Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Gordian Knot of Old Style Gaming: Skills.

Head, a city on the north coast of Xäl


The Zen of Freight:

As a freight handler, the job I had before returning to the eternal womb of academia, I possessed but one rule: never touch the box. Now, my job was to move boxes from place to place, but my goal was to never ever touch them, ever, ever, ever- impossible, yes, but also sensible.

Every time you move a box, you risk hurting yourself, or damaging the freight. Therefore, you must strive to never touch the box. Every time you are forced to break the rule and touch the box, you must strive to break contact as soon as possible; furthermore, you must engineer things so as you never touch the box again.

I try to approach rules tinkering the same way.

I try never to change the rules, but unfortunately as a referee engaged in the act of bending a game to my world, it’s my job. Therefore, whenever I do touch a rule, or group of rules, I try to minimize my contact, whilst simultaneously achieving my goal.

All that brings us to skills. I do not want to use them; they are fiddly and full of suck, but I want to have a system for overcoming certain kinds of obstacles and executing certain actions. Beyond that, I want a system that recognizes that different characters have different capacities in regards to different activities.

At first glance, that would seem to leave me at an impasse.

However, looking at S&W I see a preexisting mechanic that can be used without changing much of anything at all- the saving throw.

Every character has already has a ST. (See that, I’m not touching the box, and already I’ve gotten somewhere).

What I’m about to say is so simple that I’m (no joke) really not sure if I can express it clearly- let me know, please.

If a character wants to climb a cliff, pick a lock, navigate a ship, figure out how to recharge an energy weapon, or, really, do whatever, they (at the ref's discretion) must make a saving throw. This saving throw may or may not be subject to modification by the referee. This modification may be based on one or at most two, of several factors, including but not limited to- character background, an attribute score, the difficulty of the task, wind speed, relative flatulence, breast size or whatever.

[Note- some tasks (e.g. getting drunk, blowing your nose, walking down the street) are so easy that they should not require a ST- but hopefully you knew that; otherwise, lay off the glue, man; your habit demeans us both.]

Back to the ST.

An example:

After riding all day through the Jungle of Nool, Kronarg The Cannibal comes to a sheer cliff blocking further progress. He decides to climb the cliff and keep going. The referee frowns, ingests some (possibly illegal) chemicals, and considers the factors in play.

Kronarg’s strength is 15; he is a level 4 Fighter, which makes his base saving throw a 13; he grew up in the southern wasteland of Skeeme and never saw a hill until after his 20th birthday.

To determine Kronarg's base modifier, the ref divides his strength by 6 and rounds down (I’m touching the box, now; be cool, it was bound to happen) this gives Kronarg a modifier of +2.

However, it is windy and near dark; furthermore, Kronarg hasn’t had much experience climbing sheer cliffs. The refereee decides it’s a wash and tells the player to make a saving throw with no modifiers. If Kronarg can beat a 13 he climbs the cliff without too much trouble. If he misses the Referee may grant another saving throw (perhaps based on dexterity) for Kronarg to regain his grip, or maybe he just falls and takes some damage- it’s up to the ref.

So, in summary here’s how I roll-

Divide by 6:

Decide which attribute best applies to the situation, divide it by 6, round down. This is the player’s positive mod.

Determine if the task is difficult or easy or whatever:

This is completely up to the referee. It can be a negative mod or a positive or no mod at all.

Keep it at two mods- hell, keep it at one (or none) if you can and it makes sense to you.

Okay, that's pretty much it. This can be used for just about anything the PCs might want to do.

Once more: Pick a stat; divide by six; assign a mod or two; you’re done.

Now at this point, if you’re really drunk (again), you might be thinking: wow- that’s not a bad idea, maybe this Aos guy should make up a table of common modifiers.

Maybe you should put down the wine cooler, step the fuck away from the box, and reconsider for a second, eh, Slappy? First- wine coolers? Really? This isn’t 1988, bud; show some fucking dignity.

Consistency is overrated, and has little or no place in my style of game.

You can never step in the same stream twice; you can never climb the same cliff twice; the wind may be different; the light might be better; you might be climbing below Sursha the Sexy on her “no underwear” day.

