Sunday, August 21, 2016

S&W WhiteBox House Rules (5): Time, Wilderness Travel, Turn-based Actions & Encounters

This is the fifth in a series of posts detailing the house rules I use for Swords & Wizardy: WhiteBox. Today we deal with time, wilderness travel, turn-based actions and encounters. Cheers!

REFEREE NOTES
Time: Nothing unusual here. All I did was write out some procedures (a la Moldvay-Cook Basic/Expert D&D) for handling daily- and turn-based actions.
Wilderness Travel & Random Encounters: I've put all but one of my wilderness random encounter tables into the body of this blog post, but you may also find the PDF here for download. Unfortunately, I couldn't paste the creatures encounter table into the blog post because the formatting got really screwy. (Edit: Note that the monster random encounter table has handy page references for each of the monster entries in the various AD&D rulebooks. Woo hoo!)
Turn-Based Actions: I've written out some guidelines for performing actions during a turn. How strictly I enforce these greatly depends on the situation. The search times, for example, may seem a bit stringent. That's because my players (like so many, no doubt) seem to think that they can thoroughly search entire rooms like The Flash while they have spells in effect. I don't think so! However, in fairness, if there are no nearby monsters or reasons to precisely track time while the party searches, I just hand wave it.
The Encounter: Nothing unusual here. Labyrinth Lord fans will notice my encounter distance dice. Also, I use a 2d6 loyalty roll for hirelings instead of 3d6.

Kudos: A special shout out goes to Doug at the Smoldering Wizard blog. His "filling in the gaps" WhiteBox rules expansions were the first I found online and they served as a great reference when developing my own. Thanks kindly, Doug!

One Last Note: You will read "detailed in Such and Such chapter" a few times on this page. The house rules being presented on this blog are taken from my personal campaign rulebook. Such references simply refer to the various chapters within the book. I was too lazy to edit them out. :-)

TIME
The passage of time within the game is categorized in four ways: Game Days, Turns, Combat Rounds and Downtime.

GAME DAYS
Game days are 1 day long. Big shocker. Use the game day time scale when a party travels in the wilderness. The order of events in a typical game day is as follows:

1) Determine Travel Direction. Party chooses direction of travel within a map hex (typically 6 miles per hex, 1 mile per sub-hex).
2) Lose Direction/Random Encounters. Referee uses Table 49: Wilderness Travel (see below) to determine if the party becomes lost and if there are any encounters during the day.
3) Resolve Encounters. Resolve any encounters during the day according to the various Wilderness Random Encounters tables (again, see below). If there are creature encounters, proceed to The Encounter rules (again, see below) and resolve the encounters. There is a 50% chance a creature encounter actually occurs after the party establishes a base camp.
4) Establish Base Camp. Party establishes a base camp for the night and sets a watch order. As noted above, creature encounters may occur at night. Randomly determine who is on watch if the encounter occurs at night.
5) Day Ends. In the morning, the party prepares any spells and readies for another day’s travel. Go back to Step 1.

TURNS
Turns are 10 minutes long. Use the turn time scale when a party explores a dungeon, cavern, tomb, or other underground location where there could be threats or dangerous encounters. Turns may also be used when the party explores a city or other large settlement. The order of events in a turn is as follows:

1) Determine Wandering Monsters. The Referee rolls 1d6 to see if there are any wandering monsters in the vicinity—a result of 1 indicates a wandering monster encounter occurs, a result of 2-6 indicates no encounter. If there is not an encounter, proceed to Step 2; if there is, proceed to Step 3.
2) Perform Turn-based Actions. The party listens, moves, searches for traps or secret doors, or performs other turn-based actions. The Referee resolves any rolls or tests necessary based on the party’s actions. See Turn-Based Actions below.
3) Resolve Encounter. Resolve the wandering monster encounter according to The Encounter rules.
4) End of Turn. After all turn-based actions and any wandering monster encounters are resolved, go back to step 1.

COMBAT ROUNDS
Combat rounds are 1 minute long. The Combat Rules chapter details what happens during a combat round.

DOWNTIME
Downtime is loosely-defined as anything going on “behind the scenes” or in the background of the game. Activities like researching spells, hiring assistants or NPC experts, resting and healing for an extended time, building a stronghold—these things might take days, weeks, months, or even years to do. Generally speaking, the Referee decides what happens during downtime and relays the details to the players involved. The Referee might call for tests or dice rolls to resolve these activities.


