Saturday, December 29, 2018

Number Appearing & Distribution

On any monster chart in the Bestiary, the number appearing indicates how many individuals of that monster will normally appear within a two-mile hex.  Thus, in the example on the right, the number of camels that would be foraging in a hex of that size would number 3-12.

This number will be distributed in various patterns depending on the behaviour of the monster.  These patterns include:

  • Tight group: in a cluster moving closely together, usually less than one body length apart, frequently touching one another.
  • Group: in a body moving one to three body lengths apart, usually in the same direction, highly conscious of one another.
  • Loose Group: in a collection moving four to seven body lengths apart, generally in the same direction with stragglers.  Beta-male groups are sometimes distinct from the alpha-male with females group.
  • Scattered Group: creatures gather in groups of 2-4, often out of sight or unrelated to each other, foraging or hunting over a very wide area.  Separate groups gather together seasonally for mating.
  • Scattered: creatures may appear singly or in family pairs, mating with other singles or remaining alone through their lives.
  • Widely scattered:  nearly always encountered as individuals.

The chances of any camels being in such a hex (because often a hex should have no monsters of that type at all) is equal to the relative power of the monster.  For that we use the following formula:



"SA" denotes special abilities, so the formula below the line for the wild camel would be 1 special ability (spit) plus the square root of 3 HD, a total of 2.73.  Then, 1 over 2 to the power of 2.73 equals 0.151, or a 15.1% chance that the two-mile hex includes a herd of wild camels.

Desirably, once we could calculate all the creatures present in a given hex, a ranger with sufficient sage knowledge would be able to explore such a hex in a few days and identify the spoor of most of the natural animals present, even if they were not actually seen.  Should a particular kind of monster with many appearing be indicated, obviously these would be quite easy to find.  However, a single highly dangerous monster might take a long time to root out ~ if its presence could even be detected.

For what monsters appear in what environments, see Range (monster habitats).

Range (monster habitats)

I organize the appearance of my monsters on the presence of vegetation and thus food supply, not upon terrain such as "hills" or "mountains."  Some creatures do occupy alpine areas, but this is dependent upon the presence of alpine vegetation and not elevation.

The collection of ranges that I use are composites of Kuchler's vegetation classification, organized by climate type as often as not.  This is augmented by some vegetation types not included by Kuchler, as monsters exist beneath the sea and Kuchler did not account for sea vegetation.

Please note: this formulation continues to be in a state of flux ~ many of the monster charts already posted on the wiki need adjustment in order to be in tune with the text below, while that text is being finalized.  I hope to achieve parity across the Bestiary files in early 2019 (whereupon I can remove this paragraph)

Monster Ranges include the following, with descriptions and images.

Aquatic Ranges

Lake

Includes ponds.  These regions range in size from a hundred square yards to thousands of square miles.  Several are remnants from glaciation.  As they are isolated from one another, the residents of one body of water may be considerably different from another that is nearby.  Temperatures vary in lakes and ponds seasonally in temperate and northern zones, so that much of the life associated with these bodies of water exists only during half the year.

The topmost zone of a lake near the shore, where it is shallow, is called the littoral zone.  Able to absorb the sun's heat, the water is warmer and supports the most life: aquatic plants, insects, mollusks, fish and amphibians.  Eggs and larvae are laid in this zone.  Turtles, snakes and bird-life, as well as humanoids, are most likely to hunt here.

The near-surface open water in the middle of the lake is called the limnetic zone.  Well-lit, it is dominated by plankton, fish and larger monsters that rise to feed.
Links: beetle (giant water)

The deep-water of a lake, below 30 feet, is called the profundal zone.  The water is much colder and denser, little light penetrates and the main food supply is dead organisms.  The main animal life is scavengers.

Ocean


These regions are divided into four separate zones, depending on temperature, the amount of light and access to land.

The intertidal zone is where the ocean meets the land.  Sometimes the bottom is submerged and at other times exposed, due to waves and tides moving in and out.  Mollusks like places where they can emerge from the water to hunt on the land; creatures that prefer to remain submerged include snails, crayfish, sea stars and fish.  Larger creatures, exposed only during the very lowest tides, include worms and large predatory mollusks and beasts.
Links: beetle (giant water)

The benthic zone consists of ocean where the bottom is largely untouched by tides and yet enjoys the benefits of life.  The zone consists of huge ocean plains, much of it consisting of sand, silt and dead organisms, with little plant life on the bottom.  Seaweed forests do reach up to the surface from the bottom but most plant-life is free floating weeds.  The water is comparatively warm and nutrient-rich, with fungi, sponges, anemones, worms, sea stars, fishes and the largest number of dwelling humanoid species.

The pelagic zone consists of the open ocean, where the bottom is deep enough to be considered another zone.  With no land at all, the pelagic zone is relatively cold, with surface seaweed.  Fish tends to congregate in large schools, whereas much larger mammals (whales and dolphins), large fish (sharks) and ocean-going monsters dwell.  Most very large creatures feed on abundant plankton.

The abyssal zone is very cold, highly pressured and low is sustenance.  A constant rain of detritus floats from above, but light is scant and there is no plant life.  Many strange animals are found on the dark floor, or near underwater volcanic vents ~ the largest monsters on Earth dwell in the darkness of this layer, occasionally swimming upwards to prey on large creatures in the pelagic zone.

Reefs


These are widely distributed warm shallow waters fringing islands and atolls, or located upon great shallow barriers upon a continental shelf.  The algae that makes up corals produces nutrients through photosynthesis, creating sustenance for invertebrates, fish, urchins, octopuses, sea stars and some humanoid residents.

Rivers


Includes streams.  These bodies of flowing water change characteristics as they move from their headwaters towards their mouths.  In high country, the temperature is cooler, clearer and has high oxygen levels, which are good for some fish and water scavengers.  As width increases and the river slows, species diversity increases, as does vegetation.  Towards the mouth, the water becomes murky, decreasing the amount of light.  Without light, flora decreases and monsters that use the river as a retreat from which to attack prey on land increases.

Wetlands

Includes swamps, marshes and bogs.  Wetlands are standing water that supports aquatic plants and a high diversity of animal life.  Species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and furbearing animals, as well as monsters seeking isolation and shelter from humanoid outsiders.  Some, such as salt marshes, have high salt concentrations, supporting sea life.  Marshes can form along river estuaries or in wide areas where much of the land is near or below sea level.

Terrestrial Ranges

Alpine


The zone of vegetation between the tree line and the highest point of all vegetation, called the nival zone.  Alpine growth typically consists of herb grasses and plants, with all woody vegetation disappearing towards higher elevations.  The upper limit of alpine vegetations also gives way to bare rock and permanent snow.  Winds are strong and continuous, while precipitation is mist or snow.  Temperatures are cold and it usually freezes at night.  Residents consist of hoofed animals, small mammals and beasts that roost in the high country and plunder lowlands below.

