Wednesday, August 11, 2010

GenCon Indy 2010 After Action Report, Part One

GenCon Indy 2010 After-Action Report, Part One
Its Wednesday, I'm back in the office, and still excited over the best four days in gaming. I met a lot of old friends, made many new friends, talked to some of my favorite authors, and managed to play in three games. The seminars were very helpful, especially Breaking into RPG Writing and The Rules of Writing. The exhibit hall was a blast, and between shaking hands and passing out business cards I picked up a book or two (actually, ninety-six books and magazines). In the coming weeks I will post reviews of these, both new titles out this year and older ones (Snarfquest being the oldest).
Of the three games I played, Terrorwerks was the best, but all three were a great time. For those of you who don't know, Terrorwerks is a LARP with the emphasis on action. You play part of a space marine or corporate team sent to rescue a hostage and stop a space ship from crashing into a colony world. Armed with an airsoft gun and sheer courage, you face off against pirates, aliens, and zombies in a wild new definition of first person shooter. As the Unitek representative, I did my best to channel Paul Riser and perform by role as corporate scum. To summarize forty-minutes of high action gameplay, I managed to achieve all of my secondary objectives, but failed my primary goal of survival. I will definitely play this again, and again, every Con I go to that they are at.
Along similar lines, I played in a The Rising Zombie LARP, as a zombie. Another good game, though not on the same level as Terrorwerks. This one used soft darts and foam weapons, and featured (at least for the survivors) a series of puzzles and room based encounters. As a zombie, I got to shamble from encounter to encounter and try and eat survivors. Getting killed, respawning, and going back in was a hoot, and gave me a great idea for a PCs as Zombies game.
In an entirely different vein, I managed to get in a game of the Tower of Gygax. Not only did the proceeds go to the Gygax Memorial Fund, the old school dungeon crawl was great fun. It brought back a lot of memories (and also how to use THACO) as I and my party of misfits tried to solve the puzzles in room after room. I died, but then, most people do. Sadly, my elf mage figured out the death trap too late, tried to cast sleep on himself (so he wouldn't feel it), and made his resist sleep and charm roll, c'est la vie.
GenCon is really the gathering of the tribe, and I had the opportunity to see some old friends. I had a lovely dinner with Lori Tankersley and Kristina Bayer (along with, Ted Snider, Lori's boyfriend and my wife). I hadn't seen either of them in over a decade. While walking through the halls, I ran into: Art McGeee, Jeremy Mullis, Brandon Robinson (who I last saw at high school graduation), Brave Tim (sorry Tim, I didn't need you to lead me to the food court this time), Mindy Grayson, Tod Puletz (what does it say when old gaming buddies spend more time showing pictures of their kids than talking gaming), Good Kip, Jay Cline and his fiancé Jamie Overdeer (the Legends of Vincennes game shop folks), Chris Fitzpatrick (Crocodile Games is doing some wonderful stuff, just don't tell the wife I was looking at minis again), Brian Roe (wish we could have talked more), Jeff Gilbert, Kelly (soon to be Gilbert) Lethgo, Ty Brewer, Bill Yocum, my sister (I will not apologize for the Jail 'n' Bail, and await your wrath), her new husband (married August 6th), and his son.

In part two I'll talk about the industry folks I met, as well as the seminars and workshops I attended.

Far Kadish

For the new players in my Wednesday night D&D game:

Far Kadish
Kadish was the heartland of a vast empire that spread across the Sea of Wyrms. In ages past, the Empire was a great center of learning and mystical power, and that is what led to its destruction. Millennia ago five brothers vied for the crown, calling on every possible advantage they could gain over their foes. As the civil war drug on, first one brother, and then the others, called on powers from beyond the world, unleashing horrible monstrosities on the Empire.
Kadish itself was devastated; its citizens fled the grand cities into the jungle, and monsters of all types were loosed upon the land. Across the Sea of Wyrms, the Empire's colonies struggled to survive the death of the motherland, but soon they fell to barbarian invaders. In the following centuries, these invaders rebuilt the cities in their own styles, and now rule seven city-states that stand between the sea and the wild hinterlands beyond.

The Pirate Coast
Forty-five years ago, explorers seeking the lost treasures of Kadish were blown off course to the southeast. After sailing for weeks without any sight of land, they spotted a long archipelago sitting in the Southern Ocean. After making landfall, they found a tropical paradise free of dangerous creatures, and inhabited by tribes friendly gnomes. The islands were rich in gold, pearls, jade, emeralds, and exotic animals, but their greatest treasure were the spices that the gnomes used to cook and preserve food. Ginger, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, hot peppers, and allspice were wondrous new flavors to the Lystrakan explorers. Soon the ships were repaired and a route home calculated, and the brave explorers returned to the city of Javik, and to a heroes' welcome. In the ensuing years, merchants continued to make the long journey to the Spice Islands and back, reaping great rewards.
Soon, brave entrepreneurs established resupply ports along the jungle-covered coasts that the spice ships sailed off of. Many of these outposts were destroyed or poorly situated, but two have become small cities in their own rights. Saó Toma and Ríslu are the most prominent, but Sailor's Rest, Havret's Post, Point Breaker, and Perdido are well established. Soon after the spice trade began, pirates descended on the merchant ships, prompting many to form convoys for their own protection. The merchant houses of Lystraka began arming their ships, and even hiring privateers to combat the growing pirate scourge. Their private navies and marines are a common sight in the ports, and the merchant houses hold the real power. Only one port, Saó Toma , remains outside of the control of the merchant houses, and is the only place an independent ship can safely put into harbor and resupply.
In response, the individual pirate captains have formed an alliance, the Brotherhood of the Black Flag. They operate out of hidden ports and out of the way islands, swooping out to attack a convoy and pick off any stragglers. Their many successes and dashing ways have made them famous amongst the populations of the Lystrakan city-states, much to the merchant houses' disgust.
Plantations have been established on the Crab, Black, and Dragon Rivers, and a brisk trade in tobacco, sugar, and indigo has added to the wealth extracted from the Pirate Coast and the jungles of Far Kadish. These plantations are heavily fortified affairs and most are owned by one of the great merchant houses. Labor was once provided by natives of the jungle, however they proved both too intractable and too few in number to meet demands, and so indentured labor from the Lystrakan city-states have been imported. Most of the indentured laborers are not volunteers, but people transported to the new colonies as punishment for crimes. The prisoners are sold to a merchant house, or more rarely an independent operator, who then sends them to the plantations for a ten-year term of service. As the city-states are constantly vying for dominance, the fate of captured soldiers is often transportation, and a lingering death in the jungles of Far Kadish.

