Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Wolsdag (4702) is a seaside town, through which all overseas trade flows into the region. (For general background and a map see here.) Although nominally a free city with a popular assembly consisting of all adult citizens, the town is under the de-facto authority of the Merchant’s Guild, which controls the majority of appointments to the council that manages daily life and vets all new legislation. Although Woldag's modest force of Free Mariners is no match for the opposed armies of the Grim Duke and the Chatelaine of Storms, the Guild uses the soft power of trade to consistent advantage in the vacuum created by their conflict.

The town is ringed by stonewalls set with three gates. The north end is the covered bazaar, where merchants from throughout the Wilderlands barter exotic wares in tightly packed rows of tents and makeshift lean-to's. The enormous guildhouse rests atop the hill in the center of town, removed from the hustle and bustle of the bazaar. It contains the offices and apartments of the guildmasters, and the Gilded Heron, an inn open only to guildsmen and their invited guests. At night painted lanterns hang from lavishly carved wooden porches, shedding a dim red light on the merchants and their wealthy guests who can be glimpsed from below on the Gilded Heron's lush decks and private patios. Within the center of the guildhouse the windowless Temple of Nephtlys lies. There the Tempters preach cunning acquisition to their flock and spin metaphystical webs to snare unwitting prey.

In Old Nin's
(John Blanche)
Unlike the guildsmen, most citizens of Wolsdag live outside the town walls, in fishing villages and sea shanties scattered up and down the beach. If one walks past the winding tents of the covered bazaar and through Gull's Gate, directly north of town one finds the docks: the life's blood of ordinary Wolsdag. When the fisherman return at dusk, the fishmarket opens its heavy tables laden with wonders of the sea. At the edge of the fishmarket, Old Nin's raucous tavern overflows with the rougher sort of sailors and Free Mariners, who gather to trade strange tales of the sea and lose themselves in drink. Turn right at the docks and follow the beach and one will soon spy the lonely pastel spire of the Keeper of Corals. He controls the tides for the Guild in exchange for exquisite and unmentionable articles essential for his strange congress with the sea.

The Guild itself is split into two factions: the Monopolists and the Enterprisers. The Monopolists are the old guard operating family-owned monopoly licenses from the Invincible Overlord and World Emperor on established trade routes. They have strong control of the official guild structure, and  are fat and complacent. The Enterprisers are guildsmen who have been shut out of monopoly licenses. They have been forced, at considerable risk, to open new trade routes, and are lean and angling for change. Owing to recent successes in the the discovery of valuable new spices not covered by existing monopolies (red gill powder and luminous braxite shard), the Enterprisers are currently a rising force. However, the Monopolists still have the upper hand with a majority of Guild seats on the Council, and control of the priesthood of Nepthtlys, the goddess of endless acquisition and peerless schemes. The Enterprisers maintain connections with disaffected freeman and the Temple of Mannanan. The least scrupulous among them, slavers and cuthroats, have dealings with the outlawed cult of Mer Shunna.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Chatelaine of Storms

By Tobias Kwan
The Chatelaine of Storms is a formidable sorceress. She came to power in Rastingdrung in a coup against mild mannered Sozar IV with the help of the Voluptuaries, priests of the pleasure god Ulim, who were seeking to return the Church to its ancient glory. She has since been declared an Ulimite saint, but her marriage with the Church is one of convenience. Having tasted power, only the military might of the Grim Duke, and her mortal fear of the puissant evocations of the Silent Evoker hold her in check.

Representation of the Chatelaine as Ulimite Saint
(Harry Clarke)
The Chatelaine appears as a sleek and elegant woman with flowing red hair. She is notoriously paranoid and enjoys a good contest. Within Rastingdrung the Scarlet Censors feed her a constant stream of information on real and imagined enemies, and she employs an extensive network of spies and informants throughout the region. Through her formidable reputation, the Chatelaine has attracted seven apprentices of diverse talents, among whom she encourages competition and backbiting by sending subtle signs of her constantly shifting favor.

