In the fantastic land of Erf, commanders lead stacks of units across a hex-grid terrain into battle at the whims of rulers, nobles, and titans. Observed by some amused Dungeons and Dragons deity, the Erfish mode of war proved intriguing. Perhaps to try a new style of battle leadership, or perhaps just for laughs, that god taught a version of the strategy and tactics of Erf to mortal nobles, heroes, and adventurers of the D&D ilk.
Role: As the leader of a group of powerful characters, the commander inspires others to amazing heights of achievement. They benefit from strange magical traditions unknown elsewhere. Nobles and aristocrats believe they make natural and ideal commanders – indeed, although some of common birth disagree, most aristocrats say they have a divine mandate to command.
Alignment: Since respect for following and giving orders is a fundamental characteristic of the commander prestige class, a commander cannot be chaotic in alignment. Moreover, commanders follow a strict code of duty and loyalty: duty to obey those to whom they owe fealty, and loyalty to their side and their comrades in arms.
Hit die: d10
Table: The Commander
.1...+1.....+0....+1....+1.....Leadership Bonus, Purse
10..+10.....+3....+5....+5.....Chief Warlord, Natural Healomancy
Class Skills: Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Engineering) (Int), Knowledge (Geography) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Knowledge (Nobility) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis).
Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: You gain proficiency all simple and martial weapons and all armor except tower shields.
Spellcasting: Commander levels do not advance any spellcasting at all. Moreover, a caster's leadership bonus is +0, not half commander level. A few casters can apply a leadership bonus to select unit types and no others. These casters actually double the usual leadership bonus when stacked with the following: clerics with outsiders of the same alignment; druids with animals; summoners and conjurer wizards with creatures they have summoned; necromancer wizards with undead they have created; and any caster with golems and constructs they have created. These caster commanders only benefit from their own leadership when stacked with units who benefit from it as well.
Ethos: Duty compels commanders to use their own initiative in the service of those above them in the chain of command. It also makes them reluctant to withhold information from allies or to conspire against them. They accept that they may be executed if they fail to do their duty.
Leadership Bonus (Ex): At first level, you can designate up to eight willing creatures ("units") to serve under your personal command. These eight plus yourself (nine in all) form a "stack" and are "stacked units." They must be in medium range of you (100 ft. plus 10 ft. per commander level). Units can leave your stack by moving out of range or at will as a free action. Each round, as a swift action, you declare your stack and share your leadership bonus with stacked units. Your bonus applies to attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, or armor class, as you decide. You can give orders to units in your stack, and if they disobey, you can choose to revoke your leadership bonus. Your bonus is equal to half your commander level (round down, minimum +1). If you are an aristocrat, your leadership bonus is half your combined commander and aristocrat levels. Your bonus applies to yourself as well as your units, if you are stacked with at least one other unit.
Purse (Su): You have a purse that cannot be taken from you. At first level, you can store up to 1,000 gp per commander level in your purse, which cannot be taken against your will. Your purse and its contents do not count against your encumbrance. You can choose to deduct gold from your purse at dawn to "buy" a day’s worth of food and drink (at standard rates) for you and your stacked units – such rations pop into existence from thin air.
Natural Signamancy (Su): You look like a leader! You appear formidable, competent, and fit. At second level, you gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks, and on your Leadership score if you have the Leadership feat. If you are an aristocrat, your racial bonus is equal to double your aristocrat levels +2.
Regent (Ex): You can manage an enterprise, fort, trading post, village, port, or town. At third level, when you spend time as a regent, performing no other duties, you lower costs for city improvement and production of equipment and food, you increase tax revenue, and you reduce the cost of upkeep of units under your management. The mechanical details of these bonuses are left to the game referee to determine.
Natural Thinkamancy (Su): At fourth level, you know the race, class, level, special abilities, maximum hit points, and current hit points of any unit in your stack. You can telepathically send orders to any unit in your stack. You can give one of your stacked units the "scout" special ability as a move action. Your scout can travel up to one mile away from you and send you reports telepathically, remaining stacked (but losing your leadership bonus outside medium range).
Screening (Ex): At fifth level, as a swift action, pick one stacked unit. For each attack launched against that unit until your next turn, roll d100. On a result of 1-50, the attack instead affects an adjacent stacked unit, chosen randomly from among adjacent units. On a 51-100, the attack is resolved normally.
Natural Dollamancy (Su): At sixth level, you can create a sigil / coat of arms for yourself. Armor, shields, and clothing worn by you or those stacked with you magically take on the look of a uniform with your sigil. Each day at dawn, all your gear and that of your stacked units is magically cleaned and all damage (including hit point damage to weapons and armor) to that equipment is mended. If you have aristocrat levels, units wearing your sigil (including you) gain a morale bonus vs fear attacks equal to your aristocrat levels.