The Lost Ruins of Kadish
Shortly over a decade ago, ruins were found near the port of Saó Toma, ruins that date to the Empire of Kadish. This prompted a rush of explorers and tomb raiders who have flooded the ports of the Pirate Coast looking for lost treasures and magical artifacts. The treasure trade now rivals the spice trade for its ability to generate wealth, as expeditions return from the jungles laden with priceless artifacts. Not every expedition returns, as the jungles are still home to monstrosities created during the war or called forth from the Far Realms.
To date, only a handful of ruins that were once towns have been found, and no major city has been located and looted. Most of the expeditions follow the rivers up from the coasts, but a growing number strike overland, hacking their way through the jungle. Progress is slow, but the chance of finding one of the lost cities of Far Kadish drive men and women on, all too often to their deaths.

The Seven City-States of Lystraka
The city-states of Lystraka trace their founding to the colonies flung by the Empire of Kadish across the Sea of Wyrms. Conquered by hordes of barbarians from the west during the fall of the Empire, the cities today bear little resemblance to their past glories. Each city-state sits on the coast, and controls the surrounding farmland and secondary towns, often not much more than fifty or so miles inland. Beyond that lays savage wilderness populated by fierce beasts and wild barbarians.

Evarnton, the Broad Beamed
Rivaling Iros for oddity, Evarnton is a tree city that sprawls for miles inland from the coast. It does not have a very active port, and is one of the least nautically minded of the city-states. What it does have is natural beauty and an abundance of lumber, coal, and iron ore brought from the Karst Mountains to the west. The people of Evarnton are often accused of being as stout and thick as the lumber they cut, an accusation often taken by Evarntonites as a complement.
Ruler: Lord Mayor Yarlvest
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Alignment: Good
Races: Human, Dwarf, Eladrin, Shifter
Economy: Lumber, Mining, Manufacturing

Iros, the Spired City
Built atop the remains of five grand towers built during the days of the Empire, Iros presents an unusual view to the visitor. The spires soar high above the ground (save for Sea Spire, which rises out of Blue Wheat Bay) and contain the city's entire population. Bridges of stone, wood, and rope span the distances between the main spires and the secondary spires that rise from their sides. Iros has been described by some as resembling five intricate shells upon which a spider has built its home.
Ruler: King Hassin IV
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf, Half-Orc
Economy: Agriculture, Trade, and Manufacturing

Javik, City of Ports
Javik is actually seven small towns that have grown together over the centuries to form a large sprawling metropolis. Its position in the center of the Lystrakan Coast has earned it a place as the greatest of trading ports. Two of the Great Merchant Houses, House Iolis and House Kelphis have their home offices here. The city controls a small amount of surrounding land, and its farms cannot support its growing population. Besides trade, Javik is also known as a center of banking and the arts.
Ruler: The Council of Houses
Government: Oligarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Minotaur, Halfling
Economy: Trade, Banking

Makeen, City of Temples
Famed as the home of the grandest and most influential temples in all of Lystraka, Makeen is also a city known for its learning and arts. Of the six principle deities of the Lystrakan pantheon, only Gortosh, He Who Shall Not be Called, lacks a religious complex. The others dominate the city, both physically and politically. Each temple vies with the others for importance, and naturally advertising their wealth and splendor in the name of the gods, is the best means of demonstrating the power of a cult. The temples are thus great patrons of architects, sculptures, painters, gold smiths, and tailors.
Ruler: Hierophant Augusti XX
Government: Theocracy
Alignment: Good
Races: Human, Dwarf, Eladrin
Economy: Manufacturing, Tourism

Monrovia the Beautiful
Monrovia's gleaming white walls rise out of the Bay of Angels and encompass the entirety of the Island of Dreams upon which the city sits. Elegant arches and towers crown the sky, and the city's many museums, universities, and libraries are the envy of all others. Monrovia is a city dedicated to the arts and learning, and as such boasts the greatest and most creative minds in all of Lystraka.
Ruler: High Chancellor Linquist
Government: Meritocracy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Eladrin
Economy: Education, Tourism

Peshtar, the Greedy
Long known as the most ambitious and aggressive of the city-states, Peshtar seeks to rebuild the lost Empire of Kadish, with its ruler, Emperor Ratherton, at its head. The city is home to one of the three Great Merchant Houses, the Imperial Trading Company, of which the Emperor is the majority shareholder. His armies and navies prowl the world, looking for wealth to steal and foes to vanquish. Imperial agents can be found throughout Lystraka, the Pirate Coast, and the Spice Islands, sniffing out intrigue abroad and treason at home.
Ruler: Emperor Ratherton
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Alignment: Evil
Races: Human, Dragonborn
Economy: Trade, Manufacturing, and Warfare

Thessalorika, the Clever
Whereas Monrovia is known for its high thought, Thessalorika is famous for its craftsmanship and engineering. The city is a stinking, smog and soot covered labyrinth of foundries, workshops, tenements, and dockyards. The most beautiful sword may come from Monrovia, the most delicate holy symbol from Makeen, or the most exotic wooden furniture from Evarnton, but the best-made and utilitarian objects are made in Thessalorika.
Ruler: Queen Ruth V
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf, Tiefling, Dragonborn
Economy: Trade, Manufacturing

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The End of Role-playing?

