Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Crab's Arrival

Monday, August 4, 1650

The dusk slips away and the lighthouse keepers get about lighting the accumulated wood pile on top of the lighthouse.  The flame spreads quickly over the wood, which has been bathed in oil, creating a rather remarkable sight.  In moments the flame covers the pile, and the keepers move to the edge of the platform and the stairs there that take them down into the main structure.

Within minutes the crab appears on the far eastern dike.  It is enormous ... but as yet 400 yards away, and its real dimensions are difficult to describe.  However, it moves off the dike and begins to quickly move across the planted field towards the lighthouse.  The party would estimate it is moving as fast as five or six feet per second, and quite nimbly, not tearing the wheat as it goes but setting each of the eight legs it uses for standing precisely, the tips sharp as the stab the ground.  It is true, the crab's body is about eight feet in diameter.  As it nears the lighthouse, still a goodly distance from the party, an estimate would make the whole crap a good fourteen or sixteen feet wide, the legs bent like a spider's.

At full speed it slams into the side of the lighthouse, claws in front of its mouth, and literally bounces off the stone.  At the last moment the shadow of the platform makes it impossible to see.  Perhaps imaginatively, the ground seems to shake.  The crab staggers back into the light, then slams forward again.  The crack is not so loud the second time.

Now it emerges from the light, moving slower, swinging to the left and right as it moves to the west across the fields.  When it gets within sixty yards to the left of the barn, it stops.  The body can be seen to 'float' three feet above the ground, just above the tops of the wheat stalks.  Its standing legs are as thick as a man's thigh.  The other two limbs, one perhaps ten percent larger than the other, are five foot long appendages ending in claws about the size of barrels.

It moves slowly forward for a dozen or so steps, then speeds directly towards the barn.  If no one disturbs it, the crab will stop at the barn's open side, move half way in and begin gobbling the sugar beets and squashes it finds there, shoveling them into its mouth.

The Crab's Path

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Evening, Neuwark Island

Monday, August 4, 1650

It takes six hours to drive out to the island, as it is nearly twenty miles due west of Cuxhaven.  The tide is starting to roll in towards the end of your journey, and you succeed in reaching the island with only your feet wet.  The sun is still up, but is quite low in the sky ... sunset is in about an hour, but given the time of year there will still be twilight for ninety minutes after that.

Neuwark Isle ... a somewhat recent photo
Note there is a somewhat diamond-shaped dike around southwest of the island, which is about eight feet in height.  The remainder of the island, including the portion inside the dike, is at it's highest four feet above the sea (and most of it is less, particularly in the fens area on the east and north, where the tides have left water pools and inlets.  The lighthouse (in my world, at least) is located in the group of trees that are centre on the map; the church is a red-roofed building to the bottom left ... a red barn stands next to it, and a pool nearby amidst the trees.  The area within the dike, just as shown, is plowed and covered in uncut, ready-to-harvest wheat, which has been abandoned by the residents.

The party lands near the very southern point of the island, near the church, next to the road that runs around the dike.  Obviously the church can't be seen from the shore, but once Gerhard has driven the wagon onto the dike it is evident.  The lighthouse is 100 feet high, with a large platform, wider than the tower, at the top for the burning of wood, with two long ropes reaching to the ground at opposite corners, and a ten foot high woodpile at each end.

You cannot see any sign of the crab.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Afternoon, The Tide Going Out

August 4, 1650

You're directed by an apprentice to Gerhard's warehouse across the back lane, where you'll find Gerhard getting ready things he wants to load by wagon.  Once Andrej has pulled up, Gerhard will direct a couple of strong-backed fellows to load the cart, pressing six silver pieces into Andrej's hand "To keep things in the family, you understand."  It's quite clear from what's going on that the offer of six copper was a ruse to keep things quiet.

Instead of merely wood and stone, Gerhard loads 250 feet of netting, eight feet wide, into the cart, and one hundred a sixty pounds of salt.  On top of that he loads a pile of rough stone and timbers, effectively concealing what is underneath.  This takes a little time, and Gerhard will only mutter about his 'competitors' when asked about what he's doing ... or he'll repeat, "On our way, when we're on our way..."

