Monday, December 22, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

(Sketches) Martians and Mars

Christmas day quickly approaches, and I have a lot left to do for the mars game, which will probably commence on the 24th.

Tangentally, I am trying to improve my art, and a surprisingly large part of that is loosening up and drawing faster. So here are a bunch of sketches done, as a rule in under 20 minutes, working mostly, but with a couple of exceptions, from the bestiary. I have upped the contrast and junk on most of these, but they are mostly raw. A lot of this I just pulled out of my ass, but a couple major sources of inspiration were Samurai Jack, and preproduction stills/art from the JC movie.


The accompanying text is at the sketch stage as well in most cases.

This is an exception in that it wasn't timed. It is my current version of campaign area, although I am going to move Waroon into the SE corner, I think.


Red martian


Albino Apes: (D/R)

Martian apes are not true primates, but rather humanoid creatures closely resembling terrestrial monotremes. Great hairy beasts, albino apes range from 8-12 feet in height, and have four arms.

Favored attack: combination bearhug and beating.



Anth: (D/R)

Pseudo-leonine saurian beast with eight legs. Ambush predator. Usually hunt in pairs








Warrior monk of the Rahn, the Sun God.

Highly trained assassin/ninja/priests.



Monkey-like ab-dead creatures, bhool usually travel in troupes and haunt ruins. Ravenous monstrosities, bhool enjoy the flesh of the living and the dead with equal enthusiasm


Green Warrior



Gargan (scarlet ape)




Huge, centipede like creatures, cyclopedes lay dormant for long periods of time between hunts. These catastrophically destructive creatures are rare enough and their depredations infamous enough that some of them have earned named.


Dragon (Mars):

Puny shades of their puissant ancestors, the dragons of Old Mars are, nevertheless, huge, fearsome and and possessed of a high degree of intelligence. They communicate with their riders, and vis versa through psycho-phermons. Dragons delight in slaughter and destruction.



Rapacious red warriors, dragonaughts share a special bond with their mounts. It is unclear who serves who, dragon or rider.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

(Mars) Torgo: Aspidochelone


Torgo is a giant turtle that slowly walks the shifting sea (big silt deposit). Ysall, once called the singing city, resides upon his back; a city of the uplifted animal folk (wild martians), Ysall now appears abandoned; but it is not; as the result of a long ago science-magic ritual, the city's residents are in cryogenic suspension. They cannot be woken- or their muderous and tyrannical god king, Ko-Dom, who lies locked in cursed slumber as a result of the rite, will awaken too. Since the rite, the city has been overrun with monsters, undead and beings summoned from the dreams and nightmares of the citizenry and their vile god. Recently a colony of Klaken (freaky bug people) have burrowed into the cold sleep chambers, compromising the wards therein; the seals have begun to crumble; how long will the dread Ko-Dom continue to slumber?

So I have a temple carven into the shell of Torgo, with a second level below it. The point of the adventure is to keep Ko-Dom* from waking up, although this will not be obvious immediately. I am thinking of starting with everyone in the balloon, during a sand storm, on the run from ninja-priests that worship a Roc as a sun god. They come out of the storm above Torgo. I think weird fungus bats or mars stirges will attack the balloon. So after that the PCs have to decide whether to crash in the city or outside** it, because the baloon is in need of repair. Torgo's shell is like the size of a small island and covered in forest.

The other idea I had was to begin the campaign directly after the crash of the baloon, after it has hurtled out of the sandstorm, with the characters unaware they're on a giant turtle. I can't decide. This makes the setting a mystery, with clues, like the fact that about once an hour or two Torgo takes a step and the whole world trembles.

The city/island on the back of a turtle or fish, aka an Aspidochelone, is a pretty old idea, but one I don't see used enough.

