Monday, May 28, 2018

Raccoons Might be Real Life Goblins

I've a growing suspicion.

It has to do with raccoons.

And our favorite green men, goblins.

Here me out here: Raccoons may be as close as we in the mundane world get to interacting with goblins.

Think of the attributes of a goblin: small, mischievous, stupid but devilishly clever, creepy hands, they are most active at night, their teeth are small but sharp, and while they are a nuisance alone they are a terror in large groups.

Now think of raccoons, everything in the above list can be applied to them.

So for your delight, photographic proof that raccoons and goblins might as well be the same:

A failed goblin ambush

Might as well be a raccoon


The situation would be the same if they were all raccoons
Source: Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), from “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, George G. Harrap, 1933

They both seem fascinated with shiny things

And to finish it off, a gif of a raccoon climbing a crane (when I saw this i was genuinely surprised, it moves like a humanoid!):
Assassins Raccoon
I rest my case.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Limáni, the City of Wharves

City of Wharves

Limáni was once a small crescent shaped atoll, barely sand bars at low tide but with sturdy (and treacherous breakers) keep the worst of the surf off. Located just to the southwest of the patrolled waters of Minoan Republic, these sand bars were used as a way for traders to exchange goods and avoid Minoan taxes before entering the Republic's domain.

It started small, a few boards lain in the sand and a few crude moorings. Through time docks were built in the shallow water, and pilings were driven into the sand. Not through careful engineering but sheer weight of  convenience and shortcuts a lattice of gangplanks and derelict vessels formed the bones of the floating town.

An atoll
Source unknown

In the modern era hardly anything is built on the shifting sands of the atolls, they are used more like a unstable foundation upon which the rest of the city is tethered. There are no great structures in the City of Wharves, nothing is taller than decks of the ships that make up her body and the masts swaying above. The bulk of living and business actually occurs below the waterline in the hulls of ships, where psári oil lamps burn in damp claustrophobic cargo bays never built to be used as a tavern in the sticky humidity.

Few people call Limáni home permanently, most of the stable population is of descendants of merchant exiles from the Republic and pirates. Most are just passing through, though they may stay for a night or a year they are all trying to get their ships free and sail to less rank waters. 

Hazards in the City


As the tide rises and falls, so does the City of Wharves. You may go out to dinner in the central part of town, and find you have to hike up to the rim and down the other side to return to your ship. The city is only roughly level at hightide, and with three moons the tide in Ánemos are erratic at best and extreme and deadly at worst.

Because of the extremely flexible topography of the city navigation can be difficult, the path you took out will look very different if it is there at all when coming back the same way. The decks of ships moored in the city are considered open to the public, there would be no other way to get around if everyone kept each other off their decks.

Think of the city as a large net, at every node a wooden block of variable size and buoyancy floats, and there are little people trying to get their little block out of the net all the time while other little people try and shore up sagging parts of the net. Its chaos.

Medieval Venice was much too organized

Use the below table for generating random events when chasing across the decks of the city:
2: Rapid low tide! As you jump from deck to deck the sea seems to drain like a bathtub, and a great rip sunders this part of the city. A successful Dex/Reflex save will get you on the far side of the rip away from your pursuers, a failure will trap you on with no where to run from your pursuers.

3: Falling mast! +6 to hit, 2d8+4 bludgeoning damage to the (1d3): Pursing party, the pursued party, or the deck (it may smash open!) between the parties (this makes the pursuers loose a turn to clamber over it)

4: Dead end! Either dive into the water of face your pursuers.

5: A crane is lifting cargo crates, if you jump you might be able to grab on and get swung far ahead of your pursuer. This is an Str/athletics check, on a failure you 1d3: get thrown into the water, get thrown right into your pursuers, or you miss to no adverse effect.

6: Popup market! Roll on the goods table a few times and thats whats being sold. Make it effect the chase: resins means people might get stuck to the deck, silks can be hidden behind, pottery can be smashed, etc.

7: No chase event

8: You dash into a tent-tavern on the deck of a large ship. Its very dark compared with the glaring sun outside, giving you enough time to hide. The party all roll stealth checks, using the highest, against the pursuer's perception checks, again using the highest. Even if caught here a tavern brawl can be easily started.

9: Float Patrol gang sinking a ship directly in your way! You can try and dash over it as it sinks, a Dex/reflex check; or you can face your pursuers.

10: Rotten gangplank! A random party member of the either the pursing or pursued party must spend the next 2 chase turns struggling to get free, or 1 turn if their party helps them.

11: Rouge wave! You can see it coming, the decks a few ships away violently surge up and then down. Dex/relex save or be thrown into the drink.