And there I'll leave it for the moment, addressing what he might say "on our way" when I hear from players as to their take on the situation so far.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Morning After the Feast of July

August 4, 1650

The campaign starts on the knife-edge of time, just as any moment does, with the players having paid for their room and their lodgings all the nights before this one with money that is now gone - and therefore never needs recording.  Another night would cost from their present purse, but then that is how it is when a campaign starts.

The High Mast.
You have all been lounging these last three weeks with your lost earnings at an Inn called 'The High Mast,' built on a twelve foot bank overlooking the Estuary at the extreme western edge of Cuxhaven.  The town is not walled, though it includes a citadel built by Hamburg, and stretches in a long single curve along the curve wrought by the tides.  Two dozen wharfs stretch half a mile to the east, and a hundred boats are in the process of being pulled from the shore and onto the water as the sun has not quite risen.  This last day you four were the only ones using the common room on the Inn's second floor.  The last three days, from Friday until Sunday, the town has celebrated the harvesting of grain and vegetables in the Feast of July.  The first day of Autumn was the 1st of August (not, as many might wrongly think, the 21st of September), and you are all full and sated from the public distribution of vendor and the very last dregs of the spring season's beer.  There'll be no more beer until October, a sad thing, but for the present you have no complaints ... except perhaps for Andrej, who may or may not have viewed sourly the lack of honest respect these Lutherans have for the sabbath - that is not for me to say.

With the departure of the rural peoples returning away from the festival, the town has been 'emptied,' and following the feast you four, Andrej, Silvius, Nine-toes and Ahmet have come to know each other a great deal better.

It happens that Silvius was told only the evening before by the fishmonger, Gerhard, that his brother who helps manage the lighthouse on Neuwark Island has told him the families that dwell upon the island have fled from some threat.  According to Gerhard, there are only three persons remaining - Rupert, Gerhard's brother, the other lighthouse keeper and the catholic who oversees the chapel upon the island.  Word has been sent to Hamburg for aid, but nothing is expected for a week ... and in the meantime there's a danger that homes could be damaged.  Gerhard, who spoke to Rupert just the day before, on the 2nd, said that even the stone lighthouse had suffered abuse.

This Silvius tells to the others; we may presume Silvius asked for more information, but Gerhard would not be forthcoming.  He expressed his concern for the island ... but more to the point Gerhard expressed that it was "a terrible waste" and that the worst of it was the opportunity that was lost, "handed over to those hard-fisted merchants in Hamburg, no doubt," in Gerhard's own words.  From thence he could not be pressed for more information, except a word or two about the good a cart and a foolhardy driver would do him ... whereupon Silvius remembered his recent acquaintence Andrej.

The World Around Cuxhaven

Before starting the actual campaign, I'll take some time now to provide background for the region, concentrating on the terrain, the use of land and the political situation.  This will take some time - I could write a book or so on the subject if I wanted to research and research - though I'll try to cover the highlights.

To begin with, a familiar looking map:

This would be the format of most maps on the blog, showing the elevation of the individual hexes to give a sense of what might be the bottomlands and where the hills are.  As you can see, most of the land is quite close to sea level, with much of the region subject to coastal flooding.  The land rises towards the south, away from the sea, and there are some low hills and uplands stretching from Lubeck on the right up towards Tonder at the top of the map.  Virtually everywhere, however, is less than 100 feet above sea level.

There are three significant rivers, not named on the map.  From west to east these debouch into the North Sea (the water in the upper left) near Leer, below Bremen and at Cuxhaven.  The first is the Ems, which rises in Westphalia, or the western bulge of modern Germany.  The second is the Weser, which rises in the hills of north Hesse, and the third is the Elbe, which rises in distant Bohemia.  Of these, the Elbe is easily the largest and most important, and creates an 80-mile estuary which is subject to tides and navigable for the largest ships of the age.  At Cuxhaven the estuary is about 8 miles wide.

Note that there are many trade centres: Delfzijl, Winschoten, Engleke, Leer, Oldenburg, Bremen, Luneburg, Hamburg, Lubeck, Cuxhaven, Kiel, Flensborg, Sonderborg and Nakskov ... all of which would have a different table for costs.  Easily the most important two are Lubeck and Hamburg, the road between them cutting through the bottom of the Jutland Peninsula (which extends off the map between the North Sea on the west and the Baltic Sea on the East).  This 38-mile road is perhaps the busiest road in Europe, and one of the busiest in the world, while Lubeck and Hamburg are points where goods are loaded on and off boats bound for everywhere.  The most important bulk cargos are timber, grain, wine, wool, iron goods and fish, but of course everything is carried.  Keeping the road open is of primary concern to every power in Europe ... and as such carries a heavy political importance.

