Tag Archives: Blog Carnival

Enderra: An Age of Eternal Winter

Over the past few weeks, as I was distracted by a surprisingly busy real life schedule, I pondered what sort of world Enderra would be in its latest iteration. I was certain it would be a “points of light” style setting – a lot of wilderness with civilization surviving in the nooks and crannies of a dangerous world. The best real world match, I decided, would be post-Western Roman Empire late antiquity/early middle ages. The Dark Ages, as we like to call them.

While total societal collapse alone is all fun and games (until it happens to the country you live in), a civilization going out with a whimper and just fading away isn’t particularly interesting. And why are humans (and the other civilized races) not simply rebuilding?

The answer – as you presumably guessed from the headline of this post – is an added complication. The climate of Enderra has cooled dramatically since the days of the Menorian Empire. Summers are short and cold, and usually rainy. Winters are much harsher, with heavier snowfalls, frozen rivers and coastal waters. In some regions, the snow never really melts year-round.

The consequences are dire. Crops fail with regularity, where they can be grown at all. Many areas have reverted to hunting and gathering. Even fishing is hard when the ice extends many miles off shore. Even augmented by magic and the use of greenhouses, food production is nowhere near enough to support pre-collapse population numbers. At the same time, the harsh climate has made wild beasts and monsters all that more likely to prey on humans.

In short, Enderra is experiencing a harsher version of the Little Ice Age.

Iced Trees. Image by Jake N.

I’ve always loved winter imagery – you may recall that this site had winter landscapes as its headers for the longest time, and in 2014 I hosted a Blog Carnival about the Icy Embrace of Winter. Skyrim is one of my favorite video games, as is The Bard’s Tale – granted, there wasn’t much actual winter depicted in the original game, but it was still set in a city beset by ice and snow.

In practical terms, this means as little or as much as a prospective game master wants it to mean. You can, uh, embrace the concept wholeheartedly and add winter survival themes and mechanics to every adventure. Low visibility from falling snow, early nightfall and long nights add a touch of mystery to any environment. It helps explain why the adventurers might come across a relatively untouched Menorian ruin. In reality, old ruins were not only looted, but often quarried for the construction of new houses. It should even help keep the power curve flat, when a good fur armor’s protection from the harsh temperature becomes more important than a full metal plate armor’s better armor rating.

And if you don’t like snow all the time, set your adventures during a summer season. As the peasants emerge from the relative safety of their towns and hamlets to begin growing much-needed crops, monsters hungry from a long winter descend from the mountains.

I think a lot can be done with a not-so-little Ice Age, and little complications like this certainly make things a lot more interesting.

RPG Blog Carnival: Legends & Lore

Welcome to the February 2020 RPG Blog Carnival! Our topic for this month is Legends & Lore!

Legends are tales and stories that are, at least to some extent, grounded in historic reality. They are the realm of the could-have-happened, never entirely doubted, but they may include fantastic elements – such as magic or miracles. Of course, in a world where magic is real and miracles verifiable, that aspect may just be historic as well. A legend becomes a myth when it lacks historicity.

Lore consists of traditions or knowledge held to be true, often passed from one generation to another orally – which adds inaccuracies over time. In the context of fantasy and science fiction, the term “Lore” also often refers to any and all information about the background of the fictional setting.

Possible Topics

Legends & Lore can be mere “fluff”, background material that establishes your setting’s “sense of place” or adds verisimilitude, or they can be hooks for exciting adventure – or both! Some ideas to get you started:

  • Lost civilizations and ancient empires are the source of many of the ruins and dungeons our plucky heroes – be they treasure hunters wielding sword and magics, bull-whip swinging archaeologists, mutant raiders in the Nuclear wasteland, or the away team of an Interstellar Expeditions Corporation craft.
  • Kings and Queens (or other rulers, famous people, business executives, and so on), both benign and villainous. What did they do? Why do bards sing their praise – or mock their memories?
  • Wars. (What are they good for?) Who fought whom, and why? What effects of the war linger on and have an effect on your world, maybe even centuries later?
  • What caused the Cataclysm?
  • Lost cities, castles, and temples provide places to explore. Who built them, for what purpose, why were they abandoned, and what riches were left behind?
  • In a science fiction setting, there would be stories of lost colonies and abandoned space stations. Or maybe even legends of the fabled home world of our species!
  • Ship wrecks, both ocean-going and space-faring. What were they transporting, and why, and where were they headed?
  • Once upon a time, Dragons, Dinosaurs, Elves, and Damned Things roamed the world. What happened to them – and will they return?
  • Creation Myths or other exploits of your pantheon of gods. Their intrigues, their interactions with mortals.
  • Origin stories for monster. What caused the Zombie Apocalypse? How were Centaurs created? Who built the first sentient Robots, and how did that lead to the AI Revolt?
  • Player actions: Did your players ever do anything so notable that it became part of the history of your world?
  • How have you used legends or lore effectively in your campaign? What worked, and what didn’t?