Desert


Barren areas where little precipitation occurs and living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life.  The lack of vegetation exposes an unprotected surface subject to weathering, exposing much bare rock.  Downpours can create flash floods, resulting in a desert bloom of flora and much needed sustenance for animals and monsters.  Plant life will occur wherever there is water, such as seepages from aquifers, surviving on sea mist or minimal rainfall, or congregating around springs that produce oases.


Plants tend to be wiry and tough, with cuticles and spines to preserve water.  Creatures and humanoids need to keep cool, use little precious water and be efficient at finding food and water in the desert.  Many creatures are nocturnal.  Nomads move flocks and herds from oasis to oasis.  The largest deserts include the Sahara, Arabian, Gobi and Kalahari, with large expanses of desert on every continent.
Links: ant (giant black) ~ ant (giant bull) ~ antelope (sable) ~ boar (warthog)

Forest


Temperate wooded areas with predominantly coniferous trees in mid-latitude climates, consisting of pine, cedar, fir, redwood, spruce and like woods, with less than one tenth the growth give over to deciduous trees.  Some forests may support a layer of shrubs, but the understory can be starved of light so that little more than needles carpet the forest floor.  Deadfalls are plentiful where old growth has avoided fire for long periods.  Forests may be very dense and even impenetrable in places.  Most are home to many large animals and monsters.

Some temperate forests, such as those on the west coast of North America, are extraordinarily wet for much of the year.  Forests also include mixed deciduous and coniferous forests, and are distinct from woodlands in that they have a high number of coniferous trees.
Links: ant (giant black) ~ ant (giant carpenter) ~ badger (common) ~ beaver (common & castoroides) ~ beetle (giant bombadier) ~ beetle (giant stag) ~ boar (common & hylochloerus)

Rainforest


Dense wooded areas consisting of broadleaf evergreen trees, associated with considerable rainfalls often the result of monsoons and tropical climates.  Where the leaf canopy of the upper rainforest becomes dense, restricting light from reaching the ground, the undergrowth is soon colonized by dense, tangled growths of vines, shrubs and small trees, called a jungle.  Some rainforests in higher country produce less of a canopy.

There is no dry season.  Average temperatures are warm throughout the year, with day time temperatures ranging from balmy to sweaty.  Flowering trees and fungi are very common, fertilized by the decomposing remains of animals and plants.  More than half the world's species of plants and animals are found in rainforests, as well as extraordinary monsters (many never before seen).  Many important plant-derived medicines originate there and some of the richest spices and crops are grown in rainforest plantations.
Links: ant (giant bull) ~ ant (giant carpenter) ~ ape (carnivorous) ~ ape (gorilla)baboon (mandrill) ~ boar (common & hylochloerus)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Monster & Animal Species

The following is a list in progress of species in Alexis' game world.  Some are based on Earth terms for living animals and others are creations solely for fantasy role-play.  Animal species are relevant to various sage abilities and sometimes for the creation of magical potions, scrolls, wands and other like items, as the bodily fluids of species can sometimes be exchanged for another like creature.

List of Species

Bat: a species of flying mammal, often appearing in very large numbers.  Docile species are insectivores or fruit-eaters and will attack only if disturbed.  More aggressive species have been known to attack large mammals for blood or as a source for meat.
List: bat (giant)

Bear: omnivorous mammals found on every continent except Africa and Australia.  These creatures have large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, small rounded ears, shaggy hair, paws with five claws and short tails.  Food usually depends upon what is available in the bear's environment.  Hunted for their meat and fur.  Caged bears of smaller species are often kept as a source for entertainment.
List: bear (black) ~ bear (brown) ~ bear (cave)

Beast: supernatural hybrids, sometimes part human, often destructive and malevolent in nature.  The existence of beasts has been the result of both magical experimentation and inter-planar contact, where some beasts have emerged on Earth through divine intervention.  Most beasts created in laboratories are born sterile ~ but the means of their creation has become known, so that the same beasts do tend to appear, having either escaped or been freed.  Some notable beasts, always originating on another plane of existence, are unique in form.  See Beasts (sage study).
Dragons: dragon huakinthos ~ dragonis malignans
Ordinary beasts: ankheg ~ basilisk ~ behemoth ~ beholder ~ bird of Tyaa ~ bulette ~ carrion crawler ~ catoblepas ~ centaur ~ chimera ~ cockatrice ~ couatl ~ displacer beast ~ dragonne ~ eye of the deep ~ gorgon ~ griffon ~ harpy ~ hell hound ~ hippocampus ~ hippogriff ~ hydra ~ invisible stalker ~ ki-rin ~ lamia ~ lammasu ~ leucrotta ~ leviathan ~ lurker above ~ manticore ~ medusa ~ minotaur ~ morkoth ~ nightmare ~ otyugh ~ owlbear ~ pegasus ~ peryton ~ remorhaz ~ roper ~ rust monster ~ salamander ~ satyr ~ sea lion ~ shambling mound ~ shedu ~ slithering tracker ~ sphinx ~ stirge ~ trapper ~ treant ~ turtle (dragon) ~ umber hulk ~ unicorn ~ wyvern ~ xorn
Unique beasts: Apep ~ Bahamut ~ Blodug-Hofi ~ Cerberus ~ Dahak ~ Fenris ~ Flame Snake ~ Freke & Gere ~ Garm ~ Gullin-Bursti ~ Hugin & Munin ~ Indra's Elephant ~ Jormungandr ~ Ma Yuan ~ Minions of Set ~ Pack of the Wild Hunt ~ Peacock of Karttikeya ~ Phoenix ~ Sleipner ~ Tanngrisner & Tanngjost ~ Thunder Bird ~ Tiamat ~ White Eagle of Zeus ~ Yama's Water Buffalo

Bovine: cloven-hoofed, ruminant mammals, with all males possessing two or more horns and in many species with females that possess horns also.  Bovids are typically diurnal, with social activity and feeding usually peak during dawn and dusk.  While small bovids forage in dense and closed habitat, larger species feed on high-fiber vegetation in open grasslands.  Many bovids have been domesticated, while their leather, meat and wool is sought after.
Links: antelope (sable) ~ buffalo ~ cattle (domestic) ~ cattle (wild)

Camelid: large, strictly herbivorous mammals with slender necks and long legs.  Due to their body structure, camelids have to lie down by resting on their knees with their legs tucked underneath their bodies.  Camelids do not have hooves, they have two-toed feet with toenail and soft, leathery foot pads.  When they walk, both legs on the same side of the body move simultaneously.  Camelids long enough for human beings to ride have a typical swaying motion.
Links: alpaca ~ camel (wild)

Chthonic:
typically malevolent semi-divine beings whose origin tends towards the lower planes of existence, widely ranging in type and form.  Chthonic creatures are often associated with subterranean realms and places, but also with places that terrify and mortify the senses.
Demons: manes
Devils: lemure

