Sunday, March 22, 2020

Role Playing - The Next Generation

     So this morning, my beloved wife told me that I should play an RPG with our nine year old granddaughter and her father.

    Remembering someone's post on MeWe, I went out to DriveThruRPG, searched and found Tiny Dungeon - The Hatchling Edition.  I printed out the beginning sections of the book and gave them to my granddaughter to read, at nine pages in, she said "I really want to play this!"

     After a promised walk to show her the house where Herb Brooks had lived (she's a big fan of the movie Miracle on Ice), we proceeded to write up (no characteristics to roll) her first character, an fey (elf) named Tom.  Her father created a Karhu or intelligent bear he based off of the character  Iorek Byrnison from the Golden Compass movie.  My wife, who hasn't played an RPG since our firrst house in Virginia Beach! , created a Wood-folk or treant character.

     Having settled on a very simple system, my big question was what adventure to run.  I didn't feel like trying to make one up really quick while learning and teaching the game, so grabbed my old copy of T1 The Village of Hommelet and started them right at the encounter with the giant frogs.  (Tiny Dungeons only cares about HP, so monster conversions on the fly are a piece of cake.)
    One the big frogs grabbed the bear with it's tongue but wasn't able to reel it in.   The treant and elf were surrounded by the little ones, so the bear specifically said he was resting his warhammer on the frog's tongue while he used his claws on one of the little ones attacking the elf.   ZIP, the frog now has a warhammer, and got in a few good blows, while the party dispatched it's compatriots before hopping back into the swamp waving a warhammer in it's tongue.

     They took a brief rest in the ruins of the gate house before pushing into the courtyard of the moathouse and exploring the ruins of the west wall and eventually the tower.  The wolf spider was tough to kill, but never landed a bite.  Turns out my granddaughter is scared of spiders, I didn't know that one.  In addition to the loot, she decided to try to harvest the spider venom, I told her she rolled snake eyes she'd poison herself.  She rolled a 3, scratched but unpoisoned.   We left ot there as she needed to be returned to her mothers, but we'll play again.

     Best quote "It's a fantasy, grandma, there's walking trees."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

100,000 Page Views - Achievement Unlocked

Over seven years and two hundred sixty three published posts.  Thank you everyone who has read my posts and a big shout out to the Russian and Ukrainian bots that trawl the web everyday!

When I started blogging in October of 2012, I wanted a place to publish my gaming based musings and had visions of building a following.  Life and work sometimes get in the way.  I still use it for my gaming musings, but realized that I don't have the creative energy - or self-discipline - to write everyday.

My high point was 2014 when I posted 117 time - forty of them in February, because I did a post a day Blog Carnival.  My low point was 2018 when I only posted three times - deaths in the family take a lot out of you.

Here's a some of my older posts that don't get looked at much, but which I think contribute to different aspects of our hobby.

Teddy Roosevelt and the Orcs - where I look at Orc society through TR's history of settler and Indian relations in the Old West (South of the Ohio, West of the Appalachians and East of the Mississippi).

The Dead Orc Scale - classifying difficulty of RPGs by how many orcs you need to kill to advance to 2nd Level. 

Using GIMP to generate campaign maps, especially the older posts where I show how to bring in Google Map screen shots and turn them into hex maps for a Roman era fantasy campaign.

Fishers - a race I created for Adventurer, Conqueror, King to replace hobbits - whom I despise in a fantasy setting.

Mordacis - Third Times the Charm ...Maybe

    This time I am going to put Mordacis in a campaign context, so that I can determine the languages he learns, as I mentioned in the previous post on the subject.  Speaking of previous posts -scrapping the one about learning languages, I found yet another system hanging out in the back of the Chivalry and Sorcery Sourcebook -  1 point to speak a modern language, 2 points to read and write one.  Magic languages cost 3 points to speak and 3 points to read and write.   It's not mentioned in the
Sourcebook, but I'll give a flat 50 experience points for each language point expended, with the proviso that they don't carry over from level to level.

    I decided to use the classic City State of the Invincible Overlord and Wilderlands setting.  It will be an interesting exercise in working out conversions from Dungeons and Dragons to Chivalry and Sorcery - I don't recall ever trying it back when we were playing regularly.

