Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spoiling The Broth

I really need to learn to buy (and read) one RPG rulebook at a time. Having too many cool books laying around is wreaking havoc with my gamer ADD.

In addition to the 4e Wilderlands concepts I discussed yesterday, I've got a Thundarr-style post-apoc setup for Barbarians of Lemuria, the Elven Crystals adventure for Dragon Warriors, an A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying noble house a buddy of mine and I rolled up the other day, an urge to set a kitbashing of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia that I thought up years ago into motion, curiosity about the upcoming HackMaster Basic game and whether it would work for something I call "Frazetta Greyhawk", ideas for the actual 4e campaign I'm playing in, and a vague desire for some sort of Lords of Creation/Basic D&D mashup struggling for control over the battlefield of my brain.

And all the while, Freed Lands lurks in the shadows, biding its time...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sword & 4thery

I've been thinking about sword & sorcery again lately, having recently purchased the darling Barbarians of Lemuria from Lulu and the decidedly nasty new comic Viking from my local shop (which doesn't have any sorcery, but gets me in the S&S mood anyway). This, in turn, got me thinking about injecting more of the genre's flavor into the game of high-magic asskickery known as D&D 4th edition.

Soon I was reacquainting myself with Bob Bledsaw's Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting, which, despite the name, is more of a S&S-flavored pulp fantasy mashup than "high fantasy" in tone. I am a proud owner of all of Necromancer Games' d20-based Wilderlands material. Though I don't plan on running D&D 3rd edition ever again, I will probably hang on to those books (and especially the Wilderlands boxed set) until I keel over.

Anyway, I was flipping through the Player's Guide to the Wilderlands the other day with an eye towards using it with a system other than 3rd edition, and I actually think it'd be easy to use 4th edition for it without eliminating any of 4e's core elements, since the Wilderlands setting is chock-full of weird D&Disms in the first place (having been designed for that game, after all).

The 4e classes, really, fit just fine. Sure, having a bunch of friendly spellcasters running around with the fighter-types isn't very S&S at all, but as I said, I think the Wilderlands are more about putting a Frazetta veneer over D&D than anything else. If you wanted to make things more true to the genre, you'd probably want to dump a few of the newer, crazier classes - like the swordmage or artificer - but if you can have a crashed Soviet MiG in the mountains, I guess you can have a guy who shoots acid out of his sword.

Even "non-traditional" 4e races like tieflings and dragonborn are a surprisingly easy fit. The existing Wilderlands history already includes references to "Orichalan dragon-lords". Dragonborn are easily recast as a former servitor race of the Orichalans, or maybe even as degenerate descendants of the dragon-lords themselves.

Likewise, the Wilderlands already include an entire region to the south controlled by infernal powers and a shadowy race called the "demonborn". Using the 4e stats for tieflings, you have an easy stand-in for the demonborn, who are pretty much overpowered as written in the Wilderlands Player's Guide anyway. Or you could just use tieflings as-is and tie their backstory in with the demonborn.

You would need to write up a new Amazon race for 4e, though. Making a race that doesn't use much armor is tricky in any system, but at least there's already the beastmaster ranger build, so it'd be easy to have the archetypal Frazetta spearwoman, complete with smilodon friend.

I have a feeling that adapting the Wilderlands gods would be as simple as reassigning the various Channel Divinity feats from the 4e deity to Thor or Armadad Bog or what have you. There are already plenty of them between the 4e PHB and the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, with more coming in Divine Power.

It... could... work!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spoke Too Soon

All right, I took a closer look at the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide last night, and I will revise my opinion accordingly: the book's only half useless to me. The appendices are pretty handy - in addition to being able to roll up a dungeon layout or a wilderness region (with settlements!), you can randomly generate the physical appearance of a monster or the type of prostitute a character picks up. Oh, and there's an awesome Dave Trampier illustration of a dead displacer beast being eaten by wild dogs. This is the sort of thing I can get behind.

As a side note, I was telling my wife - who has never played a tabletop RPG - that I got more comments yesterday than for any previous post. She asked what it was about, so I told her. Her response:

"Wait, wasn't that a 1st edition book? So... you were talking shit about 1st edition? Even I know you don't talk shit about 1st edition!"

