Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Race: The Kavarli

I've been working on the races that will be available for play in Acteos.  The only of the standard non-human races I'm including is the dwarf.  Accompanying the human and the dwarf will be the Kavarli (detailed later in this post), Liontaur (centaur-like lion-humans), Rashka (humanoid felines), and Sylvans (sort of like wild-elves with antlers).

This doesn't mean the standard non-human races have no place in Acteos.  I can think of perfect spots for halflings, gnomes, and half-orcs.  I just don't have much interest in writing about them at the moment.  Elves, well... I've grown to prefer a less Tolkien-esque elf and love a more chaotic, mythological elf.  Indulging life in their hills while charming humans to life enslavement.  So, elves will get an entry in the monster section.  The Sylvans are my take on a playable race that's elf-like but not.

At any rate, I wanted to post and show off one of the races I've just finished up.  This is, as is usual for this kind of post, unedited.


The Kavarli are a massive, human-like people that are descendants of the elemental spirits of earth.  Their name translates to “children of stone” in their language.  They stand on average between 7 and 8 feet tall, and have rough, gray skin that feels like touching warm stone.  They value strength, honor, and combat prowess, but birthright rules above all else.  While Kavarli society is centered in the distant land of Ber’ruln, many Kavarli immigrated to Acral many generations ago.  Ber’ruln, which means “nature’s birth”, is an island that is said to be a major source of elemental power.

It is Kavarli tradition that their leaders be male, often the first-born son of the previous leader.  However, female Kavarli that prove themselves as warriors have no issues with taking roles of leadership and commanding the respect of their people.  It is more common for a female Kavarli to take on the role of their people’s shaman.  It is believed that the spirits of the earth share a special bond with female Kavarli.

Tough as the Earth: While unarmored, a Kavarli has a base Armor Class of 7 [12].  When factoring AC while wearing armor, start from the usual base AC of 9 [10].
Fearless Warrior: Kavarli gain a +2 bonus to all saving throws to resist fear effects.
Powerful Build: Kavarli treat all two-handed weapons as one-handed weapons.  This means that a Kavarli can wield, for example, a two-handed sword in one hand and gains a +1 bonus to damage when wielding it with two hands.
Child of Stone: While human-like, Kavarli are not quite human.  They are not susceptible to spells or effects that only affect human-like targets, such as Charm Person.

Art by Shaman's Stockart.  Used under license.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Teleportation and Magical Travel in Acteos

I've always seen Dimension Door, Teleport, and similar spells to be a little too powerful for my liking.  One of my goals in Acteos is to rein in their power while still providing magical travel as a viable option for higher level characters.

What I've done is restrict Dimension Door-like travel to locations the caster can perceive.  Of course, you can still teleport to the other side of the wall if you cast other spells that allow you to perceive what's there.  So the capability is still there, the caster just has to work a little harder for it.  Long-range teleport is handled by a network of teleportation patterns, which restrict the use of teleportation to specific locations, which I'll talk about in a bit.  I've also folded both Dimension Door and Teleport into one 4th-level spell available to all mages that handles both modes of teleportation.

Below I present such changes as a Magic-User or Cleric spell, ready to drop into your existing Swords & Wizardry (or other OSR) game.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Magic in Acteos, Land of the Sundered Chronicles

I've been doing a lot of thinking about magic in Acteos, the land of the Sundered Chronicles setting.  I'm largely happy with the standard Vancian spell systems in OSR games, but I feel it needs a few tweaks to fit my vision for the world.

So far, the following are true:

  • There is no divine magic.  The original gods are gone, and their replacements don't grant spells to their followers.  Thus, there is no Cleric class.
  • The Mage class covers your typical wizard types as well as priests.  All spell casters prepare spells from a spell book.  In fact, the temples and clergies of the ascended gods are the primary body of spell research and training.
  • Spells are split into three categories that match alignments: Law, Neutral, and Chaos.  All mages can learn Neutral spells, but must pick Law or Chaos at character creation.
  • Outside of the appropriate use of magic by the priesthoods, the practice of magic is illegal.  An agency known as the Emberstorm exists to police the use of magic and is specialized in hunting down rogue mages.
    • There isn't anything morally wrong about the use of magic, but it does happen to be illegal regardless of the reason it's used.
    • This is also only true in nations that have signed the Emberstorm Treaty and are under such governance.  The Emberstorm does also have agents outside of their jurisdiction that handle powerful mages, which the organization sees as a threat to the safety of all of Acteos.
  • I find purely damage dealing spells to be boring, but necessary choices.  Thus, there will be no damage-only spells.  Instead, mages can convert prepared spells into either a healing or damaging effect, as described below.

Healing and Destroying

At first level, all mages must choose to have the ability to Heal or to Destroy.  The mage can convert a prepared spell into either a Healing effect or a Destruction effect depending on their choice.


The mage can expend a prepared spell to, instead of the spell's normal effect, heal a touched creature for 1d8 points of damage per level of the prepared spell.


The mage can expend a prepared spell to, instead of the spell's normal effect, create a destructive blast of arcane energy.  The form of this blast determined by the mage as the spell is cast.

A single target ray or bolt:  Requires a successful attack roll, and deals Xd8 points of damage, where X is equal to the 1 + the prepared spell's level (so, a 2nd level spell converted into a bolt deals 3d8 damage on a hit).  This attack has a range of 60 ft.

An area of effect:  Deals Xd6 damage, where X is equal to the prepared spell's level.  Can take one of the following shapes.

