Synonyms For Necromancer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 24, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Generally, if you’re talking about one with power over the undead, you say ‘necromancer’. But, of course, the word is relatively unrelated in etymology; it means something along the lines of ‘dead body diviner’, which I would say sounds like an extremely evocative name for a spirit called up by ‘speak with dead’. If I’m going to use it for that, however, I need an alternate name for sorcerers specialising in reanimation; here are a few that I would rather use.

Aculeiform Thanatopsist. Aculeiform, meaning ‘thorn-like’, and thanatopsis, meaning ‘view of death’. Linguists correct me if I am wrong, but one who thinks about death frequently could then be called a ‘thanatopsist’. This would mean ‘a thorn-like person who thinks about death’, or ‘one who looks on death like a thorn’. Thanatologist might be a safer bet, but I prefer the relative obsucrity of ‘opsis’ to the relatively commonplace ‘ology’. Alternately, sagittiform (like an arrow) would work.

Abraidener, from the Middle English verb ‘abraiden’ (alternately, abreiden and therefore abreidener), meaning to start up, rouse, reproach, or move. Abraiden comes from the even elder ‘abregdan’, meaning to ‘pull out, wrench out, draw, unsheathe, lift up, start up’, usually used in relation to a sword, or possibly a conflict. This has the advantage of being obsolete English, and so sounding familiar, as well as having a relatively simple meaning.

Bantling-daw, meaning ‘bastard child crow’. This one works well as a term for the common man to use, derogatorily, being made of common English words recently fallen out of use.

Carnedaedalus, an artificer of flesh.

Desacralist, from desacralise, meaning ‘to divest of sacred qualities or religious significance’. This could therefore mean either one who desecrates, or a pragmatist who cares little for religious tradition.

Flamen Carnis, meaning ‘priest of flesh’.

Fossarian, usually meaning one of two things: 1) a minor 4th century clergyman employed as a gravedigger, or 2) one of a 15th century sect which rejected the sacraments and instead celebrated their own peculiar rites in ditches and caves. Rich history, already has varied meaning, comes from the same root as ‘fossil’ and ‘fossor’-

Frithwreck, from ‘frith’, an Old English word meaning peace, sanctuary, preservation, etc.

Inquinator Mors, as far as I know, is Latin for ‘one who corrupts or pollutes death or the dead’. This one is probably one of my most etymologically pure, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Oh well.

Lethologist, one who studies oblivion or forgetfulness.

Necrodaedalus, one who crafts or crafts with corpses.

Necrogyve, ‘one who binds or shackles the dead’.

Ossedaedalus, a crafter of bones.


Northern Shore House Rules

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 21, 2012 by reignofjotuns


Roll 3d6, in order, to generate scores.

The scores are not changed- instead, characters add the portions of their other scores which are above 9. Fighters use WIS 3-for-1, INT 2-for-1. Clerics use INT 2-for-1, STR 3-for-1. Magic-users use WIS 2-for-1. So, for example, a Fighter with STR 14, WIS 10, INT 15. His strength is 14, which would normally mean +5% experience, but he has an INT of 15. 15 means 6 points over 9. He uses INT on a 2-for-1 basis, so he treats his strength score as 3 points higher for experience purposes, giving him +10% instead. His scores are completely unchanged, as is his combat ability. he simply treats part of his INT as extra STR.

Prime requisite for fighters = STR + (WIS – 9) / 3 + (INT – 9) / 2. Read through that again and make sure you’ve got it.

Starting Gold

3d6 x 5, rather than x 10.


No weapon restrictions.

Backstabbing is usable by any character, rather than being exclusive to the thief class.

No class-based restrictions on hirelings.

Fighters do not have special options like paladin and avenger when they get to 9th level

Clerics do not have the option of becoming druids at 9th level. Instead, they choose at first level which spell list to cast from. Casting druid spells does not necessarily come with roleplaying restrictions.

Mystics not allowed.

Thieves are used as a base for any specially skilled adventurer. A player might substitute ‘tracking’ for ‘climb walls’ and ‘hunting’ for ‘open locks’ to play a ranger, for example. They may wear any armor, and have d6 hit dice.


all weapons deal 1d6. Two-handed weapons deal 1d8. In certain situations, a weapon may deal double damage, such as a long weapon set against a charging beast, a long weapon used from horseback, or any weapon when catching an enemy unawares (backstabbing).


