Category Archives: World Building

Return to Zoong. At faster than I thought.

So I thought I had about six to prep for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign (starting off with Keep on the Borderlands). Now it looks like I may be starting as early as this Thursday. So it’s time to into overdrive and get the necessities done.

First up. The campaign area/”world” map. For this whole campaign, I want everything to feel as much as possible like back in the day. So it was time break out the colored pencils. I grabbed the hex paper from incompetech. I don’t remember where I found those icons so many years ago and started filing stuff in.
I had also planned on typing out all my old notes and making the all pretty. That plan is down the drain. So we’re going really old school. Scribbled a bunch down in a composition notebook and will fill in as need be and as inspiration hits.
I was going to do a custom character sheet. And I still might. But in the mean time, I’ve made this very simple and handy spell cheat sheet so players don’t have to refer back to a book every time they cast a spell. Spell Cheat Sheet
And I was going to be do more thinking about some old house rules but I’ll throw them out here:
God Call: Characters can call on their god for aid whenever they want (even after death). The chance that the god intervenes starts a t 5%. Every time the character levels up this increases by 1%. Every time a god call is attempted the chance decreases by 1%. But there’s a downside and that Wrath. This starts at 100%. Every time a God Call is attempted this increases 1%. So first time. 100; second, 99-100; third, 97-100 and so on. Wrath is when the god is had their fill of the character’s pleas and will kill them outright or if they’re already dead; it’s no happy after life and there’s a good chance a divine heavy is going to claim all of that charcter’s gear. To be clear, it’s one percentile roll. Low good things happen. High, bad things happen.
I’m still playing around with some ideas on dealing with undead level drain but I’ll get to that later.
Enjoy!

And The Players Have Spoken. Labyrinth Lord It Is


I talked last week with the players in our little group and they decided they wanted to totally old school and go with Labyrinth Lord! So here’s a bit of a rambling post about what I need to do, some thoughts on the new Advanced Labyrinth Lord book, and other stuff! Yeah I got the Orcus cover because Orcus.
First up some thoughts on the book itself. Glen “Old Man Grognard” Halstrom reviewed on his Youtube channel and it’s pretty spot on. Now there is one thing about it that kind of bugs me. And that’s the spell section. The most minor beef that I have is that the spell list is at the end of the spell chapter. I know that’s minor but hey it just makes a little more sense to me to have at the beginning. Another and more annoying thing is the layout of it. OK, spells are alphabetical by class. No problem. But if you open up the book in the middle of the spell chapter, it’s hard to figure out where you are in the spell lists. Am I looking at Illusionist or Magic-User spells? There is a header at the beginning of each section but I don’t think that it stands out enough if you’re quickly flipping through the book looking for a spell. Which is one of the many reasons that I grabbed up a hard copy of Necrotic Gnome’s B/X Essentials Magic-User and Cleric Spells. BTW, I got the monster book too.
So what else do have to do? Well, I need to tweak my White Box House rules and make them more in line with Labyrinth Lord plus pull a couple of other things from other games like Swords & Wizardry. I happen to like the Swords & Wizardry two-weapon fighting rules better along with a little tweak to those. Don’t worry you’ll see these posted here when I get them done. I’m going to pull some of the classes from James Spahn’s Class Compendium. I’m not planning on doing race as class but there may be a exceptions for really odd races or unique racial classes. Still working on that list too. And James West’s Black Pudding is just awesome for so many things.
And speaking of classes, I want to home brew a couple. I’ve got soft spot for bards and an odd fascination with barbarians. I’ve got various versions of each and none quite did it for me. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or that they didn’t emulate former versions of the classes. I just have a different idea in my head. So there’s another thing you have to look forward to.
I’m starting them off with Keep on the Borderlands but I want to spruce it up a bit and throw in some extra encounter areas from other small adventures that I’ve collected over the years. Additionally, I need to get off my butt and flesh out my world of Zoong out more. The good news is that I found my ancient notes form many years ago at the bottom of box. So there’s a bunch of nearly forgotten old stuff that I’m going to mix in with the new. Once more blog fodder, folks. Stay tuned for that.
And there’s a host of other little things that I want dust off and/or improve. Like finally getting around to clearing out and organizing my gaming bag.

Along with that I just have to bring my little box of index card wonders. I just love this box.