Fighting Retreat (Su): At seventh level, when you use the withdraw action, you can order your entire stack to also use the withdraw action. Until your next turn, no stacked unit using the withdraw action provokes attacks of opportunity by moving out of threatened squares. Moreover, any damage taken by withdrawing units before their next turn is divided among all stacked units as you designate. However, withdrawing units must end their move closer to you, and farther from enemies, than they were when the move started.
Natural Rhyme-o-mancy (Sp): At eighth level, you can sing marching tunes, taunt enemies, tell stories, and give speeches that raise the morale of your allies and demoralize your foes. As a standard spell-like action, you can cast Bane and Bless at will. The saving throw DC for the Bane is 10 + your commander level + your Charisma bonus. Your commander level is the caster level. If you have levels in aristocrat and/or bard, they stack with commander levels to set caster level and DC.
Improved Screening (Ex): At ninth level, as a swift action, pick one stacked unit. For each attack launched against that unit until your next turn, roll d100. On a result of 1-90, the attack instead affects an adjacent stacked unit, chosen randomly from among units within ten feet. On a 91-100, the attack is resolved normally.
Natural Healomancy (Su): At tenth level, each day at dawn, all your hit point and ability score damage is cured.
Chief Warlord (Ex): At tenth level, your leadership bonus applies to two of the following, not one: attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, armor class. Moreover, one half of your bonus (round down) applies outside your stack to all allies within line of sight. Your Regent abilities double, and can be applied to cities, provinces, and small kingdoms.
In terms of party role, the commander serves as both a buffer and a combat specialist. Most of the non-D&D terms and magical qualities emulate Erfworld mechanics, of course.
I like the idea of taking sub-optimal choices and making them viable. With the commander, I have given decent bonuses and stacking to a character who takes levels in the aristocrat NPC class, which is a very underpowered choice, usually. The idea is to give characters reasons to explore more of the game space.
Also note that the aristocrat stacking plays into a central theme in Erfworld, that of noble rulers vs non-royal sides. Some observers speculate that Erfworld royals make more natural commanders than non-royals, leveling faster and gaining better stats. I tried to echo that idea by giving aristocrat/commanders some extra perks.
For players who prefer Third Edition D&D to Pathfinder, note that this particular PrC is very easy to convert. Just use the saving throws for a ranger of equivalent level and bump the required ranks in skills by +4.
Written by Cayzle of Cayzle's Wemic Site
(NOTE: user received 25 Shmuckers for this submission. - Rob)]]>
Some pretenders you can see coming a mile away. Some can sneak up on you like a Superman on a little boy falling from a waterfall. Some hostile takeovers you can prevent by a quick chopping motion near the neck department. Others you can’t, because they have too good a publicity and too many followers thanks to all the drugs, candy and sexy wanton woman they give to the community.
These six are of the latter variety and (in my opinion) they could rule the world of Shrek if only they had some more ambition and/or slightly better luck. Yes, I can already hear you cry “That’s not a very likely situation, kind sir.” and I know that it certainly looks that way, my very polite and erudite readers. Here are six people working minor jobs that could rule the world of humanity if it lived in the Shrek
universe. And I will start with...
6. A baker
Who is (s)he?
A kindly baker that makes live cakes in the shapes of animals and ginger-bread men. Father of Gingy, one of Shrek’s friends and the most badass piece of dough you are likely going to see in a children’s cartoon. Yes , we are talking about the ultimate chessmaster, ruler behind the shadows and the powerhouse of raw magic that is only known as (ominous pause)… The Muffin Man. From the Drury Lane.
How will (s)he take over?
An army of gingerbread men of all sizes and shapes, absolutely loyal, crushing all of the human spirit, freedom, faces and terror-induced fecces under their baked feet, forever and ever. Wearing raincoats. With tiny dough spies setting ambushes to everyone foolish enough to catch them, torture them and believe a single word they say.
Why he never tried to take over?
Who said that he didn’t? Let’s see the first scene that ever mentioned… The Muffin Man.
Have you seen that? That look of pant-shitting terror that passes across Lord Farquaad ‘s face after the realisation of what has been said hits him.
That’s Lord Farquaad, a guy with enormous, well equiped army, a brutal ruler successfully persecuting all magical creatures and moving them right the hell out of his kingdom, and yet he looks like he’ll shit his pants on the mere possibility that… The Muffin Man… is helping and protecting them, because he knows that, despite all of his power, he can’t take him head on. And for a good reason, as we’ll see in Shrek 2.