In addition, cities like Hamburg, Bremen and Leer trans-ship goods from inland out to the sea ... Hamburg in particular, which ships from central Europe a wide variety of manufactured goods, silver, beer, leather and farm produce, while importing fish, timber, livestock, wool and goods from distant lands like India and the New World.  Hamburg is thus a crossroads between inner Europe and the world, and between east and west.  It is an immense city, with nearly 150,000 inhabitants.  Cuxhaven is comparably small, a town with merely 2,500 people.

Moving onto the next map:

This map shows the divisions between 'civilized' areas and 'wilderness.'  There is in fact a great deal of wilderness still within Germany in the 17th century, which though inhabited tends to lack the necessary presence to make said areas 'safe.'  Thus areas of moor and woodland is occupied by bandits and various monsters, with lairs throughout and the occasional dungeon (where the land is sufficiently above sea level).  The coastland and islands on both sides of the central peninsula are known havens for pirates.

The more heavily inhabited green areas, "mixed cropland & woods," are areas where even the forests and meadows have been civilized to some degree by herders and gamewardens.  These areas have a few scattered mansions within them, but most of the agriculturalists are cotters or villeins, persons occupying lands without a lord to rule over them - though with few personal rights and privileges, and often subject to incursion from persons in the wilderlands.  The life of a cotter is hard.  Still, there are priests throughout these lands as well, operating small churches, and druids living on the edge of the wilder forests, hamlets and thorps not shown on the map, and monasteries and a variety of other military or commercial groups living in small keeps or gatehouses.  Perhaps fifty percent of the land is cultivated, and the population density can rise as high as 240 persons per square mile.

The bright yellow-green areas surrounding Hamburg and Bremen are solidly cultivated areas where manor estates exist cheek-by-jowl with one another.  They are heavily populated, with numbers up to ten thousand persons per square mile in the cities.  Virtually every person not living in Hamburg or Bremen is a landed peasant, living in a restrictive social structure.  Cultivation and livestock raising is intense, with every square inch serving the needs of the population.

And the last map:

The political situation in this part of the world reflects the divided structure of states and entities occupying the land.  As you can see from the key at the left, there are four 'groupings' of states: the Kingdom of Denmark (& Norway), at the top left of the map; the Holy Roman Empire, a weak general authority made of powerful individual states; the lands occupied by the Kingdom of Sweden, military 'colonies' gained after the Thirty Years' War; and just the edge of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

These states are all at war with one another to some degree, and in the case of the Swedish territories, at war with itself.  That war is being fought by the outer lands (Stade & Verden) against Bremen, which was - and wishes to be again - a free imperial city.  As such Bremen has been crushed several times since 1648 by the Queen of Sweden, the unmarried Kristina Augusta, known for her posturing as a man and wearing armor into battle.  It is common to find Kristina in this part of the world, preferring to be involved herself as opposed to remaining at court in Stockholm.

While this minor 'civil war' progresses, the King of Denmark, Frederick IV, has designs on the County of Kiel, which it would like to swallow up - in particular, the small county of Tonder, which with Kiel is directly under the authority of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, Frederick III.  He has plans to marry his daughter Hedwig Eleonora to the Duke of Bremen and Verden, Queen Kristina's cousin ... a marriage the Queen is presently obstructing.  Yet despite this Sweden very much would like to keep Kiel and Tonder out of the hands of the Danes, and the two countries have nearly come to blows over this.

Meanwhile ... the lands west of Swedish occupied Germany, the County of Oldenburg, is in the hands of the Brandenburg House, which controls much territory in the north of Germany.  Oldenburg would like to see Holstein in a bloody war, which would enable them to consume Stade and Verden ... and as such Oldenburg is providing arms to the rebels in Bremen in the hopes of breaking the Swedish hold there.  Brandenburg would rather not have Denmark move further south into Germany, but an all out Swedish-Dane war would be in their favor regarding Further Pomerania (not on the map) which is in Swedish hands and which separates the west territories of Brandenburg from East Prussia, which is also part of the Brandenburg estates.  The Brandenburgians slaver like Homer to have those lands.