In response to all the doom and gloom predictions I have been hearing about role-playing for the past twenty-five years:

There can be more than one Golden Age, and I think we are entering a third. Some companies and stores are struggling, but the industry remains strong. Here's why:

In my home town, if I am looking for a game, I have six brick and mortar options, two dedicated game stores, a comic shop, Half-Priced Books, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Add in internet vendors, and you have tons of options to buy whatever you are looking for at the price you want.

In the tiny town I live in, there isn't even a bookstore, but there is a game store, albeit a small and irregularly operated one.

I started gaming in 1984, and the only place that I used to shop that doesn't carry games anymore is Toys R' Us. Sure some dedicated game stores have closed, but that's the way of small businesses.

There are still big companies out there putting out product, but there are a lot more small press publishers, and the bar for publication and distribution is lower than it ever has been. I applaud the guy with a laptop who writes games on the side. He adds vibrancy to a hobby that should not ever be solely in the hands of corporations.

As a freelancer with one year in the industry, I am making enough to quit my part-time job tutoring in a publicly funded after school program. I couldn't support my family on what I make as a writer, yet, but I hope to be making as much as I would as a full time teacher in the next five years.

The internet has enabled a tremendous growth in game companies, though many are small affairs. As a freelancer, i have worked for companies in the US and Europe, something that would have been very difficult back in '84. Imagine how things will be once the industry manages to penetrate emerging markets in India and China? Whoever writes an rpg that has broad appeal in India will be very rich, assuming that gamers could potentially make up one half of one percent of the population (that's what, 5 million customers).

New gamers are being born, not just recruited. I know several gamers who have kids, and whose kids are growing up in the gaming culture. If we think our hobby is good, than it will be passed on to the next generation in ways that other hobbies, model trains or woodworking, just don't. The bar for entrance into role playing is low, if you can read, write, do some basic math, and have an imagination, you're in.

Roleplaying is a natural human activity, one that everyone engages in, what we do is add structure to it. Children who grow up in an environment where rpgs are a natural part of life are more likely to take them up when they are of an age to play them. Sure, there's the rebellion against the parent's thing, but that may very well take the form of not playing daddy's games.

Finally, the basic concepts and underlying premises of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror are now mainstream. How much easier is it going to be to attract new gamers when the genres our games are based on are so much more accessible? The very concept of playing a game based around the actions of a few heroes, where you take the role of one of the heroes is part and parcel of video games today. Once someone sees that they can transfer this from a system where they have limited (broader than they used to be, but still limited) choices to a system where they have nearly unlimited choices as to their character and actions (not to mention that settings are limited purely by ones imagination), the draw to tabletop role-playing should be obvious.

In summation, rpgs are here to stay and will continue to grow. They will evolve and change, as will the industry, but I foresee sitting around the table in forty years, breaking out D&D 15.65 and complaining with my friends about how they've changed it so much and 14.0 was such a better product. Then we'll actually play it , and stop whining long enough to have fun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A poster found throughout out the Union, Misurah, and Tejas

Goodnight-Loving Cattle Company

Is looking for

Experienced Herdsmen, Drovers, Wranglers, Cooks, Doctors of Medicine, Preachers, Scouts, and Guards


Driving a Herd of Cattle from

Dove Town, Empire of Tejas
Abilin, Republic of Misurah

Across unknown territory

We are especially looking for
Men and Women able to operate several days ride ahead of the drive to clear the way and act as our Vanguard

Contact C. Goodnight or O. Loving at the Lonely Pigeon Saloon in Dove Town

Payment will be in shares equal to one-fiftieth the price of the cattle at Abilin.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A note from the elven fighter Alvander

Alvander’s Journal
For Ted’s Pathfinder Campaign

What a wonderful time we have been having lately. Ailos and I were wandering through the Endless Orchards when we happened upon out niece, Mira. And to make things even better there’s been a lot of creepy murders in the area so we get to be heroes again (not that we weren’t already heroes, we just had been busy with other things).
We checked these out, and Ailos fell down a well, but my horse, Sammy, managed to pull him out. Interesting development with Sammy, his quarter-centaur is coming out, He can count, answer yes or no questions, and is eve learning to play the panpipes.
Anyway, we staked out this well hoping the killer would return and steal back the box Ailos landed on, but that didn’t happen. Then this demon hound started barking so we chased it around in the rain, but couldn’t catch it. While we did that, I taught Mira some of the finer points about adventuring, such as which weapons to use, how to cover each other’s backs, the usual stuff. Oh, and we played shadow puppets while my brother ran around some more in the rain.
The next night, Ailos finally took my advice about setting a trap for the demon dog, and we disguised a wagon and set off riding around at night. It worked (though I think Ailos should have worn a dress as bait). The beastie attacked, but I managed to drive it off. We then found some more dead bodies, or parts of bodies. Ailos tracked one to a hollow in a tree and spent a long time fishing around in the goo that was a nobleman. He is always doing icky stuff like that. HE also dug around in some demon poo that next day.
Tomorrow we are heading to the Eastern Sister to follow up on a clue about the dead nobleman. I think it’s the Reeve who is behind it, but we need more proof before I can go around kicking in doors and laying down some steely justice. I like that, steely justice. Hopefully when we are in town I can go to the Drunken Gull and visit some of my old shipmates from the Pegasus, like One Armed Pete and Rusty Jack. Oh, and I might get a haircut, if you know what I mean.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Westward Ho! Player'S Pack Draft 1

Westward Ho! Player’s Pack and FAQ, Draft 1

Whoa, is this a fantasy Western?
Yes, the style and trappings of the setting, as well as the theme and mood draw from the Western Genre and American history. However, this is not a historical game and many factors have been altered. For starters, there are no guns, so a sword is still a sword, just don’t reach for it unless you need it. Dungeons and Dragons has long drawn on Medieval Europe for inspiration, though the game strays far from the actual technology and culture of that era. We’re doing the same thing here, only with a different era of history as the inspiration.

