GOBLIN-FOLK OF THE TALAMOR.

Another writing that grew from The Battle of Bad Galeth was this short Mannish analysis of that most common foe of the more prominent races of Eurychra, Goblin-Folk of the Talamor. It is written from the position of a learned Udanian sage, who apparently has had a peculiar fascination with these foul denizens, even to the point of managing a rough etymology of their given names. Among the finer points presented are a more detailed account of the origin of orc-kind, and some ideas behind their particular enmity against the Elves.

 

 GOBLIN-FOLK OF THE TALAMOR
By
Conath Ovidan, Legist and Sage of the
Court of Magdal-Ayin

Throughout the history of Talamor, known to the learned Elves as Eurychra, many races, and their variants have come into being. A common element throughout has been that of the urganach, those foul creatures commonly described as “goblin-folk”, due mainly to their most common representatives. It has been said that there are more goblins warring beneath the surface of the earth than fires amid the Walls of Night, but that remains to be properly debated. What is known about them is that while they may very well exist in such numbers, their kin exists in many, much more deadly forms unknown to the commoner. The purpose of this writing is to not only delineate these creatures and their relation but to properly place them within the overall scheme of racial history, which currently includes the many sub-races and derivatives of Elves, Dwarves and Men.

While their exact entrance into Talamor’s pre-history is not known, many theories have been posited by the historic writings of the Hylenic, or wood-elven scholars. Most concern them with being minions of the earth, to a lesser degree not unlike the Dwarves or Giant-kind, that were perverted into evil servitude by the fire-god Esh, whom the Elves name Ignar. While his influence has long since left the world (outside of rumored cults), his minions still run rampant across and deep within the whole of Talamor.

Goblin. The name is derived from the Kedanic gobbeling , or “(one) from the gobbel”, that word meaning a depth of the earth. Similar is the Hylenic term kobold, however it tends to be used as blanket term for their ilk. The Dwarves, their closest adversaries, know them as the huldir, or “hidden ones”. The creatures specifically mentioned here are slight (4’ in height typically), with umber to ochre skin, large pointed ears (comically so, when compared to those of the Elves), prominent noses and small, seemingly ineffectual eyes. As could be perceived, their senses of hearing and smell are considerable, while their eyesight, at least amid the surface-world, barely so. However, in their dark habitat below ground, they can sense the differing graduations of heat (including that coming from interlopers to their dim lairs) perfectly well. Therefore, even in the least lighted conditions, the goblin can function as effectively as a Man in sunlight, with ranged as well as melee weapons. Accordingly, the light and heat of the fully sunlit world disables them to a great degree, so they are rarely seen in such locales unless at night or in darkened conditions. They garb themselves in everything from rough-hewn cloths to leathern armors sourced from the likes of giant rats (which they are known to breed as livestock) to grazing animals that have been drug down to their dismal homes. In emulation of the Dwarves they are fair miners and smiths and manage to cobble fearful blades and missiles, some of which are poisoned with any number of stagnant fungi. Goblin society is tribal, with any number of them led by either a chief or king, who is often the largest and most repugnant of their given number. This loathsome creature is either a hobgoblin proper (see below) or some terribly wily individual who has managed to manipulate the underlings into a state of reverence, or at least mindful dread.

Hobgoblin. The term was once specifically associated with a leader caste, or “head-goblin”. While that is indeed the case in some instances (hobgoblins leading goblin tribes), it has since been revised in citing a larger variant strain of the creatures. While they appear in many ways like their close cousins, the hobgoblin is larger (averaging at 6’ tall), broader and considerably more brutal than their lesser relatives. They are also adept at wielding two weapons at once, making them dangerously dexterous foes, and are markedly better miners and smiths, with their armors and weaponry on par with most Mannish fare. They are often led by orcs or bugbears (see below), or one of the more advantageous of their own kind.