Meanwhile, Calenburg's interests, along with Hamburg and Lubeck, is to keep an open trade arrangement with the sea, since these areas don't really care who politically controls the land as long as the trade is not disrupted.  As such, they tend to promote themselves as arbitrators.

The Holy Roman Emperor at the moment is Ferdinand III, an Austrian, who is more concerned with matters Turkish and Spanish than with these northern problems, and thus leaves the individual states to fend for themselves.  His power is minimal at any rate.

Most of the map is Protestant in religion, but the County of East Frisia and the small County of Emsland have a majority Catholic population.  The Netherlands is obviously Dutch Huguenot in belief; most of the remainder is firmly Lutheran.  The Thirty Years' War has largely ruined Europe's appetite for inter-religious strife, but the Catholics still present an embattled mentality where it comes to being wedged between Oldenburg and Holland.  Still, the agreement between those two Protestant countries to leave the Catholics as a 'buffer' makes it the most stable part of the map.

Smuggling goes on apiece just about everywhere as one can imagine.

This covers the basics, I believe.  Please ask questions.  There's always more to learn.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Character Sheets

Reading a pdf from Silvius this morning, I am reminded that there was another thing that bothered me about the earlier campaign ... and that was the lack of easily readable character sheets.  I must tell you all that I loathe pdfs.  I don't think I'm alone in that.  The biggest problem is that they can't be easily updated, on the fly so to speak, whereas a written character sheet can be - in just a few seconds.

Then it occurred to me that the tool for recording character sheets online and updating them quickly is right here, in the form of the blog post.  All that would be necessary is the creation of the character 'sheet' on the blog, where it can be edited any time after its posted, where it can be linked to this blog and therefore read by me anytime at my convenience.  In fact, if the player wants, it doesn't have to be on their standard blog, but can be made on a new blog, where the character sheet need be the only post.

Then if damage is caused, if a new piece of equipment is added, if food is eaten and so on, that's all right there and open.  I can see in advance where you're keeping your equipment and it can be judged and applied to the campaign as necessary - not that it would remove the possibility for deception, as it can be changed as I'm looking at it.  But it would make it possible for me to point out that something was missing or something needed to be updated to fit the proper facts.

What say you, people?  Want to give this a try?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Details

I am wrapping up things for a vacation I'm taking this week, which is part of the reason I am putting off the start of the campaign.  I will be available to answer questions, and I'll try to send an equipment list to your emails as soon as possible, to give you a week to .  I am however going to catch a flight this evening at 11 pm EST (destination not disclosed), so I'll be incommunicado for much of the day and all of the evening.  I shall keep you posted on developments.  No one said anything about needing new information from me yesterday, so I take it the crew is at the moment satisfied.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Age & Hit Points

This game has served as an inspiration to do more to finish my character generation table.  I built the part that determines character ages last night, and wow ... is that excellent.  I will never have to generate these numbers manually again.  I love that.

Age affects stats, and since you're all human and mature, you're all affected the same way.  Nine-toes is 24 years old; Sean's as yet unnamed fighter is 25 years old; and Ahmet-oglu Ahmet is 26.  Nine-toes was born on February 14, 1626.  Sean's fighter was born on March 11, 1625.  Ahmet was born on March 24, 1624.  Which, having just generated the numbers, strikes me as a close pattern.

For all three characters, add a point of strength and a point of constitution.  This gives Nine-toes a strength of 16 and a constitution of 13.  This gives Sean a strength of 13 and a constitution of 17.  And because Ahmet's strength is a percentage, it goes up 10%, so that makes his strength 18/31 and his constitution 17.

The players may not be familiar with my hit points system.  Your actual hit points are now a combination of the die needed for your class, your constitution and your mass.  The latter can be read about here and here.  I know that Butch has read them, but perhaps not for awhile.  I'll answer any questions that need asking on the subject.

