MERP: Drogo’s Aerie

Now that Drogo Longfoot is an accomplished teleporter (Lofty Bridge in MERP), and he is back in Nabal Mazry, he’s planning on settling down a bit. He has hired workers to prepare a cave system in an 80′ tall stone tower about a mile offshore as his residence.  I used Dave’s Mapper to create the original cave, which is below.

The original cave that Drogo built his Aerie from.

They then modified it with doors and such. The kitchen has a stove that has a hole bored to the exterior wall to act as a chimney, and the toilet has a similar hole bored down for the waste. The water is a 3×3′ water reservoir, 30′ deep. The main entry way doors are slanted like a exterior door over basement steps and visitors have to descend a short set of steps into the entry. That makes the entry very difficult to see from the sea. There is a 6′ wide ledge outside of the doors. The exterior doors are iron, with an iron bar. Interior doors are wood, again with a bar blocking entry on the inside of the door. There are no windows. There are small shafts (2″ wide) bored to the outside in the Bedroom, Kitchen, Entry, and Living Room with carved wooden plugs over them. The plugs can be removed to allow fresh air to come into the rooms. The Kitchen plug is almost always off. On top of the stone tower is enough dirt to plant in (most of which had to be hauled out from the island) and a small stone walled gazebo with a slanted wooden roof where Drogo can watch the entry to the bay. In order to bring workers, furniture, and dirt to the Aerie, there is a block and tackle set up on the top of the tower to the left of the ledge outside the exterior doors. When Drogo visits, he teleports from Nabal Mazry.

The completed Aerie

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MERP: Drogo’s Homecoming

The party advanced to third level in the town of Dilgul on the edge of the Sea of Rhun.  Feldenaith learned more of traps and lockpicking, acting, and cookery. Delcaran learned Earth Law, and rhetoric. Grafarlig trained in a variety of skills in her own particular idiom. Drogo improved his teleportation range to 30 miles and began a new spell list, Concealment Mastery. Thanks to their sale of the ancient coins to Lord Windsor, they had more money than anyone needed. The party scours the town for magic items to purchase. Feldenaith’s purchase of a sword that desires to drink blood, literally, is the most questionable item.

Elias (played by Jim Beaver) leaves the crew and sells the party his share in the ship. He reveals to Feldenaith that he is an old ranger and that he intends to follow another experienced ranger named Kafarlas, who intends to seize control of the rangers from Oldahr and reinvigorate the rangers using Dilgul as a base. They expect they will get 10-20 old rangers to join them. They plan to get Oldahr to step down but hope that he will stay in the rangers, as they recognize that he is a good man. Both Feldenaith and Drogo pledge their support to Elias’s efforts.

The western side of the Sea of Rhun is now under Elentaria’s control, and she has begun to have converts in Dilgul as well. Jason Hyragard is in charge of the Syndicate in that region. The eastern side of the Sea is not yet under her sway, and the Syndicate there is controlled by Joss A’Lynn, who is both an Easterling and Jason’s ex-wife.

Drogo visits the Dilgul bank and deposits 5,000 gp. At his advice, Grafarlig deposits 10,000 gp. and makes Drogo the signatory.  She tends to make silly purchases, and Drogo knows the day will come when she wants to use the gold for something important. That done, the party sails to the island of the Nabal Mazry. Feldenaith and Drogo guide the ship, as both are skilled sailors and Drogo was raised on Nabal Mazry and knows the harbor intimately.

A map of Rhunaer (aka. the Sea of Rhun)

On Nabal Mazry are three hamlets, populated by Easterlings and Stoors. Pesterwynn is in the west and closest to the ship’s berth. The party visits Helwynn Smallbelly first, as he makes a delectable Poppy Cider. On Drogo’s recommendation, they buy 19 jugs of the stuff. Drogo sends one to the crew, and another 12 to storage on the ship. He keeps one for himself and one he gives to Roddy Hartfoot (Nina’s father), who is much happier about the jug then about discovering he has a daughter.

