Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Episode 2: A House of Echoes

Beware the past, and all that lurks within it. This week on Trust, the Sawyer descendants visit Echo Manor, and learn of the death of Able Sawyer.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Fortress of Egilsten

Population: ~5,500 dwarves
Ruler: Prince Berja Gunnirsson Egilir
Thanes: Ingrid Alfarsdottir Alring, Jari Jarisson Falengr, Agil Eivarsson Harfangr, Byrni Magrsson Steinson, Grimmir Ormirsson Jyrar
Clans: Egilir (noble), Alring, Falengr, Harfangr, Steinson, Jyrar

Egilsten stands at the extreme north end of the Goblin Country, between that awful land, the giant-haunted plains of Umbrinol, and the ruinous empire of the necromancers, Teral. It was founded in the Ninth Age by the dwarf Egil Grimmson, who still stands as a folk hero to the dwarves of Egilsten to this day. Though the fortress has no colony stone, it sends tribute to the Rikonung of the Dwarves as though it were a recognized colony.

The fortress at Egilsten's heart is built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Bluerill River. This promontory commands the fords at the southern end of Riverwood Forest, and passage is impossible for many rods to the north or south, giving Egilsten control over the river-crossing. The fortress itself is old hewn rock, cut from the bowels of the hill; granite cliffs face the river and the town below, while a winding path on the northern side of the slopes permits entry to the stronghold. It has seen little use in recent centuries, as few have been foolish enough to attack Egilsten. The dwarves, somewhat uncharacteristically, have permitted moss to grow along its walls and partially obscure it from a distance.

The town proper sits around the base of the hill, and is ringed on three sides by a mighty wall, and to the east by the river. A statue of Egil Grimmson stands athwart the courtyard of the fortress, visible from everywhere in the town. There are six major dwarven clans, and thus six clan-halls clustered within the walls. As is true of most green dwarf settlements, there are a number of temples in the town, but none so well-placed as that of Eiri Earthfather at base of the approach to the fortress, or the one to Helda Stonemother at the only entryway through the walls, on their south side.

A secondary town of some 1,200 halflings and 800 rock gnomes has grown up around the fords, outside the walls of Egilsten proper. The dwarves consider these quaint little houses to be under their protection, and visit fire and blade upon any who disturb their wards. The gnomes and halflings are permitted to elect their own mayor and do most of the dwarves' trading for them; this trade settlement is known as Tjaldgul, which means gold-market in Orthr. The halflings and gnomes generally refer to their town as Toggilford, but this is a corruption of the dwarven name.

The dwarves of Egilsten have fought for the halflings of Umbrinol in the past, and are considered consummate mercenaries. Ingrid Alfarsdottir, the Thane of Clan Alring, has been on many campaigns in the west and south.

Aurelien Greenmantle and his murderous band of goblin-killers has often made use of Egilsten as a resting and restocking point. The Toggil Inn has thus been improved with the use of stolen goblin gold, and now stands as a major traffic point between Teral and Umbrinol.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

TRUST: Interlude 1 - The Colour Out of Space

Hey, into Lovecraft? Wanna hear a recording of me reading The Colour Out of Space? You DO? Then come on over to TRUST for this week's reading.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Call of Cthulhu: History and Library Use

I'm going to be running a 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu game tonight which, if all goes well, will be recorded and turned into a podcast for your listening pleasure. However, this gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about two flawed skills that have been with the game since its inception. What skills, you ask? History and Library Use!

I've always had a problem with how both of these skills were handled. The History skill is insanely broad, and the difficulty for someone to recall some historical fact should be dependent on their own field of specialization. For example, with a History 80%, a historian is equally knowledgable about the War of 1812, the Punic Wars, and the exact identity of the settlers of a colonial township. They have an 80% (or, under 7e rules, less if the check is a hard one) chance of knowing the answer to any of those questions. To me, as a trained historian, that seems absurd.

The fix is simple: history must be taken as a specialty. A broad category of history would give the investigator only the most cursory knowledge of historical data. Thus, any question of a specific historical fact might be hard or even nearly impossible for them to answer (1/2 skill, or 1/5th skill). The same would be true of a specialist being asked something outside their own field.

Example: Harvey Walters has a History (early medieval) score of 80%. When being asked about the wars of Charlemagne, he has an 80% chance of knowing the answer. When being asked about Operation Barbarossa, he has a 40% chance of knowing the answer.

Library use suffers from a different problem: as written, a single roll of library use turns up all potential data the Keeper has prepared on that subject. This replicates the real experience of following leads through strands of research about as well as Law and Order replicates the real experience of being in court.

When conducting research, you tend to follow strands that either lead to more research to read, or down dead-end alleyways that turn up nothing. You get new search terms each time you find a book or article, and you tend to chase footnotes in those to find more information.

How, then, can you replicate that experience (something that is as cool and involved as a private eye tailing a quarry to determine the places they visit in the day) with the current rules? I have a handy little alteration that I'm using for this game, but I might try to make it more complex later.

That is: a successful Library Use roll given a search term will take 1 hour of research time. This returns 1 result (ordered by the Keeper in a stack of most easily locatable under that term to least easily locatable). If the skill roll would also qualify as a HARD skill roll (1/2 skill), the search returns 1D3 results from top down. If it would qualify as an EXPERT result (1/5th skill), the search returns 1D3+2 results from the top down.

I'll keep everyone informed as to how this works.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Background Solutions: The Elves

As the Swords of Stock leave Tailimisia behind, encamped on the step of a feral, juvenile, white dragon, the question remains: what will become of the roiling civil conflict threatening to boil over in Aita Valmindene?

Since the city is a capital of the largest and oldest elvish kingdom, the chance that other powerful adventurers will be drawn into the conflict in the Swords' vacuum is quite high: let's say, something like 80%.

The composition of the city must be determined, in terms of active adventuring parties, but the highest-level and most likely replacements are the White Chalice, an all-elf part who began in the city of the white walls and have recently returned to it. The Crossed Pikes, a notoriously unpleasant party who slew one of the dragon princelings of Sylvasil for the old ruler of the elves, are also present, but have been hired by the troublemaking Prince Leofrysn.

With a simple table, we can discover how well the situation turned out in the absence of the Swords.

Thus...

1-2. Very Poorly
3-4. Poorly
5-6. Stalemate
7-8. Well
9-10. Very Well

We can add a +1 bonus to the roll because of the skill and cunning of the White Chalice, but whatever is going on in Aita Valmindene will remain a secret until the rumors percolate into Stock and the Reach.