WILDERNESS TRAVEL & RANDOM ENCOUNTERS
Table 49: Wilderness Travel
Wastelands Region
Lost %
Lost Direction/
Distance
Checks
per Day
Chance of
Encounter
Badlands of Paj
30%
Scatter/d6-1
2
1/d6
Hills of Zim-Zalabazul
60%
Scatter/d6+1
3
1/d6
Jungles of Su’Janga
50%
Scatter/d6
3
1-2/d6
Kreth Verdant
30%
Scatter/d6-1
3
1-2/d6
Mountains of Flame & Shadow/Gulgash/Mordai
30%
Scatter/d6-1
2
1/d6
Peaks of Insanity
40%
Scatter/d6
2
1/d6
Roads
N/A
N/A
4
1-3/d6
Sea of Choking Dust
40%
Scatter/d6
1
1/d6
Shimmering Glacier
30%
Scatter/d6
1
1/d6
Slagg Hills
30%
Scatter/d6-1
2
1/d6
Wastes
30%
Scatter/d6
1
1/d6
Special*
10-50%
Scatter/d6-1
2
1/d6
*Special denotes any magical, extra-planar, bizarre, or otherwise exceptional terrain or location, at the referee’s discretion.
Lost %: When the party enters a new 6-mile hex on the campaign map, roll d% to determine if the party becomes lost. The lost % varies by region, as shown above. If the navigating PC has a wilderness background, reduce the % chance of becoming lost by half.
Lost Direction/Distance: If the party becomes lost, this indicates how far off-direction the party travels in 1-mile hexes. Use a “scatter” die (or d6) to determine direction. If the scatter die turns up “target” (or 6) the party is lost, but happens to continue in their intended direction for the appropriate number of 1-mile hexes for the terrain.
Checks per Day: This column indicates how many times per day to check for random encounters.
Chance of Encounter: This column indicates the chance of a random encounter occurring on a check. Roll d6 and if the result falls within the chance range, an encounter occurs. Consult Table 50: Wilderness Random Encounters to determine the nature of the encounter.

Table 50: Wilderness Random Encounters
Roll d20
Encounter Type and Table
1-2
Wilderness Random Encounters I: Hazardous Weather
3-4
Wilderness Random Encounters II: Natural Features & Phenomena
5-9
Wilderness Random Encounters III: Creature Encounter
10-12
Wilderness Random Encounters IV: Discovery
13+
No Encounter
Roll 1d20 to determine the encounter type. Consult the appropriate Random Encounters Table below.

Table 51: Wilderness Encounters I: Hazardous Weather
Roll d20
Encounter Type
1-3
Tornado or hurricane: Must seek shelter or risk exposure, lose 1 day travel.
4-6
Extreme heat or cold: Must seek shelter or risk exposure, lose 1 day travel.
7-13
Storm: Must seek shelter or risk exposure, lose half-day travel.
14-17
Thunderstorm: Must seek shelter or risk exposure and lightning damage (1-in-20 chance to suffer lightning bolt attack), lose 1 day travel.
18-19
Magical storm: Must seek shelter or risk exposure to spell (1-in-20 chance to suffer spell effect), lose half-day travel.
20
Volcanic eruption: Must seek shelter or risk exposure and fire damage (1-in-20 chance to suffer fireball attack), lose 1 day travel.

Table 52: Wilderness Encounters II: Natural Features & Phenomena
Roll on Natural Features & Phenomena (NFP table) in d30 Sandbox Companion, p 16.

Table 53: Wilderness Encounters III: Creature Encounter
Roll on Table 53: Wilderness Encounters III: Creature Encounter (by Predominant Terrain). See the PDF here (this document includes all the wilderness tables, as noted above).

Table 54: Wilderness Encounters IV: Discovery
Roll d20
Encounter Type
1-2
Abandoned campsite (50% chance useful or valuable items remain)
3-4
Pilgrims [Roll on Pilgrims Generator (PLG1 table) in d30 Sandbox Companion, p 23]: Follow instructions as per tables.
5-7
Battle site (50% chance useful or valuable items remain)
8-12
Settlement [Roll on Settlement & Inhabitation (IPD table) in d30 Sandbox Companion, p 18]: Follow instructions as per tables.
13-15
Creature lair (50% chance currently unoccupied)
16-17
Adventure site (discover ruins, caverns, dungeon, etc. that may be explored)
18-19
Magical place [Roll on Magical Places Generator (MPG1 table) in d30 Sandbox Companion, p 22]: Follow instructions as per table.
20
Astronomical Event: An eclipse, a comet streaks through the sky, the moons change color, the stars seem to change, or some other event occurs.

Note: If you haven't checked them out yet, I highly recommend Richard J LeBlanc, Jr.'s (of New Big Dragon Games Unlimited fame) d30 Sandbox Companion and d30 Companion. With their excellent worksheets and plethora of d30-based tables, I find these companions invaluable tools for running old-school games. You can find links to print versions on this page (for USA and international customers).

TURN-BASED ACTIONS
This section details the four primary turn-based actions characters may perform: Listening, Moving, Opening Stuck Doors and Searching. Finding secret doors and finding and disabling traps are also discussed here.

Generally speaking, a character performs only one of these actions during a turn, but certain actions don’t take a full turn to perform—check below. Characters under the effects of a Haste or Slow spell double or halve their activity rate, as appropriate.

LISTENING
Characters may listen for faint noises at doors, down dark corridors, in pits or caverns, and myriad other places. To listen, a character must stand completely still and concentrate for 1 minute. No other party member may move, speak, or make any kind of noise within 30 feet of the listening character.

All characters hear faint noises on a 1-2 on a d6. The Referee makes this roll, not the player. At the Referee's discretion, conversation-level noises or loud or unusual noises do not require a roll to hear.

MOVING
A party moves in a dungeon or other underground environment as a unit or group, at the rate of its slowest member. This is typically 240, 180, 120, or 60 feet per turn, depending on the weight carried by the slowest party member.

The movement section and tables in the How to Play chapter detail the various movement rates. Characters that separate themselves from the party may move at their own individual rates, as desired.