That’s Mongo, Gingy’s big brother. And he was made in less than an hour! One moment, Shrek is escaping from jail, saying:
We'll never get in.
The castle's guarded.
There's a moat and everything!"
the very next moment is:
"-we're gonna need flour.
Lots and lots of flour."
"Fire up the ovens, Muffin Man!
We've got a big order to fill!" . Cue fight scene! Cue fight scene!
But there’s more to be learned from these scenes.
First of all, the Muffin Man has all the ingredients and big enough ovens to create a giant gingerbread man powerful enough to successfully storm a well-manned and armed castle in under an hour. That’s worrying enough as it is.
Second, it is not the first time occurrence, as shown by the reaction of castle’s guards. Their first panicked reaction is to attack the Gingerzilla with regular weapons, only angering him in the process. But, when the first wave of fear is over (and, lets be honest here, who wouldn’t panic after seeing a couple of tons of gingerbread approaching the castle you are ordered to protect?), a heroic sergeant takes control with a single command “Man the couldrons!” (we would have added: “..and fill the bastards with some hot milk!” but the dreaded PG rating and not writing the scenario had foiled us again). The men under him not only have barrells of milk and what looks like a giant esspresso machine at the ready, but are actually trained enough to do it with efficiency and precision in the middle of a terrifying situation.
Finally, all the repeated drills and training from hell pays off and the giant monstrosity goes down, never to return. Oh wait… It is not dead, just immobilised! We can clearly see it singing the tune during the ending! All that is needed is that Shrek (now the King’s son in law) orders the moat drained and Mongo is walking the earth again! But wait, there’s MORE!
Gingerbread men can be repaired, because at the end of Shrek Gingy has both of his legs crushed but at the beginning of Shrek 2, he is walking again. The repair seems to be taking some floor and whipped cream and gluing the replacement legs together. Oh, and they can eat meat, as we can see during the small gag with 3 blind mice. Now, this is where the things go from sinister to openly terrifying.
Imagine that The... Muffin Man... didn’t have less than an hour but the whole year to make his army. Imagine them coming in all shapes and sizes, from giant living siege engines that is Mongo over man shaped guards to tiny spies that is Gingy. Perfectly loyal, indestructible except by being hit with milk (or, as we here at cracked like to call it, gingeronite), the whole divisions of them, some of those divisions playing the support roles of medical corps we have in the human armies, repairing the others... Smarter of them, commanders, wearing the raincoats to protect them from harm that is milk, taking over lands and destroying the kingdoms’ only weapons, one cow at a time. And who can say they have to be in the shapes of men? We see cookie animals in Shrek 4ever After. Put some candy blades on Gingy’s hands, and you have a tiny Wolverine made in bakery! Add some more hands or build them in the forms of elephants with more than two tusks, put some siege weapons on them and you have the siege of Minas Tirith all over again!
The only reason The… Muffin Man… doesn’t take over all of the kingdoms of the world is because he is already ruling from shadows. He already has a deal with the king of Far Far Away and it goes like this: The... Muffin Man... will deploy his army of almost indestructible gingerbread golems in the defense of the kingdom if the need arises and the king asks him to. In turn, The Muffin Man will be allowed to live his retirement as a simple baker, all of his crimes forgiven, and will tone down his crazy scientist’s experiments in baking in return. In Shrek universe, "Got milk?" commercials are probably equivalent of NRA commercials we have in our universe.
The only reason he helped Shrek storm the castle was to prevent the civil war that would have happened if his former team-mate got the throne,got corrupted with power and tried to take The Muffin Man down. The teammate that is…
5. The pharmacist.
(to be continued)
Pioneers (by Eigen Lenk): An RPG-esque game about exploration not just the world but yourself and your companions. Despite its being free the game has a great deal of replayabilty and a rather long campagin along with a "free play" style that allows you to merely jump into the game and have yourself a grand time.
Lost Constellatons (by Finji): A point and clicky style game heavy on narration and story with a sound track as chilling as its art is breath taking. Giving any more information on this game would ruin your time, so get to building your snowmen and see if you can find the Lost Constellations.
Clive "N" Wrench (by _Rob_): Love Banjo Kazooie and the Rare era third person platformers? This little demo should scratch this itch. Missed the boat on one of the most storied N64 titles? Get on this game now and see what the hype is all about. Not sure what I'm talking about, this game is an "old school" 3D platformer with cartoony graphics and a heavy leaning on collecting random items scattered around the map.
Return of the Obra Dinn (by Dukope): From the maker of the cult indie hit Papers, Please we have the Return of the Obra Dinn. Return of the Obra Dinn is at its most simple a brooding mystery novel aboard a stranded ship mixed with eldritch and magical elements. While also like a demo like the above game, it's well worth your time to check out.
