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Monday, November 23, 2015

Lady Karevena

Before boldly diving into the upcoming Kickstarter on December 1st, I took a couple days off to draft sample deck plans.  Here's a skyship freebie you can use as you see fit in your Calidaran or Mystaran adventures.  

I should mention there is an ulterior motive to this.  First off, due to various reasons, I had omitted to include a skyship in the story written for CAL1 "In Stranger Skies", which had been requested through an Admiral pledge during last year's Kickstarter.  Including the Lady Karevena here seems like a good way to make amends, aside from bringing it back up in CC1 "Beyond the Skies."

There is more to this anecdote, however.  As I developed Calidar's massive compendium of gods, I drafted some twenty floor plans for temples and secret society lairs.  In so doing, I have learned a great deal to make these maps look a lot better.  It is also what prompted me to go back to deck plans and see what I could come up with.  

It occurred to me that some of you may be interested in commissioning work of this nature, for your personal use.  It took me two days to complete the Lady Karevena, so the time and cost involved isn't trivial, yet some of you may nonetheless be interested in owning personalized deck plans in the style shown below.  I'll need at least a general idea of what you want, the ship's name of course, and whatever else you may want to share (your own game-related maps, a short story perhaps, or even hand-drafted sketches).  These skyships can be designed specifically for a Mystaran campaign or even a Spelljammer setting.

If you think this is right for you, contact me privately via Facebook or G+ so we can work out details.  This isn't for the immediate, since I am tied up with launching CC1's kickstarter.  Until a few months from now, I'm likely to remain fairly busy.

The idea of a compendium of skyships has been bandied about for some time.  Such a project requires a huge investment in time.  One of the goals here is to include all commissioned work in this book.  Perhaps it is but a mere dream.  Then again, I cast this flying bottle into stranger skies to see if some of you will find it and act upon its message.  Whether or not you do, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving all the same!

The above is a sample. The actual document is twice the size and rendered at a 300 dpi resolution, which is what would be delivered as finished work. Have fun!


Monday, November 16, 2015

"Beyond the Skies" Kickstarter Preview

Greetings all!

I'm very excited to be able to share with you the link to Beyond the Skies' preview page.  This presentation is very close to its final version, which should go live during the first week of December 2015.  

This page says a lot about the new book in the Calidar series as well as the people behind it.  As this still is work in progress to some degree, the link is made public mainly for the opportunity to return feedback about its contents.  Have a look at the project's general description, pledge levels, add-ons, and stretch goals.  Tell us what you think.  You can do so here, or directly via the preview page (use the feedback box near the top of the kickstarter page).  

This kickstarter makes it possible for new backers to acquire the original book at a discounted price, and other titles strictly restricted to kickstarter supporters.  As always, the success of any crowd funding depends directly upon its backers.  So please, do share this post as much as possible with friends you know may be interested in Calidar.   

Thank you so much for making this book a reality!
Click here for the preview page.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Artists from "Beyond the Skies"

I'm glad to release the news about the team of artists whose work will grace the cover and pages of CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  Their valued participation is subject to the success of the upcoming crowd funding on Kickstarter, early December 2015.  Den Beauvais's talent will bring the cover to life.  Like three musketeers (yes, there are four of them, but of course!), Joe Garcia, Eric Lofgren, Bradley K McDevitt, and Simon Todd will put a face on many of the gods depicted in "Beyond the Skies," if not all of them.

Den Beauvais is one of the most prolific and versatile artists in the field of Fantasy/Science Fiction today or in any venue he passionately explores. He has won numerous awards for his cover art for books, magazines, game boxes , comics books and a host of other mediums. His artwork is widely sought after by collectors and has graced classic book covers by such renowned authors as Isaac Asimov, Margaret Weis, Piers Anthony and Gordon R. Dickson. Den’s imagination knows no borders. Today, he is a highly sought after artist in the field of fantasy and Science Fiction art.

Joe Garcia Hey everyone! I'm a family man, sequential artist, and published gaming illustrator from Henderson, Nevada. I specialize in high contrast, grayscale, pencil drawings, and pen and ink line-work. I took some general high school art classes, however most of my training came from emulating the styles of comic and fantasy artists who could tell a story with a single image. As much as I love illustrating, I always aim to be a storyteller first.

