Thursday, August 29, 2013

Appendix N and Inspiration, Legacy of the Bieth

A short while ago, there was some discussion over on G+ about Appendix Ns (comparing the B/X list with the AD&D DMG, looking at the RuneQuest list which is awesome and includes historical resources as well as annotations), so that got me fired up to write one of my own.

Prominently missing from this list is the Arabian Nights. I have nothing against the work, but the fact is that the Arabian Nights is the primary resource for "create a Middle Eastern fantasy setting" and I wanted to move away from that. It's going to exert some influence clearly (see my inclusion of Howard Andrew Jones's work, for instance, which was most definitely inspired by The Arabian Nights and Harun al-Rashid) but at a remove.

This is currently a bit light on particularly Maghrebi influence, but that's something that I'm trying to fix.

I was going to write annotations for this but got distracted. If you want to know more about my thoughts on one or more sources, please feel free to ask!

"Whispers from the Stone," by Storn Cook
for the Howard Andrew Jones story of the same name

Primary Sources
The Book of Contemplation, Usama ibn Munqidh
The Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun
The Rihla, Ibn Battuta

Nonfiction
10,000 Ways to Die, Alex Cox
Night and Horses and the Desert, Robert Irwin
Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold, Marq du Villiers and Sheila Hirtle
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World, Hugh Kennedy

Fiction
Chronicles of Sword and Sand, Howard Andrew Jones
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed
Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson (particularly Deadhouse Gates and The Bonehunters).
"Zothique" stories, Clark Ashton Smith (also see generally)
"Outremer" stories, Robert Howard (also see generally)

Film
The Dollars Trilogy, Sergio Leone

"Nice, quiet little town until you showed up."
(Pretty sure that this is A Fistful of Dollars but not 100% sure)

Music
Blue Oyster Cult (see generally)
Powerslave, Iron Maiden
Ennio Morricone

Computer Games
S.T.A.L.K.E.R., GSG Game World
Mount & Blade, Paradox

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Joesky Credit #2: How to Kill Elves

Chris "Sun Lord" Kutalik wanted a table on How to Kill Elves, and requested something d100 based.
Had enough of this lady
running around in the woods?
"Elf Warden" by Jon Hodgson

DAMMIT CHRIS.

But here's what I got, just for you.

*************

You have found some elves! And you have decided that you want to kill them. Why? Heck if I know. But you need some assistance. Perhaps a random table will help you figure out How To Kill Elves!

Roll a d100:

1-10 Elves are tied to their trees, so the best thing to do is chop down their forests tree by tree. Don't wear any armor while you're doing this - your courage will scare them off and they won't bother you.

11-20 Inform the elves that you want to hold a pre-killing conference to organize their slaughter. Show up solo, to show them that you're not afraid of their sneaky elven ways. To prevent elven intelligence from finding out your plans, tell your family and associates that you're going on a long trip, and are not sure when you will return.

21-30 Elves are short of stature, like children. Drive them into the forest and abandon them there; they'll surely perish, just like the kids do in those fairy tales.

31-40 Elves claim to have "powerful magic" - show them how real magic-users do things! Hit them with a sleep spell, to show them how weak they are before you kill them. Cast this on a group, to make sure that you can kill the greatest number.

41-50 To truly strike terror into the hearts of elves, find their most powerful champions and charm them into slaughtering the elven population. They will be horrified when their protectors turn against them!

51-60 Lead an expedition to destroy their hidden strongholds in the forest. Take plenty of wagons for supplies, and make sure your troops are all as heavily armored as possible. Discipline is important; be sure to keep to your tight formations while moving through the woods, and wear bright colors to keep up morale.

61-70 Ally yourself with some traditional foes of the elves. Perhaps orcs or trolls! Best to meet with them to coordinate your efforts. Go alone so that they know you don't have any hostile intentions towards them. It is also customary to bathe in a tangy marinade of mustard and lemon juice prior to the meeting. Make sure to inform them of your compliance with this important facet of their culture once you arrive. (A little pepper might not go amiss either.)

71-80 Launch a night raid against the elven settlements you've found, and take them by surprise. Don't let your troops use any torches, you don't want to give away your position.

81-90 The forests are said to have powerful nature spirits that you might be able to use against the elves. Wander around in the forests loudly calling out for these spirits. (It's only polite to let them know why you're seeking them out.)

91-100 Challenge the elves to an archery duel. The winner gets to kill the loser afterwards. Shoot first to unnerve them and throw them off their game. You won't need more than a single arrow.

The PEFRC hopes that this table on How to Kill Elves will be useful for the next time you decide to randomly attack a group of innocent elves. Good Luck!