1 xp per gold piece won. 1 xp per gold piece spent on frivolous items.


Spell research typically requires no expenditure of gold pieces, just the necessary components.

‘anything goes’ magic is reachable, and usable by anybody, not just spellcasters. It is hard to get, though.


Weapon Mastery not used.

General Skills not used.


Reading through the monsters section will punish you. Revenant undead (vampire, draug, druj, wight, ghoul…) are all statted uniquely. Trolls do not necessarily regenerate, and if so, their weakness is not necessarily fire. Dragons are unique, not just cookie-cutter fire-breathing lizards. Words like ‘Hobgoblin’ do not refer to specific species, but are general terms.

The Northern Shore

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 21, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I’ve decided to start DMing a ConstantCon game. I’ll be running it play-by-post on Google+, so I can prepare for it faster than it can be explored. I can test out certain ideas for the Beetledome, and hopefully start writing it faster once I’ve got the taste of DMing in my mouth again. Here’s the flavor portion:

The northernmost peninsula of the land, heavily forested, filled with marsh and bitter winters- a land of giants and wild beasts- unconquered, until the rise of the great nation of Thephysus.

Several of the Thephysian nobles, driven by rumors of wealth unimaginable, wonders unseen, and even a way to heaven at the northernmost tip, gathered their men and their money, sold their castles, and departed for the untamed land. Many of them survived, had castles built, carved roads through the wilderness, and wealth was indeed found- but in the end, the landscape was as untameable as the trolls it birthed, and the trolls’ presence as constant as the forests. A mere ten years after the settling began, castle Porphos was sacked- no word was ever heard from the more distant nobles. Four years afterward, the empire collapsed. Some said their expeditions northward had angered god- others said financial ruin.

A century later, the land is known as Bonemark, a fitting name- but again, men attempt to settle it. A small town, built around a logging camp, has been founded just inside the Bonemark- and yet more brave fools come to try to find wealth, glory, and the northern coast…

…So, West Marches, but north, and play-by-post.

This campaign heavily draws upon folklore- the vampires obsessively count grains of salt, and torment their victims by lurking on their roofs and throwing rocks; The trolls get smaller and covered in moss and lichens as they age, until they die and become gnarled old trees; The goblins hide in corners and chitter madly at you. The Magic-User and Cleric classes represent those with inborn talent, but the most powerful magic is usable by anybody with the stomach for it (Carcosa-style magic, but more focused on raising blizzards, obscuring trails, and other witchy activities than conjuring and binding demons).

Characters will start at level 1, or level 1/4 of highest level party member’s. I’m going to start play on the 1st of March.

It’s Time To Talk About What I Learned Yesterday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 19, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Last night, I played in somebody else’s game for pretty much the first time. I found it through ConstantCon half a week ago, about when I found out what ConstantCon was. The game was a FLAILSNAILS OD&D sandbox, and I think I learned a lot about all those things.

  • I learned what FLAILSNAILS is, hadn’t known that;
  • I learned that OD&D doesn’t have rules for everything, and you can’t reach demigodlike levels of power, but that can definitely be a good thing. Throughout the session, we never saw a monster that didn’t have stats cobbled together out of arbitrary numbers, more or less on the spot.
  • I learned that ridiculously overpowered monsters can be fun, provided that there is an escape route.
  • I learned just how incredibly bloodthirsty and duplicitous players can be- hiring viking mercenaries to assassinate a local lord, and then thwarting said vikings for kudos. Nobody said much about the three nuns included in the collateral damage.
  • I learned that clerics are no exception to this- one of the most memorable lines of the session was this, more or less: “As a man of the church, it is my duty to help people to meet Jesus. And I understand that you, sir, have someone that you’d like to meet Jesus as soon as possible?”


  • I learned that in OD&D, stats are as far from everything as you can get. The cleric I quoted there? Wisdom score of 3. I think he roleplayed according to that.
  • I learned that I have absolutely no idea what “nothing to win, everything to lose” means when I’m playing a first-level character. An enormous thing is coming out of the sand behind the party. The DM says “does anybody want to look back?”, and I say “I look back and flip the thing off”. “Roll a saving throw”. From this,
  • I learned that the best deaths are uncertain. I failed my saving throw horribly, but didn’t die on the spot. I theorized that it might just cause fear, which would have no noticable effect on someone already running away- but the DM was silent. That night, whilst my halfling was asleep, the men on watch noticed numerous fibrous growths sprouting on him.
  • Then I learned that no-one will have any qualms about killing you in your sleep if it looks like you can conceivably pose a threat. The cleric specifically said that he was hitting my corpse with his morningstar long after it turned to ground beef.
  • I learned that if you give your players a good number of choices as to what to do first, they will spend nearly half an hour bickering over what to do.