Orc. A truly separate strain of goblin-kind is the orc (the name is supposedly derived from the Dwarvish nork or norker, meaning “foul (one)”. Their origin lies relatively recent to the others in that they were the product of the mad wizard Golgamed’s endeavor to create a servant race of creatures to attend his liege Jehar the Usurper at the fortress of Bad Galeth some 250 years prior. The fate of Bad Galeth, and that of Golgamed’s madness need not be recounted here, but it is important to say that while the experiment was ultimately a failure, it resulted in a proliferation of creatures that bred faster than any other of their kind and maintain a considerable number to the current day. Being the result of repugnant act of breeding goblins with heavily drugged human females (supposedly the females were first slain and partially devoured by the deviant creatures, until Golgamed devised a proper slurry of fungus, fecal matter, and grime which managed to convince the fiends that their prey was at least somewhat like their kind), but little did the wizard know that the final female subjects in question were, in fact, were-boars, which resulted in their mutant progeny bearing the porcine snout and jagged tusks associated with orcs today. They are likewise covered in a thin coat of wiry black hairs, thickest at the back and hindquarters, where the base of the spine results in a short tail. Like their cousins the hobgoblins, they stand around 6’ tall at full height, and many of them are as broadly built through selective breeding. Unlike their cousins, however, they are more prone to have other, “lesser” creatures perform acts such as armoring and smithing — enslaving the likes of other goblin tribes, or even Dwarven or Mannish thralls to tending to such menial business in their behalf. A curious subject is their hatred for Elves, being more inclined to slay them on sight than treat them as chattel like the other races. Some relate this to the Vale-elves’ participation in the Battle of Bad Galeth, but no obvious correlation can be made of this supposition. Elven flesh and organs are also considered among the greatest delicacies in the orcish diet, especially after elaborate and horrific torturing of the prey. Some old orcs are known to treat Elven blood not unlike fine wine and keep it in airtight casks for sharing in celebrations. They are viciously competitive, and the veterans of their many civil struggles are large tribes of keenly militaristic opportunists who strike fear in their many foes across Talamor.

Bugbear. The largest of goblin-kind, they stand at a massive 7’ to 9’ tall, and are typically covered in a brackish fur. The name is from the Kedanic bu-gebur, meaning “lurker from below”. Not the most intelligent of their race, they nonetheless are remarkably dexterous for their size and are unrelenting once induced into attack. Some say they are the product of hobgoblins mating with giant-kind, such as ogres or ettins, but this remains to be undocumented and is guesswork. Regardless of their exact origin, when wielding heavy arms such as axes, spears, and morning-stars, they can be devastating when encountered. Their might is respected among even the orcs, who often enlist bugbears in the front lines as savage infantry among their troops.

The variety of urganach present in Talamor represent a significant threat to its free-peoples, not only due to their great number but to their cunning organization. This writing is thus put forward with the only sincere leverage against such a threat — that of knowledge. Only when we learn further of such races normally only seen through the rough lens of legend and lore can we come to understand their weaknesses and limitations.

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Sandbox “Hooks” and Next Steps.

The final two regions of Eurychra to report in for Step 23 are detailed below. Some nudges toward the major storyline of the sandbox are given, I’ll just leave it up to the Gentle Reader to figure out which.

BRUNHEATH (The brooding, militant mountain dwarves will only take a party with much renown into their confidence, especially those members with considerable battle finesse).

  • The old smith Sverrir bids the players to travel into the Dread Mountains and obtain balmalmur, the legendary flaming ore, with which he will create them weapons of great power.
  •  Arvald II, King of Brunheath, summons the players for counsel over invasions to his realm from the west. According to his scouts the source of these ills is the peak of the Dread Mountains known as Nyx’s Crown.
  • The revered old warrior Tryggar Hjorhald has a dying request: to be buried with his favorite sword, Bandreth. However, he lost it long ago when campaigning in the Knollands (where it now resides within the hoard of Fornrjoth, the hill giant chief in residence at Stonewall (q.v.).