- A 30 ft cone shooting out from the caster's hand.
- A 20 ft radius explosion centered within 60 ft of the caster.
- A 40 ft line shooting out from the caster's hand.
- Other, as approved by the Referee.

This is, of course, a rough idea that has a lot more work to do.  For example, how does the mage determine what type of damage (Fire, Lightning, etc) his destruction effects deal?  Does he have full access to any damage type (which seems too strong), or does he start with a small number of damage types and earn more as he levels (which seems fiddly)?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We've had Dax for 1 year now!

Just a quick personal post.  A year ago today, my wife +Sarah Gilman and I brought home the latest kitty addition to our family, Dax!  We got him at ~6 months old, and he was huge then.  He's a monster now!

Dax 1 year ago, and today! 
My favorite part of this comparison is that his head is pretty much the same size in both pictures, but the rest of him has grown immensely.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Fighter

After reading +James Spahn's blog post about spicing up his fighters for his B/X and Labyrinth Lord games, I've decided to do the same and share my variant Fighter class for Swords and Wizardry Complete.

While I've never had a shortage of fighters in my games over the last 25 years, I do think the fighter needs some extra oomph and a little more variety beyond weapon choice.  The fighting style specializations are my attempt at doing so.

As a side note, "Maximum Weapon Damage" is a rule I use.  Basically, I don't restrict weapon usage by class, but instead have a maximum size on the damage die based on class.  So, a magic-user can wield a longsword, but he's only going to deal 1d6 damage with it.  Fighters and paladins have no such maximum die, and always roll the damage die of the weapon they're using.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Beneath a Righteous Temple - Part 2

This has been an interesting series for me to write so far.  When I wrote the last part, I had no idea what was going on beneath the temple other than "something had broken through from below".  This is contrary to how I normally write adventures, where I start with a general overview and then zoom in and work on the details.

As a recap for new readers, Beneath a Righteous Temple is an adventure serial being written and posted to this blog on a weekly basis.  Over the next few weeks, we'll see further and further into the depths below the temple.  If you're just getting started, you'll want to reference the last 2 articles to get started:
  1. Beneath a Righteous Temple - Part 1
  2. Beneath a Righteous Temple - Bestiary Appendix

Adventure Summary

Beneath a Righteous Temple is an adventure set in a temple for Salara, the Lady of Crusades and Righteous Action.  In Acteos, the land of the Sundered Chronicles, these fort-like temples exist throughout the kingdom of Velashar as well as any locale that the Virtuous Order of Salara has initiated a crusade to.  This adventure was not written with any particular temple in mind.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Beneath a Righteous Temple - Bestiary Appendix

Last week, I started an adventure serial called Beneath a Righteous Temple.  Part 2 is scheduled for this week, and will find adventurers delving down into the crypts below the temple.  Before I get to that, I'm going to share the bestiary that I'd normally put at the back of the book for handy reference. Why?  Well, you'll need these monsters to run the adventure as it begins in part 2.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Beneath a Righteous Temple - Part 1

I have an irregularly posted feature on my wife's art blog, Markers and Meows, called Maps and Meows where I post maps I've drawn and go over some details of my process.  I'd like to start doing something with each map and posting it here.  Typically, this will probably be something akin to a one-page dungeon.

However, currently the maps I'm drawing for her blog are all linked together.  The first map, the Lakeside Temple, was a map of a fort-like temple.  I'm following up that map with some subterranean goings-on beneath the temple's main building.  I originally thought this would make a good short published adventure, but now I'm thinking I'll build this adventure over the next few weeks here on the blog for all to enjoy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ready for some mapping!

Sitting down for some mapping for my next Maps and Meows article over on Markers and Meows.  Once I grab a beer from the fridge, I'll have everything I need!

  • Faber Castell PITT pens - 4 different sizes.
  • Caran d'ache non-photo blue pencil
  • Bienfang 4x4 paper
  • My book of maps I've drawn for reference if I forget how I've drawn certain things in the past
  • +Dyson Logos cartographic review for referencing how to draw things I've not done before
  • My lucky black cat, Zoe, who will inevitably prove to not be good luck as she gets in my way a lot.
The copy of Keep on the Borderlands has nothing to do with this, was just on the table because I'm running it tomorrow!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

New Monster: Waterlogged Zombie

I've been working on my next adventure in the Sundered Chronicles: Redemption of Aranure series, titled "The Shores of Alrandar".  I try my best to include in my adventures material that is useful outside of running the adventure.  Mostly this has been monsters, and this next installment will be no different in that regard.  Below is one of the new monster entries - the waterlogged zombie!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Paladin

It seems rather fitting to me that I start my new blog with a post about my favorite class of all time: the Paladin.  It seriously is the best class.  Whenever I pick up a new RPG core book, the first thing I flip to is the Paladin.  I've been obsessed with this class since childhood.  A big part of it is sourced from how awesome it was to become a Paladin in the Quest for Glory PC game series. It was the ultimate reward for being a good guy, and this is something that's stuck with me since.

Anyway, you're probably wondering who I am and what I'm all about.  I'm half of the team over at Sundered Blade Games.  My wife and I publish RPG adventures and source-books together, which is pretty fantastic.  I also write an irregular guest feature over on my wife's art blog Markers and Meows that I call Maps and Meows.  Basically, I draw maps, post them, and detail my drawing processes.

Now that I've bored you with all this new blog introduction stuff, I'll bring you to the actual topic of this post: The Paladin.  This is a S&W variant class that's in early stages - I'm going to label these kinds of things "half-baked".  It's an idea that I haven't done much testing on.