Saturday, 10 February 2018

As It Comes .3. Volunde Ankh and Beyond

Volunde Ankh and Beyond

(also on My Maps page)
or view on GOOGLE PHOTOS

I bought some watercolours and used them to give some geological variety to this desert wilderness which, unwritten but in my head, is a landscape owing much to the Mexico of the early 19th century, prairies, chapparals, badlands, cold mountains ... prowled by murderous Injuns, and any century Arabia with its sandspace, wadys, kellas and magnificent naked stone hills prowled by murderous Beduwy. The geology as differentiated on the map will allow me to associate particular natural terrain features local to a region. The red spiral symbolises the halfgods' furacane on Volunde Ankh's doorstep. 

I hadn't used watercolours before and derived pleasure merely from mixing the colours and slapping them onto a test sheet to examine the hue.  Staring at daubs of colour of unearthly beauty is like eating icecream, you should try it. This is what I have so far, I need three more colours for a healthy palette. The clear plastic implement is a waterbrush, it opens easily for water to be added and held like a pen the nylon bristles become wet so you can wet your paints, very handy but I prefer using a standard brush.


Monday, 29 January 2018

As It Comes .2. Volunde Ankh

Volunde Ankh
Volunde Ankh  (half finished)

The paladin has come to Volunde Ankh, in through the back door, aione. The front door is the halfgods' furacane, a coastal scourge, a ship-chewing tempest within which valley-deep whorls of hell's black waves hurl whales starwards. The front door is a prison gate closed on an entire people, an immovable portcullis to seal a death chamber rich in wonders. Volunde Ankh was for four centuries a moral playground for the departed halfgods, and when they departed they laid a furacane to thwart the pestering Feynds of Lesser Fearland who had come slinking in, and who having observed the moral poets, misperceived, and who in emulating the shining judges imitated their punishments pervertedly.

Today the halfgods enact their dramatic science elsewhere. The Feynds, those who dare the tempest, come and go. Southern sailors, sons and grandsons of living fathers and grandfathers who have sailed their lives through, spurn the sight of such disintegration and hazard the more endurable risks of pirate and storm. The people of Volunde Ankh were once a splendid prospering colony from Naqada, where priests had augured a dire threat to man from an uncharted land to the northwest of the northerly region which became Volunde Ankh. These days, having been tormented for centuries by interfering, deluded and yet potent faeries and more recently by devilish beastmen, the population has sickened spiritually and is famished in number. The city of Rekfu on the southern slopes of mount Orob remains for architectural lustre one of the chiefest places in Agonmayar but now nine tenths of its fanciful stone palaces are unoccupied, and its brilliant temples are more hollowed out than hallowed, without furniture, roof sections long collapsed, exposed to the elements, shelters for sheep and goats.

It was a Feynd who all but destroyed one of the paladin's young companions. This Feynd flung a foul on the Boy, a curse decked with misery enough to expunge a saint. A whisper of the Boy's anima survived. The Boy's life glimmers at night on a desert of black gravel. His decayed head, bearing fruit, is suspended aloft on the horned tail of a scuttling horror. The curse will have an end. The Boy is striving for control of the monster's movement. The monster rebuts with alien infection. The paladin and the Girl roam the desert.

[Mount Orob is the mountain on the left hand page. I had to splice together the pages because each page is close to A3 so I can't scan them. The city Rekfu is on the southern slopes, and Veesun the astromyger has his manse to the north of Mt. Orob. The players would start at the triangular symbol south of the city, washed ashore as extremely fortunate survivors of shipwreck (they think but in fact protected with some effort by Veesun). To the east of 'washed ashore' are the ancient decrepit crusaders fortress and further east, Nekhetarr and Krak-i-Shadows a time pummelled crusader castle built under the gigantic walls of the more ancient but immaculate Nekhetarr complex. I have not added Krak-i-Shadows yet.]