I still don't think I was "talking shit", but point taken.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Old School Newbie

I received my 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide yesterday. I should note that I have never previously owned the book, but have heard for years that it is a must-own for any real RPG aficionado. I'd probably flipped through a copy at some point in the past, but it didn't leave much of a lasting impression on me, so it was with some excitement that I cracked it open and began to read.

I think I hate it.

I've read Gygax before, but his writing style here is pedantic to the point of incomprehensibility. This is no Monster Manual - the artwork consists primarily of cartoons and Sutherland stuff, which is not to my taste. The DMing advice, as far as I can tell, is almost exclusively negative. The author tells you not to change the rules, not to allow monster player characters, not to alter the tone of the game... well, not to do lots of things. I didn't see much in the way of telling a DM what he or she should do, but plenty of reflexive "if you do this, you're playing my game wrong" admonishments.

What you do get are exhaustive sections on subjects as esoteric as casting spells underwater, footnotes telling you that a roll of "mastodon" on the Pleistocene marsh encounter table actually indicates a shovel-toothed relative of the mastodon, and charts telling you how much damage a wereboar takes if he changes into boar form while wearing plate mail. There's a certain insane appeal to the bewildering degree of attention paid to the pointless minutiae of situations that will probably never occur in the typical D&D game, but I'm afraid that for me, it's not enough. Except for the sections on generating wilderness environments, settlements, and dungeons, this thing is almost completely useless to me. Still, I know a lot of people love this book, and that's great. Maybe one of them will want to buy my copy.

(To be clear, I'm not taking a dump on AD&D 1st edition or Gary Gygax. I own plenty of AD&D stuff, much of it written by Gygax, and have enjoyed reading it. I just strongly dislike this particular book.)

In happier news, I like the fun, freewheeling attitude of the D&D Basic and Expert Rulebooks a lot. So, what I've learned is that if I'm going to go for "old school" D&D, I should probably stay away from AD&D and stick to Basic.

Okay... now that I have probably enraged or alienated most of my readers, I am going to prepare for the onslaught.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buckling Bookshelf

My 32nd birthday came and went a couple of weeks ago. I got a ton of loot, thanks to my lovely wife (and a few gift cards from other people), as follows:
  • A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, which is something of a dry read, but thus far seems to do a bang-up job of emulating George R. R. Martin's brutal, intrigue-ridden fantasy series. I am especially impressed with the game's focus on players sharing and running their own noble house. Shame about the errata, of which there are many.

  • Career Compendium for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. I've only given this a quick glance-through, but it's definitely nice to have all the careers from all the books (plus a few new ones) together in one place. I do like the added notes on the different careers' places in the Old World. So far FFG seems to be doing a solid job with WFRP2.

  • Talisman Revised 4th Edition and The Reaper Expansion, also from FFG. I played a lot of the previous edition of Talisman, and was lucky enough to give the new version a try this past weekend. I'm happy to report it's easily as good as the old game, with some interesting tweaks, and is physically a much sturdier, more polished product than it was in the past. I intend to pick up the next expansion, The Dungeon. (Anybody want to buy my 3rd edition stuff?)

  • The Elven Crystals. This is another very good revision of old adventure material for Dragon Warriors, with clearer maps than Magnum Opus' previous adventure book, Sleeping Gods. The original adventure felt wackier and more high-magic than what the rules implied, but Adrian Bott did a great job of making it all feel a bit more logical and grounded.
I also have a ton of stuff on its way in the mail, all gotten on the cheap:
  • Arcane Power. I'm playing a wizard in D&D 4e and am looking foward to revamping him - I'm already leaning towards getting a tome implement and a familiar. (Do you care? No.)

  • AD&D 1st Edition Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide. I have owned the former in the past and wasn't that taken with it, but it came in a bundle with the latter, which I'm told I must own, so let's see what it's like.

  • D&D Basic Rulebook and Expert Rulebook. These are the Moldvay/Cook versions; another case of "let's see what the big deal is".

  • Lords of Creation. Another Moldvay-penned RPG. I've owned this one before, but sold it when I was hard up for cash. I'm looking foward to reacquainting myself with it, especially since I could hardly figure out what the heck it was about the first time I owned the boxed set.

