Saturday, June 23, 2012

Finding D&D in Appendix N - Three Hearts and Three Lions

The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has reacquainted me with Appendix N form AD&D's 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.  As most of you know, this is the list of literary sources that Mr. Gygax cited as his inspiration for creating the venerable old game that we all love so much.

It occurred to me that many of these books were ones that I haven't read, so I began picking them up.  I started with "Three Hearts and Three Lions" by Poul Anderson.  It is the story of a valiant knight and his adventures in the lands of faerie and elsewhere.  Here are a few of the things that stood out to me as obvious inspirational elements...

(I will be quoting directly from the book and may inadvertently reveal plot details)

Law and Chaos
Throughout the book is the theme of Law and Chaos and their struggle against one another.  Could this possibly the source of the Lawful vs. Chaotic alignment system of D&D?

"Invisible Servant"
The passage below describes a wizard with an "invisible servant"  Definitely reminiscent of the Unseen Servant spell...

"A bottle and three dirty goblets floated in and landed on the table. 'About time,' grumbled the sorcerer.  After a moment, when the invisible servant had presumably left..."

The Troll
At one point in the story, the heroes battle a gruesome troll.  Does the following description sound familiar?

"The troll shambled closer.  He was perhaps eight feet tall, perhaps more.  His forward stoop, with arms dangling past thick claw-footed legs to the ground, made it hard to tell.  The hairless green skin moved upon his body.  His head was a gash of a mouth, a yard-long nose, and two eyes which were black pools, without pupil or white, eyes which drank the torchlight and never gave back a gleam."

Later in the scene, a troll's regenerative ability is described...

"His saber carved a slab off the troll's side.  Greasily, with a sucking noise, that chunk crawled towards its master."


"The troll's smashed head seethed and knit together.  He clambered back on his feet and grinned at them."

Trolls and fire?  It's here too...

"Alianora cried aloud.  She struck back with the torch.  He hooted and went on all fours.  A charred welt across his skin did not heal."

After finding these bits of D&D in Appendix N, I'm off to the next book.  I'll let you know what I find.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DCC: The Funneling - An Actual Play Report

We have created a herd of zero-level characters and thrust them through DCCs funnel.  The body count...16 dead, 2 alive.

We began the story at the frontier hamlet known as "Bluestone Village".  Named so, because of the three bluish colored stones standing twelve feet high in its center.  They are also know as godsfingers, as they appear quite like giant, skeletal digits.  The village found itself under siege by a throng of bandits.  Every night for a full week, they attacked and were rebuffed by the town militia under the command of the one Endegar Mors.  The local lord, Marwood Brucks and his knights were off fighting at the Duke's command, leaving the village's defense to the lowly sergeant and his conscripts.  Was the timing of the attack coincidence, or was there something purposeful at work?

Mors devised a plan whereby a group of volunteers would follow the bandits to their lair and attack them by surprise.  Of course, the volunteers were the player characters. After getting equipped as best they could, they set out after their attackers, soon discovering that their quarry were led by a mysterious, darkly-cloaked figure.

The bandits had selected as their base, a well-known system of caves known as the Greenpool Caverns.  The group used an ingenious distraction and worked their way inside.  After braving many dangers such as pits, rockslides, a perilous rope bridge, and of course a hoard of bandits, the characters discovered something odd at the back of the caves.

Past a break in the cavern lay an ancient temple.  A temple crawling with snakes.  After several harrowing encounters, the mysterious leader of the bandits was confronted.  He was one of the Serpent Folk who ruled the land many eons ago.  He had traveled through a portal in the wall that was still active when the characters arrived, showing a scene of his ancient primordial world.  One thing that was especially disturbing was that this vista clearly contained the three, upthrust, bluish stones for which Bluestone Village was named.  Could this possibly be the location of the town in the time of the Serpent Folk?  Was it another set of bluestones entirely?

After much carnage, the Serpent was defeated and looted.  Of special interested were a set of thin metal plates attached to a chain that he wore as a necklace.  They were covered with odd writing that was illegible to the survivors.  One of the party, much to this Judge's delight, plucked them up and promptly dropped them over his head!

With this one action, the bridge to 1st level was crossed...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gods of the Aedossian Cycle

SCORIUS - Scion of Law 
In setting up my "Aedossian Cycle" campaign for the DCC RPG, I've decided to set up both Law and Chaos as entities which are concerned with their own agendas as opposed to the well-being of individuals.  Characters will generally begin the game with a Neutral alignment until the time that they are seduced by the power of either Law or Chaos.  Perhaps the characters will choose neither extreme, and remain unsullied by the taint of Law and Chaos.  These three primal forces all have their champions in the Gods of Aedoss...

The Gods of Law...

  • Scorius, Leader of the Gods of Law
  • Torvallo, God of Judgement
  • Xerishan, God of Righteous Might
  • Coellyon , The Law Giver
(Favored weapons - Swords, spears, bows.  Unholy creatures - Any creature allied with Chaos)

The Neutral Gods...
  • Sylteria, Goddess of the Wild Places
  • Jordannus, God of Protectors
  • Trallin Zell, God of the Song
  • Mordan All-Father, God Under the Mountain, Patron of Dwarves
  • Eleria Fey-Mother, Goddess of Elf-Kind
  • Andarra Goldfields, Goddess of the Hearth, Home, and Field. Patron of Halflings
  • The Golden Lord, God of Commerce and Profit
  • Weyland the Wanderer, God of Roads and Travelers
(Favored weapons - Maces, hammers, staves, and slings.  Unholy creatures - Undead) 

The Chaos Gods...
  • Ahrkallian, God of War and Strife
  • Bel-Baran the Ever-Changing, God of Inconstancy
  • Maldandraxxia,  Goddess of Pain and Cruelty
  • Uuzz the Unclean, Source of Abominations
(Favored weapons - Axes, spiked maces, weapons of cruelty.  Unholy creatures - Any creature allied with Law)