Nekhetarr (quarter finished)

[Nekhetarr is the first level of a four level megadungeon. Levels are not floors, there are several floors to each level. What separates levels are hundreds of metres of water worn passageways. I have finished a quarter of the surface level 1. Level two is known as the Five Lanes, five isolated regions each with a single ingress in Nekhetarr and egress in Agterrior (Each Lane is completed in gross). Level three, Agterrior is mostly complete as a map but with no explicit content, you wouldn't want to go there though before eleventh level (which is as high as any player of mine has reached). Aione is level four. From Aione you can get anywhere, out to Agonmayar, to the Abode of Pri, or through the Temple of the Prime Five to anywhere in the future or the past,]


Th discovery of secret doors is a pure example of the use of my core abstract character stat METAPHYSICAL ACUITY. Secret doors are perceived through a contest of the m.a. of the architect and the explorer m.a. The m.a. of a party is represented by the highest m.a. of any individual.

Roll %: m.a. / 3x s.d.

s.d. is the m.a. of the architect of the environment, almost always his residence.

The 3x is very important and represents the advantage of the architect over the explorer. Compare the standard 1 in 6 chance.

A 4th lvl F with 18 int is the leader of a party in a dungeon perfected by a 7th lvl MU with 16 int. This MU is responsible for setting up the secret door the party leader suspects.

We have:
10 m.a. versus 9 m.a. [m.a. > s.d.]
10 versus 27 = 10/27 = 37% chance of figuring out secret door
[I will produce a table for this, shouldn't need a calculator on gametable]

m.a. < s.d. a failed roll  means party remains ignorant forever

m.a. > s.d. a failed roll  means party remains suspicious forever but can't figure the puzzle

m.a. > 3 x s.d. automatic success with persistence and time, d6 turns open ended.


[I would like to produce my own setting and as I think I can write, and do layout and tables using LaTeX and produce maps I have been wondering if I can do the artwork myself as then I can be a one man show. So I have been learning perspective and starting out with the utter basics of sketching headshots of my characters. If I am going to publish by myself I need to learn how to do group figures, landscape and architecture. I think I understand perspective in the beginner's way and I prefer suggestive ink drawings which I might be able to manage. I am hugely impressed by Louis le Brocquy's Tain ink drawings but I have been advised by they who know (real artists) that his is a difficult style indeed. Ah well, I can stick to D&D prose.]
Phaedun & Veesun
Phaedun is an Illuder, a type of MU. 

Veesun is an Astromyger, a type of MU.

Pus On Ice -- Puissance
This guy is extremely powerful. If you look onto the Ice Shelf there are two symbols, the smaller symbol shows where Pus On Ice has his dwellingplace. Neither Veesun or Phaedun can get onto the Ice, it is too dangerous. There is a radiation from a point on the ice shelf (within the larger symbol) which proportionally reduces in size everything approaching that point until fly sized one mile distant, thus making travel on the region of ice pictured lethal.

The Boy
You see the little red cross in the SW. That's where the Boy is.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

4 - Emphasising Armour in AD&D Combat

I have already made and presented a table in the style of the 1e AD&D DMG which incorporates the Melee Combat Tables into the Weapon versus Armour Table. You can view that pdf here. It relies on a quite widely known property that the Combat Tables are completely linear and reducible to a simple concept such as THAC0. Determine the attackers Fighting Rank using the table below and you are ready to go. In my campaign there are Fighters, Magic-Users and Other,  the Assassin standing on the FR table for Other. 

note: My 'Armour Class' is 21 - AC

AD&D combat is fine initially for several levels until it becomes apparent that linearity keeps higher level fights tediously similar and Hit Point inflation extends fight duration.