Endless Express (by flrn): Endless Express may be short but it makes up for it in its scope and unique ideas. What seems a mere "Waiting for a Train" simulator at its base is a rich and deep experience on the nature of time and travel. While the game may not take you out of your element like it does the main character but one can hope.
The Not So Free
Seas of Scred (by Darkest Kale): Seas of Scred is a simple DOS-Like, taking gaming back to its old arcade style gameplay with a score-attack style gameplay and cute critters to blow up with your submarine lasers. Brightly colored and for only three bucks you'll easily play longer than you spend on the game.
Sandstorm (by Daniel Linssen): A game about not getting lost in a sandstorm. Way more fun than the real thing.
Delver's Drop (by Pixelscopic): A top down roguelike that pays a great homage to the older Zelda Titles like Link's Awakening and Link to the Past. Best described as "Zelda, The Dungeon Edition", it is sure enough to appeal to the "hardcore" gamer and casual player as well. It is important to note that this game is still in Alpha.
Earth Tongue (by Erichemmit): A game about growing mushrooms and keeping that ecosystem safe and stable. It's like Harvest Moon without the love life or magical gnomes. Also a lot of Mushrooms.
Heavy Bullets (by Terri Vellman): A fast paced first person shooter with a bright level layout and cute critters hellbent on eating your face off, Heavy Bullets promises a simple game and delivers more depth that it appears it could on first blush. Living up to its name, Heavy Bullets requires you to learn bullet conservation which gives the game a tactical level easy to learn but difficult to practice.
If you read Erfworld, you might like video games. If you like video games, you might like MMOs. If you like MMOs, you might have noticed that the most popular recent ones tend to follow the same treadmill formula: You create a character of a certain class, go out into the world, get some quests, and kill some things to level up so that you can go to a new area and do the same thing over again, but with new scenery and things to kill. The goal is usually to get to the end game content, the raiding. But even there, you go through a static, never changing dungeon that hundreds or thousands have been through before to get slightly better gear than what you currently have so you can progress to another dungeon with even better gear to get to another dungeon, etc. Eventually the gamers with the most time have seen all the content and are stuck at the top with nothing to do until the next expansion comes out.
Maybe you're fine with that model, and that's okay, it is the most successful MMO model currently on the market. But maybe you're dissatisfied with the current model and wish there was another way; a way where your character can have a real impact on the game world, where you can experience unique content that only you will see, where there is real risk to your character so there is a greater weight to all of your actions.
Trials of Ascension is that way. The developers are fans of old school MMOs like Ultima Online, and are trying to build a game where you don't experience the content, but influence and create it; where RP isn't enforced but happens naturally as a result of the game mechanics. They opened a store on their website and raised enough money from their fans to build a prototype of the full game. I donated enough via their store that I got to help test and experience that prototype and I can unequivocally say that they can deliver on what they promise if they reach their Kickstarter funding goal. I'm just doing my part to spread the word to give the KS the best chance it can have since I want to play this game as much as the developers want to make it.
Here's the link to visit the Kickstarter: http://trialsofascension.com/ks.php?ref=310236 (Yes, that is a referral link and I will get points in their referral contest if you click it, I have no shame. ;) )
Here's the link to their Game World Guide that describes all their features better than I could: http://trialsofascension.com/guide/ (Did I mention the human character progression is totally skill based - no classes - or that you could play as a freaking DRAGON???? How about that human characters can cooperate to make settlements?)
And here's some shots from their prototype to whet your appetite:
(This is a playable race in the game, by the way - Raknar. They're a ton of fun to play already and can go up and down any surface like the Aliens in the AvP games.)
Thanks for reading and I hope you will consider pledging or at least sharing the link above to help make this game a reality!]]>
The fans have not been lying around on the job these last 15 years. I discovered thousands and thousands of hand-crafted maps. Some incredible mods. And... Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself now.
Let's start with the review:
And how about a trailer (might not look like much, but it took me 80+ hours to put this one together)
Now for the mods, I think so highly of WoG I made a trailer for it:
And finally I'm currently checking out Ride the Lightning. And am very impressed so far:
I've been recommended several more mods which I'll be checking out in the near future, hope you enjoy the videos.
NOTE: User was awarded 50 Shmuckers for this post. -Rob]]>
We live in a magical age. The technology to build Morningstar didn't exist two years ago. Now, we can integrate all the components of a complex role-playing game into a single application that can be run on your tablet, laptop or phone.
