Friday, November 21, 2014

Wastelands Inspirational Art - Tuomas Korpi

This is the second in a series of posts showcasing visual artists whose work has inspired some aspect of the Wastelands of Kreth.

Tuomas Korpi is an illustrator and designer from Finland. You can find out more about Tuomas here on his website.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Nirothans: Humans of the Wastelands

Today's post includes my rough notes for another human culture, or "subrace," that inhabits the Wastelands of Kreth. Again, this post is presented for 5e D&D, but is easy enough to reverse-engineer for old-school games (which I intend to do in the near future as well). I don't have an image to go with this human culture as they are a bit unusual, but I think they have a fairly cool pulpy vibe about them.

Description: Nirothans are slender, ebony-skinned humans with hair ranging from coppery-white to silvery-purple. They also have narrow, widely-set eyes varying from bright yellow to deep red. Their other distinguishing feature is a pair of nine-inch long antennae that protrude from their forehead and curve back above their bat wing-shaped ears. Nirothans often decorate their antennae and ears with jewelry indicative of their social status. The antennae focus the nirothan empathic abilities that enable them to read surface thoughts and emotions of humanoids and, to a very limited extent, non-humanoid creatures. When amongst other nirothans, this empathic ability is stronger, nearing true telepathy.
Homeland: The nirothan homeland is hidden in a region of the Sea of Choking Dust called the Dunes of Nirotha.
Culture: Nirothan society is rigidly hierarchical yet remarkably free of laws and regulations. A clan or house elder rules on all legal, economic and social matters involving his or her extended family. When clans conflict, two elders either negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement, or go to war to prove the victor. The victorious clan imposes its will (one of its bargaining positions) upon the vanquished clan. Nirothan houses often have a reputation for their prowess in a particular field, such as trade, craftsmanship, artistry, combat, and the like. Wise clan elders encourage diversity amongst the individual houses under their rule.
Religion: Spirituality, prayer and offerings are central focuses of nirothan life. Their chief deity is the Sun God, Amok-Rateh. Other prominent deities include Nivatha, goddess of family, the moons, healing and protection, and wife of Amok-Rateh; Kotasep, god of knowledge, secrets and magic; Ulat-Fara, goddess of bravery, valor and justice; Vunap, god of the underworld, judgment and death; Heturan, god of nature and storms; and many others. One commonly-accepted belief amongst nirothans is that they were born on another world—called Nirotha—and were magically sent to this world by the gods before a great cataclysm to preserve their culture and expand their knowledge and understanding of all things.
Age: Nirothans mature in their late teens and live between 80 and 100 years.
Alignment: Nirothans may be of any alignment, although evil nirothans are rare.
Languages: Nirothan and one other language. Nirothan script is a mixture of pictograms and hieroglyphs, and is challenging for non-nirothans to read. Similarly, nirothans often find it difficult to read the “tiny little scratches” that comprise most written human languages.
Nirothan Names: Nirothans do not have individual names as such; rather they bear titles indicating their status within their clan or house. Nirothan adventurers usually adopt or are given “names” by their companions and friends from other cultures.
Size: Medium. Nirothans range between 5 and over 6 feet tall.
Speed: Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Ability Score Increase: Choose two different ability scores to increase by one.
Empathic Senses: Your empathic senses gain you advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks. When you reach 3rd level, once per day you are able to enhance your empathic senses to function as if you cast the spell detect thoughts. When you reach 5th level, once per day you may create a telepathic link with one creature within 30 feet of you for up to one hour as if you cast the spell telepathy. An unwilling target may make a Wisdom saving throw to resist the link. When you are amongst other nirothans, you may create a telepathic link (again, as per the spell telepathy) with any single nirothan within 30 feet of you. If the nirothan wishes to resist this link, he or she must make a Wisdom saving throw to do so. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for all of these spells. 
Skill: Choose one skill you are proficient with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pulpy Humans for the Wastelands

One of the minor goals of my Wastelands of Kreth campaign setting is to do humans some semblance of pulp fiction justice. Make them stand out a wee bit.

I don't necessarily mean game stats; rather I mean stand out culturally and physically. I want humans to be more diverse, have funky skin colors and anachronistic traits, try to make them more intriguing Pulpy-Cool-Dudes (and Dudettes!) and less typical Honky-Euro-Dudes.