To keep fights brief, and so feel dangerous, I decided that adversaries cancel Hit Points beyond their base level, that is HPs bestowed abstractly as a measure of luck, fate and experience cancel. Base HPs for Fighter 7, MU 3, Other 5, and add CON bonus. Monster 7 + 2xHD. For example, 5th lvl Fighter with 17 CON has 43 HPs - his Base HPs: 10. For example, Ogre Base HPs - 15. Let us say these two meet to fight. Fighter currently at 22 HPs, the Ogre currently at 24 HPs. Reduce HPs of both until one reaches his Base HPs. So the fight begins with Fighter HPs 13 - Ogre HPs 15. When the fight is over the Fighter if he survives recovers the abstract 9 HPs which were cancelled.

The second decision I made is to reduce the types of armour to three kinds: PLATE, CHAIN & LEATHER. With this simplification I can add some complexity by varying the damage done by a weapon against each armour type. I have also made PLATE much harder to penetrate, of course it is rarer than presented in the AD&D books and proportionally more expensive (I use my own prices for items on a silver standard).


Monday, 23 October 2017

3 - The Yeoman Archer


The Yeoman of Lirland
Even before their interminable war with the Parsiflurians began, Alfred, King of the Lirlanders, made mandatory for peasants daily training with bow from the tender age of seven. Alfred had learned from excursions into the inhospitable northern Highlands the strategic value of massed ranks of skilled archers. The indifferently armoured Highland Murls were slaughtered so long as they could be coaxed to fight with propriety and good order. The Murls soon developed the arts of slinking and ambuscade and Alfred retired.

Decades later, Parsiflurian chivalry disdained furtive animal craftiness and weathered the despicable peasant storm of shafts, trusting in their splendid, and costly, armour. Their horses were not so well protected but that is another story.

The yeoman is a commoner, not as respectable as the country squire but a farmer of some independence cultivating his own small holding. His presence, mode of speech and manner is not as offensive to noble sensibility as the peasant's and he is capable of earning a dignified position of servitude on a Baronial estate, such as a groom. In the army, with sufficient experience he is the typical sergeant-of-archers.

Technical Gaming Details
The Yeoman Archer is a Fighter. Before he has the opportunity to avail of plunder in a foreign war he usually will be armoured in studded leather at best. He may have his own mount and this will double his pay, 1 in 3. He carries a short sword, a rondel dagger and a hatchet for making sharpened stakes.

No characters in the campaign except for Yeoman Archers, some Knights devoted to the longbow and Assassins may use the longbow. They may use the shortbow.

There are three distinct ranges for the longbow and these are determined by the size of the target:

the man-target max range
d6: 1-3 60yds; 4-5 & 15 dex 70yds; 6 & 16 dex 80yds

the party-target of 12 men max range
Twice the man-target max range

the band-target of 30 men max range aka absolute max range
man-target max range + Str x10 yds

For example:
Yeoman Archer Bill McHobb, lvl 1, Str 15, Dex 15
Roll d6: gets 6.
This implies his man-target max range is 70yds because he does not have 16 dex.
His party-target max range is 140yds (2x above).
His band-target max range is 220yds (70 + 15x10)

On a character sheet in this case the player records:
longbow, d6, 7/14/22

Variation in the man-target max range allows for a scenario where, head-to-head, one archer can hit the other while being out of his opponent's range.

Shooting Rate
Loosing arrows repeatedly from a powerful longbow is a strenuous activity. Prolonged unrelieved performance results in strain to back, shoulder, elbow, forearm and particularly the fingers. Strain reduces by half each of the archer's three effective ranges and requires several days free of archery to recover. Strain is something that frequently occurs in the heat of battle due to enforced discipline, overperforming on command.

The adventurer is more in control of how far he pushes himself and when. The Yeoman Archer can loose 3 shafts per minute round. Attempting more, he will pick up an injury on a roll of 1 on his d20 "to hit" die. The injury lasts for a week.

King Ethward's Bodyguard
King Ethward has a bodyguard of 24 mounted yeoman archers. They wear superior leather armour soft but tough AC7. On average: Age 30, lvl 5, hps 25, Str 17, Dex 17. They are all the toughest of army sergeants, 1 in 3 are rangers. They have superior longbows +2 to hit (not magical), and a dozen +2 damage arrows (not magical). Shooting Rate 4/rd, man-target max range 120yds, band-target max range 290yds. Within 20yds they can nominate a body part, d8 damage, 2d8 for helmetless head.