Morningstar was born out of a love for tabletop. Chris Matney, the founder of Trapdoor Technologies, has been gaming since 1977 (the white box set was his first introduction). When his love for tabletop and career in technology collided, he was only too happy to merge the two. Trapdoor Technologies became a group of talented software and gaming geeks, all aiming to realize this vision.
In Morningstar, everything about the game is at your fingertips from rulebooks, adventures, characters, and maps to the most specific character customization - even a hard-earned badge from an epic homebrew campaign. Tracking campaigns and compiling logbooks are no longer chores, but an integrated, shareable experience. And game night is streamlined. Rules lookups are instantaneous - the right information is at your fingertips. Sharing of content, maps and secret notes is a single tap away. Spend more time role-playing and less time rules-playing.
Most importantly, Morningstar’s Library will be packed full of purchasable content written and submitted by homebrew and indie authors.
We firmly believe that the best adventures are sitting on the shelves and in the minds of passionate players and game masters like you. We are publishers by trade. Morningstar is designed to allow writers to publish and get paid for their creativity and imagination.
If this looks interesting, please check out and support the Kickstarter!
I also loved board games, strategy games and of course HOMM, but today I want to write for you about emergent games....
(Proof: Me playing 7Wonders ;) )
Wikipedia defines emergent gameplay in the following way:
Emergent gameplay refers to complex situations in video games, board games, or table top role-playing games that emerge from the interaction of relatively simple game mechanics.
It's those moments when something happens that none of the designers could ever foresee. There are Dwarf Fortress websites that share stories about events that happened inside the game! Go check it out, some are hilarious.
Obviously the most popular emergent game is the one you all know.. Minecraft.
Sometime into my own third fortress, I thought to myself:
"Hey these scurrying little dwarf's look like a busy chaotic anthive under my control..."
"Waaaait... someone should totally make a game about an ant hive with the attention to detail Dwarf Fortress had!"
So, one year later, many weekends and 3 full months spent with C++ later, we present you:
It's called "Formicarium", you play the invisible hive-mind behind an ant-colony.
In nature, there are many extraordinary ant species, including acid sprayers, honey pots, tiny nest maintenance ants, enormous tank ants, poison attack ants, leaf-cutting specialists, suicide bombers and more. The pool of species will grow over the next six months. You can tell ants to dig tunnels, strengthen walls with earth and stone, build above and underground structures, build nurseries and even cultivate subterranean fungi gardens. Furthermore, Formicarium uses a simplified model of genetics as a game-play element, so that you can design the very body and genetic expression of your ants, shaping them to your needs as a player. We think this is wonderful, and hope you do, too!
Now a lot of people have compared us to Sim-Ant , but while I know about this game, the main influence still is Dwarf Fortress. I also take some Ideas from Plage Inc. (DNA points, unlocking abilities) and FTL (random events), but DF is the predecessor in mind.
In the next picture you can see the zones that ants should dig out and the areas selected for storage & nurseries:
And furthermore, here is an update to our latest youtube dev video:
Here's a small graphic I made about our influences ( to clarify between SimAnt and DF):
I should also mention that I already had a double-genetics system set up, when read Randall Munroe's (xkcd) new Book What If and his model of genetics with the additional multipliers and the double-multiplier being a genetic weakness totally blew my mind. Using this new system I have the following genetic pattern (for brevity I always only show 3 attributes, in the game there are far more):
Now I put all the "???" around our game, because it's not a sure thing yet. We have a working prototype, but there's still a lot of work in front of us. But that's where you come in!
Who are we? (I'll just copy our section, since I reaaally want to finish this article and get back to make my ants carry objects around, my programming goal for today)
So if you like our idea, want to see more emergent game:
PS: If you have no bucks to spare, any share/like vote for us gets everyone a lot closer to see this project become real!]]>
The setting’s author and designer, Bryan Steele, has been producing gaming products for publishers for over a decade. He has worked with such iconic worlds as Judge Dredd, Conan, Starship Troopers, Babylon 5, RuneQuest, and Traveller. He is probably most well known for his being the primary narrative writer for the original, award-winning Warmachine: Prime and Iron Kingdoms RPGs. His pen has put millions of words into the hands of gamers across the globe, and Seventh Crown is his newest – and by his own claim – possibly finest work to date.
7 Unique Facets of the Seventh Crown Roleplaying Setting
• Dwarves once ruled a dynasty, but Ogres ruined everything
The continent of Kanis (where Seventh Crown is based) was home to a successful, thriving empire of elves, men, gnomes and halflings led by a central dwarven government. The Audaran Dynasty was strong and filled with beneficial alliances, but not strong enough to withstand the landfall of ten thousand ogres in gigantic black warships. The ogres were led by a single “king” who controlled them all magically with a golden headdress and mask, turning chaotic, simple-minded beasts into a hellish, organized army. The ogre king was eventually defeated and his artifact mask shattered into seven pieces, but not before the Dynasty’s alliances split apart. The Ogre War ended, but the Kanisi people suffered greatly and could not maintain the empire.
