Thursday, October 13, 2016

Monvesian Culture: Vasyl's Legacy

After uniting the petty kingdoms of Voztok under a single banner, Tsar Vasyl Vladovich Korolov (r. 890 ye - 105 ye) lived an unnaturally long life--long outliving his own children. Unlike Jostin or Ignatius, Vasyl did not ascend to sainthood.  Instead, he transformed his body into something new, like the transcendence of elvenkind.

The Order of the Rose and Shield has perpetuated the rumor that Vasyl was a warlock sworn to the Undying patron.  The tsar's isolationist policies have allowed that rumor to spread and flourish.  Since the independence of Volka, however, a new rumor has surfaced:  that Vasyl was a a blood mage (or even a bloodline sorcerer).

During his life, Vasyl passed his secrets on to his grandchildren and other members of his inner circle.  These acolytes further spread what they learned, establishing a cult in Voztok--and, by extension, the Granitsa region of Cuorria.

Two institutions have thus survived Vasyl to this day:  1) The Dominion of Voztok and the Tsardom of Volka, remnants of Vasyl's empire; and 2) the Sanguinati, a faction that shares Vasyl's obsessions.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Alignments of Monvesia 2: Codifying Perception

Last year, I posted an overview of Monvesia's alternate alignment system.  In this setting, alignment is more about public perception than it is about personality or creed--a character is not a good person, but is believed to be a good person.  The actions one chooses to perform and vocations one chooses to pursue will color the way a character is perceived.  Using the Temperaments of Monvesia, I am going to outline how alignment can be treated as a mechanical property of the game, instead of an arbitrary description of character.

As a game mechanic, player characters will earn alignment points (AP).  Characters earn these points in all temperaments simultaneously.  Generally, the temperament with the highest score will be a character's perceived alignment--and this is the alignment that the character is "bound" to when dealing with spells such as detect evil.

The Seal of Mohas
representing the Six Temperaments of his philosophy

Starting Alignment Points

The first APs that a character receives are based on their race, initial ability scores, starting class, and birth season.  These associations are detailed in the previous post about alignment.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Homebrews for Monvesia - The Wayfarers Guild

"Official" sources are fine and dandy ... but what about all that fun stuff out there that isn't from Wizards of the Coast?  The Dungeon Masters Guild opens up options  for getting homebrew content out to others--but it has very specific setting requirements.  I follow several gaming blogs that include a lot of great options for 5th Edition D&D--and I've already incorporated (and adapted) a few of these into my Monvesia campaign.  But there is so much more out there. 

Earlier this year, I posted an index of [mostly] official 5th Edition character options.  On this list, I included components I believe are missing from the official, core rules.  Some of these have links to homebrew content, others do not.  As I seek out what others have done to fill these gaps, I run into some great options that I would like to share.

Today, I have chosen to share some options from The Wayfarer's Guild.  Ian Burns has created some great archetypes here--and there is more to come.  I look forward to seeing the Strength and Fortune domains.
All of this information has also be added to the appropriate, existing posts--revising and/or replacing information in those posts as necessary.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I'm DMing Without XP, and my Players aren't B*%@#ing about It

I have received some ... dissenting opinions in response to my post "Eliminating XP."  The general theme of these responses is that XP are a good way to reward characters not only for the typical reasons, but also for ingenuity and playing in-character.  I attempted to advance the idea that these could be rewarded using game mechanics other than XP.  However, my initial post doesn't really go into this--it glosses over it with links to another post wherein Hero Points are discussed in an epilogue.  I have since made an effort to gain some experience with this type of play, and will share with your my experience and insight.

As most of you should be aware, I have been running a Pathfinder campaign since last fall. In this campaign, I have chosen to avoid experience points.  My regular players include two D&D veterans, two players with only a couple of years experience, and two brand new initiates into RPGs.  When I informed them that I would be awarding experience levels based on attendance and participation instead of combat, no one complained.  When I told them they would receive Hero Points as rewards for special actions, they didn't really know what I was talking about.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Super Generic RPG Post Go!

I like RPGs.  I also like lists:  I think in lists.  I organize in lists.  I conceptualize in lists.  It is, therefore, natural for me to detail my experiences with RPGs in lists.  So, here is a handful of lists that I have been kicking around for a while.  Each could be its own post with details and almost-thought-provoking commentary.  But they have been sitting in my drafts for so long that maybe they just want to be lists.

Also, a picture of my dice collection.

