24 August 2014

From Weyland to the Forgotten Realms

I went on vacation and my players rebelled.

Sort of.

The kick off of our new 5E game got pushed back a month or so due to my schedule. My dad was visiting, then we went on vacation, so I missed two Sundays of gaming. On both of those Sundays, the group got together to play board games and talk about characters. During those conversations, they decided they would be more comfortable in a setting they knew, so they picked the Forgotten Realms.

I admit I was disappointed with this choice at first. I've been tinkering and jotting notes on the Weyland setting for years; I was finally going to get a change to play there! Actually running games in the setting would also motivate me to do more work and better organize the stuff I'd already done. But I understood the group's choice. There's a lot of newness happening, It makes sense to stick to a familiar setting when transitioning to a new rule set.

So no more new Weyland stuff for awhile. Instead, I'll gather 5E Forgotten Realms materials and rumors, post campaign updates whenever I get around to them, and (hopefully) post new, homebrewed material for the FR that others will find interesting and useful.

The game begins in Waterdeep tonight!

01 August 2014

Monsters of Weyland -- Bugbears and Gnolls

Beasts both fair and foul roam the wilderness of The Western Barony. Some are organized, banding with others of their kind to menace the travelers, farmers, and ranchers who populate the land. Two of the most prominent of these monsters are bugbears and gnolls. 

Gnoll by MarkTarrisse on DeviantArt: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Gnoll-156941776

Welyand is literally surrounded by gnolls. These nomadic, tribal, dog-like creatures roam both the Great Grass Sea and the desert wastes to the south. They routinely raid settlements on the edge of the Barony, killing inhabitants, stealing valuables, and taking slaves. They are savage, seeming to delight in slaughter, especially of elves. Most contact with gnolls are with war bands, raiding groups, or the like. These bands are often led by the largest and strongest gnolls; some have maintained such a constant presence they have their own standards and sigils, such as the Dead Dog or the Flayed Elf. Rumors persist of gnoll villages, but if they exist they are far away from the Barony. Some also blame the vicious behavior of the gnolls on their displacement from their lands in Weyland centuries ago by the Elves of Cadiz and repeated reciprocal savagery from Weyland’s inhabitants, but such soft hearts are no less likely to end up on the end of a spear.

Bugbear by robadimat on Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Bugbear-354397389

Bugbears are stealthy brutes and thieves. Roaming about in small bands or working alone, they menace outlying farmsteads and ambush travelers using stealth and ambush. They’ve been known to sneak into ranch homes, killing the inhabitants as they sleep, and taking everything of value. Worse, they occasionally steal children, selling them into slavery to the neighboring gnoll tribes. Bugbears are vicious and strong combatants, smashing skulls with clubs or morningstars, but they often flee when they loose the advantage. Many bugbears hide in the Var Balas — the broken canyon lands that lie in the northwestern part of the Barony — though they can be found throughout the lands of Weyland. 

In larger settlements, bounties are routinely paid by local authorities for gnoll scalps or bugbear heads. Though it must be said it’s hard to tell a gnoll scalp from that of a human or halfling after a few days.

While bugbears and gnolls are a constant, known threat, stories tell of darker beasts — goblins and orcs — that live underground, inhabiting the lost dwarven cities and venturing out only at night to menace the unwary and drink human blood. Those are likely just wive’s tales, however.

29 July 2014

Thinking About Halflings

While I have somewhat clear ideas about what elves, dwarves (coming soon), and humans are like in Weyland, my ideas on halflings are a bit less solid. On one hand, I was thinking that they were mostly slaves/servants to the Elves of Cadiz. Professional servants, almost -- permanent squires, butlers, and the like. On the other, I want the races to generally conform to the race descriptions in the 5E basic rules. And no one really wants to play a race that is perpetually second class.

So I am thinking halflings may be an island people, initially conquered by the Elves of Cadiz when they came to this part of the world. But the halflings revolted, the elves moved on, and now they are mostly free (and carefree) folk. Some have "chosen" to remain servants of the elves, but just as many now live and work autonomously. Those in Weyland may be settlers, former elvish servants, or merchants.

How's this sound?

24 July 2014

The Mercian Elves

The Kingdom Gilead was born when elves arrived in the lands far north of Weyland. Like the Elves of Cadiz, they arrived mysteriously. Unlike their cousins to the south, they did not come as conquerors. They adopted a more exploratory attitude, befriending the native humans and beginning an exchange of goods and ideas that eventually led to degrees of assimilation and cooperation on both sides. Rumors persist that the Mercian elves were fleeing persecution by the Elves of Cadiz. That might explain some of the lingering animosity between the two; animosity that manifests itself in the various struggles over the Western Barony. 