OPENING STUCK DOORS
Forcing open a stuck door may take a few seconds, a minute, or even longer—it all depends on the nature of the door itself. Stuck doors may be forced opened on a 1-2 on a d6. A character’s Strength modifier adjusts the range of success.

For example, a +1 Strength modifier increases the range of success to 1-3 on a d6; a -1 penalty decreases the range to 1 on a d6. If two or more characters try to force open the door, add 1 to the success range for each extra person, but apply only the strongest character’s Strength modifier. Three characters at most may attempt to force open the same door. The success range can never be greater than 1-5 on a d6 or less than 1 on a d6, regardless of all modifiers.

Forcing open stuck doors makes a lot of noise. Roll for a wandering monster encounter whenever a character forces open a stuck door.

SEARCHING
Thoroughly searching for things takes time. A lot of time. To search a 10-foot square area of dungeon, a character must stop moving and spend the entire turn searching. If a character “quickly” searches an area or object, reduce the chance of finding hidden things there by 50%.

Following are a few examples of how long it takes to thoroughly search various areas and objects:
Corpse: Searching a corpse for valuables takes 1 minute.
Furniture: Searching chests, desks or furnishings for valuables takes 1 minute. Searching them for secret doors or traps takes 1 turn (see below).
Secret Doors: Searching an entire 10-foot square section of dungeon, a human-sized statue, a chest, an altar or throne, or another similar object for secret doors takes 1 turn. This is a separate activity than searching for traps.
Traps: Searching an entire 10-foot square section of dungeon, a human-sized statue, a chest, an altar or throne, or another similar object for traps takes 1 turn. Disarming a trap—assuming it’s possible—takes the same time.

FINDING SECRET DOORS
All characters may find secret doors they search for on a 1-2 on a d6. Elves may find secret doors on a 1-4 on a d6, and on a 1 on a d6 by merely passing within 10 feet of them. The Referee makes all of these rolls secretly.

FINDING TRAPS & PITS
All characters may find traps or pits on a 1-2 on a d6. Dwarves may find metal and stonework traps and pits similar to how elves find secret doors, 1-4 on a d6.

Generally speaking, when characters don’t find traps or pits, they activate them on a 1-2 on a d6 when they pass over the triggering mechanism at walking speed (or accidentally touch or manipulate the triggering mechanism). Running characters activate traps and pits on a 1-4 on a d6. Certain traps may have very specific or sensitive triggering mechanisms which activate automatically (no roll to activate). The Referee makes all of these rolls secretly.

DISABLING TRAPS
Generally speaking, a player should describe how his character is disabling a trap based on the Referee’s description. If the disabling method seems logical, it succeeds; if it doesn’t, it fails.

To randomly determine if the disabling attempt succeeds, roll 1d6—on a 1-2 the trap is successfully disabled. Add the character’s Intelligence or Dexterity modifier to the success range, as appropriate for the type of trap. Use Intelligence for traps requiring deduction or reasoning; use Dexterity for traps involving manual dexterity or finesse. Thus, a character with a +1 Intelligence (or Dexterity) modifier succeeds on a 1-3 on a d6.


THE ENCOUNTER

There are three things to determine before an encounter begins: Surprise, Distance and Reaction. Hireling loyalty is also discussed in this section.

SURPRISE
In general, characters (and creatures) cannot be surprised if they are already aware of an opponent’s presence. A party walking quietly down a dark dungeon corridor won’t surprise any monsters if they carry a lit torch or lantern—the light gives away their presence. Similarly, making a lot of noise while exploring—talking loudly, bashing doors down, dragging heavy objects, smashing evil statues to bits—likely means the monsters hear the party long before they see them, and prepare accordingly.

If surprise is a possibility, roll 1d6 for each character (and creature) who may be surprised. If the result is a 1 or a 2, the character (or creature) is surprised. The Referee should judge surprise based on the specific circumstances, and use common sense and logic as much as dice rolls.

DISTANCE
While underground, in a dungeon, or in a city, the distance between two groups when they encounter each other is 2d6 x 10 feet. Outdoors, encounter distance is 4d6 x 10 yards, or if the visibility is poor (fog, smoke, etc.) half that. This assumes unobstructed sight lines. If there are obstacles or intervening terrain (rocks, trees, etc.) adjust distances appropriately.

REACTIONS
Intelligent monsters and NPCs do not always attack immediately. Unless they are under specific orders to attack, or they are at the ready for violent intruders, the Referee may roll 2d6 and modify the result by the PC leader’s Charisma modifier to determine how the monsters (or NPCs) respond to the adventurers. At the Referee's discretion, mindless or unintelligent monsters attack immediately.

Table 33: Monster & NPC Reactions
Roll 2d6
Reaction
2
Immediately Attacks. If attack is impossible then reacts as Hostile.
3-5
Hostile. Attacks if possible, otherwise harms party.
6-8
Cautious. No change, wary, standoffish.
9-11
Friendly. Greets pleasantly, responds positively to aid requests, helps out.
12
Enthusiastic. Goes above and beyond to provide help or information.

COMBAT?
If the monster reaction indicates “hostile” or “immediately attacks,” or the PC party decides to attack regardless of the monster’s disposition, proceed to the combat resolution sequence outlined in the Combat chapter.