Describing RPGs

While working at a game store, I developed a larger tabletop gaming vocabulary.  I learned the "proper" way to describe games to customers--and the necessary keywords to link one game a player enjoys to another they might want to try.  This has led me to ask the question:  What are the best "gamer buzzwords" to describe RPGs?
  • Adventure
  • Cooperative
  • Immersion
  • Legacy
  • Resource Management
  • Storytelling
Did I miss any important ones?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 12: The Walled Shrine

The tribe of Maftets that Tetisurah suggested the party visit was due near Hut-Ra-Neskef (formerly Oasis) a month ago--but their visit appears to have been delayed.  The town leaders are concerned for the safety of their allies in the wilderness.  Before visiting Oasis, the maftets would stop at a walled shrine two weeks travel away--perhaps someone should go there to see if they can learn of the tribe's fate.

Important Locations

Parched Dunes

The parched dunes are a region of the great desert beyond Tem-Akh--a mix of flowing sand, badlands, craggy rock, and hills.  It is the Parched Dunes that seperate the Nefret River valley from the catfolk homeland of Tamisha.  Here, there are many natural dangers, some ruins, and even fewer settlements.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

History of Nefret: Fall of the Sphinx Empire & the Coming of the Netjer

While Nyala, Jaeth, and Kiji gathered followers in Oasis, Aloysa and Crenn took that time to compile the notes they had gathered to date in hopes of forming a cohesive history of the Sphinx Empire.  Here are the facts that they were able to compile.  The "facts" below represent what the current evidence suggests to be true.  As the player delve further into the mysteries of the Aten and its past, these facts will evolve. ... Y'know, like the way real history books work ;-p

The Last Sphinx Queen

Before the rise of the elves in Nefret, the land was ruled by two, competing nations:  The Sphinx Empire in the desert and plains, and the Great Kingdom of the Naga in the swamps and mountains.  The "lesser," humanoid races were the servants of these greater beings.  Though the nations were never explicitly at war one with another, the peace between them was rough at times.  After the sphinx queen Ankharet had achieved a semblance of immortality, she took the golden naga Kozuragen as her consort.  Peace between the sphinxes and he nagas seemed almost certain--a peace that would come to be symbolized by half-breed princess Meraph.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Factions of Monvesia: Fellows & Lyncasta

I continue to explore elements of the 5th Edition D&D rules, adapting the new additions to Monvesia.  Here are two more 5th-Edition-style factions for Monvesia.  While the Crusaders of the Temperamental Orders and the Leagues of Ninety Nine were already integral parts of the campaign setting, the two presented below are new creations  ... sort of.

The Guild of Fellows is an adaptation and expansion of the influence of Vastfurt Academy--an institution whose creation and growth were plot points in Monvesia's founding campaign.  I'm adding this as an option for the campaign because my new round of perspective players have been following similar ideals in other campaigns.

The Lyncasta are a direct adaptation of the Emerald Enclave of the Forgotten Realms.  The name has been changed to reflect Monvesian history, and campaign-specific details are added.  It is also included to match the play style of some potential players

Therefore, the factions of Monvesia as they relate to the factions of Forgotten Realms are as follows:

  • The Crusaders are the Order of the Gauntlet and the Lords' Alliance
  • Guild of Fellows are The Harpers (mostly)
  • Leagues of Ninety-Nine are the Zhentarim [and partly The Harpers]
  • The Lyncasta are a militant Emerald Enclave

Friday, June 24, 2016

Vanara of Henjal

Image result for vanara

Language Analog: Tamil
Inspiration: Vanara of Hindu mythology, Oriental Adventures, and the Pathfinder RPG
While developing a world for another 5th edition campaign, a player asked to play a Vanara--for which there are not yet official rules.  We found an option online that suited our needs, and modified the race's culture as necessary.  Having settled on a version of the race that I liked for 5th Edition, I began to wonder how this race might fit in Monvesia.

Tainted Counterpart:  Yetis (and sasquatches, a temperate forest variant)
Temperamental Association:  Multiple, by culture.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 11: Interlude at Oasis

You seek out the nearest village to rest, recuperate, and recharge--and also to wait for Cecil, in case he may return.  Though the aptly named Oasis is a small village, it [remarkably] has what you have been looking for.  Though short on some basic supplies, the town does have a ready supply of the exotic metal adamantite.  This offers Jaeth and Aloysa a chance to equip the party with better gear.

Important Locations

Parched Dunes

The parched dunes are a region of the great desert beyond Tem-Akh--a mix of flowing sand, badlands, craggy rock, and hills.  Here, there are many natural dangers, some ruins, and even fewer settlements.

Nefret, Chapter 10: The Tomb of Chisisek

Upon Nephethus's suggestion, you have left Tem-Akh--and made your way into the Parched Dunes in order to search for the Tomb of Chisisek.  You find yourself in the region of the desert marked by major landmarks referenced in the mural at the Vault of Hidden Wisdom,  As minor landmarks from an automatic writing by Ribiah appear on the horizon, you realize that you are on track.  There is still a lot of sands and rocky crags and badlands between you and your goal.

