Posts Tagged ‘rpg download’

World Building – Creating a Rich and Vibrant World

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Ever wondered what comes next after you’ve draw what your home brew world looks like on a piece of paper? Well let’s discover shall we…RPGBlogCarnivalLogo

As described by Jade at Evil Machinations in this month’s RPG Blog Carnival overview, world building is a huge topic and covers a great range of areas. Originally I had started to write a couple of blogs on the building blocks of worlds such as approaches to designing topography and nations. Although crucial in the greater scheme of things it can be a dry read. So I have changed my posts to look at some of the more interesting areas of world building that often go unnoticed but in my opinion are essential to creating a successful world that players are begging to play in.

So steering away from Macroscopic/Microscopic/Situation-based/Literary & Character-based approaches to building up your world’s landscape I’d like to set aside my next few posts exploring building in details such as history, mythology, and creating a an atmosphere to capture the imagination of your players. To me this is where your world will come alive.

History – ‘before time was time’

Like building the general landscape you can use both Macroscopic and Microscopic approaches to developing a history and if you used one of these techniques to build the landscape you don’t have to be stuck using the same technique when developing its history. As an example to this I used a combination of microscopic and situation-based approaches to building my world but when it came to looking at the history I used a Macroscopic approach as this allowed me to develop a good flow to the world’s history, tracking migration of races across the continents and the fluctuations of nation states. Although this is the approach that I took it by no means has to be the approach that you need to take as you need to find what works best for you.

Now in truth you can actually apply both Microscopic and Macroscopic approaches to building history into your world so from a ‘big picture’ perspective does your world have ages, were there dark periods, were one or two races dominant over others and has this changed as time progressed? Looking at the history of our own world there were defined ages associated with technological discoveries, cultural & religious ideologies and national developments. Periods such as the bronze, iron and dark ages come prominently to mind.

So if you’ve set out the general landscape of your world start to explore its history and what has shaped it into how it will look for the players today, and I’ve used the word explore here as that is exactly what you want the players to be doing. You want the players to explore your world, its history and its secrets. So set yourself into that mindset and develop a history that supports the current state of play.

If you are using a Microscopic, Character or Situation-based method you’ll want to look at the surrounding influences of the area in which the players are having the adventure or campaign set. This is a great way to be able to spend time focusing on the real details in a world and can often prove to be an efficient way to spend your development time for unless the players are going to find the ancient warhammer of King Sulchen who ruled an empire two thousand years ago do you really need an understanding of that history for your sessions. Probably not, so focusing on methods such as looking at the current situation and area, a detailed analysis of the local power factions, influences and their history is a great way to not only generate interest for the players but also to dig up some fantastic adventure hooks.

Look at cultural nuances, why does the predominantly human town play the dwarven game of ‘Stick the Goblin’ and brew good ales? Is it because when the town was settled there was a dwarven keep close by who traded regularly with the town. The keep might now be a ruin as the dwarves disappeared for an unknown reason but their influence remains. This example not only provides the town with some distinctive characters, some of which can be adopted into PC backgrounds, but it also creates some adventure hooks around a ruined keep and unknown local lore.

This method also allows you greater time to focus on NPC’s. I’m not sure about you guys but one of the greatest aspects to playing for me is the interaction with NPC’s. Again as a world builder you need to spend your time to maximise what you produce, as you can spend it doing a huge amount of work that never gets seen in your sessions and miss out on creating what will make a difference for your player’s experience.

With that said below is a handy tip to managing your precious world building time…

Time Management Tip #1

No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.

So with that in mind have a quick think of what really needs to be developed to maximise the playing experience. World history is crucial to provide to players as it shows depth to the world, so understand how you work best and what is actually going to make a difference to the playing experience, then start creating.

Tribes of Gracia

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

So far we’ve looked at a variety of aspects revolving around how the Gracian people see themselves in the world and some of their belief systems. Today I’d like to expand on this by going into a little more depth with regards to the structure of the Gracian Tribes which includes a brief of one of the great tribes.

As always enjoy the read and feel free to write your comments below or email me if you’d like a more indepth answer.

There are many tribes throughout the Gracian lands and they range in size with the smallest comprised of between 50 and 80 people while the largest of the tribes have tens of thousands.  This has led to a fairly fragmented and complex system of relationships between these people.

Typically the smaller tribes will either be conquered by a neighbour or absorbed into a larger tribe through marriage or diplomacy. While midsized tribes are the most active in terms of power struggles and political machinations as they constantly vie for increased power and prestige against local tribes but also in regards to prestige in the eyes of their respective Kings.