Basically, it means that Sean, say, starts with the d10 for a fighter; gets +3 hit points with his brand new 17 constitution; and then gets a d8 to determine the number of hit points for his mass.  If he were a smaller creature, the mass would be rolled on a smaller die.  Because all my player characters start the first level at maximum hit points for level, Sean gets 10+3 for the first two ... but he does not get maximum hit points for his mass.  I roll that, getting a 6 - which gives Sean 19 hit points to start.

Using the same numbers, Ahmet starts with 17 hit points.  Nine-toes, a monk, starts with 2d6 for hit points, and has no constitution bonus for his 13 constitution.  Rolling his mass, I see that Ninetoes starts with 17 hit points as well.

So you guys can take a bit of a beating.  Good on ya.

Well, it's my birthday today, making me all of 47.  I don't know how much time I'm going to have once the morning goes by.  Apart from the equipment list, and you fellows choosing your weapon proficiencies, what else is there to do?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Butch's Fighter

Strength: 18 / 21 +1 to hit, +3 damage
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 11
Constitution: 16 +2 hit points
Dexterity: 14
Charisma: 10

Born: Melitene, Cappadocia, central Anatolia
Height: 6'
Weight: 180 lbs.
Wealth: 30 g.p.
Credit: none

Father's Profession: Miner.  Character has the ability to shore underground construction, determine patterns of ore distribution on sight and recognize bad odors or unsafe construction 80% of the time.  Character is +1 "to hit" with a pick.

Family: Raised by paternal grandparents.  Has five first cousins dwelling in the high country of Cappadocia.
Inter-relations: The character's long abuse of animals has created an aura about the character which animals distrust.  Animals associated with the character begin with a morale of 11, and rolls against morale must succeed twice before morale improves.
Youth: The character suffered a very bad love affair, and as such the character has an increased resistance against attempts by women to seduce him (+2).  The character has spent 10 years in jail (player chooses reason), and as such has become hard tempered and unpleasant.

Weapon Skills: The character starts with one more weapon proficiency than normal; as a fighter, he would normally start with four, but in this case starts with 5.  As a fighter, the character may use any weapon.  Additionally, the character causes +1 damage with any weapon when it is thrown at an opponent.
Toughness: The character heals 2 hit points per day from rest, as opposed to 1.

Sean's Fighter

Strength: 12
Intelligence: 9
Wisdom: 8
Constitution: 16 +2 hit points
Dexterity: 16 +1 to hit with missile weapons and initiative, +2 benefit to armor class
Charisma: 10

Born: Hamburg, Germany
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Wealth: 160 g.p.
Credit: none

Father's profession: Blacksmith.  Character has the ability to forge iron and practice other skills of the trade. Through advised maintenance, all metal goods of the party have a +2 save vs. destruction.  Character has a +1 "to hit" with hammer.

Family: Father and mother, Martin and Freida, plus two younger brothers, Thomas and Richard, and all four grandparents reside in Hamburg.
Inter-relations: While the character's family treats him with moderate concern, the character's past behavior has caused most persons in the city to treat him with enmity and a hearty dislike.  The character has been banned from all establishments in the south quarter of Hamburg (which is a large city after all), with the exception of the town market in that quarter.
Youth: The character's mentor, recognizing that the character much needed to move on, obtained a writ of passage for the character that enables him to move freely (no tolls or town fees) within lands controlled by the Cities of Hamburg and Lubeck, or the County of Kiel.  However - and this really bites - the character's departure required that he has not quite completed his training.  While the character will be a 1st level, he starts 'in the hole' as it were, with an experience total of minus 200 ... thus requiring 2,201 to reach 2nd level.  The character has always had trouble learning things, and though the total age has yet to be calculated, it will be 7 years greater than a typical human fighter.

Toughness:  The character has a extraordinarily strong upper body and arms, and has the ability to use a weapon up to seven and a half pounds one-handedly.  Moreover, the character is resistant to arachnid poisons, and suffers only half damage from them.

Jeremiah's Monk

I have started working on the background information for the characters.  From the last time I did this, I made a few errors, particularly in trying to embellish the stories rather than giving just the raw information.  This time I shall only do the base data, and let you work things out for yourselves.

I know that the desire for many players is to come from far-flung places on the globe, but you have to realize that my world is a BIG globe.  It just isn't likely that you're from any spectacular distance away.  I rolled three birthplaces and was surprised to find that one did turn up in the Orient.  The others, I'm afraid, are more local.

