Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Halfling Barbarians

 From the 8th printing of the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, we have a pair of barbarians in a match with my favorite all time monster: the gibbering mouther! He cleaves one half, while she strangles, bites and hacks the other. But the mouther fights on....

Word of the Day -- Battlements

So today's word is part of our "Castle" series, where we look at different parts of the castle and break them down a bit.  There will be several parts broken down in today's word, as it is a unique part of a castle that stands out among others...

A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet (i.e., a defensive low wall between chest-height and head-height), in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the launch of arrows or other projectiles from within the defenses. These gaps are termed "crenels" (also known as carnels, or embrasures), and a wall or building with them is called crenellated; alternative (older) terms are castellated and embattled. The act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation. 

The above paragraph comes from Wikipedia, and I don't always like their definitions of things, as I like to keep them a bit simpler, a line or two.  But battlement and its parts are an integral of any castle and really are all part of one piece.  In the image below, you see the parts discussed above (plus a few more we will cover another day): the parapet and crenels.  Can you name the other parts?


I found this quite by accident and love it

 Here is the website. Its awesome.


Monday, August 30, 2021

Bergman and the NPC Almanac


None know much about the origins of Bergman, who built it, why it was built, nor what purpose it serves. There are many theories from celestial accident to the place being a deity itself. Most people no longer care about the why and when of the place, just that it exists. What is known is that Bergman moves from plane to plane of its own accord and attracts some of the most notorious, infamous, and famous, travelers from the planes. It is as if Bergman came into existence out of a collective will of these people to have a place of respite, an area where all time and all travel stops and a moment of tranquility can follow.

The Mace ~ A Simple Promise

The mace remains one of my favorite weapons in any TTRPG. I'm not sure why. I almost have one on my characters. It is a weapon that lacks real solid finesse I suppose, and one that speaks volumes in a simple promise of sheer bludgeoning violence.

Word of the Day -- Grubstake

 Here's a word that just sounds cool.  And the meaning will make you think so as well.  It just seems to fit the sounds and of course, "stake" doesn't hurt either.  

Grubstake -- to provide with material assistance (such as a loan) for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances

Grubstake is a linguistic nugget that was dug up during the famous California Gold Rush, which began in 1848. Sometime between the first stampede and the early 1860s, when the gold-seekers headed off to Montana, prospectors combined grub ("food") and stake, meaning "an interest or share in an undertaking." At first grubstake was a noun, referring to any kind of loan or provisions that could be finagled to make an undertaking possible (with the agreement that the "grubstaker" would get a cut of any profits). By the 1870s, grubstake was also showing up as a verb meaning "to give someone a grubstake," and, since at least 1900, shortly after the Klondike Gold Rush, it has been applied to other situations in which a generous benefactor comes through with the funds. 

From Merriam Webster

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Where No Adventurers Go

A terrain where few adventurers dare to tread. Forbidding in its sodden deeps, it swallows the foolhardy like nothing else . . . 

Friday Nights are for Games


I often wonder what day is the most popular for  playing table top role-playing games? For that matter, do people play during the day or during the night? or in between?



Which Day?

Growing up we played every Friday and Saturday night. Usually we would start play after whatever event was going on. This would typically be around seven. We would then play until we couldn't play anymore or had other things to do. Sometimes these games would last for 48 hours. Sometimes not.

When Steve and I first started out, we played whenever we could. I even remember playing during lunch with friends at the wee age of.... well whatever wee age that was. This all stopped when college rolled through, then jobs, then travel, then life.

Gaming became more rare during those years. Once a week if at all was the norm. I even went several years without gaming at all. 

Then suddenly, in the early 2000s everything came together for a brief time. We were all settled, working, financially stable, and had no kids. We gamed like mad for those few years. There were three day long games at times. Playing weekends and even adding Thursdays on occasion. Emails would fly and stories wove. It was the same time TLG was founded. 

That ended.

Now we play once a week, on Thursday, starting at 9pm, and ending around 1am.

I think we got old. Except now, Now I think we be walking up to a new gaming dawn. Steve has started playing on Sundays and my two boys are interested in playing.

Here's to The Game and the hours of fun we have had at the table and the hours to come.

Thanks Gary and friends.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Word of the Day -- Rigmarole

 This can be spelled Rigamarole, which is how I pronounce it.  This always seemed to be one of those words that I thought my mother made up.  :-)

Rigmarole -- confused or meaningless talk.