Crocodile: large, solidly built reptiles that include alligators and caimans, with long flattened snouts and laterally compressed tails.  Their eyes, ears and nostrils are located on the tops of their heads.  They can swim well and can move on land in a "high walk" or "low walk," while smaller species can even gallop.  Their skins are thick and covered with non-overlapping scales.  They have peg-like teeth and a powerful bite.  They are hunted for skins and for meat.
Links: crocodile (common, deinosuchus & saltwater)

Faerie: enchanted humanoids usually with some natural magic ability dwelling in sylvan lands which exist largely through the caretaking and concern of powerful members of the species.  Similar but unrelated to Apollonian semi-divine beings, with a considerable presence throughout those outer planes associated with peace, happiness or contentment.  Often, faeries are concerned with the well-being of persons deemed worthy in their eyes.
Links: brownie ~ mite

Feline:
also cats, carnivorous mammals with adaptations for stalking, ambush and short pursuit hunting.  With graceful and muscular bodies, strong forelimbs, a powerful bite and retractable claws, cats often have characteristic striped or spotted coat patterns for camouflage.  Some cats have been domesticated.  Often hunted for skins.
Links: cheetah

Fish: aquatic animals with gills and bound to a water environment, either salt-water or fresh.  Fish are usually non-intelligent and voracious eaters of creatures smaller than themselves.  They are abundant and often appear in very large groups, which can make them dangerous even against larger prey.  Common fish are sought after as an important food source.  There are numerous sub-species.
Ray-finned fish: barracuda

Flightless Bird:  these animals are birds that do not have the ability to fly.  Body shape tends towards long legs, necks and large heads, though exceptions ~ notably penguins ~ challenge this norm.  Flightless birds tend to attack with beaks and feet, the latter often including vicious claws.  Flightless birds are treasured for their decorative feathers, meat and skins; many species have been domesticated.
Links: axe beak ~ moa ~ ostrich ~ rhea

Hemitheioc: neutral to benevolent divine beings, less than demi-gods, whose origin tends towards the upper planes of existence, widely ranging in type and form.  Hemitheioc creatures are associated with aiding mortal beings, often with generosity and guidance.  Far less commonly seen than malevolent divine beings, hemitheioc beings take pains to work through emissaries, signs and other subtle means, preferring not to reveal themselves if not absolutely necessary.  As such, their measures are more difficult to identify and counteract.
Links: djinni

Humanoid: a highly disparate collection of normal-sized, intelligent, communal upright-walking beings typically with a head, two legs and two arms, though exceptions exist.  Includes both benevolent races seeking providence for the largest number and malicious, warlike races bent on world domination and control.  The most dangerous are those in control of large political regions.  Does not include giants.
Demi-human races: dwarf ~ elf
Goblin-associated races: bugbear

Insect: creatures with a chitinous exoskeleton, pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and antennae.  Most insects that comprise monster forms are giant in form, a spontaneous evolutionary condition that predates the human discovery of magic and is therefore attributed to wild magic.  The effect produces a limited-levitation effect that lightens the weight of the insect so that it is able to support itself on legs or even fly.  Some giant insects can walk on water or swim.  Insects may be solitary or live in large organized colonies.  Some are known to swarm.  The diversity of insects precludes further generalizations.
Links: ant (giant black) ~ ant (giant bull) ~ ant (giant carpenter) ~ beetle (giant bombadier) ~ beetle (giant fire) ~ beetle (giant rhinocerous) ~ beetle (giant stag) ~ beetle (giant water) ~ centipede (giant)

Primate: a collection of primitive humanoids, possessed of low intelligence and related to humans.  While some larger species are earth-bound, all species possess adaptations for climbing trees.  Small species will leap from tree to tree or swing between branches.  Walking movement includes upright on two limbs or modified knuckle walking.  Highly social in family or larger groups. Most species live in tropical rainforests.
Links: ape (carnivorous) ~ ape (gorilla) ~ baboon (mandrill)

Pudding: a form of slime mold thats secrete acid from their tissues that is capable of dissolving flesh, cellulose or metal, depending on the species.  See Slime Molds (list).
Links: pudding (black)


Rhinocerous: herbivorous large mammals, some that can be counted as megafauna exceeding three tons in weight.  Rhinos typically have one or two horns, though exceptions exist.  Leafy material is preferred.  Horns have been sought after as a source of medicine and magic.  Rhinos have a reputation for being highly aggressive.
Links: baluchitherium

Rodent: mammals characterized by a single pair of incisors on the upper and lower jaws.  Found in vast numbers on all continents and in all habitats.  Rabid and often associated with disease, many rodent species are considered invasive pets, eating and spoiling stored food, destroying buildings and threatening crops and water sources.  Rodents also serve as a source of food, as pets and as attack animals.
Links: beaver (common & castoroides)

Swine: even-toed hoofed mammals noted for their intelligence as animals. Though usually feeding on vegetable matter, swine are ominivorous and can be highly aggressive as predators.  Some form prominent tusks that can be very dangerous.  Swine are hunted for their skins, meat and fat, which can be rendered to make lard or candles.
Links: boar (common wild & hylochloerus) ~ boar (warthog)

Therapod: bipedal reptiles characterized by hollow bones and three-toed limbs, usually carnivorous though some herbivores and omnivores are included in the species.  Distantly related to birds.  Therapods typically possess blade-like teeth with serrated edges.
Links: bonesnapper

Weasel: carnivorous mammals with short legs, short round ears and thick fur.  Weasels tend to be solitary, nocturnal and do eat vegetable matter.  Most can swim and are comfortable in the water.  Even the smallest species are noted for their viciousness.  Many species are sought after for their furs.  Some species have been domesticated.
Links: badger (common & chamitataxus)

See Bestiary

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Comprehend Aura (sage ability)

Auras are fields of energy that suffuse the substance of all Earthly matter, living or not, being emanations of positive, negative, elemental and ethereal energy that can be visually seen by those with the knowledge of how to look.  Initially, this ability is limited in scope and should be considered very weak when applied to anything that falls outside the character's personal knowledge.

However, when applied to the character's amateur or greater knowledge, the ability to see the aura invested in that knowledge increases the character's observational powers.

Naturally, we would want a grand list that described exactly how that improvement is applied to each potential sage ability throughout the system ~ but rather than attempt this task, I expect the various applications to grow organically and be listed below on this page.

A few particular insights that occur immediately, however, would be a physician's ability to better know the health of a patient, the effectiveness of a cure or the degree to which the patient was suffering.  An herbalist would be able to search for desired plants more efficiently and collect a better quality of product.  A prospector or miner would have a better sense of where to sink a mine shaft.  A skiier would sense better which snow was safe to traverse over, just as a mountain climber could see the more reliable handholds better.  A thief practiced in stealth would recognize with better ability the disturbance in sound being caused by their footsteps.  A preacher would know better the effectiveness of their sermon upon the congregation.  And so on.