OTHER USES FOR REACTION TABLE?
The referee might also use this table when PCs try to lure monsters into their service, offer bribes to city officials, make job offers to hirelings, and other similar actions. You may want to modify the result from -2 to +2 based on the amount of gold (or treasure or magic, or food for hungry monsters) offered in such situations.

LOYALTY TESTS
Similar to a morale test, a loyalty test should be made periodically when the Referee decides that a hireling's loyalty to his employing PC is threatened—whether by continuous excessively dangerous work, a better job offer elsewhere, repeatedly poor or demeaning treatment, a bribe to betray the PC, and so forth. Roll 2d6 and consult the table below, adjusting the result by the PC's Charisma Loyalty/Morale Modifier.

Table 35: Loyalty Tests
Roll 2d6
Affect on Loyalty
2
Traitor. Prepared to betray or desert at first chance. -2 to Morale Checks.
3-5
Disloyal. Reconsiders allegiance faced with any serious threat, bribe, or temptation to betray. -1 to Morale Checks.
6-8
Loyal. Generally satisfied, no significant reasons to reconsider loyalty.
9-11
Faithful. Eager to serve and prove deep loyalty. +1 to Morale Checks.
12
Fanatic. Does anything asked (within reason) without hesitation or question. +2 to Morale Checks.
Note: Morale checks are detailed in the Combat chapter.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Map (5): The Ruins of Zog, map 3

Today's map is the last of a 3-map set for the Ruins of Zog (see here for maps 1 & 2). This map details the caverns and dungeon beneath the ancient ruins found along the banks of a small river-gorge oasis. Cheers!

I think from now on, I'll be dropping the markings from my maps for the blog, except for perhaps the "kris dagger compass," and maybe a legend if the map has very unusual features. I'm not sure that the titles, scales, room numbers, and other such notations really help anyone customize the maps for their own games. I've included them thus far simply because they were useful to me for my own games.

Plus, dropping the markings means I spend less time using Photoscape and more time drawing maps!

Image download links:
Map 3, dungeon - .png, hi-res
Map 3, dungeon - .png, hi-res, no markings
Map 3, dungeon - .png, low-res
Map 3, dungeon - .png, low-res, no markings

Sunday, August 14, 2016

S&W WhiteBox House Rules (4): Attribute Tests

This is the fourth in a series of posts detailing the house rules I use for Swords & Wizardy: WhiteBox. Today we deal with Attribute Tests. Cheers!

REFEREE NOTES
Attribute Tests: The test roll I use is based on the "roll 2d6" NPC reaction table found on page 12 of Men & Magic. Rolling 2d6 for general tests or checks has been a commonly used house rule for ages. For my games, I simply wanted to make use of the attribute modifiers to place increased importance upon attribute scores during character creation and game play.

Pardon the digression ... My first exposure to roll 2d6 was actually through Holmes Basic (page 11) and Moldvay Basic (pages B21 and B24) circa 1981, as I did not discover original D&D until later in my gaming travels. At any rate, plenty of folks smarter than I have talked about 2d6 rolls in detail from many different perspectives, including P_Armstrong here (way back in 2009), Delta here, JDJarvis here, Peter Fröhlich here, Eric Diaz here, and JB here. JB references my (rather silly and not very serious) thoughts on the matter, which are found here.

There you go. Probably more than you ever wanted to read about 2d6 rolls. Now on to the attribute show...

ATTRIBUTE TESTS
An “attribute test” is a dice roll influenced by one of a character’s six attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, or Charisma. The Referee determines when a character makes an attribute test, and which attribute applies (use common sense). Sometimes the Referee rolls the test secretly—when the outcome of a situation isn’t immediately obvious to the character, for example—but most often the player rolls the test.

To make an attribute test, roll 2d6 and add the character’s appropriate attribute modifier. The higher the result, the better the character performs the action. The Referee looks up the result on a test resolution table applicable to the test. For extremely risky or outrageous—but possibly achievable—actions, the Referee might want to penalize the test by -1 or -2 to reduce the odds of success.

The Referee should call for an attribute test only when there is a need to resolve the outcome of an important action or situation involving a character that is not already explicitly covered by the rules. An easily achievable or plainly impossible action doesn’t warrant an attribute test—just decide what happens, logically, based on the circumstances, and inform the player of the result.

Table 32: Generic Attribute Tests
2d6 +/- Modifier
Result
2 or less
Catastrophic Failure. Character fails so badly that a -1 penalty applies to the next attribute test made that day.
3-5
Failure. Character fails or is otherwise thwarted, stymied, hindered, or prevented from performing the task.
6-8
Uncertain Success. Character thinks he succeeds—doubtfully confident, if you will. Referee rolls 1d6 in secret: 1-2 = failure, 3-6 = success. Alternatively, the character succeeds, but with some mitigating factor applied by the Referee.
9-11
Success. Character succeeds at the task.
12 or more
Exceptional Success. Character succeeds so greatly that a +1 bonus applies to the next attribute test made that day.

I also use attribute tests for learning spells, casting spells off of scrolls, and a few other situations. I will detail these specific tests in future posts. My house-ruled wizard's Arcane Study class ability also employs an attribute test (discussed here).