What about other technologies?
There’s steam power, and thus trains and factories, as well as the telegraph. Clothes and fashion are Western themed, so you’re dwarven runepriest no doubt wears boots, pants, a collarless cotton shirt, duster, broad brimmed hat, bandana, and some armor. We won’t even talk about his red wool union suit. He may have purchased his weapons out of the Stars and Redbuck’s Catalog. Recently Blasting Powder, an alchemical substance, was developed. This explosive is very unstable, bulky, and expensive. It is used widely by the mining industry, but is not useable as a weapon (unless you don’t like to keep all your finger). Medicine is at mid-19th Century standards, so, not great.

What races and classes are allowed?
There are some limits to race and class, mostly as far as what fits the setting. Some races can only be certain classes. Multiclassing and hybrid classes are forbidden. Check out the table below (and if you have a really good concept that breaks this mold, let me know).

Race Class
Human Any
Dragonborn Avenger, Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Invoker, Paladin, Rogue, Runepriest, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, Wizard
Dwarves Avenger, Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Invoker, Paladin, Rogue, Runepriest, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, Wizard
Eladrin Any
Elf Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Seeker, Shaman, Warden
Half-Elf Any
Tiefling Avenger, Bard, Cleric, Fighter, Invoker, Paladin, Rogue, Runepriest, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, Wizard
Minotaur Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Seeker, Shaman, Warden
Half-Orc Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Seeker, Shaman, Warden
Shifter Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Seeker, Shaman, Warden

What would be a good character concept?
Any of the standard Western tropes are good choice. The PCs are all drifters, people cut loose from their homes and seeking a new life on the frontier. Cowboys, dispossessed natives, gamblers, wandering preachers, freed slaves, swordsmen for hire, outlaws on the run, mountain men, and prospectors are all good. Thin about person before powers and you will do fine.

How do you handle character creation?
We will create characters as a group during the first session. There are many possible stories to tell in Westward Ho! and the nature of the party will determine how the campaign is laid out. For example, if everyone wants to play natives, that changes things greatly. Generate ability scores using Method 2: Customizing Scores. We will be using the character background option from page 176 of the Player’s Handbook 2. With a mixed party (which is what I am expecting) look for backgrounds that will give you access to Perception and Nature skills. Any power or feat from Wizards of the Coast published material is legal. All PCs should be of Lawful Good, Good, or Unaligned alignments, no evil or chaotic evil at all. Also, expect an even mix of combat and non-combat encounters, especially skill challenges. Finally, the planes are not a big part of this setting, though the Feywild and the Shadowfell do intrude in places.

What do I as a player need to bring?
I have a large collection of western minis, some printable cardboard counters, and several sets of maps and tiles. If you want to bring your own, go right ahead. If you want to bring extra and share, feel free to do so. I will also bring a dice bucket and poker chips (for use as action points). Although I possess nearly the entire product lien, I won’t bring every book to every game, so make sure you either buy the books or cards appropriate to your character, or write down what his or her powers do. I will bring all the Players Handbooks and Powers books to the first session. You are responsible for your character sheet and making sure you have it for the game. I will provide blank character sheets for those who need them.

How can I earn extra XP?
In addition to regular XP awards, you get XP for a written character background, at a rate of one point per word. Also, if you make a purchase at Legends the day of the game, you earn five pints per dollar spent; they are hosting us after all. I will also be very free with role-playing awards.

What if I am going to be late to the game?
Since we only have three hours, the game starts at 6pm sharp. That means I start rolling dice and narrating the story at that point. If you are late, then your character misses out on some things. This can really suck if we are in the middle of a battle, but that’s just the way it is.

Do you allow food, drinks, laptops, iPods, etc… at the table?
Folks need to eat and drink; I consume a large amount of soda when I run a game (its thirsty work). As long as you follow the store’s rules, I have no problem. As far as electronica, sometimes I will bring my laptop with me as a game aid; feel free to do the same. However, be respectful of your fellow players and stay focused, surfing the net is not a good thing to do during a game, especially in combat.

Any other table rules?
Be polite, be courteous and be clean. The Dm has final say, but I will take your concerns under advisement. Intra-party conflict is OK, as long as it is done in fun. What goes at the table stays at the table, likewise don’t bring your issues with other player to the table. Also, keep your language PG. There is a zero tolerance for racist language, I will kick you out of my game and ban you from any other game I run.