The possibilities are endless!

January

January’s Carnival was Random Encounter Tables, hosted by Geek Native.

Contributing

To contribute, simply post an article on the subject on your blog, and post a comment with a link to your article below. (I do actively moderate all posts, so please allow 24 hours or so for me to approve of your post.) At the beginning of March, I will be posting a summary with all contributing articles.

If you’d like to see previous RPG Blog Carnivals, head on over to the archive. And if you’d like to host one yourself, sign up today!

I hope you enjoy February’s RPG Blog Carnival! I’m looking forward to reading from you!

RPG Blog Carnival: A New Year, A New World Roundup

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallJanuary came and went and it’s time to close our “New Year, New World” Blog Carnival. With a slow start, we still got a number of really cool – and in some cases very long – entries. Posts were, in chronological order:

Thank you all for participating! Be sure to check out February’s carnival, over at Leicester’s Ramble, on the topic of How/Where You Write/Prep.

If you’ve got any late articles, please post below or on the original post and I’ll add you to the list. I’ll also continue building my small colonial setting over the next months.

RPG Blog Carnival: A New Year, A New World

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThe start of a new year is traditionally a time that motivate people to change. For some people this means an attempt to lose a bad habit, but true adventurers are in the last stage of preparation for their spring departure – to go over the next hill, across the ocean, down into the depths of subterranean realms, or into deep space, to explore the strange new lands that lie beyond.

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is about new worlds, about their discovery and about the women, men, and other sentient humanoids who explore and colonize them. Do you run an exploration-centric campaign? Maybe a hexcrawl in a fantasy world, or about setting up a colony on an alien planet? Share your methods – what aspects do you emphasize, and how do you handle them? How do you create a sense of wonder, and maintain it? What strange lands are your characters exploring? What equipment are they using? What vehicles or other means of transportation – a wagon train, flotilla of barques, or slower-than-light Sleeper Ship? Who are your explorers, what motivates them, and who are their patrons and followers? What equipment helps them? What obstacles lie in their paths?

Share your new lands with us, if you can do so without spoiling them for your party. Show off your maps and designs. How do you approach setting up your worlds? Share your favorite world-building tips!

The RPGBA Blog Carnival

The Blog Carnival provides a monthly topic to inspire RPG bloggers to post about. December’s topic was “With A Twist”, check out the round-up post; and a full archive of topics is available if you’d like to see what was done in the past.

To participate, you simply post about the topic in any shape, way or form and post a link to your article as a comment to this introduction post. At the end of the month I’ll post a round-up with links to every post so readers have one central place to look up everything.

Enjoy… and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Update, February 1st: The Roundup has been posted.

The Crowd

Evening rush hour is not fun on the subway. Hundreds of men and women, crowded like sardines in a can. Party goers mixed with tired office workers. Every station, some get out – and a genereal reshuffling follows. You sigh with relief, as for a moment you can breathe again. Human odors hang heavily in the air, and then the car refills. More people, going to gods-know-where.

The train approaches the end of the line. More people get off the train than enter. Soon, you will be home. You even manage to find a seat. You close your eyes for a moment. You sense a presence, and open them again – a man now sits opposite you. He has an empty expression and stares right through you. There are only five or six people in the car when you exit at your station.

You take the nearest exist, pass through a tunnel and approach the stairs. There’s a man there, unsure of himself. He sees you and his face becomes expressionless. He, too, sees right through you, but stands between the steps and the escalator. You feel menaced and you do not know why. Hairs on your neck stand up. You glance behind you, four of the other guys from thee train are slowly approaching. You panic; there’s a side tunnel that leads underneath the main street. You follow it, the men stay behind you. You take a right turn, and you realize it was a mistake. There’s the maintenance section, off to the left, and the deserted platform to your right. More strangers appear in other tunnels. You fall into a run, but soon every exit is blocked by the men, as they shuffle, expressionless, towards you.