• Six magical Crowns rule this world
The pieces of the ogre king’s unfathomably powerful mask were salvaged on the battlefield, and it was discovered that they held a portion of the original artifact’s tyrannical powers. Those who held the golden chunks became the will of their people, and anyone who shared their racial bloodlines would be mystically bound to obey their laws, edicts and commands. The chunks were forged into six Crowns of Leadership—the most powerful items anywhere in the world. Whoever wore a Crown would become the undisputed ruler of their own species, creating kingdoms that are not defined by territory or religion – but instead stretch to anywhere the people are. It is the use, abuse and coveting of these Crowns that make many of the plotlines in this world.
• Not everyone has or wants a Crown
Despite the attraction of holding immense control over everyone of their own species, there are several sentient races that do not have or even desire to have a Crown of Leadership. Dragonborn do not necessarily share blood with the King of Dragons, but they traditionally have been raised to do what their fully-draconic masters tell them to. Gnomes have mathematically deduced that they must serve the laws and culture of dwarves without the influence of a Crown, eventually inheriting the rulership of the world by means of their Great Equation. Kanisi halflings, once talked into being part of the Dwarven Empire, turned back to their nomadic gypsyesque lifestyles after suffering horribly during the Ogre War – and now they are nearly anarchist in their refusal to settle down or serve any king. While most cultures are bent on gaining or holding a Crown to strengthen their race’s kingdom, some see things much differently.
• Monsters are people too!
Just because a race of sentient beings is often bent on evil and tends toward violence and savagery, it does not automatically label them as “monsters.” Goblins, kobolds, orcs and even the merrow may have their only real statistics represented in tomes of monster lore, but in Seventh Crown they have fully fleshed-out cultures, communities and in a few cases – Crowns of their own. In fact, one corner of the continent is rife with a war that is being battled between the crowned Queen of Kobolds and the would-be heir of the deposed (and murdered) Goblin King! In that part of the continent, players might just find themselves serving one set of monsters in a battle against a different set of monsters!
• There is a lot bumping around in the dark
There are two very distinct halves of Kanis: the surface world, and the Great Beneath. The Great Beneath is a subterranean kingdom that exists miles below the surface that is the home of dark elves, deep gnomes, dark dwarves and other things that dislike the touch of the sun. It is a world beneath the other, and it will be host to a huge number of plots that cause the two worlds to intermingle. The Great Beneath is home to the current and longstanding King of Elves, an evil dark elf bent on expanding his real estate above ground through the mixing of elven bloodlines – making the sight of dark elves and “dusk elves” much more common on the surface in recent centuries.
• Each city or landmark is a new story to explore
In a world where kingdoms are based on blood in a person’s veins instead of lines on a map, local governing agencies make most of the day-to-day rules – creating new plots and hooks everywhere a player goes. The city of Dusk Landing has a multi-tiered urban structure that literally rains filth and refuse down on the lower levels, physically creating the upper and lower classes and all the problems in between. A swampy city on the eastern coast, XeSon, holds a two week long celebration of food and liquor to empty out summer storehouses for the annual trade ships to refresh them, much like a high-magic fantasy version of Mardi Gras! Each point on the map holds new and interesting local information that DMs and players can use to craft some amazing plotlines of adventure!
• New Deities, Backgrounds, Trinkets, Feats and Spells!
No good roleplaying setting is without its own unique “crunch,” and Seventh Crown is no different. It comes with nifty new gods to worship, backgrounds to build characters with, and awesome new Feats and Spells to augment any character (even those not being played in Seventh Crown… shh!). Druids that can punish enemies into animal form, wizards that can bind their life force to inanimate objects, and clerics that can put faith before fealty, these are all spell effects that Seventh Crown brings to the table. New Feats enforce the ideas of freedom from being ruled, service to an oath of loyalty, and even just trying to have pride in your brothers-at-arms. For roleplayers of any setting, there is some cool stuff to use in Seventh Crown.
• • •
In order to go and see the Kickstarter campaign, the backing levels, and the updates to the effort so far... and of course to back the project... follow this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1854841382/seventh-crown-tabletop-fantasy-rpg-setting
High level backers get the opportunity to be immortalized in the Seventh Crown world narratively, or even as part of the RPG miniature line!
By Richard S. Hetley, Kickstarter project manager of Lone Wolf - The Board Game. Which is relevant, we swear.