Eric Lofgren was born and lives in Western Canada. He's had a long history of working in one graphic field or another. Beginning with two years working in a commercial sign shop and 10 years running his own sign business. Also one year as a digital photo-retoucher, a year full time as a landscape painter and two years as a tattoo artist. And finally, a recognized freelance illustrator in the RPG and CCG markets since 1999.

Bradley K McDevitt A 25 year veteran of the gaming industry with over 500 published credits, having done artwork work for WotC/TSR, Goodman Games, Atlas Games, and many more. Additionally, he has been an Art Director for GDW, Dark Skull Studios, and currently works with FASA on the Fading Suns TTRPG. He lives in Ohio with his wife Jessica, and when not drawing monsters, enjoys a wide variety of styles of music, surfing the 'net, as well as writing short stories and role-playing games.

Simon Todd The British artist and writer, Simon Todd, has been involved in fantasy role playing games since he first encountered a box set of Dungeons and Dragons in a post office on Rhode Island in 1979. Although trained as a sculptor specializing in large scale wood carving, Simon turned to writing and illustrating in 2002 and is currently busy developing his own company, MontiDots Ltd, producing new adventures, game settings and board games. Simon has already worked for the likes of GP Adventures and Dungeon Crawl Classics and is becoming a regular feature at Gary Con. Simon lives in Yorkshire with his family.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Ambrosia & the Outer Planes, Pt. III

Elemental Planes of Energy: It may be incorrectly assumed that Pyros only refers to elemental fire. It actually encompasses all forms of energy. Ten can be visualized as a diamond-shaped decahedron (numbered 1 to 10 on the diagram). All ten elemental energies together relate to positive energy in general. At the decahedron’s center lies an eleventh plane, which is entropy. It relates to demons, the undead, and negative energy. The demi-plane of shadows surrounds entropy; it relates to fear and nightmares. Therefore, to reach entropy a visitor from the prime universe must cross three intervening layers (the ethereal, one of the ten elemental energies, and the demi-plane of shadows).

All these aspects of energy work as described earlier, in that they can form solids, liquids, and immaterial components enabling game referees to build imaginary sites for the heroes to visit (thus: walls of fire, forests of shadows, rivers of elemental evil, etc.) A crucial energy embodies elemental magic. It connects directly with Calidar’s world souls, thus to “life” itself. Spellcasters learn to manipulate magic either directly (as wizards) or through faith in their spiritual patrons (as priors), which gives them an affinity with this plane. Illusionists, however, relate instead to elemental light, which also governs sentient thought, fantasies, dreams, and illusions. Time is not represented as an elemental component because it suffuses all inner and outer planes to varying degrees.

Outer Planes: The “outer” label reflects the prime universe’s point of view. Therefore, the netherworld and Ambrosia could be considered outer planes. Other planes exist which can be as varied and imaginative as referees need them to be. Strange creatures, their realms, and entire universes can fit in outer planes. Their realities and laws of physics remain entirely separate. At a referee’s personal discretion, these worlds can be inspired from fantasy literature. The Vortex described in Calidar “In Stranger Skies” (see CAL1’s Gate Keeper, page 63), enables a game referee to bring denizens of outer planes into Calidar’s prime universe, including such exotic beings as gummy ghouls and marshmallow dragons, if ever these became desirable.

All inner and outer planes essentially occupy the same physical space. Previous diagrams only help visualize what the planes are and how they might relate to each other. Let’s use the analogy of radio waves and broadcast stations being akin to separate planes of existence. There can be hundreds of different radio signals existing in the same physical space. All one needs to do is to “tune in” to reach a given station. In a fantasy setting, one still needs to go through at least the ethereal to reach another plane, and possibly multiple others to get to a final destination—such as the Plane of Entropy, for example. To a certain degree, the entire multiverse co-exists but on different “wave lengths.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ambrosia & the Outer Planes, Pt. II

The Elemental Planes: Calidaran cosmology recognizes four primordial planes—Pyros (Energy), Hydros (Fluid), Aerion (Essence), and Tellurion (Matter). With the ethereal, these are also known as the Inner Planes. Each of these planes possesses regions where elements take different properties and appearances. For example, Tellurion includes regions dominated by rock, or sand, or metals, or crystals, or possibly even wood, etc. Despite what labels imply, there are such things as liquid crystal and liquid metals (unrelated to heat), or solid water, solid air, as well as liquid or solid fire, etc. Pyros likely splits into a number of sub-planes featuring various forms of energy (see next section), and so on with each of the elements. These aspects of primordial planes enable referees to create thematic realms for the heroes to visit. The magic that brings them there allows survival in deadly environments. Monsters may be natives of these planes. Others dwelling in the prime universe can also enjoy affinities with specific elements, like a fire-breathing dragon for example.