     The most important NPC for a C&S character is their Master, who teaches them, sends them on errands and rewards them out of the loot they bring back.  After combing through the Wilderlands, CSIO and various supplements to determine the known NPC magick users, I started rolling dice and came up with Althelbrus the Affable, proprietor of the Sorcerors Supply House on Regal Street (Initial Guidelines Booklet I).  In D&D terms, Athelbrus is 6th level, which in C&S is too low to be a master, as you need a minimum concentration level of 75, which would be 9th level.  So to convert, I'll multiply the D&D Level by 25 to determine the C&S Concentration Level - 150, which places gives him an MKL in the 11-12 range.

     In terms of backstory, I like the fit.  Dyers would use some of the same materials that magic users use in making colored powders and smokes, so there is a reason why Athelbrus would know Mordacis.  I assume after the death of Mordacis' family, Athelbrus takes him on as a non-magical shop assistant.

     As a shop assistant in the Sorcerors Supply House, he will need to learn about all of the material components listed in C&S. (I have a penciled note from the 1970's on Page 73 of mine indicating that there are 265 Common Compounds.)  Under the section on Alchemists there are rules for learning about such things.  Even though he isn't an alchemist, I'm ruling that he receives an equivalent education to Conquest of the Common Metals I and Grasp of the Common Compounds.  Based on his intelligence, it will take him four months to learn everything about the twelve metals and (rounded up) another six months to learn the Common Compounds.  He's not an alchemist, so he will only receive experience for being a Magick User during this time.  When it comes to enchanting materials he will be able to use the rules for Alchemists for more rapidly enchanting the materials under Grasp of the Common Compounds.  Ten months of study at MKL 1, provides 303 Experience Points that I'll add to the previous total for learning the spells, that actually happened afterwards.  He's still 4000 odd XP below 4th level.

    Impressing Athelbrus with his quick learning ability and facility for languages, he is then taken on as an Apprentice Magick User and taught his first spell: Dispel Fatigue, as he tires so easily.

     Nineteen months and one week of game time after the character began, he is finally ready to begin adventuring.

    Languages - as he's gone up two levels, he has no less than 20 language points to spend.  Using my earlier work on the Languages of the Wilderlands, here's how he expended them to earn another even 1000XP.  He's in luck at this point, because so many languages are commonly in use in the City State, he can use all of the language points he earned.

2 points - read and write the Common tongue. C&S characters are not presumed to know how to read and write for the most part.
6 points - speak, read and write Orichalan, one of the languages of Magick.  Heavily used by Alchemists, it's the primary labeling system for the shop.
6 points - speak, read and write Draconic, the primary language of Magick scrolls and notes.  Secondarily used to describe metals and compounds.
1 point - Goblin.  He learns to communicate and direct the six goblin slaves Athelbur owns.
1 point - Tharbian.  One of the precursors to the Common tongue, used by peasants in the area, it has no written form.
1 point - Altanian.  One of the precursors to the Common tongue, used by nomads to the south who work in the City State as mercenaries, it has no written form.
3 points - Viridian.  Another precursor to the Common tongue, the only one with a written form.  Commonly used by the older nobility of the City State.


Human Male
Age 14

Level 3

5’ 1”
100 Dr





Carry Cap
Military Ability
Command Level


Light Weapons

Heavy Weapons

% Shield Parry

Born William, son of Edmund, a journeyman dyer in the Clothiers Guild.  
He is a well aspected Pisces.  He lost his family at age 13 when his father’s 
experiments with a new mordant released a poisonous gas and left William with 
a weak chest (CON 3).  William took the 130 silver his father had saved and 
apprenticed himself to a local magick user.  He has since adopted the nom de 
magick of Mordacis, as an homage to his father’s profession.

Social Status
Basic Influence Factor
While many of the Magical Modes would have benefited from his high 
Dexterity (Alchemist, Artificer), Intelligence (Cabala/Symbolist) or Wisdom
(Diviner, Necromancer), the Fates have declared that he practice as a
Power Word Magician despite having only an average Bardic Voice.