Each of these benefits would be slight, of small benefit and yet, when spread throughout the character's overall skill-set, meaningful.  A small bonus here, a bit of time saved there, some adjustment to the safety of the participant or the effectiveness of the process.  Each of these can be accounted for as the skill set that needs adjustment emerges.  There's no need to work at length on the concept at this time.

See Occultism

Acupuncture (sage ability)

Provides temporary relief for penalties that result from physical injury, pain, burns, disease, even age.  The application of acupucture is stressful, requires an hour to perform and requires the possession of eighty needles which need to be folded into a leather-and-cloth pouch.  An accupuncturist can work on only one patient in a given day.

A comfortable place is needed for the subject to lay, with the equivalent of day-time lighting, a heavy blanket to lay on and relative peace and quiet.  During this time, neither the patient nor the acupuncturist may be disturbed without risking the effect of the treatment to that time.

Afterwards, the beneficiary will, that day, be unaffected by the penalty they would otherwise suffer, for a period between 6 to 9 hours after the practice is applied (roll randomly, d4+5).

Acupuncture will also restore age effects to the next lowest category ~ so that a venerable person would feel old, an old person would feel middle-aged and a middle-aged person would feel mature.  These effects likewise last 6 to 9 hours, with the character regaining strength, constitution and dexterity, but losing none of their gained intelligence or wisdom.  Acupuncture has no age effects upon persons who are mature in age or younger.

See Occultism

Detect Mania (sage ability)

Mania describes situations where groups of ten persons or more are acting without control, either due to mass hysteria, magical suggestion or control, madness or like condition.  While an ordinary observer may see a crowd acting with high emotion and believe that the assemblage is an ordinary mob or rabble, persons with this knowledge will recognize there is much more going on than meets the eye.

The character will be able to recognize that mania is occurring if the following apply: 1) at least 10 persons are affected; 2) more than 20% of a given crowd are affected.  The mania might be driven by a natural hysterical contagion, the influence of a powerful magical individual or force, a physical or mental disease, brought about by a plague or even by parasitic infestation, or it might have an otherworldly connection.

As the knowledge is investigatory and not a magical spell, the character with this ability will need to obtain full access an individual suffering from the mania.  A close examination of less than a minute is all that is needed to identify someone affected and someone that is not ~ as many within a crowd will move along with the mania-driven crowd from confusion or curiousity.  The affected person, thus identified, can be removed somewhere else and put under observation.

Each hour of observation ~ which consists of asking questions, manipulating the victim or otherwise poking and prodding, much of which will require the victim to be restrained ~ allows the character to make an intelligence check.  If this fails, another hour of observation is needed.

A successful intelligence check will reveal the cause ~ but not the source ~ of the mania.

See Occultism

Make a Reading (sage ability)

Enables the character to produce results from a chosen occult practice, as described below:
Astrology: the player will be expected to purchase an astrological book that will enable them to make astrological charts ~ and to make these charts of player and non-player characters in the setting as part of the cultivation of the discipline. The player does not have to believe in astrology, but the effects of making a chart will depend on the player's ability to demonstrate the accuracy and detail of what planets are in what houses at the time of the charted character's birth.
Bone Throwing: to read the bones, the character must purchase or be in possession of six 6-sided dice that are unique of each other, with images instead of numbers. Often called "story cubes." Add to these one 6-sided die that possesses pips. The manner in which the dice land determines the interpretation.
Numerology: requires little preparation, but does require the character keep continuous track of all dice rolled at a table in a given period to have any chance of making an observation. Depending on the die rolls, it is possible that no observation will result from this work that is done.
Tarot: the player must purchase a tarot deck. Results will form from the cards as they are pulled and set out during the reading.
Tea Leaf Reading: the player must provide loose tea and cup, as well as willingness to drink the tea and perform the ritual of tea reading in order to create the images necessary to make a proper reading. The player will be required to study the pattern of the leaves and identify pictures therein.

This ability to read enables the player to state absolutely that the reading does take place and does have meaning; without that confirmation from the player, the process should not be granted any power. Take note, however, the onus is on the DM to ask, "Does this have meaning?" It should be made clear to the player that results cannot be described as having meaning once the false reading is put into effect.

See Occultism

Carve Sigil (sage ability)

The sigil is a magically inscribed symbol that differs from either runes or glyphs, being the pictorial signature of an unearthly beings that are semi-divine and lesser than gods (often labeled Apollonian, good, or chthonic, evil), whose place of origin is the outer planes.  The number of beings is effectively infinite, but players may choose three from mythology that pleases them.  It has no direct effect on the sage ability ... but it may create situations when the character grows in power to where they may establish a relationship with the semi-divine being.

Semi-divine beings include demons, devils, ice maidens, nagas, personal servants of demi-gods and gods, valkyries and so on.  In effect, the sigil requests these beings to lend power to the occultist, which comes in three forms: hope, influence and protection.

The effectiveness of these sigils depends upon omens which occultists receive through their chosen occult practices, as follows:

Hope

When omens are received that threaten illness, disaster, upheaval or even death, sigils of hope give promise that all is not lost.  Sigils of hope may be inscribed upon structures, buildings, vehicles or upon any object.

If threatened, a sigil of hope will increase chances of endurance or being bypassed by 50%, by a storm at sea or natural disaster, even by a passing army bent on laying waste to the countryside.  This might mean that a home is used as headquarters by the enemy, or that if burned that the foundations and general structure will remain untouched.  Objects that are lost or taken have a very real chance of being found again and recovered, even if dropped in the deepest sea or stolen by the most fearful enemy.  Even a broken object may be somehow restored if it is marked with a hopeful sigil.

Influence

When omens speak of strangers or outsiders who have come with gifts or fearsome purpose, sigils of influence give opportunity to belay enemies and strengthen friendships with such persons.  The sigil of influence must be inscribed upon the occultist as a tattoo, upon the occultist's clothing or upon an physical object made of wood, stone or metal that may be passed to another, to be worn.  If the latter, the sigil will only work if the person who wears it is known personally to the occultist.

The sigil will enable the bearer of the sigil a charisma check when meeting the other; success will ensure the other will permit a parley, staying attacks for at least 1 round per point below the bearer's charisma that is thrown.  For example, a character with a 9 charisma makes a check and rolls a 2; this will mean that a parley of at least 7 rounds, all of 84 seconds, must take place before the other will press an attack.

If the stranger was fortold by omens, the bearer of the sigil will receive a +2 bonus to their roll.

Protection

When omens speak of good fortune, blessings or the goodwill of the gods, sigils of protection will benefit the character's safekeeping should a moment of crisis arise when the bearer is thus favored.  Sigils of protection may be inscribed upon armor and shields, helmets, cloaks, bracers, rings and anything else that might be equated with a protection bonus.  The protection will increase the armor class of whomever wears or bears such an object by +1 from the beginning of the crisis to its end, defined by such time as the bearer has passed from the good fortune that was fortold by the omen.