*spell it backwards

**and thus either catch up to and somehow climb onto Torgo, or wander the desert in search of back up adventure. I have no problem with them getting a glimpse of the fantastic city on the turtle's back and moving on, either.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Moons of Mars

Moons of Mars:

Looking through powerful optical apparatus, the scholars of the Thorus Institute have determined that both of Old Mars' moons are habitable and, indeed, inhabited. As to the nature of the satellites ' denizens, further research is necessary before meaningful speculation can be entertained.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

[Mars] Airships


Airships are the greatest remaining wonder of the red planet's glorious past. These devices are powered by solar and psychic energy. Green Martians and Wild Martians are, by all reports, with few exceptions, unable to provide the proper sort of motive mental energy; as a result, Red Martians rule the skies of Mars. Most airships exist as constituents of city state navies, but pirates and even private ownership are not unknown; the latter exists as an ubiquitous fantasy among Red Martian Warriors.

A word about the short entries: these will all be part of pdf. A SHORT PDF. There will be art in the pdf, but I am art slammed right now getting my comic ready. I am trying to keep stuff really concise, because, man I read City on the Silt Sea and some of those savage worlds Hellfrost books and the word bloat fucking nearly killed me. In the first case I would have to condense that shit down to bullet points to use it, and the text told me everything several times, which I found both surpurflous and extreemly annoying. The Hellfrost books used 50 words when five would suffice. That shit makes me crazy.

Speaking of pdfs, I was going through my files a few days ago and realized that I completed my Gothic setting/adventure pdf, The Haunted Isles, but never released it. Sadly, two year old maps, layout and drawings cannot be suffered to live, because they suck beyond all human endurance, but I'll try to get those redone by, say, October first.

Monday, December 8, 2014

[Old Mars] History

The Chronicles of Old Mars:

Martian history is a mess. Although the spoken language is unimaginably ancient, the writing system has changed several times over the millennia. Many of these old systems are untranslatable, rendering entire epochs of the world's history unknown and, most likely, unknowable. Further, the current rulers of Old Mars, the god-kings, have as a group gone out of their way to conceal and muddy the past prior to their ascension. Everyone knows that a conflict known as the Dragon War took place, for example, but few know how long ago or what changed as result.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

[Old Mars] The Shifting Sea


The Shifting Sea is comprised of silt so fine that it is incapable of supporting any but the most negligible load upon its surface. The sea is 8-12 feet deep in most places, although, in isolated spots it can be much deeper. Airships can fly over the sea, but are generally useless for cargo and extremely vulnerable to the frequent sandstorms. Large land animals (e.g., zitidar) can navigate the more shallow deposits of silt, but have difficulties with respiration after just a few hours of exposure. Sand ships are the safest and most reliable means of conveyance across the Shifting Sea. All known salt mines in Stark's Reach are located on islands (areas of high elevation) within the Shifting Sea.

Note: on the current version of the Stark's Reach map (left sidebar) the Shifting Sea is mislabled as the Lesser Sea of Sand. Also props to TSR/WotC's Dark Sun setting which provided the inspiration for the sea itself.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gods of Mars

Gods of Mars

Most of the cities of Old Mars are ruled by despotic beings of power known as god-kings. In Stark's Reach, only Xolox, ruled by a Jed and council, remains free of such tyranny. The god-kings each maintain a priesthood and demand worship from their subjects; but many in the cities still pay secret homage to the old gods, namely the Sea Queen and the Dragon Lord. Beyond the safety and confinement of city walls, in the wastelands, nomads, green, red and otherwise, scoff at these upstart godlings.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

[Old Mars] People of the wastelands.,

People of the Wasteland:

The peoples of mars are varied in their customs and their use/understanding of technology. Despite their differences, however, all native Martians are oviparous, and live for 500 to 1000 years; further, natives of Mars share the same language, obsession with honor and a murderous hatred for cultures other than their own.