You stumble and fall. Shield your head with your hands and whimper as they begin to tear into you.

The Crowd consists of a group of mysterious men and – more rarely – women who inhabit the subway networks of the world. They appear, outwardly, as completely normal people, though their behavior is off. They don’t talk, they don’t really pay attention to their surroundings. They lie in prey at selected stations, while some membeers of the Crowd will chase a selected victim after it exists the train. The victim is herded into a side tunnel, where he is then devoured alive by The Crowed.

They are also known to attack isolated passengers on a train if all other passengers in the car are of the Crowd.

When they do not stalk prey, they live deep in the maintenance shacks and tunnels, where they build regular nests. The Crowd has not yet come to the attention of the authorities, and none have been dissected, but investigators claim that they are not actually human.

Statistics

Strength: Human normal
Agility: Human normal
Intelligence: Low, probably purely instinct driven
Weapons: Hands, bites – unarmed human
Armor: None

 

Creature: Black Mold

 We realized quickly enough that something was wrong with the dream house we had just purchased. At first it was just floors that were wet without cause, and we thought there was an insulation problem, or a leaky roof. The mildewy smell that set in after a week didn’t help. We had no clue how terrible the truth was!

One night my wife woke me up with her screams. Seems she had wanted to go to the bathroom, only to step on a thick carpet of black mold. I swear by all that is holy that the mold writhed and shifted in the dim shine of the nightlight. It retreated under the bed, then appeared on the other side. It looked more like a colony of tiny creatures, mobile as an ant colony, but it was a layer of thick, black rot.

We made a run for it, got in the car and drove off to stay at our neighbors. We avoided thee specifics when we called for help the next day. The cleaner found our home empty but with that distinct mildewy smell. He said it might be covered by wallpapers, and that it might be quite a project to check and clean the building. Still scared, we agreed. I think none of us will ever forgeet what happened next. He never had a chance, and my wife and I barely escaped with our lives. The authorities took over, and I saw CDC vans and several men in dark suits at our house. We aren’t allowed back. Nor would we want to. My wife’s developed severe rashes on her feet and I am having a hard time breathing. We should have moved to California, after all.

Black mold infests houses in humid, warmer areas; usually after a flood brought moisture into the house. The mold is of a dark, blue-black color but otherwise looks like regular mold.

Once the infestation begins, it rapidly spreads, hiding behind wall panels and wallpaper, or under the floor. The mold doesn’t require any light, merely some heat, and any human house has plenty of that for the mold. The spread of the mold can be detected by some slight discolorations in places, especially when only a wallpaper covers the mold, but someone who does not know the tell-tale signs will assume it is merely a normal water discoloration.

After some time, however, the black mold will break out in the open; it will eat through the wooden panels of the wall, the floor, and the wallpaper. It can also be exposed by accident, for example when the house owners open up the wall or floor.

The mold has a rudimentary intelligence that grows as the colony increases in size. At first the mold may only be smart enough to avoid growing in places that would make detection obvious; later it may try to actively infect humans, for example by growing in places where it is likely to be exposed to people, or even by trying to over-grow a person in its sleep.

The mold is corrosive and highly poisonous. Touching the mold will lead to rashes. If the mold enters a person’s bloodstream, the person will suffer severe poisoning and will likely die.

Breathing in the mold’s spores is even more dangerous, as the lungs are a warm, wet place of the mold’s liking and it will infest the lungs of a human and grow there. If this happens, the mold will be able to spread all through the host’s body. When it reaches the brain, the host will go insane from intense headaches. Once the mold has thoroughly infested the host’s brain, it will be able to control the mad host on a rudimentary level. The host will not be smarted than the colony of the mold controlling it; but it will attempt to expose nearby humans to the mold culture. It may also attempt to kill those who threaten the mold. Eventually, the host is killed as the black mold slowly eats up its host from the inside.

The mold is resistant against most commonly used fungicides and because of its throughout spread in the smallest corners it is basically impossible to remove it from a house once infected. Burning the house could release spores, which are then carried to neighboring houses. The safest way to get rid of a black mold colony is to tear down the house, making sure the workers wear protective suits, and then burn the parts in sealed high temperature ovens. Black mold will also wither and die if its environment becomes too dry.

