  P 7  M 1


KARMA 14,  D6

Attack (Warbow) 16  Dam 12 (3 forged arrows Dam 15)

Attack (Sword or Bow Blades) 12  Dam 13 Troll Sword, 10 Bow Blades

Death rating 59
Wound Threshold 9
Unconsciousness Rating 47

Will use Karma freely.  Has all talents of a 4th Circle Archer, avg of 4 ranks in each.  Will avoid melee combat.  Will position himself on high ground and use cloak to escape pursuit.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rogues Gallery 1: V'shula, a T'skrang Nethermancer

Welcome, to the first Rogues Galley post.  I'll try to put one of these up each Monday.  The "Rogues Gallery" was a publication for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  Released in 1980, it was a collection of NPC's to use in your games of AD&D. Some had details and levels, others were commoners and some were just a collection of stats.

This Rogues Gallery will chronicle Barsaivian NPCs, and hopefully become more than just a pile of stats.

an image of V'shula, a T'skrang Nethermancer, staff in hand with a red temple n the background
V'shula is a young T'skrang, but over 400 years old.  A hatchling when Kaer Ardanyan was sealed, he did not begin hibernation immediately like the rest of his foundation.  A few of the older T'skrang also delayed their hibernation to help guide and teach the younger ones, but most began the long rest after the youngest were about five, unable to handle the bordom and drudgery within the sealed Kaer.  They watchers, as they were known, also began a vigil over the sleeping forms of their kind. 

V'shula was entranced by the notion of the horrors and the hero's that faced them.  While most of the T'skrang that were awake knew little about the nature of the horrors, V'shula befriended an ancient elf who taught him of the netherworld.  After his 13th Nameday, V'shula was instructed on how to enter the hibernation that would last for 400 years.  Only one ancient T'skrang was alive, to see him begin his slumber, but he knew the other watchers were still present, watching from the netherworld, waiting for the kaer to open and their spirits to return to the Serpent River and from there to the sea.

V'shula is a First Circle Nethermancer and carries a Tri-Spear Staff and a dagger.  His Burgandy robes are adorned with bright copper and turquoise accents and he has a copper mesh belt that is several sizes too large.  He wears a breastplate of small bones and has a helm made from an ancient T'skrang skull.

He has mottled olive green skin, and dark, thoughtful eyes.

"We'll t'see what the t'spiritss think about thiss." is an all purpose catch phrase of his.  Like most T'skrang, he loves to swim, and keeps Dry and Wet attuned in one of his Spell Matrixes most times.  He spent his childhood running from the Kaer Guard.  For some reason, the didn't understand his need to climb, jump and swing from everything in the kaer.  When confronted his first instinct is to flee from the authority, but if cornered he'll surrender and prove his bravado by accepting his punishment willingly.

V'shula has a secret knowledge.  Before his slumber, one of the watchers would sing of the riverboat Roxfeld.  The songs hold the location of the cave along the serpent river where this legendary ship was hidden away.  The crew left many treasures with the ship, protected from time.  This watcher was from a different foundation and sought shelter in the kaer just before the gates were sealed.  It is unlikely that any others know this tale.

If V'shula was encountered outside of Barsaive, he would likely be on his way to the nearest T'skrang settlement on the Serpent River.  V'shula might be over 400 years old, but has little experience interacting with adult Namegivers.  He's knowledgeable and capable, but it might be hard to get him to take something too seriously.  If a task or trip gets too boring, he's likely to loose focus.  His knowledge of pre scourge life is only what he heard secondhand, but he may have leads to other legendary places.

If you need stats, using the standard 1st circle Human Nethermancer stats would be appropriate, and choose the spells you think would be most helpful.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Custom GM Screen (Player's Side)

Hello, I've been working extra hard today and thought I would share my custom GM screen with you.

It's foam board, sliced on one side to fold easy and reinforced with tape.

I have a link if you want the PDF for the 3 pages.

I thought about adding the "Status Modifiers Table", but then I decided that I would take care of worrying about the modifiers.

On the inside, I have the same three pages, but I plan to place the official GM screen on my side since it has such a wealth of tables. 

What would you have added?

The Distribution of D20+D4 vs 2D12 (updated)

Good day to you name-giver!  I hear you think that step 14 seems inconsistent.  Well, lets take all the possible combinations and write them down.  Hmmm 1 on the d4 and 1 on the d20 equals 2. 2 on the d4 .....etc. 

Now count how many 2's you've written down.  Just one, OK.  Now 3's etc. 

Do the same thing for the 2d12s. 

Lets make a chart and see if we can figure this out.

Oh!  That's interesting.  It seems like the D20=D4 s very flat, while the 2D12 has a much higher distribution in the middle.  What does this mean? 

But, it's not accurate yet.  You see I forgot about exploding dice.  I think to simulate exploding dice without a fair degree of accuracy we will assume that on any may roll you will add 1/2 of the max plus 1 to account for the rare re-explode.  Remember, we're just trying to get an idea of how they match up, not have a statistics class.

Back to my paper.  (scribble scribble)

Lets look at what exploding might mean.

Hmm, if I want to stay away from low numbers, it certainly seems like the 2D12 is superior.

I think I'll give the option to all my players to replace any D20 in a step with 2D10. (edited, 2D12 for a D20 was too much.)


Jason Kennedy pointed me to the calculator in the comments below.  I figured I should update this post with the output.

We are going to compare d20+d4 (the black lines), 2d10+d4 (the orange lines), and 2d12 (the light blue line). The intent is to determine which is the best to use for PC's making a step 14 action test.

Here is the "normal" distribution.

The distribution is nice to look at but we typically want to know how often we can expect to fail or succeed.  The "at least" chart below shows us that the alternatives are better for lower target numbers than the d20+d4, but starting at 13 until 22 the d20+d4 is more likely to succeed than 2d12.  The 2d10+d4 has the highest probability to  succeed until the target number nears 30.

  For a goal of reducing failures to low target numbers, the d20+4 reaches 75% chance of success, a reasonable threshold,  at a value of 9, the 2d12 reaches it at 10, and the 2d10+d4 remains above it at 11. 

Thanks again Jason, and thank you all for coming by to check it out!