Red Martians:

Primarily urban, dominate the population of most cities- to the exclusion of all others in many places, such as Uton and Xardz. Red Martians have an ancient and complex culture; once their cities ruled Mars, but in these latter days, the Red Martins rarely even rule themselves, neing more often than not in thrall to one of the so called God Kings or other external power. Red Martians are literate and familiar with all forms of Martian technology, including the operation of airships.

Green Martians:

Green Martians live in a meritocracy of violence. The strong rule, the weak serve and cower. Green Martins are pastoralists and follow their herds, living either in the open desert or dwelling within a ruined city as chance may allow. Green Martins have four arms and may, at first level attack three times in two rounds. Green Martians are said to delight in creulty, but this appears to be cultural than integral to their character,,as notably compassionate exceptions exist. As rule, Green Martians are illiterate and disinterestd in technology beyond small arms and the occasional peice of ancient artillery. Given their ability to survive where most others would perish, Green Martians are by far the most populous race on mars.

Wild Martians:

The descendants of beasts long ago uplifted to full sentience by eldritch martian science. The typical wild Martians will possess a (usually hirsute) humanoid body and the head of a beast. Wild Martians are a varied lot and special abilities and class availability should be on a case by case basis.

Classes (Fantastic Heroes and Whitchery).

Ranger; Fighter; Thief; Rifleman; Sky Lord (Rocketeer); Psychic; Savant; Wild Brute; Warlock; The Endless.

AC (ascending)= 10+1/2 level+ Dex Bonus.

Class choices, I think, may be subject to change. The typical Martian warrior is not the same as a standard Fighter or any of the subclasses either.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

[sketches] martians



Green Matian Warrior


Red Martian Warrior




Friday, November 21, 2014

[Maps] Ziturr, Old Mars



[Maps] God Kings of Old Mars, Stark's Reach, notes.

So I was workong on my Mars xmass game thing when it occured to me that some things I'd done earlier, namely Skull and the Deep Desert stuff in the left sidebar, were better suited to Mars than they were to Metal Earth- and suddenly I have the backbone of a settng and, with some correction and alteration, a campaign area.

Anyway the first map is new. No effort has been made at any kind of accuracy.

Bigger version.

And this is the campaign area, a reworked version of an older map.
Bigger Version




Monday, November 17, 2014

Warriors of the Red Planet; FH&W for Planetary Romance/ Sword and Planet 1


Sorry about the lack of posts. The season was supposed to be over, but I have been in the field pretty much every day since my last appearence here. However, I broke my leg, coming down a badland feature last Monday, so now my season is totally over. The good news is that I am getting paid. However, some dumbass fucked up my car while I was on the way back from the doctor. It has been a week.

I am going to use this time to write draw and game. I am probably going to launch a mars type game as early as tomorrow, and a Metal Earth game soon after.

Don't enlarge the pic below if yer at work, it has nipples.

Mars first. I posted this at TRPS earlier, but as I am seldom on line these days, I forgot the shit nature of forums. They're even worse for conversation than ghost towns like this blog.

First lets start with systems:

Warriors of the Red Planet, despite its authors' best efforts to conceal its actual existence, is a nice fit for this sort of game. It has some bullshit anti-world building pro illusionism DM advice (pps 55-56) which seems out of place in such a game, but this is as easily ignored as it is repugnant; it wouldn't be the OSR, after all, if someone didn't present opinion as fact.

The game has four character classes: fighting man (a cumbersome name, but an acceptable nod to nastolgia given the source material); Scoundrel (thief); Mentalist; and Scientist. The former pair hold no real surprises, the latter repackage spell like abilities as psionic powers and gadgets, respectively.

There are several races, mostly genric so it would be relatively easy to craft your own flavors of each. One could easily do Planet of the Apes, Kamandi, Dying Earth or Barsoom with this game. Mix it with something like B/X, with which it is pretty much compatible, and you could do just about anything. I think race and class are significant components of the core of a gameworlds' identity. This game does a good job of giving you just enough in this regard without forcing unwanted flavor into the mix. There are some racial level limits, however, which I have an issue with in regards to the fact I think such limits should be campaign/setting specific, not generic.

