Journal Entries – Berebold the Weezard


The High Tor

How delightfully funny, what Hallie did to Landald! Half-asleep or not, she had to have aimed to cover him in that much effluvia, a fate I find most fitting for his endless mockery of my new poncho; I refuse to believe that I look “like a gay matador” no matter how much he insists that I do (and my poncho is not pink – it is light red, a subtle shade of masculinity for such a refined and subtle man like myself.)

It is fortunate that we found the ruined tor in the middle of that terrible storm; I wasn’t sure if I was going to drown or be struck by lightning first, and I felt just awful for Hadwisa slipping halfway down the hillside before Landald caught her hand – although I must admit I rather enjoyed watching her hair come loose, wild and flying and whipping just like the storm itself, her eyes bright enough to shame the lightning. I can’t ever forget how raw she looked, how wild-eyed and wild-haired. I can imagine her standing over me like that – how delicious! It just sends shivers down my spine.

Is it terrible of me to say that I am glad we are rid of Dameron and Clay? I admit being in shock for about a week after it happened – it was so quick, Clay’s death, and Dameron’s, too – but I was in just as much shock when Clay challenged an entire temple dedicated to The Black Lord to a duel, and that fool Dameron backed him! He sounded so manful talking about honor and esprit de corps the night before his death, sharpening his sword before we went to bed, but I didn’t recognize them as synonyms for stupidity. Poor Clay – are all paladins so stupid? Or just those dedicated to Bahamut?

Hallie says we’re going to be spending a week or better in Wyrm Tribe, which sounds like a week of filthy hell surrounded by rash, uncouth people who don’t bathe, read or listen to opera. Why couldn’t she have decided upon going to Everhart? Oh, she’d probably say something about elves not knowing how to fit someone her size, but surely its worth spending an extra week or two among a people that use clean forks while looking for an appropriate blacksmith? Or perhaps she’s secretly afraid of heights? I just hope I can stick around for her fittings.

Winter: What if?

As the topic of farming, food, and seasons come up in discussion of M’Kal it raises an interesting dilemma. Winter does not exist in M’Kal. It has not for the entire 3,500 years the current civilization has been around.(Did I just say current civilization?) Snow only exists in extreme elevation, or near the city of White Roost. For all but the citizens of White Roost, snow and frost is so uncommon that most have never seen it. If it ever happens it’s the result of magic or a white dragon. Both of which are so uncommon there is no reason to prepare for it. It’s not a normal part of life. You wouldn’t build all the houses in a city to be able to endure a falling dragon just because it happened once 67 years ago to somebody at the edge of town, would you? No. It’s insanely expensive and is likely to never come up.

Get to the point eh? M’Kal has never had problems with cold. The majority of the continent lacks the geography that contributes to extreme weather conditions. Aside from the mountain rainge that forms it’s spine it’s weather is relatively mild year round. Summer, warming spring, and a cooling spring. But no winter. That technically means there is the potential for three growing seasons. So you have a mild wet season, a hot dry season and a cool dry season. Allowing three different crop sets to be grown on a farm each year.

What does this mean, and why does it matter? Storage. M’Kal lacks the culture, technology, or expectations to have to store food. Sure, there are trail rations and such which theoretically have an infinite shelf life. But for the majority of the citizens, their food is farm to plate in a week or two. With no winter there is no need to practice storing food for 2-6 months at a time or more. The worst case scenario that is a normal part of life is some uncommon crops being traded 10 days down the road. SO being able to keep fresh crops from rotting for a couple weeks is uncommon, but happens.

Yeah yeah, I know I have not gotten to the point yet. Farms. M’Kal has fewer farms than a continent with a proper winter may have. This is because if a farm can put out 3 waves of crops a year, you need only one third as many farms to do the same job. But let’s just say for arguments sake that M’Kal has half as many farms instead a third as many. This means we now have a surplus of food, but the surplus is so common that it likely goes to waste. Either being tilled back into the ground or used in rituals and offerings. What we have here is a logistical system that can handle minor setbacks, like a couple farms being burned down. Then the surplus just fills the gaps.