The Chatelaine draws her power from her mysterious connection with Vamuzu, an elder prince of the air, owing to whom she can summon a storm once a day, from which she draws down eery green lightning bolts every other round. Although it exhausts her powers for a full week, she can also summon a wild hurricane, from which she draws chain lightning, and mighty gusts and walls of wind at will. Few sights are as fearful as that of her Storm Riders astride their massive war crows, riding the edge of the rolling black clouds of her unnatural hurricane.

Storm Rider
(Stephen Fabian)
The nature of her connection with Vamuzu is a secret she guards jealousy, suspected only by a few of her apprentices. In a blasphemous ritual, she bound Vamuzu to her irrevocably, imprisoning the heart of his storm within a gem, while simultaneously cutting the heart from her own breast. They now share one heart, a terrible throbbing jewel set in the Chatelaine's chest, in which dark clouds swirl, and spidery lines of green lightning flash. Should she be slain, or the enchantment of the jewel broken, both will die. For this reason, Vamuzu has no choice but to aid and protect her. If she is physically attacked, he will employ the heart to manifest at her side. He attacks as a greater air elemental.

Vamuzu, Elder Prince of Air
(John Blanche)

Monday, November 18, 2013


Michael Hutter

Rastingdrung (4708) is a small walled city on the shores of Lake Wooling. It is in thrall to the unforgiving Chatelaine of Storms, a sorceress who rules with the aid of the Voluptuaries, priests of the Church of Ulim, the sole form of (legal) worship in the city. This unseemly religion is strictly enforced by the Scarlet Censors who freely employ terror and paid informants. The city is the site of the colorful annual Festival of Sybarites. For a map and an overview of the region click here.


Roughly 5 miles wide and 10 miles long, Lake Wooling is fed by creeks to the North and East, and drains into the Yex River to the West. The water bears a multicolored sheen that ripples in the daylight, and shines silver in the moonlight. Around its edges can be found stinking fens populated by silver grasses and vicious long-legged birds, known to the locals as “grovellers” because of their pleading call. Wooling is home to several varieties of fish that suffer from abnormalities including albinism and gigantism. The lake is rumored to be home to a giant bottom-feeder that Rastingdrungers refer to as The Bishop about whom superstitious fisherman tell many tales. The corroded remains of a submerged metal structure can be glimpsed from the north shore (4707). The northwestern shore is heavily wooded by a species of tree known as the Shining Oak that yields excellent timber.
The Aviary
The city of Rastingdrung is set back from the lake. It is girded by thirty foot black stonewalls, over which the dark tower of the Aviary rises like a black finger, around which dark forms can be seen wheeling. These are the Chatelaine’s dread Storm Riders, black knights who ride on the backs of massive war crows. Outside the walls brightly colored shanties, rickety wooden homes, and open-air markets, spill into a bustling harbor. Movement into and out of the city is strictly controlled. A citizen must display his black seal and match his name to the rolls. Imposters are easy to spot, owing to the distinctive pale skin and spindly build of Rastingdrungers, and are always turned away. Other visitors must apply for a temporary red seal (10gp) that is denied or revoked on the slightest suspicion, and may not enter the city bearing either arms or written materials. Although it is known only to a few, there are other ways into the city, through the ancient system of tunnels that run below it.

Inside the City

Inside the city, narrow and claustrophobic streets wind in labyrinthine patterns, opening into a series of tiny squares, where citizens congregate to smoke pipeweed and drink bitter coffee. The smell of incense and the sound of piping flutes from the Temple of Ulim pervade the city at all times.

Even when there is no colorful festival or religious observance, Rastingdrung offers many sights to the infrequent visitor. In The Square of the Eidolons one may peruse the wondrous wooden carvings of the Ulimite Saints and the elegant furniture for which Rastingdrung is rightly famous. The master carpenters here will take orders for a reasonable fee. 