To that end, I've been working on a bunch of human cultures, the rough notes for one of them is presented below for that new-fangled 5e D&D game (shocking, I know!) This human culture was mostly inspired by the Frank Frazetta painting The Silver Warrior (shown here) as well as my love for all things viking. It is also the one culture I'm working on which probably retains the most Euro Trappings ... so maybe it's not the best example to lead with ... but what the heck, here it is. :-)

Description: Vragnak are a broad, strong and warlike people with slightly bluish-hued skin. Their hair ranges from straw yellow to crimson brown to black, and their eyes vary from icy blue to dark grey.
Homeland: Vragnak hail from the icy northlands of the Shimmering Glacier.
Culture: Vragnak culture is often seen as violent, superstitious, and primitive by southerners. It is an amalgam of warrior codes, social castes (warriors, priests, makers and slaves), and animist spirituality. In truth, they are far more sophisticated and much less violent than perceived by mostvragnak build heated domed villages, aqueducts that don't freeze, greenhouses, and they traverse the icy plains of the north upon swift ice sleds. The vragnak are dire enemies of the gugnir, a race of walrus men who the vragnak believe were corrupted by the demonic Ice Hag. Vragnak and gugnir fight on sight and show no mercy. The vragnak maintain no relations with the southlands and mistrust all but their own people, except for dwarves. For as long as the dwarves and vragnak can recall, the two have traded and maintained friendly relations. Otherwise, the vragnak occasionally raid lands to the south for slaves, goods, and wealth not found in their frozen homelands. 
Religion: Vragnak honor and pay respect to a small pantheon of animal and nature spirits—the Great Bear, the Deathfrost Wyrm, the Warrior Walrus, the Hunter Snow Leopard, the Mighty Mammoth, the Demonic Ice Hag, the Tree of Life, the Frozen Dead, to name just a few. Children and adults are sacrificed on special occasions to appease the spirit and natural forces, as well as to bring good fortune to a great endeavorsuch as constructing a new village or raiding the southlands. Vragnak believe the world was partly shaped by giant men, so frost giants are both feared and honored by the northmen. 
Vragnak Names: (Male) Asag, Dagash, Gulbrek, Mortak, Sathok, Tyrus, Ugengol; (female) Agrida, Avyra, Brynd, Fakriga, Markursta, Sidrug, Vundra. 
Languages: Vragni and one other language, often Dwarven. Vragni is a choppy, guttural language strongly influenced by Dwarven. Vragni script is runic in form.
Age: Vragnak mature in their late teens and live between 50 and 70 years.
Alignment: Vragnak may be of any alignment.
Size: Medium. Vragnak range between 5 and over 6 feet tall. 
Speed: Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Ability Score Increase: Choose two different ability scores to increase by one. 
Feat: Choose one feat.
Skills: Choose one skill you are proficient with. 
Tools: You may substitute any tool proficiency gained from your class or background with vehicles (ice sled).

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bigger Even More Honking Random Monster Table [Wastelands]

Just a quick update to share today. I've expanded my Wastelands random creature encounter table to include more monsters (mostly from the Fiend Folio) and I folded the sublists (humanoids, giantkin, oozes, undead, and the like) into the main table.

I've also added in my other wilderness random encounter tables up front, which use some house rules like "scatter" dice as well as the excellent d30 Sandbox Companion (by Richard J. LeBlanc Jr. of New Big Dragon Games) for wilderness travel.

As with the previous version, the tables can be downloaded here (.pdf) should you good readers wish to use it as-is, or here (.docx) if you'd like to tinker and customize it.

Next up for the Wastelands is a (probably) long series of posts detailing the City-State of Kreth. The city will be the starting point and home-base for my future campaign so I'll need to sketch out a fairly healthy chunk of it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wastelands Big Honkin Random Monster Table

The Wastelands is a sandboxy hex-crawl style setting. As such, I needed to create a series of random encounter tables for the numerous geographical regions. I had originally drafted a d20-based table for each major region (Bandlands of Paj, Kreth Verdant, Steaming Jungles of Su'Janga, etc.), but soon realized that a d20 randomizer did not produce enough variation within each region to satisfy my personal Creature Feature Quotient--meaning I needed more monsters!

Really cool Artisan Dice from
So as I often do when pondering dungeon mastery-type things, I consulted the definitive work of Grand Master Gygax, the 1st edition DMG. Therein, as usual, I found my solution: d100-based random tables delineated by predominant terrain type. I have moved away from d100-based tables in recent years, mostly because they require a lot more fiddly maths and sometimes produce too many options for my personal tastes. However, for this purpose, and to satiate my CFQ--I wanted roughly between 20 and 40 possible random creatures for most regions--the good old d100 tables worked perfectly.

Thus, I reorganized my separate regional d20 tables into one big honking d100 table broken out into predominant terrain types (arctic, badlands, forest, desert, and so on) similar to what was done in the DMG. The table can be downloaded here (.pdf) should you good readers wish to use it as-is, or here (.docx) if you'd like to tinker and customize it.

The creatures on the table include a few of the regular suspects from the Monster Manual (it goes without saying that I mean the AD&D version--but I guess I just said, or wrote, it anyway!) But with this campaign setting I wanted to mine the other monster manuals for lesser-known and/or infrequently-used critters. For example, monsters such as the crysmal, kampfult, solifugid and xag-ya from Monster Manual II, and the caterwaul and skulk (and the humanoid aarakocra, grimlocks and quaggoths) from the Fiend Folio will turn up randomly in some areas of the Wastelands.

I also included the thanoi, or walrus men, from the Dragonlance Adventures book (and DL6 Dragons of Ice). Mostly because I like the idea of warrior walrus men. I never liked much from Dragonlance, but I always thought the thanoi were cool. Coo coo ca choo! Bad puns intended. ;-)