Statistics

Strength: N/A
Agility: N/A
Endurance: N/A
Intelligence: Varies (Low – Medium)
Weapons: Poison (death), lesser mind control
Armor: Immune to physical damage; vulnerable to fire

Things that Go Bump in the Night

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThe Blog Carnival – this month hosted by Of Dice And Dragons – is dealing with Things That Go Bump In The Night – or in other words, the strange horrors and creepy-crawlies that lurk just outside your field of view in the darkness. What I am trying to say is, it’s Halloween time! And, although I got a late start, I am going to try and catch up. I have some notes on strange creatures on file that I will post about in the next ten days.

Meanwhile, here are three suitable articles from my archives:

 Update, Nov 1st: My posts on this subject were:

You can find links to all other posts in the Carnival on Scot’s Wrap-up post.

The Icy Embrace of Winter: The Roundup

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallFebruary’s Blog Carnival on the Icy Embrace of Winter was the first time I hosted one, and I didn’t die of stage fright – yay! Thanks to everybody who participated!

If you’d like to catch up on posts, here’s the complete list:

Let me know if I missed one, and don’t forget to check out – and participate – in March’s Blog Carnival, hosted by Douglas at Gaming Ballistic. The topic: Virtual Table Tops and Online RPGs!

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser

The Anarctic Snow Cruiser
The Anarctic Snow Cruiser

The Antarctic Snow Cruiser was a massive vehicle designed by Thomas Pulter in the late 1930s. Intended to facilitate transport in Antarctica, it was a failure: its smooth wheels were unsuitable for gaining traction in the snow and the vehicle’s weight caused it to sink 90cm into the snow. Ironically, the wheels produced more traction when the vehicle drove backwards. The snow cruiser was then used as shelter for the expedition before being abandoned. The start of World War II prevented further funding.

The snow cruiser was rediscovered twice; once in the 1940s – when it only needed air in its tires to become operational – and once in 1958. The fate of the snow cruiser is unknown; it is likely buried deep in the ice or sunk to the bottom of the ocean when the ice shelf it was left on split.

Use of the Snow Cruiser

The snow cruiser is an excellent gimmick for any type of campaign or story:

  • Discovering the Snow Cruiser could be an event/encounter in an Antarctic hex crawl. Wild animals or monsters could make their home in it, and perhaps some useful items were left in the vehicle.
  • Like the original, it could make the core of a makeshift base; it could even be used to hide the entrance to an underground base.
  • A working model may be used by secret agents in a Bond style adventure
  • Vehicles similar to the Snow Cruiser could be used on other planets in a Traveller science fiction campaign, presumably it would especially work on smaller, low gravity worlds.
  • In a steampunk or weird science setting, the snow cruiser may be even bigger than it actually was.
  • According to rumor the original Snow Cruiser was taken by the Soviets. This is almost certainly not true, but in your adventure or story this could very well be the case – Especially if some sort of classified information was left on board, or a secret technology used in the construction of the vehicle (perhaps a new type of nuclear battery or miniature fusion power plant in a Sci Fi context).

Have any Snow, Winter, Arctic themes or ideas to share? Take part in February’s Blog Carnival on The Icy Embrace of Winter!

RPG Blog Carnival for February 2014: The Icy Embrace of Winter

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThis month I am hosting the Blog Carnival for the RPG Blog Alliance. Our topic: The Icy Embrace of Winter.

How do you incorporate Winter, Snow, Ice, and Frost into your games? What evocative places have your adventurers visited? What terrors lurk our in the snow-covered forests? What alien creatures burrow beneath the glaciers of the polar continent? How do you simulate the effects of the cold season (or the frozen continent) in your game? Is winter somehow strange and unusual in your world? What are the cultural effects of cold climate on your game world, and are there any important holidays or customs related to it? Do wizards make use of cold-related magic? Do vengeful gods terrorize the people with unnatural blizzards?

Winter and snow are a good choice for “Man versus Nature” settings; snow can add isolation and thus a sense of danger and urgency to any adventure. It doesn’t have to be a fantasy setting either; think of the snow planet Hoth in Star Wars, the Wendigo as used in Call of Cthulhu, or The Thing from Another World, which would not be the same story anywhere but the North Pole.

It’s a topic as wide open as the snowy plains of the northern Tundra. Let your imagination run wild, and share your posts on the subject with us throughout the month. Please post a comment with a link, or send me a personal message so I can include your blog and post in the summary post!

Happy Blogging!