Friday, June 2, 2017

The Lizard's Jaws ~ Round 3

The giant decides to attack Enrico, rolling a natural 20.

That is very, very bad with giant lizards.  The old monster manual gave a special ability to these, saying that if a lizard hit with a 20, it caused double-damage.  Since a 20 causes double damage anyway, I used to say that it caused four times damage . . . but that is when I was still using the monster manual's damage of 1-8 for a giant lizard's bite.

Since, I'd decided that was too low for large creatures and increased it to 2-12.  The last time I had a giant lizard attack a party, I did not roll a natural 20.  In fact, I haven't rolled a natural 20 with giant lizards for more than a decade, and I did not expect to do it today.  But . . .

I'm going to rule that it adds 1d6 to the normal attack and that this is then doubled.  I haven't rolled the damage yet, but I expect it to hurt.

The lizard causes ~ oh damn, you're very lucky.  I roll a 6 on 3d6; doubled, that is 12.  Lucky, lucky you.  Enrico is stunned.

Additionally, the creature causes incidental damage half the time to any creature within one hex.  Kismet gets off lucky, but Enrico suffers 2 damage from being struck by the creature's body.

The creature then retreats back six hexes, moving between the damaged pillar bases.

The players may now take their move.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Lizard Rushes In ~ Round 2

With the map showing the players' last moves, the lizard turns and rushes, but fails to win initiative. Kismet and the others can reach it as it sweeps past the fighter and monk.

Following the party's last move, the position is now this:

Contemplating the Party ~ Round 1

The creature skips across the road and keeps under the trees on the right side of the road, four hexes from Enrico and Sofia.  It has six legs.  It's huge tongue, about three feet long, snickers in and out of its mouth as it contemplates the party.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Where Is It?

Following the party's move, the position of everyone is as follows:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Unusual Things

The party finds the path turns to the left of Cauldron Mountain and ends in a river bed and gravel field, with interspersed plants and trees growing throughout.  Sofia sees something odd just eighty feet ahead and moves to investigate it: she sees the bases of three pillars, with no pillars atop them, dating perhaps from the Greek or Roman periods.  They are placed across the bottom of the stream bed.

As she sees these, nine hexes behind her (a fairly safe distance, regarding giving yourself away), are Kismet and Enrico.  They have just heard a very large sound in the direction of 0315, ahead and to the left, but immediately there is no evidence of anything there; whatever it was, it was big.  They are not surprised, however (Kismet rolled a 5).

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Stranger

Sofia comes within five hexes of an orc who is working in a clearing about fifteen feet across, a wide place in the trail as it were.  As near as she can tell, she has not been discovered.  The orc is humming to itself, a curiously familiar tune that Sofia cannot put her finger on.  Apparently, the orc has just killed an antelope, which it is in the process of freeing of its entrails.  The orc has its back to Sofia.

It is dressed in the manner of an Oriental; instead of a yalma, he is wearing a heavy shirt, baggy pants and a four-inch wide beaded belt around his waist.  He has removed his jacket, which appears to be embroidered silk.  He is also wearing heavy leather boots, which must weigh at least three pounds each by the look of them.

He's a fairly large fellow; you would guess he to be about six-foot-six or thereabouts, weighing at least 300 lbs.  You don't know enough about orcs to guess his age, but he is certainly no older than a mature male.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Into the Bolat Range

It is still the 20th; the day is still cool, the sky clear and there is no sign of rain.  You set out for the southern Bolat Range, which you can distantly see.  Coming at it from the north, you will be approaching the cuestas from their gently sloped backs, so that you cannot see the cliffs (these would look out over the sea).

For most of the afternoon, you will follow a clean, trimmed pathway created by the loggers, until that gives out about three miles south of the carter's post.  The path continues, but now it has begun to grow over, as the loggers have not worked this part of the forest this season, and perhaps most of the last.  The forest closes around you and you feel the slope as you begin to climb perhaps a hundred feet an hour.