12: Fire! As you run someone accidentally kicked over a lantern and the inferno is burning brightly behind! 2d6 fire damage, Dex/reflex save for half. Loose all pursuit but their is a 2 in 6 chance someone saw it and thinks it was you that started the fire, they will report you to the Float Patrol for justice, which in the case of arson means death. They will come looking for you in 1d4 days.

*Its very hazardous to swim in the middle of Limáni, you are always at risk of getting crushed between rocking ships. Smaller players have it a little easier. Everyone is vulnerable to drowning if they get tangled in the many nets/mooring lines in the murky water.

The Float Patrols

These roving bands of  "public servants" are half police force, half protectionist racket, half public works crew, half vigilante mob, and half fire brigade. They haphazardly patrol the city tightening lines between ships, adjusting gangplanks, maintaining pilings, condemning sinking vessels by cutting them loose, collecting "docking fees", and generally working twords keeping the city afloat.

Think of them like douchey lifeguards: they are doing something important for public safety, but you can't help but roll your eyes at them.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


You may remember Treanets. That was half the story of magic tree people, dryads are the other half.

Yes, dryads are the "free flowing avatar of the id of a tree and forever tied to their groves." And yes, they are whimsy fucks.

But they also hold something within their coils that the treants rebel against, a true and abiding love for their home.  Treants are born of agony and hardship, they survive a cataclysm and find it within themselves to (literally) uproot themselves and leave the place of their birth to make the best of their circumstances. They have cracks and scars in their bark, sun seared leaves and bundles of hard roots, but they wear their history and triumphs in their bark proudly.

Conversely dryads only ascend to consciousness when their grove reaches some level of abstract beauty in the eye of a passerby. Perhaps a maiden pure of heart and of taste wanders into a glade in the fever of spring to find just the right amount of flowers, lush grass, and shady sweetly blooming trees. She sighs and traipses on, and in her wake a dryad is born of the collective narcissism of the grove.

If treants are bonsia, dryads are English landscape gardening.


..vs this.
The Stowe House

Once a dryad is born they immediately begin to manicure and cultivate their grove to reach even greater heights of beauty. They will obsessivly turn over every rock until they find its perfect face and orient it just so to go with the lilly line pool. They will prune their trees of dead wood so that the breeze can whisper through their crowns more sweetly. They will train squirrels and other woodland creatures to do cute things like frolic and sing.

Every time a sentient being passes through their grove the nymph will take careful notes on how they respond to their grooming. If the passerby seems unimpressed the nymph will confront them and interrogate them as to why they are not captivated by the (psuedo)natural beauty that the nymph strives for. In this way the nymph's concept of beauty grows and adapts to their audience, though the firmest stamp on their aesthetic remains the first observer's impression of the grove.

In this way dryad groves will reflect the society of their neighbors and the drifting standards of beauty, A grove in orcish lands will look very different from a grove in gnomish lands. A dryad born of the whimsy of a child playing make believe in a forest is very different from the bleak observation of beauty on a winters morning by a starving man.

The elves understand some of the mechanics of the dryad-aesthetic relationship and send their most tasteful landscape artists to hike around their lands and appreciate beauty in hopes that dryads are born with their tastes imprinted upon them, thus creating a dreamlike landscape of diligent dryads cultivating elvish ideals of beauty.

A dryad grove in elvish lands

Dryad Encounters:

When traveling players may encounter an area of astounding beauty, the dryads grove. 

Its center piece is:
1: A majestic and ancient tree
2: A quiet pool in a cool running stream
3: An open glade
4: A rock outcropping on a hill
5: A dell nearly hidden by shady trees
6: A waterfall

If the party is suitably impressed the dryad may appear and gloat, if they are unmoved it will appear and attempt to enchant them so as to get constructive criticism (though they take this very poorly).  They are laughably easy to flatter, and are happy to share what they know about the locality. Their ultimate goal is to ensnare a suitably appreciative paramour to appreciate the loveliness of their grove. The bones of great heroes entranced by the dryad may fertilize her flower garden, and they are known to give artifacts of power to those that earn them as they have little use for magic swords and staves.

If you are lucky the dryad might have exactly what you need! Just make sure to compliment her pond.

If any part of their grove is threatened the dryad will call on it's animal allies to divert the threat. When truly incensed they become elemental avatars of rage, as they are effectively demi-gods of their grove, having absolute control of the limited geography.

If a dryad is killed or forcibly removed from their grove they will lay a curse upon their foe: to slowly turn to wood, (mechanically 1 Cha save per month or 1d4 Cha damage) but if they survive the curse for a year and a day the blight stops spreading. Their grove dies with them, any beauty is scorched and mutilated and it becomes an weeping sore of the homely upon the land.

The heart of a dryad is exceptionally valuable, wizards use them for spells and potions that affect perception of beauty. A fresh heart will sell for 5,000 gp, a dried heart will sell for 1,000 gp.