Elemental planes also connect with demi-planes, which are parallel regions (dust, ashes, steam, cloud, lava, ice, plasma, and void). Elemental void is the absence of all other elements. Some creatures may hail from demi-planes (except elemental void presumably), such as dust devils, steam sprites, lava weevils, etc. Native monsters of the prime universe can also bear affinities to demi-planes, such as cloud and frost giants. The prime universe is where all primordial elements combine and are bound by laws of physics. A plane of elemental chaos also exists, where laws of physics, probabilities, and logic never apply. In this plane, the elements remain in flux whereas they are stable in the prime universe. Elemental order suffuses the other primordial planes to varying degrees.

To be continued. . .

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

The PDF file for The World of Calidar's CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" is on sale on DTRPG today. The sale ends Nov 2nd. Grab it now while the sale is on!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ambrosia & the Other Planes, Pt. I

Here's the first part of an overview of Calidar's planes, as they relate to how heroes and deities might travel through them.

Ambrosia: It is the universe to which gods generally ascend. It may also be defined as a “celestial plane.” In whole, it can be visualized as a sphere, with an infinite number of possible godly domains nested on its inner surface. At the center lies the wondrous land of Geth (pronounced “yeth”), with a sky-like space above and an underground below. The land’s orientation is undefinable as it swivels and warps ad infinitum to connect with each of the gods’ magical realms.

Geth looks like a vast wilderness shrouded with silvery mists. It features regular periods of twilight and darkness, as well as ethereal storms, though there are no moons, stars, and sun to be seen. It is a universe that only beings of divine or quasi-divine status can enter. Lesser creatures can come when invited by the gods or accompanied by their servants. It is customary for newly ascended gods to explore Geth’s mysteries, so they may hone their divine skills and earn a fine mythology. Deities residing in Ambrosia dwell in veiled hideouts on Geth or magical domains. Most gods belong to pantheons of peers who pool their resources when building such domains, which are individual pocket planes surrounding Geth. This explains the need for deities or their servants (called psychopomp) to lead worthy spirits of the dead to their rightful places. Divine domains were originally described in CAL1 “In Stranger Skies,” page 62.

Ambrosia is a frightening dimension where even gods can be destroyed. Although the deities of monsters or those of alien worlds aren’t described in CC1 "Beyond the Skies," they do exist, and they are just as fearsome to Calidaran gods as the perils their followers face in the mortal world. Throngs of worthy servants may accompany traveling deities. If gods are ever destroyed, their priors can no longer commune with them or cast spells. The unfortunate news spread quickly among mortals, causing widespread despair and disorder among them. By way of missionaries and prophets, other gods will soon seek to sway to their cults forsaken priors and their followers.

The Netherworld: Also known as the Astral Plane, it is the place where the spirits of the dead linger before they meet their final fates. Though they look totally unlike, the netherworld and the realm of the living (also known as the prime universe, which includes Soltan’s ephemeris) occupy the same space. Both are infinite. Certain outer planes may feature their own netherworlds, as appropriate to their natures—the various realms of the dead interconnect through a web of wormholes. Elemental planes and Ambrosia do not feature a netherworld. Elemental beings revert to their basic nature if deprived of life. Though the undead can create gods in their own image, gods cannot become undead. Vaguely similar to the netherworld in its appearance, the ethereal is nearly as dangerous as Ambrosia itself since many entities cross through it during their journeys. Others fantastic predators dwell there, some large enough to swallow a straying skyship whole.

The Ethereal: This plane acts as a buffer between the prime universe, the inner planes, the outer planes, the netherworld, and the Ambrosian dimension. It is a good place to feature outer planar visitors, gods, their servants on a mission, the undead, demons, and all sorts of bizarre creatures that do not fit the prime universe.