The large number of tribes also means that loyalties amongst the tribes are a complex matter as each tribe will have alliances and friends amongst their geopolitical area, but they will also have allegiance to their respective King who may call upon them in times of need.  It is only in times of great emergencies that Gracia will band together and become one.

The most influential tribes of the three respective bloodlines are currently the Iribane, the Irrian and the Veyan.

The Iribane

Current Chieftain:            Argandest “the Bloodied Handed”

Chiefs Champion:            Deramest son of Anlyeh

Symbol:                        Griffon facing front in a rampant position with wings spread

This is one of the oldest tribes and is the direct descendants of Kafaris, as such they have always been strong and influential amongst these people.  Kafaris was a powerful warrior and follower of Oda, the God of the Forests. Legend has it that he rode a griffon as a steed and that he was granted the Spear of Va-haugen by Oda.  This weapon of legend and power has since been lost to the Doth-Erian’s during the previous war where the General Harvrim took it as a trophy of his victory against the Tribes at the battle of Taymor Valley.

Due to the tanistry line of progression amongst these people the Iribane are the leading and most prominent tribe amongst the Kafaris and thus Argandest is the current Eastern King.

The tribe has had many glorious moments and spread their lands through exploring and sailing the seas to the east, discovering trading partners such as the cities of Two Waters and Arondeer.

Gracian Weapons of War

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

A strong part of the Gracian culture revolves around conflict and proving your worth in battle and as a skilful warrior.   Due to this dominant aspect to the Gracian mindset the Tribes have honed their skills in particular weapons of choice and also developed a variety of unique warrior professions.

Favoured Weapons

Spear: This weapon is ubiquitous to the lands of Synathia with every culture using one or more forms of this very simple but effective weapon.  The Gracians tend to favour two handed long spears during battle using them to form phalanxes to defend their villages and forts. While the smaller one handed spear are preferred for hunting as it provides more flexibility when transverseing the forests.  One handed light spears called pillums are also typically carried by hunters and raiders as their light weight and long reach provides a great versatile weapon to compliment their arsenal.

Bows: As one of the major sources of food comes from hunting, most Gracian children are taught to use a bow so that they can hunt for food and provide for their family and village.  Not all children will continue using this weapon as they age but all Gracian’s will have some natural affinity with this weapon.

The Gracian’s use three types of bows, the standard short bow, a long bow and the supreme Gracian ranged weapon, the war bow.  All Gracians are permitted to use both the short and long bow, but only Gracian nobles are allowed to use war bows.  The nobles who take up this honour form a group known as Noble Archers and are deadly marksmen.

Axe: The axe is the most notable and featured melee weapon of the Gracian culture and features heavily in the cultures symbolism.  It is believed that the love of this weapon stems from its uses outside of warfare such as for lumber which saw the reliance on this tool to build the homes and villages of the people.

It is no surprise that this weapon has come to prominence with its two bladed two handed axe being the more revered and prized weapon for the culture with many of the most notable warriors preferring this style of axe.

Hammer: In a similar manner to the axe this weapon’s use as a tool for construction has seen this weapon proliferate as a weapon of choice for many Gracian’s and mirroring the love that these people have for more brutal devastating weapons the two handed hammer or maul is far more common than lighter single handed hammers seen in other cultures.  For those warriors who choose lighter and single handed options they will typically choose a mace, morning star or flail as the impact and look of these weapons inspires greater fear than a simple hammer.

Swords: As with many other cultures swords are also common amongst these people but do not hold the notoriety of some of the proceeding weapons.  In a similar vein two handed swords such as the claymore or bastard sword are preferences amongst these people however single handed swords such as the broadsword also feature amongst the Gracian arsenal of younger warriors.

Dirk: Teaching how to use a dagger goes hand in hand with teaching Gracian children how to hunt with a bow. Not only is this weapon useful for close quarter fighting it is an invaluable hunting and household tool.  The daggers that the Gracian’s uses are called Dirks and they are larger than the average dagger.

Death Amongst the Gracians

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The death of an individual is seen and celebrated differently amongst all cultures both in our real world and also amongst our fantasy settings. It is such an integral part of our existance that I feel the need to include a brief look at how the Gracian’s view death and how it impacts up the lives of the living. In this way I hope that it helps to increase your understanding of these people and their way of life.

The death of a Gracian is a moving time for the family of the deceased but it is never an unhappy one as Gracian’s believe that when a person dies in this world they become spirits and take on lives in the spirit world. As such they view death in this life as the beginning of life in the spirit world and the continuation of existence. This is why spirits play such an important role within their culture and in the lives of every member, for not only can communication with the spirits be achieved but the spirits will also influence the lives of the living.

