Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Xiras: A City in Stygia

Last week, I tossed up a quick post showing off the city map for Kharazim that I hand drew. As first efforts go, it wasn't too bad, especially considering my distinct lack of artistic talent. One of my friends made the comment that it was pretty close to a publishable piece (that is to say, when looking at it, you could almost think it would fit in the back of a published RPG book -- high praise from someone not known for offering empty compliments).

This week, I have another hand drawn city map, this time the Stygian city of Xiras, former capital of the old Stygian Empire. Chief religious center for the Stygian Immortal cult of Mazda, Xiras is a sprawling city of canals, hanging gardens, and nefarious merchant princes squabbling over the remains of a dead empire. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kharazim, A City of Stygia

I'll do a more sustained write up Kharazim, a Stygian city known for its agricultural bounty, lacquered pottery, and cult of the Stygian Immortal Zamarmatay, some other time. Right now, I simply want to post the map, which I have just finished.

It's my first attempt at doing an urban map in a style ala Dyson of Dyson's Dodecahedron (you can find more of his urban maps here). I think it turned out all right, considering I'm not an artist at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ruins of Vanor Play Report Calendar, Year I

This Friday (Oct 17) will mark the thirteenth session of my Ruins of Vanor ACKS campaign. This represents one year in game time for the player characters, one year since the Diggers College decided to make a push to reclaim the ruined neighborhood Regio of Overlook for the people still living in the ruined city. As befits my particular historian madness, I have kept records of their exploits, albeit in a shorthand form. This record corresponds to the in-game Decimemoria decennial calendar created by the Church of the Unconquered Sun to measure time in forty-two year, 129 month increments (with 28 days per month plus forty-three festival weeks -- like I said, madness). Partly for their benefit and partly for anyone curious how the ruincrawl has been going, I'm sharing the current calender and my notes here. I also plan to post the weekly calls that the players receive, which take the form of a report to the Diggers Council (i.e., them). When I do, I'll link them in the proper spots below.


Ruins of Vanor Campaign Session Log

(In the dating scheme XX.YY.ZZ, "XX" stands for the celestial year, "YY" represents the numerical month, and "ZZ" represents the day. Festival weeks are denoted by "YYF," so for example, the thirty-third festival week would appear as "33F." The campaign started with a Diggers Council meeting on 42.51.23, only a few days before Spring.)

Temple of Sol Invictus, in the
Overlook Regio of Vanor
Year 1, Session 1 -- Jan 31, 2014 

1st Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 1 Day (42.51.24)

  • 10 hrs round trip, 40 minutes in the dungeon
  • Green slime in the portico, Sol Invictus statue trap, return home for healing

Rest, 7 Days (42.51.25-28 + 42.17F.1-3)

  • Start of the Agonalia (17th Festival), an old pagan celebration about slaughtering goats appropriated by the Church

2nd Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 1 Day (42.17F.4)

Quies Quietis (Old Vanoran for "Resting Time"), 28 Days (42.17F.5-7 + 42.52.1-25)

Year 1, Session 2 -- Feb 7, 2014 

3rd Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 1 Day (42.52.26)

  • 40 min round trip, no dungeon time
  • Ambushed by skeletons on the Via Fornicata, returned home for healing

Rest, 2 Days (42.52.27-28)

4th Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 2 Days (42.53.1-2)

  • Day #1: 11 hrs, 5.75 hrs in dungeon
    • Stirges, giant flies, pit trap with cursed ring at the bottom
  • 8 hrs overnight rest
  • Day #2: 4 hrs return

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.53.3-28 + 42.54.1-2)

Angel statues in the
Solian Temple
Year 1, Session 3 -- Feb 28, 2014 

5th Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 1 Day (42.54.3)

  • 6 hrs round trip, 4 hrs in dungeon
  • Zuan the Jubilant, delver for hire, found bleeding on the steps to the lower levels, magic mushrooms in crypts, statues shooting flame, skeletons and explodo (someone blew up a whole room and corridor) 

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.54.4-28 + 42.18F.1-4)

  • Start of the Festival of Fors Fortuna (18th Festival), a pre-Solian luck cult still worshiped in the city and tolerated by the Church


Year 1, Session 4 -- March 7, 2014 

6th Delve to Temple of Sol Invictus, 2 Days (42.18F.5-6)

  • Day #1: 11 hrs, 8 hrs in dungeon
    • Gargoyles on stairs fucked them up, the Sun Gallery, black centipedes, the Night Gallery, looted crypts, Old Man Sun Oak
  • 8 hrs overnight rest
  • Day #2: 6 hrs, 3 hrs in dungeon

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.18F.7 + 42.55.1-27)

Year 1, Session 5 -- April 4, 2014 

Crypt Delve in the Via Fornicata, 1 Day (42.55.28)

  • 9 hrs round trip, 4 hrs in crypt
  • Fighting an iron statue sucks arse, don't talk to the floating talking head, found the treasure hoard

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.56.1-28)

Year 1, Session 6 -- April 11, 2014 

Crypt Delve along the Via Pinciana, 1 Day - (42.57.1)

  • 9 hrs round trip, 3 hrs in crypt
  • Wild dogs, gas trap, another magical fountain (what is it with Vanorans and fountains?), zombies, got out with some loot

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.57.2-28 + 42.19F.1)

  • Start of the Ludi Vanori (19th Festival), a week-long series of gladiator games not sanctioned by the Church, but nobody gives a shit about that


Year 1, Session 7 -- May 9, 2014 

Struggle against Growling Gorgons gang in Caprian Marsh, 3 Days - (42.19F.2-4)

  • Marsh Delve on Days 2-3: 11 hrs round trip
  • Crab spiders, raider patrols, large crocodiles, cat burglar camp is pretty friendly, Boss Fight w/ Growling Gorgons

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.19F.5-7 + 42.58.1-25)

Player Map of the Gardens of Sallust
(Photoshopped from a map of Powerscourt
House & Gardens in Dublin, Ireland)
Year 1, Session 8

Delve into the Gardens of Sallust, 2 Days - (42.58.26-27)

  • Day #1: 9 hrs, 3 hrs in gardens
    • Ruined basilica, a lot of statue gardens, digging for treasure is slow but bears fruit
  • 8 hrs overnight rest
  • Day #2: 7 hrs, 3 hrs in gardens
    • Talked to a resident dryad, fought and killed the harpies

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.58.28 - 42.59.1-27)

Deep Oak Chaotic Altar
Year 1, Session 9

Delve into the Maw beneath the Temple of Sol Invictus (aka the Deep Oak Temple), 1 Day - (42.59.28)

  • Time in Dungeon: 8 hrs round trip
  • Arborean satyr zombies, don't fuck w/ deep dragons, magic mushrooms drive a dude insane, shadows come alive

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.60.1-28)

The Ivarian Tower
Year 1, Session 10

Delve into the Gardens of Sallust, 1 Day - (42.20F.1)
  • Start of the Amburbium (20th Festival), a ritual circuit of the city, now only through the settled parts
  • Time in Dungeon: 6 hrs in gardens
  • Exploring the Ivarian Tower, found a Stygian Mithraeum, Vanoran pet cemeteries are weird 
Delve into the Delubrian Fountains, 1 Day - (42.20F.2)

  • Time in Dungeon: 30 minutes
  • Someone beat them to the giant bug lair

Delve into the Gardens of Lucullus, 1 Day - (42.20F.3)

  • Time in Dungeon: 1 hr
  • Faun patrols at the front, rolling log trap, much blood was spilled, party retreated

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.20F.4-7 - 42.61.1-24)