This protection is not magical but it is real; and may, if the object remains possessed, come into value again if similar auspices are told by the occultist's discovery of fate.

Number of Sigils

The occultist has the power to inscribe one sigil of each type per 10 points of knowledge possessed.  This means that an amateur occultist with 14 knowledge points is able to create one sigil each of hope, influence and protection.  However, if the object with the sigil is destroyed or lost, the ability to inscribe the sigil elsewhere is not regained.

Sigils inscribed in wooden, metal or stone objects must be carved or engraved into the object, though it is not supposed that an occultist without great skill in this need do more than scratch the sigil irrevocably into the surface.  Sigils which are inscribed on clothing must use blood ~ though it need not be any particular blood, or even human.

Inscribed objects receive a +2 bonus when saving against destruction.

See Occultism

Tea Leaf Reading (occult practice)

Also called tasseography, this practice is based upon directing energy through brewing, drinking and carefully observing the patterns of tea leaves as they gather in the bottom of a tea cup.  The practice is demanding for some and simple for others ~ the occultist must be able to discern images in the cup using their imagination as a keen observer.

The tea must be brewed with tea leaves that are purchased before they are minced; for the beginner, black teas are recommended because they are easier to read.  The tea leaves are placed directly into the traditional cup, which should be made of white china and have a handle.  A strainer is not used.  As the tea steeps and the hot water cools, the occultist will take a few moments to reflect on their thoughts.  During this process, it is believed that wild magic begins to transfer its energy into the tea.

The occultist, or querent as it is called in tea leaf reading, should begin sipping the tea, contemplating a question in their minds.  When there is very little tea left in the cup, no more than a tablespoon, the querent holds the cup in their left hand and swirls it three times from left to right.  Then, without transferring the cup out of the left hand, the querent inverts the cup over the saucer, letting the water drain out.  The cup is left for a minute, then turned three times in a complete circle before it is turned upright again.  Done properly, tea leaves will cling to the cup in a variety of shapes.

These shapes will form animals, mythical beings, objects, letters and numbers ~ but the occultist must be able to physically look at the leaves and actually see these things.  Additionally, the tea cup's handle, held away from the querent, helps define if the objects describe immediate events or things relating to family, wealth, luck and so on ~ this last need not be fully investigated at this time, as this entry serves as a placeholder until such a time as a player chooses tea reading as their occult practice.

See Occultism

Tarot (occult practice)

The manner of divining events through drawing cards from a specific deck containing 78 cards, including the suits of Cups, Petacles, Swords and Wands (together known as the minor arcana), as well as 22 cards of the Major Arcana.

The cards are drawn and laid down to first deduce which card is pulled, then the orientation of that card ~ whether it is upright or reversed.  Each card that is pulled with the express purpose of divining events or characteristics of the world causes the manifestation of wild magic to occur.  This effect results whether one card is pulled or many, but only if the occultist draws the card and only if the act of drawing the card is done specifically to learn the secrets the card will tell.  The more cards that are drawn, the more complex ~ and potentially chaotic ~ the results may be.

This is because tarot cards can offer profoundly beneficial and profoundly malignant events ... and the more cards that are pulled, the more likely that a malignant event will place itself at the heart of all other events dictated by the cards.

This is not how traditional tarot works precisely ... but of course, tarot as a practice is all talk and no substance.  In terms of game, real magic results as the cards are drawn, not mere words ~ and it takes very little badness to undermine even a lot of goodness, as we all have experienced.

Descriptions for the tarot cards themselves, and what the DM is to do about them, can be downloaded through this link.  Each card comes with a phrase to give the players, which they must decipher for themselves; this is followed by a prescription for the DM's in-game response.  I do not fear the full disclosure, as obviously the tarot reader would have some idea of what was coming, and a careful DM will be able to hide their tracks well in a school of red herrings.

See Occultism

Numerology (occult practice)

An interpretation of the divine and mystical relationship between numbers and fate, through which the recognition of patterns gives insight into the manifestation of wild magic.  As role-playing is the process of generating numbers, the occult practice of numerology works in a meta-game sense to the rolling of dice ... of which the player is aware but the player character is not.

As such, we should resolve this player ~ player character conflict by imagining that while the player rolls a number than brings about a significant event in the game (say, a 17), the player character that there are 17 grommets in the enemy's belt, notices there are 17 stones on the ground next to the enemy's body or perhaps remembers there were 17 biscuits in the pan for breakfast that day.  None of which really matters; beyond the playability of the occult practice, we need give no more thought to the meta-game aspect than this.

In practicing numerology, the occultist identifies the life path and destiny root numbers for as many as are practical to track.  These numbers are calculated through the method of Chaldean Numerology, which is a method based upon ancient Babylonian practises.  These numbers are calculated by the names of characters and by their date of birth.  When these numbers emerge commonly in play, charts are consulted that indicate the significance of this number reoccurring.

Until such time as a player chooses this occult practice for their character, I prefer to leave the remainder of numerology as a placeholder at this time.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mite

These small creatures are not a race unto themselves, but rather grotesque, spiritually poisoned sprites that have become consumed by their baleful vices and compulsions.  Hating other sprites and themselves, their obsession with malevolence has mutated their minds and their bodies.  Malignant and cruel, sometimes in pairs or threesomes, these creatures steal away from the sun, seeking dark places and victims for themselves.

Mites are very clever and will hone themselves as thieves, rising as high as 5th level.  They specialize in skullduggery and especially in setting and removing traps.  Though small, they will arrange trap doors and sliding chutes intended to imprison their victims in small traps, where they can be patiently poisoned, starved or bled to death.  Mites prefer the taste of larger humanoids, disdaining the taste of other food and particular of good faeries.  The more disdainful the humanoid, the better the flesh tastes to a mite.

The bite of a mite is toxic and has the potential to impart some of the mite's malefic nature to the subject in the form of a curse.  Any who are bitten must make a saving throw against magic, receiving a +1 bonus for every point of wisdom above 12.  Once cursed, victims will be apparently unaffected, but will immediately refuse to harm a mite, or prevent a mite from taking action.  Until the curse is lifted, the victim will be unable to spare opponents, resist taunts that encourage the victim to fight or flee a fight unless reduced to less than 20% of their hit points.  This will persist even after the mite is dead, as a part of the mite lives on in the victim.

Mites will often create complex tunnels near potential victims, with these passages being as small as four inches in diameter.  Mites are particularly fond of targeting isolated farms, waiting for their chance to kill off members of the humanoid family one by one, often succeeding in doing so without alerting the residents as to what is happening.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Astrological Chart (occult practice)

Not to be confused with the sage study, Astronomy and Astrology, the study of celestial bodies and the sky.

The making of the astrological chart is a means of divining the fate of an individual by noting the position of the zodiac, the planets, the sun and the moon at the precise moment of an intelligent creature’s birth. Astrology has no power over the lives of brute creatures, including humanoids with an average intelligence less than seven.