The Monster section contains over a hundred genre fitting critters by my count, although many are different types of "men" it remains an impressive selection. My only complaint here is the lack of B/X style moral rules. The authors use ascending (and descending, be cool) AC, so they don't have THE FEAR OF GARY why the fuck not use the better (or ar least more intuitive) of the DnD morale systems?

The book is rounded out by some random tables of various levels of usability.

It is a good game. I give it a 7 bumped to an 8 because it is treading newish ground, bumped back down to a 7 because no pdf/table of contents, bumped back up to an 8 because it is a beta.

Also, @ Thomas Denmark if you are here- failing to release a product has exactly the impact on sales as it does on theft. Release the pdf. I can't even believe I have to say that in 2014. 2014, man. 2014.

Another fine DnD that can do the job, easily, and has a PDF, a free one even, is Fantastic Heroes and Witchery. One would have to cherry pick the classes and races, relying mostly on the weird science bunch, but that is how the game is made to be used, anyway. However, the game currently lacks a bestiary. It being DnD, however, you can probably find whatever critters you need in a book you already own. I have to be honest here, I like WoTRP, and I am going to use it in some capacity, but FH&W is a solid 9+, has an index, a TOC, two pdf versions (paid and free) and a far better value for your momey. This is especially true if you are playing online, as the free pdf mAkes the purchase of more than one hard copy needless.

The TSR Dark Sun setting could easily be converted to a Barsoom like world by sweeping out the demi humans and replacing them with in genre races. The 4e set has some excellent shit on deserts and easily adapatable survival rules for the same, if nothing else.

Another, lesser known setting, is Savage Swords of Athanor. You can get it from the lower right colunm at the blog of the same name, here.

However, I think it is important to point out that while extreme environments are the rule in this sort of setting, they need not be homogenous. Barsoom has room for all sorts of environments ranging from deserts to jungles to frozen poles and underground seas.

Okay, so system concerns are out of the way, as well as a quick setting fix if one is desired.

Were I, and as mentioned above, I am about to do so twice, about to start up a T&P game i would begin with the characters as Earthers more or less at the moment of their arrival at the setting. See Planet of Apes and Kamandi for excellent examples of the same. This would solve the problem of introducing the setting and getting players to invest in it. The setting is a mystery that the players must solve, at least to an extent, if they wish to survive. Regardless of how I feel about seasons 4-6, early episodes of LOST are really good at revealing bits and pieces of setting lore. The island sequences on Arrow do a good job of this too. Check that shit out.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Full Cyclops Wood map, wip

I intend on adding a key in the area to the right and. ideally, I am goimg to turn most of the named locations into one page or half page adventures. I have been wanting to do somethng of the sort for awhile.


Larger Version.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

[ART] Image Bank 1

So I am going to try to post three times a week for the next few months. We'll see how that goes.

Monday's are reserved for drawings. Every Monday I will post a new image.

I think this is a space monster, or a burrowing animal, or both.


Wednesday this week will be a map or something. Friday we'll get another instalment in the Cosmic Worlds essay.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cosmic supers creation 2

Click here for Part One

The Origin of All Things

At their core, all good supers universes share a common obsession with history. Large scale events in Marvel, DC, Hellboy, Godland, or what have you, almost always have their roots in their setting's history, and it is not uncommon for these roots to stretch all the way back to the actual origin of the universe itself. Building a sense of history into your setting is essential. So all cliches aside, it is perhaps best to start at the beginning... Maybe.

To expand on that last point, it is possible and, perhaps, even desirable to work backward. If you have a batch of player characters in front of you, it is likely at least one of them has a power set that could easily be tied into the setting, or perhaps allude to significant components of it, such as New Genesis; Krypton or Asgard. Don't be afraid to retcon something in either- remember, changing the past to suit the needs of the present is totally in genre. If you feel uncomfortable with this, do a realty warping time travel adventure that brings the change about.