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Maps (4): The Ruins of Zog, maps 1 & 2

Today's maps detail the ancient ruins found along the banks of a small river oasis within a badlands gorge. The first map is an overview of the river gorge and the second is a detailed map of the ruined buildings. Next week's map will reveal the caverns and dungeon beneath the ruins.


In my Wastelands of Kreth campaign these are known as the Ruins of Zog, a place for adventurers to cut their teeth at lower levels.


The Ruins of Zog maps are not based on these ruins in New York of the mysterious King Zog of Albania. He was tough like Rasputin, apparently. Cool, thanks Google! :-)

Image Download Links:
Map 1, gorge - .png, 3366 x 2615, 300 dpi
Map 1, gorge - .png, 3366 x 2615, 300 dpi, no markings
Map 1, gorge - .png, 1666 x 1301, 72 dpi
Map 1, gorge - .png, 1666 x 1301, 72 dpi, no markings

Map 2, ruins - .png, 3366 x 2615, 300 dpi
Map 2, ruins - .png, 3366 x 2615, 300 dpi, no markings
Map 2, ruins - .png, 1666 x 1301, 72 dpi
Map 2, ruins - .png, 1666 x 1301, 72 dpi, no markings

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

S&W WhiteBox House Rules (3): Races

This is the third in a series of posts detailing the house rules I use for Swords & Wizardy: WhiteBox. Today we deal with races. Cheers!

To be honest, I flip-flopped over how much campaign-specific information to present in this post. In the end I decided that more is probably better, for context. My apologies if it's a bit boring in that regard.

So, on we go with today's blathering racial kitchen sink post. :-)

REFEREE'S NOTES
Race Class Restrictions & Level Limits: As mentioned in the last post, I cap class level progression at 10. I have also banished demihuman racial level limits and class restrictions to the outer planes, so to speak. Any race may be any class and progress all the way to level 10.
Racial Features: I have adjusted the traits of each race from the WhiteBox rules to reflect the feel and flavor of the Wastelands of Kreth campaign setting. Most notably, humans have been "boosted" significantly, both to reflect their dominant role in the campaign and to compensate for the lack of demihuman racial level limits. So far, I think about 80% of PCs in the Wastelands have been humans. :-)

WASTELANDS RACES

DWARF
The dwarves are cunning delvers of the deeps, tough as the mountains, and slayers of dragonauts and serpents. Short and stout, the dwarves have skin tones ranging from ruddy tan to sooty black, and their bushy hair varies from white to brown to black, and all shades in between. Some dwarves shave their heads for a menacing effect, particularly if they have battle scars upon them. Dwarven eyes may be the color of any gemstone, and burn with an inner fire of a thousand ancient forges. Dwarves take pride in growing great beards, often lavishly styling and decorating them. “The better your beard, the better dwarf you are” is hammered into the dwarven psyche from birth. 
Size: Medium. Dwarves range between four and five feet tall, and weigh between 120 and 220 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 2d6 and add 48 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Dwarvish plus one other.
Names: (Male) Asymet, Brunod, Cadyron, Nurnas, Rozar, Zoculas; (female) Arucyn, Bazra, Gulasyn, Nurnec, Synca, Zocma; (family) Azmetar, Cynoton, Gosmod, Hulac-Maz, Mutaron, Zunytar.
Classes: Dwarves may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Dwarf Cunning: Dwarves have a two-thirds chance (1-4 on a d6) to detect metal and stonework traps, pitfalls, secret doors, shifting passages, and other unusual contraptions and constructions while underground. At any time, dwarves can approximate their depth underground to within 10 feet.
Tough as the Mountains: Dwarves gain a +2 bonus on saving throws to resist poison, exhaustion, and system shock.
Serpent Hatred: Dwarves believe that all serpents are descended from Ruzuclon the evil dragonaut of Deepearth. They gain a +1 bonus to attacks against dragons and serpentine creatures—including snakes, snake-folk, salamanders, and the like. Dwarves also defend well against Large-size (or larger) dragons and serpentine creatures, gaining a +4 AC bonus against their attacks.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Enslaved by horrific creatures from Deepearth during the Dark Years. Toiled building machines of war and doom.
  • Homelands are in the Peaks of Insanity; largest and most powerful citadel is Dag-Mazac, ruled by Prime Articron Galzar. 
  • Isolationist culture by nature; slowly opening up via trade and political relations with other races.
  • Worship Synculon the Articulator and the Mechanoid Construct; rituals are complex and precise, symbolism elaborate and geometric.
  • An evil dwarven subrace, the duergar, live in Deepearth. These vicious, stealthy slave traders raid the surface world for captives, and then sell their prey to other Deepearth races like mindeaters and drow elves.