Tracing its roots 3,500 years into ancient Mesopotamia, the act of charting an individual’s astrological chart irrevocably sets the fate of that individual, so that events over a period of months, years or even decades will slowly compound to bring about the visitation of that fate. The fate reckoned relates to what heavenly bodies are placed in which houses, balanced by the motions of those bodies at that time, such as the phase of the moon or whether a planet is in retrograde motion. The charts of individuals may indicate they are destined to be rich or poor, popular, cursed, healthy, lucky, to find greatness or possibly die in obscurity.

Obviously, player characters may not wish to know their fate and may resist the occultist investigating these things. However, as the game world is the Earth, as astronomical charts exist to describe the placement of every planet and its movement, as the birthplace is known for each individual and as the time of birth can be determined randomly, it is possible to create an exact astrological chart for any existing character, player or non-player alike.

The exact interpretation of the astrological chart can be left for later when this becomes relevant to game play, which won’t be until a player either chooses this interest as an occultist, or a player pays money to an NPC to have their chart read (which will cost a pretty penny). Until the time when the player and DM can discuss the actual personal time the player needs to make the chart, it is enough that plenty of content already exists surrounding astrology to make a reading practical.

See Occultism

Friday, December 14, 2018

Bone Throwing (occult practice)

A form of occultism by which wild magic is comprehended through the casting of bones or various objects.  For players with little experience in this practice but with sufficient knowledge in the occult, the bones are typically represented by dice.  A more dedicated player may, if wished, employ a more authentic collection of throwing bones ~ though players should be warned that the actual practice of bone throwing is not to be taken lightly.  For the role-playing dilettante, a simple set of dice are recommended.

The player is asked to obtain six unique six-sided dice without numbers, called story cubes or story dice.  Desirably these dice would contain images that were appropriate for the time period.  of the role-playing game (nothing anachronistic). Every image on every die should be unique, a total of 36 images. To this should be added an ordinary six-sided die, preferably with pips and not numbers.  It is important to understand that none of these seven dice should be thrown for any purpose other than rolling bones.

Of the six picture dice, one should be designated as “the self,” the die that specifically defines your game character. Obviously, the die should be chosen with this purpose in mind. Each of the other five story dice must also be assigned a meaning. These meanings can be personal, but unless the player has much experience with bone throwing, it is recommended that these five meanings should be health, wealth, relationships, magic and morality (evil vs. good, wrong vs. right).

The numbered die may then be used varyingly, as a 50/50 to designate male or female, few or many, friend or foe, yes or no and so on; or it may be used as a measure of 1 to 6 to describe importance, danger, chance of success and so on.

Much of the reading beyond this is an art form. The player must interpret the throws based on the meanings of the dice, how they fall, where they touch, the distance or lack thereof between the pieces, what falls nearest to the bone thrower and what falls furthest away. The dice must be thrown with two hands and then effectively a story is made from the results. The story must be explained and accepted as reasonable by the witnesses of the bone thrower.

Authentic Sets

If the bone thrower wants to perform a more authentic means of bone throwing, a collection of objects such as small rocks, bits of driftwood, smoothed pieces of glass, crystals, carved wood figures or whatever feels right should be collected.  Each item must have a genuine memory of location and meaning for when it was acquired, the emotional state it conveys and a comprehension for how the object falls, else a reading is not practical.

For instance, if a bit of petrified wood is included in your collection, that you gained as a child when on a journey to Arizona with your family, the wood will have a distinct shape and ways in which it will come to rest: “facing” away from you, towards you, laying on its back, pointing at another object, pointing at nothing, etcetera, as you interpret it. In this aspect it is your mother, in that your father; its relationships to other things are memories, conflicts, unresolved issues and so on. Bone reading can be extraordinarily esoteric and profoundly personal.

Ten or fifteen “bones” with these connections can make for an intricate reading, one that would be highly difficult for the non-bone thrower to see, since the pieces would be familiar to the reader alone.  Still, as long as the lay of the bones can be defended by the player, this form of authentic bone throwing can be accepted into the game.

Resolution

As ever, the reading made by the bone thrower causes events to come into being; an ill omen occurs, an expected relationship creates a compatible non-player character, enemies or friends turn up to threaten or sustain the party, while events spontaneously occur in keeping with the reading.  This can be a difficult process for the DM, who must be as flexible as the readings themselves.

Some players will attempt to manipulate the results by interpreting every reading as “good luck” or some promise of benefit or success. The DM must be cautious, designating certain pictures or patterns as clearly bad, whatever the player may say. For example, if the die symbolic of the self lands far from any other die in the throw, the player should not be encouraged to see that as “proof” of anything except the obvious meaning that the character does not benefit from the span of distance. Likewise, if the character’s self die lands close to wealth, but far from health, that too speaks to a particular kind of interpretation. Beware of players who will try to massage the interpretation as a means of controlling the results.

For this reason, bone throwing can be particularly troublesome as an occultist knowledge. Remember that it is often to the game’s benefit that the results be good; it does not mean that benefits will simply fall into the player’s lap. The DM is still entitled to create obstacles and require risks, though an occultist will have some warning of those risks.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Troll

A species of mutant humanoid whose origin has puzzled scholars for a millennia. While often confused as a form of giant, ogre or corrupted demi-being, trolls have no biological link to any of these. Because of the troll’s regenerative ability, post-mortem examinations of the monster are extremely difficult, requiring a complex method of magical stasis and tools.  As such, troll studies lag far behind research into other monsters.

The noted theoretical magician Albertus Magnus of the 13th century posited that these creatures were hylomorphic in construction, compounded of human-like material and wooden matter. He believed that the presence of trolls in virtually every part of the old world confirmed that their origin most likely dates from the Hyborean Age, some 40 to 60 thousand years ago. The troll’s regenerative properties are related to an unnatural magical growth related to the troll’s fibrous tissue. It is believed that some trolls are lived as long as six to seven thousand years. It is not known if or how trolls breed. It has been suggested that the hylomorphic transformation of wood and flesh occurs spontaneously.

The myth that trolls "turn to stone" when confronted by the sun seems to have arisen from the last century's wide-scale efforts to eradicate trolls from civilized Europe.  The description is metaphorical, in that trolls caught outside during the day would remain as still as a stone as they waited for patrols to pass them by.  This was imagined as the reason why efforts to kill every last troll seemed to leave survivors, regardless of the effort taken.  There is plenty of evidence that trolls are destructive during daylight hours.

Despite their size, trolls are emaciated creatures with little flesh on their bones, so that in build they are approximately half as robust as a human.  They stand on the toes and balls of their feet, so that they are lithe and quick when they attack.  Their hide is very tough, colored a moss green and is typically marked throughout with patches of dull brown.  An oily substance supporates from knobby boils on the troll's body.  A thin, straggling patch of hair drapes from the troll's head; as trolls age past four or five hundred years, this begins to turn grey.