I love a good game. It could be anything. Clever little custom-dice game? Awesome. Social game with no props whatsoever? Cool.
Same goes for a good book or a good story. Who cares how many style buzzwords it has? Is it any GOOD? Then it's a good game, book, or story, and I'm glad I had a chance to meet it.
Which is why I was glad to be raised by gamebooks. You know, those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books where you flip back and forth between different pages based on where you want the plot to go? "Choose Your Own Adventure" is a brand name, and maybe you've heard more about "Fighting Fantasy" if you grew up in Europe. But hopefully, if you know about gamebooks at all, you've heard of "Lone Wolf."
Gary Chalk, who illustrated the first Lone Wolf gamebooks.
The Lone Wolf gamebooks, more than anything else, taught me how fantasy was supposed to be. Thanks to them I still think "armour" should be spelled with a "u" despite a lack of recent and personal British ancestry. In those books, heroes weren't championed by "fighters" and "magic-users"--no, they called on monks and border rangers. There was a shocking minimum of green dragons, green-skinned goblins, and trolls with green blood that regenerated for no clear reason--instead there were shapeshifters, dark knights, and ships of drowned sailors that rose in undeath.
When I was a kid, I played gamebooks on the same days that I would play videogames. Now, why play an "interactive book," filled with mechanisms and hacks to pretend it had the complexity of a computer, when I could play a game ON the computer? Oh, I don't know: maybe I just said I played both. Maybe you just read that sentence a moment ago.
"Why are you playing THAT?" Because if it's good then it doesn't matter how flashy it is. You enjoy it on its own terms.
Sample of Gary Chalk's art for the 1980's Lone Wolf gamebooks; the series wasn't about talking animals, but it's appropriate that this same artist went on to illustrate Redwall.
It's just like the specific microcosm of videogames. Computer technology advances, and each year there are ads for "the latest in cutting edge graphics!!!" One day we passed the threshold where default technology could power 3-D games, not just sprite-based games, and it's only gone up from there. But if that's true, then why are there ANY 2-D games still in existence? Why would Bioshock come out with its stunning 3-D world in 2007, and Aquaria come out in 2-D at the end of THAT SAME YEAR?
Oh, I don't know: maybe drop-dead gorgeous 2-D art is still drop-dead gorgeous, and Aquaria is still a "good game" just as Bioshock is. The invention of the car has not halted the advancement of the bicycle.
So to this day I enjoy a good gamebook, because, by definition, they're "the good ones." That's why I and my buddies have been doing contemporary gamebook projects. Then, a few months ago, I heard chatter coming through about something different: Lone Wolf in a board game. A wargame, in fact, played on a board.
Hey, really? I like Warhammer 40,000. Is this like that? And made from LONE WOLF?
Demo battlefield from Lone Wolf - The Board Game.
Eventually I got to playtest their print-and-play scenario. I was amazed. Here on my tabletop was a simulation of the game world I knew. And it played faster than any game of Warhammer 40k! Once I knew the rules, I was plowing (excuse me, "ploughing") through a battle just as I'd read a book.
It felt just like my childhood. Sure, the setup was more "traditional" for a fantasy realm, involving the grey-skinned "Giaks" of Lone Wolf, who bear certain parallels to green-skinned "goblins." Nevertheless I loved fighting Giaks, and I'd seen the art that said one day there might come Drakkarim (dark knights) and maybe even Helghast (undead shapeshifters).
And moreso, it was all drawn in 2-D art on stand-up figures!
Battle mock-up from Lone Wolf - The Board Game.
Oh, I see where this is going. Oldstyle art for an oldstyle game world, right? Yup, that's something I love. But when we started sharing this project online, we realized we would bump into the age-old question: "Why are you playing THAT?"
Of course, gaming technology advances, and one day we passed the threshold where gamers expected games to have 3-D miniatures by default. Well, sure, I've played Warhammer 40,000--maybe even on the same day that I played a gamebook or a videogame. But what's special here was that Gary Chalk, the artist who had brought life to the pages of Lone Wolf during my childhood--and, for that matter, to Redwall, and to HeroQuest, and to many other worlds that were richer for it--had spent 30 years becoming an even better artist. Bioshock . . . meet Aquaria. (Psst: my touchscreen tablet plays Aquaria. Think it would take Bioshock?)
Samples of Gary Chalk's art for the board game playing pieces.
I love a good game. Same goes for a good book or a good story. And the same goes for a good piece of art. It does not matter that I COULD buy some plastic miniatures from a gaming store downtown: there is a beauty to the hand-drawn art of someone who loves what he does. If it's good, then it doesn't matter if it meets the expectations . . . for SOME OTHER TYPE OF ART. You enjoy it on its own terms.