GILDUR (The city-state where wizardry rules supreme will offer all sorts of odd quests, it return will offer powerful magic items — possibly untested ones that may spawn their own storylines).

  • The Ridge-runners (the tribe of orcs known to dwell in the northern Spineridge Hills) are taking to the walls of Gildur again, and even the fiercest of magical wards cannot sway them. The Lord High Magister is up in arms, and eager for any assistance in ridding his city of invaders.
  • The lovely wizardress Kaitala Ilmallia (known as “Kite” to her friends) needs prospective gardeners to prune her garden, and will even offer a hefty sum of gold to do it. What may seem like an easy payday turns out to be a quite the chore, as the garden is filled with all kinds of poisonous and violent plant life.
  • The arch-wizard Grandarch wishes the players to test their mettle against the elaborate series of guards and wards which protect his tower and underground lair. He promises a hefty sum if they are able to pass, but cannot promise to be able to resurrect any who fail in the attempt.

Next up is drawing out quick maps of some of the major settlements. Even at this stage, it will take some doing, as most of these areas are large walled cities, but more than likely I’ll be submitting maps with only major landmarks denoted, leaving plenty of room to detail the particulars at a later time. All of them will be drawn from the past step, and surely some of the more political features will be laid to bare in the process. Until then ;D

D&D Sandbox Map Update (and Analysis).

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Sharp eyes will notice the number of changes to the map at this point (they’ve either been mentioned in past updates, or will be in future ones, as I still have one more regional “hooks” post to make), but I really wanted to focus this post on a couple of the overall mechanics this campaign seems to be following. The first of which could be derived by what most folks define as a “sandbox” campaign. While I seem to be giving the prospective players a number of areas to explore, the majority of the quest lines seem to be leading towards one specific path (not necessarily a blatant “adventure path”, which seems to be the norm for the current generation of RPGs), which can be accessed by a variety of means. This really excites me, since again I am not a big fan of “railroading” players towards goals they don’t feel they’re a part of. I’ve even concieved of at least a couple of possible powerful allies to help should they want to be taken on this challenge (which really at some point they will probably have to, but again, it will be discovered in a more or less deduced fashion), both of which are very much involved in their own story lines, but if those are solved to their satisfaction, and certain requirements are met, the players will have the opportunity to enlist them later on.

The second of these points, while somewhat concerned with the first, is the focus on location-based adventures, as opposed to story-based ones. A casual look over the number of “hooks” I’ve written thus far will probably clue anyone over to this. Once again, I’m not in favor of dragging the players across the map by reading long hunks of  pre-written background information, along with prescribing what their interest in it should be. Call it old-school if you want, but I will (at least for the forseeable future, as I haven’t even gotten to detailing any of these areas yet) leave these destinations as independent entities, either them immediately reacting to invasion, or possibly informed by the characters previous steps (in which case said denizens would take the expected amount of defense). Not only will this allow the players take each step in my “non-path” at their own pace (which could even lead to retreats and some strategic rethinking on their part), but will also allow me to address any of their ideas as we go along. Sounds great, hmm? Well, time will tell, but I seem to be on to something here.

Sandbox “Hooks” (Cont.).

A few more scraps of adventure for the prospective visitors to Eurychra, and more map changes. The western coastal mountains have been named as the Strandrifts, as well as other changes which will be detailed in the coming installments. But for now, three more realms (including the one from which the players will start their adventures) have been detailed. And yes, I’ve finally figured out bullet points (yay, me).

ANDLACHEN (As mentioned before, this is where the players will begin, and I consciously tried to focus on lower-level scenarios. While not all that original, I think they can serve as effective stepping-stones to greater glories).