To be Continued. . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

VCon Interview

After about a year, I finally had the chance to watch an interview recorded in Vancouver BC, while I attended VCon.  It's a fun convention that's trying to push into the hobby gaming field.  From what I could tell then, it'd been mostly literary in nature.  Nonetheless, I'd recommend it if you're in the area.  Calidar's first book, CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," had just become available at that time. . . and was thoroughly unknown back then.  Without more waiting, here's the interview:

Another thing: all of Calidar's videos are available on the new website.
Click Here for all the videos to date.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Of Armadillos & d20s

I'm pleased to announce that I've been invited to join the fun at the North Texas RPG Convention.  The event will take place early June 2016 at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Marriott.  This announcement is sort of a non-secret secret, since I'm supposed to be a surprise guest there.  I've been told it's fine to make an announcement nonetheless.  It'll be a surprise for people who are unaware of my blog(s).  I'm looking forward to joining this convention.  I've heard nothing but good things about it, and as a bonus, a lot of my colleagues from old TSR will be there.  Here is the list (not final yet), of who else is supposed to be present & accounted for:
  • Bob Bledsaw Jr,
  • Jason Braun,
  • Mike Breault,
  • Chris Clark,
  • David 'Zeb' Cook,
  • Michael Curtis,
  • Darlene,
  • Jeff Dee,
  • Matt Finch,
  • Jeff Grubb,
  • Allen Hammack,
  • Kevin Hendryx,
  • Jon Hershberger,
  • Jennell Jaquays,
  • Timothy Kask,
  • Doug Kovacs,
  • David 'Diesel' LaForce,
  • Steve Marsh,
  • Frank Mentzer,
  • Douglas Niles,
  • Erol Otus,
  • Steve Perrin,
  • Merle Rasmussen,
  • Lawrence Schick,
  • Mike Stewart,
  • Dr. Dennis Sustare,
  • Bill Webb,
  • Steve Winter
This is a lot of fine people.  This ought to be fun.  I'm not sure yet what event I'll be running, as these news just came down.  Likely: a Calidar session using BECMI game mechanics, and possibly a seminar on world building.  Maybe more.  The convention takes place early June--based on current projections CC1 "Beyond the Skies" (Calidar's 2nd book release) is slated for the summer of 2016.  Early June is possible but cutting it really close for the new book's availability at the convention.  Although possible, I may just have a prepress version for demonstration.

This is good news either way.  Hope to see you there.  Until then, I'll also be at Lake Geneva's Gary Con, in March 2016. Cheers!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Calidar: Onward to CC1's Kickstarter!

At long last, I've finished the gods writeup for CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  It took far longer than I'd anticipated due to the sheer size of the project and detail I wanted to include.  This is more than a match for CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," both quantitatively (it's at least twice as large) and qualitatively.  With 88 deities, each with their own storylines, crosslinks between them and those of other pantheons (one per Calderan realm), and a focus on how this affects mortals who created them, this new book casts a new and amazingly revealing light on the whole Calidar universe, the netherworld, the outer planes, and the Ambrosian domains of the gods.

The book is full of benefits and powers for the faithful, ranked according to their degree of piety.  The servants of the gods and their foes are given in great detail, as well as a closeup look at the shamans of the Dread Lands, and how to manage the effects of Calidar's deadly wilderness. Another 15-20 miscellaneous godlings, demon-princes, and other quasi-divine beasties are included, whether they "survived" encounters with fully ascended peers, or they already died at their hands.  This brings the number of entities illustrating the faiths of mortals to more than 100. 

Kickstarter: This being done, I can now concentrate on putting together the ensuing Kickstarter.  The plan is to launch funding in December 2015, ending very early in January 2016.  If all goes well, at that point, I'll be able to contract artwork and final editing.  The final target for release should be several months afterward, depending on contracts and personal availability of the artists I would like to see involved with this project.  More later on this.  