  • +1 to hit with longbow
  • Archers cannot penetrate PLATE AC2 outside of man-target max range. In war with hundreds of arrows raining down in a small area arrows do have a chance of causing a freak injury against plate. But individual adventurers shooting against plate at distance, no.
  • Individuals hit within a party-target or a band-target are determined randomly.
  • Mounted targets count half so a party is considered at least 6 mounted men and a band at least 15.
  • NB Surprise and the Encounter Distance rules as described in Gygax's DMG are crucial parts to the realistic use of archers in combat.
  • NB Movement speeds are crucial too. Normal 120yds per rd. Sprinting 180yds per rd. A character can sprint for 1+ Con hp bonus number of rounds.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

2 - The Longship


The Gokstad ship
The longship, as developed by the Norwegian shipmen, was required to facilitate passage along frost fractured coastlands and fjords, and down channels formed by rows of steep little rock islands. The Danish sailors had other needs, they must be able to access shallow sandy entries through island archipelagos. The result of centuries of sea mastery proved a sturdy, flexible ship, broad and very flat, stabilised by a keel, a sailing ship with oar power for delicate movement. A tough nut on a stormy sea but also remarkably capable of penetrating far upriver.

The Gokstad ship pictured above (and below with miniatures aboard) is 76 feet long, and amidships 17 feet broad and 6 foot 4 inches from keel to gunwhale. The ship is made of oak except for the 30 foot mast, decking and oars of pine. Ships' cables are made from walrus' or seal's hide. The deck is loose with storage beneath. The crew, all warriors, numbered 32 - sixteen oars to a side.

When the time came that the lusty sons of the Northmen were impelled abroad for lack of sufficient farmland or by intolerable bully-kings, or lured abroad by tales of easy golden pickings from irresponsible ill-defended treasure hoarders, when that time came, the vikings exploited every advantage of the existing longships with the hunger of the bottomless bellied predator.   

If you examine my map below you can imagine that sea voyage is crucial for movement on the medium scale or larger. One hex is 80 miles across. 

The Snorri and the Hrothvi devised the longship and they are the peoples who benefit from its peculiar character as a raiding ship, capable of landing small bands of men, almost anywhere, for extremely fast bouts of murderous larceny. Their ships can land men on islands or coastal stretches other ships regard as harbourless, and can escape from faster ships into the wind using oars.

Sailing is dangerous and voyages are not willingly made in the winter, outside April to September. Seamen hug coastlines and do not travel in straight lines across the sea. They keep recognised islands in view and travel long distances by established wisdom. Regarding the map, the ordinary seaman will only sail through hexes which contain land, coast or islands.

The Snorri are the only seamen who can navigate along latitudes in open sea with reasonable expectation of safety and arriving at their destination. For this they use a sun bearing-dial, and a record of the height of the noon day sun throughout the year which they keep private and which was constructed by the master mariner, astronomer and explorer Nurli Blueface. Some seamen also bear a sunstone which allows a navigator to find the sun on overcast days.

Travel distance per day is approximately one hex, 80 miles. This is an average expectation which will be overruled if it is determined that an unusual weather event is taking place. Seamanship is described with five ranks, 5th rank denoting ordinary competence and 1st rank denoting mastery. Crossing one hex a d20 roll is made and the seaman must roll above his rank to avoid the DM investigating further what kind and degree of misfortune has overtaken the ship. I will come up with a small table of sample occurrences and outcomes varying from trivial nuisances to the not infrequent complete disaster. The sea is dangerous. The details should really be improvised at the table as they are situation dependent.  

The cargo ship, an ocean goer - knörr - was deeper and broader for the same length, and the deck was higher. There would be far fewer men than on a warship for a given length.