  • Fantasy Wargaming: The Highest Level of All, an early-80s British fantasy RPG notorious for giving stats for Jehovah, Satan, Jesus, etc. It seems this was available from a book-of-the-month club at some point, which means used bookstores are overflowing with cheap copies. Still, it apparently does contain reference information about the medieval world and lots of folkloric monsters, and has been cited by more than a few as a useful resource for Dragon Warriors.

Good thing I just made some room on the bookshelves.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Revolutionary New Approach

I don't really buy modules for D&D anymore, but this kind of paradigm shift in product diversification bodes well for the future of the hobby. Kudos to Goodman Games!

It's oddly heartwarming to see the skank-riffic art of Clyde Caldwell make its triumphant return to D&D.

Seriously, though, I appreciate Joseph Goodman's willingness to poke fun at his own products, and I like the attitude of Goodman Games a lot. Their Dungeon Denizens book for 4e has been getting a lot of use in our campaign, and I'm looking forward to flipping through their new print magazine, Level Up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Siren Call Of "Old School"

I'm still thinking about running a campaign.

Currently, I'm leaning towards trying my hand at something "old school", in the fantasy genre, simple to prep and easy to run. This approach seems to be in vogue right now, so I do feel like I'm hopping on the bandwagon a bit, but I'm not going to let that stop me from exploring something in which I'm genuinely interested. I own a few games that potentially fit the bill:

Dungeons & Dragons (Rules Cyclopedia version). I like the RC a lot, and obviously have been spending a good deal of time thinking about D&D lately. This particular version of D&D has plenty of compatible supplemental material. It's a familiar system that would be relatively easy to tweak. The problem with that idea is that players have certain expectations of what they're going to be getting when they play D&D, and I think my tweaks and play style might not be in line with those expectations. Also, I have a feeling most people wouldn't get why I picked "basic" D&D over AD&D, v3.5, or 4e.

Tunnels & Trolls (5.5 edition). I'm currently playing a character in Scott's play-by-post T&T game and having a good time with it. It's a neat game, but a little too cutesy for my default approach to fantasy, at least as written. I guess you could say it falls a little too far on the Otus side of the Erol Otus-Dave Trampier continuum for me. There's lots of support for T&T, though I'm not a huge fan of how it handles combat - I prefer a bit more granularity than just saying "add up the dice on each side, roll, and see who wins."

Dragon Warriors (Magnum Opus Press version). In case I hadn't already made it clear, I love this freakin' game. The rulebook is simple yet comprehensive like the Rules Cyclopedia, the setting is right up my alley, the published adventures are pretty cool, and there is a modest (but growing) amount of fan support available online. I've been wanting to run this game for years, but nobody I've shown it off to has seemed particularly interested, so I'm not sure how easy it would be to recruit players.

All right, so it seems like I've pretty much made up my mind to run Dragon Warriors. Now I just need to figure out the logistics of when/where/how/with whom I'll be running it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Freed Lands: Wheruls

Wheruls are my wild and crazy barbarian horde race. You know, the ones whose approach is heralded by a huge dust cloud on the horizon and who leave devastation in their wake.

Their origins lie in the savannah of Hafe, to the south of the Freed Lands. Wheruls had been ravaging the Morven Ghannem region for centuries before the elves of Immovenst conquered it. The elves attempted to spare their new territory from further attacks only by providing the wheruls with quality arms and armor, and encouraging the wherul raiders to demonstrate their prowess with them further south. The wherul hordes happily took the elven weaponry, but never stopped testing the borders of Morbenhann, ensuring that the elves (and their subjects) never lowered their guard.

Wheruls respect displays of power, but never bow to it for long. That power will be tested time and again until a weakness is discovered and exploited, and the wherul is once again revealed as supreme. Wherul society places might as its highest virtue. Wheruls exalt in strength of arms and personality, and believe to risk life and limb is to live. A wherul horde will rob, sack, and pillage, true, but this is an only an expression of their near-pathological need for supremacy. However, they are not a conquering race. Once that horde feels that it has established that supremacy, it returns to the wherul homelands - the sunny plains to the south that are their unquestioned domain. There, they rest, rebuild their numbers, and prepare their next demonstration.

Wheruls have no religion per se. There is a perception that they worship spirits of nature, but this is a mistaken one. They may pause to admire a waterfall or a great canyon, or to respectfully observe a tiger bringing down its prey, but they are not animists in the true sense. They are just as likely to divert the river for their needs, or to kill the great cat for food. Wheruls have no concept of agriculture or domestication, but they take pride in capturing and training wild animals, especially predatory ones (many of which they bring along on their raids).