But if something bigger were to happen such as, a level 20 druid decides he wants a winter wonderland and creates a 50 mile wide patch of snowy weather that is perminenced.. that could easily put a thousand farms out of comission. Each of those farms might have fed 9,000 people year round. (My modern technology a 1 season that is 1 square mile can feed 10,000 people. But adjusting for 1400s era technology and wastage I think it’s fair to assume a 3 season farm might do 9,000) That So, 9,000 people per farm that will lose food, and 1,000 farms inside of a 50 mile circle. That’s 9 million people without food. Now, realistically speaking expecting 1 mile square farms to be set up in checker board patterns so that practically half that circle is farmland is unrealistic. Maybe it’s more realistic to say every 1/4th plot of land… Or hell, for simplicity and optimism sake let’s say it’s every 9th plot of land. That way it’s 1,000,000 fewer people that can suddenly be fed. That is still 2-3 MAJOR cities worth of people that suddenly lost their food. Nevermind the fact that the area being permanently frozen will likely make an additional 10 mile area around that area, that is to cold to have a proper summer. Which will increase the total effected area by another 900 square miles, almost 50% more.

Alright, so if that’s not problem enough lets consider some of the other possible implications. Let’s say the insane druid that’s willing to utterly wreck an area so it can make a snowman is a bit more considerate and goes to an area with much less sense farming. So only 1 in 90 plots of land is farm. So he’s only knocking out 100,000 citizens worth of food. That’s still perhaps half, or third of a major city. Enough to create regional shortages for sure. But not likely to result in mass deaths. Some neighboring surplus can solve the problem. Yes it will lead to continent wide rises in food prices. But over the course of a decade farms in other parts of the world can grow to pick up the slack… but farms are not the only problem. Rivers.

For 3,500 years on M’kal the rains come in fairly predictable patterns. We know when there will be flooding and when water levels drop. We know when to irrigate and we know when to get our boats out of the rivers if we want to keep them. Sure it differs back and forth by a couple weeks each year but we know roughly when it will happen. But if this winter wonderland happens to be straddling a river, that river freezes over. With a perpetual winter it will eventually freeze solid. Water flowing into the area from up stream will freeze and pile up creating a damn, resulting in a lake that will continue to grow annually with no way to let it out. Meanwhile down river there… will simply not be a river. Water won’t be able to escape. It’s permanently froze. Irrigation will become increadingly difficult for other parts of the continent. And, depending upon where on the river it is that could mean a village and a few dozen farms, or it could mean several entire cities, dozens of villages, and tens of thousands of farms. That also means shutting down many of the major trade routes so getting in emergency relief in. Because boats.

But, let’s step away from the shit for brains druid and look at something a bit less absolute but just as extreme. Some people want to change an area to have the traditional 4 seasons instead of the 3 that is normal for M’kal. That is going to result in 2-3 months of snow and unworkable cold. The progression into and out of this winter is going to knock another month at least out of 1, but much more likely 2 of their 3 growing seasons. So all farms become 66% less productive. Now it’s likely the entire region can only support half the population it has been supporting for thousands of years.

But for a large chunk of the year, the water ways are not safe enough to bring in extra food. Part of the year the rivers are going to be much lower than they used to be because water is being tied up in ice in the winter areas. During frozen times there is ice in the way. During thawing times there is the flooding and the rivers are unusually high. This difficulty of navigating rivers will result in forcing more caravans to take dangerous slow land routes. The greater difficulty in getting food will lead to more aggressive and more frequent road encoutners too. This makes trade more dangerous for merchants, leading to a need for more guards. Also, the winter leads to it taking much longer to get from city to city. Meaning the traders and their animals need more food per trip. The risks of death are higher due to weather and raids. The risks of accidents such as breaking a wheel is greater due to the snow and ice hiding obsticals. The chance of injuring an animal is higher for the same reason. It’s easier for bandits to stop you by hiding such a trap in the snow on purpose.