Night comes as this second pathway quits, so you make camp near a bare karst outcropping surrounded by trees, which provides good shelter.  The journey so far has been easy, but you can see from the forest that the next day will not be.  Standing on the top of the nearby rocks, you can see the ridge to the south, a line of three humps extending from the northeast to the southwest (or, to put it another way, the nearest hump is on your left and it grows farther away towards your right).  The nearest ridge, you would guess, is about 1,500 feet above you and three to four miles away.

Looking the other way, towards the northwest, you see the cliff of a cuesta that is at least five miles from you.  The cliff is broken by a bowl in the middle of it, so that you begin to think of it as "Cauldron Mountain."  You have no idea what it's real name is.

The next day (the 21st of May is a Sunday), you pick the easiest looking direction through the forest, on the argument that if something intelligent is living out here, it must make its own tracks and trails, as it must emerge from the subterranean occasionally to make hunting trips for extra food.  Kismet leads with his machete and you cross through some light thickets and into a series of rocky meadows, separated by further thickets that you must hack through.  You are moving generally in a south-south east direction, towards the middle hump on the ridge to the south.  You find yourself climbing about 300 feet in the first hour.

Now, at this point, I roll a die to see what you might discover, and roll the unlikeliest chance possible.  Weird.  On a hunch, Kismet chooses to lead the party up a nearby defile, a stone path between banks that might have been gouged out by a glacier ten thousand years ago.  This leads you onto a ledge that overlooks the valley between the back of the cuestas and Cauldron Mountain, about 300 feet over the swoop of the land below.  And here you find a shrine.

It is a single block of stone in the shape of a font, weighing in the neighborhood of four tons.  It is two feet by four feet, and four feet high, with smooth, masoned edges and a basin in its center that is about five inches deep.  On either side of the basin are two gargoyle-like shapes, each about 12 inches high, looking down into the basin as though willing water to appear.

The basin has water in it, about a gallon.  This cannot be rainwater, for you're quite sure that it hasn't rained in this country for many days.  Moreover, there is a bundle of wildflowers on a small shelf above the basin, bound with twisted grass, that must have been collected that morning.  The wildflowers are the same as you've been seeing, mostly dandelions and crocuses.

I'll let you decide what you make of that.  There is no evidence of a trail leading immediately from this location, but you are surrounded by an area of bare rock, about a hundred yards wide.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Climbing into the Karamio Hills

Come the morning of the 20th, the party begins along the road west of Kefe, circling the bay in a couple of hours until ~ with a little directions ~ reaching the cart tracks on the left side of the road that will take them up into the South Karamio Hills.  It is a fine, cool day for hiking, with a light rain that lasts until you enter the forest and begin to a gentle climb.  It quits soon after.

The hills, you will find, have a sharp drop of fifty or sixty feet on the south side, with a long gentle slope on the north, what is called a "cuesta."  Marciana leads the camel(s) behind the party, remarking on the ease of the route, as a cart rack ~ grassy, with ruts ~ leads the way.

She has explained that she has heard the rumors, but doubts if there are any real "cities" to be found.  There are many caves in the Yaila Mountains, the term for all the mountains of south Crimea, but only those in the highest ranges are unexplored.  These hills where you're travelling now have been tramped over for centuries, so you are unlikely to find anything.

You look about at the thick forest, full of thickets, and find it difficult to believe that there can't be places that might not have remained hidden, even after all this time.  The land looks overgrown, with high grass growing into dry thorn bushes, from which emerge tall mastic trees, fat oaks, tangled ash trees and 125 foot pine trees.

Marciana tells that she hasn't spent much time in the bush here, much more on the plains in the last two years that she has been in Crimea; she's been on this road only once before.  The thing to worry is the large Crimean lizards; they're fifteen feet long and are known to emerge from the bushes to attack travellers.  She is not too worried, however, as this road gets a lot of travellers ~ and that is true, the ruts show a lot of use.