In the Middle Ages, the term Rageman or Ragman referred to a game in which a player randomly selected a string attached to a roll of verses and read the selected verse. The roll was called a Ragman roll after a fictional king purported to be the author of the verses. By the 16th century, ragman and ragman roll were being used figuratively to mean "a list or catalog." Both terms fell out of written use, but ragman roll persisted in speech, and in the 18th century it resurfaced in writing as rigmarole, with the meaning "a succession of confused, meaningless, or foolish statements." In the mid-19th century rigmarole (also spelled rigamarole, reflecting its common pronunciation) acquired the sense referring to a complex and ritualistic procedure.

 From Merriam Webster


Monster Tribute Cover

 A sneak peak at the Alternate cover for the Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure. This is our third tribute cover. Art by Jason Walton. 

On sale from Troll Lord Games SOON! 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Dead too Must Work


Some time ago, a wizard by the name of Edward Horsehair, decided he needed an easier and less deadly method of acquiring gold than raiding and exploring abandoned and occupied dungeons, caverns, keeps, castles, and similar places. Essentially, he wanted to be wealthy and powerful but not work for it. He devised a plan whereby he would animate some dead and put them to work digging a mine and searching for precious ore, gems, minerals, or any other riches the earth might hold. After doing this for some time and gathering a bit of gold, Edward Horsehair died of a heart attack. So attached to his undertaking was he that his spirit did not cross to the realms of the dead but remained, in the mines, with the animated dead, still digging.

Word of the Day -- Sarcophagus

Here's a word that conjures up all sorts of things for me.  When I was young, I went to see, as many school kids did, the traveling King Tut exhibit.  I don't remember much of the actual exhibit just that it was huge and for a kid like me, exciting and exotic.  It conjured up things from movies, from other worlds, places I wanted to see.  I honestly don't remember if they had one or a replica of:

Sarcophagus -- a stone coffin; broadly : coffin

But I sure knew what one was from all the movies my parents and I used to watch when I was young.  As I've mentioned before, much of my love for words stem from my father.  He was a physician and he used to teach me words from science and explain their origins, a lot of them Latin or Greek.  I discovered that I could figure out the meaning of a lot of words by understanding basic language origins.  And this one was perfect.  Here's an excerpt from Merriam-Webster on sarchophagus --

Body-eating coffins might sound like something out of a horror film, but flesh-eating stone? The latter plays a role in the etymology of sarcophagus; it is the literal translation of líthos sarkóphagos, the Greek phrase that underlies the English term. The phrase traveled through Latin between Greek and English, taking on the form lapis sarcophagus before being shortened to sarcophagus. It's not clear whether the ancient Romans believed that a certain type of limestone from the region around Troy would dissolve flesh (and thus was desirable for making coffins). That assertion came from Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, but he also reported such phenomena as dog-headed people and elephants who wrote Greek. Regardless, there is no doubt that the ancient Greek word for the limestone combined sárx, meaning "flesh," with a derivative of phagein, a verb meaning "to eat."

You can check out our own Codex Egyptium if you are interested in ancient Egypt and or sarcophagi (the very cool plural of the word of the day...


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Ultimate Game Masters Tool

 The Castle Keepers Guide (On Sale Now)

The Castle Keepers Guide includes a host of new material for the role playing enthusiast; from world creation, to dungeon designs, managing non-player characters, character attributes at high levels, spell use and cost, equipment its use and wastage, the tumult of storms, from warfare to combat, monsters, treasure, death and more. The Castle Keepers Guide provides the CK and the Player with a host of new tools for their use; tools designed to enhance play, not hinder it; designed to be malleable from gaming table to gaming table.

Table of Contents

  1. Expanding the Character: In this chapter we explore new attribute modifiers, god like attributes, beauty as an attribute, creating new races and role playing examples.
  2. Magic: Digging into the magic using classes with spellbooks, starting spells, components, pricing magical components, playing without components, wands and holy symbols, illusion magic as healing, buying, selling and trading spells, scroll use, non caster scroll use and so much more.
  3. Expanding Equipment: A fresh look at equipment includes types of carrying items, stabling, costs of lodging and meals, a complete illustrated study of wagons with costs, speed and cargo, a similar treatment of boats and ships, general equipment and a new look at backpacks (abbreviated from the Adventurers Backpack).

  4. NPCs: A complete breakdown and explanation of the three types of NPCs (Adherents, Hirelings and Henchmen), how to use them, what their skills are, tracking loyalty, hiring them permanent or part time and developing their personalities.
  5. World Building: A guide on building your own world, beginning with planetary design and exploring everything from plate tectonics to weathering. Ten different types of climates are discussed and a host of biomes. Terrain, weather, movement charts and historical ages are all covered in this chapter. A complete how to will get you started on your world building journey.