The referee should never feel compelled to be consistent in the assignation of modifiers. As I’ve said, the world isn’t consistent; furthermore, codification leads to charts. Even under the best circumstances, if you are looking something up on a chart you are slowing down play. In other words- if you’re creating a new chart, you aren’t just touching the box- you’re making love to it. Sweet, sweet love.

You sick bastard.

Note: Hypocrite that I am, I’ll be touching this box again, anyway, possibly with my tongue, when I make the new character classes.

Note 2: RE: The drawing- I do not like the drawing a the top of the post (for one thing, there isn’t a half dressed girl in it), so I’ll be doing it over when I post the detailed break down of Head, which will happen… someday.

I think next time, though, I’ll be starting on those new classes. First up The Emissary- think Taarna from Heavy Metal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Badasses and hit point Heresy

Sometimes a badass just needs a ride.

What follows was inspired, in part, by this-

Trollsmyth's Damage Table

However, it is also the distillation of some ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for quite some time; some of it comes directly from a forum post I made a while back; most of it is new.

Edit: I now have my own, slightly different table.

Disclaimer: what follows will definitely add a little more complexity to play, but only a little and there is some bad language. If either of those things bother you, I suggest you put on a Sean Cassidy record and think of puppies or hobbits or some shit like that.

Now, excuse me, whilst I behave like an idiot:

The Metal Earth is not an heroic setting; it’s too late to save the world in any significant way. You might save a city or a region from a specific threat, but the world? No motherfucking way. That shit is just too fucked up. Again, in case you didn’t get it the first time, Mr. Frodo- The Metal Earth is not an heroic setting.

What The Metal Earth is, however, is a badass setting.

Like the comics, novels and movies that inspired it, The Metal Earth is slopping over with badasses. Being a badass isn’t about being unkillable; it’s about being tough. Your PC is not indestructible, not deathless, not going to win every time- but he* is a motherfucking badass.

With big giant balls of badass steel**.

*or she, or it- badasses don’t care about PC shit like this; they’re too busy kicking ass and/or shagging your little sister.

**Now would be a good time to get in touch with your inner 14 year old by putting on Back in Black.

Anyone who willingly ventures outside the cities has giant metal nads, anyone who is exiled and survives, also has giant balls of steel- even if all they do is run and hide all the time. If your character can get it together long enough to crouch in a bush and punch a grumpy, he has big giant motherfucking shining ferrous balls- and he is tougher than the steak special at the motherfucking Sizzler.

Therefore, the hit point rules as written do not work for me. (As a point of information, they never have). So here is my new system, like or leave it- if you want to use the ME (and some people seem to want to) you can just as easily use the rules as written and I very much encourage you to do so- what works for you works for you, but I’m going to offer this system as an alternative.

Metal Earth alternate Hit Point Rules:

The small and the large: These rules only work for small and medium creatures, and perhaps should be used only for PCs and important NPCs, but that, like everything else is up to the Metal Master… er, I mean the referee. The standard system applies to bigger animals, mainly because in the most extreme sense, it’s easier to swat an elephant with your sword than it is to hit some leaping, dancing badass like D'Artagnan.

Hit points represent fortitude, luck and skill. They do not represent the ability to sustain physical damage. They are computed as follows:

Hit points= Constitution + ld6 + LVL mod.

Level Mod= +1 per level for sorcerers; +2 per level for everyone else.

Melee Damage:

When a character reaches 0 hit points- that means they’ve actually been hit, up until that point they have not actually sustained any real physical damage. At this point the referee rolls on this table

Critical hits:

A natural 20 is a critical hit. The player who has sustained a critical hit must make a saving throw; a failed save results in a roll on the wound table- and the loss of 50% of remaining hit points. A success means a loss of 50% of remaining hit points- or max normal damage, whichever is more.

Missile/Energy Weapon Damage:

If hit by a Missile weapon a character must make a saving throw. If the character fails the saving throw, they roll on the damage table, and hit points are immediately reduced by 50% of their current total. A successful save results in normal hit point damage. A critical hit is of course a critical hit. Anyway, missile weapons can fuck you up.