The Setting

-34 First explorers from the Eastern Empires reach the New World, find the place strongly influenced by the Feywild, and inhabited by elves.
-30 to -1 The Empires Across the Sea collapse, corrupted within by dark forces and beset by invading orcs and goblins.
0 to 15 Refugee humans, dwarves, Eladrin, and tieflings arrive in the New World, and establish the first eastern nations
12-45 First Elf War, the Thirteen try to push inland from their coastal settlements and met strong resistance.
64-115 Second Elf War
145-187 Third Elf War, at the peace of Nylosia the elves and their human allies are given a broad piece of land to rule as their own kingdom, Kan-tac-eee.
190 The Beautiful Land is settled, the first newcomer nation west of the Smoking Mountains.
193 Monrovia founded
210-345 The Orc and Goblin Wars, orcs and goblins invade from the ruins of the Eastern Empires and from the frozen lands to the north. The nations of the East are nearly wiped out.
345-758 The rebuilding, the Nations of the East rebuild their lands and population. Rogue bands of orcs and goblins are hunted into extinction.
645 Bruthian Explorers discover a lost continent to the southwest inhabited by primitive dragonborn.
703 To aid in rebuilding, dragonborn slaves are brought to the New World
850-1203 Unification Wars, the various nations of the east go to war with each other over various regional disputes. At the Second Peace of Nylosia the Federal Union is formed to maintain peace, defend mutual interests, and regulate trade.
1235 Lakeland founded
1246-1308 Adventurers from the Southern Nations explore east past the Smoking Mountains. Their efforts open up territory all the way to the Great Black River. Francopia established.
1345 Zephyr founded
1365-1400 Attempts to expand past the Big Black River are meet with strong resistance from both the Feywild and the native tribes of the west.
1405 First contact is made with the Empire of Tejas
1405-1567 The long and drawn out Tejan War ends with Tejas joining the Union in exchange for peace.
1567-1743 The Long Peace, tired of war and more interested in expanding their population and society, the Union ceases attempts to push west and conquer more territory.
1798 Invention of the steam engine revolutionizes industry, travel, and society.
1823 Aided by steam boats, railroads, and better social organization, the first new nation west of the Big Black River, Misurah, is founded.
1829 Telegraph invented.
1831 The Fey Market Riots prompt the spread of the abolitionist movement. Many northern nations outlaw slavery.
1835-1858 Bleeding Misurah, the new nation undergoes a civil war over the issue of slavery.
1857 Isoian mercenaries commit some of the most vicious atrocities of Misurah Civil War during the Sack of New Cross.
1862 Spurred by the abolitionist movement, the Northern Nations introduce a bill into Parliament to abolish the importation of slaves throughout the Union. The southern MPs kill the bill.
1863 A bill is introduced to allow Misurah into the Union, as a free nation it would tip the balance in parliament in favor of the abolitionist movement.
1864 Iosia secedes from the Union, taking most of the southern nations with it; The Great War begins as the northern nations invade the south to reestablish the Union.
1865 War rages horribly across the East, Tejas succeeds from the Union and regains its independence. The Battle of Salt Greek sees the most bloodshed of the entire war.
1866 The Confederacy campaign to take Concordia fails after the battle of New Burgh.
1867 Reeling from the losses at Newburgh, the Confederacy army retreats south, fighting a losing rear guard action. The famed dwarf General Grant leads Union forces down the Big Black River. Tiefling Union General Sherman marches around Kan-tac-ee and proceeds to lay waste to much of the South
1868 In a last ditch effort, Confederacy wizards attempt to summon a horde of outsiders to destroy the Union army. Grant, Sherman, and the President of the Union (famous human wizard Abraham Lincoln) teleport into the ritual with a small handful of adventurers. They stop the ritual, but Lincoln is killed in the process.
1869 The Iosian Confederacy surrenders, investigations into the war reveal that cabals of dark cultists were backing the Confederacy; a general cultist hunt ensues and discovers cults worshipping dark gods throughout the Union and Confederacy.
1869-1874 Reconstruction of the South, the dragonborn in the Union are freed
1875 Hungry for land, sickened by war, seeking to escape troubles at home, or just filled with wanderlust, thousands of citizens of the Union head West in the hopes of a better life.
The Nylosian Union

Founded in 1203 in an attempt to end the constant warfare that was threatening to destroy the nations of the east, the Union has weathered wars and internal strife to stand today as the most powerful government in the New World. The Union is a patchwork federation of fifteen nations, each with its own traditions and culture. Each member nation is free to decide its local form of government and manage any internal affairs as it sees fit. The purpose of the Union is to provide an overarching government to attend to matters that effect the entirety of its members. Historically this has been limited to issues of trade, the common defense, and cross border crime. In the past century various movements have been trying to expand the power of the Federal Government to regulate issues that previously had been seen as purely internal to the member nations. Slavery is one such issue, but freedom of religion, a free press, and universal voting rights have been put forth.
Each member nation chooses two ministers of parliament (MPs) to represent it at the Parliament of Nations in Nylosia. The MPs debate various issues, set the taxes that each member nation has to pay (which largely fund the military and civil defense), and every four years elect a president to act as chief executive and commander in chief of the Union’s Army and Navy. The president also is the Union’s representative in negations with outside government, as well as mediates inter-member disputes.
Culturally, the Union is very diverse, with each nation having its own history and general outlook on life. The standard deities of Dungeons and Dragons are worshipped throughout the Union, but each nation holds a different set of deities to be of greater importance. The nature of worship also varies from nation to nation, for example, Arcadian tend towards more sedate and reserved services, whereas in Brunthia ceremony and ritual dominate the proceedings.
Following the Great War, the Union has shifted towards the right politically and culturally. More conservative dress and opinions are popular. Industry has begun to recover, and in the North actually saw a boost in fortunes due to the war. The idea that wealth is a measure of competence and fitness, the Gospel of Success, has spread amongst the wealthy and the nobility. The converse, that the impoverished workers who run the factories are somehow less able, goes without saying.
Most of the Union is of a temperate climate and was once covered by woodlands. Toady, only the most northern and western nations (aside form Kan-tac-ee) still boast any amount of natural landscape. The remainder have been heavily logged, mined, cultivated, and built upon. Bimini stand out as an exception, as the vast swamps and jungles of that nation have only barely been cleared or drained.
The Union can be divided into several geographic regions. The East Coast is the home to the oldest of the nations, and is the most densely settled. The first barrier meet when heading west from the Endless Sea are the Smoking Mountains, so named for the mists that seem to perpetually cling to their summits. Beyond the mountains lies a vast rolling set of hill country that spreads from the Dolphin Gulf north to the Great Inland Sea. These hills give way to the broad flat lands and river plains of the Big Black River and its tributaries along the eastern border of the Union. The Big Black River itself is over a mile wide and fans out to form a huge marshy estuary before disappearing into the Dolphin Gulf.