Of course, I still have to put together my GM Screen and Notebook. So yeah. Dozens of little projects to get done. And before any one asks, we haven’t really decided on when we are starting so I need to get to work on this along with all other projects on my plate.

The City Guards Shouldn’t Be Schmucks

You know the drill. The party of adventurers come to town after a rough and tumble time in a dungeon and then they raise a little hell. You’ve seen it and you’ve probably done it. At first level, the city guard shows up and the party calms down or gets taken into custody. Put a few levels under their belts and those 1 HD guards are pretty useless. So if it’s a city of any size then there should be some heavy hitters at the city guard’s disposal.
The Captain of the Guard: Sure he’s better HD but that might not help too much.
Kindly Innkeeper Who Is A Retired Adventurer: He’s had his fill of your crap. Get off his lawn!
The Local Cleric: He’s already healed you and raised the thief from the dead but you aren’t messing up his town.
The Local Wizard: He’s reading his spell book. Do not disturb.
OK. That’s just some random ideas that popped into my head while writing this. But that is a good point. The city guard should always has some means to deal with unruly adventurers. If they didn’t practically every town that isn’t overrun by goblins would be burned to the ground by the same folks who ran off the aforementioned goblins.

Aeturia: Forbidden Magic

I’m continuing to brainstorm various ideas about Aeturia. That’s the southern desolate continent of Zoong. Then I went down a mental wormhole. Let’s see. Through every edition, there’s always some talk of ancient and forbidden magic. I’ve also notices (or at least IMHO), there talk of necromancy, powerful necromancers and so on but there’s isn’t anything really on the crunchy side. So in my warped mind that one of the primary ancient and forbidden schools of magic is necromancy.
This idea continue to follow through with the concept that Aeturia is The Godless Land. Why? Back in ancient history, it was filled with necromancers and they just went too far and the Gods of Law cursed the land and the people. They also gave their priests the power to turn undead. The Gods of Chaos (being chaotic and all) countered by granting their priests the ability to control undead. And that lead to the desolate godless land.
So thinking the Aeturians again as race. I know last time I posted some random thoughts. What I’m thinking for White Box is this:
They cannot be Clerics, Druids, Paladins or similar classes.
Non-spellcasters gain a +1 to Saves versus Magic.
Spellcasters gain the ability that Saves versus their spells are at -1.
So against each other the abilities are a wash. I know that. But when they come into contact with those from the other lands then….. You get the idea.
Keep those dice a rolling!

Aeturia: The Godless Land

Another update on the World of Zoong. Yeah, so I’ve working on redoing the world maps from that hand scrawled thing that I posted a few weeks ago. But then I thought, why not update with all my notes. I made a short mention of this on the podcast. That southern wasteland continent. I had just a single note written down for it. “Post Apocalyptic He-Man/Thundarr” That’s it. So I figured that I’d put a little bit more meat on those bones.
What does the place look like? Pretty much a desert wasteland full of ruins. Sort of a fantasy mix of Ancient Egypt, Mythic Atlantis and so on. Or since a pic is worth a 1,000 words…

Now I haven’t come up with names of any cities yet. I’ll wait till I get further along on drawing the map and fleshing things out more. So why it is the Godless Land? Well, too much hubris. Too much magic. And the gods just abandon the place. This all got me thinking of the best place to start in making this place. And, of course, that’s with Races. So here’s what I thought of.
Aeturian (Human Sub-Race): While basically “human”, Aeturians cannot be Clerics, Druids, Paladins, or similar classes. They are generally Fighters, Magic-Users, or Thieves. Aeturian society is basically broken down into two groups or castes. Spell casters and non-spell casters; with the spell casters being the powerful nobility. They are all wary and untrusting of those who deal with the gods.
Tough & Hardy: The hardships of living in Aeturia means the survivors are tougher than standard human stock. Aeturians gain an additional HP each level.
Non-Spell Casters:
Wary of Magic: +2 Save vs Magic
Survival Instincts: -1[+1] AC
Spell Casters:
Powerful Sorcery: Targets are at a -1 penalty to their Saving Throws against the character’s spells.
Magic Most Vile: Aeturian wizards routinely commune with demons, devils, and other outer beings which they may call on in time of need (or want). But there is always a price to pay. This depends on the boon asked and the GM’s discretion.
OK, so I may flesh this out more later on. And I know that this seems more powerful than the standard stock human. But I’m also taking into account my House Rules (posted earlier). Aeturians won’t get the stat boost nor the ability to buy up stats.
With that, I’ll get back to brainstorming.