Advantages

In addition to possessing infravision, trolls possess a strength of 18/60, allowing them +2 to hit and +3 damage.  Trolls may occasionally use clubs as weapons, causing 2-7 damage on a hit (5-10 with strength) in place of a claw attack; if so, the troll will continue to attack three times due to its unusual balance (with claw, weapon and bite).

Most dangerous, however, is the creature's ability to regenerate.  This is done at a rate of 3 hp per round and requires no effort or rest.  To render a troll motionless, the creature must be reduced to -4 hit points ... and even though "dead," the troll will still revive if regeneration restores it to -3 hit points or more.  More damage may be heaped upon the troll, but the body cannot be reduced to less than -10 points with normal weapons.  To end the troll's regeneration ability, the troll must be burnt or reduced with acid ... however, a lit flask of oil will only burn for three rounds, whereas vials of acid will cause only 2-8 damage each (potentially reducing the troll deep into the negatives, but the creature's regeneration will eventually restore the creature).  The only sure way is to immerse the troll in acid or to create a sustained fire that will burn continuously until the troll is reduced completely to ash, a period of about an hour (a troll burns much like dense, damp wood).

If dismembered, each part of the troll will continue to move and attack, though ineffectually unless approached and causing only 1-3 damage if not part of the body.  However, the parts will seek one another to rebuild the troll, eventually creating enough of the troll's shape to begin fighting effectively again.  A leg or a hand may regrow an entire troll ... though for reasons that are not clear, multiple trolls will not arise from the body parts of one troll; rather, the essence of the original troll seems to inhabit a favored part, which will call other parts to it or, if forced, abandon the other parts to recreate itself.  These abandoned parts will become inert and will not form into a troll.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Naga

Naga in Takshaka form
These semi-divine beings are known best on the Indian Subcontinent and throughtout the Far East of tropical Asia, from the Brahmaputra valley to the Banda Islands.  Inconsistent myths exist in both the Hindi and Buddhist traditions, naga were more common in the millennia before the incarnation of Krishna.  Early in the time of Hammurabi, the creator deity Brahma banished the naga to the nether regions of Pandemonium, commanding these snake creatures to bite only the truly evil or else perish.  Since that time, naga have reappeared among upon the Prime Material Plane, often serving as advisors, itinerant holy persons and ~ particularly in the case of female nagas ~ as consorts who rule lands through a puppet king.  This is possible because of the naga's natural shape-shifting ability.

The naga will appear in three forms, none of which should be considered their "natural" or true form (for additional discussion of the naga's powers, see Advantages, below:

Vasuki ~ a large, rearing cobra snake, up to 9 ft. tall with a body 18 ft. long.  Much thicker and heavier than a cobra, it weighs between 650 and 700 lbs.  In Vasuki form the naga is able to snap at enemies with its huge cobra head with terrifying speed.  This is the most dangerous form of naga.

Takshaka ~ possessing humanoid upper-bodies with a large cobra head and a curling tail that supports the creature's swaying body and allows rapid movement in any direction.  In this form, the naga is 7 ft. tall, weights about 325 lbs. and is able to wield weapons and command other snakes.

Shesha ~ with human appearance and anatomies, immune from detection spells of less than 5th level, such as penetrate disguise.
These three forms, Vasuki, Takshaka and Shesha, derive their descriptions from three great nagas that were birthed at the time of creation.

Though most often naga will display goodwill towards earthly creatures, they are prone to act impetuously or forcefully.  Many naga, though not all, are vindictive, murderous and zealously ambitious.  Naga may exist as Shesha for decades without any witness being the wiser.

Advantages

The naga is able to shapechange at will from one form to another, though it will transform into a Vasuki form only during rituals or if it means to kill its opponent without mercy.  It is more likely in combat to transform into its Takshaka form; if winning the battle, it is more likely to offer quarter than to kill its opponent.  If the naga is found in its Shesha form, it will avoid combat to the best of its ability, until circumstances force it to act otherwise.

In any form, some nagas that have trained in spellcasting are able to rise to the 6th level as clerics, illusionists or mages.  For these naga, spells are performed as any other caster.  Nagas usually choose non-threatening spells, often chosen to bring aid to those who suffer.  The naga may cast spells while in any form.  Most nagas do not possess spells.

Nagas also possess abilities that are available in its other forms.

While in Vasuki form, during which time they are deadly poisonous.  The naga receives a +4 bonus to initiative and if it hits, it will release enough poison into a victim to cause 10 damage per round for nine rounds (1-10 damage per round if a save is made).  The poison type is quietus.  If the naga rolls a natural 20 during this attack, it will swallow any opponent up to half its weight (max. 325 lbs), causing an additional 2-12 damage as the victim's body is twisted into the naga's throat.

While in Takshaka form, the naga will receive two attacks per round with weapon and will be proficient in up to six different weapons.  Preferred weapons are the ankus, khatvanga (club with skull), tulwar, gada (mace), kukri (thrown long dagger) and bow.  While in this form, the naga cannot be attacked by reptiles of any form and will be able to command snakes at will.  If encountered in this form away from humans, most likely it will have 2-5 cobras in attendance.

Contrary to myth, nagas do not spit, cannot constrict opponents and cannot charm their opponents, except with spells.  Nagas do swim very well, however, while in Vasuki or Takshaka form.

See Bestiary

Dwarf Race & Physiology

A highly intelligent demi-human whose unique origin permits a considerable advantage over other humanoids. Dwarves are best known for two powerful kingdoms located in north central Eurasia, named Altslok and Hoth. These regions are notable for their hills and mountains, rich mineral wealth, their unique culture and as a bastion against barbarian humanoid races such as orcs, haruchai, hobgoblins, ogres, goblins and gnolls. Dwarf culture has survived because of their hardiness and short, heavy-boned physiology, their tight-knit ways and their mastery of weapons, engineering and clerical magic.

Players are able to choose the dwarven race as an option for their characters. Some advantages described below apply to all dwarves, but players do not receive any sage abilities from this race that are described below.

Appearance

Dwarves average four feet in height, with stout, broad bodies. Most males will weigh about 150 lbs., but rare males will be as tall as four foot six or seven feet tall and weigh as much as 270 lbs. Female dwarves average 130 lbs.  The dwarf's thick hair may vary from grey to brown, black, bronze or flaming red in colour. Eye color may be brown, black, grey, hazel or even jade green. Silver grey, ultramarine and violet occur very rarely, and only among dwarves of the highest charisma. Their skin color is tawny brown.

Advantages

Dwarves are naturally effective combatants against certain types of creatures, receiving a +1 to hit when fighting goblins, haruchai, hobgoblins, norkers and orcs. Dwarves also improve their armour class by four points when confronting bugbears, ettin, gnolls, ogres, ogre magi, trolls and giants of every kind.

Dwarves are skilled assassins, clerics, fighters and thieves. Their hardiness permits a +1 saving throw against poison and magic for every 3½ points of constitution. A dwarf with a constitution of 12 would have a +3 saving throw.