  • Shaina Caneduin, wife of the local Merchant Guildmaster, has been abducted to the ruined fortress of Hillsedge and held for ransom.
  •  Old Boaz, proprietor of the Crook and Horn Tavern, wishes to expand his wine cellar due to increasing business. However, construction has revealed a cave system, possibly connected to the Knollands (kudos to Andrew Goldschmidt for this idea).
  • The players are contacted by Lalianthia Arbadam, the local Thieves’ Guildmistress. She explains to them that the position of the Guild is to minimize crime within the city, a process which eliminates any “variables” outside the given order of things. The prime source of most “variables” is Andlachen’s undercity, which is primarily made up of its sewer system and connections to the surface. Unsavory as it may be, such incursions are necessary for the city to properly function, and since most of her associates are not overly fond of them, she is always on the lookout for prospective talent. In return, the players can have whatever treasures they find, in addition to unswerving protection from the Guild in any future event.

COR ARBIRROS (These points should only be accessed by players who have won the trust of the prickly Hyleni, due to some service, or one of the characters having a loyal background).

  • A relic has been stolen from a mausoleum in the Bax Thymea, an object of great worth and power. The players have been assembled by the Nomic clergy in Dom Canal to ensure its return.
  • The people of Cheranoth are up in arms, for several young Hylenas have apparently been abducted by the Witch of Wringwood, who sacrifices them to give her eternal life.
  • Some foul presence has descended from the southern reach of the Strandrift Mountains, and made its lair in the former hold of Makolon. Even Lord Bathastus sees this as a threat to his realm, as the evil seems to be targeting the farmlands of Akradys, and the hard-working folk who dwell there.

LENDALAR (While short on detail, these adventures lead to greater mysteries, those involving the Dread Mountains, and the tragic history of the dwarves).

  • The great goblin-killer Skatha Ugghagar has gone missing after investigating a newly found cave system.
  • A Lendalarian merchant caravan has been lost en route to the vale-elven capital of Krimnach — across the Dread Mountains.
  • The prelate of the recently founded Church of Andhrama has gone missing, and its temple desecrated, with runes reading “NEVER AGAIN” scrawled across its shrine.

Only three more realms left to detail, and then onward to the next step of sandbox creation. I know I’m looking forward to it ;D

Sandbox Campaign Update.

I should’ve realized a few posts ago to drop the whole “OD&D” bit, seeing as how I’ve decided on 5th edition D&D as the given ruleset (we’ll be getting into it more later, as prominent NPCs, or non-player characters come into view). Anyways, as promised, I’ve been working on creating a few encounters (although they’ve turned out to be more like story “hooks” upon which the players can possibly progress into an encounter area, or series of encounters) for each major region of Eurychra. It’s actually been harder than I thought it’d be, and I’ve looked online to a number of sources (credit given to them by entry) for help and inspiration. Granted, the list is still incomplete — but as always, this is an ongoing process. Note also the inclusion of the town of Edorast in Harwald (yes, the map has been updated, and I’ll have it up again soon).

HARWALD. While obviously the Harrow-moors and its denizens are at the heart of their troubles, the northmen of Harwald have a number of other crises that prospective heroes may be able to solve.

  • The Jarl of Cressland bids the players to defeat a flock of griffons, who are trained by the hill giants of the Knollands to steal their horses and cattle.
  • A horde of goblin-folk from the Knollands have overtaken the ruined fortress of Hillsedge, but due to their ongoing battle against the denizens of the Harrow-moors, the Harwaldian army needs assistance in dispatching them.
  • The huntsmen of Edorast are seeking a new prey — snake-cultists from the Bleak Hills. According to the mayor, what few women and children dwelling there are being abducted by the cult for blood sacrifices.

UDAN. Far from being the final word this most influential kingdom (certainly not that on the White City of Eburelon), here are the first few notes I’ve managed thus far.