Standard: CON/5 + 1/2 LVL times a day, badasses heal 1d6 hit points. This is when the character has a chance to catch their breath (at least one turn) or drink some strong booze; that’s right, if you’re a badass, whiskey is a fucking healing potion.

If recovery is done in combat, the badass must sacrifice an action and only receives 1d4 hit points (unless, as mentioned above, they drink some hooch). Whiskey or not, this can never be done more than once every 10 rounds.

Basically, if recovery is done while at rest, the character is catching their breath; if done during a fight the character is hella pissed off and ready to kick an imperial* shit ton of ass.

Regardless, a good night's sleep will restore all hit points- unless there is a shortage of food and water, in which case it's up to the referee how much is recovered.

*That’s right, sweetheart, an imperial shit ton, badasses do not use the fucking metric system, nor do they fucking speak fucking Elvish. Do you think Conan used the motherfucking metric system? He’d rip off your genitals merely for suggesting such a thing. Den of Earth is another badass who didn’t use the metric system; first off, he was an American, and they’re not even smart enough to divide by 10 for fuck’s sake, and, beyond that, he measured everything in cock lengths- e.g. an elephant is 3 dencocks long.

....So anyway, Mr. Frodo, if you've got problems with any of this, Legolas is holding a table for you down at The Prancing Pony. The two of you can sit down together and convert BTUs to kilocalories or some shit like that; then you can have a good cry, together, in Elvish.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Short Gazetteer part 3 of 3- the map and and what isn't on it.

(Dedicated to James at The Underdark Gazette)

Short Gazetteer Part III

"The present is not the unified product of one past. Rather it is the result of many possible pasts, entwined like the threads of a garment or, more likely, mashed together like the ingredients of a cheap sausage. Who is to know what made the end product? Not you, not the lords of the cities or the sea, and certainly not I. All one can do is eat the sausage and hope the fragrence of the forthcoming flatulence will be of the milder sort."

-Bhanal the Mystic, shortly before he was cast into the wilderness by the Circle of Ssaur for public drunkenness and inciting religious sentiment.

The Metal Earth is vast; what is shown on the map and detailed here in the gazetteer represents only the smallest fraction of what is out there. The map is intended to be both inaccurate and difficult to obtain (in my own game it hangs in the office of the Chief Elder of the Council of the city Head). Aside from traders, outcasts and bandits, people stay in the cities. Banishment is the most common criminal punishment everywhere, and it is effectively, in most cases, execution.
The area depicted is meant to represent a common culture area. Certainly this culture area displays regional, racial and ethnic differences within its confines, and indeed within its individual components, but there is a common language (so old and pervasive that it really doesn't have a name) and a widely shared cultural package including such things as dietary preferences, pottery styles, sexual taboos, and ideas regarding cosmology and religion. Obviously different groups and different areas all "interpret" the package in thier own way, but even so, on any given evening, a hand of Mür in Zil are likely to sit down to a meal not all that different from what can be had in the dockside taverns of Shards. Although anyone who has had burritos in Texas and New Mexico, or hamburgers both in the US and Europe, or chicken wings in Buffalo, NY and any other place at all really, can tell you that subtle differences can be quite telling.

Part of this cultural package is the shared belief in the reality of places the existence of which can, at best, be evinced by indirect means. For example: there are Snow Apes, they are civilized and have high technology; they do not live amongst the general population of the Rüinlands; therefore, they must have a city of there own.

Such conclusions, drawn (at least tenuously) from logical deductive processes, nevertheless provide the foundation upon which fanciful rumor can be built. Furthermore, there are some travelers in the world, and half remembered historical accounts from the Earth's long, long history. These rumors and accounts blend together to create the descriptions of the legendary places (some if not most of which actually do exist one in some form or another) discussed below. The truth is, perhaps, buried or hinted at somewhere within the legends and myths- or perhaps not...