Wheruls are reptilian in appearance, but are warm-blooded, and bear live young. They begin life as quadrupedal creatures very similar in appearance to a monitor lizard, but upon reaching adolescence, changes begin rapidly as the young males engage in violent (but non-lethal) combat for the right to breed with the wherul females.

After mating, the winners begin a rapid transformation into a massive, semi-quadrupedal form covered in iridescent scales, with a heavy tail used for balance when using the forelimbs to manipulate objects. Males are physically powerful, capable of running at high speeds for great distances, but are considerably less mentally capable than the females, and serve as hunters, warriors, and (during long-distance travel) mounts for the smaller females.

The females, after bearing young, become fully bipedal, with roughly humanoid proportions. Unlike the males, their mental faculties are not dulled by the maturing process, and thus they take up the planning and leadership of their yearly raids.

The males that lose the breeding combats become neuters - dull brown, sterile humanoids similar in appearance to females. Wherul neuters develop highly sophisticated vocal chords capable of reproducing sounds outside of the human range of hearing, which may be amplified to very high volume by their inflatable throat sacs. The wherul battle language makes use of these far-travelling frequencies, enabling them to secretly give complex orders across great distances.

The wherul mouth is designed only for biting prey and eating flesh, and thus, wheruls lack the ability to speak words in the fashion of other races. The lizard-like face of a wherul displays no emotion, and their language consists of strange barks, chirps, and hisses. When dealing with other races, wheruls rely instead on their neuters' talent for mimicry to communicate in a strange, broken syntax of words and phrases, perfectly copied from the speech of others that they have heard. The sight of a neuter wherul "speaking" in this fashion, switching voices in the middle of a sentence without moving the lips, can be unsettling.

(Much of this will be familiar to those who followed my old Freed Lands journal, but there's a good deal that has changed. It's my hope that the style of this entry gives you a better idea of the way I'm approaching races in this setting: I'm going for a sense of realism and originality without turning into a biology text or going completely off the wall. We'll see if I can do the same for some of the more typical fantasy races.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shadow Of The Screen

I've got a problem. I haven't run anything in almost a year, and I miss it.

When D&D 4th edition came out last year, I was excited as hell, and appointed myself the DM for the first module, Keep on the Shadowfell. I think I did a mediocre job running it, but everybody seemed to have a good time learning the new rules. I liked the game, yet felt like I wasn't really challenging the players - though a lot of that was probably just part of dealing with a fairly bland module and a new ruleset.

At any rate, I decided I'd probably have more fun as a player than as a DM, and handed off the reins to a more interested member of the group. (Since then, the guy who took over has handed it over to yet another member of the group. Both of them did a great job.) I am still having a lot of fun playing D&D, but the urge to run a game has only gotten stronger as time goes on.

My problem is that almost every time I start running something, I quickly get burnt out. I feel like I'm not doing my best at every session. Basically, I think I'm a pretty clumsy DM/GM/Referee/what have you, even though I've been gaming since I was but a wee tyke. But I love RPGs and want to get better at running them and writing for them... and I can't do that if I'm just playing them.

(Another problem is that I feel like I'm unprepared if I'm not using some sort of published adventure, yet I am almost always dissatisfied with my game when I do - even if I really liked the module when I read it. Obviously, that's something I need to figure out for myself.)

My current gaming group is cool as hell. I have absolutely no desire to scrap my participation in our exciting 4th edition D&D campaign in favor of my trying my hand at running something and very possibly having it not work out. Gaming twice a week with the same group is unlikely at best, especially given my shaky GMing track record, and I don't want to suggest alternating games week to week. So what I'm left with is starting a second group playing a game of my choice, with as many of the same people as are interested and able, and finding someplace to do it.

I guess this is where I figure out what to run, make a cheesy flyer, and post it at the local comic shop?

Monday, April 13, 2009

You Will Come Out No More

Maybe this isn't a revelation to everybody, but it just hit me the other day: Big Trouble In Little China is an old-school dungeon crawl.