Release Date:  Without knowing more, I'm projecting summer of 2016 as the final release, provided all goes according to plan.  Thank you for your patience.  There will be more announcements in the close future as details come together.  Please do pass this information along.  The greater the success of this Kickstarter, the more art will grace this new book's pages--with this many deities, we've got our work cut out for us!  Thanks.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mystara Banners

Just for the fun of it, I drafted a series of banners for use with Facebook's Mystara Reborn page.  Many of you aren't on Facebook, so I decided to post the collection here.  Hope this brings back some fun memories as you scroll down through this post.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. IV

In the wake of the insolent rebuke, Akram secretly negotiated with the djinn, infidels and believers alike. He granted to the faithful the right to live among the people of Narwan, provided they did so openly. He also agreed that efreeti infidels would dwell in the desert, away from settled areas, and that the emirates would not encroach upon their domain if these djinn kept to their own as well. To seal negotiations with the infidels, the Caliph of Fustat convicted the Companions of using djinni magic at the Trial of the Silk Turbans, 1331 CE, branding them as outlaws. Those who failed to go underground and defied his authority were lured to places of ambush across the realm, and massacred during what was called the Night of the Khanjar in 1335 CE. Surviving Companions quickly moved the artifact to a desert hideout and once again resumed a secret life.

Whether the First Caliph of Narwan had meant to respect his promise to the efreeti infidels remains a mystery, as he was assassinated in 1348. Intrusions and encroachment happen now and then, prompting brutal and usually deadly responses. Neither is it clear whether the desert djinn would keep their promise forever. Meanwhile, those who’d been converted live among Narwan’s upper class, often work as advisors to the emirs or to affluent sheiks. They stand as guarantors of a fragile peace between Narwani and desert efreet. Priors watch them to ensure their faith is true, while wizards do the same to prevent the djinn from abusing their powers at the expense of the Narwani and their rulers. Current laws prevent the djinn from holding nobility, office, or clerical titles, barring them from leadership.

Desert spirits, Narwani justiciars, and Nicarean spies still actively look for Companions of the Black Rose. They all covet the artifact. Djinn infidels consider it an abomination which should be destroyed. The caliphs wish to hold it as the symbol of their spiritual ascendancy. The inquisition hopes to use it as a weapon to regain control over what they still call Eastern Ellyrion. Though they do not submit to the caliphate’s authority, Companions remain devout followers of Soltan and, therefore, their divine liege takes no action against them. Neither will he interfere with the caliph and those who serve him, or the Nicarean inquisition, for they all serve the same god. In his view, the worthier party will prevail. Meanwhile, the sect continues its mission to convert infidels (of which there are plenty) and to protect the meek from their masters’ abuses (of which there are even more).

The secret shrine of the Black Rose lies in the most deserted corner of the Emirate of Ad-Dhimah, atop a rocky spur of the Nizarim Ridge, a hundred miles south of Ras Al-Khat. Very few Narwani dwell in this inhospitable land. Desert djinn are more likely to wander about, searching for the shrine and for imprudent travelers daring enough to trespass.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. III

The sect adopted its name because of a mystical desert rose a band of adventurers had unearthed in the Ad-Dhimah wastelands. Rather than the common sand or pink-hued gypsum concretion, this one was black and made of something similar to obsidian, but infinitely harder. After extensive testing and divination, the adventurers concluded it was an ancient artifact, a holy relic of divine origins. It seemed to give its owners an edge against the djinn, stealing some of their abilities for some time. The Companions saw Taneth’s spiritual patron Arun-Te more as “Soltan,” the great lord of the sun but also of the desert—their god, the Spirit of Narwan. They called him Arun Al Malik Al Soltan. Whatever his true name, it was he who’d buried the object in the desert as a weapon for his faithful to overcome the djinn.

While continuing to oppose the inquisition, Companions also targeted the djinn at the heart of the conflict. As Companions fell, others took their place, all in the name of Soltan-the-Munificent. Universally reviled, the Nicarean inquisition had nearly withdrawn by 1167 CE, limiting their actions in Eastern Ellyrion to spying (mostly on Nicarean forces there). A protracted fight went on with the desert spirits, as the Companions endeavored to convert them to the rightful cult or to force them back to the wastelands. Likewise, the newly-styled faith also attracted disenchanted colonists from the ranks of traditional Arun-Te believers.

In 1208 CE, while Nicarea redoubled its repression of the colonies, the Black Rose and the “hidden ones” became instrumental in causing Eastern Ellyrion to secede from Munaan, both camps wishing to neutralize the hated inquisitions once and for all. Exploiting the clash with Talikai islanders, pawns of the djinn and of the Black Rose contributed to the imperial viceroy’s expulsion (see Historical Timeline in CAL1 “In Stranger Skies”, page 80). The former Munaani colony thus became known officially as Narwan. The old imperial districts grew into emirates, with a caliph overseeing all spiritual matters in Soltan’s name.