Tomb of Numa Victarius, 2nd Emperor
of Vanor, atop the Quirinal Hill
Year 1, Session 11

Waiting to Recruit a New Reclamation Team, 17 Days (42.61.25-28 - 42.62.1-13)

Delve to Sol Invictus Temple and Domus Argentariorum, 2 Days (42.62.14-15)

  • Day #1: 8 hrs travel, 1 hr in Temple to secure, dire wolves at Domus Argentariorum are brought under Howler's control (a new Wolf Pack!)
  • 8 hrs overnight rest
  • Day #2: 5 hrs Travel Time back to Sol Invictus Temple

Delve to Gardens of Sallust, 1 Day (42.62.16)

  • Travel Time: 8 hrs, pretty sedate
  • 8 hrs overnight rest

Delve into Alta Semita Regio, 1 Day (42.62.17)

  • Time on Delve: 8 hrs, 30 min wyvern fight, 7.5 hrs into Alta Semita and back
  • Wyvern fight was tough, a kalingoi palace on the Quirinal Hill, an ancient dragon sunning himself on the Tomb of Numa Victarius, 2nd Emperor of Vanor (Grimslaughr was the name), land sharks, gorgons from the Fens turning peeps to stone

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.62.18-28 - 42.63.1-17)

Year 1, Session 12

Delve Along the Pincian Hill, 3 Days (42.63.18-20)

  • Day #1: 8 hrs travel past Domus Caledoniae (HQ of the Wild Bacchanal) and into the Gardens of Lucullus, trapped in Greenshade's Magic School while there
  • 8 hrs overnight rest
  • Day #2: 6 hrs, 10 min trapped in Magic School - poison spiders, magical traps, floating hats hall, Hyperborean armor encased in crystal
  • Day #3: 5 hrs travel, return to Sol Invictus Temple

Quies Quietis, 28 Days (42.63.21-28 + 42.21F.1-7 + 42.64.1-13)

  • Start of the Rustic Wailing (21st Festival), a spring celebration involving the slaughtering of sheep

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cultures of Hrimgate: Vanoran

Vanoran (Civilized Culture)

Standard Skills
Conceal, Deceit, Drive, Influence, Insight, Local, Willpower

Combat Style: Citizen Legionary
[Cultural Style] Vanoran citizen legionnaires wield the shortsword and scutum. They carry a dagger at their side, and fight also with shortspears and javelins. They too have archers trained in the short bow.

Formation Fighting (Benefit)
Permits a group of three or more warriors to draw into close formation, placing more open or disordered opponents at a disadvantage (provided the ‘unit’ cannot be outflanked) and thus reducing each foe’s Action Points by one if they engage.

Professional Skills
Bureaucracy, Commerce, Craft (any), Courtesy, Engineering, Languages (any), Lore (any), Oratory

Once citizens of a continent-spanning empire of old, today Vanorans populate many scattered lands throughout central Borea. Some have blended with other local peoples and become indistinguishable from the rest, while others have clung to their longstanding culture and heritage, confident old Vanor will rise once again from ruin to stand astride Borea.

Hardy and industrious, glory-seeking and arrogant, Vanorans have found it difficult to accept their current place in Hrimgate. Those who have moved on, as in Asturias and Andrassos, have embraced new covenants and creeds, new traditions and superstitions. But for many throughout the Riverlands, Transtygia, and the Southern Reach, the older ways remain strong. And deep within mist-shrouded Arborea, tens of thousands still live amid the ruins of Vanor itself.

The dreams of empire die hard.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cults of Stygia: Vouruska, the Seafarer

Vouruska, the Seafarer
Cult of Vouruska, the Seafarer, of the Nine Immortals (Stygian, Theistic)
Vouruska, the Seafarer, is one of the Nine Immortals of Stygia, Mistress of the Deep, Storm Witch, the Wave Rider, the Golden Khursar. Vouruska was reputedly a Hyperborean pirate queen, hot tempered and filled with wanderlust, who sailed the world ocean, took Mazda, the Firewalker, as a consort and captain, and taught the nomadic Stygians the ways of the sea, putting them on the path to their new home in Borea. It is said the site of the Lagoon Temple in Rhages, Stygia's oldest city, was once Vouruska's pirate haven, which she gave over to her favorite consort as a gift for his people.

Today, Vouruska sleeps beneath the waves, held in the icy embrace of the world ocean, dreaming of violent storms and the riding of sea swells, waiting to be awoken by Mazda and the other Immortals so that she can turn the fury of the deep against the Oncoming Darkness and destroy the Lie in the furthest recesses of its emptiness.

Vouruska has no formal priesthood. Instead, her temples, shrines, and coastal holy sites are commissioned and maintained by those who find their livelihood on the world ocean: sailors and sea captains, pirates, and merchants. Those who desire a deeper connection with the Immortal seek out Vouruska's khusars, itinerant pirate priestesses found wherever ships ply the open sea, for further instruction in Vouruska's mysteries. After all, when one travels the world ocean, one must pay the proper respects to the Seafarer, lest she bring you forever into her watery embrace.

Nature and Aspects
Mistress of the Deep, Storm Witch, the Wave Rider, the Golden Khursar

Lay Members
Standard Skills: Boating, Swim
Professional Skills: Devotion, Exhort, Navigation, Seamanship
Folk Magic: Breath, Calculate, Dry, Repair

Initiates, Acolytes, Heroes, Priests
Initiate Miracles: Breathe Water, Dismiss Elemental, Predict Weather*, Summon Elemental, Water Eyes*
Acolyte Miracles: Call Winds, Propitiate, Strength of the Sea*, Thunderclap
Hero/Priest Miracles: Extension
Gifts: Wellspring (Priests only)
* denotes new miracle

New Miracles
Predict Weather
Area (Tens of Kilometers), Duration (Instant), Rank Initiate
When this spell is cast, the user can know approximately what the natural weather will be like for the next 24 hours. This spell cannot account for the actions of storm demons or the use of weather-affecting spells.
Adapted from Gods of Glorantha Cults Book (Chaosium, 1985), pg. 31.

Strength of the Sea
Duration (Hours), Rank Acolyte
This spell doubles the target’s base STR, with no restrictions on maximum limit. The target must be in contact with seawater when the spell is cast.
Adapted from Gods of Glorantha Cults Book (Chaosium, 1985), pg. 73.

Water Eyes
Area (Tens of Meters), Duration (Hours), Rank Acolyte
This spell allows the user to see through water as if looking through air (or vice versa, for water-dwellers). It accurately eliminates all reflections and refractions. If the water is murky, or the air foggy or smoky, the spell will not render the medium transparent.
Adapted from Gods of Glorantha Cults Book (Chaosium, 1985), pg. 64.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cults of Stygia: Mazda, the Firewalker

Mazda, the Firewalker
Cult of Mazda, the Firewalker, of the Nine Immortals (Stygian, Theistic)
Mazda, the Firewalker, is the First Among All of the Nine Immortals, the Flame of Truth, the Sword of Light. It was Mazda who took the Stygian peoples to the sea and brought them to Borea. Founder of Xiras, the old Stygian capital city, and builder of the Great House of Fire, the Firewalker was also the Great Smith of the old Stygian Empire, laying an iron foundation forged in the hottest fires that, in the end, bowed only to the Witch-Kings of Vanor.

Today, he sleeps the Immortal Sleep, the Deep Dreaming, somewhere in the maze-like catacombs of the Great House of Fire, waiting for his time of need, waiting for the End of All, the Oncoming Darkness, so he can awaken again with his fellow Immortals and vanquish the Lie once and for all.