Glaven is the middle hamlet, and Vilm Wildhead lives there. He is a cold, mean man and the father of Dyra. The party does not stop and visit.

Instead, they head for Drogo’s home in Shardroot, the easternmost hamlet. Drogo’s father Orlo (played by Clint Eastwood), a skilled and scarred warrior, remains unimpressed with his wayward son, who left to explore the world and learn magic. Drogo was always closer to his mother Sherla, who has since passed away. The loss of his wife has not improved Orlo’s disposition. Delcaran tries to convince the old man that magic is awesome, but he has none of it. Orlo mentions that Garheart the Easterling returned from Dilgul speaking of the wonders of Elentaria, Winton Coldfoot calmed him down. Drogo leaves to visit Coldfoot, who is the leader of the island. Winton is a strong tough leader who knows weather magic and mind calming magic. Drogo tells Winton of their encounters with the sirens, and then slips him 10,000 s. to watch his back while he’s on the island. He also asks that Winton’s weather magic also protect the 80’ tall stone tower just west of the harbor, as Drogo plans to build a home there.

Once Drogo has commissioned the construction of his tunnel home 70’ above the water, the party sails for Faizal Mazry, where Drogo knows a palantir is hidden. Faizal Mazry lays to the east of Nabal Mazry and is under the control of Sea Easterlings, the Corsairs. Westrar Mazry lays to the west of Nabal Mazry.

Once at Faizal Mazry, Drogo teleports the party to a hidden ledge known to Logoth Escarion, the ship’s loremaster. They then follow a tunnel to a hidden point above the main sea cave of the Corsairs. And there the players stop for the evening. 

At the end of the night, Drogo advances the idea that he might retire here. Delcaran indicates something similar about the elven lands to the north. Their players are considering taking new characters.

 

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A Jorune Timeline (in Excel)

I got reading about Jorune again, and found myself taking “6600 Years of Jorune” and putting it into Excel form. For anyone who wants it, here is the Jorune Timeline. Joe Adams’ post in his blog Jorune is a Mental Illness got me thinking. My world Navah is a lot like Jorune, in that it is an Earth colony with aliens. I think both of them were inspired by Empire of the Petal Throne in that aspect at least. They are in some ways more rational worlds, but the most popular stuff is not rational — I guess fantasy is like that.

Skyrealms of Jorune

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Reviews from R’lyeh on Fanzines

Pookie’s blog Reviews from R’lyeh has a great feature called Fanzine Focus. With the nostalgia around classic gaming, or the Old School Renaissance as he calls it, there have been a plethora of fanzines that have erupted as well. In the old days, they were hard to find but with the web and digital publishing, there are a bunch of them now, and they are worth a look. His reviews are a great place to look for interesting ideas or just a kindred soul.  The Holmes Art Zine and Vacant Ritual Assembly are two that look interesting to me.

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Silk Road game for K12 classes

I love games that teach, so I was thrilled to find Natxo’s Silk Road game. I had done something similar with the Oregon Trail in a college freshman U.S. history class I taught. This gives me some ideas about adapting the model to the Silk Road. It also led me to a good blog for trainers, and a nice idea for using poker cards to improve meeting dynamics. By the way, Natxo is a Social Sciences prof at “un Instituto de Educación Secundaria” (unnamed).

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NAVAH: Hamond Scawsby, Ghoul

The party re-entered the caverns of Sely Stodeley, Master Necromancer, after healing in Kukgul. They explored the few caves they had not seen earlier, but found nothing but trouble. First they were attacked by a disembodied knife, and though the knife could not penetrate their armor, neither could they stop the attacks. Josette attempted to banish the spirit wielding the knife, but failed. The knife, frustrated by its inability to harm them, drove a giant crab from a pool to attack them, but again the warriors’ skill was too great and the adventurers retreated to safety, where the crab’s armor proved too thick for their arrows. The crab returned to the water, the party left it alone.