  • The Earl of Balcagost has been accosted as of late by farmers who have complained of a great upheaval, and what appear to be anthills or termite mounds the size of watchtowers (kudos to DeeCee at forum.rpg.net for this idea).
  • The owner of the The Raven’s Nest, one of the more popular inns in Eburelon’s merchant quarter, surreptitiously contacts the players to hopefully solve an “issue”: his clients are turning up dead overnight.
  • A mysterious robed figure interrupts the players’ meal at The Wyvern’s Wing, a preeminent tavern in Magdal-Ayin. He identifies himself as the Archdruid of Rivelwood, and claims that an ogre from the Hinder Peaks disturbed a crucial ritual, and demands that either the ogre be found as a blood sacrifice in atonement, or one of the city’s watchmen, who are in charge patrolling the mountain perimeter (kudos to Altorin at The Escapist forums for this idea).
  • The notorious bandit leader Johan Bly has managed to escape imprisonment in Malacath, and is rumored to have taken refuge in the ruins of Bad Galeth.

Again, you can see a number of NPCs shaping up in these scenarios, which is really exciting for me (I can’t wait to have a “rogue’s gallery” of “hall of heroes” series, with thorough descriptions, stat blocks and illustrations), but for the time being I’ll continue to sketch out more adventuring ideas for the remaining areas.

Let’s Make An OD&D Sandbox Campaign (Part Five).

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Yiss. A big, shiny new map of Eurychra, finally done between bouts of Wasteland Workshop inspired play of Fallout 4. The aforementioned changes to the map mentioned in the “tour” overview are here, plus I finally named all the rivers in the area. Looking at Rob Conley’s “How To Make A Fantasy Sandbox” I’m down to part part 22, where I come up with plots connecting two or more locales together. While I have already written these, I’m keeping them to myself for the time being — but honestly, anyone who has read the overview material could easily figure most of them out. This leads to part 23, creating three to five single sentence encounters for each locale. I’ll probably serialize each of these by area in oncoming posts, provided Fallout 4 loosens its grasp (and the re-vamped survival mode doesn’t drop anytime soon).

Sandbox Campaign Update.

While still working on the new map, I began hashing out some details about the character races of Eurychra. While detailing their combined histories, some wrinkles appeared in the overall mesh. For instance, not all the races will be available for players, as their histories are withdrawn from common lore (such as the mysterious people of Amoq, or the Urani, or high-elves) or have practiced a insular existence throughout their history (as the men of Gildur, or the Nereni, or sea-elves of Hesperia). After these initial bouts of brainstorming and doing a good deal of research, I also decided on using the 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules for the campaign. I found the current span of character classes and options for them in particular impressed me, and I’m pleased to say that while the choices in race have become even more limited, the playable races will be able to encompass almost every sort of class available.

While I won’t submit the entire writing, since it was make for a overly long and dull post, I will paste in a bit of it here:

The Hyleni are said by most outsiders to be cold and distant, but while they do not eschew emotion altogether, due to the teachings of the god Nomus the Law-giver they hold logic and reason in highest regard. They are great sages, legists and politicians. The Hylenic language was the basis of all Elven tongues and their accounts of pre-history and history are held in highest regard by all races. The Hylenes (wood-elven males), are seen as the “roots” of society, while the Hylenas (females) are the supporting “branches”, providing the “fruits” of future generations. Thus males dominate both the government and social order of Cor Arbirros, with the females mainly organizing affairs among themselves and those of their children. The wood-elves have umber to red hair, with pale to olive skin and green to hazel eyes. Hylenic characters lend their backgrounds to wizardry, the ranger Hunter archetype, Battle Master fighters with archery backgrounds, and Nomic paladins or clerics with a balance of Life and War domain spells. Note that such professions would be limited to male characters, seeing as how any females who seek predominant positions outside Hylenic society (but not necessarily the Nomic clergy) would be shunned.

This sort of stuff will be revised and edited later, for sure, but for now had provided me was a great deal of inspiration as to what political conflicts are present, as well to more than a few scenario ideas. So for now, the map is on the way, plus more examples as to how the world is shaping up…