Cultists of Mazda make the proper Mazdic offerings of fire and water, promote justice and righteousness throughout Stygia, and teach the guiding principles of the Mazdic Rites, an ancient set of proscriptions, rituals, and procedures from before used to prepare the Stygian people for the struggle against the Oncoming Darkness. As the vanguard of this struggle, Mazdic priests also craft and stockpile weapons and armor for the Great Battle at the End of All, which has a nice side benefit of providing a steady income for the cult.

The Bull Processionary, Great House of Fire, Xiras
The Judge, The Smith, The Flame of Truth, The Sword of Light

Lay Members
Standard Skills: Insight, Perception
Professional Skills: Devotion, Exhort, Lore (the Nine Immortals)
Folk Magic: Avert, Firearrow, Fireblade, Light

Initiates, Acolytes, Heroes, Priests
Initiate Miracles: See the Light (Cure Blindness), Forged in Flame (Sacred Band), Steadfast, Sunspear, True Sword
Acolyte Miracles: Consecrate, Judgment (Omen, from Monster Island)
Hero/Priest Miracles: Excommunicate, Rain of Fire
Gifts: Reincarnation (Priests only)

The Tiered Altar, Chamber of the Eternal Flame, Great House of Fire, Xiras

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Careers of the South: Nashir Cavalry

Nashir Cavalry (Lemurian Career)

Standard Skills
Conceal, Drive, Endurance, Evade, Locale, Ride; Combat Style (Nashir Cavalry)

Professional Skills
Craft (Animal Husbandry), Healing (Horses), Lore (Horse Breeds), Lore (Strategy & Tactics), Navigation, Survival, Track

Combat Style: Nashir Cavalry (Professional Style)
Recurve bow, javelin, broad sword, mace, hatchet

Nashir Mounted Archery (Benefit)
This style allows the cavalryman to ignore the skill cap placed upon ranged combat rolls by the Ride skill. In addition, when using a ranged weapon, mounted or on foot, the cavalryman may shift a random hit location to an adjoining body location.

Units of Nashir Cavalry are the mobile backbone of any Lemurian fighting force. Using horses bred from those few brought over from doomed Lemuria, these highly trained units are faster, more agile, and able to disrupt enemy formations from a distance with deadly, pinpoint accuracy. Used to open ranging through steppe and desert in their lost lands across the world ocean, Nashir cavalry have also adapted well to the mountainous, rocky terrain common throughout Stygia and the Southern Reach.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cults of Asturia: St. Vacuna, the Golden Shield

The Cult of St. Vacuna, the Golden Shield
The patron saint of victory, sacrifice, and protection in the Solian Creed, St. Vacuna was once a noted bodyguard of the third Vanoran Witch-King, Marcian the Reclaimer. It was she who issued the witch-king's personal challenges on the battlefield; kept him alive during his headlong charges into the fray of a large battle; and died in battle taking a blow meant for the witch-king during the old Vanoran wars for the North. Once very popular amongst the Asturian legions, it has lost its favor and prominence since the rise of the Black Sun cult. Before battle, Asturian soldiers dedicated to the cult will hurl a flaming spear at the enemy lines and bellow "Ad Vacuna! Ad Vacuna! Ad Vacuna!" in Old Vanoran as an offering to the saint for her favor.

Lay Members
Standard Skills: Brawn, Willpower
Professional Skills: Combat Style (Asturian Legionnaire), Devotion, Exhort
Folk Magic: Alarm, Bladesharp, Demoralise, Firearrow, Fireblade, Protection

Initiates, Acolytes, Heroes, and Priests
Initiate Miracles: Aegis, Fortify, Shield
Acolyte Miracles: Clear Skies, Consecrate, Sunspear
Hero/Priest Miracle: Rejuvenate
Gift: Sanctuary (Heroes/Priests Only)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vanoran Sites: The Portico of Borea

The tiled floor mosaic map of the world in the Portico of Borea.
In Regio.IX.Overlook about four hundred feet east of the Via Lata, in a semi-ruined neighborhood called the Campus Tullius, stands the Portico of Borea. Recently discovered again by delvers operating under the auspices of the Diggers College, this ruined double columned portico was supposedly built as a monument to the world-striding power of the Sixth Vanoran Witch-King, Sextus Tullius Incantator, known chiefly as the Servator ("To be loved or feared is immaterial; one only needs to be obeyed.")

Although much of the Portico has fallen or been looted for building stone through the years, its crown jewel remains somewhat intact: a 75x50 foot tiled floor mosaic that displays an ancient but complete map of the continent of Borea. Despite being outdated in its details, the great floor map remains an astounding work of art that will perhaps again serve as a focal point for Overlook regio once delvers have reclaimed the area from ruin.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cultures of the South: Lemurian

Lemurian (Civilized Culture)

Standard Skills
Deceit, Endurance, Influence, Insight, Locale, Perception, Sing

Combat Style: Lemurian Alubari (urban commoners)
As a recent refugee community, Lemurians have worked hard to develop and maintain basic fighting skills throughout the lower orders (alubari), who are trained with short spear, dagger, hatchet, and sling. [Cultural Style - Lower]


Combat Style: Lemurian Pahi (urban elites)
Primarily fights with short spear and hoplite shield; also trained in mace, akinaka short sword, dagger, javelin, sling, and short bow. [Cultural Style - Upper]

Defensive Fighting (Benefit)
When parrying a blow during combat, a Lemurian pahi's weapon is considered one step higher in size.

Professional Skills
Craft (any), Commerce, Language (any), Literacy, Lore (any), Musicianship, Streetwise, Teach

Far across the world ocean was once a mysterious land of ancient cities, fertile river valleys, and arid deserts, the true name of which was unknown by those in Borea or simply forgotten to time. Vanorans called it Lemuria and spoke tall tales of demon lizard shibboleths and gods in living form ruling the land from great temple platforms in its cities. Older than Vanor, more ancient than Stygia, more antique perhaps than even Hyperborea and Atlantis, Lemuria was a primordial land -- the Garden of the Sun -- known only to those who could see into the Deep.

And then, within the living memory of only the most wizened elder, a great calamity befell Lemuria, and the land was gone.

But not its people.

The first refugees to Borea came as but a trickle, isolated landings in great sailing ships whose passengers carried statues of their gods and lamented the coming of Nibiru. Soon, a great flood of humanity swept across Borea, spreading throughout the southern lands of the continent from east to west. A proud people brought low by disaster, the arriving Lemurians were not content to remain as refugees and castoffs in a foreign land, and they soon turned their attentions to carving new homes into the face of the land.

Today, Lemurian communities are found throughout the South, both in Stygia and along the Central Coast. In some lands, they are a useful but distrusted minority, using their past learning and cultural knowledge as a currency to buy new stations from the old elites. In others, however, they have become lords and conquerers themselves. As armies prepare to clash across the South, Lemurians watch the preparations warily. They will not lose all they have regained so easily. The Doom will not befall them again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cultures of the South: Stygian

Stygian (Civilized Culture)

Standard Skills
Athletics, Boating, Dance, Deceit, Influence, Locale, Willpower

Combat Style: Stygian Soldier 
[Cultural Style] Primarily fights with two weapons, mixing and matching Stygian shamshir sword (scimitar), sagaris axe (one-handed battle axe), broad sword, shortspear; also trained with recurve bow, dagger, hatchet, and target shields.

Sweeping Strike (Benefit)
When dual wielding two weapons, a Stygian soldier can use a sweeping attack to push aside an enemy's defenses and immediately follow-up with another attack, as per the Flurry Special Effect. The follow-up attack must be with a different weapon than the triggering attack. Two weapons only.