Secret city of the Snow Apes: According to rumor the secret city of the Snow Apes is located in the Spires ( the northern mountain chain of Xur the northern continent. Snow Apes travel the world in groups of three, often in advanced vehicles and perform what seems to be an endless scientific survey. They are perhaps the most xenophobic race native to the planet (if they are natives) and they place little or no value on the lives of other sentient beings; in fact, they will literally kill you just to watch you die- often taking notes during the course of it. Their supposed city has countless names in legend, but is most often referred to just as "the Secret City." unruly children are often told that if they do not behave they will be whisked away to the Secret City. Sometimes it actually happens.

The Enclave: The enclave is the supposed last, hidden refuge of the humans. Legends and rumors as to its location are varied and vague. It is thought that the human residents of southern Xäl relocated to the Enclave some 3-5 centuries in the past. Human player characters are often from the Enclave or looking for it, or in some cases, both.

The Fountain: It is undeniable that the Fountain actually exists and there are a few people who know where it is. However, humans can gain the power to use sorcery if they drink from it, and its location is therefore a closely guarded secret. Most legends place it in the Jungle of Nool; somewhere up on the Würm; in the War Waste; or on an island in the Archipelago of Nom.

The War Waste: Myth describes the War Waste as a haunted, time-lose, super-continent size battlefield of varied and unpredictable climate and composition. The landscape is composed of the rusted out or otherwise destroyed remnants of war machines and the decaying bodies of soldiers from all the ages of the Earth. The clash of steel, gunfire and sounds of fighting can often be heard in the distance and it is not uncommon to run up against a Nazi patrol, or squad of Roman legionnaires. It is thought to lie in the great unnamed ocean east of Zansall (the southern continent).

The Island of the Changers: The island of the Changers is another place that actually, without question exists. Many poor souls have been taken there, altered and then later released in their own homelands. However its location is unknown. Count Brood, the great human hero of days gone by, is said to have visited the Island of the Changers during the course of his adventures in the Rüingulf. These stories, the veracity of which is open debate, place the island some days sail to the south of Skeeme. Regardless, the Island of the Changers is the legendary home of these evil scientists, and it said to be the place where they do most of there experimenting.

Koristanasalix: the last great city of the humans lost or destroyed during the Wars of Unreason. The streets are said to be paved with arcanum, and attractive erotically augmented autonms and synthetics see to you every need. Food is grown in the sunshine, not in the dark recesses of greenshafts and everyone who resides there lives for 10,000 years... and so on. Nobody knows weather it exists or not, much less where it is. Selling maps to Koristanasalix is such a popular grift that in many cities it is grounds for banishment.

Anyway, my next few posts are going to focus more on mechanics. First up you will see how I plan to pervert/expand the saving throw system in order to use it in lieu of skills. then come the classes, and I still need to post the (non contest) 1pg dungeon I did...

Addendum: I changed the blog's title pic, as much as I liked the original pic (it was a part of screen cap from Thundarr) I felt like i should have something of mine up there.

Also- I spent my first old school dollars today (unless we count the paper route money I blew in the early '80's, of course)- I bought the S&W White Box... er box from here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dungeon Design, Metal Earth style

I've been sick (yay! spring break :/), so I'm breaking my private "no drawing, no post pledge." Depending on how you feel about my "art", I either owe you an apology, or you need to thank me.
Also, as an art related aside, I'll mention that I'm supplying Blair with some art for the planet Algol booklet. Whether or not he's desperate enough to make use of it is another matter entirely.
Also, also, nothing about porn stars here today. I will, admit, however to liking boobs. A lot.
So anyway, dungeon design:
Some points:
1. I have to be able to halfway convince myself that the place could be real.
2. I like coming up with convoluted logic for why things that should never be could be. This entire blog is devoted to that enterprise. The entire Metal Earth is made with dungeon/ adventure/monster justification in mind.
3. These crazy rationalizations help me design the dungeon- or whatever.

I have to have something like this written or thought out:

The combined cavern/room complex beneath the tower of the changer was constructed in stages. During the waning epoch of the Minotaur Empire, a disgraced imperial aristocrat and his retinue came to the Crumbled mountains looking to create a new summer labyrinth far from the intrigues at court. Unfortunately, the aristocrat in question, a man whose name has long since been forgotten by history, had in his employ a shae sorcerer, who, not long after the completion of the complex, manifested an unexpected desire for power, coupled with a previously unexpressed talent for necromancy and a rather excessive amount of bloodlust. Anyway, good times ensued, which ultimately resulted in an empty complex- empty of the living, that is.