We are now trying to fund Lone Wolf - The Board Game via Kickstarter on the basis of a good game design at its core, a history of good gamebooks behind it, and a good artist at its helm. Think anybody will play it?
So far, looks like there are a few takers. And you're welcome at my table when you're in town.
Richard S. Hetley, who put all these words on your screen.
Fans of the fantastical have long been entranced by the idea of creatures that are human on top and beast-like down low. Sphinxes, centaurs, mermaids, harpies, driders, satyrs, lamia, and, yes, even unipegataurs -- they all appeal to the idea that humans can be more than what they are in our drab, mundane reality. My particular interest is in wemics, also known as liontaurs: basically centaurs, but with the horse bits swapped out for lion parts. Human from the waist up, leonine from the waist down, these creatures have a history that dates back thousands of years, although they get less press than their more widely-known kin. Let me beg your indulgence for a whirlwind tour of the history of the wemic.
We start in Ancient Assyria, where the kings of the day decorated their palaces with statues and drawings of protective spirits. And yes, there was a spirit that watched over you while you were taking a bath -- the "urmaluhlu"! A true liontaur, this monster guarded the "ablution room" in the palace at Ninevah, circa 3,400 BC. Read more about the urmaluhlu at my site, here and here.
The Ancient Assyrian urmaluhlu
Now, there are hints I have found of wemic-ish things in Ancient Greece, in Constantinople, and even in the doodles that monks drew in prayer books back in the Dark Ages. But the next undeniable wemic sighting I have found is on the coat of arms of King Stephen of England, grandson of William the Conquerer. He ruled from 1135 to 1154, and the liontaur on his shield was referred to as a "sagittary."
Two variations on the Coat of Arms of King Stephen of England
Stephen’s enemies called him the “Sagittary of London Park,” and I think they meant it as an insult, but it sounds pretty bad-ass to me. Stephen was not only King of England, but also a French noble, being the Duke of Normandy. Here’s a French sagittary that was once a decorative buckle on a small coffer, circa 1180.
A medieval sagittary, or lion-centaur
Moving on, no less than the Bard of Avon sang the song of the sagittary. In his 1602 play, "Troilus and Cressida," Shakespeare mentions a horrible monster. "The dreadful Sagittary / Appals our numbers. Haste we, Diomed, / To reinforcement, or we perish all." But is this sagittary a centaur or a liontaur? There’s reason to think it could be either.
Honesty compels me, though, to admit that most medieval sagittaries were references to traditional centaurs, for example, lingering on to the modern day as the constellation Sagittarius. But the ones shown above are clearly true leonine sagittaries!
And that's it for history. Well, okay, there's the Lion Centaur of 1846, but I'm just not sure what to make of that.
In the modern day, there have been, I believe, three separate reinventions of liontaurs. First, in 1974, in Poul Anderson's SF novel, Fire Time, a major race and several major characters are clearly liontaurs! Here's the art from the cover of the paperback, and it does a good job of representing the author's words:
Poul Anderson's Ishtarian
Then, in 1982, D&D publisher TSR released an expansion set of "Monster Cards." Each set included a couple brand new monsters, and the very first set introduced the wemic. This liontaur was the first ever "wemic" by that name. It was created by Dave Sutherland, an iconic artist who drew many classics for D&D:
The very first "wemic," a Monster Card special for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
And the famous Quest For Glory video game series first used the term "liontaur," so far as I can tell, with the introduction of Rakeesh the Paladin in Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire.
A screen grab of liontaurs from the Quest for Glory II game
See how these three lion centaurs are different? The Ishtarian is a sci-fi race with photosynthetic capabilites (see how the example above has a greenish cast). The wemic is a pure centaur-analog, completely human from the waist up. And the liontaur is furry -- even the humanish parts -- and has a beastial face with catlike features. These differences are part of my circumstantial case for three seperate reinventions. Did Dave Sutherland read Fire Time? Did the makers or Quest for Glory ever meet a wemic in playing D&D? Maybe, maybe not! ... But why, then, did Anderson call his creatures "Ishtarians"? Maybe after Ishtar, the Ancient Assyrian goddess known for her love of lions? Maybe it all goes back to the urmaluhlu after all?
But either way, wemics, liontaurs, felitaurs, lion-centaurs, chakats, cattaurs, and all the rest have found new lives in games, stories, and art, especially online. And for fantasy fans, that's fantastic.
NOTE: All sources for art and lore can be found on my site at the links given, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Cayzle of Cayzle's Wemic Site
Note: user was awarded 25 Shmuckers for this post! -Rob]]>