I'd appreciate if everyone feels they can comment on any of the three posts, this one and the next two ... to build a sense of camaraderie.  Each post will deal with the background of an individual.  This isn't ALL the background, I'm afraid ... There's a lot to generate and I got interrupted last night.  But I'd like to give out as much as I have for now, and spend the next period of time working out the remainder.  The biggest problem in the next week will be a full equipment table, which I hope to have up by Monday.  In the meantime we'll just get up to speed in bits.  Remember please this is partial, and know that I don't have to ability to generate more at this moment.  I will this evening, and try to have it up tomorrow (let me know what you'd most like to see).

I recognize that yes, it is difficult to pick a name if you don't know where you're from.  Most players don't seem to care, really, but if you want to be accurate then I'm sorry I gave the sense that once you had picked a name it was carved in stone.  Let's assume that if you want to hold off on any esoteric point, such as a name, it is probably all right to do so.

Very well, starting with Jeremiah's character, a Human Monk.  If there's anything I'm inaccurate about, don't hesitate to holler.

Strength: 15
Intelligence: 9
Wisdom: 15
Constitution: 12
Dexterity: 16 +1 to hit with missile weapons and initiative
Charisma: 11

Born: Stuttgart, Germany
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Wealth: 160 g.p.
Credit: none

Father's profession: Mercenary.  Character possesses an additional weapon proficiency.  Monks ordinarily start with 1 proficiency, but Jeremiah gets 2.  May pick from bo stick, club, crossbow, dagger, hand axe, javelin, jo stick, pole arm, spear, staff or staff-flail.

Family:  Scattered.  Has an uncle, Niktor, living in Stuttgart.
Inter-relations: Due to poor judgment, despite the high wisdom, word has spread throughout Stuttgart and the area that the character is a liar.  The character cannot obtain new hirelings from that area, or from anyone connected to that area.  Moreover, because the character has never been good with people, all hirelings and associates that do work for the character begin with a morale of 10.
Youth: In a moment of exhuberance, the character had an accident and is missing a toe upon their left foot (player can choose reason).  As such, for any circumstance where the character may lose balance, a -2 modifier is applied to the roll.

Physical Concerns:  The character suffers from a poor heart, and cannot hold his breath for more than 20 seconds at a time (this may change as he becomes a higher level monk).  Moreover, altitude affects the character's movement, so that it is reduced by 1 with every 4,000 ft. above sea level.

Talents:  When the possibility exists, the character is automatically given a chance to roll a save vs. death magic in order to deduce either a cursed item or a cursed location, within 60'.  This does not require the character to willfully choose to do it, but has the chance automatically.  Moreover, the character saves against all magic at one level higher than normal.

For the moment, that's what I have.  Age, hit points and other bits of information will follow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Starting New Characters

In starting a new character, players should begin by rolling their stats.  This corresponds closely with AD&D in my world.  For each stat, Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity and Charisma, roll 4d6 and discard the lowest die.  If it should happen that your dice totals do not include one roll that is 16 or better, plus one roll that is 15 or better, begin again at the beginning until you have two rolls that meet the standards previously expressed.

Having acquired six totals, feel free to arrange the dice according to your whims, in order to best obtain the character class you want.

Clerics require a 9 wisdom, but it is hardly worth playing a cleric without a 16 wisdom and at least a 16 strength OR constitution.  A 16 wisdom and a 16 strength, plus a 14 constitution (if you can manage it), will give you a good fighting cleric.  For the record, there already is a cleric in the party, so you may want to arrange with him (Andrej, played by James C.) regarding your religion.  I will talk to you about your religion if you should desire a cleric.

Druids require a 15 charisma and a 12 wisdom, but it is hardly worth playing a druid without at least a 16 wisdom and a 15 constitution.  Druids can't wear better than leather armor, so you will need the hit points.  The lack of a 16 or better strength can be compensated for with the shillelagh spell.  Druids, too, must choose a religion, but again this can be discussed if you choose a druid.

Fighters require a 9 strength, but it is hardly worth playing a fighter without at least a 17 strength plus a 15 constitution.  Dexterity is nice to have too.