The Independent Nations
Two nations stand independent form the Union, Misurah and the Empire of Tejas. Both are interposition of claiming territory desired by their rivals, while at the same time hoping to avoid a war they fear they cannot win. Misurah claims all the land from the Big Black River west to the Crystal Rock Mountains, as does the western nations of the Union. The Empire of Tejas also lays claim to the same territory, and has for centuries (though they have been unable to take it from the native tribes).
Misurah is a very independent minded nation that values personal freedom above all else. The Misurah Civil War ended with the abolitionist faction dominant, a fact that greatly disturbs Tejas. Furthermore, Misurah has had better lurk bargaining with the native tribes than it rivals. The city of Gateway is the capital of Misurah and the main means through which people and goods pass between the West and the East. A rail line runs from Gateway west to the cow town of Abilin out on the open plains.
The Empire of Tejas was settled by a different group of refugees form the Eastern Empires, and for most of its history thought of itself as the sole survivors of that great culture. Being from a different part of the Old World, the language of Tejas is slightly different than that of the Union or Misurah, but still understandable (barely). Tejas has existed in a state of continual warfare with the native tribes, and is responsible for several being wiped out. This conflict has slowed the expansion of the Empire, as well as retarded its industrial growth. The steam engine and telegraph are new technologies in Tejas, and few rail lines or telegraph networks have been built.

The Tribes of the West
The tribes of the West are of a different nature than the elf tribes the people of the Union are used to. First of all, they are mostly non-elves, and some are even vaguely humanoid. Several of the tribes are noted for their savagery, but for the most part they are fairly peaceful. All spend at least part of their annual cycles living as nomads, even the mound city dwelling Mandak venture onto the plains to hunt bison every fall. The more nomadic ride horses or giant lizards, live in conical tents, and are rarely in one place for more than a few weeks. None of the tribes has a central authority; practice a lesser form of anarchy based around personal allegiance and tradition, and never developed metalworking or written language. Trade with these tribes can be profitable, especially as they are willing to give furs and meat in exchange for knives, pots, beads, and other simple manufactured goods. The native tribes have been especially clever in the use of metals goods they obtain, and refashion them into sophisticated items of greater utility.

The West
The region known as the West stretches for thousands of miles from the Big Black River east to the Crystal Rock Mountains, and from the Frozen lands south to the Dolphin Gulf. Most of the land is either arid or semi-arid, covered in broad grasslands, and home to an abundance of natural life. Several major rives cross the plains and provide most of the water for the region, as well as acting as sources of wood and transportation routes.
Massive herds of bison once roamed this land, but hunters from Tejas, the Union, and Misurah have decimated the herds for their meat, hooves, and hides. This has placed a great hardship on the native tribes, and is one of their primary justifications for war. In place of the buffalo, escaped cattle have formed large herds, especially in the southern plains. These cattle are being rounded up and driven north to Abilin in order for them to be shipped East to slaughterhouses. The cow trade is becoming a booming industry in Tejas and in Misurah.
Shortly before the war, adventurers discovered gold and silver in the Crystal Rock Mountains. This prompted a short lived gold rush, but the end of the war and the construction of armored steam boats on the Pecas River have brought hordes of treasure seekers to Calin. Officially Tejas owns the land and has authority over the town, but no attempts have been made to enforce this claim.
Lawlessness is rampant in the West, as the land is claimed Misurah, the Union, and the Empire of Tejas, as well as the native tribes, seems to be actually ruled by no one. The many canyons and tiny river valleys provide excellent hideouts, and banditry is common. Wild animals and strange beasts, as well as droughts, prairie fires, extreme weather, and tornadoes threaten settlers.

Nations of the World

Arcadia (Main, Vermont, Connecticut)
Ruler: Elect Adrosia
Government: Republic (single dictator)
Alignment: Good
Races: Dwarf, human, elf, eladrin
Economy: Timber, Fur Trade
Major Cities: Alberta
Favored Deities: Melora, Pelor
Notes: Although still a wild and rugged country, the people of Arcadia are some of the most well read and best educated of anyone in the Union. The long harsh winters may be to blame.

Beautiful Land (Ohio)
Ruler: Malthis XX
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, dwarf
Economy: Industry, Agriculture
Major Cities: Tolma, Columbia
Favored Deities: Erathis, Moradin, Pelor
Notes: The Beautiful Land is also one of the most heavily industrialized nations in the Union. Her steel mills, coalfields, and factories have turned a once pristine natural wonder into a mass of pollution and machines.

Bimini* (Florida)
Ruler: None
Government: Anarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Tiefling, Lizardfolk
Economy: Fishing, Agriculture
Major Cities: Ft. Anders, Tazkakil
Favored Deities: Pelor, Melora, Kord
Notes: Unlike the other slave states, Bimini used lizard folk instead of dragonborn as their slave stock. As a result, the turmoil and confusion of the Great War resulted in a widespread and savage lizardfolk uprising that has nearly wiped out any sense of order or law. This once tropical paradise now runs red with blood.

Brunthia* (Virginia and the Carolinas)
Ruler: Queen Kala IV
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (feudal)
Alignment: Good
Races: Human, Eladrin, Tiefling
Economy: Agriculture, Trade
Major Cities: Norwich, Camilard
Favored Deities: Corellon, Pelor
Notes: Once part of the rebellion, Brunthia has returned to its pastoral and feudal state. Its people have a strong sense of honor and a belief in the rightness of nobility. Brunthia is also one of the first nations of the east.