Dwarves also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity. Because of their time underground, a great many dwarves living amongst their own kind possess considerable mining skills, of both prospecting and underground mining.

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters

Elf Race & Physiology

The oldest dominant humanoid species on Earth apart from human beings. The origin of elves remains to this day outside of common knowledge; even to elven cultures the facts remain a mystery. It is believed that elves arrived "from the west," but since this same legend is described by elves in Europe, the New World and Asia, it cannot be said precisely where this "west" begins. Most likely, the ambiguous term is used to describe another plane of existence, from which elves arrived into the Prime Material some 50,000 years ago.

The most familiarly known elvish culture is that of Ulthua, situated between Scandinavia and Bjarmaland on the coasts of the Barents Sea and the White Sea. Once a military-based empire some 2,000 years ago, for more than five centuries these elvish peoples have adopted a philosophy of peace with their neighbours. There has been no notable conflict between elves and outsiders since the Swedish third crusade of 1293-1295.

Colonies of the Americas have described encounters with a less organized and civilized race of elves, commonly called "wood elves," dwelling among the Appalachian cordillera and valleys beyond. Though plainly elves in appearance, these are shorter, with pale grey eyes and more hunter-green in color. While civilized and skilled, the wood elves of America are far less culturally advanced that the winter elves of Europe.

A third group, far more obscure, has been described as occupying the coasts of the Bering Sea north of Kamchatka. Only a little is known about these "Anduin" elves, but because they dwell in arctic lands like the Ulthuans, it is believed that these make up a primitive winter elven culture ~ and are perhaps the "west" from where both wood elves and those of Ulthua originated.

Players are able to choose the elven race as an option for their characters, the choice being an elf of the winter elven background. Players cannot choose a wood elf as a character option. Some advantages described below apply to all elves, but players do not receive any sage abilities from this race that are described below.

Appearance

Elves average five feet in height, with slender, lean bodies. Most males will weigh about 100 lbs., but rare males will be as tall as five foot eight or nine and weigh as much as 180 lbs. Female elves average 80 lbs. The elf’s fine hair may vary from ginger and black, to wheaten blonde, silver grey and platinum blonde. Their eye color is usually a wide range of the color blue, but the most charismatic may have eyes that are ultramarine and even violet in colour. Their skin color is pale nordic.

Advantages

Elves are naturally effective when using long and short swords, so that they receive a +1 to hit with these weapons. Likewise, elves receive a +1 to hit bonus when using any kind of bow. Elves do not receive this bonus when using a two-handed, bastard or broad sword, nor when using a crossbow.

Elves are skilled assassins, clerics, fighters, mages, rangers and thieves. Their presence of mind permits a +1 saving throw against charm spells for every 3½ points of intelligence. An elf with an intelligence of 15 would have a +4 saving throw.

Elves also possess infravision, being able to see in the dark with relative clarity. Because of their experience moving through the outdoors, non-player character elves possess the stealth ability. Contrary to popular belief, elves do not possess any special abilities to identify secret or concealed doors (this skill has been recreated as a sage ability, found under sharp practice).

See Also,
Aging
Bestiary
Character Race Options
Player Characters

Underground Mining (ability)

Describes a knowledge of mining techniques and skills associated with the excavation of hard and soft materials below the surface.

Those with the ability are able to detect the following within ten feet of their position when they are underground, when actively examining the rock or sniffing the air in a passage:

  • Determining the grade or slope of the passage within 5° of its actual slope, as well as its direction of slope.
  • Recognize new construction of a passage or tunnel, within a month of its probable origin, up to six months into the past.
  • Determine the approximate depth underground, within 50 feet of the true depth.

This is a placeholder for further description.

See Geology

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ether

Also spelled Aether, the medium of space that tangentially intersects between the Ethereal Plane and the Prime Material Plane.  While natural laws prohibit most animated creatures to leave Earth's atmosphere, even if possessing the means (through flying machines and various magical devices), because natural space is very cold and lacks the means to support life, it is possible through semi-planar travel to pass from natural space into ethereal space.

Ethereal space is not technically within the ethereal plane, but drifting ethereal matter interjects inself into the empty cosmos, filling the void and enabling travel through the resultant increased density.  Objects in natural space must be magically adjusted to take advantage of the dense matter, or "ether," that exists ~ though some creatures, such as the hippogriff, are able to do this naturally.

Knowledge of how to shift from natural space into ethereal space is not generally known.

See Campaign

Hippogriff

A steed born of a mare and a griffon, noted for its speed, its furious demeanor when wild and its fantastical ability to remain in flight for long periods.  The beast is infamous for its part in the myth of Bradamante and Ruggiero, lovers who were adventurers in the 9th century.

It is said that griffons are known to naturally mate with mares, though rarely.  Though writers often make the mistake of depicting the hippogriff as a male, as described in Ludovico's Ariosto's poem, Orlando furioso, the resultant hippogriff is always a filly.  Because it is bore by the mare, a mammal, there is no egg; the hippogriff is born live, with soft claws and beak.  The young filly is meek and mild for the first few weeks, enabling a husbandman who comes across the animal in the wild to secure the beast in a cage before the animal's mood changes, usually late in the fourth week of life.  At that time the claws and beak harden and the beast turns extremely vicious; training the beast to accept a rider usually takes a year.  Attempts to breed hippogriffs in domestic menageries have failed.

Typically, mares of a distinctive type are led into the wild in mid-April into known wild breeding areas.  Griffons will often sense if the mare is truly alone, so the mares are usually abandoned.  These mares are searched for during the month of May, by which time pregnancy can be determined and the mares led home to give birth.  Hippogriff cots will sometimes obtain four or five offspring each season.  The typical lifespan of a hippogriff is 40 years.  Hippogriffs, like mules, are barren.

The hippogriff's front feet are heavy claws with edges equal to a slightly dulled axe.  The hooked beak is more powerful, catching its prey in a dropping, side-tearing motion that will throw stunned victims to the left or right.  If approached from the rear, a hippogriff will kick with its back hooves together, causing 2-20 damage on a single hit.  If using this attack, it will still fight with its beak but the claws will not be employed that round.

The wild beast will tend to fly skyward before beginning its attack, dropping from a height of 60 to 80 feet in a single round, diving at a single victim on the ground with both claws and beak with a +2 chance to hit (THAC0 14).  Hippogriffs do not carry victims off; they prefer to kill and then eat the carcass on the ground.  If stunned, there is a 50% chance a wild hippogriff will break off the fight and seek a meal elsewhere.

Hippogriffs are able to fly continuously for 6 to 9 days at a time.  They are curiously able to fly through spatial ether, so that they have been known to break the Earth's atmosphere through flight, with a natural ability to plane shift.  This is not fully understood.  Hippogriffs have been known to fly as far as the Moon, though there is no known example of the beasts flying further into space.

Hippogriffs can be trained and ridden.

See,
Bestiary
Flying Mounts