Traditionally, Merican elves also worship Jad, though many also see aspects of the sun god in the moon, which becomes personified as Selus, a figure vague in face and gender. The Cult of Selus may have been responsible for the split between the Cadizian and Mercian elves, contributing to the Merican’s fleeing their homeland. Most of this is mere speculation, however.

Symbol from DeviantArt user dreamingnoctis: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Sun-and-moon-symbol-335915612

Mercian Elves correspond to wood elves in the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Rules.

22 July 2014

The Elves of Cadiz

They came in tall ships, with golden hair and sparkling eyes. They came wielding magic as easy as they breathed. They came. And they conquered.

Elves in Weyland are not natives, they are descendants of the explorers and conquerors who arrived at the continent some 900 years prior to the present day. Here, in the south, they razed entire civilizations, enslaving the native humans in their quest for gold and magic. In the north, elves arrived later, building a relationship with the native humans that culminated in the Kingdom of Gilead. 

The southern elves are better known as The Elves of Cadiz. What, exactly, Cadiz means no one seems to know (or the elves aren't telling). Most believe Cadiz refers to the great elvish homeland across the ocean, but there is some debate about that. Granted, elves leave in ships and never return, but no non-elf has ever seen the elvish homeland. The Elves of Cadiz correspond to the "High Elf" subrace in the D&D Basic Rules, with all the associated bonuses and proficiencies. For a historical analogue, think 16th Century Spain. They tend to be fierce warriors, cunning wizards, or fanatical clerics. 

The Elves of Cadiz are quasi-monotheistic, worshiping Jad. 

Jad is personified by the sun, which features prominently in the church's iconography. The Jaddite Church is theologically large and sprawling, with sects devoted to certain aspects of the sun (like dawn or dusk) or venerating past heroes or kings like saints. Initial forays into the area that became Weyland were largely church affiliated, which resulted in many missions dotting the Barony. Many of these are now abandoned as the influence of the elves has waned, yet most humans in Weyland ostensibly belong to the Church of Jad.

The Cadizian Elves feel Weyland is theirs and have tried numerous times to retake it. They have been stopped by the native humans and dwarves, together with the forces of Gilead. Many Cadizian elves still live in the barony, some openly armed and advocating independence or a return of elvish rule.

Influences -- Spanish history (especially their conquest of Mexico), Texas history, Pelor from various incarnations of D&D, The Lions of al-Rasan by Guy Gavriel Kay, Tolkien

21 July 2014

Weyland, or The Western Barony: Introduction

Rugged mountains hiding deep dwarven ruins. Grassy plains populated by wild horses. Worn hills where creeks empty into deep, still pools. Shady forests of oak, hiding forgotten settlements. Chalky desert where bones erode under the incessant wind. Broken lands which hide those who don’t want to be found. This is The Western Barony.

Many, most call this borderland by the name of it’s capital and largest city — Weyland.

Weyland is the Western Barony of The Kingdom of Gilead. It’s a borderland, far from the machinations of the Kingdom, visited by caravans and traders. It’s a place of exile. Those fleeing trouble in the Kingdom find there way here, at the far reach of the King’s Law. Once, it was a place of penance; prisoners were sent from all over the kingdom to the feared Stonegate Prison. Nominally ruled by a Baron, few of his laws make their way into the lands beyond the capital. 

Conflict is everywhere. The Elves of Cadiz have long seen Weyland as theirs by right and conquest and have sparred with the forces of Gilead over the region. The native humans, those who haven’t been assimilated into the ways of the kingdom, keep to themselves, but many still harbor just resentment of both the elves and Gilead. The exile dwarves are often hemmed into ghettos in Weyland and the other cities, never speaking of what drove them from their mountain homes a generation ago. Halflings remain as servants to the elves, but many have gained their freedom and try to lead quiet lives. Gnolls and bugbears menace ranches and caravans, with whispers of darker beasts creeping down from the mountains. 

Opportunity awaits the brave, lucky, or foolish. Caravan guards, prospectors, treasure seekers, and even headhunters ply their trade in the canyons and deserts. The weak and unprepared need their defenders. The outlaws need to be brought to justice, especially when little has been heard from Gilead.

It’s mythic Texas meets The Dark Tower meets Blood Meridian. It’s Weyland.

02 March 2012

A Nice Quote from Adventurer, Conqueror, King

My gaming reading lately has been Adventurer, Conqueror, King.  I'll post more detailed thoughts soon; I really do like it, even its many "fiddly bits" as my friend Risus Monkey would say.  But I did come across this quote last night and wanted to share it right away.  It's from the section on dungeon construction and traps.
To kill adventurers with unexpected traps is a hollow pleasure for the Judge; to kill them with traps they decided to trigger, despite every warning of the lethal risks, is deeply satisfying. (p 241)
If nothing else, that demonstrates the Old School roots of ACKS. :)