Category Archives: World Building

Goblins of Zoong

The campaign is coming and I’m pulling out all those ideas that have been lingering in the back of my head. This time I want to talk a little about goblins.

Sure they’re a fun, favorite bag of hit points for player characters to kill. But in some settings they are cute little scamps that makes everybody say, “Ahhh.” Well, the goblins from Zoong are nasty and a common threat everywhere. They’re sort like a cross between piranhas and cock roaches.

Nobody knows exactly where goblins come from. They just seem to appear out of nowhere and occasionally disappear just as quickly. A goblin nest or warren acts as a portal from their native dimension. The only to deal with an infestation is find the nest and take it out.

Goblins are primitive and vicious. They gang up on what they believed to be the weakest target. They will use what ever weapons that they can find but many just prefer biting their opponents. Speaking of biting. Goblins have no real sense for mortal precious metals or gems, but for some reason they do value to teeth of mortal humanoids. So if you find a bunch of chewed up corpses that are missing their teeth. It’s goblins. That is if you find corpses. Goblins like meat.

Goblin hunting is a professional practiced across the land. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rural area or a major city. The little monsters can show up anywhere. Hey, it’s a living. That is if you survive.

The Best Game is always the Next One

We wrapped our last campaign this weekend. I was running a 5E game based on the Xoth rules changes. It was a lot fun. But I did rush the end because the players were excited the next game and we had a new player waiting in the wings.

The campaign wrapped up with PC’s exploring the ruins of Atlantis and facing down the big bad. Kalia the Avatar of Yig. My original idea was for the party to head back to where it all started a face her there but to speed things up, the showdown happened in the ruins. The PC’s got the crap beaten out of them and the faithful NPC that had been with them since the beginning got killed. The fun part was the one PC. Let’s face it the player didn’t roll badly at character generation. He just didn’t roll well. The character didn’t have any really good or bad stats. Just mostly average. So there were rare instances when the character got to stand out during the rest of the campaign.

Not so in the finale. He’s the one who scrambled up the carcass of the ancient dead snake monster and grabbed the mystical dagger which was the only thing that could kill the Avatar of Yig. He’s the one who spent two rounds sneaking into position to get every advantage he could. And he’s the one who rolled that Nat 20 on the killing blow against the major villain. I couldn’t have written it better. Now on to the next thing.

The Paladin is impressed with the new dungeon tiles.

What’s up for the next campaign? Well, we’re going back to basics so to speak. For rules, it’s time to really kick the tires on my YARC ideas plus throw in a few tidbits. I’ve pulled in the influence of a lot of different games as well as some crazy ideas of my own. So we will see what happens when the dice finally meet the table.

I gave them a choice of three different starting areas with only a brief description of each. They chose a place called Border Keep. I know you’re smart. You get it. And I think only one of the players does. Sure I’ve ran it about half a dozen times and each time it was different. Now, it’s time to tweak it more and head back into the Caves of Chaos.

Orcs of Zoong

Slowly gearing up for that new campaign and it’s time to start pulling a few odds and ends that have been bouncing around my head for a long time. So yes. The Orcs of Zoong are EVIL. And no. This has nothing to do with all the hubbub from early. It’s an idea that’s been there I just hadn’t blogged on it until now.

The Orcs of Zoong appear out of nowhere and hew a path of death, destruction and misery. Their sole goal is cause as mush pain and devastation as possible. Why?

The Orcs are the souls of the most cruel and evil mortals sent back to the material to cause as much chaos as possible. If they inflict enough pain and suffering on the mortals before they die, their souls return to Hell. But instead of being a tortured soul in Hell, they get to be the torturer. So it’s sort of a promotion.

He’s still working those dungeon tiles.

There really isn’t anything that could remotely considered an “orc” society. They are just these bands that appear and start killing. They are constant threat every where. On the bright side, there never seems to be enough of them in one band to stage what anyone could consider a large scale military operation. Nor are they organized enough. The safest time to attack a new band of orcs is when they are still fighting amongst themselves to see which one of them is toughest and gets to lead.

Do they have any different stats than you’re run of the mill Orc (pig-faced or otherwise)? Nope. It’s the lore and those subtle things like just appearing out of nowhere in a civilized region.

The Only Map You Need For Your Campaign

Yes, I know that a real click bait title for this post. But you know it kind of fits. Let me start of with saying that I understand that maps are cool. Some are even works of art but how valuable and efficient is that work of art at the gaming table? Sure they can inspirational and evocative but I’m looking plain old utility and ease of use at the gaming table.

I’ve been playing around with Inkarnate for a world map for the reboot of my original campaign and while also playing around with online campaign managers I got to thinking about the way I actually keep notes which is a lot of bullet journaling and mind maps. This lead me to the idea of using “one map” for each thing in my world and basically here it is:

Wait? What? That’s it? Yep. I started with the simple concept of a group of hexes then changed it up to off-set squares just to make it easier to use with a word processor. As you can see, it’s numbered from 1 to 19 (20 is “outside” the map) in case I want to do something random. I also grabbed some inspiration from Index Card RPG with the zoned combat and the Ultimate Dungeon Terrain from Dungeon Craft on Youtube.

I figured if you can do this combat then why use it on a bigger scale?

Here’s how it works. Let’s start with the big picture. The World. You may be tempted to put that Big City in the middle of the map. I say no. Put where the characters start in the middle. Build the map from the character’s perspective. Let’s say you’re starting your campaign with the classic Keep on the Borderlands. Put that right in the center. What do the characters know? Since this is the “world” map at this stage. They would know that say the Dwarves come from “Far Away” to the north. So put the Dwarf home there like in Box 9. The Elves are far too but to the south east and so on. All that matters really is that something “near” to where they are or faraway. Fill in what extra bullet details you want.

Then you can do the same thing with a region. Once again with Keep on the Borderlands. Put the Keep in the middle then add the Caves of Chaos, Caves of the Unknown, the Mad Hermit, and the other adventure areas on the region map. All that really matters, is it close or far?

And you can do the exact same thing with a city. I know that the actual distances are abstract. Personally, I’ve found it better to measure the distances in actual miles or whatever but how many days it will take the party to get to their destination (for supply purposes) and what may be between them and their destination (making getting rumors even more key to survival).

This idea is also handy for my DM World Notebook. I can squeeze just about all of the information for a city or region that I need quickly into a single page.

And there you go. A single simple tool with many uses. And here’s a PDF of it:

Enjoy. Roll those dice and have fun out there.

What the heck is YARC?

I’ve been posting about YARC a lot so I figured I should make this Sticky Post to explain what the heck it is.

First, it’s a neat little acronym: Yet Another Retroclone. And it’s a little call back to “Bree Yark!” Google it. It started years ago as a little side project to put together different parts of various retroclones that I thought were cool but it’s evolved over the years.

YARC is now my own fantasy heart breaker, garbage punk rock, basement dweller Franken-game. I figured why not? Grab whatever mechanics that I liked from whatever game or whatever edition. Go ahead slay a couple of those sacred cows and mold it into what I and, hopefully, my players will enjoy. Astute readers will see the DNA of various ideas and concepts pop in there.

It’s very much an attempt to make play fast, efficient, and fun! And it’s very much a living project. I don’t think that it will ever be “done”. New rules and ideas pop up all the time. Things that might have worked get replaced with other things. And sometimes. Things just don’t work.

So hang on and have some fun. Roll the dice. Kill the monsters. And laugh.