Further, I highly suggest that as each campaign comes to a close, PCs are retired from active play and folded into the setting as prominent NPCs and replaced by new characters. Encourage legacy characters, like Nightowl or Batman Beyond, which will tie the game world's past to its present. These steps will lend your setting a sense of solidity.

Returning to the history and origins of the universe, it is probably not absolutely necessary to know exactly what triggered the big bang (although Godland and DC's various crisis comics, among others, do some interesting things with this) but it is a good idea to at least go as far back as the dawn of humanity and a few thousand years into the future as well.

The immediate past is also important. What is the recent event, be it something like Marvel's Civil War; Watchmen's Keene Act; The death of Superman, or what have you, that sets the tone for the current era of heroes?

Some more questions to ponder:

What is the origin of the universe?

Who are the most powerful beings within the universe and what is their connection (if any) to the origin event? To its eventual destruction?

What makes super powers possible?

What are the three biggest secrets of the World's past?

What are the two biggest threats to the peace and/or continued existence of the earth/universe?

Here's a thing, though, one may not want to know the answers to all these questions. It can kill the mystery. That's how I roll, too; however, one can always retcon or crisis wipe away any problematic/soul suckingly stupid elements that survive into game time later on.


Jack Kirby's Fourth World Vol 1-4.

Eternals Vol 1 (Jack Kirby)

You can't really talk about world building and comics without talking about the King.

Next time: Step by step universe creation part one.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Making a cosmic supers setting: part one

A pic of things to come...



In order to have access to the full range of possible adventure types seen in superhero comics it is necessary to have a solid setting. As with all genres of table top, many players and referees prefer to make use of a published setting. These settings come with significant drawbacks in regards to the above mentioned goal, however. For example, your player character cannot hope to fill Batman's niche if he exists alongside batman; he can't find the Microverse or the Negative Zone or the Great Refuge for the first time either, because Reed Richards already did all that. The best PCs in such a setting can hope for is to be shadows of the established heroes.

At this point, one might ask what is meant by the "full range of possible adventure types?" The truth is writing an adventure that involves taking down bank robbers doesn't really require much in the way of world building. However, if you wish to do space, cosmic, alternate reality, time travel and/or world/universe saving adventures, having at the very least the bare bones of the greater setting in which these adventures take place will prove invaluable.

It is the purpose of this series of posts to explore and explain methods of superhero universe creation, and in so doing provide the referee with the tools necessary to create her own realty or series thereof.

Point of imformation, this will mot ne an easy process. You will have to read, and make stuff, and we're doing this my way, not in some general touchy feely fashion. I have a step by step method which is labor intesive. So if you want to do it the easy way, and it is a game, so who can blame you for wanting it to be easy, pick a piblished setting, do the homework below anyway- at least read DC's 52 if nothing else. Also, take this one peice of advice, if you use DC/Marvel the heavy hitters like Captain America or Superman or whoever should, in my opinion, be MIA presumed dead for the duration of your campaign. This will give the PCs the center spot.



Fantastic Four (1963) 1-100. Annuals 1-7. The first truly modern superhero comic. Marvel universe is more or less constructed during the course of this legendary run. It is all available on Marvel Unlimited. Includes everything you really need to know about superheroes. It is to superhero comics what the Beatles are to pop music. By our modern standards it may seem a little clumsy from time to time, but there is in fact, very little wasted beyond a few hundred words here and there. Start here.

Godland 1-36 & Finale. A cool cosmic story and an interesting and self-concious take on comic book world building.

Crisis of the Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis. DC multiverse lives and dies. Superman sings. Commonly available at libraries. The first one is really text heavy.

DC 52: a fantastic example of maybe how one could go about using original characters in a major setting.

If the list above seems daunting there are always cartoons.