By the way, the alterations to the rivers is another big point. With the rivers partially freezing over and thawing on a regular schedule as is normal for a river means effects down stream. less water during what is already a dry season because it’s tied up further up stream. Then when what comes as the normal wet season arrives and flooding is already expected, now you have much worse flooding because all that water retained up river is now coming down more aggressively as it melts, combining with all the heavy rains that normally are part of the seasonal flooding to begin with.

On top of that the wildlife in M’kal has not seen a winter in several thousand years either. Trees have likely evolved to no longer shed and go dormant in the fall. Most of the animals likely have lost the hibernating instinct. scheduled migrations are not a thing. Animals and plants don’t know how to deal with this. Now you have massive amounts of plants dying out, very little of which will recover. You have massive amounts of animals dying off from the cold, and even more dying off from lack of food.

Now.. What is M’Kal have as the best possible chance to fend off this problem if winter starts to occur in a region? Well the first line of defense is to send some druids to dispel the results of the winter and return things to normal. But if that can’t happen then the druids could avert some of the disaster. Help with food, help with water, help with rescues from flooding, and help with disease. But most druids get their magic and power from nature, and nature just got it’s face blown off locally. Will the druids still be as powerful when their power source just got butchered in the area? Sure those down river dealing with only the flooding, drought, and diseases may not be impacted as much. But.. Are those druids in the area effected by sudden winter even going to want to help when their struggling and dying forests are suddenly being butchered by the very cities asking for help, because those cities suddenly need immense amounts of wood to burn to keep themselves warm? Plus it’s not just the trees. The animals are being decimated by the weather too, and now those pesky city folk want a bunch of furs to keep warm in too. The local ecology will become a smoking crater.

Even if it is exactly 1 city and it’s 5 outlying villages that are suddenly struck by having 4 seasons it will hurt. Even if it’s a mathematically perfect 4 seasons so each of them are exactly 3 months long to the day, that 3 months of winter will have such a brutal effect on that city and it’s territory that it’s population of both wildlife and citizens will fall HARSHLY be it from mass die offs or mass exodus. If the time between the last snow of a winter and the first snow of the next winter is 9 months to the day, it is extremely unlikely that the city in question would have time to recover before it is hit again. The city would likely never truly recover.

I think if one region were to suddenly attain a winter, the entire population of the entire continent would tank. It would then take decades for the citizens to develope the technology to store food for long periods, and develope the sustainable farming techniques needed to reclaim the lost areas.

This started off as a small thought experiment. It was only supposed to be a couple hundred words and was going to share it with 2 people. I went a bit overboard and it got bigger than I planned. I am fairly confident to say I have hit about half the points that matter but I am going to stop now. I look forward to feedback, input, and thoughts.

Zavi, has arrived.

Zavi’s was October’s Art Winner. Commission produced by Dr. Awesome

I myself… am impressed. 

Limitations on scroll

The topic of scroll space limitations has come up today, which is a bit of a precursor to several other subjects that are coming up to be debated. So in the spirit of all loving fairness, I am opening this topic up for vote. This is a ‘democratic poll’ which means you can add your own option to this poll. If you write in your own option that means you have voted for that option. So you may not write in something, and then vote for something else.  Only members registered on the website may vote.

So, the question this this:

[democracy id=”2″]

Artifact: Clockwork of Rectified Chronography

Initial description: 
A small mysterious clockwork device. This device appears to be made of brass, gold, and platinum, but is impervious to damage. One can see many gears and jewels in the workings. On its face is a dial with runes in an ancient saurial script. It has four gemstone buttons on the side - one ruby, one emerald, one sapphire, and one diamond.

