Monday, June 26, 2017

Random Motley Pirate Captains & their Ships

Art by William Stout

Here's an excerpt from the Azurth Adventure Digest: A series of random tables related to Motley Pirate captains and their ships.

1 Black Hart
2 Black Mark
3 White Lily
4 White Lyle
5 Red Herron
6 Yellow Rose
7 Green Horne
8 Golden Boyd
9 Blue Yonder
10 Silver Bullitt
11 Gray Harriet
12 Purple Patch

Known For:
1 challenging captives to a game of checkers
2 an exotic pet
3 tendency to break into song
4 gold prosthetic nose
5 fine swordsmanship
6 prodigious appetite
7 half-merperson ancestry
8 mismatched eye color
9 numerous tattoos
10 sartorial excess
11 seasickness
12 Obsession with a specific sea creature

1 Scarwhal
2 Nigh Invulnerable
3 Blatant Beast
4 Typhoonigator
5 Luminous Nose
6 Hardluck Hooligan
7 Runcible Goose
8 Grand Panjandrum
9 Black Barnacle
10 Bandersnatch
11 Dubious Venture
12 Terrible Dogfish

Exotic Booty
1 A velvet bag of invisible, yet glowing star-gems.
2 Crates of ancient automata parts and junk machinery from Sang
3 The captured Frogling ambassador of Undersea and his attache
4 Casks of fine Viridian chrysochlorous wine
5 A nereid in a tank, actually a favored niece of the Sea King
6 Mirror boxes of bootleg moonlight
7 A small flask containing a condensed squall
8 Somewhat water-damaged back issues of the periodical Wizardry
9 Three cursed swords with a hatred for each other
10 A barrel of exotic fruit that act as a potions of healing if eaten
11 A corked and sealed bottle with a letter of introduction to King Volturnus, the East Wind
12 Crystalline unicorn figurines in various colors

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dungeon Boomtown

The suggestion of boomtowns (linked not because you don't know what a boomtown is, but because of the list of historical boomtowns) near dungeons is something mentioned in D&D, but seldom is the concept developed in any interesting way. Chris "Hill Cantons" Kutalik has suggested before that the description of Maust on the border of the Dirdir-infested but also sequin-filled Carabas in Vance's The Dirdir is great for evoking this very thing, and he's right:

By noon Maust appeared in the distance: a jumble of tall narrow buildings with high gables and crooked roof-lines, built of dark timber and age-blackened tile...Running boys came out to meet the motor-wagon. They shouted slogans and held up signs and banners: "Sequin-takers attention! Kobo Hux will sell one of his excellent sequin-detectors." "Formulate your plans at the Inn of Purple Lights." "Weapons, puffpads, maps, digging implements from Sag the Mercantilist are eminently useful." "Do not grope at random; the Seer Garzu divines the location of large purple nodes." "Flee the Dirdir with all possible agility; use supple boots provided by Awalko." "Your last thoughts will be pleasant if, before death, you first consume the euphoric tablets formulated by Laus the Thaumaturge." "Enjoy a jolly respite, before entering the Zone, at the Platform of Merriment."
...They entered a narrow street running between tall, age darkened structures, the beer-colored sunlight barely penetrating to the street. Certain of the houses sold gear and implements conceivably useful to the sequin-taker: grading kits, camouflage, spoor eliminators, tongs, forks, bars, monoculars, maps, guides, talismans and prayer powders...
After a meal of stewed hackrod and mealcake, the three repaired to the library, at the back of the second floor. The side wall displayed a great map of the Zone; shelves held pamphlets, portfolios, compilations. The consultant, a small sad-eyed man, sat to the side and responded to questions in a confidential whisper. The three passed the afternoon studying the physiography of the Zone, the tracks of successful and unsuccessful ventures, the statistical distribution of Dirdir kills.
No quite as on the nose, but with plenty to inspire the town adventures that would take place between dungeon delves is Deadwood (2004). Here's a choice quote adventurers would do well to keep in mind: “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”

The movie Tombstone (1993) that civilizing forces are drawn to areas of great wealth as well as treasure seekers. They are a strange mixture of raw and upscale. From the opening narration: "Tombstone becomes queen of the boom towns where the latest Paris fashions are sold from the backs of wagons." And from Sheriff Behan:
"Have you seen how everyone dresses? Awful tony for a mining camp. No, sir, the die is cast. We are growing. Be as big as San Francisco in a few years and just as sophisticated."
Of course, a gunfight in the streets is ironic punctuation to his comment.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Azurth Adventure Digest

I've been working on a shorter publication, to tide people interested in more Azurth stuff over until the release of Cloud Castle of Azurth (which is still some distance in the future). The above is my mockup banner for the Azurth Adventure Digest (no cover illustration has been completed, as yet). This short publication will on the Boundless Sea, west of the Land of Azurth and collate what has been on the blog regarding the Motley Isles, have some random generators related to Motley Pirates, and give stats for a few sea-going folk who have showed up in my game. There will a short (longer than a one pager dungeon, but smaller than a published adventure) write up of the sandbox adventuring locale the Candy Isle.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

D&D Style

Which is more you?
As anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time (there's got to be someone!) knows, I don't not have one style, tone, flavor, what have you of D&D that I want to do all the time. The Land of Azurth is a bit whimsical and perhaps silly. The earliest setting I blogged up was perhaps reasonable standard if more rigorously rationalized "serious wordbuilding" D&D fare. If touched on more survival horror sort of setting riffs, and hope to one day finish a horror-tinged, pirate adventure (In Doom's Wake). This is to say nothing of the highly variant settings like Weird Adventures.

