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Some of you among the three or four who read this blog (after blowing the dust off it) might recall that for several years I worked as a freelance writer in the roleplaying game industry, writing adventures and supplement books for various companies. Most of my work was for the late, lamented Hogshead Publishing, which held a license to produce product for one of my favorite roleplaying games, the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. (WFRP)

Anyway, I stopped working in that industry after one particularly bad experience (largely of my own doing, to be fair) convinced me it just wasn’t worth it anymore: lousy pay rates (a per word rate averaging three cents per word, what writers were getting in the 1930s), large word counts and short deadlines, no time for a regular life…. It had stopped being fun.

I had kept in touch with the hobby, however, by tracking a few web sites that dealt with RPGs, particularly James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, a now-moribund site dedicated to what was called the “Old School Renaissance,” a movement focused on reviving and supporting roleplaying games as they had been played in the 70s and 80s, centered mostly around D&D clones.

James had announced a cooperative project that he would edit called “Petty Gods,” a book of godlings and minor deities a referee could use in his campaign. You can read the original announcement of it here. It sounded like a fun project, and, after spending a frustrating morning looking for some mislaid keys, I came up with “Galdu Aurkitu, God of Things Mislaid and Found.”

Name: Galdu Aurkitu
Symbols: Keys on a ring. A single sock.
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180′ (60′)
Armor Class: -3
Hit Points (Hit Dice) 90 (19 HD)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: T20
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VIII, XVII
XP: 10,000

Galdu Aurkitu is the petty god of all things mislaid and unexpectedly found. A relative of the gods of good and bad luck, Galdu Aurkitu appears in one of three forms: an elderly, forgetful man; a young woman with three walnut shells and a pea; and a helpful lad. When encountered, each represents an aspect of Galdu Aurkitu’s role: forgetting where one put something; being sure something set aside was there just a moment ago; and suddenly finding in an unexpected place something thought lost.

Galdu Aurkitu is often invoked by those looking for a mislaid object, from something as minor as the house keys to something as important as a secret treaty. He (or she) can be a capricious god. If a person annoys the god (or one of the god’s divine friends), Galdu Aurkitu will cause a needed item not to be where it was supposed to be, even though it was just put there a moment ago. The idea is not to cause harm, but to annoy and inconvenience the victim. On the other hand, Galdu Aurkitu can take pity on those who have lost something dear to them, such as the son who was sure he lost an heirloom ring, or the poor widow frantic because she can’t find the rent money. The item will be found in the least likely place to look, and it is still up to the searcher to find it. Whether causing an item to be lost or found, Galdu Aurkitu takes great pleasure in mortals’ reactions and may well be nearby, watching.

In combat, Galdu Aurkitu attacks by “mislaying” opponents’ weapons and magic items: the fighter will reach for a sword, only it’s not there – he must have left it back in camp. The wizard will reach for a scroll, only to discover it is not where it is supposed to be. In each case, the item will be in Galdu Aurkitu’s hand, who will then put it to best use. The petty god can use this power once per round.

When truly angry, Galdu Aurkitu can curse a mortal, ensuring that, for the next 24 hours, an item will be missing when most needed. This will occur once in those 24 hours. If Galdu Aurkitu particularly likes a mortal and decides to bless him or her, then something treasured and thought long-lost will be unexpectedly found and returned to them sometime in the next week, or perhaps opponents in combat will mislay a weapon or magic item. This latter blessing lasts for only 24 hours, however, and, like the curse, only happens once..

Reaction Table (roll 2d6, use INT for modifiers):

2 Friendly: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets.

3-5 Indifferent: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets if properly propitiated.

6-8 Neutral: Ignores nearby creatures.

9-11 Unfriendly: Curses 1d4 nearby targets if not properly propitiated.

12 Hostile: Curses 1d4 nearby targets.

I submitted this to James back in 2010, and then… nothing. For various reasons, the projects James had been working on, including Petty Gods, encountered near-fatal difficulties and had to be rescued by others. In fact, I had thought Petty Gods had died and had largely forgotten about it, until a few weeks ago at DriveThruRPG, where I saw this:

Petty Gods

Imagine my surprise. The PDF is free, so I downloaded it and, sure enough, there was little Galdu with his very own illustration. Apparently someone had rescued the project and it went through a few hands until the product pictured above was produced. And, judging from the PDF, the new developers did a great job.  It’s available in print-on-demand paperback at Lulu.com: I may just get myself a copy.

So, that was a long-winded way to share my amusement at still being published in the hobby-game industry. To be honest, it made me smile.

If you’re running a campaign in which minor gods could conceivably walk among mortals (as in the style of Thieves’ World or Liavek), download the free PDF and give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.

PS: It’s a shame James has largely withdrawn from the hobby, though I hear he still plays. Grognardia was a wonderful blog, and I’d love to see it revived.

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Hey! I made a map! All by my little old self!

Exarchate of Monckton effects on

This scratches several itches for me. First, as some of you know, I manage a small Earth Sciences library at UCLA that has an extensive map collection. And I love maps. I often look at them and think “What cool source material for fictional worlds.”