The next to come were a group of reptarch farmers from Ssaur who were trying to create a utopian colony. Although they installed many grow-vats and laid the foundations for a bitchen’ subterranean ecosystem, they were eventually, after a years long battle driven out or destroyed by the undead. The undead, however, were decreased in number by this conflict, and since that time, as a result, several attempts have been made to re-inhabit the complex; a few groups, as well as many animals (eager to access the food that grows within) have made some headway, but no one controls the space.

There are four basic varieties of Architecture- natural, reptarch, minotaur and lich; although, some other groups and individuals have made modifications as well. Minotaurs like to decorate, so there are a lot of minotaur busts, murals, busts bas-reliefs. Minotaurs also like to bathe, so there are lots of baths, some of which were converted into vats or something else by the reptarchs. Furthermore, the reptarchs planted a lot of food fungus and algae on the walls, they also seeded pools with plankton, algae, fish and other stuff. They constructed mostly with metal and plastic, their machines are everywhere. Strangely, enough they were also fond of murals.

So, any thoughts? Where do you stand? Do you have a stance? Does one even require a stance? Is this even an issue?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Short Gazetter part 2 of 3, and unrelated pic.

Short Gazetteer Part II

Big islands and major bodies of water:

Sea of Ghosts: Once long ago, a green glowing stone, from some evil and unknown somewhen, fell through a hole in space and tumbled into the Shimmering Sea. The stone exploded upon impact with the sea. The once crystal clear waters turned dark and murky as they became infected with the evil of the stone. Malign currents stirred the silty, soul filled sea bottom and disturbed the spirits of an eon, tearing them from the bosom of death and forcing them into a tortuous half life. The Sea of Ghosts is haunted by the specters of a thousand thousand generations of sailors, sea monsters, and everything else that has lived in died in the ocean. Ghostly ships prowl the wave tops , spectral u-boats prowl the depths alongside liopleurodon zombies, and vampire trilobites scuttle across the seabed. Aside from the Mür, who have mastered some secret of passage, the living avoid the Sea Of Ghosts. A homicidal and suicidal madness will overcome any crew caught out on the sea after dark.

Sea of Ice: The Sea of Ice is a cold and treacherous body of water, ripped by rogue currents and clogged with ice. However, the waters support a thriving ecosystem of varied cold water taxa; primitive and warlike, nomadic bands of beastkin, cave apes and cyborg mongrels make their homes upon the ice in the winter, moving to the coastland and the banks of the Ugörr in the summer.

The Ruingulf: The Ruingulf is the central feature of the region. It connects the disparate settlements, providing the fabric for the web of culture, warfare and trade in which they are forever entwined. The depth of the ocean varies greatly from place to place, but the waters are nearly uniformly clear, especially in the south. The Ruingulf takes its name from the seeming endless assortment of algae and coral covered ruins that cover its sandy bottom.

Xäl: Mostly wilderness now, five hundred years ago, during the time of Artimus Brood, southern Xäl was the last area of the region still controlled and occupied by humans. Since that time the settlements have been abandoned and the southland has, like so many places in the world, been reclaimed by the wilderness. As to what became of Brood’s people, rumors are many, but certainty is nonexistent. The ruling family of Head name Brood as the founder of their line, but many doubt the veracity of this claim.

Skeeme: A world unto itself, the island of Skeeme encompasses a variety of environments and peoples. Rocketmen, Ratlings, Slavers, Neanderthals, Minotaurs, Hawkmen and monsters of every description live, fight and die on Skeeme. The island is featured heavily in the Saga of Brood and is rumored to be a treasure house of ancient technology.