Concentration Level
Personal Magick Factor

Magick Level
Spell Level

15’ *MKL

Languages: Common (RW), Viridian(RW), Goblin, Tharbian, Altanian
Magickal Languages: Orichalan (RW), Draconic(RW)

Illusion - Dispel Fatigue (4+1d20 Turns)

Useful Skills:
Enchanting Common Compounds - reduces BMR by 40%+2% per MKL for
each enchantment spell successfully cast.

Local Knowledge - because of where he works, he has a 90% chance to
know any Magick User residing in the City State, at least by reputation if
not personal acquaintance. For Magick User NPCs on Map One residing
outside the City, the chance is reduced to 50%.

Identification of Non-Magical Materials - he is able to identify any material
from the tables of Common Compounds. For metals, if he has access to the
required equipment, he can assay metal and mineral samples to determine the

Monday, March 16, 2020

Alchemy in Chivalry and Sorcery

    My views on Alchemists and Alchemy in role-playing games are bound to the depiction of the alchemists in Chivalry and Sorcery 1e, Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures, tinctured by Ursula K LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea.

     In society, the alchemist provides many things - a scholar conversant with with useful plants and minerals (always needing a party to collect something rare); a provider of potions and elixirs; a technician who can assay old coins and determine their precious metal content - and for their magical brethren, an indispensable source of materials for creating devices of power.  In areas of low magic or for those neglected by the local church - the alchemist may function as a physician and chiurgeon, providing non-magical treatment for plagues, ailments and injuries.

     Alchemists tend be rather disreputable looking, having singed hair, missing eyebrows wearing acid eaten robes and having hands mottled and stained from handling chemicals bare-handed .  Their minds either tend to wander, either because what the party wants isn't NEARLY as important as the project they are working on or because their minds have been effected by chemical fumes so long that they only have a passing relationship to reality.

Chivalry and Sorcery provides many materials output from the alchemists labs.
Philosophical Sulphurs and Salts, and a Magical Oil used in potion making.  Various 'Waters' are created as byproducts of creating alchemical gems; these waters can be used to enhance various spells - such as Water of the Ruby enhancing Fire spells.  The gems themselves are used in magical devices - such an Alchemical Sapphire being uniquely useful in teleportation devices.   Their research also produces the True form or Star of various metals, each of which produces as a byproduct a 'mercury' or essence of the metal.  Star of Iron of course is needed for magic weapons, Star of Silver for magic mirrors and True Lead can be used to to create an anti-magic paint.  When all of the mercuries are combined, they produce a Universal Solvent capable of dissolving any material.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Wolvesey Castle

What does a ruined castle look like?

Been meaning to post these since September.  Anyway, Wolvesey, or Wolf Island castle is in Winchester England within walking distance of the abbey.  It has a fascinating story having been built by the Henry, the bishop of Winchester after he had double-crossed everyone, including his own brother during the civil war known as The Anarchy.  A wonderful period full of opportunities for skulduggery and mischief that will excite any players who like a more political power game.

The Woodman's Gate

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Do Tusk Riders Brew Beer?

I saw this beer coaster recently.  Is it wrong that my mind immediately went to Runequest Tuskers and their riders?

Language Families of the Wilderlands

     With my post on Mordacis and languages in Chivalry and Sorcery, I decided to place him in the City State of the Invincible Overlord while running him through advancement as a Magick User.  Based on my previous post and the language rules for Chivalry and Sorcery, this requires me to know the languages and language families in the Wilderlands.
     Fortunately, as part of their reboot for d20, around 2003, there is a free download of Judges Guild languages for the Wilderlands settings available via an old Dragonsfoot link.  Unfortunately, it's languages are mostly given as linear descendants, rather than branching trees of related languages the way we view them in the real world.  Also, some of the information appears to contradict the or at least extend the original 1970's material.  With those issues, I decided to use their information to make my own, rather non-canonical, language trees using information form the download, the D&D 3.0 Players Handbook, the original Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy booklet and my own whims.

Elder Tongue - the original language of the sapient creatures of the Wilderlands, whatever they were.  This language family is hypothesized by sages and the learned, rather than being certain.  While the child languages are treated as unrelated for learning, when reading the Elder Tongue, each child language that is NOT known fluently subtracts 20% from the reader's chance to comprehend the writing.