You've got a couple of fighting types, a magic-user, and a bunch of nameless cannon fodder making repeated trips into a bizarre subterranean complex with the eventual goal of saving the girl(s) and slaying an evil wizard. Don't even get me started on the beholder-thingy, the "black blood of the earth", and the big centipede-creature that pops out and instantly wastes a bunch of the henchmen. I could go on and on - it's all there.

Even the attitudes of the characters, especially Jack Burton, are pretty gamer-ish:

"Hollow? Fuck it."

(I still have an overwhelming desire to play an Egg Shen-style adventuring alchemist.)

I doubt there are many people following this blog who haven't already seen the movie, but if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to check it out. And if you have seen it, try giving it another viewing through the lens of the dungeon crawl.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Keith Parkinson Was Awesome

Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 3.

Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: I rest my case.

Another Master

Over the past year or so, too many of the RPG hobby's greats have passed away. The likes of Gary Gygax, Bob Bledsaw, Erick Wujcik, and N. Robin Crossby are now joined by Dave Arneson.

Others have written eloquently about Arneson and his massive contributions to fantasy gaming, and I honestly have nothing to add other than to say that I regret that those contributions were not better recognized during his lifetime.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Non-Humans In The Freed Lands

One of the things I like about Chaosium's games is that they're human-centric, but that the way monsters are written up makes it easy to use them as player characters. It's a strength of the BRP system, and it reminds me a lot of the one which, for better or worse, I still know best: the Palladium system. 10 years at least since I played a Palladium game, and I can still eyeball the stats and instantly tell what's hideously overpowered and what's even more hideously overpowered.

Anyway, before I go off an a tangent about Palladium games, the point I'm trying to make is that BRP's default treatment of non-human player characters dovetails nicely with what I intend to do in my Freed Lands campaign: start with human characters only, but keep open the option of introducing non-humans as the campaign progresses. My plan is for the initial setup to involve a group of human outlanders, probably all Brinthine, entering and exploring the newly accessible region of Morbenhann for the first time.

Part of my intent with Freed Lands is to avoid making it "D&D in another system", so I try to make setting elements at least somewhat plausible. More accurately, I don't want at any point to say "a wizard did it" to explain anything unusual present in the setting. Still, I can't shake my Palladium-bred love of having lots of intelligent species running around in a fantasy campaign. The compromise I came up with was to indulge my own tendencies towards quasi-scientific speculation, so I try to come up with ecologically and evolutionarily plausible explanations for things.

For example, instead of having your usual orcs created by an evil god rampaging across the landscape because they were born that way, I've got wheruls, a sapient, reptilian race descended from tree monitors that were forced onto the ground when a climate shift changed their habitat from forests to savannahs. Seeing over the tall grasses that subsquently covered the plains meant that they began to stand upright, freeing their front legs for other uses, and eventually you've got an exploding population of lizard men who need more food. My goal is to create similar backgrounds for the other "races" of the Freed Lands setting - dwarves, ogres, and hulderfolk. (Elves don't count, because they're magic. Yes, I realize that contradicts the whole point of this entry.)

Ultimately, I realize that this approach doesn't produce results that are especially realistic, from a scientific point of view, but I find it a satisfyingly different angle from which to attack a "classic fantasy" setup. Since worldbuilding is something personal, that's enough for me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Lay Of The Freed Lands

Thanks to the old and clunky Arr-Kelaan Hexmapper program, I have a (very) rough map of the region I plan on covering in my Freed Lands campaign.

Obviously, this is vastly simplified. The pass through the Black Peaks is not that big. Also, the terrain types displayed here don't really correspond to those I envision for the various realms. Hexmapper doesn't offer a huge variety of terrain hexes - here, they're chosen mostly to differentiate them visually.

Morbenhann is the "Freed Lands" region for which the setting is named, and the focus of the vast majority of what I have planned. As discussed in my earlier post, it's inaccessible from the rest of the continent of Bridion because of the massive Black Peaks mountain range to its south and east. There are a scant few eastern mountain passes, all clustered into one small area, and all under the strict control of various temperamental dwarven clans. Passage is technically possible to the south of Genthi, but that way lie the plains of Hafe, homeland of the savage, reptilian wheruls. Once a frontier province of Ghannem, Morbenhann was conquered by the elves of Immovenst several centuries ago, which has had major and lasting effects on the language, culture, and customs of its human population. It is predominantly a heavily forested region with a cool, temperate climate, though the southern reaches bordering Hafe are somewhat hotter and drier. The people of Morbenhann are known as the Hannese, and are left in confusion and turmoil now that their elven masters have inexplicably fled back to Immovenst in what is known as the Retreat, or the Ebbing of the Tide.