ELF
The elves are a slender and graceful people with skin tones varying from pale white to deep olive-tan. A radiant glow surrounds elves, shimmering as they move, hinting at their mystical other-worldliness. Their scintillating, perfectly coiffed hair ranges from pure white to jet black—you never quite catch an elf tucking away a brush out of the corner of your eye. Hypnotic elven eyes sparkle like glistening pools of deep intellect and wisdom, and their teeth shine brightly like kissable full moons. However, the elves’ natural stoic demeanor belies their martial prowess, for when roused elves fight fiercely and without quarter, and their elegant martial arts are the envy of all warriors.
Size: Medium. Elves range between five and six and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 3d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 80 pounds.
Languages: Elvish plus two others.
Names: (Male) Alostar, Celimbar, Findalas, Luminar, Nerethon, Sindulas; (female) Ariana, Demaria, Galarel, Linuilas, Nirvania, Suriel; (family) Alorfinas, Cuindirath, Hadoran, Melethior, Palandirath, Telestar.
Classes: Elves may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Mystic Origin: Elves have a mystical connection to the “Other Realm.” Elves are not paralyzed by the attacks of ghouls and they have a five-in-six chance (1-5 on a d6) to completely resist Sleep and Charm Person spells. Furthermore, elves have the natural ability to open a Dimensional Portal once per day (as the spell, and yes I completely cribbed this from the eladrin because it fits), but they may only teleport themselves and their personal gear a maximum of 30 feet. This ability does not need to be prepared or memorized each day, but it is still considered a spell.
Mystic Sight: Elves possess mystical sight that allows them to see twice as far as other races (although they cannot see in darkness), as well as grants them a two-thirds chance to detect secret doors (1-4 on a d6) when they actively look for them, and a one-third (1-2 on a d6) chance when merely passing within 10 feet of them.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Loose nomadic society; rarely establish any enclaves greater than several dozen inhabitants. Prefer caves, treetops, or hidden places for their settlements.
  • Esoteric mystics devoted to science, magic, enlightenment, and expanding their knowledge of all things in the Cosmos—a philosophy called The Path of Infinite Understanding, or Torvath Tru.
  • During the Dark Years, elves discovered several ancient sites allowing them temporary travel to the demi-plane of Dar’Adra to avoid enslavement and destruction by the forces of evil.
  • An evil elven subrace known as the drow live in Deepearth. The depraved society of the drow sanctions murder and assassination to gain power, and the extermination of all surface races except for use as slaves.


HALF-ORC
Half-orcs are a brutish and cunning people with flesh hues ranging from granite grey to rusty-black, and dark bloodstone eyes that smolder with savage aggression. They typically grow long manes of coarse black hair, but some go bald with elaborate tattoos on their heads, faces, and necks. Despite their savage and fearsome reputation, half-orcs possess an often surprisingly guileful and tenacious determination, as if each day could be their last, and the passing night brings with it a chance for them to live yet again.
Size: Medium. Half-orcs range from five and one-half to well over seven feet tall, and weigh between 140 and 340 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 5d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 4d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Orcish or Common.
Names: (Male) Broz, Dujak, Hurx, Mojuk, Stomok, Varjaz; (female) Bijra, Domji, Durna, Hejet, Maxra, Pazra; (family) Darjaz, Fundak, Hazmax, Nujata, Tuvoz, Wojok.
Classes: Half-orcs may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Bred by Sorcery: Half-orcs gain a +1 bonus to saving throws against spells and magical effects. A half-orc wizard loses the benefit of this racial trait.
Fearsome: When acting in a threatening or intimidating manner, half-orcs use their Charisma modifier as either a bonus or penalty on monster and NPC reaction rolls, as best suits the situation.
Tenacious: Half-orcs gain +1 hit point per level (regardless of their Constitution score), and gain a +2 bonus to saving throws to resist exhaustion and system shock.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • A warrior race created during the Dark Years by evil powers that bred the most savage orcs and devious humans. 
  • Formed numerous tribes following the Dark Years; inhabit contentious lands in the Hills of Zim-Zalabazul and the Mountains of Flame and Shadow. Tribal wars frequent, territories change constantly.
  • Worship Saduj the Soul Redeemer; religious rituals include starvation, flagellation, and other self-punishments. The Ways to Redemption are meant to cleanse the soul of evil thoughts and influences.
  • Ruled by strict tribal theocracies—the shamans of Saduj judge all tribal matters and assign positions of authority and power. Cronyism, bribery, intimidation, and assassination are common practices.
  • Some half-orcs deny Saduj. Instead they worship one or more of the Panjari, the New Gods of humanity. Krakor the Warlord and the Lords of Elemental Chaos (particularly Magmazoth the Flamelord) being common amongst these renegades.


HUMAN
Humanity dominates the Wastelands of Kreth. Human cultures and languages vary greatly, as do their physical features and religious practices. Despite this diversity, all humans share three important qualities which help them survive and prosper more successfully than any other race—adaptability, resourcefulness, and an unshakeable spirit of determination.
Size: Medium. Humans typically range between five and six and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 120 and 220 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 3d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Noted in the culture descriptions.
Names: Noted in the culture descriptions.
Classes: Humans may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Adaptability: Humans increase a single attribute score by +1.
Resourcefulness: Humans may re-roll any single die roll once per day.
Unshakeable Spirit: Humans gain +1 to all saving throws.
Diverse Cultures: Choose one of eight cultures—Cal-vooli, Damarsun, Druqara, Mercatian, Mordai-sul, Nirothan, Qaarni, or Vragnak.