The Hungry Shore: The Hungry Shore is an especially treacherous area of the Rüingulf ; sharp, ship breaking reefs, time storms, hurricanes, meglodon, kraken and savage mere people slavering for sailor’s flesh are just some of the hazards faced by ships crossing this area. The secret of passage through the maze of reefs and semi permanent vortexes is known only to a few, and their services never come cheap. The fishing is good, though.

The Archipelago of Nom: Contemporary scholars know little in regard to the Archipelago of Nom. According to legend, each one of the several dozen islands (only the largest of which show on the map) contains a unique wonder: one island is said to have a castle made of pure Arcanum, another supposedly is crowded with an endless array of erotic statuary, a third is said to be the home of the Cyclops. It is also said that the same individual can never visit any island twice.

Geographic features of Zansall, the southern continent:

The Desert of Rust: The Desert of Rust is a huge scorching-hot wasteland of broken and decaying machines. Forever hunted by giant iron eating robot worms as well as other fell and depraved monsters, autonms and other mechanicals eek out a living there, lurking and scavenging amongst the wreckage.

The Burning Peaks: The Burning Peaks, a ring of active volcanoes, are said to be the home of extraterrestrial creatures known as the Scorn. The Scorn are sadistically cruel, ethereally tall humanoids with purple skin and gaunt nose-less faces. Why they chose to settle the region of the burning peaks is unknown. They cannot survive direct contact with the volcanoes any better they the native inhabitants of the planet and live in shielded, hidden obsidian cities powered by geothermal heat. The Scorn provide the Slavers of Gear with some of their best custom, and it is not uncommon for overland slave caravans to make there way along the southern edge of the Desert of Rust up into the Burning Peaks in order to delver merchandise.

The Lake of Fire: The lake of fire is in reality a volcano that is erupting very slowly though fissures lining the bottom of a huge basin. The area contains a complete ecosystem, though, and is controlled by Salamanders and Magmen, who have little contact with the outside world but are continually at war with one another.

Jungle of Nool: The Jungle of Nool is a huge rainforest the true dimensions of which should not even to be speculated about. The jungle teems with life like no other place on the planet, and hides more secrets than any other local as well. The ruins and remains of whole civilizations are lost in the shadows of the deep forest concealed beneath the massive and tangled vegetation.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Map and Short Gazetteer Part I

As far as the map goes, there have been some additions and changes. Anyway, it sucks less than the old map.
Notice my lack of commentary on the infrequency of new posts.
Short Gazetteer Part I


Ssaur: Located almost in the shadow of the Würm glacier, Ssaur is an ancient city famous for its handicrafts, cheese and beer. An oppressed multi-racial majority is ruled over by the Shae who are in turn ruthlessly dominated by their own sorcerous elite. The city is rumored to house the headquarters of a secret cabal of sorcerers and scientists who work to retard the progress of the Würm.

Shards: Built on the ruins of a much older city or, as seems more likely, cities, Shards is a strange patchwork town strewn across a myriad of tightly packed coastal islands of varying size; some of the gaps between islands can be jumped, some islands have bridges, and others have access restricted to watercraft.

Shards is a wealthy city; this wealth is based upon the Arcanum mines in the mountains to the west. However, a secondary economy, based upon the slave trade and all manner of vice- legal and otherwise, thrives in the city as well. The city is nominally controlled by the local aristocracy, most of whom have stakes in the mines, but, in reality, the wealth has drawn vice and chaos. Shards is a contested battleground, fought over by racial groups, tribes, guilds and criminal gangs.

Head: Located on the northern coast of the island Xäl, Head is a parasite city built inside the cranium of a defunct giant humanoid robot. The post cranial body of the robot is buried (in a standing position) beneath the ground. The main industry of the city is mining the remains of the robot. Currently, operations have only extended into the upper part of the neck. Many secondary industries exist, mostly involved in metalwork. Head is the steel mill and the gun factory for this region of the Metal Earth. The city is ruled by a consul of elected officials, who are controlled by a group of rat- men from Skeeme.

Gear: Gear is the city of the Slavers. It has a couple of dockside taverns and shops, but the majority of the city is designed to process and move slaves, most of whom are taken from raids made along the coast south of the Hungry Shore. Slavers never show their faces to outsiders, and seem to be perpetually cold; they wear heavy winter attire regardless of season or conditions. The slavers of gear are closely aligned with the Ratmen of Skeeme and the Changers.