  • I learned that if the players see a group of people, one of whom is not carrying anything, they will automatically assume that he is a magic-user or a cleric. He never got any spells off, though, so I still don’t know whether he was a sage or a clown.
  • I learned that being the only demihuman in a party of humans singles you out more thoroughly than being an anthropophage.
  • I learned the word anthropophage, when my halfling had no money for food and wanted to eat part of an enemy corpse. As I reasoned, I don’t want him to starve, the guy was evil, and he’s not even the same species- so it doesn’t count as cannibalism.
  • And most importantly, I learned that the mantra of “when in doubt, roll a d6” works about as well as any resolution mechanic I’ve ever seen.

Finally making some progress

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 10, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I’ve finally, after two weeks (total, not consecutive) of not doing anything on it, I’ve finished the first level of my dungeon. I’ve changed my plans a lot in the process- this is a lot of work, especially since, though I’m trying to make every encounter potentially deadly- I don’t want them to be utterly hopeless. I also don’t like most of the low-level monsters. They are mostly animals, or mooky humanoids. I can dig the benefits of potential allies in the dungeon, but I also don’t want to use any goblins except “The spooky magic kind with shrill voices that scare birds and eat babies and make terrible things happen to you if you tell lies or touch their weird magic tree”.

So I’ve resized the first level to one sheet of graph paper (with a second page for details), and tried to scale up the treasure a bit. I’ve also made most of the encounters deliberately wierd, puzzly, friendly, etc. And in doing so, I think that I’ve split open my psyche and lightly sprinkled the page with it. I’ll give some samples, to try to give an idea of the general character of the dungeon, but first, a note on humanoids:

As far as one-hit-diers go, I’ve stuck with kobolds and Phuka. I read a Grognardia post on the drow a while back, wherein Maliszewski points out that you scare your players more when you use things that scare you. After a bit of thinking, I came up with goats. I hate goats. I spent a month staying at the house of a friend whose family keeps goats, which served to reaffirm my fear of goats even more. They have wierd, sideways eyes. They smell like death. They excrete much more than seems necessary (I had to take a couple wheelbarrows full down the hill during my stay). And let us not forget Orcus.

Then I read this: and it worked for me. Especially the Alan Lee illustration. I’m using these guys as a replacement for drow, gremlins, and orcs. I stat them as orcs, change the number appearing to match hobgoblins (they still keep the orc version of leader stats), and give their children stats as gremlins. I’m having them mostly use stone knives. When I was writing my dungeon, I saw that I had writ ‘Phuka’ instead of ‘Phooka’, and I’ve decided to just leave it like that.

The lair of Phuka on the first level is made up of three adjacent rooms, with one visible entrance and two secret. The lair is decorated by a human face, eyes, and tongue nailed to the wall.

My kobolds are at least partially based on the pikeys from Snatch. I’m calling them that, too. I like the word. They look like Hobbits/Daikini/Dwarfs in boots, with facial hair like Scottish Terriers. Their clan lives in a large, roughly carved room occupying 6 squares by 6 on the map. They live by petty theft on the surface or in the lower levels, selling equipment (stolen, looted from corpses, or bought) to anyone who’ll buy at substantially hiked prices, and occasionally eating the mushrooms growing in what I call ‘the waste room’.

The waste room is partially inspired by an episode of Planet Earth on caves- in one cave, the entire ecosystem relies on bats. The bats go out at night, eat and return. They poop in the cave. Massive swarms of cockroaches eat the poop, and are themselves eaten by other animals, including the bats. The waste room works much the same way, but add to the cockroaches ‘1d2 carrion crawlers and 3d6 telepathic fire beetles’. Also, the bats are huge and there are enormous mushrooms. The fire beetles, through telepathy, have formed a simple hive mind. They’re largely content to just burrow in the filth, though, so this won’t have much effect unless someone tries ‘charm person’ on a random beetle.

