Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Zak Smith took part in downtown LA peaceful protests at City Hall when everyone was surrounded by police.

(Protest map by Zak Smith)

Rundown of what happened to a peaceful protest at L.A. City Hall when police decided to corral people.
And also a Demon City contributor is blinded by police. All here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Fireworks Hailing Over Cube World

(Artist unknown, embellished from a t-shirt)
Sandy is how I enjoy my D&D campaigns. Roll some PCs then let things run amok. Ha, enough about me. What's up with Cube World...?

A month ago I wrote what I knew about new Cube World releases (table top RPG, not computer game), what that world appears is thus and what I saw as Cube World installments' significance to the hobby.

As a refresh, Cube World is the overall campaign setting that contains Vornheim: The Complete City Kit, Red and Pleasant Land, Maze of the Blue Medusa, and Frostbitten and Mutilated rpg supplements. It is literally a cube-shaped world with the campaign taking place on one of the six "faces" of the cube. However, "The entire planet is a hive of stone tunnels carved by long-dead civilizations."

Since new releases began last April began there have been roughly 200 pages of new campaign material published in 13 separate installments.

Couple things common to each installment:

1. These installments are MODULAR. You can just as easily drop them into your own campaign as run them in conjunction with a Cube World campaign. You can also break them up and reconfigure them to suit, and often suggestions are included how you might adjust elements for a one-shot or, conversely, an even larger adventure.

2. The adventures are ACTIVE. Meaning, stuff's happening independent to the adventuring party that reflects NPC and monster motivations; chains of circumstances to alter the tone, complexity, and/or nature of specific encounters depending on PC actions or lack thereof.

These are aspects of every installment and adventure by design, so you can expect being able to utilize all the material either within setting or out, and that adventures engage players from the outset with situations that demand decisions. Freewill? Of course... with consequences planned out for you ahead of time. (Fuck, Rush, there is a host of holy horrors pulling strings!)

Note Also: Maps and art are FULL COLOR with separate hi-res JPGs included. Many adventures include suggestions for running in the Weird Earth early modern Lamentations of the Flame Princess setting.

Perspective of a Cube World campaign from the new material:

You can check the link to peruse according your taste for individual characteristics of each installment. Below is my version of a topographical flyover lending an eye on how new pieces fit.

1. Still centered on Northern Continent, but further south.

(The fairy tales of Charles Perrault; Illustration by Harry Clarke; Harrap, 1922)

Vornheim and The Devoured Land are previous major regions detailed for Cube World's Northern Continent, both being north of the goblin empire Gaxen Kane. The largest area by far contributed from the new installments are to the Northern Continent land of Broceliande.

Broceliande is south to the horrible goblin empire of Gaxen Kane. Various nations of Broceliande, in particular the gray elves, have warred with the goblins since Cube World's primordial time. Broceliande is "unusually lovely and green, with tall castles, jousts, quests, wild forests, foxes, frogs and fae, elves in the north, halflings in the south, dwarves in mountains..."

Broceliande information is contained among several Cube World installments about seven kingdoms/baronies/duchies and discrete geographic regions, eight cities/towns, and six dungeon/adventure scenarios. Most all receive at least a half-page to a page of detail (much more for adventures), with major adventures there being political schemes and hidden dungeon treasures in the Duchy of Teeming, a siege to the eastern port city of Ortheque by Chaos Pirate warbands, warring mutant tribes from a spawning lake, rescuing treasure from a castle on the back of a mountain-sized giant, and two dungeons, one very dangerous and the other very mysterious, in the Barony of Eeping.

Lest you begin to consider Broceliande a region of mostly mere classic fantasy sorts, hidden areas are also occupied by strange psionically telekinetic/telepathic creatures: The Philosophers. An entire installment (#13) is dedicated to descriptions, environs, and four adventure encounters with this near-Lovecraftian species from another dimension.

2. Sea of Ignorance and Pain bits to the Scorpion Lands, "sailor's legend" of Drownesia, and hints of Southern Continent to points far east.

(The Adventures of Prince Ahmed, by Lotte Reiniger, 1922)

Should PCs take to water off the east coast of Broceliande upon the Sea of Ignorance and Pain, they'll find scattered islands and island-fortresses.

Traveling southward in the sea one installment (#4) provides an adventure encounter on Iguana Isle just off the Scorpion Lands on the north coast region of Cube World's Southern Continent. The island hosts a pirate queen's fortress, and the queen is in need of some "engineering" assistance obtaining a mysterious artifact lodged in the coral beds nearly 200 feet beneath the sea's surface.

Rumors heard at pirate island can help lead an adventuring party west to the jungle-thick collected islands of Drownesia, a mysterious land of dinosaur-riding dark elves. That same installment provides elements for the Drownesian island of Palafesh Opnow with two on-island adventure scenarios plus a megacorpse floating somewhere off the island's coast.