In this way the living will bring into their lives the spirits of those people or elements who are truly meaningful to them.

There are typically two types of ceremonies for when a member of a tribe passes into the spirit world, preservation and burial. Preservation is reserved for the noble class and will involve the removal of body parts from the corpse that epitomises the individual. These body parts will be preserved in liquid and placed within ceremonial urns. The urns are highly decorated and made from exotic materials, typical decorations will include imagery that tells a tale about the person and why the body part has been preserved, patterning associated with the tribe and gemstones that encrust the urn. The bodies of the nobles who go through this process will be wrapped and buried with the urns in an individual cairn or family crypt.

Commoners amongst the Gracian’s will by default be buried in a simple grave. The site of the grave will vary depending on the family as they may have an area of the lands that they prefer or have some attachment to that all of their family members will be buried in or the individual may have an affinity with a particular area which they will be buried in such as a favourite hunting ground. Alternatively if a large amount of warriors have fallen in battle the commander may demand that the fallen are all buried on the site of the battle, particularly if it was a great victory, in this manner they will forever be recognised for their part in bringing about glory to the tribe.

Development Notes – Upcoming Projects #1

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

With the completion of The Bloodsoaked Lands I thought that it might be a good time to let you all know what I’ve been working on at the moment and what’s in the pipeline for development.

As mentioned in a couple of other posts my main project is book two of my series which details the Gracian culture and also the Grand Duchy of Koras.  Again here the book will be jam packed with rich detail on the culture, history and society of these people in conjunction with adventure hooks and player opportunities.

But, not to sound too much like a dodgy TV infomercial salesman, … ‘That’s not all’, far from it in fact. I also have a gazette for Doth-Eria that I’m putting together. After some feedback following release of The Bloodsoaked Lands people wanted to know a little more about the other provinces to help build a better idea of the Empires structure, size and landscape, so I’ve been busy designing this gazette.  Due to conflicting timelines it will still be a little bit off however it is coming so if I could ask for a little patience you will be rewarded.

Now this next piece has got me really excited, it’s a collaborative project of designing RPG software to enable people to play over the internet, not a new concept however our take on it will be.  This is only just getting off the ground however it shows great promise. As it is still quite a way off I’ll keep you all up to date with it as we may need people to do some concept and beta testing for it. In the meantime I would be very appreciative if you had aspects or features to an RPG software package that you would like to see or use then either leave me a comment below or send me an email via the contact details on the right hand sidebar.

Gary’s 1 Year Anniversary – a time to remember

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

It’s been one year since Gary Gygax has passed away and in memory of this event I was privileged to be able to contribute to a remembrance blog written by the guys at Stargazers World.  If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons or have heard of him, as he was one of fantasy’s great contributors, then check out this blog ‘Remembering a Legend’ it holds some great memories of the man, thoughts of how he has impacted our lives and some great history about him.

Woad Tattoos

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

As the next product that i’m working on details a very different culture to that described in my previous work so far I would like to do a series of posts that bring their culture to life.  The first is one on tattoos, enjoy and remember to leave me your thoughts about it.

Markings and body paint are important parts of the Gracian culture; they denote a person’s prowess in their chosen art, station, whether they are favoured by the gods, social rank and a warning to others.  The majority of markings utilised by the Gracian’s are normal tattoos inked upon the body however amongst the Gracian’s not all markings are benign.

The greatest of the markings is made from a plant known as Woad.  When ground a blue dye can be made which is put upon the person and enchanted by the gods in a ritual creating a group known as Woad Warriors.

The ritual must take place in a sacred grove, where a Druid will mark the potential recipient with woad in a simple design.  The recipient will then lay within the centre of the grove as the druids in attendance conduct a ritual which will ask the gods to judge the warrior.  If they recognise the warrior’s deeds and believe that their heart is stout then the gods will enchant the woad permanently upon them and in doing so they alter the shape of the tattoo from its basic form into a symbol of the language of the gods and enchant the tattoo with a power.  Through this enchantment the warrior is given a gift of power that draws on the spirits of their dead ancestors to offer strength, courage and protection during times of need.

This ritual is very taxing upon the druids and is not always guaranteed of success for if a warrior presents themselves in judgement to the gods and are found unworthy the gods will wipe the intended marking from them.  This brings shame to the warrior and his tribe and as such only members of a tribe who are truly worthy will seek such enchanted markings.

Tattoos created in this manner will bear a sparkling silver lining indicating that the person is seen in the eyes of his kin as being worthy and having achieved much.  Yet there is another way that woad tattoos are bestowed.