JLA: Twilight parts one and two for world building stuff.

All the DC animated universe cartoons for an excellent presentation of the full range of adventure possibilities.

Batman the Brave and the Bold: another excellent example of what supers can be.

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

Obviously you can't get to all of this at once, but if you enjoy supers you'll get to as much of it as you can as soon as you can anyway- if you have not already. If you don't enjoy supers, I doubt you have made it this far.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Earth? One page space supers setting

I am in and out of the desert right now and have been since April. I am working ahead and regular posting will resume as soon as I can put together a buffer, probably sometime next month. I'll start with entries on the Cyclops Wood, the Ruinlands, and a long series of posts on map making and how to put together and run a cosmic supers setting. Here is a bit of a preview of the last.

Larger version


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Planet Eaters 1- with words!

Another preview: my oldest son assires me that webcomics ate supposed to be B&W and abot video games... I am redesigning Ord, down there at the bottomwhich is why he is uncolored.

This is page one, probably the only preview for a while...

Larger version



Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Planet Eaters - color arts.

Taking a break from gaming stuff to work on Cosmic Tales, my comic. It may be a long break. A really long break. I have been drawing non stop for about two weeks. I am making good progress and I really feel that my art is improving. This might be page one out of a projected one fifty or so. I'll get back to gaming stuff at so e point, but imma follow this to wherver it leads. As I said to someone last night, if R. Crumb was a tit man and trying to pass himself off as Jack Kirby, the art might have looked a bit like this.

This story is called the Planet Eaters, btw.

Larger version


And another from later on.

Even the most cursory and abusive comments would be appreciated.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

[map] Cyclops Wood Full

This is the initial campiagn area; after moving through Zimon's Gate, the characters will find themselves at the top of a mountain road that brings them down onto the sotheast portion of the map. Referees could also begin in Dogwall or Molt without too much trouble. Dogwall is a day's walk (more or less) on the other side of the stone bridge, and Molt is upriver on an island in the glacial lake.

Larger version

This was a bitch to draw, btw.


Friday, February 21, 2014

[Map] The Hidden Land at the Sorcerer's Skull

Get a look at it here.

This was one of my two major projects for the last couple of months, and the first time I have really tried to do a large scale callaboration. It was educational on a technical level (to say the least) as it turned out to be several smaller projects as opposed to one big project. It took forever and ever (I started it at the end of field season in late october).

This means I can return to working on my webcomic, Cosmic Tales, which I hope to launch some time this year.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

[Map] A section of the Cyclops Wood, and thoughts on wilderness adventure.

Although I have made a few in my time, I have gown increasingly less fond of big hex based sandboxes. I think wilderness adventues are a great idea. I do not believe, however, that hexcrawls are to the widerness what dungeons are to site based adventures. Walking and exploring have become big parts of the work I do in meatspace and hexcrawls absolutely fail to capture what I love so much about both.

Imo, most hexy things try to cover too much space and getting lost is a ticket to boredom. Now, my worklife aside, when I was a neglected child and spent my time wandering around defunct railroads and empty country, getting lost was fun, because you poked around until you were not lost, and you found stuff along the way. Also, you can easily spend days exploring what is represented by just one hex on most maps, but they usually have like one detail. This strikes me as too little and too arbitrary.

This map is the beginning of an attempt to convert some of this thinking into gamables.


1. Constrains the players- the ravine is in the west, the east side is mountain cliff face. The bridge is flimsy or magic and you can only cross once, maybe- or just finding your way back to it could be the challenge.

2. Ensures that you will have to leave the road.

3. Gives you stuff to find once you get lost. That is the moon capsule from The First Men In the Moon up there on the top left, btw. I don't think lost should be a matter of rolling a random direction, but rather a random destination with a random duration of travel.