In other words, I like my D&D sort of like I my TV and music: eclectic. The at the table experience with me probably doesn't vary quite as much as my writing about them might suggest (getting a group of people around a table pretending to be elves with funny voices tends to engender some degree of humor), but they are not identical.

My time in rpg related social media has suggested that a lot people have a style/tone or at least a narrow range of style or tone they tend to like in their game. People are probably more tolerant for one shots than longterm campaigns of course, and probably have broader tastes in what they play in than what they run.

I confess I envy this a bit. I feel like avoid the siren's call of a new setting is hard enough, but add in a new or long ignored style or tone and it gets even harder! I feel like I could stick with a campaign longer if I knew what my favorite flavor was.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Seven of Aromater

My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Seven of Aromater (1984) 
(Dutch: De Zeven van Aromater) (part 1)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Storm, Ember, and Nomad are floating down a river on a raft they made from the remains of the balloon they escaped in last adventure. The travel through a swamp, then into a delta, as they approach the sea they passes the wharves and docks of a city. Hungry, they make their way to the docks.

It turns out the city's name is Aromater. A merchant overhears them discussing their need for money and sends one of his warriors over to make an offer:

He wants to buy Ember. They reject his offer, and Ember slaps him. When the warrior begins to pull his sword, Storm slugs him.

The warrior demands a fight, and Storm decides to oblige him, if only to keep Ember from doing so. Storm breaks his sword against the warriors armor. The warrior holds his sword to Storm's throat and taunts him:

He suggests if Storm needs a sword, he should just pull the Seventh Sword from the stone block that holds it.

Elsewhere in the city, two men watch what is occurring in a crystal ball. They decide that Storm may be a suitable seventh. As Storm struggles with the Storm, the two men work the lever that releases the sword from the molecular lock that holds it.

The crowd that has gathered proclaims Storm as the Seventh. They carry him on their shoulders to the temple. Nomad and Ember follow after them, uncomprehending.

Storm is brought be for the Eternal Prince, who we saw watching the scene before. The Prince explains that Storm is the Seventh he is fated to return Aromater to glory. First, though, Storm must drink from the goblet with the Blood of Pandarve--or be punished by death by fire.

With no other choice, Storm drinks from the offered goblet.

Storm becomes the Seventh!


Monday, June 19, 2017

The Strange Lights and Noxious Odors of Murk

A Murkman, likely named Grundy

Murk is a marshy island of scrub and small stands of cypress, frequently shrouded in a malodorous, yellow-gray fog and inhabited by a dour people, aloof from the raucous society of Polychrome and the other inhabited Motley Isles. The people of the island may be one extended clan of pale and course-featured folk.

The Grundys (as they all seem to be named) are not of a piratical inclination, but instead harvest mussels and net fish that they trade with the Motley pirates for practical goods. They are also known for the product of  The disposition of the Grundys discourages visitors, though the ever-present miasma is likely more of a deterrent.

On some nights, variegated illuminations move through the fog, and its dullness is pierced by winking, dancing will-o’wisps. These lights are most prominent on nights of the new moon, when the sharp-eared also claim to hear strange music and other sounds of merriment emanating from the island.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I Call Upon the Great Gazoo!

A lot of people don't like the Cleric class and its "my god gives me cool powers." Certainly, that sort of heavy divine involvement doesn't fit all settings, nor does the idea of granting the powers rather ran just performing miracles.

Another option would be the "personal genie" or guardian angel type character common to genre media. Jeannie and Shazzan are examples of this type, but I'm thinking more the smaller, invisible to most imp-type like the Great Gazoo, or in a less helpful mode, the impish would be side kicks of comic book heroes like Bat-Mite or Qwsp.

So when a cleric used a "spell" this would be this spirit/being doing stuff at their request. Why they would have such specific and limited interventions could be explained by them being "in training" or maybe just getting used to the Prime Material Plane.

(You might think this fits even better with the 5e Warlock and their Patrons, and I suppose it could, but their spells seem even less a fit than the clerics for this sort of setup.)

In media, this sort of thing is typically portrayed humorously, but it doesn't have to be. If you did portray it humorously, though, not having other characters be sure of whether the tutelary spirit actually exists or whether the PC is crazy might be amusing.