I also happen to love fantasy and science fiction literature, as well as roleplaying games. Good maps are often vital to both. I can’t tell you how often I stared at the map of Middle Earth in my copy of Lord of the Rings in high school and imagined the adventures that could take place there.

But, well, I have the artistic talent of a clam. I draw a straight line, it looks like an amoeba. It was only through the help of a good friend (Hi, Alfred!) and the services of a master artist hired by the publisher that my sketch map of the city of Marienburg became the wonderful map it is.

But there are several programs on the market meant to help one create beautiful maps on the PC and then print them out. One of the most well-known is Campaign Cartographer, which is currently in version “3+”. It’s a marvelous program, based on a CAD engine, so it’s very powerful, but it also has a steep learning curve. So steep, that, even though I’ve owned it since version 2, I never tried to make a map of it. Just kept buying the upgrades.

Now, is that silly or what?

So, after moving to the new digs, I told myself that one thing I would do is finally start learning Campaign Cartographer (aka “CC3+”). And, yes, the curve has been steep. But, at the same time, it’s been fun. There’s a helpful community at the Profantasy site, where I’ve learned a lot. “Monckton” is sort of a worksheet for me, where I try different things to see how they work. I’ve barely even started to scratch the surface of what can be done with this program, but I think I’m going to have a good time digging even deeper.

I might even get a game going, set it in the Exarchate, and let them explore the dangers of the Tower of the Astrologer. 🙂

PS: Here’s a PDF of the map, which I think shows it better than the pic above.

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polyhedral dice

So, according to this 100+ question test, if I were to suddenly find myself translated to some AD&D setting (Greyhawk, please!), I’d be a NG Elf Bard — and only 5th level?

In other words, I’d be positively annoying to my party. I can already hear the “no singing!” jokes straight out of Holy Grail.

And I was so hoping for a powerful Chaotic Evil wizard. They have the best costumes. The. Best.

(Hmmm…. Worrying about fashion. Maybe I am meant to play an Elf… :/  )

Anyway, Here are the results:

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Bard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

Strength-11

Dexterity-11

Constitution-12

Intelligence-16

Wisdom-13

Charisma-13

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Class:
Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

On the other hand giving him the personality of a singer at a 3rd-rate resort lounge might be kind of fun…

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This is genius: a circles within circles interpretation on the “rotating dungeon,” and the rotating portions of the map can be moved by the GM. My compliments to the creators. Da Vinci would be proud.

Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform

Update: An improved PDF with new art is available for free at DriveThruRPG.

This is the proudest dungeon I’ve ever built, and now that I’ve run it for everyone I run games for lately, it’s finally safe to post.ChangeableMaze

She might not look like much, but that’s partly that its an old sheet of paper glued to old cardboard and partly that its too big to scan all at once and my photoshop isn’t the best. All the same, please consider what I’m presenting here. There are seven rotating circles in this maze, and they overlap.

WorstMazeCircleThe biggest circle is the one that gets the player’s attention, but doesn’t cause a whole lot of confusion. The confusion comes from the circles that can break apart and leave pieces of themselves scattered across the maze. There’s nothing quite so bothersome as finding something you’ve seen before completely surrounded by things…

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Dungeons Dragons Dark Creeper

Aside from being weird in itself, the idea of hiring assassins to kill someone’s online character is just full of wonderful possibilities for stories:

According to reports, a man in China became so exasperated by the amount of time that his unemployed son was spending playing World of Warcraft that he decided to do something about it. It seems that the lad had quit a software development job after just three months, and was doing nothing to find another one.

Showing, perhaps, a rather limited understanding of how these things work, Mr Feng hoped that killing the 23-year-old’s character off repeatedly would put him off playing altogether – and hired virtual assassins to do just that.

According to the Sanqing Daily, he managed to find killers who were at a much higher level than his son – despite all his hours of game play.

In fact, I’d swear there was a Japanese anime series on a similar idea.

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A welcome return

polyhedral dice

Saw something welcome in my feed reader this morning: a new post at Blood of Prokopius, my favorite role-playing game blog. The proprietor, Father Dave, for whatever reason took much of the summer off, but now he’s back with one of his “Saintly Saturday” posts, this time on the “26 Monk-Martyrs of Zographou Monastery”. Naturally, there’s a tie-in to gaming and a very cool monster to harry your player-characters with.

Welcome back, Dave. 🙂

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My friend Graeme wrote up a new career for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, my favorite fantasy RPG. It’s not official, but it’s definitely a career I’d want to play. I mean, a career in which becoming a beggar is considered a step up? Love it.

Graeme Davis

I was recently at an SCA event, where I heard the medieval term “gong farmer” used to describe those valiant and unsung heroes who empty and maintain the Portajohns (known within the SCA as “Portacastles”). Through some wierd mental process, this got me thinking about gong farmer as a WFRP career. In many ways it’s tailor-made for the grubby and malodorous Old World setting.

What follows is a mental doodle as much as anything, but I also wanted to see how easy it would be to create a career for all three editions of WFRP: from the ground up, rather than simply adapting from one edition to another. I wrote it for my own amusement and not for GW or Fantasy Flight, so it’s not to be regarded as in any way official. Even so, I hope WFRP fans out there find it useful, or at least interesting.

The Gong…

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