The Church of Ulim is a sight not to be missed. Its grand marble palisades and shady green bowers beckon to the visitor. Long ago a temple of wholesome Mitra, it is said now, with only slight exaggeration, that any pleasure can be had here for a price. Church prostitutes of all types are available, and in hazy dens patrons recline on velvet cushions, smoking red lotus and dreaming wild waking dreams. More risky pleasures can be found in the so-called "gaming rooms" underneath the temple. Below these are the secret precincts and underground priories of the Voluptuaries. At the very bottom are found the Silent Halls, the padded white dungeon where the Scarlet Censors visit their elaborate tortures on heretics and criminals in silence. Rastingdrungers are encouraged to purchase sensual services from the Church, and although many do so eagerly, an equal number frequent the Church only reluctantly once the Censors have taken an interest in their piety. 

Although it is off limits to visitors, they may gaze at the exterior of the Chatelaine's Palace. It is a charming, if somewhat dilapidated ancient structure, with faded domes and turrets rising above solid walls. Everywhere the hooked polearms and black armor of the palace guards bristle.Within the inner courtyards, the Chatelaine's pleasure grounds and strange gardens lie. Those lucky few invited visitors who are the Chatelaine's guests are shown the full measure of her rare hospitality. They are likely to be treated to shows by the jongleur, mountebanks and thespians that are a fixture of her court, and to be given a tour of the Aviary in which her monstrous war crows are kept in giant cages reached by slender bridges, where they are tended by their nervous handlers. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Simple Underwater Rules

By Sarah Lynn

Suppose you're going on an underwater adventure with potions of water breathing, or a spell that makes you sprout gills, or whatever. Here are some simple rules.


There are two options:

Going Light: You have a tendency to float upwards. If you do nothing, you will rise towards the surface. You will move by swimming. If you are exploring an underwater dungeon, you will essentially be flying through the dungeon. Your movement is ½ if you have both hands free, otherwise it is ¼. (Note: You cannot wear any armor heavier than studded leather and take this option.)

Going Heavy: You weight yourself down and sink right to the bottom. You will move by walking along the seabed. If you are exploring an underwater dungeon, you will do so in the normal manner and may carry weapons or gear as normal. Your movement is ¼.


Players can cast spells as usual. Spells may function differently underwater, however.


Slashing and bludgeoning type weapons do 1/2 damage. Piercing weapons do full damage. Normal missile weapons don't work underwater, except for crossbows. Underwater, their range is halved. At a distance of 20' or greater, they do 1/2 damage.


If you are not surprised, you have can hold your breath for your constitution divided by 3 rounded down in minutes. If you are surprised you can do half of that. Once your time is up you make a saving throw. If you fail the role then you die.  If you make the roll, then you have not drowned. Congratulations, you have 1 more minute to live! When that's up roll again each minute with a cumulative -4 penalty.


Everyone must write down on a sheet what they're carrying and where. Scrolls and spell books will be destroyed underwater. Potions had better have a tight cork or wax seal. (Drinking them underwater is difficult too: 50% chance 1/2 of doses are lost in the process.) Since they cannot light torches or lanterns, characters who cannot see in the dark will need a magical light source if they enter a dark place.


You can't map underwater. You may draw a crude map without measurements, on the theory that your characters will have a better handle on their environment than they will (especially session to session). But that's it. 


Characters probably do not have a way of talking to one another underwater. They must communicate through gestures. No one can hear you scream underwater. For the same reason, all underwater creatures receive a +1 on surprise rolls against PCs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The village of Loktole (3906) is located on the north bend of the Yex River, where it turns towards the Swamp of Many Eyes. (Background on the region in which Loktole is located (and a map) can be found here.) It receives river trade from Rastingdrung to the east on the shores of Lake Wooling, and Elmswood to the south. Goods travel to and from the seaport Wolsdag over land from here. Recognizing the importance of the location, the Grim Duke seized power here two decades ago in the name of the Invincible Overlord. The local militias were put to the sword and their farmlands distributed to conquering soldiers. The village population is thus divided between the newly settled ex-soldiers and the original inhabitants. The new inhabitants brought with them the worship of MANA YOOOD-SUSHAI, the slumbering god of the Temple of Pegana revered by the Grim Duke and his men. Before their arrival, the original inhabitants worshipped in the Cult of Man. Some of the original inhabitants have converted to the new religion to get ahead or avoid trouble, but many have retained their faith and continue to secretly practice their ancient rituals.