Despite their common achievement, the djinn and the Black Rose continued their struggle. With the help of efreet converted to the cult of Soltan, the Companions regularly gained ground during the next century, uncovering the infidel spirits hidden among the people of Narwan, expelling them, converting them, or slaying them. Most powerful and popular, the sect had reached its zenith. Yet, in its success lay the seed of its downfall. Companions of the Black Rose had become a threat to Narwan’s new ruling elite. The Caliph of Fustat, Akram I saw the sect as a growing political liability, an arrogant rival faction claiming the ability to convert desert spirits to the cult in whichever manner best served its purposes. By then, the existence of Soltan’s artifact had also become common knowledge. The caliph, who wasn’t a djinn, thus demanded prominent members of the sect to hand over the holy relic at once to prove their loyalty. Its keepers promptly refused.

To be continued. . .

Monday, October 5, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. II

Map updated 10/6/2015
Many a djinni found it easier to manipulate newcomers than fighting them openly, often pretending to be faithful followers of Arun-Te to avoid suspicion. Most lived in relative peace this way, enjoying Eastern Ellyrion’s prosperity and quietly removing troublemakers. Nonetheless, locals to this day often blame their misfortunes on the djinn. It isn’t rare when a criminal caught red-handed claims: “The djinn made me do it!” Others, staring dreamingly at the nightly sky, might sing: “If you wish upon the djinn, doesn’t matter who you are. . .” Settlers had a visceral fear of the efreet because they couldn’t see them. They knew the djinn to dwell in their midst, perhaps a new neighbor, Taeen of Jaffoo, or Aran the fish merchant, or the Narum the water-monger. They believed with good reason that the desert spirits were infidels with the powers of demons, and suspicion ran high.

Unavoidably, the Nicarean inquisition launched a djinn-hunt in 1045 CE. Fear among colonial population and false accusations between rivals were all too common, complicating matters. Worse yet, local population disliked the Nicareans almost as much as the djinn, since the inquisition could just as likely turn against them. Between uncooperating locals and magical beings hiding among them, the inquisitors found themselves flat footed. Eastern Ellyrion looked and felt increasingly foreign to them. It wasn’t long before the hidden ones infiltrated Nicarean ranks as well, possessing or killing a number of their leaders. The fight raged on, resulting in compromised inquisitors and those suspected of such being gruesomely executed by their own brethren (1071 CE). As paranoia prevailed, the conflict widened. Djinn permeated all levels of colonial society along with the heads of local thieves’ guilds. Commoners who suspected, or who plainly knew someone of being a djinni, remained quiet because they benefited from the status quo. This led to mounting casualties among colonial population accused of consorting with the “demons.”

The Black Rose was secretly founded during these times of sorrow, a tightly-knit nucleus of native colonials devoted to their countrymen’s protection. Known as the Companions, they became caught in the crossfire, but as devout followers of Arun-Te, they had the tacit support of locals who saw them as avenging heroes. Teosarkha II outlawed the sect in 1101 CE. Tantalizing rewards were offered for information leading to the capture or execution of anyone involved with the Black Rose. Very often, it led those whom the reward had tempted, to be questioned as to how they’d come across their information and why they hadn’t brought it up earlier. Most ended up none the wealthier and at the business end of a noose.

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Companions of the Rose, Pt. I

Centuries before the common era, a community of djinn lived in the Great Caldera’s southeast. A handful had come from the outer planes, attracted by the magic of Calidar’s world soul. Though their elders left or died out, their progeny remained, as they were creatures of this world. They dwelled there peacefully, honored by the fellfolk as spirits of nature whom they called the “hidden ones.” From them, native tribes learned their language, one as harsh as sand-laden winds grinding against the desert’s naked rocks. During the next centuries, fire-loving efreet became the most prevalent of the djinn while the jann scattered with the winds, the marid took to the sea, and the arad wandered into faraway mountains. Slowly, lands that were already warm and dry became even more so under the influence of the efreet, and a desert grew at its heart.

