2015-05-31

Deities & Priesthoods: An'nana

Try not to look at her directly for too long (from here)

Also known as the Divine Progenitor and the Shining One, An'nana is one of the oldest deities around, being a parent to many of the younger gods and godlings (and even a few heroes). While An'nana changes gender often and at will, the deity's motherly personality and preferred appearance (that of a glowing young woman) lead to the mortals also using the title Caring Mother for her.

 
A "priestess" at her daily work as a blacksmith (from here)

An'nana acts as a deity of parenthood, fertility, nurturing and health. She doesn't have a rigid hierarchical priesthood as such, and since people who directly worship her tend to form small family-based communities, usually the "priest" or "priestess" is simply a leader of the community, who enjoys An'nana's gifts simply for being a decent and caring sentient. Because of this, most of the An'nana's priesthood are usually also farmers, blacksmiths, masons, carpenters and other simple, hard-working folk. When not at work, they spend their time taking care of their families and helping out those in need - especially orphans.

An'nana rewards her worshippers for their kindness and caring with good health and fertility. Her "priests" also get some healing and curse removal abilities. This comes on top of the fact that the worshipper communities are generally very healthy both physically and psychologically and tend to treat people both on the inside and the outside of community with respect and care.


In game

A general worshipper of An'nana will be simply a happy and healthy working person (most prefer rural life, but there are also urban communities) - a good way to reflect this would be decent physical stats. A leader of a community, as an acting "priest", works pretty much as a cleric, but is restricted to light armor and can only use healing spells and those that deal with removing disease and curses.

2015-05-30

City defenses generator table

For all your city defense needs. Roll d10 for each table.

Fortifications & defenses


(from here)
  1. Transparent dome of unknown material (gets stifling in hot weather)
  2. Seemingly conventional walls & towers (actually hasty mock-ups built in hopes of discouraging an attacker)
  3. Magically grown wall of semi-sentient trees that attempt to swipe at attackers with branches
  4. Colossal golems link arms around the city, will attempt to stomp on attackers
  5. A conventional castle on the most vulnerable edge of the town
  6. Simple palisade fort
  7. No walls, but closely placed towers of varying styles and colors
  8. Maze-like system of rounded stone walls with no gates but only narrow passages
  9. High natural cliffs of the plateau on which the city is located, the single path upwards protected by the defenders
  10. Seemingly undefended city actually surrounded by a death zone of traps both magical and mundane (peaceful visitors met at the edge and led in and out by professional guides for a fee)

Defenders 

Where's your armor, soldier?! 
(from here, but I don't know where Hill Cantons got it)

  1. Small pack of death-ray wielding homunculi
  2. Hastily conscripted beggars & petty criminals, used as canon fodder to buy time for fleeing richer citizens
  3. Trained bears – armored and armed with poleaxes
  4. A cabal of experienced wizards (half of which are starting to grow senile)
  5. Highly trained ballista crews
  6. Sabre and lance wielding horsemen, dressed in bright colors and fond of making seemingly random charges
  7. A small fleet of airships carrying arquebusiers
  8. Local dragon, concerned with fate of source of tribute
  9. Fanatical religious sect members – not terribly efficient in combat, but numerous and desperate to fight to the death
  10. A small group of veteran soldiers and engineers who will wait for the enemy to enter the city and then engage in urban guerrilla combat

2015-05-29

NatGeo Photo of the Day Inspiration 1: Cormorant Fishermen

I'm trying to train my gaming-inspiration muscles, and so I'll try to make something out of National Geographic's Photo of the Day pictures when I think it possible. First attempt is today, although the picture/story is already almost a reality-is-weirder-than-fiction type of thing.

Cormorant Fishermen


The villages of cormorant fishermen use cormorants to fish - or so says the common knowledge. However, while many think these are just trained birds, maybe with some modification that prevents them from swallowing fish, the truth is somewhat weirder. In actuallity, the cormorants and the fishermen are one and the same - they're were-cormorants. Unlike many other lycanthropes, were-cormorants are fairly peaceful and maintain cordial relations with most other neighbouring sentients, usually selling fish and buying other kinds of goods.

The fact that the neighbours tend not to know of their lycanthropy is simply a matter of safety.

Were-cormorants usually fish in small groups, where one stays in human form and several others (2 to 5) use their cormorant form to catch fish. The human form were-cormorant is often an elder whose reaction is already a bit too slow for fishing, but who has much expertise and can advise the others. They also steer the raft they use to transport the catch and might even do some preliminary cleaning.

Were-cormorants generally just wish to be left in peace and would prefer that their neighbours not find out about their lycanthropic status. This sometimes ends up netting them into doing scouting work for outsiders who find out about their secret.

2015-05-28

Reedwomen

Some lakes and slow-flowing rivers tend to be homes to colonies of humanoids that call themselves the Children of the Reed or, in some areas, Reedfolk. This often gets translated as Daughters of the Reed, or even Reedwomen. People tend to assume they're one of the female-only races out there.

This is because few have ever seen a male of the species, since the Children only tend to have 2-3 of them for a colony of about 40, and since they're smaller and frailer than the females. Whereas female Reedfolk are about the size and shape of a petite human woman, the males are generally built as a skiny, short, halfling man. Mass and strength are roughly comparable. Regardless of gender they have pale green or grey skin, are excellent swimmers and have the capacity to stay underwater for long durations. The Children of the Reed in general can be regarded as pleasant looking, if one can disregard the fact that there's aquatic and semi-aquatic invertebrates and plants sometimes living in their hair.

 They're kinda sneaky (from here)

Since the Children have few males and they tend to be weaker, they are usually left at the semi-submerged woven reed nests that the Reedfolk construct on the lakes they inhabit, looking after the young and making and repairing the few tools and weapons they use. 

 Like this, but on a lake and there's more of it under water (from here)

The Children tend not too have much in the sense of possessions. Clothing is unusual unless there's non-hostile contact with races that tend to view clothing as preferable, but even then clothes will only be worn for some interactions with outsiders. Decorative trinkets of bone or shells are common, however. Their tools and weapons are mostly made of bone and wood. Reedfolk pretty much distrust metal and will reject metal tools and weapons if offered. Even stone is considered as somewhat suspect, although some bolder warriors will opt for a stone knife or spearhead instead of the more usual bone.


They're still pretty dang sharp even if they're brittle (from here)
If you visit a (demi)human village that is near a colony of Reedfolk, there's a possibility that you'll hear rumors of the Daughters of the Reed kidnapping people, especially children. Some might even accuse them of eating the kidnapping victims. These rumors are somewhat exagerated but the Reedfolk do occasionally steal unattended human or demihuman babies. They do not, however, eat them. Truth is that the Children's seeresses know how to prepare a potion which if fed to the infant with appropriate rituals will transform it into a Reedperson with a 25% chance. If that doesn't happen, the baby will almost certainly die, unless healed by magic - in which case it once again has a 25% chance to turn into one of the Children. Reedfolk thus produced do not differ in any way from the regular ones, and there's a possibility that Reedfolk in general are an ancient magic experiment turned loose.

She's gonna turn your kids into more of hers (from here)

Using in a game

The females should be treated as humans with water breathing and the males as halflings with water breathing. Males are non-combatants. Females will mostly fight with bone spears and knives (should break easily, say 1-4 out of 6, if used against someone with metal armor... although metal armor against someone who can just pull you underwater would be a dangerous idea). There's a 25% chance that one per 20 Reedfolk will be a shaman/seeress (roughly equivalent to lvl. 1 Magic User or whatever you like).