The Nameless City:

The Nameless city is a blasted ruin along the southern Hungry Shore. Once, how long ago is unknown, the Nameless city came into conflict an unknown enemy. A terrible war ensued. The Nameless City lost. Their adversary raised and salted their land, killed or sold all of their people off into slavery, and, through a combination of conventional and sorcerous means, destroyed all evidence of the city’s past, even its name. All that remains are the ruins along the coast, covered with script no one can remember how to read, and a fleeting half formed memory shared by some, that once, something was there.

Zil: Zil is the stronghold of the Mür and the seat of their Madling ruler Autocrix Mandolo Boneaxe. The entire city, home to the Mür breeding vats, is carved from a single piece of black basalt. No non-Mür have ever seen the inside of Zil and lived. The city is impregnable; many have tried over the course of last several thousand years to destroy it; all have failed. The fall of the Minotaur Empire of the last epoch is thought by many scholars to be partially due to an overzealous commitment of resources in this regard.

Krall: A city of Therasens (sentient dinosaurs) originating at the period at the end of the Jurassic and transported to the Metal Earth by a Time Storm. The remainder of the island is a forested wilderness inhabited by cretaceous fauna and Neanderthal man. Krall is well fortified and well protected. Mür raiders have paid a terrible price in blood for molesting the Therasens in the past, and currently avoid the island as a whole. Some say that other strange creatures lost in time roam the island, however, those foolish enough to explorer Krall rarely return, so the truth of this claim remains unknown.

Geographic Features of Xur, the northern continent.

The Crumbled Mountains: An ancient range of weathered limestone peaks, the Crumbled Mountains are honeycombed with hundreds of micro-climatic valleys, which contain lost worlds from every conceivable time period in the history of the Earth (see The Forgotten Depths). The mountains are covered by the Würm at their northern expanse, but extend far to the southeast along the coast; no resident of the Ruinlands knows what lies beyond them.

The Würm: Already, it covers most of Xur, the northern continent; and the great Würm Glacier moves a little further south each year. Legends tell of cities and cultures devoured over the eons by the unstoppable and crushing glacial flow; other tales contain fanciful accounts of glittering caches of treasure and technology, or lost oases of warmth, hidden within the endless expanse of cold.

Lake Brood: Ssaur is located on an island in the center of Lake brood, a body of glacial melt water adjacent to the crumbled Mountains.

The River Sphere: The Sphere is the main conduit for goods moving from Ssaur to Shards, but it is a treacherous, swift moving river. The Sphere’s cloudy, plesiosaur infested waters hide rocks and sand bars; ravenous beasts stalk it’s wooded banks. Also the water is a bit cold.

The Haunted Wood: Huge and monster-infested, the Haunted Wood is a coniferous forest dominated by giant (redwood sized) pines. The woodland covers what was once a great megalopolis, known today only as Ak-hurr; entire regions of which are rumored to remain intact, or nearly so, beneath the forest floor. The Haunted wood is stormy and cold and winter and sweltering and bug infested during the summer.

The Wound: According to legend, the Wound was created at some time during the final stages of the War of Unreason; however it is far more likely that it was created by natural tectonic forces as southern and northern Xur began to move away from each other on separate plates. Whatever the cause of its creation, the Wound is thousands of feet deep. Whole ecosystems exist on its walls and countless terraces; what lies on its floor, so far from the light of the sun, is unknown; however, whatever it is, you can bet walking dead people and carnivorous fungus are probably involved.

The Ugörr River: Flowing down from a glacial headwater in the north, the Ugörr waters Dagon’s Foot and the northern expanse of the Haunted Wood. Its smaller branch, the Lesser Ugörr turns into the Wound, dropping away to create the most spectacular waterfall in the known world.

Dagon’s Foot: The peninsula named Dagon’s foot is a cursed place, barren and swarming with the undead.

The Spires: The jagged, barren mountain chain to the north is known as the Spires, and is rumored to be home to the secret city of the snow apes.