All was fine until Munaani settlers made landfall on the coasts in 796 CE. It is said that divine inspiration led followers of Teos to choose these unkind, sun-drenched parts as their hallowed land. They established Eastern Ellyrion, the oriental half of Munaan’s early colony on Calidar. Resenting the empire’s heavy-handed laws, Tanethian followers of Arun-Te came along and, over time, outnumbered ethnic Nicareans in this region. Meanwhile, the native fellfolk suffered from the massive influx of off-world migrants—something the djinn resented increasingly. Swept aside or facing forced labor, the tribes’ exodus began in 848 CE, leaving behind the djinn and those who could no longer flee. As Munaani settlers pushed inland, they ran afoul of the efreet, and a long struggle began.

Colonists seemed puny at first, but they proved far more resilient than the djinn thought, Nicarean veteran troops helping. With migration waves feeding their ranks, devout newcomers could replace their losses more quickly than the hidden ones. A stalemate was reached when Calderan djinn resorted to living among the settlers, concealing their true nature with their innate magical abilities. Meanwhile, it became fashionable for Calderan-born colonists to speak the language of the desert and adopt local ways, which could be learned from fellfolk servants. Quietly, skillfully, the hidden ones also introduced their script as an alternative to the Nicarean alphabet. Soon, people unwittingly referred to the arid hinterland by its efreeti name: Narwan.

To be continued...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fluttersquee: Terror of the Great Vault

About the size of a melon, this sweet little critter looks like a puffy ball of fur or feathers ranging from neon green to hot pink, with two large eyes, a long prehensile tail ending with three soft feathery protrusions, and butterfly-like wings and antennae. Two short velvety limbs enable the creature to stand, hang from a perch, or hold a small object. It typically feeds on the nectar of very large flowers found high up on certain tropical trees of the Dread Lands, using a retractable proboscis coil about three feet long. Fluttersquees are about as intelligent as house cats, and often behave like them, though they are unable to hunt or fight in any way. When satisfied, they purr. They communicate with squeaks and warbles. Native fellfolk sometimes keep one as a tribal mascot, and say that it can produce a soothing melodious hum.

Fluttersquees can feed on magical objects, which causes them to reproduce. They detect a small enchantment as far as a 100 yards away. Large ones, such as a skyship’s, are sensed from a mile away. To feed on magic, one must be able to touch the source with its proboscis. Without magic, reproduction is comparable to other small critters.

These creatures can drain an item’s minor magic (one hour per +1 magical bonus, or individual magical effects if more than one are present). They can drain a skyship’s enchantments in one hour per point of hull rating. When a flying vessel’s magic has sustained more than 10% loss, it tends to “flicker” at random. Magical detection can easily reveal this symptom. Reduced ship performance and “holes” (drained areas) in a ship’s enchantment start to develop with 20% loss or higher.

Fluttersquees are hermaphroditic. While continually exposed to magic, one lays 1d4 eggs every twelve hours. An egg typically hatches twelve hours later. These creatures hate the scent of a greedlegrim, a small woodland predator. A few drops of their musk, which is odorless to humans and demi-humans, repels Fluttersquees. One application covers about a foot-square and can last 1d4 days when it dries up and loses its potency.

Most military have banned these critters from their fleets, although Calderan smugglers sometimes attempt to trade fluttersquees kept in cages. They can provide wizards with valuable spell components. These creatures do not survive more than a few months in captivity, however, unless cages allow them to fly, such as a large aviary for example. Mongoose-like greedlegrims are hard to keep as they are fast, vicious, venomous, and have a limited teleport ability.


Life Force (%)
Size (feet)
Very small
Movement:       hopping
40’ (20)
120’ (40’)
90’ (30’)
180’ (60’)
Armor Rating (%)
Physical Attacks
Physical Damage
Special Abilities
Purr:  acts as a magical charm within a 30’ hearing radius.
If happy: (mature only) melodious hum heals a small amount of damage (VL+1 once/hour) within 30’ hearing radius.
If threatened:  can turn invisible.
If hungry:  can provoke magical lethargy within 30’ radius once per day (negated with a defense roll).
Magic drain:  one +1 magical bonus or HR point per hour.
Defense Rolls
As warrior with comparable LF
Basic Immunities
Magic Immunity (%)
Min. Int. & Wis. (%)
As a house cat
Morale Rating (%)