In fact, along about noon, as you've climbed to a point where you can see the Black Sea in the distance, you begin to meet carts loaded with wood rolling down out of the forest, one about ever ten minutes or so.  This holds you up quite a bit, as Marciana has to move the camel(s) off the road, keeping them calm and then moving forward again.  As such, moving against this stream, it takes about two hours before you reach a tiny settlement called Aknar, where the road ends.

Aknar is little more than a carter's post, with stables for donkeys and mules, granaries for feed grain, huge dumps of logs being brought out of the forest and at least a dozen saw pits ~ that you can see ~ that are right now in steady use.  About fifty men can be seen working hard to shave and straighten the logs, some to cut them into beams or lumber, others loading the logs onto carts and some wrestling with the animals to get them into position to be loaded.  When a cart is loaded, it begins to descend down the road on its way to Kefe.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Stories About the Crimean Mountains

After shopping in Kefe for the rest of the 19th, I'll need the party to make some provisions for spending the night in the market town.  Sofia can let the new camel handler make provisions for herself and show up for the first day of the month starting tomorrow, the 20th, before you leave.  The camel can then be left in the stable of the camel seller and she can arrive there with the dawn, with yourselves, to pack the camel with whatever things you'll want.  That will manage Sofia's knowledge deficit decently ~ and you can pay the handler next on the 20th of June.

Let's see, she needs a name.  We'll make her Polish, a rational choice for a Catholic in the area, heralding from Lwow, by the name of Marciana Wojik, 22 years old, 5'9, 154 lbs., stats withheld for the moment, not combat trained and without experience for the present.  Marciana is anxious to get out of Tartary, where you are presently, and out of the Ottoman Empire generally.  She has had many dealings with half-orcs and they get along.  She knows the way to Or-Kapi, where the Crimean Peninsula connects to the Dneiper country to the north, thus getting you on your way to the north shore.  She's a little unclear as to your motives for moving through the forest as you plan, but her's is not to question why.

Gawddamn, I just found this page!  And that led to me searching for the Principality of Feodoro, getting me here.  Mangup-Kale is way to the west, at the other end of the range, but of course we can find our own cave-city, can't we?

Let's suppose you hear about these cave cities from the common room stories that go around the inn, how they were cleaned out in the late 15th century by the Ottomans, at least as far as anyone knows.  There are tales that some of the inhabitants of these cities took to retreating completely underground, that they are now white-skinned humanoids that do not see the sun but who still have untold riches collected from the days when Tartar emperors ruled the Crimea, perhaps even objects left to them by the Mongols.  There might be anything in the depths of unknown tunnels up in those hills!

Anyway, I will leave you with this to mull over, while I go find a name for the two 7 hexes that you wanted to visit.  I stumbled across the cave cities looking for a gazatteer of the mountains.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Here are the bare bones of a map surrounding Kefe, in the Crimea:

The Captain will let you off the boat on the 19th of May.  You'll have to pay full price up to that number of days; so I know you paid half price for three.  Please make that up and then the remaining two days to get to Kefe.

Kefe is surrounded by a dry deciduous forest, with a tiny productive plain that includes Kefe and another market town, Soldaia, which is the blank group of hexes to the west of Kefe.  I will create these soon.  Above Kefe is a high range of hills and semi-mountains, 1600-2500 feet in height, very poor in food production but hugely productive in woods, iron ore and building stone.  The darkest brown hexes are unoccupied hinterland; the rest should be somewhat clear to you if you are reading the Worlds from Scratch posts.

The hexes adjacent to Krym are not forest, but steppe (very productive plain, as this country has been occupied for millennia and well-developed).  Beyond Krym it remains largely occupied by farms, farms and more farms.

There are little villages in the 3 and 4-type hexes; and these I shall add also.  I thought I should at least get the bare bones of the environment up for you so you can think for a bit.  Look for me to be improving the content in the next few hours (though I am going out for a brief walk).