The party then explored the lair of Hamond Scawsby, one of the ghouls of the caverns. Hamond retained some of his mind and after Brendan gave him his hat of Seveysas skin, Hamond shared some information with the ranger. The ghoul told him that the women they had encountered earlier and killed had been called Hegelina, but that she had left now. Brendan tried to get more data from the ghoul, but he retreated into a tunnel and vanished. Meanwhile, the knife had returned and was again attacking Josette and Alexios with little success. Brendan spent some time reading Hamond’s journal, in which he described himself and other captives of the coastal pirates being sold to the necromancer, who turned them into various forms of undead.

ghoul with book

The tunnel that Hamond had gone down was narrow, and most of the party members were quite large. George the earth elemental was asked to expand it, but when he tried, he instead disappeared into it as well. Josette tried Shaping it herself, but found she could not. Brendan was the smallest of the party, so he stripped off his armor and equipment and squeezed through the tunnel. He found himself in a dark earthen cavern with George but could do little, especially as George only communicated through Josette. Josette used Telepathy to speak to him, and the party sent his equipment through. He was able to light a lantern and look around. Josette tried to squeeze through as well, with Brendan pulling on a rope and Ian pushing from behind, but she got stuck and Ian broke her arm as he continued to push her forward. Dislocating her shoulder, she was able to get through, and again the party sent through her armor and gear. The fire elemental and Selkie stayed in Hamond’s lair.

Brendan and Josette found themselves in a 1 m. x 1 m. earthen tunnel, with a partially excavated coffin above them and a partially eaten arm extending from it. They explored the tunnels and eventually came out in a dimly lit forest, a forest in twilight. Both recognized that they were again in Faerie, and re-entered the tunnels to find their way back. They made the unwise choice of tunneling up near the coffin and found themselves in a land of horror, filled with the undead. Was it Ravenloft? Land of the Deadites? Whatever the creatures were, they were numerous and hungry and charged the two adventurers as they ducked back in the hole. George filled in the tunnel behind them, but the creatures pursued them and for the next eight hours, the three of them Shaped tunnels ahead and closed them behind, staying ahead of a multitude of digging undead. Eventually they worked their way back to the entrance to the mortal plane. As they exited, they hoped the undead would not find the entrance as well.

Meanwhile, Ian and Alexios had waited for them and then gone outside. Ian built a fire outside and waited. Alexios went to Kukgul for help. Eventually Alexios came back and got Ian, and a few hours after they got back to Kukgul, so did Josette, Brendan, and George, though they were exhausted and filthy. Once they healed and cleaned, they returned to Restwell, and prepared to open the tunnel pass to Amidst. They took with them two of the Lost Boys, Brendan’s hunting dogs, and several combat-trained donkeys. Ian brought a goat, just to be contrary.

Sir Wharff was working with the villagers preparing wood for the construction of an inn.  “Hiyo milords,” said the aged Far Ranger, “I hope you don’t mind but as I had so little to do, I took it upon myself to start on an inn. Nothing cheers up a town like an inn!” The villagers blurted, “Oh milord! He has been telling us about the Crane Knight of Sondit, who once fought a dozen men to save his daughter from  kidnappers from Riverton. He rode the rapids home!” After learning that the party was heading out for Amidst, Sir Wharff told them that, “No one has gone there and returned for a very long time, perhaps fifty years. There is undoubtedly some terrible danger in the tunnels, so beware. The Spinners and Cave Horrors will undoubtedly be the least of your worries. You are skilled warriors and should have little trouble with them. But you should speak to Ulad bu Aita, the Priestess of Ithrak, before you go. She is the sole survivor of the last adventuring party that tried to open the Pass.”