Monday, September 7, 2015

An Angle on Osriel Pt. III

1067 CE:  More trouble would strike again, this time in Linnefarn’s grand valley, when waves of Frostholm raiders came. Much of what lay north of the Lake of Tears was plundered and destroyed, pushing elven forces back to Windmere and Tourneuve, though Elëan troops flew eastward over the mountains. Worse, the Alorean garrison in Oosterdam fled as well, abandoning to the approaching raiders its erstwhile human allies, great throngs of fellfolk farmhands, and indentured gnomes. The hapless Rijklanders and their workers fled into nearby forests and up into the mountains while Frostholmers looted the newcomers’ towns. With word of Alorean and Gandarian forces mustering in the north, the raiders withdrew north to the grand valley and settled there for the winter. To help his followers hold on to their recent gains, Odin wisely sent them newcomers of their own, a rough and rugged people not unlike the Frostholmers. From them came the province’s name: Das Wichtelland—otherwise known as a land of imps and magical beings.

Soon afterward, the Rijklanders returned to their devastated homes. Neighboring Monfalconesi wisely offered them weapons to keep both elves and Frostholmers from returning. Fellfolk and gnomes, now culturally akin to Rijklanders themselves, earned their freedom in exchange for swearing to defend the land at the sides of resident newcomers. In so doing, they helped establish their faiths as the prevailing ones in this region.

1203 CE:  Peace remained ever so elusive for the next century and a half. Border clashes were frequent in the Dawn Wilds until the whole of the Great Caldera became engulfed in the wars of independence. The Kragdûras felt cheated out of lands they’d claimed. So were the Aloreans, bitter at the dismantling of Greater Linnefarn. Seizing the opportunity, the elves marched forth, seeking to regain lost grounds and gain control of Lorical which had grown into an open city. The dwarves attempted to stop them, and the conflict came to a stalemate in 1220 CE when drafted settlers on both sides refused to prosecute a proxy war on behalf of their lunar masters. By the end of the insurrection, all three off-world empires stood defeated and licking their wounds, while the old colonies of the Great Caldera became sovereign realms. The Dawn Wilds remained but a chaotic backwater until another catastrophe came about, with the second coming of Ghüle.

1237 CE:  Much was destroyed and Lorical was razed during the invasion. The orcs, the goblins, and the trolls left as quickly as they’d appeared. Stranded, some scattered into the mountains or found entry to the underground. Towns and settlements of the Dawn Wilds were rebuilt and wounded lands reclaimed anew. Fortunes of war led followers of some cults to depart and others to arrive. In the wake of the Ghülean horrors, a monk by the name of Fra Rocco, a Monfalconese native of great wisdom and charisma, endeavored to convince the provinces to join, so that their lands could be better defended from outsiders who coveted them. He succeeded. In 1250 CE, diplomats of surrounding realms met in Lorical and agreed to leave the affairs of the Dawn Wilds to its people. Local leaders came together in Lorical from all corners of the Dawn Wilds and founded the Republic of Osriel. Thus did citizens become free to honor their spiritual patrons, to speak whatever language they wished, and to pursue their quests for wealth and happiness, whatever their races and origins. This declaration became a cornerstone of the Calderan Faiths.

Teos/Soltan: In his infinite wisdom, the Calderan pantheon’s honorary chairman adopted an attitude of liberal laissez-faire. He felt a singular distaste for being personally involved with lesser entities whom he considered bargain-basement upstarts and godly wannabes encroaching “his” divine backyard. He neither earned nor wished to earn any arcane benefit from heading the rag-tag plethora of idols, in his hallowed point of view an unscrupulous and puffed-up gaggle of rabble-rousers and also-ran. None of the members would indulge him with dues normally demanded by pantheon rulers anyway, other than a distant and polite celestial nod. The opportunity to expand his own following among mortals, however, led the mighty sun god to hold his eternal nose and stake his own share of Osriel’s business. The cults of Teos/Soltan fared slightly above average compared with individual deities. As a whole, however, competing pantheons gained the upper hand over the sun god, as his cult only prevailed in four towns of Osriel, in part as the result of Narwani immigration in the south of the Costa Brava . Though squabbles abound, many godlings have proven reasonably successful in Osriel.