The second method is rare but is the most revered of all markings, it is a tattoo lined with sparkling gold.  This is given to Gracians by the gods when the gods themselves believe that the person is worthy not when they request judgement.

Elrean Crothus

Sunday, July 11th, 2010


Born shortly after the fourth age was recognised Elrean Crothus was born into a life far from normal.  Elrean is the second child of the Duke and Duchess Tysis & Sylicia Crothus of the city of Thor-Relen.   Brought up on the family estates located just outside the city itself she spent much of her spare time running through the fields, playing with the servants and exploring the grounds.

Her childhood was a fairly isolated experience with her older brother often in tuition, her mother busy organising the affairs of the house and attending the court, while her father was nearly always out of the city on official business.  Although not necessarily the most desirable upbringing it allowed her to spend time watching and mimicking the soldiers and guards of the families private army, thus nurturing her interest in warfare and battle.

For many years she would sit upon the window sills and walls of the manor watching the 1st Battalion, her family’s private armed forces, go through their drills and training exercises with interest and excitement.

Although her father was rarely involved with her childhood her continuous voyeurism of his troops had not gone unnoticed.  For her fifteenth birthday he presented Elrean, to her mother’s horror, with her first blade and informed her that his personal retainer, general of the 1st Battalion and best friend Kaldoran will train her in how to use it and how to fight.

Over the next five years Elrean learnt everything that Kaldoran knew about swordsmanship, warfare and battle, relishing the physical nature of the career she had now chosen she threw herself into it.  Refusing to sleep in the manor with the rest of her family she took what belongings she thought she would need and moved into the barracks with the rest of the men.

Upon reaching twenty she had learnt everything that she could from those in the north and sought to travel to the Capital of Julan Quo in order to train with the imperial battle master.  Again her father was to bestow his daughter two gifts before she left, the first was a new sword crafted by the Elven smiths of The Lost Wood and enchanted by him, thus he bestowed a weapon of fine make and extreme power to his only daughter.  Secondly he also gave her a talisman and instructed her that in the time of need use it to contact him and he will come to her aid.

Elrean spent a further two years training under the battle masters of Julan Quo before she was approached by a man named Atrimus Detear.  Atrimus was a general from the Guild of Swords, a large mercenary guild of men for hire.  Atrimus offered Elrean a membership to the guild and an initial officer rank of Lieutenant, which would allow her to take command of small forces in their operations.
Taking the offer Elrean saw this as an opportunity to move away from her family’s name and influence and to try and forge a reputation based on her own actions and it is here that she forges her own future…


Although Elrean has now entered her early thirties her facial features still hold its youthful appearance however her Auburn eyes and steely nature tells a tale of experience and age.  Due to the practicality of her profession Elrean keeps her ashen hair short and it is often unkempt from using a helmet during training and battle.

Elrean is of tall and moderate build with defined muscles and quite chiselled facial features which are lingering traits from her heritage.  These have allowed her to be nimble on her feet and powerful with her strikes, a potent combination.

Although initially sheltered from any real issues by her troops when she was living in the family barracks she has spent many of her years amongst the rough and tough attitudes of mercenaries as such she is a little guarded with her feelings, has developed an authoritative tone to her words and a contempt for arrogance.

Works Involving This Character

Free Ebook pdf & prc available Chronicles of a Mercenary Captain

The Flaming Mantle Tavern

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

The smell of scented pipe weed can subtly be detected in the air, although the smoke hangs thickly amongst the ceiling rafters from the many pipes that have been lit throughout the night there is little visible evidence of it below the exposed beams of the tavern room’s ceiling.

The roaring fire located in the middle of the room boisterously jumps from the specially made fire pit that restrains it.  Its flames stretching into the air as they consume the precious oxygen that feeds it.  On the floor surrounding the pit are magical runes, carved into the stone floor and glowing brightly, these are what draws and contains the flames straight from the fires of the elemental plane.

The heat from this central source fills the room and would leave it slightly stuffy if it was not for the open windows that allow the mild breeze in from outside.

The open spaces of the taproom has been filled with tables and chairs for the patrons and as you look around, about half of them are full with a variety of groups.  Most are quietly talking amongst themselves over tankards of ale while others are more raucous as the gradual intoxication of the liquor that has been imbibed is taking affect.

To your left is small stage raised a foot and a half above the floor.  Atop it sits a bard on a three legged stool playing a lute; his audacious vest and wide brimmed hat sets an interesting scene as he regales a tall tale of heroics, courage and danger.  Slightly behind and to the left side of him, hovering in midair, is a small harp.  The harp gleams in the light that comes from the magical globes located throughout the room as its strings are plucked and provide accompanying music to the voice of the bard.

