Wednesday 30 June 2010

Monsters: The Big Three.

Following my post on Elves and Dwarfs in my Adventurer's Tale game. I figured I might as well look at the other side of the coin.  While I mostly wanted my monsters to be monsters rather than anything too fleshed out there are three monsters I see as particularly core to a game like this.

The three monster races I consider most analogous to Humans, Elves and Dwarfs are Orcs, Goblins and Trolls respectively and I wanted to present a mostly vanilla version of each while focusing in on what I really think makes each type of monster tick. I didn't want the three races to be opponents of varying toughness. I wanted each to have a unique feel. There are mechanics to back this up but mostly I focused on Goblins as otherworldly vermin, Orcs as an amoral mob and Trolls as stupid creatures with power in their very blood. 


All varieties of goblin make their homes anywhere there is a safe hiding place, often in Otherworlds that they know are secret. Although they rarely attack their neighbours outright they are known to enjoy the thrill of stealing, playing cruel jokes and generally tormenting other species. They have an unusual affection for trolls, ogres and giants, though this attention is often an annoyance for the big, dumb creatures. Their love of big folk is equalled by their hatred for other small beings such as dwarfs, kobolds and even cats and dogs, all of which they try to harm as much as possible. They are notorious survivors and can be found in environments all across the world, and even in Otherworlds. Typically the lone goblin is much more concerned about itself than the good of its peers, so they make poor guards or soldiers. Visually they vary greatly but are generally up to three feet tall with grotesque features and skin that can be any sickly colour from orange to yellow or green, often with tufts of different coloured fur, some being completely covered in the stuff.



Rowdy mobs of orcs often raid unprotected villages with packs of warhounds. Sometimes they even form huge armies with archers and war machines but this is usually under the guidance of an evil human, devil or exceptional Orc chief. They are driven by a love of the simple pleasures of eating, stealing and fighting as well as a total lack of morals or care for other beings. Those that live underground sometimes use Goblins or Dwarfs as slaves. Some scholars claim Orcs were once good creatures, but their blood has been tainted with that of demons, or that they were bred into their current form for use as soldiers. Orcs are easily caught up in mob mentality, meaning an army of rowdy orcs are near unshakable in their confidence. Their appearance and colouration varies wildly, some groups having extended lower tusks, pig-like snouts or a more apish appearance. The only things they all have in common are their ugly appearance, amoral behaviour and love of an angry crowd of orcs beside them.



Strong but slow-minded, Trolls live solitary lives wandering their swamp or cave. They are often captured and used as dungeon guards because of their survivability, but they are never truly committed to such a cause. The blood of a troll can be sold to a wizard or alchemist for 10gp or turned into a Healing Potion by succeeding at both a DN10 Craft roll and DN10 Wisdom roll. Troll blood is commonly mixed with the stock of other species by Dark Wizards, usually Orcs or Humans, to create servants. These troll-blooded creatures combine the toughness of a troll with the more alert mind of another species, making much better soldiers. 

Monday 21 June 2010

Elven and Dwarfish Adventurers

I've recently added a small section of player advice to The Adventurer's Tale for those who want to play as a Dwarf or Elf. I did this in preparation for my summer break from work, where I should have time to at least run a mini-campaign and would happily welcome a character or two from the nonhuman races.

I've already talked about the basics of the setting and its hidden depths so I think fleshing out the types of characters I expect to see is long overdue.

Even if you have no interest in The Adventurer's Tale I hope someone will draw some use from my take on Dwarfs and Elves.


From their monster entry:

The otherworldly Elves stand slightly shorter than humans on average and are much slighter, but deceptively strong. They have angular features, pointed ears and never die from old age, reproducing incredibly rarely. Outside of their hidden settlements they usually wander alone or in a small band (1d6), sometimes accompanied by Sprites. Some might even integrate into a human society, as part of their innate curiosity and desire for new experiences. They are fond of animals and often ride a horse or have a small pack of dogs.

Due to their potentially infinite lifespans Elves are always looking at the big picture, considering every action's effect on the future. Elves claim they feel emotions on a much stronger level than humans, and so must control their feelings through worship and meditative craft. Those that let their feelings control them are prone to fits of rage, extended periods of depression or total arrogance. The most selfish Elves are particularly cruel and see other races as little more than cattle and potential slaves.

Playing an Elf Adventurer:
* A potentially endless lifespan means elves are rarely in a rush. They spend great deals of time pondering decisions and are always looking at the long-term effects of their actions.
* Elves value their own lives and those of other elves much more highly than those of other species, so sometimes consider humans as expendable.
* As they have many years to experience life elves are eager to experience everything at least once. Most would rather learn something new than perfect an existing skill so specialists are rare.
* Coming from small communities, elves dislike crowds and are used to having their own privacy.
* Although they form families elves rarely stay together as a family for long. Because of this they share a much looser family bond than other races.


From their monster entry:

These short humanoids can be found all over the world, living in family clans. While many are peaceful folk, focused on mastering their craft, there are some that turn to madness, usually linked to a particular obsession. If Elves are thought to always be thinking of the big picture, Dwarfs are always focusing on often petty details.

Physically they differ little from humans besides their squat build, hairiness and lifespans of around a hundred years, with many doubling this. Little is known by other races about their concepts of gender or reproduction, with all dwarfs looking male to non-dwarfs. In fact, dwarfs do not reproduce in pairs, but a single dwarf will spend years or even decades carving a child out of specially selected stone or clay. When the child has been carved with enough skill and dedication it will slowly soften to flesh and become a living, adolescent dwarf, complete with beard. The awoken dwarf already has basic knowledge of dwarfish history and language, which the dwarfs claim comes from inheriting part of the carver and their ancestors.

Playing a Dwarf Adventurer:
* Detail is everything to a dwarf, to the point where they nearly all have a specialist area of knowledge or craft that they refine every day.
* Despite not having traditional families dwarfs share very close bonds with those closest to them. They are quick to form similarly tight bonds with those that they trust.
* Dwarfs like to account for every eventuality and greatly enjoy plotting and planning, listing every piece of information they have on the matter, however trivial.
* Change generally goes against what a dwarf finds comfortable, so they usually react negatively to it. Instead they like to stick to routine and tradition, easing into new situations gradually.
* Perhaps due to the fact they do not form couples dwarfs love to indulge in the simple pleasures of food, drink, games and storytelling in the company of friends.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

The fans demanded it...

Remember Skullados?


Well I guess this won't be much use to you then.