Empire of Tejas# (Texas, Indian Territory, Arkansas)
Ruler: Emperor Austin II
Government: Empire (feudal)
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf, Tiefling, Dragonborn, Elf, Minotaur
Economy: Agriculture, Fishing, Mining
Major Cities: Hastin, Galvestria
Favored Deities: Kord, Melora, Pelor
Notes: As ancient as the Thirteen Nations of the East, Tejas developed for centuries without contact with he Union. In 1405, adventurers from the Union wandered into Tejas, and the Empire responded violently. The long Tejan War ended with Tejas trading its independence for peace. At the start of the Great War, Tejas left the Union and struck out on its own. Although the only remaining slave holding nation, it is now illegal to import or purchase slaves, and all children born to slaves after 1865 are considered free.

Empiria (New York)
Ruler: Empress Alexa VI
Government: Constitutional Monarchy (parliamentarian)
Alignment: Good
Races: Human, Dwarf, Eladrin, Dragonborn
Economy: Trade, Industry
Major Cities: Empire City, Prosperia
Favored Deities: Avandra, Pelor, Erathis
Notes: One of the older nations of the East, Empiria also boasts the Union’s largest city, Empire City. Following the Great War, many dragonborn have migrated here to work in the nation’s busy factories.

Francopia* (Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi)
Ruler: Senate
Government: Republic (full adult enfranchisement)
Alignment: Unalgined
Races: Teifling, Human, Dragonborn
Economy: Trade, Fishing, Agriculture
Major Cities: Narlons
Favored Deities: The Raven Queen, Avandra, Sehanine
Notes: Founded by Brunthian and Peshtari adventurers, Francopia is a vibrant and exciting nation, despite its obsession with death and gentility. Its capital, Narlons, sits on an island at the mouth of the Big Black River.

Iosia* (Georgia)
Ruler: Emperor Konrad III
Government: Tyrannical Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Tiefling, Human
Economy: Agriculture
Major Cities: Alantala, Mason
Favored Deities: Erathis, Sehanine, Kord
Notes: Iosia lead the rebellion and was a lead proponent of slavery, now the nation is in deep turmoil as it tries to recover from the ravages of war and deal with the large numbers of now free dragonborn.

Kan-tak-ee (Kentucky and Tennessee)
Ruler: None
Government: Tribal anarchy
Alignment: Good
Races: Elf, Human
Economy: Fur Trade, Agriculture
Major Cities: none
Favored Deities: Corellon, Melora, Sehanine
Notes: Following the Elf Wars, the Peace of Nylosia granted the land between the borders of Brunthia, the Big Black River, the Halstat River, and the Beautiful River as a reservation and kingdom for the elves. Kan-tak-ee stayed neutral during the Great War, even going so far as to attack armies of both sides who dared to march across it. Its human population is small, and just as wild as the elves.

Lakeland (Michigan)
Ruler: Niola X
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Dwarf, human, elf
Economy: Fishing, trade, Industry, Agriculture
Major Cities: Bridgeton, Appletown
Favored Deities: Moradin, Melora, Avandra, Erathis
Notes: This nation is split between the pastoral countryside, and the more industrial cities and coast. The people are starting to ferment revolution against their Queen, who herself is busy trying to placate all the factions.

Livonia (Delaware)
Ruler: Archmaster Philos I
Government: Magocracy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Eladrin
Economy: Trade, Magical Products, Fishing
Major Cities: Livon, Delmarva
Favored Deities: Ioun, Corellon
Notes: The smallest of the nations of the east, Livonia is powerful due to its arcane might. The preimier college of the study of the magical arts, Elmilis, is in the capital city of Livon.

Marcovia (New Jersey, New Hampshire)
Ruler: The Council of Twelve
Government: Oligarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Dwarf, Human
Economy: Trade, Illegal Markets, Fishing
Major Cities: Newurk, Shore Town
Favored Deities: Avandra, Ethris, Melora
Notes: A council of the twelve richest merchant houses in the nation rules Marcovia, one of the original Thirteen Nations of the East. Trade, rather legal or not, drives the economy and other aspects of Marcovian life.

Misurah# (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska)
Ruler: none
Government: Absolute Democracy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf, Dragonborn
Economy: Agriculture
Major Cities: Gateway
Favored Deities: Avandra, Melora, Kord
Notes: Shortly before the Great War, settlers in the region that today is Misurah experienced their own civil war over the issue of slavery. In the end, it was decided to put things to a vote, and the abolitionists won. In response, many slave owners fled the new nation (established in 1845) and many escaped slaves settled there. Today, Misurah is best known for its city Gateway and the Western Railroad that leads from it to the New Territories.

Monrovia (Indiana)
Ruler: Senate
Government: Republic (voters: all landholding males)
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf
Economy: Agriculture, Industry
Major Cities: Monroviapolis, Ft. Clark
Favored Deities: Erathis, Pelor
Notes: One of the newer nations, Monrovia was founded by adventurers from Brunthia. The nation is split between the agricultural south and the more industrialized central and northern portions. In the hilly regions of the southwestern corner of the nation feral elves still roam in small bands.

Nimonia (Massachusetts)
Ruler: Hierophant Monolos I
Government: Theocracy
Alignment: Lawful Good
Races: Human, Dwarf
Economy: Trade, Timber, Fishing
Major Cities: Hope, Providence
Favored Deities: Bahamut, Pelor, Moradin
Notes: One of the first nations of the East, Nimonia is best known for its rigid views on faith and morality. The nation was one of the key abolitionist nations prior to the Great War.

Peshtaria (Maryland and Pensylvania)
Ruler: King Gino IX
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Alignment: Unaligned
Races: Human, Dwarf
Economy: Trade, Fishing
Major Cities: Ravensburg, Baltampore
Favored Deities: The Raven Queen, Sehanine, Melora
Notes: One first nations of the east, Peshtaria sits at the base of the Great Crab Estuary. The people of this nation seem death obsessed, and are known to build some of the largest funerary monuments in the Union.