Speaking of random vermin- A small, out-of-the-way room containing 1d100 snails with silver shells. Yes, I stole this from Zak S. I did add that the snails are special, in that they eat precious metal and then excrete it with, if they choose, artistic precision. If the snails are in any way harmed, and any of them survive, and the PCs sleep in the dungeon, one of the PCs may wake up to find them trying to encase his face in several of his coins- or simply suffocate without waking up. I’m thinking 4 in 6 chance of waking up in time.

Speaking of things I stole from Zak, I also stole the ‘immortal piglet’. I also decided that the piglet is highly intelligent and unscrupulous (inspired by one of the comments on that post).

A bit of random wierdness inspired me to add a room containing a small creature with a lute, singing the Grateful Dead song ‘Dire Wolf’.

Inspired partly by the Black Sabbath song ‘The Wizard’ and partly by the cartoon ‘Regular Show’, In one part of the level there is a pepper plant, growing in a flowerpot full of what appears to be red wax. In another part of the level is the 5th level wizard Wisto Drazner, (appearance inspired by the cover of the Electric Wizard album ‘dopethrone’) who uses these peppers to prepare a vision-inducing drink he calls the ‘Louisiana Moonsperm’. anyone drinking it must save vs. spells, or their character will be unable to act for as long as it takes ‘What is and what should never be’ to play out-of-game.

At one point, there is a room containing three people dressed as a minstrel, a monk, and a knight in full armor. There are two passages besides the one you entered through, one of which leads to certain death. Only the mistrel and the monk know which is which, but one of them always lies- while the other always tells the truth. The knight stabs people who ask tricksy questions.

Learning Traveller

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I recently managed to get ahold of PDFs of the Classic Traveller core books and supplements. After having heard so much about them around the internet, I was extremely excited when I first looked at them. I should point out that I am not what I would call a Sci-fi geek (not that I don’t want to be, I just haven’t gotten around to it). My experience with Sci-fi can be summed up quite briefly:

Firefly (all episodes at least twice- we had a borrowed DVD collection for a relatively long while), Serenity, Star Wars (my dad used to show us the original trilogy a lot), Tron, The Last Starfighter (my great-uncle rented it from Blockbuster- else I never would have thought to watch it), Poul Anderson’s Hoka stories, The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, two of the short stories from I, Robot, ‘I, Robot’ (the Will Smith flick), MiB 1 and 2, some of the Vorkosigan saga, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Rolling Stones, Podkayne of Mars, Star Beast, Glory Road, and Red Planet, Heavy Metal, Llana of Gathol and John Carter of Mars, Schlock Mercernary, Dresden Codak, Batman Beyond, Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, Thundercats (the original). Does Gremlins count? What about The Matrix?

I’m not sure how that list measures up to the Sum Total Of All Science Fiction, but as far as I’m concerned, I am much more involved in fantasy. I don’t actively seek out Sci-fi. But Traveller, I think, might help with that a bit.

At first, I read diligently, but ultimately just skimmed. Rules are boring, and they’re much harder to read when you all you have is a .PDF rather than an easy-on-the-eyes hardcopy. I am now actually taking the time to test out the character creation rules, and it comes to life for me. Originally, I had planned to fill every line of a page with character- as I  write this, I have decided, this task finished, that I should add a second column. Character creation is actually that fun. Every time I roll up stats (UPP) I mentally evaluate which service this character would be best for as the stats come up. I’ve even started to convert the numbers rolled to hexadecimal like it ain’t no thing, and come up with a mnemonic for UPP order (Some Dumb Everyman In Exotic Space). Character creation is that fun.

I’m sure this system would work great for a Firefly-inspired campaign, and I’m seeing lots of stuff around the web to support that, but my personal evaluation is “Bujold Novel RPG”. Case in point: 4 in 6 characters are in the military, swords and polearms are still in frequent use, and Social Standing as a stat. Make of that what you will.

Comparing this system to Firefly works, I guess- the ideal firearm for many of my characters is the shotgun. Also, cloth armor- which according to the wiki is inappropriate for formal occasions unless specifically tailored, but not culturally odd to wear publicly. I’m picturing Malcolm Reynold’s coat. But the ships in Traveller RAW work differently, and if I wanted to play a campaign based on Firefly, it would be the episode with the fancy dress party and the sword duel.

It’s neat that the game works entirely using d6- I usually have 5-7 of those in my pocket at any time. I do like rolling all the wierd dice, though- I’m sure I can find some way to work them in.