Kefe itself is a strong Greek and Tatar population, very commercial in outlook, dedicated to collecting all those hammers up in the hills and processing them out through the port.  That should be enough information to get the party started.


At 3pm in the afternoon on the 19th of May, the weather is cool, with a good, moderate breeze blowing steadily out of the west, the very same wind that brought you a hundred miles in just 16 hours.  The sky is clear and blue, perfect conditions for comfortably doing work.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On to Crimea

It is raining the evening of the 4th when you climb aboard the boat, but it clears up as you depart on the 5th. By the morning of the 6th you’re fighting against a NE wind and tacking steadily but slowly against it. It is spitting rain. This gets easier as the wind declines through the day, but it is still pushing against you.

The wind improves for you through the 7th, with a low gentle breeze blowing you eastward ~ but then this dies away. Eventaully the Captain, to get some wind at all, begins to cut back again towards the northwest, and the 7th is almost completely wasted.

Once again, you’re tacking against the wind on the 9th, but four days you’ve been travelling and you’re still just 80 miles from Igneada. It has been slow going. Through the afternoon of the 9th you find yourself skirting the coast of Dobruja, as the Captain now hopes to catch a bit of current that will take him north along the rim of the Black Sea. The wind for three days has blown consistently from the northeast, in the least valuable way possible. Things do not get better until late on the 10th.

At last, on the 11th, the sails are full, the skies are clear (it has been scattered rain for a week now) and you make good time. There’s a good strong rain in the evening and the wind changes to the south on the 12th, but you’re described as 40 miles from the Crimea’s southwest coast now so you’re feeling better about progress.

You see the Crimea on the 13th, but the wind turns against you, pushing the ship into the coast. There’s rain and it is unpleasant, but the captain decides at this point to seek a harbor and wait for a better wind. Late on the 14th, you find yourself looking at the coast town of Yalta, on the Crimea. At that point, I’ll let the party decide its next move. You owe the captain 10 g.p. each and 40 g.p for Coraggio.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


It is Monday, April 24, as you reach Komar Limani.  The brothers will see their cousin and be happy that Enrico, Sofia and Kismet are willing to wait.  The players can crash during the afternoon, eat six lbs. of food each throughout the day and get back to a rested schedule.  This doesn't heal any hit points, but it does at least bring your sleeping around.

The brothers have to reach Igneada by the 5th of May.  It is a distance of about a hundred miles.  The brothers are willing to wait an extra day in Komar Limani if the party feels a desire to rest a day and at least gain a few hit points.

I would like to simply move the party along to Igneada.  I have no plans to take any hit points away from you and my rolls for five days of journey turn up no random encounters [some potential obstacles must remain in place].

Giving time for the roughness of the terrain and the short inconveniences of the Adrianopolis road between that town and Kallipolis, where the party would not be seen, you will arrive in Igneada on the 30th of April.  It is a cool day, with a gentle breeze and a clear sky.  Igneada is a very small village of about 20 buildings, one of which is a run-down little coffee house where the tables are outside on a veranda under a sloping roof.  It overlooks the Black Sea.  There's no ship in the very little harbor, little more than an indent of the sea, but the brothers assure you that one will be there on the 5th.

You have gotten to know the brothers very well ~ and with time, they have come to know your story now.  Their story is simple; they were born from a father who went off to sea to fight the Venetians in the late 1630s, who drowned there.  They were raised by their mother, aunt and grandfather, and they have always wished that they could go to sea like their father.  They have journeyed twice as crew for short stints - once to Chios and once to Thessalonika.  Signing permanently on board with a ship is their biggest dream.

They are Greco-Ionian in descent, with a healthy regard for the power of the Ottoman aristocracy but without the willingness to join the army.  It killed their father and they don't wish to die likewise.  They'd much rather be in business, find some way to gain a little plunder and perhaps own their own ships someday ~ one for each of them.

You can rest in Igneada until the ship arrives.  That is supposed to be in three to five days.  Is there any other information I can give until that time?