(c) 2013, Pan-Elven Foreign Relations Committee

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Joesky Credit #1, 1a: Tundra Encounter Table, with Bonus Golf

A little while ago on G+, I opened the floor to some Joesky Tax style assignments. The first one is from Rey, blogging over at Bum Rush the Titan. He wanted an encounter table for the tundra, so here's what I got.

Tundra photo by Sarah Beck, Marietta College 2001
Rey! I don't know how you do your encounter tables. Here are twenty entries on a flat scale; reorganize this for probabilities as you see fit if you use a d8+d12 method or whatever.

1   Herd Animal
2   Wolfpack
3   Frost Giant
4   Sabertooth Tiger
5   Mammoth
6   Remorhaz (Polar Wurm)
7   Berserkers/Nomads
8   Arctic Owlbear
9   Frost Walkers
10 Neanderthals
11 Forest Spirits
12 Nehwon Behemoth
13 Invisible Manta Fliers
14 Ice Gnomes
15 Snow Trolls
16 The Snake Demon from the LotFP Cover
17 Frost Elves
18 White Sybil
19 Yeti Cultists
20 Lost Caravan

Winter Wanderers - 1-2 patrolling, 3-4 hunting for (roll again), 5-6 fleeing from (roll again)

Herd Animal - Pick some apropos animal - reindeer, caribou, giant white axebeaks... 50% chance grazing, 50% chance fleeing from... (roll again)
Frost Walker
Daniel Horne's "Saving the Best for Last"
Wolfpack - Can be a regular wolfpack. Can be a pack of winter wolves. If you're feeling gonzo, have it be a shapeshifter which turns into a wolfpack, a la the D'ivers from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Have the lead animal of the pack be a nine-headed beast while you're at it.
Frost Giant - Winter Wanderer.
Sabertooth Tiger - 25% chance the pet of a Winter Wanderer group.
Mammoth - 50 % chance grazing, 50% chance fleeing from (roll again)
Remorhaz - these things always seemed really goofy but they're going to make it onto this list goddammit! Big-ass polar worm, vents heat out through its spines. Make sure that you're using the diTerlizzi-illustrated remorhaz, no other will do.
Berserkers/Nomads - Winter Wanderers. Don't have to be Norse!
Arctic Owlbear - components from Arctic Owls and Polar Bears. White, makes no sound, deadlier than usual.
Frost Walkers - giant-ass skeletons, as per "Saving the Best for Last" over there to the right. Have old weapons, some chilling or draining powers. Can maybe turn into snowdrifts and then reform, if you're feeling in a particularly T'lan Imass mood.
Neanderthals - in a local cave complex? Frozen in a block of ice?
Forest Spirits - those assholes who try and lure you down forbidden paths, or draw your friends away...you know the type.
Nehwon Behemoth - the four-legged killer whale. Faster than it looks. About as hungry as it looks.

Nehwon Behemoth
art from a TSR Lankhmar supplement
Invisible Manta Fliers - another Nehwon inspired entry. 25% chance they've got an invisible rider on them. Will attack large groups. Have red glowing jewels for eyes, but are otherwise invisible. If they've got a rider, think of an invisible Melnibonean but with 100% less elf.
Ice Gnomes - Not the pointy-hatted guys. They look more like the pech, but with axes and a grim abiding hate for intruders. Winter Wanderers.
Snow Trolls - What it says on the tin.
The Snake Demon from the LotFP Cover - Oh it's her. Wonder what crazy shit she's up to in the tundra.
Frost Elves - probably assholes. And this is me saying that; I like elves! Winter Wanderers.
White Sybil - either the prophetess like in Clark Ashton Smith stories, or like Atali in The Frost-Giant's Daughter. Point is, regal proud lady shows up, does mystic mysterious stuff. 
Yeti Cultists - 50% trying to summon/worship a yeti, 50% they summoned it already and are dancing around a fire worshipping it.
Lost Caravan - Wagons? Sleighs? (If sleighs, totally have them have tossed a kid out to save the rest like those old stories.) Is anyone still alive? If so, are they being pursued, or are they just completely lost? 

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The second item is from Ferret, who doesn't have a gaming blog and is a bum. He asked me "how to handle that situation where your PCs suddenly need to play golf."
Old Took's great-grand-uncle Bullroarer...was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of The Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment. -- JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
Stat each hole as a creature of n HD. Par value is 2n. Players make attack rolls to defeat the hole; golf club deals 1d6 'damage.' Apply both Strength and Dex modifiers to attack and damage rolls. Halflings may add a +1 bonus, as they have ancestral memories of creating the game.