Full description:
Clockwork of Rectified Chronography (Artefact, priceless, gp, 5 lb)

A. The runes can be read with knowledge of Draconic and DC 30 Decipher Script. Knowledge (History) will lower the DC by 1 per rank.
B. A vague understanding of the nature of the device may be discerned with minimum of 3 days of study and a successful DC 25 check of Knowledge (the planes) or DC 30 Knowledge (arcana).
C. Complete understanding is possible only using Bardic Knowledge (DC 30, extremely obscure)

1. The dial, when turned, drains the user of 1000 XP per minute set on the dial.
2. The user then views the past minute(s) set on the dial, as if they were happening again, starting from the beginning, forward to the present moment. The speed of reviewed time is initially half actual time. The device only shows events that took place in the user’s field of vision in the past.
3. Pressing the blue gem slows the relative passage of reviewed time by half. This can be done multiple times.
4. Pressing the green gem speeds up the relative passage of reviewed time by a factor of 2.
5. Pressing the white gem returns the view to the beginning of the time period set at step 1 (allowing the user to try again if they went past the desired point of change).
5. At the desired moment, the user of the device may press the red gem. Doing so causes a past decision represented in that moment to change randomly, with a new result. Only outcomes determined at least in part by chance may be altered.
a. Roll 1d20. 
b. 1-2 A very negative result.
c. 3-5 A negative result.
d. 6-15 A neutral result
e. 16-18 a positive result
f. 19-20 A very positive result
g. Expending XP before the roll can add to the number rolled, at the rate of 1 per 1000 XP.
6. After the red gem is pressed, the user returns to actual time except for the change that has been created by the device.
7. While reviewing the past, the user has a limit of one hour to make their decision (during this hour, time has seemed to stop for the rest of existence, but it has actually slowed to a trickle for the user. The user is free to go back and forth over the selected minute(s) during that time, using the blue, green, and white gems. If the red gem is not pressed within this hour of the device being activated, the opportunity to change the past is wasted, and the initial 1000 XP spent are not recovered.

Iron-bound Horn of the Craven

The Horn appears to be a minotaur’s horn bound in cold iron. Fey symbols mark the bands at the two ends of the horn and at the midpoint. There are cold iron loops on two of the bands, which have been fitted with a  leather shoulder strap.

Known Properties:

1. Once per day can be used as a Bard’s instrument. Use requires success with a Perform (Woodwind) or Perform (Brass) instrument check (DC 15). Causes 1d6 x (Bardic level of user) of HD within 60’ to become Shaken, unless they succeed a Will save (DC is 10+Bardic level of user+Cha of user). Any who fail the Will save by more than 5 become as though affected by a Langour spell (CL = Bardic level). Any who fail the Will save by more than 10 become Paralyzed with fear. The effects lasts for a number of rounds equal to the user’s Bardic level + 1. All are mind-affecting (fear) effects. 

2. There may be other abilities that have not yet been identified (check with a bard).

3. Current estimated value: 226,000 gp

Last known location: The horn was in the possession of the Iron Horn Bandits, led by Mos Redento, between Dunsorrow and Yarptice City. The bandit Monte Tinderfoot had the skills to use the horn, and it was last seen used by him. It is believed that it was confiscated by the Yarptice City guards when Monte was turned over to them by a band of adventurers. Monte was later released with a stiff fine (given leniency for his cooperation).

Journal Entries – Berebold the Weezard

The High Tor

How delightfully funny, what Hallie did to Landald! Half-asleep or not, she had to have aimed to cover him in that much effluvia, a fate I find most fitting for his endless mockery of my new poncho; I refuse to believe that I look “like a gay matador” no matter how much he insists that I do (and my poncho is not pink – it is light red, a subtle shade of masculinity for such a refined and subtle man like myself.)