Rogues Gallery


Torkamedes the halfling is the envoy of the Grim Duke in Loktole. He combines a smug and vengeful disposition with extremes of incompetence. The Duke’s motive for placing Torkamedes here is to tempt the Chatelaine into foolish action, for which the Duke is well prepared. Naturally, Torkamedes believes himself to be well respected and feared by all. He and his wife are pious followers of the Temple of Pegana, and hold in contempt the views of the older residents. Torkamedes’ wife is, if anything, even more haughty and obtuse.

Master Yevo

Master Yevo is the sole apprentice of the Silent Evoker, the powerful vizier of the Grim Duke, whom he fears and loves in equal measure. He is stationed in Loktole supposedly as advisor to Torkamedes, but in reality he holds the reins of power as the Evoker's eyes and ears. Yevo’s easy smile and warm disposition conceal his calculating nature. He is thin and pale, favoring loose and open shirts. On his chest are tattooed a series of pentagrams and magical symbols that function as bracers of defense AC 2. Around his neck he wears the Cloven Sigil, an ancient bronze medallion shaped as a half moon that is set with an enormous Chrysophite. This amulet glows as per a light spell, dispels magic, and grants the wearer ESP once per day; it also allows the wearer to contact the bearer of the amulet’s other half, which is worn by the Silent Evoker.

Guildmaster Quando

Guildmaster Quando is the representative in Loktole of the Merchant’s Guild. He is a heavily set, lavishly dressed man. Quando is capable and shrewd, and is actuated primarily by self-interest and secondarily by guild interests. Although he sides with the older monopoly holding faction of the guild, he also maintains some contacts among the new enterprising faction as insurance. He is currently in a pissing contest with Torkamedes over tariffs, and sometimes passes information on to the Chatelaine when doing so would benefit himself or the guild.

At all times, he wears two elaborately carven rings whose fate is joined, one on the ring finger of each hand. The Ebon Oculus bears an open and shining eye that allows its wearer to detect lies and alignment each 1 time per day. The Horn Veil bears a slumbering eye that protects its wearer against all attempts at scrying and ESP. Should either of the two rings ever be worn apart from the other, it is cursed. Then the Ebon Oculus misleads its wearer into thinking his friends are enemies and enemies friends, and the Horn Veil reveals its wearers guilty and treacherous thoughts at the most inopportune moments.


Markopt is a Wayfarer, a fanatical devotee of the Cult of Man. His sometimes home is a secret shrine in the wild woods outside Loktole, where the faithful conduct their ancient rituals. He has put them in touch with fellow cultists in Fathine, Elmswood, and even depraved Rastingdrung, where a few brave souls practice in secret, hazarding elaborate tortures at the hands of the Scarlet Censors. He belongs to the anarchical faction, and is constantly watching, learning and probing the schemes, and secret weaknesses of the Duke, Chatelaine, and Guildmasters. He is often on the move, and he knows many ancient and forgotten things. Although he looks young at first glance, the deep lines etched in his brow, and his hard grey eyes belie this appearance. His greatest praise, given sparingly, is to refer to someone as a “human human”.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Religions of Ghinor

The Temple of Pegana

The Precepts of the Faithful hold that MANA YOOD-SUSHAI is the slumbering god whose cosmic dreams sustain reality. Lulled into slumber by the divine drummer Skarl, when He finally awakens and rubs the sleep from his eyes this world will vanish. The followers of the Temple of Pegana work to forestall this day. To soothe his slumber they ceaselessly intone hymns, and utter gentle prayers, and burn sweet incense. All dreams are sacred to the priests of Pegana who record carefully in vast rolls of papyrus the most remarkable (and damning) dreams of their followers. This strange faith is currently popular within the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Its fortune has risen, owing to the power of their High Priest Mung to summon the dread Beast of Slumber, and is beginning inroads in the provinces. Torkamedes, the envoy of the Grim Duke in Loktole has erected there a lavish Temple of Pegana. Among the services they offer for a fee is the interpretation dreams: 10gp for an acolyte (10% accuracy), 50gp for a priest (20% accuracy), 250gp for the Canon himself (30% accuracy). Even when accurate, the interpretations are perplexing.