Ancient Draconic - the language of the great wyrms who ruled the skies in the youth of the Wilderlands.  This language is believed to be the original language of magic, however it can only be taught by an ancient dragon.

Draconic  -  the language of elderly and younger dragons, spoken in a debased form by kobolds, lizardfolk and such ilk.  The primary language of magic in these lesser days.

Orichalon - Draconic for humanoids, rich in descriptive terms for minerals.  Spoken daily by a few isolated peoples, but used much for writing by Alchemists.

Tlalic - a recent (less than 1000 years old) artificial language used to teach magic.

High Elven - the speech of the elves who invaded the Wilderlands and stole magic from the dragons.  They also taught the woodland creatures to speak.

Elvish -  the normal speech of the debased elves of modern times.

Sylvan - the simplified version of speech taught by the High Elves to the woodland creatures.

Amazon - as the High Elves taught the Centaurs, so did a group of Centaurs teach some female human foundlings.  These foundlings with their latent psionic talents became the nation of Amazons that rules the southwest.

Duneal - a lesser form of elvish spoken by the foresters of the Duneal Forest near the City State of the Invincible Overlord.

Human Languages

Western Tongues
Auld Viridian - still spoken by the remaining Viridians, otherwise restricted to the priests of Armadad Bog.

High Viridian - spoken by noble humans in the lands of the old Viridistan.  This tongue influenced the language of the conquered Tharbians.

Viridian - the language of the commoners of Viridistan, now spread from there south through the desert and Lenape.  Viridian words and a simplified grammar form the foundation of the Common tongue.

Altanian - the language of the barbarians inhabiting the Altanian peninsula, it has contributed as much as 25% of the vocabulary to the Common tongue.

Old Tharbian - the original language of the barbarians roaming the Plateau of Bendigroth and the plains west of the Cloudwall Mountains, who were conquered by the Viridians and the their human henchmen.  No written form.

Tharbian - the language of the remaining barbarians and their cousins the peasants on both sides of the Cloudwall Mountains and Majestic Mountains.    It took the Common alphabet, loan words and case structure from it's Viridian overlords.  One of the progenitors of the Common tongue.

Common - the language of the City State of the Invincible Overlord, spread as a trade language throughout the Wilderlands.

 Western Language Isolates
Ancient Antillian - the old speech of the almost vanished civilization of the Altanian peninsula.  A rich vocabulary concerning animals and plants makes this language useful for Druids and Alchemists.

Antillian - the descendant of the Ancient Antillian, this language is spoken only around the faded glories of the city of Antil.  By law, all trading in the city must be written contracts in Antillian, providing a source of income for the multi-lingual Guild of Scribes and Scriveners.

Dorin - the language of the unconquered desert nomads south of Viridistan and ranging into Lenape.

Duneal - see under Elvish

Orichalan  - see under Draconic

Northern Tongues

Gammel Skandik - Old Skandik was the unwritten language of the humans of Valon and the Great Glacier.

Avalonian - the language of Valon and it's half-elven wizards after the Aquan speaking Sea Elves conquered and imposed a tribute on the human inhabitants.

Skandik - the tongue of conquerors, the language of the sea raiders who have imposed their rule on the City State of the Invincible Overlord and many of the islands and coasts of the Wilderlands.

Southern and Eastern Languages
Kelnoran - the ancient predecessor of Ghinoran, many magical texts are believed to be written in this language, however very few magicians have been able to master it enough to decipher them.

Ghinoran - the trade language of the southern seas and coasts.  It is also used as a term to describe the (usually) mutually intelligible dialects, descended from Kelnoran, of the human inhabitants in the area.

Gishmesh  - the tribal language of the founders of Tarantis.  Used as a trade language in the northeastern Wilderlands.

Karakhan the god given language of the city of Karak.  Speakers usually learn Gishmesh as a trade language.

Amazon  see under Elvish.

Logii - was an artificial language of mathematics used to describe the physical world by the long vanquished Philosophers.  It is said certain Dwarf and Gnome clans keep it alive and use it in constructing automatons and machines of great power.