Professional Skills
Bureaucracy, Commerce, Courtesy, Craft (any), Language (any), Lore (any), Musicianship, Seamanship

In the deep, distant past, Stygians were nomads and herders traveling a grass sea in a land far across the world ocean. But then that ended. They gave up their kumis, their goats, and their tent cities; built ships and learned the stars; and became nomads of the sea. That was then.

In the distant past, Stygian wayfarers made their first landings along the southwest coast of Borea, seeking plunder and good fortune. Instead, they found homes and bountiful resources, and soon the Stygian people drove their tent spikes deep into new, untamed earth. From this seed grew a great Empire, strong of ship and sail, dominant in commerce and trade, fierce in honor and pride. It spread north and east along the Borean coast, leaving its mighty stamp upon the world. And then the Witch-Kings of Vanor, covetous of all the western lands, descended on Stygia, bringing fire and war, and bent it under their yoke. That was then.

Today, the southwestern Borean coast contains the scattered seeds of Stygian hegemony, rich, discordant cities ancient in culture and distrustful of each other. Although the Vanoran boot is long removed, the scars of dominion remain, as no new Stygian Empire has thus been able to reemerge. Instead, new, hungry wolves prowl through the region: Atlantean wayfarers, dead Asturian legions, Lemurian refugees. The drums of war sound in the south, and it will be Stygian cities that will burn.

(This is something related to the War in the North campaign being run by my friend and co-blogger Rich Forest, which he has been writing about over on his Superhero Necromancer blog and will presumably link to here when he has the time. However, this is also related to a possible campaign I may run after War in the North is over, simply titled War in the South. There will be more coming. Enjoy!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Partial Roster of the Diggers' College

Herein lies a selection of the Special Task Force for the Reclamation of the Overlook, initiated by the Diggers' College of Vanor:

"Howler" Hr├│├░vitnisson is a Varangian barbarian who came in with a crew from the distant north. He arrived with his companions on a longship just two weeks ago, having braved many months at sea and on wild rivers, following the treacherous passage across the northern reaches and down the treacherous rivers of Groznaya to reach the city. They came in the night down the river, docked, and emerged as a shield wall raiding party of cultists of the Gullet, the Wolf who Will Swallow the Sun. That very first night, they raided the ancient tomb of Sol Invictus himself, to despoil the old bastard's tomb in the name of the Gullet and show him what is to come.

There they all died horrible, gruesome, unspeakable deaths.

"Howler" was the only member of the raiding party to survive. Now he is left without shield-brothers or companions, and he is not charismatic enough to gather a crew around himself. He sleeps in the longship that brought him here, and he hires himself out as a warrior, bodyguard, soldier, and raider.


Ivo Hermanni, an Arcanum Delver, has as his only goals to pick clean the bones of the civilization that subjugated his ancestors and recover any Rothari artifacts that may have found there way into those tombs.  And maybe to prove that he's as much of a badass as his six brothers (most of whom are gladiators)...


Vasilisa, Slezan Warlock, a former urchin with a predilection for black things, dead things, vile things. When you cross her path, bad things happen...to you.


Once a monk devoted to Sol Invictus, Justinian Quintus Justero's curiosity, dour nature, and penchant for asking questions eventually drove him from the monastery. By then, he had taught himself the basics of magic from the monastery's considerable libraries. He now seeks to find out more about the Witch Kings and their ilk; not from a desire for power, but to see what drove them to evil. Despite his grim and pessimistic demeanor, Justinian is driven by a thirst for knowledge and desire to help his city reclaim its ruined districts. He is a proficient healer and sage in addition to his wizardry.


Bulb is a Kalingoi scavenger that has been shunned by her race. Her entire tribe was wiped out by a plague leaving her the sole survivor, weakened though she was. Other Kalingoi feared she would bring the disease to their camps and treated her as a pariah. She's rather used to being on her own and not fitting in, although she's made a few friends here and there. None the less, she's learned to look after herself first, and THEN think about others.  But a girl(ish)'s got to live... and thus why she's chillin' with this bunch.


Velis Olegovich Ustinov is a boy of probably 13 or 14. Such a charming and innocent lad! And so studious. You would be, too, if you'd been taken in by Old Mad Yaroslav. Say, whatever happened to Old Man Yaroslav, anyway? How did this boy travel so far to this place of ancient tombs and magicks with no companion but a magpie, and why has he been going in there alone?


Zaba Bradaslav is a Selzan Lackey that works as a porter for dungeoneering expeditions. He has a a no nonsense personality, do what has to be done, or do it because it needs doing.  He hates dead weight, because he will be the one that ends up carrying it.

From the journal of Zaba Bradaslav:

Holy Dungeoneers Expedition 001
A proper burial?  A proper burial?!  Feh.  Who's going to carry that meat soup and bones back up?  Me.  Who is going to dig the grave? Me.  Well I've got news for these religious delver's.  Those services cost extra.  It wasn't my idea to try to jump that puddle of pudding.  Nope.  My idea was finding an alternate route.  But this guy, wearing mail armor, rubbing a whet stone on sword every morning decides, "Nah, I can make it."  But he didn't.  Now, it turns out, the triune demands a proper burial.  I can see the satisfaction on their faces.  their shares just got a little bit bigger, and they want me, poor Zaba, to haul the dead fucking weight to the top in order to assuage their guilt.  Well, it's going to cost extra.  I'm taking his sword, and I'm getting his share.  I'm fucking done making 3 gold a day to put up with these triune worshiping bastards.


Korbin Vacarius is a native Vanoran Venturer. His main goal is the improvement of the city and its markets, reclamation. His general approach will be to use money to cover for his shortcomings, and to invest his fortunes so they bring even greater returns. As for dungeon delving, I suppose he sees the relics hidden away as lost opportunities. What good are the of the glories and riches lying among the ruin and the beasts, when they should be in civilized hands, circulating on the market as part of the bustle of life, their craft and aesthetics enjoyed by those who truly can appreciate them?


Ardo Valerianus is an Expert who has studied Natural Philosophy and Alchemy, along with Naturalism. He’s not really cut out to be the brightest candle in any guild's candelabrum, but has gotten by thus far on the Sterling Principle: Always Follow the Directions Carefully. He is native to the city, although one side of his family looks to be Rothari (and then there’s his first name).

Alas, most collegia prefer alchemists who already have a full lab, along with full training. Ardo thought he’d take over from old Brontus eventually, but then Brontus and the lab disappeared in a distinctly impressive cubic explosion of wailing mauve vapors, leaving nothing but an eight-foot-tall stone sheep statue with rather unpleasant lichen on it.

Ardo had nothing to do with that. He wasn’t even in the area at the time. You can all rest easy on that count.

“Who forgot to wash the alembic? It’s got tiny talking demons again."

“Goals? Goals? Oh, that’s a good one. Right, let me just line my plans out in front of you, since there’s probably no chance at all that you might be some variety of brigand or mountebank, let alone one of that sort of people who delight in stepping on other people’s aspirations just to hear that despairing squeak noise as they’re demolished. Wait, no, on second thought, I’ll be just a smidge less trusting. Call it a character flaw.

So. Alchemists use what you might call stuff. Stuff we need expensive stuff to do things with and to. Glassware. Ingredients. Leaves, roots, seeds, calyxes, tubers and rhizomes; integumentia, sundry organs from uncanny beasts (or at least, insufficiently canny ones), scales, horns, liquors, ichors, and oozes; effluvia, perfluvia, humours and ylem. Are you going to give me all of those free of charge? No? Then stop asking me why I’m wearing a backpack and heading into a hillside. I have a Potion of Nasal Compression I can happily jam into your face if that’ll make you happier.”