Should adventurers sail east from Iguana Isle another installment (#12) contains two islands with adventures that also hint to what lies on the Southern Continent mainland in those areas. PCs would likely first encounter the "sorcerer-tyrant and his monstrous pets" on The Isle of Massive Crustacians. Moving still further east might choose to become involved in a pair of rival sorcerers skirmishing over a powerful item come lodged beneath the midpoint of a thousand-foot bridge between their two isles in Peacock Isles.

There is another far east scenario for PCs to engage with maritime battles of an ancient wizard. The wizard possesses a terrible item used to take lands adjacent to Eight Demon River there as the wizard's own.

3. Nephilidia and the western sea.

(Photo by unknown)

If you happen to be running a campaign set around Vornheim (or just be keen on amphibious vampires), there is a sea west to the Northern Continent named, respectively at least in the sea's waters off the west coasts of Broceliande and Gaxen Kane, Goblin Sea or Sea of Dead Elves. Nephilidia, Eversinking Isle of seafrost and rime, is up in the cold northern waters of the western sea.

Nephilidia is home to Nephilidian Vampires, most preferring never to leave their half-drowned empire knee-deep in black and stagnant water. Another single location installment (#11), the adventure scenario includes random encounters for waters surrounding the island, an island map for overland encounters, tools for generating random dungeon ruins as needed, and The Last Palace of Queen Naxxala.

Nephidilia is, apart from encounters with The Philosophers, singly the most dangerous from these recent installments. A commensurate table of 1,000 Nephilidian magic items provides just rewards for survivors.

There is also one more island of note for the western sea from the installments, Isle of the Lava Trolls. The encounter has some nice terrain features that would provoke interesting exploration and combat, plus throwing the adventuring party on a volcanic isle in the middle of an icy sea. Ha, there's that.

4. Miscellany.

The installments do have a couple of scenarios related from the previous works. One is A Place of Garments horrific dress maker set in the kingdom from A Red and Pleasant Land. Another is Temple of the Mantis set near Vornheim that travels through a secret portal to the extradimensional place of the Mantis Cult. 

A special setting that may be used in a variety of places is Curated Destruction, a elvish library containing all knowledge and art deemed important by elves.

Likewise The Tracery along with echo chambers may be used as a strange and otherworldly means to link any dungeon sections, although a scenario involving heresy and lycanthropes is provided to draw PCs into the dungeon.

There are a number of items in the installments in addition to expanding the Cube World setting: Several particular d1000 treasure tables, book generators, useless book generators, and varied random dungeon tables along with a sample dungeon, Lair of the She Jackal, as example of randomly generated dungeon.


BUY THIS STUFF! Cube World installments have two things every dungeon master needs: Utility and surprise! These installments are dense because everything needed at the time fits on one or two pages with color-codes on the tables to move expeditiously to the information you need. 

The scenarios are varied and often with multiple decision trees such that I expect many of them with a tiny bit of re-skin you could run your same players through more than once without them catching on you're recycling. At minimum these are privately published ideas from a professional and award-winning author that your average gamer can't get at their FLGS.

Nearly all of the installments are just $5 each so you can afford to pick and choose to see how they run - either in your own game setting or that of a full-fledged Cube World.

Next up I am going to get a group to run through some of these, probably starting in Broceliande using our standard Advanced Labyrinth Lord. When that happens I can share play reports. Until then, ha, go easy, and if you can't go easy go as easy as you can.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Legendary Lands of Arduin, Episode 3 (Home Brew)

A delve into the original gonzo DIY RPG setting of Arduin.

In this video, while working out new audio, I take an interlude to expose some of my personal Arduin home brew from a long ago campaign.

Note: I mention that each DM's scenario lasted for 3 sessions. Understand at this point in our gaming (late 1980s) our gang is mostly in our mid twenties, some are married, some with children, so we gamed probably once every month or two in Saturday night marathon sessions lasting 10-12 hours.

Also, I think now looking at the overland map that the party never made it across Moon Water to Bordertown. It looks like Black Bog is right on the way around Moon Water and that just happened to be where things ended up after my last session.

Arduin is a Registered Trademark of Emperors Choice Games & Miniatures

(Arduin home brew map...)

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Legendary Lands of Arduin, Episode 2 (Cosmology)

A delve into the original gonzo DIY RPG setting of Arduin.

In this video I examine information on cosmology of Dave Hargrave's Arduin campaign from the "World Book of Khaas: The Legendary Lands of Arduin."

Correction: When I mentioned David Hargrave's AKA "Dream Weaver" I also mentioned there is a class by that name. The class is correctly "Rune Weaver" and in the game's far distant history were "the first true men" who defeated the reptilian Kthoi.

Arduin is a Registered Trademark of Emperors Choice Games & Miniatures

(From Moons of Arduin by Thomas Grable)