Important Locations

Parched Dunes

The parched dunes are a region of the great desert beyond Tem-Akh--a mix of flowing sand, badlands, craggy rock, and hills.  Here, there are many natural dangers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 9: Libraries of Tem-Akh

An emissary has arrived from Aloysa's tribe in Tamisha with letters of reference in order to grant the party access to the Great Chamber of Knowledge in the city's esteemed library.  Letters in hand, the party ventures forth into the library, to uncover whatever secrets they can about the Sphinx Empire, the Thrice-Divided Soul, or even the Hungry Cloud.

Important Locations

City of Tem-Akh

Tem-Akh was once the capital of the Three Kingdoms--until Atenhotep I declared a holy land for his new religion and moved the capital there. The city is divided into four districts, which were successive expansions to the city's limits.
  • The Old City is a walled sanctum in the center of Tem-Akh, where the old Pharaonic palace, the Great Library, and the Temple of Ra are located.  It is a priestly quarter.
  • The New City grew between the Old City and the river.  It is a noble quarter.
  • Wadjet's Walk grew around a canal that had been cut around the Old and New Cities in hopes of increasing commerce and trade in the capital.  It is a merchant quarter.
  • The Outer City is the result of inevitable urban sprawl.  It is primarily a slum.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Military Power in Nefret

In the downtime after recovery of the Mask of the Sphinx God, Ibankhkhnum (and his pet jackal Pawet) joined the party.  Among the various benefits to having a former captain of Pharaoh's Guard in the party is the intelligence he can provide about the factions working in the government.  During an early conversation with him while traveling to Tem-Akh, Iban clarified the structure of military power in Nefret.

There are two military organizations in the Nefretic Empire:  the Pharaonic Guard and the Order of the Medjay.  To the common citizen, the Guard and the Order are the same organization, as they can be seen serving similar roles--and often working together.  The primary difference between these two organizations is that the Pharaonic Guard serves the Pharaoh directly, while the Order of the Medjay serves the office of the Pharaoh.

Pharaonic Guard

The Three Kingdoms, which form the central and most influential empire of the known world, are protected by an armed forced known as the Pharaonic Guard (or Pharaoh's Guard). This group is a national defense and peacekeeping force which is directly commanded by the Pharaoh of the Three Kingdoms.  A Chief Deputy is appointed by the Pharaoh to lead the guardsmen in each of the Kingdoms.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 8: Secrets of Peraten

Nebta-Khufre, necromancer and accessory to murder, has been captured; the Mask of the Sphinx God he'd recovered from Wati and used to raise an army of undead against you has been confiscated.  Now you stand poised in the Servitor's Court on the lower level of the Sepulcher of the Servant, before a stairwell descending even deeper into the Valley of the Princes.  Ibankhkhnum and Meret-Hetef await your return on the upper level of the Sepulcher.

Desert City by Concept-Art-House on deviantart

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 7: Sepulcher of the Servant

Ibankhkhnum has gone missing. The last time you saw him was at Kiji's trial.  After your meeting with Natari, you had hoped to check in on the Wati murder investigation--but Iban could not be found.  Asking around among the other guards, you encounter only vacant stares are closed lips.  Of the two other guards participating in the investigation, one was as unhelpful as his peers--though he let his terror be more obvious.  The other, however, is unable to speak as his tongue was removed (an act reserved for convicted heretics and unwelcome witnesses of state secrets).

Important Locations


The city is composed of three districts, one for each of the dominant races of the Three Kingdoms:
  • Elf (Northern) District is located between the Great Temple of the Sun and the Palace of the Pharaoh.  I\t is here that the most powerful nobles of the city live; it is also includes the central market, which attracts the largest percentage of visitors to the city.  Some catfolk and cattlefolk also makes their homes here.
  • Dogfolk (Western) District is located south of the Great Temple of the Sun, and includes the Lesser [or Funerary] Temple of the Sun.  Funerary processions for the royal family begin at this temple, then pass through each other district before continuing on to the royal tombs.  Some grippli, humans, and lizardfolk also make their home here.
  • Tengu (Eastern or Upper) District is located east of the Great Temple of the Sun, and rests on a hill above the Peraten.  Some dwarves, nagaji, and vanaras also make their homes here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nefret, Chapter 6a: Garden of the Vizier's Daughter

Having returned to Peraten, despite Oshep's seemingly best efforts in Wati, you have decided to infiltrate the nobleman's estate.  The plan is as follows:  Cecil will disguise himself as a servant and sneak around the house looking for information about the Embalmers' Guild.  Posing as merchants (though not a far stretch), Pleebit, Nyala, and Jaeth (their bodyguard) will meet with [ie., distract] Oshep and Natari in Natari's garden.  While Aloysa waits at the back of the estate in the servants quarters in case of trouble, Kiji will do the same outside the front gate ... while preaching anti-heresy in the streets to gather a crowd if necessary for escape.