4. Has room for factions.

5. Has an ecology (take my word for it)

So the idea is you have to explore and interact with the environment (e.g., deal with the locals, figure out how to cross the boiling mud, decide which way to go on the road at the fork, discover that someone has fucked with the signposts, and so on...) on the way to your goal (which in this case is the big skull hill thingy) instead of just passing through. Not every landscape is an adventure, of course, in the same way not every building is a dungeon.

Note: I don't have the scale on the map but it is like a 4 hour walk from the bridge to the fork in the road. Also, the apex predator here is an insane allosaur.

I'll key this up in a day or two, probably like the Molt map, but with stats and shit

Come at me, bro.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Molt, not so rough

I am at a friend's house and he has been doing something involving insurance and the phone and the internet...

So, while waiting, I went ahead and did this:



Friday, February 7, 2014

New Stuff, Old stuff

These are my most recent gaming purchases. I picked up the Withcery book after spending a few days pouring over the .pdf. It is currently my favorite DnD. It has all the classic fantasy stuff but also races, classes and rules for horror, weird adventures, and sword and planet. I also love the interior art, most of which is by Dominique Crouzet, the author. The pdf is available for free, HERE. Go. Look. The HC Is currently out of print as Dom is doing a new round of edits.
The important thing, of course, is that I have one.
I bought the WD book because I read a shitty .pdf of the Lichway and it was the first time I have ever looked at published adventure and thought, "Fuck, I'd like to use this, and it fits my setting." The Halls of Tizun Thane, by the same author, had a similar effect. I have already placed both into the Valley of Bones*. I'll alter each, of course, and I am going to redraw some of the maps. WD maps are too clinical for my tastes and look like apartment complex floorplans to me. Aside from that, both are kickass dungeons and I think Albie Fiore was a master of exactly how much detail to provide. The scenario book versions of these are great, too, because they include all the monsters from the WD Fiend Factory, and as I don't own a copy of the Fiend Folio (what?) that's good for me.
* I am going to use some one page dungeons as well, but more on that in a future post.
Anyway, I hardly ever buy anything, so to get two cool things within the same month is pretty badass.

Notes and maps in the rough.

I am getting ready to run Valley of Bones, so I've had to scramble to get some stuff done. I thought it might interesting to post my prep work. This mostly relates ro the two largest above ground settlements in the Valley.





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Valley of Bones, Spell Casters


An eclectic group of spell casters reside in the valley.


Dame Murdann (E) is searching for spells for her list as well as magical and monetary loot. Cruel, quick to anger, and prone to violent excess, she is little more than a brigand with a handful of spells at her disposal. She is obsessed with collecting valuable hairbrushes, but makes no use of them. Styling herself an aristocrat, Murdann is very sensitive regarding her claims regarding familial connections to royalty. She has a small group of miscreants and outcasts in her employ. Together they reside in a collection of ruins somewhere in the Winter Forest.

Aside from a session of magical study in the morning, Dame Murdann is usually drunk.


Eldrew the Defiler (H) is a small time necromancer with big plans. Weirdly tall; waxy pale; skeletally thin; perpetually nervous and prone to drinking copious amounts of foul smelling brown tea, the Defiler posses a cowardice exceeded only by his lust for power. Recently, he has gained access to the Grall barrow known as the Place of Skulls located in the Cyclops Woods. The barrow contains the remains of a shrine and a sacrificial cenote (the Ghostwell). He has learned how to draw power from the Ghostwell, but has unwittingly become its slave in the process; even now his sell swords wander the forest deeps and beyond looking for potential sacrifices with which to feed the curséd thing. Meanwhile magical pollution emanating from the Ghostwell poisons and corrupts the surrounding landscape.


Aldred Ashlocke (?) is a mysterious figure, whose goals remain largely as unknown as his visage, which, on the rare occasions he is seen away from his stronghold, remains concealed within the preternaturally dark shadows of his black cowl. Ashloke dwells at a large manse on the upper slopes of Roc's Nest Mt. He occasionally sends servants into Molt for mundane supplies. Dozens of bizarre rumors concern the spell caster and his household, but no one knows anything for certain.