Church of a 1,000 Saints

Yes, I’m still working on my next old-school campaign. And the good thing is that I’ve got some time to plot, plan, and make extra stuff up. That’s another way of saying add some more meat to the world. So I had this idea a while ago and it just struck me to add it to Zoong.
So just what is the Church of 1,000 Saints? Since I’ve been really fast and loose with the pantheon of Zoong, I decided that I needed that good old “generic” good temple. (Hey, I just created a new alignment, Generic Good.) You know that place where the PC’s go to buy potions, maybe get a curse removed, or bring back a fallen comrade from the dead.
The Church of 1,000 Saints is sort of its own pantheon. A thousand (at last count) gods, demi-gods, and powerful good beings with generally the same agenda. The Church itself is also made up of just as many monastic orders devoted to each Saint. While there is some internal strife and debate over the particulars of dogma and so on; the Church publicly stands for what most consider the “good” stuff. While each order within the Church has its own hierarchy, the Church overall has no centralized power structure and each individual temple is autonomous. Once again this occasionally leads to more internal strife.
Yeas, this is only an idea seed so far. Yeah, I’ll probably flesh it out with a list of popular Saints. Also, of course, there will be more gods in the world. Once again, those ideas start to fill my head about hacking clerics and maybe just changing the divine powers of the world a little bit. But then that’s another post. Now back to scribbling notes…

Skarynth For Sharps Swords & Sinister Spells Part 2: Races

It’s been a while since I did an update and the play test goes on. I’ve got my scribbled notes on the print outs and things keep changing. And that’s why I haven’t put too many crunchy bits in these posts. But this post I want to talk to talk about races. This isn’t to be confused with cultures that I posted about last time.
By races, I mean in the traditional fantasy RPG sense. But since this more Sword & Sorcery, I didn’t go with any of the standard one(elf, dwarf, or halfling). These races are specific to the world but as always, the GM can do what they want. Another different twist that I took, was that all of the “non-human” races were one human. Some turn of events changed them forever.
Another thing I wanted to do is keep them in line with the philosophy of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. So it will be up to the game master to decided if they want to do the races as a Vocation or an Archetype or even use the multi-Archetype rules from the Addendum (which one of the play testers is having a blast with).
So onto the Races:
Beast Kin: In ancient times, a primitive tribe dare defy the will of the gods. The gods cursed the tribe to be half-man and half-beast. Beast Kin have a feral beast-like appearance. Some many even have feline, canine, ursine, or simian features. They are still defiant and strong-willed mixed with the cunning natural instincts and senses.
Lemurians: There is a legend that an alien eldritch race were stranded on the world. This race interbreed with a local tribe and gave rise to the Lemurians. The chaos and corruption of magic flows through their blood. They can attempt to manipulate and bend to their will magic that is cast against them. They can easily sense the presence of magic and can occasionally see through illusions or invisibility. Lemurians are humanoids with oddly colored skin, hair, and/or eyes. They often have other worldly features. Most have two to four tentacles. (Yep. Tentacles.)
Tuatarans: When mankind still lived in caves and barely understood fire, the Serpent Folk ruled the world. The Serpent Folk used the primitive humans as slaves and their Lizard Man army to enforce their rule. Then a plague struck the Serpentine Empire. It killed many of the Serpent Folk and worse yet it drove the disciplined Lizard Man legions into primitive savages hell-bent on destruction. In a desperate attempt to save their empire, Serpent Folk sorcerers performed vile arcane experiments on humans in order to create a better and plague resistant army. Unfortunately, it made things worse. While the resulting hybrids were resistant to disease, they also had independent spirit of the humans. Tuatrans have human features (and usually dark or black hair) with reptilian skin and eyes. A few even have forked tongues and/or tails. Tuatrans heal quickly and are resistant to poison and disease. As a side effect of their arcane origin, many can consume the life force of the dying to heal themselves.
So there you go. An overview of the nonhuman races. Next up will be a little rant about some new Archetypes. Man. I so want to call them classes. And like I said, everything is still in play test to the actual crunchy bits are in still in flux and changing every couple of weeks.