Creating the characters, I was so astounded at the amounts of money they were getting as ‘Mustering Out’ benefits relative to the cost of equipment that I stopped listing equipment that wasn’t gotten free as another benefit after the first character. Now I’m looking at the Starships rules and I’m astounded that anybody manages to get the ship equivalent of a beat-up Toyota without becoming a wanted man in the process. I can see this game is well able to keep people on their toes.

I hope that I can resist at least until the Beetledome is complete.

In other news- I have only five experience points to go before reaching level 15. That’s just 370 until level 16!

Dwarven Tidbits

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by reignofjotuns

From my



Four for strength, Seven for luck,

Thirteen to keep fortune from fattening much.

             -Dwarvish Children’s Rhyme

The number thirteen has held special significance to the Dwarves for a long time. It has been a tradition among many clans to build particularly important rooms with thirteen sides since at least the year 700. Due to the Dwarves long-suffered ill fortune (which none talk about as much as they), Men have long associated the number with that ill fortune. the Dwarves say sardonically that if this is so, then they should keep using the number thirteen- with all the bad luck that comes to them, they wouldn’t want to go soft!

Dwarven folk stories are hardly ever about senseless heroics or renown. Rather, they match the humors of the Dwarves themselves, and therefore usually begin sadly, end badly, and have protagonists who are surly, cynical, vengeful, and yet wise. A popular story that is told to the children of Dwarves and Men alike (though sometimes with different purpose) runs as follows:

A Dwarf was returning to his clan from a visit to another. This required him to head aboveground through lands where no Dwarves lived at that time, which was normally no trouble to him- but this time, a great storm struck while he was travelling, filled with winds and rain and thunder, and he was forced to seek shelter in the hall of a human. This human’s name was Brevaldi, and he was but a minor chieftain among his people. His hall was thatched with straw, and had but a small pen for pigs and a stable for no more than two horses. When the Dwarf knocked at his door asking shelter from the storm, he said: “Allow such a filthy creature as yourself in my hall, in the name of hospitality? When have you given such to men?”

The Dwarf replied, “If you will but let me stay the night, my clan will offer shelter to you and yours whenever you should need it.”

“Faugh!”, he answered, “What should I want with your dark and unwelcome halls? I will allow you to stay in the stable, with the following conditions: you will pay me whatever gold you may have on you, you will join my kitchen thralls in serving food and drink tonight, and you will take nothing which you are not offered, or I will set my three hounds on you!”

The Dwarf paid him the thirteen gold pieces which he had brought with him. These were much larger, and of purer gold than the coins Brevaldi was accustomed to and was expecting to be paid, but he said nothing. That night, the Dwarf served food and ale with the kitchen thralls, while Brevaldi and his men drunkenly heaped abuse upon him and the hounds snarled whenever he came near them. He was offered no food, and so took none, not even the scraps that the thralls ate when all had gone to bed. He slept in the stable in the damp hay, scarcely drier than the grass outside in the storm.

That morning, he said nothing before he left but this: “You are a fool. Farewell, and I leave with you my fortune.” That afternoon, it was discovered that crucial beams had been sawn through when the hall fell over in a strong wind.

Traditional Dwarven ale may be distinguished by its metallic taste. While enjoyable, one should avoid drinking too frequently; this taste comes from water-soluble copper, and drinking it more than need demands leads to problems in the bones.  -Gleowin the Bard, Alcohols of the world

And there were all the flying things, and all the swimming things, and all the climbing things, and all the crawling things, and all the burrowing things, and they went about the world, each and his mate deciding their talents, so that there might be all manner of creatures when Men finally came to be.

And the most burrowing things decided to become worms, and badgers, and moles, and rabbits, and snakes, and beetles, but two of them decided instead to burrow very deep indeed, and so hoped to find their talents.

And as they burrowed, they passed by many things most wondrous and strange, and were filled with questions, but they could understand nothing- for understanding still was a talent that was reserved for Men, and such things that had it already. The two passed many such things, but they could ask no questions of them, not understanding speech. So deeper and deeper they burrowed, until they came at last to a great heat.

And they saw before them the great beast that is father to all beasts, the name of which is Dragon; The great thing that holds up the earth and is imprisoned beneath it, that claws at it with immense hands as slowly as trees may grow, the great hands that are strong enough to squeeze the blood like fire from the rock.

And he understood many things in his immense groaning, and the two sat and listened for many score years until they understood- and they lived there in the deepest depths for many years and had many children. –Dwarven myth on the origin of the Dwarves