They then went to Ulad, who told a sad tale. “There were seven of us,” she said. “Dront Berden was our leader, an even-tempered warrior if ever there was one. Ishrat Hamerton was the finest warrior I have ever seen, with plate mail and a sword of renown. I doubt I will ever see her like again. I think she followed Dront out of love, though she never spoke of it. Chandranath was a Ranger, and as fine a shot as any. Ellize and Kibwe were archers, not as skilled as Chan, but stout of heart and faithful comrades.  And then there was Oodiudra, a friend of mine from the East. We had roamed for many years together, Ithrak keep here. We entered the tunnels but never reached Amidst. Instead we were ambushed by Trogs and pursued them foolishly into their caves. We lost the Trogs and ourselves. Dront and Ellize were killed by Spinners. Eventually we found a Fungus Forest and were able to rest for a time. Then we were attacked by a Blue Goo and Ishrat met her fate fighting a rearguard action for us. Chan, Kibwe, Oodiudra and I escaped, and wandered those caves a long time. Ood and I were the last, and she died in our final battle against Spinners. It was soon after her death that I found the tunnel again and was able to reach Restwell. And here I dedicated myself to the memory of my comrades, worshiping Ithrak in their honor.”

“Most of the tunnel is carved from existing caverns,” she continued, “and there are many side passages that connect up to it. The floor has been made as level as possible and the tunnels expanded until two carts could pass. The tunnels are at least 4 m. wide and 4 m. tall. In places the road has been washed out by streams, but the tunnel is largely constructed of dry caverns.”

The party then traveled through the birch forest and marshy lowlands east of Restwell to the tunnel entrance. Before they entered, Brendan shared his expertise as a Ranger:  “The tunnels will probably have Spinners. They are giant spiders that get as big as a horse. There may also be Cave Terrors, who usually drop on you from above. Don’t walk under any dark spaces in the ceiling if you can avoid it. There will be Grebs of course, but those are no problem unless they become rabid. And undoubtedly there will be Trogs in the area. Those are the typical dangers. There may also be Fungus Forests near the tunnel, though I doubt they will be in the tunnel itself. The biggest fear is running into a Blue Goo, but from what I hear, the official tunnel is mostly dry, so hopefully that won’t happen.”

Once in the tunnels, they occasionally encountered small Spinners, which they easily repelled. The goat was mildly injured, as was one of the dogs.

At one point, Alexios spotted Trogs watching them, and began to negotiate a possible trade agreement with them. The Trog scouts affirmed interest, but told him that such an agreement would have to wait until their King Gold made a decision. The Trogs felt certain the party would not return from Amidst, but Alexios reassured them that they would return. And there the party ended for the night.

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Valerian is worth the watch

So we finally watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. We watched it just for the video effects because Valerian looked so poorly cast and because many people said the story was a muddle. Well, many people were wrong. The movie was much like the comic and perhaps it was confusing for folks not used to scifi, but it actually held together just fine and of course, the visual effects lived up to expectations as well. I liked Cara Delevigne as Laureline, and was willing to accept Dane DeHaan as Valerian, though I think Valerian should have gone to a more rugged Hans Solo type. I was really pleased to see so much of the comic shining through, and maybe that’s what the American audiences missed, because they didn’t know the basic plot. Maybe they thought that some of the scenes were derivative of Star Wars, though of course it was the other way around.  Valerian was a solid movie, and the plot held together just fine, but it didn’t connect at a deep emotional level, and that cost it dearly. There didn’t seem to be any heat between Valerian and Laureline, and it was needed badly for this movie to jump to the A list. Still, it was a solid B scifi movie, one I’ll dig out and watch again. So, I recommend it. Read the Guide to the World of Valerian first, and perhaps you’ll understand it better.

Valerian comic book panel, with the converter and the Shingouz.By the way, I also rewatched Moon (2009) again this week, and if you don’t like Valerian, you should love Moon, because it is hard science fiction with a very simple but very effective human story.

Moon (2009) with the two Sams and their robot GERTY

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