Image Credits:

Because these were submitted images by the players to illustrate their PCs, I've not made any effort to hunt down where they got these. Obviously, we didn't make these (except for Image #2, which was drawn by the player) and all rights belong to the artists and/or business entities that paid for the images. If anyone has the lowdown for sourcing these, please let me know, and I'll update the post.

Updated Image Credits:

Image #2: "Ivo Hermanni" by Bill Spytma (link).

Image #5: "Magia" by Andre Bdois (link).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mapping Vanor: The City

The following post contains the neighborhood capsule descriptions I sent to my players before the Ruins of Vanor campaign started properly. All neighborhoods (or regios, as the Vanorans call them) refer to locations on the Big Board map to the left, which is mounted on a piece of poster board 3ft x 2ft in size. At this early stage of the campaign, some areas are more defined than others, hence the abundant white space for most of the map. We'll add more to the Big Board as the campaign goes on. 

Oh, and three guess which historical city I have based Vanor on...


The ruined city within the outer Marcian Walls consists of ten districts. Of these ten, only four have settled habitation; the remaining six are in ruins and teeming with beasts, kalingoi goblins, and undead. As residents of Vanor, you know much about the settled districts and significantly less about the ruined ones.

The Settled Districts

Regio I. Campus Marcianus
This district (the "Fields of Marcian") is the second most populous area of the ruined city. Originally a marshy plain outside the walls of the original city, the Fourth Witch-King, Marcian the Reclaimer, had the marsh drained and used as a staging area for his wars of expansion and conquest. Eventually, the fields became a built up area of grand public buildings, temples, and theaters; refined boulevards and columned porticoes; and dense urban apartments clustered in between. Bordered by the Basana River in the west and the Via Lata (aka The Broadway) in the east, the current district is anchored by the great and still functioning Baths of Tullius and the massive but crumbling Stadium of Marcian. Retaining walls along the Basana have fallen into disrepair, and repeated flooding has turned part of the district into ruined marsh, which now serves as a den for thieves and criminals. Closeness to the neighboring Regio IX. Overlook district has meant repeated monster, undead, and vermin incursions, threatening the stability of the Marcian Fields. It has seen better days.

Regio II. Campus Vaticanus
This district ("Vatican Fields") is the smallest, newest, and most orderly of the ancient ruined city's districts. Anchored in the west by Vatican Hill and the massive Solarium of the Unconquered Sun at its base and in the east by the looming Barbican fortress, Vatican Fields is a planned district of detached villas, domus residences, marble porticoes, and religious statuary. Isolated from the ruin sprawl by the Basana River, Vatican Fields suffers little of the monstrous incursions that trouble the Regio I. Campus Marcianus district directly across the river. Silver and gold-clad sun priests stroll along the Via Cornelia on sunny days. Country gentry visiting their urban villas move through the streets on covered litters. Street vendors hawk their wares from tabernacle shops. And at night, the streets are lit by the soft blue glow of lumin lamps. Life in Vatican Fields is truly touched by the Sun.

Regio III. Transbasana
This district is the largest and most densely populated of the ruined city's districts. When access and services fell away from other districts as the city collapsed, Transbasana across the river retained key water and infrastructure services, so people poured in. Today it is a teeming slum and manufacturing district that completely covers the summit and slopes of the Janiculum Hill. It is home to the great basilica known as the Hall of Work, headquarters of the powerful Labor Collegium; the looming and twisted Tower of Mysteries, holding the secrets of the Arcanum Collegium; and the Naumachian Pits, a former artificial lake that's been converted into gladiatorial arenas.

Regio IV. Aventinus
This district was once the key port of entry into Vanor for river trade and commercial traffic, with its river banks converted into long, porticoed quays fronting row upon row of storage warehouses that reached all the way back to the slopes of the Aventine Hill. Today, commercial traffic is fairly limited, and most of the quays and warehouses have been converted for other purposes or left to ruin. Instead, due to its direct border with the ruined Regio V. Via Interius district, Aventinus is the key staging area for explorations into the city's ruins, centered on the Delver's Porch, a portico along the river serving as the key mercenary market; the Emporium, the largest quay and chief docks; and Northmen's Landing, the quay and warehouse compound taken over as a Varangian holdfast. And adding to the district's dangerous character are the two witch king tombs squatting on the Aventine's twin summits.

The Ruined Districts

Regio V. Via Interius
Sparsely built and serving as the chief overland entrance from the ports of the Inner Sea, this district is dominated by ruined caravan posts, religious shrines, and a large bath complex overrun with kalingoi goblins.

Regio VI. Celian Heights
In its heyday, this was a fashionable residential district, dotted with wealthy homes and villas, recreational baths, and opulent basilicas. Today, delvers target the family crypts dug deep into the Celian Hill's north slopes and beneath the ruined villas as sources of lost wealth.

One small section of the Imperial Necropolis on the Esquiline Hill
Regio VII. Esquillae
Largely made up of the Esquiline Hill and the upper greenbelt ridge that divides the eastern Marcian Walls with the summits of the Quirinal, Viminal, and Cispian Hills, Esquillae is a dangerous regio dominated  by the tomb of the evil Third Witch-King (remembered only as the Anti-Pater) and the imperial necropolis contained behind it, which serves as the chief source of all the undead in the ruined city.

Regio VIII. Alta Semita
Containing the Quirinal, Viminal, and Cispian Hills and the upper summit behind the hills, Alta Semita was a rich and sumptuous district of villas, basilicas, schools, and temples affording excellent views of the lower regios of the city. Today, it is perhaps the most dangerous and overrun ruin in the city, due to the presence of two witch king tombs on the lower summits of two hills and one witch king tomb built beneath a massive and ruined bath complex on the upper summit.

The old Temple of Sol Invictus
Regio IX. Overlook
Dominated by the long ridge of the Pincian Hill, Overlook was known as the Hill of Gardens due to the overabundance of pleasures gardens and recreational complexes. Bordering with the Regio I. Campus Marcianus district, this densely built district is a key focus for exploration delves and holds the ruins of the first Temple of Sol Invictus, rumored to be filled with great wealth in its hidden lower vaults.

Regio X. Velabrum
Once the political heart of the mighty city centered on the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, today the Velabrum is littered with ruined forums, crumbling market porticoes, overgrown horse tracks and amphitheaters, and, at the heart of it all, the dangerous and deadly tomb of the First Witch King, Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, perched atop the Palatine Hill.

Image Credits:

Images #1-#5: Map by author, working from the public domain image "Plan of the Hills of Ancient Rome," engraved by C. Smith, Strand (link).

Image #6: Roman Graveyard Image from Lapham's Quarterly (link).

Image #7: "Model Temple of Aphaia Glyptothek Munich" (link).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Play Report #1: Beer Wisdom in the Ruins of Vanor

Scene: A quiet evening of drink and talk in the Laughing Goat, a salty tavern built on a pier jutting out into the Basana River from the Transbasana regio, is this very night concerned with the recent workings of the Diggers College.

"Heard the Diggers are makin' a push into the Overlook."

"Really? Thought they did most of their delvin' in old villas outside the walls?"

"Well, the head man, John of Tharsensis--"

"Oh, shame how he died...."

"Certe, certe, seems like the wolves are gettin' worse every season. Anyway, ole John set his best Diggers to task on it before he met the Sun. Even rounded up some burly, mute Northmen and a gobbo turncoat to fill the delve out. It's the talk of the Fields, or so I hear."