It is fortunate that we found the ruined tor in the middle of that terrible storm; I wasn’t sure if I was going to drown or be struck by lightning first, and I felt just awful for Hadwisa slipping halfway down the hillside before Landald caught her hand – although I must admit I rather enjoyed watching her hair come loose, wild and flying and whipping just like the storm itself, her eyes bright enough to shame the lightning. I can’t ever forget how raw she looked, how wild-eyed and wild-haired. I can imagine her standing over me like that – how delicious! It just sends shivers down my spine.

Is it terrible of me to say that I am glad we are rid of Dameron and Clay? I admit being in shock for about a week after it happened – it was so quick, Clay’s death, and Dameron’s, too – but I was in just as much shock when Clay challenged an entire temple dedicated to The Black Lord to a duel, and that fool Dameron backed him! He sounded so manful talking about honor and esprit de corps the night before his death, sharpening his sword before we went to bed, but I didn’t recognize them as synonyms for stupidity. Poor Clay – are all paladins so stupid? Or just those dedicated to Bahamut?

Hallie says we’re going to be spending a week or better in Wyrm Tribe, which sounds like a week of filthy hell surrounded by rash, uncouth people who don’t bathe, read or listen to opera. Why couldn’t she have decided upon going to Everhart? Oh, she’d probably say something about elves not knowing how to fit someone her size, but surely its worth spending an extra week or two among a people that use clean forks while looking for an appropriate blacksmith? Or perhaps she’s secretly afraid of heights? I just hope I can stick around for her fittings.

Journal Entries – Landald the Rogue

The High Tor

So we survived another calamity by the grace of Hallie, who led us up the mountain to safety and shelter when the sky opened up and hurled its abuse upon us, an abuse with which I am very familiar and I pray never extends to Hallie, Hadwisa, or even Berebold the Pink Wizard of Gay, and I worry still without cease that I am the one responsible for Clay’s and Dameron’s deaths. Am I not the one that teased Clay that those who did not lead would never have those that followed? My teasing lead you straight into a temple dedicated to Bane. Damn you, Selune, for never granting me enough wisdom to keep my mouth shut.

I surely thought I was dead when I saw her staring down at that place – didn’t my father tell me when I was a child that minotaurs ate people? There wasn’t much left to eat after she trampled those cultists to death, and when she gored the high priest… oh gods in their heavens did my stomach turn. That wasn’t nearly as awful as when she killed that humongous praying mantis that attacked us in the ruined tor – from farting sleep to leaping horns and bellows and swinging battle axes in the blink of an eye, and lucky me on the other side of it, completely covered in slimy dripping acrid-smelling bug guts after she chopped the mantis in half. And Berebold couldn’t stop laughing about it, that jackass, even after Hallie took me out in the torrential rain to help me clean off – or tried to help, anyway. I wound up more covered in mud and leaves than bug guts, but at least it was just mud and leaves. Hallie is a monster all right. She’s just one that’s on our side.

I wish Hadwisa wasn’t so taken with her; wasn’t I the one that grabbed her when she slipped and started to fall down the side of the mountain? The minotaur was further up ahead, and didn’t hear her scream for all the wind and the rain. I guess I can just never measure up to the big strong talking she-cow in the eyes of a cleric of Larue. Typical of her – of anyone and everyone, really. Just what am I going to tell my father, that he was right and I have no place in this world except working for him doing accounting books? He may be right. I failed the priesthood, I failed Clay and Dameron, and I have failed to get Hadwisa to notice me at all. What else can I succeed at failing at?

Rings of Companionship

Rings of Companionship

I cannot remember the source for these rings. They may not even be D&D 3.5e. Might be from Pathfinder. But they have been thrown up quite a bit this past week so I have been thinking of them a lot, and have some interesting thoughts I want to share.

First off, what are Rings of Companionship?
Rings of Companionship are a pair of rings that are created at the same time. THey can’t be created separately. They have a base value of 2,000 gold, and provide +2AC to the wearer. I can’t find the source for this so I don’t know if the AC bonus is deflection, enhancement, dodge, or moral. At the moment I think moral makes mose sense, given the nature of the items.