On your right is the bar, a sturdy wooden construction, the symbol of a flame is branded into its front and its polished surface makes it look brand new, although your knowledge of this establishment would indicate that it is far from so.

On the wall behind the bar is what gives this tavern its name.  The Flaming Mantle.  A small mantle, only two foot long and made from an unknown stone, has been fitted to the buildings stone wall behind the bar; its black colour is patterned with a green marbling effect and from its smoothly cut surface rises small blue flames.  It is said that these flames, like those in the central fire pit are drawn from the elemental planes.

Sitting atop the mantle is a single bottle of spirits.  The bottle is made from a thin glowing material and keeps within it the choice of drink from a slain Demon General.  The spirits are kept heated and in an evaporated state so that it concentrates the liquid within.  When the bottle is taken from the flames the evaporation condenses to produce the desired liquid.  A strongly flavoured and alcoholic spirit that would warm the coldest soul.

The drink was taken by the barkeep and renown adventurer Hulderic, or Hul to his friends, in his earlier days of adventuring during a campaign into the hells.  Taken as a trophy of their adventures, Hulderic has placed an option for patrons to try the exotic drink however to do so they must first put forward what they believe trying the drink will be worth; a figure that he has not openly released.  So far the current bid put forth by Lord Heleman was 1,200 gold pieces.  A price rejected by Hulderic as too low.

This is the Flaming Mantle Tavern and a hub for adventurers to find out the latest rumours, jobs and opportunities.  As such subscribers to this site will receive job opportunities, adventure hooks and rumours from the tavern that they can freely use in their adventures and campaigns periodically delivered in your newsletter.

The Ruins of Mehn-Toth

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

These haunted ruins are located deep within the southern mountain forests of The Barrowlands, near the border with Gracia.  Originally this was one of the largest forts of the Gracian Tribes and was built to protect a sacred shrine to Oda, the Gracian God of the forest.

During the last war between the Gracian’s and the Doth-Erian’s this fort became the scene of one of the most brutal battles.  When the Doth-Erians finally arrived at its gates they immediately besieged the fort.  The siege lasted two years before the Doth-Erians assaulted its walls and exterminated the population of the fort.  It was during this battle that the Chieftain of the Irrian’s lost his life solidifying the authority of the Iribane Tribe over the Gracians.  This fateful day saw a change in the war which eventually led to a ceasefire between the powers.

Due to the spirits that remain in the ruins, the woods that surround it remain quiet as animals have learnt to give this area some distance.  The lack of wildlife only goes to enhance the haunted feel of the ruin and impose a sense of fear to those who travel near it.

Upon approach the ruin seems to have become part of the forest, as its breached stone walls are weathered and covered with moss, ivy and brambles that will take a strong arm and a sharp blade to cut through.  The gates lay catawampus half rotted upon the ground, their iron hinges and reinforcing bands rusted with thick undergrowth obstructing passage through the gate house.

The interior holds a similar scene of overgrown vegetation, covering the courtyards, stone buildings and defensive structures.

Strewn amongst the foliage is rubble from boulders, buildings, walls and the dead.  Their skeletons still litter the ruin on wall tops and open ground and reinforce the scale of the battle that was fought here.

There are two major structures in the ruin the first is the central keep.  Made of stone and standing forty feet tall its thick walls held against the battering rams and catapults of the Doth-Erians until the very end, which saw a fight for its control held at every doorway and stairwell until the Gracian’s no longer lived.  There was no surrender and no quarter given in the final assault by either side.

As such the doorways are littered with decayed skeletons, scorched by the burn marks of magical spells and covered in cobwebs.

The second major structure is the sacred shrine.  This once was a grove of huge Oak trees that had grown in a ring, surrounding a natural pool of warm water and the sapling of the sacred Ashfern, a rare and magical tree sacred to the followers of Oda as these trees are delivered to the mortal realm and planted by Oda himself.  This shrine’s great Oaks have now started to regenerate after being burnt by the magical fires of the Doth-Erian wizards but their trunks still show signs of the devastation wrought upon them.  Missing however is the sacred sapling, taken as a trophy by the Doth-Erian’s its location is now unknown.

The brutality of the battle was such that many of the fallen, both Gracian and Doth-Erian, still haunt the area.  Many are benign yet there are those self willed ghosts who seek revenge upon the living for what has happened the most powerful of which are the guards of the sacred shrine.  Known as the Uth Vast, these powerful spiritual warriors still guard the shrine in the afterlife against anyone seeking to damage or defile it.  In life these men and women were of noble birth, well armoured, armed with mighty two handed axes and wielded the magical powers of Oda.  In death they are no less fearsome.