Ghannem is a large, landlocked empire beyond the Black Peaks. It is one of the oldest human civilizations in Bridion, and it reached its apex long ago. Ghannem has been in decline for centuries now, yet its Empress still marshals the largest and most powerful armies on the continent. Recent slave uprisings, peasant rebellions, radical schisms within their once-monolithic church, and border raids from her Genthaine rivals have thus far prevented her from retaking Morbenhann. Ghannemites often seem rigid, stodgy and out-of-touch to foreigners.

Genthi is not a nation proper, but a collection of squabbling city-states to the southeast of Morbenhann. Most have ancient rivalries against the others, but all still identify themselves as Genthaine, and there are certain unifying cultural characteristics between all of them. The Genthaine cosmology includes a bewildering array of spirits, with new ones seemingly being invented by the day. Most citizens can't be bothered to keep track of all the rites and sacrifices required by each of these small gods, so people of all cities pay their respects to the wandering recondite ascetics that do it for them. Notable city-states include Chrand, the so-called City of Companies (home to the best-trained mercenaries in Genthaine); Saughor, the City of Colleges (a place famed for its libraries, learned men, and lechery); and Reyaeri, the Kingdom City, which controls an unusually large portion of Genthi and whose ruling family has been struggling for generations to unite the region.

(Apologies to those who read a lot of this information on the old Livejournal setup.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Homebrew (Let Me Show You It)

Like a lot of RPG enthusiasts, I have a homebrew setting I've been working on for quite a while. Like many of those settings, it's "not done yet", which often feels like a euphemism for "never going to be finished". I call it Freed Lands, and I'm currently planning on using the BRP ruleset - if I ever get around to running it. I occasionally feel the urge to write about my setting, but not enough to devote an entire blog to it. (I tried that in the past, and didn't get far.) However, Max's recent post asking about people's personal settings got me thinking about it again, and so, here's a quick primer.

The realm that would become known as the Freed Lands lies to the west of the homelands of humanity, beyond the Black Peaks, a mountain range that is practically impassable. The first humans to settle there came from Ghannem, a nation young by the standards of the dwarves that controlled the mountain passes. Ghannem was rich in coin but overpopulated, so, they paid the dwarves for right of passage and settled in the lands beyond the mountains, which they named Morven Ghannem, or "Western Ghannem".

Humanity's development and refinement of agriculture - and their subsequent rise to supremacy - soon began to disturb the natural balance of the newly settled region. Eventually, it caused a schism in elven culture. Many elves argued that if they did not take up the new ways, they would be destroyed. Traditionalists scorned the subjugation of nature as an abomination and drove these elves to the islands of Immovenst, but were themselves soon forced into hiding by rampant human expansion, along with numerous other indigenous races. The dwarf clans sealed their mountain passes against humankind, and as decades passed, the men of Ghannem learned to forget about their western brethren beyond the Black Peaks, and instead turned to squabbling with their human neighbors - the newly ascendant Genthaine people - and each other.

Centuries later, the elves of Immovenst returned, armed and armored with steel and riding massive elk bred for war. After a brutal struggle, they conquered Morven Ghannem, and ruled for hundreds of years, reshaping it into the elf-ruled territory of Morbenhann. Eventually, a force they were unable or unwilling to identify to their subjects attacked their homelands and forced them into the Retreat. The vast majority of the elves returned to Immovenst, leaving the conquered to fend for themselves.

Now, Morbenhann has fallen into chaos - bandits and mercenaries alike declare themselves princes and prey on the weak, cults driven underground centuries ago practice their rites in the open, unknown horrors prey on travelers, and old races forced into hiding emerge once more. Ancient spirits are angered, plague sweeps across the settlements of men, elves, and even dwarves, and rumor says the once-impregnable pass is unguarded. Now, the rulers of Ghannem - and their Genthaine rivals to the south - turn their gaze to these newly Freed Lands, hoping to add them to their own.

I hope that sounds at least potentially interesting, because I intend to revisit it here on Dungeonskull Mountain.