  6. The City: In creating urban environments we explore populations, governments, culture, economic systems, economic systems, cost of goods and bartering, social stratification, types of religions and how to integrate them. Also it explores the types of settlements from the single dwelling to the metropolis, fully illustrated. Occupations, construction and criminal codes round out the chapter.
  7. Dungeons: Beginning with a study of light, temperature, humidity and movement underground it expands in to caves and types of caves (erosional, solution caves, coastal and so on), to terminology of both caves and underground structures: dungeons. A look at ecosystems, building dungeons, tunnels, gases and traps rounds the chapter out. Everything you need to know to build a complete dungeon.
  8. Air and Water Adventures: Chapter 8 allows you to expand you adventure into heights its never been. Movement in the air and under water as well as combat, combat maneuvers, spells, magic underwater and monsters with aerial combat ratings.
  9. Equipment Wastage: Role playing equipment is a wonderful tool that every CK should learn to do. From equipment wear and tear to destruction in combat, from both mundane, magical and monstrous means (what does dragon fire do to +1 armor?). This section is filled with examples and charts to help you along.
  10. Land as Treasure: In this chapter we explore using land as treasure, where noble titles mark the characters and NPCs with title, rank, stipends, men at arms, offerings and so much more. Broken down by class it allows for the master of the druid's grove and the king or queen of vast realms. Rank/title is assigned by level if that is the direction desired.

  11. Going to War: Here we explore mass combat and introduce a system fully explored in Fields of Battle that allows your table to conduct massive battles with minis, chits or home made pieces. From morale to siege engines it covers the vast array of encounters that afflict armies in the field. It touches on sea battles as well.
  12. Monsters: Here the most common monsters are discussed, their ecological niches, geological niches, and geographic regionalization. From arrow hawks to ogre magi the host of monsters supplies the game master with a mountain of material to enhance game play and offer a lead into other monster development. Basic encounter tables serve to get you started.
  13. The Future: An introduction to the Siege Engine as it applies in a host of different game genres: space age, horror fiction, pulp noir, post apocalyptical and more. It includes guidelines on how to introduce your standard classes into these genres with little effort. Also find guns, canon and laser weapons, all the tools needed to launch a game in a new genre.
  14. Advancing the Game: A complete break down for starting and continuing RPG sessions. This chapter is dedicate to novice and experienced game masters. Addressing such issues as game balance, leveling, mood, tone, as well as awarding experience and managing expectations.
  15. The Siege Engine: Here we break apart the Siege Engine. The extremely simple game mechanic is driven by a variety of processes and game design theory. Learn how to expand, change or mold the Engine to your game and table. It further explores attributes and their never end value at the table.
  16. Treasure: A new look at an old subject. Exploring treasure as a backdrop and role playing tool from quests to unusual coins. Here we discuss extraordinary items, precious metals, gems and more. It includes such subjects as class restrictions and hiring magical services. Scrolls, silver items, destroying and purchasing magic items, treasure is explored for top to bottom.
  17. Combat: Here we explore the nature of combat at the table, how to run combat and how to pace it. It also expands the idea of inter personal combat with critical hit tables, critical fumble tables and host of combat maneuvers as well as attribute checks, line of sight, ranged, damage reduction and a host of other optional elements.
  18. Skill Packages: In skill packages we demonstrate the versatility of the game by paving the way for the CK to allow players extraordinary skills that go beyond the class and race skills outlined in the Players Handbook. From orc hunters to elves with enhanced empathy. Furthermore it opens a world of secondary class skills such as armorer, hunter etc.

  19. Character Death: Lastly we explore the deaths of characters, both the loved and unloved. We look at the impact of their death and explore ways in which they day from combat to disease. It includes a system for Luck Points, Hero Points and more.

The Castle Keepers Guide is a tool box with almost limitless optional rules, ideas, concepts and theories. A tool box you will want at your table, no matter what game you play.

Authors: Written by Stephen Chenault, Davis Chenault, Casey Christofferson, James M. Ward, Mike Stewart, Mark Sandy, Jason Vey, and Robert Doyel.

Art: With art from Peter Bradley, Jason Walton, Zoe DeVos and the wonderful Alyssa Faden!

Songs from the Drowned Lands ~ Kernaghan

Recently I took a trip to New York (the city) and needed something to read that I could easily carry on the plane. I don't really buy pa...