"Mute Northmen?!? Gobbo turncoats? Was John tryin' to kill it before it started?"

"Don't be talkin' ill o' the dead. The Diggers seem like alright people. And they care about this city a whole heap more than some others I could name."

"Hey, ab imo pectore, friend, didn't mean nothin' by it. Just surprising is all. How's the push going?"

"Well, friend of mine who frequents the Digger flea market heard talk they made their first delves into the old Temple of Sol Invictus."

"The one on the Palatine?"

"Certe non, I said Overlook. This one is apparently on the lower slopes of the Quirinal."

"Huh, didn't know there was one there. What'd they find?"

"Slime, skeletons, stinkin' gobbos, and some death to finish it off. One of the Northmen drank poison."

"Drank poison?!? Just swilled it down? He lose a bet or something?"

"Who knows. You know Varangians. They'll drink anythin' if it's in a horn or looks like bee juice."

"Certe, friend, certe."

Image Sources:

Image #1: "Mead" by Eldoras (link).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Religion in Vanor: The Church of the Unconquered Sun

Sol Invictus is the Sun Personified; the Sun as Light, Warmth, Rebirth, and Symmetry; the Martial Sun who forges order throughout the cosmos; the Great Sun who rises each day to bring light and life to the world, then descends into the Star Sea to do battle with the Chaotic Night Below. He has never lost this war. He is the Unconquered Sun.

In the ruins of mighty Vanor, the Church of the Unconquered Sun conducts and maintains the Solian creed, directing the proper rituals; ministering to the faithful; and recording the litany of the past from the Great Solarium in the Campus Vaticanus regio. It is a henotheistic faith, which means it worships and holds preeminent a single god while also tolerating the existence of other deities, sects, spirits, and cosmologies in the world. In the past, this tolerance has not always manifested itself very positively in the Church's dealings with other faiths, but since the fall, it has generally comported itself more liberally, out of necessity if nothing else.

Sol Invictus's chief symbols are the sun disc, the sun star (a sun disc with six star points), and the flaming pilum (a short throwing spear).

The Creed
According to tradition, a Vanoran's life is one of cyclical change and perpetual renewal. The Church teaches that all life in the universe comes from the Great Sun in the form of sun sparks, which constitute one's conscious being (i.e., one's soul). Upon death, an individual's sun spark ascends up into the Great Sun, becomes cleansed in the holy fire, and then descends once more to the world to be reborn. Vanorans usually symbolize this process through funeral pyres and cremation rituals followed by the erection of ustrina, or cremation altars.

This perpetual and enduring process changed slightly with the coming of Lucius Aurelius Solius Invictus, the first Witch-King of Vanor. According to the Church, the first Witch-King, at the height of his glory, prowess, and might, discovered the immutable truth of the universe. This ur knowledge, normally beyond the ken of human understanding or comprehension, gave Sol Invictus the means to achieve Unitas ("unity") with the hyper cosmos (i.e., that which is beyond all). Upon his death, the sun spark of Sol Invictus rose up into the Great Sun and, instead of returning anew into the world once more, it transcended beyond.

Now when a person's sun spark joins with the Great Sun upon death, Sol Invictus himself sits in judgment. Those deemed worthy and ready are allowed to achieve Unitas and join the Hypersol ("The Sun Beyond"). Those deemed not ready for judgment are returned to the world to be born anew and to continue working toward the higher path of Unitas. Those deemed unworthy are cast out of the Great Sun into the Star Sea, never to be reborn or reach Unitas, to float for all eternity in the Blackest Night.

Therefore, those wishing to transcend beyond and join the Hypersol receive guidance and instruction in the higher mysteries from the Church itself, which remains the terrestrial arbiter of Sol Invictus's spiritual path to Unitas, and the Collegium Solare, or Solar College, which consists of saintly individuals past and present whose lives and deeds demonstrate this path.

The Calendar
One of the Church's most vital yet taxing obligations is the maintenance of the celestial calendar called the Decimemoria. Nominally for record-keeping and the timing of festivals and holy weeks, the Decimemoria represents the Church's efforts to provide the faithful with some semblance of order and structure in the chaotic world left in the wake of the Vanoran collapse. The Church has maintained the Decimemoria for over 420 years.

Measured by the regular if inconsistent movements of constellations and other stellar objects in the Star Sea (most notably the ringed planet Helios), the Decimemoria is a decennial calendar where one celestial year consists of 129 months of twenty-eight days each and forty-three festival/holy weeks of seven days each. This makes each celestial year 3,913 days long, or approximately ten solar years and nine months in length.

The Decimemoria is a complex calendrical system that proves difficult for the Church to maintain adequately. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the imprecise movements of stellar objects in the Star Sea and the irregular pattern of seasons make it difficult to measure consistently the passage of time in the world. As such, the Church regularly needs to revise the calendar, leading in some instances to the rearranging or removal of entire months of festival weeks. In one notorious incident, the Church decreed the removal of an entire solar year from Celestial Year XXXII (thirty-two).

Second, there is considerable debate within the Church over the proper role of the Decimemoria and the use of more accurate calendrical systems. Thus, while the Decimemoria is the canonical church calendar, other orders and sects associated with the Church regularly advocate their own idiosyncratic calendars. For instance, the Stylite Monks of the Seeping Dawn, popularly known as the Column Pissers (not a term of endearment), claim to have discerned a pattern of time keeping in the occurrences of rainfall upon the ruined city, leading to their insistent proclamations that it is currently the year 8,631 since the first rains fell on Vanor (this date has not changed for a number of years).

Finally, the complexity of the Decimemoria and the proffering of competing calendars has led to much lay resistance in adopting any calendrical system. Most living in the ruins of Vanor maintain a rough attachment to straightforward solar-based calendars pegged to any number of foundational years or merely note the passage of time by the seasons, with no particular care whether or not there are calculation errors or misalignments in the systems. This has made the Church's advocacy of the Decimemoria that much more challenging.

Image Sources:

Image #1: Sun Disc by Bulldoggenliebchen (link).

Image #2: Giant Prominence on the Sun Erupted (link).

Image #3: Ars Pacis Virtual Recreation (link).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vanor Custom Class: The Trickster

This is another custom class for the Ruins of Vanor campaign (the others thus far: the Holy Dungeoneer and the Arcanum Delver), but unlike the others that I made, this one was made by one of my players (using the ACKS Player's Companion, as always). He had a very distinct concept in mind, as you will see.

Tricksters are touched by magic, descended or reincarnated of chaotic gods or immortals. They frequently manifest their latent abilities in their early teens, and sometimes even younger. While most tricksters spend their entire lives on the run, some are called to adventure by dreams and visions; others adventure out of a desire to learn the secrets of the gods.

Prime Requisite: CHA
Requirements: INT 9
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 14

Because of their frequent need to abandon the life they've led, tricksters receive limited combat training. At first level, tricksters hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws only two points every six levels of experience (i.e., half as fast as fighters), though they advance in saving throws by two points every four levels of experience. Because of their need of free hands and movement, they may only fight with quarterstaffs, clubs, daggers, and darts. They are unable to use shields, fight with two weapons, or wear any kind of armor. For these reasons, tricksters are quite vulnerable to physical danger, and in an adventuring group they should be protected.

Because of a trickster’s magical nature, he does not reincarnate as other classes can. Instead of the usual result, a Trickster must roll 1d10; for results 1-6, also make an unmodified 1d20 roll on Tampering With Mortality, and use the 1d10 value in place of the usual 1d6 to determine additional effects.