The Rings of Companionship are items that are quite rare. In fact they seem to lend themselves to the idea of being creature for husband-wife adventuring duos. The reason being is that the ring’s use is binding. Like a vow, or contract. The pair of rings that are created together are forever connected. So when two people put on those two rings, they are now bound from the point of view of the rings. Those two people will forever get that +2 AC bonus as long as both are alive, on the same plane, and wearing their respective rings. Person A and person B are now attuned to the rings. If Person B dies, person A loses the benefit and can never gain it again from this set of rings. Even if a Person C comes along and puts on the other ring. By the same reasoning that person B can’t just take their ring off and hand it over to person C. This is why they are so rare. Casual adventurers, or those without some significant commitment to each other would not want to invest in a magic item that may go to waste if someone else finds a ring that suits their personal interests better. Or worse, someone dies and takes with them one of your great magic items.

But that’s not all that interesting is it? Sure you get to save a bit of money by buying “one” magic item that benefits two people. So at early levels that +2 AC can be quite useful. But it’s soon outpaced by more practical items that have fewer drawbacks. Until you consider a little bit more. Why not add more magic to it? It’s already treated at a single magic item and any magic is applied to both wearers. So what about adding 5 points of cold resistance to it, so two people can adventure in the tundras and arctic areas? Enchanting it to have a slot of spell storing? Of course that means if either person casts the spell from the stored slot then it’s gone for both.

Of course, any effort to improve the ring would require both to be in the same place. One can’t have their wife off kicking ass on an adventure and expect her husband to sit at home constantly beefing up the ring more and more for her.

While I wish I could find the source for these, I am ruling that they exist either way. I am however leaving it open for DMs to apply their own rules on their generation. Perhaps it requires TWO people to make them. Perhaps it requires a fake feat a player can’t get. Or a rare material. If the DMs don’t want their players to be able to make them, that’s their business. But NPCs someplace can produce them. They do exist. They can be upgraded. And while they are lost to person A if person B ddies, the item is still magical and can be used by the next couple.

These items are OP. I do expect some people to complain about this. They are also a serious risk, and yet great roleplaying tools. So if there is someone in your game you are willing to make a permanent bond of loyalty to, and you are willing to invest resources into that bond, consider a set of these rings.

Feel free to comment, question, and complain about this topic in the comments.

Archery Contest

My very first attempt at a ‘minigame’ within D&D to give my players something to do during their down time between attacks during a siege. No small surprise that some loved it and some hated it.

 

It was so simple, it seemed a sin to call it a designed system.

 

Enchanted glass boxes, set up at different ranged like an overgrown carnival game.  Pay one gold, get ten arrows. Ten arrows capable of breathing through the windwall the game’s staff used to ensure that an outside source can’t help the current player cheat. The first box is a fair distance away but within a single range increment.

Each successive box is a full range increment further.  So each successive box gets a little harder, and statistically has a little bigger reward. The last one at a total of just over 10 range increments instead of 9.

 

Each box has 1 HP, so as long as it’s actually hit it will break.

The first few boxes are going to have some simple coins, then the next few boxes will have randomly generated low price items. The final box will contain a masterwork ranged item of some sort. Typically the weapon of choice for this game, or  a stack of appropriate ammo.

 

The boxes are lined up so one can only fire at the lowest tiered box. 10 arrows, 10 boxes.  So one can’t fire on box 8 until box 7 is broke. So a single miss and box 10 is technically lost. But if one scores a critical hit, then the arrow can break one box and continue to the next applying any leftover damage onto the second box.

 

So while Ranger types would have an advantage in this sort of event, even the most bland average commoner with the most base line everything, still has a 50/50 chance of hitting the furthest box.

 

 

 

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