CAL-VOOLI
Cal-vooli tend to be shorter and stockier than other humans are (adjust random rolls appropriately), and their skin hues range from deep yellow to orange-red. Cal-vooli natural hair color varies from midnight blue to black, but they often decorate it elaborately with dyes, head-dresses, and jewelry to indicate social rank. Cal-vooli eyes are often a sparkling copper, silver, or gold color.
Languages: Vool plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Anule, Cadero, Jedaar, Monbo, Peccin, Tooman, Vidgro; (female) Aluava, Cynara, Eminoa, Laana, Moriisa, Nuana, Peotra; (family) Binshu, Glipla, Lavool, Momad, Piiri, Quinta, Zabb.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Gypsy-like people that travel in caravans, no true homeland.
  • Mercantile society, known as the “merchants of the Wastelands.”
  • No central government. Family or caravan leaders the only recognized authorities; people are free to live, travel, and work where desired.
  • Priests, or anamiste, akin to “fortune telling financial advisors” and held in high respect; often very wealthy.
  • Spirituality revolves around Fate, Luck and the Signs of Fortune. Everyone has a Fated Path to their Destiny, but you can direct your Path with your actions.


DAMARSUN (Common Human)
Damarsun physical features vary widely—from short to tall, stocky to lanky, pale skin to dark, and they may possess virtually any hair and eye colors. 
Languages: Common plus one other.
Names: (Male) Aderos, Bron, Edmar, Girus, Mederan, Perun, Rondar, Stanos, Turm, Wuntar; (female) Adela, Casdra, Danira, Hariel, Lura, Mosha, Raneta, Suriel, Tamra, Ulana; (family) Alostar, Dunosra, Gederos, Melintar, Numus, Paladar, Rodaran, Sonus, Umaros, Zedrian.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Cultural melting pot—damarsun have homogenized the physical, linguistic, spiritual, and social traits of many human cultures into their own.
  • Youngest human “culture,” but also the most driven and vigorous; more of a self-identifying nation of diversity than a culture of geographic or religious commonality.
  • Practical, gregarious, cosmopolitan people; primarily inhabit the cities and towns of the Wastelands.
  • If you want to play a “generic” human character, this is the culture to choose.  


DRUQARA
Druqara average between six and seven feet tall (adjust random rolls appropriately), have dark red skin, and their eyes range from pearl-white to rosy-pink. All druqara bear the Darkbrand—an evil symbol “branded” into their foreheads by foul breeding during the Dark Years.
Languages: Druqari plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Chorn, Domak, Kurn, Moqrak, Rakan, Tog; (female) Anuki, Chibar, Golgra, Klar, Paqul, Tomra; (family) Aqraka, Dogru, Ghorlu, Mokraka, Rughru, Vukraka.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Human tribe enslaved and bred by evil forces in the Dark Years to be the ultimate warriors. Worship Ogron the Bloodthirster; religious rituals involve pain, bloodletting, and scarification.
  • Many warriors are mercenaries and sell-swords; founded the Blood Kin mercenary brotherhood.
  • Society highly competitive and martial; strict rules of honor regulate disputes and duels. Duels often elaborate events.
  • Governed by a confederacy of elders representing important clans and families. Clan skirmishes are common.


MERCATIAN
Mercatians are a tall people with skin tones ranging from pale lavender to deep plum purple. Their hairstyles and clothing tend to be highly fashionable and darker shades are common. Their eye colors vary widely but violets and reds are prominent.
Languages: Mercatian plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Aderion, Imlozar, Lyserion, Mendelar, Udonathar, Zethran; (female) Amara, Elynia, Ilyora, Murieth, Sarina, Umeria; (family) Arama, Celerion, Endorath, Lanethor, Peltar, Unari.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Rigid and highly ritualized culture praises order, tradition, and fealty; they value duty to family above all else.
  • Born leaders, mercatians assume they are in charge in any situation; they think of themselves as the nobles of humanity.
  • Mercatians worship Odamaar the Lord of Light and Darkness, and his worldly prophet the God-Emperor Aristan. The God-Emperor Aristan has ruled the City-State of Kreth for over one-thousand years. Other religions are tolerated, but considered primitive, and the followers of pagan gods are little more than savages playing at spirituality.
  • Mercatians are the most prominent humans amongst the ruling elite in the Wastelands, both by heredity and force of arms and economics. If they can’t defeat you outright, they may simply buy your army out from underneath you. 


MORDAI-SUL
Mordai-sul have greyish to charcoal skin tones with many thin, dark veins, giving them a stone-like visage. They have mottled white, grey, and brown hair. Their eyes are often blue, grey, or black. Mordai-sul are shorter and thinner than other humans (adjust random rolls appropriately). 
Languages: Sulat plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Bhandai, Choga, Dawo, Janghu, Shado, Wainjar; (female) Bushi, Choji, Daki, Khami, Padla, Zanja; (family) Anghai-lam, Chumjari-jari, Dhaipugo, Mungaja-rala, Ranjash, Waijara.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Mordai-sul homelands are the great steppes and highlands bordering the Mordai Mountains.
  • Semi-nomadic society of herders and husbanders; renowned hukka riders, warriors, and parsimonious traders.
  • Ruled by oligarchy of clan leaders. Land skirmishes frequent when wild herd ranges vary due to climate.
  • Mordai-sul ghostpriests commune with spirits of their ancestors and ancient dead gods. Huge stones mark important sites.
  • Many are claustrophobic, and suspicious of cities or walled spaces.