The Cult of Man

The Cult of Man is a proscribed millennial lay religion. Its original function was to celebrate and pass on the recorded history of the struggle through which humanity freed itself from the yoke of oppression laid on it by the entities calling themselves the Archivists. Through the centuries this history has become perplexing myth and the rites of remembrances obscure ritual. In its current form, the myth cycle teaches that the return of the Lords from the skies is immanent. Man must prepare himself for the final war, the result of which can only be ultimate liberation or unending servitude.

Although there is no official church hierarchy, there are some cultists who devote themselves entirely to the preparation of their fellow man. These are the fanatical Wayfarers, of whom there are two varieties. One kind holds that the Overlords, Emperors, Dukes and Chatelaines of this world are the bulwark of civilization, the principle of order through which alone humanity might marshal its forces effectively in the coming struggle. This faction seeks to uphold authority wherever it is found. The other faction holds that dominion is the way of the Archivist, and that if humanity is to triumph, it must relearn instead the ways of Man. These anarchical individuals work to undermine the harsh tyrannies that currently prevail in supposedly civilized lands. Whatever the doctrinal dispositions of its local adherents, the Cult of Man is resisted by authorities everywhere, owing to its imagery of revolution and liberation. It is openly practiced only in rural communities, outside the City States. Elsewhere the Cultists meets in secret, and recognize one another through a strange and ancient sign language that functions like a thieves cant.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ruined Ghinor

A fragment of Campaign Map 18 Ghinor Highlands
In the center of this region lies the drear Swamp of Many Eyes, home only to necromancers, escaped convicts, and roving bands of beastmen. The Yex River, beginning in the east with the dubious waters of lake Wooling, swollen by the confluence with the Singtrellian River to the south, runs through the swamp until it empties with a great racket into the sea at Dagger Bay. At the northwestern edge of the swamp rise teeming thickets of the Screaming Hyena Jungle. Home to the Ayashomo, tattooed death cultists, it bursts with unseemly life. Somewhere within its dense green thickets, a lost city of the Archivists broods, its precincts overgrown and crumbling, still guarded by fierce magics and strange artifacts.

The power in the region is divided three ways. The villages of Loktole, Fathine and Elmswood are under the control of the Grim Duke, a lesser vassal of the City State of the Invincible Overlord, who lives in a windowless iron citadel to the South. The free city of Wolsdag is under the control of the Merchant’s Guild. For now, their control of this crucial port ensures their influence in the region. On the shores of lake Wooling, Rastingdrung, the closest thing to civilization in these backwaters, lies under the spell of a potent sorceress known as The Chatelaine of Storms.

The Village of Loktole, the center of the campaign, sits on banks of the Yex River, where it bends North on its way into the swamp. For the purposes of trade it is at a crucial juncture, for it receives goods by way of the river from the city of Rastingdrung to the east and Elmwood to the south. Since the Yex is too dangerous to traverse, goods travel by land betweeen Loktole and Wolsdag. Tensions are high between the points of this triangle, with The Chatelaine scheming to wrest territory from the Grim Duke. She covets Loktole most of all, for if she only possessed it, she feels confident that she could open a safe route all the way on the River Yex from Lake Wooling to the sea. Only then could she break the hold of the Merchant’s Guild in Wolsdag over trade from the sea. The Grim Duke knows  the Chatelaine’s schemes, and despite brisk and profitable trade with Rastingdrung, considers her a mortal enemy. For the moment, the Merchant’s Guild plays both sides of the conflict against one another to its advantage. But the balance is delicate.