  1. Human Trickster
  2. Human Trickster
  3. Human Trickster
  4. Human Trickster
  5. Human Trickster
  6. Human Trickster
  7. Human Trickster (No mortality roll)
  8. Human (pick Class)
  9. Demi-Human (roll 1d4, 1-2 Elf, 3-4 Dwarf, pick Class)
  10. Monster

Starting at 1st level, a trickster has the ability to move silently and/or hide in shadows as a Thief does. While Tricksters are not natural pickpockets, their first manifestation allows them to use prestidigitation and pick pockets as a thief of half-class level. At 2nd level, a trickster gains the running and skulking proficiencies (already factored into the table below).

At 3rd level, tricksters can learn and cast arcane spells as a Mage of 1/3-class level. They also manifest a silver tongue (command of voice) that gives them +2 to reaction rolls to reaction rolls with creatures he speaks to. If this bonus results in a total of 12 or more, the subjects act as if charmed while in his presence. Creatures with a WIS greater than the trickster’s CHA are immune to this power (and the trickster will know they are immune). Additionally, a trickster of 3rd level can perceive intentions, knowing the exact reaction result (Hostile, Unfriendly, etc.) of creatures he interacts with, even if the creatures attempt to lie or conceal their reactions. Creatures with a CHA greater than the trickster’s WIS are immune to this power (and the trickster will know they are immune).

At 4th level, tricksters are capable of sensing power (as the proficiency), detecting spellcasters within 60’ and estimate their level of power relative to his own. He can tell when arcane magic has been used within the last 24 hours within the same vicinity. (The trickster cannot necessarily sense whether an item is magic, unless it has been used in the last 24 hours.) Each use takes a turn. He can also use alter self as a spell-like ability once per hour with a 1 turn casting time.

At 5th level, once per day, a trickster can use charm monster as a spell like-ability with a 1 turn casting time.

At 7th level, the trickster gains a +2 bonus to reaction rolls when encountering intelligent chaotic monsters from his ancestors or former self’s ancient pacts. Intelligent chaotic monsters suffer a -2 penalty to saving throws against any charm spells cast by the character.

At 9th level, the trickster can establish a court of 2d6-1 thief apprentices of 1st level and a 1st level trickster will come to work with the character. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for ruffians. A successful character might use these followers to start a Thieves’ Guild. Additional rules for hideouts are detailed in the Campaign chapter. Additionally, the trickster also can teleport as a spell-like ability once per month, and can scry as a spell-like ability once per day with a casting time of 1 turn.

At 12th level, the trickster can use programmed illusion as a spell-like ability once per month with a casting time of 1 turn.

Upon reaching 14th level, the trickster faces a choice, and must select one of these two options:

  1. immediate reincarnation that also reduces level to 1 and XP to 0 using the table above, but without the required mortality roll on 1-6
  2. forever more roll both the 1d20 and 1d6 twice whenever rolling on the Tampering With Mortality table, taking the lower result of each.

Proficiencies: acrobatics, alertness, arcane dabbling, bargaining, bribery, contortionism, craft, diplomacy, disguise, elven bloodline, familiar, gambling, illusion resistance, knowledge, language, lip reading, loremastery, magical engineering, mapping, mimicry, performance, profession, quiet magic, running, seduction, skirmishing, skulking, and soothsaying

Trickster Level Progression
Trickster Attack and Saving Throws
ExperienceTitleLevelHit DiceAbilitiesPetrif. &
Poison &
Blast &
Staffs &
0 Stray 1 1d4 Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Prestidigitation 13+ 13+ 16+ 15+ 14+ 10+
1325 Urchin 2 2d4 Skulking, Running 13+ 13+ 16+ 15+ 14+ 10+
2650 Ragamuffin 3 3d4 Command of Voice, Perceive Intentions 12+ 12+ 15+ 13+ 14+ 10+
5300 Guttersnipe 4 4d4 Sense Power, Alter Self 1/hour (1 turn) 12+ 12+ 15+ 13+ 14+ 9+
10600 Vagrant 5 5d4 Charm Monster 1/day (1 turn) 11+ 11+ 14+ 12+ 13+ 9+
21200 Swindler 6 6d4 11+ 11+ 14+ 12+ 13+ 9+
40000 Shyster 7 7d4 Ancient Pacts 10+ 10+ 13+ 11+ 12+ 8+
80000 Flimflammer 8 8d4 10+ 10+ 13+ 11+ 12+ 8+
180000 Trickster 9 9d4 Teleport 1/month (1 round), Scry 1/day (1 turn) 9+ 9+ 12+ 10+ 11+ 8+
280000 Scoundrel 10 9d4+1 9+ 9+ 12+ 10+ 11+ 7+
380000 Mountebank 11 9d4+2 8+ 8+ 11+ 9+ 10+ 7+
480000 Imposter 12 9d4+3 Programmed Illusion 1/month (1 turn) 8+ 8+ 11+ 9+ 10+ 7+
580000 Pretender 13 9d4+4 7+ 7+ 10+ 8+ 9+ 6+
680000 Deceiver 14 9d4+5 Reincarnation 7+ 7+ 10+ 8+ 9+ 6+

Trickster Special Abilities
Trickster Spells
Level Move
Hide in
Prestidigitation 1 2
1 17+ 19+ 17+ - -
2 14+ 16+ 17+ - -
3 13+ 15+ 16+ 1 -
4 12+ 14+ 16+ 1 -
5 11+ 13+ 15+ 1 -
6 10+ 12+ 15+ 2 -
7 8+ 10+ 14+ 2 -
8 6+ 8+ 14+ 2 -
9 4+ 6+ 13+ 2 1
10 2+ 4+ 13+ 2 1
11 1+ 2+ 12+ 2 1
12 1+ 1+ 12+ 2 2
13 1+ 1+ 10+ 2 2
14 1+ 1+ 10+ 2 2

Image Credit

"Crow Man" by James Zapata (link).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vanor Custom Class: The Arcanum Delver

This is the second custom class I made for the Ruins of Vanor campaign, using the procedures in the ACKS Player's Companion. This one, like yesterday's Holy Dungeoneer, is connected to a distinct faction in the city. Two more classes, and maybe one more, should come along later this week.

Trained extensively by the Arcanum Collegium (aka the Arcane College) in Vanor, arcanum delvers are specialized explorers that rely upon practical skills and limited magical training to dive deep into unexplored ruins, dungeons, and tombs in search of ancient and powerful magicks.

Prime Requisite: DEX
Requirements: None
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 14

Arcanum delvers advance in attack throws and saving throws as a thief, by two points every four levels of experience. At first level, arcanum delvers hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They may fight only with bows, crossbows, swords, and daggers, and may wield a weapon in each hand if desired. They cannot wear armor heavier than leather, and cannot use shields.

The Arcane College offers arcanum delvers considerable training in the practicalities of the magical arts. This allows arcanum delvers to dabble in the arcane. They may attempt to use wands, staffs, and other magic items only usable by mages. At 1st level, the character must make a proficiency throw of 18+ on 1d20 or the attempt backfires in some desultory way (Judge’s discretion). The proficiency throw required reduces by 2 per level, to a minimum of 3+.

This same training allows the arcanum delver to read and cast magic from arcane scrolls with a proficiency throw of 3+ on 1d20. However, a failed throw means the spell does not function as expected, and can create a horrible effect at the Judge’s discretion.