NIROTHAN
Nirothans are ebon-skinned humans with coppery-white to silvery-purple hair. They have narrow, wide-set eyes from bright yellow to deep red. Nirothans wear elaborate clothing and jewelry indicating their social rank. 
Languages: Nirothan plus one other (usually Common).
Names: Nirothans have no individual names, known amongst their own kind only by birth rank and family name. First to sixth-born are respectively named Rateh, Kamud, Ramnas, Tumnat, Antahk, and Mohtep. Nirothans sometimes adopt or are given names by their friends and adventuring companions. (Family) Amnash, Ekhotan, Faratep, Khalra, Natarwat, Ptoresh, Shatrah, Tukamen.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Homeland is the Dunes of Nirotha in the Sea of Choking Dust.
  • Society rigidly hierarchical yet with minimal bureaucracy and regulation; oligarchic rule by clan and family elders; people have designated social, spiritual, and political ranks.
  • Duty and oaths to clan are highly praised by society; warriors and priests honored, while thieves and sorcerers are chaotic followers of the evil god Set-Mohtep.
  • Chief deity is Amok-Rateh, God of Ten-thousand Suns and Creator of the Cosmos. He rules a complex court of gods that navigates the cosmos in a great ship of light, which is perpetually chased in darkness by the ship of Set-Mohtep.


QAARNI
Qaarni are bronze-skinned, dark-haired people with bright eyes of green, amber, and topaz. Qaarni favor light-colored clothing and head scarves to ward off the southern heat, as well as elaborate, colorful sashes. 
Languages: Qaarnas plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Aturiq, Cindar, Haqiis, Marqovan, Sentari, Vendaz; (female) Anora, Cenima, Frazira, Misina, Sinora, Zelva; (family) Baltri, Daaqur, Juzandi, Orlundaz, Qotri, Zededar.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • The southern deserts and the port city of Qaarn are their homelands, but qaarni live everywhere and do everything.
  • Culture values polygamy and polyandry, familial prestige, wealth, and personal influence—grander is always greater. Rule … don’t be ruled.
  • Often labeled brash and cocky, qaarni gregariousness and zest for life is rarely matched; they seem to know everyone.
  • Natural explorers, many work in professions that travel often and far.
  • Qaarni cosmology is a four-spoke wheel symbolizing the world. Each spoke represents a balanced power: ambition, fate, growth, and decay.


VRAGNAK
Vragnak are a broad and strong people with bluish hued skin. Hair ranges from straw yellow to black, and their eyes vary from icy blue to dark grey. Little is commonly known of these northern "barbarians."
Languages: Vragni plus one other (usually Dwarvish).
Names: (Male) Asag, Dagash, Gulbrek, Mortak, Sathok, Tyrus, Ugengol; (female) Agrida, Avyra, Brynd, Fakriga, Markursta, Sidrug, Vundra; (family) Alvek, Brugar, Fandrir, Gugundak, Mjarnjar, Suvoklar, Ungarji.

CULTURAL NOTES

  • Vragnak hail from the icy northlands of the Shimmering Glacier. They maintain no formal relations with southerners except the dwarves of Dag-Mazac.
  • Culture is an amalgam of warrior codes, social castes (warriors, priests, crafters, and slaves), and animist spirituality.
  • Governed by a loose clan-based confederacy; each clan controls a territory and lives in a domed village.
  • Possess a fanatical hatred of the gugnir, a race of walrus-men corrupted by the demonic Ice Hag.

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BUT WHERE ARE THE HALFLINGS, HALF-ELVES, AND GNOMES?!?
There are no halflings in my Wastelands of Kreth campaign, although I have a soft spot for the little buggers. Neither are there half-elves, as a fundamental premise of the Wastelands setting is that different humanoid races cannot interbreed except by dark sorcery. And gnomes, quite frankly, belong only in the garden or in stupid travel agency commercials. Don’t even get me started. :-)

However, If there were halflings in my game, they might have traits like this…

HALFLING
Insert a fluffy sentence or three about how Wastelands halflings enjoy spiced pineapple wine and medium-rare yarroth (triceratops) steaks, write florid poetry about the nobility and their obscenely-masked sex-slave and cocktail parties, and consider crocodile riding for sport a fun weekend activity for the whole family.
Size: Small. Halflings range from three to four and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 60 and 110 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 4d6 and add 32 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 5d6 x 2 and add 50 pounds.
Languages: Halfling or Common Tongue.
Names: (Male) Bulrad, Dagfast, Jasper, Lemmy, Podogar, Talbin; (female) Betsina, Ellan, Irma, Mona, Trudina, Wanda; (family) Cinderhill, Croop, Fetlock, Larkspur, Rook, Widgeon.
Classes: Halflings may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Dodge Big Brutes: Due to their diminutive stature and light-footedness, halflings gain a +4 AC bonus against the attacks of ogres, trolls, and giants.
Keen Shot: Halflings gain a +1 bonus to missile attacks when using slings.
Lucky: Once per day, halflings gain a +2 bonus to any single saving throw.
Stealthy: Halflings are masters of hiding and moving about quietly. They have a five-in-six chance (1-5 on a d6) of remaining undetected outdoors or in a city in normal light, provided they have some kind of obscuring cover or shadows; underground this is reduced to a one-third chance (1-2 on a d6).