Despite the ambiguity, Ashloke is unquestionably a powerful spell caster.


Professor Cloudfog (E) is the ancient, powerful and notoriously absent minded master of Drift, the floating castle of the sky elfs. The sky elf spoken policy in regards to the valley is one of noninterference, but Cloudfog meddles incessantly through a network of agents, elf and otherwise. Cloudfog seeks to maintain the current balance of power within the Valley. Seemingly a benign ancient, he is occasionally ruthless in the pursuit of his goals.


The Serpent King (God King) is the magic using, shape-shifting ruler of the reptile folk at Molt. Known to prefer the form of a gargantuan snake, the Serpent king is the primary reasons no outside force has attempted to raid or invade Molt. The king's subjects worship him as a god.


Miss Witherspoon (E) leads the elfs at the Broken Spire, she was a youthful two hundred years of age when the Hex War began, but she spent the next several centuries locked in an enchanted slumber. Waking, at last, a few centuries ago, Witherspoon found a changed and damaged world. Her intelligence and prowess as a spell caster have resulted in her current superior status, but despite her fey appeal, she is a scowling dour woman. Witherspoon is said to have a penchant for swift action and a particular dislike for dwarfs.

Dreg, (dragon) a great dragon lives in the ruins beneath Urux, at the border between Vale and Under-Vale. Only the most powerful and well informed even know of his presence. His true power and his designs remain swathed in dred and mystery.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Valley of Bones: Forces and Factions

Pardon the image reuse, please; this entry is actually what It was intended to illustrate. I need to stop posting them whenever like that.


This section gives a brief description of some of the groups vying for power, control, resources and survival in the Valley of Bones. Powerful individuals will be addressed in a future post.


The Warriors of the Black Sun (AKA Rictus' Mob): gnolls and others openly in the employ of the self proclaimed Hex king Rictus. Although the presence of this group lies heavy over the valley, the location of their head quarters is a closely guarded secret completely unknown to outsiders.

The Vargann- sentient arachnids who dwell in several nests deep in the forest and in the Under-Vale as well. Their queen is rumored to dwell in a scaborous city somehwere in the deeps.

Dragon Marked: agents of Dreg the Wyrm, usually engaged in observation and compilation of information, and only rarely active in any other sense. Their existence, like that of their master, is largely unknown to the other residents of the valley.


Hexlings: dwarfs and others who have turned away from law and now serve chaos (i.e., Rictus). They are everywhere, usually acting as sleeper agents waiting to strike. Nonetheless, most believe them to be a myth.


The Wounded- the fatalistic and not entirely benign elfs who live at Broken Spire and in the surrounding forest.


Deepspawn: vile creatures from the Under-Vale. For the most part the spawn keep to their own Black City far from the light of the sun; however, they will occasionally in the pursuit of some noisome goal, come to the surface- in force.


Rats of Minn: benevolent, scholarly rat folk; chief residents of Minn a former dwarf city in the Under-Vale. Long time enemies of the Deep Spawn.


Gorskul's Band: an unaffiliated band of gnolls, led by the unusually thoughtful and refined warrior poet, Cap'n Gorskul.


The Observers (aka sky elfs)- selectively aloof elf clan, housed in an invisible floating castle. Although their official policy (as it were) is one of non interference, they meddle in valley affairs with an intensity that makes this stance a bit of a joke.


Clan Ironhelm: the settlement of dwarfs at Dogwall, currently locked in a cycle of decline and internal conflict.






P.S. I put up a full (B/X) adventure yesterday, get it here.


Zimon's Gate adventure pdf.

This is a small dungeon with a teleportation gate at the end. It is part of a larger thing, but can be used easily enough by itself. It has a color map and illustrations. I will likely do another version later, and I am certian this one is full of errors and omissions.