Paladins require a 13 strength & wisdom, a 9 intelligence and a 17 charisma, but it is hardly worth playing a paladin without the strength and constitution of a good fighter.  Dexterity is also nice.

Rangers require a 14 strength & wisdom and a 13 constitution & intelligence.  Like the fighter, you'd do best with a 17 strength, but constitution can be let slide since rangers start with a lot of hit points anyway.  Dexterity remains a nice addition.

Mages require a 9 intelligence, but it is hardly worth playing without at least a 15 intelligence and a 15 dexterity.  A 15 or better constitution is a great help, for if you have very few hit points, you will move up in levels slowly at the beginning.

Illusionists require a 16 intelligence and a 15 dexterity, and do best with a 15 or better constitution as well.

Thieves require a 9 dexterity, but it is hardly worth playing without at least a 16 - a 17 is better.  A 15 or better constitution is again a great help.  Be warned that pouches in my world do not hang like fruit upon the trees, and that bold action is risky.

Assassins require a 12 strength & dexterity and an 11 intelligence, but it is hardly worth playing without a 16 dexterity and a 15 or better constitution.  An assassin can do quite well, but getting hired is tricky and requires a lot of character planning.

Monks require a 15 strength, wisdom & dexterity, and a 10 constitution, and those stats are sufficient to play a good monk - with emphasis on the dexterity if at all possible.  Differences include the monk starting with an AC two better than the old player's handbook, and a d6 for hit points rather than a die four.  A monk will start with a minimum of 13 hit points, for those who worry that the lower levels suck for a monk.  Played well, they can be quite effective.

Bards requires a 15 charisma and a 15 wisdom.  Without a constitution of at least 15 and a strength of at least 16, you will wind up playing a support character.  Information about bards in my world can be found here.

I would like it if persons would discuss which character they intend to play in the comments section.  One of my last campaigns had three persons deciding to become mages, which was silly and I shouldn't have allowed it.  Three fighters is one thing, but all mages ... ridiculous.  If you could work towards a mix of classes that would be pleasant.  I'll allow a mage AND an illusionist, but not more than one of each, and only under the condition that the last person is a fighter, another cleric or a monk.  There are only four of you, and it would be nice if there was a chance of surviving.  As I said, there's already a cleric; a party consisting of a cleric, a mage, an illusionist and, say, a thief or an assassin would be pretty much doomed to going up slowly or dying the first time real combat occurred.

Don't make any mistake about it.  I give experience for combat and treasure.  Please come to play with that ideal in mind.

While I remember it, no multi-classed characters for now.

Having your class, please choose your race.  I play these according to the Player's Handbook, and will post information if you need it:

Elves come from the far north, Finland and Karelia in modern Russia.  They have infravision, the ability to move silently and are effective with swords and bows.  Elves can be clerics, fighters, rangers, mages, thieves and assassins.

Half-elves tend to be Russian-elf or Swedish-elf mixes, with either mother or father being human, they also have infravision.  Half-elves can be clerics, fighters, rangers, mages, thieves and assassins.

Dwarves come from the deep interior of Russia, have resistance against poison, combat effectiveness against some humanoid and giant classes, and infravision.  Dwarves can be clerics, fighters, mages, thieves and assassins.

Gnomes come from the forests of nearer Russia, and correspond to dwarves in many characteristics.  Gnomes can be clerics, fighters, mages, illusionists and thieves.

Halflings come from the hill country of central Sweden.  They are effective with slings, move silently, have infravision, and are resistant to poison.  Halflings can be druids, fighters, thieves or assassins.

Half-orcs come from the steppe and desert lands of southern Russia and Turkestan, and may be either human-orc mixes or dwarf-orc mixes (dworkins).  They are stronger and tougher than most other races.  Half-orcs can be clerics, fighters, thieves and assassins.

Humans come from everywhere.  They tend to have more hit points than other smaller, lighter races.  They can be of any class.

I do not allow any other race, so do not ask.

Please then, choose your sex.  The principle difference is that women tend to be lighter in body weight, and therefore on average have less hit points.  They do have other attibutes, I understand.

Finally, for the present, choose a name.  Please create a blogger I.D. with that name, so that when you post comments you will do so in character.

Anything else immediate we'll handle in the comments.  Bigger things beyond these four we'll handle in the coming week.