Arcanum delvers are expert delvers. The character is able to keep maps in his head of where he is when exploring underground dungeons, cavern complexes, and ruins. On a proficiency throw of 11+, the character will be able to automatically know the route he has taken to get here he is, if he was conscious at the time.

Because of their time spent exploring dangerous ancient ruins, arcanum delvers have developed heightened senses and key skills in order to survive. They have keen eyes that allow them to detect hidden and secret doors with a proficiency throw of 8+ on 1d20 when actively searching, or 14+ on casual inspection. They can also hear noise as a thief of their level. Because of the many traps left behind in long-lost tombs and treasure vaults, arcanum delvers can find and remove traps as a thief of their level.

Upon attaining 2nd level, arcanum delvers can cast detect magic at will with a casting time of 1 turn.

At 3rd level, training, study, and experience give arcanum delvers loremastery. This knowledge allows them to decipher occult ruins, remember ancient history, identify historic artifacts, and similar tasks. The character must make a proficiency throw of 18+ on 1d20 to succeed in these tasks. The proficiency throw required reduces by 1 per level.

At 4th level, arcanum delvers can cast knock once per hour with a casting time of 1 turn.

Upon attaining 5th level, arcanum delvers can cast invisibility once every 8 hours with a casting time of 1 round. In addition, they gain the ability to read languages, including ciphers, treasure maps, and dead languages, but not magical writings. A proficiency throw of 5+ on 1d20 is required. If the roll does not succeed, the arcanum delver may not try to read that particular piece of writing until he reaches a higher level of experience.

Upon reaching 7th level, arcanum delvers develop poison resistance that makes them immune to all forms of poison, including magical poisons.

At 9th level, arcanum delvers can cast dispel magic once per day with a casting time of 1 round. In addition, they can build a delving tower and become a ruler. When he does so, up to 2d6 arcanum delvers of 1st level will come to work with the character. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for henchmen. A delving tower is otherwise identical to a thief’s hideout, as detailed in the Campaign chapter of the ACKS rulebook.

Upon attaining 11th level, arcanum delvers can cast find treasure once per day with a casting time of 1 turn.

At 12th level, arcanum delvers can cast teleport once per week with a casting time of 1 turn.

Proficiency List: Acrobatics, Adventuring, Alchemy, Alertness, Blind Fighting, Bribery, Climbing, Collegiate Wizardry, Combat Trickery (Disarm), Diplomacy, Dungeon Bashing, Eavesdropping, Endurance, Familiar, Illusion Resistance, Knowledge, Language, Mapping, Mimicry, Mystic Aura, Prestidigitation, Running, Sensing Evil, Sensing Power, Skirmishing, Trap-Finding, Vermin-Slaying, Weapon Finesse

Build Summary

Build Points: Fighting 1b, Thievery 3
Trades: Broad weapon selection for Narrow (+1 CP); eliminate 1 weapon style (+1 CP); eliminate 6 thief skills (+6 CP); 1 initial skill trade-off for 1 at 4th and 1 at 10th (-1 CP); 1 initial skill trade-off for 1 at 2nd and 1 at 12th (-1 CP); 1 initial skill trade-off for 1 at 5th and 1 at 9th (-1 CP); 2 initial skills traded for 1 at 3rd, 1 at 5th, and 1 at 7th (-2 CP)

Image Credit

Skyrim Screen Capture (link).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vanor Custom Class: The Holy Dungeoneer

The following is a custom class I made for the Ruins of Vanor campaign using the ACKS Custom Class rules found in the ACKS Players Companion. It is written up in ACKS style. I will be posting more of these throughout the week, as well as a couple custom classes made by my players after the campaign call went out. 

The Holy Dungeoneer

Infused with the divine power of the Slezan Triune God, holy dungeoneers are the vanguard soldiers of the Sacrosanct Militant Order of the Holy Dungeoneers, a religious fighting order dedicated to the eradication from Hrimgate of all ruins, evil sinkholes, and dungeons, along with their beastly and vile inhabitants.

Prime Requisite: STR
Requirements: WIS 9
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 14

Holy dungeoneers are trained warriors and exceptionally skilled combatants. At first level, holy dungeoneers hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and savings throws by two points every three levels of experience (the best progression of any class). Holy dungeoneers also increase their base damage roll from successful missile and melee attacks by +1 at 1st level and by an additional +1 at 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th level.

Holy dungeoneers are trained in a broad selection of weapons, including axes, flails, hammers, maces, lances, javelins, pole arms, spears, and crossbows. They may fight wielding a weapon and a shield or wielding a two-handed weapon. They are trained in the use of all armors up to chain mail, and may use shields.

Holy dungeoneers are instructed in the sacred teachings of the Sacrosanct Militant Order. They can automatically identify religious symbols, spell signatures, trappings, and holy days of his own faith, and can recognize those of others faiths with a proficiency throw of 11+. Rare or occult sects may be harder to recognize (Judge’s discretion).

Holy dungeoneers go through extensive physical training to increase their strength and endurance while penetrating ruins and sinkholes, making them excellent ruin smashers. They gain the Dungeon Bashing proficiency for free at first level, which gives the character a +4 bonus on throws to open doors and similar acts of brute strength.

All holy dungeoneers know how to propitiate the Triune God and gain its/their favor. In return, they have a divine blessing, gaining a +2 bonus on all saving throws, and holy vision, giving them infravision to 30’.

At 2nd level, holy dungeoneers gain an aura of protection, giving the character a +1 bonus to AC and a +1 bonus on saving throws against attacks made or effects created by evil creatures. The holy dungeoneer’s aura of protection appears as a reddish nimbus of light when viewed with detect good, detect magic, or true seeing.

At 4th level, holy dungeoneers instill a unity of purpose in all hirelings of the same religion as the dungeoneers, giving a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever the character is present.

When holy dungeoneers reach 5th level, their battlefield prowess inspires others to follow him. Any henchmen and mercenaries hired by the character gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever he personally leads them. This bonus stacks with any modifiers from the holy dungeoneer’s CHA or proficiencies.

At 9th level, holy dungeoneers learn how to purify their bodies and souls, gaining divine health. The character is immune to all forms of disease, including magical diseases caused by spells, mummies, or lycanthropes.

Also at 9th level, holy dungeoneers can, assuming enough gold is at hand, build a castle and become a great leader of men in the Sacrosanct Militant Order. When doing so, up to 1d4+1x10 0-level mercenaries and 1d6 holy dungeoneers of 1st-3rd level will come to apply for jobs, training, and membership in the Order. If hired, they must be paid standard rates for mercenaries. Through force of arms, holy dungeoneers may ultimately control several castles or even entire realms, but must be a capable, strong, pious leader and provide protection. Additional rules for castles are detailed in the Campaign chapter of the ACKS core book.

Proficiency List: Adventuring, Animal Training, Blind Fighting, Caving, Climbing, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (force back, knock down, overrun, sunder), Command, Diplomacy, Eavesdropping, Endurance, Engineering, Fighting Style (pole arm, single weapon, weapon and shield, two-handed weapons), Healing, Intimidation, Laying on Hands, Manual of Arms, Martial Training, Prophecy, Riding, Sensing Evil, Survival, Weapon Focus

Build Summary

Build Points: HD 1, Fighting 2, Thievery 1
Trades: Eliminate 1 fighting style (+1 CP); Unrestricted armor selection to Broad (+1 CP); Unrestricted weapon selection to Broad (+1 CP); Eliminate 3 thief skills (+3 CP); 2 initial skill trades for 1 at 2nd, 1 at 4th, and 1 at 9th (-2 CP)

Image Credits

Pegaso Hospitaller Miniature (link).