Zephyr (Illinois)
Ruler: Elected Assembly
Government: Democratic Republic
Alignment: Good
Races: Human, dwarf
Economy: Industry, Agriculture, Trade
Major Cities: Wind City, New Field, Efham
Favored Deities: Erathis, Moradin, Avandra
Notes: the second largest city in the Union, Wind City, is the capital of Zephyr. It is a mass of buildings, factories, and shipyards; as well as the end pint for most of the cattle from the West.

* Former Iosian Confederacy
# Independent Nation

The Native Tribes of the West

Race: Wilden
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: From the Crystal Rock Mountains east to the junction of the Kansa and Pecas Rivers.
Relations with Others: The Amari are at war with Tejas, but other than that they keep to themselves.
Notes: The Amari are a generally peaceful people who have been pushed too far by the expanding empire of Tejas.

Race: Minotaur
Lifestyle: Semi-nomadic horticulturalists
Range: The Crystal Rock Mountains and surrounding plains from the Kansa River south to the Pecas River.
Relations with Others: The Arapanak and the Kurgoth frequently conflict over land.
Notes: The Arapanak have had little contact with Easterners or with Tejanos.

Race: Half-Orc
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: Divided into two groups, the northern roam from the Pecas River south to the Rio Lobo and from the Crystal Rock Mountains east as far as they care to. The southern group rides between the Rio Lobo and the Dolphin Sea to the south.
Relations with Others: The Campeche are violent towards outsiders and make a large part of their living off of raiding their neighbors. They particularly hate tejanos (or anyone who looks like a tejano).
Notes: The Campeche are feared throughout the southern plains.

Race: Shifter
Lifestyle: Nomadic herdsmen
Range: South from the Lower Musselshell River to the Lower Pecas River, west from the Big Black River until they run into the Holani lands.
Relations with Others: The Chultar trade with the Mandak and with settlers from the Union, they are in constant conflict with the Holani and with Tejanos along the Pecas River.
Notes: Unique amongst the native tribes, the Chultar herd sheep and goats for a living. Their herds are large and the Chultar will defend them with their lives.

Race: Shifter
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: Bounded by the Red, Big Black, and Musselshell Rivers on three sides, to the northeast they border the Silnegh.
Relations with Others: The D’Kala and Silnegh are constant rivals. The D’Kala also raid Mandak villages and Mound Cities. As one of the native tribes who has had prolonged contact with the Easterners, the D’Kala have learned when to fight and when to talk, though they prefer to fight.
Notes: The D’Kala are a horse and riding lizard-using people, and have a fondness for beef.

Race: Gnoll
Lifestyle: Unknown
Range: Throughout the Great Empty Desert
Relations with Others: Rare
Notes: Little is known about these reclusive natives, aside from old wives’ tales and second hand stories. They seem to live in a land that no other can even travel through, much less make a home in.

Race: Orc
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: The lower Musselshell River south to the Pecas River, the Kansa River east to the Big Black River.
Relations with Others: The Holani are bad neighbors and routinely raid the Mandak, Chultar, Jas, and settlers along the Big Black and Pecas Rivers.
Notes: The Holani ride horses and hate those who ride lizards.

Race: Goblin
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: From Two Rivers Valley southeast to the Holani lands.
Relations with Others: The Jas feud with the Holani and the Silnegh
Notes: The terrors of the Northern Plains, the Jas raid everyone they meet, though they do avoid the Devil Hills and the Lakotan.

Race: Goliath
Lifestyle: Semi-nomadic horticulturalists
Range: The Crystal Rock Mountains from the Pecas River south to the Rio Lobo.
Relations with Others: The Arapanak and the Kurgoth frequently conflict over land.
Notes: The Kurgoth have gone to war to drive gold seekers from their land and destroy the boom town of Calin.

Race: Elf
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: The Devil Hills
Relations with Others: The Lakotan will warn off and then attack any outsiders who dare to set foot in their lands.
Notes: Mysterious and elusive, the Jas seem to be everywhere and nowhere within their territory.
Race: Half-Orc
Lifestyle: Horticulturalist
Range: The lower Musselshell River
Relations with Others: The Mandak are constantly at war with the D’Kala and Holani. They have peaceful relations with the sheep-herding Chultar and with settlers from the Union and Tejas, provided the settlers don’t cause any problems.
Notes: The Mandak are town and city dwellers. Their cities are built around a central earthen mound from which their kings can survey their domain.

Race: Elf
Lifestyle: Nomadic
Range: The Red River southeast to the Musselshell River, northwest into the Frozen Lands, southwest into D’Kala territory
Relations with Others: The Silnegh do not get along well with the D’kala or the Jas. They routinely raid settlers along the red River and those following Roger’s Spur of the Goodnight-Loving trail.
Notes: The Silnegh are horse bound nomads who hunt the vast herds of the Upper Plains. They are not fond of outsiders and have been known to attack first and ask questions later.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gaming New Year’s Resolutions

Most people make New Year’s resolutions, and most people don’t live up to them. In addition to exercising, eating healthier, and making a larger profit freelancing. I have decided to make some gaming related resolutions:

I will play a character build I have never tried before. Since I will be playing in a Pathfinder campaign soon, I am looking at the D&D core races and classes I have never tried. That means a gnome/ halfling/ half-orc sorcerer of some kind.

I will stick to a campaign or character for longer than three months. Of late, I have changed campaigns I am running or characters too frequently. It is a bad habit, and one that reduces the enjoyment of everyone at the table.

I will use the map boards and counters I have purchased. Recently I have dumped almost all of my miniatures collection, they were a weight around my neck as they usually did not get painted or used. Counters are meant to replace them, and I will get off my butt and make them.

I pledge to always roll fairly and openly as a GM, never again to cheat in the party’s favor or to make a better story.